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70 Dine in the Dark at Hector's in Fundraiser for NH Association of the Blind

LACONIA — Some 70 people turned out at Hector's Fine Food and Spirits in downtown Laconia on Monday evening for a unique dining experience, a "Dinner in the Dark" at which they dined blindfolded.
Hosted by the Central New Hampshire Advisory Committee of the New Hampshire Association for the Blind , the unique sensory awareness experience took participants on a journey in which they experienced dining as a blind person, using only the senses of taste, sound and touch.
''It was an experience that really had a big impact on the people taking part,'' said Jean Foote, who said that at first participants were a little nervous but soon came to appreciate for the way it broadened their understanding of those with vision problems.
''Many people have problems relating to blind people and feel awkward around them. Most people don't even want to think of losing heir sight. So the event made them much more aware and hopefully spread the message that there are ways to help and that blind people can lead successful, normal lives,'' said Foote.
Keynote speaker was scheduled to be Randy Pierce, association board member, client and founder of 2020 Vision Quest, who has summited all 48 of New Hampshire's highest peaks in a single winter season. But his guide dog, "Quinn'', was recently hospitalized with a jaw problem and wasn't up to making the trip.
Speaking instead was Gracie Cilley of Meredith Village Savings Bank, who told those present about the struggles of an eight-year-old relative who is losing her sight due to complications from diabetes.
Sponsors for the event included Meredith Village Savings Bank, Sawyers Jewelry, E&S Insurance Services, The Laconia Daily Sun, Shetty Opthamology and the Salmon Press.
Created in Germany, "Dining in the Dark" is a one-of-a-kind concept that has been enjoyed by many people across Europe and came to this country in 2005.
To date the New Hampshire Association for the Blind has hosted similar events at Rudi's in Portsmouth and The Way We Cook in Manchester. Both were sold-out, as was the dinner at Hector's. All funds raised, as well as a portion of all tickets sold, support the many critical programs and services that have helped people of central New Hampshire live full and independent lives despite their vision loss.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 03:49

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Boys & Girls Club awarded $250k grant

LACONIA — The Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region has been awarded a $250,000 grant by the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, which will be applied toward the acquisition of the former St. James Episcopal Church on North Main Street where the club now makes its home.

Next week, at noon on Thursday, November 21, the club will launch a capital campaign to raise the funds to complete the purchase and undertake the renovation of the property. Police Chief Chris Adams, president of the board of directors, said that the campaign aims to raise $2.4-million, a third of which is already in hand.

Al Posnack, who preceded Adams as president and chairs the capital campaign, said that the board is obviously very pleased to receive the grant, which lends momentum to its fundraising effort.

In March, the Vestry of the church accepted the club's offer to purchase the land and buildings for a reported price of $700,000. The property provides 14,000-square-feet of space between the ground floor and half-basement and sits on a 1.3-acre lot.

When the club moved into what executive director Cheryl Avery called "our forever home" in June, it marked the end of an odyssey that took the club to four different locations since it began in 1999.

At what Avery has described as "an ideal location" the club, is not only a stone's throw from Laconia Middle School and less than a mile from Laconia High School but also across the street from Opechee Park, with its beach, track and playing fields. The building houses a fully equipped kitchen and provides sufficient space for a gymnasium as well as expanded programming for elementary and middle school students and dedicated space for teens. With minimal alterations the building can be remodeled and reconfigured to include a cafe, game room, computer room and teen center. The property includes an extensive parking area and a playground alongside the church.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 06:30

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Mayor Seymour tells Veterans Day gathering there are things everyone can learn from our veterans

LACONIA — "Heroes," Mayor Michael Seymour told a crowd of some 200 gathered at Veterans Park yesterday to mark Veteran's Day, "walk among us everyday. They are our family members, our co-workers, they are teachers, they are business owners. They are our community."

Yesterday's ceremony at Veterans Square was hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1670, whose commander Glenn Groleau reminded the crowd they came to honor "veterans from every period of peace" as well as those who served and fell in times of war. "I just want people to remember the sacrifices these men and women have made for the freedom we have," he said. Offering an opening prayer, Groleau sought grace for all who wore the uniform and bore the arms of the United States and "comfort for all who gave their loved ones" to the service of the country.

