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Gretchen Gandini - Expanding the WOW Trail, a marathon endeavor

Soon after signing on as Executive Director of the WOW Trail, I joined thousands of runners in Hopkinton for the start of the Boston Marathon. The magnitude of both events was not lost on me.
The vision for the WOW Trail is grand — build a nine mile recreational path through the City of Laconia as a part of the regional Winnipesaukee Trail that will connect Meredith to Franklin. Turning this vision into a reality will be a challenge. Likewise, running 26.2 miles is sort of a daunting task, too.
Having completed the first goal, my sights are now firmly set on the second. And, while the project is different, the process remains the same.
Preparation is important. Let a plan be your guide. Just as a runner follows a training plan, our process for designing, fundraising, building, and maintaining the WOW Trail is clearly defined. Our efforts today are focused on extending the rail from behind the Laconia Public Library at North Main Street, to the Belmont town line. We are currently in the preliminary design phase of this section and look forward to sharing these plans, and the fundraising efforts that go along with them, in the months ahead.
Be flexible. Injuries, illness, and crazy New England weather are but a few things that interrupt even the best laid marathon training plans. Similarly, we will do our best to complete the WOW Trail as planned, and as soon as possible, understanding that circumstances beyond our control may dictate changes along the way.
Not everyone will understand your goal. Let's face it, not everyone thinks that running one mile is fun, let alone 26.2 miles. Likewise, some folks are not as thrilled about building recreational trails as we are. Let's talk about this. A healthy dialogue will help us understand each other's point of view.
Ask for help. Friends and family are essential to achieving your goal. Just as the support of family and friends is important to any runner, the WOW Trail's dedicated Board of Directors, volunteers, and financial supporters are the lifeblood of our organization. Their contributions resulted in the successful completion of the first section of the WOW Trail, and will lead us moving forward. We must raise a significant amount of money and expand our family of supporters to achieve success. Please consider joining us. Use the WOW Trail. Share your support of the Trail with local and state representatives. Volunteer your time. Make a donation. Participate in an upcoming fundraising event. Bring your dog to BOW WOW Fest on May 4th. Buy a ticket for the 10th Annual WOW Sweepstakes Ball on May 18th for a fun night out AND a chance to win $10,000! Participate in WOW Fest on September 14th. It's a fun- filled event for the whole family featuring two bicycle challenges, 5k and 10K road races, a fun walk, a BBQ lunch, live music & kids activities. Join in the fun! We need your support.
Carry on. It is worth it. The WOW Trail expansion will test our endurance. Let's stay focused on the vision. Rail-trails offer safe and accessible routes for work and school commuting, promote active-lifestyles for all ages, and stimulate local economies by increasing tourism and promoting access to local businesses. In fact, according to a recent Belknap Economic Development Council study, a completed WOW Trail will bring an estimated 152,000 users annually, with 38,000 coming from outside of the Lakes Region — generating nearly $1.8 million in new visitor spending. A completed WOW Trail will, indeed, contribute significantly to the vitality of our community.
Let's get moving and make this project a reality. I'm ready. Are you? See you on the Trail.
(Gretchen Gandini is the Executive Director of the WOW Trail. She'd love to hear from you about the Trail and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The WOW Trail is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization. For more information, please visit www.wowtrail.org.)

Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 11:19

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Blue Loon transit able to gain funding support from 10 towns

To the editor,
I am you eyes, ears and contact for Carroll County's Blue Loon Transit.
Do you have a story to tell regarding how much you have come to appreciate the services that have been provided to you? Would you or your group like to know more about what is now available, how to use it, and what else is coming? Call me at 1-888-997-2020, X16, Carroll County Transit.
I have been involved with this evolving public transportation system from its inception and have been chairman of TCCAP's Transportation Action Committee for most of this time. TCCAP recognized the need for representation in our county. I have been working diligently with Bev Raymond, TCCAP Director of Transportation and other committee members to put in place a source of information to spread the word to everyone on how they can successfully use this very valuable service. This public transportation system is designed to provide mobility for all those in need of transportation, not only the elderly or disabled, but it is for anyone who needs to go to work, shopping, or medical appointments. We have a short video available on the TI-TV.com website that I recommend all municipalities link to on their websites, providing valuable information on the Blue Loon buses. If you would like more information about the service give me a call.
In our recent campaign for town funding we were successful in gaining support from the 10 towns that put us on their budgets or through warrant article petitions. Thank you for your support it is truly appreciated. Some of the more than 6000 riders could have lost their means of mobility, had we not been this successful. However, there are two towns who's residents are unfortunately going to loose their service by the end of June. We were unable to gain enough signatures to get the warrant article on the ballot, so Bartlett and Freedom service area will be eliminated unless like last year, private donors are willing to bridge the gap contributing $3,000. Hopefully, we can be successful for them next year.
Jack Rose
Carroll County Public Transportation

Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 11:13

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Why should I subsidize the islanders? The library? Parks & rec?

