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City officials talk roads with visiting N.H. transportation commissioner

LACONIA — City officials yesterday told Chris Clement, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT), that improvements to Route 106 in Belmont and Routes 11-B and 11-C were their most immediate priorities when they met at City Hall.

Clement visited the Lakes Region at the invitation of State Senator Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia), who was especially concerned to call his attention to the pothole at the intersection of Route 140 and Main Street in Belmont, which at six feet across and two feet deep (when open) poses a severe hazard to traffic. Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Engler, City Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) and City Manager Scott Myers spoke with Clement about what roads they consider most in need of improvement.

Engler described Route 11-C, best known as Lily Pond Road, as "third world country." He said that the road, which runs north-south for approximately two miles between Route 11 and Route 11-B, serves as the sole access to the Laconia Airport. "Our biggest concern is the airport," he said.

Engler explained that both the road and airport lie in Gilford, but Laconia owns and operates the airport. The city, state and federal governments have made significant investments in the airport, which now has a 5,890 foot runway capable of accommodating jet aircraft flying coast to coast with a full load of fuel. Moreover, Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook recently constructed an access road to the venue from Route 11-C to the north of the airport. Stressing that both the airport and Meadowbrook are significant sources of economic activity in the community and the region, Engler pressed for improvement of the roadway.

Route 11-B or Weirs Road, from its junction with Route 11 to the roundabout at The Weirs, Engler said was also in bad shape. The road provides the primary access to Meadowbrook and carries traffic through Gilford to Weirs Beach and Meredith.

Engler also stressed the importance of improving the stretch of Route 106 between Laconia and Belmont, where the roadway is narrow and its surface is deteriorating. Clement said that this summer Route 106 was paved from the New Hampshire International Speedway south to Concord and moves are afoot to widen the roadway from I-393 in Concord to the speedway. However, he acknowledge there are no plans to address the section of Route 106 north of its intersection with Route 140.

Myers told Clement that the city will request a directional sign to the Lakes Business Park at Exit 11-A (Gilford Avenue) on the Laconia Bypass. Signage, Clement conceded, always raises problem, advising Myers to approach the Engineer for DOT District 3.

Clement said that District 3, which includes the 11 municipalities of Belknap County and 32 municipalities in Merrimack, Grafton and Carroll counties,,has the most mileage of poor roads of the six highway maintenance districts within DOT. He likened the process of rationing DOT's limited resources between projects to "air traffic control." He said that resurfacing and reconstruction projects for 2015 will be scheduled in February or March and suggested Myers "write to me once every couple of weeks between now and then."

Clement said that the four cent increase in the gas tax, which added $33-million to the Highway Trust Fund, has enabled DOT to increase block grants to municipalities and double funding for the state bridge program. Myers said that the receives about $285,000 in the form of a block grant to spend on roads and sidewalks and anticipates an increase of about $20,000.

For the past 14 years, $6.8-million has been allotted annually to the state bridge program, which supplements municipal funding for local bridge repair and replacement. Clement said that with twice the money the pace of bridge improvement will quicken. Myers said that the city is in the queue for funding improvement of the bridge over Durkee Brook on Academy Street in 2020-2021 and will soon join the queue for funding work for the bridge over the mouth of the same stream on Court Street.

Last Updated on Friday, 08 August 2014 12:17

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Governor Hassan celebrates N.H. farming during visit to market in Tilton

TILTON — Governor Maggie Hassan yesterday celebrated New Hampshire Farmer's Market Week, kicked off Eat Local Month and signed legislation establishing the "Granite State Farm to Plate" program at the Tilton Farmer's Market.

"I've tried to get governors to a farmer's market for years," said Joan O'Connor of Henniker, who has founded and managed farmer's markets in Henniker, Concord, Manchester and Tilton for more than a decade. "I tried Shaheen, Benson and Lynch, but Hassan is the first."

The governor arrived to the strains of the Grateful Dead classic "Friend of the Devil," played and sung by Doc Rogers and Liz Krantz with special lyrics written for Her Excellency (". . . took my $20 bill and vanished in the air.")

Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture Lorraine Merrill noted that there are more than 100 farmer's markets scattered across the state, more than 70 operating in the summer and another 30 in the winter. Moreover, she said that since last year sales have doubled or tripled and not simply because of what she called the "Market Basket" effect. Merrill stressed that more and more people were appreciating the nutritional value and delicious taste of fresh, locally grown produce.

