The City of Keene’s proposal to increase water rates for customers who use too much water seems logical on the face of it, but there are two glaring problems with the current proposal.First, Keene already gives a discount rate to bulk commercial and industrial users for doing exactly what the proposal is trying to stem – using more water. You would think the City might consider raising those rates before tapping the residential homeowner.Second, multi-family buildings by and large have only one meter for up to four families. These families are renters – which make up more than a half of Keene’s population – and are ill prepared to pay even more for what are among the state’s highest rents.This should be sent back to the finance committee and amended to address two glaring inequities among classes of citizens in Keene.
Gandhi, Seabrook and the Capitol March
Let me share my perspective on the January 6th march on the Capitol. I come into this with an understanding of the value of our right to protest when we disagree with our government. But, there was something different about the protest rally held in Washington, DC on January 6th. I contrast it to a protest I was involved in at the Seabrook nuclear power plant on New Hampshire’s marshy coast in May 1977.
I was part of a movement to stop the building of a twin nuclear power facility; the protestors in DC on the 6th were part of a movement to stop the counting of presidential electors by congress. Both were planned and organized ahead of time. The difference was that the Seabrook protestors had to attend non-violent, civil disobedience tactics classes given by the organizers, the Clamshell Alliance – named for the clams in the marshy bogs surrounding the town of Seabrook, NH.
The DC protestors were provoked to storm the capitol without being trained in non-violent tactics. Revisionists are already floating the idea that most people attended the DC protest merely to support the president, but conveniently omit the advertising and organizational leaflets blatantly telling them to be strong and forcefully stop the counting of elector ballots – “Stop the Steal.” In the end, no injuries or property damage was incurred at Seabrook, but five deaths and utter mayhem was reported from the capitol.
Keene Sentinel reporter Ernest Hebert quoted me saying afterwards that, “A few police got irritable for a while there, but it didn’t last long: and, on the whole, they treated us well.” You see, at Seabrook, protestors sat in groups singing, passively going limp when the police dragged them away. Contrast that with the march on the Capitol, where protestors were the aggressors, killing five, breaking windows and furniture, and defecating in the halls where portraits of Americana is hung.
Gandhi and John Lennon were right about passive resistance: the authorities don’t know what to do with you. The protest at Seabrook was marginally successful in that only one of the twin towers were built. In DC, the counting resumed and a new president was affirmed – nothing changed.
My penalty was a $100 fine and a misdemenor record I have to explain every five years when I reapply for my justice of the peace certification. But, that’s okay. Capitol protestors will be charged with a felony and, ironically, be forever barred from owning a firearm. But, the worst of the capitol march is the damage done to the American psyche and our sense of right and wrong.
Too late for publication in the Keene Sentinel
To the editor,
Apparently, the pressure upon local news outlets require that I send this letter in an alternative media. So…..I write today to endorse Lucius Parshall as the next state representative for Marlborough and Troy, and Patricia Martin to represent Rindge and Fitzwilliam.
As the next county commissioner for Keene, Marlborough and Roxbury, I will need legislators on the county delegation who don’t stonewall solutions to state downshifting, which increases local property taxes, and who wholeheartedly support measures to combat climate change and promote renewable energy systems for our homes and industries. In my view, these two measures are paramount to solving many other spin-off issues that trouble us all, and that have been given short shrift in recent years.
Life experiences mold us all and prepare us for later callings. Lucius’ career teaching children has also taught him to care about their futures. Pat is a scientist, veteran and nurse, which gives her a unique perspective that we should take advantage of and use.
Patricia Martin and Lucius Parshall are two people who stand out in the crowd. They fit the bill. Please elect them as state representatives and members of the county delegation.
Terry M. Clark
Cheshire County Treasurer
14 Barrett Ave.
Keene, NH 03431
Keene Gets “SolSmart Bronze”
Keene is receiving a Bronze designation from the national SolSmart program for making it faster, easier, and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar.
This all really started when mayor Michael E.J. Blastos jetted off to a new-fangled energy conference and came back home with what became the blueprint to set Keene on a course of economic sustainability.
We’ve met many benchmarks since those days – Drafting one of the first energy plans to manage carbon emissions, to putting a 750 kw solar array on the Marlboro St complex; resolving to reduce greenhouse gases to under 350ppm; passing Complete Streets guidelines; there are too many initiatives to name here.
