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Rotary Club marks 90th year in Laconia

LACONIA — The Laconia Rotary Club marked its 90th anniversary Thursday night at the Beane Conference Center with a celebration of its many years of service to the community.
Cub president Pat Anderson said that the club was formed at a meeting at the Laconia Tavern on March 20, 1925, and was the first Rotary club in the Lakes Region, formed just 20 years after the first Rotary Club was formed in Chicago in 1905.
She noted that the club had been honored to host Rotary founder Paul Harris in 1944 and had played a role in helping Wolfeboro form its own Rotary Club just two years after the Laconia club was founded.
She said that she had learned a lot of the club's history by reading through the archives of the club, including its original charter documents, which were on display at the gathering.
Among the founding members were well-known local businessmen such as Oscar Lougee, George Prescott, E. Harrison Merrill, George P. Munsey, Charles St. Clair and Arthur Clough.
One of the founders was a United States Congressman from Laconia, Fletcher Hale, who served from 1925 until his death in 1931 during his fourth term and was chairman of the Laconia Board of Education for seven years from 1918-25.
That pattern of community service and public service has been one of the hallmarks of the Laconia Rotary Club according to Laconia Mayor Ed Engler, featured speaker of the evening, who has been a member of the local club for 15 years.
Speaking on behalf of all residents of the city, he said Laconia is grateful for Rotary Park next to the Belknap Mill, Rotary Hall at the Public Library and the club's generous support for youth sports and college scholarships.
''We are grateful for the people, that individuals and the families over the decades have stepped up again and again,'' said Engler, who pointed out five men who are still active in the club who served as president 25 or more years ago, led by Charlie Stafford, who was the leader in 1978. Others mentioned included Abe Dadian (1979), Tom Volpe (1981), Dennis Ackerman (1986) and Rep. Don Flanders (1988).
He said that there was a core of hard workers within the club who had not sought leadership positions but whose work was invaluable, including Spencer Brody, George Tyler, Dave Clark and Larry Guild.
Dadian, who served as master of ceremonies and displayed his skills as a stand-up comic throughout, said that when he joined the club in 1970 he was the youngest member and that now, at the age of 80, is the fifth oldest. He said that the oldest member of the club at present is Dr. Dave Cleasby, who is 90, followed by Don Beane, who is 87 and joked about Beane's uncanny success at winning the club's weekly 50-50 raffle drawings.
Joanne Cormier, head of the Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation, said that Rotary has been supporter of the organization for 60 years and contributed over $332,000 for scholarships.
Library Director Randy Brough said that when he first took the job in 2001 he was advised by Bob Selig, a club member and a library trustee, that he should join the Rotary Club.
''The library was in bad shape and after the city agreed to fund a renovation and expansion there was a $1 million fund drive,'' said Brough, who pointed out that the Laconia Kiwanis Club was among the first to donate, chipping in with $50,000, which prompted the Rotary Club to donate $75,000.
He said that over the years Rotary Hall at the library has hosted between 1,000 and 2,000 meetings and is a great addition to the library.
Long-time Rotary Club member Warren Clement read a letter from the Laconia Little League, thanking Rotary for its 64 years of sponsorship. He said that after the club built a bandstand for what would become Rotary Park in 1996 that Belknap Mill Director and club member Mary Boswell said that it couldn't just be located in the middle of the parking lot.
Clement said that led to creation of Rotary Park, which came as the result of $210,000 in donations of cash, material and labor.
''It's been a wonderful addition to the downtown,'' said Clement.
A comical interlude featuring a ''Casey at the Bat'' skit was followed by a slide presentation of photos of clubs members as children, bringing the evening to a close.

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 May 2015 12:34

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City grants conditional approval for rock concerts at the Weirs Drive-In during Motorcycle Week

LACONIA — The Motorcycle Technical Review Committee yesterday gave conditional permission to a North Carolina venue promoter to hold a series of concerts at the Weirs Drive-in during Motorcycle Week.

Speaking for Vessarglobal Partners, LLC, Mike Trainer and local engineer Jon Rokeh provided the committee with a close-to-final schematic plan for the venue including a 160-by-100 foot stage that will be set up in front of the movie screen on the northwest side of the property.

The conditions of the approval are that all of the contracts for access with the neighboring properties and vendors be signed, the sub-contract to SFC Engineering — a company that engineers fire protection — be completed, an off-site parking plan be submitted, portable bathroom, waste receptacles and private security contracts be signed, and 50-percent of the money that will be owed to the Police Department for special details be placed in escrow.

June 1 is the deadline for the above and a final site plan is due Friday. Erickson also expressed some concern about more off-site property owners applying for parking permits and suggested they should have a special meeting to discuss it.

Trainer was given permission to hold concerts from Saturday to Saturday for 5,000 or less attendees with additional approval for 10,000 to 15,000 people on Thursday night — June 18, 20,000 people on Friday night — June 19 and up to 30,000 people on Saturday night — June 20.

The initial plan was to have boxing matches on Friday but Trainer said the schedules for the boxers didn't coincide with Motorcycle Week so there will likely be another musical act.

Rokeh estimates the venue — once the stage, the load-in equipment, food vendors, VIP parking, portable bathrooms and trash containers have been set — can accommodate 33,000 people.

The technical committee reviewed emergency exit plans, ways for emergency services and vehicles to access the property, traffic concerns and on-site parking as part of its review.

