Inter-Lakes High School Interact Club grows to 39


MEREDITH — The Inter-Lakes High School Interact Club inducted 19 members this Monday, almost doubling their size to 39 total members. The club is sponsored by the Meredith Rotary Club and engages in service projects to help the local and global community.
The evening began with a brief introduction of the club by Meredith Rotary Club Adviser Gary Dehnel. He explained that there are Rotary-sponsored Interact Clubs across the globe.

"There's 144 Interact Clubs or so around the world. There's about 440,000 of you Interacters around the world doing fellowship, friendship and service activities."
I-LHS 2016 graduate and former Interact Club International Community Service Chairperson Victoria Heffron delivered a keynote address about her recent volunteer experience in Togo, West Africa. Heffron explained that she worked for a non-governmental organization for health development and women's rights, working at orphanages, raising funds and more. She went on to describe how her experience humbled her and impacted her life. "Although other people's pain does not undermine your own, it's extremely important to realize our luck and our privilege and use it to help others," she said. Finally, Heffron ended by praising the new inductees, saying that joining Interact shows that they care about helping and will do great things in their lives. "The reality is that fear is limiting an absurd amount of people from going out and doing something incredible with their lives," Heffron said, "but you guys are the exception."
Rotarian Dean Gulezian spoke briefly about the Rotary Youth Exchange program that gives students an opportunity to travel abroad either for a school year or during the summer. Eight thousand students participate in this exchange every year.

"The program is really a phenomenal cultural immersion," Gulezian said. "You totally immerse yourself into the culture you go into."

Outbound long-term exchange students from I-LHS spend either their junior year or their gap year between high school and college abroad with a host family. Conversely, short-term exchange students spend at least three weeks with a host family abroad and also brings their host sibling to the U.S. He also stressed the need for host families for the inbound exchange students for the coming school year.
After the 19 new members were inducted by Rotary Club Advisers Gary Dehnel and Ray Goodby, Interact Club President Jackson Williams presented a donation of 1,371 pairs of socks to local charity organizations that were collected from I-LHS students. Williams stressed the importance of these less thought of clothing donations.

"It's something that's often forgotten when going to a local foundation or charity to donate clothing items or food," Williams expressed. "Socks are really important for warmth and it's just a necessary item for everyone to have." The socks were presented to Elizabeth Brothers and Andrea Condodemetraky of the Santa Fund of the Greater Lakes Region, Scott McNeil of the Laconia Salvation Army and Martha Aucoin of the Vineyard Food and Clothes Pantry in Lakeport. Socks were also donated to the Families in Need Fund of Meredith.
All of the receivers emphasized the personal significance of giving a pair of socks to people who need them. Aucoin from the Lakes Region Vineyard Church said that they focus on respecting the people who come through their doors.

"We go in and talk to them and really interact with them. We really try to treat them with dignity," she said.
McNeil from the Salvation Army echoed Aucoin's sentiments.

"The greatest thing I can share with you about these socks," he said, "is that I'll have the opportunity to hand them out face to face with a lot of people after a great conversation."
Santa Fund's Condodemetraky explained the delight that the organization sees on children's faces when they receive the outerwear that is donated to them.

"When we are able to give them a pair of socks to go with their hat that we let them pick out, they have hope that they didn't have when they walked in the door," she said.
The I-LHS Interact Club has plans for the future such as running the phone bank at the Greater Lakes Region Children's Auction in December and caroling at the New Hampshire Veterans Home.

11-17 Interact Club

The Inter-Lakes High School Interact Club was joined by recipients of their sock drive at the induction ceremony Monday of new members. (Brooke Robinson/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 749

Fraudster who targeted FRM victims to face possible 71-month sentence today


MEREDITH — A federal prosecutor is recommending a 71-month prison sentence for the Concord man who pleaded guilty to scamming victims of the Financial Resources Management debacle out of more than $625,000.

Ronald Mason, 47, is scheduled to face a judge on Thursday, Nov. 17, in U.S. District Court in Concord, and the prosecutor describes him as a "financial predator" with a long criminal history of theft-related crimes in arguing that the high end of the advisory sentencing range is warranted.

Mason admitted on June 1 that he committed mail fraud via letters delivered by the U.S. Postal Service inviting more than 100 people already defrauded by FRM, to invest in Abbott Village, a Concord condominium project.

Construction on Abbott Village was abruptly halted when it was discovered the Scott Farrah of Meredith and his business associate Donald Dodge had bilked people who thought they were lending money to finance collateralized construction loans out of an estimated $33 million.