To the editor,
I am responding to an article appearing in Friday's paper that caught my attention — one that should catch EVERY Gilford resident's attention — entitled, "Gilford plans to increase trash hauler tipping fees in effort to trim taxpayer subsidy".
Let me first state that there are several items that, in my mind, are BASIC functions of a municipal society: police, fire, ambulance, roads and the maintenance thereof, and trash. Why? Because all of these items are beyond the ability of individual citizens. Speaking specifically to the topic of garbage — yes, there was a time when everyone had garbage disposals and small incinerators on their property, which took care of almost everything, and every town and city maintained its own landfill. Of course, those days are long behind us, thanks in no small part to environmental concerns and GOVERNMENT regulation. Thus, it only makes sense to handle this necessary task through the collective society, much like the other aforementioned basic public services. While it might seem on its face that the proposal to increase fees on haulers only affects SOME people, the reality is that EVERYBODY generates trash, and this affects EVERYBODY. To claim otherwise is not true. This proposal will affect everyone in town, whether you receive curbside pickup, or use a dumpster located within town limits.
Beyond this, however, is the more pertinent fact: this is a ploy by which the town will seek to raise our taxes without actually admitting it. Town Administrator Dunn is quoted in the article as saying, "In theory, people will pay more to their trash haulers and less in taxes." RIGHT — if anybody believes that, I have a nice bridge in Brooklyn for sale that I'd LOVE to sell you! Perhaps that's what the "theory" might be, but we all know what the REALITY is: Our taxes will stay the same, at best, but, as in most years, will probably go up — even if it's just a little. You see, what ending this so-called "subsidy" really means is that we, the hapless citizens of Gilford, will pay more for trash removal: a FEE, and the municipal budget will gain "as much as $100,000 during the balance of the 2013 budget year" to spend on something else.
Does anybody believe that by shifting this "subsidy" off budget that our taxes will go DOWN? This just gives them cover to INCREASE spending in some other area of the budget. Oh, and if paying for a basic municipal service like trash tipping is a "subsidy," what does that make the paying of, oh, say health insurance for town employees? Do we not "subsidize" THAT?
I have a great idea — if we want to "save" much more than a hundred grand of taxpayer monies, how about if we eliminate the school superintendent's position as decided by several votes of the people? Why must I continue to "subsidize" that particular job when I neither send students to the school from my home OR my business? In fact, if we start applying Mr. Dunn's logic as used in this instance, one could make a case for ending MANY "subsidies" here in town. The Glendale Docks? I don't own a boat. Why should I "subsidize" those? Dittos for the town-supplied dumpsters there. Why should I "subsidize" the islanders? The library? I have NEVER checked out anything from there. (I refuse to encourage them.) I prefer to PURCHASE the books I read. Parks and Rec? If I want to hike, or go to a Red Sox game, I'll do it on my own. My point is, do we really need to go down that road? What ISN'T a "subsidy" within our budget?
I ask my fellow residents to join me in attending the public hearing on May 8th and tell the Selectmen "NO. We don't need a hidden tax increase. We already pay enough!"
Doug Lambert
Gilford

Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 11:09

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You people can call it public tax money but you know it's not

To the editor,
In response to Carlos Cardona's letter of April 27: Thank you for the lesson in school board democracy. I've never served on a school board. But I know this, by law we have to send our school aged children to school. Many cannot afford to send their children to private schools. In your letter of April 24 you said, "parents have the right to send there kids to any school they wish." That is indeed what this discussion is about. The law which both you and Sen. Hosmer seek to overturn has been a beginning to make that a reality to those of lesser means. As you and Sen. Hosmer would have it, this "right" is actually a privilege for those who can afford it. Most can't. If you can't and you cannot home school your options are to go to jail or send your children to a school which the U.S. Supreme Court has thrown God out of. When you throw God out; all kinds of evil moves in. I've seen the product of this illustrious school system and it's not good. Here's the thing: our schools train our future generation.
The Education Tax Credit Program is not a voucher program as you call it. It was crafted so that it is private donations that fund the scholarships so it's not public money. The donating company gets a 85 percent tax credit. The truth is under this law that money never makes it into the tax system.
Many people for good reason want to get out of the public school system. You people can call it tax money. It's not. I haven't seen the results of the vote but I'm guessing you can probably get the Education Tax Credit Program repealed, but it would be wise to leave it alone. For those who passed this Education Tax Credit Program legislation did us a good deed. The public school system can muddle by with less money if need be, but if we repeal this, it will be to our own hurt. God is indeed over all, that is not a debating point. Its just the way it is. If we continue to raise a Godless generation, 9/11, the Boston Marathon, you ain't seen nothing yet. My hands are clean. I have put the warning out.
John Demakowski
Franklin

Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 11:06

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If we don't meet this challenge pay-as-you-throw will be reality

To the editor,
When Laconians voted in the tax cap, we decided that we wanted to explore alternative ways of solving our financial problems other than immediately hiking our tax rate. It has meant that tax bills have seen small increases in line with or below inflation rather than the double-digit increases in some of the years before the cap. Our councilors have worked hard and creatively to keep the city's budget within the constraints of the cap. Now it is our turn.
The decision of the council last Wednesday night to give mandatory recycling a try gives us the opportunity to prove that we are willing to do our part to help keep our taxes low.
The council has been faced with the continually rising costs of getting rid of the city's garbage. At the same time the State of N.H. has been "solving" its fiscal problems by telling the cities and towns they have to pay more. Unfortunately, the cities and towns have no choice in the matter.
But we do have a choice regarding trash. Though the costs have risen, we can control how much garbage we have to pay for by recycling more of it. Just like families reduce their electric bills by shutting off lights when they aren't using them or reduce their heating costs by dialing down the thermostat a few degrees, so we need to reduce our disposal costs by recycling.
Reducing our trash by recycling more of it is a win-win for all of us. It lowers costs, freeing up more money for the council to work with as they deal with bills they must pay, it keeps our taxes lower, and it's a responsible approach to our environment. Moreover, with single stream recycling, it's easy!
If we don't meet this challenge, Pay As You Throw (PAYT) will almost certainly come to our city. No other community has reached as acceptable level of recycling without PAYT. Last Wednesday evening our city council gave us the chance to be the first, to show other communities around us that we can meet this challenge. Let's do it!
Jenny Watson
Laconia

Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 11:02

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