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Unofficial dog park closed

LACONIA — Normally, if you want to keep someone or something out, you lock the gates, but at Woodland Heights Elementary School, where for some years dog owners have let their pets loose on the fenced and gated playing field, the administration has removed the gates to keep the canines out.

Principal Dennis Dobe said yesterday that the gates were removed — even from the outfield that borders deep woods — to discourage residents from letting their dog roam free in the enclosure. He explained that although the field was never intended as a dog park, "we've worked hard to accommodate people," including installing dispensers with bags for pet waste. He said that while responsible dog owners picked up after their pets, others did not, posing a risk to the school children and athletic teams that regularly use the field. However, he said "the situation has been out-of-hand for a long time" and had become a "health and safety issue."

"You can't co-mingle," Dobe remarked. "It was a difficult decision, but it needed to be done."

Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks and Recreation, said that management of the field falls to the School District, which owns the property, while his department maintains the field and approves its use for youth sports. He noted that a city ordinance stipulates that "it shall be unlawful to intentionally permit any dog to run at large within the city of Laconia; to this end, the owner shall keep the dog on a leash or within an enclosure whenever the dog is not on the property of the owner."

Dunleavy said that while dogs are welcome in city parks, they must be kept on a leash and their owners must pick up after them.

Bob McCarthy, who regularly took his dog to the field, was troubled by the decision to remove the gates. He said that it followed on heels of his wife's complaint that the rubbish bins around the field were not being emptied, suggesting that the move to dispel dogs from the field was taken in reprisal.

Dobe flatly denied any connection between the two, describing it as "a coincidence." He conceded that responsibility for emptying the bins has been "ambiguous," which has caused problems, but insisted that the closure of the informal dog park and the emptying of the rubbish bins were two separate, unrelated issues.

Also coincidentally, people interested building a "Happy Tails" dog park on a tract of city-owned land in the South End are meeting tonight (Tuesday) at the Community Center at 6:30 p.m. The meeting is open to all Lakes Region residents.

Happy Tails seeks to lease four or five acres at the southeast end of the parcel located between the dead end of Spruce Street and the Lakes Business Park to house a parking area, access paths and two fenced dog parks, one of 1.3 acres divided in half for small and large dogs and another 40 feet by 20 feet for puppies.The park would be larger than most dog parks in the state and the play pen for puppies would be unique.

Last Updated on Monday, 19 May 2014 11:43

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Belmont Middle School's Destination Imagination team headed for nationals

BELMONT — For the five students who won the pandemonium challenge for the New Hampshire Destination Imagination competition, it doesn't get any better than going to Knoxville, Tenn. to compete in the global challenge.

The five — Kelly Hayes, H. Lavallee, Ian Cluett, Alexus Day, and Katherine Seiberth — Belmont Middle School students will leave with two adult chaperones for a three-day competition.

When asked what the lessons the five have learned from participating in Destination Imagination — all of them said "Teamwork."

"Sometimes we don't even have to talk to each other, we have silent cues," said H., noting the team has been together since the beginning of the year.

Destination Imagination is a public-private partnership that teaches students critical thinking, problem solving and creativity. It uses a variety of teaching tools, science, math, technology and acting to encourage a team to work as one and solve a problem.

In the pandemonium challenge, the five must act out a skit using a character from the past, a character from the present, and an in-costume character to solve a problem that is thrown at them by the judges.

For example, the team said for the state final the team had a doll, a carpenter from the past and a meteorologist from the present. Their challenge was a flooded basement and how they could address it.

"All three set characters have to work together to solve the pandemonium," said H., adding they bring the other two competitors in as needed when they decide their roles.

Although they are going down as a team to compete in a contest, the trip means other things to these eighth graders.

It's the first time most of them have been away from home without their families, although two of the students have parents accompanying them as chaperones.

None of them have ever been on a coach-type bus and a few of them have never been out of New Hampshire.
Team coach and School Board Chair Heidi Hutchinson said the team and the parents will also have some time to spend in Knoxville as well a visit some of the nearby sites.


CUTLINE: (in your in box) The Shaker Regional School District Destination Imagination Team and its coaches finished first in New Hampshire and are on their way to Knoxville, Tennessee to compete in the Global Competition. In the back row from left to right are coach Rick Glatz, Kelly Hayes, H. Lavallee, and coach Heidi Hutchinson. In the front row from left to right are Alexus Day, Katherine Seiberth, and Ian Cluett. (Courtesy photo)

Last Updated on Saturday, 17 May 2014 12:48

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Day care center owner's boyfriend charged with sex crimes

GILMANTON — The boyfriend of a former daycare center owner has been indicted by a Belknap County grand jury for allegedly asking a young girl to touch his penis.

Robert Woodbury, 58, of Route 106 is charged with one count of solicitation felonious sexual assault and one count of misdemeanor indecent exposure that occurred between June of 2010 and August of 2011 at the former Cozy Cottage Daycare.

Woodbury was arraigned last week in the Belknap County Superior Court. He is free on $50,000 personal recognizance bail, ordered to have no contact with the victim or her family, and to have no contact with minors under 16.

Chief Joe Collins said the incident was reported to his department in October of 2013 and he launched an investigation that lasted about four months. Collins said the daycare center has been closed for about a year.

Last Updated on Saturday, 17 May 2014 12:16

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Belmont taking closer took at Ladd Hill Rd. bids

BELMONT — Selectmen recently decided to re-evaluate the four bids received for the construction project on lower Ladd Hill before awarding the contract.

The four bids ranged from $463,616 from GW Brooks & Sons Inc. of Freedom, N.H. to $593,645 from Northeast Earth Mechanics of Pittsfield. Lyman Corporation of Gilford came in at $509,215 and Busby Construction of Atkinson bid $518,985.

All of the above bids include the alternative of redoing Marilyn Drive, which appears to cost about $28,000 depending on the bids.

Some of the selectmen wanted more information about GW Brooks & Son Inc., the apparent low bidder by $130,000.

Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin said Underwood Engineers told her that GW Brooks was a smaller company than the other three, but in their estimation capable of reconstructing the road to the specifications required.

The engineers recommended awarding the bid to GW Brooks, saying the town may want to monitor traffic control and pavement grades and avoid cold joints or the interface between new asphalt and old asphalt.

They are bonded by Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America and are in good standing.

The project is expected to be completed this summer and will rebuild lower Ladd Hill and fix the drainage problems on to Route 3.

Last Updated on Saturday, 17 May 2014 12:11

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