Jason Robie: Holiday spirit comes from within

Alfred and Eleanor Wilcox were two of my favorite people on earth. When I was first born, our family lived with them in New York for those first years of my life they introduced me to the concept of “home.” As I grew up, and our family relocated all over New England, we always found a way to get back to Alfred and Eleanor’s house for the holidays. “Nana” and “Bampa” were their “real” names for all four of us grandkids. The smell of Nana’s cooking and Bampa’s ever-present smile were always a highlight for our visits. Of course, actually finding Bampa sitting down in one place long enough to see the smile was always a challenge. As I look back now it is obvious that lots of care, love, time and hard work went into creating that atmosphere that we looked forward to and appreciated so much.

Shortly after their passing a strange and unsettling change took place in my life. I no longer looked forward to the holidays and frankly, became a bit of a Scrooge regarding the whole season. I’ll admit that a part of my annoyance with the holidays was (and is) the unstoppable wave of commercialism that pervades the whole four tosix weeks. The simple fact that nearly all of the focus in the coming weeks will be about “Black Friday” instead of “Thanksgiving” is a testament to the twisted values much of our society has accepted as the norm. But even apart from that, a special sentiment and “feeling” about the holidays was gone for me. The simple truth was that I had associated those members of the family so tightly with the season that when they were gone, so too was my holiday spirit.

It has taken me many years to rekindle my joy and appreciation for this time of year. Having built my own home, I have found true joy in creating a holiday “scene” that brings a smile to my face whenever I pull in the driveway at night. I’ll admit, I’m no Clark Griswold, but it is a step in the right direction. “The feeling of adding lights and a Christmas tree and the smell of holiday candles is simply incomparable to anything else,” notes Badger Realty agent, Janet Nickerson. We have heard for years that this season is about “others.” The seasons are about giving thanks and giving tokens of our love and appreciation to others. And although my home is not the brightest “bulb” in town, I know that there are some that will drive by with a smile it will add a small piece to their holiday enjoyment.

Adding lights to your home, lighting a menorah or a kinara or even going “all in” and including a Santa with reindeer up on your roof are all steps people take to share their spirit of the holidays. It is obvious these items are intended for “others” because most of these ornaments or decorations cannot be seen from inside the house. This, I have finally learned, is the true spirit of the holidays.

As a kid, most of us are conditioned to believe that the holidays, and especially Christmas, are about us! It is no secret that the marketing machine has been programming us to “shop ‘till we drop” and pulling no punches in their depiction of the true happiness derived from getting that year’s “Tickle me Elmo.” I’m confident that many people transitioning towards adulthood are forced to go through this same transition as I did and finally get their holiday focus flipped around toward others.

I know most of you reading this today can easily flash back to a handful of experiences in which the gift or gesture you gave to someone was the highlight of their season. And, as selfish as it sounds, there is no greater feeling for the “giver” than that excitement and appreciation you were able to create. I have an idea that is how parents must feel when their kids explode with excitement over a specific toy or gift they were able to give. (Even if they do end up playing with the box it came in!) I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that for me, it was a Spock helmet that lit up and made some noises. According to mom, I wore it for about 10 minutes and then moved on. (Sorry about that one!)

Once we realize the holidays are not about us, we start to see how easy it is to get in the spirit. Once I accepted that Nana and Bampa were not the reason I loved the holidays, I could finally create and share my own holiday spirit. As is true with the overall theme of the holidays, once you start to share that spirit and excitement, it becomes contagious. Once we realize that the people around us are the reason for the season, we start to understand that we create our own holiday spirit. This sentiment is true regardless of where you live.

I adorned my drafty and tattered 300-square-foot cabin with Christmas lights and candles every year I lived there. Driving in the driveway with the lights going always gave me a little lift regardless of the home. We can all take small steps to make our homes shine with that holiday spirit and bring a small piece of joy not only to ourselves, but also to those passing by.

I am blessed with a loving family, some fantastic friends and a warm home. I can look around on a daily basis and find something to be thankful for and someone to appreciate. The hustle and bustle can try to get in the way. Bills, work, stress and “life” can also throw up walls and attempt to steal your holiday spirit. My plea and encouragement for you today and for the next few weeks is to focus on others. Focus on sharing your good fortune and holiday joy with someone else. And learn from my stubbornness that your holiday spirit won’t come from other people; it is going to be a conscious effort on your part. I promise the payoff will be worth it!