Hassan struck the same chord in signing legislation declaring that the encouragement and support of local food production, processing and distribution is the policy of the state and requiring local governments to weigh this policy when adopting or enforcing local ordinances. The governor said that the bill would ensure a supply of fresh food throughout the year as well as encourage the the preservation of open spaces. She noted that between 2007 and 2012 the area devoted to farming in the state grew by more than 2,000 acres.

John Carroll of the Department of Natural Resources at the University of New Hampshire, who contributed to the legislation, likened the bill to a master plan, which guides policy and conduct rather than imposes regulations and prescribes behavior. "It removes obstacles to farming by declaring it is state policy to encourage and support food production and processing."

Carroll said that since the proliferation of farmer's markets during the past decade, local output has risen from 4 percent or  5 percent of the food consumed to 8 percent or 9 percent, or from a quarter to near a half the shares produced in Vermont and Maine. He said that New Hampshire's population and affluence represented sufficient demand to spur increasing farm output.

Merrill described the emergence of farmer's market as a "renaissance." Herself a farmer from Stratham, she said that because the costs of production for New Hampshire farmers is relatively high, there are limited opportunities to produce for wholesale markets. Instead, at farmer's markets farmers establish close and direct relationships with consumers, enabling them to tailor production to demand, while their output commands premium prices in a retail market. As an example, Merrill pointed to locally raised and butchered meat, which before farmer's markets had all virtually disappeared, but has since has grown in popularity.

For her contributions to the success of farmer's markets, O'Connor was honored by the United States Department of Agriculture. Jay Phinizy of Acworth, executive director of Farm Service Agency in Concord, presented her with a certificate of appreciation for her years of generous service.

CAPTION: Joining Governor Maggie Hassan to celebrate New Hampshire Farmer's Market Week at the Tilton Farmer's Market yesterday were, from left, State Senator Martha Fuller-Clark of Portsmouth, prime sponsor of legislation to promote farming, Jay Phinizy of the United States Department of Agriculture, Hassan, Joan O'Connor, the doyenne of farmer's markets , Senator John Reagan of Deerfield, and Representative Tara Sad of Walpole, who chairs the Environment and Agriculture Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Last Updated on Friday, 08 August 2014 11:58

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WEEKEND: Lobster Pound has become year-round business


LACONIA — The Lobster Pound Restaurant, now in its seventh year under the ownership of the Ray family, has
become a busy year-round restaurant since a major building project the family undertook, starting in 2007, which transformed a former seasonal restaurant seating about 150 people into a 400 seat double-decked restaurant which on a busy night serves as many as 600 customers.

Richard Ray, who runs the business along with his dad, Richard Ray Sr., and his brother, all of whom live in the Weirs Beach area, says his family ran restaurants in Boston's North End for years before taking on the challenge of rebuilding the Lobster Pound.

''We were looking for a new challenge. We'd been coming to Bike Week in Laconia for a number of years and and thought this was a promising site that had real potential,'' says Ray, whose family had run an Italian restaurant and a barbecue restaurant in Boston.

''We wanted to stress seafood and Italian cuisine, but do that in a high volume setting; and over the years we've built a good local following which allows us to stay open year-round,'' says Ray. He says that he has a dozen year-round employees, but during the busy summer months has a full-time staff of 60.
''We like being involved in the community, so we host a number of events, like a Chili Cookoff which benefits the New Hampshire Humane Society and the Lakes Region Rotary Club Car Show and Brenda's Ride to beat Cancer.'' notes Ray.

The Lobster Pound's large parking lot is one of the busiest spots in The Weirs during Bike Week, with over 90 vendors. It also hosts other car shows, including the annual Smokin' Stangs Mustang show, the All or Northing Custom Car Show, and an annual gathering of the Granite State RV Club.
It was also busy last weekend for the NH Lakes Association's Raft-a-Palooza event.
Live entertainment is offered on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons on the Roof Deck.
The Lobster Pound occupies a location which has long been a home to restaurants, including a seasonal Howard Johnson Restaurant which was opened by Charles and Avis Baroody around 1950.
The first Howard Johnson in Laconia was located at McIntyre Circle and was opened as a Dutchland Farm Restaurant in 1934. In 1938 it became part of the Howard Johnson chain. In the late 1940s, HJ moved to Weirs Beach, constructing a new neo-Colonial style building to house the relocated restaurant.
Open only from May to October, the Baroodys operated the restaurant while living in the cabins on the back of the lot. In an agreement made with the owner of the Weirs Beach Drive-In, the Baroodys had a perfect view, complete with a speaker, of the the Drive-In screen from the porch of their cabin.
Avis Baroody turned ownership of the restaurant over to her daughter and son-in-law, Carol and Earl (Skip) MacLean in the early 1970s. The MacLeans expanded the restaurant, attaching an old railroad station from the defunct Steam Village in nearby Gilford which became known as the Gandy Dancer Saloon. By this time the restaurant was no longer affiliated with Howard Johnson. 1973 saw the addition of the Lobster Pound where Skip designed and installed a barbecue pit and an ingenious steamer to cook lobsters.

