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The only other Laconia, USA

LACONIA — The City on the Lakes has a distant cousin, Laconia, Indiana, a town numbering 50 residents at the last census within its 0.05-square-miles perched a mile-and-a-half north of the Ohio River in the southeastern reaches of the state.

Tom Huckaby, a resident of 42 years who calls himself "still a newcomer," said that how the town got is name is a mystery and, in light of the Greek origin of the word, an ironic one. "We're not laconic around here," he explained.

The town was platted, or mapped, in 1816, by John Boone, Daniel Boone's nephew, and was the commercial center of Boone Township for much of the 19th century. Originally the town was drawn to the river, where produce and merchandise crossed back and forth on ferries at Tobacco Landing. Tobacco Landing Road is till the primary north-south thoroughfare through town.

Laconia once boasted a furniture factory, which was destroyed by fire in 1880, three general stores, ringing the town square, three hotels, millinery stores, pool rooms,. a barber, doctor and dentist as well as a bootlegger.The Laconia General Store, built in 1927, remains the lone commercial building at the center of the four block square town. There are two churches, one Presbyterian and one Methodist, both dating from 1874. And Laconia, once a center for the distribution of mail, still has a post office.

The town is home to a pair of major league baseball players. Merrill "Pinkie" May played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1939 to 1943 and retired with a lifetime batting average of .275. (His son Milt May, enjoyed a career of 15 years in the major leagues as a catcher with five teams, compiling a lifetime batting average of .263.) Gary Timberlake, the second son of Laconia to reach the majors, pitched for a week with the Seattle Pilots, in 1969, surrendering seven hits, nine walks and six runs.

In 2001, Doris Faith, the town historian, told the "Indianapolis Monthly" that the closure of the high school in 1958 , followed by the closure of the elementary school in 1985, "may have been the town's downfall".

Huckaby said that in the 1980s the town found a generous benefactor, Bill Cook of Bloomington, who made his fortune manufacturing medical devices and supplies. In 1984, Cook purchased and restored Cedar Farm, said to be the only plantation north of the Mason-Dixon Line, from the descendants of Jacob Kinter, who built it in 1837. Overlooking the Ohio River, floodwaters reached the ceiling on the ground floor in 1937 and crept to within 30 feet of the house fifty years later. The 2,700 acre estate includes a columned manor in the classic revival style along with an ice-house, carriage house, smokehouse, cookhouse, school house, cabins and barns, all of which were restored or rebuilt.

When the failure of its underground fuel tanks threatened the future of the Laconia General Store, Cook purchased the property and replaced the tanks. Donna Smith, one of several clerks at the store, said "we're an emergency grocery store and sell a little bit of everything." The store serves as the meeting place for the town.

Cook also acquired the deserted school building, originally constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1933 after fire destroyed Clay Hill College. He converted the school to a community center with a handful of apartments. "

Huckaby said that whatever Cook did was done "first class," including importing mahogany from Honduras to replace the window frames in the converted school. "I doubt the general store was turning a profit when he bought it and its questionable if its profitable even now," he said, adding that its value to the town cannot be counted.

As the population dwindled, the town council recognized the lack of a sewer system as a major constraint on the growth of the community. While state law prescribed that a septic system could not be permitted on any lot of less than an acre, the lots in Laconia were less than half an acre. In 2000 the town was awarded a federal grant of $260,000 to construct a sewer system. During the following decade the population, which had slid from 75 in 1990 to 29 in 2000, nearly doubled.

Huckaby, who owns and operates a greenhouse in Laconia, said that the town is something of a bedroom community for Louisville, Kentucky, some 30 miles to the east. He said a number people in town commute to the General Electric and Ford plants in Louisville and farm 200 or 300 acres around Laconia.

Small and quiet, Laconia, said Huckaby is a pleasant place to live, not least for its natural surroundings, which feature acres of protected forest and steep 300-foot high bluffs overlooking the Ohio River.

"When I google Laconia," Huckaby said, "New Hampshire always comes up first. Send me some information about your Laconia."

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 November 2014 12:32

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Additional charges now pending against man accused of selling fatal dose of heroin

LACONIA — A former Meredith man who is accused of selling heroin to a Moultonborough man who died from using it was indicted by a Belknap County grand jury for two additional counts of conspiracy to possess a controlled drug and one count of being accomplice to possessing a controlled drug.

Andrew Currier, 51, now of Laconia was indicted last year for selling a fatal dose of heroin to Jason Dostie, whose body was found by his father in the back seat of the truck the two used to commute to their jobs in Meredith.

Currier was scheduled to stand trial earlier this month however the jury selection was postponed because one of the key witnesses for both the state and Currier's defense was hospitalized.

The Sun has learned that the key witness is Dostie's father.

The latest charges leveled by the state accuse Currier of conspiring with Dostie to procure the heroin and leave it for him in his father's truck. Dostie was alleged to have given Currier a leaf blower either in payment or as collateral for the drugs.

One new conspiracy count alleges Currier went to an ATM at a local bank as part of furthering the conspiracy while the second charged that Currier sold the leaf blower in exchange.

Currier has posted cash bail and is not incarcerated. N.H. Justice Peter Fauver is presiding over the case which is now scheduled for January or February.

