Students revolt over corn dogs removal

“We, the people of Londonderry Middle School, would like to notify you on how we feel about the new dumplings. WE HATE THEM.”

About two years ago, we reported on the great corndog revolt in a New Hampshire middle school. Read about it here.

 

Mr. Potato Head may have appealed to Franklin visitor

By Ray Carbone

NEW LONDON – The famous toy known as Mr. Potato Head was at the center of an alleged theft at the New London Inn recently.

Melissa L. Chilson, 30, of Franklin was charged with stealing a Mr. Potato Head from the inn’s conference room on Oct. 22. Police claimed that she also took a DustBuster handheld vacuum cleaner, committing “theft by unauthorized taking.”

“(Chilson) obtained unauthorized control of a Mr. Potato Head toy, which belonged to the Dartmouth Institute,” according to court records. The same charge was made regarding the wireless vacuum machine.

A new Mr. Potato Head toy is sold at retail outlets like Target and Walmart for $7.99.

The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, which is part of Dartmouth College, was apparently using the conference room at the time.

New London police officer James MacKenna investigated the incident.

Last Tuesday, March 19, Chilson’s case was scheduled to come before Judge Bruce A. Cardello in the fifth district court in Newport. But the town decided to nol pros the charges, meaning that authorities were abandoning their formal claims against Chilson.

There is no record of whether Chilson was found not to be involved in the alleged theft, or if the items were returned to the Dartmouth Institute or the organization was recompensed in some other way. Officer McKenna was unavailable for comment late last week.

Mr. Potato Head was invented in 1952 as a way to turn potatoes (and other vegetables) into amusing toys. One of the most iconic toys in America, it was the first one sold directly to children through television commercials. There has been some revival of Mr. Potato Head since 1995, when he began appearing in the Toy Story movie franchise.

A new Mr. Potato Head toy by Hasbro is sold at retail outlets like Target and Walmart for $7.99. The most expensive DustBuster sells for less than $100.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record weekly newspaper, published in Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.

Finally, the frost heaves are in bloom

By Ray Carbone

There’s a tender coldness to the air today.

It’s spring in New Hampshire – the New Hampshire that’s on calendars, not the one that’s got lighthouses or the one that looks likes the suburbs of Boston. New Hampshire’s spring has some wonderfully charming days like this one.

The only thing that it compares to it is in the fall, when the leaves stand posed at the end of branches showing off their red and gold colors, as they prepare to launch out into the cool blue sky and onto the green-brown ground.

These spring days are pregnant with warmth.

Not real warmth…

There’s a poignancy to these days too, a real sense that they’re here only to leave, like your first love or seeing your favorite car just as it disappears around a corner. These spring days are pregnant with warmth. Not real warmth yet – that’s still ten or fifteen more degrees away before we’re casting off our coats and sweaters. But, a warmth still the same, something that bespeaks of light ahead.

In this New Hampshire, that hint is mostly seen in the heavy water. Somewhere, deep down, below that drift of snow leaning against the barn, beneath the plowed piles clinging to the sides of your driveway, is the water, melting down as the depth of the snow sinks.

It’s known as mud season here, starting sometime in March and heading into April, May, even June some years. It’s messy and annoying, but it’s also a promise.

Spring is here. Summer is coming.

© 2019, Carbone Productions, LLC

 

 

 

 

 

The first ski trains in New England were launched in Warner, N.H.

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – Looking at this small picturesque New England town today, it’s hard to imagine the significant role it once played in the development of the region’s winter tourism industry.

But it was about 85 years ago when a local businessman made the biggest deal of his life, drawing more than 200 people to town in America’s first “ski train.”

‘They left Boston’s North Station and arrived in a town with a little over 1,000 people… Word spread, and Warner was soon known as the winter sports capital of central New Hampshire.’

Rebecca Courser, the executive director of the Warner Historical Society, talked about the event, and the subsequent impact of impact on the town, as a special “Snow Train Dinner & Talk” in the town hall recently. The society’s fundraising event drew more than 200 people.

