My first full month on the job as your new Executive Councilor has been a very busy one. On March 26th I was sworn in to office in the Executive Council Chambers in Concord and then immediately participated in the Governor and Executive Council meeting that was scheduled that day. On March 29th I attended a dinner in honor of our supporters at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods. In the month of April, I attended two Executive Council meetings in Concord at which the Council voted on over 200 contracts and approximately fifty confirmations and nominations for various State Boards and Commissions.
Several citizens at the beginning of the Council meetings were recognized for their achievements and volunteer work within the State of New Hampshire. Additionally, various grammar and high school students throughout the state were recognized for their athletic and academic achievement.
I have fielded dozens and dozens of constituent requests that include food stamps, license plate renewals, economic development support letters for grants, revenue questions and unemployment benefits to name a few. All of my requests are always kept confidential and I try to give constituents the best answer I can and if I don't have an immediate answer I will reach out to the responsible commissioner to work through the problem.
Much of my work is actually done in Executive Council District 1 which includes 108 towns and cities. I have tried to honor all requests to attend events and occasions that required my attendance. On March 26, my first official event was to attend the State of the University Address by President Sara Jayne Steen at Plymouth State University and gather an understanding of the University's direction for the future. On March 28th, I took a tour with State Senator Jeanie Forrester and the Department of Resource and Economic Development at the Wallace Building Products Corp. in Danbury to discuss the expansion of their business. On April 24, I attended and spoke to the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce as their guest speaker and found a very active business and academic community in Plymouth.
On April 16, I was asked to be a judge for the Tillotson North Country Foundation's Enterprise Scholarship Competition for three teams of Colebrook Academy high school students. It was fantastic and all the students did a superior job in their presentations to the point all received scholarship monies. On the same day, I spoke to the North Woodstock Rotary Club at breakfast about my new position and thoughts on the Executive Council and repeated that performance at the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce later that morning. At noon I travelled to the base of Loon Mountain to see a future development of a resort hotel near Jean's Playhouse. April 16 was a very busy day.
On April 21, I had the pleasure of visiting and touring the North Country Charter School in Littleton overseen by Lise Lavoie. This is one of the original charter schools established in NH and supported by ten other school districts in the North Country. The staff and students were great and I look forward to my return. On the same day, I took a tour of the washed out culvert on
River Street in East Conway and the state is working on a Declaration in order to receive FEMA funding.
On April 2, I attended a NH Employment Security Job Fair with Commissioner Copadis at the Belknap Mall in Belmont. Close to forty businesses were represented there and I enjoyed speaking with the various job recruiters.
On April 18, I had pleasure to visit Franklin High School on its first Annual Military Day to visit Hill students who are being recruited to join the service. Earlier in the month, I spoke to Teen Pact Leadership Schools in Concord, an impressive group of home school students under the direction of Margaret Dryre. On April 15, I was the guest speaker for the New Hampshire Center for Non-profits in Concord. They represent numerous non-profits across the state and provide great services to citizens on a daily basis. On April 10, I attended the Granite United Way annual dinner in Berlin, honoring the late Executive Councilor Ray Burton. This organization provides great services in the Northern part of the State.
On April 5, I ran in the Ammonoosuc Annual 5 miler in Bethlehem in support of Oral Health, an important issue in the State of New Hampshire. Later in the day, I attended the 50th Anniversary Ceremony of the start of the Vietnam War at the White Mountain Regional High School in Whitefield, NH. This was a very important event to recognize the service of our Vietnam Veterans and their personal sacrifice to our country.
On April 17, I attended the Legal Services Forum Breakfast in Concord. This organization provides free legal services for citizens in need and supports the victims of domestic violence. Later in the day, I was able to facilitate a meeting with Littleton Economic Development Group with the Department of Transportation of Commissioner in Concord to review a Tiger Grant proposal for $8.2 million.
On April 29, I attended a Prescription Drug Conference at the Common Man Restaurant in Claremont with 70 other citizens to address the prescription drug problem in the State. It was an eye opening experience with a lot of great stakeholders in attendance from the non-profit world, law enforcement and state agencies.
On April14, I took a tour of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and Emergency Services in Concord with Directors Chris Plummer and Bruce Cheney. We are fortunate in New Hampshire to have a first rate facility to prepare our State for all types of emergencies. On April 8, I took a tour of the Division of Motor Vehicles with Director Richard Bailey in Concord to see many of the new initiatives in support of customer service.
I also attended a Dinner in Bartlett on April 26 and Senator Forrester's Spaghetti Dinner in North Haverhill on April 30. I also attended a Troop 198 Eagle Scout Award Ceremony honoring Jordan Dansereau in Wakefield.
