Laconia Police training at Woodland Heights School on Saturday

LACONIA — Police will be simulating an active shooter incident in Woodland Heights Elementary School at 8 a.m. Saturday.

“We appreciate the patience and cooperation we anticipate from the residents in that area as traffic will be impacted for at least two hours, particularly on Winter, Stephen and Highland streets,” the police department said in a news release.

The state-funded training is designed to test the abilities of police, firefighters, Lakes Region General Hospital and the Laconia School District.

  • Written by Rick Green
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Meredith Center church seeks help in repairing steeple

MEREDITH — The weathered steeple of the Meredith Center Free Will Baptist Church needs more than the simple painting job the congregation was expecting. In preparing for the work, they found rot that extended to the timbers inside.
“We originally wanted to paint the spire,” said Senior Deacon Don Kimball, “but when we climbed up and found snow inside the steeple, we knew it was more serious.”
After inviting several companies to look at the steeple, the church hired Limerick Steeplejacks of Maine to “replace what needed to be replaced” and install new rubberized roofing, Kimball said.
The estimated cost of the work is $30,000, but Limerick owner Doug Sanborn said the cost could be higher, based on what they find inside.
To help cover the cost, the church has initiated a fundraising campaign, and already has reached about the halfway mark. It is continuing to seek donations and plans to hold a fundraising dinner at the Wicwas Lake Grange on Oct. 21.
Meanwhile, the work crew arrived on Thursday to begin pulling off the trim of the steeple and seeing what lies beneath. They found a significant amount of rotten wood, which Kimball was hoping would not extend to the rafters or bell supports.
He noted that some congregations have arrived at church to find that their steeple bell had given way and plunged all the way into the basement.
“We stopped using our bell a couple of months ago, as a precaution,” he said.
The steeple, which reaches about 90 feet into the air and is topped by a finial that once may have held a weathervane, was erected in 1859, when the church building had been standing for 28 years. Damaged by heavy winds in 1948, the steeple underwent some repairs, with the base being rebuilt in 1980. But, as with most church steeples, it was largely ignored.
“It’s not unusual for people to look up and admire a steeple without ever going up to inspect it,” said Sanborn, whose company repairs steeples throughout New England. Limerick Steeplejacks recently did work at the South Baptist Church in Laconia, as well as working on cupolas on Laconia’s mills.
For Sanborn, it is a family affair. His father formed the business in 1974 after having worked for the Boston Chimney and Tower Company for many years. His daughter, Sarah, was accompanying him on Thursday, along with other company workers, John, Richard, and Duane.
Kimball said Limerick has a history of working with the church, leading to their selection for the present job.
The church, originally known as the Second Freewill Baptist of Christ, has a congregation of about 35, according to Kimball, who said the population has risen and fallen over the years. It had declined to about half that number, but is on the rise again, thanks in part to Rev. Jeff Laliberte, who recently took over as pastor, and his wife, Roberta.
The church remains open during the steeple repairs, with services on Sundays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

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Don Kimball holds a sign appealing for donations to support repairs to the 158-year-old steeple of the Meredith Center Free Will Baptist Church. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)

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The steeple of the Meredith Center Free Will Baptist Church is in need of significant repairs, and the congregation is conducting fundraising activities to help pay for the work. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
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First-ever TennisGolf Tournament is Saturday at Tavern 27

LACONIA – Does teeing off on a golf course by under-handing a tennis ball from the tee with a racquet and then trying to hole out by putting with the same racquet sound a little strange? Should the perfect shot be called a hole in one or an ace?
The answer to those questions will be revealed this Saturday as teams of four players each compete in the inaugural White on Jade TennisGolf Tournament at the nine-hole Mystic Meadows golf course next to Tavern 27 on Parade Road.
“It's the world's first tennis-golf tournament,” said Lakes Region Tennis Association tennis instructor Kamal Gosine, who has been active along with association president Robert Ronstadt in trying to bring a tennis program back to Laconia High School.
“It's a fun thing to do. I think people will really enjoy it,” said Gosine. He thinks it will be so popular that it will become an annual event.
There was some discussion of enlarging the holes at Jade Trace course so that they could accommodate the tennis balls, which are larger in diameter than golf balls, but it was decided to leave the flag poles in the holes and count the ball as being "in" when it hits the flag pole.
“I'm hoping we get a big turnout,” said Ray Simanson of Tavern 27, who said that all proceeds from the event will go to the Advantage Kids program run by the tennis association, which over the last several years has introduced the sport to many younger players through free tennis programs in Laconia, Franklin, Gilford, Meredith and Tilton.
As a pilot program last year the association tested the opportunity to run tennis programs in all of the Boys and Girls Club organizations in New Hampshire. Geared to ages 5 to 12, Gosine coached players and provided instruction.
"Each day that went on, we had more and more kids join in," he said.
Ronstadt described the LRTA, which is accredited as a "community tennis association" by the United States Tennis Association, as a "facilitating organization" that provides qualified coaches, with experience and success teaching tennis to young players and imparting a lasting enthusiasm for the game. "We teach tennis etiquette as well as the basics of the game," he said. "We're teaching tennis differently," he explained, likening the approach to Little League baseball. "We use smaller courts, smaller racquets and low compression balls for the younger players."
Registration for Saturday's tournament starts at 7 a.m. with play getting underway at 8 a.m. with a shotgun start. The tournament will have a best ball format with prizes awarded to the top three finishers.
A continental breakfast will be available for players and there will be a barbecue at the awards ceremony following the tournament.
To register or for more information contact Leslie Lovely at 293-5787.


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Robert Ronstadt, president of the Lakes Region Tennis Association; Kamal Gosine, tennis instructor; Leslie Lovely, operations manager for the association, and Ray Simanson of Tavern 27 at the Mystic Meadows, practice putting with their tennis racquets for the first ever TennisGolf charity fundraiser which will be held Saturday at the nine-hole Jade Trace course at Mystic Meadows in Laconia. (Roger Amsden/Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Written by Roger Amsden
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