LaconiaFest 'on target' to join Motorcycle Week



LACONIA — The head promoter of LaconiaFest said that the nine-day music festival is on pace to open on June 11 and become the newest addition to the list of annual events associated with Laconia Motorcycle Week.
“Everything’s running right on target, right on schedule, very smoothly,” said Laurie DiGiovanni, who added that tickets are still available for each of the dates, which will feature several acts performing each day, in addition to other forms of entertainment.
Festival preparations are currently in the “build-out” phase, according to DiGiovanni, which includes the construction of the stage on the grounds of the Weirs Drive-In Theater, as well as the building of the “VIP Tower,” available to festival goers who purchase premium tickets.
“Ticket sales have been solid,” DiGiovanni said, especially VIP ticket sales. She added that, since Memorial Day, the festival has offered on-site ticket sales for those who prefer to buy their concert pass in person.
“We underestimated the fact that not everyone has internet,” she said. To encourage sales over the internet, the LaconiaFest website is currently offering a 20 percent discount for online sales.
Ticket buyers have been “from all over the place,” said DiGiovanni. Most are bought by Laconia residents, though they have also been sold to patrons from Boston, Maine, Vermont and Montreal.
The most popular dates so far are for June 15 and June 17, when Steven Tyler and Ted Nugent are scheduled to headline.
She said the festival has secured “ample parking” in a field near the festival site, available for an additional fee.
Those who purchase tickets for individual dates for Laconia-Fest will be given a wristband that will allow day-long access to the festival village, which will be open from noon each day and will close at 1 a.m. In addition to music, the festival is bringing in paintball, freestyle motocross by Keith Sayers and Friends, and burnout demonstrations.
“People are really going to be blown away by Keith Sayer,” she said, adding that his performances are “really over the top.”
Laconia Police Capt. Matt Canfield said he has been working with LaconiaFest organizers to provide additional police presence to assure the safety of the event, which has a daily capacity of 30,000.
“We’ve been working with the promoter right from the beginning on this thing – as far as security concerns, the promoter and venue owner have bent over backwards to work with us,” Canfield said. The cost of the added police details will be covered by the promoter, he said.
“They’ve done their due diligence by working with us to make it as safe as can be,” he said.
Canfield added that he hoped the event would become an annual boost to Laconia Motorcycle Week. “I’m kind of excited about the whole event, I think it’s going to bring some new people to the event,” he said.
“There’s a lot of anticipation” for LaconiaFest, said Charlie St. Clair, executive director of Laconia Motorcycle Week, adding that he expects many people already in The Weirs for the annual motorcycle rally will buy a pass.
“LaconiaFest is looking forward to being part of Laconia Motorcycle Week,” said DiGiovanni.
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Laconia’s top ten seniors ready for varied careers


