Wicwas Grange celebrates National Grange Month

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — After to shrinking to little more than a handful of members, the Wicwas Grange now numbers close to 100 and, as the largest Grange in New Hampshire, will host an open house on Saturday, April 23, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., to celebrate National Grange Month.

The National Grange of the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry was established in 1867 as a fraternal organization fostering mutual cooperation to further the economic fortunes and civic interests of rural, farming communities. Its motto is "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity." Within a decade membership topped 850,000 and by the turn of the century the movement had spawned numerous consumer cooperatives as well as contributed to the regulation of railroads and grain elevators and the introduction of the cooperative service, farm credit system and rural free mail delivery,

The Wicwas Lake Grange was established in 1901. The Grange Hall in Meredith Center was built in 1925 and, after burning to the ground, was rebuilt a year later. Steve Durand, the president of the Wicwas Lake Grange, said that in New Hampshire Granges were instrumental in bringing power and police to rural towns with the formation of both New Hampshire Electric Cooperative and the New Hampshire State Police.

In keeping with the Grange's commitment to "American Values, Hometown Roots," Durand said that the Wicwas Lakes Grange posed the challenge to the businesses, nonprofit organizations and residents of Meredith by contributing the first $250 to the project and pledging to match its donation for the next three years.

Durand said that the open house will begin at 1 p.m. with the presentation of an American flag that has flown over the New Hampshire State House by state Sen. Jeanie Forrester. There will be displays by Meredith Center Maple, DD Forge, Gouin Farmstand and the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of new Hampshire.

In addition, the Grange will feature its dictionary project, which distributes more than 300 dictionaries each year to third-grade pupils at nine public and three private schools in the Lakes Region.

"I love it," said Cookie Boulanger, who recalled one pupil asked if he could give it to his father so he could learn to read, and another who wanted to offer it to his grandfather as a birthday present.

The Grange will also honor both the Granger of the Year and the Citizen of the Year in a ceremony at 2 p.m.

On Saturday evening, the Grange Hall will become a dance hall as Grange hosts a sock hop to the spinnings of DJ Nick. Admission is $5 with no charge for those 12 and younger. Those 12 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.

04-29 Forrester and Durand

Sen. Jeanie Forrester presents an American flag in 2013 to Steve Durand, president of the Wicwas Lake Grange, which after flying above the New Hampshire State House graced the Grange Hall in Meredith Center for several years. (Courtesy photo)

Woman rescued

LACONIA — A woman was pulled from the Winnipesaukee River behind the Laconia VFW Monday evening, but a search for another person believed to be in the water was called off when no one was found.
Melanie Sweeney of Laconia was pulled from the water by another woman. Both women were taken to Lakes Region General Hospital, where they were treated for hypothermia
Rescuers searched the river from Rotary Park to the Fair Street bridge, as far as the Water Street boat ramp.
Belmont and Gilford fire department assisted in the search.
– Michael Kitch

Dinner April 29 to benefit fire victims

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

BELMONT – Fellow police officers and friends of Sgt. Steve Akerstom, the Belmont firefighter whose home was severely damaged in a two-alarm blaze in Gilmanton on April 15, are hosting a spaghetti dinner for him and his family.

The dinner will be held Friday, April 29, at the VFW Post 1670 in Laconia at 6 p.m., and the entertainment will be by Jackie Lee.

Along with the spaghetti dinner, there will be a silent auction and raffle.

People who wish to assist can attend the dinner or donate items for a silent auction.

Akerstrom and his wife, Sarah, are the parents of two small children and, according to friend and fellow Belmont Police Sgt. Adam Pickowitz, one end of the home will have to be rebuilt and the family lost all of their belongings to fire, smoke and water damage.

No one was home at the time and no one was injured. The family is displaced for a while but is staying with family.

For more information about the spaghetti dinner, please go to https://www.facebook.com/events/780368828766482/.

For those who cannot attend the spaghetti dinner but who still wish to help, go to
https://www.gofundme.com/x3z8t4wk.

The Akerstroms would like to extend their thanks to Gilmanton Police Sgt. Casey Brennan and the Gilmanton Fire and Rescue Department for their quick response.