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After fire, Pitman's Freight Room hopes to be open again in few weeks

LACONIA — The owner of Pitman's Freight Room said yesterday that he expects the live music venue to reopen after Sunday morning's fire within a matter of weeks.

Richard "Dick" Mitchell said the fire that is still under investigation could have been a lot worse.

"It would have killed me," Mitchell said. "We put so much into it."

Mitchell said he was told the fire started around 2 a.m. Saturday in the back side of the building, on what used to be a freight loading dock. He said the Laconia Fire Department was returning to the station from extinguishing a suspicious dumpster fire near Hector's Restaurant when Pitman's fire alarm sounded nearby.

He said firefighters were there within one minute and were able to quickly extinguish the blaze. He said a portion of the back wall will need to be rebuilt and there is smoke damage throughout the building.

"It's a miracle that the fire department was so close," he said.

Pitman's, on New Salem Street, is a function hall and live entertainment venue that features live blues and soul music, comedy shows and other events.

According to their Webite, in 1988 Mitchell and his wife Connie bought the former freight station that was built in 1890 by Pitman's Manufacturing — one of the largest hosiery manufactures in New Hampshire in the 1800s.

The first stage of renovations saw the opening of an antique store in one end of the store. The live entertainment portion of the renovation started in 2009 after the Mitchell's renovated the remaining portion of the building, and installed heating, air conditioning, a third bathroom and a 5-sided hickory dance floor.

Pitman's averages one to four shows weekly and is a BYOB venue.

Mitchell said he can't thank the Laconia Fire Department enough for responding so quickly.

"These guys are wonderful," he said.

He said he also wanted to thank his many friends and his manager for the work they did on Sunday re-securing the building and being there when the insurance company came.

CAPTION – ( Pitman Freight Room) Charred insulation and board lies outside the back dock of Pitman's Freight Room. A suspicious fire caused about $20,000 in damage to the building early Saturday morning. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 04:01

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Series of Laconia-area open houses planned as part of Manufacturing Week

LACONIA — A half dozen manufacturing firms and a pair of educational institutions will open their doors to the general public from Saturday, Oct. 5 until Wednesday, October 9 public as the Lakes Region joins the state in celebrating Manufacturing Week.

The week begins on Saturday at Eptam Plastics at 2 Riverside Business Park in Northfield, where the firm, in partnership with the Belknap Economic Development Council (BEDC), is hosting a "Day of Play" along with guided tours of the plant between 10 a.m. and noon.

Carmen Lorentz, executive director of the BEDC, said that children of four years and older are invited to "imagine something awesome" then build it, either at home before Saturday or at the factory on Saturday, using cardboard or other recycled materials. There are only 40 places available and participants must register for the event by either calling 524-3057 or e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. All visitors to the facility must wear closed-toed shoes.

On Monday morning, Titeflex Aerospace will host tours of their manufacturing facility at 93 Lexington Drive in Laconia at 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. and in the afternoon Aavid Corporation will host tours at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

On Tuesday, 3M of 1 Paper Trail in Tilton will host tours at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. while the Astro Division of New Hampshire Ball Bearing will host tours at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Wednesday will begin with an open house for the the pre-engineering and manufacturing engineering technology programs at the Huot Technical Center at Laconia High School and end with open house for the Advanced Manufacturing programs at Lakes Region Community College from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Meanwhile, Scotia Technology will offer tours of its facility at 51 Growtth Road in Laconia at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Lorentz said that open houses and plant tours provide parents and students with an opportunity to become acquainted with the nature of contemporary manufacturing industry, especially the skills its requires and the rewards its offers.
She said these firms, which are among the most competitive and dynamic in the state, are helping to develop the regional workforce that will provide them with the employees who will enable them to prosper and share in their success.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 03:37

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'Much better boat' awarded to retired dentist as grand prize in Ice Arena raffle

