Nordic Tracks: Winter-Spring transitions

March is named for the Roman god of war, Mars. As Vermont's Center for Ecostudies states, "it is a month of battles between warm and cold, between winter's refusal to leave and spring's insistence on coming." I find myself also fighting the battle between wanting the cold and snow to stay so I can ski and snowshoe, and wanting the warm weather to bring on early season cycling. This year, it's especially hard to pick who you want the victor to be. After a disappointing winter, it's easy to say, "Oh, let's be done with winter, get out our bikes and hope spring is better." But a part of me feels cheated and doesn't want to let go of skis I never had because of fickle conditions. Like every other ski area or affiliated employee, the early end of winter also means an end to our seasonal paychecks, so we have a vested interest in winter lasting longer. But, as with all things natural, we don't really have a say- we have to accept what Mother Nature gives us and adjust.
This March is a month of time and seasonal transitions- Daylight Savings Time begins on March 13, Vernal Equinox on March 20, and early Easter on March 27. With those, there's also the weather shift. The sap is flowing and the snow is melting and we're stuck in the middle of the winter-spring tricky transition. One day it snows and is cold, then next, it's sunny and 60 degrees. One day, you can ski, another, you can bike. You have to be flexible and resourceful when you plan your outdoor activities. Be ready with winter and rain gear, and shorts and T-shirts. In any given day, you might need them all.
One late winter/early spring, my husband and I cross country skied in the morning on fabulous "corn" snow- snow with a rough, granular surface caused by alternating thawing and freezing that skiers describe as "good spring snow." It's like skiing in a slushy and lots of fun. In the afternoon, we changed into bike gear for an early spring ride. We prepared for fluctuating temperatures and bright sunshine. Dressed in layers that we could take off when hot and put back on when cold, we were comfortable most of the time. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and baseball caps helped keep us from baking like lobsters. Ample water and snacks kept us hydrated and energized in our winter-spring duathlon.
Adjust, acclimate, adapt- whatever you call it, be ready for whatever comes this month. Keep one foot in winter by trying some spring skiing, while having your other foot ready for pedaling. Take advantage of end-of-season ski equipment and passes deals. Put storage wax on your skis when you're done skiing, and tune-up the bikes. Whatever you do, be ready to switch gears at a moment's notice and take what March brings your way.

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Bob Meade - We can do better. . .

A little earlier today, I watched a news report which showed a group of college students rioting in order to stop an invited guest speaker from speaking. This seems to have become a common occurrence in colleges across the country, especially when the speaker is Republican or deemed to be "right wing." Today's riot was in a California state college, where police had to take the guest speaker out a rear door to avoid possible physical injury from the mob. Recently we have seen similar incidents all across the country. At the University of Missouri, we saw a female professor calling for some "muscle" in order to stop a young news reporter from questioning the participants after a similar riot. And, only a few months ago, an invited guest speaker was shouted down and prevented from speaking at the Ivy League's Brown University in Rhode Island. One has to wonder what is taking place in academia. We have often heard and read professors espousing "critical thinking," but nationally, and to some extent locally, we find an absence of critical thinking . . . it being replaced with "left wing only" rhetoric. We can do better!

The First Amendment provides citizens with the right to free speech. That doesn't mean the speech has to be good. And "free" doesn't necessarily mean it's without consequences. Telling someone on the playground that their mother wears combat boots may earn the speaker a bloody nose. As long as speech is not libelous or slanderous, it's free. If it is either of those, it may be costly to the speaker. Even so, especially during this seemingly never ending political season, we find our politicians hurling invectives at each other, engaging in name calling, and offering crude innuendos about their opponents. We can do better!

Across the aisle, we find candidates working diligently to divide the country, most often by blaming the status of one group for the status of another. People are promised a series of undeliverable rewards, with those rewards to be obtained by taking from those who have achieved some measure of success. Education? Hard work? Merit? Family structure? Those virtues aren't mentioned as dividing and duping the population is more politically important than truth. We can do better!
Political correctness has invaded our society as a substitute for faith and morals. Our president chooses to eliminate funds designated for teaching "abstinence" as part of sex education, but is adamant about retaining over $550 million in annual funding for Planned Parenthood, which is over 42 percent of that organization's annual income. Can it be that abstinence funding is the reason for the slight declines in abortions? Supporters of Planned Parenthood tell us that no federal funding can be used for abortions . . . pure hogwash. Money is "fungible". That means it can be used for purposes other than originally intended. How many people know that Planned Parenthood donated over $1.4 million to the Obama campaign? Or, that its current plan is donate a seven figure sum to the Hillary presidential run? Or, that historically they have contributed substantially to other Democrat candidates? Or, that Planned Parenthood has one of those dreaded political "Super Pacs," mainly supporting Democrats? Part of that "fungible" money received from the government is being given back to selected politicians to buy their support for continued funding of Planned Parenthood. Your tax dollars at work. We can do better!