Both pleaded guilty in 2011 to federal mail and wire fraud charges.
Dodge, 73, who was sentenced to six years, is scheduled to be released in January. Farrah, 53, has eight years left to serve on his 15-year sentence and is trying to mount an appeal.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Kinsella, who is prosecuting Mason, argues that a stiff sentence coupled with an order to pay $248,593.35 in restitution is a fitting punishment, based on the defendant's "unconscionable decision" to target those who had already been duped in the FRM Ponzi-scheme as the victims of his next crime.

Mason played his victims by lying about his personal wealth, his experience as a real estate developer and concealed his criminal history and that he was already under court order to pay $76,500 to those he bilked in an earlier security fraud scam.

In a sentencing memorandum filled on Nov. 13, Kinsella asserts that Mason fleeced three people who had already lost the bulk of their life savings to FRM out of $520,000 after they responded to his letter and believed his false promises that their money would be used to complete Abbott Village and for similar income-producing development projects in the state.

Over a 30-month period, Mason, also "borrowed" more than $150,00 from two other New Hampshire residents by concealing his status as a fugitive and falsely promising that he would repay the money from income he would
make on real estate development project.

In 2011, Mason scammed a Lakes Region real estate salesman out of more than $114,000 by signing purchase-and-sales agreements and extensions of those agreements to buy commercial lakefront property known as "Weir's Pier," in Weirs Beach, for more than $2 million, and Sun Lakes Village in Laconia for more than $1 million.

While those properties were under contract, Mason obtained five loans totaling $130,000 from the broker. To induce the agent to make the loans, Mason said he needed the money to pay off liens on real estate that business entities owned, and needed to sell or refinance in order to buy ownership interests in Weir's Pier and Sun Lakes Village.

In 2002, Mason pleaded guilty to a federal securities fraud offense and then didn't show up for his sentencing. Two years later, he was arrested, and pleaded guilty to failure to appear.

In 2004, he was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 33 months, followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution. He was released in June 2006 and three years later a warrant was issued for his arrest for failing to pay back any of the stolen money, and for absconding from supervision.

  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 799

School bus driver strike looms, schools ask parents to plan


LACONIA — As a possible school bus driver strike looms, Superintendent Branden Minnihan said Tuesday he has reached out three times to parents to identify those students who have no way to get to school if First Student drivers go on strike.

He said the district owns a few small buses and vans and he hopes that by using them, plus having parents use creative solutions to get their children to school, the district can continue to operate.

"My understanding is that they authorized a strike but that nothing would happen until Thursday at the earliest," Minnihan said. "We do plan on opening."

Several media agencies have reported that union representatives of Teamsters Local 633, which represents the drivers of the First Student facility in Belmont, have voted to strike the company, but are still in negotiations.

The Belmont facility is negotiating a contract and is apparently at an impasse over contributions to the retirement plan. In a suit filed in U.S. District Court, District of New Hampshire, the company reported that it had failed to make required matching contributions totaling $27,961.84 on behalf of 110 covered employees. It also reported that it had misdirected $34,535.28 in employee elective deferrals into a First Student-sponsored plan rather than the Teamsters Plan.

On Nov. 10, the Gilford School District sent a letter to families saying that should the drivers strike First Student, parents and students will be responsible for getting to school. He said the district has a plan to stay open, but parents and students will be responsible to arrange for transportation.

Beitler said a work stoppage will mean there will be no ability to transfer students to the Huot Technical Center and all field trips and sports activities requiring buses will be canceled.

Inter-Lakes Superintendent Mary Moriarty said their students take buses from the Moultonborough First Student facility and they have a contract that includes a "no-strike" clause.

She said she doesn't anticipate any interruptions to Inter-Lakes service but said that if the drivers strike in Belmont, parents should wait with children in case there are unplanned delays. She also said parents should have a contingency plan to get their children home from school.

On Nov. 8, Shaker Regional School Superintendent Michael Tursi told the School Board that without any buses he doesn't see how the schools in the district can open.
A Twitter message went to parents Tuesday morning telling them that school buses will be running at least until Wednesday.

Gilmanton Elementary School will depend on parents to bring their children to and from school in the event of a strike. Students can be dropped on between 8 and 8:30 a.m. only, and release times will be staggered from 2:30 p.m. when kindergartners through second graders will be released, and 2:50 p.m., when third-, fourth- and fifth-graders will be released. Students in grades 6 through 8 will be released at 3:10 p.m. Students with younger siblings will be released at the same time as their youngest sibling.

Principal Carole Locke and Superintendent John Fauci asked that parents not accompany their children into school in the morning and not enter the school in the afternoon to pick them up. This is to avoid foot traffic and congestion.

Locke has posted all of this and additional details on the school website and has sent a letter home with each student.



  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 844