Retired Alton veterinarian dies on White Mountains trail

By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
ALTON – A 67-year-old retired veterinarian described as an avid hiker died on the Kinsman Ridge Trail in Lincoln on Wednesday.
Sgt. Thomas Dakai of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said Stephen Barsanti and his wife were descending from the South Peak of Kinsman Mountain after making a 10-mile hike in the White Mountains, and he collapsed on the trail.
His wife started cardiopulmonary resuscitation and called 911 for assistance, and was able to provide a good description of where they were — about a half-mile from the Lonesome Lake Hut and 2.5 miles from the trailhead — so rescuers from Fish and Game, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue had no trouble finding them.
Barsanti never regained consciousness. While the incident remains under investigation, Dakai said the evidence suggests that Barsanti’s death resulted from a medical issue, possibly cardiac arrest.
“He was an avid hiker, in good shape for his age, and he hiked all the time,” Dakai said.
Barsanti had retired from his career as a veterinarian at the Alton Veterinary Clinic.

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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How to lose $1M at keno

Gambler offers cautionary tale of addiction to game

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — At 7:24 p.m. on Oct. 10, the City Council opened a public hearing on a fall ballot measure to allow businesses to offer keno gambling in the city.

The hearing was also closed at 7:24 p.m. because nobody from the public wanted to speak.

Councilors had already decided to put the measure on the Nov. 7 ballot. The hearing to give the public a chance to offer opinions about keno was required under the state legislation allowing the game by local choice.

In an earlier council meeting, Kelley-Jaye Cleland, director of sales and product development for the New Hampshire Lottery, extolled the virtues of keno, saying it was good for business and would raise money for schools. Local businessmen also spoke in favor of the game. Nobody spoke against.

Keno pitch

On its website, the lottery makes a pitch for businesses to offer the game:

“KENO 603 is more than a new kind of fun. It's a new way to profit! For every dollar sold for the KENO 603 game, you'll earn an 8 percent sales commission – the highest in the country! Plus, you can earn additional bonuses by selling tickets with a $10,000 or greater top prize.

“And KENO 603 sales won't be the only thing on the rise. More customers will be pouring in to play KENO 603, which will help increase food and beverage sales. Licensed businesses will also be able to sell all other lottery games along with KENO 603.

“So not only is KENO 603 good for your customers, it's good for your business!”

Cautionary tale

Despite the seeming lack of local opposition, Demetri Papageorgiou, of Haverhill, Massachusetts, disputes whether the game is good for customers.

He has experience with keno in his home state, and it hasn't been a pleasant one.

Papageorgiou said some people can play the game in moderation without a problem. For others, it becomes an addiction. He belongs to the latter group and is now a member of Gamblers Anonymous.

“You can get into huge problems with keno,” he said. “I got into major difficulty.”

Papageorgiou won a $1 million jackpot with a scratch-off ticket in 2003. The jackpot was to be paid in a multi-year annuity, but he was able to sell the annuity for a lump sum for about half its face value before taxes.

He ended up losing all that money, and then some, playing keno and scratch-off.

“I was scratching two to four tickets and dropping $100 to $300 in keno,” he said. “Sometimes you win and prolong the day a little bit, but you give it back. When you are addicted to gambling, there is never enough money. It doesn't matter what I would win, I rarely walked out with any money in my pocket, and I'd only walk out if I needed to get home.”

He kept his gambling from his wife.

“I'd run out and say I needed to do some errands and then I would extend my stay,” he said.

He intercepted the mail, so his wife didn't see bank statements. He ran up his credit cards. He borrowed from relatives. He failed to make mortgage payments. He didn't pay his taxes.

His wife eventually caught up with him when she saw the mail one day.

He joined Gamblers Anonymous and has now gone eight years without gambling. He eventually managed to catch up on bills.

“I give credit to my wife,” he said. “She stuck it out with me and gave me another chance. I went to meetings, spilled my guts and haven't had the urge to gamble since.”

Keno odds

In the keno game, the player selects from one to 12 numbers from a pool of 1 to 80. A wager of $1 to $25 can be made per draw. The player wins by matching a number or numbers to those drawn by a computer random number generator.

According to the lottery, the chances of winning $2 on a $1 bet in which the player selects a single number, or spot, is 1 in 4.

There is a 1 in 326 chance of winning a $100 prize by matching four numbers in a four-spot game.

There is a 1 in 40,979 chance of winning $5,000 by matching seven numbers in a seven-spot game.

The chance of winning $1 million by selecting all 12 numbers correctly in a 12-spot game is 1 in 478,261,833. Lottery systems in the United States say it's never been done.

