Lakes Region Profiles – Laconia, the pheonix of the Lakes Region


In Greek mythology, a phoenix is a long-lived bird that is cyclically reborn when it obtains new life from the ashes of its predecessor. Laconia arises from its past as the phoenix of the Lakes Region. Nestled on the shores of three of N.H.'s largest lakes – Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, and Opechee – with the picturesque Winnipesaukee River running alongside its downtown area, Laconia continues to be a very desirable place to live and work. Sturdy brick and stone structures left from the age of industry provide it a strong backbone for new life.

Laconia was incorporated as a town in 1855 from lands at Weirs, Lakeport, Meredith Bridge, and part of Gilmanton. There had been a settlement of sorts in the area since the 1770s. By the early 1800s, there were several houses, stores, and workshops. In 1797, the first mills were introduced with the building of a dam harnessing the waterpower from the river flowing through town. With the coming of the railroad in the 1840s, larger industries were established and Laconia flourished for 100 years until steam and electricity replaced hydropower and many of the industries closed or moved out. From these vacated buildings of an era gone by, vibrant businesses have arisen.

The railroad station on Veterans' Square was built in 1892. It was designed by renowned New York architect, Bradford Gilbert, who designed what was considered New York City's first skyscraper. With its impressive entrance and vaulted rotunda, the station has now become a premier jewelry shop, Kramer and Hall, family owned and operated Prescott Florist, and two popular eateries, Burrito Me and Local Eatery. Brian D. from Maryland, in a review on the world's largest travel site, TripAdvisor, says Local Eatery is "worth going out of your way for." Across the street from the station, the Baptist Church built in 1836 has recently been extensively renovated to become the sister of the Holy Grail in Epping, an Irish pub and restaurant. On New Salem Street, freight buildings built in 1890 as a track-side depot for Pitman Manufacturing of Laconia, one of the largest manufacturers of hosiery in N.H. in the 1800s, have been transformed into Pitman's Freight Room, a trendy venue for weddings, functions, and musical events with a capacity of 200. Robert M. calls this place "outstanding...the musicians are often world renowned and always exceptional."

The Belknap Mill built in 1832 is listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. This one-time textile mill is the oldest structure of its type in the U.S. The mill's water-powered wheelhouse from the early 1800s, which once supplied electricity to downtown, is the last of its kind in the U.S. According to the Belknap Mill Society webpage, it "was the first organization to receive federal funds, and an award from the National Trust, for preserving an industrial structure." LIFE and Yankee Magazine wrote of the efforts to save the mills. Now, the Belknap Mill is a popular place to hold art exhibits, craft and quilt shows, and weddings. Next door, a second hosiery mill building constructed in 1853 and once owned by John Busiel, serves as beautiful office space for professional firms.

In the late 1800s, Laconia Car Company was the largest manufacturer in the area. Founded as a car shop in 1848, at its height the company produced hundreds of luxury passenger cars a year for trolley and rail service. It was located in the center of Laconia with over 50 buildings covering 7 acres. When the business closed in the 1930s, a large portion of the property was purchased in 1934 by Allen-Rogers. This wood turning company, famous for supplying the White House with decorative wooden eggs for its yearly children's Easter egg hunt, closed in 1999 and its buildings are being turned into popular riverfront condominiums. Beautifully restored with exposed beams and wood floors, the units sell quickly. The latest phase, which involves the conversion of another building into additional units, is underway. Many of the other enormous brick buildings of the car company have provided downtown professionals and businesses with space for many years.

Along Main Street, stately brick buildings house many small businesses and shops worth visiting. Some have been there for many years, including Greenlaw's Music, established over 60 years ago. Others have sprung up recently. One in particular, Wayfarer Coffee Roasters, takes first time visitors by surprise. Melanie F. from Toronto calls the place a "little gem...a beautiful quality place," and Eleanor L. from San Francisco adds, "the coffee was out of this world...if I lived in the area this would be my go to place."

The transformation of old to new extends beyond the immediate downtown area. Scott & Williams, a leading manufacturer of knitting machines, moved from Boston to Laconia in 1910. One of its many buildings in Lakeport was resurrected into Lake Opechee Inn and Spa and O Steaks and Seafood. Across the street is Fratello's Ristorante in what used to be Lakeport National Bank, which was established in the late 1800s. Other surprising eats beyond the downtown area include the tapas restaurant and piano bar Tavern 27, which features a farm to table experience in a colonial house built in 1781, and Nothin' Fancy on Weirs Boulevard.

