Opechee Park Association donates $18,500 to help build picnic pavilion

LACONIA – The City Council last night took the first step toward accepting a contribution of not more than $18,500 from the Opechee Park Association on the understanding that the funds will be applied to the construction of picnic pavilion at Opechee Park.

The council unanimously adopted on first reading a resolution authorizing the city manager to accept the donation for "the sole purpose of the construction of a covered picnic pavilion at the park area known as Opechee Cove. The council will hold a public hearing on the donation during its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, June 8.

The association was formed in the 1930s to provide social and leisure activities at the park and much later organized as a nonprofit corporation. For many years the association leased the Opechee Park Clubhouse from the city, which in turn it rented to other organizations, individuals and families where they hosted regular meetings, staged various events and celebrated special occasions. The rental income from the clubhouse supported the activities of the association.

In 2012, the clubhouse, which had fallen into disrepair, was demolished. Tim Dunleavy, president of the association, said that without the clubhouse the association had neither a suitable venue nor a revenue stream and its membership waned. Earlier this year, the association chose to dissolve and offer its remaining balance to the city for construction of a picnic pavilion.

NOTE: The City Council also adopted on first reading resolutions to accept a donation from the Town of Gilford of $4,000 toward a geomorphological study of Black Brook and its watershed and a donation of $1,168 from the Bow WOW Fest for the K-9 unit o the Laconia Police Department.

City manager to negotiate sale of city lot

LACONIA — The City Council last night rejected two offers — one from Lakeport Landing and the other from Irwin Marine – for the property on Union Avenue leased for the past 30 years to Landing Landing, both of which fell shy of the appraised value of $480,000.

The property, a 0.81 acre strip between the roadway and railway was leased to Lakeport Landing in 1985 for 10 years with two 10-year renewal periods. The lease will expire on November 1, 2015 and cannot be renewed again. In 1987 Lakeport Landing constructed a 9,840-square-foot building on the lot. Under the terms of the lease, ownership of the building would revert to the city at the expiration date.

Erica Blizzard, who owns and operates Lakeport Landing, offered to purchase the property for $331,400 and subsequently Irwin Marine, which operates on the abutting lot, submitted an offer of $335,000.

Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) proposed negotiating a sale of the property to Lakeport Landing at its appraised value. She was joined only by Councilor Arman Bolduc (Ward 6). With Councilors Henery Lipman (Ward 3), David Bownes (Ward 2) and Ava Doyle (Ward 1) in the majority, Baer's motion failed by a vote of three-to-two.

Lipman proposed authorizing the City Manager Scott Myers to negotiate with both Lakeport Landing and Irwin Marine, with respect to the appraised value as well as other conditions for the sale of the property. The city will require easements to maintain the retaining wall along Union Avenue. The owner of the property would be expected to maintain its taxable value for a specified period of time. Should Lakeport Landing fail to acquire the property, the transaction would be subject to a transition period of up to two years to enable the firm to make alternative arrangements for its operations. Finally, prospective buyers would asked to consider subdividing the property and transfer approximately a third of the lot to the city for a parking lot.

Lipman said he anticipated these discussion would begin soon with an eye to structuring a sale of the property in July.

Gilford observes Memorial Day and hears call to 'do one thing that benefits the greater good'

GILFORD — Yesterday's annual Memorial Day service and parade brought a solemn feeling of pride and sacrifice to the few hundred who attended.

Beginning at the monument and flag pole in the center of the village, Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee and Lt. Col. Kurt Webber U.S. Army, Ret. and Gilford Scoutmaster Kurt Webber raised the flag while two members of Webber's Boy Scout Troop 243 placed a wreath before the monument.

A parade led the the Motorcycle Officer Jim Callahan, Lt. Kris Kelley and the Police Department color guard and the Fire Department color guard led the parade up Belknap Mountain Road to the Pine Grove Cemetery where Bean-Burpee and Webber raised the flag. The Gilford High School marching band played patriotic songs.

