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Walkers invited to meet mayoral candidates on WOW Trail

LACONIA — With less than two weeks until the election, the time is now to get to know the candidates for mayor of Laconia. On Saturday, the WOW Trail will host a "Walk with the Candidates" event on the trail. Beginning at 10a.m. at the Lakeport Square trail entrance, candidates Ed Engler and Kaileif Mitchell will be walking the trail and fielding questions from voters.
"We're thrilled that the candidates chose to take a walk on the trail," said WOW Trail Executive Director Gretchen Gandini. "It's a great, informal way for folks to meet the future mayor of Laconia and at the same time get a little fresh air and exercise with their friends, families, and neighbors."
Presently 1.3 miles long, the WOW Trail spans from Elm Street in Lakeport to North Main Street near Downtown Laconia. Design and fundraising is currently underway to extend the trail another 1.1 miles from North Main Street to the Belmont town line. After the second section of trail is completed, the plan is to expand the trail in the other direction, from Elm Street in Lakeport to Weirs Beach — connecting Weirs Beach and Lakeport with Downtown Laconia via a safe and convenient passageway.
The WOW Trail is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization dedicated to the promoting, designing, building and maintaining a nine-mile recreational path through the City of Laconia as a part of the regional trail network that will connect Meredith to Franklin.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 October 2013 03:34

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Harvey Beetle honored for 50 years of barbershop quartet singing & promotion

GILFORD — It's been a good year for Harvey Beetle, who was honored Monday night at a Barbershop Open House at the Gilford Community Church where he was presented with a 50-year pin for having sung with barbershop quartets for most of hisadult life.
Beetle, who is the go-to-guy in organizing and recruiting new members of the Lakes Region Chordsmen, who practice every Monday night at the church, was presented with the award by Alan Lamson of Manchester, Conn., immediate past president of the Barbershop Harmony Society.
The presentation took place after Beetle had wrapped up two songs that he sang with the group ''Rewind'', a close-harmony vocal quartet that features pre-70's vocal music, from doo-wop to pop to spirituals and patriotic standards.
Beetle sings in ''Rewind'' along with Joe Hayden of Candia, Jay Lachance of Manchester and Bob Farnham of Alton Bay. He traces his love of barbershop quartet singing back to the 1960s when he was working with an insurance company in the Bay State and he started a quartet in Walpole, Mass.
"I heard a barbershop quartet, I liked that and wanted to do that sort of singing," he says.
He's been an enthusiastic participant ever since and after he retired and moved to the Lakes Region in 1990 one of the very first things he did was to joined the Lakes Region Chordsmen.
A big booster of barbershop quartet singing, Beetle is the contact person for the local group and has organized performances at places like Patrick's Pub in Gilford and is always available for singing songs on Valentine's Day.
Earlier this year Harvey was honored along with his entire family when the Beetle family was presented with the Irwin Award at the annual Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce HERO awards.
Harvey and his wife Evelyn were honored along with their sons Jeff and Allan, owners of Patrick's Pub & Eatery, as well as Jeff's wife, Wendy, and Allan's wife, Jennifer.
The Gilford restaurant is known for hosting charitable events large and small, as well as founding Pub Mania, which raised $160,000 last year for the WLNH Children's Auction.


CAPTION; slugged Harvey50

Harvey Beetle of the Lakes Region Chordsmen (left) is congratulated by Alan Lamson of Manchester, Conn., immediate past president of the Barbershop Harmony Society, after he was presented with a pin for his 50 years of singing with barbershop quartets. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 October 2013 03:10

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Youth Center to start Gilford Got Lunch! program for hungry kids in summer of '14

GILFORD — Got Lunch! — the successful Laconia program that provides lunches to less-fortunate school children in the summer — is coming to Gilford.

Tom Francouer, who sits on the board of the Gilford Youth Center told selectmen last night that in coordination with the Gilford School District, he and his board realized the need in Gilford was much greater than initially thought.

"People forget that not all families live in middle-to upper-class homes," said Selectman Gus Benavides who offered to help deliver the lunch bags when the program begins.

According to Francoeur and citing statistics given to him from the school district, 26 percent of the school district's children qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program and in total that's 313 at-risk children.

