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Meredith lauded for biggest Memorial Day crowd in 25 years

MEREDITH — What longtime resident Bob Ambrose called  the biggest crowd in 25 years" paid tribute to the men and women of the armed forces who lost their lives in the service of their country during ceremonies here yesterday marked by formal solemnities suiting the occasion as well as unforeseen twists reflecting its authenticity.

Led by a color guard, the parade, featuring a a caravan of vintage automobiles, trucks and a tractor — one convertible graced by Samantha Poirer of Dover, the reigning Miss New Hampshire — rolled up Main Street to the beat of the Inter-Lakes High School marching band to reach the Meredith Public Library right at 10 a.m.

Following the Star Spangled Banner and Pledge of Allegiance New Hampshire Senator Jeanie Forrester, herself a resident of Meredith reminded her listeners that "we are here to honor our heroes", those with "courage, pride, determination, selflessness and dedication to duty, to causes bigger than themselves." She told the crowd that their presence was a tribute to "the ordinary people who achieved extraordinary things."

Former commander of the Griggs-Wyatt American Legion Post 33, Bob Kennelly confessed "I plagiarized this speech," then read an eloquent paean to all those who sacrificed their lives to safeguard the liberty all Americans enjoy. Then, aware the wreaths to be laid at the library and floated on the lake had been left behind at the Legion Hall, he asked "did we get the wreaths yet?" After the wreath was placed at the foot of the flagpole on the library lawn and the strains of taps drifted across Main Street Kennelly remarked "you didn't go shopping,. you didn't go buy a car" and thanked everyone for showing their support of America's veterans, both the quick and the dead.

Ceremonies continued at Hesky Park, where at "The Rock" a vigil in remembrance of American prisoners of war and missing in action has been held every Thursday evening for the past 27 years. Kennelly again paid honor to nation's fallen heroes whose "souls go marching on.""  As he drew to a close, the claxon at the Fire Station began to sound. Unruffled, he declared "I couldn't put a better ending on it."

Offering a prayer, Alicia Gorrell, Auxiliary Chaplin of Post 33, eyed the flags waving above "The Rock": "The flag does not fly with the wind that blew it," she said, "but with the last breaths of the men and women who fought for it."

Bob Jones, vice-president of the Northeast POW/MIA Network, also spoke to the flags, stressing the "Honor and Remember Flag", a red and white banner featuring a gold star with a flame at its center, which honors everyone who has died in the service of the country from the Revolutionary War to the present day. The Honor and Remember Foundation awards the standard, with e name of the fallen veteran embroidered on it, to the family. At Hesky Park it flies alongside the Stars and Stripes, state flag and POW/Mia Flag. Jones said that the flag has been presented to 31 families in New Hampshire.

The ceremony closed as Keri Jackman, who served six years in the United States States Navy and another six in the naval reserve, laid the second wreath on the waters of Meredith Bay and the honor guard fired a salute. CAPTIONS:

CAPTION: Aboard a Marine Patrol vessel Keri Jackman, a six-year veteran of the United States Navy, laid a wreath on the waters of Meredith Bay to close the Memorial Day ceremonies at Hesky Park yesterday. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).

CAPTION: New Hampshire Senator Jeanie Forrester of Meredith and Bob Kennelly, former commander of Griggs-Wyatt American Legion Post 33, addressed a large crowd gathered at the Meredith Public Library as the town celebrated Memorial Day yesterday. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 May 2015 01:00

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Dozen BHS seniors aim for diploma with 'distinction'

BELMONT — Thursday afternoon in the Belmont High School Library, teachers and parents watched as 12 seniors defended the validity of their individual community service projects as they worked their way to earning a "diploma with distinction".

Each student presented to a jury that consisted of School Board member Heidi Chaney, N.H. Department of Employment Security Commissioner Carol Aubut, Superintendent Maria Dreyer, and Lakes Region Community College President Scott Kalicki.

After each presentation the students were asked questions by the jury about the research methods, results and what each learned from their projects.

A 25-hour project and presentation is but one portion of the requirements for graduating from Belmont High School with a diploma with distinction. The students must also complete 35 credits, have a grade point average (GPA) of greater than 92 on a scale of 100 and use their project for some kind of community benefit.

Colton Cadarette of Canterbury developed and created a Website for N.H. musician Mike Morris, a Berklee College of Music Graduate Mike Morris — an acoustic guitarist.

Cadarette plans on attending Elon University in North Carolina to major in business and marketing.

Paige Norkiewicz is a Continuing Catholic Development (CCD) instructor for St. Joseph Church in Belmont. She created a rosary project whereby her first graders made rosaries that were given to parishioners.

Norkiewicz project was titled, CCD – God and Me and during the time she worked with the first graders, they completed 19 sets of rosaries or prayer beads and all of them were given away.

She will be attending UMass Amherst and studying civil engineering.

Karl Wieck's project was building a fence to keep the critters out of the vegetable gardens at the Canterbury Elementary School. He also built two additional raised beds for the students who have been growing some of their own vegetables for a few years.

