"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sad News of Passing of Phyllis Prouty

I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Phyllis Prouty as I watched yesterdays BoS meeting this evening.

Her obituary can be found here.

A memorial service celebrating Phyllis' life will be held at the Moultonborough United Methodist Church on September 23, 2017 at 2 PM. In lieu of flowers, please send donations, in Phyllis' name, to the Moultonborough Public Library, P.O. Box 150, Moultonborough, NH, 03254. 

My deepest condolences to Jordan Prouty and their family. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Capital Improvements Program Committee Public Hearing for 2018-2023 Capital Plan 5pm Wed. August 16th Town Hall

The CIPC will present its new 6 year proposed plan to the public tomorrow, Wednesday, at 5pm in Town Hall. The proposed plan is not online, but will be available at the public hearing.
If a second hearing is necessary, it will be held on August 23rd at 5pm  also at Town Hall.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Major Subdivision Planned for Lake Kanasatka Property. Town Needs to do What is Necessary to Protect the Lake

The Planning Board last Wednesday held a public hearing on a proposed 5 lot major subdivision for this shore front property ( below outlined in yellow)  across from the BP gas station. The picture below from the town GIS map

The property would be sub-divided into 5 lots. As presented on Wednesday, there are no plans for any construction on the property, only a conceptual idea as to  how the property could be used and how it could be laid out.

Early in the discussion, BoS Planning Board representative Russ Wakefield told the applicants that " we're not going to make it easy for you" presumably in regards to approving the site plan. While that may have not been the most politically correct statement to make considering all applications are to be reviewed according to their legal merits and within the requirements of our Zoning Ordinances and Site Plan Regulations, it does express how many locals feel.
Protecting Lake Kanasatka should be a priority and the Planning Board seems very attuned to that fact.
There was at first a vote denying moving the application to a public hearing because as per the Town Planner, it was not complete. Ellis argued that he provided more information and detail than required and that the intent of the Site Plan Regulations had been met. He expressed dismay that the Town Planner only provided the staff memo on the project to him that very morning and basically told him to go back to the drawing board.

After some discussion, Board member Al Hoch made a motion to reconsider the application to move to a public hearing and this time it passed.

What was presented to the Planning Board was a five lot subdivision with depictions of where homes could be located, but without any detailed plans for actual construction. The applicant is planning to sell the lots individually and it would be up to each new owner to obtain the necessary permits and site plan approvals for whatever they are planning to construct.
The depiction of the five homes on the property according to Dan Ellis of Ames Associates, was only meant to provide a possible configuration  to indicate that each lot is build-able according to our site plan regulations.
The application includes approval by NH DOT  for four proposed driveway curb cuts. That raised a great deal of angst from members of the Planning Board. They are concerned that it is a very tough area to make turns out of the BP station and Redding Lane and adding more outlets to that area would not be welcomed, especially during high traffic times.

The Planning Board is urging the applicant to develop the project in a cluster type development that  would have the least impact on the lake and minimize the new driveway accesses. The creation of an interior road that would access all five properties was also something the board would like to see.

Another major issue, was the lack of a plan for the entire property to control water runoff into the lake. The applicant did not propose a plan for the entire property because the previously stated intent is for five property owners to create individual plans if and when the parcels are sold.

The hearing was continued to September 13th on a motion by Al Hoch, so that the owner and developer can show a plan with a single interior road and a plan to control water runoff to the lake.

This will be a tough one for the Planning Board. The owners of the property do have the right to achieve the full value of their property. Whether a cluster development will devalue what they could sell the lots for is debatable, but our current land use regulations and ordinances do not prevent what is being proposed.

That being said, what is in the best interest of the town? I am certain the traffic and access issues can be resolved or at least mitigated to the boards satisfaction.
 More concerning is the lack of a plan to protect the lake. I believe that a plan for the entire property ( a holistic plan as PB Chair Scott Bartlett called it)  in terms of water runoff should be required for approval. The lots when sold should then be required to follow these plans and construct their buildings to be in compliance.
The town cannot prevent development, nor should they, if the applicant follows the regulations, but the town can certainly draw a line in the sand and make this and future applicants aware that our priority is to protect our natural resources and as Russ Wakefield stated, we're not going to make it easy for you.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Its Time to Hire a Marketing Firm

One of the topics of discussion at Tuesday's joint School Board- BoS meeting was an update on efforts to develop a marketing strategy for Moultonboro.
There wasn't much progress made and the discussion did not really point to any tangible next steps. It did once again raise the question still to be answered, which is: what do we want?
The changing and aging demographics in New Hampshire and especially Moultonboro, create  unique challenges to the towns ability to attract younger families.

