Dubois — It's time for mountain biking!

Put those skis and snow shoes in the closet and start to think spring. Get your mountain bike out of storage – or buy one – tune it up and hit the trails. As the weather warms and the snow and mud disappear from the trails it's time to jump on your mountain bike and head out on a new adventure. Now is the time to think about a ride on the many mountain bike trails scattered throughout the Lakes Region. I'm fortunate in that I have abandoned logging and Class VI roads near my home, so I can take advantage of the opportunities these offer by just riding out of my driveway and down the road. However, there are many well marked and maintained mountain bike trails in the area such as the Northern Rail Trail that runs from Boscawen to Lebanon, Ahern State Park on the former State School property in Laconia, Ellacoya State Park in Gilford, Franklin Falls in Franklin, Highland Mountain Park in Tilton, and Page Pond Conservation Forest in Meredith. There are also many others located throughout the state. One of the most popular of these is Bear Brook State Park.

As I began to think about spring riding I recalled two rides I had this past December, before winter weather hit: Ramblin' Vewe Farm on Morrill Street in Gilford and the Meredith Community Forest on Jenness Hill Road in Meredith. Both areas provide moderate challenges, yet the terrain is negotiable with a little effort.

According to its website, "The Ramblin' Vewe Farm Trust is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to protect and preserve Ramblin' Vewe Farm, conserve the heritage of working farms and rural landscapes, foster educational and recreational activities and create trails to connect people, communities and the land." The farm has been in operation since 1987 and maintains a flock registered purebred sheep. 245 acres of the property have been set aside for forestry and recreation. This tract of woodlands has an extensive trail system that can be used for walking, skiing, snow shoeing and mountain biking. There is even a store on the property to purchase meat, eggs, vegetables and other locally raised products.

On a clear, crisp, late fall day Reuben and I drove to the trail head and met up with a couple of friends, Steve and Bob, for a morning ride. It was my first time biking at Ramblin' Vewe, so I was anxious to explore as many of the trails as possible. The trail system has both double track and single track trails that provide a variety of challenging terrain. We mostly followed the double track system, but did veer off occasionally onto the single track trails. The trail system winds its way over old stone walls, past ancient abandoned farm equipment, and even along the hillside that once was used for downhill skiing. The rope tow system made up of wheel hubs and an old car engine are still visible along the trail. There are also other old farm artifacts scattered along the trail that remind us that this land was once cleared and farmed as pasture. From a high point there is a scenic view that overlooks the farm and the hills beyond. It was a delightful day, riding with friends and acquainting myself with this wonderful recreational resource.

Since my appetite was whetted by the ride at Ramblin' Vewe Farm, I was anxious to get on my bike again, for another ride, sensing that snow would be on the ground very soon. A few days later, along with Steve, we headed off to another trail system closer to home, The Meredith Community Forest. This is one of four forested recreation areas in Meredith that are managed by the Meredith Conservation Commission. The day was mild, but wet, as a rain storm the day before had pelted the area. The trails were wet and muddy and layers of leaves covered the ground. The route we selected, blazed red, ran over varied terrain of hills and marshes and we were provided with a ride filled with thrills and spills. From the parking lot we followed an old tote road that plunged into the forest and through an area dominated by marsh and wet lands. Reuben, as always, found a beaver pond where he could swim and came out a changed color: going from yellow to a muddy black. We continued to follow the red trail, heading north to higher and dryer terrain. We gradually made our way onto a single track trail that had Steve and me huffing and puffing up a hill, sometimes having to walk our bikes. Reuben of course just pranced alongside, urging us ahead, and wondering why we were so slow. We made our way back to the parking lot along a series of trails that are also used by snow mobiles and cross country skiers in winter. The trail system is well marked and at the parking lot is a trail map located on the kiosk.

I look forward to pulling my bike out of storage this week and getting it tuned up for another round of rides over the next several months. As you begin to plan your first ride, remember to pull your helmet out of storage also. Never ride without head protection. Always be prepared for weather changes, carry extra clothing, water, insect repellent, and repair kit. Bike safely and enjoy the many trails in the Lakes Region that await you.

 

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Gordon DuBois and Bob Manley at trail head of R.V. Farm

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Mike Persson - What do we want Laconia to become and how do we get there?

The 2016-2017 city budget process is in full swing and it is clear to most people that our city faces a budget crisis. The recently approved School District budget to be submitted to the City Council represents over $1.64 million in reductions from existing programs and no money to fund new programs aimed at implementing the district's strategic plan. The city side of the budget, including police, public works, fire, and other city departments, also face substantial budget pressures. Laconia faces difficult choices in the coming months and the decisions that are made are going to have long lasting impacts on the future of our city. As the City Council prepares to make these important decisions, it is my hope that the council members and the city at large ask two important questions. What is it that we want Laconia to become and how do we get there?

