The Art Place — Foliage art

Submitted by Emily Marsh and Barbara Gibbs of The Art Place

Many people come into the gallery at The Art Place these days and ask about New Hampshire's fall foliage. It's peak color here around Lake Winnipesaukee. Photographer John Geery has brought in new work just in time for the bright colors. Geery originally photographed the dramatic landscapes of Utah and the western United States. He returned to New England and soon fell in love with the quieter scenes and changing seasons. He currently lives in Vermont and captures barns, wooden bridges, hay fields and quiet country roads in his vibrant photographs. Having had a family summer camp in New Hampshire, he also enjoys taking pictures of Lakes Region scenes.

In an interview with John, I asked him if he waited for prime leaf season or "peak season" to go out and capture the foliage. He explained that peak season moves southward, down the state, throughout the fall season. In September, he may travel to northern Vermont to get the brightest photos, but in late October the most dazzling leaves can be found in southern New Hampshire. He said peak season can last a long time if you move with the colors!

But even if the foliage is at its brightest and best, John explained that "it's really about the lighting". The shorter days and longer nights create the kind of lighting that photographers seek out. John looks for photographic opportunities after storms, when the air becomes crisp and clear. He also ventures out when other people are "sleeping or eating," as he puts it. Early morning and around dinner time can have the most beautiful lighting.
We have a fresh inventory of John Geery's work, so this is a wonderful opportunity to stop in and view this artist's vibrant fall photography.


"Reflected Colors" by John Geery

Watercolors lend themselves well to the beautiful colors of the fall. One of our artists, Charlene Lehto, has the bright palette of the season represented in many of her original pieces, as well as in some of her prints. One such print, Bly Farm in Autumn, is of a typical farm stand (Bly Farm is in Wolfeboro on Route 28 going towards Ossipee) with pumpkins for sale and scarecrows for decoration.

 Bly Farm by Charlene Lehto4 1

"Bly Farm" by Charlene Lehto

We also have the lush still life paintings by Jan Croteau still on exhibit through October 22. These paintings show the fruit and vegetables of the harvest in our gallery show titled "Food for Thought."

In the White Mountain School of Art style of the 19th Century, Erik Koeppel and Lauren Sansaricq capture through their oil paintings an untamed wilderness that still exists.

It's a beautiful time of the year to look for art in the Lakes Region — just a drive around the lake itself allows one the opportunity to see how nature makes her own work of art!

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Bob Meade - Political hype . . .

One can't help but be concerned over the pending election. Digging dirt on one's opponent seems to be more desirable than digging for solutions to problems. Every day seems to accelerate the race to the bottom as innuendos and insults flood the news.

The latest is the attention being paid to Donald Trump not paying business taxes over 20 years ago. Once again, we find MIT Professor Gruber's comment to be back in vogue. If you recall, pertaining to Obamacare, the professor said: because of "the stupidity of the American voter," it was important for him and Democrats to hide Obamacare's true costs from the public. He went on to say, "That was really, really critical for the thing to pass". Now we have Secretary Clinton and her minions seemingly relying on that voter "stupidity" to imply that candidate Trump did something nefarious to avoid paying taxes that he should have.

The first thing to note is that Trump, as a business, has paid lots of taxes. His company has paid millions to match the Social Security and Medicare contributions made by his thousands of employees. He also paid millions in property and real estate taxes. In some states, such as New York, he paid school taxes, and county and city taxes, etc.
The next thing to note is that each of us pays taxes based on our "net income," the amount that remains after we subtract authorized deductions from our gross income. A business is no different, as the amount of income that is taxable is what remains after expenses (wages and benefits paid, the cost of goods purchased to make the products to be sold, depreciation on capital assets, etc.) are deducted, thereby arriving at "net income." Obviously, if the total of legitimate expenses exceeds the amount of income, the company has a net loss. And, just as individuals don't pay federal tax if their legitimate deductions are greater than their gross income, neither does a business.

In the case of businesses, a company is allowed to "carry forward" part of their loss to a subsequent year(s) and be deducted from that year's earnings. This provision allows the company the opportunity to earn back the money it lost. If that carry forward provision were not in the tax code, it is likely that the business would file for bankruptcy and close shop. Such an action would cause the employees to lose their jobs and the investors (perhaps some of them managing people's 401K retirement plans) to suffer a total loss. By allowing a company to carry forward the remaining portion of the loss, gives it a chance to recover its losses and its people to retain their livelihood. Just imagine how many new companies would never survive their first year if they couldn't carry forward losses incurred in their start-up. Bottom line . . . the carry forward provision is a logical and fair thing, as the individual or company winds up paying the appropriate tax on what they have earned, not what they lost.

