Church's journey to new Lakeport home was one of 'faith, vision & trust'

LACONIA — The Evangelical Baptist Church of Laconia's journey to its newly renovated 28,000 square foot campus in Lakeport was one of ''faith,vision and trust,'' according to David Provan, chairman of the church's building committee.

The journey was symbolically completed on the last Sunday in September with a dedication ceremony at which former Senior Pastor at the church, the Rev. Frank Accardy was one of the featured speakers. Provan credits Accardy with being the inspiration for starting the process which led to the move to the new church.

In a written narrative of the church's building program, Provan wrote that Accardy, who was with the church from 2002 through 2008, understood that the existing 8,300 square foot building, a Veterans Square landmark, limited the church's ability to fulfill its mission and in January 2004 a Needs Assessment Team was formed to evaluate the existing building.

The team was comprised of a mix of members of those who wanted to relocate and who those who favored renovating the Veterans Square church. The team completed its report in September 2005. Shortly thereafter the congregation voted almost unanimously to relocate.

The decision to move was not one which was taken lightly. Listed on the National Historic Register, the white structure so symbolic of early New England churches has been a familiar and beloved landmark in downtown Laconia ever since the construction by the Congregationalists in 1836. At that time, known as the North Church, it stood at the corner of Church and Main streets next to property later occupied by Gale Memorial Library which was built between 1901 and 1903.

Shortly thereafter, the Congregationalists built a new stone church across Pleasant Street and sold the wooden building to the First Christian Church (formerly known as The Peoples Church, now as Evangelical Baptist) which had the structure moved to its current location across from the railroad station.

Selling price of the old church was $1,000 ($600 for the building and $400 for the pipe organ). It cost another $1,999 to move it across the square to the new lot which cost $1,780. Transported on rollers, it went with everything intact. Nor was the building damaged many years later when the 179-foot steeple was destroyed in the 1938 hurricane, falling across the square and landing on the roof of the depot. The first Sunday service in the relocated and refurbished church took place on Jan. 2, 1904.

Provan said that as a result of the work of the Needs Assessment Team, improvements were made to the existing building, including installing a new heating system and a roof. The first capital campaign was launched in 2006 and the congregation of 155 pledged $650,000 toward a new church building.

A Building Team was formed and a potential new site was located in Laconia, but wetlands limited the amount of land which could be used and the decision was made to look for another site.

Pastor Accardy retired shortly after that and the building plan was put on hold until 2010 when the reconstituted Building Team began it efforts anew, concentrating primarily on existing buildings, including the former Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church campus in Lakeport, which closed in August 2010.

The initial purchase price was $1.4 million, which included a worship center, classrooms, gym, an administration building, garage and three parking lots.

As the Building Team continued to negotiate and a second capital campaign raised $360,000 in April 2012, shortly before an agreement was reached to purchase the building for $680,000 in April of 2012.

Provan said that improvements were made shortly after the purchase to replace leaking roofing, and the Building Team worked to produce a vision for the newly acquired property.

When a water line broke in January 2013 in the gym building a group of church members went to work immediately to remove standing water from the floor, which proved to be beyond repair. Using a small bobcat was brought into the gym and used to break up the ruined floor. But the insurance company paid for all the damage to the building and the settlement money was used to replace the wood floor, again thanks to the efforts of volunteers from the church.

The Building Team was also able to save the gym addition with support systems designed by Leon Murray, a structural engineer who is the father-in-law of Pastor Dan Lyle, saving the church $400,000 it would have cost the church to demolish and replace the gym addition. That enabled the church to move worship services from Veterans Square to the gym in November 2013.

Provan wrote that Yasharian Construction was able to complete the first phase of the building program for about $641,000 and that, just as funds in the ''Pay-as-You-Go'' building program were about to run out this past February, the Veterans Square building was sold to the Holy Grail Restaurant, enabling the church complete the necessary work to hold its first service in the new Worship Center on Aug. 10 of this year.
Provan said that the church emerged from the first phase of its $1.4 million building program, which included the purchase of the church, debt-free.

He said that work still remains to be done, and that it will be completed by May of 2015, after which the congregation will live with the facility for several years while identifying future improvements which will need to be made.

