Brenda Baer to run for City Council again

LACONIA — Ward 4 City Council member Brenda Baer announced Wednesday that she intends to seek re-election this year.

She has held the position for 11 years.

Baer said her priority is to work within a property tax cap that limits increases to a formula based on increases in the Federal National Consumer Price Index (urban) and new building permits minus demolitions.

"This is an election year and there is an organized group that would like to replace this council along with the tax cap," she said. "They want to spend, not for the good of the city, but for their own agendas. Spend without thinking how it affects the lives of the young, the old, the poor and the middle class."

She said she welcomes election competition.

"I hope by having a contested election process, the people will get involved and turn out for the primary," she said. "There is nothing more important than the place where you live. You can make a difference in local government by taking part in the Primary Election. Only two people will come out of the primary and run for office of councilor. You can't run for office if you don't win one of two spots in the primary."

– Rick Green

Open Doors

05-04 Adam Nudd-Homeyer Tappan Chairs

Adam Nudd-Homeyer of Tappan Chairs in Sandwich (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)


On main streets and back roads throughout New Hampshire, artists and craftsmen are busy in their studios and workshops, creating one-of-a-kind products. Making the thing is only one half of their challenge – introducing that product to the right clientele is another task entirely.

That's why, said Sarah Nyhan, communications director for the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, the Open Doors Weekend events have become so valuable for the artists and artisans who participate in the event. Open Doors participants agree to open their workspace or gallery on a designated weekend, and invite the general public to stop in for a visit. The League, on, lists all participants by region, making it possible for people to plan an itinerary of places around the state to visit over the course of the weekend.

Open Doors was originally started as a late fall event. Starting last year, the League added a spring weekend, and this year's Spring Open Doors Weekend will be held on Saturday and Sunday, May 6 and 7.

The list of spring participants has grown this year, said Nyhan, who added that there are both participants who have usually signed up for the fall event, as well as some, such as agricultural-based producers, for whom a spring event makes more sense.

The success of the event, in her view, is due to the unusual opportunity it gives creators to meet potential new customers. Most of the artists and artisans focus the bulk of their time on production, and have a limited budget of time and money for marketing. Open Doors, which leverages state grant funds to make it affordable for participants to join, delivers new customers to their door. And, especially for craftsmen, a face-to-face interaction is critical because what sets their product apart from a mass produced item is both the manner in which it was made as well as the story and person behind it.

"(Open Doors) translates into increased traffic and some increased sales, but it's really about starting that conversation, letting people know how things are made, building that relationship," said Nyhan, adding that many of those new relationships will generate sales for years to come.

In Sandwich, Adam Nudd-Homeyer doesn't expect to make an unusual amount of sales this weekend, but he is eagerly looking forward to displaying the 19th Century equipment he still employs to produce Tappan chairs, the ladder-backed, woven-seat furniture styled after Shaker design. Nudd-Homeyer makes his furniture beginning with rough cuts of wood, which he turns on 1800s-era lathes and steam-bends to create the chairs, which are as elegant as they are simple. Tappan Chairs have been produced in Sandwich since 1819, and Nudd-Homeyer is the 17th steward of the brand.

This will be the third Open Doors weekend for Nudd-Homeyer, and he has had as many as 50 visitors come through over the two-day events. 

"The first two times I've done it, people were always interested in what's going on inside the barn. It's kind of show-and-tell stuff." Visitors have included both Sandwich residents who were always curious about his business, as well as people who were in the middle of a statewide tour of Open Doors participants. Even if they don't place an order with him, he considers it an invaluable opportunity to meet people who otherwise would never learn about him or his craft.

"You have your magic audience, who went to see you and learn about you. For me, it's all about the story, so that's exactly the kind of people that you want in here," he said.

In Tilton, the Lakes Region Art Association will be opening its gallery for the Open Doors event. BJ Eckardt, a member of the association's board, said that more than 70 local artists have their work displayed in the gallery, and she does hope for some of those pieces to be sold by the end of the weekend. More important, though, is the chance for more people to know that the association, and the gallery, exists.

"We're always hopeful that people will invest in local businesses and craftsmen, but then we're always happy to get people (in here). It's just a good way to get the word out about the gallery," Eckardt said. "We want the community to know that there is a very active art community, and hope they'll come out and support it."

Sachem girls look for third straight title despite loss of top scorer Helen Tautkus


LACONIA — The Laconia High School girls' lacrosse team is seeking its third straight Division III title and has posted a 4-1 record so far this year, with its only loss an 11-10 setback to Division I Londonderry.

Coach Kerri Howe says that the Sachems, 16-2 winners over Lebanon Monday, are showing signs of coming together as a team with many younger players stepping up to fill the gap left with the graduation of some of the top scorers from last season.

"A lot of girls are stepping up for us. We have a great goalie in Lyndsey Paronto, who's been a key on both championships. It's hard to get one past her. And we have a good defense in Emily Avery, Devin Mello, Hannah Dow and Kaitlyn Brooks. Some younger players like sophomores Caitlin Beattie and Skylar Tautkus and freshman Megan Gaspa are coming through for us," said Howe, whose daughter Rebecca, a junior, scored five goals in Monday's win.

She tries to ease the pressure the girls put on themselves to win a third straight title, but knows that the high profile the team has had in recent years makes that difficult to do, especially with the loss of a stellar contributor in recent years who was counted on to become one of this year's captains.

She said the players are trying to fill the gap left in their offense by senior Helen Tautkus, who suffered a knee injury while playing an indoor lacrosse game in Bedford in mid-January and won't be on the field at all this season.

Tautkus, who scored eight goals to lead her team to a 14-13 come-from-behind win over Kearsarge for a second straight title last June, is the all-time leading scorer for Laconia, having registered 188 goals in her first three seasons.

Tautkus, who will be headed to Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, to play lacrosse next year, was at Monday's game to cheer the Sachems.

She sports a brace on her right leg and said being on the sidelines is definitely difficult for her.

"I'm used to being in the game. It's hard to just be watching. But it is what it is. I have to focus on next year," she said.

Tautkus suffered the injury when another player ran into her and she went down. She suffered tears to both the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments, as well as the medial meniscus. She had surgery three months ago and has regular physical therapy sessions designed to heal the injury and restore full strength and flexibility to her knee, a process which can take six months or more.

"I come to the games as often as I can, but I have to miss some because of the physical therapy sessions," said Tautkus.

Coach Howe said the good news for Tautkus is that she'll be ready to play next year at Assumption, where she'll continue to display the same skills and desire to win that she has displayed as a player at Laconia.

When a signing ceremony was held for Tautkus last November at which she committed to Assumption, Howe said, "You have that fire, that gift. You have a lot to look forward to," and said that one of her favorite moments coaching Tautkus was when she was a sophomore and the team had reached the final four, and an opposing coach had been seen on television not even bringing up Laconia as a possible challenger.
"She was on fire that we were being dismissed as not a factor. And she let all her teammates know it and we went on to win it all," said Howe.

She said the Sachems will be tested in the weeks ahead with games coming up next week against top-flight competition. On Monday, May 8, they are at Kearsarge (4-1); on Wednesday, May 10, they host Hopkinton (4-1), and on Friday, May 12, they are at The Derryfield School (6-0) in Manchester.

"We definitely want to be in the final four. Next week will be a real test of how far we can go," said Howe.

 05-04 Helen Tautkus
Helen Tautkus, Laconia High School's all-time leading lacrosse scorer with 188 goals in three years, has been taking in games from the sidelines this year after suffering a knee injury in mid-January. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)