Timberman canceled

Annual race in Gilford posted end on Facebook

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — The Ironman 70.3 Timberman triathlon, started by a local athlete in 2001, will not continue in 2017. Taking its place in the Ironman-branded events will be a new Ironman 70.3 event at Old Orchard Beach, Maine, on Aug. 27.

As of deadline, Ironman had not made an official announcement of the decision to discontinue the Timberman events, which included both a "Sprint" triathlon, featuring shorter races, and the 70.3 event, which included a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run. A few thousand athletes were attracted to Gilford each year for the events, which served as a qualifier for the prestigious and grueling Ironman triathlons.

The "events" page on www.ironman.com still lists the Timberman; however, its date field reads "TBD," while dates are listed for other events through September of 2017. On the race's official Facebook page, an athlete complained about that omission and asked if the Timberman, as well as another race, known as "B2B Full," would be canceled.

At 6:43 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13, the official Timberman account responded:

"Timberman is not happening as well as B2B Full."

Efforts to contact a representative of the World Triathlon Corporation, which includes the Ironman brand, were unsuccessful.

Myles Chase, owner of MC Cycle and Sport in Laconia, which had served for several years as the official bicycle service shop for the Timberman, said on Monday that he had heard in October that there was a chance that the event might have had its final run, and that he learned of its cancellation at the beginning of November.

The Timberman was an important event for the early years of his business, Chase said, though in recent years it became an ordeal that distracted his shop from its local customers. Still, he was disappointed to hear that the event was leaving.

"It's a bummer for the community. It has always been a gateway event for athletes who want to enter a triathlon," Chase said. The loss of the event will also negatively affect the many local nonprofit organizations that staffed the Timberman in exchange for a donation.

"A lot of local organizations just lost an opportunity to raise money as well," said Chase.

For Maureen Nix, a member of the Lakes Region Triathlon Club, the cancellation came out of the blue.

"Myself, as well as other members of the Triathlon Club, are shocked to find out that the race was cancelled. It was a good way for the athletes in the community to train together on a local course. An event of that nature in our back yard was a wonderful opportunity," said Nix.

The Timberman was started in 2001 by Keith Jordan, a local athlete who wanted to offer a triathlon in his home state. Within a few years of its founding, owing to the beautiful setting of the Lakes Region and the friendliness of the local volunteers and hosts, the Timberman had gained national notoriety as a "must-attend" triathlon. He also founded a triathlon in Bristol, the Mooseman, as well as several other events both in New Hampshire as well as around the country.

In 2009, he sold the Timberman and Mooseman events to the World Triathlon Corporation, which discontinued the Mooseman in 2012, and, apparently, the Timberman after the 2016 running.

Nix said that the sequence of events, as well as the Ironman's lack of communication with local athletes, has left a smear on the brand's name.

"It kind of sours people on Ironman, leaving the Lakes Region high and dry," she said, noting how Jordan had created an event that became a yearly highlight for so many. "Now, they just pull the rug out. It's really discouraging when a local guy built it up to such an incredible event, and now it's gone."


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Jim Kallmerten of Syracuse, N.Y., gives the thumbs up as he enters the water for the 1.2-mile swim during the Timberman 70.3 on Aug. 21.  (Karen Bobotas/File photo)

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Gunstock by the numbers – How much should Gunstock help county in reducing taxes?

