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Alton man would be first governor from Belknap Co. since 1911

CONCORD — Walter Havenstein of Alton, a retired Marine colonel and corporate executive, yesterday became the second Republican to enter the race for governor.
If he is successful, Havenstein would become the first resident of Belknap County to be elected governor since fellow Republican Henry B. Quinby of Laconia, a champion of the progressive politics of President Theodore Roosevelt, who served from 1909 to 1911.
Introduced at the Legislative Office Building by former governor Steve Merrill and accompanied by former governor Craig Benson, Havenstein appears to enjoy the support of what more conservative and populist elements of the GOP deride as the "establishment" in a bid to recapture the corner office, which Democrats have occupied for 16 of the last 18 years.
"New Hampshire is at a crossroads," Havenstein began, noting that after three decades robust growth "our state's economy has stagnated and begun to decline. "We can do better," he continued. "I don't accept the status quo and I will provide the thoughtful leadership necessary to reverse the trends, stop the decline and restore prosperity."
Referring to the administrations of governors John Lynch and Maggie Hassan, Havenstein said that "we've squandered an entire decade and we're falling behind. We can no longer afford bureaucratic medicine for all our economic woes." Likewise, Havenstein dismissed casino gambling, remarking that "I'm terribly disappointed that we have a governor whose conception of economic development is casino gambling." The issue, he stressed. is "how are we going to make all businesses in New Hampshire flourish."
"Government alone cannot lead economic recovery." Havenstein said, calling instead for "limiting the role of government while "relying on our relationships with small business owners and entrepreneurs" and designing that "taxes and regulations that reward success, not punish it."
The high costs of health care and energy, he claimed, are weighing on the economy. Describing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as neither care or affordable, he said that "one-size fits all is not what New Hampshire is all about." Citing a survey of insurance brokers by Morgan-Stanley that reported health insurance premiums have risen 90-percent, Havenstein said "make no mistake. That's an income tax."

He questioned the plan to use Medicaid funds to extend health insurance to those earning up to 138-percent of the federal poverty level. "We should be getting people off government programs," he said, "not on them."
While acknowledging the need to "recapitalize and improve our infrastructure," Havenstein shrank for supporting an increase in the gas tax. "I'm not convinced we're spending what we take in effectively," he said, "and economic stagnation is not the time to raise a tax on anyone."

Questioned about a sales or income tax, he snapped "forget it."
Havenstein said that he favored a so-called "right-to-work" law, explaining "I believe in the nobility of work and the freedom of individuals to work without being required to belong to a union."
"I'll be working for prosperity," Havenstein said, adding "for a balanced prosperity. "We must fund critical services without bankrupting the state and overburdening its citizens."
Touting his experience, Havenstein said that he has demonstrated leadership as a military officer, business executive and philanthropist. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy with a degree in aerospace engineering, Havenstein served in the United States Marine Corps from 1971 to 1999, including 12 years on active duty , where he specialized in tactical communications and systems acquisition management, before retiring with the rank of colonel.
Havenstein began his career in the private sector the aerospace and communications division of ITT Corporation and later held a handful of executive positions with the Raythen Company. In 1999 he joined Sanders Associates of Nashua, then a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Aerospace Electronic Systems, serving as president of the firm, which when it was acquired by BAE Systems a year later.
At BAE Systems, Havenstein was president of two operating groups between 2000 and 2003 when he became executive vice-president of BAE Systems North America. When the company reorganized in 2005 he became president of the Electronics & Integrated Solutions Operating Group and two years later was named president and CEO of BAE Systems, Inc,where he managed an annual budget three times that of the state. Havenstein left BAE Systems, Inc. in 2009 to join Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a contractor for government services and information technology, where he served as president and CEO until 2012 when he retired.
Havenstein serves on the board of the Whittemore School of Busienss at the University of New Hampshire and is the vice-chairman of FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology), the non-profit organization founded by Dean Kamen, the inventor and entrepreneur, to foster interest in scientific and technical careers among young people. He was vice-chair of the Marine Corps Scholarship Fund and, with his wife Judy, has supported the Juveniles Diabetes Research Foundation for the past 30 years.
Calling himself "an experienced decision maker," Havenstein emphasized that he is not guided by "abstractions and theory" but reaches "practical decisions based on the facts." Asked about his view of the GOP platform, he confessed "I don't know what the Republican platform is today." Then he noted that his wife served on the platform committee and helped "reign in the platform from being a series of litmus tests. It's all about job creation and economic growth."
Questioned that he may have impaired his eligibility for the governorship by in 2008 designating Maryland as his primary residence, which qualified him for tax relief on the purchase and ownership of a condominium when he worked for SAIC, Havenstein insisted New Hampshire has been his home for the past 15 years. "I have voted here and no place else," he said. "This is my home." He expressed confidence that he has complied with the laws of both New Hampshire and Maryland.