The concert choir of Laconia High School, directed by Debbie Gibson, sang the National Anthem, followed by a medley featuring the official songs of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, bracketed by "Johnny Comes Marching Home" and "You're a Grand Old Flag."

In his keynote address, Seymour paid tribute to three veterans who recently passed away.

— A veteran of both the Korean War and the Vietnam War and former Commander, Trustee and Chaplain of the American Legion, Wilkins Smith Post 1, Leo "Joe" Couture, served in the Army for 22 years before retiring as Sergeant First Class.

— Harry Bryant, who served in the Pacific Theater during World War II , spent 35 years in the Army and reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, owned and operated Head's Electric until 1998.

— Known for his marksmanship, Bob Kingsbury fought with the 8th Army under the command of General George Patton in World War II, reenlisted during the Korean War and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1979 with a Purple Heart.

Seymour said that although many will not serve in the armed forces, all have much to learn from those who do. "The qualities we learn from our veterans — honor, duty, courage, sacrifice — are characteristics that make us better individuals," he said. "Their everyday conduct conduct inspires us to reach beyond our own limits."

Veterans, Seymour remarked in closing, should be honored 365 days a year. "When you see a veteran or active serviceman," he said, "take the time to walk up to them, shake their hand and say thank you. It's the least we can do."


CAPTION: With his wife Nancy by his side, Bill Morley of Gilford, who served with Air Force during the Korean War and later performed with the Air Force concert band, kept perfect time to the harmonies of the concert choir of Laconia High School when the city celebrated Veteran's Day at Veterans Park yesterday. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 01:37

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Trustees nix idea of converting Gale School to library

BELMONT — After deliberating in a non-public session held several weeks ago, the Library Trustees voted unanimously against supporting the Save the Gale School Committee's bid to use the old building as a public library.

According to Chair Mary Louise Charnley, the trustees went into a non-public session on October 15 because the topic involved the lease and or purchase of real-estate.

She said that included in the reasons not to support the idea were concerns about heating and supplying electricity to such a large building should it be moved and used as a library and whether or not locating a public library on school property was a viable idea.

"A public library must be available to everyone in a community," she said, noting that school districts typically need to control access to their campuses.

The Save the Gale School Committee had recommended relocating the historic Gale School from its perch above and behind the Belmont Middle School to a corner lot on Concord Street that currently belongs to the Shaker Regional School District. During a recent presentation to the Shaker Regional School Board, members Ken Knowlton and Pret Tuthill had suggested some kind of long-term lease from the school of the corner lot to the library should the committee's recommendation be accepted.

Gale School Committee member Diane Marden said last week she was disappointed with the Belmont Library Trustees decision.

She said "Plan B" is to go to the Belmont Board of Selectmen.

With plans to eventually move town offices into the Belmont Mill, members of Save the Gale School Committee have said that the town may need some space in the future for the senior center, a day care and other non-profit activities and the Gale School could be suitable for some of those needs.

She said committee members are also researching different options and grants for preserving the Gale School but reiterated that she thought its use as a public library would have been a "perfect fit."

The Save the Gale School Committee has also commissioned a report from an architect who noted that aside from the foundation, the circa 1894 building is in very good condition.

"The wood walls and posts supporting the floor and roof framing are plumb or very near plumb and do not show any visible signs of structural overstress or movement," wrote Alex Azodi of Omega Structural Engineers.

The N.H. Division of Historical Resources weighed in in August of 2013 that the school is architecturally and historically significant.

Discussions surrounding the potential restoration, relocation, and reuse of the school have occurred on and off for at least the past 10 years. The building belongs to the Shaker District but its historical significance is centered around the town of Belmont.

According to previous news reports, the Gale School was used by the school district until the 1970s when it was converted to unheated storage. Depending on who is asked, estimates to demolish the building could run between $40,000 and $100,000.

Aside from the August presentation by the Save the Gale School Committee, the School Board has discussed the school once this year. Although no decisions were made, members encouraged Superintendent Maria Dreyer to explore options and made some suggestions that removing the bell tower and possibly incorporating it some future town project.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 12:21

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