Public hearing tonight for $8-million bond to build new county jail

LACONIA — Belknap County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy says that a public hearing on a proposed $8 million bond issue to build an 18,000-square-foot, 64-bed community corrections center and make upgrades to the current Belknap County House of Corrections is in the process of being scheduled for October 27 at 7 p.m.
He said that he had talked with Belknap County Convention Chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) about the date and says that the convention will meet on November 2 at 6 p.m. to vote on the bond issue, which will require a two-thirds majority from the 18-member convention.
At a meeting in early September, Belknap County Commissioners voted unanimously to support the plan developed by SMP Architecture of Concord, which calls for spending $7,171,928 for a community corrections center as well as $491,000 for upgrades to the existing county jail, which currently has 87 beds. County corrections Interim Superintendent Keith Gray said that parts of the current jail which are too difficult to renovate would no longer be used, leaving the current facility with a capacity of 60 inmates.
The proposed cost of the community corrections facility includes a $700,000 contingency fund.
Additional items were budgeted at $668,300.
Also included in the overall operating plan are security and program costs, which are estimated at $650,000 for hiring six additional Department of Corrections staffers and contracting with private firms to provide programs aimed at helping offenders deal with drug, alcohol and mental health problems before they are released into the community.
Kevin Warwick of Alternative Solutions Associates, Inc., a consulting firm hired by the county to develop programs for a community corrections center, has noted that Belknap County currently has the lowest staffing of any county jail in the state with only 30 staff members and a capacity of 93 inmates. Carroll County has 36 staffers with an inmate capacity of 60 while Grafton County has 54 staffers and a capacity of 115 inmates. Sullivan County, which served as a model for the plan developed for Belknap County, has a 56 staffers and a capacity of 95 inmates.
He and Ross Cunningham, who was corrections superintendent in Sullivan County when its community corrections facility was built, both say that doing nothing is not an option for Belknap County as the county faces the possibility of lawsuits unless its facility meets federal standards, which it does not.
DeVoy is chairman of the Jail Planning Committee, whose members include Warwick, Cunningham, Keith Gray, Interim Superintendent of the Belknap County Corrections Department, Deb Shackett, Belknap County Administrator; Dustin Muzzey, Belknap County facilities manager; Brian Loanes, director of the Restorative Justice Program, Nicole Mills and Tamara McGonagle, staff members at the Belknap County Corrections Department.

Muskrats sold, new GM named

LACONIA — The father and son partnership of Jonathan and Noah Crane that brought the Laconia Muskrats to Robbie Mills Field have sold their franchise in the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) to a trio of businessmen from Portsmouth — Ira Blumenthal, Todd Hewett and Andy Minckler. However, the Muskrats will remain in Laconia and Kristian Svindland, a longtime resident and business owner, will succeed Noah Crane as its general manager with responsibility for day-to-day operations.

Svinland joined Jeff Morin to form HRO Plus, a successful human resources outsourcing firm in 2004, played baseball at the Laconia High School and is a Red Sox season ticket holder. He said yesterday that he joined the board of directors of the Muskrats in 2014 and has hosted players for the past two seasons. He stressed that the new owners are committed to building a successful franchise in Laconia and chose a local resident as general manager to ensure that the team strengthens and sustains its relationship with the city and Lakes Region community.

Svindland said that his top priority will be to increase attendance, which has lagged behind that of most other teams in the NECB. He intends to seek more sponsors from among the relationships he has formed in the local business community. He also plans to engage the players in the life of the community, particularly the schools, by engaging in community service. And he has worked with the Tilton Sports Center to field a team of young players known as the "Junior Muskrats."

Svindland said that one of the first goals of the new owners will be to complete construction of the deck atop the wall in left field before winter. He noted that the NECBL this year voted Robbie Mills Field the best playing surface in the league, confirming what players around the league have known for years. "It is a tribute to Kevin Dunleavy and his staff at Parks and Recreation," he said.

In a prepared statement, Svindland said "this is a dream come true me. I love baseball and the city of Laconia." He confessed that is embarking on :"a big learning curve," but added that he has made a quick start. With Noah Crane lending a hand, the roster for the 2016 team is nearly complete. Likewise, with crane's help he has begun building on the relationships with the colleges and coaches whose players have stocked the rosters during the first six seasons.

"It has been a wonderful six years," said Crane. "We did some good things." He said that a number of players graduated to play professional baseball and several interns with the team find themselves working in professional baseball.

