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KTHO tops 100K for fuel assistance

The Keep the Heat On Fuel Assistance Fundraiser Organizing Committee receives a warm thank you from Plymouth Area Community Closet’s Rev. Margaret Bickford during last Wednesday’s successful dinner and auction. Pictured: Carole Heuser, Martha Richards, Plymouth Area Democratic Chairman Bob Lamb, Maureen Lamb and PACC President, the Rev. Margaret Bickford. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
January 25, 2011
PLYMOUTH — Six years ago, when the Plymouth Area Democrats (PAD) decided to fore-go their annual Christmas party in favor of organizing a fundraising gala that would benefit community members in need of assistance to make it through the difficult New England winter, who could have imagined that it would turn into one of the most popular and successful annual events of the year?

But this past Saturday evening, with 180 people in attendance at the Plymouth Regional Senior Center, the Keep the Heat On Fuel Assistance Fundraiser passed the $100,000 mark in contributions over the past six years, raising approximately $22,000 in one night for the Plymouth Area Community Closet fuel assistance fund for the 2011 season.

Keep the Heat On (KTHO) was originally the brainchild of the Plymouth Area Democrats' own Deb Reynolds, and has become the lovechild of an incredible team of community organizers from PAD that form the KTHO Committee each year.

This year, that team was headed up by PAD Chairman Bob Lamb, Maureen Lamb, Carole Heuser and Martha Richards, assisted by more than 20 other community members.

This year's celebration was dedicated to the memory of former state Rep. Carole Estes, who served diligently and enthusiastically on the KTHO Committee in past years and contributed so much to the Plymouth Area Democrats. Her daughter, Allison, was on hand Saturday night to accept the gratitude of community members with a standing ovation for Carole.

The evening is a strictly bipartisan affair, with Republicans and Democrats and the "non-aligned" all coming together for the occasion in good spirit.

Pemi Baker Valley Republican Committee Chairman and newly elected County Commissioner Omer Ahern, Jr. was notable in his attendance, not only adding his supportive presence, but also lending a hand, helping to clean up alongside his Democratic friends at the end of the evening. That may be exactly the kind of bipartisan cooperation to the benefit of the community that many are looking for in their political leaders.

In any event, none of it would be possible without the incredible support and contributions of the business community. Each year, some of the most extraordinary fine restaurants and eating establishments in the Plymouth area provide a dinner that can only be described as "unparalleled" in scope and quality. Everybody gets in on the act, with dozens of chefs coming together to create a smorgasbord of offerings from all over the region. Attendees can sample the very best cuisine from all the local favorites, all under one roof, at one time, and for a great cause. How can you beat that?

And do we ever have great food in this region!

Entrees ranged from the epitome of comfort food (macaroni and cheese from the Panther Pub & Grill) to the adventuresome (eggplant roulade from Tony's Italian Grill and Pub) and maybe even exotic (Mexican lasagna from the Mad River Tavern). There is always something for everyone, soup to nuts. And don't forget dessert – from tiramisu from the Italian Farmhouse and triple chocolate cake from Foster's Boiler Room to, new this year, cupcakes from the Plymouth Regional High School Culinary Arts program—you could have it all. (But I start with dessert.)

Most people, however, started with appetizers, like spinach dip in bread bowls from the Stinson Mountain Grill or sushi from Thai Smile, then tomato bisque from the Six Burner Bistro, and on and on and on. (Complete menu below)

Attendees brought their appetites, but also, generously, their wallets, bidding on a large array of silent auction items donated by retailers and service providers from around the region and big ticket items donated by extremely kind and community minded sponsors. Local auctioneer extraordinaire Archie Steenburgh did the honors once again this year, wresting the microphone from the ever-ebullient emcee Martha Richards, crooning his way into hearts and wallets with that irresistible voice, egging the bidding on. At one point in the proceedings, a tense bidding war erupted over a private cooking lesson offered by Thornton's own chef exemplar, Tony Pierce, of Tony's Italian Grill and Pub, with certain spouses from one married couple (who shall remain nameless) gamely vying to outbid each other for the prize. Fortunately, however, it will all undoubtedly end in wedded bliss, as one spouse gets the cooking lesson and the other, presumably, consumes the results. All in good fun.

Other auction items ranged from a scenic airplane ride in Don Stoppe's Cessna Skyhawk to a Pat Moore Thunder Puss snowboard donated by Doug and Sharon Smith. Thanks to all the other incredibly generous donors, including Deb Reynolds and Mike Conklin, Bob and Maureen Lamb, Margaret Turner, Di Downing and Alex Ray and Dick Hage.

KTHO features one of the best meals ever assembled — truly a representative sampling of everything we know and love to eat in the local area Other contributors to the menu for Keep the Heat On included: coffee and tea from Cafe Monte Alto; sparkling cider and water from Chase Street Market; canapés from the Holderness General Store; cheese bites from Mark's Cafe (formerly Junkyard Dawgs) in Plymouth; roast beef and boursin croustade from the Sunset Room at Owl's Nest; steak tips from the Lucky Dog; smoked pulled pork from Walter's Basin; Shrimp Fra Diavlo from George's Seafood; pork loin from the Country Cow in Campton; chicken with green beans (and sushi) from Fugaky; Chicken Puttanesca from the Sunset Grille in Campton ; and tofu with veggies from East North Chinese.

Side dishes included home fried potatoes from the Main Street Station Diner in Plymouth and braised sweet red cabbage from the William Tell. Additional desserts included apple crisp from Annie's Overflow Diner and homemade Baklava from Bill Shaw of Tartan Painting. Sweet Kathy's Ice Cream Parlor and Candy Store in downtown Plymouth donated chocolate bars at every place setting.

If, for some reason, you had to miss this year's KTHO, mark your calendars for the third Wednesday in January 2012, when it will happen all over again.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Alton School
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