Surrounded by history and nestled amid three lakes, Laconia is a wonderful place for families, second-homers, and semi-retirees to live. There are beautiful well-established residential areas, many with community beaches, all located near downtown including the Shore Drive, Holman Street, Old North Main Street, and Morningside Drive neighborhoods. Even for those without private beaches, Laconia's residential areas are within walking distance or a short drive to beautiful public beaches. These include Opechee Park and Bond Beach on Lake Opechee, Bartlett Beach and Ahern Park on Winnisquam, and Weirs Beach on Winnispesaukee.
Laconia also has an abundance of planned residential areas. The 126-acre Taylor Farm has new life as a part of the 360-acre South Down Shores and Long Bay communities. South Down has approximately 490 properties, which are arranged within nineteen distinct villages. The community has 4,000 feet of shoreline on Lake Winnipesaukee and many amenities including sandy beaches, docks, tennis courts, skating pond, cross country ski trails, and walking trails. The sister community of Long Bay comprises approximately 100 acres with two beaches and 1,200 feet of shorefront along Paugus Bay. Wildwood Village is located in an attractive and long established neighborhood. Award winning architect Claude Miquelle designed these townhouses, and each includes deeded rights to a private natural sand beach on Lake Winnisquam. Breakwater Condominiums on Lake Winnipesaukee offer a quiet setting with amazing views of Paugus Bay. On Opechee, Mallard Cove and Country Club Shores offer two different styles of living coupled with lake access and next-door location to Laconia Country Club.

In the Weirs, condos and cottages are tucked in all corners. There are traditional condominium choices such as Fours Seasons and Evergreen Condominiums and smaller communities including Hi Spot and Holiday Bay Condos. The brand new Lake Houses at Christmas Island are luxury waterfront townhomes with westerly exposure and each has its own dock on Lake Winnipesaukee. Meredith Bridge and The Village at Winnipesaukee are a quick stroll to the Weirs boardwalk, arcades, and dock for the M.S. Mount Washington.

All said and done, it would be difficult to find another community such as Laconia. Almost as an island in the middle of three beautiful lakes, like a phoenix it is rising brilliantly from the ashes of its past. This rebirth is a reflection of the aspirations of the people who chose to see the potential, build their businesses, and make their home in Laconia.

For more information on the City of Laconia, visit its website and the websites of the Historical Society, Illustrated Laconian, and the Belknap Mill. Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, NH and can be reached at (603) 366-6306.

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State Sen. Jeanie Forrester - N.H. Senate Republicans restoring state's 'advantage'

The governor's veto of the 2016/17 budget was successfully overridden on September 16. I am especially pleased that we were able to come together, get this budget in place, and continue to move our state in the right direction.
Five years ago when I started my first term, Senate Republicans crafted a long-term plan to restore the "New Hampshire Advantage". The plan included some core principles to correct a course that had put our state on an unsustainable path. These principles included:
— Putting our fiscal house in order by producing truly balanced budgets that rely on realistic revenues without new taxes or fees, and rebuilds our rainy day fund.
— Supporting our most vulnerable citizens by ensuring adequate funding for important programs like Service Link, Meals on Wheels, the developmentally disabled, mental health, and drug and alcohol services.
— Reforming the way government does business by reducing costs and shrinking the size of government while still maintaining core services.
— Creating a more business-friendly state by reducing regulation, streamlining and updating existing laws, and instituting business tax reforms.
As I look back over the accomplishments of the last five years, what stands out is the resolve shown by our elected officials to deliver on what the voters of New Hampshire sent them to Concord to do. Republicans have held the majority in the Senate since 2011 and we have delivered on the promises we've made.

We have produced budgets that are balanced, without new taxes or fees, and have started the process of re-building New Hampshire's rainy day fund, from $9.3 million in the 2012/13 budget to a projected $24 million in the 2016/17 budget.

Beginning with the repeal of many of the 80+ taxes and fees instituted prior to the 2011/12 legislative session, we have been consistent in holding the line on new taxes and fees including rejecting the governor's more recent proposal for millions of dollars in increases on drivers, smokers, and small business.

We've also held as a priority, assuring that effective, cost-saving programs and services for our most vulnerable citizens are supported. From funding mental health and developmental disabilities to emergency shelters and Meals on Wheels, we understand the need for these critical programs. Whether it was restoring funding to the Children In Need of Services program in the 2012/13 budget or restoring cuts made by Governor Hassan to the home health agencies in this budget — we have been steadfast advocates for our most vulnerable population.