Our federal government has become dysfunctional. The Constitution which has served us well for over two hundred years is being pushed aside by the Executive Branch. Respect for the other branches of government appears to be nonexistent. Compromise has been removed from the political dictionary as each side digs in its heels with my way or the highway approaches. Hypocrisy abounds. The non-elected bureaucracy issues unchallenged regulations that have the force of law, with some of those regulations essentially killing established businesses and industries, with the result being excessive cost burdens being placed on citizens. Many of those businesses have had to seek redress from the court system and, in doing so, have had to bear the burden of legal costs to fight to overwhelming force of the federal government. All in all, the business community becomes plagued with uncertainty . . . not knowing what the next issue may be that takes away the norm. We can do better!

The vitriol we see on the national scene is often replicated locally, as some choose to demean those with different viewpoints by resorting to name calling and other slanderous remarks. It would be better to make a cogent argument for one's viewpoint than to make an enemy of a person with a different point of view. We can do better!

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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REAL ESTATE - The Inspection

The Inspection

By Roy Sanborn

Having a property inspection is one of the biggest hurdles and a very important step in the home buying process. Buyers often ask whether they really need an inspection and my answer is always yes, yes, and yes, regardless of whether the home is new or 200 years old. Every farmer checks out the horse's teeth before he buys it.

The standard purchase and sale agreement gives you multiple options for inspections; general building inspection, sewage disposal, water quality, radon air quality, radon water quality, lead paint, pests, and hazardous wastes. There are a couple of blank spaces where you can ask for inspections on unexpected things like swimming pools or horse's teeth.

Inspections must be done by "licensed home inspectors or other professionals normally engaged in the business and chosen by and paid for by the buyer." Even though your Uncle Ted has been a handyman all his life, that doesn't qualify him as a home inspector and his opinion might just gum up the inspection process so beware when you invite him to tag along.

The purpose of the inspections is obviously to find out any hidden or undisclosed defects in the property so you don't buy a pig in a poke – here we go with that farmer thing again. For those that don't know, a poke is actually an old English word for a bag or sack. So you don't want to buy a pig that you haven't seen.
Even though the seller has lived in the house for 35 years and has filled out a seller's property disclosure to the best of his ability describing everything he knows about the property and all the repairs he has made, how often he pumps the septic system, and when the last time the furnace was cleaned he may not be aware of certain issues or problems. He may not be like your Uncle Ted and could be ... well, he could be a little clueless. It happens.

So the home inspection is there for you to discover unknown deficiencies, if any, and it gives you the opportunity to get out of purchasing the property if something looks really bad – you know, like you missed that the cracked basement wall that is leaning in a good 6 inches. It also provides the opportunity for the seller to remedy the unsatisfactory conditions either by repairing or replacing that leaking hot water heater or faulty electrical panel. Another option may be to negotiate a reduction in purchase price to offset the estimate repair costs of an item. If everyone is cool, things generally get dealt with and the deal goes forward. Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.

But there are lots of deals that fall apart during the home inspection process. It can happen if there is something that really scares the part of the buyer. It can also be because either the buyer or the seller (or sometime both) become unreasonable. Let's say if a buyer makes a low offer on a home that was just reduced in price because the house needs to be painted, the windows have broken seals, and that hot water tank is leaking. These are obvious or disclosed issues. The seller reluctantly takes the offer but then the buyer tries to get another price reduction over these same issues at the home inspection. Don't be like George Costanza on the Jerry Seinfeld show and try to double dip. The seller will obviously not be very happy and things generally will spiral out of control.

But, sellers should also plan on and expect to give a little if there really is a legitimate issue that comes up. The buyer had no idea that there is mold in the attic because the bathroom exhaust didn't vent outside or the baffle in the septic tank fell off. These are issues that should be compromised on if the seller truly wants to sell and the buyer really likes the home. Give a little and get a little.

So while the home inspection process may be a hurdle, my suggestion would be for any buyer to hire a good local inspection company (your agent will recommend a number of them to you) and go into the process with eyes wide open. Don't ask for known issues to be repaired after you have made your offer and don't give the seller a laundry list of items from burned out light bulbs to minor maintenance issues. You'll be amazed how reasonable a seller will be if you are as well. Then you can dance until the cows come home – just another farmer saying I had to throw in.

