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We can learn from the successes enjoyed at other county jails

To The Daily Sun,

The Grafton County House of Correction is an impressive building. It was constructed about two years ago for about $33 million and has beds for 150 inmates and looks as if it were built yesterday. When I arrived the first thing I noticed was the farm stand across the street staffed by two workers wearing orange jumpsuits with GCDOC lettered on the back in large print. They were more than happy to sell me six ears of freshly picked corn.

The superintendent told me that each jail in New Hampshire is built to reflect the local philosophy. His includes a working farm on which the inmates raise the crops and process them. I saw freezers filled with vacuum packed vegetables waiting for winter. It occurs to me that there is a lot of fallow land quite near to our jail should we decide that serving fresh vegetables to the folks who raised them might be a good idea. He also told me that it they save several bucks a meal. Now, that is appealing!

In fact, we in Belknap County had a farm program that was discontinued only a few years ago due to budget cuts. It produced all sorts of vegetables as well as provided work for inmates. Of course, putting inmates to work on the farm isn't just a matter of sending them out with a shovel and a rake. They have to be taught how to use the equipment and they have to be supervised. And, somebody has to be Farmer Brown.

I know how good it feels to eat my own produce. Every year, my little patch produces a variety of tomatoes, peppers, squash, and herbs. I try out a new vegetable every year sometimes with more success than others. Last year it as sugar snap peas. This year I tried edemame beans. The peas were delicious. The beans, not so much. It feels good to work a garden. I enjoy the feel of dirt on my hands almost as much as I enjoy a slice of one of my tomatoes on a grilled cheese.

When I walked into the commercial kitchen that they built in the jail in Grafton, the aroma of freshly baked bread filled my head. An inmate proudly told me that she was the bread baker. Pies and cakes, she said, she leaves to someone else but she does hundreds of loaves of bread a day. I bake a couple of loaves a week, myself. It gives me the same pride and feeling of accomplishment.

We can learn from the successes of other jails. I think we should consider reviving the farm and building a kitchen. It might also be a good idea to talk with my employer at the community college to get a culinary program going at the jail. According to all the evidence, programs work to reduce recidivism.

I want the voters to know that I will have done my homework before the election so that if elected I will be able to hit the ground running. I've been reading meeting transcripts, touring jails (our own first), talking to stakeholders, and studying corrections philosophy.

Please feel free to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . You can also follow me at davepollak.com and on Twitter @sharppencildave.

Dave Pollak
Laconia

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 08:43

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I'm prepared to use my expertise to bring county jail issue to closure

To The Daily Sun,

Having been a member of the Belknap County Delegation from 2008 to 2012, I participated in all meetings and hearings related to the rehabilitation of the criminal justice system in Belknap County. This included, but was not limited to, improvements to how we incarcerate criminals. At the original presentation by the Ricci group, the cost to replace the current jail ranged from $18 million to $42 million.

In addition to studying the recommendations of the various consultants whom have been hired to address the jail issue, I have researched what we need vs. what various constituents may like to have. I know that a portable classroom style building is not adequate. I also am certain that we don't need the Taj Mahal.

I have a Bachelor's degree in substance abuse control and a Master's degree in mental health counseling. In my profession, I have visited many jails around the country. When the issue surfaced here in Belknap County, I visited jails in other New Hampshire counties in order to understand our comparative needs vs. wants.

If elected, I am prepared to use my expertise to represent the residents of Belknap County and to bring this issue to closure. Our jail does need to be replaced. The question is what we must have and how to fit that with what we can afford. What was once an $18 million minimum expense has now grown to a far-larger expense, and continues to grow daily. The more we wait, the more it will cost Belknap County taxpayers.

I appreciate your support and your vote on Sept. 9. I promise to represent all of my constituents in Alton, Gilmanton, and Barnstead as we solve the corrections problem as well as for all other issues. My door is always open, and I will visit every town frequently to understand the concerns of all residents.

Elaine Swinford
Barnstead

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 08:40

Hits: 68

Republicans, let's nominate a true constitutional patriot for Senate

To The Daily Sun,

The people of our great state of New Hampshire have the opportunity to elect an experienced conservative for Senate in Bob Smith, but first he has to be nominated by the state Republican Party.