Buck Whitford introduced skiing to the town in 1909, Courser explained. He’d picked it up when visiting family members in Minnesota, and initiated friends and neighbors into the sport. It wasn’t long before locals in Warner – and in other northeastern communities – were making their own wooden skis, swooping down their hills and mountains.

But it was John “Happy Jack” Chandler who initiated the ski trains, according to Courser. In the early 1930s, Chandler took a trip to Boston. He visited several large businesses where he promoted Warner as a great place for a wintertime company trip. Some of the organizations sent representatives to the town and, after seeing the local hotels, restaurants and skiing facilities, some – including the John Hancock Insurance company – decided to take Chandler up on his invitation.

“They left Boston’s North Station and arrived in a town with a little over 1,000 citizens,” Courser said of the early ski trains. “The Boston folks grew to have a great appreciation for Warner as a winter playground. Word spread, and Warner was soon known as the winter sports capital of central New Hampshire.”

Of course the operations were relatively primitive. With no snowmaking equipment, business was completely dependent on natural snowfall. So when one winter brought a dearth of good cover, Armdam Doucette, the town barber, challenged the other men in town to join him in a pledge, “not to shave until we get some skiable snow,” Courser said.

In 1950, the Boston-Warner ski train brought 1,200 people to town, making the largest corporate outing America had ever seen.

Almost 30 men participated and, although there’s no proof that it impacted any wintry precipitation, it did bring the town some unexpected publicity. “Permanent five o’clock shadow hovers over Warner,” was a headline seen as far away as California, Courser said. And when the snow finally arrived after Christmas, the ski train people returned.

When the country entered the prosperous post-World War II years, things really took off. At that time, there were 14 inns and hotels operating in Warner during the winter months.

One weekend, approximately 900 Hancock employees got off the ski trains, virtually doubling the town’s population. In 1950, the Boston-Warner ski train brought 1,200 people to town, making the trip the largest corporate outing America had ever seen.

But by 1956, poor skiing conditions and increased competition from places like the state-owned Sunapee resort began the decline of the local tourism industry.

“Many of the inns shut down abruptly,” Courser noted.

War.SkiRR-statn
Main Depot receiving snow train visitors. Dr. Put’s cadillac, Henry Wachsmuth Buick, James Hardy truck. 1953

 

The local ski operations were eventually turned over to the schools. When construction of Interstate 89 divided the primary ski area, the operations were later moved to the Mink Hills area. By the 1980s, the ski businesses were gone.

But the ski trains had a major economic impact on the town for more than 25 years. It brought new people to Warner, some who returned during the summer, and some eventually settling here. And the winter population hike forced local residents, businesses and civic organizations to work cooperatively, Courser concluded.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record weekly newspaper, published in Sutton, New Hampshire, Tuesday, February 19, 2019. All images are courtesy of the Warner (N.H.) Historical Society.

 

Warner’s town administrator swings back

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – Last week Jim Bingham, the town administrator who has faced some tough public criticism lately, leveled some pointed remarks of his own at John Leavitt, a member of the town’s budget committee.

At the board of selectmen’s meeting in town hall, Bingham said that Leavitt had made “comments that attacked my professional and personal integrity, in terms of my work and my work with board of selectmen” at a Dec. 27 budget committee meeting.

“You think about this, because this ticked me off,” Bingham told Leavitt at the selectmen’s meeting. “This was essentially a personal attack.”

‘You have to trust that we’re doing the best we can, that there’s nothing illegal, immoral and unethical going on.’

Kimberly Brown Edelmann, selectboard chair 

Bingham referred to a story on the front page of the Jan. 15 edition of the InterTown Record, which related Levitt’s remarks from the Dec. 27 budget group meeting. At the time, Leavitt said that there was “plenty of room for interpretation and manipulation” of data in a report on a town employee wage/compensation study that Bingham had discussed with the selectmen. “All the (relevant) information was going to the administrator (and) he was only telling you (selectmen) what he felt you should know, because he filters out what he thinks you don’t need to know,” Bingham read, quoting Leavitt’s remarks.

