Laconia

Going Local: The Lakes Region

Aug 8, 2018

The Exchange explores the Lakes Region as part of our ongoing series, Going Local

The Lakes Region is a huge tourism draw, featuring outdoor recreation from boating to bike week. Yet the region struggles with maintaining a strong workforce and providing affordable housing for people living and working there year-round.

Alan L. MacRae

Last week, The Exchange went to the historic Belknap Mill in Laconia to talk to a live audience about what it takes to make New Hampshire's old buildings relevant and useful for today.   

For children who rely on free and reduced price meals during the school year, including 50 percent of public school students in Laconia, summer vacation can mean 10 weeks of food insecurity. 

That's why 10-year-old Maia Heller is up early on her first day of summer vacation, volunteering for the Got Lunch! Laconia program. 

"It feels really good that I know they need some food and I'm helping them get it," Heller said as she packed apples, carrots, and jars of peanut butter and jelly into grocery bags. 

Google maps

The Laconia Police Department reports that a single motorcycle rider died after crashing his motorcycle on Watson Road late Tuesday night.

Police said the operator was traveling northeast, just east of Route 3, when the motorcycle left the paved roadway.

Neighbors nearby rushed to the scene and called emergency services. The rider was pronounced dead at the scene. Police did not release his name, pending notification of family.

Casey McDermott / NHPR

 

The 95th Laconia Motorcycle Week kicks off this weekend, marking the start of the Lakes Region summer tourism season.

 

The festival draws in visitors from across the country, and is a revenue boost for restaurants, bars and hotels in the area. 

 

But some folks who've been working Bike Week for years, like Steve Penlin at the Broken Spoke Saloon on Weirs Beach, say they've noticed a demographic shift in the biker community.  

 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Lakes Region residents got their first look Wednesday night at possible future plans for the former Laconia State School.

The scenic, state-owned property was a state prison, and before that, a residential facility for people with developmental disabilities. 

NH Department of Transportation

Lakes Region residents can hear more Wednesday night about plans to redevelop the site of a former state prison in Laconia.

The Lakes Region facility was a minimum-security prison from 1991 to 2009.

For nearly 100 years before that, it was the Laconia State School – a residential facility for people with developmental disabilities. It had a documented history of abuse, neglect and overcrowding.

Now, state and local officials have to decide what to do with the scenic, 200-acre property long-term.

Katherine Garrova

Representatives from NASA visited Smiths Titeflex in Laconia Thursday to emphasize the company's efforts in bringing humans to space.

 

All the external plumbing for NASA’s Space Launch System - which the agency says will be its most powerful rocket ever built and will pave the way for travel to Mars - is manufactured at Smiths Triflex.

 

Astronaut Barry Wilmore was on hand to give a presentation to employees that included photos from the 178 days he spent in space.  

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Despite fears that it would close last summer, the Weirs Drive-in Theater in Laconia will kick off its 69th summer of screening movies under the stars this weekend.

The iconic movie theater announced it was closing last year after a buyer expressed interest in developing the property.

City of Laconia

While Statehouse politics draw headlines, it's the day-to-day decisions at the city and town level that can have a bigger impact on our lives: from housing to education to the opioid crisis.  We sit down with a panel of local leaders, about the challenges and rewards of their jobs - and what they'd like to see from the state. 

Municipalities across New Hampshire are struggling to keep up with the rising costs of recycling programs.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Laconia Public Works director Wes Anderson about how he’s working to reduce those costs in his city.


Tim Sackton / Flickr Creative Commons

In Morning Edition’s series, Radio Field Trips, we’re taking you to places in New Hampshire you may not have heard about.  

For our latest story, Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley and producer Mary McIntyre visited Prescott Farm in Laconia for a moonlit night hike.

Do you have a suggestion for an upcoming Radio Field Trip? Click here to send us an email and let us know!


Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state Department of Environmental Services is on the road this week and next, taking feedback on a complex draft of new rules for development around wetlands.

This is the first total rewrite of the state wetlands code since the 1990s, and it's been in the works since 2014.

DES says its goal is to speed up the permitting process for lower-impact projects and make everything clearer. The proposed rules for tidal areas also account for climate change and sea level rise.

NHPR File Photo

Voters in Laconia will head to the polls on Tuesday for a special election to fill a New Hampshire House seat.

The position was left vacant following the death of Donald Flanders, a Republican who was serving his ninth term when he passed away last September.

The race pits Les Cartier, a Republican and retired hazardous waste coordinator in the state Fire Marshall’s Office, against Democrat Phil Spagnuolo, a substance misuse recovery coach.

Republicans currently hold a 43-seat advantage in the 400-member New Hampshire House.

Associated Press

The case of three women cited in 2016 for going topless on a beach in Laconia went before the New Hampshire Supreme Court this week.