When asked about ticket sales and turnstiles by Fire Chief Ken Erickson, Trainer said one of the "partners" sponsoring the event will have its own pre-event ticket sales system and ways to electronically notify concert-goers whether or not tickets are still available at the door.

As to ATMs, Trainer said Foxwoods Resort Casinos of Connecticut is one of the "partners" and they will likely make provisions for them.

When asked, Trainer said he wasn't going to name the music acts his partnership will bring to the Weirs until all of the pieces of the puzzle were in place.

One of the biggest pieces was yesterday's conditional approval that he can take back to the partnership to let them know that the city is on board with the plan.

One of the concerns is how late the food vendors can stay open. During Motorcycle Week, vendors close at 12:30 a.m. however with music allowed for this venue until midnight, some worried that the food vendors would be closed too early.

Erickson suggested that the city look at extending the hours for food vendors and City Planner Shanna Saunders said she would speak to the city manager because extending the hours likely needs City Council approval.


Last Updated on Saturday, 09 May 2015 01:38

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Open House at Laconia Water Works today

LACONIA — The Laconia Water Department will hold an open house at the treatment plant off Start Rd. on Saturday, May 9 from 9 a.m. until noon to mark the completion of the first major improvement to the facility since it was constructed in 1989.

Superintendent Seth Nuttelman said that the open house will offer residents of all ages an opportunity to tour the plant and see first hand how their water is treated from when it is drawn through the intake pipe in Paugus Bay until it flows from the taps in the kitchen sink or bath tub.

The three-year project included replacement of filters and valves as well as enhancement of the electrical and SCADA control systems at the plant. The plant has three identical filter units, or trains, each capable of process between 1,200 and 1,500 gallons of water per minute. Each train consists of a clarifier, which removes 80 percent of unwanted particles, and mixed media filers, containing coal, silica and sand, which polishes the water to remove the remaining particles. The materials were removed from the trains, which were sand blasted and painted before being replenished with fresh materials.

The project took three years from start to finish. Originally estimated to cost $1.5 million, the work was undertaken primarily by the staff of the department, which Nuttelman said saved "at least $500,000".

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 May 2015 01:20

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'We Care'team learned to produce & market entertainment for a profit, for non-profits

LACONIA — Temple B'nai Israel, the hub of Jewish religious and social life in central New Hampshire for the past 80 years, has added a new dimension to its pursuit of "tikkum olam", or "repairing the world", a persistent strain of Judaism some trace to a prayer offered by Joshua on conquering Jericho.

While the 80 families of the congregation have contributed their time, energy and resources to the community, the We Care initiative represents a unique initiative by the Temple to fulfill its civic responsibilities. Its origins lie in the team assembled in 2012 to raise funds to support the Temple's operating budget. Stu Needleman recalled that the team took responsibility for all fund raising efforts and in addition to the annual Jewish Food Festival staged two successful entertainment events.

"We developed a skill set," Needleman said, explaining that the team learned to produce and market entertainment that turned a profit. The team decided that along with keeping the Temple on a sound financial footing, it could honor a major tenet of Judaism, "tzedakah", of "giving back", by producing events and donating the proceeds to worthy nonprofit organizations in the Lakes Region.

Needleman said the first step was identifying likely partners. Initially a list of 11 worthy organizations was compiled from suggestions by members of the congregation and information gathered about each. After a through review, the team presented its finding to the Board of Trustees, which chose Lakes Region Community Services (LRCS) to begin the program in 2014.

The team negotiated a partnership with LRCS and scheduled two musical performances, one in the spring and another in the fall. Joanne Piper Lang, director of development at LRCS, said, "it is a wonderful relationship. They not only raised money but brought two superb musical groups to entertain the community." She said that partnership "went beyond the the thousands of dollars." by raising awareness and support for LRCS in the community."

Ken Goodman drew on his experience in theater to book the entertainment. "I don't sleep much," he remarked, saying that at night he scoured the Internet to find suitable acts. He confessed that he and Needleman did not always agree, but added, "Where we agree it is not about what we like, but about what will fill the seats. We've selected genres and performers with appeal to mature audiences," he continued, "and worked very hard to make sure we gave people a good time,"

The marketing chores have fallen to Karen Lukeman, who credited Barbara Morgenstern, a veteran of the industry with a recipe box of contacts throughout the media, with mentoring her. "We have let all New Hampshire know of the events we have to offer," she said. "And we have a good product." Furthermore, each beneficiary of We Care has has contributed to promoting the event intended to benefit the next. "We have gotten our partners to help each other, Needleman said.

Needleman said that wherever there are Jews, there is food. "There is food before the event, food at the intermission and food after the event," he laughed, "nearly all prepared by volunteers from the Temple."

Last Saturday We Care filled the Winnipesaukee Playhouse in Meredith when the North Shore Acapella performed for the benefit of Genesis Behavioral Health, the regional mental health provider. "We couldn't think of a better better way to kick off Mental Health Month," said Kristen Welch of Genesis. "We Care is a great, great group to work with." She said that Genesis looked forward to continue working with We Care in support of other organizations.

In November, BC bOp, a jazz ensemble with vocalists from Boston College, will pay its first visit to the Lakes Region on behalf of the Central New Hampshire Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice.

"It's become a proverbial snowball," said Needleman.


CAPTION: The We Care team at Temple B'nai Israel, with Joanne Piper Lang of  Lakes Region Community Services. Clockwise from left are Stu Neddleman, Piper Land, Marsha Ostroff, Karen Lukeman and Ken Goodman. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 May 2015 01:15

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