April 728x90TopBanner

Belknap Mill gets new roof


LACONIA — Barely three months after Peter Karagianis Jr., whose father led the effort to preserve the Belknap Mill, announced that the family was contributing $25,000 toward replacing the failed roof and challenging the community to match the gift, the work is underway.

Lisa Burke-McCoy of the Belknap Mill Society said Tuesday that the community quickly picked up the gauntlet. A generous donation from the Bank of New Hampshire and a timely grant from the McIninch Foundation, along with any number of contributions from individuals and families throughout the community, enabled the project to be put to bid and begun. She said that the cost of the work is expected to be approximately $65,000.

The roof has been leaking for some time, shedding shingles with each passing storm. At the same time, water has rotted and weakened timbers, jeopardizing the structural integrity of the roof. Tara Shore, operations manager at the mill, said that the mild winter and dry spring and summer spared the roof and with another winter approaching "It all came together just when we needed it. Sometimes God just hands it to you."

Burke-McCoy stressed that the project represents "a great community effort," noting that Jim French Home Improvement, a local contractor, placed the most competitive bid and is undertaking the work.

"We are very serious about our commitment to preserve this most important historical landmark," she said. "This is a great step forward and the first of many great things to come."

The sound of of footsteps and hammer blows overhead is music to the ears of attorney Matt Lahey, who has practiced law on the top floor of the mill for the past 17 years. For some of those years, buckets have been scattered around the office to catch the drips from the leaky roof and just last week water evaded impaired flashing to reach an electrical box. At the same time, he said that rotten timbers had become home and fodder for termites, some which found their way into the building. Lahey said that some of the leaks were plugged when the bell tower was repaired, but added that he was looking forward to many more years under anew roof at the top of the mill.

"This will be great," he said.

08-30 Belknap Mill roofing 30Aug16281010

The crew at French Home Improvements work on shingling the roof at the Belknap Mill on Tuesday.  (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Giuda & Gallagher bid to succeed Forrester in District 2 in primary


LACONIA — A pair of closely matched conservatives — Bob Giuda of Warren and Brian Gallagher of Sanbornton — will square off the Republican primary Sept. 13 in Senate District 2 for the chance to succeed Jeanie Forrester, who stepped down after serving three terms to run for governor.

Bob Giuda

Bob Giuda is resuming a political career that was interrupted when he retired from the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2006 and stalled when he lost a bid for a congressional seat in 2010.
A graduate of Pittsfield High School, Giuda earned an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, and after graduation served as a fighter pilot and flight instructor with the United States Marine Corps, retiring with the rank of captain in 1985. He flew with the Federal Bureau of Investigation before embarking on a career in commercial aviation in 1986 with United Airlines. Nearing retirement, has has most recently flown Boeing 777s on international routes.

Giuda began his political career in the 1990s as a selectman in Warren, and in 2000 was elected to the first of his three terms in the House, the last of which he served as deputy majority leader. In 2010 he ran for Congress, placing a distant third in a field of five in the Republican primary in the Second District behind Charlie Bass and Jennifer Horn.

Brian Gallagher

Having worked for three decades in public finance, Brian Gallagher is reaching for a seat in the Senate after serving one term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Raised in Johnston, Rhode Island, he graduated from Boston College with a degree in political science and later earned his master's degree in business administration from Plymouth State University.

Gallagher spent 12 years in the budget office of the New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services, which provides fiscal, budget and administrative oversight to all state departments and agencies and another eight years with the administrative office of the courts, which prepares the budget for the judicial branch and oversees its human resources, information technology and security. After leaving state service, he served as the first business manager of the Newfound School District, where he designed the budgeting model for the cooperative school district of seven towns. Taking the same position in what was the Windham-Pelham School District, he managed a budget of more than $90 million and oversaw construction of a new high school.

Fiscally and socially conservative, the two are cut from the same bolt of cloth. As a lawmaker Giuda backed a constitutional amendment to forever ban an income tax and legislation to introduce a state spending cap. Gallagher refers to "fighting against a sales and income tax" and curbing wasteful government spending as immediate challenges in Concord, together with budgeting without new or higher taxes. However, he allowed when revenues are strong revenue sharing and rooms and meal tax proceeds withheld from cities and towns should be incrementally increased.

For both Giuda and Gallagher, accelerating economic growth and expanding employment opportunities are high priorities. Giuda noted that rankings of business friendly states by the American Legislative Exchange and CNBC placed New Hampshire 38th and 48th among the 50 states respectively.

Both favor reducing business taxes, both the business profits tax and business enterprise tax, and relaxing business regulation. They claim that lower taxes will enable businesses to increase employment and raise wages, which will in turn will expand the tax base and generate more revenue from lower tax rates.

"It's classic supply-side economics," Gallagher said, likening the beneficial effects of lower taxes to ripples on a pond.

