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Vintage water ski racers recall fast times on Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam

LACONIA — The 2nd annual Water Ski Boat Classic held at Opechee Point on Saturday offered a chance for veteran water ski racers from the 1960s and 1970s to share their memories of those exciting high speed races.
''We used to race five weekends a summer on Lake Winnipesaukee on Saturdays and Lake Winnisquam on Sundays ,'' said Frank Cook, who brought along some vintage wood water skis to the event. ''We'd go out from the Weirs on Saturday morning and then race on Winnisquam on Sunday.''
He recalled that the first three races of the summer were 32 mile events, followed by a 50 mile race and a final 65-mile race.
''We used to make our own water skis,'' said Cook, who recalled that many of the skis used for racing were actually made right in Laconia at the Northland Ski factory on Fair Street.
The event was organized by Tom Scribner, who said that he's had a lifelong passion for boats and used to water ski all the time during the 1970s.
''In the 1950s water skiing was the fastest growing recreational sport in the entire country and the Lakes Region was right in the thick of it. The 1954 national water ski championships were held right at Opechee Point and thousands of people showed up to watch. This is really a big part of our local history,'' says Scribner.
There were two major water ski clubs at that time, the Weirs Ski Club and the Winnisquam Boat & Ski Club, which organized the events.
Larry Brown was the president and organizer of the Weirs Ski Club and ran Cove Craft, whose products included water skis.
A New Hampshire Profiles magazine article from 1953 said the club would put on 13 shows during the summer and attracted audiences of thousands to Weirs Bay, Alton Bay, and Meredith, where they staged exhibitions both during the daylight hours and at night.
Club members competed at Lake Placid in the 1952 nationals where Bill Goodhue won the Veterans' Class in jumping, for men over 35, and was third in the Veterans' Overall Championships. Jack Beattie and Dick Binette placed high in Junior Boys' jumping, and Bill Trudgeon jumped off a tie for third place with Dick Pope Jr., in the Senior Men's Division. One of the club's girl skiers, Colleen Gallant, was chosen Miss New Hampshire, and went to the Atlantic City Beauty Pageant where she demonstrated water-skiing in the talent division, by means of color movies taken on Lake Winnipesaukee.
In the 1960s the emphasis shifted to high speed long-distance races with skiers like Brad Thompson and Gretchen Schwartzwelder leading the pack and those kind of races remained popular into the late 1970s when the sport gradually died out.
Scribner says that the increasing boat traffic on the lakes and liability insurance concerns led to its demise.
But the boats which were used like Magnums, Sidewinders and a Hydrostreams are still around, mostly 16 footers with 150 horsepower engines, although some had 200 horsepower according to Scribner.
Ron Lien of Gilford, who was on the same race team as Frank Cook, says that he and Cook switched off on the Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam races from year to year and that he once reached 94 miles per hour on water skis while towed by a boat with a blown drag engine.
On July 20 this year about a dozen water skiers got together for a run which took them from the Winnipesaukee Yacht Club dock in Gilford and around Parker Island, a 15-mile run, and Gary Cook, also a water ski racer, who was out with his Black Magnum race boat, saw his boat sink in 47 feet of water between Diamond Island and Tuftonboro Neck.
''I was lucky. A passing boater picked me up and stayed with the sunken boat. We got a crew together from Lakeshore Park and I dove down with others and we recovered it. It only took 45 minutes after we got it out of the water before we had the engine running,'' said Cook.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 03:25

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M'boro Planning Board member wants to see minutes of selectmen's non-meeting

MOULTONBOROUGH — Josh Bartlett, who with fellow member of the Planning Board Judy Ryerson faces a public hearing convened by the Board of Selectmen to determine if there is cause to remove them from office, has requested a record of the non-meeting at which the Selectboard decided to initiate of the proceedings.

After the selectmen adjourned their regularly scheduled meeting on July 18, at the request of town administrator Carter Terenzini they entered a so-called non-meeting, at which Town Counsel Peter Minkow was present. Under the "Right-to-Know" law, Bartlett has requested the minutes of the meeting together with any notes or recordings, written or electronic, of any discussions associated with the meeting.

A week after the non-meeting, Bartlett was summoned to a meeting with Terenzini and Minkow. Acting on instructions from the selectmen they offered him the opportunity to resign from the Planning Board or face removal proceedings. When the selectboard met a week later, on Aug. 1, Bartlett asked for an explanation of the charges against him. Terenzini claimed that he was informed of the circumstances when they met the week before and steadfastly declined to discuss the specifics of their meeting in public. However, Terenzini revealed that the selectmen decided, in part, to act on information presented by "outside people," whose identity he has refused to disclose.

According to the Memorandum of the New Hampshire Attorney General on the application of the "Right-to-Know" law, consultation with legal counsel does not qualify as either a meeting or a non-public meeting under the statute. "Minutes," the memorandum reads, "are not required or appropriate for consultation with legal counsel." But, the memorandum continues "deliberation about the matter on which advice is sought may not occur during consultation with legal counsel." Instead, any deliberation must take place in public session, unless the subject is among those that may be addressed in non-public session.

Of the nine matters that may be considered in non-public session, those "which, if discussed in public, likely would adversely affect the reputation of any person, other than a member of the body or agency itself, unless such person requests an open meeting" appears to apply. In other words, the decision whether to discuss sensitive matters publicly or privately rests with those whose reputations may be at stake, not with the selectboard.

