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Thieves target restaurant's fundrising jar Laconia 4th grader set up for Humane Society

LACONIA — One day this past summer, fourth-grader Jet Wang was at Shang Hai Restaurant while his mother and restaurant owner Hong Yan was working.

He said he was visiting with his "Auntie Annie" — one of Yan's friends — and "I was dead-on bored" so she suggested the two of them go to the New Hampshire Humane Society in Laconia to see some of the animals.

Jet said when he returned to the restaurant he told his mother he wanted to adopt a dog. Yan explained that the family works 12 hours a day, every day in their restaurant so a dog was out of the question.

"We just don't have the time," she said.

Undeterred, Jet came up with the idea of raising money for the Humane Society by putting a "swear jar" on the bar. Every time one of his mother's patrons curses, he or she has to put some money in the jar for the Humane Society.

The goal was to raise $200 for the Humane Society and one of Yan's regular customers said he would match up to $200 if Jet and his "swear jar" could raise that much money.

Yan said she too would match Jet's $200.

Last Sunday night, some young people stole the money from Jet's "swear jar."

Jet said he was visiting with some of his mother's patrons and saw the two men, who he said were accompanied by a young woman, hovering near the jar. The next thing he knew, the folding money was gone from the jar and so were the three customers. The jar was clearly marked as a fund-raiser for the Humane Society.

"I was angry, mad, and kind of sad," said Jet when asked how he felt about the theft.

Yan said she reported the theft to the police but all she really wants is for the two men who took the money to return it.

"We just want the money for the animals," she said. "And to give back to Laconia."

Yan said her family has been in Laconia for 25 years and the community has been so good to them that they wanted to do something for Laconia and the Humane Society.

Yan also said she wants her son to understand the idea of helping others and giving back to society. She said winter is a particularly hard time for the Humane Society and the money was going to buy blankets, paper towels, food and toys.

Jet, who is a fourth-grader at Holy Trinity School, said he also learned a lesson about honesty.

"The teachers tell me to be honest and these people were not honest," he said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 September 2013 01:51

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Laconia High alumni gearing up for another big homecoming/reunion weekend

LACONIA — There will be lots of new things for Laconia High School alumni to explore at the third annual all-school reunion later this week.
Among the highlights will be the the recently completed additions and renovations at the high school and the Huot Regional Technical Education Center, a $16.8 million project which has added a new 32,000-square-foot building at the school which houses a student-run restaurant, new chemistry labs and the new artificial turf athletic field at the Bank of New Hampshire Stadium.
One of the highlights of the weekend will be the dedication of the football field to former football coach and athletic director Jim Fitzgerald, who coached the Sachems from 1973 to 2001, a period in which they appeared in the playoffs 19 times and advanced to 12 state finals and won three state titles.
The dedication will take place at 6:45 p.m. Friday night, just prior to the 7 p.m. game against Hanover High School.
Members of the 2013 Reunion Committee, Bill Greeley, class of 1971, and Janet Brough, office manager for the School District, and the Laconia Alumni Association, Randy Brough, class of 1975, were guests Saturday morning on Niel Young's Advocates show on WEZS radio and talked about the upcoming weekend.
Brough said that the Laconia High School Open House, Homecoming and Alumni Reunion gets underway at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday with the dedication of the Richard A. Dearborn Science Center at the high school. The lab is named for 1954 Laconia High School graduate Richard Dearborn, the founder of Eptam Plastics, which is now located in Northfield.
There will be an open house from 6-7:30 p.m. at the high school following the dedication ceremony.
On Friday, September 27 alumni who will be participating in the homecoming parade, will gather on the lawn at Laconia High School at 3:45 p.m., where cars from the decade in which they graduated, including a 1930 Duesenberg, will be available for them to ride in during the parade, which gets underway at 4 p.m., will go into downtown Laconia before returning to the high school.
At 5 p.m. a Meet and Greet reception will be held at the Meredith Village Savings Bank Culinary Arts Center at the Huot Center.
The ongoing alumni reunion will be held from 6-10 p.m. at the high school, with tours of the school to view all the recent renovations.
Decade tables will be set up in the culinary arts center where videos and memorabilia will be available and alumni can share memories.
Greeley recalled that he and his wife, Bonnie (Pike) Greeley, a 1973 LHS grad, met at a high school football game and that they have always held good memories of their student days at LHS and hope to share their experiences since graduation at the 40th reunion of Bonnie's class, which takes place over the weekend.
Randy Brough, who is Laconia Public Library director, said that proceeds realized from the LHS Alumni Reunion will go to the Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation through the LHS Alumni Scholarship Fund.
He said that since 1956 the scholarship foundation has awarded 4,300 students $4.6 million in scholarships thanks to the generosity of 500 donors or donor funds.
He said that the foundation will be holding its 13th Annual Community Spelling Bee at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 17 at the LHS Auditorium and that the Laconia Library team will be one of the participants.
During the weekend the LHS Alumni Reunion Committee will be awarding an honorary LHS Alumni Award to former Superintendent of Schools Bob Champlin, who worked for 31 years in the Laconia school system, the last 13 as superintendent.
Homecoming weekend will continue on Saturday with a number of athletic contests at the Bank of New Hampshire Stadium, field hockey at 9:30 a.m., girls soccer at noon and 1:30 p.m., boys soccer at 3:30 and 5 p.m. and volleyball contests in the LHS gym at 3 and 4:30 p.m.
Janet Brough said that the idea for the reunion weekend originated with Jim Carroll, class of 1965, and has proved very popular with LHS graduates.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 02:27

