'Lucky' dog has his day

LACONIA — "Lucky Jr.", the mascot at Sanborn's Auto Repair on Court Street, celebrated his third birthday in style yesterday afternoon and drew a big crowd to a ''Throwback Thursday'' event at the business.
Perhaps the best known dog in the Lakes Region, thanks to his frequent appearances in the company's ads in The Daily Sun, the affable English Lab is also a registered therapy dog according to his owner, Ginny Sanborn..
She says he has fans all around the area, including the St. Francis Home in Laconia, where he is a regular visitor, and at Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro where all the ads featuring him are displayed.
Earlier this year he was the the guest of honor at the Profile Bank's ''Dog Days of Summer'' celebration which marked the 10th anniversary of the opening of the bank's Alton branch office.
Among those turning out for the birthday party, which featured refreshments, balloons and gift bags, was 77-year-old Bob Lemay of Laconia, who said that he and Lucky both share the same birthday.
''They didn't believe that when I first met Lucky so I showed them my driver's license,'' said Lemay, who said that since a year in a dog's life amounts to seven human years, that Lucky will some day be older than him. ''He's 21 right now in human years,'' said Lemay. That would mean that in 10 years Lucky will be 91 and Lemay only 87.
Jane Kuzmak of Laconia said that she really enjoys Lucky and was happy to be at his birthday party. ''He's more like a human being than a pet. He's just so friendly and fun to be around.''
''Everybody loves 'Lucky'. He's a well adjusted dog who loves being around people,'' says Sanborn. She says that a phone call to Michigan in an attempt to find an English Lab to replace the original Lucky led to her being referred to a person from Nashua who was an English Lab breeder.
''He had already been sold to a family but the girl thought he was too big so they brought him back and took home his sister,'' says Sanborn.
''This has been a match made in heaven,'' says Sanborn, who handles advertising and public relations for the auto repair business and is no stranger to the news media, having appeared on the Nashville Network Show in 1996 hosted by Katie Haas in which she was New Hampshire's representative in ''America's Ultimate Cowgirl'' competition.
She says that proceeds from the event, which included a raffle of tickets to Patriots-Jets football game on October 25, will go to the Franklin Animal Shelter.

"Lucky Jr.", the mascot at Sanborn's Auto Repair in Laconia, celebrated his third birthday yesterday. Shown with Lucky are Jane Kuzmak, Bob Lemay, ''Doggie'', in costume, and, kneeling. Lucky's owner Ginny Sanborn, and Shane Kaplan. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

All-day K cars snarl Belmont El traffic

BELMONT — The introduction of full-day kindergarten has led to traffic problems at Belmont Elementary School, where earlier this week Principal Sheila Arnold called on the police to ease congestion stalling traffic on Rte. 140 and ensure the safety of children entering school amid queuing vehicles.

Arnold explained that with the transition from half-day to full-day kindergarten, all 96 pupils, which is 13 more than were enrolled in half-day kindergarten a year ago, reach and leave school at the same time. "it's an increase of about 50 cars," she said. She said that as cars line up to drop off children the queue spills into Rte. 140.

Lieutenant Richard Mann of the Belmont Police, said that when the school called for assistance on Monday the police were fielding calls from irate motorists caught in stalled traffic. He said that police shuffled cars bringing children to school into two lanes, which alleviated then congestion. He said that police recommended parents drop off and pick up children at the rear of the school building, which would eliminate or minimize the back up of traffic on the highway.

"We'd been muddling through," Arnold confessed. "It wasn't safe. So I called the experts." She said that dropping off and picking up at the rear of the school creates space for about 40 cars, eliminating any significant overflow on to Rte. 140.

Arnold added the situation would be further improved at the end of the school day if parents would not arrive too early, but closer to the last bell when children are ready to leave so that stopped traffic does not back up.

Michigan pastor will be Laconia on Sunday to speak of his work on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota

LACONIA — In 1998, when a wind shear littered the town of West Olive, Michigan with fallen timber, Keith Titus, recently ordained pastor of the United Church of Christ, asked local officials what they intended to do with the trees. "They said they were going to turn them to mulch," he recalled, "but I told them I had a better idea." Together with more than 80 volunteers Titus cut up the windfall, filled two tractor trailers and, with his wife Virginia and friend Mike Alles, delivered the firewood to the Oglala Lakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Titus has returned to Pine Ridge every year since. He founded Re-Member, a nonprofit corporation, which every year brings 1,200 to 1,400 volunteers to the reservation where it maintains a year-round staff and plans to expand its presence.

On Neighbors in Need Sunday, October 4, Titus will preach at the services at 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. at the Congregational Church of Laconia UCC and afterward speak about the work and plans of Re-Member at the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The Pine Ridge Reservation sprawls over 3,468 square miles — about the size of Connecticut,less than five-percent them suited to agriculture. The U.S. Census counted 15,521 residents in 2010, but a study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found more than 28,000, half of them — and 69-percent of the children — living below the federal poverty line, in one of three poorest counties in the country. With high rates of diabetes, heart disease and tuberculosis and suicide running at twice and infant mortality at thrice the national rate, life expectancy is the lowest anywhere in the western hemisphere other than Haiti. " The most successful business at Pine Ridge," said Titus, "is the undertaker."

"Be careful coming out here," Titus said he tells the volunteers, "because your life will never be the same." Volunteers, he explained, spend half their time working, primarily by improving housing conditions on the reservation, especially for children. Re-Member has provided more than 6,000 bunk beds, installed windows and doors, replaced roofs and added skirts to trailers to keep out the weather.

Titus said that volunteers spend the other half of their time gaining an understanding and appreciation of the history and culture of the Oglala Lakota, the band of Sioux that spawned Red Cloud, who fought the United States Cavalry to a standstill in the 1870s, and Crazy Horse, the most celebrated warrior on the northern plains.

"We don't do any preaching or evangelizing," Titus said. "The primary focus is to change the lives of our volunteers. We're not there to fix things for the Lakota people, but to stand beside them and support them in any way they wish to be supported."

Titus described himself as a "roving ambassador at-large" for Re-Member, the leadership of which has passed to other hands, with the task of rallying support for Feather II, the capital campaign to raise $1.5-million to expand the organization's presence at Pine Ridge. In 2010, Re-Member purchased a 160-acre ranch on the reservation and this year erected of the first of 13 buildings — and "a whole lot of infrastructure" — planned for the site, Titus said that some $640,000 has been raised so far. Titus said that the centerpiece of the project will be an extensive garden. He explained that the rate of diabetes on the reservation — eight times the national rate — reflects the meager access to fresh fruit and vegetables.

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