Today, Friday, the 15th of March, is well-known as the Ides of March. Every month has its Ides day, although not always on the 15th. The 15th of March is special because one of history’s most famous assassinations took place on this day. Despite his wife’s misgivings and the warnings of an old soothsayer, in 44 B.C., Julius Caesar, Rome’s all-conquering Emperor for Life, makes his way to the meeting of the Eternal City’s Senate. He is greeted with drawn daggers and repeated stabbings, as his powerful enemies take their jealous rage out on the acclaimed conqueror. The day is forever after known primarily for this singular act of infamy.
America has its own act of rebellion on this day, although it is quickly put down through the strength of character shown by one of this country’s greatest leaders. On this date in 1783, in Newburgh, New York, General George Washington addresses the officers of an army about to defy a Congress it believes indifferent to its sacrifices and leave the country all but undefended. Washington is not unsympathetic to their reasoning, but urges them to consider the consequences of such an action.
Sensing at the end of his powerful speech that he has still not persuaded them from taking what he believes would be disastrous actions for the future of their country, Washington begins to read from a letter he has just received from the Congress. The handwriting is small and Washington must squint as he reads. Finally, he stops, and reaches into his pocket for a pair of glasses. His men are shocked. They have never seen him wearing glasses. The man who will become the nation’s first president seizes the moment: “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.”
His men are stunned. Washington finishes reading the letter, and leaves them without another word. A vote is taken, and a rebellious army unanimously agrees to abide by the rule of its country’s Congress. Civilian control of the nation is upheld.
Maine becomes the 23rd state in the Union on this date in 1820. The Missouri Compromise of 1820, which is an attempt to hold the increasingly divided country over the issue of slavery together, allows Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state and Maine to enter as a free state.
With the election of a new pope, the Catholic Church is very much in the news these days. It is on this date in 1875, that John McCloskey is invested at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in New York City, as America’s first cardinal.
In Paris, veterans of the American Expeditionary Force, that helped turn the tide of battle in the First World War, forms the American Legion, on 15 March 1919. It pledges itself to rooting out and speaking out against anti-Americanism in any way it can.
In a much lighter vein, on 15 March 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings become the first openly professional baseball team in the country. Under-the-table payments to ball players have been going on for some time. Now paying players to play ball is openly acknowledged. One contemporary source denounces the Cincinnati team as “shiftless young men, debasing a fine game with their greed.” One wonders what could be written about today’s highly skilled athletes being paid millions of dollars a year to provide us entertainment. Sports have become big business, and players usually sell their skills to the teams with the deepest pockets.
Oh, and lest I forget, federal income taxes were previously due on this date. Ides of March, indeed!
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 March 2013 17:25
It has been a very interesting and educational two months since I was sworn in as Coos County Commissioner District 3.
Learning the names of the employees, delegation members and constituents, especially in the Unincorporated Places has been a rewarding challenge. Also, seeking information on committees, county functions, the county itself and the organization of it will be an ongoing experience and challenge.
As a public servant, I am obligated and have sworn to serve the people of Coos County to the best of my ability, and to answer all questions as honestly and timely as possible. If I do not know an answer I will work to find the correct answer. Also, being provided with timely information is critical to making wise, correct and beneficial decisions.
One such decision is contracting the oversight of the unincorporated places and the county's forests and woodlands with the NH Department of Forest and Lands. Their responsibilities will include overseeing the cutting of timber, the timber tax and law enforcement on the previously mentioned lands. A county wide problem that has seen an increase is the theft of wood and culverts from woods jobs, not only on our lands but also on private job sites.
Another positive decision was to increase the maintenance of the county farm barn from $700 to $5,000. This decision was necessary until the residents of the county decide what they would like done with the farm complex and land.
The county is updating their website with links to other county activities, minutes of meetings, agendas and other information, this is presently available. The county website is: cooscountyNH.us.
I encourage anyone interested in our county government to attend the annual Budget Hearing this Saturday March 16 at the Coos County nursing home, Gates Hill in Berlin, beginning at 10 a.m.
The regular commissioners meeting will be held March 20th at the Coos County nursing home in Stewartstown beginning at 9 a.m.
