Lakes Region | New Hampshire Public Radio

Lakes Region

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A panel looking at redeveloping the former Laconia State School is pushing back on concerns about a request for money from the state.

The Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission has asked for $16 million in the state's capital budget.

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Savannah Maher/NHPR

Claremont’s third annual Rural Pride is moving online this year due to COVID-19. Matt Mooshian, founder of Rural Outright, the organization behind the event, says it’s important to still hold Pride events this year, especially in rural areas.

Emerson Aviation / Facebook

It’s the unofficial start of spring in New Hampshire – as Lake Winnipesaukee has been declared ice-free.

In keeping with tradition, a spotter plane with Emerson Aviation made the call Monday morning.

The lake is considered “iced out” when all the ports for the cruise boat Mount Washington are ice-free – in Alton Bay, Weirs Beach, Center Harbor, Meredith and Wolfeboro.

This year’s ice-out comes earlier than average. It follows a mild winter, when the ice runway on the lake was unable to open safely.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire's summer tourism season is still months away. But many towns with economies built around seasonal visitors are seeing an influx of second homeowners and renters.

The new arrivals are looking for an escape amid the coronavirus pandemic – causing an unsual sense of tension in places where locals and out-of-towners can usually coexist.

Paul LaRochelle (screenshot)

Alton Bay's famous ice runway will stay closed this winter due to unsafe ice conditions.

Paul LaRochelle is the state official in charge of the seasonal runway on Lake Winnipesaukee – the only one in the Lower 48 states.

He says the ice around the runway needs to be 12 inches thick to support maintenance vehicles and hundreds of aircraft.

This year, LaRochelle says warm weather has made the ice inconsistent – so he's keeping the runway closed.

Hobo & Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads - Facebook

Railroad proponents are pushing back on a proposal to remove existing train tracks near Laconia to make way for a long-planned rail trail extension.

Stewards of Laconia's nine-mile WOW trail, named for nearby water bodies, hope to someday extend the paved bike and pedestrian path over nearby rail corridors and other existing trails so that it would seamlessly connect Franklin and Weirs Beach.

The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office has amended its finding in a fatal 2016 officer involved shooting of a 25-year-old Claremont man, Cody LaFont.

The Attorney General's office initially concluded that the shooting was "legally justified," but it decided to re-examine the case after the officer involved was convicted of falsifying documents related to a police search last year.

Sara Ernst / NHPR

At Weirs Beach in Laconia, a sign in big block letters reads “Warning... Swim at your own risk.” More than halfway through the summer, beach-goers are swimming in the bay, while the lifeguard stand remains empty.

Laconia Approves Rules To Regulate Airbnb Rentals

Jun 25, 2019
Via AirBnB

People who rent out space in their homes through Airbnb may face new rules in Laconia. Last night the Laconia City Council approved short-term rental regulations for Airbnb and other home-sharing sites.

The rules would require hosts to submit an application to the city, perform safety inspections, and provide on-site parking, among other changes.

Councilor David Bownes said this is just the first step in a long process.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A plan to redevelop the former Laconia State School property into a potential mixed-use complex won't be as environmentally complex as expected – but will still require a lot more study before moving forward.

For decades, the sprawling, scenic Laconia State School was a home for people with developmental disabilities, and had a history of neglect and abuse.

It later became a state prison – the Lakes Region Facility – before closing in 2009.

John W. Hession

A new apartment building in Gilford is the first in the state to be certified as a “passive house.”

It uses airtight construction and energy efficient insulation that aims to sharply lower residents’ bills.

The building is the third phase of an affordable senior housing development called Gilford Village Knolls.

It includes 24 one-bedroom apartments, with a small rooftop solar array to cut residents' energy costs through net metering.

The nonprofit Lakes Region Community Developers built the multi-million dollar complex with state funding and tax credits.

Britta Greene / NHPR

State lawmakers will consider a proposal this session to end a decades-long fight over public boat access on Lake Sunapee.

The bill calls for the development of more parking at Mount Sunapee State Park to accommodate vehicles towing boat trailers, as well as improvements to the park’s boat ramp to allow access to deeper water.

New Hampshire is required by law to provide public access to the state’s largest bodies of water, including Lake Sunapee. Many argue the lake’s existing public launches are overcrowded or too shallow.

Mayu via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7w8xG1

Earlier this year, Lakes Region General Hospital closed its labor and delivery unit, citing a declining number of deliveries. Now some women in labor may have to travel greater distances to deliver their babies in a hospital.

But what if the baby just can't wait?

James Sarmiento / Flickr

For the past few years, the town of Newport has rejected increases to teacher salaries.