The Senate also understood the need to reform state government and enacted legislation throughout the last five years that has produced positive results. This includes legislation requiring state agencies to submit reduced spending alternatives when they build their budgets; requiring consolidation of government contracts that allows the state to use economies of scale to bring down costs; and the elimination of 1,000 vacant government positions.

We did all this and still provided core services like keeping our troopers on the road and our DMV stations open; providing more funding to repair our roads and bridges and sending money back to our cities and towns by funding state aid grants, flood control, and rooms and meals distribution.

We also understood that policies enacted by government can hurt or help job creation in the private sector. So, to strengthen economic and job growth in our state, we began laying the groundwork for creating a more business-friendly environment.

We started with legislation like eliminating the state's tax on gambling earnings, reforming workers' compensation, updating and reforming New Hampshire's securities laws, increasing research and development tax credits and finally bringing forward modest business tax cuts that will restore New Hampshire's competitiveness over neighboring states.

Today, New Hampshire ranks fourth lowest in the nation at 3.6 percent for unemployment. This means we have been able to consistently put more Granite Staters back in the workforce when compared to December 2010 when over 42,000 friends and neighbors were out of work (5.5 percent unemployment).

When we look to and rely heavily on our business community to provide the revenues to pay for our spending priorities, it is important that we assure they can be competitive in today's world.

By holding the line on spending, keeping taxes low, and reducing the red tape from Concord, the Legislature is allowing the economy to grow, free from government burdens. Businesses can feel comfortable hiring and investing because they trust that the current legislature's priorities are designed to help, not hurt their success. Combined, these efforts will help us preserve and strengthen the "New Hampshire Advantage", attract new business, and ensure New Hampshire continues to lead.

You've heard the saying, "leave it better than you found it..." I am proud to say that in the New Hampshire Senate, we have done just that.

(Meredith Republican Jeanie Forrester represents District 2 in the N.H. Senate.)

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Michelle Malkin - 'Bacha bazi': a celebration of diversity?

American soldiers are being punished for blowing the whistle on the systematic rape and enslavement of young boys at the hands of brutal Afghan Muslim military officials.

Honorable men in uniform risked their careers and lives to stop the abuse. Yet, the White House — which was busy tweeting about its new feminism-pandering "It's On Us" campaign against an alleged college rape crisis based on debunked statistics — is AWOL on the actual pedophilia epidemic known as "bacha bazi". On Thursday, Obama administration flacks went out of their way to downplay Afghan child rape as "abhorrent", but "fundamentally" a local "law enforcement matter".

This is the price the innocents pay for blind multiculturalism.

A New York Times report on the Afghan Muslim practice this week garnered attention and outrage on Capitol Hill — and prompted a river of denials from Obama Defense Department brass, who insisted our troops were not ordered to look the other way.

But the subjugation and sexual assault of these children — and their victimization by Afghan military personnel working alongside our troops — is not new.

Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi's wrenching documentary on "The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan" aired in London and the U.S. in 2010. The United Nations has known and done nothing as Taliban warlords and Afghan police groomed, sodomized and sexually trafficked generations of young boys. The U.S. State Department acknowledged last year that "there were reports security officials and those connected to the ANP (Afghan National Police) raped children with impunity."

In February, I reported on the case of Maj. Jason Brezler. He's still fighting for his reputation and his military career after warning colleagues of an insider attack on an American base in the Helmand province.

Refresher: The highly decorated Marine reserve civil affairs officer had sent a classified document through his personal e-mail account to fellow Marines at Forward Operating Base Delhi in 2012. The correspondence, which came in response to a FOB Delhi Marine's request for information, involved the shady history of Taliban-tied Afghan police chief and accused drug lord and child molester Sarwar Jan.

Jan had been suspected of coordinating Taliban operations, selling Afghan police uniforms to our enemies and raping at least nine boys on base.

A few weeks after Brezler's warning, which went unheeded, one of Jan's teenage "tea boys" went on a shooting spree at FOB Delhi. Marine Staff Sgt. Cody Rhode was shot five times, but survived. Three others died of gunshot wounds: Staff Sgt. Scott Dickinson, Cpl. Richard Rivera and Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley. Buckley's relatives filed suit against the government last fall over what they believe has been a coordinated and illegal attempt to suppress details of the insider attack.
Meanwhile, Brezler is forced to watch Hillary Clinton get away with massive e-mail security violations, while he's railroaded for using a personal Yahoo account to try to protect his fellow Marines.

