Last year, the N.H. Legislature made history by coming together on some very important issues. We were one of the few politically divided legislatures in the country that passed a unanimous budget, expanded access to health care, and made smart investments in our roads.
But it appears my Senate Republican colleagues, instead of embracing our record of accomplishments, are preparing to run away from it. With the bipartisan defeat of firebrand Tea Party Rep. Bill O'Brien as House Speaker, I am holding out hope for a session focused on action, not on antics; on compromises, not on conflict and on problem solving, not on politics.
Which is why I was troubled when Senate Republicans recently released their 2015 legislative priorities. Absent from their list was keeping two of the most important, bipartisan, business-supported achievements of the previous session – Medicaid expansion which has expanded health care to low wage workers by using federal funds and a business-backed, bipartisan transportation funding bill that invests in road and bridge projects across the state that are critical to businesses and commuters.
Both were practical, not ideological, achievements with strong business support and are working well to stabilize our economy and create jobs. Possibly that's why the Republicans are so quiet. Their party is in a tough spot stuck between supporting practical, broadly-supported policies and right-wing litmus tests.
Senate Democrats' top priority will be to keep the hard-earned gains of the last two years.
We'll defend the compromise legislation that makes health care more accessible and affordable, stabilizes our economy and reduces uncompensated medical care, which Sen. Jeb Bradley, the architect of the legislation, called a "hidden tax of well over $400 million" on each business and individual who purchases health insurance. We can't afford to disrupt nearly 50,000 families by throwing them off health insurance and burdening our economy with nearly a half-billion in new taxes.
Senate Democrats will also fight efforts to repeal the bipartisan 4.2 cent gas tax, which was the first increase in over two decades and is making $32 million in smart investments necessary to grow business, create jobs and move people and products across the state while the price of gasoline continues to drop.
The N.H. Legislature needs to build on our successes not succumb to party politics and repeal them. I hope my Republican Colleagues and I can start off the new year by embracing our bipartisan record by building on it, not running from it.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 January 2015 13:39
Once upon a Berlin Time
Hello fellow Berlinites. Before I continue with my history of the year 1946, I would like to address the fact that this is my 800th story for this newspaper. My original story (500 words) came out in August of 1999 and my love of Berlin's history has led me to write stories that are between 1,100 and 1,200 words each week. Thankfully, my readers tell me every day how much they enjoy Berlin's local history thus, I keep researching and writing.
On Saturday, June 29, 1946, the well known dairy man of Berlin, Mr. Wilfred McCready and his two companions, John Smith and his six-year-old son of Berlin, along with Oscar Gould Wentworth Location, New Hampshire miraculously escaped death.
They were working on a 16 foot Chris-Craft boat when it caught on fire and became a mass of flames. The boat, along with the boathouse which housed it, was completely destroyed.
This boat was in the process of being repaired and cleaned, when a match accidentally dropped into the water and ignited the gas that had trickled there, setting the water, boat and boathouse on fire. The three men and the boy fortunately escaped injury, as they barely had time to get away before everything was a mass of flames.
Several people immediately rushed to the rescue, along with state workers repairing a road nearby. The fire department from Errol answered the call and assisted in putting out the flames. All of this took place at the McCready summer place in this NH-Maine border town.
On Thursday, July 11, 1946, another fire played havoc with some Berlin citizens, when three families on Mechanic Street were left homeless, because some children were playing with matches.
Mrs. Leonard Moral, who lived on the third floor of this three story building, barely had enough time to rush downstairs with her baby in her arms, when the whole back of the house and the stairway (only exit) became engulfed in flames. In just a few more minutes, the occupants of the second and third floor would have been caught up in the flames.
The fire started about noon and the fire department arrived shortly after the initial call. The fire men fought this blaze for more than two hours before getting it under control. Playing with matches caused many fires back then.
On Tuesday, July 23, 1946, the city of Berlin was visited by a Cardinal. His name was Cardinal McQuigan and he was the Archbishop of Toronto, Canada. He had stopped in Berlin overnight with the Rev. Msgr. John B. Harris, a native of Berlin.
While in this city, the Cardinal was the guest of the Rev. Patrick E. Walsh at the St. Kieran's rectory on Madison Avenue. The Cardinal celebrated the 8 am mass at St. Kieran's Church on the following morning and spoke briefly, before leaving the city after the church ceremony. This was the first time that this city was ever visited by a Cardinal and I believe it was the only time since then.
It was announced during the first week of August 1946, that the Sisters of the Presentation had purchased the grand Mount Madison House in Gorham, New Hampshire. The purpose of this acquisition was to convert it into a boarding school for girls both of elementary and secondary grades. This school which opened its doors on September 10, 1946, would be known under the name of "Our Lady of the Mountains".
