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Bellerive takes lead on first day of Sled Dog Derby

LACONIA — Two-time Laconia World Championship Sled Dog Derby winner Claude Bellerive of Charette, Quebec, jumped out to the first day lead in the 85th annual derby Friday afternoon.

Bellerive held a 1 minute, 10 second lead over Vermont musher Steve Long over the 15-mile, freshly groomed course, posting a time of 53:39 while Long finished with a time of 54:49.

The competition came in the "unlimited" division of the derby, where mushers are allowed to harness as many dogs as they wish. Times added up over three runs will determine the champion. Start time is 1 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 on Sunday.
'"It was a good course,'' said Bellerive, who was runner-up in last year's race and won back-to-back titles in 2007-08.
In third place was Jack Trottier, another musher from Quebec. with a time of 55:03, just a minute and 24 seconds behind the leader and only four seconds ahead of defending champion Justin Fortier of St. Raymond, Quebec.
Fortier, who was only 20 when he became the youngest musher to ever win the derby last year, beat out Bellerive by overcoming a three-minute deficit on the final day of the derby.
In fifth place is first-time derby racer Rejean Therrien of Quebec, with a time of 56 minutes even. Therrien, who has been racing sled dogs for 35 years, said that the course was good but that he lost several minutes when his 16-dog team of husky-pointer crosses became tangled.
''I'm was a little disappointed but the team ran well and I think I can make it up. I'm just a little over two minutes behind and we've got two days to catch up,'' said Therrien.
Brittany Colbath of Gilford is in sixth place with a time of 57:17 and two-time champion Keith Bryar Jr. of Moultonborough trails her by seven seconds.
Bryar said he was generally pleased with his run and has added several new dogs to his veteran team this year. ''Times should be better the next two days and I'm just hoping for a top five finish this year,'' says Bryar, who won the derby in 2002 and 2011.

There is a close race in the six-dog class with the top six finishers Friday just 44 seconds apart. Jessica, Doherty of Palmero, N.Y, leads with a time of 19:48. Angie Carter of Penacook is just seven seconds back and Jocelyn Bradbury of Portland, Maine, is third trailing by 22 seconds.
Kathy Rivest of Charette, Quebec is fourth with a time of 20:27, followed by defending champion Melanie Bellerive of Quebec three seconds back and Fran Plaisted of Vermont just two seconds behind her.
Today the six-dog race would begin at 9:30 a.m., the three-dog race will begin at noon, and the second leg of the unlimited race will begin at 1 p.m.
Sunday's six-dog race begins a 9:30 a.m., the three-dog race starts at noon, a special one-dog race for juniors begins at 12:30 and the final run of the unlimited race is at 1:30 to 1:45 p.m.
Governor Maggie Hassan is expected to participate in the festivities leading up to the start of Sunday's unlimited-class race.

The start/finish line is located at the intersection of Old North Main Street and Parade Road, directly across the street from the former State School property.

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 February 2014 01:45

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Smoke fills Sanbornton home at peak of storm

SANBORNTON — Firefighters battled at two-alarm blaze during the height of Thursday snowstorm that caused a great deal of smoke damage to a two-story home on Threshing Mill Road.

Fire Chief Paul Dexter said the fire was reported by the homeowner who arrived home with his son around 5:50 p.m. and noticed the house was filled with smoke and the alarms were sounding.

Dexter said the homeowner heard his dog barking from inside the house and was able to break a window and get his dog out.

The homeowner suffered a cut on his had from breaking the glass but was treated by ambulance personnel and not taken to the hospital.

The fire, said Dexter, appeared to have started in a storage away for wood pellets. He said it appears a well pump electrical circuit arced and started the fire. He said the wood pellets were stored a safe distance from the wood stove.

Dexter also said the property owner did the right thing by calling 911 immediately and not entering the home. Fortunately the dog was near a window and the man was able to get the animal out without entering the home.

Snow was a serious factor faced by the responding firefighters said Dexter noting both Burleigh Hill Road and Flushing Mill Road were snow covered. He said Sanbornton police were able to divert plow truck to Flushing Hill and clear a path for the firefighters.

Dexter also said the driveway was about 150-feet long and the firetruck were unable to get trucks up to the house so had to carry it about 150 feet.

He said one of the things that saved the home was that the wood pellets were stored in the basement underneath one of the water heater modules. He said the heat from the fire melted the seal on the modular and the water that fell partially extinguished the fire.

Dexter said firefighters used five-gallon extinguisher tanks to extinguish the rest of the fire.

He said the home is definitely repairable and the N.H. State Fire Marshall has released it to the owner and the insurance company.

Dexter asks that during the winter, people, especially those with long driveways, should try to keep them somewhat clear of snow during storms. He said that while everything worked out well Thursday, his crews never would have been able to get an ambulance for a medical call up many of the driveways in town last night.

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 February 2014 01:25

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Funeral for Esther Peters today: broadcasting pioneer was still on TV well into her 90s

LACONIA — Esther Peters, the local broadcasting pioneer who died last Sunday at the Belknap County Nursing Home at the age of 98, is remembered by her friends and family as an incredibly positive woman who always had a kind word for everyone and was deeply engaged in her local community.