In a separate case, the Army this month denied an appeal by decorated Green Beret Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, who was discharged in 2011 after physically confronting an Afghan police commander accused of kidnapping, chaining and raping a local village boy, beating his mother, and laughing about it when questioned. Another soldier who joined Martland in the confrontation, Cpt. Daniel Quinn, was reprimanded and left the Army.

Asked whether the president had taken steps to review his military's treatment of these whistleblowers, White House spokesman apathetically shrugged: "Not that I'm aware of."


A White House that wants to spend billions to stop "climate change" in the name of saving all the children of the planet can't bother to stop the violent sexual assaults of boys held hostage right under our noses by our warmly embraced "allies" in the Afghan military.

A White House that splashed social media with pleas to "Bring Back Our Girls" after Boko Haram jihadists in Nigeria kidnapped 300 girls and women has nothing to say about the legions of boys forced into prostitution and pedophilia rings witnessed by U.S. troops.

A White House bent on whitewashing away radical Islam's sins against Christians, Jews, gays, apostates, cartoonists, genitally mutilated women and child brides would rather celebrate "diversity" than lift a finger to protect the victims of political correctness run amok.

To paraphrase 2009 Nobel Prize winner President Obama: It's on you.

(Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is the daughter of Filipino Immigrants. She was born in Philadelphia, raised in southern New Jersey and now lives with her husband and daughter in Colorado. Her weekly column is carried by more than 100 newspapers.)


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Froma Harrop- Rx price gouging a product of our political system

If Hollywood had created Martin Shkreli as the monster from Wall Street, we would have accused it of unfair characterization. But Shkreli — a 32-year-old hedge fund director in T-shirts, dabbler in the punk rock music world — has saved Tinseltown the trouble.

Shkreli has also done the American people a service by showing in high def how the pharmaceutical industry gouges us. The pharmaceutical industry is angry with him for the same reason.

Drugmakers prefer a subtler approach. Do it quietly and with a touch more nuance. For example, the day Valeant Pharmaceuticals acquired two heart drugs, it raised the prices for them by only 525 percent and 212 percent.

That was a model of self-control next to Shkreli's instant 5,455 percent price hike on a 62-year-old lifesaving drug. This wasn't a good visual for the industry. The audio wasn't so hot, either.

To recap, Shkreli's startup company recently bought the marketing rights to Daraprim and proceeded to raise the price from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill. (It used to cost $1 a pill.) Daraprim is often the last hope for cancer patients and others with weak immune systems suffering from parasitic infections.

Some Shkreli decoders explained that his drug company raised prices to recoup the $55 million it had just spent for the rights to sell Daraprim. Thing is, the $55 million acquisition price for a drug serving a relatively small number of patients seemed justified by the belief that one could raise the per-pill cost more than fiftyfold overnight. You can only get away with that in the United States, but we're a big, big market.

No other industrialized country lets drugmakers pick prices out of thin air and assume patients, insurers and taxpayers will somehow come up with the ransom. The U.S. setup comes courtesy of our lawmakers in Washington, above all our Republican lawmakers.

In the Valeant case, Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent seeking the Democratic presidential nod, demanded documents defending the price increases. Valeant said no, that such information is "highly proprietary and confidential". Wouldn't it just.
Governments elsewhere, however far to the left or right, see negotiating drug prices for their people as a duty of leadership. The United States does little of that. In fact, the law establishing the Medicare prescription drug benefit specifically forbids the government to negotiate drug prices.

Let's talk about markets, okay? We believe in a market system, buyers negotiating prices with sellers, right? U.S. taxpayers fund 73 percent of the Medicare drug benefit. They are the buyers.

But in our skewed political language, Republicans denounce proposals to have the federal government negotiate Medicare drug prices as an attack on our allegedly free-market system. Somehow letting the taxpayers defend their interests is "socialism".

It is true Medicare beneficiaries obtain drug coverage through private insurers who do negotiate prices. And it is true that, as Republicans say, the Medicare drug program is costing less than originally projected. But this is a shell game.

The relevant comparison is what the drug benefit costs next to what it would have cost had the government been allowed to bargain on prices. Taxpayers could save up to $16 billion a year if Medicare did the negotiating, according to a recent estimate in The Wall Street Journal.

