LACONIA — St. Helena Mission Church, where Catholic services were held on weekends throughout the summer months for half a century, was closed last September and put up for sale in December.
Father Marc Drouin, pastor of St. Andre Bessette Parish, said yesterday that the church was built in early 1960s on land donated in 1954 as a mission church of Our Lady of the Lakes Parish in Lakeport. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s mass was held at St. Helena four or five times in the course of a weekend as vacationing families and seasonal residents filled its pews. In those days, he said, there were between seven and nine priests spread among the three parishes in the city and they were assisted in the summer months by the Benedictines from St. Anselm's College in Manchester.
Drouin said that regular attendance began falling in the 1990s, particularly at St. Helena, as the conversion of motels and cottages to condominiums slowed the turnover of summer visitors and increased the number of seasonal residents, many of whom worshiped at the larger churches in the city. As the number of parishioners dwindled in 2010 the three parishes ultimately became on, which today is served by two priests, and a year later the Our Lady of the Lakes church building was offered for sale.
Drouin explained that last year the pastoral and finance council undertook a study of St. Helena and found it in need of repairs estimated to cost about $200,000. He said that the council concluded that what he called "a 24-hour church," where mass was held of Saturdays and Sundays for 12 weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day, did not warrant the investment. The parish petitioned the bishop to sell the property.
"There are always emotions around the closing of a church because so many of the significant parts of our lives are spent there," Drouin said, recalling that the decision to close St. Helena was comprehensively explained to parishioners in the Parish Bulletin.
The property at 326 Endicott Street East, less than a mile from Weirs Beach, consists of the 5,200-square-foot building, which sits on a three-acre lot, almost two thirds of which are paved. The church is not heated. It is listed by the Portsmouth office of the CBRE Group, Inc., the largest real estate firm in the country, at $349,000, much less than its assessed value of $885,700.
The church is in the single-family residential district, where a variety uses, including assisted living facilities, hotels, motels and cottages, are permitted and with by special exception educational institutions, campgrounds, greenhouses, marine dealers and greenhouses are also allowed.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 March 2014 12:11
TILTON — Incumbent Joe Jesseman and Jonathan Scanlon captured the two seats on the Board of Selectmen at yesterday's election. Jesseman topped the poll with 158 votes, just four more than Scanlon's 154, while Peter Fogg ran third with 145 votes and Wayne Brock trailed the field with 101.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 March 2014 01:36
ASHLAND — Voters re-elected Normand DeWolfe and chose Steve Felton for the other three-year selectman's seat in Ashland on Tuesday, with the candidates polling 302 and 172, respectively. Jamie Lyford received 90 votes, John Hughes 83, and Miriam Brown 58 in Tuesday's elections. For the one-year selectman's position, Frances Newton garnered 160 votes to Harold Lamos' 91, Ron Niles' 90, and Anthony Hoerter's 48 votes. In the other contested race, for two seats on the budget committee, voters chose Harold Lamos, 222, and Sandra Coleman, 199, while Ingrid Heidenreich received 171 votes.
With the budget committee having opposed a petitioned article to purchase the former elementary school at 41 School Street for use as the town library, passage of the article would have been illegal, as it would exceed the budget committee's recommended budget by more than 10 percent. Accordingly, voters defeated the article on a 149-299 vote.
Voters also defeated the proposed operating budget of $6,210,871 which will result in a default budget of $6,130,645. They also defeated articles for the purchase of a transfer station mini-loader and a pickup truck for the public works department, and turned down several other requests to set aside money in capital reserve funds.
They did approve articles allowing the town to sell or lease the Squam Lake Dam Hydroelectric generating facility and to adopt a procedure whereby the town might sell its electric, water, or sewer utility assets.
Also passed, on a 330-120 vote, was a zoning ordinance providing for local control of any proposed large wind energy systems.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 March 2014 01:35
MEREDITH — Hillary Seeger, the lone candidate on the ballot was elected yesterday to the seat on the Board of Selectmen opened by the retirement of Herb Vadney. Seeger received 518 while 185 voters wrote in David Sticht, who insisted he was not running, but agreed to serve if elected.
Voters approved all four amendments to the zoning ordinance, among one that to loosen restrictions on the permitted uses in the Business and Industry District, which would allow Erica Duncan and Janine Page, the owners of Skate Escape, to develop an indoor sports complex, with a roller skating rink and full-sized turf fielkd, on a 5.24 lot on Reservoir Road.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 March 2014 01:30
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