Commissioners: Delegation’s past actions ‘baked in’ budget spike


LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners say many of the increases in this year’s proposed $29,055,233 budget are already “baked in the cake” by previous actions of the Belknap County Delegation.

The budget increases spending by $1.3 million, a 4.7 percent increase, but county taxes are estimated to rise by $4.3 million, an increase of 33.68 percent, because there is less money a fund that could be tapped to reduce taxation.

In a letter to the editor published in Wednesday’s Laconia Daily Sun, commissioners say that the virtual depletion of the county’s fund balance automatically created a $2.2 million tax increase for 2018.

Commissioners also maintained that the increase in spending is created by a few significant items:

The delegation approved a new Community Corrections Center, which will now operate for its first full year. Including personnel and operational costs, the center will add $450,000 to county expenses.

The delegation-approved contracts with the four collective bargaining units, representing county employees, account for contractual obligations of about $700,000.

The county will now have to pay a full year of the New Hampshire Retirement System’s rate increase from last summer, which was set by the state legislature, adding an estimated $94,000.

The lack of money in the fund balance is estimated to increase borrowing costs by $144,000.

The legislature also increased the required payment to the state Department of Health and Human Services, accounting for a $194,000 increase.

Commissioners say that maintenance projects add $178,000, bringing total added costs to

$1,760,000, which, along with the $2.2 million no longer available from the fund balance, accounts for almost all of the tax increase.

Commissioners decided against using any money from the depleted county fund balance, which is projected to amount to only $770,000 at the close of the current fiscal year. The delegation had approved using $2.2 million from the fund balance to reduce taxes this year.

The proposed $29,055,233 budget will be the subject of a  public hearing by the delegation on Friday, Dec. 8, at 6 p.m. at the Belknap County complex.

The delegation will begin its budget deliberations on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. and has scheduled additional meetings for Dec. 13 and Dec. 18, also at 7 p.m.

The fund balance, which stood at $6.991 million in 2006 and peaked at $8.234 million in 2011, has been dropping ever since. As of Jan. 1, 2017, it was $3.17 million and had been projected earlier this year to drop to $984,826 by the end of the year.

Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that commissioners have done everything they can to hold the line on tax increases, but the fund balance has shrunk to the point that it won’t be able to shield residents from either a jump in property tax rates or a reduction of services.


Annie's Cafe has new, larger location

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Annie Bridgeman cuts a ribbon with assistance from her catering and operations director Lisa Delampan to mark the new location of Annie’s Cafe and Catering, 138 Gilford Ave., as local business and community leaders watch ceremony. (Rick Green/Laconia Daily Sun)


LACONIA — Annie's Cafe and Catering, which operated for eight years at 585 Union Ave., has moved to a new, larger location at 138 Gilford Ave.

On Tuesday, Annie Bridgeman used giant scissors in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new home, in what used to be Georgio's Pizzaria.

“This will be much more space, more opportunity and potential to grow the business as we want,” she said. “The old location was uncomfortable from a production and customer standpoint.”

Bridgeman, 45, who has a degree in restaurant and resort management from Colorado State University, said her business has offerings ranging from traditional bakery items to soups, salads and paninis.

“We offer sandwiches, cafe breakfasts, egg dishes, fresh-baked goods, lunches and full-service catering for every meal of the week,” she said. “We have birthday cakes, specialty cakes, specialty menus, wonderful coffees and teas.”

Her motto is “creative, fresh and delicious.”

“We try to offer our guests the best of everything, high-quality food, prepared fresh, with fresh ingredients," she said.

The variety in the cafe business is one of its draws to customers.

“It is eclectic, there is a gathering or mixture of foods,” she said.

The bakery business is not for people who like to sleep in.

Bridgeman said that, on most days, she is hard at work at 4 or 5 a.m., a few hours before the restaurant opens at 8 a.m. It closes at 3:30 p.m.

 Find them online at


Books on Laconia, Meredith, prove to be a hit

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Main Street, Laconia, in the early 1900s. (Michael Brough)


LACONIA — A book chronicling the city's history represents a kind of synergy, or a process ending in a product greater than the sum of its parts, says Warren Huse, author of “Celebrate Laconia: 125 Years of the Lake City.”

He has been writing about the city and its past for almost 30 years as a newspaper columnist and is a longtime member of the local historical society, putting him in an excellent position to write this kind of book.

