First Student lauded by police and managment for job well done in Friday school bus accident

BELMONT – Local police and the manager of the First Student Bus company are lauding the actions taken by their driver last Friday at 4 p.m. when her bus was rear-ended by an alleged drunk driver at the railroad tracks that cross Route 3 near Dutile Shore Road.

Lt. Rich Mann said not only was the driver able to maintain control of her bus, but she was able to calm the elementary-aged Belmont children and still manage to get the license plate and identification of the car that hit them and fled.

With her assistance, said Mann, Sanbornton Police were able to arrest Raya Sar, 29, of Laconia Road in Sanbornton and charge him with driving while intoxicated. Sar, who was released on personal recognizance bail, also faces one count of leaving the scene of an accident. His court date is Jan. 7 in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

Sar admitted to police that he had been at a Christmas party at his job and had consumed alcoholic beverages.

One child was taken by ambulance to the Lakes Region General Hospital with a minor head wound and was released later that night. Mann said the rest of the students were upset but "in good hands with that driver."

Student First Belmont Location Manager Joyce Howard-Sigler said she couldn't identify the driver according to company rules but noted that she "is an amazing job" and the company is proud of her and all their drivers.

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Children's Charitable Fund distributes $157,500 to local groups

LACONIA — The Greater Lakes Region Charitable Fund for Children distributed $157,500 in checks to 17 different organizations in a ceremony held at Lakes Region General Hospital Monday morning, Mike Seymour, chairman of the charitable fund which earlier this year took over ownership of the Greater Lakes Region Children’s Auction, said that the funds were distributed to those organizations that are meeting immediate needs of families and children in the Lakes Region.
“It was the 33rd year of the Children’s Auction but our first as an organization owned and operated by the members of the community. It was local people making local decisions. It was a very challenging year, but we saw how generous and committed people in the Lakes Region are to good causes,” said Seymour.
He said that in its first year under the new organization’s leadership the Children’s Auction raised $469,609, the third-highest total ever.
He praised the good work being done by the organizations which received checks and said they reflect the depth of concern and caring which is evident across the entire area.
The largest recipient was the Got Lunch! program of Laconia, which received $33,000, and was started to meet the summer nutrition needs of students in the Laconai schools in 2011.
Paula Gile, associate minister of the Laconia Congregational Church, who helped found the program, said it was inspiring to see how the program became the model for similar programs in 14 or 15 New Hampshire communities, many of them right in the Lakes Region.
“We saw a need to go out there and do something,” said Gile.
Other Got Lunch! Programs to receive funds were Inter-Lakes $6,000, Gilford $5,000, Ashland-Holderness $2,000 and Campton-Thornton, $2,000.
The second largest sum went to the Santa Funds of the Greater Lakes Region, which received $25,000. Saint Vincent DePaul food pantry and thrift shop received $20,000.
The Tilton-Northfield-Sanbornton Christmas Fund received $15,000, which Christine Raffaelly, in her first year at the helm of the charity, said represents about half of the funds raised by the organization.
Other recipients included the Salvation Army, $12,000; the Laconia Police Relief Association, $10,000; the Inter-Lakes Christmas Fund, $7,500; the Lakes Region Food Pantry, $5,000; Health First Family Care Center, $5,000; Christmas Village, $3,000; Hands Across the Table, $2,000; People Investing in Community and Kids (PICK), $1,500 and Operation Warm, a program to provide winter coats to children which is supported by the local firefighters union, $1,500.
The Greater Lakes Region Charitable Fund for Children had received over 60 requests from community organizations for a total of nearly $700,000 in funds.

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Don't let the holidays undermine your health goals

LACONIA — Come Jan. 1, many will resolve to adopt a healthier life style, with healthy eating and increased activity. However, that resolution often follows a couple of weeks of just the opposite, as the holiday season is rife with pitfalls for those looking to improve their health. A couple of local health experts urge soon-to-be resolvers to take a few steps that will give them a head start when the new year arrives.

One of the hazards of the holidays, noted Liz Littell, personal training manager at The Fitness Edge in Meredith, is stress. There's the emotional stress of family gatherings and pressure of finding everyone the perfect gift, and the financial stress of getting it all done within a budget. Meanwhile, all the extra events and shopping trips might leave the regular exercise regimen by the wayside.

"Make it a point to do something," said Littell. "It will help with the extra calories, and it will help with the stress."

Many people equate exercise with an hour spent at the gym. That's not always in the cards, she realizes, but urges that just a little activity is much better than inactivity.

"It doesn't have to be so intense," she said.

Find ten minutes, three times a day, to be active, and better health outcomes will follow. She suggested finding the farthest parking spot at the supermarket, instead of the closest, or climbing a flight of stairs five times instead of once. If there's a break in the day, take a walk in the woods or take a child to the playground, activities that burn calories as well as alleviate stress.

"It's the little things like that that can help you out," she said.

Laura Walker, holistic health coach at Sunflower Natural Foods in Laconia, said that the rich meals associated with the holidays can be mitigated by planning in advance. If there's a likelihood that such a meal is coming up, she suggested replacing another meal that same day with a healthy shake. Or, if attending a potluck, bring something healthy so that there's at least one good option to fill up on.

Walker said the most common mistake, especially at this time of year, is that people don't get enough water.

"Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!" she said.

Caffeine and alcohol can be dehydrating, she said, so if drinking anything that contains those two chemicals, follow it with a glass of water. Continue drinking water in between meals, she said, but not immediately before eating. That can make digestion sluggish and ineffective.

"When you chug a glass of water, you dilute the acid in your stomach," she said.

With all the stress, travel and gatherings, the holidays are a common time to get sick. Walker said that's a good reason to try and get enough rest, and to avoid too much sugar.

"All bacteria and viruses feed on sugar," she said.

Littell recommended avoiding processed foods. It might be worth indulging in a dessert that was made by a loved one, but if the cake was store-bought, take a pass. She also suggests taking a sample size, or asking someone who's already tried an item, if the pleasure of eating it is worth the calories.

"Make sure it's really worth the indulgence," she said.

But the holidays aren't really about the food or drinks, said Walker. She said, make the parties about the other people there.

"Dance, move, laugh, sing and breathe," she said. "Focus on connections and conversation."

And, it might be the best move to simply decline an invitation if the season is already busy enough.

"It's OK to say, 'No.' It's OK to favor quality time at home with the family over going to that party," she said.

Taking these steps can help put a person in a strong position to continue a healthier life style in 2016. For those that will make a health-related New Year's resolution, Littell warned against setting unrealistic goals or picking an activity that isn't likely to be kept up.

"When thinking about goals for the future, don't make them so big that they are not attainable," she said. And with exercise, she said to find something fun. "In order to have true adherence, you have to enjoy it. The people who have the most success find something that they like to do."


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