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Community invited to participate in homelessness forum on Monday evening

LACONIA — On Monday night residents are encouraged to join representatives of at least eight civic organizations at 5:30 p.m. for a community night at the Laconia Middle School to address the growing problem of homelessness and near-homelessness in and around the city.

After a free dinner, at 6 p.m. everyone is invited to watch the wward-winning short documentary fillm "Inocente" — an uplifting story about a 15-year-old homeless girl who attends school, uses art to express herself, all while hiding her homelessness from the other students in her class.

Following the dinner, attendees are asked to stay and talk among themselves to see what it is all can do address homelessness and near homelessness.

According to Carol Pierce — a member of the Hope for the Homelessness Coalition in Laconia, as government financial safety nets give way, many fall though to homelessness.

It can mean living in a car, staying on a couch or in the living room of a friend or family — or it can mean hunkering down in one of the area's parking garages to keep out of the worst part of the wind and weather in the cold.

Pierce said a growing number of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 are finding it increasing harder to find jobs — and many that do find the money they earn is not enough to keep a roof over their heads.

She said there are a number of contributing factors to homelessness including not enough money, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, and mental illness and depression.

The goal of gathering everyone together in one room Monday night is to get as many people as possible to join together to work on homelessness.

The evening is not just for the members of the various agencies who provide direct assistance like Genesis Behavior Help, New Beginnings or the city Police Department and School District.

The goal to to bring all of the stakeholders together in one place, at one time, and with one agenda — to combine the resources the community already had with the resources out in the community who, until now, didn't think they had much to contribute.

According to Len Campbell of Catholic Charities, everyone in the community — rich or poor — has something to contribute to this project.
"We, as a community, need to be part of a continuing conversation on the causes and varying solutions for those who are in such dire need," Pierce said.

"Please join us," she asked.

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 February 2014 01:52

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Bellerive takes lead on first day of Sled Dog Derby

LACONIA — Two-time Laconia World Championship Sled Dog Derby winner Claude Bellerive of Charette, Quebec, jumped out to the first day lead in the 85th annual derby Friday afternoon.

Bellerive held a 1 minute, 10 second lead over Vermont musher Steve Long over the 15-mile, freshly groomed course, posting a time of 53:39 while Long finished with a time of 54:49.

The competition came in the "unlimited" division of the derby, where mushers are allowed to harness as many dogs as they wish. Times added up over three runs will determine the champion. Start time is 1 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 on Sunday.
'"It was a good course,'' said Bellerive, who was runner-up in last year's race and won back-to-back titles in 2007-08.
In third place was Jack Trottier, another musher from Quebec. with a time of 55:03, just a minute and 24 seconds behind the leader and only four seconds ahead of defending champion Justin Fortier of St. Raymond, Quebec.
Fortier, who was only 20 when he became the youngest musher to ever win the derby last year, beat out Bellerive by overcoming a three-minute deficit on the final day of the derby.
In fifth place is first-time derby racer Rejean Therrien of Quebec, with a time of 56 minutes even. Therrien, who has been racing sled dogs for 35 years, said that the course was good but that he lost several minutes when his 16-dog team of husky-pointer crosses became tangled.
''I'm was a little disappointed but the team ran well and I think I can make it up. I'm just a little over two minutes behind and we've got two days to catch up,'' said Therrien.
Brittany Colbath of Gilford is in sixth place with a time of 57:17 and two-time champion Keith Bryar Jr. of Moultonborough trails her by seven seconds.
Bryar said he was generally pleased with his run and has added several new dogs to his veteran team this year. ''Times should be better the next two days and I'm just hoping for a top five finish this year,'' says Bryar, who won the derby in 2002 and 2011.

There is a close race in the six-dog class with the top six finishers Friday just 44 seconds apart. Jessica, Doherty of Palmero, N.Y, leads with a time of 19:48. Angie Carter of Penacook is just seven seconds back and Jocelyn Bradbury of Portland, Maine, is third trailing by 22 seconds.
Kathy Rivest of Charette, Quebec is fourth with a time of 20:27, followed by defending champion Melanie Bellerive of Quebec three seconds back and Fran Plaisted of Vermont just two seconds behind her.
Today the six-dog race would begin at 9:30 a.m., the three-dog race will begin at noon, and the second leg of the unlimited race will begin at 1 p.m.
Sunday's six-dog race begins a 9:30 a.m., the three-dog race starts at noon, a special one-dog race for juniors begins at 12:30 and the final run of the unlimited race is at 1:30 to 1:45 p.m.
Governor Maggie Hassan is expected to participate in the festivities leading up to the start of Sunday's unlimited-class race.

The start/finish line is located at the intersection of Old North Main Street and Parade Road, directly across the street from the former State School property.

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 February 2014 01:45

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Smoke fills Sanbornton home at peak of storm

SANBORNTON — Firefighters battled at two-alarm blaze during the height of Thursday snowstorm that caused a great deal of smoke damage to a two-story home on Threshing Mill Road.

Fire Chief Paul Dexter said the fire was reported by the homeowner who arrived home with his son around 5:50 p.m. and noticed the house was filled with smoke and the alarms were sounding.

