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Things change; time to look at repurposing our Belknap Mill

To The Daily Sun,

As the executive and program director at the Belknap Mill during the mid-1980s, I would like to offer a perspective from my own experiences some 30 years ago. I was fortunate to be there when the mill was the acknowledged center of culture in the Lakes Region.

We had an active Board of Trustees who put their actions in front of their words. People like John O'Shea, Peter Karagianis, Warren Huse, Ann Stamps, Frank DeNormandy, Ed Chertok, David Lynch, Bob and Jean Graves, Mac Harrington and so many others. From the furnace to fundraising, they were involved with all aspects of the mill. It will be a long time before I'll forget Mac arriving at the mill before the sun peered over the hills to wake up the building and make certain that all was ready for another full day of activity.

We had at least three tenants, including United Way, Belknap County Cooperative Extension, and Lakes Region Family Services, each offering a rainbow of unique events that attracted countless visitors through the doors. We were able to connect with the Morin family and then hosted a family reunion that filled the third floor with hugs, memories, and laughter. We sponsored children's programs and actively collaborated with schools and artists around the Lakes Region that brought in troops of toddlers to teens for events such as puppet shows, mask-making workshops, regional school art exhibits and concerts, and residencies with artists from other cultures. Thanks to regional artists, historians, and collectors we hosted exhibits and displays that included an impressive array of beer cans, 19th century Christmas cards, and turning the lobby into an antique pharmacy and soda fountain.

Yet, as lively and exciting as those days were, I fully realize that times have changed.

What's changed?

 1. The Belknap Mill is no longer the sole small venue for intimate arts events and exhibits for local artists. To name just a few, we now have Pitman's Freight Room, the Beane Conference Center, the Busiel Mill and other private galleries, the beautiful new Laconia and Gilford libraries, and a number of bustling new outlets for live theater.

2. Laws have changed so that nursery schools can no longer pile children in the backs of station wagons for field trips.

3. School budgets have been slashed and regulations tightened so that schools find it challenging to collaborate in a similar manner outside their systems.

4. And because of extended pressures and expectations on families today, the pool of available volunteers is now smaller.

5. Do take a look at the number of new non-profit organizations, such as the completely impressive Multicultural Market Day celebrations, that are all now gathering at the same revenue streams for sustenance.

6. Certainly we must also acknowledge the impact of the many more entertainment options now available to us right in our own living rooms.

So, we should ask ourselves a very key question. What remains that only the Belknap Mill can offer? My thoughts? This building is a treasure that is an attractive and exquisitely unique addition to the landscape of downtown Laconia. This building is a treasure that teaches and reminds all of us of our own origins and history.

I would urge us to think creatively, and without casting unnecessary blame on others, just how this facility can be repurposed while remaining a central icon for the Lakes Region. For all the reasons we've cited The Belknap Mill can probably never operate as it once did, either as a productive textile mill or as the hub for all the arts in the Lakes Region. Yet in no way because of our own panic and shortsighted vision and thinking should we turn our backs on what could be a new life for this building.

Judy Buswell

Belknap Mill Executive and Program Director - 1984-88

Laconia

Last Updated on Monday, 08 December 2014 10:24

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Tim for Thomas to leave in favor of more unpersonalized views

To The Daily Sun,

It is regrettable that departing Belknap County Commissioner John H. Thomas, denied a re-election bid by Republican Party primary voters, chose not to leave office with more grace. Having lost budget authority battles with the Belknap County Committee at both the polls and in court, Thomas recently felt the need to describe nine unnamed committee members as "hateful" people.

The resort to ad hominem attack upon those with whom he disagrees on political issues reflects poorly on Thomas. It makes him appear small and a poor loser. Perhaps at this point, it is best to thank Commissioner Thomas for his public service, and and ask him to leave county governance to others with a more temperate and unpersonalized view of political adversaries.

Bill Lamb

Meredith

Last Updated on Monday, 08 December 2014 10:20

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I've deep gratitute for all who made Living Classroom possible

To The Daily Sun,

I would like to take a moment to express my deep and sincere gratitude to everyone who supported the Inter-Lakes Elementary School "Living Classroom" greenhouse project. Thanks to the tremendous support of many organizations and individuals, the Living Classroom now stands as a testament to the power of a strong and supportive community.

