Shang Hai wall pays tribute to Weeks Dairy Bar (378)

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Yan Hong, owner of Shang Hai Restaurant, was in for a surprise when she returned from a trip to New York during school vacation week last month. Her friends, some of whom live nearby and who had keys to the building to do a little painting, put up a tribute to the Weeks Dairy Bar, which had previously been located in the building.

"When I came home, I said, 'What!?,='" said Hong, who was pleased to see the old photographs, menu and other artifacts prominently displayed by the front register and entrance.

The Weeks Dairy Bar, one of many locations restaurants around the state operated by the Weeks family of Gilford, was in operation at 331 S. Main St. in Laconia for more than 50 years, said Hong. Many people who grew up in Laconia remember the restaurant, including Hong, who spent nine years working at her parents' restaurant, Honey Bird, across the street.

As the millennium approached its end, Hong's parents were ready to retire, and the Weeks Dairy Bar was preparing to close. The Dairy Bar's last day of operation was March 30, 1999, and Hong took over the lease the next day. She took down the prior restaurant's decor so she could put up her own, but kept mementos stored in the attic, including historic photos, an old menu, and Weeks-branded milk bottles. Some of the photos show vehicles and buildings, but three portray employees – waitresses, a milk delivery man, and a man working at a bottling line. Some of those, if not all, are likely local people, though Hong doesn't know their identity.

Although it has been nearly 20 years since Hong took over, she said she still has patrons come in with nostalgia from a previous era in the city's history. Hong welcomes their reminiscences, and said many will examine a large aerial photo of downtown Laconia, the only part of the Weeks decor that she never took down.

"I love to have joy with them, have a happy time," she said.

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Yan Hong, owner of Shang Hai Restaurant in Laconia, returned from vacation last month to find that friends had installed a tribute to Weeks Dairy Bar near the eatery's entrance. The restaurant took over the location when Weeks closed in 1999. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

Alton man wins $42,500 settlement in civil rights case over free speech

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

ALTON — Jeffrey Clay, who was arrested and charged with two counts of disorderly conduct while speaking at a meeting of the Board of Selectmen in February 2015, was awarded $42,500 by the town of Alton in settlement of the federal civil rights suit he brought against the town for violating his constitutional right to freedom of speech.
“I’m so happy my case is finally over,” Clay said in a prepared statement. He said that following his arrest he did not attend meetings of local boards for fear he would again be arrested and prosecuted. “I feel like I can now attend and exercise my free speech rights without harassment and prosecution.”
During the 2015 meeting, Clay called on members of the selectboard to resign, referred to their “poor actions,” “poor decisions” and “continued violations of the citizens’ rights here in Alton.” Less than a minute into his remarks, Clay was interrupted by a selectman who called his remarks “character assassination” and requested a point of order to curtail public input because of Clay’s the “libelous” and “defamatory” statements. Clay, who was allotted five minutes to speak, continued and, after four minutes passed, he was arrested by the cheif of police.
In March, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire advised the town that by suppressing Clay’s speech it had engaged in censorship in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Nevertheless, the town continued to prosecute Clay for one count of disorderly conduct, a Class B misdemeanor carrying a fine of up to $1,200.
In June 2015, Judge James Carroll of the Fourth Circuit Court, Laconia Division dismissed the charge against Clay, calling the town’s conduct “pure censorship.” Carroll was honored with a Quill & Ink Award by the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications for his staunch defense of the right to freedom of speech.
Clay then filed suit against the town in United States District Court, where he was represented by Gilles Bissonnette, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, with assistance from Jared Bedrick of the Bedrick Law Offices. “In a free society,” said Bissonnette in a prepared statement, “governmental officials are required to tolerate harsh criticism and even a demeaning attitude toward them, including viewpoints that can feel like character assassination, and cannot discriminate based on these critical viewpoints.”

Four youths, 12 to 14 years old, charged for Pleasant Street mischief

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA – Police charged four youths ages 12 to 14 Wednesday afternoon with criminal mischief for damage done to a house on Pleasant Street.

The victim said yesterday that it appears this week someone entered a shed in the back of his property.

"There's just junk in there," he said, adding he doesn't think there's anything worth taking.

But what has him upset is that last Monday a rock was thrown through a plate glass window, and that on Thursday he came home to find all of the lights on in his cellar.

He said he never bothered reporting the shed incident but is grateful that someone apparently saw the youths and reported them to police. The homeowner said he hadn't spoken to police as of Wednesday, and didn't know arrests had been made.

The homeowner said police recommended installing cameras, but he said that, with all of the windows in his home, he was "thinking about Cecil B. DeMille," whose films were distinguished by their epic scale.

He said it was bad enough when he was victimized by drug addicts last year, and said it is very disheartening for him, personally and as a citizen, that the suspected vandals were so young.