A+ A A-

Site for Pumpkin Festival tower moved to west edge of Veterans Square

LACONIA — The city's Special Events Review Committee this week granted a permit to organizers of the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, which will be held on Saturday, October 24, between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. with the condition that a number of outstanding issues will be addressed when the committee meets again next month.

Karen Gifford, executive director of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, said yesterday that since Ruth Sterling of Sterling Design and Communications, who managed the event in Keene, is managing the event in Laconia, organizing the event consists primarily of transposing the arrangements applied in Keene to Laconia.

Last month the City Council approved a temporary traffic order that will apply between midnight on Friday and midnight on Saturday. Canal Street, Hanover Street and Veterans Square, together with sections of Main Street and Pleasant Street will be closed to through traffic. In addition, Veterans Square will be closed to eastbound traffic on Friday, the day before the event, when a tower, 35 feet high with capacity for between 900 and 1,000 pumpkins, will be erected. Portions of the municipal parking lots at City Hall, Main Street and Beacon Street West will be used by vendors or for activities.

A loop described by Veterans Square, Pleasant Street and northern stretch of Main Street will define the center of the festival. Pumpkins will be displayed on the tower, which is the centerpiece of the festival, and on racks, three to five feet high, lining all the closed streets and, if necessary the grassed areas downtown, including Rotary Park and Stewart Park.

Sterling touted "pumpkin bowling," in which sugar pumpkins are bowled at regulation ten pins, as a popular attraction for children and suggested a ferris wheel would offer festival goers a unique perspective of the city. Gifford said that the WOW Trail intends to stage a 5K run and cycling event, beginning at 8 a.m. on the morning of the festival.

In 2013, when the festival took place in Keene, the world record was set for the most simultaneously lighted pumpkins at 30,581. Sterling told the committee that the goal of the festival will be to top that record.She explained that the process of lighting the pumpkins will begin around 4 p.m. and all will be lit by 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. and counted within just five minutes at 7 p.m.

Gifford said she has approached the Belknap Cunty 4H Club about using the fairgrounds in Belmont, which has space for 1,500 cars, for parking as well as the firms at O'shea Industrial Park. She said that a decision to operate a shuttle from remote parking areas is being considered. Meanwhile, she said the Hobo Railroad intends to ferry people to the festival from Tilton and Weirs Beach.

While the festival will be held downtown, Gifford said that a number of businesses at the Weirs that would otherwise have closed for the season intend to remain open to cater to the anticipated crowds. She said that Half Moon arcades and other attractions will be open and several hotels and motels have already taken reservations for the weekend of the festival The M/S Mt. Washington still be cruising Lake Winnipesaukee.

"It's an opportunity for people to enjoy a weekend around the festival," Gifford said, adding the event has been marketed to some 600,000 by a mailing from the Lakes Region Tourist Association.

Gifford said that it remains to provide the committee with detailed plans of the spaces set aside for vendors in the Main Street and City Hall parking lots, along with the locations of trash receptacles, dumpsters and porta-potties. Planning Director Shanna Saunders expected other issues would arise in the course of organizing the event.

CAPTION: The schematic, which is subject to change, depicts the proposed layout of the Pumpkin Festival. The yellow "Ws" mark welcome centers at the major gateways to the downtown and the green grassed areas where pumpkins will be displayed.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 June 2015 12:35

Hits: 289

Four local schools have graduation rates around 90%

LACONIA – With five years of data to consider, it appears that high school graduation rates within the Lakes Region are dropping, meaning fewer students are graduating from high school within the standard four-year time frame.

Records obtains from the N.H. Department of Education show the only schools district in the area that has a higher graduation rate in 2014 (the last year data is available) than in 2010 was the Newfound Regional School District, which went from an 80.17-percent graduation rate in 2010 to an 85.15-percent rate and the Winnisquam Regional High School that went from 88.36 percent in 2010 to 91.53 percent in 2014.

In addition, the Prospect Mountain School District has seen a consistent improvement in graduation rates during this time. In 2010, 87.50 percent of the graduated on time — a percentage that would gradually rise over the next five years, reaching 91.55 percent for the Class of 2014.

The state determines graduation rates by taking the number of students who entered the freshman class and tracks the same group of students through their senior year. The total number of students who graduate is divided by the number of students who started freshman year. Each cohort is adjusted by the students who move into to the district or out of it. The graduation rate does not count students who later earn a GED or a HiSet, which is the new equivalency test.

The highest average graduation rates in the Lakes Region are at Gilford High School, although there has been a slight drop there over the past five years. In 2010, of 155 students who began as freshman, 148 of them graduated in four years, giving the school a 95.48-percent ranking — one of the highest in the state and above the state average of 86 percent. In 2014, 119 of the 130 student cohort graduated, dropping Gilford's average graduation rate to 91.54, which is still higher than the state average.

Franklin appears to be the area school that struggles the most with its graduation rate. In 2010, Franklin High School graduated 87 of the 129 students who were in that class, or 67.44 percent. In 2011, 2012, and 2013 the school gradually improved its graduation rate averages to 80.95 percent in 2013 but dropped back to 63.55 percent in 2014.

Laconia saw a 5-percent drop in its graduation rate in 2014. In 2010, 86.16 percent of the students in that class graduated on time, in 2011 it was 82.68 percent, in 2012, 86.71 percent graduated and in 2013 the graduation rate dropped to 77.85 percent — dipping below the state average.

For the past five years, Belmont High School has ranged from a graduation rate of 91.42 percent in 2010 to a low of 85 percent in 2014. Of the 128 students in the 2010 group, 117 graduated on time, while in 2014, of the 100 students in the original class, 85 of them graduated.