Northeast Credit Union Donates $5,000 to Make-A-Wish New Hampshire

PORTSMOUTH — Northeast Credit Union presented a donation of $5,000 to Make-A-Wish New Hampshire at the organization's annual Kid’s Halloween Party on Tuesday, Oct. 31. Make-A-Wish New Hampshire is a non-profit organization whose mission is to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, enriching their lives with hope, strength and joy.

“Make-A-Wish gives these children something to look forward to, not just by granting wishes, but also through events that bring them together as a community,” states Tim Collia, Northeast Credit Union President and CEO. “We love being a part of this Halloween event and witnessing the joy first hand. It’s one of the many reasons why we support this organization each year.”

“By granting the wishes of children facing critical illnesses through their support, Northeast Credit Union and their members are transforming the lives of children, families and communities throughout New Hampshire,” states Julie Baron, Make-A-Wish N.H. president and CEO. “These wishes allow everyone involved to experience true happiness, giving children renewed energy and strength, bringing families closer together and uniting communities. Our credit unions embody their value of people helping people every day. We are truly grateful for the continued support of Northeast Credit Union and love their participation in our annual Halloween party.”

NECU joins other local credit unions in holding various fundraising initiatives for Make-A-Wish New Hampshire throughout the year. Starting mid-November, members of the community can show their support by purchasing a Make-A-Wish Raffle Calendar at their local NECU branch for only $25. These are a great holiday gift, with over 365 chances to win prizes throughout the 2018 calendar year. Call (888) 436-1847 for more information.


Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys recognized as Super Lawyers


NORTH CONWAY — Cooper Cargill Chant, PA has announced that partner Paul Chant and associate Andrew Dean have been selected by Super Lawyers New England Magazine for recognition in its 2017 publication. Super Lawyers, a Thompson-Reuters business, is a prestigious honor awarded to attorneys who exemplify the highest standards and abilities in areas of law.

Attorney Chant was named a Super Lawyer for personal injury practice, on the plaintiff side.

He has 30 years of experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury and workers' compensation litigation. Chant was selected by Business New Hampshire Magazine as its "Top Personal Injury Lawyer" for 2015 for the entire state of New Hampshire. He serves on the N.H. Access to Justice Commission. He is president of the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council and a member of the N.H. Bar Association Board of Governors. This is the third consecutive year that he was selected as a Super Lawyer.

Attorney Dean was also named a Super Lawyer for in the area of commercial real estate. Dean represents buyers, sellers, property owners, developers, landlords and tenants in all aspects of commercial real estate transactions, including acquisition, disposition, leasing, development and financing.

He also represents individual and corporate clients with corporate formation and the purchase and sale of business interests. He serves on the board of the Mount Washington Valley Housing Coalition and the Mount Washington Valley Children's Museum. Prior to recently joining Cooper Cargill Chant, Dean was an attorney at Mintz Levin in Boston, Mass., where he was recognized by Super Lawyers as a "Rising Star" from 2013-2016.

Attorneys chosen to the list of Super Lawyers must pass a rigorous, research-driven selection process that consists of peer nominations and ratings and in-depth evaluations by a highly credentialed panel of attorneys. Lawyers who make the final list have attained the highest degree of professional achievement and recognition from their legal peers.

Super Lawyers Magazine was created to honor exceptional attorneys and to provide consumers in need of legal services in their region with access to an objective list of top lawyers in their area, because no more than 5 percent of attorneys in this state are named to the Super Lawyers Magazine list — and no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys are selected to the list of Rising Stars (honoring lawyers age 40 or younger or in practice 10 years or less). For more information, visit the Super Lawyer web site.