LACONIA — While three of the top 10 students at Laconia High School intend to return to the classroom as elementary school teachers, the other seven all have different aspirations.
Taylor Sullivan and Lizzie Davis, two of the three women with their eyes on a teaching career, will be following a a family tradition. Sullivan's mother and aunt are both kindergarten teachers and Davis's mother teaches special education students.
"I love little kids," said Sullivan, who worked with a fifth-grade class as well as alongside her mother in pursuing her Extended Learning Opportunity at the Huot Technical Center. She said she expects to explore special education, adding that "I love helping people and seeing them achieve their goals." At the same time, she recognized that teaching young children "requires lots and lots of patience."
Davis said she is enrolling at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her mother earned her master's degree. As a student, she has worked with third- and fourth-graders and at the end of her school day assists with the after-school programs at Elm Street Elementary School. "I love making a difference in children's lives," she said, stressing the importance of "caring and teaching life's lessons" along with the three Rs.
Robin Friend, the third aspiring elementary school teacher will prepare at Thomas College in Waterville, Maine. Like her counterparts she has worked with preschool children as well as kindergartners and first- and third-graders.
"I like kids," she said bluntly.
She also enjoys art and writing and confessed she was somewhat surprised to find herself in the top 10 after finishing just out of the money in the past. Sullivan, Davis and Friend are all members of the National Technical Honor Society.
Nick Shastany is going not only to college but also to sea as a student at the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York.
"I want to be the captain of a ship," he said, adding that much of his degree in marine transportation would consist of engineering courses. Shastany said that he hopes to command tankers and container ships, but not cruise liners.
"Cargo doesn't complain," he said.
He said that, despite his size, he was coaxed into playing football only during his senior year and next year hopes to row and shoot at the academy. When the sailor comes home from the sea, he said he may try his hand at stand-up comedy.
"I don't want to come in dead set on something and I find out I don't really want to do it," said Jackson Lawrence, who will attend Saint Anselm College in Manchester in the fall. He is interested in both computer science and liberal arts, particularly political science. In the next breath, he spoke about software engineering, picking Google as "my dream job," then confessed his passion for video games.
"I may transfer to a tech school," Lawrence said, "or go onto graduate school."
An admitted geek, Dan Romprey got his first computer — "a Windows 95 PC" — when he was 5 and never looked back. He intends to study computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts, with the aim of working in cyber security for the federal government.
"I've been into computers for as long as I can remember," he said, "and I want a chance to serve my country."
Natalie Compton said that for some years she has worked with a cousin who is physically impaired and the knowledge and rewards she has gained from the experience has led her to pursue a career in occupational therapy, beginning with the five-year master's program at the University of New Hampshire. An accomplished athlete, she has played on the successful basketball and lacrosse teams in high school, but said she would reluctantly give up sports to focus on schoolwork next year.
"I want to work with people," Compton said.
Her interest piqued by an advanced placement course in psychology, Jessica McDermott will continue her studies at Colby Sawyer College in New London, where she expects to choose between forensic and clinical psychology. Meanwhile, she said she was fascinated by a biotechnology class at the Huot Technical Center and may also consider preparing for medical school.
A regular performer on the high school stage, she said, "I love acting and would like to perform on the side," confessing that she dreamed of appearing on Broadway.
Taylor Gagne is bent on a career as a neurologist or neurosurgeon and will take the first step by majoring in chemistry on a pre-med track at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. "I've always wanted a career in medicine," he said, explaining that his choice was confirmed by the the advanced placement course in psychology that pointed him toward studying the brain. While on a scientific track that included biology and chemistry, Gagne, like McDermott, also took time for the performing arts by joining the cast of dramatic productions.
Kyle Johnson is the poster child for STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — education among the top 10 of 2016. After four years at the Huot Technical Center, he said he will graduate with a Solidworks certification, confirming his proficiency with computer-aided design. This summer he will intern at EFI (Electronics for Imaging) in Meredith, which together with his certification will give him a head start towards an associates degree in mechanical engineering at New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord. And he is already looking beyond to an engineering degree at the University of New Hampshire.
Despite their different interests and aspirations, all ten have shown they have one thing in common, a commitment to success that will serve them well as they continue their education in pursuit of the professional goals they have chosen.

06-04 LHS Top 10

The top 10 members of the class of 2016 at Laconia High School are, front to back and left to right: Lizzie Davis, Robin Friend and Jessica McDermott, Taylor Gagne, Taylor Sullivan and Kyle Johnson, Natalie Compton and Jackson Lawrence, and Dan Romprey and Nick Shastany. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

Belknap County Sheriff's Department union agrees to contract

LACONIA — Employees of the Belknap County Sheriff's Department, who earlier this year switched to the Teamsters Union to represent them in contract negotiations, have approved a contract with the county.
Belknap County Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) said that the contract is similar to that approved earlier this year by the Belknap County Corrections Department. That contract provided a 1.4 percent pay raise in each of the two years as well as step increases, which could increase total compensation by 4.4 percent each year for eligible workers.
It also provided for health insurance changes from an HMO plan to a "site of service" plan.
Taylor told his fellow commissioners when they met Friday at the Belknap County Complex that he thinks the contract which was agreed to is a good deal for both the workers and the county.
The contract was approved by the commissioners, who now will bring it to the Belknap County Delegation for approval.
Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) pointed out that members of the delegation have been critical of recent changes in health insurance plans which have resulted in employees no longer paying a portion of premium costs. Taylor said that issue could be looked at again in three years if the proposed contract wins approval.
Both Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) and Taylor have said that the cost savings to the county from the change from an HMO plan to a site of service plan outweigh the added costs to the county of paying the entire premium. Current health insurance plans require employees to pay between 5 and 6.5 percent of the total health insurance premium.
Commissioners approved acceptance of a $22,395 grant from the New Hampshire Department of Education for the Belknap County Corrections Department. The funds will be used for the purchase of laptop computers for a female inmate computer programming class ($15,395) and to pay for instruction ($7,000).
The commission also approved using funds within the Belknap County Nursing Home budget to provide wireless internet access at the home for seven residents at the home who have who have laptops but no access.
Country Administrator Debra Shackett said that residents at the home have expressed displeasure with losing a service which was previously provided. She said it will cost $280 a month for a temporary fix with Verizon, which would set up a "hot spot" for free to provide access. She said that the county should look at installing a fiber optic system for $15,000 which would provide wireless network access for the entire county home.
She said that the change would double the county's internet costs from the current $600 a month to $1,200.