Meet the new executive director of the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum

Originally published in the InterTown Record, Jan. 24, 2016:

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(photo by Ray Carbone, Carbone Productions, LLC)

by Ray Carbone

WARNER – Back in 2005, Patricia Violette took a job that changed her life.

“I am originally from Augusta, Maine,” she said, sitting in her new office as executive director of the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum (MKIM) last week. “I worked at the Old Fort Western, which is the oldest surviving wooden fort in America.”

Violette was always interested in history, majoring in the field as an undergraduate student at the University of Southern Maine, and receiving a masters in history at Thomas College in Waterville, Maine.

But the 2005 position excited her. It allowed her to build on her knowledge about early European immigrant life in America, and it piqued her interest about Native American cultures and history.

“I knew about the British history and I knew about the French history,” Violette recalled. “But I wanted to tie in the Indian history, and understand the Indian culture.”

Violette describes her leadership style as working “as part of the team,” so it’s not surprising that she consulted with local tribes and conferences for three years to create a special “Pilgrims and Indians” program for the Fort.

It became a significant contribution to Maine’s educational system. “Nothing was being taught in the schools but the (state) learning standards demanded that teachers teach about Native American history,” Violette explained. “How do you do it, and do it correctly? The teachers were teaching stereotypes, they were teaching the wrong ways. This gave us a chance to teach the correct, political ways – and ones that the native community approved.”

The MKIM’s new director wants to bring the same focus on education to her new job.

“Education is huge with me,” she said. “It’s very important to me that our school groups particularly understand the (Indian) stereotypes and that we dispel them. I want us to give them the proper, correct knowledge of the culture.”

Violette also wants to build on the museum’s social connection with Native Americans. “The museum has a wonderful staff of people,” she said. “Some are native community members and some are not – and the connection that they make together works. From everything I’ve heard and observed, we really do try to bring that (Native) community in, and give them a place to go to, a place to be proud of.”

After Violette left the Fort six years ago, she began work at a early American historic site in the Boston area, but she was disappointed that there were few local Indians with historic ties to the local region.

“In Massachusetts, the natives of Boston were all gone long ago,” she laughed.

After the historian learned about the vacant leadership position here in Warner, she was excited.

She’s only been on the job for a few weeks but she likes what she’s seen so far.

“In the museum, we showcase all (tribes), from the northeast to the southwest Indians,” she said. “So we touch upon all of the cultures, and they vary greatly as you go along the way. And it’s not just the Northeast tribes (here) but any indigenous North American tribe. This is a place to come and be a part of their history.”

The new executive director hopes to broaden the MKIM’s educational focus.

“Now that I’m here, I have lots of ideas that hopefully will bring the native communities together, and (let us) tell the real stories, the complete stories about what happened and why,” she said. “I’d like to see more engaging, hand-on programming that brings to light a lot of the activities that the native culture has given to us. We already do things like basket-weaving and working with beads, and different things like that, but I’d like to write some educational programs that (include) little stations with hands-on things to do.”

From her research, Violette knows about some local tribes but she understand that’s different from meeting local Indian people and working alongside them.

“With anything, respect takes time, trust takes time,” she commented. “The Native community (here), they don’t know me. So I want to make sure that I respect their wishes. But I would like to tell the whole story, and not show anyone in the Native community in a bad light.

“After all, they were the first here, this was their land,” she added. “It’s a difficult process, to please everyone, but that’s the goal from a cultural standpoint. It’s to make sure that we’re respectful to all.”

The MKIM is closed for the winter but group tours are sometimes available. Call (603) 456-2600 for details. The museum will reopen on May.

“The Warner Wonder”

By Ray Carbone

Befitting our small size, New Hampshire has not produced an abundance of notable athletes.

There have been baseball players like Carlton Fisk and Bob Tewskbury, gold-medal skier Penny PItou in the 1960s, and the recently retired pro basketball player Matt Bonner of Concord. Old-time baseball fans still brag about Bobby “Red” Rolf of Penacook, who became third baseman for the same New York Yankees team that featured Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

But, around here, the closest we have to a confirmed champion is Howard Crossett of Bradford. He was part of a four-man bobsled team that won an Olympic silver medal about 65 years ago.

And then there’s Ralph Cutting – also known as the “Warner Wonder.”

