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Female business owners tell congresswoman of their hopes & describe challenges

LACONIA — Women business owners described the trials and tribulations they have faced in starting and managing their own businesses at a Women Entrepreneurs Roundtable Monday morning at the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.
All agreed that stress was a major part of owning a small business and that it is experienced differently by women than men as, despite changes over the last several generations, most of the child-rearing and caring for elderly parents still falls on the shoulders of women.
Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, who along with the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center and the Chamberarranged the event, said that stress is the one constant theme she hears from other women business owners across the state and that seeking some relief and some improvement is one of the biggest needs of women business owners.
She said that one small step is her RENEW Business Act, which would help start-ups by increasing the tax deduction available to new businesses from $5,000 to $10,000.
Access to financing for start-up and expanding existing businesses and the cost of health insurance are the major issues facing small businesses all across the state according to Sally Holder, business adviser with the N.H. Small Business Development Center, who said that many SBDC resources are available to entrepreneurs, such as the Women-Owned Small Business Program.
Holder said that for many older women who are starting their own businesses one major issue is overcoming gender stereotypes and adapting to the role of goal setting and decision making in a manner which ''gets us out of the weeds'' and enables them to really take control of their business operations.
Cindi Ingalls, who along with her husband, Mike, who has his own career as engineer, started the Lakes Region Pet Resort on Rte. 3 in Center Harbor three years ago, says that one of her major problems is finding good employees.
''There are things we weren't aware of when we started our business, which 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It takes special people to be able to do that and and they're hard to find. There's a lot of physical work and some of the overnight shifts are hard to fill. One worker never showed up for their shift and that adds extra stress to doing our business.''
She said that younger workers of the what is known as the Millennial Generation put quality of life issues above all others and are sometimes difficult to work with as they don't like to stick with a schedule, whereas those of other generations are more concerned with keeping their jobs and having a regular paycheck. She recalls that when she first presented her plan for an upscale Pet Resort to a banker she was ''laughed right out of the office'' but eventually was able to obtain financing and start her business, which has proved very successful and now is 65 percent repeat business.
Jane Wood, who is the office manger at Patrick Wood Law LLC, her husband's firm, says that the biggest challenge is the poor economic climate. ''It's been so bad for so long. We weren't able to give raises for the last five years and had to let one person go. We have good people who work for us and fortunately she (the laid-off employee) was able to land a job where she could get health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act for half of what we had to pay.''
She observed that many women make the mistake of calling themselves and other women in business as ''girls'' and that often translates to others as saying ''you're a child and not be taken seriously.''
Jeanne Howe Compton, owner of New England Porch Rockers, says that she wants to take her chair caning business to the next level by obtaining financing which will enable her to get into manufacturing. She cited one success story involving four locally-owned women businesses who have joined together to form the Vintage Row Shops which are located on the same street, which is something of an elbow of Pleasant Street attached to the Downtown Laconia area.
''I'd like to be part of something which brings Laconia back to the place it was when I was kid,'' said Compton.
Lani Voivod, who partners with her husband, Alan, at Epiphanies Inc. says that the social media firm has been able to work with some high profile clients and she and her husband are co-founders of the "A-Ha!" N.H. Social Media Business Summits.
She said that women bring unique strengths to the business world through their sense of community, social responsibility and collaboration and have been able to change the conversation about what a successful business really should look like.
''We're changing the language of business and making it more intuitive and innovative,'' says Voivod.


Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (center) talks with women business owners Monday morning at a Women Entrepreneurs Roundtable at the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. With Shea-Porter, center, are, left to right, Cindi Ingalls of the Lakes Region Pet Resort, Jeanne Howe Compton of New England Porch Rockers, Lani Voivod of Epiphanies, Inc., Karmen Gifford, executive director of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Jane Wood, office manager of Patrick Wood Law Office and Sally Holder, business adviser with the NH Small Business Development Center. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun.)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 12:56

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2 separate hiking groups rescued from Mt. Major over weekend - 576

ALTON — Two separate hiking groups were rescued from Mt. Major in Alton over the weekend, according to the N.H. Fish & Game Department.

On Saturday at 7:55 p.m., 911 dispatchers received a call that two people were off trail and lost in the vicinity of Mt. Major in Alton. Movva Rao Nageswara, age 48, of Switzerland, and his daughter Raasida Gaugier, age 19, of Medford, Massachusetts, began hiking the mountain at approximately 4:15 p.m. They summited Mt. Major and then continued along the blue trail until they found what they thought was a separate green-blazed trail that led down the mountain. However the green blaze was actually an old boundary line, and they eventually lost the green blaze and became lost, at which time they called 911 for assistance. Alton Fire Rescue responded, along with Alton Police.

