Chimney trim - 82-foot smokestack on Water Street is shortened


LACONIA — The brick chimney that once towered above the Laconia Car Company and now casts its shadow over the offices of Rist-Frost Shumway Engineering has been topped, but spared to remain among the enduring landmarks of the city's industrial past.

Chris Shumway said that the condition of the chimney, particularly the deterioration of the brickwork at its highest reaches, had become "a serious safety concern." He explained that the chimney is owned by The Foundry, a condominium association, whose members hired Apex Chimney Company, Inc. to undertake a thorough inspection of the structure. "We considered every alternative, from restoring the chimney to taking it down," he said, "and wound up somewhere in the middle."

Shumway said that the uppermost 18 feet of the chimney have been removed, shortening the height of the structure from 100 feet to 82 feet. The top of the chimney will be fitted with a concrete cap, which by minimizing the condensation and moisture within the structure will preserve the integrity of the brickwork. The chimney will be fitted with a lightening protection system and the brickwork on all four sides will be repointed from top to bottom.

"We wanted to be respectful," Shumway said, adding that the chimney has stood on the site for more than a century. "But, we couldn't just wait for a piece of it come down on somebody in the wrong place at the wrong time. And," he continued, "it's good to keep it."

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A team from Apex Chimney Company, Inc. work atop the 82-foot chimney that originally served the Laconia Car Company. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Grand marshals chosen for this Saturday's holiday parade

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Olivia, now age 6, tenderly looks after her younger brother, Max 4. The two will lead the region's Holiday Parade Saturday, Nov. 26. (Courtesy photo)

LACONIA — The grand marshals for this year's holiday parade, which steps off at 4 p.m. this Saturday, are a beloved little boy and girl in the community. Max Gagnon, 4, and his sister, Olivia, 6, will lead the parade and set the tone for the entire evening of festivities, according to the Downtown Laconia Main Street Initiative statement released Monday at the Laconia City Council meeting. The parade will culminate with Santa Claus lighting the tree at Veterans Square.

"Everybody knows Olivia and Max", who are the daughter and son of residents Michael and Amber Gagnon, said John Moriarty of the Main Street Initiatie. "Many of us are aware of the health issues that Max has endured, and we are overwhelmed with his recovery, and look forward to the day when he is fully healthy", said Moriarty, making reference to the Gagnon family's very public battle with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) which has afflicted their son.
"Young Olivia and Max don't care who was elected president of the United States; they don't care whether the lights on the city's Christmas tree go up and down or round and round, or even whether the lights are pretty, or pretty-ugly. Young Olivia and Max only care that they are loved by their family, and feel the warmth and compassion of the community they live in. What makes them the ideal Grand Marshals is that each of us recognizes a little bit of their struggle in ourselves, and craves the people-to-people connections that unites us and provides the synergy that makes the community as a whole stronger."
Moriarty said that typically, grand marshals have made a lasting impact on the Lakes Region, Laconia, and downtown, with their time, effort, influence and sometimes a generous checkbook as well. He added that the panel that made the selection of this year's grand marshal cited the need for the community to be healed following what has been, nationally a divisive election cycle, which was even more acute in New Hampshire where the campaign has consumed nearly two full years of pitting neighbor against neighbor, with more rancor than ideology.
All are invited to watch the parade, and participate in the second annual Snowman Hunt which starts at 10 a.m. to garner a chance to win $500 cash to be drawn live on WEMJ 107.3 FM just as the parade starts. To join Olivia and Max in the parade, visit for guidelines on decorating your team's, group's, club's or business's float or contact the Downtown Laconia Main Street Initiative at 603-455-2084.