His project required fund raising, budgeting and purchasing and construction. Nearly an Eagle Scout, he used some of his fellow scouts for labor during the construction.

Wieck will be attending the University of New Hampshire to study engineering.

Shannon Conway created a Website for the High School that will assist students in the 40-plus steps they must take to apply for college and scholarships. She said it includes links to scholarship programs, links to digital copies needed for all the documents and links to help students pick the right school for them.

Conway will be attending Southern New Hampshire University to study elementary education and psychology.

Nikolai Fernandez used the High School's Power Hour (an hour a day set aside for extra help from teachers or study time) to offer tutorial services for mathematics and biology in the library. His sessions met once a week and he had 10 regular students whose grades improved appreciably because of his help.

Fernandez will be attending the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, where he will major in biochemistry.

Danny Iacopucci, an Eagle Scout, built a picnic site along the Laconia WOW Trail, complete with a garden. He said he understood how much effort had gone into the trail system and wanted to contribute.

He is in the process of making a plaque for the donors and volunteers and made some books about the project using the computer program Shutterfly.

Iacopucci will be attending Brigham Young University in Utah and has not yet decided on a major.

Chayleigh Cadarette and Alexandra Lugar worked together on building a footbridge in a remote section of the Jeff Marden Town Forest.

Cadarette gave her presentation about the planning, measuring, and approval processes required by the town's Conservation Commission while Lugar gave her presentation about the actual construction.

Lugar set up a demonstration about how to use a cordless drill and a cordless impact drill and the difference between the two of them.

Cadarette will be attending the University of New Hampshire and has yet to determine her major. Lugar will be attending the Plymouth State University were she will double major in psychology and criminal justice.

Zoe Zellar went to Belmont Elementary School once a week and tutored first and third graders in mathematics. As part of her weekly curriculum, she created games to help the children with their memories and with their addition skills in first grade and their multiplication skills in third grade.

Zellar will be attending the University of New Hampshire and has not yet decided on a major.

Andrew Spaulding participated all year in the Unified basketball program. He said he loved playing basketball as a kid but took up lacrosse as his sport in high school.

Spaulding said when the program ended he really missed it. He said he loved making friends with all of the people who participated and helped them and himself earn a measure of pride and belonging.

Spaulding will be attending Clarkson University in New York State to study mechanical engineering.

Alexa Silakka organized a childrens' book drive after she realized that there were very few books at the Belmont Early Learning Center.

She said her goal was to get donations of 50 books but she actually collected 475. She sorted through them and the Early Learning Center took 203, 162 went to a program for refugees and the homeless, 55 went to Weeping Willow Day Care in Tilton and 55 went to the Pines Community Center in Northfield.

Silakka will attend Walsh University in Ohio and study nursing.

Caitlyn Keville tutored at the Belmont Elementary School. She noted that some of the students were shy at first and bringing them out of their shells was part of her challenge. She noted the third graders went "off-track" a lot.

Although the students were being tutored because the need the help, she said she felt like they knew what they were doing but may have had some challenges with attention and learning skills.

Keville will be attending the University of Tampa where she will study nursing.

Guidance Councilor Brenda Seiferth shepherded the 12 students through their projects.

Last Updated on Monday, 25 May 2015 11:09

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Large crowd gathers at Veterans Square for Laconia's observance of Memorial Day

LACONIA — Memorial Day is more than a just a three-day weekend of ''beaches, picnics and auto races'' Wilkins-Smith Post #1 American Legion commander Ray Peavey told an audience gathered Monday at Veterans Square for a Memorial Day ceremony.
After noting that over a million Americans have sacrificed their lives for their country since the American Revolution, Peavey said ''Our fallen heroes are not just statistics. They were real people from real families who lived in real communities. We must honor their families for lives that were lost too early. We need to be there for those families, to give them a shoulder to cry on and let them know that their loved ones' sacrifices will not be forgotten.''
Peavey said that the observance in honor of those who died in war was known as Decoration Day until World War II ended and traces its roots to the Civil War and its aftermath, noting that one of the fist observances was held in Charleston, South Carolina on May 1. 1865 and saw free slaves and union soldiers marching together and placing flowers on the graves of union soldiers who had died in a prisoner of war camp.
He said that an empty seat at the dinner table serves as a daily reminder to those who have lost a loved one win of the sacrifice the family has made as said that the American Legion has always shown its unwavering support ''to preserve the memories and incidents of our associates in the Great Wars.''
Valerie Johnstone of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1670 Women's Auxiliary said that the day has always held a special significance for her.
''My dad fought in World War II and I had two uncles who fought in Korea. One was held as POW and the other lost his life there. That opened my eyes to the meaning of this day.'' said Johnstone.
She said that he sacrifice her uncle made can never be repaid and that celebrating Memorial Day is ''a promise we must keep, a promise to our fallen.''
Mayor Ed Engler thanked both veterans organizations for keeping the tradition of a Memorial Day parade and ceremonies alive and noted that a memorial near the flagpole at the library contains the names of 600 from Laconia who served in ''The War to End All Wars".
He said that during World War I some 4 million Americans, 2.5 million of whom were drafted, took part in the conflict with 53,400 killed in combat and 43,000 claimed by disease.
Among the war dead were 17 from Laconia, including brothers Guy H. Blackstone and Herbert W. Blackstone, both of whom were still in heir teens.
The new traffic circle at Weirs Beach was dedicated to their memory a year ago.
VFW Post Commander Bill North, who served as master of ceremonies at the observance, told of the history of the "Buddy Poppy" and its significance as a symbol of the blood shed by Ameican troops.
He thanked all of those who turned out for the parade and ceremony for their support of veterans and keeping alive the memory of their sacrifices.

