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Shaheen takes pulse of marine industry during stop in Laconia

LACONIA — United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen took the pulse of the tourist and boating industries yesterday while cruising the waters of Paugus Bay and Lake Winnipesaukee aboard a pontoon boat skippered by John Irwin of Irwin Marine.

Before casting off, Shaheen sampled the history of boating in the Lakes Region in the office of Jack Irwin, which is lined with photographs, clippings and other mementos recalling the Irwin family's many contributions to the marine heritage of the Lakes Region. Irwin told her how his father, Jim Irwin, brought the big bands to his Winnipesaukee Garden Ballroom and the MS Mount Washington to the lake.

Describing ethanol as "a big problem," Irwin, together with Ryan Crawford of Winnisquam Marine, the president of the New Hampshire Marine Trades Association, explained that gasoline laced with ethanol is not suited for marine engines because of its propensity to attract water while generating less energy than motors running at relatively high RPMs require to operate efficiently. They suggested steps should be taken to ensure production and distribution of gasoline with little or no ethanol for the boating industry as more ethanol is added to automotive fuel.

Crawford, along with Amy Landers, executive director of the Lakes Region Tourism Association, her counterparts at the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Karmen Gifford, and Belknap Economic Development Council, Justin Slattery, and Jodies Grimblas of the New Hampshire Marine Trades Association joined Shaheen on the cruise along the bay and out onto the big lake through the Weirs Channel.

The senator learned that the 262 recreational boating businesses in the state employ almost 3,000 people and have an aggregate annual economic impact of nearly $761 million. Crawford and Landers said that the summer season has gone well, despite starting late after a long winter.

Shaheen said that she was working to reauthorize the Tourist Promotion Act, which funds the "Brand USA" program, a promotional effort aimed primarily at attracting visitors from abroad. She noted that often foreign visitors during slack seasons when the additional business is most welcome.

In particular, Crawford said that marinas have taken a number of steps to offer recreational boating to an ever broader number of people. He said almost any type of vessel can be rented, while the costs of owning and operating a boat have been reduced. Storing boats indoors in racks has lessened the need for costly docks and slips, while sparing the shoreline environment. With a phone call two hours in advance, he said that boat owner could arrive at the marina to find his boat in the water. Likewise, he said that owners who trailer their boats represent about half the traffic at Winnisquam Marina. Boating, he stressed, has become a family affair for all ages.

Noting that because of the scarcity of waterfront property and stringency of environmental regulation, Crawford said that few if any new marinas would be built on the lakes. Most of the existing marinas, he continued, are relatively small, family-owned businesses.

Both Crawford and John Irwin said the costs of government regulation and health insurance have become significant burdens for the boating industry. Irwin said that his firm employed 79 people, but has shrunk to 50 employees to avoid a tripling of its health insurance costs with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. At Winnisquam Marine, where 35 to 40 are employed and the employer contributes 60 percent of the premium cost, Crawford expects costs to rise 30 percent next year.

Shaheen acknowledged that "there are things that need to be fixed," while noting that the pace of cost increases has slowed and there will be greater competition in the New Hampshire health insurance market next year with the participation of more carriers.

Shaheen is up for re-election this fall.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 12:59

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Meredith Center woman reports theft of antiques, notes rash of such crimes

MEREDITH — A Meredith Center Road woman was the target of thieves last week who she said stole a number of antiques from her property — many of them made from cast iron.

Alicia Gorrell said yesterday that the thieves took a pot-bellied stove from her front porch, some heavy duty tools from her tractor shed and a 4-foot well pump from her well.

She said the well pump wasn't connected but it was made in the 1700s and is irreplaceable. She said they also stole a black caldron that she could identify in a "heartbeat."

Gorrell said the thieves also entered one of her barns and apparently moved a snow blower out of the way to try and get to a second wood stove. She said she thinks something spooked them because the snow blower and the stove were taken from the barn but were not stolen.

She said many of her neighbors have also fallen victim to thefts or burglaries, noting one woman had $12,000 in jewelry stolen from her home within the past month.

She said she also said that a couple who live on Parade Road were victimized two nights ago and thieves apparently stole some antiques that were on their property.

"A lot of this stuff is happening within one mile of Meredith Center and I just want people to be aware of it," she said.

A man who works at the Meredith Center Store said yesterday that his customers have been talking about the thefts for a few weeks. He noted that he and his family went on vacation for a few days and they paid someone to stay at their home.

The Meredith Police officer who is investigating these thefts was unavailable for comment yesterday. If anyone has any information, they are encouraged to call the Meredith Police at 279-4561.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 12:51

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Residents who wanted to keep dollar stores out of M'borough appear to be 2 for 2 so far

MOULTONBOROUGH — This spring Family Dollar and Dollar General, the two largest so-called dollar store chains, were seeking to build within three miles of each other on Route 25, but within the last month both projects were shelved.

Last month, the Zoning Board of Adjustment denied Zaremba Program Development, LLC, the development partner of Dollar General, a variance required to construct a 9,100-square-foot building on a 5,5-acre lot at 929 Whittier Highway (Route 25), opposite Blake Road.

Meanwhile, for the past year the Planning Board was wrestling with the proposal of Jonathan White, who developed a Family Dollar store in Bristol, to build an 8,000-square-foot store on 10.7 acres at 278 Whittier Highway (Route 3) near the junction with Redding Lane.

Both projects were beset by issues of stormwater management and traffic control.

Last week, when the Family Dollar corporation found itself the object of a bidding war between Dollar General and Dollar Tree, White withdrew his application. In July, Family Dollar agreed to a cash offer of $8.5 billion, or $74.50 per share, from Dollar Tree, with 4,891 stores and annual sales of $2 billion the smallest of three chains. Dollar General, the largest of the trio with 11,338 stores in 40 states and annual sales of $4.5 billion, trumped Dollar Tree with a cash bid of $9 billion, or $78.50 per share.

The board of directors of Family Dollar, which has rebuffed offers from Dollar General in the past, announced that it would study the latest bid while continuing to recommend that shareholders accept the offer from Dollar Tree. Family Dollar operates 8,246 stores in 46 states with annual sales of $2.7 billion.

Tara Shaw of Moultonborough, who mounted a petition drive against both projects of her Facebook page said that one dollar store in town would be one too many. Right now it appears one is the most Moultonborough is likely to get.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 12:36

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Boys & Girls Club members operate lemonade stand to fight childhood cancer

Members of the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region hosted an Alex's Lemonade Stand Tuesday at Dairy Queen/Orange Julius restaurant on Union Avenue in Laconia. Donors Nick Collette and Velma Sanchez, foreground, are shown with club members Bryce Sanborn of Barnstead, Kassidy Law of Manchester, Damian Nichols of Laconia, Arianna Jones of Laconia and Jaselynn Gordon of New Jersey. Among those supervising the event were Mariah Hoffmann, also of New Jersey, who said that Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation has been raising funds to fight childhood cancer since it was formed in 2007. (Roger Amsden/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 12:30

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