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Sidore Lecture Series at PSU presents Erin O'Brien speaking on "Voting Laws Are Racist" (497 w/1 col ErinOBrien)

PLYMOUTH —  The Saul O Sidore Lecture Series at Plymouth State University will present Erin O'Brien speaking on "Voting Laws Are Racist" at 7 p.m. Monday, November 17, in the Smith Recital Hall at the Silver Center for the Arts on Main Street in Plymouth. O'Brien is chair and associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

O'Brien's interests focus on the politics of poverty and social welfare policy, voting access policymaking in the United States, and gender in political participation/representation. Her work employs a variety of methods and approaches to social science in order to examine the connections among social policy, political thought and action, inequality and patterns of stratification associated with social groups.

Regarding the lecture O'Brien explains, "Curtailing early voting. Felony disenfranchisement. Voter ID laws. Eliminating same-day voter registration. For the political right, these are necessary steps to eliminate voter fraud and protect electoral legitimacy. For the political left, these measures are flagrant attempts to keep their core constituencies from the polls. This talk empirically adjudicates between these views while locating the state-level consideration and adoption of restrictive voter access policies in the larger electoral context of the Supreme Court's recent decisions on campaign finance. We will assess the lessons for democratic responsiveness and differential policy messages sent by this latest round of ballot access legislation."

O'Brien's research appears in top peer-reviewed journals including American Journal of Political Science, Perspectives on Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Women & Politics and Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. She is also author of two books: "The Politics of Identity: Solidarity Building among America's Working Poor" and "Diversity in Contemporary American Politics and Government."

The theme for this year's Sidore Lecture Series is "The State of Democracy." The series' premise is that Americans consider our political system to be the premier model of democracy, and that we like to think that others around the world wish to emulate us. However, the democratic nature of our institutions cannot be taken for granted – they need to be examined and reexamined time and time again. Headlines in the news regarding growing inequality, money in politics, changes in voter registration laws, government surveillance and setbacks of democratic movements in various parts of the world suggest that now is a good time for reflecting on the state of democracy in the United States and elsewhere.

The next lecture in the series will be February 5, 2015, when Boston College Professor Kay Schlozman speaks on "Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy."

Named for humanitarian and New Hampshire businessman Saul O Sidore, the Sidore Lecture Series was established in 1979 by PSU and the Sidore Memorial Foundation. The series brings a variety of speakers to campus to address critical issues and events in politics, society and culture – topics that reflect Sidore's interests.

All Sidore Lectures are free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended. A reception follows each lecture. Free tickets are available at the Silver Center Box Office, (603) 535-2787 or (800) 779-3869.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 November 2014 10:57

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Snow Shovel Brigade organizing for Laconia parade

LACONIA — The Snow Shovel Brigade made its debut two years ago in the Laconia Downtown Christmas Parade and plans to return this year if enough community members step up to step out as part of this fun raising band of marchers. The organizers hope once again to bring Christmas cheer and smiles to the parade onlookers of all ages. But in order to do this at least 20 enthusiastic shovel brigaders are needed.

The initial announcement was made on social media but the official announcement is being made here. The initial organizational meeting will be made this Thursday, November 13, evening from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Frates Creative Arts Center located at 27 Canal Street in Downtown Laconia.

Adults and teens are invited to bring a snow shovel to the meeting, which will include instruction for the shovel maneuvers and requirements for the crazy winter outfits needed for the parade. Followup rehearsal will be held on Monday, November 17 and Tuesday November 18 for review of the marching instruction for those who feel they need more practice. These additional times are also scheduled for last minute friends to join the group.

Those who can't carry a shovel but are interested in carrying the Official Brigade Banner, Snow Removal signs, or joining the drummer group (bring your drum) are also invited to these meetings.

Anyone with questions about the Snow Shovel Brigade should contact the group's organizer, Larry Frates, by calling 528-7651 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 November 2014 10:50

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Downtown Laconia Holiday Parade to be held on Nov. 29

LACONIA — Whether you have a partridge in a pear tree, or five golden rings on your list, the twelve pipers paving of R. M. Piper Inc. are helping to ready downtown Laconia for an enjoyable holiday season.

The Downtown Laconia Main Street Initiative and the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce are pleased to announce the annual Laconia Holiday Parade will be held on Saturday, November, 29, 2014 this year, starting at 1 p.m.

