County commissioners debate privatizing nursing home

LACONIA — Two Belknap County commissioners find themselves on different sides of what they agree is a looming crisis in care for the elderly in Belknap County.
Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), who last month told members of the Belknap County Convention’s Executive Committee that the county should explore the possible sale of the Belknap County Nursing Home, reiterated his position when the commission met Wednesday morning.
“This doesn’t have to be a county function,” said Burchell, who said that nonprofit entities should be encouraged to look at taking over the nursing home.
Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) said he doesn’t think that privatizing the nursing home is the answer to a growing elderly population in the county.
“The nursing home is needed. It is a county responsibility,” said Taylor, who maintained that partnering with nonprofits to find ways to keep people in their own homes longer is something that should be explored.
He said it costs $22,000 a year to provide home care services compared to $85,000 a year for nursing home care.
Burchell said that the county is “downhill from a very complex funding formula” with regard to Medicaid reimbursements which will be changing in future years, which puts it in a position of responsibility without authority.
Currently, county taxpayers not only pay for a share of Belknap County Nursing home costs not covered by Medicaid reimbursements, but also pay $6.1 million in the Health and Human Services line in the county budget which represents payments made to the state of New Hampshire for county residents who are in private nursing homes and who are covered by Medicaid.
That responsibility would still be on the county’s shoulders even if the nursing home were sold, as would be the unreimbursed costs for those who remained in the facility if it became a private nursing home.
County Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) thanked his fellow commissioners for their comments but did not weigh in with an opinion.
Taylor said he thinks the county is uniquely positioned to deal with care of the elderly and the drug crisis of heroin overdoses and should look at doing something about both of them in the year ahead.
He suggested that the Belknap County Sheriff’s Department would do well to follow the city of Laconia’s example when it comes to handling drug situations and suggested that the department add a position similar to what Laconia police currently have.

Purple Hearts & a Bronze Star - WWII hero had to fight to be drafted

BELMONT — A 94-year-old World War II veteran who received long overdue medals from that conflict yesterday said he had to volunteer to be drafted in order to enter the military.
"I was born in Quebec. You could see the custom house from where I was born. But when I volunteered, the Army wouldn't take me because I was a Canadian citizen,'' said Rosario Cadorette, who was living in Northfield, Vermont, when he tried to enlist in 1942.
Told that he would have to register with the local draft board and tell them that he wanted to be drafted, Cadorette says he wasted no time in signing up and was soon drafted.
"When you're young, you're gung-ho" says Cadorette, who was a machine gunner with the 13th Infantry Regiment of 8th Infantry Division and saw action in Normandy several weeks after D-Day, and was wounded for the first time on July 23, 1944.
On Nov. 23 that same year, while fighting with his unit in Germany, Cadorette was wounded again, but remained in his precarious position near enemy lines with a more seriously wounded fellow soldier. The next day, despite coming under enemy fire, he was able to help his wounded comrade back to an aid station.
"Acts of heroism like this make a difference. He's a member of the Greatest Generation and I'm very humbled just to be here with him," said U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte as she took part in a ceremony hosted by Charles Kilborn Post 58 American Legion at the Belmont Mill, at which Cadorette was presented with a Bronze Star with a V for valor, as well as an Oak Leaf Cluster, a Presidential Unit Citation, and his second Purple Heart.
As a result of his wounds, Cadorette said he has a metal plate in his head and the remnants of a scar from a bullet that creased his skull. Even though he uses a cane to help himself get around, he remains alert and active, as evidenced by his walking 2 miles earlier in the day before arriving at yesterday afternoon's ceremony.
The event was arranged by Woody Fogg, adjutant for Post 58, who said that when Cadorette, who lives in Canterbury, joined the post last year, he checked his military service record and found out that Cadorette had never received the medals he had earned.
"The honors are long overdue. Like many soldiers, he just got out of the service and went home without even thinking about any medals,'" said Fogg, who described Cadorette as being "as sharp as a tack."
Fogg contacted Ayotte's staff, which worked with Post 58 to obtain the medals and set up the ceremony.
Cadorette had no idea that the ceremony was going to take place until he arrived.
"We knew that when he saw his family members there he'd know something was up. So I told him what was going to happen. Old soldiers hate to be ambushed," said Fogg.
American Legion officers from around the state, including State Commander John Graham, attended the ceremony, as did Ruth Mooney, chairman of the Belmont Selectmen, who gave Cadorette a big hug and thanked him for his service to the country.
"I'm very humbled. This was a great day and a big surprise. I just want to thank all of you, especially my family, for showing up today," said Cadorette, who was answered from the audience by a call of "We love you."