What Secretary Clinton and her minions are promoting is the inference that candidate Trump did something nefarious to avoid paying his "fair share." That is not the case, he acted within the law and the rules and did essentially what every citizen and business does . . . take legitimate deductions from their gross income to arrive at the amount of income that is taxable.

The Clinton campaign will continue to hype this issue, as a way of deflecting attention away from issues such as Benghazi and the tragic loss of four American lives, her use of a private email server and the issues surrounding her failure to protect classified and sensitive government records, and her history of often testifying under oath by repeatedly answering, "I don't recall" to probing questions. The personal attacks against candidate Trump by Secretary Clinton and her team are their effort to make him the issue so they can avoid having her history of diplomatic failures, her gross misconduct in the handling of private government records, and her convenient memory lapses, from being brought to the public's attention.

As a side issue, it appears that former President Clinton underwent a moment of truth and called Obamacare "crazy," while highlighting a number of its failing issues. The next day, Secretary Clinton was in a tough spot trying to find a way to not lose her support from President Obama and to keep peace in her family. She acknowledged that there are things that need to be fixed, changed and replaced.

The acknowledgement of that program's failure should act as an alert to all citizens that it is the fervent desire of politicians on the left to use this failure to promote a "single payer system," Single payer does not sound intimidating or controlling but in reality, it means bringing all health care under government control . . . from choices to decisions on what services you will get and when you will get them.

Medicare has $36 trillion in unfunded liabilities, Social Security $8 trillion, the government-run VA system is riddled with incompetent bureaucratic management, and Obamacare is a failure. The government hasn't earned the right to commandeer what is the finest health care system in the world.

Please, don't let it happen.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident. He may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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Jeanie Forrester - Promises made

In my six years of serving as a state senator serving on the Finance Committee, I've seen financial commitments made by prior legislatures, only to be disregarded by those that followed. My experience has been that these commitments were not broken out of spite or malice, but because of unforeseen financial burdens that the state may be unable or unwilling to bear.

Such is the case with retiree health care.

Currently there 12,000+ state employees who are retired in New Hampshire. Of those retirees, approximately 9,000 are over the age of 65 years and 3,000 are under the age of 65 years. Upon their employment with the state, they were promised health care in retirement.

In the FY16/17 budget, the state employee retiree health care plan was funded with an appropriation of $142,699,754 for those 12,011 retirees. Some time after the budget passed, higher than anticipated pharmacy costs and a reduction in the federal subsidy for the Medicare prescription drug program (due to the Affordable Care Act) resulted in an increase in the cost of retiree health. In addition to a budget appropriation shortfall in the governor's phase of the budget, the retiree health care plan faced a $10.6 million deficit.

Because the budget had passed, the responsibility to address the shortfall fell to the Fiscal Committee, a bi-partisan House and Senate committee of legislators. The Department of Administrative Services was tasked with presenting solutions to the Fiscal Committee to address this immediate deficit.

Legislators and state officials reviewed many options offered by Administrative Services. These options included a range of increased co-pays, increased out-of-pocket costs, and increased contributions. We listened to lobbyists who represented the retirees and we talked directly with retirees that would be impacted by the decision that faced us as a result of $10.6 million deficit.

Rather than place the entire weight of the $10.6 million deficit on retirees, we agreed to a plan that we felt was fiscally responsible and reduced some of the burden on retirees. We did this by using the surplus in the retiree health benefits account to fund some of the cuts that were proposed. To address the balance of the shortfall, prescription drug benefit co-pays and maximum out-of-pocket expenses were increased, and some plan design changes were made to retirees.

The Legislature also learned that in the next budget, according to Administrative Services, retiree health care would increase by approximately $30 million. So, during the second part of the legislative session, several unsuccessful attempts were made to craft legislation that would address the projected $30 million increase in retiree benefits (for FY18/19, the projected total cost of retiree health will be $173,000,000).

The only successful language that moved forward was a requirement for a public hearing for retirees. This public hearing would give retirees the opportunity to learn about proposed changes to retiree benefits and offer them a chance to weigh in.

Last week the Fiscal Committee held that public hearing to learn about the suggested changes to the state retiree group health insurance plan to address the projected $30 million increase. Well over 200 retirees attended and listened to the presentation by the Department of Administrative Services.

Afterwards, retirees were able to voice their thoughts to the Fiscal Committee members. What we heard from retirees is that they want no changes to retiree health. For some, every dollar increase in expenses for health care means a cut somewhere else in their own budget. For others, it was a fairness issue — a promise made should be a promise kept. From their perspective, they were promised health care in retirement, planned for and counted on that commitment, and the state now needs to live up to its obligation.

