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Gov. Lynch dedicates youth center to community

Gov. Lynch bends down to exchange a few special words with youngsters after handing them his basketball. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
November 18, 2009
The new Gilford Youth Center by the Community Church on Potter Hill Road is finally up and running, a mark in time residents of the town acknowledged last Saturday morning as they gathered at the GYC with Gov. John Lynch.

Hundreds of residents, Community Church members, donators, and children crowded into the freshly painted youth center that can be used for an array of recreational sports, from basketball to get-togethers.

"This is an exciting day for us," said Rev. Michael Graham, who has asked that GYC be dedicated to the town itself. "So many people here contributed to this. This gift will give to today's youth and generations beyond."

Graham thanked his board of directors and explained that the $2,500,000 youth center was part of a larger youth project expansion, and he expressed his thankfulness for the "beautiful design work" by Stewart Associates.

He thanked the Laconia Savings Bank president and his many generous donators of the project, including the Daniels of Gilford who even contributed thousands of dollars to GYC that very morning, announced Graham. The donators have made the project possible, said Graham. He ended his speech with an extended invitation to everyone and encouraged them all to use the youth center facilities. Over $1,000,000 has been donated to the center all together.

Graham handed over the microphone to Governor Lynch, the appointed person to formally dedicate the GYC to the town in a form of "a gift for the entire community".

"What a gift you have given. You are enhancing the quality of life for all generations. I will think fondly of what has been done for this community," said Lynch.

He personally thanked the Daniels for their generous donations and said he found it wonderful that so many different people, businesses, and organizations could work towards the same project despite the economic times.

"We are facing economic challenges. That said this is still a great state. New Hampshire has ranked as the most livable, safest state. Kids Count ranked New Hampshire as the best state in the country to raise kids," said Lynch. "That says a lot of the state and reflects on all of you."

Olympic medalist and member of the GYC board of directors Penny Pitou spoke as well to the crowd during the dedication, and reflected on her years in Gilford. Pitou said she has been a resident since she was 7, and although she moved away to California for Alpine skiing years back, she found herself back home again.

Pitou said her family always used to volunteer around town, and that recreational sports and educational services have come a long way since then.

"I see hundreds of kids now on the fields. There were no organizational sports available back then. We (she and her daughter) started the first girl's baseball team here in Gilford," said Pitou. "It has been wonderful to watch Gilford grow over the years, but we never had this (the GYC) to talk about."

Instead of more classic procedures, Lynch made his dedication of the GYC official with a more fitting ending: the ceremonial shooting of the first basket in the freshly installed hoops. Lynch was handed the honors by Program Director Scott Hodsdon, and spectators cheered the governor on as he shot for the gold.

Current programs at the GYC facilities include the after school and children's vacation clubs, winter baseball clinics, and soon-to-come children's gym and fitness classes. In December, the GYC will be hosting the Annual Turkey Trot 5K Race, Santa's Land, and adult/senior yoga classes.

Martin Lord and Osman
Salmon Press
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