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Trio of 2015 LHS grads will pursue music education degrees in college

by Alana Persson

LACONIA — For three recent graduates from Laconia High School, the love of music fostered during their public education in the Laconia District has blossomed in them a desire to purse music at the college level.

Leaving high school as top musicians around the state Michael O'Brien, Mitchell Bailey, and Andrew Emanuel look forward to improving their skills and pursing their love of music as music education majors for the next four years.

O'Brien began playing in band during the fourth grade on alto saxophone and immediately found that music was an essential piece of his life. Sticking with the band program through senior year, O'Brien has taken an initiative to expand his skills by taking up bass during the end of his high school career.

This fall O'Brien will be attending Benedictine College in Atchison, Kans., as a music education major. O'Brien had once thought that he was going to go into engineering but after much time considering what he would most enjoy from life and what path he was being called to choose, he decided to pursue his passion for music.

"I want to thank Father Marc (Drouin) for helping me along the way decide what I wanted to pursue, he has been a huge part of my decision," says O'Brien who is a member of the Saint Andre Bessette Parish in Laconia, where Drouin is pastor.

Being part of band in the Laconia School District helped foster O'Brien's love for music, and he thanks band and choral Director Debbie Gibson, for helping guide him as a musician.

Additionally, O'Brien has gained various life and leadership skills as a former drum major his junior and senior year, as well as band vice president. Outside of the high school band community, O'Brien spent time playing with the Lakes Region Symphony Orchestra, as a part of the The O'Brien Clan, as well as singing and playing instruments for the choir at Saint Andre Bessette Parish.

Pursuing a music degree in college will allow O'Brien to play in more advanced groups and challenge himself more than he has been able to in high school. As number one bass singer for the state, O'Brien also looks forward to taking more vocal classes and joining more choral groups. The many different styles and concentrations of music that O'Brien will be pursuing will help him to foster a future in either private or public music education, or a church music ministry.

Bailey will be attending the University of New Hampshire this fall as a music education major. When starting band in fourth grade Bailey was one of the only people to choose the trombone as his instrument of choice. When asked why he chose this instrument he stated, "Well I was told that everyone loves trombone players, so I thought that playing trombone would make me cool." Bailey has not only found that the instrument was "cool," but has grown an appreciation for the instruments ability to reflect the human voice.

Throughout his pursuit, Bailey has enjoyed the opportunities he has had playing his instrument and would encourage younger kids to choose to take the same path he did, as there aren't many people who play the trombone, so the ones that do have a real opportunity to shine. Being part of the bands in the Laconia School District allowed Bailey to expand his skills and work harder as an individual player.

Middle school laid out the foundation of music for Bailey, and was an enjoyable part of his day. High school band not only changed his perspective on music but on life, as Bailey states, "Once you hit high school you are looking more toward college, but the high school band has pushed me not to just be good in class for school but also best in other places outside of the school. Never stop challenging yourself, and learn new things to do so that you don't get into a rut."

Bailey states that he is glad that he got invested in band because it gives a sense of belonging, as it is a very binding thing, whether one likes it or not, and gives everyone something to relate to.

Outside of high school band, Bailey participates in Lakes Region Symphony Orchestra in Meredith that includes people from high school age to senior citizens. Although he states there is an age gap, he does not notice it as there is a commonality in the love of music. Band festivals were also an enjoyable experience for Bailey, as there is a band and music community formed from around the state and New England that surpasses just the Laconia High School environment. Although music is the focus of Bailey's future, his end goal is not set in stone, as he would like to teach private music lessons, or teach in a classroom most likely at the elementary school level.

Emanuel will also be attending the University of New Hampshire as a music education major, and plans on pursing a career in music education and/or music performance. His end goal is to perform and live in something a little nicer than a cardboard box. For Emanuel money is a slight factor but not to an extreme degree, but he has concluded that his happiness is not determined by the size of the house, but who he fills his house with.

Emanuel's passion for music trumps his desire for money. When asked why Emanuel decided to pursue music, he claimed that it was his experience in high school band, and assistance from Gibson who has facilitated his exposure to talented professional musicians. Emanuel wants to keep on performing, preferably in a big band, although since there are few big bands around these days he would be content with a jazz combo.

Working hard has allowed Emanuel to achieve various accolades both within the school community and the state. These distinctions include most recently the top score in the state for tenor saxophone in the Classical All-State Ensemble, and was presented the Marching Sachem Award, the Louie Armstrong Jazz Award, and the John Philips Sousa Award.

Moving forward, Emanuel most looks forward to the UNH Jazz Band, because after hearing them play they have inspired them him to work hard so that he can have an opportunity to play with them.

