To The Daily Sun,
I would like to start off by thanking you all for allowing me to serve as your selectman. Over the last three years, the Selectboard has been involved in making decisions on many difficult issues. There are always two sides to an issue, and the Selectboard is charged with making decisions that is best for residents of Gilmanton. The only issue that has no disagreement is taxes. I have never spoken with a person who wants their taxes increased. The selectmen are also charged with being the stewards of your town tax dollars.
Three years ago, I ran for selectman on the platform to stop tax increases. Despite cost increases downsourced to Gilmanton from the state and Belknap County, town taxes have not only stopped increasing they have been reduced. These tax cuts were made with no loss in services. I cannot take sole credit, but I did participate in these efforts.
Throughout my time as a board member, many different concerns have been brought to my attention. My job as selectman is to look into these concerns on behalf of the people who elected me and bring these concerns forward. I will not apologize for the points I have brought forward from the public. My only intention was to reduce the tax burden on Gilmanton residents.
I went to the schools deliberative session. Some residents spoke out against the tax cap warrant article and voiced disapproval of Gilmanton now being a SB-2 town. Their arguments were very convincing. However, the continuing tax increases are causing financially-struggling people to react, "hoping for change." I don't believe the people who want to stop tax increases are selfish, stingy or heartless, they simply don't have enough money to support more increases in taxes.
In the past overtaxing led our Founding Fathers into the revolution that formed this country. Taxes being raised will only cause more people to struggle, this will then cause more public reactions to stop tax increases.
There are two elected legislative bodies in Gilmanton. The Board of Selectmen is one, and the School Board is the other. As one of the selectmen, balancing the services being provided with being frugal spending has always been my mission. The School Board is charged with ensuring a good education for our children, but has not been able to do this without raising its budget. If the selectmen being helped from the town administrator and the town employees can provide services needed without raising taxes, the School Board, being assisted by the SAU, should be able to do the same.
Owning your own home use to be part of the American dream. Now with continuing increases in property taxes, the word owning is being replaced with selling. I hope my replacement and all elected to any position remember who they represent and what those people really need and want. Our School Board has good intentions for our children, but they need to be reminded who votes for them. The ideas from the School Board may be the best, but some mothers and fathers can't afford them.
A good education starts at home and according to some research done by Carsey Institute at UNH, New Hampshire experienced the largest increase in child poverty of any state in the country. To see this full report goto http://www.unh.edu/news/releases/2013/sep/lw20carsey.cfm
I will end by thanking you again, I have learned many things about local issues and hope I have served you well.
Last Updated on Monday, 17 February 2014 09:35
To The Daily Sun,
I'd like to respond to the letter in Tuesday's Sun from Mr. and Mrs. Baird at Briarcrest.
They, along with many of the residents here, are uncertain about the future. The only thing that is sure is that change is coming to Briarcrest. The Mooneys will be leaving soon, and our community will be owned by a corporation.
Our two options: Hometown America, a national corporation, which is undoubtedly capable of managing and running our community in a professional manner, but whose allegiance lies not to the residents of Briarcrest, but to what is best for its shareholders; or Lakemont Co-operative, the local non-profit corporation, composed of and run by the members of the community itself, whose allegiance will lie with the residents of Briarcrest alone.
It's no secret I've been on the fence and see both sides of the Co-op vs. Hometown issue at Briarcrest. I have many of the same concerns as the Bairds. However, after Mr. Mooney let us know he had signed the Purchase and Sale Agreement with the Co-op and would be working with them, I made the decision to put the confrontations and adversarial positions that seemed to characterize this issue where they belonged: in the past. With some trepidation, I began attending all the Co-op meetings that are held weekly on Saturday mornings (now here at the Community Center at 10:30). I asked questions and voiced my concerns. I would ask the Bairds and every other resident with the same questions and concerns to do the same.
I have been encouraged by the tenor of these meetings and the amount of information coming out of them. Some of my concerns about the financial and physical management of Briarcrest have been lessened. While these concerns may never disappear, I think that's what will keep us from becoming complacent and letting issues slide. All my misgivings aren't gone, but I've come to the decision that the only way to be sure those concerns and questions have any chance of being addressed is to participate in the process.
At last Saturday's meeting, the ROC representative was asked if any of the many cooperatives in New Hampshire have failed. He said no, none has – but that some have struggled to work, and many of those are the co-ops that have become mired in the politics of the situation. We don't have to go down that path.
Because of the way the NH Manufactured Housing RSAs are written, it looks like the new owner of Briarcrest will be the Co-op, whether the majority of residents wanted it or not (I view it as affirmative action for manufactured housing co-operatives). The Co-op has some very capable, knowledgeable people on the Board providing their expertise in their fields, and it is receiving guidance in the process from NH ROC. So it's not navigating these waters alone. I'm sure there are many more residents with talents that will benefit the community.
