To The Daily Sun,
The question for Belknap Mill Society members is: "Do you want to assure the future of the Society and are you willing to get involved to shape that future?"
The trustees of the Belknap Mill Society have been attempting to sell the Belknap Mill since mid-2014 without first consulting the Society members. Finally, in response to a request by the Laconia City Council, the trustees scheduled a meeting held at 7:30 a.m. on Jan 14 for the purpose of defending their actions to Society members and to solicit input from Society members. The trustees said they would review the input by the Society members and respond at the February annual meeting of the Society.
The root problem with the Society is that we have no plan for sustainable operation of the mill. We need a 1-year plan to prevent bankruptcy in 2015 (the Society is presently insolvent), a 2-year plan to bring the Society back to solvency, and a 5-year plan to achieve financial sustainability. The "Sell the Mill" approach is warped. Advocates state that the proceeds of the sale could be used for the operation of the Society — which is true to a point — but the Society will eventually use up that money, and then what? Selling the mill building is only a stopgap effort. Also, it's problematic if the mill can find a buyer since there is a toxic-pill in the easements that stipulates that the first and third floors be accessible to the public and the power house must be left intact. This toxic-pill would seem to make the city or the county the only potential buyers, which then makes it a political issue. We must develop a plan for sustainability — nothing else makes sense. And yet the trustees, by their own admission, have been, and will continue to ignore, planning-for-sustainability until the mill gets sold. Had we planned for sustainability two or three years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in today.
I left the Jan. 14 meeting feeling that, despite the many thoughtful and capable Society members who attended the meeting (I counted four Society past-presidents), the trustees will follow the same-old path. Why do I feel this way? Well, the meeting was forced on the trustees by the Laconia City Council in order to get the council to consider their request for financial-aid to the mill, and the meeting was organized to placate the council's request, not as a working meeting to address the real issues. 7:30 a.m. is not a convenient time for most people, and limiting the meeting to one hour and cutting off comments from people who wanted to contribute is not being receptive to member's concerns. At the meeting, the trustees only reluctantly agreed to allow Society members (who, incidentally elect the trustees) to attend trustee meetings. I say that "members elect the trustees", but, In fact, no annual meeting for elections was held last year, and therefore no vote was taken on Trustees — a clear violation of the Society by-laws, and yet another instance of the unconcern by the trustees for the members.
I think it was a revelation to most attendees that the mill borrowed $50K against a lien on the building last year in order to avoid bankruptcy. We will, apparently, use up that $50K sometime in May. It's unlikely that the mill will be sold and the proceeds available by May, so the Society will again be faced with either bankruptcy or borrowing more money. Actually, borrowing money against a lien on the building is selling it piece-by-piece. To that extent, we've already sold $50K of the mill.
The Society has no vision for the mill's future, and no plan for sustainability, and is not working on either. It appears that if Society members want to sustain the mill's operation, they will have to invoke change. That change need take the form of directing the trustees to produce a plan for sustainability – if the trustees are not supportive of attaining sustainability, it won't happen. The present board is not only locked into selling the mill to the city as their only plan, but, in my opinion, do not have the knowledge or experience to prepare and execute future planning. In 2012, the mill purchased a "plan" from an outside consulting firm, an admission that the trustees were incapable of planning. The trustees now say the plan they paid for is of little or no value. Actually, although it was called a "plan", it was really a "road-map" that required planning and execution to implement, planning and execution which never happened.
In addition to directing the trustees to develop a sustainability plan, the members must be willing to lend their own time and skills. A mechanism for doing this would be to create a development committee made up of two members of the trustees, the managing director, and four-or-five non-trustee members of the Society who are versed in planning and fund-raising and are willing to contribute concerted effort to turn-around the mill's financial situation. In addition, the mill needs a volunteer group who can staff fund-raising activities that become a part of the plan.
I believe that if the Society members do not take action at the annual meeting in February, it will be too late to save the Society, which would mean putting at risk programs such as the fourth grade program, Arts Alive, and the summer concerts, as well as any future programs that the Society might develop. I believe these programs are worth saving. Do you? Society members, are you willing to get involved to shape the future of the Belknap Mill Society?
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 10:33
To The Daily Sun,
House Bill 194, which is currently under consideration in the New Hampshire House, provides that life begins at conception. The bill would give full protection of the law to all fertilized eggs. It would ban all abortions, with no exceptions, as well as indirectly impacting thousands of wide-ranging laws, from the provision of Social Security benefits and how wills are administered, to infertility treatment and contraceptive options, to name just a few. The bill states that it should "not be construed to authorize the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child," although lead sponsor of the bill, Representative J.R. Hoell (Merrimack, District 23) stated during the hearing of the bill on Jan. 23 that he would be pleased should this bill lead to criminalization of abortion in the future.
During the break I asked Rep. Hoell why he would sponsor a bill that would, for example, prevent women with ectopic pregnancy from receiving potentially life-saving care. His first response was that such cases would be exempted in this bill. I pointed out that this was not the case, to which he replied that he would support such an exemption in follow-on legislation.