The N.H. Constitution requires that governors live in the state for seven years before serving.
Havenstein described Hassan as "a good person," but said her policies and actions were having adverse impacts. The election, he suggested, will pose a choice between "Maggie Hassan's good intentions and my know-how. Who is best suited to end the stagnation. I look forward to governing."
Andrew Hemingway of Bristol, a 31 year-old, self-described entrepreneur who chaired the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, is the only other GOP candidate for governor at the point. The official filing period is in June.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 April 2014 12:33

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Judge rules in favor of Belknap Convention majority

LACONIA — A Belknap County Superior Court judge has ruled against a legal action brought by Democratic members of the Belknap County Convention against Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), the chairman of the convention, for permitting a member to participate by telephone in what proved a critical vote.
The suit, brought by Rep. Ruth Gulick (D-New Hampton) and the other four Democrats on the convention, alleged that Worsman had violated the state's Right-To-Know law by permitting Rep. Guy Comtois (R-Barnstead) to cast a vote without first gaining approval for his participation from the entire body.
The vote was taken when the convention, then wrestling with the 2014 county budget, met in the midst of a heavy snowstorm on February 18, which delayed the assembly of a quorum until three-quarters of an hour past the appointed time of 5 p.m. Only 13 of the 18 members were present when the meeting was convened. Prior to convening the meeting Worsman arranged for Rep. Guy Comtois (R-Barnstead), who was tending to a failing roof, to participate by telephone. When the meeting opened, Worsman explained Comtois would participate by telephone and phone device was placed on the table and she spoke with him to confirm their connection.
Rep. Beth Arsenault (D-Laconia) then offered a motion to adopt the commission's proposed budget for 2014, which was second by Rep. Lisa DiMartino (D-Gilford). The members in the room divided seven-to-six in favor of the motion, but Comtois, participating by telephone, voted against and the motion failed to achieve majority support. Two weeks later, on March 4, the normal convention majority adopted its own version of the county budget.
Judge James D. O'Neill III, who heard arguments on the case on April 3, ruled Tuesday that since no one had objected to Comtois' participation at the February 18 meeting that they had allowed, within the ordinary meaning of the word, his participation, and denied the request to disallow his vote.
He also ruled that another part of the Right-To-Know law which would have required that the minutes of the meeting contain the reason why Comtois was not physically present and identify anyone else present with him at the place from which he was calling had not been violated. He noted that the minutes did say he was ''tending to a roof emergency'' and didn't identify anyone who was with him at the location from which he was calling because, presumably, there was no one else there.
The suit had originally been brought by the Democrats against Worsman and convention Clerk Jane Cormier (R-Alton). Judge O'Neill allowed the Democrats to amend the legal action to include the Belknap County Convention as a defendant.
The Convention was represented in the legal action by Attorney Barton L. Mayor of the Concord law firm of Upton and Hatfield. Legal fees for the county will be paid by the Belknap County Commissioners, who had originally asked that the convention approve a supplemental budget appropriation for the case but modified their position and agreed to pay it from the county's budget for legal expenses.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 April 2014 12:29

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Soldier On looking at 3 sites in Plymouth for project for homeless veterans

PLYMOUTH — A proposal to create a Soldier On housing project in the Plymouth area is still under consideration despite a setback suffered in December last year in Ashland when that town's zoning board reversed an earlier decision made in October, which had granted three variances the project needed in order to proceed.

