Good Old Great Grand Dad!

Posted: July 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

FWClark8I had the most wonderful day walking the forest known as South Woods in Alstead, NH.
Armed with old maps, GPS, iPhone and pen and paper, I discovered the 19th century cellar hole and walls of my paternal great grandfather, Frank Willis Clark.
The original road is long past reverted to eroded ditches in places, but leads through a series of walls and stone SouthWoodscellars of a once vibrant community that wound it’s way the hills between Alstead, Gilsum, Walpole and Surry.
First stop was a three-sided barn across from stone walls identify the L. Bourret homestead. I found an iron hinge-like object still in serviceable condition.

Next was the 20×20 #7 schoolhouse nestled at the SE junction of the Dent Brook. Red bricks were mingled on all sides with the field stone foundation, making it difficult to find the hearth. I discovered a large, 2×4 flat stone placed along an adjoining wall that looked convincingly like an entrance.
epson012.jpgIt was a difficult and steep walk to the junction with Peabody Rd., where I found the southern leg washed out.
I wasn’t able to spy the M. Ellis house, but did locate the GE Cater place. Much whole brick is to be found on a center mound that probably housed the hearth.

After crossing the brook exiting Caldwell Pond, you come upon a newish intersection built to access a nice dock, beach and view of Caldwell Pond. There is even a horseshoe pit!
144 paces south of the intersection, 14 paces to the left, is Frank W. Clark’s cellar hole. The 1858 Map of Cheshire County has a Mrs. Caldwell living there, but by 1880, and at least until his death in 1908, it was the home of Frank and Phylinda Clark – and most of their 11 children. It is very likely the children, including my grandfather, Frank Ernest, attended the School #7.
EPSON010The cellar foundation was made of 2x1x5 blocks of granite, and other flat stones of various types that fit, and looked to be deep enough to stoop into. The road and the facing wall point 300 degrees NNW. A possible exterior hatch entry is visible toward the road.FWClarkBricks The dimensions are 18×30 with a 6 ft. tee that extends south west about 20 feet. There is also a wall without a cellar joining to the south west. A 2×4 flat stone identifies an entrance. Along the front wall were chards of window glass and red brick. Inside the stone closure were a metal barrel loop and bedsprings. A chard from a large green glass bottle was there as well.
About 50 feet to the rear of the house was a 3 foot round well and a stone wall-enclosed barn. A single-metal bedspring lay along one of the walls.

I’ll be revisiting this project often, so keep tuned.

Update: *Brickmaking in New Hampshire started on the 1600’s, and as carried out with marine or freshwater glacial clays of New England, brickmaking is a two-stage process. First, the plastic clay must be prepared and molded. Second, the molded bricks must be fired or baked until they become a ceramic. There was a thriving brick making industry along the Connecticut River, exploiting the seasonal layers of grey clay formed under the fresh-water glacial lakes that once filled the valley. From the 17th century on, brick sizes were regulated by law, based on earlier British regulations, to measure a uniform 9-inches x 4-1/4 inches x 2-1/2 inches, because masons of the time were paid “by measure” and not by they’re own claims of work done. Despite such laws, many New Hampshire brickmakers manufactured undersized products; historian Jeremy Belknap cautioned as much in a 1792 article arguing that a new regulation was needed.

The unmarked bricks at the Frank W. Clark homestead measure 7-3/4 x 3-3/4 x 1-3/4 inches. *Small-Scale Brickmaking in New Hampshire; James L. Garvin.

The 1831 Keene directory listed one brickmaker, Thomas M. Edwards, who was also listed as an attorney. Over 40 years later the 1871-72 directory still listed only one brick manufacturer; this time it was W. A. Barrett & Co. on Main Street. William A. Barrett formed a partnership with Luther P. Alden in 1882, but the business was dissolved by the end of the 1880’s. Later in the 1870’s other brick- yards were owned by George W. Ball, on Main Street, and Cyrus H. Bemis and John R. Russell, whose yard was on Water Street. George F. and Emmons Ball succeeded their father, and the firm became George W. Ball’s Sons. This was sold in 1909 to the Keene Brick Co., with George O’Donnell as president and Jerry E. Barry as treasurer and agent. At that time, and until its close in 1920, it was the sole brick manufacturer in the city.

