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Governor helps roll out Laconia's 91st Bike Week

LACONIA — Foreseeing the skies will clear and the sun will shine, Cynthia Makris of the Naswa Resort, president of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, heralded the 91st running of Motorcycle Week, the oldest motorcycle rally in the country, before a gathering of city and state officials at the Weirs Beach Lobster Pound restaurant yesterday.

The rally officially begins on Saturday and runs through Sunday, June 22.

"This is a bike friendly town and state," Makris remarked, noting that the Naswa has hosted rallygoers since 1935. "They open their hearts and their wallets," she said by way of welcoming motorcycling enthusiasts whose arrival marks the opening of the summer tourist season and whose numbers make the annual rally a mainstay of the state's hospitality sector.

Governor Maggie Hassan said that the rally draws 250,000 people to New Hampshire and spurs $100 million of economic activity. "We have much to offer in New Hampshire," she declared, "unmatched natural beauty, our rich history and our tax-free shopping. Echoing Makris, she said that many who attend the rally in June return to the state throughout the year.

Hassan expressed her gratitude to all everyone who has contributed to the success of the event. "New Hampshire is an all hands on deck kind of place," the governor said, "and Motorcycle Week represents that very well." In particular, she singled out the law enforcement and public safety agencies for ensuring the well-being of hosts and guests alike.

"I'll brag on my team," said City Manager Scott Myers, who praised the contribution of every municipal department, as well as the cooperation of neighboring towns — Gilford and Meredith — to what he called "a world class event."

Describing the rally as "an anchor event," Jeff Rose, commissioner of Resources and Economic Development, pointed out that during the past 19 years his agency has invested $800,000 in supporting and promoting Motorcycle Week.

Mayor Ed Engler acknowledged that "much is made of the economic impact of bike week." But, he added "on a personal note" that since the early 1990s the Laconia Rotary Club, which has raffled one or two motorcycles during the rally for more than 20 years, has raised "right at $1 million".

"Every dime has gone directly back into our community," he continued, "and about $250,000 has offset college cost burdens. Without Motorcycle Week we wouldn't have the opportunity to raise that kind of money," he concluded."

Striking the same chord, Doug Asermely of Sickboy Motorcycles, a regular vendor at the rally, announced the first annual Mae West Animal Shelter Run, the proceeds of which will benefit the New Hampshire Humane Society. He recalled that he was moved by the distress of Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, at the passing of his cat before the rally last year.

On the eve of the rally, the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association was recognized by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) as the "Recreational Road Riding Organizer of the Year." Bill Cumbow, racing director of the AMA, noted that "the organizers always do a good job of advancing the core values of the AMA" by promoting "the motorcycle lifestyle in a safe, fun and responsible way.

Jennifer Anderson, director of the association, said that Motorcycle Week has grown beyond The Weirs and Laconia to encompass the entire state and urged everyone to "get out and ride." She explained that this year the rally features a passport program, enabling riders to visit 23 destinations in New Hampshire and New England, where their passports will be stamped, to qualify for prizes, including a stay for two at the Naswa Resort in 2015.

St. Clair said he was pleased that businesses and charities prospered from the rally, but noted that "we're basically a dirt poor association." Then he announced that to address the situation he has mounted a petition drive to ask the Legislature to authorize a license plate bearing the logo of the 100th Laconia Motorcycle Week in 2023 and apply the sales to the organization and promotion of the rally.

"License plates are hard," Hassen interjected with a smile. However, St. Clair said that Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, who was also in the room, assured him "I'll get right to work on it." St. Clair said he intends to distribute the petition to every motorcycle dealership in the state as well as to other businesses frequented by bikers. "Our goal is to get 50,000 signatures by the end of the year," he said, "and I believe we'll get more than that."

The event closed with the presentation of the Fritzie Baer Award, named for the man who personified motorcycling and the rally in the Lakes Region in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, to Paul Cote for his championship of motorcyclists' rights and especially safety. ""Let's have zero accidents and zero fatalities this week and this season," Cote said.

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 June 2014 11:28

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Gilford moves group of Gunstock Acres roads to top of repair list

GILFORD — With a room filled with concerned property owners looking on, selectmen voted unanimously Wednesday night to eliminate Saltmarsh Pond Road from the 2014 summer construction schedule and add four roads in Gunstock Acres, including Chestnut Drive.