The women of the Free the Nipple movement want the court to overturn Laconia's indecent exposure law. It specifically bars women from baring their breasts in public without their nipples covered.

Attorney Dan Hynes, also a state representative from Manchester, told the justices that the ordinance is discriminatory. He compared it to a hypothetical law barring gay people from the beach.

Renee Grout via Facebook

The 2017 New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival in Laconia saw big crowds over the weekend, but didn't see a world record.

The president of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce said it was a record-breaking crowd, with estimates of more than 40,000 coming to the downtown event on Friday and Saturday.

 Ed Engler, mayor of Laconia since 2013, is taking a leave of absence following a diagnosis of colon cancer.

Engler notified city employees late last week that he’s seeking medical treatment in California, where his daughter lives, and is likely to be away for at least a month. Laconia City Manager Scott Myers says Engle was in good spirits when they last spoke.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

During its 68-year run, the Weirs Drive-In Theater certainly played its fair share of "Indiana Jones" movies. Real life archeologists are also interested in what may be underneath the iconic outdoor movie theater’s thirteen paved acres.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

The iconic Weirs Drive-in Theatre will screen its final movies Monday night, ending a remarkable run for this slice of Americana in Laconia, N.H.

Opening with a single screen in 1949, the Drive-in, after being purchased by the Baldi family in 1974, added three more screens. Today, its 13 acres look a little tired, but every night through the Lakes Region summer, cars and vans and pickup trucks piled with mattresses and blankets fill its parking lot.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Laconia firefighters say they've seen a spike in the number of drug overdoses and use of the overdose antidote Narcan in the last five weeks compared to the same time last year.

Assistant Fire Chief Kirk Beattie says "the numbers have been the worst we've ever seen in this area."

WMUR-TV reports that Laconia firefighters have responded to an average of 30 overdoses in that five-week period.

Laconia Fire Department Creates Liason for Drug Recovery

Dec 5, 2016
Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The Laconia Fire Department has named a new drug recovery coordinator as part of the city's response to the addiction crisis. 

You’d be forgiven for not being able to draw Laconia’s official city flag from memory.

It doesn’t actually fly anywhere, so even most residents have never seen it. But an effort to redesign and reinvigorate the city flag is underway, and not everyone is happy about it.

 

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Most communities across New Hampshire have been touched by the opioid crisis that’s taken the lives of more than 400 Granite Staters last year, a majority from heroin and fentanyl.

But one place in the Lakes Region stands out not for its significantly high overdose numbers but rather how its community is responding.

http://laconiasafeschools.weebly.com/

This week NHPR has been reporting on how New Hampshire schools are fundamentally rethinking the role they play in the lives of their students and in their communities. Reeling from the state’s heroin crisis, the aftermath of the recession, and struggling local economies, many schools are taking on a mountain of new responsibilities beyond the classroom, often with limited help from the state.

Job Fair Thursday In Laconia

Apr 4, 2016
bytemarks / Flickr Creative Commons

  More than two dozen employers and job assistance organizations will take part in a job fair this week in Laconia. 

Selbe B via Flickr/CC

Officials in Laconia say they’re pleased with their first efforts at holding the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival.

Getty Images

Laconia police arrested 20 suspects Thursday following a months-long undercover drug investigation.

Fifteen officers made the arrests early in the morning as part of a massive sweep.

Laconia police Chief Chris Adams says those arrested would be held accountable, but would also be offered treatment options.

He says Laconia simply can’t arrest its way out of the heroin epidemic plaguing the city and the state.

Police say the investigation into the suspects included numerous hours of undercover surveillance and controlled buys compiling evidence.

Michael Brindley for NHPR

An iconic part of Laconia’s downtown will soon be reborn.

In a deal announced this week, the Belknap Economic Development Council will purchase the historic Colonial Theatre for $1.4 million.

The city will loan the group the money to buy the theater, and assist in raising the $15 million needed for renovations.

The Colonial opened in 1914, but has been shut down since 2001.

Justin Slattery, executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council, joined NHPR’s Morning Edition to talk about plans for the theater.

  The biggest motorcycle rally in the Northeast kicks off in New Hampshire in two weeks, and law enforcement officials and organizers say they anticipate no repercussions from this month's deadly shootout between rival motorcycle gangs in Waco, Texas. 

Laconia Motorcycle Week runs from June 13 to 21. It left its raunchier and riot-scarred days in the dust more than a decade ago. Today, it draws hundreds of thousands of bikers and revelers to the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee _ boosting the local and state economy. 

    

At least 300 people died from drug overdoses in New Hampshire last year, the most ever in the state.

A report cites the synthetic opioid fentanyl and heroin as the top two drugs having caused those deaths.

Laconia is among the communities where that spike in overdoses has continued into 2015.

Chris Adams is chief of police for Laconia, and joined Morning Edition to talk about how the city is handling the problem.

What are your officers are seeing out there?

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