Dexter said the homeowner heard his dog barking from inside the house and was able to break a window and get his dog out.

The homeowner suffered a cut on his had from breaking the glass but was treated by ambulance personnel and not taken to the hospital.

The fire, said Dexter, appeared to have started in a storage away for wood pellets. He said it appears a well pump electrical circuit arced and started the fire. He said the wood pellets were stored a safe distance from the wood stove.

Dexter also said the property owner did the right thing by calling 911 immediately and not entering the home. Fortunately the dog was near a window and the man was able to get the animal out without entering the home.

Snow was a serious factor faced by the responding firefighters said Dexter noting both Burleigh Hill Road and Flushing Mill Road were snow covered. He said Sanbornton police were able to divert plow truck to Flushing Hill and clear a path for the firefighters.

Dexter also said the driveway was about 150-feet long and the firetruck were unable to get trucks up to the house so had to carry it about 150 feet.

He said one of the things that saved the home was that the wood pellets were stored in the basement underneath one of the water heater modules. He said the heat from the fire melted the seal on the modular and the water that fell partially extinguished the fire.

Dexter said firefighters used five-gallon extinguisher tanks to extinguish the rest of the fire.

He said the home is definitely repairable and the N.H. State Fire Marshall has released it to the owner and the insurance company.

Dexter asks that during the winter, people, especially those with long driveways, should try to keep them somewhat clear of snow during storms. He said that while everything worked out well Thursday, his crews never would have been able to get an ambulance for a medical call up many of the driveways in town last night.

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 February 2014 01:25

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Funeral for Esther Peters today: broadcasting pioneer was still on TV well into her 90s

LACONIA — Esther Peters, the local broadcasting pioneer who died last Sunday at the Belknap County Nursing Home at the age of 98, is remembered by her friends and family as an incredibly positive woman who always had a kind word for everyone and was deeply engaged in her local community.

In 2005 the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce recognized her achievements by naming her the recipient of the prestigious James R. Irwin Award for community service.
''My mother really found herself after she moved here in the early 1950s. She loved Laconia and Gilford and all of the Lakes Region and in the end the people here loved her back,'' says her daughter Anne Oehlschlaeger.
Peters arrived in the Lakes Region in the summer of 1953 as a the divorced mother of two children and thrived on being in the public's eye once she arrived. It didn't take her long to attract attention and she was discovered by Art ''Roxie'' Rothafel of radio station WLNH at a party where he heard her voice and he told her she could do well on radio.
The only available job was bookkeeping, but, after the station's regular woman's show hostess fell ill, Esther filled in and soon took over the show.
Broadcasting "Around Town" from the curved front window of Woolworth's store on Main Street, Peters played records, talked with passerby's and interviewed people. Her studio interviews in the WLNH studio in the Masonic Temple building included Dwight Eisenhower, Rose Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Over the years she interviewed many of the stars who appeared at the Gilford Playhouse, including Paul Newman and Tallulah Bankhead.
She scooped other reporters by interviewing Newman in the car which picked him up at the Laconia Airport and said that her favorite interview was Tallulah Bankhead, who talked for a half hour without stopping.
Oehlschlaeger said that her mother would frequently have to drive in snowstorms from Cotton Hill Road in Gilford to the WLNH studio in downtown Laconia and was proud of the fact that she could put on tire chains in eight minutes. ''It was quite a trick getting down Cotton Hill Road during the winter'' her daughter recalls.
Dorothy Duffy, who worked Peters for about 10 years producing the "Now and Then' show for Lakes Region Public Access television, said that she still recalls Peters' distinctive voice from the early 1950s radio show and always held her in high esteem.
''She was non-abrasive and was famous for driving her convertible around town. She kept doing the the LRPA show until she was 95, which is really a remarkable achievement,'' says Duffy.
Peters worked for WLNH from 1973 to 1978 and was a member of numerous community organizations, including The Belknap Mill Society of Laconia and Lakes Region Clean Waters Association, both of which she helped form, as well as the Laconia Historical Society, Laconia Chamber of Commerce, Laconia B.P.W. and Altrusa Clubs, Laconia and Lakeport Women's Clubs, Opechee Garden Club, Salvation Army, Genesis ( Lakes Region Mental Health), Thompson Ames Historical Society, Gilford Library, Gilford School Board P.T.A., Gilford Conservation Commission, Laconia Conservation Commission, volunteered for Lakes Region Conservation Trust, Lakes Region United Way, preservation of the Rowe House, V.F.W. Post 1670 Ladies Auxiliary, Boy Scouts of America and the Gilmanton Garden Club.
She was a member of the St. James Episcopal Church of Laconia served as a lay reader, vestry member, Sr. Warden and Sunday school teacher.
A Memorial Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 11 a.m. at the St. James Episcopal Church in the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church location at 2238 Parade Rd. Laconia, The Pastor Rev. Tobias Nyatsambo will officiate.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial donations be made to the Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation PO Box 7312 Gilford, NH 03247-7312.

CAPTION: Esther at Taylor Home (Adam Drapcho photo)

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 February 2014 01:03

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