New device in Laconia’s Wyatt Park will measure air quality for the state


LACONIA — Next week, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services will place an air monitoring station in Wyatt Park that will measure air quality throughout the winter from November until April.

In particular, the agency seeks to determine if levels of particle pollution pose an issue. Particle pollution refers to the presence of solid or liquid particulates, generally emanating from heating devices, especially wood-burning stoves, in the atmosphere. Studies suggest that these particles can collect in communities situated in valley on cold, calm nights during the winter.

Personnel from the Air Monitoring Program will operate the station and make the data it collects available to the general public on the department's website. At the same time, the department will apply the data to forecast local air quality and, if necessary, issue protective warnings. For more information, visit the Air Quality Forecasting webpage at

Personnel from the Air Monitoring Program have worked with the Parks and Recreation Department to locate the air monitoring station and will host an open house at the station in Wyatt Park on Wednesday, Oct. 26 between noon and 2 p.m.

10-21 air quality chart

This is the chart you will see on air quality if you go to the DES website. It will soon include monitoring results from Laconia. (Courtesy graphic)

Pumpkin prep - The 2016 Pumpkin Festival sets up, Main Street closed on Friday



LACONIA — Main Street will be closed to to vehicles today so that the many thousands of carved gourds can be delivered downtown in preparation for the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, which will be held on Saturday, Oct. 22. Foot traffic, though, is welcome, and if last year is any predictor, many will stroll through downtown to watch the area fill with jack-o'-lanterns.

Main Street will be closed today from Sawyer's Jewelry to Veterans Square, so that crews can begin setting up the racks and boxes to display pumpkins. A crane will be brought in at 7 a.m. to set up the "Pumpkin Eye View" staircase, which will afford an elevated vantage point to view the expanse of pumpkins on Saturday. Crews will also be setting up

Canal and Hanover streets and will also be closed to general traffic today, and traffic will be restricted on Pleasant Street.

Beginning at 10 a.m., schools and businesses will be bringing mass deliveries of carved pumpkins downtown and placing them on the racks, boxes and sidewalks throughout the Main Street area.

Beginning on Friday night, the haunted attraction, "Mayhem at the Mill" will be open at the Belknap Mill. Another seasonal staple, though, has announced that it will cease its run. Funspot will no longer be throwing its Halloween Party, which for years had been held at the Weirs family entertainment center.

In a press release, Funspot owner and founder Bob Lawton said, "We have been holding this event for 35 years on the Saturday the week before Halloween and have been excited to be one of the most anticipated nights of the fall here in the Lakes Region. Now with the Pumpkin Fest in Laconia and the success that's proven to be, we are happy to pass the torch to what we hope will be a long-running event and we hope our guests will visit downtown on Oct. 22 to take part in the festivities."

Domestic abuse up

Incidents in area increase; awareness effort begins


LACONIA — As the country marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the 313 incidents to which police have been called in the city so far this year is running ahead of the pace set a year ago when officers responded to 330 calls for assistance, undertook 180 investigations and made 57 arrests.

Likewise, Kathy Keller, executive director of New Beginnings, a nonprofit organization with the mission of providing services and support for victims of domestic and sexual violence, said that domestic abuse and violence has risen steadily during her 20 years with the agency. Last year, New Beginnings served 927 clients, including 114 children, with 10,094 specific services and sheltered 48 victims of domestic violence. Although women are the victims in the vast majority of cases, Keller said "we do see some men as well."

Keller said that the police, after making what she called "a lethality assessment" to measure the threat to life and limb, call the agency to assist with serious cases, but added "We also see what the police never see." Apart from '"the classic cases," she said that victims of emotional and mental abuse as well as those isolated from their families and others, subjected to harsh controls and bullying and financial deprivation or exploitation may also turn to New Beginnings.

New Beginnings operates a 24-hour "crisis line" 365 days a year, together with an emergency shelter with capacity for up to 15 people with private rooms for single women and families, and round-the-clock access to trained personnel. Local hospitals call the agency to meet victims of sexual assault at the emergency room to offer support and counsel, including advice abut their legal options. If necessary the staff is prepared to shepherd victims through the process of securing restraining and protective orders.

Keller emphasized that all services are protected by confidentiality and the agency respects the right of its clients to deny or request any services. "We talk about the pros and cons of the options people have, with a stress on personal safety," Keller said. "We are about bringing those involved in crisis to make their own choices, to help them find their own voice, to empower them." She acknowledged that domestic violence is a stubborn problem, noting that relatively few severe cases are easily resolved. On average, she said, victims of domestic violence seek help nine times before terminating an abusive relationship.

"We're not seeing a lot of reduction in family violence," Keller repeated. Instead, she said, the increase in substance abuse, particularly opiate addiction, "has compounded the work we do." She said that frequently domestic strife is accompanied by co-occurring issues of substance abuse, mental illness and financial stress, and often all three. New Beginnings maintains partnership with the other social service organizations in the region as well as with the state agencies, especially the Division of Children, Youth and Families, its 12 "sister agencies" in the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic Violence that operate throughout the state.

New Beginnings operates with six staff members and what Keller described as "a large pool of trained volunteers," who together provided more than 23,000 hours of service to the agency last year. The agency's $320,000 annual budget is primarily funded by the state and federal governments and supplemented with private donations.

10-20 New Beginnings staff

The team of New Beginnings, who support and serve victims of domestic violence, are, from left, first row: Emily, Jen and Page; second row: AliciaAlec, Executive Director; Kathy Keller and Erin; top row: Linda and Shauna. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)