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Legally mandated investigation of Nov. 2012 voters who showed no ID continues

LACONIA – Ten months after voters went to the polls in last November's election the state Attorney General's Office is continuing to investigate whether any of the 705,874 ballots cast were done so fraudulently.
Assistant Attorney General Steve LaBonte said last week that scrutinizing the status of almost 1,700 voters whose residency is in question is "an open investigation."
LaBonte declined to provide any details about the investigation other than to say that he and his staff have been working on the case since June. There said 12 to 15 people have been working on the case, either full- or part-time. He would not say how many of the questionable voters had been contacted or how much longer the investigation would take.
Under state law, the Secretary of State's Office is required to turn over to the AG's Office the names and addresses of voters who fail to respond to a mailing to confirm the address they gave when they registered at the polls. Any voter who registered to vote on Election Day but was unable to provide a photo ID and who was not recognized by certain poll workers was required to sign an affidavit swearing their identity. Sixty days after the election the Secretary of State's office is required to send a letter to those voters at the address they gave on the affidavit telling them to return the enclosed post card to the Secretary of State's office. The names of voters who do not return their cards within 90 days or whose letters are returned by the Post Office as undeliverable are turned over to the AG's Office for investigation.
Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan said that his office sent out 5,609 letters to voters who signed the so-called Challenged Voter Affidavits last November. Of those, 3,911 voters returned their cards by the deadline, while 374 letters were returned as undeliverable and another 1,324 letters were presumably delivered, but the voters failed to mail the postcard back to the Secretary of State's Office, Scanlan said. The names and addresses of the 1,698 voters whose letters could not be delivered or who failed to send back the postcard were turned over to the AG's Office, he said.
Critics of New Hampshire's same-day registration law say it opens the door to vote fraud. The late Bob Kingsbury of Laconia was one of those who shared that view. In early March Kingsbury turned over to the Laconia City Clerk's Office the names of 60 voters whose Laconia residency he considered suspect. Kingsbury, who recently died, had sent letters to 1,365 people who had registered at Laconia polls on Election Day and 60 of those letters were returned by the Post Office as undeliverable.
City Clerk Mary Reynolds said that she turned the material she got from Kingsbury over to the Supervisors of the Checklist who "found no merit" to Kingsbury's contention that the returned letters showed probability of vote fraud.
"They may have moved (since Election Day), or their mailing address was different than their physical address — like a Post Office box," Reynolds said regarding the 60 voters. "There are many different variables."
New Hampshire law allows a pretty wide interpretation of who's eligible to vote.
According to Reynolds, the law says an inhabitant's domicile for voting purposes is "that one place where a person, more than any other place has established a physical presence."
"Because the law is vague in certain areas, it does create areas for problems," said Scanlan. "In large part, you have to rely on the trustworthiness of individuals to do the right thing when you're voting."
Scanlan said his office is eager to get the results of the AG's investigation, but understands why it is taking so much time.
"It's a big job, but it's a bigger job for the AG," he said.
If prosecutors determine that an affidavit was signed fraudulently, the signer could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor or a Class B felony, depending on the circumstances. The attorney general's office also has the option of pursuing a civil case.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 03:16

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Modest population growth trend thought troubling sign for Lakes Region economy

LACONIA — The population growth that has driven growth and prosperity throughout much of the Lakes Region since 1970 slowed markedly during the last decade and shows scant sign of accelerating soon.

