A tale of 2 sausage vendors

LACONIA — Sausages, smothered in onions and peppers, lay at the center of an ongoing dispute about the city's policy of seeking to encourage a diversity of vendors without stifling competition among them during Motorcycle Week.

When the City Council met this week, Cathy Matthews, the owner of Sharkey's Dogs, revived the issue that first arose last July when she complained that the city had rented the space adjacent to her own to another food vendor, Jerry Gaucher, whose menu closely matched her own offerings. In particular, she claimed that both featured sausages procured from the same manufacturer.

In 2013 and 2104 Matthews and Gaucher have each rented two of the five 10-foot by 20-foot spaces at the north end of the boardwalk, which are owned by the city. A soda vendor has rented the fifth space. Prior to 2013, Matthews sold sausages, hamburgers and hot dogs, along with french fries and soda, from two spaces without a competitor next door. In 2013, Gaucher, who earlier operated at the Lakeport Fire Station, rented the adjacent two spaces.

Apparently at the request of Nancy Brown, assistant to the city manager, Gaucher agreed to not to duplicate Matthews' menu but to offer steak tips, chicken tenders, onion rings and pizza. Both sold french fries, but Matthews sold Coke and Gaucher sold Pepsi. However, last year, when the same two vendors — Matthews and Gaucher — rented the same four spaces Gaucher added sausages, hamburgers and hot dogs to his menu, prompting the complaint from Matthews.

City Manager Scott Myers reminded Matthews that in October 2012 the City Council changed the policy governing the spaces on the boardwalk to read "the city reserves the right to limit the maximum number of vendors selling similar products, and does not offer exclusivity for any product sold. The maximum number of vendors selling similar products shall be two." The policy applies solely to the spaces on the boardwalk owned by the city, not to vendor spaces rented by private landlords.

Gaucher has already rented space for the 2015 rally while Matthews, who has yet to submit an application, this week asked the City Council for an assurance that she would not be operating alongside a competitor whose menu mirrored her own. She claimed that the policy, which denied exclusivity to any one vendor and limited the number selling similar products to two, had not been formally adopted. However, the minutes of the City Council meeting of October 9, 2012 indicate that the policy was adopted by a unanimous vote.

The policy did not restrict Gaucher's choice of menu. But, in 2013 he agreed not to duplicate Matthews' offerings only to reverse course a year later. Matthews claimed that he had "contracted" with the city and insinuated that he enjoyed a special relationship with Myers, which prompted the city manager to counter that he did not know Gaucher and would not have his integrity impugned.

Myers said yesterday that the policy is clear in allowing two vendors selling similar products to rent neighboring spaces on the boardwalk. The city, he said, can encourage, but not require, adjacent vendors to offer distinct menus.

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Renovated farmhouse to be celebrated in Belmont

BELMONT — The Belmont County Fair Association will mark the renovation of the farmhouse at Royal Smith Farm at 174 Mile Hill Road, one of the oldest homes still standing in town, with an open house at the property on Sunday, Feb. 15, between 2 and 4 p.m.

Fran Wendelboe of New Hampton, president of the association, said yesterday that the project was undertaken almost entirely by volunteers, including inmates from the Belknap County Jail and students of the Huot Technical Center at Laconia High School. Financial assistance was provided by the Persons family of Gilford, Earl Leighton of Sanbornton, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, and the Sargent Fund.

The renovated building will be shared between the association, and a tenant who will serve as a caretaker of the property. The rental income will support the annual Belknap County Fair. In addition to an office with a galley kitchen the building will house a two-bedroom apartment with a living room, dining room, kitchen and one-and-a-half bathrooms.

Those who took part in the project along with members of the public are welcome at the open house. Refreshments will be served and tours offered, Wendelboe urged prospective tenants to attend or contact her directly at 968-7988.


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Contaminated recycling a growing problem at city’s collection sites

LACONIA — Contamination of recycling containers is becoming a growing problem, especially at four remote sites — the Memorial Park clubhouse, Lakeport Fire Stattion, Weirs Community Center, and the Messer Street garage, according to Ann Saltmarsh, who oversees the recycling program at the Department of Public Works.

Saltmarsh said yesterday that the amount of trash and garbage found in the containers is increasing and, in particular, stressed that plastic bags of any kind should not be mingled with recyclable materials. She explained that with single-stream recycling all recyclable materials are sorted by sensitive machinery, which easily becomes fouled by plastic bags. Most grocery stores collect plastic bags near their entranceways, she said, urging residents to use those receptacles rather than contaminate the recycling containers.

Saltmarsh said that recently two of the large recycling containers — each with a capacity of 30-cubic yards — were so contaminated with trash, garbage, leaves, limbs and plastic bags that they had to be emptied at the Transfer Station at a cost of $200 apiece. Recycling, she noted, is intended to save money, but costs money money when contaminated loads have to be hauled to a disposal site.

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