Cooper Cargill Chant is the largest law firm north of the lakes region in New Hampshire. The firm's attorneys are recognized leaders of the New Hampshire Bar Association, have chaired the Boards of the New Hampshire Bar Association, the New Hampshire Association for Justice, and the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. Lawyers have won numerous awards for their representation of clients throughout New Hampshire, including awards for legal service to the poor, for work in domestic violence cases, in helping form and develop businesses and in personal injury work. With offices located in North Conway and Berlin, New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant is counsel to hundreds of small businesses and associations and thousands of individual clients throughout northern New Hampshire and western Maine.

For more information, call (603) 356-5439 or visit them online at www.coopercargillchant.com.


Conway selectmen tell state to keep some pieces of proposed bypass

By Daymond Steer
Conway Daily Sun
CONWAY — Selectmen told the New Hampshire Department of Transportation last week that it should keep some pieces of proposed bypass land and sell some other pieces that have been built upon.
NHDOT will make a decision by year's end with oversight from Gov. Chris Sununu and the executive council, said Assistant DOT Commissioner William Cass.
The Conway bypass project essentially consisted of three components: building a North-South local road; rebuilding/upgrading existing roadways; and constructing an 11-mile bypass from Madison to North Conway.
Were the bypass not built, the state would owe the FHA $25 million for money used to acquire the 11-mile bypass corridor.
On Nov. 2, the selectmen sent Cass a letter stating their position. The letter notes that at an Oct. 11 bypass forum at Kennett Middle School, Cass said he would welcome their input. The letter says only 75 percent of the corridor is purchased and that there's not enough money to finish it.
"There are pieces of the corridor that have potential uses even if the bypass is never built," states the letter signed by board chairman David Weathers. "We have already endorsed a proposal to have the recreation path built within a key portion of the corridor. We feel that many parts of the corridor are important from an environmental standpoint. They preserve natural areas, views and limit sprawl."
The letter was written based on a discussion the selectmen had at their regular meeting Oct. 31.
However, the letter also adds that the board feels there are "improved parcels and unimproved" house lots that could be sold and would benefit the state in terms of sale revenue and the town in terms of property tax revenue.
"The board agrees with the state's own traffic surveys that the bypass is no longer needed," states Weathers' letter in its concluding paragraph.
"However, the Board of Selectmen feels that those portions of the corridor that are not already improved with structures or are not platted with house lots should be retained by the state. Those portions have environmental benefits to wildlife and vegetation, and they offer recreational opportunities."
Town Manager Tom Holmes said the town has not done an inventory of land that the state should sell or keep. He said they do know anecdotally some of the land has been developed and has lots on it. For example, he said the state owns a multifamily apartment complex near Settlers Green.
The project got a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers in 1995 with the federal Environmental Protection Agency requiring it to be done in incremental stages, with the state and FHA to stop after the first six phases to judge whether the three bypass phases were required.
It achieved the construction of the North-South Road in 2002 and widening of Route 16 in North Conway. Improvements also were made to the intersection of Route 16 and the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112).
With the first six phases done, the status of the final three phases (the bypass) is in question.
They consist of a southern bypass around Conway Village, from just south of Conway to the Route 302/113 intersection; a middle section to near the Walmart intersection; and a northern section parallel to North-South Road that would veer east to Cranmore and join Route 16 just north of Memorial Hospital.
The southern bypass is not included in the state's 10-year highway plan, and Cass says that given the lack of funding, it is probably years away even if a need is determined.
Meanwhile, the state is marching on with its 10-year transportation plan update process, which will be completed in June. The 10-year plan does not contain the proposed bypass but does contain plans for improving the traffic flow in Conway Village.
The Governor’s Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation, which is composed of the five Executive Councilors and the Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, will hold three public meetings to review and make recommendations on the update of the State’s Ten Year Transportation Improvement Plan (2019-2028).
The purpose of these public meetings is to review public comments/testimony on the projects and materials included in the draft 2019-2028 Ten-Year Transportation Improvement Plan as recommended by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to GACIT. Information from 23 Public Hearings held in September and October will be reviewed by GACIT so the Commission can adopt and forward recommendations to the Governor in December 2017.
All three public meetings will be held at the NH Department of Transportation, John O. Morton Building, 7 Hazen Drive in Concord in Conference Room 114. The first meeting will be held on Nov. 22. The second meeting will be held on Dec. 6. The third meeting is set for Dec. 20. All three meetings will begin at 2 p.m.