Most recently, city staff is putting the spit shine on a revised city code effort that will likely favor Green Development – And, the city and the county are in their perspective corners, working on Community Power Aggregation plans that could blow the lid off the grid and it’s dependence on fossil fuel generation plants.
Many, many people have been involved over the past 20 years, and more converts on coming on board every day. The future looks bright for Keene.
But there is still the 300 pound gas elephant in the room that is poised to explode our goal to become free of fossil fuels and all of their destructive elements. Without that spector, maybe we could have pulled off a silver, or even the gold!
But here we go!
Access To Information Is Important
The City of Keene IT department updates and installs new software in a rotating budget cycle.
There are a number of things going on now that makes this an opportune time to look at why City of Keene departmental software can’t search and collate information in a useful way.
Example one: After receiving the monthly M.A.R. report from chief Russo in March, I wondered if we could run multi-year graphs that would reveal trends in types of offenses in Keene. My thinking was that we should collect data that could help us direct social services in problem areas, thereby preventing future offenses and future police budget expenses. Chief Russo told me the software used at the KPD couldn’t do that.
Example two: A better data search system would speak to our problems with right to know laws, and the impression by the NH 8th District Superior Court, and the NH Supreme Court, that we don’t take RTK very seriously. The public has a right to know and we have an obligation to store that information in a form that is readily available to them. So says the court.
Example three: Let’s talk about the inadequacy of the search function on the City of Keene website. As a city councilor, I value that function in order to research issues as they come to us each week. There was a marked change for the worse about five years ago – when the site was “redone and improved”. Information that used to exist on our website is no longer readily available. I’m told now to ask the city clerk’s office and they’ll get it for me. I should say, that it might be there for me. I was told not too log ago that I had to file a RTK petition to get information. I just need this information to do my job as a city councilor. The public has a right to have this information, but is being denied that right.
In order to get a better handle on Keene’s social needs, Right To Know, and council research, we should investigate the data search and compilation capability of the city’s software packages, and train personnel to collect and compile the data that is everyone’s right to have.
I’ve filed for re-election for County Commissioner representing Keene, Roxbury and Marlborough.
It’s been an exciting time being Cheshire County Commissioner these past two years, and as County Treasurer the previous two. Through this experience, I’ve seen the extent in which counties in New Hampshire effect the everyday lives of people living here. I’ve come to realize the dedication of administrators, departmental heads and their staff, the state representatives who serve as our county delegation, and the board of commissioners.
The single-most thing that’s become apparent to me from watching this team is that department heads need commissioner support to be innovative and to run smoothly and efficiently. And taxpayers need a commission that will be both mindful of community needs, and the ability to finance those needs.
Luckily, that combination has been the order of the day and I promise to continue and add to the progress in areas such as nursing and critical care, energy efficiency and resourcefulness, and meaningful, alternative programs to the traditional criminal justice system for individuals with a substance use disorder and/or mental illness.
Immediately at my election as commissioner in 2019 we were dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and tasked with dispersing $14,778,619 in American Recovery Program assistance. A million dollars of this money went to the City of Keene and the other towns in the county to use as they pleased; $1.8 million went to non-profits; nearly $2 million went to local businesses that were impacted by the pandemic; and $4.5 million allowed us to design and create a regional emergency medical services agency that will operate without county tax dollars.
Other recipients included county hall renovations and county facility HVAC upgrades; community arts; economic development agencies in Keene and Winchester; two area chambers of commerce; and even $20,000 to fund lifeguard training in area towns.
The regional ambulance service allowed me to fulfill a campaign promise to work towards regional solutions in a meaningful way.
But, I am also working on another area: community power aggregation. Besides being able to join with regional hydro-electric producers to supply a big chunk of the electricity that powers county facilities, our new community power aggregation program will allow us to purchase all of our facility’s power needs, while allowing individual towns to join our consortium and take advantage of lower electric rates for both the towns’ and resident’s needs through our combined buying power.
Throughout the next few months, I’ll try to highlight other important roles a county commissioner plays in the lives of the citizens of Cheshire County. I hope I’ll be able to win your confidence.
Arts and Culture Corridor Project
At the May 28th finance committee meeting, I opposed borrowing $770,000 this year for Gilbo Avenue infrastructure work because there are no clear plans for what the corridor would entail, when the work might start, or even if there is a consensus to move ahead. The story so far gives no analysis of the taxpayer’s point of view, just that it seems to be a fait accompli.