The Living Classroom promises to serve as an exciting hands-on learning venue for students in grades PK-6 now and into the future. It will be a place where students will learn many different things in a "hands-on" manner. It will be a place where students will learn with their sleeves rolled up and their hands in the soil. It will be a place where we will plant the seeds of knowledge in a different way.

A year ago, we started our quest to raise $65,000 with the dream of building a fully operating year-round greenhouse. I must admit, I know very little about construction and I'm not much of a gardener. But what I do know is that students become highly engaged and motivated when they are actively involved in their learning.

As our greenhouse vision started to form, I knew that I needed people who knew things that I didn't. In the blink of an eye, a team of supporters and volunteers began to emerge. Chris Read, a master builder and master gardener immediately embraced the idea and he infused his impressive construction and gardening skills into the project. Chris was the driving force and visionary behind the subterranean heating system that will extend the growing season in the greenhouse. He has donated countless hours, building and creating the solar heating system that makes our greenhouse so unique.

Inter-Lakes School Board member Lisa Merrill was one of the biggest supporters of the project from the very start. She immediately saw the value of educating students in a different way. She was also the force behind our first marketing campaign: the Flamingo Fundraiser and she provided tremendous momentum for the project. I am grateful that the Inter-Lakes School Board and district administration also embraced the greenhouse concept. The board pledged $20,000 to the project.

I owe a huge thank you to Justin Poehler, a former Inter-Lakes student and the owner/operator of SiteScapes of the Lakes Region. Justin arrived on the scene volunteering to do all of the site work for the project. As I mentioned, I don't know much about construction and little did I know just how important Justin's work would be to the project. He donated many hours and days, excavating, filling, and grading. He created the perfect site for our greenhouse. Justin Poehler is one of the true heroes of this project and I am eternally grateful for all that he did.

I also owe a debt of gratitude to Steve Mitchell, an Inter-Lakes parent, and owner/operator of Nature's Elite Landscaping. Steve approached me and volunteered to donate all of the brick pavers as well as his time and labor, to create a beautiful walkway inside the greenhouse. He even involved his sons, Brandon and Kyle (both Inter-Lakes students), in the project. The results are stunning.

Our Inter-Lakes maintenance department has been wonderfully supportive of this project. Chris Wald (Director of Facilities) has been involved in all of the planning and construction every step of the way and this project would not have been possible without his guidance and expertise. Inter-Lakes Maintenance staff members Stuart Benton and Jason Cornelissen have also been incredibly helpful.

There are so many other people and businesses that made the dream of the Living Classroom possible.

East Coast Foundation donated all of the labor, forms, and rebar needed for the foundation. Brian Davis of Planet Green donated two large solar panels. Randy Hancock of Middleton Building & Supply donated a split rail fence. Superior Fence Company donated their services to install the fence. Bill Doten of Doten's Property Service donated hydro-seeding for the project. J.P. Swift donated labor and ground cover for the interior of the greenhouse. Ambrose Bros. donated significant amounts of sand, ledge pack, crushed stone, and gravel. Dallas Wrath of Donovan Tree Experts donated tree cutting so that the sun shines brightly on the greenhouse.

In addition to all of the individuals already named, the Living Classroom received a tremendous amount of financial assistance from individuals, service organizations, and businesses throughout the area. I am deeply grateful to Mill Falls on the Lake and the Meredith Rotary Club for each donating $10,000. These massive donations made the difference in helping us reach our goal. I am truly humbled by this level of generosity and support.

While the entire list of donors is far too extensive to include in this letter, I would like to highlight those that had a major impact on this project including: Altrusa Club of Meredith, Cerutti Contracting, Conneston Construction Inc., Crosspoint Associates, DeCamp Center, Emery & Garrett Groundwater Investigations, Giuseppe's Showtime Pizzeria, Inter-Lakes Floor Hockey, Inter-Lakes PTO, Inter-Lakes Education Assoc., Inter-Lakes School Board, Kiwanis Club of Meredith, Melcher & Prescott Insurance, Meredith Bay Laser, Meredith Bay Village Condominium Assoc., Meredith Garden Club, Meredith Fire Dept. Auxiliary, Meredith Village Savings Bank, Municipal Resources, Inc., Overhead Door Options, Phu Jee Chinese Cuisine, Private Weddings & Events, Real Green Lawn & Landscape, Sandwich Central School PTO, the Schmitt Foundation, Scott Burns Landscaping, Shane Halsey Painting, The Mug Restaurants, Winnipesaukee Playhouse, and Wicwas Lake Grange 292.

