Therrien wins Sled Dog Derby in just 2nd try

LACONIA — Quebec mushers continued their recent domination of the World Championship Sled Dog Derby by taking the top three spots in the 86th annual open race held over the weekend.
Rejean Therrien of LaPierre, Quebec, racing in only his second Laconia derby, emerged as the winner, edging out Guy Girard of St. Thomas de Joliette, Quebec, by 29 seconds, Therrien led by 24 seconds after Friday's first heat, increased his lead to 57 seconds on Saturday and withstood a strong finish by Girard on Sunday to post an overall time of 2:31.29 to Girard's 2:31.58.
Another Quebec musher, Jack Trottier of St. Gabrielle de Rauli, who was last year's runner-up, finished in third lace with a time of 2:33.13. Trottier posted the best time on Sunday with a 54:12 performance.
Taking the fourth and fifth spots were Vermont mushers Jim Blair of Eden with a time of 2:34.25 followed by Doug Butler of Bristol who finished with a time of 2:37.23.
Sixth place finisher was Claude Bellerive of Charette, Quebec, last year's winner, with a time of 2:37.31.
New Hampshire mushers Keith Bryar Jr. of Moultonborough and Chris Carter of Penacook placed 12th and 13th.
Carter's wife, Angie, won in the six-dog class with a three-day total time of 58:13, followed by Melanie Bellerive with a 58:45 performance and defending champion Jocelyn Bradbury at 58:48.
Therrien, who has been racing sled dogs for 38 years, said that Sunday's heat was the most difficult. ''It was hard. There was a lot of snow and wind. My team, worked hard.''
He started with 16 dogs on Friday, dropped it to 14 on Saturday and 11 on Sunday. His team of Alaskan Husky and German Pointer crosses was led by twin four-year old sisters Junier and Laska.
Therrien brought 23 dogs from his kennel to the race and his six-dog team team driven by his daughter took seventh place in that race.
A carpenter, Therrien has finished in the top three in every race that he has run this season, including a 40-mile race held in Charette, P.Q.
''It's a lot of hard work to get the dogs on condition for these races. But we give them lots of love and they respond,'' he said.
Runner-up Girard, who placed third in both the 2011 and 2013 races, said he was very pleased with his team's performance and said that he'll be back next year to try and win it all.
He started with 13 dogs on Friday, dropped to 11 on Saturday and 10 on Sunday. He said that 70 percent of his racing team is female, because they are easier to train and work harder, and that his lead dogs are both 6-year-old females, Guru and Kelley.
A retired oil refinery worker, Girard has been a musher for over 30 years who keeps in shape in the off season by running in 26.2 mile marathons. ''I was in Boston last year and raced in the Montreal marathon in September,'' says Girard.
Trottier, 36, is a fisheries biologist for the Canadian government whose specialty is endangered species. Has been racing sled dogs since 2008 and says that he marvels at how competitive the teams are with eight of them finishing on Friday with times of less than 50 minutes on the 15-mile course.
He said that in posting the best time on Sunday he had to make one stop in which he switched over his dogs and that may have been the difference between a higher finish as he was only a minute and 15 seconds out of second place and a minute and 44 seconds out of first place.
''That's all part of the game,'' he said, adding that mushers not only compete but cooperate to help each other out.'
''We do it for fun and there's a lot of respect for the other mushers,'' says Trottier.
The mushers were especially appreciative of the hard work of Jim Lyman and the members of the Laconia Sled Dog Club's trail grooming team, which kept the trails in good condition despite Sunday's high wind and drifting conditions.


Quebec mushers Jack Trottier, third place; Rejean Therrien, winner, and Guy Girard, second place, got together to congratulate each other before the start of the awards ceremony for the World Championship Sled Dog Derby, held Sunday afternoon at the Laconia Country Cub. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Passerby reports house fire in Gilmanton

GILMANTON — A quick-thinking passerby likely saved the life of a Powder House Road man early yesterday morning when he knocked on his door and told him his house was on fire.