As legislators, it is important for us to listen to our constituents. They can offer important perspectives and insight into the decisions we make in Concord and how those decisions impact them in their daily lives.

By the end of the hearing, the Fiscal Committee agreed to take no action; but rather let the full Legislature, when it returns in January, to take up the issue of retiree health. It seems that health care costs will surely continue to rise in the future as will the number of state employees entering retirement, and it is critical that New Hampshire come up with a solution.

(Meredith Republican Jeanie Forrester represents District 2 in the N.H. Senate. She is currently chair of the Senate Finance Committee.)

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Lakes Region Hiking — Hedgehog: a small mountain with big views


View from the summit of Hedgehog Mountain, with Mt. Passaconaway in background.

By Gordon DuBois

A few days ago I awoke to find the skies overcast and a steady drizzle predicted to fall all morning. I was planning to hike King Ravine and summit JQ Adams, an "unofficial" 4,000 footer on the side of Mount Adams. The weather forecast did not sound promising, therefore I needed to change my plans. I studied the AMC Guide and map, looking for an interesting hike I could do with Reuben and not deal with inclement weather I would most likely find in the Presidential Range.

I remembered years ago I had hiked a small knob off the Kancamagus Highway called Hedgehog Mountain (2,532 feet). This mountain is not be confused with the Hedgehog Mountain in Wonalancet. Hedgehog is a strange name for a mountain since hedgehogs are not native to New Hampshire or even North America. They can be found in Europe, Asia and Africa, but not here. So how did this mountain get its name? The mountain summit is accessed via the UNH trail, so named because at one time the University of New Hampshire Forestry Camp was located in the vicinity of the mountain. Perhaps some inventive forestry student thought the mountain looked like this ancient (over 15 million years old) spiny animal that's related to the porcupine.

After waiting a couple hours for the weather to clear, I headed up I-93 to the "Kanc." Lincoln was abuzz with leaf peepers, out and about, walking the streets, wandering in and out of the many shops and restaurants lining Main Street. My drive took me over Kancamagus Pass, past turn offs and parking lots filled with tourists admiring the mountain vistas that were beginning the multi-colored show of autumn. The skies had cleared and a bright sun was warming the air. Reuben and I arrived at the trailhead parking lot located opposite that White Mountain National Forest, Passaconaway Campground. When we pulled into the lot we strangely found only two other cars. I assumed that with the many tourists who flock to this area in autumn the lot would be filled with autos and the trail busy with hikers.

I began my hike with Reuben running ahead of me as usual. He was happy to be hiking again, after a long lay-off. We followed the Downs Brook Trail for a short distance and then began our trek along an old railroad bed. We soon came to the junction with the UNH Trail. This is where confusion set in. One trail sign read "UNH Ski Trail" the other "UNH Trail". I was curious to find out where the UNH Ski Trail would take me, so I decided to begin my hike on this trail, thinking it might take me to Hedgehog; wrong idea! The ski trail led me into a large wetland. After hiking for some time I realized the ski trail was taking me away from the mountain, so I turned around and returned to the trail head, where I began. This was an interesting exploratory tramp, but not one I had planned.

After returning to the UNH trail I began an easy climb, following yellow blazes to the beginning of the trail loop. Here I had to make a decision. The trail begins a circuitous route over and around the mountain. By taking the loop to the left I would head in a clockwise direction, gaining elevation to the ledges. I chose to go right heading in a counter clockwise direction. This path would take me to Allen's Ledges and the summit of Hedgehog. The trail began to climb steeply over rock and roots that proved to be slippery after the rainfall. Reuben scampered along while I carefully plodded up the trail, trying to avoid the many wet roots and rocks lining the trail. As the trail gained elevation and continued its way up the mountain I began to notice the yellow blazes on trees were barely visible or even nonexistent. The tread way was well worn, so I knew I was on the trail. I checked my map to ensure that I was still on the trail. I then realized Hedgehog Mountain lies within the Sandwich Range Wilderness. Since this is a federally-designated wilderness area, any man made features including trail signs and blazes are kept at a minimum.

When I reached the summit I found the skies had cleared. The views were astounding. Mount Passaconaway, at 4,048 feet, dominated the sky line to the south. It loomed over me like a giant, watching as I rested and ate my lunch. I shared my sandwich with Reuben and a visiting chipmunk, who rested at my feet waiting for a snack. He scurried back and forth with my discarded peanuts, disappearing and then emerging from the woods looking for more. I wondered if he was storing his food cache for the winter. It's only 70 days before the Winter Solstice arrives. I was reluctant to leave this rock summit, with its magnificent views, but I realized I needed to move on if I was going to make it home for supper.

