Tennis court to-do list done

07 13 Leavitt Park reopening

City Councilor Armand Bolduc, Kermit and Nancy Merrill of the Leavitt Park Association, Mayor Ed Engler, Laconia Parks & Recreation Director Kevin Dunleavy, Parks & Recreation Commission member Mitch Hamel, Bob Ronstadt of the Lakes Region Tennis Association and Tony Felch of the Leavitt Park Association marked the official opening of the new courts at Leavitt Park in Laconia yesteday.  (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Leavitt Park courts reopen with fresh facilities


LACONIA — The city has a committee that carefully ranks proposed capital improvement projects and City Manager Scott Myers makes recommendations on which of those project should get funding.

But most years, City Council members find a way to fund things that don't rise to the top of his list. These are items that may not be overly expensive but are viewed as important in creating an attractive community.

Such was the case with the $78,000 reconstruction of the Leavitt Park tennis courts, which reopened Wednesday with a fresh asphalt surface and new fences, nets and paint. For years, the fence was rusted, the court surface uneven and cracked.

Councilor Armand Bolduc, who was at the courts Wednesday along with other city officials, said the project has been needed for some time.

“I'm glad we finally got it done,” he said. “I fought for it.”

A new tennis court may not seem like a big deal, but things like this are important for Laconia, he said.

“It's good for people to exercise, particularly older people, but younger people, too,” he said.

Leslie Lovely, of the Lakes Region Tennis Association, was one of the first people to try out the court. On the other side of the net was her son, Andrew Sykes, 20. He said he was rusty but he quickly warmed up in the 80-degree heat and gave his mother a good game under sunny skies.

The city's Parks and Recreation Department has requested the tennis court work since at least 2013, although it has never won a recommendation from the city manager.

In 2013, the tennis court refurbishment was ranked No. 37 on the Capital Improvement Program Committee's list of projects. It moved up four slots on the list the next year. In 2015, it was No. 26. Last year, it was No. 17, and the City Council voted to pay for it out of a reserve fund.

Parks and Recreation priorities are often among those that don't make the cut for recommended projects but get funding through what is essentially a City Council earmark.

This year, that was the case for a $40,000 expenditure to study erosion at city beaches, $35,000 for a new fence at Opechee Park, $25,000 for park basketball court improvements and $20,000 for a paved pathway through Opechee Park, connecting the middle school campus with North Main Street.

Last year, in addition to the tennis court work, the City Council funded Memorial Park softball field bleachers at a cost of $15,000 and playground revitalization work costing $15,000, both of which were requested by the Parks and Recreation Department but were not among the projects recommended by the city manager.

Councilor Henry Lipman, who is on the Capital Improvement Program Committee, said people appreciate projects that improve the city's quality of life.

“Sometimes you want to do something to make things right,” he said. “The citizenry values certain projects or repairs.

“The council is interested in having a strategic planning process and having amenities in the community as a way of making the city more attractive. Our parks and trails and beaches are amenities that are valued.”

Kevin Dunleavy, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, values this attitude.

“I don't have any expectations, but these projects are certainly things that need to be done,” he said. “I always appreciate when they can make it work.”

 07 13 Leavitt Park tennis court

Leslie Lovely returns a shot to her son, Andrew Sykes, on the newly refinished tennis court at Leavitt Park.  (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Poker Run raises $132K for Easterseals

07 13 Poker Run kid

Elliott Perry, 5, the current EastersealsNH child representative, gets the crowd fired up at the auction portion of the 17th annual HK Powersports Land and Poker Run Saturday. (Courtesy photo)


LACONIA — Easterseals New Hampshire raised a record $132,000 from its 17th Annual HK Powersports Land and Poker Run.

The event held last Saturday eclipsed the total brought in last year and exceeded the organization's goal, said Christine Pederson of Easterseals NH.

“Our goal was to finally reach $100k in one day, and thanks to you, we not only reached it, we blew its doors off!” she said in an email to the public.

“You are helping to make a difference in thousands of lives by supporting this event, and we are forever grateful to you all!”

Last year's poker run brought in about $96,000, then a record, and brought to more than $1 million the total amount of funds raised by the event since its inception in 2000.

There were more than $20,000 in prizes this year.

Participants traveled over land or over water and stopped at four checkpoints to pick up poker cards sealed in envelopes and then returned to the NASWA Resort to get their final card and play their poker hand.

