140 swimmers to join Navy SEALs on Newfound Lake


ALEXANDRIA — U.S. Navy SEALs will be parachuting from helicopters into Newfound Lake and demonstrating their hostage rescue capabilities and K9 skills in support of a fundraiser for veterans that will bring upwards of 140 swimmers to Wellington State Park on Friday.

Among those present at Swim With a Mission will be SEAL Rick Kaiser, of Black Hawk Down fame, who twice led convoys into Mogadishu, having to shoot their way in and out. Another SEAL who will be there is now head of astronauts at NASA, according to Philip Taub who, with his wife, Julie, organized the event.

To raise money for the veterans’ organizations, individual swimmers will compete in 10K and 5K swims, while teams will take part in a 10-mile relay swim early that morning. Public events begin at 11, when everyone will have a chance to meet the elite Sea, Air, and Land special operatives. The SEAL demonstrations will begin at 2 p.m.

Philip Taub said he and his wife have spent time on Newfound Lake for 30 years, and they have been very involved with charities in the past, but it was after the last presidential primary that they decided it was time to start their own charity event.

“In the last presidential election cycle, we went to a lot of town hall meetings, and one thing that struck me after all the candidates had left was that we’d heard a lot about the struggles of veterans. I felt like there were some very good organizations that do good work for veterans, but they don’t have enough people or enough money,” he said.

Taub noted that runners and cyclists have a lot of fundraising opportunities, but swimmers do not traditionally do fundraising. And with the Timberman and Mooseman triathlons no longer taking place in the region, there was an opening for a new type of fundraiser, he said.

“Newfound Lake is one of cleanest lakes in the country and, for swimmers, we thought we could attract some of the best in the country,” he said. “We hope to create a long-term event that makes the Lakes Region a destination, and raises money at the same time.”

Proceeds of this year’s event will go to the Bridge House homeless shelter and veterans’ advocacy organization in Plymouth, Veterans Count of the Lakes Region, and the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Each swimmer collects pledges through the swimwithamission.com website, with a goal of raising $500 per swimmer. Some teams have collected thousands of dollars in donations.

Each swimmer or team has an opportunity to make a statement on the website, and Cyndi Kimball posted: “As a Coast Guard veteran, I am drawn to this event that helps veterans and honors their sacrifices.  Partnering with The Summit Project, I will carry a stone in memory of Army Captain Benjamin Keating, who died November 26, 2006, while serving as executive officer of A Troop, 3-71 Cavalry, Task Force Spartan, 10th Mountain Division in Kamdesh, Afghanistan.

“I have been fortunate to swim parts of Newfound Lake for years with my family, but my connection to the lake is more profound. My mom grew up summering here, and the cottages she stayed in as a child are still on the lake. She passed away at her home near the lake last year. She LOVED to tell people that I was a swimmer. My dad had more confidence in my abilities than I had actual ability. Both would have thought I'm a little crazy, but they always supported my endeavors.

“On July 14th I swim to raise money for veterans issues. I swim to honor Captain Ben Keating.  I swim for my parents' memory.”

Taub said there will be about 80 kayakers providing support for the swimmers during the event.

Swimmer registration begins at 5:30 a.m., with a pre-race meeting for swimmers and paddlers at 6:30, including a moment of silence to honor veterans and the playing of the National Anthem. A Navy SEAL and long-distance swimmer George Brunstad will speak, followed by a bagpiper playing.

The 5K swim will begin at 7, the 5K at 7:10, and 10-mile relay at 7:20.

For the free public event at 11 a.m., there will be food donated by the Common Man, Polly’s Ice Cream, the Rustic Crust and Sam Adams Beer, Coca-Cola Products and Millyard Coffee.

There will be a bouncy house for children as well as 50-50 drawing and a raffle for prizes that include a Gronkowski jersey and Red Sox tickets. Performing live music will be Madison Rising.

Also on the schedule are award presentations named in honor of SCPO Daniel R. Healy, Navy SEAL (5K) and Jeremiah Fitzgibbon, world champion swimmer/triathlete (10K). Triolo’s Bakery will provide a cake.

Prior to the SEAL demonstrations, members will be available for questions and answers. Sarah Mousseau, Miss NH USA, will sing the National Anthem.

Taub has high hopes for the event, noting that the Pan-Mass Challenge and the Boston Marathon began with only a few participants. Swim With a Mission, with 140 participants, is a success already, he said, and includes naval sea cadets who hope to join the special forces.

“The logistics are a lot,” Taub said, “but my wife is a rock star. She’s really good at putting events together. I’m the ideas guy, and everyone runs around trying to make them happen.”

07 11 SEALs

A contingent of Navy SEALs will land at Wellington State Park in Alexandria on Friday as part of Swim With a Mission, a swimming fundraiser to benefit veterans organizations. (Courtesy photo)


  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 7346

Timber Hill Farm owners bring new agritourism proposal to Gilford


GILFORD — Andrew Howe of Timber Hill Farm has submitted a new application seeking planning board approval of plans to hold farm-to-table dinners and other agritourism activities at the 263 Gunstock Hill Road property — something that has generated a great deal of controversy and led to court action in the past.

The new application, which the town’s site study committee reviewed on Monday, does not include some of the more controversial elements of previous plans, eliminating the use of a temporary tent and a lot across the street for large functions such as weddings.

The site study committee, comprising members of the conservation commission and police, fire, land use, and public works departments, looks at land use applications from various standpoints, according to Planning and Land Use Director John Ayer. He said everyone on the committee was familiar with the Howes’ agritourism concept and on Monday had very few questions about the new plan, which will go before the Gilford Planning Board next Monday.