Executive Councilor District 1
(Representing all the towns and cities in the counties of Coos and Grafton, the unincorporated place of Hale's Location, the towns of Albany, Alton, Andover, Bartlett, Brookfield, Center Harbor, Chatham, Conway, Cornish, Croydon, Danbury, Eaton, Effingham, Freedom, Gilford, Grantham, Hart's Location, Hill, Jackson, Madison, Meredith, Middleton, Milton, Moultonborough, New Durham, New Hampton, New London, Newport, Ossipee, Plainfield, Sanbornton, Sandwich, Springfield, Sunapee, Tamworth, Tilton, Tuftonboro, Wakefield, Wilmot, and Wolfeboro, and the cities of Claremont and Laconia)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 May 2014 14:41
The skies outside an upstairs window in our house were showing a beautiful red hue developing behind the peaks of the Mahoosuc Mountain Range that can be seen from our front yard. I drew on a sweater and grabbed the camera that is always sitting at-the-ready on my desk. In another minute or two, I was down the stairs and out the kitchen door of our house.
The red skies of the morning were now at their peak and there was a wonderfully shimmering reflection coming off the waters of the Androscoggin River that runs down through Milan. I flicked the camera to on and raised the viewfinder to eye level. I pressed the shutter button halfway down. There was no response. There was no effort by the camera to find focus.
I checked the readout on the top of the camera. No wonder the camera had failed to respond. The battery was all but completely dead. This time my camera was not at-the-ready. By the time I went back in the house and got a fresh battery, the brilliantly red sky would be fading fast, if not entirely gone. My Morning-in-Milan shot for this day in May would be missed.
That I missed the shot was no one's fault but my own. What is the old saying? "Red skies at morning, sailors take warning." I should have checked the camera the night before and prepared better for the next morning. I should have taken warning. There was a fresh battery in my camera bag, but that, too, was back in the house.
On the whole, though, I have fared rather well with my photography, a hobby I began to take seriously only a few years ago. My photo gallery has many a Morning-Comes- to-Milan shot in it, as well as a number of photos taken along the Androscoggin River. It is true – one doesn't have to go far to find some of the most stunningly beautiful landscapes and seascapes one could find anywhere on earth. Nature shots are everywhere up here in Northern New Hampshire.
Just the other day, I stopped at the Laura Lee Viger Botanical Garden to snap a few shots. Little is yet in bloom there, of course, but the signs of what will soon greet our eyes are quite evident. On this day, I was only looking to try out a new lens I had recently bought for my camera, anyway, so the park's visual austerity was not an issue. It will soon be wearing its new wardrobe, and I will be there to record it. The rapids that can be seen from the Garden provided some inviting shots, though, and I took several of those as I wandered around this little place of beauty.
Shortly, my wife and I will be driving over to New York, where we intend to visit Howe Caverns, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Lake George. All of these provide wonderful opportunities for picture taking, and I expect to post a few of them in this paper when we return.
Howe Caverns provides an especially unique opportunity for photographers I learned when I called to make reservations. The third Wednesday of each month, two tours for photographers are available. For a small fee over and above the usual price of admission, photographers are allowed to spend three hours in the caverns with all their gear, including tripods. A regular tour guide takes you down and waits while you shoot whatever formations take your interest. In preparation, I am learning everything I can on cavern shooting. It's surprising what can be found on line. (Or maybe it isn't in this day and age.)
I'm sure many of you are interested in photography, also. If so, I would be pleased to hear from you. I do not know of a local camera club, but perhaps one could be started. (If you do know of one, please let me know. My phone number is:449-2558, or see my e-mail address below.) The sharing of ideas is always welcome as far as I am concerned.
Last Updated on Monday, 12 May 2014 12:38
Once upon a Berlin Time
Hello fellow Berlinites. As I begin my final story for the year 1914, it was posted in the local papers that the hunting season for this year showed fewer deer were brought in by sportsmen than in years past.
This was supposedly because of the result of two facts that had taken place in the previous months. People were hunting during the closed season and they were hunting with dogs. If the legitimate sportsman of Berlin and its vicinity wanted the pleasure of bringing home all the spoils of the chase, it was up to them to put a stop to both practices. There was plenty of time during the open season for every hunter to get to deer to which he was entitled, if he could.
Occasionally one would hear of a deer being found by the wayside with a single quarter cut off and the rest being left to rot. If the real sportsmen did not wake up to the present conditions in and around the city and take such action in the appointment of wardens and their use in the protection of deer in closed season, along with the cessation of the use of dogs at all times, there would be no deer in the near future.
