The Lakes Region

The Lakes Region covers a goodly portion of central New Hampshire, including all of Belknap County along with parts of Carroll, Grafton,  and Merrimack Counties.

Like the neighboring White Mountains, the Lakes Region depends heavily on outdoor tourism to support its economy.  About eighty-five percent of the area is woods, including a number of conservation lands, state parks, and town forests.  It’s also home to New Hampshire’s largest lake, Winnipausakee, along with 272 others.  Between the area’s rivers, lakes and groundwater, the Lakes Region is home to about 42 percent of the water in New Hampshire.

The region’s rural setting and numerous lakes have spurred rapid development of seasonal homes.  While statewide, the US Census Bureau found only 7.8 percent of people worked in construction, in Belknap County, that figure is 10.6 percent.  The portion of houses built in Belknap County from 1980–2005 also slightly outpaces the state as a whole.  Some towns, like Freedom, Moultonbourough, Hebron, and Tuftonboro, report that more than half the homes are seasonal.

While this high-end construction boom has bolstered the tourism industry by ensuring a more or less steady stream of repeat visitors, it’s hurt the Lakes Region in other ways.  So much shoreline land has been developed that it’s getting harder for visitors and residents to get out on the water.  In some cases, local governments have had to make agreements with home owners to open their land so that other residents and tourists can access the lakes.

The popularity of the Lakes Region as a site for seasonal homes has also raised property values–and rent.  One of the continued challenges the area faces is providing affordable housing for less affluent, year-round residents.

Environmental issues are also a point of concern for the region, where clean water is essential to its brand as a tourist destination.  While it’s a popular place for visitors, the Lakes Region is still very rural, and its infrastructure reflects that character.  Most homes, for example, rely on septic tanks rather than a sewer system.  Broken and poorly maintained tanks–especially in seasonal homes, which remain unoccupied for most of the year–have contributed to problems with E. Coli contamination along some shorelines.

Summary provided by StateImpact NH

Selbe B via Flickr/CC

Officials in Laconia say they’re pleased with their first efforts at holding the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival.

GIF generated from a video posted on the Save Our Ski Jump Facebook page

A 35-year-old popular high school ski jump in New Hampshire has been demolished after an engineer deemed it unsafe.

The jump was built by the Plymouth High School ski team in 1979. It was demolished Wednesday, despite an effort on Facebook to save it.

A fundraiser for the project raised most of the $50,000 goal.

The State Jump Meet will be held at the Plymouth jump in February, so organizers hope to have a new structure built by the end of the year.

Jason Moon for NHPR

The city of Franklin has dropped its youth curfew following pressure from the New Hampshire ACLU. 

In a statement, Mayor Ken Merrifield and the Franklin city council cited the cost of defending the ordinance in court in making their decision.

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

Officials in Franklin have voted to reinstate the city's curfew for children under the age of 16.

The curfew had been in effect for two decades but was recently suspended. Under the curfew, reinstated by vote of the city council, children would need to be out of public areas after 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and after 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings. Parents of children caught violating the curfew could face fines.

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Laconia police arrested 20 suspects Thursday following a months-long undercover drug investigation.

Fifteen officers made the arrests early in the morning as part of a massive sweep.

Laconia police Chief Chris Adams says those arrested would be held accountable, but would also be offered treatment options.

He says Laconia simply can’t arrest its way out of the heroin epidemic plaguing the city and the state.

Police say the investigation into the suspects included numerous hours of undercover surveillance and controlled buys compiling evidence.

Michael Brindley for NHPR

An iconic part of Laconia’s downtown will soon be reborn.

In a deal announced this week, the Belknap Economic Development Council will purchase the historic Colonial Theatre for $1.4 million.

The city will loan the group the money to buy the theater, and assist in raising the $15 million needed for renovations.

The Colonial opened in 1914, but has been shut down since 2001.

Justin Slattery, executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council, joined NHPR’s Morning Edition to talk about plans for the theater.

  The biggest motorcycle rally in the Northeast kicks off in New Hampshire in two weeks, and law enforcement officials and organizers say they anticipate no repercussions from this month's deadly shootout between rival motorcycle gangs in Waco, Texas. 

Laconia Motorcycle Week runs from June 13 to 21. It left its raunchier and riot-scarred days in the dust more than a decade ago. Today, it draws hundreds of thousands of bikers and revelers to the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee _ boosting the local and state economy. 


At least 300 people died from drug overdoses in New Hampshire last year, the most ever in the state.

A report cites the synthetic opioid fentanyl and heroin as the top two drugs having caused those deaths.

Laconia is among the communities where that spike in overdoses has continued into 2015.

Chris Adams is chief of police for Laconia, and joined Morning Edition to talk about how the city is handling the problem.

What are your officers are seeing out there?

Sean Hurley

Local Foods Plymouth has been connecting area residents with local farmers and bakers via their online farmer's market since 2006. Members can order meat, vegetables, bread, hot sauce, even hand-made soaps online and collect their goods at a local pick-up spot.  Last year, they made it even easier with a delivery service they call "Farm to Desk" as NHPR's Sean Hurley reports.

Via Wikimedia Commons

Three school districts in New Hampshire are sharing a federal grant worth nearly $10 million to improve access to mental health services in schools.

The grant to the Berlin public schools, the Franklin school district and the district covering Colebrook, Stewartstown and Pittsburg will serve about 4,000 people for five years. About 700 adults will be trained each year with the goal of making schools safer and reducing bullying, suspensions, substance abuse and behavioral problems.

