Ames Farm Inn reaches 125 year milestone

GILFORD — For Ames Farm Inn owners Peter Ames and his daughter, Peggy, the highest compliment they can hear from their guests is "nothing has changed".
''We hear that a lot and it's music to our ears,'' says Peggy, who along with her husband, Patrick Brown, recently sold their Massachusetts home and bought one in Gilford, where they will now be living year round.
Peter says that the inn, which this year celebrates its 125th anniversary as a Lake Winnipesaukee tourist attraction, was established in 1890 by James Noah Ames of Peabody, Mass., on land that had been partially owned by his grandfather, who was a pioneer settler of Gilford.
Peter and Peggy represent the 4th and 5th generations of the Ames family to operate the inn., making it one of the oldest family-owned businesses in the state. The 150-acre property includes a quarter mile of sandy beach, docks for fishing and boating, 17 lakeside cabins as well as rental units across the highway from the inn, trails leading up what is known to the family as Endicott Mountain as well as breathtaking views of Lake Winnipesaukee near Rattlesnake and Diamond islands from all locations on the property.
They agree that one of the biggest attractions of the inn, which has kept some families coming back for 90 years, is the low-key atmosphere which allows people to step back in time and feel totally relaxed.
"We have generations of families who keep coming back every summer,'' says Peggy, who stopped to talk with Lauren Taylor of Cheshire Connecticut, who said that her family had been coming back to the Ames Farm Inn for 50 years and that it was at the inn that she met her future husband.
''We had a home but liked staying at the inn more. Some of my family is here for the holiday and we just had to take them to Ames Farm for breakfast.''
Peter says that food has always been one of the inn's attractions and that one of the first things James Noah Ames did when he bought the farm was to build a large dining room and lodge onto the rear of what had been a farmhouse for many years. The farmhouse had rooms which were rented and meals were served there.
Ames started to invite his friends from Boston area to build cottages at the farm, where cattle and sheep were raised, and built cottages of his own near the shore
The Lakeshore Railroad passed right through the Ames Farm, which had a station built where regular stops were made until the 1930s. The former station was taken across the highway where it now serves as a guest cottage according to Peter.
There was also a wharf where steamers like the Governor Endicott would make stops. A photo in the dining room shows that ship arriving at the Ames Farm dock in 1910.
According to Adair Mullgan's 1995 book History of the Gunstock Parish ''the family kept orchards, raised cattle, sheep and pigs and and vegetables and baked pastries, breads, pies, cookies and biscuits on site.''
A gas-powered generator supplied electrical power for the farm from 1915 until 1928, when it was linked to the grid and the farm had its own ice house for refrigeration until the 1940s.
Today the farm continues its tradition of providing food for guests, offering breakfasts featuring blueberry pancakes and omelets as well as lunches. Many island dwellers drop by the Inn's docks, especially on weekends, for their breakfasts.
Peggy says that many family members are still involved in operating the farm during the summer months and that she and her dad are intent on keeping the business as traditional as possible by maintaining the strong relationships the Ames family has always had with their guests.


Peter Ames, his daughter Peggy and her husband Patrick Brown and their daughter Shealagh stand next to, the lakefront gazebo at the Ames Farm in Gilford, which is marking is 125th year as a Lake Winnipesaukee tourist attraction. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Franklin Street residents have yet to discover secret to keeping flocks of geese from making a mess on their lawns

LACONIA — A handful of homeowners on Franklin Street, whose spacious properties border the eastern shore of Lake Opechee are plagued by flock of between 30 and 50 Canadian geese, which has taken to using their lawns as their dining room and bathroom.

"All they do is eat the grass and go to the bathroom," said Stanley Waldorf, who spends his summer with his son in Lakeport.

The geese, which apparently have forsaken migration for residency, have a voracious appetite for Kentucky blue grass and an equal propensity for returning it to the soil.

Doug Shaw explained that the geese, who strew their greasy, green droppings across the lawns, are not only a nuisance but a hazard. "We have young children in the house who play on the lawn and swim at the beach," he explained. "They can't be out until I've cleaned up the mess left by the geese." With a hoe and pooper-scooper Shaw said he regularly collects 10 pounds of droppings after the geese have visited, usually in the early morning.

"They will come all the way up the lawn to the house," said Waldorf, pointing to an expanse of grass been the house and shoreline approaching the length of a football field.