Where are our elected officials?

Posted: February 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

nopass2The stunning upset of the Northern Pass project is another example of regular people coming together to oppose what many elected representatives don’t seem to be interested in opposing.

There is an increasing number of examples.

Citizens came together in 2016 to oppose the Kinder Morgan fracked gas pipeline and won.

Over the past 18 months as a Keene city councilor, I joined three neighborhoods that opposed high-density rezoning, a stalled residential development and a non-conforming use proposal. We won each final decision.

This year, the PUC has agreed to hear public comment on the Liberty Gas franchise in Keene because of citizen opposition to what we saw as a rushed decision.

Where are the rest of our elected officials? Who do they really represent? As an elected official myself, I am becoming more and more disheartened by the silence of my colleagues.

Citizens should not have to be so vigilant to protect what they hold dear.

Elected officials should be representing them, not the special interests who are motivated by greed.

4387.55a57883981dcA recent story in our local paper reported on the environmental and safety problems posed by our current method of de-icing highways. Our public works director has come up with innovative ways to lower the danger, but the costs and pollution problems are still mounting. The solution, as I see it, won’t be found within the scope of conventional methods, but rather by looking outside the box.

Currently, America’s road systems are constructed using bitumen asphalt products that are reliant upon the fossil fuel industry. De-icing technology for those roads are confined to the use of sodium or calcium chloride and sand. Yet, the same fossil fuel industry has been producing byproducts – plastics – for years that we also struggle to dispose of. Europeans have struck upon an answer that should be obvious to all of us, but isn’t considered because it’s not within our conventional scope – solarized plastic.

I suggested this at a Finance, Organization and Personnel Committee meeting of the Keene City Council last year, but was met by blank stares suggesting that I had three heads. Like when Mr. Robinson said “plastics” to young Benjamin Braddock in “The Graduate.”

“There are no sources of this material or technology,” said the public works director.

Not among the conventional industry vendors maybe, but they are all invested in the fossil fuel approach and wouldn’t make money suggesting other solutions.

Municipal leaders here must be authorized to go outside the conventional marketplace for solutions, just as European governmental bodies have done.

We operate a recycling center, as do many towns and cities around us, that produces thousands of tons of recyclable plastics. Rather than sell these raw materials to companies who manufacture ski jackets and deck planking, maybe we could seek out a company to produce the same solarized plastic highway sections produced in France. And maybe we could persuade them to produce them in Keene. Maybe on the Kingsbury property.

Having three heads may not be liability after all?

Prospect Park

Posted: January 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

There has been much discussion about the denial of the proposal for the reuse of the Prospect Place property on Court St in Keene.

The problem as I see it is that the story has centered around the need for creating a drug rehabilitation center, and not about the proper way to do it.

There are rules involved, and the rules were not followed by the petitioner. Instead, they have misinformed the public about the process.

Meanwhile, people involved in the process discovered discrepancies and weaknesses in the petitioner’s arguments that didn’t pass scrutiny. That is why it was denied.

I believe that if a petitioner came forward and followed the rules, that this would have passed.

I hope you don’t think less of me for my efforts to protect the interests of my constituents in the Prospect St. neighborhood.

councilorclarkI have joined with the New Hampshire Pipeline Health Study Group in a lawsuit to reverse the NH Public Utility Commission’s unlawful granting of a fracked liquid natural gas franchise to Liberty Utilities (EnergyNorth Natural Gas) Corp. in Keene.

It must be noted that fracked LNG is more dangerous than virgin LNG because of the lethal chemicals absorbed into the gas during the extraction process. This is not your father’s Oldsmobile. The NH Pipeline Health Study Group wants to address the fact that fracked gas is not the same as the traditional “natural” gas contemplated by PUC rules, with studies linking carcinogens and a cocktail of other harmful chemicals to fracked gas, emissions and leaks from gas compressor stations and other gas infrastructure to respiratory and other health problems.

It is well-established that Keene sits in a valley that is prone to air inversions that traps particulates in the air from burning fossil fuels. Because of the carcinogens and other harmful chemicals used in the extraction process of fracking LNG, burning and leaking gas would trap these poisonous particulates into the air and cause generations of health issues including respiratory and heart disease as well as cancer among the residents and visitors of Keene.

