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Lost classmates remembered at new LMS memorial

LACONIA — Parents, teachers, policemen and firefighters gathered yesterday at a quiet, corner of the Laconia Middle School campus, as a fresh breeze stirred the water of Lake Opechee and a bright sun highlighted the colors of autumn foliage, to consecrate what Chris Ennis, the principal, called "a place of reflection and solace " in remembrance of young lives taken too soon.
A polished granite bench inscribed "in memory of our classmates" faces a crescent shaped flower garden bed, graced with four stones, each bearing the name of a student and an accompanying message. Robbie Mills is assured "I will rememeber you." Craig Shumway is "classmate and friend." Jason Charland "still lives in our hearts." And for Lilyanna Johnson "it's always sunny above the clouds."
Ennis said that the memorial will "remain for years to come and help us stay connected to these students" as well as other students of Laconia Middle School lost over the years.
Eric Johnson, then the principal of the middle and now the principal at Woodland Heights Elementary School, confessed he found himself at a loss for words, but instead offered the lines of "A Young Life Cut Short" by an unknown poet. "Do not judge a song by its duration, Nor by the number of its notes," implores the poet. "Judge it by the way it touches and lifts the soul, Sometimes those unfinished are among the most beautiful," the poet counsels, "And when something has enriched your life, And when it's melody lingers on in your heart," the poet asks "Is it unfinished? Or is it endless?"
The memorial was inspired by the tragic death of Lilyanna Johnson at the hands of a reckless driver in April, 2013. Johnson credited Jeff Derynioski, a landscaper, Mark Padula, a contractor, Sunday Dearborn and Deb Williams, together with a host of donors,with the erection of the memorial.

 

CAPTION: Chris Ennis (left), principal of Laconia Middle School, and Eric Johnson (right), his predecessor who is now principal of Woodland Heights Elementary School, spoke to mark the consecration of a memorial in remembrance of middle school students who lost their lives  before living them to the full. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Last Updated on Friday, 17 October 2014 11:56

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WEEKEND: Annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in very personal for many participants; 47 teams & 355 walkers already signed up Sunday's event in Laconia

LACONIA — The American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer initiative is hosting a 3.5 mile non-competitive fundraising walk, with a five mile option, on Sunday, Oct. 19 at 10 a.m.. The walk will begin at Opechee Park in Laconia, and will help the society do the most for people with breast cancer today to end the disease tomorrow.
Making Strides walks in nearly 300 communities nationwide, help to raise $60 million dollars for the American Cancer Society each year to save lives. The dollars raised fund groundbreaking research to find, prevent, treat, and cure breast cancer; ensure access to mammograms for women who need them; and provide free resources and support to the one in two newly diagnosed women who turn to the society for help and support, including transportation and lodging during treatment.
As of Friday there were 47 teams and 355 participants registered to take part in Sunday's event at Opechee and more than $34,195 had already been raised by participants.
Top fundraiser at that point was Diane Skilling of The Di'Namics with $1,905, followed by Vicki Fournier of the Big or Small, Save Them All team with $1,220 and Terri Higgins, also of The Di'Namics, with $1,210.
The Di'Namics led all fundraising teams as of Friday morning with $4,890, followed by the Moultonborough Women's Club with $4,463.64 and the Gilford Volleyball Team with $3,365.34.
Skilling says The 'Di'Namics Team was formed in 2004 by her sisters when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.
''It is hard to believe it's been 10 years. I am doing great in that regard, although I had a little 'hiccup/recurrence' in 2006. I am happy to continue raising money to continue the fight to, hopefully, eradicate this disease that does not discriminate,'' says Skilling, who is in her 60s and says that her goal, and that of many other participants, is to ''celebrate more birthdays.''
She says her treatments included both chemotherapy and radiation and urges all women to be diligent in getting mammograms every year.
''Our small team of 10 now has five breast cancer survivors. Sunday's event is our opportunity to honor breast cancer survivors, remember people we have lost, and help raise funds for groundbreaking research, information and services for people fighting breast cancer, and mammograms for women who need them,'' says .
Vicki Fournier of the Big or Small, Save them All team, is also a breast cancer survivor and comes from a family with a history of breast cancer.
''My mom died of breast cancer in April 2001. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2012. I have the triple crown: ER, PR & HER2. I have finished treatments and am cancer free. This was the biggest battle of my life and if it wasn't for my in-laws, cousin (Karen) and many friends I do not think I would have made it though. Thank you all for your love, words of encouragement and support'' says Fournier.
She says that Making Strides not only provides an opportunity to join the community to fight back against breast cancer, but it is also a way to inspire hope by raising funds and awareness to help those facing the disease.
''That's why I'm walking, for my mom, me and every woman out there, Get your mammograms, do your self exams. Early detection saves lives,'' says Fournier.
"Making Strides Against Breast Cancer unites us to walk together as the most powerful force to end breast cancer," said Erinn Drouin, American Cancer Society staff partner for the Greater Lakes Region "The progress we are making is remarkable, but we need volunteers to help us finish the fight."
Drouin says that today one of every two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer reaches out to the American Cancer Society for help and support. The donations raised by the teams will help more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors celebrate another birthday this year.
''Saving lives from breast cancer starts one team, one walker, and one dollar at a time. We know that the American Cancer Society is the leader in the fight to end breast cancer. We know that supporting them will ensure that if you need someone to talk to anytime of the day or night, they'll be there. If your friend is losing her hair from chemo, your mother needs a ride to treatment, or a loved one needs a place to stay when treatment is far from home, they will be there to help,'' says Drouin.

