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In Belmont, Smith says only GOP can save country

BELMONT — "If this party goes," Bob Smith told the Belknap County Republican Committee this week, "watch out for America, because I don't see much hope."

Smith, of Tuftonboro, is locked in a three-cornered scrap with Scott Brown of Rye and Jim Rubens of Hanover to become the GOP nominee to challenge Jeanne Shaheen, the incumbent Democrat, for the U.S. Senate.

No stranger to Washington, Smith served three terms in the House of Representatives, and two in the Senate -- from 1984 until 2002 -- when he lost his bid for re-election to John E. Sununu in the GOP primary. Smith decamped to Florida where he twice abandoned campaigns for the Senate after failing to raise sufficient funds and showing poorly in the polls.

Smith is the insurgent candidate in the Senate race. Brown, who represented Massachusetts in the Senate for one term, is the favorite of the GOP leadership that courted him to enter the race as the most electable candidate. Rubens, a former state senator, has been endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, but has tailored his appeal to all factions of the splintered GOP.

For Smith the primary is a contest for the nomination, but with it the soul of the GOP.

Sounding a familiar theme to a packed house at the Top of the Town restaurant, Smith said "America is in trouble. The Democrats are not going to save this country," he declared. "They're so far to the left they will never return this country to constitutional rule. Obama is breaking the law, absolutely breaking the law."

Smith insisted that only a Republican presidency and congressional majority could pull the country from the brink. "How are we going to change this?" he asked. "There's one way to win. Stand on principle."

But, Smith stressed "we must elect the right people," meaning not those in the GOP who vote and compromise with the Democrats. He said that "people don't know the difference between us and them." Recalling a conversation with a high-ranking Republican official, Smith said that many fear the GOP will become a party confined to the South and West, adding that the likes of Olympia Snowe of Maine and Scott Brown "are the best we can hope for" in the Northeast. "Don't compromise with the left," he declared.

"You have a choice in this primary," Smith said. "I support the Republican platform 100 percent," he continued. "Not because it's the platform, but because it is right." He reminded his listeners that Brown holds positions at odds with the platform and, during his term in the Senate, often voted with President Obama nearly 70 percent of the time. He bridled at the prominent Republicans, including Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who have publicly endorsed Brown. Noting that the Republican National Committee was soliciting contributions to Brown's campaign, Smith exclaimed, "I'm offended by that and it should offend you."

Asked by Don Sorensen if he would support the Republican nominee whatever the outcome of the primary, Smith replied that the party should "unite around its platform, not candidates." When Sorensen said he would vote for the Republican candidate, Smith replied, "How's that been working out for us? The results have not been favorable," he said, pointing to a string of lost elections.

"We owe it to those who founded this country and climbed the cliffs at Normandy to save this country," Smith proclaimed. When history is written, he noted, it will recall either "they did nothing and like frogs in a pot they lost America or that they saved this country." Appealing for support for "the candidate who is with the party," Smith said "give me a chance."

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 01:01

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Up With People seeks host families for performers

LACONIA — As the city prepares to welcome the cast of Up With People for performances during the first week of September, organizers are putting out the call for host families.

Performers will arrive from Denver during the evening of Sept. 1 and leave in the morning on Sept. 8.

According to promotion representative Brenda Lopez Amaro of Mexico and promotion intern Marie Bubern of Belguim, some of their best memories during their year of performing all over the world with Up With People have resulted from their stays with their host families.

"It was the first time I was in touch with another culture," said Bubern, recalling the time she spent with a family in Denver who fed her first s'more and brought her to her first open-fire barbecue.

She said she also thinks of her host family in Trieste, Italy, who took her on a trip to Croatia and Slovenia – two countries she had never seen.

She also said she got a email from her host family in Montana a few days ago that "made her smile like a baby."

Lopez Amaro's family was a host family for Up With People when they came to Aguascalientes, her home about six hours north of Mexico City.

She said her involvement with Up With People began when she met two girls from Belgium and Spain who stayed with her family.

Host families are asked to provide a bed or couch for one or two participants, breakfast and a few dinners. The host family is also asked to provide transportation to the Laconia Middle School at 8 a.m. and transportation back to their homes at 6:30 p.m. after rehearsal during their seven-day stay in the city.

Performers are looking for an overall safe and comfortable atmosphere where they can share and customs and cultures with Laconia area families.

Part of the Up With People experience includes some civic participation, and so far some of the advance team has helped with the Laconia Got Lunch Program and with Hands Across the Table.

