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Joint Building Committee eyes June 1 for start of $1.8-million school project

LACONIA — The Joint Building Committee established for the oversight of the $1.828-million school renovation bond met for the first time yesterday and set the potential construction start date of the project as June 1 for preliminary work, with the end of school date for major construction.

The committee determined that Rist, Frost, Shumway would engineer and design the project while Harvey Construction would be the construction manager. The committee hopes component bid documents will be ready for bid on April 23. They are due back on May 16.

The cost of the project is $1.828 million that will be primarily spent on installing a sprinkler system for the portion of the building not sprinkled during last year's Huot Technical Center Renovation and replacing the air handling units for the interior wall classrooms, the library, and the auditorium.

The money is being made available by a Quality Zone Academy Building federal no-interest loan made available to the Laconia School District through the N.H. Department of Education.

School District Administrator Ed Emond said yesterday that as far as sprinkling the portion of the building not done as part of the Huot Technical Center renovation, the glass windows between the east portion of the old building and older portion of the Huot Technical Center are not compliant with current fire codes.

The windows represent what was the outside back of the school when it was first built. The first Huot Center wrapped around the old school but the windows were kept in place so the classrooms, which have no outside exposure, along that interior wall could get some air.

Emond and engineer Chad Montrose said that after meeting with Chief Ken Erickson and Fire Inspector Charlie Roffo yesterday morning, they recommended contacting the N.H. Fire Marshal before moving forward with the engineering.

Montrose said one idea is to create an emergency water wall, meaning that a bank of sprinklers would release during a fire that would allow students to escape through what is the main entrance.

The problem is the glass is not smooth nor is it fire resistant and, in the event of a fire, it could shatter into one the main egresses from the north portion of the school.

Other options discussed at yesterday meeting included replacing some or all of the windows with fireproof sheet rock or replacing the glass with a fire resistant glass.

Montose said the board should delay any decision until they get the approximate costs of each option. JBC members also wanted to tour the area with the fire personnel as well.

The second portion of the construction project calls for replacing the air-handling units for the library, the interior classrooms and the auditorium. Montose and Emond said replacing the air-handling unit for the gymnasium will not be possible because there is not enough money.

The JBC gave Montose the okay to solicit bids for the replacement units as soon as possible because there is a lead time of six to eight weeks to get them to the site.

The committee also set what they hope is the final budget. The total amount available is $1.828-million with $1.438-million for the construction and $61,500 for the construction management fee.

The owner's contingency is set at $90,000 or about 6-percent of the total budget, furniture and fixtures is set a $14,000, the architect and engineering fee is $124,000 or 7.75 percent, and $100,000 is earmarked for costs associated with bonding and legal fees.

The project completion date is targeted for Aug. 20 when teachers return to the school.

The next JBC meeting is scheduled for April 23 at 4 p.m. at Harvard Street School. No date has been set for the fire officials joint with members of the JBC.

As with the most recent JBC – the co-chairs are City Councilor Bob Hamel and School Board member Joe Cormier.

Last Updated on Monday, 24 March 2014 11:54

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Strange events have staff spooked at Ellacoya Country Store in Gilford

GILFORD — Ghost hunters from Maine will be coming to Ellacoya Country Store to check out a Saint Patrick's Day incident in which the heavy glass top of a cake stand was smashed on the floor behind the store's front counter after inexplicably flying off a pedestal with a three-quarter inch rim.
The incident was caught on a video surveillance video camera and has created a sensation on the Ellacoya Barn and Grille's Facebook page, where it has been viewed by hundreds of people and attracted over 250 comments and led to television stories on WMUR-TV and widespread newspaper accounts.
''Strange things happen here. If you work here long enough they happen to you.'' says Lisa Giles, a clerk at the Ellacoya Country Store, who said that her fellow clerk, Heidi Boyd, was working around 3:30 on Monday afternoon last week when the incident happened.
''Heidi was freaking out after it happened. She had walked out of the room to the deli and heard something crash. When she came back the top was on the floor and she couldn't understand how it got there without taking everything else off the pedestal,'' said Giles.
She said that store owner Steve Buzzota was upset as the cake stand had been a wedding present and decided to check out the surveillance camera to see what had happened and was astonished at what he saw and decided to post it on Facebook to share with the store's customers. He posted it under the heading "Haunted much?"
Since that time there have been a steady string of comments on the Facebook page, with many suggesting that the act was staged to create publicity or that a truck going by the store had hit a pot hole and caused enough vibration to shake the top loose..
Store owner Steve Buzzota told WMUR, "This is definitely not a staged act. This really happened and it's kind of freaky." Boyd told the station she thinks it was a ghost. "This place is very old. You can't make it up. I absolutely believe."
Tammy Johnson, another clerk at the store. says that she has seen and heard many unusual things during her time there.
''I hear people walking on the floor and check it out and there's no one there. Or I see shadows out of the corner of my eye and I check and there's no one there,'' says Johnson.
She says many of those who work at the store have felt someone tap them on the shoulder when there's no one around. At other times people who arrive early in the morning report hearing a man whistling. And there was an incident in which a worker arrived in the morning and found the meat slicer running. Johnson says that the Ghost Hunters will get a warm welcome when they arrive and that she is hoping they can shed some light on the mystery.