His opponent for the nomination is Scott Brown, who during his short stay in Washington voted with Obama most of the time. Brown is already the establishment pick for the nomination, the same establishment which turned its back on Bob 12 years ago. To nominate Scott Brown is not much different from voting for Jeanne Shaheen. As usual, the Republican establishment would nominate a person who is a liberal to go up against a liberal. This never works, and the party would lose the general election. During the last election literally every wishy-washy candidate that Carl Rove raised money for lost. So would Scott Brown in the coming election. He is supported by Governor Chris Christie, who helped get Obama re-elected with his hugs and support. (Kind of tells you who you would be voting for.)

Bob Smith has a perfect conservative voting record in both the House and Senate. All one needs to do is look it up on the Internet. He is pro-life, strong on gun rights, strong on helping our veterans (he's one himself), and strong on free speech and religious liberty. He is against centralized government and will fight for our property rights. Bob is retired and does not have to give more years of his life to the Republic. He is doing it because of his deep concern for our country and for the future of our children and grandchildren.

If we nominate Bob Smith for the U.S. Senate we will be nominating a true constitutional conservative patriot with a proven conservative voting record instead of another so-called Republican who could care less about the Republican platform or the future of our country. Our federal government has become lawless, and we need to send Bob back to Washington to help rein it in. Bob was right for our state in the past and he will be right for us again.

Phil & Chris Wittmann

Alton

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 08:36

Hits: 64

Pat Buchanan - Is Ferguson our future?

"America is on trial," said Rev. Al Sharpton from the pulpit of Greater St Mark's Family Church in Ferguson, Missouri. At issue, the shooting death of Michael Brown, Saturday a week ago, on the main street of that city of 22,000, a neighbor community to Jennings, where this writer lived in the mid-1960s.

Brown, an 18-year-old African-American, was shot multiple times by Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old white police officer with an unblemished record in six years on the force in Jennings and Ferguson.

From his patrol car, Wilson ordered Brown out of the street where he was walking and blocking traffic. A fight followed. Wilson appears to have been punched in the face. One police report says that there was a struggle for the officer's gun.

According to Brown's companion, however, after he was first shot, he threw up his hands and yelled, "Don't shoot. I surrender." Then Wilson gunned him down.

According to one of three autopsies, Brown was shot six times, once in the top of the head, which may suggest he was charging the officer when gunned down. A second St. Louis County autopsy found marijuana in Brown's body.

What we are witnessing in Ferguson today, and nationally, is not only a collision of reported facts, but also a clash of visions about America.

In Sharpton's vision, America is a country where white racist cops harass, assault and gun down young black males, and Brown's execution is the latest outrage. Many media echo his indictment and accent the facts that support this preconceived narrative.

Disrupting this portrait and particularly outrageous to Sharpton was the release by the Ferguson police chief of a videotape of Brown stealing a $44 box of cigars, 15 minutes before he was shot dead, and manhandling and menacing the store clerk trying to stop him.

Brown was 6'4" and 292 pounds.

Sharpton contends that officer Wilson did not know of the "shoplifting" that was irrelevant to the shooting, and that release of the tape was a moral atrocity to smear the character of the dead teenager. But while that tape may be unrelated to the shooting, it does testify to the mindset of Michael Brown that morning and to his respect for the rule of law. Ought we not know that?

Then there is the rival vision of America rooted in a separate reality. It is that in America today, police, like Darren Wilson, are the first responders and last line of defense, willing to risk their lives battling the criminal elements that threaten us and our free society.

Moreover, violent crime in America — assault, murder, robbery, rape — emanates disproportionately from the black community, and especially the young male members of that community. Crime rates, conviction rates, incarceration rates all testify to this truth. If cops are more on guard when encountering black males, is it not because, given the crime statistics, they have more to fear from them?

Do not the weekly news reports from Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago, where black-on-black violence is pandemic, also testify to this? Decades ago, U.S. newspapers, which used to publish the race of both victims of crime and perpetrators, decided to stop doing so. They felt that this was the kind of news people have no need to know.

These conflicting visions are not exclusive to race. Many liberals share Sharpton's vision, while many black folks move out of home communities to escape the scourge of crime. Indeed, if Ferguson in the North County is a racist enclave, why did so many African-Americans move there from overwhelmingly black North St. Louis? And if only three of the 53 cops on the Ferguson force are black, is that due to race discrimination? The chief says he has sought to recruit blacks and asked the Justice Department for help. Is this untrue?

We are told that of six members of the Ferguson city council only one is black, while two-thirds of Ferguson's population is black. Yet, last week, we learned that the black voter turnout in local elections in Ferguson in 2013 was 6 percent.