This infrastructure work and the Arts and Culture Corridor work should be occurring simultaneously.
MEDC is looking for funding right now, so there will have to eventually be a specific plan, right? The sponsors will need to know what the project entails. And then, they’ll have to come to the city for permission. But, that hasn’t been done yet.
If not for the planned arts corridor, when would we do this infrastructure work?
Is the work urgent? If so, why wasn’t it in prior CIP’s? Has there been emergency repairs that the finance committee doesn’t know about?
Or is the project being fast-tracked for the arts corridor?
If I wanted to build a housing development, I would be responsible for paying for any new infrastructure – roads, water/sewer, storm water – right? Then I would give it to the city, right? Just like we did on Ashuelot Ct and other neighborhoods?
So, that begs the question, how much of the $770,00 is for new, expanded infrastructure that should be paid for by the developers?
I think we need have and adhere to a concrete timeline. Steady as we go. I don’t want any mistakes here.
And ultimately, we have to someday justify this in the face of our rising tax rate. When does this constant development start decreasing the burden of the residential tax base?
(Keene Sentinel photo) https://www.sentinelsource.com/news/local/keene-budget-includes-bond-for-arts-corridor-work/article_44c4911f-0ee7-5b3c-adfa-0624923fa80a.html
Cheshire County “Shepherd Program”
Get to know Cheshire County government:
The Cheshire County “Shepherd Program” is a part of the Maplewood Nursing Home.
The Shepherd Program helps county residents who are in need of durable medical equipment. Established by the Cheshire County Sheriff’s Department in the late 1990’s, the program recycles donations of used medical equipment. It is now run through Maplewood’s Rehab Department and is based on available inventory.
Who is eligible for the Shepherd Program?
This program is available to all residents of Cheshire County. Items are loaned free of charge on a short-term or long-term basis. The program seeks to assist county residents with equipment for visiting family or friends, and for those who are recovering at home or who have an ongoing need.
How is the Program run?
The program is run by appointment only at 399-7368. The program loans and accepts donations of durable medical equipment that are clean and in good condition, including wheelchairs, walkers, tub/shower seats, and commodes.
How are Items made available?
Items are available on a first call/first reserve basis, and arrangements to pick up items are made by calling 399-7368. Donated and returned equipment is sanitized and stored at Maplewood, with minor repairs and adjustments as needed. An inventory of available items is maintained, and reservations are based on existing inventory and on a first call basis. Pick-up is by appointment only.
How are Donations made?
Donations are made by calling 399-7368. If you have equipment to donate, please call in advance so that we can check our existing inventory for need. Donated items must be clean and in good condition in order to be accepted into the program. Donations are logged and thank you letters sent (values are not included). Donations are by appointment only.
Who is the Shepherd Program contact person?
Please contact Sally Jenna, our Rehab Technician, at 603-399-7368. She will be happy to assist you! Sally’s hours at Maplewood are Mon-Fri: 5:30am-1:30pm.
Get To Know Cheshire County Government
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Cheshire County government is made up of several departments. The Department of Corrections is one of those departments. Persons receiving a sentence of less than one year, or are being held awaiting a court date, serve their time in a local … Continue reading
Time to support the Democratic nominee
I’ve always thought that the greatest thing about this country is that every election cycle, millions of us stand actively for candidates who sing our particular song. We knock on doors, write letters, put up signs, donate money and march in the streets. And, we are frequently downright militant about our choices. That’s the quality we have that vets our choices and trumpets the issues we feel strongly about.
But, Democracy isn’t about always getting exactly what you want. Democracy is a coalition of ideas. Its about good governance.
My choice for President suspended his campaign today and appealed to supporters to press the presumptive nominee to adopt his priorities: healthcare for all, a livable wage, sustainable energy and universal education, et al, at the convention.
Heaven knows, the current pandemic is proving that his ideas are exactly what we need right now. But, he didn’t tell his supporters to stay home because he didn’t win. He told them that defeating the current occupant of the White House is the most pressing issue in the short term. Because, what we have now is not good governance.
In the end, good governance is my first choice. That is why I’m going to support Joe Biden with all the zeal I have shown for Bernie Sanders, and hope that you will too.