The MacLeans sold the restaurant to Lou Gaynor and Harvey Chernin in 1984. On Oct. 7 of that same year, a fire destroyed the restaurant and saloon, leaving only the Lobster Pound which was a screened-in, stone floor structure. Gaynor and Chernin built a new building attached to the Lobster Pound in time for the 1985 summer season which saw the conception of Bike Week vendor space on the property.They operated the business for over 20 years before selling it to the Ray family.

Ray says that it has been a struggle to remain open year-round but a number of promotions, like half off Monday and Beer & Burger nights have drawn attention to the restaurant.

''It's a little hard to believe that people still don't know we're open year-round. I've had more local people tell me that they didn't know we were open in the winter until I told them. We're hoping that they'll pick up on that and come and see us when there's snow on the ground,'' says Ray.


Last Updated on Friday, 08 August 2014 09:04

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WEEKEND: 24 Scupltures in Meredith: Step By Step

MEREDITH — Like a strand of jewels, two dozen original works of sculpture line the streets and dot the parks of downtown Meredith, offering residents and visitors of all ages a rich mix of public art that invites a range of responses from thoughtful contemplation to playful whimsy.

The Sculpture Walk began in 2012 when the Design Committee of the Greater Meredith Program set its sights on the littered asphalt walkway that connects Main Street with Mill Falls Marketplace. With a rock, whose silhouette matches the state's borders, and "Spirit's Daughter," a tribute to Lake Winnipesaukee in steel and copper by local artist Steven Hayden, along with paving and landscaping, an eyesore became The Courtyard.

The success of The Courtyard inspired Bev Lapham of the Design Committee and his wife, Liz, executive director of the Greater Meredith Program, to turn the downtown into a gallery. Some 250 sculptors from across New England were invited to offer their work, and 24 pieces fashioned by 17 different artists, including five from New Hampshire, were selected by the jury to be displayed throughout the town.

A brochure, featuring a walking map, photographs of the sculptures and directory of the artists, is available at several locations, including the entrance to Hesky Park, the Town Hall and Meredith Library. Rusty McLear of Hampshire Hospitality Holdings, said the staff at the inns, restaurants and shops have distributed "maps in the hundreds to both locals and tourists" over the weekend.

The tour begins near the foot of Main Street with "Interrupted Scream," by John Weidman of Brookline, a work in stainless steel inspired by "Calling," a piece he made in Czechoslovakia in 1991. The rising flare of the scream, reminiscent of "Calling," is broken by a geometric cube which, to Weidman, represents the frustrations of daily living being interrupted by even more pressing circumstances. His "Enigmatic Dream," just past The Courtyard, a tall piece of weathered steel with two keyhole motifs, one solid above and one empty below, speaks to the illusory, ephemeral character of dreams.

With "View from Above," an eagle in flight carved from stone by Joseph Gray of Pittsfield, the walk returned to The Courtyard where it began. There Gray's stonework is paired with "Meditation Bell and Arch," with "White" at Community Park and "Column with Circle" at Mill Falls Marketplace one of three works in stoneware clay along the walk by Larry Elardo of Groveland, Mass. The natural brown of the clay, high in iron, is infused with color while everyday objects, from cutlery to buttons, are pressed into the surface to lend his work the qualities of a patchwork quilt.

Further along Main Street, a bear cub, carved from wood by Justin Gordon, also of Groveland, Mass., lazily lolls on the railing of the porch of the Grad Building. "Railing Sleeper" ain't going nowhere, since he was made for the particular railing he is mounted on. At the corner of Main Street and Lake Street stands "American Dog," a steel sculpture by Dale Rogers of Haverhill, who said while his profile is "very much of a mutigree" those who admire it match it to their breed of dog. Liz Lapham said that "American Dog" has become the most popular spot for snapshots.