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 November 2014 12:24

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Councilor Bolduc remains determined to have city ban parking on 'sublawn' space between sidewalk and street

LACONIA — "It's been on the agenda for five years or more," said City Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) of his request that the council take steps to prohibit motorists from parking on sublawns, the grassed strips between the roadway and sidewalk.

For years the issue has languished on the Public Works Committee agenda, which Bolduc chairs. "It's stayed there, and stayed there and stayed there," Bolduc remarked. He added that the committee's agenda has also long included his requests that it consider an ordinance regulating the parking of "large vehicles" on city streets and sidewalks and prohibiting vehicles weighing nine tons or more from idling on city streets between midnight and 6 a.m.

The issue of parking on sublawns arose when the City Council met this week. Charlie St. Clair, who lives on Messer Street, complained that parked cars ruined the grass in front of his home. Councilors returned to the issue, along with the others on the agenda of the Public Works Committee as the meeting neared its close.

The council concluded that all three issues were outside the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Works and, with Bolduc dissenting, and struck them from the agenda of the Public Works Committee and referred them to the Government Operations and Ordinances Committee, chaired by Councilor Ava Doyle (Ward 1) and including councilors Bolduc and David Bownes (Ward 2).

"I hope we'll take the bull by the horns and deal with it," Bolduc said. He said that the city has gone to expense to curb streets, build sidewalks and seed sublawns, yet "people are jumping the curbs and parking half on the grass and half on the sidewalks. Within a week the grass is gone and the sublawn has turned to mud."

Police Chief Chris Adams said that while there is a state law (RSA 265:69) prohibiting parking on sidewalks, which the police enforce, there is neither a state statute nor a city ordinance that explicitly forbids parking on sublawns.

However, there is a state statute (RSA 265:71) that specifies that where there are curbs, vehicles "shall" be stopped or parked with the right-hand wheels parallel to the right-hand curb and "where there are no curbs said vehicle shall be so stopped or parked with (its) right-hand wheels parallel to the right-hand side of the traveled portion of the way."

The City Council could enact an ordinance dealing specifically with sublawns. RSA 265:70 prescribes that state parking regulations "shall not supersede the provisions of any local ordinance which has been adopted to regulate parking in restricted areas in the compact part of any city or town."

City Manager Scott Myers expressed reservations about enacting and enforcing an ordinance. He said that where there is a defined curb, sublawn and sidewalk, police are expected to ticket motorists who have jumped the curb and parked on the sublawn. But, he said that there are many streets without a defined curb, where the boundaries between the roadway, sublawn and sidewalk are obscure. Enforcement in these circumstances, Myers acknowledged, is not a high priority for the police.

Furthermore, Myers explained that a significant share of the city's population live in multi-famility dwellings, many without sufficient off-street parking for all tenants. Tighter restrictions, especially on narrow streets without defined curbing, he suggested would add to the scarcity of parking in some neighborhoods.

At the same time, Myers emphasized that as streets are improved with defined granite curbing the prohibition against climbing the curb will be enforced. He noted that the city has applied for a grant from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to improve pedestrian access to schools. About 1,000 feet of sidewalk along Opechee Street would be improved at a cost of $50,000 to provide a safe passage between Messer Street and Laconia Middle School. The sidewalks along 600 feet of Stevens Street and 1,200 feet of Winter Street leading to Woodland Heights School would be improved with curbing and sublawns and a speed table to slow traffic would be installed near the school.

The Government Operations and Ordinances Committee has not yet scheduled a meeting to address the issue of parking on sublawns.

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 November 2014 12:19

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Emergency shelter at middle school closes after 24-hour run

LACONIA — After being staffed for 24 straight hours by the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the emergency shelter at the Laconia Middle School closed yesterday afternoon as people's electricity was gradually restored.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said three people spent Thanksgiving night in the shelter because their homes were without power as a result of the heavy, wet snow that fell during a memorable Thanksgiving eve storm.

CERT is a collaborative effort between the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health and the Laconia Fire Department.

Had the CERT volunteers not been available to staff the emergency shelter over the holiday, the Fire Department would have had to bring in paid staff, said Susan Lavarack of the LRPPH.

As of 3 p.m. Erickson said the three people who were staying at the shelter had either gotten the power back at their homes or had found alternative housing. He said the shelter would be re-opening if the need arises.

Erickson also said that four of the city's streets remained blocked with fallen tree limbs.

As of yesterday morning, Belmont Police Lt. Rich Mann said there were still a number of people without power however the number was dropping. He said all of the roads in town with the exception of Dearborn Street were open.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, Public Service of New Hampshire's website was still reporting that 7 percent of its 11,000 plus Laconia customers were without power, that 26 percent of Belmont customers were without power and 17 percent of Gilford customers were still without electricity.

CERT volunteers said yesterday that they have cots for 50 people and about half of them are handicap accessible meaning the cots are higher off the ground for easier access.

Lavarak said when people know there is storm coming they should pack a "to go" bag that included a change of clothes, prescription medications, a towel, and some toiletries. She said people who need to be sheltered should also bring bedding.

When active, the Laconia shelter is pet friendly but volunteers asked that, if possible, animals should be kenneled and that owners should bring food for them.

For people who want to support CERT, Lavarak suggested donating gift cards from local supermarkets so the team doesn't need to worry about food expiration dates or storage.

For more about becoming a CERT-trained volunteer, people should contact Laverack at the Partnership for Public Health or the Laconia Fire Department.

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 November 2014 12:10

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