He said the cost per child per summer is estimated to be about $110 and he expects that at least 150 Gilford children will take advantage of it 2014. Grocery bags typically include bread, canned meats, peanut butter and other non-perishables and a diary product voucher that can be spent at local grocery stores.

Benavides said that number continues to grow, noting that it wasn't all that long ago when the number of free and reduced-price lunch children was at 20 percent.

Francouer said the Got Lunch! program in Gilford aims to provide one meal a day for five days during the summer months, when the schools are closed. He said the program's goal is to someday provide enough food for one meal seven days a week.

He said the Gilford program will be designed like the original Laconia Got Lunch! program. Each Monday during the summer, volunteers bring a grocery bag of food to each family with enough lunch items for all of the eligible children in the family.

"When I went to volunteer in Laconia they said, 'where have you been?'" he said, noting the Laconia organization then pointed out that some Gilford children have similar needs.

Francoeur said donations of food or money can be made at the Gilford Youth Center.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 October 2013 03:01

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After years of planning & fundraising, first shovel is turned on Weirs Community Park

LACONIA — "It's been a long, long struggle," Don Richards said yesterday as work began on the Weirs Community Park, a project he has pursued for almost two decades.
As a backhoe sifted boulders from loam in the background, Richards and his wife Connie joined Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks and Recreation, and his deputy Amy Lovisek along with City Councilor Ava Doyle (Ward 1), Luke Powell, assistant director of Public Works, Casey Crane of Broadview Construction Corporation, and Mick Sceggell of Dubois & King, Inc. to mark the occasion.
The park is being developed on a 25-acre wooded tract adjacent to the Community Center/fire station and bordered on the west by Lucerne Avenue, which the city acquired with a grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund administered by the National Park Service in 1979. Archaeological studies undertaken in 1990 and 2009 found evidence of an Abenaki village.
Richards said in the late 19th century a local entrepreneur returned from Switzerland intending to build an alpine village on the site, hence Lucerne Avenue. The trails through the property follow the streets intended to serve the subdivision. Between 1890 and 1945 the land served as a stomping ground for the girls of Camp Arcadia, who passed through a stone arch, which still stands, to church services, sing-alongs and other activities.
Most of the land will remain in its natural wooded state. Likewise, the stone walls and stone arch will be preserved. A pavilion with adjoining picnic area and play area will be built east of the existing parking area and an outdoor amphitheater, with seating for audiences of 120, with an attached restroom, which will serve as a dressing room, to the north. The architecture of the pavilion and equipment of the playground will mimic the rustic setting of the park. The existing trails will be rehabilitated with picnic areas, benches and gazebos where they cross one another. A boardwalk, with an overlook at its center, would span the wetland on the site.
The history of the property will be incorporated into the park with signage. Richards said that he is working with the Abenaki Tribal Council to prepare information about the relationship the Native Americans enjoyed with The Weirs and the site in particular. He said that a resident of the Taylor Community attended Camp Arcadia and has the daily logs from 1933 and 1934, which picture how the girls enjoyed their summers on the site.
Richards and Dunleavy credited former director of Parks and Recreation Director Phil Rowley with the success of the project. "He was with us from the very beginning," said Richards, "in the pipe dream stage." Rowley, he said, regularly urged the city to invest in the development of the park as well as negotiated to develop the park with state officials responsible protecting for its archaeological resources and natural environment.
"We crept forward over the years," Richards recalled, "raised a lot of money." He said that after the parking lot was completed most of the money was raised by parking motorcycles during Bike Week. This year the city complemented the funds raised by the Weirs Community Center and Weirs Action Committee with a $550,000 appropriation to complete the project.
Dunleavy said that the contractor estimates the work can be done in 120 days and "weather permitting we're aiming for Memorial Day."


CAPTION: Celebrating the start of work on the Weirs Community Park yesterday were, left to right, Nick Sceggell of Dubois & King, Inc., Amy Lovisek, deputy director of Parks and Recreation, Casey Crane, president of Broadview Construction Corporation, City Councilor Ava Doyle (Ward 1), Don Richards of the Weirs Community Center, Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks and Recreation, and Luke Powell, assistant director of Public Works. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 October 2013 02:55

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