An old “Sports Galley” column in the Concord Monitor referred to him as a “spirited competitor and gallant gentleman.” Teammates noted his “devotion and self-discipline, (and) his rigorous training habits,” it added.

Cutting was born on July 6, 1886, in Sutton, but he must have moved to Warner soon afterwards. As a teenager, he was a stellar player on the Simonds Free High School baseball team.

It wasn’t long before the talented left-handed pitcher was competing against more accomplished athletes in the Concord Sunset League – the same league that produced “Red” Rolf. The league, which was formed in 1909, allowed the best athletes in the area to face off against one another every summer weeknight.

Cutting proved to be a winner, pitching strong enough for his “White Parks” team to help them win the league’s first three championships. (The league, which still plays summer weeknights in the city park, is the oldest “sunset” or, “twilight,” league in America.)

On weekends, Cutting did as most Sunset League players did: he played for his local town team.

That was trouble for the teams that came to face the “Warner Nine.”

“The guys from Concord would always know when they took the train up to Warner that it would be a long afternoon,” said the late Edson (Red) Eastman, long-time Sunset League director in a 1970s Concord Monitor story.

Eventually, word about Cutting’s pitching skills spread beyond the Granite State and he drafted to pitch in a bigger baseball town. The Brockton (Mass.) Tigers were a minor league team that was part of the old New England League.

But he wasn’t there long.

Cutting soon graduated to the Milwaukee Brewers – not the current major league baseball club, but a stellar “AA” minor league team that eventually won seven “little World Series” championships. He had a hand in the first two, in 1913 and 1914, during his five years with the club.

A sports story published in the 1913 Louisville (Ky.) Herald showed a strong, casual Cutting (above), and identified him as “the No-Hit Hero,” presumably a reference to his pitching accomplishments. Midwestern sports writers also dubbed him the “Codfish Ball Expert”; “codfish ball” was an early nickname for a curve ball.

According to the old “Sports Galley,” it was only Cutting’s small statute – “a few inches on his stalwart” – that kept him from becoming a major league pitcher.

And the “Warner Wonder” moniker?

It apparently referred to Cutting’s ability as a local angler and not his baseball abilities.

The local man fished – and played golf – in the Concord area into his nineties.

A real life wonder.

Who We Are

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Ray Carbone has been writing about the people of New Hampshire for more than 20 years. He started out doing freelance work in the Manchester area, writing for the NH Union Leader/NH Sunday News, Derry News and Plaistow-Hampstead News. His family then moved to the Lakes Region where he worked as the regional editor for Foster’s Sunday Citizen and a staff writer for both the Sunday Citizen as well as the daily Laconia Citizen; at the Citizen, he regularly produced enterprise stories, managed staff communications, and authored local interest columns. After a brief break for the news field, he returned to daily reporting years at the Laconia Daily Sun. In between his newspaper gigs, Ray regularly contributed to regional media platforms including the Boston Globe, New Hampshire Public Radio, New Hampshire magazine, New Hampshire Business Review, and New England Boating magazine. Recently, he’s served as lead (or sole) author of several books including his self-published The Lakes Region of New Hampshire: Four Seasons, Countless Memories; Something Worthy To Be Remembered – Celebrating 100 Years of Manchester’s Most Memorable Moments, and Legendary Locals of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. Previously, Ray lived in Boston, San Francisco and on Martha’s Vineyard, MA, where he produced and wrote radio programs and commercials, served as executive editor and sales manager of four successful regional tourism publications and drove a grocery delivery truck.

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He currently resides in Warner, NH, with his wonderful wife Jane and his incorrigible cat Teddy.

DCarlsonDaryl Carlson is an award-winning photographer and educator who has the rare gift of exceeding in virtually every area – from nature photography to portraiture. During his twelve-year tenure as photograph editor for the daily Laconia Citizen newspaper, he won the Associated Press’s “Photo of the Month” award more than two dozen times. His work has also won two New England Press Association awards, and been named MSNBC’s “Picture of the Week.” Daryl’s photography has been exhibited in galleries throughout New England, and appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers around the country. In addition, his work has been prominent in three books: The Lakes Region of New Hampshire: Four Seasons, Countless Memories; Laconia Motorcycle Week: Images of America; and Legendary Locals of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. Samples of Daryl’s work can be seen at his website, kamaraimage.com

School districts and taxes

For the last few months, I’ve been working with the InterTown Record, writing stories about the Kearsarge Regional School District’s school board and its work on the 2017-18 school year budget.

