Church presents check to homeless shelter


LACONIA — Representatives from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on Monday presented a $2,235 check to Belknap House, a homeless shelter that recently went into operation.

The money, which was presented by Pastor Jennifer Hitt and church members Lee Krueckeberg and Peter Halfman, will help pay for the upgrade of a children's room at the facility, which is to operate as a shelter only part of the year.

From May 26 to Oct. 14, it will operate as a hostel. Income generated from the hostel is to be used to fund shelter operations during cold-weather months.

Belknap House opened on Feb. 28 as a shelter for people in Laconia and surrounding communities. A total of more than $200,000 was raised to renovate the building that houses the shelter at 200 Court St. The 19-bed shelter has six bedrooms, four bathrooms and a kitchen with two cooking stations.

Lead and asbestos abatement delayed a planned opening in December.

“We have a very safe, secure, healthy, welcoming place now,” said Karen Welford, executive director of Belknap House.

It is considered an emergency shelter, geared for residents to stay no more than three weeks.

“We have a family support coordinator that works with them intensely to address whatever their goals are employment, housing," she said. "They can extend from that three weeks as long as they are working on moving forward.”

The shelter takes referrals from welfare offices in Belknap County towns and cities.

“Their first step is to go to the welfare office and then they get referred here,” Welford said.

04-18 Belknap House check

Peter Halfman, left, Pastor Jennifer Hitt and Lee Krueckeberg, all of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, present a donation of $2,235 to Karen Welford, executive director at Belknap House Emergency Cold Weather Shelter in Laconia on Monday. The donation is part of a fundraising effort that has allowed the shelter to open. (Rick Green/Laconia Daily Sun)

Ham rules the roost for Easter dinner


If you'll be sitting down to Easter dinner on Sunday, the odds are pretty good that there's a slice of ham on there somewhere. There's no rule that the cured, smoked pork product must be part of the menu. Rather, it seems that the foods that Americans eat as part of their Easter feast are chosen to continue the tradition they first encountered as children, sitting at a table shared with older relatives.

"It's family history – what your mother used to do for Easter," said Bob Fitzpatrick, store manager of Vista Foods in Laconia. It's his job, and the job of his department managers, to anticipate what all of his customers will be looking for to continue their family's tradition, and to stock the shelves with the ingredients they'll need to make that possible.

It's a high-stakes game, so, fortunately, Fitzpatrick, who grew up in Belmont, has 30 years of supermarket experience to draw upon. He knows to order extra pineapple, asparagus, potatoes, pie crusts and other baking items. His store will stock twice the amount of white eggs as usual, so children will be able to dye eggs for the Easter Bunny to hide.

While it's the duty of people like Fitzpatrick to attend to the changing tastes of his shoppers – an ever-diversifying craft beer section, for example – the Easter season is as predictable as it comes.

"From the time we grew up to now, people eat the same thing for Easter," said Fitzpatrick. "Once you're in this business year after year, you know what you need."

In Vista's meat department, meat manager George Lodge and assistant manager Tim Walker said that the week of Easter is ham's yearly turn in the spotlight, when they'll sell ten times the volume of ham than they will in a typical week.

"Everyone's buying ham," said Lodge. Although, he and Walker suggested that there are plenty of alternatives to consider for people willing to consider a new tradition. Some customers have special ordered pork roasts, and Walker recommends a spoon roast, the part of beef that New York sirloin steaks are cut from. Then there's the Easter underdog: leg of lamb.

Lodge said that there have been more lamb legs sold this Easter than in seasons past. He suggests preparing it the same way that one might a beef roast.

"I would rub it with olive oil, season it with garlic and peppercorn seasoning mix, a little bit of rosemary. Sear it at 450 (degrees) for ten minutes, then roast it at 350 for 20 minutes per pound for medium rare."

Dave Henrick, owner of the 405 Pub and Grill on Union Avenue in Laconia, said he decided to go with leg of lamb when picking a special for Easter.

"Lamb is something nice to offer, something different," he said. Their special will feature a butterflied leg of lamb, rolled with goat cheese, tomato and spinach, and served with a tzatziki sauce. Henrick picked lamb despite his own family's tradition of having ham on Easter.

"It gives people a unique choice," he said. "We decided we wanted to be a little bit different than the traditional baked ham."

At the Fox Country Smokehouse, which has been in operation for nearly a half century, manager Bill Annis has no intention of going for "different." He follows the same method that has seen the small, remote business thrive, despite being located on a quiet dirt road several miles off of the beaten path in Canterbury. The business was founded by Charlie Fox in 1969, and is now owned by Charlie's son Matthew. Annis, who has worked there for 20 years, runs it essentially by himself, though neighbors have made themselves available if he needs a hand now and then.

Annis said that business has steadily grown over the years, with returning customers spreading the word about Fox Country's products. Fox Country Smokehouse produces smoked cheeses, bacon, sausages, jerky, poultry and fish, but its ham products are the volume leader.

In preparation for this Easter season, Annis ordered 210 hams from his pork supplier in Canada. Each of those hams was cut into two sections, and each of those 420 ham halves was given the Fox Country treatment: cured for at least a week in a liquid brine of salt, sugar and spices, then smoked for 24 hours in a chamber filled with hickory wood smoke. Most of those are already spoken for, though he expects to have some still available this weekend for last-minute shoppers.

At $4.99 per pound, Fox Country's hams command a premium over supermarket competitors. Annis's customers are happy to pay it, though.

"Once anybody's had it, or given it as a gift, they've come back and re-ordered," he said.