For comparison, the chances of getting hit by lightning in any given year are 1 in 700,000.

On the ballot

Of the 12 cities voting this fall, keno will be on the ballot in 11. The Portsmouth City Council decided not to put it on the ballot. Franklin has already held an election and voters decided businesses should be allowed to offer the game. Towns will consider the game as part of the town meeting process in the spring.

The game is for establishments with liquor licenses, with net revenue going toward funding full-day kindergarten. About 50 such businesses could qualify in Laconia.

Kelley-Jaye Cleland, of the New Hampshire Lottery, said Massachusetts takes in $900 million a year in its keno game, with 2.5 percent of the money coming from New Hampshire residents.

The lottery provides $25,000 a year to support efforts to help people with gambling problems. Also, 1 percent of revenue from keno is to go to the Department of Health and Human Services to help those with gambling problems.

Keno sales of $43.7 million are expected, with $8.5 million net revenue earmarked for full-day kindergarten. The money would be available beginning with the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018.

  • Written by Rick Green
  • Category: Local News
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Fighting back on Parkinson's – Downtown Gym hosting Box-A-Thon this Saturday

10 18 Rock Steady Boxing

Janine Page, owner of The Downtown Gym, works the punching bag. She began offering Rock Steady Boxing, a program specifically for people with Parkinson's disease, at the beginning of the year, and will be hosing a Box-A-Thon and information session for the program on Saturday, Oct. 21, from 9 a.m. to noon. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Janine Page brought Rock Steady Boxing to The Downtown Gym about 10 months ago, and the program now has close to 20 participants, all people with Parkinson's disease who are fighting back through exercise.

But, she suspects there might be other people who would benefit from both the exercise as well as the cameraderie of the class. The Downtown Gym, located on Fair Street, is hosting a Box-A-Thon and information session on Saturday, Oct. 21, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Rock Steady Boxing utilizes a non-contact, boxing-based fitness curriculum developed in 2006 in Indiana by Scott Newman, who was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's. His research into the disease led him to boxing, as a way to provide the high-intensity workouts that would also strengthen his hand-eye coordination and balance, and would therefore be better equipped to deal with the effects of the progressive illness.

That's what brought Michael Rollins, of Gilford, to the gym shortly after Rock Steady Boxing was offered in Laconia. 

Rollins, 63, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in the summer of 2016, after a few years of trying to determine the cause of a strange set of symptoms.

In some ways, he was glad to finally know what was happening to his body. But the diagnosis of Parkinson's is not good news, as it brings only the question of when, not if, things will get worse. Rollins and his wife have a son and a daughter, and three grandsons, and he worries about how long he will be able to enjoy the company of his family.

"It makes me anxious for the future. I know this disease doesn't get better, it gets progressively worse. I might have six months, six years, 20 years, before I'm not able to physically interact with them." The anxiety could become debilitating. "I know that at one point for me, it was very difficult to get out of the chair. You're tired, depression sets in, it's difficult to take the next step."

Rollins, who is known as "Big Mike" in the gym, had played sports in high school but never put on a pair of boxing gloves before his diagnosis. He has found the Rock Steady program to be beneficial to his life as well as his health.

"Extremely helpful, in a lot of ways. One way is that I'm doing this with other guys that have the same problem. It's kind of like a little community or help center in some ways." He said fellow class members talk about new symptoms they are experiencing, and medications they are considering. "We start talking about it with the guys. What's great about it is there's no funny looks. Everybody's kind of in the same boat, so you're not judged, no one's like, 'poor him.'"

The exercises also help him feel more prepared for what the disease might throw at him.

"We work on balance, we work on physical, we work on mental, all of that carries on outside of the class. I guess it gives you a little uplifting, mentally. But, just the fact that you're doing this helps with the Parkinsons, being a little bit stronger so that if you do take a fall, you can react to it, maybe not get hurt from it as much as you might have, just improves the whole quality of life. It's strange because they're finding that just about anything physical, pushed beyond your comfort level, is good for Parkinsons," he said. "It helps your body maintain what you do have. With the medications that doctors prescribe, it's just a great thing. I feel blessed, because the only affiliated Rock Steady that we have in New Hampshire happens to be in Laconia."

Rollins hopes the Rock Steady Boxing classes will swell after Saturday's Box-A-Thon and information session, because he suspects there are many more people with Parkinson's who could benefit.

"I'd like to see more people get involved in this, because I think it would help them in the ways that it has helped me... It's been an improvement in just about everybody, it's kind of crazy not to go."

 

  • Written by Adam Drapcho
  • Category: Local News
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