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'Buddy Benches' dedicated in Lily Johnson's memory

LACONIA — Two Buddy Benches were dedicated in memory Lily Johnson at Woodland Heights Elementary School Monday afternoon in a ceremony in which purple and blue, Lily's favorite colors, were prominently displayed and her favorite phrase, ''It's always sunny above the clouds,'' was fondly recalled.
Johnson was 14 years old when she died from injuries suffered after being hit by a car while walking on the Messer Street Bridge on April 19, 2013. At the time of her death she was a student at Laconia Middle School. But before going to Laconia Middle she attended Woodland Heights.
Michelle Plourde, whose husband, David, built the benches, coordinated a project to have a Buddy Bench installed which dovetailed with the efforts of another teacher, Jess Ortolf, who worked with fifth grade student leaders on a similar bench project.
''It was the perfect merger,'' said Ortolf, who said that school staff wanted to find a way to memorialize Lily and thanked David Plourde for his work on the benches and Boulia-Gorrell Lumber Company for donating the cedar wood used to build the benches.

Ortolf had members of the student leaders group lead the assembled students in a Buddy Bench pledge which concluded with the words ''It's cool to be kind,'' a sentiment which Ortolf said Lily embodied in her interaction with other students.

Plourde, technology teacher at the school, said that Lily was the kind of person who was fun to teach and to be around and would have been the first to invite other students to share the bench with her.

Attending the ceremony were Lily's mother, Bethany Davis; Lily's brother, Keegan; and her grandmother, Sue Fleming.

Davis said that the last year has shown her what a compassionate and caring community Laconia is, and thought that the dedication was ''a beautiful ceremony. This is an amazing city.''
Fleming said that Lily would have been pleased to have the Buddy Benches installed in her memory.
''Lily will be sitting next to whoever sits on that bench. Her spirit is there,'' said Fleming.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 12:43

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A view to the Tioga, thanks to combined effort of Belmont High School students & American Legion Post 58

BELMONT — More than dozen members of the senior class at Belmont High School joined members of American Legion's Charles Kilborn Post 58 on the banks above the Tioga River yesterday to open the view from the pavilion, which will be built later this year.

The community service day was the second inspired by Dan Clary, who is completing his first year as principal of the high school. Last year the students cleared an adjacent stretch of riverbank behind the Belmont Mill.

Woody Fogg of the American Legion applauded the partnership. "It gives the kids a sense of ownership," he said, "and builds bridges between the town and the school." He said that the work was undertaken in partnership with the Belmont Village Revitalization Committee.

Fogg said that the more mature pine trees will be left for shade while the riverbank is stripped of its undergrowth to provide a view of the river. Several chainsaws were used to cut the trees into manageable lengths while students, working on a steep incline beneath a warm sun, formed a chain, passing limbs and branches up the slope to the parking lot where staff from the Department of Public Works operated a chipper.

The Tioga pavilion and riverwalk will overlook the river. The project is being made possible by the donation of some 20 acres along the railroad bed by Dick and Betty Persons, which matched a $89,000 grant from the Land and Conservation Fund of the National Park Service.

"This shows what a town can do with a lot of volunteers," said Ken Knowlton.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 12:16

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Laconia Community Center has a new gym floor for the first time in 83 years

LACONIA — "It was much needed and will be well used, said Amy Lovisek, assistant director of parks and recreation, eying the new floor at the Community Center.
Lovisek said that the original birch floor was laid in 1931 when the building, which began life as armory, was constructed. During the past five weeks the playing surface has been replaced with a top-grade maple floor over half-plywood, which features the city's logo in green at center court. The floor is lined for basketball and two pickle ball courts. She said that the floor has five coats of urethane and is scheduled for a sixth coat later this year.
The Parks and Recreation Department began requesting funds to replace the floor in 2005. Lovisek said that the floor had been sanded and refinished five times and had become thin and spongy in places. "There were dead spots where you'd dribble the basketball ball and it would just stop," she explained.
Lovisek said that the project cost approximately $65,000, which was drawn from a reserve fund for the maintenance and repair of municipal facilities.The work was done by O'Sullivan Flooring Inc. of Quincy, Mass.

"It will get lots of use," she continued.

The gymnasium hosts 34 different programs with almost 27,000 participants each year and is in use approximately 64 hours during a normal week. Last weekend, the center began opening on Saturdays, when families are welcome between 10 a.m. and noon, pickle ball players from 1 to 3 p.m. and basketball players from 3 to 5 p.m.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 12:27

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Indicted man called ‘a dealer of significant amounts’

LACONIA — A Belknap County grand jury has indicted a man who split his time between Laconia and Metheun, Mass., for two counts of possession of controlled drugs with intent to distribute.

Roger Perkins Jr., 31, was also indicted for one count of possession of controlled drugs.

Since his arrest on March 25, Perkins has been being held on $100,000 cash-only bail in the Belknap County House of Corrections after a video appearance before Judge Jim Carroll in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division the day after his arrest.

On the day of his arrest, police estimated he had two ounces of cocaine in various forms in his glove box and they described him a "a dealer of significant amounts of illegal drugs in the Laconia area."

After getting a warrant to search him, his car, and his apartment at 23 Gale Ave., police set up a surveillance team and observed him coming into town driving a black Acura MDX with Massachusetts plates.

During the course of the arrest, police found two bags of psilocybin mushrooms, a bag of hashish in the apartment. They also found two handguns, one of which loaded.

Police said the exterior of the apartment building had a video surveillance system for both the inside and the outside that was attached to iPads and televisions throughout the apartment.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 01:39

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