End of the bus

Winnipesaukee Transit System discontinues scheduled routes

LACONIA — The Winnipesaukee Transit System will end its regularly scheduled bus routes as of July 1 due to the lack of matching funds from communities it presently serves.
Only Laconia and Tilton, both of which contribute $3,000 a year, are providing matching funds for the program according Belknap-Merrimack Community Action Program Transportation Director Jim Sudak. He said that the program is funded with a $36,000 grant from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, which requires a 20 percent match from local funds.
He said that ridership on the regularly scheduled routes is only 20 to 25 people a day, and that most of those are elderly and disabled people going to medical facilities or shopping centers. Cost is $1 per ride.
Sudak said current users will still be able to obtain rides through the CAP's Rural Transportation Program, a door-to-door service for senior citizens with disabilities. Those rides must be scheduled 24 hours in advance by calling 225-3295.
CAP succeeded the Greater Laconia Transit Authority in June 2005. CAP also operates the Concord Area Transit as well as the Rural Transportation Program.
Several years ago, due to a federal budget cut which reduced the Winnipesaukee Transit System grant from $85,000 to $42,400, the WTSl eliminated Saturday service and combined the two Laconia routes into one. As part of the reduction, there was no longer any service from Franklin to Laconia, nor any service to parts of Gilford and Belmont.

Preparations underway for Gilford Airport Plaza upgrade


GILFORD — Survey work has started for the new entrance to the Gilford Airport Plaza, which is undergoing site renovations in hopes of attracting additional tenants under a new name, Gilford Commons.
The state Department of Transportation has agreed to the construction of a 600-foot access road opposite the off-ramp for the Laconia Bypass. The road will serve as an entrance only, with the exit remaining at the current location, onto Old Lakeshore Drive.
The Gilford Planning Board approved the application by WJP Development of Portsmouth in March, conditional upon the receipt of applicable permits from the state.
In addition to the new entrance, plans call for replacing and restriping the parking lot, and GMI Asphalt Corp. had a crew digging up and rehabilitating the pavement on Monday.
WJP also plans to install new lighting and signs, as well as a culvert to handle site runoff to ensure it does not affect the nearby Black Brook.
Ultimately, the company wants to extend the existing building and add one or more pad sites to accommodate other businesses.
Originally opening with Mammoth Mart as its anchor, the Airport Plaza has seen Globe and Family Dollar stores come and go. It’s principle tenant now is Cinemas 8.


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Surveyor's flags near the Laconia Bypass indicate the location of a new access road that will serve the Gilford Airport Plaza as part of the improvements WJP Development has in mind for the property. (Thomas P. Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)

Got Lunch! kicks off 2017 program to keep kids fed through summer


LACONIA — Board members of the Got Lunch! program kicked off their Eat Out week on Monday with a luncheon at T-Bones on Union Avenue.

All this week, local restaurants are donating a portion of their earnings to the summer lunch program that provides healthy meals to Laconia children.

The program, now in its seventh year, is a partnership of area businesses and faith-based organizations that got together to ensure that school children who benefit from free and reduced-priced lunches during the academic year also have nutritious food during the summer months when school is not in session. Statistics show that 57 percent of Laconia’s school-age children qualify for the free or discount meals.

Got Lunch! acquires healthy food through a partnership with four local farms through the Lakes Region Agricultural Collaborative, and also works with several grocery stores, including Hannaford and Vista Foods. Vista provides dairy vouchers for the students on the organization’s delivery list.

Restaurants participating in Eat Out week on Monday included T-Bones, Cactus Jack’s, Burrito Me and Patrick’s Pub. Those participating on Tuesday are Lyon’s Den, Village Bakery, and The Local Eatery; on Wednesday, Brick Front, Annie’s Café, and Faro Italian Grille; and on Thursday, Wayfarer Roasters, Hector’s and Tavern 27.

 “The people of Laconia are wonderful,” said board member Linda Tunnicliffe. “They support our fundraisers year-round.”

Among the fundraisers is a raffle coming up on Aug. 21 that will give away a Sea-Doo donated by Irwin Marine — the third year the marina has supported the program with a raffle prize.

Prior to the start of deliveries, Laconia Police Department will be offering a safety program for the drivers, who have 12 food delivery routes in the city.

The 2017 deliveries will begin on June 19 and continue through Aug. 28. The operation requires 200 volunteers, and board member Sandy Brallier said drivers are always needed. The group meets daily at 8 a.m. at the Laconia Congregational Church to put together the food packages so drivers can get on the road about 8:30 a.m.

The program has been so successful, it has served as the model for 18 other communities, including in states such as Ohio and Connecticut.

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Board members and supporters of the Laconia Got Lunch! program meet at T-Bones on Monday to kick off Eat Out week, in support of the local healthy food program. From left are Stan Brallier, SAU 30 Superintendent Brendan Minnihan, Laconia High School Teacher of the Year Tate Aldrich, and board members Linda Tunnicliffe, Sandy Brallier, Regina Theberge, and David Barth. (Thomas P. Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)