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Visiting Franklin bounces Sachems from Division II basketball tournament

LACONIA — The Sachems were bounced out of the NHIAA Division III girls' basketball tournament last night, 44-33, by a visiting Franklin team that opened the game on a 10-0 run. Laconia only managed three points in the first quarter and five total in the first half.

Franklin pressured the Sachem offense from the opening tipoff, forcing Laconia to turn over the ball 24 times.

Laconia cut Franklin's lead to eight with two minutes to play but two technical fouls on the Sachems pushed the lead back into double digits and put the game out of reach. Senior Forward Katrina Styles had a game high 25 points in the victory. Laconia's leaders were sophomore Natalie Compton with six points and sophomore Taylor Sullivan with five.

Franklin will travel to the top seeded Newfound on Saturday night for a quarterfinal round match

In other NHIAA Division III tournament play Gilford beat Bow 43-39 and Winnisquam fell to Campbell 50-32.

Laconia finished the season with a 12-7 record. Three of those losses were at the hands of Franklin.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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While enforcing eviction in Barnstead, sheriff deputies said to have found pot farm

BARNSTEAD — Following up on an order of eviction at 10 Barnstead Road, Belknap County Sheriffs Deputies discovered what they are labeling marijuana grow operation.

While the tenants were not there — they had been ordered to vacate by February 26 — police secured the residence and applied for a search warrant.

During the execution of the warrant, police found seven healthy marijuana plants ranging from one to three feet tall, multiple grow lights and heating pads, fertilizers, grinders, books on marijuana cultivation, and other growing equipment and drug paraphernalia.

The Belknap County Sheriffs Department and the Barnstead Police continue their investigation and expect one or more arrests to be made in the near future.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 February 2014 01:57

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Alton Central School renovation/expansion plan whittled down from $19M to $4M

ALTON — School Board member Steve Miller, who a year ago was among the most outspoken opponents of borrowing $18.7 million to renovate, reconstruct and expand Central School, is championing a warrant article to spend $4,200,825 to build six classrooms and new office space.

"We're getting the kids in the school where its safe and warm," Miller said yesterday, explaining that the new space would replace the four modular units that have housed students for years and are nearing the end of their useful life.

Last year voters soundly rejected a proposal to add a second story housing eight classrooms in 11,660-square-feet constructed atop classrooms on the ground floor. In addition, the plan called for converting the existing gymnasium to a cafeteria and multi-purpose room and replacing it with the 7,644-square-foot gymnasium, which served the former Alton High School.
Altogether the project included the renovation of some 64,750-square-feet and the construction of 28,347-square-feet of new space.

At the time, Miller offered an alternative plan that would have eliminated the modular units, added administrative office space and replaced the HVAC system with a price tag of $7 million that was rejected by Deliberative Session voters while Ray Howard proposed a $4 million project that also failed, but by a narrow margin. "I think the $7 million plan would have been doable this year," Miller said, "but the $4 million project will suffice for now."

The $4.2 million would fund construction of 10,588-square-feet to house six classrooms, along with additional restrooms, and another 3,588-square-feet of office space to accommodate administrative personnel, who are scattered around the building.

Noting that security of both the school and its students will be significantly enhanced, Miller remarked that bringing the students under one roof and enabling staff to screen access became high priorities after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. In addition, a new fire suppression and alarm system will be installed, together with new ceilings and enhanced lighting.

It's a big deal," Miller said, "but I think the whole town, with a few exceptions, understands the need. He estimates that the project would add between 60 cents and 65 cents to the property tax rate depending on the term and rate of the borrowing. Altogether the town would borrow $3.9 million and draw approximately $732,000 from three expendable trust funds to finance the project.

The School Board voted three-to-nothing in favor of the project, which was also recommended by the Budget Committee.

Voting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 11.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 February 2014 01:53

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26-year-old woman took 1,000 mile hike, all alone, in the Alaskan wilderness

MOULTONBOROUGH — One day this past summer, Kristin Gates found herself running toward a treeline in Alaska's Brooks Range, hot on the tails of a pack of wolves that disappeared into the trees moments earlier. What would make Gates, a 26 year-old who grew up in Greenwich, Conn., do such a thing?

Gates had just rounded a bend in a river to find herself about 100 feet away from a caribou carcass that was being devoured by a grizzly bear. The wolves had killed the caribou and eaten most of it, Gates figured by the size of their distended bellies, only to have their kill absconded by the bear. Given the choice between the company of sated wolves or a hungry grizzly, Gates high-tailed it to the woods.

That episode was just one of many adventures Gates experienced during her traverse of the Brooks Range, which stretches from east to west across the northern half of the country's wildest state. Gates's trek took her 1,000 miles and 51 days, from June 13 to August 2. She is believed to be the first woman to hike the range solo.

Gates is spending the winter staying at her parents' home in Moultonborough, giving public talks and working on a book about her experience.

