Motorcycle Week concerts canceled, promoter to start planning for next year

LACONIA — There will be no concerts at the Weirs Beach Drive-In Theater during Motorcycle Week, Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Motorcycle Week Association announced yesterday.

St. Clair said that Vesslar Global Partners, LLC of West Jefferson, N.C., the promoter staging the concerts, issued a statement early Friday canceling the events just two days after the Special Events Review Committee granted approval for two concerts, one featuring Quiet Riot and the other Hoobsstank, on Thursday and Friday during the rally. Originally Vesslar Global Partners applied to stage live music on the last four evenings of Motorcycle Week with celebrated bands performing each night.

"I'm disappointed," said St. Clair. "A lot of people, both city officials and members of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, put a lot of time and energy into making this happen. I knew it was a shot in the dark," he continued, "because of the lateness in the initial planning, which only began in March." He said, "The upside of this is that the city has shown itself willing to work on any plan to bring big, great events like Motorcycle Week, the Pumpkin Festival and big concerts to Laconia."

St. Clair said that representatives of Vesslar Global are expected to meet with city officials in July to begin the process of planning a concert series during the 93rd running of Motorcycle Week in June 2016.

Meanwhile, the Weirs Beach Drive-In Theater will serve as parking lot for cars and motorcycles during the rally this year.

Winnisquam Scenic Trail ready to go in Belmont

BELMONT – After 15 years of planning, raising money and bartering with the state Department of Transportation, Phase 1 of the Lake Winnisquam Scenic Trail is just about ready.

Yesterday, the owner of Piche's, Bob Bolduc, accepted and then donated back the money he received for allowing a slope easement across his property. He said his store is holding special sale in July to support the trail.

Accepting the easement and donation were Belmont Land Use Technician Rick Ball and Lake Winnisquam Scenic Trail President Ron Mitchell as they walked the portion of it behind the wholesale outlet.

"Fifteen years," said Mitchell quietly. "It's been a long, long time."

"I sure am waiting for the day I can stick my shovel into the ground," said Mitchell who has spearheaded the Belmont segments, working in conjunction with people working on the Franklin, Tilton, Northfield, Laconia and Meredith portions.

When the Federal Transportation Enhancement Grant first became available in 2002 and 2003, Belmont initially looked at three portions of a trail that was supposed to go from downtown Franklin to Meredith.

The phase being built now, and scheduled for a late August groundbreaking, runs from Agway, near the Mosquito Bridge, to the Belmont Town Beach. Phase 2, said Ball, is slated to go to Jefferson Road. However, with the Federal Enhancement Grant set to expire at the end of this federal fiscal year (Oct. 1) it would have to be re-approved by Congress.

Since its initial design, there have been a few changes and speed bumps – most notably a redesign near the Belknap Mall, a requirement for a fence along the railroad, and an archeological study last year that threatened to hold up the project to the point where it appeared the money would run out before it could be finalized.

With the hiccups behind them, Ball said he has negotiated all of the easements and has acknowledgments for the few he hasn't finalized. Once those are completed, he said the plan goes back to the state Department of Transportation for a final review.

The final cost for this segment of the trail is $188,000 in engineering costs, $756,000 in construction costs and $10,500 in oversight costs.

At Belmont High School, Sen. Shaheen says it’s time for a woman to be president

BELMONT – U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen spent an hour yesterday speaking with and fielding questions from the freshman class at Belmont High School.

Shaheen was greeted by the award-winning high school band when she arrived at the school and was taken aback and encouraged by the warmth of their welcome.

"Thank you very much," she said. "It was really nice to have that kind of greeting."

Shaheen began her hour by telling the students she remembered their principal, Dan Clary, and was there to give him his award when he was named vice principal of the year in 2010.

With the encouragement of their teachers, the students asked Shaheen questions about many of the topics and current events they had been studying in civics class that year.

Shaheen, a former teacher in Mississippi and in Dover, N.H., broke the ice by telling the students a little bit about herself and why she chose politics as a career.