LACONIA — Dr. Leo Sanfacon, 82, and still hoping to learn how to skate, won an 18-foot long Chaparral H20 Sport Boat, motor and trailer package valued at over $25,000 in the Laconia Ice Arena/Winnipesaukee Skating Club capital improvements campaign fundraiser.
Sanfacon, a retired dentist and a member of the board of directors of the Lakes Region Boys and Girls Club, said that he had completely forgotten buying tickets for the raffle.
He said that when Will Fay, manager of the Laconia Ice Arena, called him during the Patriots-Jets game on last Sunday and told him he had won the boat he asked ''what boat?''
He picked up the keys to the boat, which was donated by Merrill Fay of Fay's Boat Yard, Saturday morning and said that he was still trying to decide whether to keep his current boat, which he keeps on Squam Lake, or replace it with the new one.
''It's really a much better boat than the one I have,'' said Sanfacon, who was a student at Rochester High School when Merrill Fay's dad, Wilbur, taught there in the 1950s.
Will Fay, who heads up the arena's fund-raising effort, said that the capital campaign, which was launched last year, is now about halfway to its $250,000 goal.
''There is a lot of hard work ahead of us, but I am confident our board and volunteers will get things done. Just as we did when we built this arena, we will work hard to get the community involved in this campaign.''
Sanfacon said that Merrill Fay, who provided the boat for fundraiser, keeps a low profile in the community but has played a key role in youth sports, having donated the land on which the arena is built and having led a successful $1.7 million fund drive to build the arena in 1996.
The arena is home to the Lakes Region Youth Hockey Association, which provides programs for area youth ages 4-18, is home ice to three high school teams, many men's hockey leagues as well as the Central N.H. figure skating club and offers daily public skating.
The capital campaign was launched last year and needs $117,000 for repairs and improvements to the nearly 20-year-old refrigeration system, $56,000 for operational needs due to system malfunctions and a current debt service of $94,000.
''We've had a cash flow problem due to system malfunctions which have cost us revenue due to unplanned shutdowns. We want to recover those costs so that current year revenues can be used exclusively for current year operating expenses,'' says Fay.


Will Fay, second from left, manager of the Laconia Ice Arena, presents keys to a Chaparral Sport Boat to Leo Sanfacon. center, of Gilford, who won the S25,000 boat, motor and trailer in a fundraiser for the arena's capital improvements program. With them are Alex Evans, left, and Tom Woodward, second from right, Ice Arena employees, and Merrill Fay, right, of Fay's Boat Yard, which donated the boat for the fundraiser. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 03:34

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Another fugitive arrested in Mass. accused on selling heroin in Belknap County

LACONIA — Police from Swansea, Mass. arrested a man who had skipped out on appearing in Belknap County Superior Court after being indicted by a grand jury for multiple counts of selling drugs in the area.

Sheriff Craig Wiggin said Andre Garcia, 23, whose last known address was in Dorchester, was a passenger in a car that police had stopped.

Paperwork obtained from the Belknap County Superior Court showed Garcia was indicted for three separate counts of possession of heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine with the intent to distribute the drugs in Tilton on March 8, 2012. He was also indicted for possession of marijuana in Tilton.

On April 20, 2012, Garcia was indicted for the special felony of possession of more than one gram of heroin with the intent to distribute it in Laconia. If convicted, he could serve up to 20 years in prison and pay a $300,000 fine.

He was scheduled for court appearances on October 17, 2012 and December 17, 2012 on each separate charge and failed to appear for either. Warrants in each case were filed.

Det. Sgt. Matt Dawson said Tilton Police arrested Garcia in January of 2012 after a few days of surveillance while he was staying at a local motel. Dawson said Garcia allegedly came once or twice a month to the area and sold various drugs from his hotel room.

He said police and witnesses observed him allegedly staying in his room most of the time, paying in cash for the hotel room and refusing all room service. Dawson said police saw him meeting people briefly in the parking lot and witnesses told police he would occasionally have women come to his room for a brief period of time.

Dawson said Tilton Police detectives worked with Laconia Police detectives to apprehend Garcia.

When he failed to appear for his second court date — after two delays, allegedly for a brain aneurism and his grandmother's funeral, he was added to the fugitive from justice list which is disseminated to the U.S. Marshal's Service of which Belknap County is a participant. In April of 2013 he was named the fugitive of the week.

Wiggin said he was being held in the Bristol County (Massachusetts) Jail pending his appearance in the Fall River District Court for a fugitive from justice charge.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 02:26

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