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Burchell to challenge Thomas for spot on Belknap Commission

GILMANTON — After serving one term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Richard Burchell, a Republican, has decided against seeking re-election and instead will challenge the incumbent, Republican John Thomas of Belmont, for the seat on the Belknap County Commission representing Barnstead, Belmont, Gilmanton and Tilton.

Burchell said Friday that "I'm very happy that I served in the House for two years," but confessed "it's not a day at the beach and can be very frustrating at times. I met some really great people on both sides of the aisle," he continued, "but it was difficult to get used to the ways they do things."

Meanwhile, as tensions between the Belknap County Convention and Belknap County Commission mounted, first over the county budget and then over the county jail, Burchell said he "became more interested in county government," where he remarked "you can have a greater impact on people's lives."

"It is very apparent that we're dysfunctional," Burchell said of the dispute between the convention and the commission, in which he has sometimes played a leading role. At the same time, he noted that "there are some grave decisions to be made." In particular, he acknowledged that conditions at the county jail must be addressed.

Openly critical of the recommendations of Ricci Greene Associates, the consultants engaged by the commission, he insisted that "there are several viable alternatives" and claimed that "spending $12 million or less will fill the bill." He added that he has read widely about corrections policy and facilities and considers himself well-versed in the issues.

Burchell suggested that "leadership and candor" in lacking among the current commissioners. "If the only choice is cave and cower or stand up," he said "I'm going to stand up."

Thomas, a veteran lawmaker who served seven terms in the House, several of them in leadership, was elected to a three-year term on the county commission in 2011. "Unless something drastic happens," he said Friday, "I'm running." Thomas, who succeeded Democrat Ed Philpot as chairman of the convention last year, has neither disguised his differences with the Republican majority of the convention not shrunk from confrontation with its chairperson, Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith).

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 12:07

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Couple plans to turn Guild Farm in Gilford into ‘place of prayer’

GILFORD — A church with its historical roots in Fort Worth, Texas is looking to officially relocate on 14 Curtis Road in the farmhouse owned for years by the Guild family.

According to Attorney Patrick Wood, the Arbo Ministries, operated by Barbara and Steven Arbo, is hoping to turn the 1793 farmhouse located at the corner of Cherry Valley and Curtis roads into a place where "small groups" of people can come for prayer, Bible study, and contemplation.

"They don't have any plans beyond this," said Wood when reached yesterday.

He said that there is an engineer who was working with the Arbos to open up the old driveway off Cherry Valley Road, but the primary driveway is off Curtis Road.

According to their own website posting, the Arbos are long-time friends of the late Vicki Jamison-Peterson who established the VJP(Ministries). The website also states, "For the past 16 years, Steve has given oversight to a 24 X 7 place of prayer in Ft. Worth, Texas, at Calvary Cathedral International."

The Arbos said they found the Gilford home in March 2013 when they came on a scouting mission to find a place to establish their "place of prayer." They began fund raising through their own ministry and were able to close on the property in the end of March.

They say they will continue to fund raise to pay off the $450,000 mortgage.

Along with the home the ministry was able to purchase a 6.8-acre parcel of land directly across the street. Both the house and the parcel at 400 Cherry Street were bought from the Katrina Carye Trust at the same time, said a representative of the Gilford Town Assessors Office.

Many of the residents of Curtis Road and Cherry Valley Road aren't thrilled to have what they fear could turn into a large church in their neighborhood and increased parking and traffic.

Most of the abutters have said they would be attending a Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting that is now scheduled for June 24.

According to the Town Planning Office, a church is allowed in limited residential zones with a special exception. The meeting for the ZBA to decide whether or not to grant the special exception was scheduled for last night but, according to Wood, was postponed because of a mistake in abutter notifications.

The town assessing office said the Arbo Ministries has already come to the town for a charitable tax exemption but it was denied for this year because it was late. The combined properties pay $12,000 in taxes — $10,000 for the main house and $2,000 for the 6.8 acres across the street.

The house in one of the more storied homes in Gilford, said Larry Guild Jr. whose family owned it from 1948 until 2009 when it was sold to the Caryes.

Guild said his father bought it from a man named Wallace who used it as a bed a breakfast until the 1940s when Mr. Wallace joined the military during World War II.

He said his father farmed the area around it an had 28 dairy cows, over 1,000 turkeys, chickens and a few horses.

He said the house has seen a number of senators, business dignitaries, governors, and other people from history who came to visit, including presidential candidate George Romney and the members of the Marriott family.

When his mother, who lived there for 50 years, went to sell it, he said his sisters wanted him to buy it, but Guild said he didn't have the energy or money to modernize it. In his opinion, Katrina Carye did a wonderful job inside although he said she changed things considerably from the way his parents had it.

As to the old driveway to the south of the home, Guild said that was the driveway his family used. He explained that until the 1930s and the building of Gunstock Ski Area, Curtis Road was the main road and it went up over the hill and reconnected to Cherry Valley Road near where the old Gunstock Inn is located.

His family used the Cherry Valley Road driveway because the snow drifts along Curtis Road were so bad that most people couldn't get up there.

"The Curtises and Kellys used to come down on toboggans," he said.

When asked how he felt about it becoming a church, he said his sisters were furious, but he had hoped that the Carye's would continue to use it as a summer home.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 12:15

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George ‘The Chief’ Abdulla, owner of the Winnipesaukee Pier, dies at 83

LACONIA — The owner of the Winnipesaukee Pier at The Weirs, George J. Abdulla, passed away last weekend at the age of 83 in his hometown of Methuen, Mass.

Abdulla, who in partnership with his brother operated Joe's Ice Cream Stand in Salisbury, Mass.. and Abdulla's Bakery in Lawrence, Mass., became known as "the chief" after acquiring the pier from the Irwin Corporation in 1976.

The pier, in its current configuration, was built in 1924 by James Irwin, the bandleader, impresario, stockbroker and boat dealer, after fire destroyed the Weirs Music Hall. Irwin's Winnipesaukee Gardens opened on Memorial Day 1925 and for more than four decades served as a venue for the best big bands in the land while offering motorboat rides and hosting the Miss Winnipesaukee Contest.

Under Abdulla's ownership the pier became home to an amusement arcade, retail shops and a restaurant as well as nearly 50 boat slips. For several years the historic property has been listed for sale at an asking price of $2.6 million.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 12:27

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Annette Poirier, founding member of Weirs Action Committee, dies at 81

LACONIA — Annette Poirier, a founding member of the Weirs Action Committee, died last weekend at the age of 81.

For more than four decades Poirier owned and operated Abakee Cottages, which overlooks Lake Winnipesaukee on land that once housed the Native American village Aquedoctan.

In the 1990s, she began drawing together business and property owners at The Weirs to pursue the interests of the community with one voice. Her efforts came to fruition with the formation of the Weirs Action Committee (WAC) in 1995, when she became the organization's vice president. She served as president from 1997 to 1999 and later chaired the Beautification Subcommittee, which she dubbed the "Pretty Committee."

Over the years Poirier had a hand in virtually every initiative to enhance and promote The Weirs. "The Weirs Action Committee will be forever indebted to the commitment, hard work, dedication, wit and wisdom of Annette Poirier," read a statement issued upon her death.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 12:34

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