There were 767 single-family residential homes for sale as of March 1 in the 12 communities covered by this report. The median price point was $259,900, meaning half of the homes available were under that price and half were over. The current inventory level equals about an eight-month supply of homes on the market.


P​lease feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 3/1/16. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.

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The Lakes Region is a popular page in the world book

By Mary O'Neill, Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group


St. Augustine said, "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." This being true, the Lakes Region is a page that many have chosen to read and liked well enough to read over and over again as they put down roots in the form of a second home. Though most of the second homers are from the Boston area, the Lakes Region draws people from up and down the East Coast, across the country, and from foreign lands.

Findings by the U.S. Census listed New Hampshire third in the nation for percentage of housing used as vacation homes behind Vermont and Maine (StateImpact). There is no question the 273 waterbodies in the Lakes Region contribute to NH's overall rankings. Lake Winnipesaukee was rated the #1 retirement place in the country under the category "leisure living for recreational and cultural opportunities" (MacMillan Travel, 5th edition of Retirement Places Rated).

The percentage of second homes in some of the Lakes Region towns is staggering. Moultonborough leads with 61 percent of total residences being utilized as vacation homes. Hebron on Newfound Lake comes in a close second at 58 percent. Others include Tuftonboro at 53 percent; Bridgewater at 50 percent; Alton at 45 percent; Bristol at 44 percent; Holderness at 38 percent; Meredith, Gilford, and Center Harbor at 36 percent; Wolfeboro at 30 percent; Sanbornton at 24 percent; and Laconia at 23 percent. Understandably, the numbers decline sharply as you move away from the lakes. Northfield and Franklin, for example, have only 2 percent and 5 percent, respectively (Data compiled by Matt Stiles, NPR, based on 2010 US Census).

Many of these second homers chose communities, condominiums, or associations for the benefits of carefree ownership. Here are a few of the variety of options:

South Down Shores and Long Bay: This gated community has 4,000 feet of shoreline on Winnipesaukee, breathtaking beaches, walking trails, and abuts the Laconia Country Club. Pristine lawns, perennial gardens and neat villages lead down to the waterfront. The community offers a home for every type of living, from single-story two-bedroom condos to well-appointed family homes and everything in between.

Nature's View: This attractive newer community is surrounded by 18 acres of conservation land, offers views of Winnipesaukee, and is a short distance to the Laconia Country Club. The homes feature bright airy floor plans with first floor master suites.

Grouse Point: Located in charming Meredith, this carefully planned, luxurious gated community has its own yacht club and striking waterfront amenities on Winnipesaukee. The 82 private acres provide ample room for three sandy beaches, lighted tennis courts, and a 7,000-square-foot clubhouse. The single-family and townhouse-style residences are surrounded by impeccable landscaping, and the extensive shoreline amenities include a dock master's house, 35 boat slips and a mooring field.

Meredith Bay: Excellently situated to take in the views, this 400-acre gated community in Laconia was developed by well-renowned Southworth Development. There are single-family residences, townhomes and garden-style condominiums. Facilities include a beach, marina, day docks, picnic area with wireless access, tennis courts, swimming pools, walking trails, fitness center, cabanas, fire pit, bocce court, and pavilion with beach bar.

Bald Peak Colony: Clustered around beautiful amenities originally designed by eccentric Thomas Plant, who built Castle in the Clouds, this community of private homes is located in Tuftonboro. The amenities consist of a golf course with stunning views of the lakes and mountains, a tennis center, and a beautiful 600-foot private beach and protected docking on Winnipesaukee.

Waldron Bay: Located on 344 acres in Meredith, this group of single-family homes has over 3,400 feet of shoreline along Lake Winnisquam and is surrounded by conservation land. There is a lovely sandy beach, boat slips, clubhouse, and panoramic lake and mountain views.

Johnathan's Landing: This 62-unit condo association is situated on Moultonborough's Long Island and has spectacular views of Winnipesaukee. There are 59 boat slips, two swimming pools, tennis courts and a beach.

Patrician Shores: Located between Meredith and Center Harbor, this community of single-family homes has one of the finest natural sandy beaches on Winnipesaukee. Amenities include boat docks, moorings, canoe/kayak/paddleboat storage and launch, a playing field and a recreation hall. The network of interior roads throughout the community presents an interesting private feel.

Stonewall Village: This small association in Gilford consists of 37 single-family one-level homes with spacious decks and attached two-car garages. Gunstock Recreation Area and the stunning Gilford Town Beach, with 1,800 feet on Winnipesaukee, are close by.

