WOW Trail given green light, parking spaces, turn lane to go


LACONIA — At the request of the Winnipesauke-Opechee-Winnisquam (WOW) Trail committee, the City Council agreed Monday to eliminate the dedicated right-turn lane leading from New Salem Street to Main Street along with 12 parking spaces on New Salem Street to clear the route of the second phase of the trail from the Laconia Public Library to the Belmont town line.

The vote was taken without debate and Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) alone dissented. Although Baer did not speak to her vote, she had earlier expressed misgivings about the risks to both pedestrians and cyclists crossing Main Street .

Maureen Bieniarz-Pond read a letter from Richard Mitchell, who owns and operates Pitman's Freight Room, repeating his opposition to the route of the trail, which not only will pass about 12 feet from the entrance to his building but also eliminate the dozen parking spaces near his venue.

City Manager Scott Myers said that the city has accepted an offer from Craig Beane, who owns property on New Salem Street, to share parking spaces on his lot, which houses the Salvation Army Thrift Store. Beane has indicated that between 30 and 60 could be made available to the public. Myers said yesterday discussion are underway to determine how many spaces could be opened to public parking and at what times.

Allan Beetle, president of the WOW Trail committee said that the Planning Board is expected to approve the route of the trail when it meets next month and that construction is scheduled to begin in July with hopes of completing the project in October.

Interim Shaker superintendent greets parents


BELMONT — "I like people," was Interim Shaker Regional School District Superintendent Michael Tursi's opening statement to the nearly 50 teachers and parents who came to a meet-and-greet session Monday night at Belmont High School.

The first question he fielded from the audience what whether he is considering a permanent position, to which he answered, "I'm not here as a stepping stone."

He said he likes to have a visible presence in the schools and can rarely be found in his office. He said likes to talk with everyone in the building, from the building leaders to the students to the custodial and kitchen staff, to know how a school is operating from within.

As the current superintendent of SAU 64, he said he reduced the dropout rate from 9.7 percent to 0 by creating two diploma options and being creative with learning opportunities, a local community college and project-based learning.

One question to Tursi was how he planned on communicating and coordinating with parents and teachers, which were hot topics in the culture survey discussion later on the evening.

Tursi admitted to "not being an email person" but said he strives to get better at it because social media is one of the best ways to get a message out to a wide variety of people in a short period of time, "especially if something is welling up in the community." He said he favors one-to-one conversations with younger students.

He also said he likes community forums like the ones held Monday night.

Tursi supports competency-based education, promised to learn what the teachers need to become the best they can be, and support professional development in all of the staff.

Describing himself and friendly and approachable, Tursi told the gathering he came to New Hampshire from Virginia to be a hiking guide in the Appalachian Mountain Club. Armed with his degree in geology, he started his own school while earning his master's degree in education at Plymouth State University.

He said a friend of his told him he should get into the schools immediately. He said he became a paraprofessional at Plymouth Elementary School for a child with cerebral palsy. He joined Plymouth High school as a science teacher, then his wife urged him into administration.

Tursi became an assistant principal at Barrington Middle School and later the principal. He said that during one of the times the Shaker superintendent position became open he applied and was rejected. In retrospect, he said that it was a big leap from principal to superintendent. Instead, he said he spent three years as the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum in the Manchester School District and was grateful for the experience of working in a big city school district with multicultural students and where many different languages are spoken.

For the past three years, he has been superintendent for the Wakefield-Milford School District, which is SAU 64, but they are splitting at the end of 2017 and his job will be eliminated. He said he could have stayed the final year but said he wanted to come to Shaker Regional instead.

05-25 Michael Tursi

Interim Shaker Superintendent Michael Tursi addresses a group of parents and teachers at a meet-and-greet at the Belmont High School Monday night. (Gail Ober photo/Laconia Daily Sun)

Walkway to honor Peter Karagianis

LACONIA — The walkway from Beacon Street East to the footbridge over the Winnipesaukee, which passes in front of the Belknap Mill, will be named Peter Karagianis Way, in honor of the man who, among his many contributions to the city, at the forefront of the effort that spared the oldest, unaltered, brick mill in the nation from demolition.
Karagianis, who passed away on May 14 at the age of 99, was dubbed "Mr. Laconia" in 1985 by Edwin Chertok, a former mayor of the city, in recognition of his service to the community.
On June 23, the Belknap Mill Society will celebrate what would have been Karagianis's 100th birthday when Peter Karagianis Way will be dedicated to the memory of one of the city's most beloved and revered citizens.
– Michael Kitch