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Biker bar owner tells city officials Motorcycle Week in decline

LACONIA — "This is the oldest motorcycle rally," said Bill Niland, who owns and operates a biker bar in Seabrook, "and it's the first one I've seen declining."

Niland was speaking to a meeting hosted by officials at City Hall yesterday to solicit comments from property owners, traveling vendors and the general public on the 91st running of Motorcycle Week. For the second year, Niland operated a beer tent with live music at the Weirs Beach Drive-In, noting that he invested $100,000 in the enterprise, but lost $20,000, half as much as he lost the year before. He said that many of the regular patrons of his bar in Seabrook, who have come to Laconia for years, did not spend a day at the rally this year.

With a measure of sarcasm, Niland referred to a report in "The Citizen" newspaper that this year's rally drew a record crowd, prompting Planning Director Shanna Saunders to quip, "I think we have a record maker every year."

"There's nothing really going on up here," Niland continued, adding that he hoped to find side mirrors for his motorcycle, but could not find a single vendor offering them amid the T-shirts and sunglasses. He said there were only two entertainment venues at The Weirs, his own and the Laconia Roadhouse at the Weirs Beach Lobster Pound. "There is no attraction," he said.

Niland acknowledged that he did not know how to reverse the trend, he suggested the organizers of the rally consider a partnership with the Freedom Ride, sponsored by the Northeast POW/MIA Network, which he thought might enhance the rally. Otherwise, he said flatly "I see it declining, declining fast."

By the time Niland spoke, Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, had left the meeting. "Charlie knows what I think," Niland remarked with a smile. However, City Manager Scott Myers asked Niland if the two could speak together about the issues he raised. "Anytime, Niland replied. "Anytime."

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 12:57

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Gilford police station job could go out to bid as early as September 1

GILFORD — Town Administrator Scott Dunn told selectmen last night that the engineering plans for the Police Department renovation and expansion project at Town Hall should be ready for board review by August 27.

Should the board accept the plans, Dunn said they should be ready to go to bid by September 1.

The board also approved a one-year extension of the finish date for the Homeland Security federal grant portion of the project that will build a Emergency Operations Center — something the existing department doesn't have right now.

Dunn said the assistant chief of planning for Homeland Security approved moving the final completion date from September 30, 2014 to September 30, 2015.

Dunn said the town requested the extension because it had just hired a new police chief, who will be a key member of the construction management team.

He also said the town wants to continue to be able to use the portion of the Police Department that will eventually become the EOC during construction, which should take about a year.

In other news, selectmen approved $2,647 for the replacement of deck of the town bandstand.

According to a memorandum from Parks and Recreation Director Herb Greene, the buildings and grounds department has told him the deck has rotted through and replacing the floor board only is no longer an option.

Greene said the re-decking should not interfere with any of the town's scheduled activities which include community band concerts and Old Home Day.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 12:54

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Police release name of man found dead in Laconia apartment

LACONIA — Police have identified Steven J. Copp II as the man who was found dead in an apartment at 709 Union Avenue Saturday afternoon

Copp's body was discovered around 3:30 p.m. when another person in the apartment checked to see why he hadn't risen.

Police said Copp entered the apartment just after midnight on Friday and went directly to bed.

Police did not give a cause of death and said the investigation is ongoing.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 12:48

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More detailed HVAC estimate for jail fix not likely

LACONIA — The idea of a stand-alone vote for installing a new HVAC system at the Belknap County Jail is still alive but one of the key conditions sought by members of the county convention for reconsideration, namely more detailed information on the $1 million cost estimate, is unlikely to be forthcoming.
''I can't believe any contractor will take a look at it until a bond is passed,'' Commissioner Steve Nedeau (R-Meredith) told Dave DeVoy at yesterday afternoon's meeting of the commissioners.

Two weeks ago DeVoy, a candidate for the Republican nomination for the County Commission seat currently held by Ed Philpot (D-Laconia), who is not seeking re-election, broached the idea of a second vote on that part of a $2.96 million bond issue which was rejected by a 9-7 vote of the County Convention last month.
DeVoy said he had talked with convention Chair Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) and other members of the convention about a new vote and that Worsman had said that if the commissioners requested a hearing on just that part of the bond the convention would take it up. He said that other members of the convention told him that they wanted a more detailed description of the work which would be done and a more precise cost estimate before they would vote to support it.
Commissioners have said that the million dollar estimate was reached in consultation with Maintenance Superintendent Dustin Muzzey and was based on the cost of a similar project which was completed three years ago at the Belknap County Courthouse.
DeVoy said that some county legislators had suggested that the commissioners might want to consider including the HVAC system as part of next year's operating budget rather than as a stand-alone bond issue.
Other elements of the defeated bond proposal put forth by the Jail Planning Committee, which required a two-thirds majority vote from lawmakers for passage, included $360,000 for a schematic design for a new county jail and $1.6 million for a three-year lease of a 48-bed temporary housing unit.
Commissioners are unlikely to take any action on the proposal until after the next scheduled meeting of the Jail Planning Committee, which will take place on September 10, the day after the primary election, and which will be attended by Kenneth Ricci, president of the Ricci Greene firm which provided the conceptual plan for a 94,000 square foot Community Corrections facility for 184 inmates which carried an estimated $42.6 million price tag which proved widely unpopular with legislators and many local officials across the county.
County Administrator Debra Shackett says that Greene will present alternatives and options to the plan to the committee, which has been looking to bring the cost of the project to $30 million or less and postponed further meetings until it had a chance to meet with him.
Commissioners declined to comment on the lawsuit filed last week by the Belknap County Convention against them which seeks to affirm the authority of the convention over line items in the county budget. They said they were in consultation with their attorney over the law suit, which was authorized by the convention in October of 2013 but not filed until last week.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 12:41

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