CAPTION: cuts slugged church lakeport
The Evangelical Baptist Church has competed the first phase of a $1.4 million building project, which included the $680,000 purchase price, of the former Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church in Lakeport, and is now holding services at its new worship center. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

there's also pix of dedication Sunday taken by Karen Bobotas.

County Home administrator put on paid leave while commission appeals reinstatement verdict

LACONIA — The Belknap County Commission has placed Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue on administrative leave, with pay, pending the outcome of an appeal of the decision last week of the county's personnel committee, consisting of the officers of the Belknap County Convention, to reinstate him after the commission terminated his employment for cause.

Last month, the commission terminated Logue for willful insubordination, lack of cooperation and inability to perform his duties in a timely manner, claiming that he was "untruthful and unreliable'' in dealing with county officials. Logue appealed his termination to the personnel committee, composed of Representatives Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), who chairs the convention, Robert Greemore (R-Meredith), the vice-chairman, and Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton, the clerk. The committee held a day-long public hearing, at which attorney Mark Broth of Drummond Woodsun of Manchester presented the case against Logue and Logue spoke in own defense.

Several days later, the committee voted unanimously to reinstate Logue, after finding his refutation of the charges against him to be "credible and persuasive''.

The decision of the committee was met with disdain by a number of employees of the nursing home, more than 40 of whom signed a petition requesting that Logue not be reinstated.

The commission's first step in the appeal process will be to ask the personnel committee to rehear the case. Should the committee decline to grant a rehearing or reaffirm their original decision, the commission could then appeal for relief to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

In the meantime, Charlotte Flanagan, who served as interim administrator of the nursing home following Logue's termination, returned to the position yesterday.

Hunt for Laconia man ends with very sad news

LACONIA — The search for a 33-year-old local man who went missing on October 8 ended tragically yesterday when police and members of the N.H. Department of Fish and Game found his body in some woods near his home on Mechanic Street.

Police said Kalem Beane's death is not viewed as suspicious.

Beane's family and his friends had just held a candlelight vigil for him in Rotary Park Wednesday night and had spent days trying to locate him. Officials from Fish and Game were brought in Wednesday to assist local police with the search.

An autopsy was scheduled for yesterday.

Lost classmates remembered at new LMS memorial

LACONIA — Parents, teachers, policemen and firefighters gathered yesterday at a quiet, corner of the Laconia Middle School campus, as a fresh breeze stirred the water of Lake Opechee and a bright sun highlighted the colors of autumn foliage, to consecrate what Chris Ennis, the principal, called "a place of reflection and solace " in remembrance of young lives taken too soon.
A polished granite bench inscribed "in memory of our classmates" faces a crescent shaped flower garden bed, graced with four stones, each bearing the name of a student and an accompanying message. Robbie Mills is assured "I will rememeber you." Craig Shumway is "classmate and friend." Jason Charland "still lives in our hearts." And for Lilyanna Johnson "it's always sunny above the clouds."
Ennis said that the memorial will "remain for years to come and help us stay connected to these students" as well as other students of Laconia Middle School lost over the years.
Eric Johnson, then the principal of the middle and now the principal at Woodland Heights Elementary School, confessed he found himself at a loss for words, but instead offered the lines of "A Young Life Cut Short" by an unknown poet. "Do not judge a song by its duration, Nor by the number of its notes," implores the poet. "Judge it by the way it touches and lifts the soul, Sometimes those unfinished are among the most beautiful," the poet counsels, "And when something has enriched your life, And when it's melody lingers on in your heart," the poet asks "Is it unfinished? Or is it endless?"
The memorial was inspired by the tragic death of Lilyanna Johnson at the hands of a reckless driver in April, 2013. Johnson credited Jeff Derynioski, a landscaper, Mark Padula, a contractor, Sunday Dearborn and Deb Williams, together with a host of donors,with the erection of the memorial.


CAPTION: Chris Ennis (left), principal of Laconia Middle School, and Eric Johnson (right), his predecessor who is now principal of Woodland Heights Elementary School, spoke to mark the consecration of a memorial in remembrance of middle school students who lost their lives  before living them to the full. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)