There is no record of the selectboard discussing and deciding to begin removal proceedings in pubic session. Nor did the board offer to meet with Bartlett or Ryerson either privately or publicly at their discretion. They only learned their conduct was in question when they were confronted with the choice to tender their resignations or undergo a public hearing a week after the non-meeting on July 18.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 03:24

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Veterans of Korean Conflict honored at ceremony in Tilton

TILTON — The Korean Conflict, too often known as America's forgotten war, was remembered yesterday within days of the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the bloodshed at the New Hampshire Veterans Home where 62 of its residents — eight of them women — who served during the war were commemorated.

"it's very humbling to see people who made sacrifices so long ago," Army Lt. Col. Dennis Snelling began. He told the more than 100 veterans, many in wheelchairs, guests and caregivers that as he has traveled the country presiding at like ceremonies "the common refrain has been, 'Don't let the American people forget us.'"

Snelling presented the veterans, including nearly a dozen from the Lakes Region, with a certificate honoring and thanking them for their service, speaking briefly, snapping to attention and saluting smartly before each. As he approached several of those in wheelchairs rose to meet him and returned his salute. Those from the Lakes Region were Elaine Baker of Gilford, Arthur Brown and John O'Callaghan of Meredith, Robert Ball and Warner Desmarais of Wolfeboro, Norman Joyce, Richard Lemay, Howard Pease and David Pryor of Laconia, Alphonse Beaule and Vincent Mulligan of Belmont and Gladys Renoe of Alexandria.

Pease noted that the ceremony recognized all those who served during the years of the conflict wherever they were stationed. He said that he spent two years in Germany manning 155 millimeter howitzers in a field artillery unit. Reflecting on the sacrifices made and hardships endured by the forces in Korea, he eyed his certificate and said, "It doesn't kind of seem right."

A video, produced by the government of the Republic of Korea, recalled the carnage and destruction of the war while expressing the gratitude of the Korean people to the men and women of the American armed forces who, together with their United Nation allies, repulsed the invasion by North Korea and checked the advance of Communist China. With liberation and peace, Korea embarked on reconstruction and development and now ranks as the tenth strongest economy in the world. To the veterans of the conflict, the Koreans proclaimed "You will always be our heroes."

"I'll be honest," said U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who represents the 2nd Congressional District, "I invited myself here today. She said that her uncle flew in the Korean Conflict and remembered "people didn't talk about the Korean War." She assured the assembled veterans, "We know your stories and we are grateful to all of you."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 03:23

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Gunstock gets county OK for $750,000 revenue anticipation note

LACONIA — The Belknap County Convention has approved a $750,000 Revenue Anticipation Note for the Gunstock Mountain Resort by a 16-2 vote.
The vote Monday night came following a presentation by Gunstock General Manager Gregg Goddard and members of the Gunstock Area Commission on the role played by the borrowing in allowing the county-owned recreation area to gear up for the upcoming ski season.
Goddard said it was his 20th presentation to the convention on the RAN notes, which he said provide a short-term cash flow for Gunstock, which still receives 70 percent of its total revenue from skiing operations in a 100 day period from mid-December to late March, despite the addition of new summer attractions such as its longest in North America zip line and treetop adventure park.
The amount sought has ranged from $625,000 to $1.2 million in recent years, according to Goddard, who said the $1.2 million was sought when the bridge over Poor Farm Brook was being rebuilt and there was going to be a lag time before federal and state reimbursements were received.
He said that during the summer months Gunstock has spent $2.1 million preparing for the winter and will see a negative cash flow during the late fall until Christmas break skiing starts to produce positive revenues.
Goddard said Gunstock's budget is based on 168,000 skier visits a year, and that while the ski industry as a whole is not growing Gunstock has been able to retain loyal skiers and looks to increase the revenue from each customer in order to enhance revenues.
Unlike larger ski areas to the north, Gunstock, which is the closest large ski area to Boston and the fifth-largest ski area in the state, is based on the day trip market.
He said that there is also a strong customer base of second home owners who are using their property year-round who ski at Gunstock, which also has an outreach program to area schools which brings in local skiers.
Goddard responded to a series of written questions about Gunstock's viability and profitability from the County Convention and said that Gunstock was in a sound financial position with profits in five of the last six years and assets exceeding liabilities.
Asked if the need for a cash flow infusion will ever end, Goddard said hat it wouldn't happen right away. He said Gunstock was trying to stabilize its reserve funds for operating and capital expenses and has a goal of $1 million for operations and $500,000 for capital expenses. Currently it has $20,000 in operating revenue reserve and $91,000 in capital reserve.
He said that the operating revenue reserve account had risen to $700,000 before it was depleted by the virtually snowless winter of 2011.
Gunstock continues to pay the county $175,000 per year based on the terms of a memorandum of agreement reached with the county which extends through 2016. Chuck Lowth, chairman of the Gunstock Area Commission, said there was no plan to increase that amount paid to the county.
Goddard said that while it was good to build up operating cash to the point where there was no need for future RANs, that short-term borrowing at a cost of about $5,000 for a $750,000 RAN ''was not a bad thing to do. We shouldn't be sitting on a lot of cash.''

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 03:22

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