School board member Jon Tolman noted that if we do nothing, the demographics will drive the change and will reach crisis point. We like our summer residents and retirees,  but need working families to keep the schools viable.  Summer people need services and amenities, older residents need medical and eldercare services  and the younger demographics is the hardest to attract and keep. The lake will continue to bring summer residents and retirees.

Two areas where Moultonboro has some significant advantages are the low tax rate and an excellent school system. Both area are good selling points.
BoS Chair Chris Shipp restated the point Town Administrator Walter Johnson made a few months back that we can either be in the drivers seat and be proactive or sit in the passenger seat and let things go where they may. He was clear in reiterating that no one is proposing major changes to the town, but if we do nothing, change will happen anyway, some of which may not be welcome.

A few key topics in this discussion should be highlighted and some focused time and attention placed on them by professional marketers ,may help move this forward in a meaningful manner.
At the top of the list is to raise awareness. Many people have never even heard of Moultonboro. Get the word out about who we are, where we are and what we have to offer.

Why would younger people want to move here? Number one is by far is our school system. People I talk to would gladly sacrifice and make a longer work commute if it meant that their kids can get a quality education and live in a low crime, safe town. I don't and never have bought the argument that good jobs need to be right here in Moultonboro. If you draw a circle around our town and extend it out to about 50-60 miles, you will find there are many fairly easy commutes. It is not the exception today to travel a bit to get to your job, it is the norm.
Number two is close behind and that is a tax rate that is phenomenally low. You can afford  more  house in Moultonboro  than just about anywhere else when you factor in how much less your tax bill will be.

Lastly, we need real data. How many people move in or out, how old, are they year round, family size, reason they moved in or out, where do they work etc.. It can be a fairly long list, but without it, we can sit around and continue to guess as to why things are the way they are.

The goal of all this at the end of the day, is to be able to maintain a balance. We will be mostly older for awhile, but that will change. We need to take some positive steps to attract and bring in some younger, year round families that will help keep our population stable. That is what I think most people mean when they say, we don't want Moultonboro to change. We also have to put aside the negative thinking from some of our elected officials or making positive change will be very, very difficult.

What should the next steps be? Hire a marketing firm and get the ball rolling. It's past time. No excuses about defining what we want to be. I don't think the answer will be much different then what I outlined above.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

"Our citizens are dying. We say to the president, you must declare an emergency," NJ Gov. Christie , Head of Presidents Bipartisan Opioid Commission

Despite this strong recommendation by the President's bipartisan opioid commission, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price announced  that President Donald Trump has no immediate plans to declare the nation's opioid epidemic a public health emergency.
The commission draft report  said 142 Americans die from drug overdoses every day -- a toll "equal to September 11th every three weeks."

Your declaration would empower your cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the Executive Branch even further to deal with this loss of life” per the commission report. 
Despite this, President Trump stressed border protection and increased law enforcement to combat the epidemic. He also stressed abstinence: If they do start, it’s awfully tough to get off, so if we can keep them from going on and maybe by talking to youth and telling them: No good, really bad for you in every way, but if they don’t start, it will never be a problem.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said that "We believe at this point that the resources that we need or focus that we need to bring to bear to the opioid crisis can be addressed without the declaration of emergency." 
Keith Humphreys, an addiction specialist at Stanford University said that “Everything a public health emergency declaration would allow Trump to do he could have  done already in the past 8 months simply by working with Congress on the required legislation. But he didn't do that, indeed he worked to cut the very public health resources an emergency declaration would allow him to expand.”

There are many things that can be done to address this problem, but it will require putting aside uncompromising political ideology and replacing it with common sense and collaborations. The first step should be to recognize that this is truly a national emergency. Putting people in prison and telling young people to " just say no" are just a rehash of programs that didn't work in the past and won't work today. 

