Wolfeboro hosts FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship

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Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), is shown on the left, watching as students participate in a FIRST robotics event. (Courtesy photo)



WOLFEBORO — For the first time, middle and high school robotics teams will compete at state championships in New Hampshire, when students gather Saturday at Kingswood Regional High School for the inaugural New Hampshire FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a robotics challenge conceived by inventor Dean Kamen. Tailored to high school competition, FIRST also branched out to involve younger students.
Tech Challenge is a global program "created to get students excited about science and technology, by offering a unique varsity sport for the mind," according to organizers.
"FIRST has a number of programs for students of different ages, starting from early elementary all the way through high school. This one covers both middle school and high school students," said Frank Grossman, affiliate partner for New Hampshire. Grossman is in charge of coordinating the FIRST Tech Challenge state championships.
In the past, the Tech Challenge students went to Massachusetts, but New Hampshire now has enough teams to host its own championship event, Grossman said.
Twenty robotics teams from middle schools and high schools across New Hampshire will gather at Kingswood Regional High with autonomous and remote-controlled robots that they designed, built and programmed.
In the high school version of FIRST Robotics, three-team alliances compete with 120-pound robots. In the Tech Challenge version, two-team alliances bring robots no larger than 18 inches cubed.

Roughly 50 volunteers joined to oversee the championship.

"Taking this on was basically taking a risk that we could run this whole program and find enough volunteers to pull this off," Grossman said.
Like its high school counterpart, the Tech Challenge emphasizes teamwork and sportsmanship.
"A big, big part of FIRST is a thing called 'gracious professionalism.' You're always competing hard but you want to compete at your best so you're willing to help others," Grossman said.
One of the founders of FIRST, Woodie Flowers, co-chair of the FIRST Executive Advisory Board, will attend the event and speak, according to the schedule. Donald E. Bossi, president of FIRST, also is scheduled to give remarks during opening ceremony, which begins at 10:15 a.m. The official rounds of competition will kick off at 11 a.m.
The Annubles team from Tilton and two teams from Wolfeboro are scheduled to compete.
"It's going to be an amazing event. It's free and open to anyone," Grossman said, encouraging the public to attend.

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Ready to mush!


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Kelley McGrath, of Wonalancet, was the first musher to take to the course of the 88th Laconia World Championship Sled Dog Race, which will continue with racing in both the 3- and 12-dog classes, as well as the open class, through Sunday. (Adam Drapcho/The Laconia Daily Sun)


Many good vantage points for watching sled dog derby


LACONIA — The 88th Laconia World Championship Sled Dog Derby provides many locations to watch the action in the age-old sport, which first came to the Lake City in 1929 and has been an annual fixture since that time.
The first-ever Laconia race that year was won by Norwegian born American musher Leonhard Seppala, who played a pivotal role in the delivery of serum to Nome, Alaska, during a 1925 diphtheria epidemic. He introduced the work dogs used by native Siberians at the time to the American public and the breed came to be known as the Siberian Husky in the English-speaking world.
The Siberians were the dominant breed in sled dog racing until the early 1960s, when they were replaced by so-called village dogs from Alaska, who were faster and stronger than the Siberians and would soon become known ad Alaskan Huskies.
Today virtually all of the teams are made of Alaskan Husky-German short-haired pointer-mix dogs, also known as Eurohounds, which have a lighter coat than the Husky breeds and have tremendous stamina and have been the dominant dogs in sprint races since the early 1990s.
This year's races are being run in memory of Keith F. Bryar II, a two-time derby winner who died last February. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Keith Bryar Sr., who won three titles in the 1960s.
The starting line is located in the field across from the former Laconia State School property on North Main Street, at the intersection of Old North Main Street, which offers excellent viewing, either in the field next to the trail or from North Main Street itself, which is 30 feet higher than the trail and provides an expansive view.
The "open"class teams, which run at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, will be following a trail along Parade Road, crossing the road for a loop through the Laconia Country Club, which has a food tent set up next to the course and provides close-up views of the 13 competitors.
The trail continues next to Paugus Bay at Southdown Shores, then travels up the old Hilliard Road, makes a loop through a former airport at Petal Pushers then across Route 106 down to Meredith Center Road and returning to the start/finish line. Several spectator vantage points can be found along Parade Road.
The open trail will be approximately 16 miles long.
The 6-Dog Classic, which starts at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, will follow a trail through a portion of Southdown to the Laconia Country Club, where the teams will do a 3-mile loop at the golf course and return to the finish line. The 6-Dog trail will be a total of 6 miles.
There will also be a 3-Dog Junior Class running on Saturday and Sunday and a One-Dog Fun Race on Sunday. One-Dog registration begins at approximately 11 a.m. Sunday.An awards ceremony will be held at the Country Cub Sunday at 4 p.m.
Many top Canadian mushers will take part in this year's race, including defending 2015 champion ReJean Therrien. There was no race last year due to the lack of snow.). Other racers include two-time winner Claude Bellerive and Guy Girard, a three-time top three finisher. Local favorites include Vermont musher Doug Butler, who finished fourth in 2015, and Brittany Colbath of Gilford, whose team includes several dogs from her uncle Keith Bryar II's 2015 team.

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Lilly LaFavre, of Tuftonboro, as well as her brother, Tommy, and grandmother, Mary Meleedy, visited with some of the dogs waiting to race on Friday morning. (Adam Drapcho/The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Suspected thief found on Summer Street


LACONIA — A man police spotted walking in the middle on Summer Street around 2 a.m. Friday morning was arrested on two outstanding bench warrants for drug possession and criminal mischief and subsequently charged with receiving stolen property when he was found in possession of a checkbook and debit cards that did not belong to him.

Luis Gonzalez, 22, of 21 West St. in Concord is being held in Belknap County Jail following his arraignment in Belknap County Superior Court on Friday.

According to the police, officers first saw Gonzalez walking near 24 Summer St., but when they turned to investigate he had disappeared. When police circled the block they found him still on Summer Street but near Union Avenue. The officers spoke with Gonzalez who told them his car had run out of gas. But, checking his identity revealed that he was wanted on bench warrants for drug possession and criminal mischief.

When police inventoried Gonzalez's belongings before booking him, they found a checkbook and debit cards which bore the name and address of a Meredith resident. Laconia police contacted Meredith police who interviewed the owner of the checkbook and debit cards, who said they were in a vehicle which was reported stolen on Thursday. Laconia police returned to Summer Street and they found the vehicle in a parking lot at 24 Summer St. near where they first saw Gonzalez. Neighbors told police told police the vehicle was not in the lot at midnight but was parked between then and 1:45 a.m. Meredith police did not immediately charge Gonzalez with stealing the vehicle.

In addition to the most recent charges, Gonzalez has been arrested for theft by unauthorized taking three times, as well as criminal mischief, drug possession and criminal trespass in the past three years.

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