Belknap House work progressing, volunteers sought to fix up shelter


LACONIA — Work has been underway for several weeks now on the Belknap House, a former office building on Court Street which is being converted into a shelter for homeless families during the winter months and will serve as a hostel for visitors during the summer.
Colleen Garrity, president of the Belknap House board of directors, says that the home will provide a safe shelter for homeless families from Belknap County during the coldest months of the year: mid-October through mid-May. It will provide space for five or six families during that time and will be able to accommodate as many as 19 people while used as a hostel.
Currently the Carey House, operated by the Salvation Army, is the only shelter for homeless families in the Lakes Region, but it has capacity for only three families, leaving scant options for the rest, who are often directed to Concord.
Garrity and Belknap House directors Alfred Columb, treasurer, and Robert Dingman and Don House provided a tour of the facility yesterday to show the progress of the renovation project as workers struggled to remove the 500-pound radiators from the old heating system, which is being replaced. It is expected that the work will be completed by Oct. 1.
They said that volunteers, local religious and community organizations, and area businesses have provided the needed labor, in-kind donations, and monetary support for many fundraising events to get the project underway. In February, Belknap House completed a $25,000 matching fundraiser campaign which allowed it to match a $25,000 gift from an anonymous donor.
The purchase was completed on April 5, thanks to donations from the community and a loan through the Franklin Savings Bank, for the $250,0000 project.
Local architect Sonya Misiaszek of the Misiaszek Turpin architectural firm, provided the drawings for the ADA-compliant plans, including entrances and exits, bedrooms, bathrooms with showers and tubs, and a renovated kitchen. A new sprinkler system will be installed for fire safety compliance.
The renovated building will have a reception area as well as a common area for residents and office space for an executive director, who will be the only paid employee of Belknap House, which will rely on volunteers to help provide needed services.
The Laconia Zoning Board of Adjustment recently approved a special exception for the property, which was was required since neither a shelter nor a hostel is a permitted use in the commercial district where the building is located.
The ZBA attached three conditions to its decision. The property must be screened from abutting properties, Temple B'nai Israel to the west and a residence on Pearl Street to the south, by either fencing or shrubbery. Families referred to the shelter by the welfare directors of towns in the county would remain domiciled in those towns, which would be responsible for providing any public assistance and services to them as well as schooling their children. Finally, the shelter will be open only to families referred to it by welfare directors in Belknap County.
With renovations underway, more volunteers are being sought to help complete the renovations and room sponsors are also being sought.
Those with questions about volunteering or donations, may email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
The next large Belknap House fundraiser will be the second annual Belknap House Golf Tournament on Aug. 22 at Lochmere Country Club in Tilton.

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Work is underway on the Belknap House, a former office building on Court Street which will become a shelter for homeless families during the winter months and a hostel during the summer months. Colleen Garrity, president of the Belknap House board of directors, and directors Alfred Columb, Don House and Robert Dingman, say that volunteers are being sought to help with the renovations. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Local scholars honored with trip to Fisher Cats game

LACONIA — Nearly 5,000 students from all over New Hampshire were invited to spend the day enjoying a Fisher Cats game at the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester yesterday for the New Hampshire Scholars graduation. New Hampshire Scholars urges students to pursue the more challenging classes and a broad course load with focus on physics, foreign languages, math and engineering. By completing these courses, students are better positioned to be accepted in the college of their choice and pursue their career dreams.

“Nearly 100 percent of these New Hampshire Scholars graduates head straight to college,” said Scott Power, director of New Hampshire Scholars. “Due to their dedication and hard work and devotion, a college degree is within reach. We are so proud of these young men and women, and they deserve recognition for their hard work.”

The founding organization for New Hampshire Scholars is the New Hampshire College and University Council, a consortium of public and private colleges and universities in the state of New Hampshire. “New Hampshire’s success relies on the hard work of our future generation,” said Tom Horgan, president and CEO of NHCUC. “These young people are proof that if you set high expectations, and provide the tools needed to reach them, anything is possible. I am honored to be a part of recognizing the New Hampshire Scholars Class of 2016.”

Speaking at the event were Tom Raffio, chairman of the State Board of Education and president/CEO of Northeast Delta Dental; Dr. Cheryl Wilkie, senior vice president of Easter Seals/Farnum Center; Bill Quigley, vice president of marketing and events for New Hampshire Motor Speedway; and Muji Karim, former UNH football captain and current Paralympic runner. MB Padfield, a local acoustic singer-songwriter performed live.

Students participating from Laconia High School were: Jocelyn Allain, Jordan Audet, Emily Bentley, W.Alexander Cammack, Kyle Chiasson, Charles Clarke-Mergenthaler, Natalie Compton, Dominic Cutter-Cannuli, Elizabeth Davis, Emily DeDucca, Alyssa, Desautelle, Joshua Emond, Robin Friend, Taylor Gagne, Raina Gately, Mariah Hawkins, Mackenzie Howe, Kyle Johnson, Robin Kaigle, Rachel Lowe, Erika Marchione, Jessica McDermott, Kaity-Anne Neylon, Kailey Nute, Griffin Nyhan, Kayla Phelps, Chance Privette, Daniel Romprey, Andrew Salta, James Salta, Samantha Sapier, Gabrielle Smith, Madeline Smith, Taylor Sullivan, Trevor Weeks, Matthew Westcott and Madison Wunsch.

Editor’s note: Names of students from other area schools were not available at press time. We hope to run those tomorrow in The Sun.

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Laconia High School scholars enjoyed a day at the ballpark yesterday in honor of their hard work. Students from other area schools also attended.  (Courtesy photo/Gil Talbot Photography)

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MB Padfield, a local singing star, entertained the students at the event yesterday. (Courtesy photo/Gil Talbot Photography)

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Former UNH football star Muji Karim, who lost his legs in a car accident but is headed to the Paralympic Games in Rio as a runner, inspired the crowd. (Courtesy photo/Gil Talbot Photography)

Two arrested on drug charges on Moulton Street yesterday

LACONIA — Two men were arrested on drug charges yesterday after the vehicle they were in was observed leaving a property that the Laconia Police Department drug unit was preparing to search.

Police released a report yesterday stating that the drug unit was preparing to search the home at 11 Moulton St. on Wednesday, when a vehicle was observed leaving the property. Patrol units stopped the vehicle, which was registered to and driven by Mark M. Sargent, 24, of Liberty Avenue in Franklin. Sargent was arrested on the charge of possession of a narcotic drug after he was allegedly found to be in possession of a syringe containing a substance believed to be methamphetamine. The report states that the vehicle was impounded and searched, leading police to find what they suspect to be methamphetamine under the passenger seat.

The passenger of the vehicle was Robert A. Polito, 48, of 11 Moulton St.. Police arrested Polito on two active warrants for sale of a narcotic drug, which were the result of prior investigations. Police allege that they found the drug Klonopin in Polito's possession; and at the home, suspected drug paraphernalia.