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Pickerel Caught in Sandwich Wins 35th Great Rotary Fishing Derby

MEREDITH — An 11-year-old ice fisherman from Tamworth landed what proved to the be the winning catch in the 35th annual Great Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby and took home the $15,000 prize Sunday afternoon.
Brady King landed his winning 4.25-pound, 25½-inch pickerel around 8:30 Saturday morning in Bear Camp Pond in Sandwich, a shallow 145-acre pond not far from King's home which has an average depth of only nine feet and is located about a half mile from Rte. 25 in East Sandwich.
''That's a pretty big fish for a pond that small, but he's landed other good sized pickerel from there before.'' said his father, Chris King, who was all smiles as he watched Gov. Maggie Hassan congratulate his son, who held up his winning catch for photographers as long as he could before his hands became too cold and asked his father to hold it for a while.
''He held it so tight that it was starting to thaw out from the heat of his hands,'' said his father, a self-employed electrician who was joined at the awards ceremony by his wife, Heidi, and daughter, Kailey, 7.
King said that his son was going to be saving the money to help pay for college.
This marked the second year that a new system has been in place for determining the winner of the derby. Previously the winner was the fisherman who landed the largest tagged rainbow trout from about a half dozen bodies of water where the tagged trout were stocked.
The winner is now determined by a drawing of the names of the 14 fishermen who land the largest of seven different eligible species on Saturday and Sunday.
Second prize of $5,000 went to Mark Smart, a stone mason from Moultonborough, who qualified for the drawing by catching the biggest cusk, a 30-inch, 8.82 pound fish, from ''The Broads'' section of Lake Winnipesaukee on Saturday.
A cusk, which are actually relatives of cod and reputed to be among the best fish for making chowder, was also the qualifying fish for the third-place winner, Skyler Sherman of Manchester, who won $3,000 with his 31-inch, 8.88-pound cusk landed from Lake Winnipesaukee Sunday.
The biggest fish in the derby was landed by John D'Agata of Gilford, a 31 1/2 inch, 10.72 pound lake trout that he caught Saturday. He fished all weekend with his daughter, Madeline, 8, who landed the fourth-place lake trout on Saturday,which measured 29 inches long and weighed 7.35 pounds.
The D'Agatas took home $850 for their efforts and also caught 10 cusk over the weekend.
Derby Chairman Betsy Donovan said that the event was well-attended and that ticket sales prior to the weekend topped 2,000 for the first time in six or seven years. The final unofficial tally for ticket sales as of Sunday afternoon was 5,358, about 1,000 more than last year.
''We had good weather and a real nice turnout,'' said Donovan, who will be handing over the chairmanship to Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin for next year's derby.
''It was a really good weekend. Coupled with last weekend's big turnout for the Pond Hockey Tournament it's been a couple of good weeks for businesses in Meredith and the surrounding area,'' said Selectman Peter Brothers, who was working at Derby headquarters over the weekend.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 12:34

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Lawmakers taking dead aim at county wage & benefit increases

LACONIA — Belknap County workers will feel the brunt of cuts being considered by the Belknap County Convention to the proposed 2014 budget, which will see a decrease of $732,855 from the $26.57 million budget proposed by county commissioners if the budget currently under consideration by the convention is adopted.
The budget currently being considered would reduce the total amount to be raised by taxes from $14,445,359 to $13,712, 804, a decrease of 1.3 percent from the $13,889,467 raised last year,.
Once the $533,000 no longer contained in the budget as a result of the county no longer funding Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid, the net change in the proposed budget is 2.7 percent above last year.
The cuts under consideration include a commission-proposed 1.6 percent cost of living pay increase as well as 3 percent "step" increases for eligible employees as well as reductions in health insurance, longevity and retirement benefits, the last three of which are viewed by the commissioners as contractual obligations.
The convention tackled the budget for the second straight day yesterday afternoon at the Belknap County complex in another marathon session which saw sometimes heated discussion over issues of who controls the line items in the county budget and whether or not the county should hire three additional corrections officers at the county jail.
The corrections officer proposal, which would have added about $120,000 in wages and benefits to the Corrections Department budget for an additional community corrections officer and two additional corrections officers was hailed as a ''complete package'' by Rep, Frank Tilton (R-Laconia), who pressed county commissioners to agree to support the proposal which had the support of many of the more fiscally conservative members of the convention for its potential in allowing more prisoners to be released into community programs.
But Commission Chairman John Thomas (R-Belmont) and fellow commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia), pointed out that they would first have to find $82,000 within the Corrections Department budget to make up for cuts in benefits and wages that the convention was considering.
The commissioners said they would either be left in the position of not bringing on the new prison employees or having to reduce the benefits they are contractually guaranteed to provide, resulting in a lawsuit that the county would be certain t lose.
Rep. Ruth Gulick (D-New Hampton) moved that the convention adopt the budget as proposed by the commissioners and add the funds to hire the three new guards but that motion was defeated 14-3.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 02:24

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A middle section of Union Avenue slated for reconstruction this year

LACONIA — The stretch of Union Avenue between Gilford Avenue and Messer Street is scheduled to be reclaimed, reconstructed and repaved in two phases this years.

The project will include the replacement of the water main as well as sections of the natural gas, storm drainage and sanitary sewer piping. In addition, the sidewalks will be rebuilt on both sides of the roadway, which itself will be lined with granite curbing.

The project will be undertaken in two phases the first beginning in April and ending before Memorial Day and the second starting after the July 4th holiday and expected to be completed in October.

The Department of Public Works, Water Department and Liberties Utilities, which operates the natural gas service, plan extensive communication with all abutters and traffic control measures will be taken.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 01:34

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Auditing firm gives City of Laconia high marks

LACONIA — The city was awarded high marks by Melanson Health & Company, its independent auditors, for both its strong financial position and sound internal controls.

Pat Mohan, who audits nearly two dozen municipalities in New Hampshire and Massachusetts each year, said that Laconia was one of only two not to receive a management letter recommending improvements in the administration of its finances and financial management. "That is a very big deal," he told the City Council last night.

Mohan pointed out that in fiscal year 2013, while revenues fell $63,966 shy of projections, expenditures were $756,155 less than budgeted, a sign of sound management by municipal departments.

Likewise, Mohan said that both the general fund and the two enterprise funds — the water fund and sanitary sewer fund — are "stable and strong." Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3), chairman of the Finance Committee, noted that the ratio of annual debt service to total general fund expenditures of 6.8-percent is the lowest of the past decade. Mohan said that the water fund has minimal debt and the sanitary sewer fund none.

The total fund balance of $6,111,045 represents 11.6-percent of total general fund expenditures.

"These are positive operating results," Mohan said. "Overall the city is definitely strong."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 01:31

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