What he may not have realized when he started the project was how much help he would get from the public and how much enthusiasm there would be for the finished work.

“For every item I put in, I had to leave 100 out and probably more like 1,000,” Huse said.

Copies of this book and "Meredith 250th: Celebrating 250 Years of Meredith History," both published by The Laconia Daily Sun, are available at the newspaper office. The books cost $44.95.


Historic photos

The public provided dozens of photos for the books, with many of the images scanned at the city library in March.

One of the provided photos that is close to Huse's heart shows paperboys getting ready to deliver the “Victory in Europe” edition of The Laconia Evening Citizen on May 7, 1945.

The book’s cover image is a color, 1883 bird’s-eye view of the city that was donated to the historical society by former resident Harold H. Young, who happened to find the image in a gallery on 5th Avenue in New York in 1937.

The books have been well received by local residents. Some show emotion when they pick up one of the books and see a photo that strikes a chord with memories of the way things were.


Mary's memories

At age 96, Mary Wadsworth wasn't able to leave her longtime home in the Windmill Shores area to pick up the three books she wanted as Christmas presents for her three children.

When the books were brought to her, she sat at the kitchen table of the home where she raised her family and recalled how times were much simpler when she and her husband moved to the region almost seven decades ago.

“Downtown Laconia had a charm to it, with all the stores,” she said. “I loved the old Main Street. That was what we did. We went downtown Friday night and Saturday and did shopping.

“Bringing up kids, that was important. You could get everything you needed in this town. Your husband could go downtown and buy a suit.”

Their children also had the independence to explore with friends, and parents didn't need to be overly concerned, she said. The family would talk about their day over dinner.

“I wouldn't want to be bringing up kids now, to tell you the truth,” Wadsworth said.

The downtown that Wadsworth remembers changed, many say for the worse, during a 1960s and 1970s redevelopment era that is covered in the book.


Limited edition

The book, of which about a quarter is text, contains 270 images — historic photographs and a series of maps showing the growth of today's city from its designation as a town in 1855, with additions from Gilford in 1874 and 1893, when the new city was incorporated.

Huse traces the history of a settlement that began in 1766 with the arrival of Ebenezer Smith at the head of Lake Opechee, through the setting off of a part of Meredith as the new town of Laconia in 1855, in a chapter titled "Early Years." The text continues with "The Young City" and "Modern Times."

Separate chapters in the 160-page book are devoted to Lakeport and Weirs Beach, as well as downtown and other neighborhoods.


Meredith book

The hardcover coffee table book commemorating 250 years of Meredith’s history was created by the Meredith 250th Committee in partnership with the Meredith Historical Society and The Laconia Daily Sun.

“Whether you grew up in Meredith, as I did, made Meredith your home later in life, or are a visitor who enjoys the charm of this community, you will want to purchase a copy of this book that will certainly be a collector’s item,” said Janis Roberts, 250th Book Committee chairman.

The  book includes more than 250 images capturing the heritage of Meredith from the 1800s to today. That book is 144 pages.


Publisher happy

Daily Sun Publisher Adam Hirshan is happy with the finished products.

“The books are beautiful!,” he said. “The entire staff has been enjoying handing out books to the hundreds of readers who stop by the office to pick theirs up, always with a smile.

“In addition to sharing the rich histories of Laconia and Meredith in these hardcover volumes, the book projects also allow us and our major sponsors to support the Laconia 125th and Meredith 250th celebration events for 2018.

“With help from Bank of New Hampshire and Melcher & Prescott, we are donating $25,000 to Celebrate Laconia. Meredith Village Savings Bank and Mill Falls are helping us donate $25,000 to the Meredith 250th Committee. We hope these in-kind donations will help make each of the many celebration events throughout the coming year a huge success.”


Barbara Annalee Davis Thorndike, the founder of Annalee Dolls, circa 1954. This was about the time the company was incorporated as Annalee Mobilitee Dolls. (Chuck Thorndike)



Laconia Daily Sun employee Karin Nelson delivers "Celebrate Laconia" books to Mary Wadsworth, 96, who was unable to get out to pick them up. She plans to give the books as Christmas gifts to her three children, who grew up in the city at the house where she still resides. (Photo by Rick Green, Laconia Daily Sun)