State of the City of Berlin - January 2017

By Mayor Paul Grenier

It has been a few months since I last wrote a public report. Though we face some very serious challenges, overall the City of Berlin is doing well. The large road project we undertook last year on Hutchins Street really came out quite well. Because financing for the project was almost all federal money passed through the NH Department of Transportation, we had to conform to strict guidelines set forth by the state, including competitive bidding and acceptance of final design. There is hope we can take the sharp comer out of the Bridge Street intersection in the very near future, as well as looking at street lighting that Councilor Roland Theberge has strongly advocated for.
The Route 16 project is approximately 50 percent complete, but already it is a real treat to drive on. Once complete, sometime in mid to late summer, Berlin's main arteries will all have been completely reconstructed. With the announcement that Berlin received two grants totaling over $900,000 for the Riverwalk project, upper Main Street will be something for all of us to be very proud of. The city's investment in Service Credit Union Heritage Park is starting to pay dividends well beyond what the City Council had hoped for, and let's not forget the awesome work of the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce. They are doing exactly what they said they were going to do and in just this short time, the park looks great. Thank you Paula and all the folks at the chamber. Where would our economy be without you!!!
Our economy here in the Berlin area continues to be uneven. There continues to be really great success stories, (Capone Iron Corp., Gorham Paper and Tissue, Burgess Biopower) that are offset by the continued struggles in the retail segment. Remember, it is vital that we all shop locally. Our shopkeepers are the ones who support our various community activities and they live work and play here and are our neighbors.
There are new efforts abound by environmental groups and others to rein in and in some cases, reverse the progress we've made in ATV recreation. In the Nash Stream area, some people are trying to stop ATV usage. Many are from out of state who don't want to share the great outdoors with the rest of us. The ATV community needs to stand up and wake up to the new realities. We all need to be respectful when using ATVs on trails and on streets and highways, but make no mistake; it's time to organize. Absent of a strong lobbying organization to speak on ATV's behalf, the activity will be severely curtailed.
This year's budget process will prove to be a bear. The NH Retirement System has sharply raised rates this year at the very same time the state is also curtailing aid to local education. The total impact across the city this fiscal year will be approximately $400,000, just to keep even. These are unsustainable. I am working with a consortium of communities across the state to reverse cuts to schools and the efforts are really too early to report. That is the primary reason the City Council could not muster the two-thirds majority needed to inject new money into the Berlin Visiting Nurses Program. Although I did not agree, I respect the will of the city council and we must work together to transition folks to other services who do this for a business. Medicare billing is difficult and with the uncertainty that abounds from Washington, now is not the time to have a divided city council. Collectively, along with the expert advise from City Manager Jim Wheeler, we will work through these difficult issues.
With the NH Public Utilities Commission pushing the Smith Hydro divestiture process this year, we will soon know where we stand. Will we own and operate Smith along with other community assets? There is great interest in the hydro portion of Eversource's portfolio but lukewarm interest in the other generation assets. Berlin is positioning itself to deal with all possibilities. One area of Eversource's efforts that Berlin is 100percent behind is in Northern Pass transmission project. It is estimated that Berlin will see immediate tax relief to the tune of $250,000 to $350,000 annually in the first five years, or roughly equal to what this year's downward cost shift to us from the state is. There will be hundreds of jobs created during construction with as much impact to us locally as was the Burgess Biopower and Federal Prison jobs. Remember Berlin/Gorham's restaurants and inns then? This will be a gift that will keep giving long past completion.
Finally, my family and I have lost two very important people in our lives recently. Tony Urban, who passed away late December, was Berlin's Rock of Gibraltar. His love of student athletes was second only to wife Carolyn and daughter Pam and brother Rudy. Tony was a mentor of mine and was a brutally honest advisor. The other was my dear sister-in-law Diane Horne who passed away last week. Diane was a kind-hearted person who loved life and her family very much. She was a mother away from home to many kids who attended Brown School and made sure those kids got a fair shake. My wife Brenda and Diane were very close, our family has been left with a huge void and she will be sorely missed by husband Mike and sons Ant and Colby. May both rest in peace.

