One of the stand-outs at the quilt show, held last Saturday at Grace Community Church in Canaan, was Jacquie Purrington’s meticulously detailed quilt that is covered by thousands of beads and sequins. Jacquie explained that it was made around 1880 by her great-grandmother Eleanor Nash Murray Genthner of Damariscotta, Me., who was a dressmaker. The show and associated workshops for kids and adults were sponsored by the Alice Ward Library and the Canaan Historical Society and 67 quilts, old and new, were on display. (Rob Maxwell photo)
House Budget Proposes Closures of Colebrook, Gorham DMV Substations
By Jake Mardin
State budget cuts could close the Colebrook and Gorham Department of Motor Vehicles substations, forcing North Country residents to make longer drives to obtain services.
Sen. Jeff Woodburn said on Monday that the N.H. House budget plan calls for the closing of the Gorham and Colebrook offices, which “will force people to drive long distances through mountainous terrain. If these budget cuts hold, 72 percent of the residents of Coös County will have to drive over 30 miles to obtain basic motor vehicle services.”
Currently, Colebrook’s DMV driver licensing office is open the first, third and fifth Friday of each month from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Gorham’s substation is open Monday through Thursday and handles licensing along with vehicle and boat registrations, walking disability placards, application for duplicate titles and driving records.
If these two substations are closed, the next closest location would be in Twin Mountain, which offers the same services as Gorham’s. Sitting at the very bottom of Coös County, the Twin Mountain DMV station is about 53 miles from Colebrook, 62 miles from Pittsburg, and 60 miles from Errol.
Sen. Woodburn said he is working to restore funding as the budget moves through the Senate. Yesterday, he visited the Gorham substation with DMV director Richard Bailey Jr. and other state and local officials.
(Issue of April 29, 2015)
CONTRABAND SEIZED IN COLEBROOKY
The Colebrook Police Department made two arrests last Wednesday after executing two search warrants. Amanda Parker and Jason Hopps were arrested on drug possession charges after heroin and other drugs and paraphernalia were discovered in her vehicle and a residence on Honda Drive. (Jake Mardin photo)
Two Charged with Heroin Possession after Colebrook Police Investigation
By Jake Mardin
Two people were arrested and held on drug possession charges following a bust by the Colebrook Police Department last Wednesday, April 22.
Amanda Parker, 31, of Colebrook, was charged with one count each of possession of heroin and lorazepam, and two counts of possession of klonopin following a traffic stop on Route 26. Her passenger Jason Hopps, 36, of Jefferson, was charged with possession of heroin. All charges are Class B felonies.
“Colebrook Police Department has been conducting an investigation into the heroin problem in town over the last several months,” Lt. Paul Rella said. As a result of the investigation, police obtained search warrants for Ms. Parker’s 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan and her residence on Honda Drive. Lt. Rella said the search warrants were executed at approximately 11:30 a.m., while the vehicle was stopped on Route 26.
Police said they seized approximately seven grams of heroin, illegal prescription drugs and numerous drug paraphernalia from the vehicle. At the same time, a warrant was executed at Ms. Parker’s residence, where police said more heroin and paraphernalia were seized, along with scales, packaging items and an undisclosed amount of cash. The vehicle was towed and impounded, police said a later search uncovered additional drug paraphernalia in the vehicle.
Ms. Parker and Mr. Hopps were arrested and transported to the police department for processing. They were arraigned the following day and both pled innocent to the charges. Ms. Parker is being held at Grafton County House of Corrections in lieu of $5,000 cash bail, and Mr. Hopps is being held at the Coös County House of Corrections in lieu of $2,500 cash bail. Probable cause hearings are scheduled for May 7.
“It’s really a countrywide problem, but heroin has shown up in Colebrook and it’s a huge problem because it is very addictive and readily available,” Lt. Rella said. “The CPD has spent the last several months investigating the illegal use and sale of heroin. The department is committed to continuing the investigation that will lead to the arrest of people who are selling and using heroin.”
(Issue of April 29, 2015)
IN FAVOR OF SB 30
Phil Dauphinais testified in favor of Senate Bill 30 before the House Finance Committee in Concord last Tuesday, telling the legislators how much the area’s economy needs The Balsams redevelopment project. (Jake Mardin photo)
North Country Citizens Testify Before House Finance Committee for SB 30
By Jake Mardin
A contingent of North Country business owners, residents, students and elected officials traveled to Concord last Tuesday to support Senate Bill 30 during a four-hour public hearing before the House Finance Committee.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Woodburn and amended by all ten members of the Coös County Delegation, seeks to permit the establishment of redevelopment districts in unincorporated places, provide for the assessment of parcels located within the districts, and allows the Business Finance Authority (BFA) to guarantee bonds. Balsams developers say the bill is an important piece of the puzzle in their plans for the resort, which is situated in the unincorporated area of Dixville. Developers are seeking a $28 million loan from the BFA, and SB 30 would also raise the maximum bond to that amount from the current $25 million.
In addressing the committee, Sen. Woodburn discussed the various changes the bill has gone through since it was first introduced. “You get knocked down sometimes, but the real strength is getting back up, and this bill represents that,” he said. Sen. Woodburn said the bill is “about fairness” and would allow for unincorporated places to establish districts just as incorporated towns can. He also talked about the economic situation of the area, staing, “Poverty runs through Coös County like a river.”
Developer Les Otten also spoke about the project, saying he first became involved 18 months ago when owners Dan Hebert and Dan Dagesse asked him to take a look at the property, and he learned of the potential for expanded skiing. “We have the opportunity to build something that is world-class in size and scope,” he said, observing that the resort has the ability to be a “game-changer” in the northern part of the state. He cited an economic study that stated that the resort could create 1,700 jobs at full build-out.