Whether traditional or unconventional, the food on the table is merely a complement to the people around it. Fitzpatrick, who has lived all around the state, recalls coming back to his mother's home at this time every year. "For her, it was huge. It was time for the family to get together."

Walker said he's planning this year to visit family that isn't going to be cooking at all, and he's looking forward to it just as well.

"I think we're getting Chinese," he said with a smile.

04-15 Vista hams meat cutter

David Colbath, meat cutter at Vista Foods in Laconia, arranges hams in the meat case. In the week leading up to Easter, Vista sells about ten times the hams that it usually sells. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

 04-15 Fox Country hams

The Fox Country Smokehouse in Canterbury prepared about 420 ham halves for customers in preparation for Easter. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

 04-15 Bill Annis packages hams

Bill Annis, manager of Fox Country Smokehouse in Canterbury, packages hams. He said Easter the one of the busiest times of year for the small business, second only to Christmas. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

A global effort - Gilmanton DI team needs help going to competition

04 15 gilmanton DI fundraising

At 11 a.m. on Saturday, the Gilmanton Destination Imagination team, Spaghetti and The Meatballs, will raise money for their trip with an Easter egg hunt at the Gilmanton Year-Round Library. The team qualified for Global Finals next month in Tennessee. Here, Gilmanton School's Destination Imagination teams gather to celebrate. (Courtesy photo)

Now the team needs community support to go to Global Finals


GILMANTON — For the first time in Gilmanton's history, a Gilmanton School Destination Imagination team has advanced past both regional and state competitions to represent New Hampshire on the global stage.
The team has been invited to represent the town at Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee, May 24-27, and coordinators have embarked on an aggressive fundraising effort.
For 18 years, the Destination Imagination program — formerly known as Odyssey of the Mind — has challenged students to showcase their technical and creative skills. A national academic challenge that emphasizes creativity and curiosity, Destination Imagination is a chance for students to apply science, technology, engineering and math skills, in addition to their talents in improvisation, theater arts, writing, project management, communication, innovation, teamwork, community service and social entrepreneurship.
"These are the kids that colleges want, these are the kids that businesses want to hire," said Fawn Kutuk, parent organizer in Gilmanton.
"They're incredibly talented children and hard-working."
The school district ,through the School Board, declined to support the team, placing the team at a disadvantage with other schools, organizers said.
Businesses and community groups have supported the team, and a raft of events have been set up to pay for travel, registration, lodging, shipping of props and competition materials and a variety of other costs.
At 11 a.m. on Saturday, the Gilmanton Destination Imagination team, Spaghetti and The Meatballs, will raise money for their trip with an Easter egg hunt at the Gilmanton Year-Round Library.
Spaghetti and The Meatballs needs to raise approximately $12,000, coordinators said.
The funds are due by May 2 to ensure registration, with the first installment of $1,500 due by April 15.
A GoFundMe page has been set up on the team's behalf to accept online donations at
In addition to online fundraising efforts, Spaghetti and The Meatballs will host a school bake sale in the Gilmanton School lunch room on Tuesday, April 18. The team will be partnering with local businesses for a number of events, including a Kids Fun Run to be held Tuesday, April 25, at 6 p.m., hosted by Gilmanton Iron Works Market at their location. Entry is $10 per participant with all proceeds going to the DI Tennessee trip. Hats and tees are being offered as door prizes in addition to a bib raffle and a grand prize of Canobie Lake Park tickets for the U16 division. Next month, the Corner Slice and Gilmanton Winery plan an event as well, with details to come.
Team members who will travel to Knoxville include Natalie Clay (age 10), Brady Gardner (age 10), Hale Kutuk (age 13), Jaime Waldron (age 10) and Zavien Whitmore (age 10).
Kutuk said, "At the beginning of the year, the kids were like oil and water."
They lacked traits in common or ability to communicate, she recalled.
"I knew that they were going to be like a family by the end of this season, but they didn't know that. They really are, they are like a family," Kutuk said, describing the emotional bonding experience.
Parents and advisers had to resist the urge to teach and guide the students.
"This is no adult interference at all," Kutuk said, describing the program's requirement that students do the work, without adult meddling.
Spaghetti and The Meatballs competes in the middle school division against sixth- through eighth-graders, although the team of five actually consists of four elementary students and only one seventh-grader.
"In spite of their age, for the first time in Gilmanton history, they've won first in regionals and even passed state in New Hampshire to qualify for Global Finals," Kutuk said.
Two teams from Gilmanton School placed first at a regional tournament for Destination Imagination. A third team from Gilmanton School, for kindergarten through second grade, also competed at regionals, which featured 91 teams and more than 650 students,.
Two teams, one at the elementary level and the second at the middle school level, won in their categories at regional competition in Goffstown on Sunday, March 19. They advanced to a state tournament in Bedford on Sunday, April 2. At state, the middle school team, Spaghetti and The Meatballs, qualified to attend the Global Finals. The elementary team, The Fantastic Five, placed fourth.
The middle school students competed with other teams in the Show & Tech category, one of seven, open-ended challenges. The goal of their challenge was to create a stage that moved at least one team member from one location to another during a two-act presentation. They were also saddled with the challenge of developing and showcasing a technical effect for both opening and headlining acts.
Without adult collaboration or interference of any kind, the middle school team of students invented their stage, building it from scratch, and devised a skit to perform.
Anyone interested in supporting the team's trip to Global Finals can call Kutuk at 603-724-5247 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..