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Captain Landry surprised by fire truck dedication

LACONIA — City firefighters turned out in their dress blues yesterday to honor a venerable tradition by blessing the newest truck in the fleet and celebrating the most revered member of the department, Captain Bob Landry, in whose name the engine was dedicated.

Taken by surprise, Landry, who served with the department for nearly a quarter of a century, was speechless and tearful, but managed "I thank you. It's a great honor. Who the hell would have thought." Later he quipped "every blind old squirrel finds a nut once in a while."

Presenting the award Captain Chris Shipp said that Landry has "lived the fire service," displaying qualities of leadership, levels of skill and dedication to duty for others to emulate. "The worse fire imaginable, he'd have your back," he remarked, "and he'd also have your back at the local pub." Shipp said that Landry has shared his knowledge and experience with every member of the department, all of whom are better firefighters for it.

Like Landry, the new engine, blessed with a prayer and holy water by Father Marc Drouin of St. Andre Bessette Parish, is a first-to-the-scene engine, carrying 1,000 gallons of water and armed with a pump rated at 1,500 gallons per minute. Landry explained that in densely populated areas where hydrants are plentiful trucks with a capacity of 500 gallons are commonplace, but double the capacity is needed to respond to structure fires in the rural reaches of the city where hydrants are sparse.

The engine was built to some 220 pages of specifications prepared by a committee led by Shipp and including Lieutenant Jay Ellingson and firefighters Kyle Joseph, Chris Beaudoin and Rick Hewlett, by E-One of Ocala, Florida, the same company that built the department's ladder truck. Landry said that the chassis and body was assembled in Florida and the truck equipped and fitted in Buffalo, New York.

"It drives like a Cadillac," Landry said. "Quient, smooth and powerful." He said that since it was put into service last week it has been to three fires and 20 calls as well as washed three times just yesterday. "It's hard to keep up with this weather," he said.

Opening the ceremony, Fire Chief Ken Erickson said that with one firefighter at the wheel, others pushed the new engine into Central Station, following a tradition that dates to 18th century, when the horses that drew the apparatus had no reverse gear. He expressed the appreciation of the department to the City Council for investing $422,000 in the new engine, which he said together with great personnel, great training and great equipment it has will help the Laconia Fire Department reach its goal "to be the best fire department there is."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 01:44

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Council resolves to save Hathaway House

LACONIA — At the urging of the Heritage Commission the City Council last night adopted a nonbinding resolution calling on Cafua Management Company, LLC, the owners of the Hathaway House, to honor its original commitment to preserve, sell or lease the historic building on Union Avenue.

Cafua has applied to demolish the building. The Heritage Commission held a public hearing last week at which a majority of speakers favored protecting the building. Pam Clark, who chairs the commission, presented the council with a petition with "hundreds of signatures" calling for "immediate and definitive action" to that end.

Only Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) dissented. She reminded the council that the company, which developed the portion of the lot housing the Dunkin' Donuts outlet, made a significant investment in the city and pays some $20,000 in annual property taxes. "There are two sides to every story," she said, "and we're only hearing one side."

Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3) said there was a strong "sentiment" among members of the public that the building should be preserved. Acknowledging that ultimately city officials had no authority to forestall the demolition of historic buildings, he suggested there was no reason for the council not to add its voice to the call to preserve the Hathaway House.

Following the public hearing, the ordinance provides for the Heritage Commission to meet with the owner within 10 days to seek agreement on an alternative to razing the building. Without an agreement to preserve the building, the owner may proceed with demolition while the Heritage Commission, with the consent of the owner, can photograph and document the building as well as encourage the owner to salvage any of its important architectural features. Clark said she expects to meet with Greg Nolan of Cafua within the week.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 03:03

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Looney Bin Wins Judges, Peoples Choice Awards at Annual Chili Cook off