A monument to the development of the city of Berlin and at the public spirit of its residents was the New City Hall, which was first opened to the public's inspection on Monday afternoon, November 23, 1914 and then dedicated on Tuesday evening, November 24. This beautiful structure replaced the wooden city building which once stood on Mechanic Street, where the parking lot for the Northway Bank is today (2014).
From a tract of wild land granted to a friend of "His Majesty" in the late 1,700's, Berlin became the one lively, bustling, busy manufacturing city of the North Country and in its public buildings, it compared favorably with cities in more favored localities. Also, the new city building was called the last word in architectural perfection.
Today, this same building serves as our City Hall and has not changed much since being built by our local contractors, the Gilbert Brothers one hundred years ago.
Because of a number of unfortunate accidents in the past several months and not withstanding the fact that the Grand Trunk Railway maintained notices against trespassing on its right of way, a considerable force was busy arresting people.
Personal warnings were issued not to use its tracks as a boulevard, but the practice of walking on the tracks continued just as if nothing had happened. With these headlines now posted in the local paper, the tolerance of the officials was reaching a limit and a more serious effort was made to put a stop to the use of this company's property as a highway. One must remember that these tracks were very busy back then.
The statutes of the Grand Trunk supposedly provided a penalty of fine and imprisonment for trespassing. The article went on to say if the practice did not cease, the extreme penalty of imprisonment would be demanded as an example and each time for further encroachment.
It wasn't that the railway was not accommodating or wanted to be disagreeable, but accidents resulting in loss of limb and even death had become too numerous to be overlooked. As a matter of precaution and to safeguard the lives of the people of Berlin, the railway was obliged to take drastic action in this matter. I wonder what kind of stress was put on the train engineers after they had run over someone. As the years continued trespassers was still injured or killed.
As mentioned in my previous story, the "Bay View House" in Dummer was destroyed by fire. Someone stopped to tell me that this building was not on Bay View Hill, but in fact closer to the Pontook Dam. The person said that he lived in this area for many years. I am still unsure. Anyway, the fire took place about 11 o'clock on Friday morning December 18, 1914.
This popular hostelry, owned by Mr. and Mrs. G. Holt was completely consumed by flames, destroying all of their belongings. The fire had gained such headway before it was discovered, that nothing could be done to save either the house or even any part of the contents and furniture by Mr. Holt and his neighbors who were on the scene.
Results were that there was a total loss to the main building and adjoining cottage with entire contents. The barns and stables, being on the other side of the highway, suffered no loss.
Mr. Holt had been the owner of the "Bay View House" since about 1908 and conducted a popular hotel on the lines of his most welcome hospitality.
One of Berlin's oldest and first French Canadian citizens, Mr. Benjamin Jolicoeur (Hartley) passed away at his home on Rockingham Street, on Saturday, December 26, 1914.
Benjamin Jolicoeur came to Berlin in 1859 before the start of the Civil War and had been a resident here ever since. His house on Glen Avenue was the 15 building to be erected in this city.
Jolicoeur resided in this house until 1907 and then purchased a place on the East side. In 1913, his daughter, Mrs. Frank Seguin and family went to live with her parents and since that time had cared for them.
Mr. Jolicoeur's wife at one time had a room fitted with long tables and benches and started the first Catholic school in Berlin at their Glen Avenue home. She kept her school open until the St. Regis Academy was started and was a major influence on the French Canadians living in this city.
The newest invention in our paper mills back then was a product called Kream-O-Krisp. This product eventually became the forerunner to Crisco. Day by day the housekeeper's of Berlin were realizing the good qualities all of Kream-O-Crisp for frying and shortening.
As a prime factor to recommend its use, it was strictly a vegetable product and as an equally potent argument in its favor was that it was produced under absolute sanitary conditions. While lard and other fats were produced and packed with a view to purity, there was always the possibility of a disease source and depreciation in quality.
Kream-O-Krisp met a long wanted feeling in household economy and rapidly assumed a prominent position in favor of cooks and housewives. The merchants of Berlin were realizing that this product was on the market to stay. It was an invention of local industry and had quickly become a local favorite.
The Berlin Mills company offered a prize of $10 to the party writing the best letter and commendation of Kream-O-Krisp, along with a five pound can of the same for the next five letters of merit.
1914 was one of this city's booming years, with the growth of both the mills and the local population.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 May 2014 13:48
Today, 6 May 2014, is National Teachers Day. Being reminded of this as I surfed the internet last week, thoughts of my high school and college days have hovered in my mind ever since. While far from being the most outstanding student in my class, I was, I think I can say truthfully, somewhat above average and did graduate with honors from both my high school and undergraduate college.