Acknowledging that attendance never met his expectations, Crane said he is confident the new ownership and management "will push the franchise to heights I couldn't get it to." He said players returned to their schools "with only positive things to say about the team, the league and the city," which will enable the franchise to draw the talent required to succeed.

Svindland is equally confident. "Laconia can do this," he insisted.

Sandwich Fair Marks 105th Year

SANDWICH — The Sandwich Fair, which celebrates its 105th season this year, has become a Columbus Day weekend tradition which annually attracts close to 40,000 people.
Held during the peak of the fall foliage season, the event is a classic New England fair, with a midway, carnival concessions and rides. And there's always lots of food, ranging from fried dough and giant donuts to buffalo burgers and sausage grinders with peppers and onions,
But the heart of the fair is still agricultural with two-thirds of the space at the fairgrounds taken up by agricultural exhibits. And a lot of attention is paid to young exhibitors who are showing their farm animals and having them judged. Every day there is a hand milking demonstration and a children's pedal tractor competition.
The fair gets underway at 8 a.m. Saturday with a variety of events, including an antique auto show, demonstrations and exhibits and an antique auto parade at 1 p.m.
Sunday will see the Grand Street Parade at 1 p.m. as well as horse competitions and a woodsmen's field day.
It cost $10 for adults, and $3 for youth ages 8 to 12. Monday is Senior Day with admission $4 for those 60 and older.
There are also two new events at the fair, both of which take place on Monday, a gentleman's keg toss and a pickup truck pull. Monday is also the day the popular women's skillet toss event will be held and there will be 4-H beef, horse, sheep, working steer and swine competitions.
Art Harriman returns to the stage all three days and the Don Campbell Band plays on Saturday and Annie and the Orphans on Sunday. There will also be performances by Alex the Jester, Jo Howard, magician and sword swallower and mentalist Roderick Russell.
The Sandwich Fair started out as an agricultural event that local farmers hoped would turn into an annual market day where they could trade and sell their cattle. Records show that in 1886, area farmers exhibited 184 yoke of oxen at the fair.
In August of 1887 it was decided that the fair would be held on October 11th and that a band would be hired and a baby contest considered. Judges were appointed for the various categories and a prize list was announced. The fair was held as planned, with 3,000-4,000 in attendance.
During the summer of 1888 a plan for a fair in October was formulated. A committee to nominate a slate of permanent officers was appointed and J. Edwin Beede was elected president. Fancy work, curiosities and antiques, flowers and plants were again shown in the G.A.R. hall. A baby contest for the prettiest, heaviest and best dressed (under the age of two) was planned. For the first time there was a printed program of events. That year the weather was miserable with snow and only a small number of people attended.
A 1893 report from the "Sandwich Reporter" states regretfully that all the prizes in the baby show which was held in Mrs. A.E.R. Beede's hall were won by Moultonborough babies. It was also reported that the traffic was heavy and that Wilfred Plummer was run over by a horse driven by Eugene Wright and suffered a fractured arm. It was estimated that 3,000 people attended the fair and very little drunkenness was reported and all of those drunk were from out of town.
At the 1894 fair, one of the unusual exhibits recorded for display was a large American Eagle and the fox; shown by Dr. J. Alonzo Greene of Roxmount Poultry Farm on Long Island, Moultonborough.
For many years the fair was held in a grove with exhibits scattered around town and that changed in 1937 when it moved to Quimby Field, its present location. By 1980 the fair was running one and a half days with a parade on Sunday and the fairgrounds open Sunday afternoon and Monday.
According to records kept by fair organizers, Sunday, October 12, 1986 was a delightful sunny day, and as always the parade was much enjoyed. Monday was cloudy, but the rain held off until late afternoon. This year there was an all new midway, and the stage shows featured bluegrass and popular music from the 1950s and 60s. Poultry from local breeders were shown, but out of state poultry was still banned. Due to a poor growing season and early frosts there was a scarcity of fresh flowers at the flower show.
It was a nasty, cold Sunday in 1987, but the parade went on despite snow, sleet and mist. A new horse pulling ring and horse logging area were constructed and the old ring was used for judging dairy and beef cattle. There were less canned foods than in previous years; freezing has become more popular. David Dodson, a singer, songwriter from Maine performed on the stage.
The first three-day Fair was held on October 8, 9, and 10 1988. Good weather held for all three days. Stuart Heard led the parade on horseback, and a group of riders on antique bicycles were part of the parade.

For more information, visit thesandwichfair.com.