Meanwhile, at approximately 8:30 p.m., 911 dispatch received a second call for lost hikers in the same area. A church group from Massachusetts, consisting of 35 hikers, including 16 children, some as young as 3-years-old, had left the trailhead to Mt. Major at approximately 4:00 p.m. to summit the mountain. The group reached the top and took some time to enjoy the views and pick blueberries. When they departed the summit, they took the wrong trail, one leading away from the trailhead. By the time they realized their mistake, they were several miles from the trailhead and it was getting dark. The group had no lights or provisions, so they decided to wait at their current location and called 911 for assistance. Alton Fire Rescue and Alton Police were already on scene and initiated a second search for the lost group.

The search for the two groups was made difficult due to the lack of cell phone coverage and intermittent radio reception. Eventually, Fish and Game was called in to assist, with the first officers arriving at approximately 10:30 p.m. The priority was given to the group of 35 members, and they were eventually located at 1:37 a.m. the next morning by a member of the Alton Fire Department. The group was in high spirits, gathered around a fire singing songs. Lights and provisions were gathered and a rescue party consisting of Alton Fire-Rescue and Fish and Game personnel reached the group and escorted them to Alton Mountain Road, arriving at 3:13 a.m. The group was transported back to the trailhead, where they were returned to their vehicles.

The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team (DHART) Helicopter was asked to assist in the search for the pair of lost hikers first reported. At 3:45 a.m., the DHART helicopter arrived on scene to begin a search using both FLIR and search lights. A Fish and Game search party consisting of Conservation Officer Ron Arsenault and Conservation Officer Joe Canfield made voice contact with two lost hikers at 4:29 a.m. and DHART was directed to focus their search in the officers' location, which resulted in the subjects being located at 4:36 a.m. The two hikers were assessed and guided to Alton Mountain Road, where transportation was awaiting to drive them back to the trailhead, where their car was parked.

Fish and Game officials say both incidents could have been prevented by good planning and preparation. They advise hikers to remember to pack appropriate lighting, clothing, equipment, food and water. It is also always good practice to hike with a partner in case of a medical emergency. Hikes often take longer than anticipated, and weather is unpredictable. Having appropriate gear aides in safety. Please visit http://www.hikesafe.com for a list of recommended equipment.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 12:43

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Abby's home safe! Conway teen was missing for 286 days

(This article was written by staff members of The Conway Daily Sun.)

CONWAY — She's home, safe and sound.

North Conway teen Abigail Hernandez was reunited safely with her family Sunday evening, according to a statement issued Monday afternoon by authorities. Hernandez, of North Conway, disappeared last Oct. 9 after leaving Kennett High School. She vanished just days before her 15th birthday.

Attorney General Joseph A. Foster, Conway Police Chief Edward Wagner, New Hampshire State Police Colonel Robert Quinn and FBI Supervisory Senior Resident Agent in Charge William Scott O'Donnell issued the following statement Monday:

"(We) are pleased to announce that Abigail Hernandez was safely reunited with her family yesterday evening. The facts and circumstances surrounding Abigail's disappearance continue to be actively investigated by members of the agencies noted above. Further details will be provided once it has been determined that releasing additional information will not compromise the integrity of the ongoing criminal investigation. Law enforcement thanks the public for its cooperation and assistance in the investigation over the past months and continues to welcome the public's assistance as the investigation continues."

The statement added that "the Hernandez family has requested privacy as they assist with the law enforcement efforts and as they spend time supporting and caring for Abigail."

The press release quoted Zenya Hernandez, Abigail's mother, as saying, "Today we are the happiest people on Earth."

Very few details were available Monday. Jane Young, of the Attorney General's office, said more information may be available for release on Tuesday.

Young did say that Abigail Hernandez is in "good condition," and she added, "She's been reunited with her family. They are ecstatic that she is home. We have investigators out working to find answers to all the questions, and our focus will continue to be that.

Kieran Ramsey of the FBI called The Conway Daily Monday afternoon from Cape Cod, where he is on vacation.

"The details about how she returned home, and other stuff behind the scenes we are not commenting on outside of the four corners of the press statement, other than to thank the media for keeping the story out there and everyone for their efforts," said Ramsey. "All else will come out in the wash, and the investigation continues. We are all collectively happy that she is safe and sound and that she is home."

The Conway Police Department referred all calls to the Attorney General's office.

The website, Bringabbyhome.com, posted the following statement Monday afternoon:

"Abby is safely home with her mom and sister! Family requests privacy right now. Thank you to everyone who has shared fliers, offered help and support. We cant thank you enough! We will keep you all updated. THANK YOU!

The post contained a photograph, showing the words "thank you" in several different languages.

