Town of Meredith truck fished from bottom of big lake

MEREDITH — Firefighters, together with helping hands from Sea Town and Harper Towing, spent more than three hours yesterday seeking to retrieve a Ford F-150 pickup belonging to the Town of Meredith and assigned to the Parks and Recreation Department from 10 feet of water some 400 feet off the sands at Leavitt Beach.

The truck, driven by an unidentified town employee, was parked on the beach on Lake Winnipesaukee, but around 10 a.m. it rolled into the lake near the swimming area. Amid a strong current and stiff breeze it rolled through the shallows over a sand bar to deeper water where it sank at once. Although covered by 10 or 12 feet of water, the truck was only a few feet from the waist deep water covering the sand bar. Shortly after 10:30 a.m. Deputy Fire Chief Andre Kloetz and his team on the fire boat located the truck and soon a Marine Patrol officer also reached the scene.

Harper Towing stationed a Ford Super-duty pickup at the water's edge and ran a line to the Sea Tow boat. Kloetz said that air bags were inflated in the cab to lighten the sunken truck, which was then hooked to the line. He described conditions as "tough", explaining that positioning the boats to to inflate the air bags and connect the line proved challenging. However, once secured, the truck was lifted on to the sand bar and easily towed ashore by about 2 p.m.

Dead River Oil Co. gives refrigerated truck to N.H. Food Bank

LACONIA — The Dead River Company, the largest home heating service in northern New England, yesterday enriched its longstanding partnership with the New Hampshire Food Bank by donating a new refrigerated box truck to the charity, which hosted a mobile food pantry at the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region.

Mel Gosselin, executive director of of the N.H. Food Bank, said that the partnership between the company and the charity stemmed from the two being "sort of in the same business — keeping families together, fed and warm." Together they have distributed more than 700,000 pounds of food to the one in nine residents of New Hampshire who wonder where there next meal will come from.

"Our employees are in peoples' homes every day," said Deanna Sherman, vice-president of Dead River Company, "and they see the needs first-hand. We're humbled to be helping you here today."

"And the truck has food in it," added Gosselin.

Sherman said that when Gosselin was asked how the company could help, she answered that the charity needed a truck to deliver food to the more than 418 food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, day care centers, after school programs and senior programs it serves throughout the state. In 2014 the N.H. Food Bank distributed 11 million pounds of food — the equivalent of 9,166,666 meals — to meet the needs of more than 143,000 residents, many of them children. After increasing its distribution by 30 percent last year, Gosselin said the NH Food Bank aims to increase its distribution another 10 percent, to more than 12 million pounds, this year.

Gosselin said that the 26-foot truck, with capacity for 10,000 pounds of foodstuffs, will replace an aging vehicle, sparing the charity costly repairs. The N.H. Food Bank, which operates without state or federal funding, operates a fleet of four distribution vehicles.

Mayor Ed Engler noted that it was appropriate the partners chose Laconia, where the Got Lunch program, which has since spread to more than a dozen communities, originated. He noted that the number of students in the city schools receiving free and reduced lunch has doubled in the last decade to represent nearly two-thirds of the total enrollment. Stressing that "we appreciate all the work you do," he said "it's not enough to distribute the food. There are way too many hungry people and people living below the poverty line," he continued. "We need to stop and think about we can do to reduce the need."

After bikers brawl in Texas, national media looks to Laconia

LACONIA — With the 91st running of Laconia Motorcycle Week, the oldest motorcycle rally in the country, just three weeks away, the brawl among motorcycle gangs that left nine bikers dead, 18 wounded and 177 arrested in Waco, Texas last weekend, sent national and regional media scurrying to Laconia.

Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, said he received a half-dozen calls from wire services, newspapers and television and radio stations all asking if he feared an outbreak of violence could disrupt the rally. He said that he explained that he is always concerned for the safety of rallygoers, but as always "my biggest worry is the weather. It's always the weather," he stressed.

Captain Bill Clary of the Police Department said that he, Chief Chris Adams and Captain Matt Canfield had all fielded calls from local, regional and national media. But, he was quick to distinguish the situation in Texas from the rally in Laconia. In Texas, violence erupted when a meeting of a confederation of so called "1 percenters" motorcycle clubs, led by the Bandidos, was interrupted by a rival gang, the Cossacks. Laconia Motorcycle Week, like rallies in Daytona, Florida and Sturgis, South Dakota, is a rally that draws motorcycle enthusiasts from across the county, not an event sponsored or organized by a motorcycle club likely to invite confrontation with rivals.

At the same time, Clary acknowledged that state and local law enforcement agencies regularly monitor "intelligence" about rival motorcycle clubs in the region in order to foresee and forestall confrontations between rivals. "We are always looking for this kind of thing," he said, "but we have nothing that would lead us to police the event any differently than we have in the past."

The Hells Angels indirectly own property at the Weirs and twice in the last decade have hosted their World Run (convention) in Laconia without incident. Over a decade ago law enforcement agencies learned that members of The Outlaws, rivals of the Hells Angels, would ride to The Weirs to show up the Angles them during the rally. They were in Alton at one point, where they lunched at Shibley at the Pier, and then turned back to Maine. .

"It's been a media feeding frenzy," said St. Clair, "all because we're the next rally. With so many public safety people on hand, Laconia is no place to cause trouble."