Woman rescued

LACONIA — A woman was pulled from the Winnipesaukee River behind the Laconia VFW Monday evening, but a search for another person believed to be in the water was called off when no one was found.
Melanie Sweeney of Laconia was pulled from the water by another woman. Both women were taken to Lakes Region General Hospital, where they were treated for hypothermia
Rescuers searched the river from Rotary Park to the Fair Street bridge, as far as the Water Street boat ramp.
Belmont and Gilford fire department assisted in the search.
– Michael Kitch

Dinner April 29 to benefit fire victims


BELMONT – Fellow police officers and friends of Sgt. Steve Akerstom, the Belmont firefighter whose home was severely damaged in a two-alarm blaze in Gilmanton on April 15, are hosting a spaghetti dinner for him and his family.

The dinner will be held Friday, April 29, at the VFW Post 1670 in Laconia at 6 p.m., and the entertainment will be by Jackie Lee.

Along with the spaghetti dinner, there will be a silent auction and raffle.

People who wish to assist can attend the dinner or donate items for a silent auction.

Akerstrom and his wife, Sarah, are the parents of two small children and, according to friend and fellow Belmont Police Sgt. Adam Pickowitz, one end of the home will have to be rebuilt and the family lost all of their belongings to fire, smoke and water damage.

No one was home at the time and no one was injured. The family is displaced for a while but is staying with family.

For more information about the spaghetti dinner, please go to https://www.facebook.com/events/780368828766482/.

For those who cannot attend the spaghetti dinner but who still wish to help, go to

The Akerstroms would like to extend their thanks to Gilmanton Police Sgt. Casey Brennan and the Gilmanton Fire and Rescue Department for their quick response.

Remembering Lilyanna - Memorial to teen killed on Messer Street Bridge dedicated on third anniversary of her death

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LACONIA — Just a few feet from where her life was taken, stands a granite post, topped with a plaque bearing her picture, her birth and death dates, and angel's wings above an inscription — "It's Always Sunny Above the Clouds" — ensuring that Lilyanna Amara Johnson will never be forgotten by her family, her friends and her community.
Yesterday, three years to the day, Lilyanna, then just 14, was struck by a car at the foot of the Messer Street Bridge, and a crowd of all ages, with teenagers its largest component, gathered at the scene to dedicate the memorial. People mingled and hugged. Some placed flowers. Others tied balloons. All shared memories of Lilyanna. There were no speeches and many more smiles than tears, which one woman remarked is how Lilyanna would have liked it.
The memorial is the work of Susan Fleming, Lilyanna's grandmother, who said "It is for the community and for my daughter, Bethany. She is my only daughter," she continued, "and I can't imagine what I would do without her."
She said that Bethany "struggled with the loss of Lilyanna and got beyond it, and I wanted something personal for her. She can come here and feel good," she said. "This is where her happiness ended, but now it is a positive place."
Lilyanna's close friend Allyssa Miner, who was alongside her and severely injured when the car hit them both, stood near the very spot.
"It's hard, but..." she said.
Classmates at Woodlands Heights Elementary School, Allyssa chose Lilyanna as her hero. She has overcome her injuries to play three sports at Laconia High School, but Fleming said wrestles with Lilyanna's passing.
"I tell her," Fleming said, "I never wanted you to go with Lily. I wanted Lily to go with you."
Kyle Chiasson, who was close to Lilyanna throughout her life, described her as "an amazing person" and "the kindest person you could ever hope to meet." He said that he took her loss "very hard" and was pleased she would be remembered by a memorial.
A classmate and close friend Ciara LaGarde was also shaken when a friend told her Lilyanna was gone, but said "It teaches you a lot, to cherish every moment. You don't ever believe it could happen to you or to your friends."
The memorial, she said,is a reminder of "the value of friendship and the value of life."
Looking over the crowd, Fleming remarked "Lily had a boatload of friends. She was an angel here and there. That's our Lily."

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