The Editorial Board: Young Victims of the Opioid Epidemic

By The New York Times Editorial Board

Opioid overdoses have claimed more than 300,000 lives in the last 15 years, including some 33,000 in 2015 alone. But those numbers do not tell the full horror of this epidemic, which has devastated the lives of countless children whose parents have succumbed to addiction to prescription painkillers and other opiates. In one terrible case last month, a Pennsylvania couple died of apparent overdoses, and their baby perished from starvation a few days later.
More commonly, children are rescued or removed from the custody of their parents by local child welfare officials or relatives. After declining for several years, the number of children in foster care jumped 8 percent nationally, to 428,000, between fiscal years 2012 and 2015, the most recent data available. Experts say opioid abuse accounts for a lot of that increase. Officials cited parental substance abuse as a reason for removing children from families in 32.2 percent of cases in 2015, up from 28.5 percent in 2012. But these numbers very likely understate the problem, because local officials often fail to report drug and alcohol abuse and list most cases under the broad category of “parental neglect.” One group, Generations United, estimates that 2.5 million children now live with relatives or family friends rather than their parents.
Yet federal, state and local officials have done far too little to address the problem. Years of budget cutbacks have left many states with too few caseworkers and too few foster families to deal with the crisis. Total federal and state child welfare spending fell by 5 percent between 2004 and 2014, according to a report published in October by Child Trends, a research organization. In Texas, conditions have gotten so bad that officials have assigned dozens of foster care children to sleep in state offices and other temporary shelters. Two court-appointed monitors proposed an overhaul of the Texas system in November.

A bipartisan bill that would have given states matching funds for mental health, addiction treatment and other assistance to parents didn’t make it through the Senate, though it had passed the House. The measure was supported by groups like the Children’s Defense Fund and the American Academy of Pediatrics. It would have reduced funding for foster care in group homes, settings that many experts say are far worse for children than placements in foster families. But some senators who were worried about the concerns of group home operators opposed that cut and prevented a vote on the bill.
Another major threat to children of the opioid epidemic is the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. More than 20 million people have gained access to mental health and substance abuse treatment because the 2010 law expanded Medicaid and provided subsidies to help people buy insurance policies on health exchanges. If repeal isn’t followed by a replacement law that provides equivalent coverage, many parents with drug and alcohol problems won’t get access to addiction treatment. President-elect Donald Trump pledged during the campaign to end the opioid epidemic. But repealing the health care law is likely to exacerbate the crisis.
There was a big spike in foster care cases during the crack-cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s. The government was far too slow to act then, and it is in danger of being dangerously behind the curve again.

The New York Times Editorial Board is composed of 16 journalists with wide-ranging areas of expertise. Their primary responsibility is to write The Times’s editorials, which represent the voice of the board, its editor and the publisher.

Poof Tardiff: 1949

Hello fellow Berlinites. Sixty-eight years ago, the city of Berlin was still receiving its war dead from the Second World War. The first one to come home to rest in 1949 was the body of PFC Alfred Bourassa, who died in St. Lo, France on August 8, 1944. The remains arrived here on January 5, 1949 for burial at St. Anne's Cemetery.

PFC Bourassa was born on April 18, 1919 in Groveton, New Hampshire and was survived by his wife Irene, his mother and father and a son Alfred. Another one of Berlin's heroes was brought home and thus laid to rest.

The Recreation Department announced that each of Berlin four wards had its own ice-skating rink. Recreation director Fred Demetrius announced that the last one was completed on Thursday, December 30, 1948 at the Memorial Field.

These rinks were located at the following areas: Ward 1 was on Green Street, Ward 2 was at the Memorial Field, Ward 3 at Brown School and Ward 4 on Hutchins Street. Mr. Demetrius said that the warm weather so far, had ruined the ice, but these rinks would be set in shape in conjuntion with the next cold snap. Also, a Saturday hockey league, composed of six teams would get underway as soon as the ice was ready.

I also remember the rink across from the old Community Club which must have been built later. This is where I played in the grammar school hockey league on Saturdays. Who can remember the names of the teams involved?

When the year 1948 ended, the general store of Elihu Libby and Sons Company on Glen Street in Gorham closed its retail business. The January 13, 1949 local news reported that this store closed after being opened in the mid-1850's.

It was acquired with the lumber and mill property by E. Libby, the grandfather of Mrs. Joyce Ray, Mrs. Marion Sullivan, Mrs. Mildred Kilgore and Mrs. Helen Staples. It was managed by his sons, the late Charles C. and Eugene W. Libby, when they became old enough to enter the concern.

The original store building was located on Mill Street in Gorham and the store which had just closed was formerly a boarding house for the sawmill help. Walter C. Libby and his brother Alva B, two more sons of E. Libby had charge of the mills.

The boarding house was remodeled for store purposes and then occupied in 1903, thus rounding out nearly 100 years of service to parents, grandparents, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of the Libby family in the town of Gorham.

