We've been seeing a growing population of young professionals and entrepreneurs in the Lakes Region creating a new pulse of enthusiasm, which is exciting! Ben Wilson is one of these individuals. He is a good friend of my son Chris and I've followed Ben since he moved to the Lakes Region. He is a great example of the new hardworking talent that comes into our area, adding to the vitality of our region.
Ben, I knew you moved from a different region. Where were you from, originally?
"I grew up in Alvin Texas, a small country town outside of Houston, roughly the same size as Laconia. There were two seasons, hot and humid and most of our fun was found through riding horses or cooling off at a local river. After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin, I found that I wanted to branch out and see different parts of the country."
So where did you head next?
"After a back packing trip out to the high sierras in California, I decided I would call Murrieta, California my base for the next three years. It was during this time that I realized that no matter how hard I tried, California never felt like home. After visiting friends in N.H., I decided that New England seemed like a great place to hang my hat. Initially I started out in Portland, Maine. I liked the small city feel, and easy commute to the ocean, but still craved something a little more country. It was not until I made it to Laconia, surrounded by the beautiful lakes, that I truly felt at home."
What was it that drew you to this area?
"It was more like what didn't draw me, as I was blown away with how nice this area was. Everyone I met was incredibly welcoming and it was easy to integrate into the community. I loved the four seasons and the lake culture. After growing up in the hot Texas sun, not having to worry about sunstroke was a huge added bonus."
How has the business community treated you here?
"Here in Laconia I found things to be alive and well. There is a thriving business community, unlike older communities in New England; it has a burgeoning population of younger professionals who are working hard to make the community even greater. I find it very easy to interact with so many people in the Lakes Region. Everyone is so approachable, and from my business that's the key to establishing a solid reputation in my profession. Additionally there are many second home owners which provide an added population boost and economic diversity."
I know you're passionate about your profession, how is your career going?
"Right now, I oversee an Edward Jones office in Laconia that specializes in financial planning. I am an Accredited Asset Management Specialist, and I recently expanded the operation to a new location at 386 Union Avenue in Laconia, N.H. Our new office facility is brand new and has great visibility with a strong traffic count. I'm really looking forward to servicing all our clients in this new convenient location. I absolutely love my profession; where we're able to help so many people in so many ways to establish a solid financial plan for their families. The Lakes Region is the perfect environment for my future endeavors."
How has your personal life adjusted?
"I feel so fortunate that I've found such a perfect, four-season location to enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle. When I met Chris Roche I was searching for a home and able to look at a lot of different locations to live and he finally found a perfect spot for me on Paugus Bay of Lake Winnipesaukee. Since I've purchased the home I've been enjoying remodeling and absolutely love my new home. I've recently became engaged and I have so much to look forward to. I see myself living and working in Laconia for a long time and hopefully one day retiring here. So many people work their entire lives just to have a weekend up on the lake, I feel blessed that my life and career allow me to live in a place such as this."
Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group, Inc. in Meredith & Laconia, NH and can be reached at (603) 279-7046
Last Updated on Friday, 07 August 2015 09:15
Earlier this year, music legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard teamed up to make a pro-marijuana video titled "It's All Going to Pot."
And, apparently they were right, for I've now learned that even the state fair is going to pot — literally. A press release from the organizers of the D.C. State Fair exclaims: "It's true! For the first time ever, we're hosting a new contest for local cannabis growers to show off their plants' finest buds." They're not just blowing smoke, for it turns out that Washington, D.C., voters passed a referendum in November to legalize marijuana — even to allow locals to grow up to six plants at their residences.
With the nationwide renaissance in urban agriculture, why not invite the proud cultivators of the happy weed to show off the finest produce from their pot plots? After all, state fairs already have contests for the best ice cream, pickles, homebrew, compost, flower arrangements, crafts and such — so it's not a stretch to see who can win the Marijuana Bud Blue Ribbon. The buds are to be judged on characteristics such as appearance, smell and stickiness, but not such consumer-satisfaction qualities as "duration of high" or "development of mellowness". In fact, contrary to the judging of the Tastiest Tomato category, the entry form for the Best Bud Contest specifies rather sternly that judges "will not sample or consume your submission." That's probably smart, since the whole panel of judges could dissolve into uncontrollable giggles halfway through the sampling.