Over the past few weeks, I have noted that fingers have been pointed in many directions seeking to place blame for the budget situation that the city now faces. Some point to the increase in low-income housing that the city has been experiencing as the reason for our problems. Others point to government out-of-control and unfunded mandates from the federal and state governments that have resulted in excessive spending by both the city and the schools. Others, myself included, point the structure of the tax cap as an impediment to our investing in the city's future. Still others maintain that there is no crisis and point to the School Board for somehow manufacturing this situation. Ironically, none of the finger pointers is addressing the fundamental issue, which is how we deal with the situation that we now face.

I recently had a conversation with my best friend, who is an executive at a large local employer and a staunch conservative who favors limited government. I told him about the results of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of Laconia students, which indicated that almost half of our students have lived with someone with alcohol or drug problem, nearly one in five had a family member in jail, and more than one in five were dealing with domestic violence at home. He was extremely surprised and concerned about these results and commented on the fact that the new executives that his company has hired have chosen to purchase homes in other towns rather than in Laconia due to their negative perceptions of Laconia as a place to raise their children. We then discussed the impacts of the budget crisis, the impact of an override of the current tax cap on future budgets, and my belief that the override provision needs to be amended in order to prevent this from being an annual occurrence. He commented that Laconia's issues will take 10 years to address and then said something that I never expected to hear. He said "I would be willing to spend more money in taxes to invest in the future of this city if I knew what the city wanted to become, I understood what obstacles were keeping us from getting there, I believed that the city had a workable plan for overcoming those obstacles, and I knew that the money would be spent towards implementing its plan."

My friend's statement had a profound impact on my thinking about this issue. After much thought, I developed the following vision of what I would like Laconia to be in 10 years:

Laconia is a vibrant, growing and economically diverse community with a strong middle class population. Laconia's citizens are invested in their community and are proud to tell others that they live in Laconia. Laconia is viewed by the business community as an attractive place to do business. Finally, Laconia is known as a community that thoughtfully plans for the future, has a growing tax base and shrinking tax rate, and consistently provides a superior level of city services to its residents.

Other people are sure to have other visions. Further, there is sure to be disagreement about how we would achieve any such a vision. However, if we do not open a dialogue over the direction of the city, work together to develop and prioritize goals, and agree on what actions need to be taken to ensure that the city gets to where we want it to go, we will be unconsciously deciding upon a course of action that may or may not obtain the results that most people want.

The City Council, School Board and so many of our citizens share at least one thing in common. We all love the city of Laconia. We may not always agree on what that city should look like in the future or how to we should get there, but we all can agree that we want what is best for our city. We will never get anywhere if people continue to sit in their camps and point fingers elsewhere. We will only get there by coming together to openly and honestly discuss what is important to the city's future, determine what we need to do to fix the issues that we face, and figure out how we invest in those actions in order to ensure that we are successful.

Our city is at a crossroads and we can choose to focus solely on this year's budget cycle or to think about our future and plan for it. The City Council has been forward thinking in the past and has demonstrated their willingness to invest in our future by supporting such things as the Laconia Police Department's PET Officer, needed improvements to city facilities, and the financing of the purchase and redevelopment of the Colonial Theater, to name just a few. I am hopeful that the council will continue this trend and look forward to working with them to plan for Laconia's future. I believe in the wisdom of the old saying that "those who fail to plan are planning to fail". In my opinion, our city's future is too important to be left to chance.

(Attorney Michael Persson is a member of the Laconia School Board.)

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Susan Estrich - Why superdelegates count

Every time I see a tally of the delegate race that excludes so-called "superdelegates," I have to laugh. "Of course they count," I want to scream at The New York Times, which otherwise offers a flawless tally. That's precisely why I, and a minority of others, fought so hard against the introduction of superdelegates. Now I've been fortunate to live long enough to finally see them do what they are supposed to: Keep the party from driving off a cliff. And yet, no one wants to count them. What did we do wrong?

Let's start with the numbers. Those are clear. The Democrats have a nominee. With more than half the delegates already selected, Hillary Clinton is leading Bernie Sanders by more than 700 delegates — 1,690 to 946. For him to close the gap, he basically has to wipe her out everywhere, which isn't happening.

"But wait," you say. "You've included the superdelegates in your tally. They haven't all picked their candidate." For the record, 583 of the approximately 700 automatic delegates — automatic because they are elected officials or members of the Democratic National Committee (which, by the way, makes these rules) — have already declared their preferences. And that's not even mentioning the imbalance among pledged delegates. The insiders are for Clinton, by a vote of 467 to 26.