Likewise, both favor a voucher system that would provide parents choice in schooling their children and call for tailoring the secondary education curriculum more closely to the aptitudes and skills needed by employers. Giuda said that the education provided by the public school system has become "detached from the requirements of employment in the real world." At the same time, Gallagher said, "Everyone does not need to go to college," noting that any number of essential skills that support well-paid jobs can be learned and developed at regional technical centers and community colleges.

Giuda also stressed the need for investment in transportation infrastructure and high-speed internet, as well as lowering the cost of energy and worker's compensation. For his part, Gallagher said that the state should work more closely with businesses seeking to locate operations in the state, particularly by assisting in finding suitable sites and navigating local regulations. A champion of right-to-work legislation, he said that companies prefer to locate where the law has been enacted and projected "it would turn the exodus into a migration."

Like Forrester who was a staunch critic of the Northern Pass project, Gallagher and Giuda insist that the project should not proceed unless the the entire length of the transmission line is buried. Gallagher added that New Hampshire should get a greater share of the power. "Bury it and leave more power power behind," he said.

Although the two march to the same drumbeat, Giuda has chided Gallagher for sponsoring legislation to forbid women from going topless in public places, a matter he said, not entirely correctly, is addressed by local ordinances. In any event, when reminded of his bill, Gallagher said, "I think we can have a good laugh on that one. It's part of our changing culture, I guess."

Inter-Lakes Community Auditorium gets new seating


MEREDITH — The Inter-lakes Community Auditorium is getting a long-awaited seating facelift, thanks to a renovation project that began on Monday. The project is budgeted to cost $550,000 between the school district maintenance trust fund and the balance of the school district's account from unallocated funds. Construction is planned to be completed around Thanksgiving.
The current seating, installed when the auditorium at the high school was built in 1989, was meant to be versatile and retractable so the space can be used for multiple purposes.

"They're really stadium seats; there's no cushion in them, it's a piece of cardboard with fabric over it," said auditorium manager Jason Cornelissen. "It's just the nature of that type of system that was purchased 26 years ago that is designed to be a versatile seating. We're looking for comfort at this point. People want to come to a show and be comfortable."
Assistant Superintendent Trish Temperino said, "It will certainly make the space more welcoming, inviting and comfortable. They've certainly given the district a lot of faithful years of use but they were no longer comfortable."
Although the seating is the primary focus of this project, other changes will be made to the auditorium to make it more accessible, as well as bring it up to code by installing railings going up the aisles. Facilities Director Chris Wald said, "The entrance will be revised. The're going to do some (Americans with Disabilities Act) improvements to our sidewalks so folks can enter with a wheelchair. The doors themselves are going to be replaced with aluminum storefronts."
One of the other bigger changes coming to the auditorium is the addition of a cross aisle. "In most auditoriums there's two ways to enter: you can enter from the bottom and walk up or you can enter from underneath the seats and walk up through the stadium and that will enter onto a cross aisle," Wald said. This traffic flow can be distracting if people need to leave the auditorium during a performance.
This project encompasses the most pressing renovations needed for the auditorium. However, school officials hope to make added improvements in the not-too-distant future.

"I was trying to sell some other things that we could incorporate into the project to make it all one package," said Cornelissen, "but the price tag just kept going up and up, and out of respect to the taxpayers we decided that we didn't want to do that all at once."

Some of these ideas were the construction of dressing rooms off of the theater, upgrading lighting systems and increasing storage space.
Though there is more work to be done in the future, the current plan is a source of excitement for the revitalization of a critical auditorium.

"It's a big part of what the Lakes Region is. The arts are really alive," Wald said, explaining the impact these renovations will have for the community auditorium.
"Because we have a summer theater in there during the summertime, the new seats and layout will be much better for the folks who like to use the summer theater as well as for our students during the school year," said Temperino.
"We're excited about it," said Cornelissen. "It's definitely going to add a whole new look to the actual facility because they're going to be much bigger seats and a little more stylish. Any of those people who in the past have been to a show and haven't had the greatest experiences as far as sitting in the seat we're hoping that this is going to entice them to come back and enjoy a show in a comfortable seat."
The auditorium is scheduled to be up and running for the school district's winter concerts come December.

08-31 I-L auditorium old seats

These are the seats that have been torn out of the Inter-Lakes Community Auditorium as of Monday. They will be replaced with larger, more comfortable seats. (Brooke Robinson/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

08-31 I-L auditorium platforms

After the first day of demolition, all that that was left were the platforms that the seats were on. These platforms were retractable in order to make the space more versatile, but this was determined to be unnecessary, so these platforms are being torn out and the stadium seating in the auditorium will stay in place instead of being moveable. (Brooke Robinson/for The Laconia Daily Sun)