Up With People performers are from all over the world. Lopez Amaro said some of the countries represented in this company are Nepal, Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Germany, Belgium, Mexico, United States, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and Finland.

There are about 55 girls and 45 boys and if a family wants to serve as a host family to multiple participants the performers will both be of the same sex. Ages range from 19 to 29.

"We are very flexible," said Bubern. "It can be an air mattress or a couch."

Over the past 40 years, Up With People have interacted with 500,000 families in 40 different countries.

Performances are scheduled for Friday, Sept. 5, and Saturday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. at the Laconia Middle School. The group will do a pre-performance at Rotary Park during the annual Multi-Cultural Day activities.

Up With People is sponsored by the Bank of New Hampshire, WLNH 98.3, The Laconia Daily Sun, and Aavid Thermalloy and Laconia Kiwanis. The proceeds from the shows will go to Stand Up Laconia – a program designed to prevent drug and alcohol abuse in the city - the Laconia "Got Lunch" program and Gilford "Got Lunch" program.

To act as a host family, please contact Misa Grenier at 608-606-9694.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 12:49

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Correction: Det. Hart works for Dept. of Justice

Detective Kirk Hart works for the N.H. Drug Task Force that is operated by the N.H. Department of Justice. He is not employed by the State Police. His affiliation with the State Police was incorrectly reported in an article that ran on Page 1 of Thursday's paper.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 01:06

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Gilford will once again consider change to fireworks ban

GILFORD — Selectmen let off a few verbal explosives of their own last night while discussing whether or not to review the town ordinance that bans fireworks unless they are being launched by a professional company. But no action was taken.

Selectman Richard "Rags" Grenier said he was at the meeting held last year when the board put some teeth into the existing ban and was more inclined to agree with Selectmen Gus Benevides, who opposed a ban.

"I feel it's onerous for something that's legal," said Grenier.

Selectman John O'Brien, who has been the most vocal supporter of the ban as it exists now, said his position stemmed from a personal encounter with some Boston firefighters who rented the house next to him and they fired Roman candles over his house and property.

O'Brien said his biggest concern is fire and said "renters" come to Gilford and blow fireworks into dry woods.

He said several fire chiefs and the N.H. Fire Marshall have said a fire could spread very quickly in Gunstock Acres (where O'Brien lives) as well as in other parts of town where the buildings are very close together.

He also said some people go to bed early. At one point, he said that when he was 12, he thought fireworks were fun but as an adult he thinks using them unprofessionally is "immature."

Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee said there was one summons issued of the 11 complaints he's gotten this year. Last year there was 26 calls and that was the highest amount in the few years of records he reviewed. He also wanted it noted that it rained on Fourth of July weekend this year.

He said the summons from this year occurred when police responded to a complaint and told the person to stop. Once police left, he said the person started firing them again so a summons was issued.

He said some of the people who use fireworks are not from the area and don't know Gilford has a ban. He had included a link on the Gilford website about the ban, hoping more visitors will understand the ordinance.

Bean Burpee also noted that enforcement is problematic and often times the police can't find the source of the complaint.

"My frustration is not being successful," he said.

Fire Chief Steve Carrier reiterated his position about the general danger of fireworks in non-professional hands and said he also would be somewhat uncomfortable with an ordinance that requires a permit because he wouldn't want to sign off on something that he, as a public safety officer, feels is dangerous.

Benevides sat quietly until the end of the discussion when he said his position on fireworks in Gilford is clear and he still opposes a ban.

"It's just the reality," he said, noting that when the Fourth of July comes around there are going to be fireworks.

"I'm not going to insult renters who bring a lot of money to town... and I'm not going to call them immature because they chose to light fireworks," he continued.

Twice O'Brien tried to interject something and twice Benevides reminded him he wasn't done speaking.

Benevides also reiterated his position that he wants the police on Friday and Saturday nights to be on the road preventing more serious crimes than shooting off fireworks, which he said are legal in the state and sold by in-state merchants to Gilford residents and visitors.

After going back and forth about what Grenier really wants to do, the board decided that there are a number of draft ordinances already prepared regarding fireworks, including some that allow them on certain days during certain times and others that would require a permit.

At Town Adminstrator Scott Dunn's urging, the board decided against forming a committee but chose to let Dunn and his administrative team review some of the previous suggested ordinances and bring one back to the board that could allow fireworks under certain circumstances.

At that point, selectmen said they would review the administration's suggestion and decide whether or not to hold a public hearing on a revised ordinance.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 01:22

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