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On average, House Republican Alliance rates Belknap County reps as the most loyal

LACONIA — The 18 members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives from Belknap County topped their counterparts from the other nine counties in the annual ranking compiled by the House Republican Alliance (HRA), which grades the voting records of lawmakers according to how closely they match the GOP platform.

The county delegation, including its five Democratic representatives, posted an average score of 66.1 percent, indicating that the members followed the recommendations of the HRA on two-thirds of the 118 bills it scored. The Rockingham County delegation recorded the second highest score of 59.9 percent. Cheshire County, where 20 of the 23 representatives are Democrats, returned the lowest score of just 16.9-percent. The HRA scored the entire House of 400 members at 43.3 percent.

In Belknap County, Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton), who resigned her seat last month when she moved to Hooksett, was the only member to achieve a perfect score of 100 percent while voting on two-thirds of the scored bills. However, nine of the 13 Republican members of the delegation topped 90 percent — Reps. Michael Sylvia of Belmont (97.9), Herb Vadney of Meredith (97.4), Guy Comtois of Barnstead (96), Bob Luther of Laconia (95.7), Charles Fink of Belmont (92.9), Colette Worsman of Meredith (92.8), Bob Greemore of Meredith (92.2) and Stephen Holmes of Alton (90.8).

Among the Republicans, Rep. Dennis Fields of Sanbornton posted the lowest score of 58.5-percent, followed by Don Flanders of Laconia (69.9), Frank Tilton of Laconia (73.7) and Richard Burchell of Gilmanton (84.5).

Excluding the Democrats, the average score of the 13 Republican members of the Belknap County delegation was 87.8 percent.

Among the five Democrats, Ruth Gulick posted the highest score of 11 percent and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton the lowest score of 8.5 percent. Altogether the average score of the Democrats was 9.7 percent.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 June 2014 01:17

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Bond between innkeepers & guests forged over decades of Motorcycle Weeks at the Weirs

LACONIA — Although Ava and the Blonds sounds like the name of a 1950's pop band, this group of gal-pals doesn't know how to sing — but they do know how to party.

On any given night during Motorcycle Week, the Blonds, ring-leader Ava Doyle and all their husbands can be found somewhere on the property of Sun Valley Cottages at the Weirs — the place where they all met and became friends for life.

"We really are like a big family," said Doyle who loves Bike Week for bringing the entire gang together at her family business at least once annually. "We've been through weddings, funerals, birthdays, and graduations."

The Doyles bought Sun Valley Cottages 22-years ago after relocating to the Lakes Region from Louisiana. Ava said her husband Dave worked for an oil drilling company that was facing some cut backs.

"He told them he'd leave if they relocated us to any place in the continental U.S.," said Ava yesterday. She said he grew up outside of Boston and used to vacation at the Squam Lakes as a child so this was where he wanted to be.

She said they initially had a deal to buy a bread-and-breakfast inn in the area but the deal fell through. "And I'm grateful for that everyday," Ava said.

They — Ava, Dave, two children, two dogs, a cat, and two hamsters — came to Laconia anyway, "like something from the Grapes of Wrath."

She said all of their worldly possessions except for the cars they were driving were in storage. She said the family found a landlord who would take them in and the next year they bought Sun Valley Cottages.

Over time the business flourished, there have been a number of upgrades along with one addition, and the Doyles have made some fast friends both from their guests and within the Laconia community.

Within a few years, the Blonds – Kathy, Jen, and Kim and two others – were regular fixtures during rally week and fast friends with the Doyles.

This year Kathy, Jen, and Kim are back. Jen is not blond any more but that doesn't mean she's not one of the Blonds.

According to Kim, the "Blonds" started years ago when all of the girls grabbed their lawn chairs and went to watch traffic go by on Route 3 — one of the favorite past times of most Bike Week attendees.

Husbands Dan, Ken, and Barry thought it would be funny to make a sign warning motorists not to feed them. "The Blonds" moniker stuck and so did the sign, which came with them every year since they made it.

Last year someone stole the sign but Barry warns they'll be a bigger and better one this year.

For prospective, since they have been coming to Laconia, Barry and Ken said between them hey have had 13 different motorcycles — all Harley Davidson's.