Gates was first introduced to outdoor adventures by her father. While growing up in Connecticut, she and her family would visit grandparents in Meredith. When she was eight, Gates and her father set out on the goal of hiking all 48 of New Hampshire's 4,000-foot peaks. They accomplished that goal by the time she was 15, and along the way covered many miles of the Appalachian Trail. They also crossed paths with many through-hikers — people following the trail all the way from the trail's start in Georgia to its terminus at Mount Katahdin in Maine. She became infected with the idea of following in their footsteps, and used the summer after her freshman year to fall in love with long-distance hiking.

Her first through hike was the Long Trail in Vermont. By the time she had completed the 272-mile trail, she thought she might have had enough. She made the rookie mistake of packing too heavy — her pack weighed 50 pounds — and she wasn't yet comfortable in the woods by herself. "After I finished the Long Trail, I remember telling my mom, 'Maybe this isn't for me'," she said. Oh, how wrong she was.

After her sophomore year at Colby College, where she studied English and Classical Civilization with a minor in Geology — "I wanted to be Indiana Jones" — she tackled the Appalachian Trail and fell head over heels. "Every day was so much fun, I just completely fell in love with the way of life and the community." The next summer, after writing every outdoor company she could think of for sponsorships, she hiked the 2,663 mile long Pacific Coast Trail, and a year later, after graduating from Colby, she added the Continental Divide Trail to her list of accomplishments.

With the Continental Divide Trail done, she had accomplished the "Triple Crown" of American through-hikes. Yet, her appetite for adventure was far from satisfied. She moved to Alaska where she got a job as a river guide at a remote camp, where she also learned to help run sled dogs in training for the Iditarod. She lived in the remote village of Coldfoot, which is at the edge of the Brooks Range. "The time I spend up in Coldfoot, I really fell in love with the area and the Brooks Range. You feel like you're the first person to set foot in there. The fact that it's true wilderness was what really intrigued me."

One of her acquaintances suggested to Gates that she should hike the range, an idea she initially balked at. However, the more she thought about it, the more the challenge intrigued her. After three years of living in Alaska, she was riding a bush plane to the easternmost stretch of the range, about to set off on her greatest adventure yet.

Gates was blessed with unusually warm weather during her expedition. Temperatures ranged from 30 degrees and snowing to 80 degree heat. Last year's weather was also strange for the wildlife. Typically, by early July, the caribou herds that winter in the Brooks Range have moved to their summer grounds, however a late thaw kept them in the range for the first two weeks of Gates's trek. And where the caribou are, the grizzlies follow.

"For the first two weeks, I saw at least one grizzly bear every day." 

Gates was familiar with guns, as it was necessary for her to be prepared to shoot a moose should one attack her sled dogs. However, she elected to cross the Brooks Range unarmed. "It was a decision I made very carefully," she said. Her research prior to the trip showed that grizzly attacks in the Brooks Range were quite rare, with only three known fatal attacks. And, in one of those attacks, the victim had a gun and successfully shot the bear but was still unable to prevent his own death. She carried anti-bear spray instead, which fell more in line with her sense of wilderness ethics. "I'm on their land, there's something that bothers me about killing these animals."

Although bears might have been the most intimidating of her perils, the leading causes of human death in the Brooks Range are drowning and hypothermia. To let her family know she was safe, she carried a "spot beacon" that would transmit a signal every night to tell her parents that she was okay, and where she was located. If needed, it could be used to send a distress signal, and she also had a satellite phone for emergencies.

Although the Brooks Range is among the wildest places in the country, she did come across some traces of civilization. Those stops included three native villages, where she said she was treated with "amazing hospitality." At two of those villages, strangers took her out for a day of fishing, offers she happily accepted.

For most of her trip, her spirits were high. She experienced a low period, though. Her path took her past the home of some of her friends, and she stopped there for a few days of rest. When she left her familiar company and returned to the wilderness, she realized just how lonely she could feel. She listened to podcasts, funny ones, especially, and kept herself busy until she felt better.

She's had the winter to talk about, write about and reflect upon her adventure. And she's getting ready to begin her next one. Gates will be joining a hiking buddy this time to float down the Yukon River and follow the 2,000 mile path that prospecting miners took in the 1890s during the Klondike Gold Rush. Gates is hoping to model her life after English adventurer Alaistair Humphreys, who uses book sales and speaking fees to fund his expeditions, and his expeditions to inspire his books and talks. If she's successful, it will mean a lifetime of adventure.

"It's just become my passion," said Gates. "There's nothing more exciting for me than to travel through the world on foot, with everything I need on my back. It makes me happy, it's what I love."



Kristin Gates, who is spending this winter in Moultonborough, was the first woman to hike solo through the Brooks Range in Alaska. (Courtesy photo)



Kristin Gates, shown here in her tent during her traverse of the Brooks Range in Alaska, had daily grizzly bear sightings for the first two weeks of her 51-day adventure. (Courtesy photo)

Last Updated on Friday, 14 March 2014 03:52

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