On January 26, 1949 Abdon Payeur age 50, lost his life while working at the Burgess Mill. Mr. Payeur was killed when he was caught between the conveyor chain and conveyor tail drum at the Burgess wood room, as was reported by Fire Chief Bernard O. Bergquist.

Mr. Payeur was born July 28, 1899 in St. Antoine De Tilly, Québec and came to Berlin in 1920.. He started working in the wood room on June 28, 1920 and always worked in this part of the mill. He was survived by his wife, three sisters and five brothers, only two of whom lived in Berlin.

During the end of January 1949, the Brown Company donated the use of a two acre plot of land on the East Side to the city of Berlin for a community playground and recreational area. This was announced by the chairman of the Parks and Playgrounds Earl Philbrick.

Mr. Philbrick said that he had been informed of this arrangement by Mayor Paul A. Toussaint, who had also advised the City Council of the matter during a council meeting. This area was located on Brown Company property at the corner of Hutchins and Columbia Streets near the Burgess Mill. The use of this land was given for a five-year period with the expectation that the period of use could be extended if conditions warranted. If the company had any time needed the land for log storage or other development, the arrangement provided that company could recall the area for its own use within three months notice to the city.

Company officials indicated, however, that there would not be any likelihood that this land would be used by the company within the foreseeable future. 67 years later this area known as Hutchins Park still exists for recreational use.

On Monday, January 17, 1949, an Orford, New Hampshire man appeared in Gorham District Court charged with breaking, entering and larceny, but as the story unfolded we hadn't seen anything yet.

On the same afternoon, the FBI arrived in the town of Gorham looking for a young fellow who had made off with a Taylor Craft airplane from the Glen Rock airport in Norfolk, Virginia. They began asking Mr. Gilbert questions and he confessed a short while later.

So, with County Solicitor George Keough's okay, the FBI gave Mr. Gilbert a ride to the Hillsborough County Jail in Manchester, New Hampshire. It was here that a plea of guilty was entered before Federal District Judge Aloysius J. Connor on a charge of taking an airplane and flying it across state lines.

Back in Gorham meanwhile, folks were not sure what had just happened, but they were certain that this was not just an everyday occurrence. This was when State Trooper LeDuke released the facts.

Harvey Gilbert was in the Gorham jail charged with larceny of a battery. Around 2:30 am on Tuesday, January 5, he left the Gorham jail on his own accord. He hitchhiked his way to Virginia and then he went to the Glen Rock airport in Norfolk, Virginia sometime Friday, January 14 and stole an airplane with the intention of returning to Gorham to get his logging truck.

Apparently, he was as handy at piloting as hitchhiking and landed in Maryland for gas then again at New Haven, Connecticut and one more time at Lebanon, New Hampshire. He then flew to Bethel, Maine and after being spotted, skillfully landed on a hay field in Gilead, Maine.

After this, Gilbert then hitchhiked back to Gorham, was seen and hurriedly left for Gilead, where he took to the air again at about 9:30 pm on Saturday. After landing in Oxford, Maine, he was arrested by the state police. The subject was then transferred to F Troop in Twin Mountain and picked up by Trooper LaDuke , who brought him back to Gorham.

After appearing in the Gorham on Monday morning January 17, Harvey Gilbert was bound over to Superior Court and placed under $1,000 bail. On that same afternoon the G-man, who had been advised of the plane's presence in Oxford, Maine, entered upon the scene in Gorham and introduced the story of the stolen aircraft. Shortly after, Gilbert was hauled away to Manchester. I think I know what the talk of the town was that week in the village of Gorham, New Hampshire.

I will continue with the year 1949 in my next writing.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Questions or comments This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, join the many fans of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and guess at the posted mystery pictures.

Toussaint Mayor PaulMayor Paul Toussaint

Libby ElihuElihu Libby

Gorham Late 1940sGorham Late 1940s

Berlin Late 1940sBerlin Late 1940s

Poof Tardiff: Doctor Fridtjof Nansen

Hello fellow Berlinites. We often read in the local papers about the oldest ski club in this country and the great ski jump that sits on a hill along the the highway between Berlin and Milan. We also have a street off 12th Street that also coincides with the name of our jump and ski club. This name is Nansen. Using resources such as the old newspapers, the Brown Bulletins and even the internet, I would like to tell my readers how we came upon the name of Nansen.