Andrew and Martina Howe’s agritourism plans have faced strong opposition from some in the community, including neighbor Monique Twomey, who sued to prevent such activities on the property after the Howes began holding weddings there in 2015. Twomey said there was a large tent about 250 feet from her own property, and cited noise and disorderly conduct by the parties during those events.

In court filings, Twomey cited a 2014 Supreme Court ruling (Forster v. Town of Henniker) which found that agritourism is not the same as agriculture under the applicable state statutes. Twomey maintained that the growing of produce and the raising of livestock are appropriate activities on agricultural property, but not weddings and other events that are non-agricultural in nature.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment had ruled that farm-to-table events and weddings are allowed uses on the property, but the Planning Board disagreed, and Belknap County Superior Court Judge James O’Neill subsequently overturned the ZBA ruling, saying the members had improperly interpreted the term “agriculture” in the zoning ordinance.

The NH Legislature last year amended the definition of agriculture in state statutes to include agritourism, and the town of Gilford amended its zoning ordinance to allow agritourism, with restrictions, including at least a 500-foot setback from other dwellings or structures and controlling noise and the use of alcohol. It also limits the number of attendees at events to 250 persons.

Timber Hill Farm’s new application will be one of several going to a public hearing before the Gilford Planning Board on Monday.

Stone Brook Hills LLC already has site plan approval to hold outdoor events at 123 and 128 Glidden Road, but wants to make a barn and other buildings on the property available in case of inclement weather. Ayer said the fire department had been reviewing how the buildings would be used and their suitability, so a lot of potential issues have been resolved over the past few months, but the expanded use requires an amended site plan.

Paugus Bay Marine Center and Storage Facility LLC has a proposal to erect four boat storage buildings and a marine light repair shop on land at 26 Gilford East Drive, on subdivided property owned by Watermark Marine. Ayer said the buildings will be largely hidden from the road, and will be built in two phases, with the first two buildings going up initially, with some boats stored outside until the second phase brings two additional storage buildings and the maintenance shop.

Two other public hearings will involve Pem Real Estate’s plans to expand four offices on Hounsell Avenue and DGET Realty’s proposal for a building addition.


  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 891

Historic discovery

07 12 Historic letters in books 2

Bayswater Books owner Michelle Taft holds a letter from Sen. Ted Kennedy which was found in a used book the store acquired. “I couldn’t believe what I was looking at,” she said. (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Letters from 1971 by Ted Kennedy, William Fulbright found in old book


CENTER HARBOR — Two years before the end of the Vietnam War, a Stoneham, Massachusetts, man sent letters to sens. Edward Kennedy and J. William Fulbright with concerns and questions about the deadly conflict.

Kennedy and Fulbright have died, but their return correspondence lives on. Their letters were found recently in a used book donated to Bayswater Books.

Michelle Taft, the owner and manager of the book store, said it's common to find newspaper clips, postcards and other bits of paper in donated material. People use all manner of things for bookmarks, but letters like these are quite unusual.

“The letters simply tumbled out of a book and I couldn't believe what I was looking at,” Taft said.

She wants to protect the privacy of the letter writer and his family, so she declined to provide details about them or discuss who donated the book. The second floor of Taft's store has thousands of used books, some more than 100 years old.

Kennedy's letter was dated Feb. 2, 1971.

“As you know, I have been distressed over recent reports of military activity in Indochina, especially the expanding war in Cambodia,” Kennedy wrote.

The Vietnam war had expanded into Cambodia, initially with a secret U.S. bombing campaign.

“I have subsequently repeated my firm belief that it is time finally for our government to shift its focus in Indochina — from policies and programs which prolong the war and emphasize again military concerns, to the Paris negotiations which can end the violence and its rising human toll,” Kennedy stated in the letter.

The Paris Peace Accords were finally signed in 1973, and U.S. troops began to withdraw. Two years later, South Vietnam, the U.S. ally in the war, was finally defeated by North Vietnam.

“It is time for the American burden in Southeast Asia to be lightened, not increased,” Kennedy stated. “After many long years of war, I truly hope that the day will soon come when we can turn our energies and resources as a nation into more constructive efforts both at home and abroad.”

The letter was written less than three years after Kennedy's brother, Sen. Robert Kennedy, who had his own plan for peace in Vietnam, was assassinated in Los Angeles during his presidential campaign.

The other letter found in the book was from Fulbright, an Arkansas Democrat who was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Fulbright's letter was just two paragraphs and acknowledged a letter he received regarding “1964 incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin.”

In 1964, U.S. reports that North Vietnamese patrol boats had fired on two U.S. Navy destroyers led to approval by Congress of a resolution authorizing military action. A year later, there were 200,000 American combat troops in the region. Declassified documents about the war cast serious doubt on the accuracy of the original U.S. reports.

The letters from Fulbright and Kennedy may be the most interesting thing found in a used book at the store, but discoveries abound, including photographs, old test scores and recipes.

A blog about these items can be found on the Bayswater Books website, bayswaterbooks.com.

07 12 Senator Letter Photos 2

In addition to the Fulbright and Kennedy letters, the Bayswater used book section has now become a treasure trove of additional “found” items. Everything from pictures, old test score reports, letters written to others and so much more have been discovered hidden in the pages of these donated books. Rare titles have been found, as well. As the interesting, rare (and sometimes humorous) items began to pile up, the staff has decided to share their discoveries with the public. Their finds are now shown and described in the weekly “Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor” blog that can be found on the Bayswater website at bayswaterbooks.com.

  • Written by Ginger Kozlowski
  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 782