Samoset: This 22-acre community in Gilford is spread out on rolling topography and has 850 feet of prime shorefront on Winnipesaukee. Approximately 130 luxury condo units feature varying floor plans and architectural features. There is an exceptional sandy beach, outdoor pool, clubhouse, tennis courts, roughly 30 boat slips and approximately 40 moorings.

These are just a handful of the numerous options for community living in the Lakes Region. Others include Misty Harbor, Yacht Club Vista, Gunstock Acres, and Dockham Shore Estates in Gilford; Weirs Beach Village, the Lake Houses at Christmas Island, Cedar Lodge, Evergreen Condos, Meredith Bridge, and Village at Winnipesaukee in the Weirs Beach area; and Squam River Landing in Ashland.

The U.S. Census statistics demonstrate not only the Lakes Region's supremacy as a vacation spot, but also that those who visit the area love it enough to makes substantial investments in second homes.

Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith & Laconia, NH and can be reached at (603) 366-6306 and

03-04 Grouse Point 10

Grouse Point is one of the many fine communities in the Lakes Region.


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E. Scott Cracraft - Abstinence-only sex education?

Normally, social and political conservatives would be dancing with joy if a president cut a useless program from the federal budget. Many want to cut funding for Planned Parenthood but seem upset that President Obama has asked that millions of tax dollars to fund "abstinence-only" sex education be cut from the 2017 budget. While Obama should be praised for this, many Republicans in Congress are sure to oppose him.
In many school districts, especially those where religious conservatives control school boards or are otherwise a strong political force, schools take taxpayer dollars for these highly ineffective programs. The "catch" is that they can only teach that total abstinence until marriage is the only way to prevent pregnancy or sexually-transmitted diseases.
As is common among many social conservatives, the pro-abstinence people engage in half-truths. Sure, abstinence IS a sure-fire way to avoid these consequences but what if the students are going to have sex anyway? Should they not be taught how to protect themselves?
Abstinence-only sex ed is not only a failure but is based on the totally preposterous notion that if adults, especially teachers, tell teenagers over and over not to do something they will simply not do it! Also, when kids are given misinformation or disinformation about a given behavior and find out the adults were being less than honest, they are less likely to take adults seriously.
Such programs often include Christian guest speakers who stay "just on the line" of violating the separation of church and state. These speakers are even employed in schools which teach a comprehensive sex ed program.
Such sex "educators" often engage in a great deal of misinformation, such as the idea that teens can get pregnant through two layers of clothing. Or they are given misinformation about the efficacy of birth control when most modern methods of contraception are usually highly effective if used properly. Of course, these programs will not mention abortion or include youth who may be gay, lesbian, or transgendered except, perhaps, in a negative light.
Again, they engage in half-truths. Sure, there is always the possibility that contraception will fail but these speakers exaggerate the proven scientific facts.
These programs also engage in a great deal of "slut-shaming," which is mostly directed at girls. They are told that unless they are virgins until they are married, "no man will want them." What about the behavior of the boys?
In areas of the country where this model is the norm, local conservative churches pressure teens to sign "purity pledges." Studies show that that many kids who have had abstinence-only sex ed do honor these pledges, at least for awhile. When an if they do break them, however, they are more likely to engage in unprotected sex. Or, they engage in sexual behavior short of vaginal intercourse thinking that this maintains their "virginity." Predictably, schools employing the abstinence-only model often have much higher rates of teen pregnancy and STD infection.
Should abstinence be taught in public school sex ed classes? Of course, it should but only as a viable option. Many teens are not ready for the emotional impact of an intimate relationship. But, it should not be the only option.
Students need comprehensive sex ed. They need to be taught the plethora of options when it comes to sexual behavior. They need to be taught about contraception, STDs, sexual orientation, and scientific, medical facts about puberty, sexuality and their changing bodies. They should also be taught respect for others and themselves when it comes to sex.
As with drug and alcohol education, kids need to be taught the truth, not what some adults would like them to believe. And, since many teens are going to experiment with sex anyway, it is important that they have reliable information about puberty, sexuality, contraception, sexual and dating violence, and how to protect themselves from sexually-transmitted diseases.
Parents still have the right to teach their children sexual mores. So do churches. But, to use taxpayer dollars to fund what is blatantly a narrow religious agenda not only violates the doctrine of Separation of Church and State but also puts teenagers at risk.

(Scott Cracraft is a citizen, taxpayer, veteran and a resident of Gilford.)

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