Jeff Woodburn: Our seniors need more than ski passes

All too often, I'm called upon to find or at least advocate for state spending for important programs and services for the North Country. Just last week, I scrambled to find $93,000 to not only keep but expand the North Country's only substance abuse treatment center. Since the state is second to last in the country in access to treatment and because our region leads the state in percentage of overdose deaths, I could not look into the eyes of my former students who are seeing far too many of their friends lost to addiction unless I gave it my all. I do this against the back drop of short-sighted fiscal restraint (we have an $80 million surplus) that denies even the smartest, data-driven investments. Today, New Hampshire state government spends less per capita than any state in the country and less money in real dollars than we did in 2010. These policies especially hurt the North Country because of our disproportionate reliance on government spending.

I know some are upset that I supported a comprehensive plan to put our self-funded State Park System on sound financial footing by providing a two-third discount, not free ski passes to senior citizens. It is never easy to take a benefit away — especially one that is rooted in 40-years of history. As politically popular as it may be, the fact remains that the state can’t afford and taxpayers should not subsidize universal free ski passes to seniors – many of whom are wealthy. It is important to remember that Cannon Mountain Ski Area is in the red and a recent audit criticized the controls over the issuance of free and discount passes. And that other state parks rely on their revenue for operational costs. We have a strong leadership team at Cannon and they have long worried about the prospects of providing free services to our fastest growing population demographic. In the North Country, the 70-80 year-old age population will double in the next 15 years. Cannon Mountain is not a club, it is an economic driver and major employer. The best way to avoid privatization and allow Franconia Notch State Park to reach its greatest potential is to allow the managers, not politicians run the operation.

But it is more than economics and that's why I'm perfectly willing to stand alone on this one among my fellow North Country legislators. Poor seniors need food, shelter and health care but skiing is a luxury (and an expensive one at that). And there are several non-profit ski hills that provide free (donation of your choice) to people of all ages. Universal free ski passes to people 65 years or older regardless of income or long-term residency is wrong and offensive to poor school children (like the ones I taught) who pay to ski at Cannon and visit the Flume, and all the programs that I believe are a higher priority and better investment.

As your Senator, I must look beyond the parochial and have broader perspective and at times say and do what is unpopular but necessary for the good of the North Country and our entire state.

Jeff Woodburn, of Whitefield, is the North Country's Senator and a former teacher.

Poof Tardiff: 1976

Hello fellow Berlinites. Yes, it might seem like just yesterday, but it has been over 40 years since we celebrated the arrival of the year 1976.

It was announced in the first newspaper of this year that Grant's Department Store on Main Street would close its doors after being in Berlin for 44 years. The last day of sales at the Berlin Grant's store was on Saturday, January 27, 1976. This store took up part of the old Albert Theater back then.

The local manager of Grant's, Mr. Lucariello was notified of the closing several days in advance. He said this and 133 more stores would close as they had become unprofitable. The Berlin Grant's, which opened in 1931, was one of these stores that wasn't making it.

Also, during the first week of January 1976, it was announced that Mike Roy, who had been involved in ice rink management and sports for over 15 years was appointed to the position of general manager of the OMNI International Ice Arena. The announcement was made by the general manager of this mega-structure that had just been built in downtown Atlanta.

Mr. Roy's new responsibilities included managing this ice arena and coordinating all the activities involved in the operation and maintenance of the rink facility, personnel, food and beverage concessions and all the other ice arena functions. That sounded like a huge task.

Roy was born in Sherbrooke, Québec and raised in Berlin, New Hampshire. He participated in hockey through grammar school, high school and college. He also continued to play and coach high school hockey after college graduation, along with instructing hockey school and power skating classes. I believe that Mr. Roy moved on to other vocations since managing this rank, but I do not know what he does today (2016).

Snowmobiling got a boost in New Hampshire's North Country when “Snowmobile Czar” Paul Doherty explained about the new 80 mile groomed trail system than that would be the longest course in New England.

