All fixed up, Gilmanton Academy building meets the public

GILMANTON — About 30 people stopped by the newly rehabilitated Gilmanton Academy building Saturday for an open house, celebrating the reopening of the historic building that had been closed since sustaining severe water damage in early January.

A sprinkler pipe burst in the attic of the historic building this winter, sending water cascading throughout and causing about $137,000 in damage throughout the building and causing it to be closed for about 2 1/2 months.

Town employees worked in a modular building placed behind the academy until it reopened at the end of March.

The repairs included a fresh coat of paint throughout the building as well as the replacement of nearly every computer terminal and piece of furniture.

Wiring was replaced throughout the building as was the ceilings and carpets. All of the floors were redone.

Town Administrator Arthur Capello said all of the feedback was very positive and townspeople were happy with the way the building looks. Capello said some minor upgrades were also done to the outside of the academy including the handicapped ramp.

He said the most frequent comment he heard was that the inside of the building looked clean and new.

Sparkler farce sends LFD to Weirs condo

LACONIA — Firefighters responded to a reported fire at Overlook condominiums off Weirs Blvd. around 5:30 p.m. to find one young man and four young women alarmed that an errant sparkler threatened to touch off a brush fire.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said that one of the women went to a bedroom on the second floor of the unit where she lit a sparkler only to quickly fear it would set the room alight. Opening the glass slider, she tossed the spitting sparkler on to the balcony where it landed atop a discarded Christmas tree. When the tree caught fire, she threw it off the balcony. It landed amid brush and mulch near the porch on the ground floor, sparking a small fire that was quickly extinguished.

"You just can't make this stuff up," said Erickson, who added that all were spared a more serious situation because the tree was so dry and burned so quickly.

Divided council grants an extra hour of music for Harry Potter convention's masquerade ball

LACONIA — The City Council struck a blow for peace and quiet this week by denying the request of The Margate Resort to extend the hours for amplified music outdoors from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday, May 24, then by a single vote agreed to let the music play until 10 p.m.

The lakeside resort is hosting MISTI-Con, which describes itself as "an immersive Harry Potter fan convention" held every other year, over the Memorial Day weekend from Thursday 21 to Sunday May 24. Kyle Parisi, general manager of the Margate, said Tuesday that this will be the third time MISTI-Con has visited the resort. He said that in 2011 the event drew some 400 people and two years later the number grew to 600.

This year, Parisi said that organizers expected between 800 and 1,000 to attend. The Margate resort is fully booked and the downtown Landmark Inn, owned by the same company, is accepting reservations. Parisi said the conventioneers are mostly affluent young professionals aged between 25 and 35, many from New York and Boston.

This year MISTI-Con has opened the event to local residents by offering individual and family passes to "The Wizarding World's Fair" without requiring registration for the convention itself.

The event closes with a Sunday night "Ministry Masquerade Ball" beginning at 7 p.m. and ending at midnight in a tent pitched on the West Lawn of the resort. The city's loudspeaker ordinance limits the use of outdoor sound equipment to 9 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, except during Motorcycle Week.

Two weeks ago, Caroline Snyder, event manager, first presented the request for later hours to the council, but offered few details and acknowledged that nearby property owners had not been informed of the event. The council advised her to canvas the neighbors and tabled the request pending their response. When Snyder returned this week she told the councilors that a letter explaining the request to extend the hours of amplified music was sent to the 22 property owners at Eastern Shores Condominiums as well as Shaw's, China Bistro and the Paugus Bay Plaza Condominium Association, all of which are across Lake Street in Gilford. She said there has been one response from a woman who said she was "excited".

Councilors Henry Lipman (Ward 3) and David Bownes (Ward 2) spoke in favor of granting the request to extend the deadline until 11 p.m. Lipman said that there was no evidence the sound would have adverse impacts on others and granting the extension would be in keeping with the city's interest in supporting its hospitality industry and encouraging tourism.

However, Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5) reminded his colleagues that some years ago when the Weirs Beach Lobster Pound made a similar request, the council denied it. Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) warned against making exceptions for some but not others. Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) expressed concern that the sound would carry across Paugus Bay.

After the council voted three-to-two to deny the request, Lipman suggested granting a one hour extension, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., which won over Hamel's vote and carried by a majority of three-to-two.

"I guess that's the best they can do," Parisi said of the compromise. " They may not be overly happy, but they will manage with 10 p.m."