LACONIA — With a record crowd of nearly 300 in attendance, the Looney Bin Bar and Grille at Weirs Beach successfully defended its title at the 4th annual Chili Cook-off to benefit the New Hampshire Humane Society which was held Sunday at the Weirs Beach Lobster Pound.
Not only did the Looney Bin win its second straight nod from the judges with its spicy beef chili, it also took the People's Choice award, which thrilled owner Michelle Tyo, who said that the recipe is a less spicy version of that which her mother used to make.
''We've been serving it at the restaurant since day one,'' said Tyo.
The Route 104 Diner was second and T-Bones was third.
The event attracted people from all over the Lakes Region and some people came from as far away as Rochester to sample the offerings from the competing restaurants for the event.
"'We came up to show our support for the Humane Society,'' said Eric Sirles, who grew up in Laconia and brought along his three daughters, Olivia, Alexandra and Maikayla, to sample the extensive offerings from area restaurants.
Steve Kay and John Finneral of Cactus Jack's and T-Bones were serving up Texas Chili from T-Bones and said they were receiving a good response from the public. ''It's our first year and we're proud to be helping out the Humane Society,'' said Kay. T-Bones was selected as the Best Booth winner.
Annie Verville of Annie's Cafe brought along two different chilis, one with pulled pork, green peppers with roasted butternut squash and corn and a vegetarian offering with three beans, chilies and bulgur.
Others taking part included the Ballard House Inn, Burrito Me, Hart's Turkey Farm, the Lakeside Deli, Tower Hill Tavern, the Weirs Beach Lobster Pound, the Water Street Cafe and the Wine'ing Butcher.
The official judging panel was made up of Laconia Fire Chief Ken Erickson, Police Chief Chris Adams and the city's new mayor, Ed Engler.
Live entertainment provided by Paul Warnick and saxophonist Jonathan Lorentz was new at the event this year according Marylee Gorham, spokesperson for the Humane Society, who said that she was thrilled with the turnout and looking forward to an even bigger crowd next year.
She said the event raised $2,800 for the Humane Society.
"We are so grateful to the Lobster Pound, the many restaurants who have stepped up to the challenge this year, and the judges who agreed to lend their support. Knowing we have so many friends in the community inspires our staff, volunteers and supporters to do the very best they can every day, enriching the lives of the animals we are pledged to care for until adoption,'' said Gorham.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 02:58

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County Convention Squabbles over Budget Review Process and Makes Grudging Progress

LACONIA — The Belknap County Convention held the first of four scheduled budget review sessions last night and members spent nearly as much time dealing with philosophy and wrangling over procedures as they did talking about any parts of the budget.
All of the county department heads were on hand for the three-hour meeting, which ended up covering only the outside agency and administrative, finance and IT department budgets, the only ones so far reviewed by the convention's subcommittees.
The evening opened with Convention Chairperson Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) correcting minutes from the last convention meeting and then sparring with Reps. Ruth Gulick (D-New Hampton) and Dennis Fields (R-Sanbornton) over the powerpoint presentation she had made at that meeting regarding administrative salaries and health insurance issues.
Gulick asked Worsman, ''Where do you get your authority to have your own personal opinion presented in that manner'' while Fields said he was ''curious to why you keep making your own budget up?'' rather than working on the budget as presented by the Belknap County Commissioners.
Worsman told Gulick that she used "the prerogative of the chairman'' when she decided to make the presentation and told Fields that he was free to use the commissioner's budget or hers, which she said was prepared in order to add pertinent information.
Jane Cormier (R-Alton) defended Worsman and said that she thought that she saw personal animus at work in the criticism of the chairperson.
Worsman then proceeded to ask each member of the convention ''what you'd like to bring home to the taxpayers as a tax rate?'' That prompted a lengthy debate over how to proceed on the budget.
Rep. Lisa DiMartino (D-Gilford) said she wouldn't set a number but preferred to look at the needs of the county first and then work from there to the tax rate. Rep. Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) said that he sees a projected 8 percent increase which he thinks is too high and that ''what we can afford is the bottom line'' and said that he thought a 1 1/2 percent increase in the total appropriation is the most the county can afford.
Fields questioned how the budget could be cut by a percentage amount without knowing what would be cut and DiMartino questioned Vadney's number on the projected increase and asked county commissioners, who said that the appropriation request was up 4 percent with expenditures up by seven-tenths of a percentage point and revenues down by 3.1 percent.
Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) said a $533,000 reduction in spending from last year should be factored in now that the county is no longer paying the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association assessment for Belknap County Towns. But county commissioners maintained that was simply a pass through of funds which are now being paid directly by the towns.
Rep. Ian Raymond said that he wouldn't want to take a vote on any part of the budget until he knew how much the convention would be paying for its lawsuit in its dispute with the commissioners over budget authority and urged the convention not to make cuts without regard to consequences.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 02:27

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