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Commissioner Taylor may be a policy wonk but he is my policy wonk

To The Daily Sun,

About four years ago, Hunter Taylor, my neighbor and friend, began removing himself from the pleasures of retirement to delve into Belknap County issues. When I say delve in, what I mean is a deep dive, immersing himself in the details of the major questions confronting our county.

The issue of most personal interest to me was the jail. Long before Hunter Taylor became a Belknap County commissioner, at a time when he was a fairly obscure ordinary citizen, he started to look into the county jail issue. At the time, the then commissioners had proposed a $42 million jail project, the cost of which would be borne by all of us. Hunter thought that price tag sounded wildly excessive, and began to look into what had been done in other parts of New Hampshire, and other states, in recent years. The piles of paper he amassed on this topic eventually led him to the conclusion that Belknap County could build a new corrections facility, with all the programs essential to reducing recidivism and combating substance abuse, for a fraction of the $42 million proposal.

During this period of time, Hunter talked endlessly about what he was learning, and he educated the rest of us, sometimes a bit more thoroughly than we wanted. He also went to many meetings, and communicated with knowledgeable people by phone and via email.

But it did not stop there. In April 2014, my wife and I were planning a trip to North Carolina, expecting to visit with family and relax. Hunter had other plans for us. He had been in touch with the planners of a new jail facility in Wilkes County, North Carolina, and arranged for us to visit the facility, meet with some of the officials involved, and take photos. So, off we went, and spent most of a day getting a tour of the new jail facility, talking to people there, and taking photos. It was an odd way for us to spend some of our vacation time, but Hunter assured us that it would be very helpful to his research on the best and lowest cost jail that would work for Belknap County. And I like to think that our small contribution was indeed helpful.

Hunter Taylor may be a policy wonk, but he's my policy wonk. Thinking back to the amount of time and effort he expended as an ordinary (or perhaps not so ordinary) citizen in studying the Belknap County jail issue, long before he had any official role to play, I am truly impressed.

The people of Belknap County could not find a harder-working or more dedicated commissioner, and that is why I plan to vote for him on Sept. 13. He is a sincere representative of the people, always with their best interests in mind.

Fred Sallah
Alton Bay

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Our classmate, Jay Hurd, died 50 years ago today; we won't forget him

To The Daily Sun,

I have been asked by many of my classmates, loyal Belknap County residents (as Laconia High had enrollment from Gilford, Gilmanton and Laocnia in those days), loyal Sachems, always, loyal Americans, to write the following:

The LHS 1965 yearbook notes, "Loyal member of the clarinet section . . . works at the Spa, keeps him busy . . . inseparable partners, he and his car. Band 1,2,3,4, All State Band, Future plans: Manchester Technical Institute."

That was written more than 50 years ago, to memorialize Jay Hurd, our classmate. On September 1, 1966, 50 years ago, Jay Hurd would lose his life serving his country in the land of Vietnam. He was a member of the United States Army. He served his country at a time when there was a threat of communism taking freedoms away from us. We were told the country of Vietnam was a pivotal area of the world to combat the spread of communism.

We had just left the halls of Laconia High with many dreams, many fears and many excitement of youth. We had been given the skills to make our opportunities vital for us, out of respect to our families and for our future families. Some went to work, some to college, and many went to serve their country.

We had been educated about the values of our way of life — the natural gifts of our lives in the Lakes Region, the storied examples of our parents in the events of the Greatest Generation, and the blessings of our freedoms. We had experienced a president being assassinated. We had heard about the Cuban missile crisis. We were told of the close proximity of that threat.

We were exposed to nightly news programs which did not sanitize the news from the Vietnam War, thousands of miles from the tranquil streets of Laconia. The journalists talked about the numbers of the U.S. fighting forces. The journalists talked about body counts of Americans and Vietnamese. The journalists did not speak of being "embedded." They brought the streets of Quay San into our living rooms; they brought us to the rice fields of the Mekong Delta like they were our back yard; they brought the bombings to our living rooms, showing the napalm intended to clear the jungle greens but also dropping upon human beings.

In this war, Jay Hurd went with bravery, with youth and with conviction to make a difference at an age similar to those of the Greatest Generation. He held the same convictions of those who fought in World War II and previous conflicts, to preserve our way of life, to ensure for our country the freedoms that have separated us from the rest of the world.

Some gave some, but he gave all of that first day of September 1966. He would not be the last of Laconian to make that sacrifice. Jonathan Whittecom, another member of the Class of 1965, would give his all, as would Jim Sawyer, Peter Morrison, Bobby Ahern and others who have given their alls for the rest of us. Nick Cournoyer of Gilmanton would give that sacrifice most recently.

They served proudly. They would leave their dreams for another generation; they would leave their families to dream of what ifs. They would leave us with a huge debt to each of them for their ultimate sacrifices.

What separates our paths will be left to the Almighty. What gives that piece of paper in Washington such meaning is the county's men and women serving their country in order that we can all enjoy our lives in freedom. As I often speak, we all owe a special reverence to the meaning of that document when we continue to ask men and women to give their alls for the preservation of those freedoms.

We commit ourselves never to forget you, Jay, and we hop that he is somewhere he can again work his wonders on an automobile.

We commit ourselves to always remember our classmate, our neighbor, our hero.

James M. Carroll

For the Laconia High School

Class of 1965

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