I intend to write a column at least once a month to keep the residents informed of county affairs. I would like to encourage the residents to attend and actively participate in the county's affairs with comments and suggestions.
Thank you for your support and I look forward to serving our entire county.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 March 2013 17:30
Just before the first elections in Berlin as a city took place, a sample ballot for each ward was put in the paper, giving the local voters (men only) a chance to consider their choices. I have a copy of the Ward 3 ballot for 1897 election along with this story, but if anybody would like a copy of the other two wards, just send me an email.
Each of the three wards had a place for people to cast their votes back in 1897, just as today (2013). These places were listed in the newspaper, so the voters knew where to go.
It said, “To the inhabitants of each ward in the city of Berlin qualified to vote for this city’s affairs”: In Ward 1, you are hereby notified to meet in Music Hall (Mechanic Street), Ward 2 at the engine house of Hose Company number two (near today’s Albert Theater) and in Ward 3 at the Berlin Mills Hall, across from today's Brown Company House. Ward 1 and Ward 2 were in Berlin Falls, while Ward 3 was in Berlin Mills. As mentioned in an earlier story Ward 4, the East Side, did not get started until 1913.
The elections in each ward would start on the second Tuesday in March at nine o'clock in the forenoon to act upon the following subjects: 1. To choose by ballot a ward clerk. 2. To choose by ballot three councilman, one for one year, one for two years and one for three years. 3. To bring your votes for mayor.
Thus, the election took place and Henry F. Marston was chosen over Fremont D. Bartlett as the first mayor for the city of Berlin. There was another candidate and his name was F.F. Bisbee, but he only got one vote.
Of course, Marston School was named after our first mayor and Bartlett School was named after Fremont Bartlett who eventually became Berlin's seventh Mayor in 1908.
As for Henry F. Marston, our first mayor for the city of Berlin, he was the son of William Marston and Lucy Higgins, born in Orrington, Maine July 5, 1837. His father died when Henry was four years of age, leaving a family of four children that was supported and kept together by the mother until he was seven years old.
Henry was then sent to live with a farmer in the nearby vicinity, where he remained until he was 16 years old. He then went to Ellsworth, Maine and worked in the lumber mills. Marston received a common school education of those days, which was limited when compared with one of 1897.
Mr. Marston was one of the first Maine boys to enlist at his country's call and when “Uncle Abe” asked for nine months service, he immediately responded and joined Company C of the 26th Maine Regiment. He was wounded at the battle of Irish Bend in St. Mary’s Parish, Louisiana and returned to serve after an absence of 11 months.
When the Berlin Mills Company (Brown Company) was established in Berlin in 1868, he came here and was one of the first men they employed, remaining with them for nine years.
Then, in 1877, Marston built the Cascade House, which was a small inn situated where St. Regis Academy is today and he became one of the most famous landlords on the route through Berlin.
Mr. Marston also was engaged in the lumber business very extensively and for one year carried on the Peabody Mills at Gorham, New Hampshire very successfully for the creditors of this company.
He then sold the Cascade House around 1886 to the Catholic Church and did not do much for nearly a year. Then in 1888, he decided to build the Berlin House on Exchange Street.
Mr. Marston served this town in many capacities and had for two terms made one of the best commissioners that Coos County ever had. He grasped the reins of our city government in a way that showed he proposed to have no fears or favors. Marston was also a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and a Freemason. Berlin’s first mayor also had many other attributes that made him well liked in this community.
On Monday, March 29, 1897 the city of Berlin had its first council meeting and a great deal of curiosity and enthusiasm was shown by the citizens of this new city. The people wanted to see how our new city officers would deport themselves and they also wanted to hear the address that the new mayor had prepared.
Groups of old settlers could be seen gathering here and there upon the city streets, but a visit to the hall just ten minutes before the event revealed many empty seats, except for two. Within the next ten minutes and just before the clock chimed on the hour, 300 people were quietly in their seats and perfect order prevailed.
Berlin's newest mayor called the meeting to order and requested the Reverend B. Brunning, former pastor of the Universalist Church on Exchange Street, to invoke a blessing upon the occasion. With this, Berlin's first council meeting officially began.