Bringabbyhome volunteer Amanda Smith posted this message on her Facebook account:

"I want to personally say a HUGE thank you to everyone," wrote Smith. "You will never understand how much so many of you have helped me push on in the last nine months. My heart is beyond overjoyed for my friend. She has her baby girl back! Thank you to everyone who shared fliers, posted fliers, offered emotional support. You all are amazing. And thank you Jesus, she's home!"

Paul Kirsch, who ran the website Bringabbyhome.com and organized much of the volunteer effort to find her, wrote this message on his Facebook account.

"Thanks everyone who has kept Abby in their thoughts, prayers and shared posts, posters, bought magnets, and everything else to keep hope alive," said Kirsch. "It reminds me of all that is good in my community and the world."

Kirsch thanked Smith for her efforts.

"Most importantly, a huge, huge thanks to Amanda Smith, who has been more than anyone could ever ask for in a friend in terms of what she has done for the Hernandez family and keeping up all of the online activity, posts, sharing and amazing energy," said Kirsch. "She's been diligently doing a daily post every single day since October, never, ever giving up hope."

Numerous people wrote in on the Conway Daily Sun's Facebook account to share their relief.

"Even living in Ohio (raised in and graduated from the valley) I had been glued to this story," wrote Nicholas Tozier. "Never thought there would be a happy ending.. Amazing!"

Since her disappearance, the teen sent one letter home at the end of October and had not been heard from again. Law enforcement, ranging from the local police to the FBI, were involved in the search. National media outlets ran the story repeatedly.

The FBI offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to Abby's return. Her mother, Zenya Hernandez, offered a $10,000 reward. Abby's father and Zenya's former husband, Ruben Hernandez, added to the pot, by offering an additional $30,000 bringing the total reward to $60,000 for any information that led to Abby's safe return.

Signs were posted throughout the region. The Conway Daily Sun posted a notice on Page 2 of every issue, listing the days since she had been missing. Saturday's total stood at 285 — meaning she was reunited with her family on the 286th day Sunday.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Franklin woman alleged to have scored heroin at Laconia 'beach'

CIRCUIT COURT — A Franklin woman was ordered held on $7,500 cash-only bail yesterday following her appearance in the 4th Circuit court – Laconia Divison for allegedly possessing three separate types of controlled and illegal drugs, including heroin.

Tamaralynn Sirard, 54, of 164 Sanborn Hill Road is charged with one count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute it, one count of possession of Ritalin, and one count of possession of Valium.

According to police affidavits obtained from the court, police said they were notified by a caller from the informal "Davis Place Beach" on the Winnipesaukee River in Laconia that a "skinny woman in a bikini" was involved in a drug transaction.

The caller said he or she heard them say "this is all I can afford" and said the woman was holding something in her hand. The caller told police the woman was a passenger in a tan Ford Contour.

Two Laconia detectives drove an unmarked cruiser to Highland Street where they said they saw a tan Ford Contour. They followed the car and stopped it at Tyler Street Market.

After identifying one of the people in the car as Simard, police asked her if she had been involved in a drug deal at the river beach and she allegedly told them she hadn't done anything wrong.

Affidavits said she volunteered her handbag. When police checked it they found a clear plastic baggie contained six smaller baggies that contained a brown powdery substance consistent with heroin.

They also found a pill vial with a more brown powdery substance and $350 in cash and the contents later field tested positive for heroin.

Police also found three Valium pills and one Ritalin pill.

Affidavits said Simard agreed to a search of her car. While performing the search they said Simard sat at the side of Tyler Street Market. At one point, a police officer saw two hypodermic needles stuffed into the siding. Simard admitted to one of the detectives that the needles were hers.

Once in jail, affidavits said corrections officers found a hidden compartment in her purse that contained item typically associated with heroin use including a burned spoon and a lighter.

At her court appearance yesterday, City Prosecutor Jim Sawyer said Simard has a lengthy criminal record that dates back to the 1980s. He said she was sentenced to two and one-half to 10 years in N.H. State prison for a possession of narcotic charge in 2006 from Merrimack County.

He said she was a danger to the public and asked for $20,000 cash-only bail.

Public Defender Justin Littlefield argued that she had a permanent address and had for a while, was the caretaker for one person and had an elderly father who just had open heart surgery.

He said she hasn't had any infractions or parole violation since 2006 and that he believes she may have recently suffered some kind of a relapse.

Littlefield added that while on parole, Simard was very active in the community and in schools by going and speaking out against drug abuse.

He said she had been in a significant car crash and not only was in a lot of pain but suffered some brain damage and memory loss. He said she needs medication she can't get in jail.

Carroll determined $20,000 personal recognizance bail and $7,500 cash was appropriate.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 12:16

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