"We have received word from the North Pole that Mr. and Mrs. Santa will be participating in this year's parade", said Sue Bullerwell, the Main Street promotions chair, who seems to have a direct line to the arctic, "And of course, local merchants will be open for your holiday shopping, along with more than a dozen eateries".

Each year, the parade begins at Wyatt Park, continues up Main Street, and ends at the historic train station in Veterans' Square with the lighting of the Christmas tree.

This year the parade will travel for the first time over the newly constructed center section of the Main Street Bridge as it crosses the Winnipesaukee River. "It is wonderful that the City of Laconia could shop locally, and effectively buy this rejuvenated bridge from a Plymouth New Hampshire contractor", said John Moriarty, president of the Main Street Initiative.

"They care about doing quality work that will last, and about supporting our community with this unprecedented donation", explained Melissa McCarthy, the Main Street's "people person", referring to the fact that the sponsorship covers the transportation and performance costs for the Laconia, Gilford and Belmont bands, These costs were historically underwritten by the generosity of several donors. "This meets one of our strategic goals, in that by partnering with other organizations, the community preserves a wonderful memory for their children, and we support the school band programs, all thanks this year to R. M. Piper" concluded Moriarty.

Registrations are now being accepted for those that wish to participate in the parade. Last year, more than 70 floats and marching bands participated in the holiday parade and several thousand viewers lined the streets of downtown Laconia. To learn more about the event or obtain information about parade registration, go to www.LakesRegionChamber.org and click on the Community Calendar. Forms will also be available at Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce at 383 South Main Street or All My Life Jewelers at 639 Main Street in Laconia.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 November 2014 09:25

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PSU receives gift of more than 200 letters written from WWII sailor to his sister, a student at Plymouth

PLYMOUTH — A collection of more than 200 letters mailed by an Ossipee, N.H. sailor to his sister attending Plymouth Teachers College (PTC) during World War II has been donated to Plymouth State University.

The sailor, Edgar Eldredge, was stationed aboard the USS Rankin; he faithfully mailed letters detailing life in the Pacific Theatre to his sister Fran, an education major at Plymouth. The correspondence was donated to the University by Louis "Skip" Sander, Executive Director of the USS Rankin Association, an organization established to preserve the memory of the Rankin. The letters offer a fascinating glimpse of life aboard a ship during wartime, as well as a New Hampshire college town thousands of miles away.

"This collection is really a treasure, it is a snapshot of what they were doing, what was life was like on campus in the early 1940s," said Plymouth State archivist Alice Staples. "Then there's the larger picture, World War II, and what was going on; we don't often get to understand what life was like in history-making times like that."

Sander collects memorabilia about the Rankin and acquired the letters earlier this year through on online auction. When he started reading the letters, he was fascinated.

"It was like a book you couldn't put down...it's the diary of the life of a simple, country kid from New Hampshire; every two or three days this guy wrote a letter to his sister–that's familial devotion," Sander said. "There was lot in his correspondence about what was going on back home; he was interested in his grandfather's activities, like selling bait at Lake Winnipesaukee, or the arrival of a new puppy. But he was really devoted to his sister, a real tight-knit family communicating with each other."

After researching the names and addresses on the letters, Sander, a Pittsburgh resident, contacted Staples and offered the University the collection.

"All of these letters were addressed to Plymouth Teachers College," Sander noted. "Donating them just seemed like an obvious thing to do, so I contacted Alice Staples and she agreed."

The letters, written in longhand on US Navy stationery, cover the years 1944-46. Eldredge was a deck seaman aboard the Rankin. His letters detail his activities as the ship went through training in amphibious operations, passed through the Panama Canal, and moved to the Pacific Theatre. Ultimately, the Rankin participated in the latter stages of the Battle of Okinawa. Edgar was in the Pacific when the U.S. used the atom bomb against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In writing home in August, 1945, he optimistically hoped for hostilities to cease.

Sander said Eldredge was discharged in mid-1946, and in his last letter he expressed hope that he would be home in time for his sister's graduation from PTC in May, 1946. Sander believes he made it in time.

"After he returned home, Eldredge went to trade school, learning about heating and plumbing systems, and he worked for a Moultonborough hardware store for many years," Sander said. "Edgar eventually married one of Fran's classmates, Norma Moulton, and their daughter, Susan, graduated from Plymouth State in 1974."

Both Eldredge and his sister Fran are deceased. Plymouth State University is transcribing the letters and will make them available to the public when that project is completed.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 November 2014 12:31

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