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Community shows its support for Winnipesaukee River Trail project



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Kellie Braconier and Sarah Stanley of Franklin Savings Bank made a presentation of $1,325 to Rick Silverberg of the Winnipesaukee River Trail Association during last week’s Taste of the Trail fundraiser in Franklin. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
October 17, 2012
FRANKLIN — Citizens from Franklin, Northfield and Tilton joined together last week to show their support for the Winnipesaukee River Trail Association through an evening of fine foods and camaraderie that raised money for the recreation trail spanning all three towns.

This year's "Taste of the Trail" was held on Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Mojalaki Country Club in Franklin, and the facility overflowed with local residents, town officials and members of the trail committee.

"I think it's really wonderful to find people from all three communities here tonight," said WRTA vice president Ken Norton. "It's nice to see the support for the trail that encompasses all of our towns."

The room was lined with samplings of menu items from several local restaurants and catering services, including Onions Pub, Ralph and Jo's Café, Pioneering Catering and Tilton House of Pizza. Others helped sweeten up the evening with a selection of treats from Tilt'n Bakery, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and Sweet D Confections.

"This is a great night. I'm a big supporter of the trail, and like to get out and walk, so I'm looking forward to even more being done with it," said Tilton Selectman Joe Jesseman.

WRTA president Rick Silverberg said 140 tickets for the evening were purchased in advance, with even more sold at the door. He estimated that more than 200 people were in attendance for the third annual event.

"All the money raised tonight will help with maintenance and perhaps even more trail development. Right now, the Franklin and Northfield portion of the trail is complete, and we hope to finish the Tilton end in the near future," Silverberg said.

He praised the town officials from Northfield and Tilton for their work in obtaining grants to help fund construction in their communities, as well as a demolition and cleanup project for a hazardous waste site along the Winnipesaukee River.

On Aug. 12 of this year, Tilton received a $200,000 Environmental Protection Agency award to tear down the former Ernie's Garage on Main Street, clean the soil, and ready the property for a bridge and green space on the trail.

"We'll be opening up bids for engineering of that part of the trail soon, and hope to have the old building torn down before snow flies. We'll then do a complete clean-up in the spring," said Silverberg.

Tables filled with silent auction items were crowded throughout the night as people placed bids on the many items donated to the event. A live auction led by Ed Heath also added to the evening's success. Bidding was lively as other large donations, such as a beautiful hand-crafted quilt, elegant pens made of wood from the trail, a professionally framed photo of the Tilton Arch, and even a kayak came up on the auction block.

Franklin Savings Bank literally stepped up to the plate to assist the WRTA, too. This year, the employees selected the recreational trail as one of the benefactors of their 19th annual softball tournament in September and Sarah Stanley and Kellie Braconier of FSB were on hand to present Silverberg with a check for $1,325.

"This year, our employees raised over $5,000 at our tournament and are splitting it four ways with the River Trail, the WOW trail (in Laconia), Odell Park River Walk (in Franklin) and the Northern Rail Trail," said Stanley. "This money is for whatever you'd like to use it for."

Stanley said FSB is pleased to support recreation and healthy living in the area and considers the each of the trails of central New Hampshire a "local gem."

Final numbers from the Taste of the Trail have not been tallied but committee members said more than $8,000 was raised at this year's event.

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