In the items of interest gathered here and there about the city, City Marshal Youngcliss raided a faro dive (card game) in the Music Hall block on Mechanic Street Sunday night April 11 at about 7:30. He was obliged to break in a door to get admission and cry of “police” alarmed the inmates of the room.
All but one escaped through windows, not stopping to open them, but taking glass and all in their eagerness to get out. Ten overcoats were found and taken to the police court awaiting a call from their owners.
The proprietor of this disreputable place, Uhric Chartrand, formally of Lewiston, Maine, escaped and left town early the next morning.
On Tuesday morning, eight of the parties recognized, answered at the police court to the sum of $10 and costs. Marshal Youngcliss said that he proposed to clean out all of these so-called dives that he could find.
Finally, for our spring fishermen, a party consisting of J.W. Greenlaw and two sons, along with J.A. Blair of Milan, went to “Sessions Pond” in Dummer on the first day of May. Their plan was to stay there until they got a haul of trout.
The ice had not left the pond and the fishing did not prove good until it had completely gone. All kinds of bait was tried and the pond was trolled, but the only success that was obtained was with angle worms and the only way was by sinking them in quiet, deep water, near shore.
This great fishing story said that the first trout taken weighed four pounds and it took a long time to land it. The angler was tangled up in a tree, making the rod useless. Three large books were fastened to the back of another pole, taking two men one half hour from the time the fish was hooked until a net was used to bring it to shore.
Twenty-one fish were caught on this trip ranging from one half pound to four pounds. The four pound trout and the one that weighed two and one half pounds were brought to Berlin and put on display at C.S. Clarke’s store window on Main Street. Sessions Pond is still a great spring trout fishing pond today, but I suggest one doesn't get caught with that amount of trout today that were caught in 1897 during that fishing trip. Although, it depended how long they were there fishing.
I will continue with the year 1897 in my next story.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 19:11
There may be no better way to see how our environment supports a vibrant state economy than to consider our reliance on water. First, tourism is a mainstay of our economy, and much of our tourism is water-based or is supported by clean rivers, lakes, and ocean waters. Second, high-quality water bodies and recreational opportunities are critical to the excellent quality of life that helps to attract employers and an educated work force to New Hampshire and support the “New Hampshire advantage.” Third, reliable water services such as clean drinking water, reliable wastewater disposal and properly maintained dams provide essential support to New Hampshire’s economy.
We would like to think that our high-quality water resources and water services will always be here, that our quality of life will only improve, and that our infrastructure will always support a strong economy. But according to the Water Sustainability Commission, appointed by Governor John Lynch in 2011, New Hampshire faces new water-related challenges now and in the coming years, and new approaches are needed to ensure that our state will have enough clean water for future generations.
New Hampshire Lives on Water is the Water Sustainability Commission’s highly readable 28-page report, urging government and the private sector to work together on long-term approaches to addressing water issues. The report identifies four key areas that need to be addressed: water-related education, infrastructure investment, forward-looking management approaches, and environmental monitoring.
The Commission’s 14 members represented a broad range of perspectives on water needs, use, and management. Only two members – the Director of the N.H. Fish and Game Department and I – represented state government agencies; the rest represented municipalities and the private and non-profit sectors. The Commission reviewed previous work, consulted with experts, and conducted an extensive public participation process which included public forums in six locations throughout the state.
An overview of the Commission’s findings makes it clear that there is no room for complacency:
♦ New Hampshire residents recognize the importance of water to their quality of life, but many are asking for more information about their role in ensuring a sustainable water future for New Hampshire.
♦ Residents are increasingly concerned about access to and control of water and water supplies.
♦ New Hampshire is experiencing declining water quality in some of our lakes, rivers and estuaries.
♦ Extreme weather events are increasingly frequent, causing problems with water quality, stormwater systems, flooding, and the ability of water systems to meet customers’ needs.
♦ The state’s water infrastructure, last extensively upgraded in the 1970s and 1980s, is aging and increasingly inadequate to meet present needs.
♦ Water issues vary from one part of the state to another. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that solves problems from the North Country to the Seacoast. At the same time, although the quality of groundwater varies from place to place, private wells throughout the state should be tested for naturally occurring contaminants such as arsenic and radon and for manmade contaminants such as MtBE so that homeowners can take appropriate action to protect their families’ health.