A boy scout and a cub scout placed a wreath at the monument.

Selectboard Chair Gus Benevides speech called for all people today to remember the honor, courage, and sacrifice made by the men and women of the military so that America could remain fee.

He made a special note of the WWII men and women, the "Greatest Generation", who went to war to beat back an evil who meant to destroy us.

"This is the epitome of what our brave young men and women have done," Benevides said. "Instead of running, they stood and met the challenge."

Benevides said he hope each person alive today takes a moment to reflect on the deaths in battle of American soldiers and remembers to do one thing that benefits the greater good and not their own self-interest — just as they did.

"One day, the next generation can look back on ours and be proud," he said.

"Never forget the importance of Memorial Day and never forget what price it took for us to achieve so much," said Benevides in closing.

The ceremony ended with the playing of taps.

Belmont Memorial Day speaker covers history & significance of U.S. chaplains

BELMONT — During the Memorial Day ceremony hosted by the Belmont American Legion Post 58, Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Mauck, spoke about the importance of chaplains in the military and their role in protecting the nation.

Mauck, a Vietnam veteran and Army chaplain, provided a brief history of chaplains in the military stating that by law there must now be one chaplain for every one hundred thousand members of each denomination fighting in the war. Throughout the history of conflicts involving Americans, new chaplains emerged to new meet the needs of growing denominations, such as the Roman Catholic's in the Mexican War, Jews during the Civil War, and an Muslims in the 1990's. Mauck noted Israel Evans as the first chaplain from New Hampshire who was part of the N.H. militia during the Revolutionary War, who is depicted in a painting in the New Hampshire Stathouse.

Mauck also took a moment to tell the story of the four chaplains from World War II who saved the lives of various soldiers on the USS Dorchester after it was torpedoed by an enemy U-boat. The Jewish, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and United Methodist chaplains distributed all of the life jackets including their own to the soldiers in need, before praying and locking arms before they died. Following the event, individuals pushed to have a chapel built in the Pentagon in their honor, however Mauck stated the Pentagon declined the proposal and instead a monument was built in Durham, N.H. Following 9/11, however, a chapel was built in honor of all the chaplains who have given their time and lives to this nation. In this building there is a memorial to the four chaplains from World War II.

Mauck concluded his address stating that these are just a few examples of how chaplains and service members give their lives for the nation. "We deserve the best," states Mauck, "and we've got it."

Local officers from the Belmont Police Force were joined by the Belmont High School marching band, the local Boy and Girl Scout troops, and the Cub Scouts during the procession toward the memorial where the annual ceremony is held. The annual raising of the flag was performed by Legion members Tyler Best and Harold R. "Rich" Stanely. 

Belmont American Legion Commander Steve Bracy conducted the service, stating that Memorial Day is a sacred day of the year that should be remembered and celebrated by all. He continued by emphasizing the importance of honoring those who have given their lives to defend the country and flag, as well as their dedication to assuring the nation's freedom. Bracy's sentiment was echoed by Pastor Jim Smith who provided the opening prayer honoring all those who have fought and are currently fighting for our nation.

A moment of silence was observed in memory of World War II veterans Herbert A. Prescott, Phillip O. Swain, Ernest B. Piper, Arthur M. Hackett, and Harleig C. Brown; Vietnam veteran, Seven C. Stanty; Korean War veteran, Leo J. Rolfe; and Air Force veteran, John J. Moynihan. Additionally recognized was first responder and former two time American Legion Commander and Financial Officer Leonard B. Hooker,, who passed away this year. Bracy stated that Hooker was always supporting the post, and will be greatly missed.

The ceremony commenced with Bracy thanking the local service members, and high school band members Malia Lundahl and Eric Osgood performed taps during the ceremony. "Way too many men and women have died so that we may have life," said Bracy. "All will know that it was not in vain though as we go forward with their courage and strength."