The opioid commission was bipartisan and step in the right direction and the President should not ignore it's recommendations. To do so would imply that it was formed as nothing more than a political feel good tactic. In the meantime, another 142 Americans will die today.

 The commission report stated that the emergency declaration  " ..would also awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”

Monday, August 7, 2017

20th Annual Moultonborough Pathway Fund Run/Walk Sat. Aug 12th

20th Annual Moultonborough Pathway Fund Run/Walk Saturday, August 12, 2017 

8:00am Registration
 8:45am Start 
$15.00 for Pre-Registration 
$20.00 for Day Of registration
 Cash or checks payable to Moultonborough Pathway Association 
T shirts will be given to the first 100 registered participants. 


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Editorial: How to elevate the debate

Concord Monitor
August 4th, 2017

From time to time in this space, we lament the state of the national dialogue. There seems to be far more obfuscation than illumination these days, and complex problems are more often than not reduced to the kind of pithy one-liners that play well on social media.
Just yesterday, for example, the Washington Post reported that Donald Trump referred to New Hampshire as a “drug-infested den,” a gross mischaracterization of the state’s opioid epidemic specifically and the problem of substance misuse in general. What Trump said was bad enough, but then a lot of intelligent people spent a good chunk of their day angrily condemning a ridiculous man for making yet another ridiculous statement.
Americans should of course hold Trump accountable for the dumb things he says, but surprise and outrage no longer feel authentic. This is a man of staggering ignorance and muted conscience, which for most people would merely be an unfortunate foundation on which to build character. But when such characteristics guide the behavior of the leader of the most powerful nation in the history of the world, it is beyond chilling.
How, then, can Americans elevate crucial debates when the president himself is hell-bent on reducing them to 140-character bursts of self-stroking misanthropy?
There is no one answer, but you could do worse than start with Sam Harris’s Waking Up podcast, a collection of conversations led by Harris about politics, religion, technology, neuroscience, meditation, ethics, and on and on.
Harris also recently talked with David Brooks, a New York Times columnist and author of a wonderful book called The Road to Character, which guided the discussion. For those unfamiliar with the book, it is an exploration of the deep values that shaped the far-from-average lives of Dwight Eisenhower, Dorothy Day, Frances Perkins and others. Over the course of an hour, Brooks and Harris talk about the concepts of sin and virtue, grace and self-overcoming. They discuss humility and the ethics of honesty, about which Harris says, “One thing I’ve often recommended is the ethic of just not lying, really ever, putting dishonesty on the continuum of violence.”We should note that Harris despises Trump, but what makes him unique in that regard is that he genuinely wants to understand the people who adore him. Harris’s many Trump-supporting listeners urged him to converse with a thoughtful person who actually defends the president, namely Dilbert creator Scott Adams, and so Harris invited him on last month. For more than two hours they had what Harris called “a very civil and enjoyable conversation.” There was no winner and there were likely no conversions, but there was illumination.
For two men who have painstakingly explored the foundations of high character, they find themselves largely in agreement on Trump the man.
Harris said: “He strikes me as a distillation of everything that is wrong with the American character. This could be, in large measure, a caricature, but he has brought the caricature to life. If you take our materialism, and our ignorance about the rest of the world, and our satisfaction in our ignorance, our overconfidence, our pretension to greatness even when we’re actually being merely petty, our vanity, our sexism, boorishness, narcissism – these are the antithesis of the kind of project you articulate in (The Road to Character). . . . He is the living embodiment of a kind of American grotesque.”
Rare is the day when Donald Trump fails to offend somebody. Yesterday was New Hampshire’s turn, and who knows who it will be tomorrow – but it almost doesn’t matter. It’s long past time to treat his ignorance as a distraction rather than the main event.

To participate in an elevated debate isn’t to ignore what’s going on in the gutter; it is to recognize the gutter for what it is and avoid getting stuck.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Selectmen to Continue 2% Time Warner/Spectrum Cable Franchise Fee

For those in town that subscribe to Time Warner Cable/Spectrum, you have been paying 2% on most of your cable bill ( 2% of the cable providers gross revenues)  as per the contract the town entered into with Adelphia in 2001.  Adelphia went bankrupt some years ago and was acquired by TWC, recently aquired by Charter/Spectrum.

