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WOW Trail: putting state-owned land to more productive use

One year ago, this photo of two young girls illegally trespassing on the State of New Hampshire-owned railroad corridor was published on the front page of The Laconia Daily Sun.
The photo prompted a reminder from the N.H. Department of Transportation Bureau of Rail and Transit of the dangers of trespassing on the active railroad corridor. The photo also became the screen saver on my computer. It serves as a daily reminder of the importance of the regional rail trail effort.
It was 1980 when the City of Laconia first discussed developing a recreation path along the State of New Hampshire-owned railroad right-of-way, and April 1982 when, together with the Lakes Region Planning Commission, the City of Laconia published the Lakes Region Bikeway System Report.
According to that long-ago published report:
"The railroad right of way is well suited for the trail for a variety of reasons: it's close proximity to the homes of year round and seasonal residents; the level grade and separation from automobile traffic make it attractive to very young and older riders; and the route combines scenic beauty with access to the region's busiest commercial areas."
Fast forward to present day and two phases of this long-ago conceptualized trail are currently under construction in Laconia and Belmont. Come the end of October, users will be able to travel from Lakeport all the way to Belmont, near the Mosquito Bridge, a one-way trip of about 4.5 miles. This is a significant step in the regional trail effort that will one day connect Meredith Bay to Weirs Beach, Lakeport, downtown Laconia, Belmont, Tilton, Franklin and New Hampshire's 56+ mile Northern Rail Trail.
The State of New Hampshire-owned railroad right-of-way is arguably some of the most spectacular real estate in the Lakes Region yet, for most year-round and seasonal residents, it is off limits. Unless you own a snowmobile or have bought a ticket for a scenic train ride, you've likely not had a chance to enjoy the Lakes Region from this state-owned land.
Together, we are changing that.
The WOW Trail will transform this underutilized state-owned railroad right-of-way into a vibrant year-round public recreation space for ALL residents and visitors to enjoy, bringing with it the economic impact that rail trail communities around the country now enjoy. Shovels are in the dirt this summer because of the persistent, collective effort of countless community volunteers and donors who see the value of the trail for the region and have generously donated their time and resources to make it happen.
Yet we still have work to do. We need your help to meet a $40,000 fundraising gap for Phase 2. Please share your enthusiasm for the regional trail with your friends and neighbors. Better yet, consider making a donation online at www.wowtrail.org or by mail to WOW Trail, PO Box 6832, Laconia, NH 03247. Every dollar counts and no gift is too small.
In his recent Fourth of July column published in The Laconia Daily Sun, a local real estate broker reminded us that "It's the friendly, family-oriented atmosphere we have in the beautiful Lakes Region and the multitude of events and activities that keeps drawing families back year after year." There's no doubt that a regional bike trail linking neighboring communities together and showcasing our three beautiful lakes will fast become one of the Lakes Region's best amenities, drawing vacationing families back year after year and enhancing the quality of life for those of us fortunate to call this place home.
It's going to be spectacular. Thank you for coming along for the ride.
**A limited amount of granite pavers (12"x36") will be placed along Phase 2 behind the downtown Laconia train station. If you'd like to permanently commemorate your business, family, or remember a loved one on the trail, these can be purchased with a $1,000 donation and will be engraved with your business name, logo, or special message. To reserve a commemorative $1,000 granite paver, please send your donation to WOW Trail, PO Box 6832, Laconia, NH 03246.**
(Gretchen Gandini is the executive director for the WOW Trail. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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You need more than money and family name to be governor of N.H.

To The Daily Sun,

Last Saturday I spent a fun day with Jeanie Forrester, a candidate for governor. Along with her supporters, she marched in the parade in Warren. It was really impressive how many people showed up from all the area towns. I had a lot of fun before the parade going around meeting and talking to the local folks.

I met many veterans and we were able to sign up about 15 of them that will support Jeanie. A lot of them knew her as their state senator and were really pleased with her service for the area.

The one thing that surprised me was that that not one other candidate for governor was there. It seems they only need to be in the southern part of the state where the majority of the voters live. Jeanie is keeping her promise when she entered the race for governor that she is running to serve all the people of New Hampshire.

I personally feel great knowing she realizes how important the North Country is. The one thing I have noticed the past few weeks is how Chris Sununu has started to run his campaign as if he is in the general election. I have a lot of respect for his dad, the (former) governor, and brother, the (former U.S.) senator. I hope he doesn't think because of his name that makes him the winner.

To prove my point, most of you must know the name Jeb Bush. Many thought there was no way he could be
beaten. Well guess what? After more than $100 million spent he never got higher than fifth place.

New Hampshire needs something more than money and a family name to get us back to the great state we once were. Jeanie isn't taking anything for granted and knows she has three other good people running for the same job. I hope you get to meet her and see why she is the best candidate to be our governor.

I got off subject for a little bit. Back to Saturday, after returning to Meredith a cookout was held at Richard and Carol Gerkens for veterans and their families. Jeanie got to talk to many of the veterans and listen to their concerns. Jeanie said as senator she has heard many of the problems the veterans of New Hampshire are facing, and as governor she would make veteran issues on the top of her list and do all she could to improve the situation that it is at the present time.

We need someone that cares about all of us, and I believe that person is Jeanie Forrester.

L. Michael Hatch


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