Selectmen okay planting of Japanese cherry tree in Hesky Park; approval for display beneath it still in question

MEREDITH — The Board of Selectmen this week approved the planting of a Japanese cherry tree in Hesky Park to To mark the 110th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth on September 5, 1905 which ended the Russo-Japanese War, pending a review of the final design of the memorial.
The Japanese-American Society of New Hampshire has chosen Meredith among other towns to receive a Japanese cherry tree to commemorate the occasion. Miller Lovett, a member of the Design Committee of the Greater Meredith Program told the board that the tree will be a descendant of those that ring the Tidal Basin and line the Potomac River in Washington, which the Japanese government gave to the United States in 1912 in appreciation of its role in hosting the peace conference and assisting the treaty negotiations.
Lovett presented a sketch indicating that the tree would be planted along a path just north of where the spillway from Mill Falls empties into the lake. The tree, projected to reach a height of 30 feet with a canopy 30 feet around, would be the centerpiece of a small flagstone patio with two rocks, one either side of the tree serving as resting places. An inscribed granite marker explaining the purpose of the memorial would be embedded in the patio.
Lovett told the board that a ceremony dedicating the memorial is scheduled to be held on September 5, which will feature the ringing of church bells marking the day and hour the treaty was signed.
Selectman Michael Pelczar said that while he liked the design of the memorial very much, he thought that the Selectboard should make it clear that it was not setting a precedent that would entitle other organizations to place monuments in the park.
Noting that "quite a large memorial" was proposed, Karen Sticht said "I believe you are setting a precedent" and asked will you be voting? When Nate Torr, the chairman of the board replied "we're still in the process", she countered "it sounds like a done deal."
Selectman Ray Moritz said that when the proposal was first presented on July 6, the board asked for more information, which it has received. "We've had two discussions," he said.
Lovett reminded the board that plans to install the memorial have been set, the ceremony has been scheduled and "we're going with publicity in a week. We're between a rock and a hard place," he remarked.
Without taking a formal vote, the board expressed its unanimous approval of the project, but specified that a final plan, specifying the measurements of the patio and the two stones, be presented to the next meeting of the board on August 17.
Meredith has a unique connection to the Treaty of Portsmouth in the person of Komura Jutaro, the Japanese foreign minister who led his country's delegation in the negotiations. The son of a samurai family, Komura mastered English as a schoolboy and was the most gifted student of his time at the "Kaisei Gakko", which later became Tokyo University. As a student he persuaded the government to establish a scholarship program to enable students to study abroad and in 1875 was among the first group of 10 to come to America, where he enrolled at Harvard Law School.
During his three years of law school, Komura, who had always tended his uncle's farm during the growing season, did the same in Meredith, working on a farm that Lovett said has yet to be identified. Returning to Japan, Komura joined the foreign service, serving in China and Korea before being named ambassador to the United States in 1898 and foreign minister in 1901.
After the Treaty of Portsmouth was concluded, Komura bequeathed $10,000 to the state of New Hampshire to be put to charitable purposes. The Japanese Charitable Fund remains an active charity to this day.

Edward Jones moves Laconia office into completely renovated Union Square building

LACONIA — Twenty-three years ago, when Edward Jones, the financial services firm, moved its office from Union Square to downtown, Priscilla Kaiser, the office manager, went with it and this summer, when the firm returned to Union Square, she returned with it.

"I've gone full circle," she remarked.

Explaining the odyssey, financial advisor Ben Wilson said that last year, as the business began outgrowing its space at 588 Main Street, he began scouting around the city for new digs. He recalled that after looking at half a dozen offices and only to reject them all he found himself enjoying an ice cream cone at the Happy Cow on Union Avenue. Across the street at Union Square, he noticed an empty Victorian duplex with peeling paint and frayed shingles.

"It was really in bad shape," Wilson said. The front door led directly two staircases, each serving a separate two-story unit. "The space was unusable," he remarked," and the building had been flooded."

Nevertheless, Wilson and building owner David Livingston reached an agreement and the building was thoroughly renovated. "It was a total gut job," Wilson said, "inside and out." A winding path, which Wilson said a friend has dubbed "the yellow brick road", provides handicapped access from Union Avenue to a newly constructed side entrance leading to a foyer graced with artwork. The porch facing Union Avenue, once struck by a wayward automobile, will no longer serve as an entrance but instead will be landscaped. Edward Jones occupies the ground floor, which includes a reception area, three corner offices, a conference room and a kitchenette. While a separate entrance and staircase to the second floor was added to the building, for the moment the space is vacant.

"I had some trepidation about leaving downtown," Wilson confessed, "but we doubled our space and got access to plenty of parking. And we restored an old Victorian building and contributed to revitalizing Union Square."

Edward Jones, founded in 1922 and headquartered in Missouri, is a unique financial services firm catering primarily to individual investors and small business owners. Offices are staffed by less than a handful of people, generally with only one financial advisor, who is a licensed broker, and located in communities where large operations would not be profitable. Wilson said that while he will continue to serve the Laconia market he expects two of his associates to open offices in Gilford and Belmont in the near future. "We work as individuals with the backing of a nationwide firm," Wilson said.

Meanwhile, Kaiser, who was busy seeking to position a houseplant, said that she was pleased to return to Union Square, especially in her new surroundings.

CAPTION: Financial advisor Ben Wilson of Edward Jones is proud of his firm's new quarters at Union Square, renovated in cooperation with its owner David Livingston, which offers a fresh face on to Union Avenue. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Mayor & all 6 councilors appear to be running for re-election

LACONIA — Five of the six incumbent city councilors — Ava Doyle (Ward 1), Henry Lipman (Ward 3), Brenda Baer (Ward 4), Bob Hamel (Ward 5) and Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) — this week confirmed that they intend to seek re-election while David Bownes (Ward 2) said that he will "probably" seek another another term.

Mayor Ed Engler, who was first elected in 2013, said that he will run for a second term.

The filing period for the November municipal election will open at the City Clerk's Office on Wednesday morning and close on Friday, August 14 at 4:30 p.m. A primary election will be held on September 8 only in instances where more than two candidates filed for the same position.

Four of the six City Council incumbents have served for a decade or more. Lipman, Baer and Hamel were first elected in 2005 and have each served five terms. Bolduc, who is serving his 15th term, when asked if he will run again, replied "I'll walk". Doyle, who was first appointed to complete the unexpired term of Greg Knytych in 2010, has twice been elected to the council and will be running for her third full term. Bownes, who served on the council in the 1990s, was elected again in 2013.

Four of the seven seats on the School Board, where members serve staggered terms, are on the ballot this year. Three of the four incumbents are seeking re-election. Malcolm Murray, who has served two terms in Ward 1, will run for what he said would be his last term. In Ward 2, Barbara Luther, who was appointed to complete the unexpired term of Beth Arsenault, will seek election to the seat. And Michael Persson will bid for a second term as the at-large member of the board.

Joe Cormier, who has represented Ward 6 for four terms and chaired the board for the past four years, said that he will not seek another term.