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WEEKEND - Lots of apples still to be picked in Lakes Region orchards

BELMONT — Pick-your-own apple season is in full swing and there's still plenty of varieties available at local orchards, which are experiencing good years despite a predicted drop in New Hampshire's statewide apple harvest from 807,000 bushels last year to only about half that much this year.
''We're having a really good year, better than last year, which was a bumper crop.'' says Wende Richter of Smith's Orchard on Leavitt Hill Road in Belmont.
She and her husband, Rob, view themselves as the caretakers of a long tradition of apple growing at the orchard, which still has many of the original Macintosh and Cortland trees planted by Charlie Smith in 1928, when he was entering his senior year at the University of New Hampshire.
The 15-acre field which was planted by Smith, a long-time Laconia city councilman, had originally been an open pasture across the road from a large farmhouse on Leavitt Road. The farmhouse burned and was replaced by a smaller home the Smith family built.
Over the years Smith hired crews of workers to pick the apples but by the 1950s, when only the reddest fruit was considered acceptable for sale and there was no wholesale market for the rest, Smith made the novel step of opening his orchard to sell directly to the public, becoming what may have been the very first "pick-your-own'' operation in the entire state.
"He told us he made more selling that way than he did on the wholesale market. And it became very popular with people coming here and picking the orchard clean every year," says Rob Richter
The orchard also sells pumpkins, mums, cider, gourds, cornstalks, and home-grown honey and on busy days provides tractor rides in and out of the orchard.
Among those out picking apples this week at Smith Orchard were Dick and Jean Vaillancourt of Dockham Shore Road in Gilford, who have made the trip to the orchard a fall tradition apple and were looking for Macintosh for apple pie making.
''He makes the pies, six at a time,'' said Jean .
Vaillancourt sad that he freezes the pies after he makes them in order to have them around for special occasions. And he uses half white sugar and half brown sugar when making the pies as well as a generous amount of cinnamon.
At the Surowiec Farm on Perley Hill Road in Sanbornton this year's crop is smaller than last year, which was a phenomenal year according to Katie Surowiec, who says that Macintosh, Cortland and Ginger Gold are now being picked.
''We're doing pretty good. It seems like a really good year is generally followed by a smaller crop,'' says Surowiec. The seven acre orchard which her husband Steve planted in the 1980s, also grows Macoun, Gala, Empire and Honey Crisp, but those varieties aren't part of the pick-your-own operation and won't be until the semi-dwarf trees grow a little more.
There are pre-picked apples available in the farms' farm stand, which will be open through November and December this year for the first time and features greens and vegetables grown in the farm's greenhouses throughout the colder months of the year.
At Stonybrook Farm in Gilford the 12-acre apple orchard has about 2,000 trees, mostly Macintosh and Cortland, but also some Ginger Golds, and offers rides in and out of the orchard on weekends.
Other pick your-own operations nearby include Hacklelboro Orchard in Canterbury, which offers a dozen varieties of apples as well as all sorts of pumpkins and gourds; Ledgeview Farm in Loudon with more than 15 varieties, tractor rides into the fields, and freshly-made cider doughnuts on weekends, and Cardigan Mountain Orchard in Alexandria.

Last Updated on Saturday, 20 September 2014 01:00

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County says it has urgent need for fund transfer approvals

LACONIA — The Belknap County Commission requested last night that the Executive Committee of the Belknap County Convention meet as soon as possible to approve some fund transfers it says it needs to keep the nursing home functional.

The problem, said commissioners, is the budget line item for part-time employees will be spent before the end of the week and with the recent Superior Court injunction stopping commissioners from transferring more than $300 from line item to line item, the commission is powerless to fix the problem.

Last night, they gave County Administrator Deb Shackett approval to move some of the part-time employees to temporary full-time status so the nursing home can continue to be staffed.

Shackett said there is money in the full-time employee budget line and the nursing home is in no danger of overspending its budget, however without the Executive Committee's approval, the money cannot be transferred from full to part-time lines.

The commissioners are asking to transfer $30,000 from the full-time RN line, $75,000 from the full-time LPN line, $9,000 from the full-time medication nursing assistant line, and $240,000 from the full-time licensed nursing assistance lines.

Along with $57,676 from a few other nursing home lines, commissioners want to augment the part-time RN line by $95,951, the part-time LPN line by $120,880, the LNA part-time line by $156,103 and the overtime line by $38,742.

Shackett said that because of the temporary status, none of them people who agree to accept full-time status will be paid any benefits.

Commissioners said this is the fourth time they have asked the Executive Committee to meet to make the transfers but to date they have not agreed to meet.

The Executive Committee met on Monday night but the commissioners did not place any transfer requests on the agenda or attend the meeting. In a letter addressed to Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) dated yesterday, the commissioners protested that lawmakers knew (through their attorney) as early as September 4 that neither they nor Shackett would be available to attend a meeting on the 15th. Further, they said, Shackett personally informed Tilton on Sept. 11 that the Sept. 15 meeting date would not work for the commission but there was going to be a pressing need to have a meeting to consider transfer requests in the near future.

Last Updated on Friday, 19 September 2014 12:55

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Laconia airport manager leaving for Florida post

LACONIA — Municipal Airport Manager Diane Cooper Terrill announced her resignation to the Airport Authority last night, Belknap County Commissioner Steve Nedeau (R-Meredith) informed the Belknap County Commission. Nedeau is the the commissions representative on the authority board.

Terrill has accepted a position as one of three managers at the Naples (Florida) Municipal Airport and is leaving Laconia in the middle of October.

Terrill began her career with the Laconia Airport Authority in 1990 when she took a job as a part-time administrative assistant and bookkeeper.

Rising through the ranks, she became the assistant manager in 1996 and was appointed manager in 1999.

Terrill is the president of the Granite State Airport Management Association.

Last Updated on Friday, 19 September 2014 12:47

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Clarification: Strategic Plan Committee will not be using N.H. Listens

In reference to an article published in The Daily Sun on Thursday, the Strategic Plan Committee for the Laconia School District will not be using N.H. Listens for facilitating the community meeting scheduled for October 18 but will be using a local person trained by them as a facilitator. The decision of whether or not to hire a coordinator for developing the plan will made after the community meeting.

Last Updated on Monday, 22 September 2014 11:55

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