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Two wheels, two riders, one record - Holderness tandem team wins title, eyes Race Across America


HOLDERNESS — Fresh from becoming the world champions for mixed tandem bicyclists in the 24 Hour World Time Trial Championships in Borrego Springs, Cailfornia, John Jurczynski and Ann Rasmussen have set their sights on next summer's 3,089-mile Race Across America.
Jurczynski, manager of the Rockywold-Deephaven Camps on Squam Lake, and Rasmussen, a guidance counselor at Plymouth Regional High School, broke the tandem course record by 117 miles in the 6-12-24 Hour World Championships and won the overall tandem division with 433.2 miles on Nov. 4 and 5.
"Granted, there were only four tandems in the 24-hour race, but we managed to finish more than 100 miles ahead of the second-place tandem. We estimate that we finished the first 12 hours with about 240 miles, a number equal to the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association's mixed tandem record," said Jurczynski.
He said that the 24-hour race, run slightly east of San Diego, started at 6 p.m., meaning that the first 12 hours were completed at night. "Given that my nighttime vision is less than perfect, we stayed clear of the road's edge, avoided a crash in the first mile and were very pleased with our nighttime mileage. We calculated that if we could maintain or go even a mile or two per hour slower than our nighttime pace, we had a shot at the UMCA mixed tandem 24-hour record of 454 miles."
But the second 12 hours turned out to be more about survival than racing. He said that at this time of year, he and Rasmussen's training is limited due to their work schedules, no local group rides and less daylight. In addition, for over a month, training temperatures have been cool to cold.
"The temperature rose quickly from the mid-50s to about 90 degrees for most of the afternoon. The heat, and probably undertraining, took its toll on us to the point that it became hard to put down enough calories and stay hydrated enough to perform as well as we were earlier. Ann and I complement each other very well on the tandem. For example, she is a more natural hill climber and I am better on the flats and rolling hills; Ann generally performs better in cooler temperatures and I do better in the heat. Due to the 90-degree temperatures, Ann suffered more at the end of this event, but amazingly stuck it out to squeeze in the extra mileage needed to crack 430 miles,'' said Jurczynski.
He said that at the finish Rasmussen felt very light headed and was worried that she might pass out at the awards ceremony, which they skipped. But he said they're grateful for the opportunity to compete alongside some world class endurance athletes at the event, including four 24-hour cycling world record holders. Seana Hogan, six-time Race Across America winner, set the woman's course record at the event and Christoph Strasser, three-time RAAM winner and RAAM record holder, smashed the mens' solo course record.
Jurczynski and Rasmussen, a former top flight cross-country skier and Olympic team alternate, have been doing tandem bicycling for two years now and by the time the year is over will have logged over 14,000 miles on the road. They practice two to three hours a day this time of year, as well as on weekends. Last year they took part in the Paris-Brest-Paris race and finished 69th in a field of 6,000. In April of this year, they took part in the Race Across Italy, finishing 20th and becoming the first tandem team to ever complete the race.
If their training and racing continues to go well, they hope to give Race Across America a try next year. The race starts on June 13 in Riverside, California, and ends in Annapolis, Maryland.
It will not be a new experience for Jurczynski, who 10 years ago, at the age of 50, won his age group in the Race Across America, riding some 3,000 miles in 11 days, 22 hours, and 14 minutes and raised over $35,000 for diabetes research.
Later that year he and Mike "Mad Dog" Gallagher set a new stationary cycling world record of 113 hours, since broken, at the Laconia Athletic and Swim Club as a fundraiser for the Lakes Region Children's Auction.
Jurczynski said only nine tandems have ever completed RAAM in the event's 35-year history. The mixed tandem RAAM record (for the 18 to 49 age category) of 10 days, 22 hours and 40 minutes was set in 1990.
"Being only the tenth tandem to ever complete solo RAAM would be a huge accomplishment for us, especially given our advanced ages. I will turn 60 next year and Ann will be over 50," he said.
Once plans are firmed up, he and Rasmussen will choose a charity which will benefit from their cross country bicycle ride.

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John Jurczynski and Ann Rasmussen became world champions for mixed tandem bicyclists in the 24 Hour World Time Trial Championships in Borrego Springs, Cailfornia, earlier this month. (Courtesy photos)

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