Weapons & heroin charges filed against New Hampton man

NEW HAMPTON — A man who lives on Rte. 132 faces two counts of being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon and one count of heroin possession after a visit from his parole officer on Friday afternoon.

An affidavit submitted by New Hampton Police to the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division says police were called to Thomas Drake's home by his parole officer who was checking up on him and found he had concealed a knife around his ankle.

Police said when Drake's pant leg was raised, they found a 4-inch bladed knife in a sheath with the handle was entirely covered in black duct tape.

Police also found a folding knife and a butterfly-brass knuckle combination knife but said they were in Drake's room but not on his person.

Drake's probation officers also showed police a portable scale, a pink 1-inch by 1-inch baggie, a second baggie with white powdery residue, a silver spoon, $413 in cash and a TRAC phone.

One of the parole officers transported Drake to the Belknap County House of Correction for a parole violation.

New Hampton Police charged him with the newest criminal charges after Drake admitted he had just shot some heroin.

Drake was convicted in 2011 of four counts of simple assault, witness tampering, criminal threatening, and criminal mischief. Since 2011, an employee of the N.H. superior court call system said he has had two violations, not counting the ones this past weekend.

He was ordered held on $2,000 cash-only bail.

Last details being worked out for route of Phase2 of Laconia's WOW Trail

LACONIA — Almost five years after Phase 1 of the WOW Trail was opened, recreation trail officials have started the permitting process for Phase 2.
"There are many design challenges when building a path alongside the active railroad track," said WOW Trail Executive Director Gretchen Gandini, "We thank the community for their support and patience in this process and are more than thrilled to finally be so close to putting the project out for bid."
The WOW Trail is a rail-with-trail built alongside the active railroad track within the State of New Hampshire-owned railroad right-of-way. Presently 1.3 miles long, the WOW Trail spans from Elm Street in Lakeport to North Main Street at the Public Library.

Phase 2 will extend the Trail another 1.1 miles from North Main Street to the Belmont town line.
Fundraising to pay for Phase 2 and future development of the WOW Trail is ongoing. For more information on how you can help, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 520-8952.
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.

CAPTION: City, State and WOW Trail representatives met in Laconia on Friday to discuss Phase 2 design plans.

Building a business from bean one

LACONIA — "It's easy to grow from nothing," remarked Brad Fitizgerald, who began Woodshed Roasting Company in 2010 with a one-pound roasting machine and after expanding sales by 25 percent or more annually is now roasting, packaging and delivering 700 pounds of coffee beans a week.

"I'm not going to go out and become the next Green Mountain," Fitzgerald cautioned, referring to what began as a roasting operation in a small cafe in Waitsfield, Vermont in 1981 and became Keurig Green Mountain, which last year sold a 10 percent stake to the Coca Cola Company for $1.25billion, "but, business is good."

While still operating the local plumbing and heating business he began in 1984 and closed last year, Fitzgerald, with his small roaster, began by selling a handful of specialty coffees in farmers markets, but soon was vying for shelf space in supermarkets and offering his product to restuarants.

"I knocked on the doors and asked to see the manager," Fitzgerald said of his odyssey through the corporate hierarchy of the supermarket chains. "I got the name of a guy and the name of another guy and climbed the ladder till I got to the right guy," he said. "It's quite an involved process," he continued, explaining that corporate management must qualify the product, packaging and labeling. After eight months, he secured space at Hannaford, which stocks his coffees at 34 stores, and also secured space from Associated Grocers of Pembroke, which operates Vista Foods and Harvest Markets in new Hampshire. Fitzgerald said that he also qualified with Shaw's, but withdrew his coffees from that company's shelves when they failed to sell at the price Shaw's set.

Describing the business as a "wholesale roaster", Fitzgerald said that groceries and restaurants represent more than 60-percent of sales with single serving cups — "K cups" — accounting for most of the rest. Coffees are also sold on-line, at some farmer's markets and at the store at 116 Hounsell Avenue in the Lakes Business Park. "Only three or four percent of our business is retail sales," Fitzgerald said, adding that to promote the Woodshed brand and encourage retail trade he will be hosting an open house at company headquarters in May.

Woodshed Roasting Company offers more than a dozen single origin coffees, grown at a specific location or within a particular country, some of which are estate coffees, harvested on an individual farm. All are certified organic as well as certified Rainforest Alliance or certified Fair Trade coffees, which provide an optimal return to the grower. Currently the inventory includes coffees from Columbia, Tanzania, Peru, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Sumatra and Papua New Guinea. In addition, There are also seven blends, including "Fat Tire," which celebrates Laconia Motorcycle Week, and Pink Ribbon, which supports the New Hampshire Breast Cancer Coalition.

Fitzgerald said that the market for specialty coffees is growing in New England and along with it an interest in buying from local producers.

"The sky's the limit," he said while conceding the market is very competitive. In the supermarkets, he said, there may be 15 or more brands of coffee on the shelf, products from other small roasters among them. Likewise, he noted there is stiff competition for the restaurant trade. "people don't want to pay for coffee," he said while explaining restaurants can purchase premium coffee wholesale and offer their patrons a quality product for what he calculated "boils down to pennies a cup more".

With three coffee roasters, two filling and weighing machines and a machine solely for filling and sealing K-cups, Fitzgerald and his two employees, have capacity to produce a ton of packaged coffee a week, almost three times current output. "We've been growing " he observed, "but at some point we'll reach a plateau. Then we'll have to look at going into Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts. But, I'm not looking to become Green Mountain," he repeated. "I want to keep it small and family owned."


CAPTION: Brad Fitzgerald, founder of the Woodshed Roasting Company, with the San Franciscan Coffee Roaster, one of three with which the firm produces 700 pounds of specialty, organic coffees a week for grocery stores and restaurants throughout the state. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)