Conservative in mind, highly individualistic, always depending on his own resources, the Scandinavian likes to stand or fall on his own merits. Honest to the last, never claiming credit that doesn't belong to him and seldom liking to be in the limelight, his or her duties come first, wherever they are placed in the world. They deal with actual values at the time when they are necessarily needed. With these great qualities the Nordic races have become pioneers in many practical economic enterprises.

This first Scandinavians came to the town of Berlin in 1854. Their names were John L. Oswald, Carl Oleson and John Gilson. They came here with a group of men employed by the Grand Trunk Railroad for the purpose of laying a spur track to the Winslow and Company sawmill (Heritage Park).

What ever reason there was for them to leave the Grand Trunk and begin work for the Winslows was not sure, but coming from Norway that year, they must have been looking for a place to settle and Berlin with its surroundings had much resemblance to their home country.

Of course, when these men came to Berlin in 1854, they brought with them the great sport of skiing, especially cross-country, downhill and jumping. As I have always stated, my research shows that the sport of skiing started in America right here in Berlin's Norwegian village.

By 1872, there were enough Scandinavians here to start a ski club. Its original name was the Berlin Mills Ski Club, then the Berlin Falls Ski Club, Skikluben and the Fridtjof Nansen Ski Club.

Mr. Nansen was a hero for some of this club's early members, as he was a great explorer and the first man to ever cross Greenland on skis. Nansen was also the name that finally stood after being voted in at a meeting of its members in the early 1920s.

Now, who was this man named Fridtjof Nansen. Well, he was a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace honoree. He was born in Oslo, Norway on October 10, 1861, seven years after the first Scandinavians came to Berlin.

In his youth, he was a champion skier and ice skater. He led the team that made the first crossing of the Greenland interior in 1888 when he was 27 years old, traversing the island on cross-country skis. He also won international fame after reaching a record northern latitude of 86 degrees and 14 minutes, during his North Pole expedition of 1893-96. Although he retired from exploration after his return to Norway, his techniques of polar travel and his innovations in equipment and clothing influenced a generation of subsequent Arctic and Antarctic expeditions.

In the final decade of his life, Nansen devoted himself primarily to the League of Nations, following his appointment in 1921, as this league's high commissioner of refugees. In 1922, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on behalf of the displaced victims of the First World War and related conflicts.

Among the initiatives that he introduced was the “Nansen Passport” for stateless persons, a certificate that was recognized by more than 50 countries. He worked on behalf of refugees until he died of a heart attack on May 13, 1930, at the age of 68.

After his death, the league established the Nansen international office for refugees to ensure that his work continued and this office received the Nobel Peace Prize for 1938. Nansen has been honored by many nations and his name is commemorated in numerous geographical features, but particularly the polar regions. Mr. Nansen is still considered one of the most famous men to come out of Norway.

Just 16 months before Nansen died, the city of Berlin was honored with his visit. In a headlines of the local newspaper of January 17, 1929, it said “Dr. Fridtjof Nansen to lecture in this city”. The noted Arctic scientist, statesman and humanitarian was going to give a talk at the high school auditorium (Berlin Middle School today) on February 1, 1929. Under the auspices of the Nansen ski club and with the cooperation of the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, Dr. Nansen was coming to Berlin.

The distinguished explorer arrived in Berlin on February 1, 1929, and was greeted by Mayor McGee and the City Council along with a delegation from the Nansen Ski Club. Dr. Nansen arrived in Berlin on a Friday forenoon via the Grand Trunk Railroad and was received at the station by the aforementioned Berlin dignitaries who welcomed him to Berlin on behalf of its citizens.

At the station, was also the Nansen Junior ski club in command of Henry Barbin. They acted as escorts for Dr. Nansen from the station to the Brown Company House and were very appreciated by the honored guest.

There was a luncheon for Nansen where representatives of this city, school, service clubs and Nansen Ski Club were present. Mayor McGee presented the guest with a Farrand Rapid Rule with the following inscription, “To Dr. Fridtjof Nansen in memory of his visit to Berlin, New Hampshire U.S.A.”. He was also presented with a lifetime membership to the Nansen Ski Club from Alf Halvorson

After the luncheon, Dr. Nansen was taken by the Browns for a visit to some of the paper mills and then he went for an automobile ride around the city. He also went to tea with the Graffs where Mrs. Henry Baldwin and Mrs. Graff entertained. It was at this tea party that Dr. Nansen was able to meet and greet many local Scandinavians, before going to give his speech in the high school auditorium.

What a grand day this was for the city of Berlin, especially the members of the Nansen Ski Club, that still promotes the sport of skiing after all these years.