I am not a lawyer. I am a recently retired reproductive health epidemiologist, but even I know that our country is founded on the principle of rule of law and that how a law is written matters. Commas matter. A bill as poorly written as HB-194 is so inadequate that it does not merit the time that the committee and representatives of concerned organizations have spent in deliberation. For this reason, in addition to my personal opposition to legislation that would limit a woman's decision-making power regarding her own health.
I strongly urge citizens to contact their own representatives and members of the House Judiciary Committee to oppose forwarding this bill to the state House floor.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 10:13
To The Daily Sun,
After being open for more than five years, the Gilmanton Year-Round Library is mired in, from my perspective, a scratch-your-head financial malaise. Some of the most avid library users still advocate for no public funding. The selectmen still take no pride in a building and its services that greatly enhance the quality of life in Gilmanton.
When I was hired as the first librarian at the GYRL, the trustees and I agreed on several goals. Just about all were accomplished. We wanted to provide full library services for at least five days per week. We wanted to provide these services in a relaxed atmosphere outside of the politics and personalities of the town. We wanted the library to be a community living room and community meeting space welcoming to all. And we wanted significant collections in all media, including state-of-the-art technology and participation in the N.H. State Library Inter-library Loan Network. All services had to equal the building's potential. These goals were met and in the last four years enhanced.
We were optimistic that residents of Gilmanton would say, "I might not use this library, but many of my neighbors and their children will and it is a service that should be offered to the community."
Public libraries, by their very nature, are the center — not of any class or section — but of the entire community. The poorest family and the richest family have equal privileges. Children and young people and middle-aged people and old people have equal interest in a local library and its content. A library serves the whole community as no other institution in its midst does.
Now I know that most Gilmanton residents are both kind and open-minded. It was no secret that, as the GYRL's first librarian, I was born and raised in the Bronx and am an avid Yankee fan. But still, I was almost universally treated cordially and with respect by library visitors, school administration and staff, and town officials.
It is my hope that the Gilmanton Selectmen, Budget Committee and voters support GRYL funding. Given my experience at the GYRL, I do have several items for thought.
Item 1: Gilmanton Year-Round Library Trustees please change the name. It has been and still is a finger in the eye to the other two libraries in town. I like the name Gilmanton Central Library, halfway between the Corners and the Iron Works. But I am sure other polite names will come to mind.
Item 2: Create one online catalog for all three libraries so borrowers can find the closest library that has the wanted item. Also, coordinate hours open as to maximize the number of hours at least one library will be open. Coordinate book and other media purchases to get the broadest collection possible. This might mean a coordination of funding requests from the town and appeals for private funding.
Item 3: Remember libraries are cooperative, not competitive, organizations.
First GYRL Librarian
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 10:09
To The Daily Sun,
Having listened to the media crucify the Patriots, I believe it is time to put in my two cents worth. I find it laughable that listening to media reports, some people immediately jumped to the conclusion that the Patriot management had somehow cheated the Colts by using some nefarious scheme to under-inflate the recent playoff game footballs to give some sort of advantage to their team.
First, let me say that while I am a life-long fan of New England teams, I am not an expert in all the rules governing play in these various sports. I, however, enjoy watching games on television. If I recall correctly, the game officials seem to be throwing out a lot footballs. But I also recall that day that the skies opened and it "poured cats and dogs." I don't suppose that those officials were trying to dry each ball? Instead, as one TV report had it, they were purposely throwing out under-inflated footballs. It was also reported by the media that the game officials during halftime checked all the footballs and inflated those that didn't meet league rules. Also, didn't both teams use the same under-inflated balls? It beats me how one team can use a football to great advantage while the other team using the same football can't do anything with it. I also seem to recall that during the second half that the Patriots were now playing with correctly inflated footballs, they scored more points then than in the first half when they played with under-inflated ones.
I believe the answer to this riddle is simple physics. I remember way back when in high school Physics 1 we learned that a given amount of air, say that in a football inflated in a warm 70s degrees room, would reduce in size when cooled, say on a 15 or so degree cold playing field. But this simple answer will still not please the critics. I wonder if when the Patriots are proven innocent in this matter (as I am sure they will be), all those accusers, including the media, who helped to destroy the reputation of a fine organization will come forward and make a public apology.
Ha! That'll be the day!
Last Updated on Monday, 26 January 2015 09:47
To The Daily Sun,
The Lakes Region Tea Party had a wonderful meeting Wednesday night, despite The Daily Sun not putting us into their calendar. Of the three topics on the agenda, the most discussed was the Convention of States, or the Constitutional Convention. The participants in the group with knowledge of the subject were definitely divided, being either pro or con. Therefore, at our next meeting, Feb. 18, there will be a debate on both sides.
It's obviously not a partisan issue, and all members of the public are invited to attend this very important discussion, as only one state remains to call the convention, according to Article V of the Constitution. Do we want it or not? How will it affect you? What do our representatives know about it?
Last Updated on Monday, 26 January 2015 09:41