Last by not least, I would like to acknowledge and thank some key people who played important roles in the overall project including Elizabeth Rohdenberg for creating the fantastic Living Classroom Logo, Kay Marini for creating the beautiful thank you notes, Corinne Jutton for distributing donation letters to area businesses, Alesia Parks for helping every step of the way, Lynn Tobin for creating the traveling display panel, Mo Gouin for creating donation boxes and a fundraising backdrop, Jim and Sheri MacMillan for creating the fundraising thermometer and the name banner, John Moulton for his expert consultation and advice, and our fearless team of Flamingo Flockers including: Steve and Lisa Merrill, Marcy Kelley, Alesia Parks, Kristen Poehler, Tricia Poehler, Tracey Pratt, Ariane Shuffleton, and Angela Stutzman.

In closing, I would again like to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who helped make the Living Classroom possible. This project demonstrates the power of a supportive community and what volunteerism and goodwill can achieve. I am so very proud to be a resident of the Inter-Lakes School District and a part of the Inter-Lakes School system. We are all fortunate to live in a very special place filled with caring, positive, and generous people. Thank you for allowing Inter-Lakes Elementary School to achieve a dream and for giving us the opportunity to plant the seeds of knowledge in a different way.

Dr. Steve Kelley, Principal

Inter-Lakes Elementary School

Meredith

Last Updated on Friday, 05 December 2014 10:50

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Here's how 'critical access' hospitals charge more for Medicare

To The Daily Sun,

There is a distinction in the classification of hospitals that is allowed by Medicare. That distinction is called Critical Access Hospitals. This is a term that identifies a hospital that provides health care for rural Americans. Medicare allows the states to designate their own Critical Access Hospitals.

New Hampshire has 13 such classified hospitals. They are: Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon, Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin, Cottage Hospital in Woodsville, Franklin Regional Hospital in Franklin, Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro, Littleton Regional Hospital in Littleton, Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, New London Hospital in New London, Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth, The Memorial Hospital in North Conway, Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital in Colebrook, Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, and Weeks Medical Center in Lancaster.

A Critical Access Hospital is allowed to bill more of the cost to the Medicare beneficiary. Much more.

What usually happens is a hospital sends a bill to Medicare and Medicare (like most insurance companies) says we're going to pay this amount and it is a much smaller number (called the Medicare Approved Amount). Medicare then pays the hospital 80 percent of the much smaller number, and the Medicare beneficiary pays the remaining 20 percent of that much smaller number.

For a Critical Access Hospital it's different. The Critical Access Hospital sends the bill to Medicare and Medicare pays their usual 80 percent of the much smaller number (the Medicare Approved Amount), but then it makes the Medicare Beneficiary pay 20 percent of the big number.

Here is a real example of a Critical Access Hospital emergency room bill: Amount facility charged, $10,443; amount Medicare approved, $2,725; amount Medicare paid the facility, $2,180 (80 percent of the Medicare approved amount); amount Critical Access Hospital billed to beneficiary, $1,840 (20 percent of the amount facility charged).

If the facility were not a Critical Access hospital, the amount billed to the Medicare Beneficiary would have been 20 percent of the Medicare approved amount, or $545. That is $1,295 more charged to the person on Medicare who went to a Critical Access Hospital vs. one that did not, such as a person who went to Franklin Regional Hospital's emergency room as opposed to the Lakes Region General Hospital emergency room.

And this is true for any service you receive in a Critical Access Hospital, in-patient or out-patient.

Yet this practice is against the law for private insurance. The federal government is allowing charges to Medicare beneficiaries that states say are unfair. The offices of both New Hampshire and U.S. Senators say they are aware of this problem. Kelly Ayotte was quoted by NHPR as saying "patients of Critical Access Hospitals deserve to know up front how much they'll pay for services. " What, if anything, will be done remains to be seen.