Shaw said he has tried any number of deterrents, so far without success. The geese ignore the ceramic dog (a boxer) he purchased at an antique store and stationed near his beach. Although they flee at the sound of firecrackers and rattling pots and pans, he said "they must not have any memory, because they are back in a day or two." A flashing light, whether posted on the shore or in the lake, has had no deterrent effect.

Shaw recalled that he called the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, where he was told that he could apply a permit that would allow him to shoot two geese with 12-guage shotgun. However, he said that because of the proximity of residences he would not be permitted to fire a shotgun in the neighborhood and, in any event, doubted killing two geese would deter the entire flock. However, the agency provided him with a small plastic pistol that fires blanks with an amplified discharge. Shaw said that pistol will frighten the geese away, but so far has not kept them form returning.

One of his neighbors spent nearly $1,000 for two applications of a chemical, which when sprayed on the lawn was supposed to drive off the geese, but it rained and the geese returned in a day or two.

Shaw said that the dog belonging to Reuben Bassettt, who lives across the street, has chased the geese off the lawn, but he is not always at hand when the geese visit. Moreover, he remarked "it makes no difference. Whatever we do, they always come back, like bad pennies."

But, Shaw has not surrendered. On the advice of a friend he is going to string a line festooned with colored strips of plastic, like those that decorate car dealerships, close to the ground along his shorefront in hopes of discouraging the geese from stepping ashore. "I'm doing it today and I've told my neighbors," he said yesterday, as he raked more droppings into his pooper-scooper.


CAPTION: Doug Shaw collects goose droppings from the lawn of his home in Lakeport overlooking Lake Opechee. He is one of several homeowners who are unwillingly playing host to a large flock of unwelcome guests, who have been fouling their lawns this year. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Man connected to heroin sale seeks release from jail through monitoring bracelet program; prosecutor objects

LACONIA — A Meredith man who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess a controlled drug has been approved by the Belknap County House of Corrections for the electric monitoring bracelet program.

Andrew Currier, 51, pleaded guilty to the sole count on March 24, 2015 as part of a plea bargain that included the state dropping a single count of sales of a controlled drug — heroin, death resulting against him.

Currier admitted to withdrawing money from an account at a local bank and driving to victim Jason Dostie's place of employment in Meredith. Dostie was found dead in his father's truck by his father at their home in Moultonborough. An investigation determined Dostie died in Meredith.

Judge Peter Fauver of the Belknap County Superior Court sentenced Currier to 12 months in the house of corrections in March and granted him work release.

Belknap County Deputy Attorney Roni Karnis has filed an objection to Currier being released on an electronic bracelet. In her motion to object, she said the judge ordered work release but not a bracelet. She also said that since he is on work release, home incarceration "would not have the same punitive and deterrent effect on (Currier), particularly given that (he) is already at liberty during the day for work release."

"Said participation in the (electronic monitoring bracelet program) is the functional equivalent of release from custody," Karnis continued, adding she would be providing the court with statements from the victim's family when they become available.

Shortly before he was set to go to prison, Currier joined a Stand Up Laconia meeting and spoke openly about his addiction. He said he had also agreed to go to schools and speak of drug addiction as part of his rehabilitation.

Stand Up Laconia is a grass roots organization dedicated to stopping the use of illegal drugs especially for young people in the city of Laconia.

At that time, which was in January, he said he had been clean and sober for 20 months and admitted his real drug of choice was alcohol.

He said when he learned he was complicit in Dostie's death, he confessed all of his drug use to his wife of 27 years who threw him out of the house and subsequently divorced him.

Admitted to the Riverbend Program in Meredith, he said when he learned two months later that the Meredith Police were looking for him, he turned himself in.

He had been a counselor at the Riverbend Program but when he agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy, the program director removed him that position.

He told the group that sobriety had forced him to remember what he had and what he lost. He also recalled the embarrassment of having his name and mug shot in the newspapers. His case was covered by local media as well a state media.

"It's my fault," he said at the time.

The motion for the Department of Correction's request that he be released on the electric monitoring system has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

The objections raised by the Office of the Belknap County Attorney in a previous request for electronic monitoring had at least one member of the Belknap County Commission crying foul and accusing County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen of not "being a team player."

Guldbrandsen replied that she was a "team player" and cited, in part, her volunteer work in the 4th Circuit Court's, Laconia Division Recovery Court as an example of how her office is working with the courts, the jail and numerous other local agencies to help people get clean and sober in lieu of incarceration.