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Prepare for race day traffic changes

LOUDON — Through the cooperative efforts of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, local officials, New Hampshire State Police and New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a comprehensive traffic control plan will once again be implemented on Sunday, July 17, for over 100,000 spectators and 37,700 vehicles expected to attend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
The race starts at 1:30 p.m. with the period of maximum traffic congestion occurring in the late afternoon and early evening hours.
Many of the changes will take place in the I-93, I-393 area of Concord and will not directly affect the Lakes Region.
On race day morning, Route 106 will be two lanes northbound and one lane southbound from I-393 in Concord to the intersection of Shaker Road in Loudon. There will be three lanes northbound and one lane southbound from there to the NHMS south access road. As traffic builds up in the three northbound lanes, traffic control personnel will extend the three northbound lanes southerly to approximately Sheep Rock Road.
Between 2:30 p.m. and approximately 9:30 p.m., Route 106 will be closed to northbound traffic from I-393 in Concord to NHMS. During this time, three temporary southbound lanes will be provided on 106.
Route 106 in Belmont will again be open to two-way traffic on race morning. During the late afternoon, after the race is completed, a section of Route 106 in Belmont, will be made one-way northbound between the Concord Street/Route 106 intersection and the intersection of Route 140 and Route 106. This section of roadway will be converted to a temporary two lane one-way northbound roadway between approximately 4 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. On 106, two northbound left turn lanes and one through/right lane will be provided at the 140 intersection. Southbound 106 traffic will be detoured onto 140 west to Concord Street, and then back onto 106. North Main Street will be temporarily closed. All other streets in Belmont will continue normal operations.

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Stand Up Laconia to host open mic coffee house Thursday night

LACONIA — Stand Up Laconia will be holding an open mic night coffee house as part of its five-year celebration on Thursday, July 14, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Pitman's Freight Room in Laconia.
All members of the community are welcome to attend and perform during the evening. Any form of creative expression including poetry, instrumental pieces, songs, short stories and more can be shared during the event. A light meal and refreshments will be provided by the Soda Shoppe. Entry is free but donations are appreciated.
Stand Up Laconia is a grassroots coalition working to raise awareness and prevention around the issue of substance misuse. The mission of the organization is to effectively and compassionately confront the causes and consequences of substance misuse by advocating for prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery.
For more information, call Clare Persson at 387-4270 or visit www.standuplaconia.com.

Banding together - Debbie Gibson, others ask city School Board to reconsider band schedule


LACONIA — Although the Laconia High School Band did not play a fanfare when Brendan Minnihan, the newly appointed superintendent of schools, attended his first meeting of the School Board last evening, he got an earful just the same.
Outgoing music director Debbie Gibson, along with some two dozen band members and their parents, once again urged the the administration and the board to reverse the decision to schedule band as an after-school program and return it to the school day with other academic classes.
Even before they spoke, Minnihan remarked that while he might have thought the crowd came to welcome him, he knew better, then added that “There might be some options for band.” In light of the time of year, he said “It is nearly impossible to make it like it was,” but then assured the students and parents that “We’ll look at the schedule in general for 2017-2018 and see what we can do.”
Timothy King, fresh from Boy Scout camp, seized on Minnihan’s remarks, stressing that he understood “nearly impossible” to mean “it’s possible” and, standing to attention and raising his hand he asked the board “On your honor, please do your best.”
“You need to keep it at what it is,” said Linda Phelps, a grandmother. “A lot of kids can’t stay after school, “ she continued. “If it were sports they’d be bending over backwards to give them their time.”
She was echoed by her husband, Brian, who reminded the board that Gibson began with 28 musicians and grew the band to 70.
“Having band at the end of the day is not going to cut it,” he said. “Don’t quit!”
Josh Chandler urged Minnihan to put himself in the place of a parent with a child faced with choosing between playing in the band or pursuing other activities after school.
Calling the music program “a hidden jewel for the city of Laconia,” William Cone, a rising sophomore, said that he owed much of the success he enjoyed as a freshman to playing in the band. He expected he would be overwhelmed by carrying five classes including band and feared many students would forsake band or chorus because of the changed schedule. He recalled traveling to Disney World, where the band won “best in class,” and doubted his younger brother would have the same opportunity.
Gibson presented the board with three scheduling options for incorporating the music program — band and chorus — into the school day without requiring additional staff or incurring additional costs. She referred to research that demonstrated that after-school music programs suffer a high drop-out rate. Other research indicated that there is no difference in academic achievement among students who leave class for music instruction and those who do not. A study of 15,000 students in Ohio concluded by ninth-grade students of low socioeconomic status not only overcame disparities in achievement but performed better than their peers of higher status in math, science, reading and citizenship.
After the meeting, Gibson said that her successor, Krin Montrose, has been discussing the issue with school administrators and David Bartlett, recently named interim principal of Laconia High School, acknowledged that the scheduling of band is an ongoing topic of conversation with the music director.


07-13 Debbi Gibson at Lac SB

Retired music director for Laconia School District Debbie Gibson speaks to the school board about her desire to keep band as a regular class, not an after-school activity. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)