Music, history, social studies, English, literature, and, to a lesser degree, science were my favorite subjects. They were the ones in which I did my best work, and they were the ones whose teachers gave me the most encouragement to keep going. An education in the humanities is an important part of being truly human, in my opinion.
It was music that gave me my identity throughout my years of formal schooling. Although I did learn to play the trombone in high school and played in the marching band, it was my singing that mattered most and for which I was almost always praised. There are two teachers who deserve my undying thanks for this. Angela Boccella was my music teacher in elementary school, and the monthly talent program she held in her classroom gave a very socially awkward young boy a chance to express himself in a way that, except for his always praised reading skills, he otherwise could not.
Herbert Ostrander was the music teacher in the high school that I attended, directing both the band and the chorus. He and Mrs. Erickson, who directed the school's theatre activities, saw and encouraged the talents of a young fellow who was otherwise something of a misfit. I would be named my school's best actor in the high school yearbook of 1952, the year I graduated, and Mr. Ostrander saw to it that I was introduced to one of Pittsburgh's best private voice teachers.
McClurg Miller, who also taught at Duquesne University, patiently guided my singing skills until I was able to win a small scholarship in voice to Maryville College, a small, liberal arts, church-related college in Eastern Tennessee, not far from the majestic beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains.
History was another area in which I excelled. Under the guidance of Mrs. Simon, who was my fifth grade social studies teacher, I submitted an original Civil War story to a competition being sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution. My entry won second place. I still have the small medal I received as my prize.
In high school, my history interests were further honed by John Shope, whose weekly short essay demands always encouraged students to not only think for themselves, but to be certain to provide supportive evidence for what we wrote. He cannot be thanked enough for that encouragement. Our class's high school yearbook of 1952 was dedicated to this always smiling man who warmly greeted his classes as they came through the door to his room. The editors of the 1952 yearbook chose wisely for their dedication, when they dedicated our book to him. The inscription that accompanied the dedication said it all. Taking a line from Kahlil Gibran's beautifully written and inspiring book "The Prophet," the inscription read: "If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind." That was John Shope. And that is every teacher worthy of the title.
The beauties of the language into which I was born have always spoken deeply to the very depths of my being. The masterly written, spoken, and sung words have enriched my life beyond measure. Throughout my years of formal and informal education, there have been so many teachers, friends, and members of my family who have made so many excellent suggestions for my reading, my listening, and my learning. One's education does not – or, at least, it should not – end with the walking out of the school door. So on this National Teachers Day, I wish to express my gratitude to all those who contributed. The wisdom of those words has given light to the darkest of days. Thank you!
Last Updated on Monday, 05 May 2014 14:20
That's right. Agriculture goes back to the Neolithic Age some 12,000 years ago. For nearly as long, there's probably been some form of Extension Work and Farm Bureau organizations in operation. But that's quite a time-span to cover. My intent here is to take a briefer look-back in history at the events leading up to the passage of the Smith-Lever Extension Act of 1914.
Probably unique to American farmers is a sincere interest in self-improvement combined with the desire to control their own destiny. It's why many of our ancestors came here. Being bound to the land, in servitude to the Lord of the Manor was unacceptable. Being unified and educated in practical knowledge was the way to guarantee freedom, a lesson learned well during the War of Independence. Ben Franklin's well-known cartoon "Join or Die" speaks to that sentiment. Still active, one can't help but think Scientist-Statesman Ben had something to do with the establishment of the Philadelphia Society in 1785. That may be the starting point of the many early agricultural societies formed over succeeding years to improve farming practices.
By the early 1800s these regional societies were sponsoring the formation of county associations, holding fairs not only for the sale of farm animals and products but for educational purposes as well. Competitive exhibitions with prizes and orations on agricultural subjects were some methods used. Entries of livestock and produce for premiums included advice on varieties, pest control and fertilization. In an early yearbook we're told of growing: "Mammoth Blue potatoes: after the corn I hauled onto the piece twelve two-horse loads of marsh mud mixed with as many bushels of ashes and fifteen hogsheads of night manure incorporated and plowed in" It seems all essential nutrients were account for as they "produced a fine crop good sized, smooth and free from rot."
