Salvation Army’s Turkey Plunge raises $12,000, with more to come

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Santa and his elves take an icy plunge into Lake Opechee for the annual Turkey Plunge on Saturday. (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

LACONIA — With nine teams participating, this year’s Turkey Plunge exceeded its fundraising goal by raising $11,109 for the Salvation Army’s charitable giving during the holiday season.
Don Morrissey, who has been with the Turkey Plunge since its inception 13 years ago and now serves as event chairman, said there is a potential for an additional $3,000-$4,000 from a December promotion by T-Bones Restaurant that earmarks money for the Turkey Plunge.
Capt. Scott McNeill of the Salvation Army’s Laconia Corps said the teams were much larger this year, many of them double the size of past years’ teams. In all, there were 68 “plungers” who braved the cold waters of Lake Opechee to support the cause.
Last year, pledges and donations to the Salvation Army allowed the local corps to provide 10,000 meals at the Friendly Kitchen, which offers free meals on Tuesdays through Saturdays and the last Sunday of each month; 9,300 days of transitional housing at Carey House; 6,500 grocery orders; and toys for more than 1,000 children during the holiday season.
The UPS team led the Turkey Plunge in pledges, raising $3,135 for the cause. The Salvation Army was second, with $1,671; and Belknap County was third, with $1,660.
The plunger raising the most money was Jim Gentile, with $2,000, followed by Hunter Taylor at $1,325 and the Salvation Army captains at $1,240.
The teams with the most plungers were Laconia High School, Bank of New Hampshire, and T-Bones. Kellen Mitchell was named the plunger showing the most spirit.
“We’re energized this time of year,” McNeill said. “The only time we [he and his wife, Nora] swim is in November. The Turkey Plunge is a lot of fun. It’s a great community event and a grassroots fundraiser, with good people and good conversation. ... When you’ve got a group of people like that, you want join in that energy and enthusiasm.”

The need
The Salvation Army sees a growing need for assistance, with Nora McNeill noting that there are a lot more single residents coming for help from the food pantry.
“We continue to see large numbers in our soup kitchen,” said Scott McNeill, and he said there is always a need for more people to help out by cooking, serving, and cleaning up after the meals. Several groups and individuals pitch in, including churches, a Rotary club, and a law firm. One person volunteers one day a month and a couple prepare the meals one Saturday a month, McNeill said.
“We’re always looking for people to volunteer. Two or three people can handle a lunch,” McNeill said.
The Salvation Army has taken applications from families seeking toys and other help, and McNeill said they are still accepting hardship applications from those in emergency situations.
“An important part of the year for us is the bell-ringing tradition,” he said. The first collection kettles went out on Nov. 16, and McNeill said they get volunteers from businesses, the Rotary and Lions clubs, and other members of the community.
“We’re having challenges in finding bell-ringers,” he said, inviting anyone who is interested to stop by the Salvation Army headquarters at 177 Union Avenue, Laconia, or call the office at 603-524-1834.
“The Main Street location is especially important to us,” he said. “People wait for the bell-ringers to show up and they really rally around it. We’re grateful for the people who make it their ‘holiday toll.’”

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UPS package car driver Jimmy Gentile and Laconia center manager Tony DeBlaise try walking on water during the annual Turkey Plunge at Lake Opechee on Saturday. (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Belknap County Attorney Andy Livernois, Sheriff Mike Moyer and finance director Lori Sharp take the plunge. (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Belmont police issue warnings on car break-ins

BELMONT — Several weekend thefts from unlocked cars and trucks along Durrell Mountain Road prompted the Belmont Police Department to issue a warning to residents and pledge to step up its patrols on the Route 107 side of town.
Lt. Richard Mann said all of the thefts occurred early Saturday morning, and one victim’s security camera recorded two people wearing hooded sweatshirts and backpacks as they entered the property. One of them rummaged in the truck’s interior while the accomplice paced the driveway, acting as a lookout.
Mann said that theft involved a handgun that now has been entered into the nationwide stolen handgun database.
The theft reports started coming in as residents left their homes to run errands on Saturday morning.
“I know we are a rural state and feel very safe in our homes and communities, but it is essential that we realize the criminal element is not usually that far away from our doorsteps,” Mann said.
He urged residents to lock away valuable items and to make sure their vehicles are locked, as well.
“A locked vehicle will usually sound an alarm if the window is broken and if the door is opened from within without the use of a key or alarm fob,” Mann said. “Homes with motion-activated lights are a deterrent to thieves, along with security systems that alert you in real time when people enter your property.”
He also urged residents to arrange with a neighbor to keep an eye on each other’s property and to report any suspicious people or vehicles to the police department.
He asked that anyone with information on the weekend break-ins call the Belmont Police Department at 603-267-8350.

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Sanbornton holds steady on tax rate

SANBORNTON — The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration has set Sanbornton’s 2017 property tax rate at $23.63 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, the same rate as last year.
The municipal tax rate of $8.99 is 17 cents, or 1.9 percent, higher than the 2016 rate of $8.82.
The county rate of $1.41 is 7 cents, or 5.2 percent, higher than in 2016 when it was $1.34.
The state education rate of $2.42 is down from $2.43 in 2016, and the local education rate is $10.81, down 23 cents, or 2.1 percent, from the 2016 rate of $11.04.
Town Administrator Katie Ambrose said the preliminary tax rate for 2017 was $23.85.
“The Board of Selectmen decided to allocate $6,000 for overlay which funds any abatements, and utilize $93,000 of the town’s unassigned fund balance to stabilize the rate at $23.63,” she said.
The town’s net assessed valuation increased by $1,325,462 since last year, from $393,052,930 to $394,378,392.
Changes in the tax rate do not necessarily equate to changes in the homeowner’s tax bill. Changes in property values and homeowner exemptions also can affect what appears on the total tax bill.
Payment of taxes is due by Dec. 21.

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Sanbornton taxes have been set at a rate of $23.63 per $1,000 of property value. A home valued at $250,000, for example, would pay a tax bill of $5,907.50. (Courtesy graphic)

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