Fire Chief Joe Hempel said yesterday morning he is still piecing together the sequence of events but said the Fire Department got a phone call for a house fire near 513 Province Road at 4:48 a.m.

He said Belmont Engine 2, that was just returning from a medical call and was ready to go, was the first emergency vehicle to arrive and found the side or an "ell" of the home completely engulfed in flames. They said a car parked next to the ell was afire as well.

Hempel said Engine 2 was able to knock down a lot of the flames while the rest of the responders were able to set up a water source from a hydrant in the center of Gilmanton's Four Corners.

Firefighters immediately called for a first alarm because of the windy and sub-zero temperatures.

"There was no exposure (to other buildings)," Hempel said, "but it was very windy and cold."

He said fire equipment doesn't work very well in sub-zero weather and has a tendency to freeze solid almost instantly should the water stop flowing. He also said the biting cold takes it toll on firefighers and other first responders.

Hempel said the home owner was in a rear bedroom while the fire appeared to have started in a wood stove on the other end of the house. He said he thinks the home had smoke detectors but he is still investigating.

Hempel said crews from the N.H. Department of Transportation and the town's Public Works Department were called for sanding and salting the area.

He said no one was injured and believes the homeowner is staying with friends or family.

Hempel said the bulk of the damage was to the ell portion of the house while the main body sustained minor smoke and water damage.
"The home is repairable," he said.


CUTLINE (Gilmanton Fire) A one-alarm fire charred ell of a single family home on Powder House Road early Monday morning. The homeowner was able to get out after being notified by a passerby who also reported the fire. (Photo courtesy Gilmanton Fire Department)

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Commission adds $650k in revenue to reach budget goal

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners held an all-day work session on the building of the 2015 county budget Friday and came up with a revised proposal which will meet the goal set by the county convention of reducing the proposed increase in the amount to be raised by property taxes from 10 percent to 2 percent.
Last week convention Chairman Frank Tilton called for reducing the amount to be raised in taxes for the proposed $27.3 million county budget by $1.1 million and asked the commissioners to come up with $400,000 in reductions after the convention identified over $700,000 in salary and health insurance cuts.
Commissioner Dave DeVoy said that the commissioners on Friday accepted the convention's proposed payroll and health insurance budget cut numbers, which amounted to a $749,000, but added back $335,000 in expenses, most of which came through increasing the contingency line by $510,000.
DeVoy said commissioners made that change in contingency in order to keep department budgets lean but allow for unknown or unanticipated projects and costs without resorting to the need for supplemental appropriations.
Revenue projections were increased by $750,000 by commissioners, with $650,000 of that coming in the nursing home budget, which commissioners discussed at length Friday with Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue.
Commissioners DeVoy and Hunter Taylor (Commission Chairman Richard Burchell was not present) were told by Logue that because state funding through the Department of Health and Human Services is uncertain at this time it was pretty much a guessing game as to what the county can expect.
That prompted commissioners to say that they think that the legislature should press for full state funding at recent levels and not pass along tax increases to the county.
The increased revenue projections, minus the $335,000 in added expenses, allowed the commissioners to come up with a $400,000 adjustment in the proposed budget.
The revised budget proposal will be submitted to the county convention when it meets at 6 p.m. tonight at the Belkap County Complex. The meeting will be preceded by a 5 p.m. meeting of the convention's Executive Committee at which commissioners will present requests for about $60,000 in budget transfers to pay the county's unpaid legal bills for 2014.
Commissioners decided Friday to drop two proposed capital projects; $60,000 for replacement of windows at the Belknap County Courthouse and $75,000 for a time and attendance system for the Belknap County complex. Also cut from the budget was $27,600 from the IT Department for an electronic medical records project for the nursing home.
Other reductions included $45,000 for electricity and $14,000 for fuel at the nursing home.
Among the increased expenses is $39,923 for the Corrections Department to hire a consultant to produce a program for a new community corrections plan supported by commissioners.

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