Planning Board presented with value 'ingredients' that will make up vision 'soup'

LACONIA — After conducting surveys and holding forums, sifting responses and collating opinions for much the past year, the Planning Department and Master Plan Advisory Team have formulated nine "value statements," which together represent the grist of the "vision statement" of a new city Master Plan.

Planning Director Shanna Saunders told the Planing Board last night that the state statute requiring planning boards "to prepare and amend" master plans further stipulates that the plan include a "vision section" or "set of statements which articulate the desires of the citizens affected by the master plan, not only for their locality but for the region and the whole state. It shall contain a set of guiding principles and priorities to implement that vision."

"The vision is the soup and the values are the ingredients," Saunders remarked as the screen behind her displayed a bunch of different vegetables, each bearing a distinct value, tumbling into a soup bowl.

Saunders recalled that last summer, members of the Planning Department, Master Plan Advisory Team and other volunteers began asking both residents and visitors to "re-imagine Laconia" in order to elicit their perspective of the values that they believe most distinguish the city and should direct its future. Two forums, one at the Belknap Mill and another at the Opechee Conference Center, were held. At the first, Saunders said that participants prized a community that fostered economic development and opportunities for youth, catered to a range of incomes, cherished its natural beauty, enjoyed responsive and accessible government, and told a "good story" about itself.

The process was funded and shepherded by the Orton Family Foundation of Shelburne, Vermont, which by its Community Heart & Soul method seeks to increase "participation in local decision-making and empowers residents to shape the future of their communities in a way that upholds the unique character of each place."

The results of the surveys and forums reviewed and the words and themes weighed on a visual display, which displayed them in ascending sizes of type according to how often they were mentioned. Then associated themes were grouped together to form the basis for the nine value statements.

The nine include the character of the community, a strong sense of community,, and connectivity among members of the community. Residents should also enjoy sound health and safety and live amid beauty both natural and man-made. The economy should be robust, the government responsive and the population diverse. Finally, the city should be marked by a high quality of life ... sound health and beauty,

Saunders referred the nine value statements to the Planning Board, which appeared to accept them without dissent. She explained they will be presented to the City Council when its meets on Monday, July 13.

Planting of cherry tree will mark Meredith's connection to Treaty of Portsmouth that ended Russo-Japanese War in 1905

MEREDITH — To mark the 110th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth on September 5, which ended the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese-American Society of New Hampshire has chosen Meredith among other towns to receive a Japanese cherry tree to commemorate the occasion.

The tree will stand and blossom as the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Living Memorial, a reminder of the relationship between Japan and New Hampshire that sprang from the peace conference more than a century ago.

Miller Lovett, a member of the Design Committee of the Greater Meredith Program told the Board of Selectmen on Monday that a site near the Lago Restaurant and the bridge crossing the Mill Falls canal has tentatively been selected for the tree. He said that the tree will be accompanied by an appropriate marker explaining its significance and perhaps other plantings. A ceremony observing the anniversary of the treaty and celebrating the planting of the tree will be held at the site on Saturday, September 5 beginning at 3 p.m. and closing with church bells rung around the region at 3:47 p.m.

The tree will be a descendant of those that ring the Tidal Basin and line the Potomac River in Washington, which the Japanese government gave to the United States in 1912 in appreciation of its role in hosting the conference and assisting the negotiations that concluded with the peace treaty in 1905.

Lovett explained that Meredith has a connection to the Treaty of Portsmouth in the person of Komura Jutaro, the Japanese Foreign Minister who led his country's delegation in the negotiations. The son of a samurai family, Komura mastered English as a schoolboy and was the most gifted student of his time at the "Kaisei Gakko", which later became Tokyo University. As a student he persuaded the government to establish a scholarship program to enable students to study abroad and in 1875 was among the first group of 10 to come to America, where he enrolled at Harvard Law School.

During his three years of law school, Komura, who had always tended his uncle's farm during the growing season, did the same in Meredith, working on a farm that Lovett said has yet to be identified. Returning to Japan, Komura joined the foreign service, serving in China and Korea before being named Ambassador to the United States in 1898 and Foreign Minister in 1901.

After the Treaty of Portsmouth was concluded, Komura bequeathed $10,000 to the state of New Hampshire to be put to charitable purposes. The Japanese Charitable Fund remains an active charity to this day.

Gilford man honarary observer at Champions Tour golf tourney just months after partial knee replacements (3X Gilford Golf Walker)

CAPTION: Gilford resident David Carleton (second from left) enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime experience by walking "inside the ropes" as an honorary observer at the Constellation Senior Players Championship at the Belmont Country Club in Belmont, Mass on June 13. Carleton is the recipient of two partial knee replacements done using Mako robotic-arm assisted technology from Stryker and it was that company which made the arrangements for his special status at the PGA Champions Tour golf tournament. After years of suffering with joint pain, Carleton has a partial knee replacement on his right leg in January and then had the left knee done just three months later. He's now able to enjoy life — and his recent retirement — with no pain in his knees. Pictured above with Carleton are (l-r) Champions Tour golfer Barry Lane, Champions Tour golder Fred Funk, honorary observer Charles Davis and Champions Tour golfer Hal Sutton. (Courtesy photo)