After years of riding on trails full of moguls, dips and bumps that took a long time to get from point A to point B, it would now be possible in 1976 to hop on a snowmobile and zip along groomed trails all the way from Berlin to Stewartstown. This series of groomed trails was known back then as the “Androscoggin Trail”. Today (2016) these trails have route numbers that match maps.

Doherty, had been a snowmobile enthusiast since the first machines were introduced in New Hampshire during 1959. By 1973, the Bureau of Off Highway Vehicles, a division of the State Department of Resources and Economic Development, was established and Mr. Doherty became its first boss.

Snowmobiling became a popular sport by the mid-1960s and legislation requiring registration (almost $100 today 2016) was passed in 1967. When people began paying to ride their snowmobiles, they became aggravated at the few benefits they had, after paying to register them.

After being appointed as the head of this Bureau, Mr. Doherty and a 12 man staff used 45% of the money to develop a trail system. By the beginning of 1976, the Department of Off Highway Vehicles was maintaining 450 miles of trails with groomers in constant use.

Times have certainly changed since 1976, as a person on a sled can go from one end of this state to another as long as the snow conditions permit. Thank you Mr. Doherty, as I and many other older riders remember the original trails very well.

On Sunday, January 25 at 10 am, there was a special service to formally recognize a new church in the Berlin-Gorham area. It was called the White Mountains Assembly of God, which met in Berlin at the Liberty Gardens apartment hall. The pastor for this church was the Reverend Robert Durham, a native of Dallas, Texas. Durham had pastored in Connecticut and in Lancaster.

The new church was one of over 9,000 Assemblies of God in the country with more than 4,500,000 members by 1976. This assembly had regular services on Sunday mornings at this aforementioned hall, with Bible classes taking place after.

On Wednesday nights at 7:30, the church met for cottage prayer in various parishioners homes. The Assembly of God, eventually built their own church on the Berlin-Gorham Road and is still operating today (2016).

Today's White Mountain Community College in Berlin has been now in operation for 50 years. Back in 1976, there was a headline that said: “College celebrates 10th year”.

The New Hampshire Vocational Technical College, as it was called back then, was planning several big events throughout this year and February 13th would be the beginning.

NHVTC director Mr. Edward “Chic” Oleson said that a banquet would be held on this day mentioned. So, on this special Friday, faculty, staff advisory, committee members and Concord officials who had been working with the college for the past 10 years were honored.

About 120 people came to the banquet to celebrate this college's achievements. It was a great day for this school which celebrated its birthday and the climax of National Vocational Education Week. Our local college is doing very well after fifty years of serving up education to thousands of area citizens.

Yes, we still had a winter carnival taking place in Berlin back then. During this year (1976) it was on the weekend of February 27-29. All of the events were planned around the annual ski jumping meet, that the Nansen Ski Club had been sponsoring since the early 1920's.

Starting on Friday night the 27th, the famous Tommy Dorsey Orchestra performed at Berlin's traditional winter carnival ball in the Senior High gym.

Ski jumpers would be registering early Saturday morning at the Travelers Motel on Pleasant Street and trials would start at 10 am sharp. People would be able to view the trial jumps of these men. At the same time a citizen's cross-country ski race took place near the Nansen Ski Jump.

Other events included a skate and skateless race in the Cole Street urban renewal area, which had all kinds of room. Also, free snowmobile rides were given by the local snowmobile club.

Saturday also had a great broom ball tournament, a scouting Klondike Derby, sawing and axing techniques by the Berlin High Forestry Class and sculpturing with chainsaws. I don't believe there is any more forestry class is there?

Saturday evening brought the famous Irish Rovers to perform at the Berlin High gym, along with other events which led to Sunday's championship ski jumping. Those days are long gone and missed by Berlin's older citizens.

I will continue with the year 1976 in my next writing.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Questions and comments e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, joining the many fans of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and guess at the weekly mystery picture.