“If that’s not an attack or an accusation, I don’t know that is,” the administrator said. It’s unfounded, as far as I know… If there was any real evidence, I’d assume (you) would have brought that forward.”

“It sounds like you jumped to a conclusion that it was something (inappropriate) that Jim did,” Kimberly Brown Edelmann, the chairman of the selectmen’s board, told Leavitt. “You have to trust that we’re doing the best we can, that there’s nothing illegal, immoral and unethical going on.”

Leavitt replied that he never accused Bingham of acting improperly. “I made no allegations,” he said. “All I said was that (the study’s evaluation) was not always transparent… I said, there’s plenty of room for interpretation and manipulation (in the data). I did not suggest that was done.”

Bingham said that if the Leavitt had concerns about the administrator’s work, he should have gone directly to the selectmen. “The budget committee meeting was not the place to put that out (in public),” Bingham said. “Since I’m an employee, that becomes a personal issue… When you bring it up in a public forum, that’s inflammatory and damaging.”

After the Dec. 27 meeting, Bingham notified that budget committee that he would no longer attend its meetings because they were “too unruly,” and that “the history of sarcasm, condescension and personal attacks by some of its members towards myself, the department heads and our professional predecessors, makes the whole experience… demoralizing and extremely unproductive.” (Bingham did however come to a recent committee meeting.)

Bingham began his comments by asking Leavitt if he’d thought about his remarks and wanted to offer an apology.

But Leavitt refused, saying that he’d heard from other people who attended the Dec. 27 meeting and found it informative. Bingham and others in town leadership sometimes interpret vigorous questioning by the budget committee and others as “being contentious,” he said.

“Mr. Bingham called it a kangaroo court,” Leavitt said about the Dec. 27 meeting. “I call it democracy.”

Alfred Hanson, another budget committee member, suggested that some of the recent tensions between the committee and the administration were caused by the selectmen. He said that the board had recently approved some recent «wage increases, based on the wage/compensation study, without the usual level of input from the budget group and others.

Brown Edelmann said that she was mostly responsible for that and that the action has become a “learning opportunity for me, as the chairman… Maybe it wasn’t the smoothest move.”

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record weekly newspaper, published in Sutton New Hampshire, on Tuesday, January 22, 2019.

Innkeeper’s lawsuit may be resolved in 2019

By Ray Carbone

BRADFORD – The legal dispute between the owner of the Bradford Village Inn on Greenhouse Lane, and the town and two of its officials, could be headed towards a trial later this year.

In recent months, filing in the U.S. District Court in Concord has lead to some legal resolutions between the two sides but some issues are still unresolved.

Judge Andrea K. Johnstone, who is presiding over the case, has asked the two parties to consider mediation and to notify the court if they intend to do so before April 1. If that does not happen, a tentative date for beginning a trial is set for Aug. 20.

It was almost one year ago when Joseph Torro, the owner of the historic property, sued the Town of Bradford, as well as Mark Goldberg, the chief of the fire-rescue department, and Marilyn Gordon, the town treasurer, for allegedly conspiring against his efforts to re-open the 121-year-old lodging facility in 2014. Torro purchased the property, which Gordon had previously operated as a bed-and-breakfast, at an auction that year.

According to the suit, Goldberg unfairly tried to enforce costly safety upgrades to the building before issuing an operating permit to Torro, and Goldberg convinced the board of selectmen to renege on promised tax abatement. The town is liable since the pair acted in the roles as town officials, Torro argues. He asked for $2 million in monetary damages, as well as an indeterminate amount of punitive damage. Goldberg, Gordon and the town have all separately refuted the claims, and asked the court to dismiss them, but so far Judge Johnstone has not responded.

The lawyers representing Goldberg, Gordon and the town have all argued that Torro hasn’t provided sufficient proof that the town employees were acting in conspiracy to harm him.

 

In his original court filing, Torro made five separate legal arguments. He claimed his business was treated unfairly, that he was denied the normal “due process” of opening a business, and that both Goldberg and Gordon acted in violation of the state’s Right-To-Know statute. In addition, the owner charged that the situation made him a victim of “intentional infliction of emotion distress.”