From the demonization of marijuana to legalization and now to celebration — it's a trajectory of progress that reflects some mellowing in society itself. As the D.C. State Fair people put it, "Now that it's legal, we wanted a way to highlight this new freedom while also showing off the agricultural talents of the district's people."
And with marijuana prohibition finally ending in states and cities across the land — including full legalization and/or commercialization not just in Washington, D.C., but also Alaska, Colorado, Washington State and Oregon — who better than our friend Willie Nelson to lead the way for weed quality and social responsibility?
The iconic musician and intrepid fighter for justice has announced that he will market his own marijuana brand, "Willie's Reserve," and open a group of stores selling top-quality pot and paraphernalia.
"I feel like I was buying so much of it, it's time to start selling it back!" Willie excitedly said of his new weed venture. "I am looking forward to working with the best growers in Colorado and Washington to make sure our product is the best on the market." A tireless champion of small farmers, civil liberties, the environment, common sense and the common good, he plans to start rolling out his stores and products (including hemp goods) this year, and he'll expand further as states' laws allow. In the typical Willie way, the stores will be "the anti-Walmart model," with a core purpose of helping expand the market for small, energy-efficient, environmentally sound growers.
Over the years I have cited Willie's work in calling for legalization and restoration of hemp farming in America. I've also called repeatedly for an end to the Orwellian, Kafkaesque drug war that has criminalized the cannabis equivalent of cocktail hour — 750,000 people are arrested each year for marijuana-related offenses.
And now, I salute the innumerable grassroots activists who've steadily pushed America from the darkness of marijuana madness to being able to light up a "Willie" without getting busted! So to Willie, Merle, the DC State Fair and all the longtime champions of this struggle for normality, "This bud's for you!" Find out more about marijuana legalization at the Marijuana Policy Project (mpp.org) and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (norml.org).
(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)
Last Updated on Friday, 07 August 2015 06:23
In his desperation to sink the Iran nuclear deal, Bibi Netanyahu is taking a hellish gamble.
Israel depends upon the United States for $3 billion a year in military aid and diplomatic cover in forums where she is often treated like a pariah state. Israel has also been the beneficiary of almost all the U.S. vetoes in the Security Council. America is indispensable to Israel. The reverse is not true.
Yet, without telling the White House, Bibi had his U.S. ambassador arrange for him to address a joint session of Congress in March — to rip up the president's Iran nuclear deal before it was even completed.
The day the deal was signed, using what The Washington Post calls "stark apocalyptic language", Bibi accused John Kerry of giving the mullahs a "sure path to a nuclear weapon" and a "cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars ... to pursue its aggression and terror."
Bibi has since inspired and led the campaign to get Congress to kill the deal, the altarpiece of the Obama presidency.
Israel Ambassador Ron Dermer, a former Republican operative now cast in the role of "Citizen Genet," has intensively lobbied the Hill to get Congress to pass a resolution of rejection. If that resolution passes, as it appears it will, Obama will veto it.
Then Israel, the Israeli lobby AIPAC, and all its allies and auxiliaries in the think tanks and on op-ed pages will conduct a full-court press to have Congress override the Obama veto and kill his nuclear deal.
Has Bibi, have the Israelis, considered what would happen should they succeed? Certainly, there would be rejoicing in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and Bibi would be crowned King of Capitol Hill. But they will have humiliated an American president by crushing him by two-to-one in his own legislature. Such a defeat could break the Obama presidency and force the resignation of John Kerry, who would have become a laughing stock in international forums.
The message would go out to the world. In any clash between the United States and Israel over U.S. policy in the Middle East, bet on Bibi. Bet on Israel. America is Israel's poodle now.
With the Gulf nations having joined Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia in backing the deal, Israel is isolated in its opposition. And, two weeks ago, Kerry warned that if Congress rejects the deal, "Israel could end up being more isolated and more blamed." Hardly an outrageous remark.
Yet, Israel's ex-ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, fairly dripped condescension and contempt in his retort: "The threat of the secretary of state who, in the past, warned that Israel was in danger of being an apartheid state, cannot deter us from fulfilling our national duty to oppose this dangerous deal."