After being interviewed about the aim and purpose of this educational facility, the Sisters of Presentation acknowledged that their aim was to adorn the minds of young girls with useful knowledge; to foster in them the taste for order; to culminate good manners and deportment and above all to instill moral and religious principles. This would produce solidarity of character and tend to develop those virtues which formed the ornament and glory of true Christian womanhood.
Once the sisters were installed in their new academy, they had an open house day where they personally greeted all people interested in their work.
The Mount Madison House, which was situated where Sub-way is today (2015), offered a magnificent view of the mountain ranges. The loss of this hotel was felt throughout the town, but the gain that was attained by the school would overshadow this loss. The reason for this was because at least 200 girls would eventually arrive here and follow courses at this school.
It was noted that along with the school an influx of weekend visitors that would be expected during the entire school year, as in all other university towns. It was hoped that this would bring new trade possibilities for the restaurants, gift shops etc. in the town of Gorham.
Reliable sources told the media that close to 100 students would be registered by September of the first year. This school operated for just over 20 years before closing its doors in the late 1960's.
In early August of 1946, a large roar caused by surging waters breaking loose from a dam on early Saturday morning at 3 am, caused many residents at Cascade Flats to awaken. Cellars had as much as two feet of water and heavy logs, along with much debris, was deposit on their property.
This small dam overlooking Cascade Flats had for scores of years held back the waters in which hundreds of youngsters would swim during the summer months. This pool was the property of the Berlin Street Railway and must have been part of Tinker Brook
Finally, the city of Berlin was going to get its own radio station, when officials announced that WMOU, 250 Watts and 1230 kilocycles was going to start broadcasting. The newspaper said that the station would be known as the "Radio Voice of the White Mountains".
Following a banquet that was held at the Berlin House on August 17, 1946 for members of the staff and visiting guests, this station was going to officially open at 8:30 pm.
This new broadcasting facility would feature news from the wires of the Associated Press and would present as much local information as possible. Along with this, WMOU would have a complete coverage of sports events.
Special broadcasts would be devoted to other locations within reach of this station's air waves, to include Colebrook, Groveton, Whitefield, Littleton, Lancaster, Bethel, Rumford and North Conway. I didn't think that this AM radio station could reach this far, but evidently it did.
Many problems plagued the opening of the station and it took over two months of work to correct them. The station finally went on the air October 14, 1946, to the excitement of all its local listeners.
The operating hours would be from 6 am to 12 midnight on weekdays and 7:45 am to midnight on Sunday. The original officials of the of the White Mountain Broadcasting Company were Richard B Washington, Gerald Stetson and Charles Holbrook (President).
I will continue with the history of 1946 in my next writing.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 January 2015 16:21
As the New Year begins and we tackle our lists of resolutions, Congress also begins a new session – a good time to reflect on my first term representing New Hampshire's Second District and share my own "resolutions" and goals for the future.
When I was first elected in 2012, I knew that Congress was broken. But I had no idea that it would prove to be the most dysfunctional institution I had ever seen. Sadly, partisanship routinely trumped practicality, and members of both parties were often more interested in highlighting lines of division rather than seeking common ground. I was shocked when the dysfunction actually led to a 16-day government shutdown in 2013!
But I came to office with a pledge to put an end to the gridlock. I knew that in order to tackle the priorities Granite Staters care about – creating more jobs for our workers, supporting our veterans, and making education more accessible for our students – we needed to end the polarization in Congress and move America forward. So I got to work to make that happen.
There were some real disappointments during the 113th Congress, including the 2013 shutdown, but those of us willing to put aside our partisan differences were able to achieve some real successes. Shortly after being sworn in, I cofounded United Solutions, a coalition of new Republicans and Democrats focused on working together to tackle challenging issues facing Congress, like reducing the deficit and passing a common sense budget.
I worked with my colleagues on the Veterans' Affairs Committee, both Democrats and Republicans, to help lead an investigation into the outrageous scandals within the Department of Veterans Affairs, and together we passed into law comprehensive reforms to the Veterans Administration. Thanks to this new law, veterans across New Hampshire and throughout the nation will now be able to get quality medical care sooner and closer to home.
I worked across the aisle in the Agriculture Committee to pass into law bipartisan legislation that speaks to our New Hampshire values: supporting organic and local farmers, feeding the hungry, strengthening our rural economy, and conserving our state's cherished wildlife and natural resources.
And, by teaming up with one of my new Republican colleagues from Indiana, I was proud to pass into law enhanced protections for whistleblowers who report sexual assault in the military.
What's more, by working together Congress was able to avert another government shutdown just last month. I'll be the first to admit that the deal we passed was not perfect, but it helped us achieve my goal – to keep the government running and prevent needless damage to our economy.
Now, don't get me wrong – Congress left far too much work unfinished. But these positive developments prove that Congress can still function when Republicans and Democrats work together to solve problems. During my second term, I look forward to building on this progress to advance a number of causes important to New Hampshire.