Captions for pix slugged 15memorialday
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American Legion Post #1 Commander Ray Peavey and VFW Post 1670 Commander Bill North lead marchers in Laconia's Memorial Day parade. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Two year-old Noah Durgin of Laconia waves an American flag during Laconia's Memorial Day parade.
(Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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American Legion Post #1 Commander Ray Peavey speaks at Memorial Day ceremonies at Veterans Square in Laconia. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Honor guard members fire a rifle volley during Memorial Day ceremonies at Veterans Square in Laconia. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 May 2015 12:36

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Bob Valpey's 1931 Studebaker briefly led the Indy 500

CENTER HARBOR — Bob Valpey owns a bit of Indy 500 history in the form of a 1931 Studebaker, originally known as the Hunt-Jenkins Special, which was briefly in first place in the 1931 race and would later go on to set a record that same year in the Pike's Peak Hill Climb
It is one of many rare vintage cars owned by Valpey and occupies a special place in his collection, as he says one the first cars he ever owned was a 1955 Studebaker.
He recalls that when he was 14 years old his grandmother sent him a picture of the car which had appeared in a Popular Mechanic magazine and wrote him a note which said that he would look great in that car.
''I never had any idea I'd own it. But in the late 1960s, I saw it a Studebaker Meet in South Bend, Indiana, and asked the owner to put me on the list of people interested in buying it.''
It took about 15 years before the owner, who had completely restored the historic #37 Studebaker Indy racer, decided to sell it and Valpey bought it and added it to his collection in 1983.
''It was a prototype race car built for the 1931 race race by George Hunt and Ab Jenkins. The Indy 500 had changed the rules on engine size which opened it up the race to production engines so that manufacturers could enter cars,'' says Valpey.
The eight-cylinder engine with dual carburetors measured 336 cubic inches an produced 205 horsepower, enabling it to qualify with an average speed of better than 111 miles per hour.
Valpey said the chassis was constructed by the Herman Rigling shop in Indianapolis, and the body was made by "Pops" Dreyer for the Rigling shop. Hunt was an engineer at Studebaker and Jenkins was a race driver who set many speed records in long distance races with Studebaker cars, though he never drove at Indianapolis.
Car #37 was driven in the 1931 Indy 500 race by Tony Gulotta, who on the 120th lap was given the signal to run flat out. Gulotta passed 18 cars in the next 46 laps and was running in first place when the car hit a patch of oil from Billy Arnold's crash and went into the wall.
''It lead for about three-quarters of a lap,'' says Valpey, who says the car was repaired and entered the 1931 Pikes Peak Hill Climb. It was the last car to run that day on a badly chewed up race course. The car, driven by Chuck Myers, won the hill climb and set a new overall record for the mountain.
He says that in 1932 Studebaker entered five cars in the Indianapolis 500 and #37 finished in 6th place. The same team was entered in the 1933 race. All five cars finished and were among the first 12 cars to finish, with #37 finishing 12th. Valpey says that no other automobile manufacturer ever enjoyed the same success at the Indy 500 as Studebaker, whose race cars were built from engines, chassis and drive trains taken from the production line with very little modification.
Since he has owned the car, Valpey has driven it in Vintage Car events at N.H. Motor Speedway in Loudon and driven it the top of Mt. Washington several times since the Climb to the Clouds was revived in 1990.
''The event hadn't been run for 29 years and when they revived it I was contacted and asked to take part. I wanted to see what he car could do So I drove up with my wife Alice in the passenger seat and we actually made two trips up the mountain that day,'' says Valpey.
He says that owning the historic race car has given him a lot of pleasure and that he's had the opportunity to meet a lot of nice people because of it.''
He owns other Studebakers, including a 1936 Studebaker truck which he uses to haul another of his cars, a vintage Stutz Bearcat, to vintage auto shows throughout New England.

CAPTION: pix slugged Valpey
Bob Valpey of Center Harbor stands next to his 1931 Studebaker, which raced in the Indy 500 in 1931 and was leading when it crashed into the wall on the 167th lap. (Roger Amsden/ for The Laconia Daily Sun)
Caption pix slugged Valpey 2.
The eight-cylinder engine of Bob Valpey's 1931 Studebaker Indy 500 racer produced 205 horsepower, (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 May 2015 12:44

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