There was a discussion begun by Selectman Bartlett, to eliminate the 2% fee which he argued ( correctly I think)  that it is a tax on those of us that are cable subscribers. He made a motion to delete the 2% tax from the contract, but no second was made and the motion failed. I don't know at this point if the contract can be amended as it may have automatically renewed for a five period when it expired in March of this year.
In any event, the bigger discussion was about the Communication and Technology Fund created at town meeting in 2007, wherein most of the cable franchise fee , (last year it was approximately $30k ) is deposited into it. Today the fund has about $180k remaining. The purpose of the fund was for money to build out internet access in town. $43k was used to upgrade service for some Fairpoint customers who were under served last year.
Selectman Beadle told the BoS that her internet " speed" is just 780 kb, not nearly enough for even basic web activities.
It matters not the definition of true broadband or how the FCC defines it.  Fairpoint recently advised that it can offer up to 25 MBS via DSL in some areas. If you are getting just 780 KBS going up to anywhere near 25 MBS is a huge and welcomed improvement. Arguing that it is obsolete technology is irrelevant and ignorant of true consumer need and misses the point of the purpose of the reserve fund.
I believe that spending money from the Capital Reserve Fund to increase speed to under served areas is money well spent.

Josh Bartlett did make some excellent points in that there are other means to access high speed internet such as Hughes Net which offers 25 MBS if you have a southerly exposure and now Fairpoint with enhanced DSL. He was successful in convincing the BoS to send a letter to TWC/Spectrum to honor the contract and open an outlet/office locally in town and perhaps contract with a local company such as Lakes Region Computer to provide services that we currently need to travel to Plymouth or North Conway offices to access.

So what of the $180K  in the Communication and Technology Capital Reserve Fund? It can be returned to the general fund if there is a warrant article approved at Town Meeting to do so, but I would vote against it. There is still a need in town to bring better internet access to a number of areas, and perhaps it could be used as seed money to support an emerging technology.

The future is coming at us at a rapid speed, and we need as a town to keep up. In 2017, it is just not acceptable that  within our borders residents do not have adequate internet access.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

"Addicts, families, doctors, cops all wonder: What works? Where do we go from here?"

Very timely report from Yahoo News in light of President Trumps recent comments on NH being a drug infested den. This is a story about Middletown, Ohio. The opioid problem is everywhere, no part of the country is a safe haven. In Middletown, as everywhere else, there does not seem to be any clear  answers.
I am convinced that it will be impossible to solve this problem if it continues to be a political football. Democrats and Republicans should not be accusing each other of not doing enough just to score political points. People are dying every day. NH should be an example to the rest of the nation