There was also an auction including sports memorabilia that brought in thousands of dollars.

A photograph autographed by New England Patriots running back James White showing him scoring the winning touchdown in the last Super Bowl brought in $650.

A football autographed by Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was purchased for $2,400.

A football autographed by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady from the 2002 Superbowl in which New England won its first NFL championship brought in $3,500.

A football autographed by Brady from the last Super Bowl went for $5,000.

A photo signed by David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox and showing him giving a speech at Fenway Park after the Boston Marathon bombing sold for $6,000.

Two photos called “Titletown” and showing championship trophies for the Red Sox, the Bruins, the Patriots and the Celtics, autographed by Ortiz, Bobby Orr, Brady and Larry Bird each went for $12,500.

For more than 80 years, Easterseals NH has provided services to people with disabilities or special needs. Areas of service include autism, child care, special education, medical rehabilitation and substance abuse.

The organization has more than 26,900 children, adults and seniors in over 90 programs throughout the state.

07 13 Poker Run NASWA

The grownups had fun with games in the water at the Naswa during the Poker Run. (Courtesy photo)

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Livernois named Belknap County Attorney


LACONIA — Former Sanbornton selectman and Yale Law School graduate Andrew Livernois was chosen as the new Belknap County Attorney by the Belknap County Delegation Tuesday night.

Livernois, who now lives in Concord and is a partner with the Concord law firm Ransmeier & Spellman, plans to move to Belknap County by Aug. 1, the date on which he will take office, after winding up client business in his current private practice.

He served as a selectman in Sanbornton from 2006 until 2012 and was an assistant attorney general in New Hampshire from 1999 to 2007 and a criminal prosecutor in New York City from 1996 until 1999.

Livernois said he has extensive experience which may prove useful to the county in representing municipalities in civil law cases and will make himself available to county officials for legal advice. He plans to run in next year's election for a full two-year term.

He will fill the position held by Melissa Guldbrandsen, who stepped down on July 8 to assume her new position as Laconia Circuit Court judge. He is a graduate of Winnisquam Regional High School and said that his family has lived in Belknap County for decades.
Livernois was elected over two other candidates who were interviewed, with a clear majority on the first ballot, receiving eight votes to five for Roni Karnis, who is currently a Department of Safety prosecutor and former assistant county attorney for Belknap County who lives in New Hampton. R.J. Meurin, who is currently an assistant Belknap County attorney, did not file an application before the June 22 deadline because he was under the impression that the candidate had to live in Belknap County as was advertised, received one vote.

Voting for Livernois were Rep. Marc Abear (R-Meredith), Rep. Dennis Field (R-Sanbornton), Rep. Don Flanders (R-Laconia), Rep. Valerie Fraser (R-New Hampton), Rep, David Huot (D-Laconia), Rep. Tim Lang (R-Sanbornton), Rep. Norm Silber (R-Gilford) and Rep. Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont).

Voting for Karnis were Rep. Glen Aldrich (R-Gilford) Rep. Barbara Comtois (R-Barnstead), Rep. Ray Howard (R-Alton), Rep. Peter Spanos (R-Laconia) and Rep. Herb Vadney (R-Meredith).

Rep. Peter Varney (R-Alton) voted for Meurin.

All three candidates were interviewed after the delegation took an hour trying to decide whether it should reopen the process of filling the vacancy in order to receive more applications. A motion by Rep. Silber to limit the interviews to only those candidates who had filed an application by the deadline lost on a 7-7 tie vote with Rep. Howard abstaining. When the vote was reconsidered it lost 7-8, which allowed Meurin to be interviewed.

The candidates all agreed that the opioid epidemic is the number one problem facing the county and that there is a need to prosecute drug dealers and to work with other agencies to find help for those with addiction problems.

They also agreed that plea bargains which avoid long and costly trials are a needed tool in the criminal justice system.

Livernois said that he is familiar with Merrimack County's system of pre-trial screening, in which alleged offenders are screened and can be placed on electronic bracelets rather than held in custody and said the program works well.

When it came time to vote, Rep. Howard said the statute called for a secret ballot vote but Rep. Silber pointed out that the county had already lost a Supreme Court case nearly 10 years ago when it voted by secret ballot to select a new sheriff.

Andrew Livernois

Andrew Livernois

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