W.T. Grants CoW.T. Grants Co

Roy MikeMike Roy

Durham Rev. RobertRev. Robert Durham

Doherty PaulPaul Doherty

Treatment Rights and Civil Rights — Emergency Department boarding of mental health patients

Imagine rushing an acutely ill friend or loved one to a local emergency room, having your worst fears confirmed by the doctor, and then being told that it could be days before they can be admitted to the right hospital for treatment because of a waiting list. In the meantime, the critically-ill person is left in or near the emergency room receiving less than adequate care and treatment for several more days.

This is not a hypothetical situation; it is the tragic reality faced by many individuals with acute mental illness and their families in New Hampshire. On March 1, 2016, there were 54 individuals in a mental health crisis who were being “boarded” in emergency rooms throughout our state. They included adults and children. For them and their families, adrift in a nightmare, it is a painful, frightening, humiliating, and infuriating ordeal. Sadly, it has been going on for over four years and may be worsening, given these most recent numbers.

This unfortunate reality fails the patient who is experiencing acute mental suffering on many fronts—medical, ethical, moral and economic. It is medically wrong because it delays treatment to reduce mental suffering and promote recovery. Treatment for mental illness, like other medical conditions, has a greater likelihood of positive outcomes the sooner it begins. And like other medical conditions, untreated mental illness can be fatal. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in New Hampshire for people between the ages of 10 and 34.

It is ethically and morally wrong to keep people who need involuntary admission to the New Hampshire Hospital (NHH) stuck in a hospital emergency room. While state law establishes due process and other legal protections within 72 hours of involuntary admission to NHH, many people wait days before the 72-hour clock begins to run. It seems particularly uncivilized in the 21st century. No other illness is treated this way in the American health care system. Because of the shortage of critical care treatment beds for those at risk to themselves and others because of mental illness, it is ethically wrong to force hospitals, their emergency room and their dedicated medical and nursing staff to be left to hold/attend to someone who should not be in their care.

It is also economically unsound for people to languish in hospital emergency rooms for days because we have insufficient community capacity or inpatient beds. As we know, emergency departments are one of the most costly hospital charges for patients and for hospitals to maintain. These individuals could receive more effective and less costly treatment in other settings.

The reasons for this situation are many and the State of New Hampshire is trying to address them. We need to stem the flow of people in an acute psychiatric crisis coming to our emergency rooms by enhancing care in their communities. People with mental illness do better in their community and with family support. The state needs to re-double its efforts to adequately fund community mental health centers and to deploy mobile crisis response teams statewide. But when people experiencing a psychiatric do arrive in the emergency rooms diagnosed as a risk to themselves and others, we have an obligation to find them prompt and appropriate care at New Hampshire Hospital.

Jeff Meyers, our new Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), to his credit, convened an emergency meeting to discuss the wait list at New Hampshire Hospital. We know this is a concern for the governor as well. Participants in the meeting included the Governor’s office, mental health centers, hospitals, advocates, DHHS and New Hampshire Hospital staff, and the Attorney General’s Office. While we applaud this important step, New Hampshire desperately needs an updated and comprehensive strategic plan which addresses mental health services across the lifespan. Once New Hampshire solves the wait list issue, which is causing great turmoil for people with acute mental illness and their families, we need to take a fresh look at the safety net and the assistance that New Hampshire provides to those afflicted with the emotional suffering of mental illness. And we have little time to waste.

John Broderick is a former Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Ken Norton is the Executive Director of NAMI New Hampshire, the NH chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

NAMI New Hampshire is a statewide, grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by mental illness, and their families. Last year, NAMI NH provided education, support and advocacy to over 15,000 Granite Staters. For additional information, visit www.naminh.org or call 1-800-242-6264.