My goals for the new Congress include fostering local economic growth and job creation through investments that strengthen the middle class, including expansion of passenger rail into New Hampshire and the establishment of a Manufacturing Innovation Hub in our state.
In addition, I have renewed my advocacy on behalf of our nation's veterans, and will continue meeting with veterans across New Hampshire to hear directly how Congress can best serve those who served us.
I'll keep up the fight for older Americans by supporting continued funding to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease and by advancing legislation to strengthen Social Security benefits for caregivers.
And I will continue working to increase access to quality, affordable education by sponsoring legislation to let students refinance their student loans and by facilitating public-private partnerships to improve job training.
From reforming our broken campaign finance system, to reducing sexual assault on campus and ensuring that women receive equal pay for equal work, there are many more issues I will again take up over the days ahead. These are my own resolutions for the 114th Congress.
I would love to hear from you about your priorities and how I can best serve you and your family. If I may ever be of service, or if you would like to offer a suggestion, please call one of my offices in Concord (226-1002), Nashua (595-2006), or Bethlehem (444-7700), or visit my website at kuster.house.gov. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you again for the honor of representing our community in Congress. Best wishes to you and yours in 2015.
Rep. Ann McLane Kuster represents New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 January 2015 17:03
Once upon a Berlin Time
Hello fellow Berlinites. It seems like the newspapers of 1946 ran special features on Berlin people who were an integral part of Berlin's history. A lot of the times I cannot pull the picture, but somewhere in my archives, if it was before the advent of high school yearbooks, I have some old pictures. This is the case of one of my subjects today; whose name is "Teddy Arnesen. I found an early Berlin police picture and was able to scan it.
Theodore (Teddy) Arnesen arrived in this country on April 20, 1883, when he was just 19 years old. He brought from his native Norway that imperishable will to succeed and that optimism which has helped make America the wonderful country that it is today.
People remember Arnesen as the lovable cop who joined the police force in 1904 and retired at 77 years old in 1942, after 38 years of service. His rough hands took pleasure in ruffling youngsters' tussled heads, teasing them and leading them across the street. In one word they remembered this old police officer as a "Pal".
Teddy, as he was known to everyone, was a favorite of half the youngsters in town. It was a familiar scene in the summer to see a group of youngsters romping in the spray, as Teddy watered the lawn at police headquarters and during the wintertime many a playful snowball fight was started between the children and their idol.
In 1946, Teddy was as spry as ever. Fortunately, he took pleasure in reminiscing about the old days, when the first pair of skis were made and the first ski jump in this country was built right here in Berlin. He also recalled vividly the organization of the first ski club in America, which, by the early 1900's was to be eventually known as the Nansen Ski Club. He likewise talked about Adolph Oleson's somersault jumping off the oldest Berlin jump, a feat that nobody today has ever witnessed.
"When I arrived here", Arnesen said, "There were very few Norwegians, not many houses and no church. Norway Street extended from Fifth to Sixth Street and the rest was wild swamp and bushes.
Today (1946), the Norwegian Village had progressed to a model community and an example to the rest of the city. Its streets were clean, its lawns well-kept, its houses painted in light colors and more. A visit to this section of Berlin would do more for the average citizen of this locality than anything that could be written in the newspapers.
"Teddy"Arnesen lived to be 95 years old and must have been a walking history book of Berlin and the Norwegian village. He also had twelve children to carry on his legend, but outlived five of them. I wonder how many people today still remember this old Berlin police officer who passed away in 1961.
A major construction project at the Brown Company was creating a housing shortage here in Berlin. With this, Mayor George E. Bell brought to the attention of the City Council, a communication from the local company relative to the rental of the two upper stories of King School, located on the corner of Grafton and Hillsboro streets. These rooms would be used to house skilled workers employed at the company project.
The housing shortage was such back then that these workers were unable to obtain apartments or rooms to alleviate this situation. The Brown Company sought to rent the vacant school for a period of one year and they offered the city $3,600 for this purpose.
Brown Company would also pay for all the expenses concerning the conversion of these schoolrooms into living stations for their workers. A dormitory, a dining room, as well as other facilities would be fully equipped by the company.
Mention was also made that the Brown Company would pledge itself to improve and maintain the nearby playground during their occupancy of the premises. Mayor Bell was given the power to act without delay on this subject, as the Brown Company was in urgent need of this housing. I do not know if the city let this go through.
There were two school related subjects that made the news in 1946. The first one was the organization of the high school GI club, formed by Headmaster D. W. MacLean. It was reputed to be the only organized club in the country formed upon the return of several GI's to BHS following their honorable discharge after World War II.
The purpose of this club was to give our local ex- soldiers, sailors and Marines a chance to get together and discuss problems which arose while they were in the process of completing their high school education.