Soldier On is a private nonprofit organization that defines itself as being committed to ending veteran homelessness by providing transitional housing and support services.
Cathy Bentwood, executive director of the Bridge House in Plymouth, who has, along with Alex Ray, owner of the Common Man restaurant company, been leading the effort to bring a Soldier On project to the area, says that in recent months three properties, all along the Tenney Mountain Highway in Plymouth, have been identified as potential sites.
Bentwood said nearly $100,000 has been raised to cover pre-development costs for the project, which in the case of Ashland envisaged developing a 9 acre property on Riverside drive with four buildings which would have a total of 50 one-bedroom units which would have been owned by the veterans.
The project got preliminary approval for three requested variances from the Ashland Zoning Board last October but the decision was challenged by Selectman Phil Preston on the grounds that an abutter had not been notified and at a rehearing in December, with two different members serving on the board, the variance requests were denied, killing the project.
Bentwood said that she thinks that the Ashland decision was shortsighted and that much of the testimony at the hearing by opponents was misleading and even disrespectful to veterans in its tone.
She said that what makes Soldier On unique, compared to a conventional homeless shelter, is that it offers permanent housing, in which residents have an ownership stake, with the services they need to get their lives back on track. Services include mental health therapy, substance abuse counseling, job training and even employment opportunities.
Bentwood said that at some of its facilities, such as the one in Pittsfield, Mass., Soldier On operates an emergency shelter, a transitional facility and a permanent housing arrangement. Bentwood said the plan for the Plymouth-area facility, which would be the first Soldier On project in New Hampshire, will only offer long-term housing as there are pre-existing shelters and transitional services for veterans in the region.
The facility that is planned for the Plymouth area would have space for about 50 veterans living in small, single-residency units. By the time they're ready to move into the facility, the concept holds, the veterans would have already reached a point of stability and would be ready for employment. Veterans would buy their way into the facility by paying an initial fee of about $2,500, and then would pay a relatively small, inclusive monthly rent, such as $500. If the veterans choose to move out, they would "sell" their share back to the cooperative.
The veterans would elect their own leaders in the cooperative and would have a say over who gets admitted into the cooperative.
Jack Downing, president and CEO of Soldier On, a national homeless veterans advocacy group which has been involved in efforts to bring a project to the area for several years, says that he remains confident that the project will succeed.
''It's probably going to happen. There are a lot of regional community leaders involved and the project has serious community support,'' said Downing.
He said that he will be visiting the area in May to to review a portfolio of potential properties for the project site and noted that Ashland was actually further south than the area where the project had originally been envisioned.
Downing said that the project would cost between $5-$6.25 million and would be a major investment in the community.
Bentwood said that she is hoping that the project will be able to garner the additional community support that it deserves and noted in a recent letter to supporters that Downing has said that if the project fails that the funds they have contributed will be returned.

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 April 2014 12:14

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Belmont Rec. Trail almost ready for bids

BELMONT — After 14 years of planning, town land use technician Rick Ball said the Belmont Recreation Trail is a few steps away from going out to bid.

Ball said yesterday that they are waiting for all the snow to melt at which point the state will finish the "categorical exclusions" or historical and environment impact study. He said he expects no issues.

He said a minor design change need to be made behind the Agway Store on Rte. 3 because the owners of two abutting properties would like to see a bank of mature oak trees saved — something Ball said was preferable to cutting them down.

"As soon as those things are done we can negotiate money to pay for the easements," he said.

In March, voters approved the final chunk of town money needed to complete the $960,000 first phase of the trail by allowing money held in a special purpose fund for a different segment of the trail to be used for this one.

This segment will run from the Mosquito Bridge on the Belmont-Tilton-Sanbornton line to the Laconia city line. Laconia continues to design its section that will connect the existing Laconia portion with Belmont's.

Ball said federal law prohibits the town from discussing easement payments with trail abutters at this point but once the state determines there are any historical or environmental issues and a new route around the oak trees is determined, he can begin the negotiations.

After negotiations with land owners, he said the trail will be preliminarily designed with preliminary specifications and an estimate. At that point Ball said the Department of Transportation will issue the final plan specifications.

If the construction and engineering comes in under budget, the project will go to bid.

Ball said at this point in time, the project appears to be well within the allocated budget.

For those who would like for information the BRATT (Belmont Recreation Alternative Trail Team) is hold a meeting on April 24 at 7 p.m. at the Corner Meeting House.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 11:49

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