Here’s the story that appeared on the front page today, January 10, 2017.

KRSD leaders boosts new ‘third’ budget

By Ray Carbone

NEW LONDON – Residents of the Kearsarge Regional School District joined with district leaders at the annual deliberative district meeting Saturday saying they are concerned that voters who go to the polls on Election Day will be confused when they see three different proposed budgets for the 2017-18 school year.

The three budgets that will appear on the March 14 ballot include two that have the same bottom line – $42,492,091, as crafted by the school board and approved by the Municipal Budget Committee (MBC) recently – as well as a third option that was suggested at the meeting and unanimously approved by all in attendance.

The new, amended budget is $350,000 less than the original versions and all school board and MBC members support the lower figure.

The issue arose after significant problems were discovered with the septic system at Kearsarge Regional High School, where Saturday’s meeting was held.

Joe Mendola, a school board member from Warner, said that the budget-crafting process was well underway when the board began reviewing the issue.

He said the system “is 12 years past its useful life,” he explained. “And we’re spending $90,000 a year to keep it going.”

The board had originally added $350,000 to the 2017-18 operating budget to pay for a new wastewater treatment facility, but Mendola suggested using a building contingency fund that had approximately $800,000 in it.

“When you have a capital project (like this), the prudent thing to do is to either pay cash or borrow money,” he noted.

The contingency fund is supposed to “smooth out” unforeseen financial bumps, like the septic issue.

“But it wasn’t that easy,” Mendola said. “It turns out that there are a number of strings attached to the fund and we needed approval from the state’s Secretary of Education (Virginia Barry).”

Superintendent Winfried Feneberg wrote a letter to Barry requesting approval to use the contingency fund for the project, but it wasn’t until early December that the board learned that the idea had been okayed, Mendola explained.

The board could have then removed the $350,000 from its operating budget, but by that time, the group had already submitted its final proposal to the MBC. Since there was no time for the budget group to review the new $350,000-less figure, the board decided to revise the figure down at the deliberative session.

The amended third budget was unanimously approved, 126-0, but some residents still have reservations.

Charlie Forsberg of Sutton suggested that if the school board had supported using the contingency funds, it should have lowered the budget sooner. He called the amended budget proposal nonsense.

“It’s confusing to the voters and it’s deceptive,” Forsberg said.

Another Sutton resident, Martha Hunt, was concerned that voters would be baffled by seeing the original two budgets – one advanced by the school board and the same one, listed separately, supported by the budget committee – alongside the third, amended budget.

“This is going to be extremely confusing,” she said.

Forsberg suggested that the two original budgets could draw enough votes to defeat the new, lower amended budget.

Several school board members suggested that it was up to residents who were at the meeting, and to the local media, to make sure their neighbors understood the budget options.

Another issue, raised by resident Maureen Prohl of New London, concerned a $160,000 budget item that would pay for the demolition of most of the old New London Central School building – also known as the 1941 building – as well as the creation of a new professional development center in the space that once served as the school’s cafeteria.

Prohl said she’d rather see all of the 1941 structure demolished, and that she was skeptical about the development project.

“I’m clearly not in favor of it,” she said. “I don’t feel we need a professional development center in our school district. We have ample space in the new middle school.”

School Board Chairman Ken Bartholomew of Warner explained that the budget item would pay for the demolition of most of the 1941 building, at a cost of $130,000, as well as $20,000 for repairs to the fire suppression and HVAC circulation systems in the old cafeteria section, and $10,000 for an architectural study for the remaining space.

The board has not made any final decision on how the retained space will be used, he added.

Later in the meeting, Bartholomew addressed the increased pressure on local taxpayers to fund the district.

“Our revenue sources from other areas – the state and federal governments – have gone down (in recent years),” he said.

For instance, the state no longer supports the employee retirement fund or offers fiscal support for building project.

In fact, although it technically funds “catastrophic aid” to help districts deal with unexpected significant jumps in the costs of providing for special need students, it does not put money for the fund in the state’s budget.

“People think that if the budget stays the same, our taxes will stay the same,” he lamented. “But the money from Concord and from Washington (is decreasing).”

Ray Carbone, who lives in Warner, is an independent editor and writer. You can reach him at raycarbone@yahoo.com

 

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