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Gunstock Mountain Resort will soon welcome skiers. (Courtesy photo)

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — How much of the money earned by the county-owned Gunstock Mountain Resort should be used to reduce taxes for Belknap County residents? And how much should be retained by Gunstock to ensure that there is fiscal stability for the area and that it doesn't have to ask taxpayers to fund its debt obligations temporarily, as it did in the 1990s?
Those questions are being debated between members of the the Belknap County Delegation and the Gunstock Area Commission, the five-person board appointed by the delegation to oversee the operations of Gunstock. At the end of the year, a memorandum of understanding between the commission and the delegation, which provides for $175,000 per year payments by the county-owned recreation area to county, expires.
So far, two meetings have been held between representatives of the commission and delegation with no agreement.The commission, mindful of the devastating impact of last year's ski season which saw it have to dip into its operating expenses reserve fund to cover part of the $1 million loss, wants to build up its operational reserve to $1 million and its capital reserve fund to $500,000 before committing any level of money to be turned over to the county.
The delegation, meanwhile, has seen members like Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton) call on Gunstock to increase the amount paid to the county to a $400,000-to-$500,000-a-year level, based on recent improvements and additions to Gunstock's year-round offerings, which have increased profits realized from those operations.
Gunstock Commission member Sean Sullivan says that the commission is willing to negotiate a new level of funds to be turned over to the county but is waiting for the delegation representatives to specify what they think would be an acceptable level.
"We're willing to talk, but we want to hear some specifics from the delegation. We're not going to negotiate with ourselves," said Sullivan.

The 2017 budget adopted by the Gunstock Recreation Area Commission projects 170,000 skier visits this coming winter with $12.1 million in total revenues, including summer operations, and a net profit of $1.3 million from all operations.

Last month the delegation appointed one of its own members, Rep. Russ Dumais (R-Gilford), to a five-year term on the commission. He replaces Commission Chairman John Morgenstern of Gilford, who had applied for a third five-year term on the commission, and who maintained that building up the reserve funds is a top priority and that it would be several years before Gunstock could make larger payments to the county.
Dumais has said that he is hoping to bring a different perspective to the commission and cited his experience in the ski business as general manager for the Alpine Ridge Ski Area and Alpine Slide, as well as having been a selectmen in Gilford during the time Gunstock experienced financial problems in the 1990s. He had been one of the delegation's representatives negotiating with the commission.
Gallagher said the delegation has been looking to negotiate an acceptable plan going forward which would increase the amount paid by Gunstock to the county from its enhanced profits in recent years in order to reduce the amount raised by taxation.
Rep. Ray Howard (R-Alton) has said that "taxpayers are still on the hook for a couple of million and need to be made whole" and said that he was concerned abut Gunstock competing with privately owned businesses.
Sullivan says that Gunstock has been paying off the bond obligation funds that taxpayers had to pick up in the 1990s and has repaid $3.2 million of the $6 million so far.
"We're not trying to make taxpayers pay for our operations. We want to be able to minimize the risk to taxpayers by keeping on a sound financial footing," said Sullivan.
He said that Dumais had been scheduled to be sworn is as a commissioner next week, but will be out of town and that the commission won't meet again until Dec. 13.

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The new alpine slide at Gunstock opened late this summer and is adding revenue to the resort’s operation. (File photo)

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Gunstock looks to rebound from difficult 2015-16 winter

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — Gunstock Mountain Resort is looking to recover from a difficult ski season last winter in which the number of skier visits dropped by one-third and income dropped by $2.1 million, with about half of that loss experienced during the Christmas vacation period, normally Gunstock's busiest time of the entire ski season.
Last winter Gunstock was open for 93 days and had 117,648 skier visits, compared with being open 121 days in the winter of 2014-15 and hosting 181,090 skier visits. It was the poorest ski season in recent memory according to Greg Goddard, general manager of Gunstock
Net operating loss for the year was $954,145, compared with a net operating profit of $495,904 for the previous year. Total profit center revenue for all operations, including the summer months, was down from $11,210,774 to $8,824,561, with total operating expenses declining by over $900,000.
The 2017 budget adopted by the Gunstock Recreation Area Commission projects 170,000 skier visits this coming winter with $12.1 million in total revenues, including summer operations, and a net profit of $1.3 million from all operations.
Goddard said that the resort enjoyed a robust summer season. Gross revenues climbed 7 percent, from $2.44 million to $2.82 million as attendance at every attraction increased along with sales of food and beverages. In particular, the mountain coaster, the latest addition to the resort's offerings, met all expectations and camping increased 5.5 percent.
In addition, Goddard said that the wake of the slow winter season he challenged the staff to achieve efficiencies and reduce expenses. As a result, he said the payroll was trimmed by $80,000.
He also said that Gunstock is well positioned to be able to make lots of snow this coming winter, despite the drought which affected most of the state for most of the year.
"We have no worries," Goddard said, explaining that since 1985 the resort has had a seasonal impoundment near Cobble Mountain that holds 80 million gallons of water drawn from Poor Farm Brook. He said that usually the resort begins drawing water in the middle of October, but this year the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services granted a special exception and the impoundment began to be filled in early September.
He said the resort uses between 110 million and 130 million gallons of water for snowmaking during a typical season.
Goddard said that the testing of snowmaking has begun and he expects that with the cooperation of air temperatures and humidity levels, the resort could begin making as early as the middle of November.