New Hampshire 's own State Agricultural Society was organized in 1849 " young, weak, without patronage, yet strong in hope of good to come" My Transactions of 1858 make for interesting reading; familiar names fill their membership rolls, Franklin Pierce a donor, Daniel Webster (deceased) a society orator. Along with what was happening in the state it includes educational articles about: artificial fertilizers, Horsfalls Dairy Management, Sheep Breeds in Great Britain, even a how-to treatise on 'deepening soils'. My favorite article is from "a gentleman of Lancaster" regarding Coos County "but little known to many of the farmers of this state, the opinion being prevalent that its soil is entirely unfit for cultivation" He endeavors to correct that misconception. I am certainly convinced it is the land "flowing with milk and honey "which he describes.
Early on, the necessity of educational outreach by colleges was understood. By 1824 the Rensselaer Institute in Troy was teaching applied science for graduates "to go out and instruct farmers by lectures in towns and districts" In 1840s Ohio, a Mr. Townshend, who would become their Dean of the College of Agriculture, was encouraging the formation of farmers clubs In every town, along with monthly meetings on scientific agriculture. He was also advocating the training of "competent individuals" on an extensive range of subject matters to lecture to these groups. By 1882 Pennsylvania State was holding winter 'Farmer Institutes' consisting of 40 lectures by professors and agricultural specialists. An 1898 Michigan College paper thought extension work should have a standing "like that of research and the teaching of students" but whose "chief business was to teach the people who could not come to college". Within ten years these "Farmer Institutes" -in 14 states, including N.H.- were well established and state governments appropriating funds for them.
A nation of farmers moving westward called for innovative educational methods. In 1904 Iowa the "Corn Special" train was one such pioneering idea to go with lantern slides, lecture outlines, charts, and bulletins. Two trains, fully equipped with all necessary to promote better seed corn, chugged across the plains stopping at farm country stations. It was a hit; I suppose we'd now say "it went viral". Within a couple of years similar trains containing books, demonstration materials, and lecturers had been run in 21 states, with agricultural materials now covering a broader range of topics. Often, though "county roads were deep in mud, attendance was all that could be desired" Probably a whole book could be written about this episode which reached its peak in 1911 when 71 trains in 28 states recorded a total attendance of 995,220 people! Declining in popularity overtime it was observed that: "Unless followed up by continued personal efforts of extension agents there was little practical result after the excitement caused by the agricultural train died down"
With so many people earning their living from the land, farmer organizations of all sorts had been springing up for some-time. As I think most Farm Bureau members know, county-based, grass-root Farm Bureaus predate the national American Farm Bureau founded in 1919 by representatives from 30 states. Already supported by these farmers organizations were a host of "Farm Demonstrators" or "County Agents", Colleges were also developing courses of instruction to prepare them for this profession.
A glimpse back to an article on farm demonstrations (in 1909 by Prof Knapp), whose name you'll recognize, gives us an idea of the knowledge they needed. Besides, it seems, everything from agronomy to animal husbandry..."Agents would be called upon to give much incidental instruction on improvements of the rural homestead, roads, schools, social affairs as well as technical matters relating to fruit and vegetable growing, insect pests and other subjects" Whew! In listing qualifications when selecting a County Agent, one northeast Farm Bureau also wants someone "with a pleasing personality" but, "not an office man, lecturer or experimenter." Thankfully, they also understood the importance of "an active farm organization" to lend them the necessary support. That remains essential today.
Extension Work had become recognized as something quite different from the research/resident student instruction found at our Land-Grant Colleges. (See a previous article "Thanks Abe" about their foundation.) Plans were coming together that would give "extension work immediate national significance". This was to eventually crystallize into what we are presently celebrating the: Centennial of The Smith-Lever Act of 1914. As you can imagine a lot of debate ensued before its passage. In reporting the Bill, Congressman Lever envisioned it as "a system of demonstration or itinerant teaching pre-supposing the personal contact of the pupil in the actual demonstration of the lesson". The role of the county agricultural agent to "give leadership and direction along all lines of rural activity-social, economic, and financial"
"Itinerant" sounds like an archaic word today. It's derived from the Latin meaning, variously, to make a journey, a walk. It's been a Century since the Smith-Lever Act and we've had a long and enjoyable journey together, Farmers and Extension Workers. Looking at my colleagues across the state their total time in service easily surpasses that one hundred years, and of course it's many times that for the Farmers farming, which it's been our pleasure to work with. Here's to the next.
Steve Turaj has worked over 25 years for UNH Cooperative Extension, based in Lancaster, serving as what some would call the Coos County Agricultural Agent. Sort of a generalist on everything agriculturally involving ,outreach education to technical advice. To learn more about their team visit http://extension.unh.edu/Crops-Soils/Meet-Team.
Last Updated on Friday, 02 May 2014 14:00