I continued my trek, by heading down the mountain, continuing in a counter-clockwise direction toward the east ledges. The trail dropped steeply off the rock face of the summit. The blazes were faint and I needed to be cautious to stay on the trail. There were several side paths that may have led to other sections of the mountain. I wondered if any of these were part of an abandoned trail that climbed Mount Passaconaway, up the north side. The trail descended into the forest below the summit and then began to climb moderately via switchbacks to the east facing cliffs. Again, spectacular views to the north and east awaited me. The trail followed the edge of the cliffs. There were no cairns and blazes were very faint on the rocks, so I had to be cautious along this section of the trail. The trail then dipped into the woods, continuing its circuitous route back to the loop junction, where Reuben and I then turned right and made our way back to the parking lot.

This was a great half-day hike of 4.8 miles. It presented a stimulating climb through rich spruce forests and along rock ledges that offer outstanding views of the Sandwich and Presidential Ranges. It is a moderately difficult hike and can be combined with a climb to the summit of Potash Mountain (1,450 feet), for a full day of hiking. Potash lies adjacent to Hedgehog and is climbed via the Downs Brook Trail to the Potash Trail. With the magnificent colors of our northern forest on full display over the next two weeks it would make an ideal hike for the entire family.


trail sign on UNH trail

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E. Scott Cracraft - An open letter to Obama-bashers

Those of you, including Tea Partiers, Christian conservatives, Trumpites, and "angry white men" (and women) who have been bashing President Obama since 2008 and telling lies about him should soon be satisfied. In January, we will have a new president and Obama will be out of office. You should all be ashamed.

For the last eight years, you have engaged in disinformation, misinformation, and lies about our first African-American president. You have called him everything from a socialist to a Marxist to a communist and it is doubtful that many of you even understand what those terms mean.

You keep whining that Obama has not accomplished anything. Actually, his administration has gone a long way in cleaning up the mess left by its predecessor. And, anything that he has not accomplished has been largely due to people like YOU. Obama has reached across the aisle many times only to get his hand bitten.

You perpetuated the lie that he was not born here in spite of the fact that that claim has been thrown out of every court and election board in the country. You told this lie even when it was never brought up in Congress when it ratified the Electoral College's decision and even Senator McCain, who had a lot to gain from this lie, called it a lie. It is sad that now your believe that now that even Donald Trump said he was born here.

Even in the Lakes Region, a former state representative made a fool of himself and embarrassed the state by making thinly-veiled threats to members of the Election Commission over this matter. For those Obama-bashers who claim the name "Christian," I believe that bearing false witness against one's neighbor violates one of the Big Ten.

You attacked his religion. Some of you who claim he is a Muslim extremist were the same people who were attacking his CHRISTIAN pastor! I guess George Orwell would call the "doublethink." Ask yourselves: would a real Muslim extremist host Jewish holiday celebrations for his Jewish staff in the White House?

Then there was Obamacare. Originally, the ACA was supposed to have an affordable public option but Congress let the insurance companies have their way and that was taken out due to politicians in the back pockets of insurance companies and Big Pharma. You confused the issues even more by screaming that there were "death panels" on in the ACA which was compete lie. You also scared a lot of elderly people in the process.

And then you blamed many of our recent tragic shootings on Obama. Many of you said that he was behind it so he could declare martial law and seize your firearms! If Obama was really going to do that, would he not have done it earlier? Of course, you did not understand the constitutional standards required for martial law and, of course, he never did it. But, the gun manufacturers and dealers loved that lie and laughed all the way to the bank!

Still others, while constantly calling Obama a "traitor," have hoped for a military coup to topple Obama. Such an act would actually constitute "treason," according to the Constitution!

Some of you descended so low as to pick on his wife and children. You passed around photo-shopped pictures that made Michelle look ugly or even transgendered. You have even questioned her patriotism.

This writer is sure that to call this "racism" will outrage you but that is what it is. At the very least, it is racial discrimination because you treated our first African-American president much worse than you ever treated a white candidate. So let's just call it what it is: racism.

Many of you did not like Bill Clinton either but none of you ever questioned that he was born in Arkansas. You held Obama to standards you would never expect of a white president just as many of you are now holding Ms. Clinton to standards you would never expect of a male president.

Hopefully (although it is doubtful), you will treat the first female president better than you treated the first African-American president. Shame on you!

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

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