In an effort to meet the situation of working upon different levels of subject matter, since few were able to register at the opening of the school year, special assistance was offered in English, mathematics and other courses that helped the men through school.
These Berlin High School GI's were aware of their opportunity to now graduate and get the needed diploma to continue on with their lives.
There were 26 members of this GI club and 15 of them were able to graduate from Berlin High School in 1946. As is well known, many of these young men had dropped out of school, joined the service and fought during the end of the war. A high school diploma would now make their future more profitable.
In 1946, there came a change in the mechanic arts curriculum at Berlin High School. Namely, the very first auto mechanics course under the supervision of the late Richard Pinette.
The auto department had nothing with which to start its course, so they went to a junkyard and purchased an old Ford, a carriage with a hydraulic system and then a motor, to be mounted for the inspection and instruction of the new students.
These parts were cleaned and painted in contrasting colors to show the various systems and connections. Arrangement of the parts in this manner facilitated working, teaching and observation.
A first year course lasted 18 weeks and dealt with learning to drive, knowledge of steering gears, transmission, hydraulic systems and all the adjustments to compensate for the wear and tear up on an automobile.
In accordance with modern teaching techniques in 1946, movies on auto mechanics were shown about once a week. A few other tools were installed to complete the garage scheme. It was Dick Pinette's hopes to have a regular garage, where the students could service their own cars or those of their parents.
Mr. Pinette was a graduate of Berlin High School, the National Auto School and had the practical experience needed. In 1946, auto mechanics was the up and coming course at BHS, with forty-four students being enrolled.
I will continue with the history of this city in 1946 with my next story.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 January 2015 17:18
Today is Twelfth Night. At least, for some Christians it is. For other Christians, and it is a Christian-originated celebration, Twelfth Night was last night, the 5th of January. It depends on when you start counting the Twelve Days of Christmas.
If you start by counting Christmas Day itself, then Twelfth Night falls on 5 January. If you start with the day after Christmas, then Twelfth Night falls on 6 January, which is the same day that Epiphany starts. Either way, Twelfth Night is the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and is the day when, according to tradition, all the holiday decorations are to be taken down.
In some Christian traditions, the 6th of January is when the birth of Jesus of Nazareth actually took place. An old Christmas carol that I remember singing had Jesus proclaiming that the 6th day of January "my birthday shall be, when the stars in their elements will tremble with glee." In some traditions, the 6th of January also marks the actual arrival of the Wise Men journeying to Bethlehem, and so is the day when gifts are given.
A wonderful story about the true meaning of friendship takes place on Twelfth Night in the time of King Arthur. The version of the story that I frequently use for telling is based on "The Arthurian Legend of the Holly Plant," by Ken Lukaszewski. The story tells of a year long quest Sir Pellanore, Arthur's lifelong friend and mentor, is sent on by the King to find his kingdom's greatest treasure. What Arthur comes to realize is his kingdom's greatest gift has been at his side all along. If you can find the story in your local library or online, I urge you to read it.
For the most part throughout history, however, Twelfth Night has often been celebrated by wild feasting and dancing and the election of a King and Queen of Foolery by the placing of a bean or a pea baked in a special cake. Whoever finds the bean or pea in his or her cake becomes the reigning King and Queen. An exchange of places often takes place, with the high becoming low and the low becoming high. It can turn quite ribald I have read.
The best known play about Twelfth Night is undoubtedly William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." Shakespeare's play is a comedy and uses mistaken identity as the crux of its witty plot. The play was actually first performed on Candlemas Day (2 February) in 1602.
A particular personal memory I have of one Twelfth Night took place when my wife and I were still living in Springfield, Massachusetts. I had written an article on Twelfth Night for the "Springfield Daily News," for which I wrote part time when I was living there. I had noted that the last day of Yuletide was no longer celebrated as much as it once had been, with few, if any, programs commemorating the occasion.
Warren Amerman, the director of the church choir in which both my wife and I sang at the time, decided to do something about that omission. The next year, he hosted a get together for some of his friends. Music was at its center, of course, with some of us singing a favorite song of the season, with others playing the piano or other instrument. It was a most pleasant and satisfying evening, over all too soon, and I have never been involved in anything like it since. Perhaps it is time to consider putting something together again.
Finally, this bit of verse that I wrote years ago. It's called simply "Epiphany."
The decorations that bedecked the hall/now all are taken down.
Stripped of baubles hung and flashing lights/ the tree has lost her gown.
Yuletide's dozen days of celebration/have taken their last bow.
Epiphany's time of revelation/awaits expectant now.
Longing hearts, as those ancient travelers/seek a promise Newborn,
Seek the Hope so yearningly awaited/to lift a world forlorn.
Last Updated on Monday, 05 January 2015 14:14