KeeneLiberty Utilities (EnergyNorth Natural Gas) Corp. is just a small part of a global conglomerate that has established a fossil fuel monopoly in New Hampshire and other states. They are bent on burning every drop of LNG left in the Earth and are using political lobbying to block free-market forces from developing solar and other sustainable energy sources that nearly all other industrialized nations are rapidly exploiting. Keene is the first of 32 plants planned in New Hampshire.

A rapid transition to sustainable energy sources is necessary to address the climate change crisis, and many NH state laws and actions, including this order, are acting as roadblocks to pursuing sustainable energy sources, and allowing the building of a new large, high customer volume hydraulically fractured (“fracked”) gas facility in Keene will impede the development and availability of sustainable alternatives in Keene for at least another generation.


We are asking for reconsideration and rehearing of an order granting a franchise to convert compressed natural gas (“CNG”) and liquid natural gas (“LNG”) without notice, a hearing or the opportunity for intervention, public input or challenge to Liberty Utilities (EnergyNorth Natural Gas) Corp.


The Motion
NH Code of Administrative Rules
Exhibits A-C
Exhibits D-G
Exhibits H-J
Exhibits K-N

If you would like to help, please contact our attorney:
Richard M. Husband, Esquire 
10 Mallard Court 
Litchfield, NH 03052 
N.H. Bar No. 6532 
Telephone No. (603)883-1218 

final2It would be very easy to say that the most important issues today are well beyond just Ward 3 in Keene. While I am aware of those issues – and they are many – I say, “but”.

And this is an important “but”.

Neighborhood issues tend to get lost when decisions are made on the planning board and council levels. That’s why it’s important that you vote to keep me as your ward councilor. I focus on those smaller issues because they frequently end up as bad consequences of larger decisions that are made.

For example, we have a policy that sometimes allows excess city property to be developed in discordance with an abutting neighborhood. 


That was the case when I worked with the North Central Neighborhood Group, The Elm Research Institute and city staff to create the North Central Nature Park on North and Carroll streets.

We also started an anti-heroin campaign that culminated in a city-wide addiction solutions task force that I co-chaired with councilor Randy Filiault. Oh, by the way, they don’t deal drugs on the North St. property anymore.

We have zoning regulations that sometimes allow high density zoning to encroach on medium density neighborhoods. An incident happened recently when I worked with Old Walpole and West Surry road residents and city staff to defeat that proposal.


Our Planning Board rules allow developers to take as much time as they like to complete residential housing developments, no matter how it effects resident abutters. I recently worked with abutters and city staff to jump-start the so-called “Keene Sand and Gravel” development at 431 Court St. A new fence was constructed and stakes are now in the ground in preparation for a new home this spring.

Not too long ago, East Surry Road was devastated by a flood. I stood on the city manager’s desk to get that bridge and road damage repaired ASAP. Last month, Councilor Richards and I convinced fellow councilors to move-up the Gunn Rd. repaving project one year to start this coming spring in order to preserve this deteriorating road before more extensive repairs became necessary.


The Sentinel asks, what are the important issues? I would argue that those are the issues that residents call me about every day. Whether it is a pothole or tree hanging over a power line, constituent service is Job One for a ward councilor.

That isn’t to say that I haven’t been doing other things, like working to increase efficiencies in city operations. In fact, we have moved forward on a joint procurement initiative with the school district and county to share expenses and eliminate duplication. But, feet are being dragged and you need me to keep those feet to the fire.

There has been an economic development committee at work to bring business into town, and I have advocated for a sustainable path that takes us away from the same old technologies and methods that failed us in the past decades. You’ll recall Bruce Springsteen’s lines in his song, “My Home Town…these jobs are goin’ boys and they ain’t comin’ back.” Well, this is the 21st Century and we need to acknowledge that by facilitating modern development.

Solar Panel with green grass and beautiful blue skyFor example, soon the city will enter into a power purchase agreement with a solar company to buy only electricity generated from solar power in New Hampshire – at a lower rate than Eversource. You need me to stay on that purchasing committee to make sure it happens. Otherwise, you’ll likely be paying for expensive, polluting fossil fuel electricity for another generation.

In order to continue doing these things I need your vote on Tuesday, November 7th