But this is not Israel's deal. It is our deal, and our decision. And Israel is massively interfering in our internal affairs to scuttle a deal the president believes is in the vital interests of the United States.
When the U.S. and Israel disagree over U.S. policy in the Mideast, who decides for America? Them or us?
Why does Barack Obama take this? Why does John Kerry take this?
One can only imagine what President Eisenhower would have done had he seen Bibi at the rostrum of the U.S. House of Representatives, ripping apart his Middle East policy. Or had Ike learned that an Israeli ambassador was working the halls of Congress to kill an arms deal he and John Foster Dulles had just negotiated.
Lest we forget, Ike told his wartime colleague, Prime Minister Anthony Eden, to get his army out of Suez or he would sink the British pound. Ike then told Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to get his army out of Sinai or face U.S. economic reprisals.
Eden and Ben-Gurion did as they were told.
That was an America respected by friend and foe alike.
When Harry Truman felt that Gen. Douglas MacArthur had been insubordinate in resisting presidential restrictions on his actions in Korea, Truman fired the general and astounded the nation. Yet this president and John Kerry have been wimpishly seeking for weeks to placate Netanyahu. And Bibi is no Douglas MacArthur.
Time to stop acting like wusses. The president should declare Dermer persona non grata and send him packing, then tell the Israeli government we will discuss a new arms package when you have a prime minister who understands that no nation interferes in the internal affairs of the United States. None.
That could bring Bibi's government, with its single-vote majority, crashing down. And why not? After all, Bibi was a virtual surrogate for Mitt Romney when Mitt was trying to bring down Obama.
Obama and Kerry are never running again. Deep down, they would surely relish taking Bibi down. And they could do it.
Deal or no deal, it is time America started acted like America again.
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)
Last Updated on Friday, 07 August 2015 02:01
What should you look for if you happen to be one of those dedicated Americans who watches "primary" debates? For sheer entertainment value, of course, everyone will be watching "The Donald". His just showing up should help raise the ratings meter even as it lowers the gravitas quotient, which would be hard to maintain anyway, given the crowd.
So what do you do when the average time you're going to be able to talk is measured in minutes (or seconds) and you're just another reasonable conservative white male whose name is not Bush or Trump? No one is going to remember your name afterward. This simply won't do.
Thus the perennial preoccupation with "stunts" — those moments in debates, usually more anticipated than you think, when someone gets off a punch. Someone sits down and says, "I am paying for this microphone" (Ronald Reagan). Or someone turns to his opponent and says, "Where's the beef?" Or of course there's Lloyd Bentsen's "I knew Jack Kennedy" line, which was not exactly a stunt, but an idea that came up in debate prep and Bentsen kept in his back pocket, just in case Dan Quayle mentioned Kennedy.
The truth is that not many people actually watch political debates, certainly not the whole thing. What they watch, or hear about, are the clips that make the late shows or the talk shows: "the moments". These moments can actually be quite awful (Gov. Rick Perry hopelessly trying to remember what the three departments were that he wanted to cut) or just plain funny (Cain's 9-9-9). Debates are opportunities, but they can also be sinkholes, as any candidate who has made a bad mistake in a debate will tell you.
Usually you win a debate by being as aggressive as you can. It's not that being aggressive is inherently attractive, but there's heat and light, which is enough for debates. The trick in the Republican debate is to determine whom to attack. The Donald can attack everyone and anyone, because nothing will really start counting until after this debate, when the press finally starts treating him like a real candidate (i.e., investigates him down to his boxer shorts, with all the messy details of money lost and promises broken, eventually pushing him to lose his temper and lose his support). Just my prediction.
But in the meantime, The Donald has something most of the other candidates don't have. Supporters. And while you may want to appeal to the grown-ups (or so they call themselves) in the Republican party by taking on the Donald for cheapening up this whole race and not taking the defeat of Hillary Clinton seriously enough, the one thing you don't want to do is alienate his supporters. These are people who care enough about politics (or are just so bored) that they go to political events in August, and who most likely won't end up actually voting for The Donald.
