St. Helena Mission Church at Weirs sold to local company for $185,000

LACONIA — REM Real Estate, LLC purchased St. Helena Mission Church at the Weirs from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester in a transaction that closed yesterday.

The church, which has been on the market for about a year, sold for $185,000, well below the listed price of $349,000. Proceeds from the sale will be applied to the operating fund of St. Andre Bessette Parish in Laconia.

Peter Morrissette of Gilford, one of the partners of REM Real Estate, LLC said that there are no specific plans for the property, but the partners intend to explore the potential for the residential development of the property. He said that the zoning ordinance would all for six single family homes or 20 condominium units to be built on the 3.38-acre lot. Any development and construction on the site will be undertaken by N.W. Morrissette & Sons, whose president is Kevin Morrissette, a well known and respected local builder.

The church on Endicott Street South (Rte. 11-B) was constructed as a mission church of Our Lady of the Lakes Parish in Lakeport on land donated for the purpose by Ralph and Helene Poudrier, the owners of The Weirs Hotel, and dedicated in July, 1955. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s mass was held at St. Helena four or five times in the course of a weekend as vacationing families and seasonal residents filled its pews. In those days, Reverend Marc Drouin said, there were between seven and nine priests spread among the three parishes in the city and they were assisted in the summer months by the Benedictines from St. Anselm's College in Manchester.

Drouin said that regular attendance began falling in the 1990s, particularly at St. Helena, as the conversion of motels and cottages to condominiums slowed the turnover of summer visitors and increased the number of seasonal residents, many of whom worshiped at the larger churches in the city. As the number of parishioners dwindled in 2010 the three parishes ultimately became on, which today is served by two priests, and a year later the Our Lady of the Lakes church building was offered for sale.

Drouin explained that in 2012 the pastoral and finance council undertook a study of St. Helena and found it in need of repairs estimated to cost about $200,000. He said that the council concluded that what he called "a 24-hour church," where mass was held on Saturdays and Sundays for 12 weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day, did not warrant the investment. The parish petitioned the bishop to sell the property.

Laconia firefighters had no idea recent 'boot drive' on city streetswas illegal

LACONIA — Members of the city's Firefighter Relief Association said yesterday they had no idea they would be violating a state law when they held last week's "boot drive" in the roadways at Lakeport Square to benefit the Children's Auction.

The firefighter's boot drive, where people place change and small bills into firefighters' boots, has raised money for years for what is now known as the NH1 Children's Auction and they have typically conducted the drive in the center of downtown Laconia.

Because of the downtown construction this year, the association moved the drive to Lakeport Square and set up orange cones and signs warning vehicular traffic that there was a solicitation effort ahead. The association also put notice of the boot drive on their Facebook page.

Police said they received one anonymous complaint about the fund raising effort.

Police Chief Chris Adams said that after reviewing RSA 265:40 he agrees that the "boot drive" should probably not been in the roadway at Lakeport Square.

He said he was aware of a similar issue that stemmed from boot drives in Gilmanton and said he would have to agree that it is a non-permitted use of roadways, according to state law.

There was some confusion as to whether or not the Laconia Relief Association had gotten a permit to solicit in the street and who or what agency would have issued it, but The Daily Sun has been unable to locate a written permit or find anyone within the city who would have issued it.

Other area fire departments held their "boot drives" in parking lots of private businesses.

The Tilton-Northfield Fire DEpartment joined forces with Franklin and held a drive in the Tanger Outlets while the Gilford Fire Department held their drive on private property near stores around McIntyre Circle.

Tilton says election of Jasper as speaker was 'terrible' day for Republican Party

LACONIA — "It was terrible," said Representative Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) of the Wednesday election of Shawn Jasper, the Republican from Hudson, as Speaker of the House of Representatives. "It was a divisive party becoming more divisive."

Drawing unanimous support from Democrats in the House, Jasper topped fellow Republican Bill O'Brien of Mont Vernon, who was the nominee of the Republican caucus, by seven votes, 195 to 178 to claim the speakership on the third ballot after six hours of debate.

Since the election of the speaker is conducted by a secret paper ballot there is no record of either how individual members voted or how parties divided. A candidate must receive a majority of the votes, including write-in votes and blank ballots, cast by the members present. There are 239 Republican, 160 Democrat and one Independent in the House. At least a quarter of the Republicans shunned O'Brien on the decisive ballot.

Tilton likened the vote in the Republican caucus, where O'Brien edged former Speaker Gene Chandler of Bartlett by 116 to 112, to a primary. Tilton supported Chandler in the caucus, but said that once the caucus nominated a candidate all Republicans should have supported him as the party's candidate for speaker. He said that the same elements of the GOP have reacted similarly in general elections by failing to support the party's nominees in the general election.

Tilton said that he spoke with Jasper in the days before the vote on Wednesday. "He was looking to eliminate O'Brien," he said and suggested that he decided to step forward when others, like Chandler and David Hess, a veteran lawmaker from Hooksett, declined to do so. Jasper, he said, believed that the election of O'Brien, whose previous tenure as speaker many believe enabled the Democrats to regain a majority in the House, would again cripple the GOP at the polls in 2016.

After mulling it over, Tilton said that he reached the opposite conclusion, namely that dividing the party over the speakership by raising and perpetuating dissension within the party will have a more adverse impact on its fortunes in 2016 than the election of O'Brien as Speaker.

"There is a lot of outrage," he remarked.

Tilton said that he had not spoken with all 18 of the representatives from Belknap County, but suspected that most, if not all, voted for O'Brien.

Representative Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) agreed "there is a lot of emotion and a lot of varying opinions," but said that the immediate challenge will be for Jasper to assemble an "effective management team" in a short period of time. He noted that O'Brien had been preparing to become speaker for some time and likely had chosen committee chairmen and vice-chairmen and perhaps even made committee assignments. Jasper, he said, will have 15 or 20 days. "I wish him well," he said. "It is a difficult job in the best of conditions and these are not the best of conditions."

LRCC student arrested in aftermath of Keene riot

LACONIA — As yet officials at Lakes Region Community College (LRCC) have taken no disciplinary action against one of its students who was arrested by Keene police after the rioting amid the annual Pumpkin Festival on October 18 and 19.

Scott Kalicki, president of the college, speaking through his assistant Tanya Lindquist, said yesterday that  officials would await the outcome of the adjudication of the criminal charges brought against the student, who has not been identified, before contemplating disciplinary action.

Police arrested 84 individuals during the rioting and another 16, including the student from (LRCC), afterwards following an investigation that drew heavily on pictures posted on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. At the same time, 170 students of Keene State College were disciplined for their conduct during the rioting.