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Book is thrown at Maine main who led police on high-speed chase

WOLFEBORO — A high-speed chase that began in Maine and continued into Wolfeboro resulted in the arrest of a Maine man on Thursday.

11-11 Andrew Allen CollinsAndrew Allen Collins, 32, of North Waterboro, Maine, was apprehended as a fugitive from justice after the pursuit which started in Maine in Waterboro, and went through three towns in that state – Waterboro, Limerick and West Newfield – crossing over into New Hampshire and continuing on through Wakefield, Brookfield and ending in Wolfeboro, where Wolfeboro police deployed spike strips and disabled his vehicle.

The event began when York County Maine Sheriff's Deputies stopped to check the bail status of Collins, who was seen with a "protected person" in that person's vehicle. Upon seeing the deputies, Collins fled from them in the protected person's vehicle with the protected person inside the car. The vehicle in question is a Maine-registered vehicle.

Responding Carroll County Sheriff's Deputies deployed spike strips in Wakefield, which blew the tires on the suspect's vehicle. Collins continued on until the vehicle he was driving became disabled in Wolfeboro on Route 28, where he was arrested by waiting Wolfeboro Police officers, along with Carroll County and York County sheriff's deputies.

After Collins was arrested, he was taken immediately to the Carroll County House of Corrections, where he was held on $5,000 cash bail.

In Wolfeboro, he is being charged with the following: felony level fugitive from justice, felony level reckless conduct and relony level reckless operation (motor vehicle); misdemeanor disobeying a police officer, misdemeanor speed, and yellow line violation. Additionally, the Wolfeboro Police Department will be seeking an Administrative Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) hearing to permanently revoke his driving privileges (license to operate a motor vehicle) in the state of New Hampshire. According to Capt. Rondeau, executive officer of the Wolfeboro Police Department, "It is abhorrent behavior like this which needlessly risks the public's safety, causes motor vehicle fatalities and serious bodily injuries. The officers' and deputies' quick response in the deployment of spike strips greatly reduced the speed of this incident to a manageable situation before anyone could be harmed."

No one was injured in the incident. The suspect vehicle was towed from the scene by Crowell's Towing of Wakefield. Additional charges may be filed by the Carroll County Sheriff's Office and the Wakefield Police Department for offenses committed in their respective jurisdictions. Additional charges have been levied by the York County, Maine, Sheriff's Office.

No bail has been set in the case. The matter will be heard in the Carroll County District and Superior Courts.

The Wolfeboro Police Department thanked the following agencies who assisted the Wolfeboro Police Department in this incident or at the scene: The Wolfeboro Fire Rescue Dept. and Stewart's Ambulance, Wolfeboro Central Dispatch, The Carroll County Sheriff's Office, the Wakefield Police Department, The Ossipee Police Department, The Carroll County House of Corrections, The Tuftonboro Police Department, and the York County Sheriff's Office, Maine.

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