But in late November, Torro’s attorney indicated that he would not object to the court dismissing both the “due process” claim and one of the Right-To-Know charges.

The lawyers representing Goldberg, Gordon and the town have all argued that Torro hasn’t provided sufficient proof that the town employees were acting in conspiracy to harm him.

Gordon’s attorney noted that, whatever she may have said to the board of selectmen, she did not have the authority to deny a tax abatement.

Goldberg’s lawyer stated that the fire chief actually recused himself from inn’s permitting process and passed his normal licensing responsibilities on to the state fire marshal’s office.

The town’s legal representative claims that its employees are protected from legal actions related to their duties. Barring that, any improper behavior that Goldberg and Gordon may have committed was personal and did not benefit the town.

All three argue that Torro cannot show that, even if all his charges are true, that they rise to the legal definition of “Intentional infliction of extreme emotional distress.”

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record newspaper, published in Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, January 15, 2019.

Warner town administrator will address charge of manipulation

By Ray Carbone

WARNER –At the board of selectmen’s meeting scheduled for this Tuesday, Jan. 15, Jim Bingham, the town administrator, is planning to discuss recent public comments aimed at him by members of the budget committee and other residents.

Kimberley Brown Edelmann, the chairman of the selectmen’s board, said that Bingham requested the opportunity to publicly respond to the remarks, especially those made by John Leavitt, a member of the budget committee, at the Dec. 27 committee meeting. The criticisms, which have been aimed at both Bingham’s integrity and abilities, should be aired in a public forum, she said.

he slings and arrows, it takes a toll,” Brown Edelmann said of Bingham. “It needs to be done.”

‘It was brutal.’

– Kimberly Brown Edelmann, selectman, regarding criticism recently aimed Jim Bingham, the town administrator

 

The chairman does not believe the critiques are valid.

In recent weeks, Bingham has been at the center of disapproving comments aimed at the selectmen regarding its adoption of a new wage/compensation plan for town workers, particularly raises for some employees instituted before the end of last year.

In addition, when long-time town clerk, Judy Newman-Rogers, resigned her position in October, she charged that a “hostile, unpleasant and dysfunctional environment” had developed at town hall, and that the selectmen weren’t managing Bingham appropriately.

According to the unapproved minutes the Dec. 27 budget committee meeting, Leavitt said that Bingham was not always transparent when communicating important data about the new wage proposal with either the selectmen or the public.

“All the (relevant) information was going to the administrator (and) he was only telling you what he felt you should know, because he filters out what he thinks you don’t need to know,” Leavitt told John Dabuliewicz, the selectmen’s representative to the budget group. Leavitt later said that there was “plenty of room in here for interpretation and manipulation” of information that Bingham manages for the three-person board of selectmen.

At the next budget committee meeting on Jan. 3, Mike Cutting, the chairman, read an email message from Bingham. In it, the administrator said he wouldn’t attend any more of the group’s meetings until the conversational tone changed. “The history of sarcasm, condescension and personal attacks by some of its members towards myself, the department heads and our professional predecessors, makes the whole experience of attending budget committee meetings demoralizing and extremely unproductive,” the administrator wrote.

Afterwards, Brown Edelmann said Bingham doesn’t need to go to meetings where he’s treated disrespectfully. “It was brutal,” she recalled, referring to some of the comments aimed at Bingham.

Late last week, Leavitt defended his remarks. “I didn’t make any allegations of wrongdoing, just procedures,” he said. “Nothing illegal.”

Leavitt also called Bingham’s email response “ridiculous,” and said that attending budget committee meetings should be considered to be part of his job.

The agenda for this week’s meeting of the selectmen includes this item: Discuss allegations made by John Leavitt at the 12/27 Budget Committee meeting.

Brown Edelmann said the focus would primarily be on Leavitt’s claim of manipulation of data by Bingham.

Bingham was unavailable for comment.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record weekly newspaper, published in Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, January 15, 2019.

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