Mensa Foundation recognizes Dr. Harold Lyon


MEREDITH — Friday’s ceremony honoring Dr. Harold “Hal” C. Lyon Jr. with the Mensa Educational and Research Foundation’s 2017 Intellectual Benefits to Society Award also served as a family reunion, a gathering of friends, and a military reunion.

Lyon’s son, Lt. Col. Gregg Lyon, acted as master of ceremonies for the event at Church Landing, with fellow Marine Dave Kutcher stepping up to introduce Dist. 1 Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, himself a Marine.

The main presentation by Deb Stone, treasurer of American Mensa, was a crystal trophy honoring Lyon for his decades-long career in the field of education, specifically his work in governance and policy-setting in the field of gifted children.

“Dr. Lyon worked to broaden the federal definition of gifted and talented to include divergent-thinking creative children, and he worked with Sen. Jacob Javits to pass the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act,” according to the Mensa Foundation. “The federal definition of gifted and talented was broadened from the strictly high IQ and academically gifted children to include those with more diverse gifts, including divergent-thinking creative children, the artistically talented, gifted young leaders or the psycho-socially gifted. In addition, it resulted in more effective ways to identify and help the gifted and talented from low-income and diversely ethnic populations.”

Stone said she was “personally thrilled” to present the award to Lyon, saying he “continues to work for the benefit of the world around him.”

Lyon thanked his “loyal friends and supporters for coming out in the rain.”

Pointing out friends in the audience who also had made contributions to their families and their country, a modest Hal Lyon said anyone in the room was as deserving or more deserving than he of the award.

He noted that Kutcher and his wife, Lorraine, had recently saved lives when they pulled a man and a boy from a smoking truck before it burst into flame. Lyon’s son, Gregg, while on a restricted military mission to take an airfield, found armed combatants and, rather than shooting them, he took along a translator and advised them to drop their weapons and run, which they did.

He continued with examples of other friends in the audience who had done their parts, including crediting his wife, Karin, with helping to ensure her mother would not have to enter a nursing home.

However, Lyon’s own accomplishments were not minor, as Kenney noted in presenting a proclamation from the Governor and Executive Council.

“He himself is one of the gifted and talented,” Kenney said, saying his contributions changed the way the world viewed others. “He made us all a student of persons.”

In the speakers’ words and in a slide show prepared for his 80th birthday celebration, two years ago, Lyon’s accomplishments were shown to extend far beyond advocacy for gifted students. Known locally for his popular fishing book, “Angling in the Smile of the Great Spirit,” Lyon has written 10 books and more than 150 articles on education and leadership, but that also is just part of the story.

He graduated from West Point in 1958 and served as a Ranger Army officer, company commander of the 101st Airborne Division, and pioneered new strategies for counter-guerrilla warfare.

When the military was called in to ensure peace during James Meredith’s entry as the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi, Lyon was there to assist the effort. (In the movie “Forrest Gump” where Tom Hanks’ character is blended into archival footage, Hal Lyon is seen speaking on the telephone.)

Lyon earned a master’s degree from George Washington University and a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts, later serving as assistant to the president at Ohio University and as assistant deputy US Commissioner of Education. While there, he became one of the architects for the development of the influential “Sesame Street” program.

Among his other accomplishments in developing effective teaching strategies is his work in Munich, Germany, where he teaches physicians innovative methods of teaching.

He told those gathered at Church Landing that there are two keys to success in anything.

“One is grit: that determination that will not be denied,” he said.

“The second is that tenderness is strength. It took some crises in my life to discover that. But it’s all about love — for work, for family, and for self, because if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love anything else.

“We’re all imperfect, and it’s those imperfections that make us people,” he said. “When you recognize that, then you’re poised to make better contributions to others.”

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Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, right, reads a proclamation recognizing Dr. Harold Lyon Jr. for his lifelong contributions. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)


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Dr. Harold Lyon Jr. accepts the 2017 Intellectual Benefits to Society Award, presented by Deb Stone, treasurer of the Mensa Foundation. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Only one bidder for drug rehab program at new county jail


LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners, who received only one bid for providing treatment and recovery services at the Belknap Community Corrections Center, are planning further negotiations with the bidder rather than seeking a second round of bids.
Commissioners voted to waive their bidding procedures, which require at least three bids, and to have Corrections Center supervisor Keith Gray and County Administrator Debra Shackett negotiate with Horizons Counseling Center, which currently operates a pilot program at the county jail.
Horizons submitted a proposal for a three-year contract for providing a Corrections Opportunity and Recovery and Education (CORE) program which would cost $676,225.
The program would see three counselors hired at a $43,000 annual salary and $12,900 in benefits, and a case manager, who would work 32 hours a week and receive $24,960 in salary and $7,488 in benefits, also hired.
There would be a 10 percent cost added to the contract for indirect costs incurred by Horizons for staff supervision, professional liability insurance and space at the Horizons Counseling Center for community based after care groups.
The program would cost $220,162 in the first year, $225,433 in the second year and $230,639 in the third year.
The county has applied for a three-year $630,00 federal grant to pay for the program and is expecting to hear next month whether or not its application for funding has approved.
Commissioners are also looking for Horizons to step up its current CORE program, which has been held three days a week, to a full five days a week once inmates start moving into the new Community Corrections facility shortly after Labor Day.
The county budget has set aside $111,976 for the CORE program and around $65,000 is available for the remainder of the year.
Gray noted that the jail has had the pilot program in place for over a year but with only one room available for classes and a three-day a week schedule it has been able to handle only 10 inmates at a time with both male and female inmates in the same class.
He said that having the program expand to five days a week and the availability of two classrooms will enable the program to provide separate classes for men and women, with up to 12 women in one class and 15 to 20 men in the other.
Two years ago the Executive Committee of the Belknap County Delegation approved a transfer request from the commissioners for $46,564 to fund the pilot program, which was designed by jail planning consultant Kevin Warwick and a team which included Jacqui Abikoff, executive director of Horizons Counseling Center.
The program provides early intervention and screening assessments which classify and target offenders appropriately and identify low risk offenders, who will be considered for alternative programs and moved out of the jail, as well as high risk offenders, who are targeted for intensive treatment services at the jail.

  • Written by Roger Amsden
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Practical effect of presidential declaration on opioid crisis remains to be seen


LACONIA — President Donald Trump's declaration that the opioid crisis is a national emergency was welcomed by state and local officials, although whether it will bring more federal money or new programs remains to be seen.

Trump made the declaration on Aug. 10 but details on any potential new federal resources to fight drug abuse have yet to emerge.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu sent Trump a letter the next day urging that the scope of the opioid problem in a state take precedence over a state's population when it comes to providing federal assistance. New Hampshire's population is comparatively small but its opioid problem is large. It ranks second nationally for per capita deaths due to drug overdose, behind only West Virginia.

Sununu said the state is working hard to address the problem, but that it could use assistance.

“We have doubled our state resources to support prevention, treatment and recovery; dedicated millions of additional dollars to law enforcement efforts to keep drugs out of our state, increased the availability of naloxone and are rebuilding our prevention program for our kids,” he stated in the letter.

“New Hampshire stands ready to ensure much needed federal resources go to help people in recovery from substance use disorder.

“We know how to build and implement comprehensive systems to address substance use disorder in our own state. Flexibility will be a key component in helping solve this crisis.”

Jacqui Abikoff, executive director of the Horizons Counseling Center in Gilford, said people in the treatment community are watching for any word on how the president's declaration will play out on the ground.

“Right now we are all in a wait and see mode,” she said.

She said she agrees with the president that the opioid crisis is a national emergency.

“But his policies around the Affordable Care Act really cast some doubt on the follow through,” she said.

New Hampshire expanded its Medicaid program under the act, also known as Obamacare. Trump has called for repeal of the act.

“Medicaid has really made treatment accessible to the majority of addicts in the state of New Hampshire,” Abikoff said. “If federal policy doesn't support the continuation of expanded Medicaid, as much as we declare this an emergency, we will see a lot of people die because of lack of access to care.”

She said that if more federal money does become available to fight drug abuse, it could be used to increase all avenues of treatment, recovery support and prevention.

“We have to beef up every tool we have available,” she said.

Trump has promised there will be federal follow through.

“We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis,” he said.

  • Written by Rick Green
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