When St. Louis County, to stop the violence and looting last week, sent cops into Ferguson with armored personnel carriers and assault rifles, they were denounced for militarizing law enforcement. "Tell them to remove the damn tanks," ordered Eric Holder. The county complied and a kinder, gentler law enforcement ensued. And the looters and rioters went on a three-night tear over the weekend forcing Gov. Jay Nixon to call out the National Guard.

Nevertheless, the violence in Ferguson is child's play compared to Watts in '65, Newark and Detroit in '67, and 100 U.S. cities including Washington, D.C., after Dr. King's assassination in '68. In those riots, great cities were gutted, dozens were killed, and thousands arrested.

Detroit never recovered. And that is the future that beckons us all if our first demand today is not for peace and order, and then for justice for Brown's family and Darren Wilson, according to the rule of law.

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

Hits: 53

Circle Girls Club on Spectacle Pond is a really great idea

To The Daily Sun

Some while back Pasquaney Garden Club took another look at continuing to give a $500 scholarship to a senior member of the regional high school. As a small club it takes a lot for us to raise the money. Originally it was for the fields of horticulture or agriculture, but no one was interested in those fields. We opened it to any graduating senior. The guidance department had to practically strong-arm kids to apply. In addition we had no practical way to know that the money was actually going toward college. We decided to re-evaluate our gift giving. This year we selected the Circle Girls Club. On a lovely summer Tuesday a number of Pasquaney Garden Club members went to give the check and get a tour of the premises. By the time we were done the members who went were convinced that, boy, this was a good idea.

The Circle Girls Club is a camp for girls. The camp runs on donations, and provides a life experience, perhaps a lifeline, to the very lowest income girls. Schools, teachers,counseling agencies, doctors and others can recommend a girl as in need of Circle's help. They are all from towns between Concord and the Greater Plymouth area, making them local kids.

The rustic camp is located on Spectacle Pond. Spectacle is a lovely, clean, quiet pond in the mountains, surrounded by deep woods. The structures, lodges, cabins etc,. are simply built, sturdy and attractive. Grades 5 and 6 come for three weeks, 7, 8 and 9 for two and a half weeks, high-schoolers for one week. For many it is an introduction to the idea of the stewardship of the land. They have all the normal camp activities, swimming, boating, etc., but with a real difference. During her stay each girl is matched with a volunteer woman mentor. They will see the mentor each month after the camp ends and the girls are usually expected to come back the next year.

Although many of the post-first-year group are returnees, they still enroll new girls each year. This year there were 21 new girls in the first session. As the girls return to the camp they can assume responsibilities there. Even some of the graduates have returned as counselors during their college years. Understand that this is largely not an area that abounds in opportunities for personal advancement, and these kids have no resources. Circle Girls Club teach the girls that they can achieve worthwhile things. No, there are no make-believe achievements. I was happy to hear that they are part of the STEM program — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Women successful in those fields come and talk to the girls and to work with them.

Example: They got a grant for solar power. A group of 15 girls in grades 9, 10, and 11, studied solar energy, taking day classes on Saturdays at a college for three or four Saturdays, plus other solar studies. Lastly, under the direction of a certified solar installer, the girls wired the cabins with the solar panels. Do those girls feel that they really did something? You bet they do. And they did! The cabins had no power before that. Now, even when the grid fails, they do have power.

It has become an asset in learning decision-making as well. There is a wall display of the power in the battery. When the power goes off the girls in each cabin have to decide how much and how they will use the battery power. A number of Circle Girls graduates are in college. At least one in camp is planning a career as an electrician. Others are looking at engineering. Yes, the girls are learning skills. In addition to the usual things taught in camp, they are introduced to those that are still not normally taught to girls.

Another example: They learned the use of power tools to build barn board furniture which will raise money at an auction. Obviously Circle Girls Club values education, but these girls are receiving a broad education that will give them options. College is one. Other options may require time, study and effort as in the skilled trades apprenticeships, but they will provide jobs that can earn good money. Even more importantly, get them out of the dependency route. A woman who can earn a good living has a lot better chance at a good life. All of these girls will have been given a good strong base. They know that they have abilities. They have value. They can set and achieve their goals. We were wishing we had more to give the program. They've got a really good idea.

Cat White, Member

Pasquaney Garden Club

Last Updated on Monday, 18 August 2014 09:25

Hits: 10

 
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