Marine Raider leads drive to honor those he served with in WWII

Harold Sheffield stands by the monument he had installed at the State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen. (Courtesy Photo)BRISTOL — Harold "Bub" Sheffield, one of the last surviving Marine Raiders from World War II, recently spearheaded a successful effort to erect a monument at the State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen honoring the Raiders.
"They were America's first special operations units," says the 95-year-old, who served with Carlson's Raiders in the South Pacific and in 2011, with the help of fellow Bristol resident Joe Denning, wrote a book about his service with the Marine Raiders.
He says that he wanted to do something to provide a permanent reminder of the role that the Raiders played in the war and was helped by donations from U.S Marine Raider Association as well as his family.
The monument was recently installed at the cemetery and a dedication ceremony is being planned for next spring. Sheffield says that it very appropriate that there be a monument in New Hampshire for the Raiders as one of their commanders was Lt. Col Merritt Edson of Keene.
He says that his unit commander while he was with the Raiders was James Roosevelt, the youngest son of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Sheffield was born and raised in New Jersey but spent his summers at his grandfather's home in Alexandria and one summer worked as a bus boy and set up pins in the bowling alleys at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods.
He later excelled at sports in prep school and went to Nichols College in Dudley, Mass., where he enjoyed playing football but didn't like the business curriculum and dropped out. He and his long-time friend Bill Weiland had talked about joining the Royal Canadian Air Force in the summer of 1941 and Sheffield decided later that year that was what he wanted to do, as he already had a pilot's certificate and had flown a plane solo.
He had stopped by at his mother's house to say goodbye and head for Canada when he learned that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Both he and Weiland rushed to sign up for the Air Force but because they hadn't completed two years of college couldn't become pilots without passing an exam, which wouldn't be offered until the following April.
Not wanting to wait, the two signed up with the Marines. Part of the enlistment was a physical exam and Sheffield said that while waiting in line for the exam a recruit standing behind him on the shoulder and asked him to pee in his cup because he didn't think he could pass the exam because he had been drinking too much. ''I can only pee 100 proof" the man, said. Sheffield granted the request and later became good friends with the man, Harold Foote, who later became a New York real estate developer and portrait artist.
Sheffield was sent to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in August of 1942, where the Japanese were continually bringing in fresh troops. He was stationed on a sand bar near Tulagi, and his job was to observe the Japanese ships and report their arrivals to home base. He said the ships would pass so close to the observation point that he could hear the Japanese talking as they passed by.
At one point while on Guadalcanal, Sheffield was suffering from malaria and in such bad condition in a hospital was shivering so hard that he said he didn't care whether he lived or died. But there were rumors of a Japanese invasion so he was carried down to the beach by his friends Bill and Herb, who set him up in a foxhole with his rifle and grenades. "I was too sick to defend myself, let alone anyone else," he recalls. But a major naval battle took place that night, chasing away the Japanese invaders and turning the tide in the battle for the island.
After five months he was sent to New Caledonia to recuperate from the effects of tropical diseases and while there he volunteered to join the Marine Rangers and was sent to Bougainvillea, which was held by the Japanese, where he started working behind their lines.
He said that the patrols were small, three to five men, and that they traveled light, often with pistols instead of rifles and without helmets, because they made noises while the Marines walked. They stayed out for days at a time, reporting the positions of enemy troops with not much to eat except rock-hard chunks of chocolate.
The Raiders were disbanded in 1944 after their hit-and-run tactics no longer needed and Sheffield was then sent to Guam, where he remembers a shell crashing into his foxhole, badly injuring the man next to him but failing to explode.
The next day while crossing an airstrip he stopped at a Japanese machine gun emplacement which was not active and went inside, where he found six to eight dead Japanese soldiers and noticed that one was still alive and following him with his eyes. Recalling that the Japanese sometimes hid grenades on themselves, he went outside the emplacement and tossed a few new grenades in to make sure they were all dead,
After 29 months of war Sheffield returned to the United States and, after marrying his first wife, made his home in Alexandria. He went to what was then Plymouth Teachers College and transferred to the University of New Hampshire, where he earned a forestry degree and went on to Yale, where he earned a master's degree.
He worked for lumber companies before he went to work at International Packings Corporation in Bristol where he was in charge of personnel and later went into the real estate development business.
"It's been an interesting life," says Sheffield, who in recent years has made many speaking appearances for groups, museums and historical societies.