At Inter-Lakes, 108 students made up the 2010 group and 100 of them graduated on time for a percentage of 92.59. In 2014, 83 students of the 93 students who comprised the cohort graduated, or 89.25 percent.

So what happened to the students who didn't graduate? There is no clear answer. For New Hampshire Dept. of Education record keeping purposes, the state records two things — the student either drops out or earns a GED before October of the graduating year. The statistics do not include students who returned after October to finish high school as part of an adult education program or who earned a high school equivalent after then or about 7-percent of the overall students in the state.


Last Updated on Friday, 05 June 2015 12:28

Hits: 547

Naz Aquamania Plans to make a big splash this weekend

LACONIA —An in-water boat show featuring the latest boats and water toys will be held this weekend at the NASWA resort on the Weirs Channel.
Naz Aquamania will be the largest in the water boat show on Lake Winnipesaukee and will feature the latest boats from four of the largest boat dealers on the lake, as well as personal watercraft and stand-up paddleboards, wakeboards, tubes and towables that provide enjoyment for all ages in the water.

Cynthia Makris, NASWA president, says that the idea for the event came to her while she was in Florida along with her mother, Hope, in February.

''I looked at the calendar and came up with the idea as something we could do to have an event during the lull between Memorial Day weekend and Bike Week. An in-water boat show seemed a natural event that would highlight the businesses in the area. So I called Vin Mullarkey at Channel Marine and Kevin Keenan at Paugus Bay Marina and they both agreed it was a good idea and said they'd take part,'' says Makris.

She then contacted Jeff Levitan, vice president and sales manager of Mix 94.1 radio. The station does remote broadcasts every Friday for weekend kickoffs, which originate from a Channel Marine boat docked at the NASWA. Levitan was enthusiastic about promoting the event.

Naz Aquamania will feature four boats from each of the participating marinas — Channel Marine, Silver Sands Marina, Paugus Bay Marina and Irwin Marine — and water toys from HK Powersports and Sports & Marine Parafunalia as well as marine audio and GPS devices from Vanworks.

Irwin Marine, established in 1919 making it the oldest boat dealer on the lake, offers Sea Ray boats, Meridian Yachts, Berkshire pontoon boats as well as Alumacraft boats and personal watercraft.
Paugus Bay Marina offers the Formula and Bryant boat lines, while Channel Marine, which has been around since 1946, features Bennington pontoon boats, Cruiser SporteSeries and Yamaha marine engines.

Silver Sands boat line includes Regal, Master Craft and Carver yachts.

HK Powersports offers both Sea-Doo and Yamaha personal watercraft while Sports & Marine Parafunalia has a full-line of wakeboards, stand-up paddle boards and water trampolines.

''There's going to be a lot for people interested in boats and watersports to take in at our docks and and beach,'' says Makris, who says there will be lots of food and refreshments available at the NazBar and Grill with live music both days at the beach where 94.1 FM will be broadcasting live on both days.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, with live music at 2 p.m. Saturday from Brothers Way, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday from MB Padfield.

Makris says that the event will kick off a busy month of June for the NASWA, which will see the ninth annual Peter Makris Memorial Ran on Saturday, July 13, and a celebration of the NASWA's 80th birthday and Saturday, June 27. The birthday celebration will feature a giant fireworks display that night as well as a celebration of the sixth annual NASWA Day on Sunday which will be attended by Gov. Maggie Hassan, who will be presenting a proclamation honoring the family-owned resort which is run by its third generation of women.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 June 2015 04:42

Hits: 686

Official drop outs can usually be counted on 2 hands, or less

CONCORD — In 2010, the N.H. Department of Education changed the way it calculated the dropout rates for individual districts. Before this, the state used one year of actual data and projected it forward for four years and estimated a rate.
Since 2010, it uses the same method as it does for tracking graduation rates.
This system still leaves a number of students unaccounted for but the actual number of dropouts and people who earned a GED from one particular class is more accurately reflected.
Newfound Regional has made the best showing for lowering the number of dropouts. In 2010, the district recorded 8 students as dropouts while in 2014, there were only two. Two others completed a GED or equivalent before October of 2014.
Inter-Lakes has two dropouts in 2014 and three recorded in 2010. The years between were consistent with a bump in 2011 that saw 5 students classified as dropouts.
Belmont High School and Winnisquam Regional High School each recorded one student who dropped out in 2014. In 2010, dropouts numbered four and zero respectively. In Belmont, three student earned a GED in 2010.
Gilford High School recorded five students who dropped out in 2014 as compared to two who dropped out in 2010. In 2010 one student earned a GED while in 2014 two GED were recorded.
Laconia High School saw a significant reduction in the number of dropouts from nine in 2010 to four in 2014. Ten students earned a GED in 2010 while 11 earned one in 2014.
Franklin High School recorded four students who dropped out in 2010 which increased to 10 in 2014. Thirteen students earned a GED in 2014 in Franklin while one was recorded in 2010.
In 2010, Prospect Mountain reported three students as dropouts and in 2014 reported one student as a dropout. Five students earned a GED in 2014 and none were earned in 2010.
The story not told is what happened to the students who were included in the N.H. Department of Education groupings, but not accounted for in either the graduation rate or listed as either a dropout or someone who passed the GED.
For example, in Laconia in the Class of 2010 there were 224 students and 193 of them graduated. Ten of them earned a GED before October of 2010 and nine of them were officially classified as dropouts. That leaves 12 students in that class who are unaccounted for.
Statewide, on average 7 percent of the students who began in a class are unaccounted for, meaning they could be working, dead, or have earned a GED or an alternative high school degree after the October deadline. Students who are home-schooled are also not included in these figures.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 June 2015 01:14

Hits: 160

The Laconia Daily Sun - All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy
Powered by BENN a division of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette