Regional fire service not on agenda in Tilton-Northfield

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

SANBORNTON — Debate about a warrant article to add two full-time firefighters at Town Meeting this week was colored by remarks by Dave Nickerson, the outgoing chairman of the Board of Selectmen, which were unfounded.

Nickerson, who was the lone selectman to vote against recommending the warrant article, said that the Tilton-Northfield Fire & EMS Department was in the process of building a new station and has been offered land to build it on. He indicated that Sanbornton was invited to join in a regional fire service.

"The door is open to talk to Tilton-Northfield before jumping into hiring two firefighters," he said at the meeting. "There is an opportunity here."

The warrant article, which failed by just four votes a year ago, was rejected by nearly 100 votes, as 191 voted against and 95 voted in favor.

Pat Clark, the outgoing chairman of the Tilton-Northfield Fire District Commission, said that a Facilities Committee was formed and funded by voters at the district meeting in 2015 to develop a plan for the district. The committee has met for the past year, he said, but has reached no final decisions and, more particularly, has made no formal overtures to town officials in Sanbornton.

Chief Michael Sitar of the Tilton-Northfield Fire & EMS Department, who serves as an adviser to the Facilities Committee, echoed Clark's remarks. He said the committee has toured the department's facilities, inventoried its vehicles and equipment, reviewed its call volume and staffing arrangements and explored a number of properties for a new station without making any firm decisions.

In its report issued this month, the committee concluded that "there are no obvious, simple or easy solutions to our needs and that we would need more than a year to complete our task." The report makes no mention of considering the expansion of the department to include another town.

Sanbornton Fire Chief Paul Dexter declined to comment on Nickerson's remarks. However, he noted that the Sanbornton Fire Department, which, apart from a full-time chief, is staffed exclusively by call and per diem firefighter/EMTs, would be a much more attractive partner in a regional department with rather than without the two full-time fire fighters he requested.

Dexter said he was disappointed voters rejected his request, but more disappointed by the decision to withhold a 2 percent cost-of-living allowance (COLA) to town employees, including the 19 volunteer firefighters. He said members of the call company are paid $15.39 an hour and the COLA represented an increase of 31 cents an hour and would have added $3,000, or less than one-tenth of 1 percent, to the department's budget.

12th annual Funspot Indoor Triathlon to benefit Humane Society

By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The 12th annual Funspot Indoor Triathlon, which event co-founder and coordinator, Starr Lawton describes as the ultimate challenge for all those "lesser than athletic" types, will bring together 40 four-person teams at the world's largest arcade Saturday.
Registration starts at 10 a.m. with competition getting underway at 11 a.m. An awards ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. in the D.A. Long Tavern at Funspot.
The teams will compete in bowling, mini-golf and arcade games, Skee Ball, darts and pinball, with the goal of raising funds to support the New Hampshire Humane Society. Last year the event, the brain child of Starr and her mother, Sandra Lawton, raised over $20,000.
"We love animals and are pleased to be able to host such a great event for such a worthy cause" said Starr, adding that the inspiration for the triathlon was to find something to counteract the winter doldrums.
"It's really a lot of fun," said Marylee Gorham, executive director of the Humane Society. "The teams come up with some great names, there's lots of friendly competition, and it's just a wonderful way to raise funds for the animals and support your local, animal shelter. Team pledges make a significant impact on the amount the event raises, which has instant positive effect in our ability to provide for the most vulnerable and innocent creatures who call our shelter home. Funspot is the largest arcade in the world, located right here in our backyard, and they are staunch animal advocates."
"We've been involved for a number of years now, and wanted to become more so this year," said Rose Pucci of the Union Diner, which along with Franklin Savings Bank, is a presenting sponsor for the triathlon. "The NH Humane Society is not just a place to adopt an animal; it's a great resource for the community so we are always happy to participate," said Pucci.
Teams pay $160 to enter and then set out gathering pledges from friends, families and co-workers. In 2015, over $18,000 was raised in pledge money alone. All team members get an event shirt and a free pizza lunch. Awards are given out for best and worst scorers, best team costumes and a super raffle drawing is reserved for the high pledge gatherers. Tickets for a 50/50 cash raffle can be purchased the day of the Triathlon.
Sponsors for this year's event include Union Diner, Franklin Savings Bank, Mainstay Technologies, Mix 94.1FM, WSCY 106.9, Chippers and The Weirs Times.

A day of drama - LHS presents the New Hampshire Education Theatre Guild's Regional Drama Festival

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — When was the last time you went to a play? If you can't remember, or if the answer is so long ago that you'd rather not say, then you've got the perfect chance to remedy that problem by attending the New Hampshire Educational Theatre Guild's Regional Drama Festival being held all day Saturday at Laconia High School.

Amy Babcock, who recently assumed the role of theater director for LHS, said she hopes that by hosting the festival, Laconia will usher in a renewed interest in the performing arts, especially when the performers are young city residents.

"I hope this is the start of really big things for the theater program," said Babcock.

Eight New Hampshire high schools are scheduled to perform short plays, grouped into morning, afternoon and evening blocks. Members of the public can buy tickets to just one of the blocks, or can buy a pass for a full day of drama.

Judges will critique each performance, with the most cohesive, best acted and most technically proficient plays selected to advance to the state drama festival.

Laconia's entry will be two short plays selected out of the David Ives collection titled "Mere Mortals." Laconia students performed most of the plays in the collection earlier this school year. The first of the two they will perform at the festival is Dr. Fritz, which Babcock said is an abstract, Vaudeville-style play highlighting two talented actors.

"It's very funny, a very entertaining show," said Babcock.

The other Laconia entry is "Degas C'est Moi," which follows the story of a man who wakes up one day and decides to spend the rest of the day as 19th century artist Edgar Degas. Each of the two plays probes the question of whether one has control over his or her own life, or if one's fate is predestined. About 15 LHS students are involved in the production of the two short plays.

For his first drama festival, Plymouth Regional High School's new Theater Director Frank Stetson wanted to pick something his students would relate to, so he picked Ian McWethy's play, "The Internet is Distract –– OH LOOK A KITTEN!" The show dramatizes a student's last-minute quest to check a few facts for a report, only to have her research sidetracked by the attention-stealers of the online world.

"It is a one-act comedy about the pitfalls of modern-day Internet and how it affects our everyday life," said Stetson, who also works as the school's information technology director. His students don't know a life before the Internet, and some of them are only truly disconnected from the online world when their phone battery dies.

"I felt the kids would be able to relate to it," Stetson said. He has a cast of nine students, and for some of them, acting in a comedy offered a new challenge. They learned how to time their laugh lines, and how to play off the performances of the other actors on stage.

The students from Kingswood Regional High School will find themselves performing with actors both onstage and off, as their production, "Midsummer Night's Dream: The Movie" incorporates multimedia elements along with live actors.

Scott Giessler, Kingswood theater director, said the script is a 35-minute adaptation of the Shakespearean play. The language remains unchanged, but the setting is in Hollywood, and the characters are modern-day "starlets."

"Speaking as an educator, it's a fantastic tool. You're giving them the original Shakespeare, but you're giving them something to grasp on to," said Giessler. His cast includes 25 students, including Kyleigh Moore, who is serving as technical director, an especially daunting role for this production. Moore is in charge of lighting, sound and training the crew, and she's also overseeing the shooting and projecting of video footage, which will be part of the live performance. Some of the video footage is pre-recorded, but some will be shot live during the play and projected onto the stage.

"She's done a terrific job with it," Giessler said of Moore. "There's a lot of moving parts."

Tickets for the drama festival can be purchased at the door for $15 for the full day, or $7 for a single block. The first block begins at 9:15 a.m. and includes Gilford, Plymouth and Moultonborough Academy. Block II features Stevens High School, Newport Middle & High School and Laconia, and begins at 2:20 p.m. Block III begins at 7:30 p.m. and includes Profile School and Kingswood.

Babcock would like to see the auditorium filled with local residents, who come out to encourage and celebrate their young and talented neighbors.

"It's something that I would love to see improved in Laconia – more interest, more support in general for the arts. I would love to see more people choose to come out and see theatrical productions," said Babcock.

SIDEBAR:

9:15 a.m. Introductions Block I
9:20 a.m. Epic Proportions- Gilford High School
10:15 a.m. The Internet is Distract- Oh Look A Kitten!- Plymouth Regional High School
11:10 a.m. Law and Order: Fairy Tale Unit- Moultonborough Academy
2:20 p.m. Introductions Block II
2:25 p.m. Hamlet II (Better Than The Original) - Stevens High School
3:20 p.m. The Door- Newport Middle-High School
4:15 p.m. Mere Mortals - Laconia High School
7:30 p.m. Introductions Block III
7:35 p.m. Almost Hamlet - Profile School
8:30 p.m. Midsummer Night's Dream: The Movie - Kingswood Regional High School

Tickets can be purchased at the door. Cost: $7/block $15/full day
Be sure to arrive 15 minutes before each block is scheduled to begin.