♦ Investment is needed to protect our water resources and maintain our water infrastructure if the state wants to maintain its water-derived economic advantage.
It bears repeating that the Commission felt that the water challenges we face now and will face in the future are different than those of the past; therefore, it is time for a departure from the solutions of the past. Today’s water problems are more complex and require smarter approaches and more resources to address them. The solutions require the involvement of not just state and local governments, but businesses, institutions, individuals, and the Legislature. Clean water, where and when we need it, is a renewable resource only if we manage it effectively. We owe its care to our children and their children. The work must begin now.
You can view the report on the Water Sustainability Commission’s website, http://www.nh.gov/water-
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 17:23
By JOE NOCERAThree days before the December massacre in Newtown, Conn., a 22-year-old gunman named Jacob Tyler Roberts opened fire at the Clackamas Town Center, a suburban shopping mall in Portland, Ore. He killed two people before killing himself, though it could have been much worse. His stolen semiautomatic AR-15 rifle jammed early in his shooting spree.
“We were in the middle of a special session on a very important tax bill,” she said. “I was right on the middle of it. I said, ‘We’re going back to guns.’ ”
Although there is widespread gun ownership in Oregon, Burdick has consistently been re-elected because most of the state’s gun owners — like many gun owners across the country — are in favor of sensible gun regulation. But most of Burdick’s initiatives over the years have been thwarted by the National Rifle Association, which strikes fear in Oregon legislators, just as it does lawmakers across the country.
Which is also why Burdick felt so strongly that Clackamas and Newtown, horrible though they were, offered a unique opportunity. Many gun extremists, however, realized the same thing. They fought back. In mid-January, two men began walking around a Portland neighborhood with assault weapons strapped to their backs. Even as schools in the area were locking down, the men insisted that they were “educating the public” about their Second Amendment rights. A month later, at a pro-gun rally at the State Capitol, a number of gun owners openly wielded their weapons — even bringing them into the building.
Burdick began receiving, as she puts it, “the usual threatening e-mails” — as did a fellow gun control advocate in the Legislature, Mitch Greenlick. He told The Oregonian that the e-mail he received from gun extremists was often abusive, obscene and anti-Semitic. He predicted that gun legislation would go nowhere because legislators were too frightened to act. “Politics by intimidation,” he called it.
And then there was Burdick. She was scheduled to hold a town-hall meeting on March 4. But at an earlier town hall held by several other legislators, gun advocates badgered them with angry questions. One of the questioners admitted he was carrying a concealed weapon. Fearing that someone might show up with a gun at her town hall, Burdick decided to postpone it. Not wanting to inflame the situation, she said she had a scheduling conflict.
On the evening of March 4, two men sat in a car across from her home and videotaped her. They showed her driving into her garage and taking out her garbage. Having “proved” that Burdick did not have a scheduling conflict, they then put together a short video of Burdick at home. Jeff Reynolds, the chairman of the Multnomah County Republican Party, who also claims to be a citizen journalist, posted the video on a Web site he runs.
When I spoke to Reynolds, he conceded that the videographer was a friend but refused to divulge his name. He said the video had nothing to do with the gun issue. “She lied,” he told me. “She is accountable to we the people.”
He added, “This was no different than what Mike Wallace used to do at ‘60 Minutes.’ There was no intimidation.” Sure.
These days, Democrats control both houses of the Oregon Legislature as well as the governor’s office. Moderate Republicans running against incumbent Democrats are being beaten in legislative races. The Republicans even lack a credible candidate to take on the current governor, John Kitzhaber, in 2014.
The extremist tactics of people like Jeff Reynolds and his videographer friend are clearly part of the reason why — they’ve helped delegitimize the Oregon Republican Party. But the tactics have other consequences, too. The gun bills filed in the Oregon Legislature — by Burdick, Greenlick and others — are by no means assured of passage.
“Other legislators look at what happened to me, and they say to themselves, ‘Do I really want to get involved in this?’ ” Burdick said. “My argument is that this is our job. But it is tempting to look the other way.”
Thus is the gun battle fought in the post-Newtown world.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 15:50