I believe that Critical Access Hospitals should make sure to disclose this information up front. They won't. It is up to us to educate ourselves and spread the word. So now you know, tell everyone.

Louisa Simpson

Sanbornton

Last Updated on Friday, 05 December 2014 10:39

Hits: 621

Tell us exactly how power has been taken away from the people

To The Daily Sun,

Don Ewing and others use the Tea Party to promulgate their lopsided philosophies. Tea Party adherents argue that their way is the right way and no other political entity is to be believed. The TEA Party demands that laws must apply equally to all Americans, says Don Ewing. He further states: "The TEA Party wants to re-establish our nation's founders' vision of a government near the middle of that spectrum with the primary purpose of protecting everyone's liberties so that each person has the maximum opportunity for achieving his or her own goals."

Very interesting when you consider the following excerpts from the Tea Party webpage:

1. We believe....that our government has grown out-of-control in a death spiral of unsustainable and barely imaginable trillion-dollar deficits.

Mr. Ewing needs to tell us just how this trillion dollar debt developed over the decades. He has to include those wars the U.S. has been involved in since George Bush's presidency. They were carried on without voting for funding to sustain them. The costs of these wars would have totally wiped out the entire national debt. The funds should have been appropriated to programs and crucial needs here in the United States. Keep in mind that President Obama is bringing home the troops from these theaters of war as he pledged to us in his first inaugural speech.

2. The Tea Party also believes that the government "daily drains away the individuality and entrepreneurial spirit of Americans in order to advance a radical, socialist*(see below) policy built on the backs of American taxpayers."

Mr. Ewing needs to tell us just how his Tea Party proposes to support the following entities at the federal and state and Ccty level: a) police and fire departments, b) public education,  c) departments of transportation and public works, d) Department of Justice (FBI, CIA, etc.),  e) a vital military and f) social services.

3. Our mission is to recruit like-minded Americans to the Tea Party Movement in order to advance the principles of limited government, fiscal restraint, and individual liberty at all levels of government through promotion and education.

Mr. Ewing needs to tell us why the Tea Party doesn't specifically target those politicians who work very few days of the year which receiving very good salaries, benefits and other perks. Why doesn't the Tea Party target secret PACs, lobbyists, and mega corporations who are now able to contribute untold millions of dollars to political campaigns without revealing their recipients? Why hasn't the Tea Party cried out about Citizens United which made corporations akin to people and has changed elections from "one person, one vote" into "one dollar, one vote"?

4. The Tea Party Movement is a grassroots movement of millions of like-minded Americans from all backgrounds and political parties. They share the core principles among which is "returning political power to the states and the people."

Mr. Ewing needs to tell us how the political power has been taken away from the states and the people.

During the recent election campaign I had the pleasure of attending a get together for Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. This event was held at a home in a private community. It was most troubling to see Tea Party members not only protesting in front of this community, but trespassing on private property to display their dislike of Rep. Shea-Porter. How does this demonstration further the cause of the Tea Party? What message is being sent by these individuals? At town halls and various meetings and open public forums throughout our region over the past four years, we have seen self-described Tea Party members display rudeness, lack of basic civility, and they have shouted down and talked over others and prevented others from being heard.

Mr. Ewing, the definition of *Socialism: a theory or system of social organization in which the means of production and distribution of goods are owned and controlled collectively or by the government. To say that our country is a socialist government is quite simply absurd and delusional. By the way, government means all of us, right? Aren't "we the people" members of that government? Aren't we a nation Of By and For the People? This nation has in fact evolved to being owned, run and dictated to by corporations and the One Percenters. Is this in fact what Mr. Ewing means when he states, "Our national government has shifted towards the absolute control end of the spectrum." Isn't it these very corporations who have slowly but surely taken away the rights of all Americans?

Mr. Ewing should address these concerns in his next letter to the editor. We are still awaiting an answer from Mr. Boutin concerning the programs and services put into law by the GOP for the good of all Americans: A request that was asked almost a year ago.

Bernadette Loesch

Laconia

Last Updated on Friday, 05 December 2014 10:34

Hits: 226

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