When asked how Bike Week has changed over the past 20 years, Doyle said the crowds are smaller and the attendees are older. Most of the couple's cabins are filled with the same people for years, including a group from New Brunswick called simply "the Canadians."

Ava, who represents Ward 1 on City Council, said she likes the way the police are handling Bike Week now. She remembered when she first opened, officers would walk up and down Route 3 in teams of two and harass people who were sitting by the side of the road.

"Now they just drive by and wave," she said.

She also said Bike Week has moved north since they first opened. "When we first came everything across the street was woods," she said, noting except for traffic, there wasn't much in her immediate area.

She also said young people would come from Rollercoaster Road and try to hangout and party on her corner.

She recalled one group of 16-year-olds dragging a couple of coolers of beer and offering her $50 to let them hang out on the corner of her property.

"I said no," she said.

All of them said the crowds are much smaller now and there are more cars than there used to be.

"Traffic used to be lined up all the way down the hill," said Barry.

But the thing most important to all of them has been the camaraderie and friendships that have developed and lasted over the past 20 years.

For Ava, this has been a tough year. Now in remission, she was diagnosed with cancer last fall and said the visits and phone calls from "the Blonds," "the Canadians," and all the rests of her guests and their families was one of the most important things that helped her though the winter.

"They were just so supportive," she said.

And now for this group of friends and as Barry would say, "Every night is a good night."


CUTLINE: Ava Doyle, (center left) the co-owner of the Sun Valley Cottages at the Weirs surrounded by long time guest and long-time friends Kim, Dan, Kathy, Barry, Jen and Ken outside Barry and Kathy's cabin yesterday afternoon. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 June 2014 01:04

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Number of N.H. House candidates in Belknap Co. just beat the filing deadline

GILFORD — Nancy Frost and Dorothy Piquado, both Democrats from Gilford, have filed as candidates for the New Hampshire House of Representatives in Belknap County, District 2, comprising Gilford and Meredith.

With their candidacies, together with those of incumbent Lisa DiMartino of Gilford and Sandra Mucci of Meredith, the Democrats have fielded a full slate in the district, where four seats are at stake in the general election.

Meanwhile, Hammond S. Brown of Gilmanton joined Deb Chase of Gilmanton to provide the Democrats with a full slate of candidates in District 5, consisting of Alton and Gilmanton, which returned two representatives.

On the Republican ticket, Russ Dumais of Gilford has filed in District 2, where the GOP will field six candidates — Gene Aldrich and George Hurt of Gilford and Michael Hatch, Herb Vadney and John Hodsdon of Meredith— for the four places on the general election ballot.

In District 5, Alton and Gilmanton, Peter Varney and Gerry Theodora of Alton and Mike Metcalfe of Gilmanton have filed, joining Joel Lambert of Alton and Dave Russell of Gilmanton, to increase the field from two to five for the two spots on the general election ballot.

In District 8, consisting of Alton, Barnstead and Gilmanton which together elect one representative, Ray Howard of Alton has entered the race to challenge Elaine Swinford in the Republican primary.

So far the GOP has not fielded a candidate in District 6, the town of Belmont, which returns two representatives.

Contested primaries will be settled on September 9.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 June 2014 12:54

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Electrical issue said to have been cause of fire at Gilmanton log home

GILMANTON — Fire Chief Joe Hempel said the cause of a two-alarm fire that heavily damaged a log home on Loon Pond Road Monday afternoon was electrical in nature and accidental.

He said firefighters peeled back sections of the metal roof and were able to chop through additional roofs to extinguish the blaze. He said the top part of the home is heavily damaged but it will be the determination of the insurance companies as to whether the home can be saved.

"It was a really pretty place," Hempel said.

Despite the heat, Hempel said no firefighters were injured fighting the blaze that kept them there from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

In other fire department news, with the passage of a warrant article at last week's special town meeting to allow the department to purchase a 2014 fire engine, Hempel said the order is placed and the truck should be ready for delivery by late December or early January.

The article needed a second vote because of a technical issue regarding the regular SB-2 vote in March.

The new truck will retire Engine 1 which is at the Iron Works Fire Station and has been in service for 22 years. He said the department will sell the old truck through a fire truck auction.

He also said selectmen approved hiring a full-time firefighter two weeks ago and it was anticipated they would approve a second hire at their meeting last night.

Hempel said the latest hires will bring them up to full staff.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 June 2014 12:50

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