"Turitella," a stand of oak and maple logs on the lawn of the Humiston Building carved by Anne Alexander of Windham, Maine, expresses the artist's passion for exploring the spiritual and physical aspects of the natural world. Liz Lapham said that the site remains to be landscaped, which will enhance the impact of the sculpture.

Hovering above a blanket of flowers in front of the library, "Dragonfly," exhibits the welding skills and artistic eye of Gene Sheehan of Salisbury, Mass., who began with with an 8-foot-long Cod that stood as a weathervane on his front lawn.

Apart from Elardo's "White," there are two other sculptures at Community Park. Jon BonSignore of Redding, Conn., offers "South of the Border in Kyoto," an arrangement of stone, in which mass and balance mix to reflect the mystery of gravity. On the other hand, "Open Water II," swirling arcs of steel, lifts the eye skyward, so much so that Hayden, its sculptor, claims it is best appreciated by lying on one's back beneath it.

Alongside the Historical Society, "Feather," by Jospeh DeRobertis of Danbury, rises from a colorful bed of blossons. Liz Lapham recalled that when the directors were approached about hosting a sculpture they immediately accepted DeRobertis's graceful creation in steel, which speaks the character of the society.

Wisely enough "Snowy Owl" was placed top a rough granite stone outside the bookstore at Mill Falls Marketplace. Josie Dellenbaugh of Glastonbury, Conn., began the piece at a workshop in Colorado, using power tools to shape 100 pounds of white marble from a ghost quarry. Around the corner amid some shrubbery stands "The Buck," cocking a wary eye at the stairway leading to Main Street. George Frost, a retired firefighter from Salisbury, Mass., pieced and welded together a latice of recycled rebar to make the 125 pound deer.

Hesky Park is home to three sculptures. "Advantage," an upturned hand carved from a block of granite with a torch, extends a welcome to visitors. The sculptor, Stephen Green of Lee, explained that the work was his response to a crack in the stone that became the space between two fingers when the hand emerged from the block. "Toe Dancer," BonSignore's second work on the walk, captures what he calls "still motion" in a lithe yet taut figure at the last moment of movement.

Drew Klotz of Weston, Conn., exhibits two pieces of kinetic sculpture, one at either end of Scenic Park. Driven gently and randomly by the wind, both "Nova" and "Eclipse" speak to his effort to harness the wind to his fascination with flight.

The Laphams agreed that the trio of herons stalking the sands at the head of Meredith Bay, crafted by Roger DiTarando of Vernon, Conn., has quickly become a favorite. With cast bronze heads welded to copper bodies and standing on steel legs, measure 52, 36 and 30 inches in height. With a keen appreciation of the subtleties of nature, DiTarando applies technical skill to lend motion to a frozen moment,

David Little, another local artist, partnered with Hayden to create "Black Sailboat," a kinetic sculpture inspired by black and white photographs taken by his great grandfather in the 1920s. Atop an eight foot stand, featuring an anchor chain, the wrought iron vessel with copper sails, hammered to mimic a billowing canvas, responds to the winds from Meredith Bay.

"Red Wing," by Hugh Gibbons of North Falmouth, Mass., is the reinscupted to suggest the union of two into one for his father's wedding. After his father's death Gibbons decided to cast the piece in bronze, using the original as the mold to produce wax castings for the ceramic molds to take the bronze. He added a red patina to the polished nickel to give its title, which recalls Bob Dylan's song, "The Walls of Redwing" about the yearning to escape a Minnesota prison.

The sculptures will be on display throughout the year. There is a directory of the artists in the brochure as well as on the Greater Meredith Program website for those wishing to inquire about commissioning a piece of their own. Meanwhile, the handiwork of these accomplished sculptors belongs to all who wish to enjoy it.


CAPTION: A somewhat larger than life dragonfly, fashioned by Gene Sheehan of Salisbury, Massachusetts, casts a watchful eye over visitors to the Meredith Library on Main Street. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).

CAPTION: Apparently put at ease by a visit to the massage parlor, a bear cub, carved by Justin Gordon of Groveland, Massachusetts, snoozes on the porch, oblivious to the traffic on Main Street. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).  

Last Updated on Friday, 08 August 2014 09:03

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