Demographic data compiled and presented by the Lakes Region Planning Commission in the course of updating its Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for the region offers a pattern of slackening in-migration and rapid aging that threaten to slow population growth in the years ahead. Unless mitigated, these trends will weigh on the development of the work force needed for a dynamic economy.

As defined by the commission, the Lakes Region includes the 11 municipalities of Belknap County, eight towns in Carroll County (Effingham, Freedom, Moultonborough, Ossipee, Sandwich, Tamworth, Tuftonboro and Wolfeboro), six towns in Grafton County (Alexandria, Ashland, Bridgewater, Bristol, Hebron and Holderness) and five municipalities in Merrimack County (Andover, Danbury, Franklin, Hill and Northfield).

In the 70 years between 1900 and 1970 the population of the 30 municipalities in the Lakes Region grew by just 16,092 — slightly more than the current population of Laconia — from 44,369 to 60,461. By contrast, in the 40 years since 1970 the population has risen by 52,272, an increase of 87-percent, from 60,461 to 112, 735. However, 88-percent of this population growth — 45,967 people — occurred between 1970 and 2000, when in successive decades the population increased by 29 percent, 18 percent and 16 percent.

From 2000 to 2010, the population added only 6,307 people to grow at a pace of 6 percent. Nearly half this increase occurred in just four towns — Alton, Barnstead, Belmont and Gilmanton — which together added 2,812 residents, 45 percent of the increase in the entire region. These towns are within reach of centers of employment: Alton and Barnstead fall within the orbit of Rochester. Dover and Somerswoth and Belmont and Gilmanton of Concord.

In a third of the 30 municipalities the pace of growth was less than 6 percent, lagging the average for the entire region. The two cities in the region — Laconia and Franklin — represented 26-percent of the regional population in 1990, but from 2000 to 2010 the first shrank and the second stagnated and their share of the regional population fell to 22-percent.

In an aging state, the Lakes Region is aging relatively rapidly. In New Hampshire the median age rose from 37.1 years in 2000 to 41.1 years in 2010, an increase of 11-percent. Only three of the 30 municipalities in the Lakes Region — Barnstead, Franklin and Northfield — posted median ages below the state average while the percentage increase in the median age reached double digits in 19 of the 30 municipalities in the region. The median age in all four counties in the Lakes Region topped the state median age, led by Carroll County at 48.3 years and followed by Belknap County at 44.7 years, Grafton County at 41.2 years and Merrimack County at 41.4 years.

The aging of the population is highlighted by the increase in those over 65. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of senior citizens rose by 20 percent, from 147,970 to 178,268, and from 12 percent to 13 percent of the total population. In the Lakes Region the numbers climbed 17 percent, from 16,838 to 19,740, to 17 percent of the regional population. With the exception of Laconia, Franklin, Moultonborough and Sandwich the percentage increase in the number of senior citizens reached double digits in all the municipalities in the Lakes Region.

With the last members of the "Baby Boom" generation, which consists of those born between 1946 and 1964, turning 65 in 2029, the aging process will be magnified and prolonged without an increase in either the rate of birth or pace of in-migration.

Meanwhile, after peaking at more than 61,000 in 2008 the labor force in the Lakes Region fell to about 59,000 in 2011, below where it stood in 2002. Likewise, the number of those employed peaked at 59,000 in 2008 before dropping to less than 56,000 in 2011, more than 1,000 fewer than were working in 2002.

The employment figures reflect the impact of the recession. Between 2005 and 2010, private employment fell by 3,196 jobs, 2,005 of them in the manufacturing sector where employment shrank by 32-percent., from 6,199 to 4,194 jobs. Altogether total employment in the region decreased by 7 percent between 2005 and 2010.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 02:58

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