Rep. Peter Leishman asked if the former Balsams resort was a money-maker or if it relied on the rubber factory. Mr. Otten said his group determined that if not for Neil Tillotson’s “largesse” and the rubber factory, the resort would have “bled money.” He said that four years ago rooms were $400 and lacked modern amenities, and felt that its vision of a “luxurious, but primitive hotel” lost clientele.
Rep. Marjorie Smith asked whether Mr. Otten would be willing to sign a binding agreement stipulating that all construction would be done by New Hampshire employees. Mr. Otten said that is a “desirable goal” but said signing a contract with that language may put the developers in a position where they would not be able to negotiate. Rep. Leishman asked what would happen if developers weren’t able to secure the bond and if they had another plan.
“Right now Plan B is Plan A,” Mr. Otten said. “My objective is firmly focused on one plan, and one plan only.” When asked about the value of the Balsams today, he said it is worth “a couple million bucks, maybe” and that most of the value was in the timber. “I feel comfortable putting my own equity into this project,” he said.
Department of Resources and Economic Development commissioner Jeff Rose spoke in favor of the bill, stating that the Balsams project will generate $1 billion in economic opportunities over the next decade and $8 million in revenue for the state. When asked by committee chairman Neal Kurk for DRED’s position, Mr. Rose said the department believes the project is viable and the state would get its money back.
BFA executive director Jack Donovan was asked about the percentage of applications the BFA rejects. He said the staff vets all applications and at the board level, about one in ten is rejected. “You’re never going to eliminate risk,” Mr. Donovan said, noting that the BFA has a good track record. “You try to manage it.”
When asked about getting money back if the project fails, Mr. Donovan said the BFA has the first claim. When asked to break down the project, Mr. Donovan explained $20 million consists of a bank loan, $28 million is the bond itself, and $25 million is private equity.
The majority of the remaining speakers testified in favor of the bill’s passage. Rep. John Fothergill (R-Colebrook) talked about the economic situation in the area, stating, “Many people just get by and others are falling further and further behind. Losing the project will cause a lot of people who are hanging in there to leave the area.”
Colebrook selectman Ray Gorman and town manager Becky Merrow talked about the work ethic of the town, and related that residents voted to approve the Main Street project despite being the poorest town in the poorest county. “When the Balsams is ready, downtown Colebrook will be ready,” Ms. Merrow said.
“We need your help,” Colebrook resident Phil Dauphinais told the committee. He said the North Country does not have the luxuries of other places, but has a hard-working population. “Without the project we are jeopardizing the foundation of our community that holds us all together,” he said.
Colebrook Academy senior Dakota Fogg said he surveyed all 38 students in his class about their future plans. “Two-thirds are planning on leaving the North Country for good, simply because there is no work for them,” he said. “The future of the North Country is at stake and without this bill it will fall apart.” He was joined at the table by classmate Elias Rella, who also spoke in favor of the bill.
There were some who expressed concerns about the legislation. Kevin Bloom of the N.H. Liberty Alliance called the bill unconstitutional and would benefit only a small group of people. Rep. Max Abramson said he is opposed to taxpayers subsidizing a public project, and expressed concern that the passage of the bill could open the doors to similar proposals, and said he was open to other forms of financing. Kimberly Morin questioned why developers don’t spend a smaller amount of money to get the resort running to attract other investors, and said the bill represents a case of “the government picking winners and losers.”
Sen. Woodburn said on Thursday that he felt confident about the bill’s outcome. “I am feeling very positive that we will have a good vote out of the House Finance Committee,” he said. “I think the kids particularly taking a da off from school vacation was very powerful. We don’t hear from young people very often in the legislature.”
The full committee held a work session on the bill the following day, and the Division 1 committee studied the bill on Thursday. Division 1 was scheduled to hold a work session yesterday and an executive session is scheduled for tomorrow. The bill is due out of committee on May 28.
(Issue of April 29, 2015)
BOWLING FOR BUFFY
This past Sunday Strike Zone Pizza Pub and Lanes in Colebrook hosted a benefit tournament for Buffy Haynes, a member of the Canaan Women’s Bowling League who is battling leukemia. Twenty-seven women from the Colebrook and Canaan leagues bowled four strings, raising $600 to help Buffy with her expenses. Sponsors for the event were White Mountain Distributors, Amoskeag Beverages, LaPerle’s IGA, Rita Donnell, Strike Zone, Wayne’s Lanes and Shannon Cross. Buffy picked four scores and if someone bowled that score, they won a prize. Melanie Rancloes had the high single and top-four score for Colebrook, 114 and 418, and Lisa Brockney for Canaan, 112 and 385. Kneeling: Sam McMann, Karen Ahrens, Michele Gosselin, Buffy Haynes, Carmen Rougeau, Melanie Rancloes, Jennifer Wells, Judy Ouellet. Standing: Theresa Marchand, Paula Burns, Kelly Poulin, Barbara Curtis, Ashley Goudreau, Lisa Brockney, Kerry Motiejaitis, Carolyn Royce, Dawn Day, Katrina Cross, Sara Kirk (behind), Tracy Owen, Sally Bunker, Nicole Briere, Erin Call (behind) Laurie Keezer, Carol Cross, Donna Estes, Elaine Meehan (behind), Sandra Paquette. Missing from photo: Corinne Dowse, who was hopping-busy. (Karen Ladd photo)