Wipeout. Just what is supposed to happen. Lest those pesky Democratic grass-roots activists and loser-lover types be inclined to drive the party over a leftward-hanging cliff, the establishment is supposed to step in to ensure that we nominate the electable candidate.

This is precisely why I was against superdelegates. It's why I (thank you to the late Bill Safire for figuring this out) was actually the one to coin the term "superdelegates," a term meant to oppose the creation of just such a powerful voting bloc of white men. Or that's what I said in The Washington Post, as I recall. It was also true, I can say in retrospect, that I took that position because I was inclined to leftward-hanging cliffs and figured the so-called "superdelegates" would be putting the brakes on my candidates.

How time changes things. The superdelegates were slow to move in 2008, notwithstanding Clinton's establishment roots, because Barack Obama's surprisingly broad appeal left Democrats who need to win for a living moving cautiously, so as not to get ahead of their constituents. For fear of offending one group or another, they stayed neutral, at least until their states voted.

This time, the superdelegates moved early and gave Clinton a huge margin of error. In the end, she won't need it, but the end looks both closer and more inevitable when you do the numbers to include the 467-26 margin among unpledged delegates.

It's ironic, to say the least, to watch Republicans, whose system was supposed to allow a winning candidate to consolidate his gain with big winner-take-all primaries, now struggling to put the brakes on a runaway train, and with no big blocs of delegates to do it.

And the Democrats? I'm afraid to say it, but we grew up. I remember what it was like to be on the trail in 1980 for Ted Kennedy, when we didn't have a chance of the nomination. We had those same kinds of pesky numbers, but we were fighting for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, and I don't think I've ever had a better time in politics in my life — except that we lost. And then Democrats lost in the general election. And the next one. And the next one.

And by the time Bill Clinton came around — who happened to be part of what I fondly termed the "little white boys caucus," which supported superdelegates — Democrats had lost enough to understand that the purpose of the nomination process was to pick a candidate who might win, rather than define the heart and soul of the party. That is why we have superdelegates, and why they most assuredly do count.

(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.)

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Suissevale: A family-friendly community on Lake Winnipesaukee

By Frank Roche, President, Roche Realty Group, Inc.

 

When you navigate the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, there's 71 square miles of water and 274 islands to meander through, and on the northeastern shores of the lake there's an interesting four-season community that offers so many recreational opportunities for families to enjoy. Suissevale is one of the largest lakefront communities on the "Big Lake." This established year-round community includes over 600 acres of land located in Moultonborough. The developer of Gunstock Acres in Gilford, George Katter, was also instrumental in the development of Suissevale. Today, this active second-home community includes over 400 single-family homes and it's another example of so many fine communities and choices for prospective buyers which are located in New Hampshire's Lakes Region.
The majority of residents are vacation home owners; however, many couples who started with a vacation home have now made it their permanent semi-retirement home. There are approximately 72 full-time residents during the winter months at Suissevale. This sounds about right when you consider that Moultonborough leads the Lakes Region with 61 percent of its total residences being utilized as vacation homes. That's a pretty high percentage.

I know that Hebron on Newfound Lake comes in a close second at 58 percent. This is due to the fact that Moultonborough is blessed with approximately 66 miles of shorefront within the town – a pretty amazing fact when you compare it to New Hampshire's entire coastline, which includes only 18 miles. That's a lot of water, and it translates into a lot of second homes. So many families want to experience New Hampshire's largest lake, and Suissevale is a great choice for that endeavor.

The community enjoys 2,500 feet of shorefront and features enormous sandy beaches for all of its members to experience. The community also features a large marina with individual boat slips and a boat launch. The boat slips are not deeded and members register on a waiting list.

There are approximately six or seven slips that become available each year. A fee of approximately $1,000 each year is charged for a boat slip rental. Additionally, there are canoe and kayak racks, tennis courts, community clubhouse, barbecue areas, gazebo, children's playgrounds, and a snow-coasting hill for the children during the winter months. Suissevale is a very family-friendly community with a multitude of activities for everyone to enjoy.
The development features a community water system with individual septic systems. Throughout the 600+ acres of land there are over 26 miles of private roads contained within the community. This would be an amazing feat to complete at today's costs, and imagine trying to find today 2,500 feet of tranquil shorefront on Lake Winnipesaukee with a beautiful westerly facing shoreline. Another factor contributing to Moultonborough's desirability is its low tax rate, at $9.01 per $1,000. Additionally, the annual dues for a single-family home on its own lot is only $950 per year. This is bargain when you consider how many fine amenities you are getting in return on Lake Winnipesaukee.
I've pulled together an analysis of sales within Suissevale comparing 12 months ending 2015 versus 2014. Also included in this breakdown are the current active listings which are offered as of March 25, 2016. Over the years, we've seen a surge of sales activity in communities similar to Suissevale. It offers a wonderful alternative to owning a waterfront home because of the lower entry-level price points for a water access community with boat slips versus a single-family home on its own lot on the lake. Additionally, we find that many families with children enjoy the "community atmosphere" of a planned community because their children are able to meet and interact with other children and the adult members of the family are able to socialize with other members in the community. At Suissevale, all property owners can enjoy those lasting memories of great summers on the lake and an occasional drop down the sledding hill in the winter months, along with all the skiing and sports activities to enjoy each season.
So there you have it, a thumbnail sketch of Suissevale in Moultonborough. Take a look on Google.com and search "Purchase property at Suissevale on Lake Winnipesaukee" – RocheRealty.com will pop up on top and direct you to the Suissevale community page on our website showing all available properties for sale.
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 in Meredith and Laconia, NH, and can be reached at (603) 279-7046. Data complied on 03/25/2016 and is subject to change. Google and the Google Logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

