LACONIA • July 19, 2017 — A tabletop was placed on the tavern pool table at the Funspot Wednesday for a meeting of Gov. Chris Sununu and Executive Council that included honors for local dignitaries such as the entertainment center's owner, Robert Lawton, and Hope Makris, who owns the NASWA resort.
Amid the sound of crashing bowling pins, Sununu gave commendations to a series of people before the Executive Council reviewed more than 120 contracts and presided over nominations and confirmations of various boards and commissions.
Every year, the governor and Executive Council take their meetings on the road to each councilor's district, in this case Councilor Joseph Kenney's District 1.
Tuftonboro Police Chief Andrew Shagoury accepted a commendation from the governor on behalf of Lakes Region first responders and the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative.
A blizzard hit the Lakes Region hard on March 14, causing hundreds of traffic accidents and cutting power to more than 140,000 homes and businesses. There was $1.8 million in damage in Carroll County.
Utility crews worked around the clock to clear downed trees from power lines and restore electrical service. Police, fire and medical crews responded to numerous emergency calls.
“Emergency responders in the Lakes Region were operating under extremely dangerous conditions including rapid snowfall rates, strong winds and wind gusts, quickly changing conditions, low to no visibility and falling debris,” Sununu said.
“These brave men and women put their lives on the line in order to help people of the Lakes Region during this winter storm emergency.”
Sununu also gave a commendation to NASCAR driver Melissa Fifield of Wakefield, who also assists the state with traffic safety messages.
He said she is an inspiration to young girls.
“One of the best race car drivers in the world, and one of the top few female race car drivers in the world lives right here in New Hampshire and she doesn't get nearly the recognition she deserves,” the governor said.
Sununu gave a commendation to Hope Makris, who has run the NASWA resort for more than 60 years, and continues to help her daughter, Cynthia, provide lakeside hospitality to the region’s visitors.
The resort was started in the 1930s by her parents, Jim and Fannie Salta, immigrants from Greece, who first purchased the property for a natural water spring located there. They founded the Natural Spring Water Company, hence the name of the resort.
“She is known not only for her hospitality but for her generous spirit in maintaining many charitable causes including Easter Seals of New Hampshire, the Laconia Fire Department's Life Saving Fund and the Peter Makris Memorial Run,” Sununu said.
He also honored Robert Lawton, whose 70,000-square-foot Funspot hosted the event. Funspot is the “largest arcade in the world.”
His family established the Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society. He was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in the 1960s and introduced a bill that resulted in the state motto, “Live Free or Die,” appearing on vehicle license plates.
“Here's another great example of someone from the Lakes Region not just helping the community, but going above and beyond in every which way over a period of years and decades, constantly evolving with the times and constantly making sure the 'Live Free or Die Spirit' is not just a few words on a license plate but something we really and truly live by.”
Sununu also honored Bruce Cheney, former director of the Division of Emergency Services and Communications in the New Hampshire Department of Safety, father of the state's 911 system and former Laconia police chief.
The governor gave a posthumous commendation to Peter S. Karagianis, a long-time local businessman and civic leader.
Sununu also recognized Cathy Merrill, a world champion arm wrestler from Newport. She's preparing to go to Budapest, Hungary, for the the 2017 championship competition.
“We're raising money to pay some of the costs so that she can go over and not just represent the state, but really the entire country of the United States in arm wrestling,” said Sununu. “I love watching arm wrestling.”