WOW stands for Winnipesaukee Opechee Winnisquam, but the rail trail that winds across Laconia might just as well be named for the exclamation of its patrons as they marvel over the views on offer. Plans in the works will have the trail’s running nine miles, connecting Meredith with Franklin.

Though unfinished, Laconia police chief Chris Adams sees the trail as a positive addition to the city. “One of the things I love doing when I’m driving around is looking down the trail head to see families and couples and children riding bikes or walking.”


Emily Corwin / NHPR

  There’s been no shortage of people mourning the killing of James Foley by Islamic State militants. President Obama interrupted his Martha’s Vinyard vacation Wednesday to recall Foley -- who disappeared two years ago in Syria -- and to condemn his killers.

“People like this ultimately fail,” Obama said. “They fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy. The world is shaped by people like Jim Foley and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him.”

Law enforcement officials say Dr. David Landseadel, 48, was found near Stinson Lake in Rumney Sunday evening.

An autopsy determined Landseadel died from a single gunshot wound to the head. Investigators say the cause of death has bene ruled a homicide.

Sean Hurley

Last Saturday Plymouth joined 800 cities around the world to celebrate Make Music Day. The general idea - music performed by anyone, anywhere they like.  

Bob King has a day job but he hosts open mics at Tony's Restaurant on Thursdays. Today, he's standing in front of Thomas Roberts Hair Salon playing some of his favorite songs.

"It must be beautiful for people to walk around town and hear a different song every ten feet."

NHPR / Michael Brindley

The end of the school year in Nashua marks the end of the line for an after school program that organizers say was vital for the city’s middle school students.

A 31-year-old New Hampshire man who has spent more than half his life in prison for killing his parents when he was 14 can be freed if he completes counseling and learns the skills he'll need to return to society.

The editor and president of The Laconia Daily Sun has been elected mayor of the city.

Ed Engler said he will be speaking to voters around the city in preparation for the job, which starts in January.

He defeated Kailief Mitchell, an academic assistant at the Spaudling Youth Center, by a vote of 1,155 to 403 in Tuesday's election.

Engler said economic development would be a priority, starting with how to apply funds accrued by the downtown tax increment financing.

Brady Carlson, NHPR

Organizers expected a nice, somewhat modest turnout for the first try at a New Hampshire Coffee Festival. But then, putting a sign out on Main Street that essentially says “free coffee” has a tendency to over-deliver.

“I literally cried in awe of the turnout and the people coming downtown to celebrate the Coffee Festival with us," promotions committee member Lori Chandler said.

Brady Carlson, NHPR

This time of year is full of food fests, including a preponderance of Greek fests.

Food is, of course, a central part of Greek culture, and as we found at a festival in Laconia, that means a look at the food can reveal something deeper.

Gilmanton Land Trust

On her commute from Laconia to Pittsfield six days a week, Tobi Gray Chassie often stops at scenic spot in Gilmanton called Frisky Hill. When Chassie saw a sign telling of plans to develop the land, she felt that it was her duty to support the Gilmanton Land Trust in their protection of the land which meant so much to her.

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VTDarkStar / Flickr Creative Commons

 The Department of Environmental Services has lifted the fecal bacteria advisory on Weirs Beach in Laconia.  But advisories remain in place for Bartlett Beach and Opechee Cove. 

DES Beach Program Coordinator Sonya Carlson says contrary to earlier reports, there is no evidence right now that bacteria at the Weirs could be coming from so-called “sewage sludge.” Carlson points to water samples the EPA took there last year looking for traces of pharmaceuticals.

A Taste of Bike Week

Jun 14, 2013
Abby Kessler / NHPR

The 90th annual Laconia Motorcycle Week has a distinct sound that revs and rattles throughout the Granite State during the nine day rally, but over the years “bike week” has also become known for its unique taste.

“We do a lot of eating at bike week,” Jennifer Anderson, director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, said laughing.

During the event, vendors set up temporary stands along the Loudon racetrack, selling chicken tenders, soft pretzels, fried dough, sizzling pizza and seafood to patrons who watch sports bikes orbit the track.  

Sam Evans-Brown

Here’s a sentence you don’t hear much: today is August 7th... the first day of school.

Rochester’s Maple Street Elementary School is reopening this year as the state’s first Magnet School: an experiment in school reform that involves a longer school year and a specialized curriculum.

A New Hampshire developer plans to renovate two mostly-abandoned apartment buildings in Franklin and turn them into affordable housing for working class families. The company, New England Family Housing, plans to buy the 30-unit building for $615,000.

A leaking two million gallon water tank in Rochester forced residents to evacuate their homes today.

A Rochester resident reported hearing a crash or banging sound coming from a 90 foot  water tank around noon Tuesday.

Water department crews saw water gushing from the bottom of the cylindrical tank.

Rochester police ordered nearby residents to evacuate and detoured traffic around the scene. City Engineer Peter Norson says that the tank doesn't appear to be in danger of collapsing.

Bike Week's Wall of Death

Jun 14, 2006
Michael Al

All this week, New Hampshire Public Radio is bringing you some of the sights and sounds of bike week in Laconia.

Tuesday's Postcard from Bike Week

Jun 13, 2006

For plenty of participants, Bike Week is nothing short of a Dionysian pilgrimage.