Emily de La Bruyère
Yahoo News
The opioid epidemic is a national crisis. But what does that mean? To answer that, Yahoo News traveled to Middletown, Ohio — a city once considered as ordinary as its name, more recently known for an explosion in opioid use — and explored quantitative research about drugs, health care, and national public opinion. This is a problem so serious that it requires big data, so human that it needs a face. Here is what we found:
Over years of hard work, Scott Weidle built up the Weidle Corporation — a sand, gravel and topsoil company in Germantown, Ohio — so he could pass it down to his son. But the day after Christmas in 2015, 30-year-old Daniel Weidle died of a heroin overdose. He was alone in his apartment. A prescription for pain pills had turned into addiction; inpatient therapy failed to keep him off drugs permanently; treatment with the opioid-blocker Vivitrol seemed to have worked a miracle until Daniel’s doctor left town without warning and his prescription ran out. The Weidles scrambled to find a new doctor to administer the monthly shot. They were turned away four times.
Scott’s sister-in-law Beth Genslinger deals with the loss of her son to heroin through community and communication. Scott looks for solutions. He argues that this is a solvable problem: “We have to stop the overexposure to medical opioids.” Since his son’s death, Scott Weidle has dedicated himself to lobbying Columbus for new legislation — in the form of the newly proposed Daniel’s Law — on opioid prescriptions, as well as increased treatment availabilityBut in Ohio, overprescription continues to be a problem.
Where do we go from here? Scott is rare for the clarity he brings to that question. The problem is daunting. It touches on any number of hot-button social issues: medicine, law, labor, economics, law enforcement. The cycle of addiction is too powerful. The costs appear prohibitive.
Clean for one month, eight months, and the better part of 18, respectively, Larry Fugate, Jack Barrett and Gene Robinson all stress the need for treatment. That means medicine: Suboxone or Vivitrol. It also means social support — for Jack, the tightknit community at Groups, his treatment center; for Gene, a fiancée who makes sure he takes his pills. They cite new centers, counseling services and helplines popping up in and around Middletown as signs of hope. But these work only for those who want treatment. A user has to have hit rock bottom before seeking help, Gene says. “You just hope rock bottom isn’t death.”
They are less certain when it comes to goals, and they don’t talk about costs. Jack is looking for jobs. Mostly he just wants to stay clean. What does he do with his time? “I mow the grass — try to stay busy.” Larry is interviewing with AK Steel. His mother hopes that he gets the night shift. It means he won’t have time to hang out with “people from the past.” And she worries even about that: AK Steel is not an easy place to work. An ex-boyfriend died of black lung from particulate exposure.
Jack, Larry, and Gene all rely on Medicaid for their treatment. “Trump’s going to be taking it away from us,” says Gene. “And then what’s going to happen to us?” They want to be able to pay back into the system. But for now, they can’t. The Groups executive director, Jeremy Carpenter, admits that in this world, “success is a very subjective term.”
And not everyone even believes in the possibility of success. Richard K. Jones, the Butler County sheriff is controversial for his hardline stance on immigration — and, more recently, for prohibiting his officers from carrying the anti-overdose drug Narcan. “I feel it’s dangerous,” he says. “You have to get down on your knees.” He says victims don’t like the police and might be violent (although overdose victims are more likely to be groggy and lethargic). His officers’ “job is not to die for this person who chose to shoot drugs.” Jones also insists that treatment has no effect. “They’ll tell you how successful they are. They aren’t.” According to him, we can’t save the addicts. The only option is prevention — education, crackdown on suppliers, a border wall. (When Scott Weidle hears this he snorts: “Trump’s wall is not going to do a damn thing about it.” He argues that drug traffickers just mail the drugs. “They’ll fly right over the wall.”)
Does Middletown just wait — and hope? Under a thin layer of obfuscation, that seems to be what Mayor Mulligan suggests. He’ll keep hosting summits and funding overdose runs, as he has for the better part of the past four years. But — as with crack and meth before — this epidemic will just have to run its course. At the fire station, the captain says, sighing: “I don’t know if there’s an answer.” All he can do is keep showing up, keep saving people and keep hoping that something works.
The one thing everyone — the sheriff included — agrees on is the need for public education. People need to know what addiction looks like and how easily it happens. But education can go only so far. Over free breakfast at a local church, a slouching woman explains that she grew up in a family of users. She watched them tear their lives apart. She promised herself that she would never do drugs. But then her mother died. She was being molested. She was suicidal. Her uncle sold heroin: It was an easy escape. Now she is in intensive outpatient treatment. She has three children. She hopes that they will learn from her example not to use.
Standing outside the memorial park that they have built for Daniel, Scott Weidle and his wife, Carrie, stress that this is a human tragedy — and a disease — that we cannot ignore. They believe you have to keep fighting the battle, with whatever it takes. The only people who feel otherwise are those who haven’t been affected personally. “But,” Carrie sighs, “they will be.”
Emily de La Bruyère has written for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and the Daily Beast. She is a student at Sciences Po in Paris on the Michel David-Weill fellowship.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"It feels good to know we can do something other than be on the front page of the paper for doing something wicked stupid." Carroll County Commissioner David Babson

A good positive story in today's Conway Daily Sun about an inmate at the Carroll Couny jail " Felon to Farmer", but it is also about a really good guy, David Babson, who by his example and good old fashioned one on one conversations, has helped turn around the lives of some who made very bad choices in their lives.
The full story can be found here. Well worth the read.

County Commissioner David Babson (left) and jail inmate Daniel Lennon at the county farm in Ossipee. (DAYMOND STEER PHOTO