The decision came at the suggestion of Wolcott Construction — the company that the town uses for its summer road projects — and was supported by Public Works Director Sheldon Morgan.

"(The roads) won't just get worse, they'll disappear," said Morgan who explained that the original paving of the roads in question was done about 12 to 15 years ago with a less-expensive asphalt then made available to various New Hampshire communities.

Morgan said the town got a good value for what it purchased and pavement lasted longer than he thought it would, but the roads in that area are no longer viable.

Many of those who spoke said portions of Chestnut Drive are down to one lane while one resident said every time the UPS or Federal Express driver comes to his house, he or she takes a little piece of the road away when they go.

All totaled, there a seven roads in the neighborhood that the town will reconstruct — Chestmut Drive, Falls Avenue, Balsam Drive and Briarcliff Road. He said three small roads that stem from one of the above four will also be re-paved, meaning the town shouldn't have to return to the neighborhood for a number of years.

Morgan said the rebuild of Summit Avenue will still be completed this year while Saltmarsh Pond Road will be deferred to another year.

"While Saltmarsh is rough and susceptible to frost heaving, it has a rather substantial base that allows it to move and come back to mediocre condition," Morgan wrote in a memo to the board.

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 June 2014 11:25

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50 years a cop; Charlie Hopkins honored

GILFORD — Police administrators recognized Special Patrol Officer Charles O. Hopkins for 50 years of service at their annual awards meeting last night.

Hopkins, who began his career in Laconia in 1964 has been a special officer with Gilford since he left Laconia in 1984. He is currently the School Resource Officer.

"You've been a good partner," said Lt. James Leach. Someone we could always rely on."

Leach said Hopkins was always willing to get called out in the middle of the night and stay until the job got done.

U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte and Gov. Maggie Hassan also sent along their best wishes and gratitude for what Hassan called a lengthy career of "exemplary public service."

Hopkins, who is a man of few words unless he has a funny story to tell, told the assembled group of officers he didn't really have anything to say except "Thank you."

He did make an aside to newly hired Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee that he was the seventh Gilford police chief he's served under.
The administration also recognized K-9 Agbar who is now officially retired.

Lt. Kris Kelley said that Agbar was the first K-9 Gilford had and his success, along with handler and partner Sgt. Dustin Parent, was critical to the success of the program.

Accepting Agbar's award was Parent who said Agbar was really going to like it.

The meritorious service of the year award went to Office Kevin Baron who used the bumper guard on his cruiser to push a burning car away from some gas pumps and other cars at a Gilford gas station,

Kelley described it as an example of good "heads-up thinking."

K-9 Officer Adam VanSteensburg was name the employee of the year for his positive attitude, willingness to take on additional responsibility, and his outreach to the community.

The supervisors award went to Dispatcher Tim Doris who Kelley described as someone who cares, gets the job done, but doesn't get or ask for any public accolades.
Patrol Officer Curtis Mailloux got the Pro-active Police Officer of the Year award for going above and beyond the call of duty every day he works.

The department also recognized many officers and detectives for their collective teamwork for solving some tough crimes and responding to some precarious and sensitive situations that were all resolved.

CUTLINE (Charlie Hopkins) Gilford Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee (right) presents Special Patrol Officer Charles "Charlie" Hopkins (center) with an award from both the Gilford and Laconia Police for 50 years of service as a police officer. Lt. Kris Kelley (left) looks on. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 June 2014 01:32

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Cyclist hit by car downtown

LACONIA — A bicyclist was struck by a car while pedaling on Main Street yesterday at 10 a.m.

Firefighters said the man was stuck by a woman who was driving near the Colonial Theater and the bicyclist landed in the middle of the street. He said the woman driving the car was uninjured.

He was taken by ambulance to Lakes Region General Hospital for what firefighters said were non-life threatening injuries.

Police apparently blocked off Main Street while they investigated the crash.

Firefighters said there were multiple witnesses and a number of onlookers.

As of press time, police had not released the names of the accident victim or the driver.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 June 2014 12:54

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