Attendance is increasing with every meeting and membership is increasing as well, two very encouraging signs, since the best hope for success lies in the participation of our residents. Please come to the meetings, join the co-op, and take advantage of the defining difference between Hometown America and Lakemont Co-op.
Hometown won't care what you think, what you want, or what you feel our community needs, but because we – the residents of the community itself – are the co-op, the Co-operative will.
Please come to the meetings. Everyone is welcome. I'm hoping you'll be as encouraged as I am.
Last Updated on Friday, 14 February 2014 09:16
To The Daily Sun,
I recently attended the debate in Meredith between the candidates for the open Executive Council seat. It is a credit to both candidates that they agreed to meet and discuss their views on issues. The event was very well attended and they both presented themselves well.
However, one of Joe Kenney's responses to a question deserves further explanation.
There has been much discussion about the Executive Council's role in the funding of Planned Parenthood's contract. What Joe Kenney said at the Candidate Forum is factually wrong. Mr. Kenney stated that New Hampshire doesn't need to fund the Planned Parenthood contract because the Affordable Care Act already does so, and New Hampshire's funding would constitute "double dipping." That statement could not be farther from the truth.
The Affordable Care Act's funding to Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire is simply a recognition that New Hampshire refused federal funding for a website to access the Affordable Care Act benefits. Without that state-sanctioned access, the federal government agreed that Planned Parenthood of New England could provide the access point for individuals seeking to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and signed a contract for that purpose alone.
Joe Kenney is simply against the Affordable Care Act even though it has already afforded many of us in the Granite State access to invaluable health insurance benefits. He is also against Planned Parenthood which makes cancer screenings and access to birth control affordable for countless New Hampshire women. Joe Kenney is misleading the public on this issue.
We cannot elect an Executive Councilor who would mislead his constituents.
Please vote for Mike Cryans for Executive Councilor on March 11.
Last Updated on Friday, 14 February 2014 09:06
To The Daily Sun,
In the middle of a cold February, with our lakes and ponds covered with a thick layer of snow and ice, it is difficult to remember the vibrant ecosystems below. However, come spring, the ice will melt, plant life will explode, and fish will spawn.
The plant life is essential to the health of our lakes, providing food and habitat for a wide range of organisms, oxygenating the water, and removing carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, in years past, a major part of the spring explosion of plant life has been contributed by exotic species, notably milfoil.
Four years ago, paddling in the neighborhood of Lees Mill public launch area on Lake Winnipesaukee brought to mind what one imagines the Sargasso Sea to be like: weed so thick that it was a drag on the canoe and interfered with pulling a paddle out of the water. What was inconvenient for the paddler was worse for the water lilies and native water plants, which were being choked out of existence.
Starting in 2010, an intensive milfoil abatement program was initiated, combining treatment with herbicides and hand-pulling by divers. The effect was immediately noticeable. Even in 2011, the amount of milfoil in the area of Lees Mill was sharply reduced. What had been large areas clogged with weed became open water with native plants visible in the depths. In 2013, with continued treatment, the situation improved further, and it was rare to find any milfoil in the vicinity. The result has been to return the waters to the recreational value they provided before the milfoil invasion.
The success of the milfoil abatement program has been dramatic, and its benefits large. However, once milfoil has established itself, it is almost impossible to eradicate, especially in a body of water the size of Lake Winnipesaukee. To maintain the amenity value of our ponds and lakes, we have to continue to invest in management programs to keep milfoil under control. Although the problem is not visible at this time of year, and the success of the abatement programs has made it much less visible even in summer, continued expenditure on control and continued vigilance to identify regrowth is essential to keep the weed under control.
Last Updated on Friday, 14 February 2014 09:02
To The Daily Sun,
Sometimes the best way to judge progress in a tough debate is by silence. Last spring, when my colleagues narrowly defeated a casino proposal for New Hampshire, they voiced concern that the bill didn't have enough oversight and regulation. That was the prime reason cited for voting no.
Lawmakers created a special commission to come up with a stronger framework. It includes more aggressive oversight by state police and the attorney general. It closes loopholes to ensure integrity of operations. It even establishes a new director of problem gaming to track any problems that may arise from this activity. We will generate real data, not fall back on the same emotional arguments that have driven this debate for years.
The Gaming Regulatory Authority's work was on full display last week when a House committee reviewed a new and improved bill with an entirely new and strict regulatory framework. In four hours of testimony on this new proposal, no one complained about lack of oversight and regulations. In fact, even opponents praised the improvements. That was music to my ears.
I support a high-end casino in New Hampshire, and the non-tax revenue it will bring to our state. My constituents have told me to vote yes. I know the people overwhelmingly support gambling.
This new bill is different. It is the result of lawmakers listening to concerns of colleagues. This is a good plan. I urge my colleagues to vote yes on HB-1633.
State Rep. Dennis H. Fields
District 4 - Sanbornton-Tilton
Last Updated on Friday, 14 February 2014 08:58