The week Shkreli revealed the creepy reality of drug pricing, Hillary Clinton issued a proposal to curb "profiteering" by the drug industry. Biotech stocks promptly took a hit on Wall Street.

That hedge funder let the cat out, for sure, and it will be screeching right through Halloween. Some boys are so bad they do good.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

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Roche — Lakes Region Profiles — Kent Locke, Jr., a Lakes Region real estate legend

While I was on a trip to Ireland last week, I called into the office and was saddened to learn a long term colleague and friend of mine had passed away. I made a stop at an old historic Irish church, lit a candle, and said a prayer for my close friend Kent Locke. I reflected on the memories of Kent and thought of his many accomplishments and the things he contributed to the Lakes Region and New Hampshire.
I first met Kent in 1974 up in Waterville Valley, where he and his brother, Jim Locke, were developing Waterville Estates, the region's largest second-home community built over three hillsides in Campton. I enjoyed Kent so much. He was approachable, full of enthusiasm, and had a visionary eye towards the future. Waterville Estates was a huge undertaking in those days. It encompassed close to thirty miles of roadways, a man-made swimming pond, a small ski area, a huge community center with indoor pool, and tennis courts. Today, Waterville Estates includes approximately 700 homes and condominiums, which contribute enormous tax revenues to the town of Campton. I still have memories of Kent working long hours from his office above the community center. Little did I know that my future interest in real estate would be carved out by this remarkable man.
It should be noted that prior to Waterville Estates, Kent Locke worked in his family business. With his father and two brothers he developed Locke Lake Colony in Barnstead. There they created a 160 acre man-made lake and developed another major second-home community.
After Waterville Estates, Kent moved down to the Lakes Region to operate Hounsell Realty and later Keewaydin Properties, which was a large development company based out of Dracut, Mass. I followed Kent's move and joined Hounsell Realty with him where he became my mentor. Kent was instrumental in opening three Century 21 real estate offices in Laconia, Center Harbor, and Bristol. They became the top offices in New England under his management. During the same time period, he successfully managed and developed the Salem Industrial Park (one of New Hampshire's largest) and the O'Shea Industrial Park in Laconia, which today is the home of some of the Lakes Region's largest businesses. He also developed an industrial park in Concord.
Kent was responsible for developing Wildwood Shores Condominiums on Lake Winnisquam in Laconia. Here he won an award from a professional builder magazine for concept and architectural design. At the same time, he managed the Pheasant Ridge Country Club in Gilford for Keewaydin Properties, which today is a well-respected 18-hole golf course. For years, Kent managed the Keewaydin company headquarters at 272 Union Avenue in the old Scott & Williams knitting factory. In this huge manufacturing building, he leased space to Laconia Shoe, J & J printing, the real estate office, and many other companies over the years. This landmark property was converted into 60 affordable housing units in Normandin Square with the Lakes Region Child Care Center and the LRGHealthcare Center on site.
Kent was also involved in many residential subdivisions over the years, including Wildwood Shores, Shore Drive Extension, and Penny Lane in Laconia, as well as Old English Lane in Gilford. Under Kent's direction, the Keewaydin company successfully marketed many developments throughout the Lakes Region, including South Down Shores, Long Bay, Windward Harbor, Broadview Condominiums, Samoset, and many more.
I always looked at Kent as being the eternal optimist – a positive thinker who had a tremendous work ethic. He always took the time to sit down with his associates, clients, and friends to discuss the events of the day and real estate matters. That is one of the reasons why he was consistently late, because the poor guy had so much on his plate – way too much for the average real estate professional to sort out. Being the competitor he was, from his high school roots in Alton on to the University of New Hampshire, he always strived for accomplishment. He gave back to the communities he served in so many ways, whether it was the Lakes Region Board of Realtors, the Gilford Planning Board, or the Rotary Club. He was so proud of his three children, Susan, Nancy, and Andrew. All three of them excelled at some of the finest colleges in the country in both academics and sports and have gone on to lead very successful lives. I have to say that both Kent and his former wife, Jean Aberg of Gilford, did a remarkable job raising those three kids considering they had so much going on in their busy lives.
Kent courageously fought with Parkinson's disease over the past 25 years. He approached this with the same fighting spirit that he applied to his real estate endeavors. He always had that great smile on his face and always had the time to lend an ear and provide good advice. Vince Lombardi summed up Kent's life beautifully when he said, "The quality of a man's life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence regardless of his chosen field of endeavor."
Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, N.H. and can be reached at (603) 279-7046.

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