Last Updated on Monday, 24 March 2014 11:42

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Sunday morning fire destroys century-old home, kills goats in Gilmanton

GILMANTON — A fast-moving four-alarm fire that apparently started in a barn near the Gilmanton Iron Works Center destroyed at the home that was attached to the barn through an ell that connected the two.

Fire Chief Paul "Joe" Hempel III said the barn was completely engulfed in flames and the blaze was spreading rapidly through the ell, which contained the family kitchen, toward the main part of the house when firefighters arrived just after 11 a.m. Sunday. He said the ell contained the family's kitchen, but the area above the ceiling was open allowing the fire to spread rapidly.

Firefighters could be seen breaking open windows on the second floor as the fire began to vent itself from the gable of the house in the attic above them. Smoke from the blaze permeated the air around the the Iron Works village area.

"The team made a big effort to stop the spread to the house, but the ceiling was open," Hemple said. The house was about 100 years old, said one of the neighbors.

Gilmanton firefighters, who were stationed Sunday at the Iron Works Station, were notified at 11:16 a.m. They called for a second alarm immediately and worked on laying down hose and setting up a water supply through a dry hydrant about 1,000 feet away, said Hempel.

A third alarm was sounded at 11:27 a.m., bringing firefighters from as far away as Laconia, Tilton-Northfield, and Wolfeboro to Route 140. A fourth alarm was call to assist with overhaul.

The fire was determined to be under control at 12:53 p.m. But Gilmanton remained at the fire scene until 6:30 p.m.

Hempel said the homeowners, Russell and Susan Lunt, were in the main part of the house when a passerby noticed the barn was on fire and alerted them to the blaze.

Hempel said the fire was accidental. He said he did not know exactly what started it, but said there was a wood stove in the barn that was used to keep some goats warm. The goats perished, however the two family dogs were outside and were all right.

Hempel said he it's too soon to tell if the house can be salvaged, but said it is uninhabitable at the present time. He said they brought in an excavator to overhaul the barns and the ell and help extinguish the fire.

Last Updated on Monday, 24 March 2014 11:36

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More than 20 eateries signed up for 24th Taste of the Lakes Region

MEREDITH — The 24th annual Taste of the Lakes Region will be held from 4-7 p.m. at Church Landing in Meredith on Sunday, March 30 and will feature over 20 the Lakes Region finest restaurants serving up samples of their culinary specialties for the benefit of the Laconia Altrusa Club's community projects.
The event has raised nearly $300,000 for the Altrusa Club's efforts in promoting literacy and scholarships over the years and has raised the awareness of folks in the Lakes Region of the fine quality and variety of offerings of the area's restaurants.
Annie's Cafe & Catering, back again this year, is owned and operated by Annie Hodapp, who grew up in Goffstown and started working for Sunshine Catering when she was only 14 where she said she liked the opportunity to cook with a friend while listening to rock music. After she graduated from Trinity High School she went west to Colorado State University, where she wasn't quite sure what she was going to major in, but finally settled on resort management after taking an aptitude test that showed that she was best suited to be a chef.
Following graduation from college, she worked for the university for awhile before moving back to New Hampshire, where started working for the Common Man, first at Camp in Meredith and for the next nine years as an event sales manager for the Concord Common Man.
But during the time she was working at the Common Man she lived in Laconia and said that she wanted someplace closer to home to work and decided to go into business for herself, opening up a business in the Three Gables Mall.
A single mom with two children, Hodapp says that she initially had only planned on having a catering business specializing in small events like family gatherings, house parties or office events. But when she saw what the traffic count was in front of her Union Avenue location, she decided to open a retail sales location as well.
''I love to cater, but I also like to bake and I love being around people, so this is a natural setting for me,'' says Hodapp, who on a recent Thursday had a menu featuring homemade broccoli cheddar soup, chicken stew and chicken barley soup, butternut pesto lasagna with garlic bread, also ham, swiss and provolone paninis with garlic mayo, caramelized onions and fresh tomatoes. It was also fresh baked cinnamon rolls day.
''We try to keep it exciting around here and listen closely to what our customers tell us hey want,'' says Hodapp.

She plans on bringing a seasonal spring salad and crab cakes to the event.
Taking part in this year's event are Contiagiani's Catering Service, Fratello's Italian Grille and the Homestead, T-Bones and Cactus Jack's, the Hilltop Restaurant at the Steele Hill Resort, Patrick's Pub and Eatery, Weirs Beach Lobster Pound, Cider Bellies Doughnuts, Ellacoya Barn & Grille, the Inn on Newfound Lake, Kara's Cafe and Cakery, the Manor on Golden Pond, Lago, the Lakehouse Grille, Camp, Giuseppe's Pizzeria & Ristorante, Canoe, O Steaks and Seafood, Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant, Annie's Cafe and Catering, Woodshed Roasting Company, Hector's Fine Food & Spirits and the Woodlands Tavern.
Tickets cost $25 per person and can be purchased at Hart's Turkey Farm in Meredith or in Laconia at Hector's or at the Coldwell-Banker Residential Brokerage. Because there is a cash bar at the event, no one younger than 21 will be admitted.
Sponsors include the Laconia Altrusa Club, radio stations 93.3 the Wolf, 98.3 LNH, WEMJ AM 1490 and the Laconia Daily Sun.

Last Updated on Monday, 24 March 2014 11:26

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