Poof Tardiff: Municipal Building Cornerstone

Hello fellow Berlinites. After finishing with my history of Berlin 103 years ago (1913), I have one more historical event to share with my readers that took place in this year. This planned event was on Sunday, November 16, 1913 with thousands of people gathering to watch and dedicate the laying of the cornerstone for our City Hall. The picture that goes along with this story can attest to this fact. Blowing up this picture really shows a lot of history of this little area of Berlin along with the East Side and of course the construction of the City Hall.

As if to make amends for the inclement weather on the date first set for the cornerstone dedication of the new municipal building, Sunday, the 16th of November was one of the most delightful days in a long and beautiful autumn. The sun was brilliantly radiant, the temperature was all that one could ask for and everything was ideal for the postponed ceremony of the week before.

At two o'clock the Berlin Band rendered a selection of music and it was followed by a blessing from the pastor of the Mount Forist Episcopal Church. Mr. F. D. Bartlett, who was the chairman of the building committee gave a short address of introduction and read a telegram from the Honorable Robert N. Chamberlin, who was unable to be present at this ceremony. Mr. Chamberlin expressed his best wishes for the event.

Owing to the absence of Judge Chamberlin, other famous Berlin citizens gave talks. They were: H. I. Goss, Hon. Edmund Sullivan and the Reverend Father Mackey of St. Kieran's Parish. When this this great and renowned local priest took to the stand and gave his address, he talked about the pleasure that he felt in being here on this day, as it was two-fold. He was pleased to be with his people as an old citizen of Berlin and to stand on common ground with the folks of different religions, all religions and perhaps no religion at all. Everyone was welcome to the laying of the cornerstone of our new City Hall.

“Standing as we all do on this common platform of civic pride in the beautifying and up building of our little city, it was not only a pleasure, but also a duty which I owed as a citizen and a clergymen”, said the pastor. “I am glad to be part and parcel of the people among whom I have lived and labored so long and so happily”.

“As I stand on this platform, I feel that I am not trespassing on forbidden grounds. I am made to feel as welcome as the flowers in May, for as a citizen and a taxpayer it was my vote and your vote that made it possible for the erection of these civil ornaments. “All of us here not only have sentimental pride, but likewise have a material interest in the erection of this great building”.

Father Mackey was the famous Irish pastor who came to Berlin from Ireland and worked with his congregation to build up the St. Kieran's Parish and construct a church on Emery street in 1894. This is when many of the the parishioners of St. Ann's decided to have an English speaking church in Berlin.

Mackey said: “That it had been almost 20 years ago that the citizens of Berlin helped him and they had a ceremony just like this, the laying of the cornerstone of his church. Father Mackey said that he would never forget how the men and women of Berlin in those days flocked out into the woods, as we all then spoke of the Irish turnout. They came not only by scores and hundreds, but by the thousands to encourage us by their presence and they did not forget their pocketbooks in their rush to get here.

“There was a saying that “one good turn deserves another”and I hope this talk pays back in some little measure the thoughtfulness and generosity that was given to me when I came here”. I just want to say that the spot where St. Kieran's Church was built back in 1894, was certainly in the woods and I have pictures to attest to this.,

Mackey continued: “Years ago when duty called me out at night, I carried my lantern to light me along the devious paths that were called streets in Berlin back then. Now, the strangers within our gates at nighttime, find themselves on our great white ways, as bright as day from dusk till dawn because of the lighting on our beautiful thoroughfares.

“In those days we all traveled Indian file from Mason Street to the post office on the “Square” over a three plank sidewalk and when we came to a turn we stayed there until the downtown or uptown stream got by. Today (1913) we have streets and sidewalks second to none in any city or town in New Hampshire and even New England. It took Berlin citizens a long time to get there, but it was worth the delay”. Our modern Berlin must have looked outstanding back then with all the new buildings going up.

For those who had been to other countries, Mackey said they had all the conveniences, streets, walks, drives, roads and public buildings of stone and cement. The gentleman of this city were heartily congratulated by this most famous Berlin priest for what they had accomplished.