In 2005 the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce recognized her achievements by naming her the recipient of the prestigious James R. Irwin Award for community service.
''My mother really found herself after she moved here in the early 1950s. She loved Laconia and Gilford and all of the Lakes Region and in the end the people here loved her back,'' says her daughter Anne Oehlschlaeger.
Peters arrived in the Lakes Region in the summer of 1953 as a the divorced mother of two children and thrived on being in the public's eye once she arrived. It didn't take her long to attract attention and she was discovered by Art ''Roxie'' Rothafel of radio station WLNH at a party where he heard her voice and he told her she could do well on radio.
The only available job was bookkeeping, but, after the station's regular woman's show hostess fell ill, Esther filled in and soon took over the show.
Broadcasting "Around Town" from the curved front window of Woolworth's store on Main Street, Peters played records, talked with passerby's and interviewed people. Her studio interviews in the WLNH studio in the Masonic Temple building included Dwight Eisenhower, Rose Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Over the years she interviewed many of the stars who appeared at the Gilford Playhouse, including Paul Newman and Tallulah Bankhead.
She scooped other reporters by interviewing Newman in the car which picked him up at the Laconia Airport and said that her favorite interview was Tallulah Bankhead, who talked for a half hour without stopping.
Oehlschlaeger said that her mother would frequently have to drive in snowstorms from Cotton Hill Road in Gilford to the WLNH studio in downtown Laconia and was proud of the fact that she could put on tire chains in eight minutes. ''It was quite a trick getting down Cotton Hill Road during the winter'' her daughter recalls.
Dorothy Duffy, who worked Peters for about 10 years producing the "Now and Then' show for Lakes Region Public Access television, said that she still recalls Peters' distinctive voice from the early 1950s radio show and always held her in high esteem.
''She was non-abrasive and was famous for driving her convertible around town. She kept doing the the LRPA show until she was 95, which is really a remarkable achievement,'' says Duffy.
Peters worked for WLNH from 1973 to 1978 and was a member of numerous community organizations, including The Belknap Mill Society of Laconia and Lakes Region Clean Waters Association, both of which she helped form, as well as the Laconia Historical Society, Laconia Chamber of Commerce, Laconia B.P.W. and Altrusa Clubs, Laconia and Lakeport Women's Clubs, Opechee Garden Club, Salvation Army, Genesis ( Lakes Region Mental Health), Thompson Ames Historical Society, Gilford Library, Gilford School Board P.T.A., Gilford Conservation Commission, Laconia Conservation Commission, volunteered for Lakes Region Conservation Trust, Lakes Region United Way, preservation of the Rowe House, V.F.W. Post 1670 Ladies Auxiliary, Boy Scouts of America and the Gilmanton Garden Club.
She was a member of the St. James Episcopal Church of Laconia served as a lay reader, vestry member, Sr. Warden and Sunday school teacher.
A Memorial Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 11 a.m. at the St. James Episcopal Church in the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church location at 2238 Parade Rd. Laconia, The Pastor Rev. Tobias Nyatsambo will officiate.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial donations be made to the Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation PO Box 7312 Gilford, NH 03247-7312.

CAPTION: Esther at Taylor Home (Adam Drapcho photo)

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 February 2014 01:03

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Belknap County lawmakers record 2 votes on gun background check bill

CONCORD — When the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted on a bill that would require background checks for all commercial purchases and sales of firearms on Wednesday, the members from Belknap County, with two exceptions, split along party lines.

House Bill 1589 required that all firearms transactions, with exception of sales between qualified individuals known to one another, be conducted by a federally licensed dealer, effectively applying background checks to all commercial transactions and prohibiting private deals closed at gun shows, flea markets and on-line.

After a motion to table the bill failed by two votes, the House adopted an amendment fulfilling the intent of the original legislation by a vote of 174 to 166.

With two members not voting, the Belknap County delegation cast 12 votes against the amendment and four in favor. Republicans Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, Guy Comtois of Barnstead, Charles Fink and Michael Sylvis of Belmont, Bob Greemore, Herb Vadney and Colette Worsman of Meredith and Don Flanders, Bob Luther and Frank Tilton of Laconia were joined by Ruth Gulick of New Hampton, the lone Democrat to oppose the bill. Democrats Beth Arsenault and David Huot of Laconia and Lisa DiMartino of Gilford were joined by Dennis Fields of Sanbornton, the only Republican on the delegation to vote in favor of the bill. Republican Jane Cormier of Alton and Democrat Ian Raymond of Sanbornton did not vote.

However, opponents of the bill then offered an amendment to replace the bill with a call for a study committee, which carried the House 177 to 175. The members of the Belknap County delegation reversed their votes as those who opposed the bill supported the study committee and those who supported the bill opposed the study committee. This time Fields was not only the lone Republican on the delegation but also the lone Republican in the House to vote against the study committee. This time, with Raymond voting, the delegation divided 12 to 5 in favor of the study committee.

After a series of motions to table and adopt the amended bill to establish a study committee failed, the House killed it without a roll call vote, 242 to 118.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 February 2014 12:56

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