These are known as "step increases." They're based on the number of years worked, and add about an extra $1,200 each year to a teacher's salary.

Lisa Ferrigno is the co-president of the Newport Teacher's Association. She says the lack of salary increases means more teachers are leaving. 

"We're losing teachers who have been here five, 10, 15 years because of the off-step problem,” Ferrigno said.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

On Saturday, Laconia Middle School became a training ground for police, firefighters, and EMS personnel from across Belknap County.

The Laconia Police Department organized the training to test local emergency response in case of an active shooter. Police departments across the state conduct these regularly, but trainings at schools have ramped up in the last several years, in part due to funding from the Department of Homeland Security.

Scroll through the slideshow above to see photos from the training.

Mary McIntyre / NHPR

For this week’s Radio Field Trip, we’re meeting some animals and taking a ride.

Do you have a suggestion for an upcoming Radio Field Trip? Click here to submit your idea, or email us at fieldtrips@nhpr.org.


Britta Greene

Every summer morning, Midge Eliassen has the same routine. She walks out her back door, down the steps, and onto her dock on Lake Sunapee.

There, she pulls out a plankton net and takes a sample from the water, shipping off the results to be analyzed in a lab at Dartmouth College.

She’s been doing this, rain or shine, for 12 years. “I get a chance to look at the world and see what the lake looks like each day, which I really love,” she said. 

Editor's Note: We strongly recommend listening to this story.

Going Local: The Lakes Region

Aug 28, 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.

This show originally aired on August 9th, 2018. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire’s Department of Fish & Game is facing a potential lawsuit over water pollution from its largest fish hatchery.

The Conservation Law Foundation told the state Thursday it plans to file a Clean Water Act lawsuit this fall, unless the state begins working to fix the alleged problems within 60 days.

The Powder Mill hatchery in New Durham grows trout and salmon to stock state fishing areas, and it’s expanded in the past decade or so.

Courtesy Castle in the Clouds

 

A mountaintop New Hampshire estate known as "Castle in the Clouds" has been named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The nearly 5,300-acre estate in the Ossipee Mountains was originally owned by shoe manufacturer Thomas Plant. Called Lucknow, it offers 75-mile views across Lake Winnipesaukee and to mountains. Plant oversaw the construction of several buildings between 1913 and 1914.

Sara Plourde; NHPR

The Exchange will explore a different region of the state every Thursday starting July 12th: the Great North Woods, the White Mountains, the Lakes Region, Dartmouth/Sunapee, the Monadnock Region, the Merrimack Valley, and the Seacoast. 

We look at what makes each region distinct, the biggest issues facing that part of the state, and what people who live there love about their home. 

Flikr Creative Commons / clrlakesand

Divers will be out in Lake Winnisquam this summer removing invasive milfoil by hand. It’s the first comprehensive attempt to manage the weed in New Hampshire’s fourth-largest lake.

The newly formed Winnisquam Watershed Network got $46,000 in state and local funds for the project.

They’ll send out divers from now until September to remove the feathery milfoil from mucky shoreline areas by pulling it out at the roots. They’ll also use suction hoses and, later this fall, herbicide on some denser growths.

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.  

Emerson Aviation

 

"Ice-out" was officially declared on Lake Winnipesaukee on Thursday, in another traditional sign of springtime.

The yearly marker occurs when the M/S Mount Washington tourist boat can safely travel between its ports on the state's largest lake without encountering ice.

Emerson Aviation made the call at 5:40 p.m. Thursday during a flight.

Last year's "ice-out" came on April 17. It was March 18 in 2016, the earliest recorded "ice-out" for the lake, and the first one declared in the winter season.

Ice-out generally occurs the third week of April.

LRGHealthcare on Facebook

Lakes Region General Healthcare has been accused of violating consumer protection laws by hiring a Chief Nursing Officer who didn’t have a New Hampshire nursing license.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Closing arguments wrapped up Friday in the case of a Wolfeboro, New Hampshire dog breeder facing 17 counts of animal cruelty.

Christina Fay was found guilty in a lower court last year and sentenced to roughly $800,000 in fines and the forfeiture of all but one of her 75 Great Danes. The dogs were removed from her home during a raid last June, and remain in the care of the Humane Society.

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.

nh.gov

The New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton is suspending outside visitors due to an outbreak of a norovirus.

The suspension was announced Friday after multiple residents became sick with a highly contagious intestinal virus. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and headaches.

Veterans Home officials say they consulted with the state Division of Public Health about the temporary halt, which is in place to protect residents from acquiring new infections, as well as spreading the virus outside of the facility. 

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