After Father Mackey's lengthy, but great speech to Berlin's citizens, the Berlin Band played another selection. Then, Mayor Daley proceeded to lay the cornerstone on this new building. There were twenty-two items put into this box, including photographs of public buildings, a collection of coins and a program of day's exercises.

This ceremony was attended by a large body of the citizens, as well as the city officials, to include the Mayor, City Clerk Smith, most members of the City Council and City Solicitor H. I. Goss. The clergy was represented by Father Mackey, Rev. Mr. Betcher and Rev. Mr. Watson.

Of the articles deposited in the cornerstone of this city's new municipal building on this special Sunday in November of 1913, none was more interesting to the citizens of Berlin than the records of the town and city during the first organization of this town from 1829 to the present.

These papers show that much care was taken in those early days to preserve the birth records of the citizens; much more than had been taken in more recent years in larger municipalities. Many of those citizens whose names appeared in the early records were still held in the memory of our elderly people who were alive in 1913. Today, 2016, the names of the local pioneers mean nothing to the local folks, unless they were related, or are into the history of this area.

It is great that we have a picture that was taken during this dedication, as it sheds light on what took place back on this historical day in Berlin, the laying of the Municipal Building Cornerstone for the “Paper City” in 1913.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Questions or comments e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, join the many fans of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and guess at the weekly mystery picture.

Sullivan Edward 1Edward Sullivan

Mackey Father Edward 1Father Edward Mackey

St. Kieran 1896 1St. Kieran 1896

Cornerstone CH 1913 1Cornerstone City Hall 1913

Ithaca Bound: Beware the month of April

Just this past Saturday, ol’ Ithaca marked his 81 birthday. April should be my favorite month of the year then - right?
But, as I have written before, April has its dark side. Especially when it comes to the history of our country.
In case you have forgotten, the bloodiest war America has ever fought began on this day, April 12, in 1861. Batteries of the newly proclaimed Confederacy opened fire on the Union garrison stationed in Fort Sumter, which guarded the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. No one was killed, but the Union garrison surrendered the nest day. It would be nearly four years to the day, on April 9th, in 1865, when Confederate General Robert E. Lee would be forced to surrender what remained of his forces to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
The war had cost an estimated 650,000 lives, with one more yet come. Five days after Lee’s surrender, President Abraham Lincoln would become the first American president to be”assassinated.The date was April 14, which, ironically, was that year’s Good Friday. American author and poet Herman Melville captured the moment most beautifully in his poem “The Martyr.” “Good Friday was the day/of the prodigy and crime,/when they killed him in his pity,/when they killed him in his prime.”
It was on April 25, in 1898, that America declared war on Spain one day after Spain had declared war on it. The feud between the two nations had been simmering for sometime. The war, fought largely for economic reasons, pretty much ended Spain’s efforts to regain influence in world affairs.
Nineteen years later, on April 2, 1917, American President Woodrow Wilson asks the congress for a declaration of war on Germany and its allies, after Germany resumes its unbridled submarine attacks on American ships. The highly vindictive terms of the peace terms imposed on Germany by the victorious Allies would help make possible the rise of Adolf Hitler and a second world war.
Lest we forget, it was on the 10th of April 1942, that the notorious Bataan Death March began. 75,000 American and Filipino soldiers were forced to march for six days to a Japanese internment camp. Half of the American prisoners are thought to have died on the way.
April figured prominently in America’s early history, also. The “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired on 19 April 1775. While the words quoted above come from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem, “Concord Hymn,” written in the 1830s, the first shots of America’s War for Independence actually were fired, not by Concord’s North Bridge, by on the green at Lexington.
Little remembered today, the short-lived Black Hawk War, a native rebellion led by Sauk tribe leader Black Hawk, began on 6 April 1832.
My high school history teacher always reminded his students that he was always uneasy when april rolled around. He had good reason to be.

Ithaca Bound writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Ithaca Bound is the pen name of Dick Conway. His email address is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..