So do you try to cozy up to Trump and say stupid things like, "Every one of us on this stage is more qualified to be president than Hillary Clinton"? Or do you do what Trump himself would do, which is to call out the imposter who has no business on the stage, and tell him to stop playing ego games with our democracy. Trump would do it. That's why he's popular. But I don't expect many of the others will have the nerve.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 August 2015 05:55
On April 2, 2015 a good friend of mine lost her 21-year old son to a heroin overdose. A few days ago she sent me an e-mail and asked that I look at her facebook page. This is what she posted:
"To the NH Legislature:
Allow me to speak in the vernacular you understand.
First let me remind you the definition of a constituent. Any one of the people who live and vote in an area.
If I knew that my constituents wanted a healthy budget;
And if I knew that my constituents in my community continue to die due to the current drug epidemic;
And if I knew that my constituents with mental health issues were not receiving the help they need;
And if I knew that many other programs, important to my constituents, were not being funded due to a single person's opinion that the budget passed was not what that single person wanted and vetoed it;
Then I would need to uphold my duty to my constituents and override the budget veto on September 16th."
The budget the governor vetoed included a 75 percent increase in funding for prevention, treatment and recovery efforts, a total of $42 million to fight the substance abuse epidemic facing New Hampshire.
The budget the governor vetoed also included full funding of the mental health settlement and the necessary funds to expand bed capacity at New Hampshire Hospital.
Because of the governor's veto, the state is in a holding pattern on many important issues — the substance abuse epidemic being one. Because of this, I question her commitment to this crisis. We know that back in August 2014 the governor declared a state of emergency because 40 people overdosed on synthetic cannabinoid (aka "Spice"). Also in 2014 there were 321 drug-related deaths, 97 from heroin overdoses alone. In 2015, by all accounts we are headed on the same trajectory. Where is the sense of urgency? Shouldn't this be considered a state of emergency too?
I also question the governor's sincerity in advocating for our most vulnerable citizens based on her actions during and after the budget process. She attempted to raid money dedicated to nursing homes and the home health agencies like Granite State Independent Living and visiting nurses. Fortunately — working with the House — we restored funding to the nursing homes and provided a 5 percent increase in rates to home health providers — the first since 2006. Now these agencies won't receive their rate increase for at least six months.
Crotched Mountain Hospital, which serves individuals with disabilities, was in critical need of increased funding. Although we provided that funding, they will have to wait too. The governor also cut funding to community health centers, like Mid-State Health (Plymouth & Bristol) and Ammonoosuc Community Health Services (Warren & Woodsville). During the budget negotiations, she did not list them as a priority in restoration of funding.
Finally, I question the governor's sincerity in wanting to work together towards a budget we can agree to and pass.
As an example, Governor Hassan's recent proposal at a compromise budget was delivered via a press conference rather than with budget writers in the House and Senate. The action was disappointing and poorly conceived.
Her recent proposal increases spending by $100 million and adds $100 million in new taxes and revenues. In an about-face from her previous position, the governor now proposes a more aggressive business tax cut in a shorter time period. In order to pay for the more costly tax cut, she wants to increase taxes on drivers, smokers, and small businesses.
We have met regularly with the governor's office and will continue to do so. But it appears that, much like in the last session when the governor would not work with us on a New Hampshire solution for Medicaid expansion, it will take legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle in both houses to move the state forward once again.
The Legislature has its priorities right. We made substance abuse, mental health, and our most vulnerable citizens a priority. We provided tax relief to New Hampshire's private sector employers with a very modest tax cut spread over three budget cycles. We balanced the budget and rebuilt the Rainy Day Fund without raising taxes. As a reminder, the House budget proposed a 3 percent spending increase over the FY14/15 budget. The governor's proposed increase was 7 percent; and the Senate's was 5 percent.
We delivered a fiscally responsible, conservative and compassionate budget.
On September 16th the Legislature will return to the Statehouse to vote on the Governor's veto of the FY16/17 budget. My hope is that we will come together and override the veto. My fear is that if we don't, people and programs will continue to suffer.
(Meredith Republican Jeane Forrester represents District 2 in the N.H. Senate.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00