"It is a very difficult group to get into, and it will take much dedication and practice to earn a spot playing with them," says Emanuel.

Emanuel thanks all of his teachers in the past for instilling his love of music, these teachers include, Allison Whitham, John Cardin, Lee Ames, Dr. Jonathan Lorentz, Dr. Rik Pfenninger, Stephen Colby, and especially  Gibson.

"I would like to thank Mrs. Gibson, who was not only my teacher but also acted not a music teacher but as a surrogate mother to me by assisting me in ways that ordinary music teacher would."


CAPTION -- Andrew Emanuel, Mitchell Bailey, and Michael O'Brien. (Photo cred - Alana Persson)

Last Updated on Friday, 26 June 2015 12:49

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Jail Planning Committee endorses 1-story pan for 'community corrections' facility

LACONIA — The Belknap County Jail Planning Committee has endorsed the idea of a one-story "community corrections: facility after learning from SMP Architecture that it feasible to place a single-story building on the county-owned land located in front of the current county jail.
SMP President Eric Palson presented a conceptual plan for the proposed facility to the committee Thursday morning which shows the existing jail and the new 64-bed correction facility sharing a "sally port" on the north side.
Public access to the corrections facility would be through a south-facing covered entry which would be reached from a parking lot located off from the current driveway to the Belknap County complex. The proposed site plan also contains a separate entry road into the county complex for service vehicles only, near Lexington Drive, which would separate public traffic from service vehicles for a better traffic flow.
Kevin Leonard of North Point Engineering said that permission from the the city of Laconia would be needed for a new driveway as it is their jurisdiction, not the state Department of Transportation, whose jurisdiction starts north of Lexington Drive. He said that the city in the past has denied access for a driveway to a church, located across North Main Street the road from the county property.
He said that the proposed new driveway has been discussed with Laconia's Public Works Department, which has been receptive to the proposal, and that the Belknap County Commission should notify the city in writing of the plan.
He also said that the county will have to develop a storm water pollution plan for the site to meet Department of Environmental Services standards for alteration of terrain.
Palson said that the preliminary square footage numbers for a one-story facility are 17,620 net and 22,906 gross, which reflects a 30 percent factor for walls, mechanicals and corridors.
When questioned by Belknap County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) about the 30 percent factor, Palson said it was best to stick with it until the design had been put through the Computer Assisted Design (CAD ) process to obtain a more accurate number.
He said that Andre Klotz of Bauen Corporation in Meredith will provide cost estimates based on those figures as well as he kind of materials recommended for the project and thee mechanical system.
Project Manager Anthony Mento of SMP said that the cost of improvements to the HVAC system in the current House of Corrections will be included in the overall cost of the project, which Commissioner DeVoy has said should not exceed $7 million.
Not included in the proposed bond issue would be improvements to the old jail, which will hold 30 to 40 inmates in a higher security setting.
DeVoy said that he wants to see a prioritized list of jail renovation projects and their costs, with the thought that some of them can be accomplished by using $300,000 in funds left in the jail planning account and some of the county's $200,000 contingency account.
Ross Cunningham of Alternative Solutions Associates, Inc., a consulting firm hired by the county to develop a plan for a community corrections facility and programs, said that some contractors might be reluctant to undertake some of the proposed renovations without the county developing a comprehensive approach to renovations.
The committee will met again next Thursday at 9 a.m. at the Belknap County Complex to receive updates and fine tune the facility and site plan which is being developed.
The design project has an August 21 completion target date.

Last Updated on Friday, 26 June 2015 12:42

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Will council reconsider marina decision?

LACONIA — When the City Council meets next on July 13, it will consider the request of Erica Blizzard, who owns and operates Lakeport Landing Marina, to reconsider its decision to sell the property her firm has leased from the city for the past 30 years to its neighbor and competitor, Irwin Marine.

When the council met earlier this week, Blizzard reminded councilors of the process leading to the decision. After receiving offers from both Lakeport Landing and Irwin Marine, the council asked City Manager Scott Myers to hold "informal conversations" with the two parties to gauge their reactions to terms and conditions the council expected to attach to the sale of the property and report to the council when it met on Monday, June 8.

Myers wrote to both parties on June 1 and, in addition to outlining the conditions specified by council, asked each to submit their "highest and best offers" for the property to his office by 4 p.m. on June 8. Blizzard said that she understood that the council would weigh all aspects of the responses, but continue negotiations without making a final decision, much less a decision based solely on the offers submitted, on June 8.

But, after meeting privately for 40 minutes the councilors voted 4-2 to accept Irwin Marine's offer of $528,000 for the property. Blizzard said that had she known the council would accept the highest offer she would not have submitted her original offer of $331,400, but a higher one.