Last Updated on Friday, 17 October 2014 09:44

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Executive Council re-match: Cryans again challenging Kenney for District 1 seat

LACONIA — While the special election to replace the late Ray Burton as Executive Councilor in District 1 captured headlines in March, the rematch between Republican Joe Kenney of Wakefield and Democrat Mike Cryans of Hanover next month has been vastly overshadowed by races for U.S. Senate, governor and Congress.

In March, Kenney won the seat, topping Cryans by 1,267 votes when voters cast their ballots on town meeting day, leaving the balance between the two parties on the five-member council unchanged with three Democrats and two Republicans.

Cryans, who has served on the Grafton County Commission for the past 18 years, said during a visit to Laconia last week the stakes are higher this time around. Democrat Deborah Pignatelli of Nashua, who served on the council from 2004 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2014, chose not to seek re-election, creating an open seat in District 5. Diane Sheehan, a Nashua alderman, is seeking to hold the seat for the Democrats against the challenge of Republican David Wheeler of Milford, who held it from 2010 to 2012. Cryans explained that the Democratic majority on the council will hinge on the outcomes of the races in District 1 and District 5.

Cryans said that the special election in March was run in unique circumstances. Campaigning was interrupted and voters distracted by the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays. At the same time, without competition from other races, Cryans raised some $140,000 or the special election, almost three times more than he has raised for the rematch. "I don't need the $140,000," he remarked.

The result reflected the turnout. The election, falling on town meeting day, skewed the turnout in favor of townships, especially those with controversial issues on their warrants. Cryans won 90 percent of the vote in Hanover and 73-percent of the vote in Lebanon, but the turnout in both towns was just a sixth of what it was in the presidential election of 2012. He also ran well in Plymouth, Berlin and Conway, where turnout was also low. College students represented a significant share of the difference. On the other hand, Kenney ran strongest in the southeastern reaches of the district where relatively large numbers of voters cast ballots. Noting that this year's race lacks the prominence of the special election in March, Cryans hoped a larger turnout would lead to a different result.

Cryans, who runs 10 miles a day and has clocked more than 82,000 miles in the past 24 years, said "I don't want to lose two road races in a row."

The issues in the election, Cryans said, echo those of March. He described energy issues, both the Northern Pass project and wind power, as "very thorny." He acknowledged that Northern Pass offered the prospect of additional jobs and revenue, but insisted that the transmission lines must be buried. "We can't just close our doors," he remarked, adding that high energy costs are among the challenges facing the state. Decisions on locating and wind farms, he said, must be left to municipal governments. Cryans expressed concern about the responsibility and cost of dismantling wind farms in the event the dynamics of energy markets rendered them uneconomic and suggested a decommissioning process should be established.

Cryans said that he is especially troubled by the rapidly aging demographic in the North Country and the dearth of economic opportunity for young people. He favors increased investment in education at both the university and community college systems to prepare youth for the challenging employment market. "I believe government is for the most vulnerable and least fortunate," Cryans said.

District 1 sprawls across more than two-thirds of the land area of the state, reaches into seven of its 10 counties — Coos, Carroll, Grafton, Belknap, Strafford, Sullivan and Merrimack — and includes four of its 13 cites — Laconia, Berlin Claremont and Lebanon — 109 of its 221 towns and most of its unincorporated places.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 01:44

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EEE virus found in Sanbornton horse

SANBORNTON — A horse in an unspecified Sanbornton location has been diagnosed with Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus, said Health Officer Bill Tobin yesterday morning. The town was notified of the diagnosis on Thursday evening.

The mosquito-born virus has become increasingly prevalent in New England over the last 10 years. This is the first instance that EEE has been observed in Sanbornton.

The N.H. Department of Health and Human Services said on Friday that since September there have been 18 mosquito batches, three animals, and three humans within the state that tested positive for EEE, including the horse diagnosed on Thursday. Two of the humans, an adult who lived in Manchester and an adult who lived in Conway died.

On Friday morning, selectmen held an emergency meeting with Tobin, select town officials and first responders. Information about EEE will be posted on the Sanbornton town website at www.sanborntonnh.org.

Tobin said town officials have also informed the Winnisquam Regional School District, Sant Bani School and the Montessori House of Children about the issue.

EEE is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. State health officials encourage all residents to take precautions against mosquito bites by using effective repellents, wearing long sleeves and long pants, and removing standing water from property to prevent mosquito breeding grounds.

Tobin said all horse owners should confirm their animal's immunizations and watch for strange behavior. Any unusual behavior in horses, donkeys or mules should be reported immediately to the DHHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 271-4496 and to a veterinarian.

The DHHS said symptoms in humans usually occur about four to 10 days after being bitten and can include high fever, severe headaches, a stiff neck and a sore throat. People exhibiting similar symptoms should contact their medical provider.

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 October 2014 12:01

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