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Belknap County delegation breaks 12-3 against casino gambling

CONCORD — Only three members of the Belnap County Delegation voted in favor when the New Hampshire House of Representatives yesterday voted to reject a bill to authorize one casino to operate slot machines and table games at a location in the southeastern quarter of the state. The vote was 173 to 144.

Democrats Lisa DiMartino of Gilford and Ruth Gulick of New Hampton were joined by Republican Dennis Fields of Sanbornton in support of the bill.

Ten Republicans — Reps. Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, Guy Comtois of Barnstead, Jane Cormier and Stephen Holmes of Alton, Don Flanders, Bob Luther and Frank Tilton of Laconia, Bob Greemore and Herb Vadney of Meredith and Michael Sylvia of Belmont — and two Democrats — Reps. David Huot of Laconia and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton — voted against the bill.

Reps. Beth Arsenault (D-Laconia), Charles Fink (R-Belmont) and Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) were absent and did not vote.

Without roll call votes the House also scuttled two other bills to expand gambling by permitted as many as six venues with video lottery machines.

A Senate bill, sponsored by Senators Lou D'Allesandro (D-Manchester) and Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia) was amended and endorsed by the Senate Ways and Means Committee then tabled in the Senate.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 March 2014 12:49

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Warren Buffet-owned company buys Florence Cummins Real Estate

GILFORD — After more than four decades as a mainstay of the real estate business in the Lakes Region, Florence Cummins Real Estate has merged, allying itself with one of the most hallowed brands in the world of commerce.

Margherita Verani and Giovani Veranii, chief executive officer and president respectively of Berkshire Hathaway Verani Realty of Londonderry announced the merger with Florence Cummins Realty yesterday. Berkshire Hathaway is a holding company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, whose chairman and chief executive officer, Warren Buffett, is among the most revered — and wealthiest — figures in the world of business.

In a prepared statement Susan Cummins-Harris, principal owner of Florance Cummins Real Estate, said that she "recognized the need to explore new opportunities to help expand the business." The merger, she explained, will provide the firm with advanced technology and marketing systems that will enable it to broaden its reach to national and international markets. "I believe we have chosen the best operational systems with the best real estate firm in New Hampshire," Cummins-Harris said.

The merger marks the Verani's second foray into the Lakes Region is as many years. Last year the company merged with Exit Lakeside Realty with offices in Laconia and Tilton.

Founded in 1967, Verani Realty became a franchisee of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in December. In 1998 Berkshire Hathaway acquired Mid American Energy Holdings Company and with it Home Services, a real estate brokerage. Later Buffett remarked that he "barely norticed" he had entered the real estate business. In January this year, 16 years after acquiring HomeServices, the firm was blessed with the Berkshire Hathaway brand, which some market watchers took to signal Buffett's growing confidence in recovering property markets.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 March 2014 12:37

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Fighting Spirit Laconia bound: Northern States Hockey League team will call Ice Arena home next winter

LACONIA — Rod Simmons, head coach and manager of the American Hockey Institute's Fighting Spirit, says he's only spent a little time in Laconia but he's already impressed with the city's hockey tradition and is looking forward to having his junior hockey team play a full schedule next season at the Laconia Ice Arena.
''It's nice to come to a city that has a long tradition of supporting local hockey teams'' said Simmons, as he read a history of the Laconia Lakers, an amateur hockey team that started playing in Laconia in 1946 and became a powerhouse during the 1950s and 1960s, at the entryway to the Laconia Ice Arena, which was written by Lakers' goalie John Richardson.
Simmons, who is from Ogdensburg in upstate New York, has coached the Fighting Spirit to two straight first place finishes in the Northern States Hockey League and saw his team advance to the semifinals with 7-1 and 6-3 wins over the New England Stars at the Laconia Ice Arena last weekend.
The Fighting Spirit will be looking for their second straight win in the league championship series this coming weekend in Morrisville, New York, where they play the Jersey Shore Wildcats Saturday and hope to advance to Sunday's championship game.
The Fighting Spirit moved to Waterville Valley last summer after playing the previous year at Lake George, New York, and were forced to look for a new home when the New York arena decided not to put down any ice.
''We've really enjoyed Waterville but have been looking for a larger community where our players can get involved. Laconia has a strong youth program and that will allow our players to do some volunteer activity'' said Simmons.
The Laconia Ice Arena has been the home for many years of the Laconia Junior Leafs and New Hampshire Lakers, who played in the Eastern Hockey League and the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League, but those teams opted last summer to take the year off due to a number of issues.
Simmons said that his players are 18-20 year-olds who are looking to play college hockey at the Division I and Division II level and will be taking college courses, hopefully at Lakes Region Community College and will live in dorm style atmosphere like that of a prep school where they will be supervised by their coaches.
Simmons' wife Lisa, a native of London, Ontario, who is a professional power skating instructor, is the team's skating coach.
He said that the Fighting Spirit has already placed 40 of its players in Division I and Division II schools and that between seven and nine players from the 2013-14 team are likely to be placed this year.

Members of AHI Fighting Spirit practice at the Laconia Ice Arena, where they defeated the New England Stars 7-1 and 6-3 in a weekend series to advance to the semifinals of the Northern States Hockey League in Morrisville, New York this coming weekend. The Fighting Spirit will move to Laconia next season after having played this season in Waterville Valley. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Friday, 14 March 2014 12:28

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February was record month for Gunstock Mountain

GILFORD — Gunstock Mountain Resort General Manager Greg Goddard told selectmen Wednesday night that February revenues set an all-time record.

Goddard, who gives selectmen a brief review of activities twice a year, said the resort is on target to reach a 3 percent revenue growth goal over last year.

"We had two great school vacation weeks," Goddard said, noting that the weather in February, while painful for the people who don't participate in winter sports, was excellent for Gunstock.

He described January as "kind of schizophrenic" with "monsoons" early in the month and extreme cold weather toward the end.

"We were able to recover (from the rains) in time to have a good Martin Luther King holiday weekend," he said.

He said there were solid season pass sales and in February the resort broke records in all revenue categories including tickets, lessons, rentals, children's activities, retail sales, food and beverage sales and Nordic events.

Gunstock's fiscal year runs from May 1 until April 30. When the books close on fiscal year 2014, Goddard said they should be on target to meet their 3 percent growth goal. With no major or unanticipated capital expenses, Goddard said they should have a good year.

"We always have something come up but expenses are in line with expectations," he said.

He told selectmen the ski season would end on April 6.

"I know that seems kind of early but most people have had enough by then," Goddard said.

With the opening of the summer adventure park and the zip line this past season, Goddard said the resort needs at least five to six weeks between the end of ski season and the beginning of the summer season to prepare the mountain and get the summit ready.

The adventure park opens on May 24, or the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. He said permanent campers will be able to set up starting May 17.

In other Gunstock news, Goddard said the tentative date of the Tough Mudder event is the second week in September, but the event organizers are having some trouble finding parking for 5,600 people.

Last year, Tough Mudder was held on one of the hottest weekends in July and more than the usual number of participants succumbed to heat-related symptoms, taxing their own medical resources as well as those of the Gilford Fire Department.

Goddard said last year participants parked at the N.H. Motor Speedway in Loudon, however if the event is held during the second weekend of September, the speedway will not be available because it is the week before a NASCAR race and that's when the track has camper move-in day.

When selectmen asked if Gunstock would have horseback riding this year, Goddard said they wouldn't because horses and the zips lines are "incompatible,"

"I guess the horses think they are big giant birds swooping down on them," he said saying skittish horses and novice riders are also incompatible.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 March 2014 12:17

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