Farm Service Agency offers drought assistance


CONCORD — With farmers coping with the effects of drought, Donna Juneau of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency encourages those adversely affected by the dry conditions to to contact her agency, which administers a program that may assist them.

Juneau said Monday that she is fielding a growing number of calls.

"I would encourage any farmers that have been impacted by the drought to contact their local Farm Service Agency County Office," she said. "We would very much like to talk to them, learn how they have been impacted by the drought, and provide them with information about our programs."

Juneau said that crop insurance is provided by a sister agency — the Risk Management Agency — but requires farmers to enroll before the growing season begins. In New Hampshire, crop insurance applies to a limited number of crops — applies, field corn, sweet corn and forage, both alfalfa and alfalfa mixes.

All other crops fall under the Farm Service Agency's Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance for losses caused by drought and other natural disasters. These crops include forage or hay, perennial crops (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries), fall seeded crops like garlic and spring seeded crops (carrots, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes and pumpkins).

Juneau stressed that farmers must enroll in the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program in advance of the growing season. For example, those seeking to ensure their forage crop must enroll before Sept. 30 and those insuring their spring seeded annual crops must enroll by March 15.

However, Juneau emphasized there are other forms assistance apart from crop insurance programs. The counties suffering from drought have applied for approval to introduce the Emergency Conservation Program, which provides financial assistance to the owners of orchards, vineyards and livestock to supply water to irrigate crops and water animals. In addition, the Tree Assistance Program provides funds for orchards and nurseries to replace inventory lost to natural disaster. Finally, the Emergency Loan Program proves financing to help farmers recover from lost production caused by drought.

Juneau, who is the county executive director of the Farm Service Agency for Merrimack, Belknap and Hillsborough counties urged anyone with questions to contact her office at 223-6003.

The artist's eye - Laconia's Brent Clarke finds his passion in painting


LACONIA — With many brushstrokes and a vast palette of colors, Brent Clarke takes to the canvas creating abstract portraits of famous artists, musicians and historical figures that aim to catch the viewer's eye.

Inspired by American neo-expressionist artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, Clarke has most recently been working on abstract paintings that depict real images of people, saying he likes the challenge of portraits.

"I have to try and get it right so that people can recognize who it is I have painted," said Clarke. "It's rewarding creating abstract portraits that people can name and understand."

The current abstract style of art has not always been Clarke's area of choice, however, as prior to his senior year of high school he mainly was focused on drawing using charcoal, graphite and colored pencils. It wasn't until he took an art class with Alison Witham at Laconia High School that he began exploring oil painting. Through the end of the semester project, Clark was required to paint rather than draw, which led him to discover he not only enjoys painting but also has a talent for it.

"There are no real rules to follow with expressionist painting other than keeping the general balance, and I found that I really liked that," said Clarke, stating that with acrylic and oil paints, spray paints and gouache there is more room for interpretation and varied strokes.

Noting Clarke's passion for art, his high school teachers helped mentor him through his artwork and provide constructive criticism to help him grow as an artist. Through their guidance, Clarke has acquired various awards, including the Annalee Thorndike Art Award in 2015, which was followed by an art exhibit at The Belknap Mill in Laconia.

After graduating from Laconia High School in 2015, Clarke went on to the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he is pursuing a degree in industrial design. In his free time, Clarke has been working on new paintings, and said he ultimately would like to create a mural that would showcase his style to a large number of people.

Although Clarke is excited to tackle his goals and is proud of his past achievements, he said they could not have been achieved by him alone.

"I want to thank Linda Danielovich, Steven Bouffard, Alison Witham and Larry Frates, because without them I don't think I would have realized that art was something I wanted to do," said Clarke.

Clarke's artwork is on display at Imagine Gallery during the month of August.

08-05 Brent Clarke with artwork

Brent Clarke, a recent Laconia High School grad, displays his painting of Andy Warhol. (Alana Persson/Laconia Daily Sun)

08-05 Brent Clarkes Jimi Hendrix

Brent Clarke rendered this interpretation of Jimi Hendrix. (Courtesy photo)

DWI charged

08-05 Hoyt crash

Belmont police charged Trever Hoyt of Bean Hill Road in Northfield with driving while intoxicated, operating after suspension (subsequent) and conduct after an accident following this crash on Monday. Police were called at 1:54 a.m. in the area of 140 South Road, and found a car that had struck a tree but no driver. Officer Boulanger and K-9 Vito tracked the missing driver through a corn field and into the Tioga River, where they found Hoyt and a passenger hiding under the South Road Bridge. Northfield and Tilton police also assisted. (Courtesy photo)