Great Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby postponed to Feb. 27-28

MEREDITH — Members of the Meredith Rotary Club's Derby Committee held an emergency meeting Friday and decided to postpone this year's Great Rotary Fishing Derby for two weeks.
Originally scheduled for Feb. 13 and 14, the event will now be held on Feb. 27 and 28.
Donna Ulbricht, executive secretary of the club, said that the decision was due to safety concerns over ice conditions on Lake Winnipesaukee and the weather forecast for next week which calls for temperatures in the 40s.
Poor ice conditions have also forced the New England Pond Hockey Classic to move its Feb. 5-7 event to Lake Waukewan.
It marks only the second time in the history of the derby that it has been postponed. The only other postponement was in 2006.
On the Rotary Club's Facebook page, derby Chairman Anthony Avrutine is quoted as saying: "The warm weather, with temperatures predicted to rise and last through next week, is diminishing and weakening the existing ice buildup. While there are coves and bays on many of the lakes that are fairly solid, the grim forecast for ongoing high temperatures concerns all of us. Safety is a top priority and we believe we must take this step with the hope that once the warm temperatures abate, solid ice will return and we will have a successful Derby."

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Friends of the farm - Community pitches in when Gilford farmer needs help

By Adam Drapcho

The Laconia Daily Sun

 Peter Weeks, the fifth generation of his family to run the farm, is depending on volunteers while he recovers from hernia surgery. (Laconia Daily Sun photos/Adam Drapcho)

Peter Weeks, the fifth generation of his family to run the farm, is depending on volunteers while he recovers from hernia surgery. (Laconia Daily Sun photos/Adam Drapcho)


GILFORD — A Yankee farmer doesn't like to ask for help, which is why Peter Weeks put off hernia surgery for years. Recovery from the surgery requires him to refrain from any lifting for about a month, which means he can't tend to his cows and chickens. So, he delayed the procedure until the pain was too great, shooting from his right hip all the way up to his elbow. Something had to be done.

Weeks is the fifth generation of his family to farm on the land. High up on the hill, off of Belknap Mountain Road and overlooking Gilford Village, the Weeks Farm has been in operation since 1837. The farm once covered 700 acres, including the land that is now known as Gunstock Mountain Resort. The Weeks family were among the region's skiing industry pioneers, installing a rope tow and renting rooms to skiers who wanted to glide through their sloped pastures.

A photo album, put together by Peter's grandmother, shows the farm as it was a century ago, with sheep, ducks and wheat thriving on the farm, with many family members helping in the work. Now, it's just Peter, the only child of Arthur and Mildred Weeks, who have both since passed away.

Although he handled the farm duties on his own, he is hardly alone, which he found out when he told his friend Terry Bobseine that the surgery was needed and that he would need help with farm chores while he recovered. What resulted was a list of volunteers enough to fill a page in a spiral-bound notebook. Weeks had his operation on Jan. 20, and a small army of people has converged around him, bringing meals or cookies, driving him to appointments, keeping up with the housekeeping, and of course, collecting eggs, mucking out the barn, milking the cows and feeding the animals.

"He can't lift anything for another four to five weeks, volunteers are doing the work until he can get to that point," said Gordon DuBois, one of those who have stepped in to keep the farm going. Weeks currently has nine cows, and only two of them are currently milking. He said a few more helpers would be appreciated, especially if they know their way around an udder.

"If anyone is interested, if they have any experience in dairy or cattle, they can call me or Peter," he said.

"They asked me if I'd come up here, I said, 'sure'," said Eric Divers, who grew up on a dairy farm and feels nostalgic tending to the cows. "It kind of reminds me of being a kid."

Divers works for Fay's Boat Yard in Gilford, and Merrill Fay, his employer, can be found among the other volunteers. On Tuesday morning, Fay was removing manure from the room in the barn where the chickens live, collecting it in buckets to be spread over a garden. When asked why he helps, Fay said the farm is the last remaining connection to an industry once common throughout Gilford.

"They're the last cows in Gilford," he said. "I'm retired, kinda, and I love the animals. My wife thinks I'm absolutely bonkers ... And the guy's in need, I'd certainly help with that."

Weeks is eager for the day when he can say goodbye to the volunteers and go back to working 12 to 15 hours on his family farm. It might not be everyone's idea of an ideal life, but it's the only one Weeks has ever known.

"I started when I was 7 years old. I was shoveling by hand: snow, manure, sawdust, you name it," said Weeks. By the time he was 14, he was driving tractors and learning all there was about farming from his father.

"Those were the good old days, if you ask me," said Weeks.

At 56, Weeks doesn't have any children to pass the farm on to. Someday, the Weeks Farm will fall to disuse, and like nearly every other farm in town before it, turn into a neighborhood of homes, these with especially good views. Weeks doesn't want to see that day come any sooner than necessary, though.

"I feel like my grandparents, mother and father would want me to take (the farm) over. Some people say they'd be real proud of me."

Merrill Fay feeds hay to the cows on Weeks Farm. Volunteers are needed to feed animals twice each day, and to milk cows and collect eggs in the morning. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

Merrill Fay feeds hay to the cows on Weeks Farm. Volunteers are needed to feed animals twice each day, and to milk cows and collect eggs in the morning. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

Busy Corner building to be demolished


LACONIA — The Heritage Commission this week granted the permit to demolish the building at the junction of Union Avenue and Church Street, which since has stood as a landmark at what has become known as "Busy Corner," to enable CVS to construct a small park on the site.

However, the commission attached three conditions and a request to its approval. First, the commission stipulated that the lamppost at the corner must be "preserved in working order." The sign reading "Busy Corner" atop the building must be donated to the Laconia Historical & Museum Society. Finally, the curved step leading to the front door of the building must be retained as a plinth for a memorial to Busy Corner. The commission has asked that smoking be forbidden in the park and a sign erected to that effect.

Catherine Tokarz said yesterday that the demolition permit was filed submitted by the current owner of the property, which will be conveyed to CVS shortly. She said Planning Director Shanna Saunders is discussing the conditions with representatives of CVS property, but as yet there has been no official response from the company. 

For many years, the building at Busy Corner housed a drug store with a popular lunch counter and J. Oliva Huot, a former mayor of Laconia and congressman representing New Hampshire sold real estate from an office at the rear of the building. More recently the building has been home to a law office, nail salon and barbershop.

The postage-stamp-sized lot of 0.058 of an acre is nearly a perfect isosceles triangle with two sides of 94.12 feet and 94.85 feet and a third of 55.81 feet. CVS plans to place a paved doughnut with a planted center in the space, which will be bounded on either side by perennial grasses and shrubs. Three granite benches will be placed around paved circle.

The park will be constructed and maintained by the company which adjoins the 1.59 acre lot where the CVS store was built in 2010.

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