After Blizzard addressed the council, Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4), who with Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) voted not to sell to Irwin Marine,  asked the council to suspend its rules in order to create an opportunity to reconsider its decision. The council's rules of procedure stipulate that motions to reconsider votes be made at the same meeting the votes are taken, or by written notice at the next meeting. In this case, neither deadline was met. Reconsideration motions must be made by a councilor who voted with the prevailing side.

A two-thirds majority of the six councilors is required to suspend rules. Suspending the rule is the first of two hurdles that must be cleared before reconsidering the original vote. In addition, a councilor who voted to sell the property to Irwin Marine must offer the motion to reconsider the vote and that vote would have to pass by a a majority vote.

Mayor Ed Engler asked City Manager Scott Myers if he believed Baer's motion was in order. Myers replied that no substantial event, such as entering a purchase and sales agreement, had occurred since the council voted on June 8 that would forestall reconsideration of the vote, but suggested seeking the advice of legal counsel. Myers subsequently informed the councilors that a motion to suspend rules would be in order when the council meets on July 13. At the same time, he explained that if the council chooses to suspend its rule, then one of the four councilors who voted in the majority when the decision was made — Councilor Ava Doyle (Ward 1), David Bownes (Ward 2), Henry Lipman (Ward 3) or Bob Hamel (Ward 5) — must offer a motion to reconsider that vote. Any of the six councilors could second the motion to enable he council to debate whether to rescind its vote to sell the property to Irwin Marine, which would require a simple majority vote.

The property, a 0.81 acre strip between the roadway and railway, was leased to Lakeport Landing in 1985 for 10 years with two 10-year renewal periods. The lease will expire this Oct. 31, and the tenant has no renewal rights. In 1987 Lakeport Landing constructed a 9,840-square-foot building on the lot. Under the terms of the lease, ownership of building will go to the city at the expiration date. An independent appraiser pegged the value of the property at $480,000

Last Updated on Friday, 26 June 2015 12:29

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Trash talk: Gilford looks to 'control own destiny'?

GILFORD — Selectmen voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the town and the city of Laconia outlining the status of an agreement regarding the Laconia (trash) Transfer Station.

The MOU puts on paper the financial agreement between the two communities and is effective July 1 or when the city of Laconia also approves it. It is also gives the town a solid point in time should it decide to leave the arrangement with the city and build it's own transfer station.

"This is a good starting point for winding down our relationship," said Town Administrator who worked with Laconia City Manager Scott Myers on the MOU.

Dunn said yesterday that no decisions have been made regarding the town building it's own transfer station but a Solid Waste Committee has been formed and is looking at the future of Gilford and its garbage. He said that the rubbish relationship between the two communities has been a good one.

However, he said, there is a sense among some people in Gilford that "the town should control its own destiny". He said that the committee is evaluating the recycling station property on Kimball Road for future use and says is is likely large enough to hold a transfer station.

Dunn said there was a stump dump there years ago but otherwise the property should be suitable if that's the direction the committee and the selectmen would like to go.

"It's a lengthy permitting process with restrictions from the old stump dump, but I think it's big enough," he said.

According to the MOU approved by selectmen, the city of Laconia retains the first $5 per load of all revenues collected from Gilford residents and commercial haulers, which pays for scale expenses that include staff, maintenance, future upgrades, and administrator services.

The next $10 per load from town residents and commercial haulers is retained by the city to pay for capital upgrades. Anything above this is returned to Gilford as revenue sharing.

According to Laconia Finance Director Donna Woodeman, the city took out a 10-year loan in fiscal year 2009 for $1,045,000 of capital upgrades. She said the bonds will be retired by fiscal year 2019 — or in three years. Gilford's portion of this, according to the MOU, is $377,862 plus interest and administrative fees totaling $54,091.

Gilford pays 31-percent of the disposal (tipping) fees due at the Concord Regional Solid Waste Resource Recovery Cooperative incinerator and or to Waste Management of New Hampshire and Laconia pays the 69-percent balance. The MOU states that these proportions could change by mutual agreement.

The MOU also states that the agreement can be terminated by either party with 180 days notice.

Dunn said it is too soon to tell if it is the will of the Solid Waste Committee and the Seletboard that the town build its own transfer station. He said the committee is talking about many rubbish related things, including the cost of transporting recyclables and the possibility of curb-side pickup.

Should building its own transfer station be the recommendation of Gilford's committee  and the selectmen, Dunn said there would be a bond article on a future warrant to pay for it and the three-year time period left on the town's portion of the Laconia Transfer Station bond is about the amount of time it would take to get a bond approved and build a new facility.

Last Updated on Friday, 26 June 2015 12:20

Hits: 182

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