She said her coming of age was during the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights and Women's movements in the 1960s and 1970s.

"The way to fix things were through the political system," she said.

She said she also taught school in Mississippi in 1970, the first year the schools were not segregated.

"At the time, Mississippi had no compulsory education," she told them. "What a difference it makes to have a good education."

Shaheen, a Democrat, came to New Hampshire with her husband who was from New Hampshire and began working on the Jimmy Carter's campaign. She said a speech he made on Law Day in 1974 inspired her to want to see him president.

One student asked her what her biggest struggles were when she was in high school. She said that her family moved around a lot when she was young and she was always the new person at the school.

"I found it difficult to meet new people and fit in," she said, asking if any of the students there were new to the school.

One student asked about her work in her Senate Committees. She named them – Foreign Affairs, Armed Forces, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Appropriations and explained a little bit about how important it was to serve in the Small Business Committee when 96 percent of New Hampshire employers are small-business people.

She explained about majority and minority parties and how she is the (minority) leader of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, explaining to them how they raise money to keep the agencies like the Coast Guard, the Border Patrol and Department of Immigration funded and operating.

One student asked her how she felt about renewing the Patriot Act. She said she didn't support the bulk collection of phone calls and email records and that the government should have a warrant before it can access that information.

But, she said, she does support monitoring people who pose a distinct threat to the United States. "It's very important," she said, noting the man, shot by police this week in Boston, who was working with ISIL on a plot to behead a police officer.

When asked, she told them her favorite politician in American history was Abraham Lincoln because he was willing to make so many sacrifices to keep the Union together. She also applauded him for setting up land-grant colleges – of which the University of New Hampshire is one – in the middle of the Civil War.

"We have to be visionary and expand our horizons," she said.

She was also asked about some of the most fun she's had while being either governor or senator. She said going to the top of Mount Washington during a blizzard was one of them as was getting to spend time in her home state talking to students like them.

Shaheen also spoke about her bill that would put a woman on the $20 bill.

She said she was supporting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president because it's time the United States has a woman for president.

When one of the teachers asked her about Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, she said she likes working with her and commended her on her knowledge of finance and banking. She noted the two were the only members of a club of women who beat Scott Brown for their respective Senate seats.

"He's the first man to be defeated for Senate in two different states by two different women," she said.

One of her more recent initiatives is a Global Count. She explained that in many countries, births are not recorded the way they are in the United States – especially female births – and not having these records leads to human trafficking.

When students asked her what they could do to become more involved, she told them to volunteer their time. She suggested visiting veterans, elderly people and when they get older joining organizations like AmeriCorps and City Year.

Northfield woman pleads guilty to defrauding VA

CONCORD – A Northfield woman has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to health-care fraud.

Misty Maciejewski, 35, was charged with the theft of more than $29,000 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Administration, Acting U.S. Attorney Donald Feith said in a statement released to the news media yesterday.

Maciejewski is schedule to be sentenced on Sept. 28. She is facing sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

In an application for health benefits Maciejewski submitted to the VHA on Oct. 3, 2012, she falsely claimed to be a veteran of the Army and that she was honorably discharged after serving in combat. The application was mistakenly approved by the VHA due to an administrative error.

While living in Massachusetts after the application was approved, Maciejewski fraudulently received VHA benefits totaling $8,154.58 which were paid to a half-way house in Boston and applied to medical services she received from the VA hospital in Boston.

After Maciejewski moved to Northfield in July 2013, she fraudulently received VHA benefits totaling $21,287.55 which were paid to non-VA medical services providers and applied to medical services she received from the VA hospital in Manchester, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

"Veteran benefits programs exist to provide services needed by those who have put on the uniform in defense of our country," Feith stated. "Our office will continue to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to identify, investigate, and prosecute those who seek to defraud these programs and thus deprive true veterans of the funds they need."

The case was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Criminal Investigation Division and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Kinsella.