***Caption for the graph: Suissevale sales statistics and current inventory.

03-26 Suissevale beach
One of Suissevale's beaches. (Courtesy Photo)

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03-26 Suissevale marina
Suissevale's on-site marina. (Courtesy Photo)

03-25 Suissevale marina.jpg

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Bob Meade - You be the judge. . .

Quite a bit of press coverage has been given to the arrest by federal authorities of Rochester's Marine Corps veteran Jerry DeLemus, for his involvement in the Cliven Bundy grazing land case in Nevada. Before passing judgement on Mr. DeLemus, please take a few minutes to digest some background information.

The grazing land in question, in Clark County Nevada, had been the property of the Nevada territory until it was taken over by the federal government as part of the agreement for Nevada to become a state. For about the last 20 years, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been arguing with Mr. Bundy over fees for the grazing area. Bundy has, for decades, maintained the fencing and the water supplies that are necessary for the cattle to graze. His family and others have been grazing their cattle on the land for over 150 years.

In 2014, things came to a head when BLM personnel went into the grazing area, which is over 150,000 acres, and began rounding up Bundy's cattle, to get them off the property and to try and sell them. That's when local ranchers/citizens, and others like Mr. DeLemus, joined together to protest what they believed to be significant government overreach.

A number of Western states have been meeting with the objective to have the federal government return their control over the public lands back to the states. There are many reasons for doing so but, primarily, the lands contain a plethora of valuable natural resources the state's believe should be under their and/or their citizen's control and ownership. (http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Cliven-Bundy-Western-federal-lands/2014/04/21/id/566804/)

Since that protest standoff in 2014, the federal government has been targeting people who were involved in the protest . . . Jerry DeLemus is part of that targeting effort. At this writing, he is being held in federal custody, without bail, and will be transported to Nevada to be prosecuted. News reports have indicated that rancher Cliven Bundy, if convicted, may face life in prison.

Now consider this other sequence of events that occurred during those same time lines. Back in 2011, Senator Harry Reid's son, Rory, was a commissioner in Clark County, Nevada. Senator Reid and his son went on a trip to China and met with a large manufacturer of solar panel equipment, the ENN Energy group.

Upon returning to the United States, Commissioner Reid arranged for 6,000 acres of Clark County Nevada land to be sold to the ENN company, at less than market value, so that they could build an extensive solar panel energy farm on the property. But, a significant problem arose as the acres in question were the habitat of the "Desert Tortoise", which just happens to be an endangered species. And, if the solar panels were to be installed on the property, they would generate so much ground heat, it would kill the endangered tortoises. A decision was made to relocate those creatures to a different spot . . . apparently the grazing area that had been maintained and used by the Bundy family and other ranchers for over a century and a half.

Rory Reid is now an attorney/lobbyist for the ENN Energy group and, the person who heads up the Bureau of Land Management is Neil Kornze, who was on the staff of Senator Reid, from 2003 until 2011. He was then transferred to BLM to serve as acting deputy director for Policy and Programs. He served in that position until November of 2013, when he was nominated for the position of director of the BLM. He was confirmed in April of 2014.

The First Amendment gives the people the right, ". . . to petition the government for a redress of grievances." The Tenth Amendment states, ". . . powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

Those wonderful words seem to lose their effectiveness when they have to compete with the power of political insiders. In this case, Bundy and other ranchers have felt, and are feeling, the full strength of the federal government . . . which is arresting them with the prospect, if convicted, of serving long-term jail sentences. And, even if the ranchers/protesters are acquitted, it appears the government has taken away their right to make a living doing what they and their families have done for over 150 years.
I don't think the founders intended for government to be so oppressive. Nor do I think the founders intended for well-connected individuals to be able to profit at the expense of the citizenry.

You be the judge.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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