Here are the names in the Mayor and Council picture. Back row pictured from the left, Ernest Murphy and Ernest Gagnon. Middle row, Herman Gosselin, J. Arthur Sullivan, Napoleon Ramsey, Evan Johnson and Charles Pinette. Front row, D. Ernest Quinn, Edmond Gagne, Mayor Edward R.B. McGee, Burton Rumney and J. Wilson Gonya.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Questions or comments mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also join the many fans of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and guess at the posted mystery pictures.

Nansen arrivesNansen arrives

Mayor and Council 1929 1Mayor and Council 1929

Greeting at Brown Co. HouseGreeting at Brown Co. House

Doctor NansenDoctor Nansen

The Home Buying Decision

The Home Buying Decision David Brooks - New York Times columnist
I’ve been thinking about the big decisions in life: How do people choose careers, colleges, spouses and towns. Of those decisions, buying a home ranks with the most difficult.
It is difficult emotionally. Like a lot of the biggest decisions, it is more emotional than coldly rational. People generally don’t select a house; they fall in love with it.
Part of that falling-in-love process is aesthetic: the sense you get within 10 seconds of walking into a place that it just feels happy and right. Part is aspirational: When people fall in love with a house, they aren’t really falling in love with the walls and the roof; they are falling in love with a beautiful vision of their future lives.
That process of falling in love is confusing and mysterious. When you’re buying a house, you’re making a stressful major financial decision based on a set of emotions you can’t control, don’t fully understand and can’t pin down in any concrete way.
Cupid’s housing arrow has a tendency to strike you unawares. You walk into a place and just start behaving differently. You find yourself talking about where you’re going to put your furniture; you feel defensive when the Realtor mentions some of the place’s flaws; you feel the urge to brag about the house to your friends; you feel comfortable walking into the bedrooms and bathrooms, even on the first tour; you feel bereft at the thought of not having it. You’re just buying an object, but your heart is suddenly on the line.
Choosing a house is also difficult psychologically. The whole process forces you to separate what you think you want from what you really want. Realtors have a phrase, “Buyers lie,” because at the start of the process so many people don’t know what they desire.
You may have dreams of being the sort of person who has a fantastically eclectic house, filled with beautiful and exotic objects and where you can host squads of people for big dinners and parties; and that you can have a house that is a crossroads for diverse populations.
But when you actually survey the homes you are drawn to, you realize that you in fact love your privacy; that you don’t care enough about interior design to spend years searching for the fascinating objets; that in real life the thought of neighbors constantly coming over fills you with exhaustion; that a sense of quiet, tranquillity and privacy is more important to you than the frenetic chaos that comes with running Grand Central Station.
House hunting is cognitively challenging. At some point the inspections, the appraisal and the price negotiation impose cold rigor on this hot process. You don’t know what the seller (that jerk!) is thinking, or how exactly you are getting shafted in the process (though you are!). At some point the head has to check and set boundaries on the heart, employing certain mental tricks to self-distance. For example:
How do you make the major decisions about offers and conditions? Pretend you are advising a friend, not yourself.
How do you know you’ve fairly sampled the market and haven’t missed a better house somewhere out there? At the start, tell yourself you’re going to see 50 homes total. Visit 18 without making an offer on any of them. Then make an offer on the next house that’s better than the first 18.
How do you force yourself to remember in the middle of a negotiation that you’ve got to be willing to walk away? Remind yourself that this is not a narrow- framed binary buy-or-not-buy choice. There are many other housing options out there on the market.
Finally, house hunting is morally difficult. This is where Donald Trump comes in. We’ve become a ferociously fragmented country. People move close to people just like themselves. Every town becomes a cultural ghetto while Americans become strangers to one another and the civic fabric lies in ruins. People feel more comfortable in their insular neighborhoods, but self-segregation is damaging to one’s own open-mindedness and to the country at large. In 2017 it’s probably necessary to put a moral onus on realty decisions, to be seriously bothered by the temptation to talk about diversity but move to homogeneity.
The process of house hunting focuses your attention on the wrong things. It focuses your mind on the features of the house rather than on the features of your life. Think of all the people who fall for some expansive far-off home, without counting the cost of a long commute. They’ve got a happy home but a miserable existence.
It focuses on the features of the house, not on the social relationships that will happen in them, which is all you’ll remember decades hence. Choosing this or that house has only a moderate effect on joyfulness. The neighborhood you choose, and the social fabric you enter, is more important than the structure you adore.