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Walkway to honor Peter Karagianis

LACONIA — The walkway from Beacon Street East to the footbridge over the Winnipesaukee, which passes in front of the Belknap Mill, will be named Peter Karagianis Way, in honor of the man who, among his many contributions to the city, at the forefront of the effort that spared the oldest, unaltered, brick mill in the nation from demolition.
Karagianis, who passed away on May 14 at the age of 99, was dubbed "Mr. Laconia" in 1985 by Edwin Chertok, a former mayor of the city, in recognition of his service to the community.
On June 23, the Belknap Mill Society will celebrate what would have been Karagianis's 100th birthday when Peter Karagianis Way will be dedicated to the memory of one of the city's most beloved and revered citizens.
– Michael Kitch

Belknap Mill trip brings Industrial Revolution to life for fourth-graders


LACONIA — Laconia is blessed with having the oldest unaltered textile mill in America, the Belknap Mill, a spectacle that students from all over the state come to experience. This Tuesday, fourth-grade students from Barrington Elementary School came to take part in a program called "My First Day of Work at the Belknap Mill," in which they are given a job and told to work as if it is their first day in 1918: World War I is just underway and the soldiers are in need of socks from the mill.
The jobs the students are given are knitter; looper, responsible for closing the toes of socks; boarder, who shapes the socks in a steam chamber; turner boy; who turns the socks inside out for the looper and right side out for the boarder; finisher, responsible for checking the finished socks for mistakes; machine fixer; and supervisor, who oversees the whole operation. Students learn about the gendered workplace of the time, as girls can only be knitters, loopers, or finishers while men take the other jobs. Only machine fixers and supervisors, all of whom are men, are paid by the hour, while all other jobs are "by the piece" paid for each sock they finish.
Students are greeted by Bill Nunamacher, who, in costume with a top hat, plays the owner of the Belknap Mill and chides them for being late as they were supposed to arrive at dawn. Students then rotate through four interactive stations. The sluiceway outside the Belknap Mill introduces students to the importance of water at the time. The knitting room shows students what the knitting processes of the time were like. The powerhouse room demonstrates how energy was generated and sent to the different areas of the mill. Lastly, the finishing room shows students how the socks were steamed and inspected.
Asked about the parallels to the curriculum, Barrington Elementary teacher Cathy Neild at first joked, "This is a field trip," innocently downplaying the obvious historical perspective gained and highlighting the fact that this is a lot of fun for the students. "We talk in class about the differences between a modern factory and a mill. Also," she said, "we talk about the differences between the colonial times and focus on the changes the Industrial Revolution brought. In the colonial piece, they all made everything at home, then came the mill, and now we have factories."
One student, Lily Fitzgerald, was asked what position she would take, and after the young man next to her said he would be a supervisor said she would keep the job she was handed in the morning, knitter, because she had been a weaver when they studied the colonial jobs and felt the two worked nicely together.
"We also talked about the dangers of the industrial revolution," Neild said, "with kids working in the mills at the age of 10." As most of the students visiting were 10 years old, points like this one truly hit home. It was apparent from looking on and hearing what they talked about in class that the day was bringing their classroom conversations to life in a way they would never be able to imagine if a place like the Belknap Mill did not exist.
Simply having the mill is not enough, however. These programs thrive only because of the volunteer support for them. Volunteers ran each of the stations teaching the students about the different aspects of the mill. The assembly line in which all the different jobs came together at the end was overseen by Helga Stamp, who, volunteering since 1999, has almost been there from the start of the program and currently serves as program organizer.
The program, which goes through May and about half of June, is always looking for volunteers. The time commitment is not overly demanding, a few hours in the middle of the day four times a week. It can also be quite rewarding. One of the volunteers, Sue Witham, compared it to being a teacher except you get new faces each day.

"It's wonderful to be a volunteer," she said. "Everyone wants it to stay alive."

05-25 Belknap Mill kids 2

Fourth-grade students from Barrington Elementary School learn about early 20th-century knitting practices. (Brendan Sorrell photo/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Former Pines Center maintenance man accused of rape is a former police officer


FRANKLIN — A former maintenance man who is charged with fondling two young girls on three separate occasions at the Tilton-Northfield Pines Community Center is a retired police officer.

Robert Magoon

Robert Magoon, 73, of 27 Deer St. in Tilton worked for the Concord Police Department and retired in 1987, said Lt. Timothy O'Malley. He had been working as a part-time maintenance worker at the Tilton-Northfield Pines Community Center in Northfield during the times of the allegations. Pines Executive Director Jim Doane confirmed Tuesday Magoon no longer works there.

The two complaints allege that Magoon fondled a 9-year-old girl on more than one occasion between the dates of Sept. 1, 2015, and May 12, 2016.

The third complaint alleges he fondled a different girl, now age 11, between the dates of Aug. 24, 2014, and May 12, 2016.

Magoon appeared Tuesday morning via video in the 6th Circuit Court, Franklin Division where Judge Edward "Ned" Gordon continued his bail at $150,000, or $50,000 per charge.

Merrimack County Assistant County Attorney Susan Larrabee said during her bail argument that Magoon continues to be an "immediate danger" to the community.

Larrabee said that even after Magoon was notified, he allegedly continued to assault young girls by touching them inappropriately while they were sitting on his lap at a before-school program at the Pines.

She said that as a former police officer, he is well aware of the law and yet allegedly continued to offend, even after he was told there had been a complaint.

He said little other than he agreed to go forward with his hearing, that he wanted a public defender, and that he didn't want to make a bail argument for himself.

The city of Concord confirmed Tuesday that Magoon was employed as a police officer from Feb, 22, 1970, until his resignation of June 9, 1978. He was rehired by the police department in 1979 and worked until his second resignation on Nov. 13, 1987.

The time of all of the allegations is 7:19 a.m., which was when Magoon had access to the center in his role as a maintenance man. Larrabee said the investigation into Magoon's activities during his employment at the Pines are continuing and that additional charges may be forthcoming.

Doane said he couldn't comment on anything involving the investigation into Magoon. He said that going forward, the doors to the center are locked in the mornings and that additional staff has been added.

He said that the center is working with Detective Jennifer Adams, who is assigned to the Merrimack County County Attorney's Office working as an investigator is coordinating multiple outreach programs with the elementary schools in the Winnisquam Regional School District, the local community governing bodies, and the parents of the children who attended programs at the center.

"Jen Adams will tell me and the board of directors how (the outreach) will go," Doane said.

The Pines website says there is a before-school program ay the center which opens at 7 a.m., and the school bus picks up the children. There is also an after-school program. The Pines is a not-for-profit corporation founded initially in 1954 and incorporated in 1967. It is operated by the Tilton-Northfield Recreation Council that has members from each community. The primary scource of funding is through the town budgets of Tilton and Northfield who each contributed $64,750 to the 2016 operations. Program fees, rental fees and occasional grants are also used as revenue sources.

The Pines in an integral part of the whole Tilton-Northfield community and, aside from the library and the schools, is where nearly every social and civil events occurs for people of all ages.

Magoon is scheduled to appear on May 31 in the 6th Circuit Court, Concord Division at 1:30 p.m.