Letters to the Editor, March 31, 2016

N.H. speaker showed courage, leadership

To the Editor:

On March 9, the political drama in Concord could not have been any more intense. The debate was over HB 1696 – the reauthorization of Medicaid expansion, aka the N.H. Health Protection Program (NHHPP). Today, more than 48,000 residents of N.H. depend on the NHHPP for health insurance. They are our friends, neighbors, the working poor and many of whom did not have health insurance before the establishment of the NHHPP. An amendment was offered that would allow for the severability of the bill. In other words, if the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) found any provision of HB 1696 unacceptable, the remaining portions of the bill would still survive. The vote on the severability amendment was as close as it gets – 181-181. What would the N.H. speaker do? As one of the sponsors of HB 1696, I knew that the severability amendment was critical to the passage of HB 1696, as the bill contains a work requirement that CMS has yet to approve. If CMS were to reject the work requirement and the severability language was not in the bill, NHHPP would end on Dec. 31. While the N.H. House members sat and waited for the speaker’s vote, the benefits of the NHHPP went racing through my head. In my view, the NHHPP has been a success story. The NHHPP plan has had a positive effect on uncompensated care costs (individuals who show up at hospitals to receive care without health insurance). Last year alone the state’s 26 hospitals saw a reduction in uncompensated care costs of more than $142 million, which is helping to contain health insurance cost increases. Individuals now see their doctor first and do not wait until a simple ailment becomes a crisis requiring a trip to an emergency room in an ambulance. In fact, as of the end of September 2015, emergency room visits among the uninsured were down more than 30 percent. As a Republican, the speaker could have allowed the tie to stand, allowing the amendment to fail. However, Speaker Jasper broke the tie and cast his vote in favor of the amendment. After a very lengthy debate, HB 1696, as amended by the House, passed by a vote of 216-145. Speaker Jasper demonstrated courage and leadership with his support of HB 1696, and the people of New Hampshire will be the true beneficiaries.

Peter Leishman Peterborough Finance Committee, N.H. House

Thanks for reaching Polar Plunge goal

To the Editor:

Saturday, March 19, was the day that made the last three months of planning our eighth Polar Plunge all worth it. Due to the generosity of so many, and from a family that wouldn’t allow us not to reach our goal of $10,000, we were able to give two very deserving young people $5,000 each. What a great feeling. You donated to, shared and supported our Polar Plunge. One person or family can’t pull off something like this without the help of great teammates. Our family thanks you from the bottom of our hearts. No greater feeling than helping a pair of young kids, Ally Teixeira and Cooper Doucette, who have been dealt a tragic hand, but refuse to quit. All done in the name of our family friend, Mark Frattaroli. Thank you very much.

Ray Keefe Amherst

Increasing property taxes not justifiable

To the Editor:

Milford residents went to the polls recently. Before voting, there was a lot of talk on social media about how the voters need to be more responsible and vote within their means this year. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that expenses keep increasing while our town revenues are shrinking. And, because of this situation, regardless of how Milford residents vote this year, the result will still mean an increase in the property taxes. At the school deliberative session, one resident described this situation in a pejorative analogy as (and I paraphrase here), "We all want to drive a Lamborghini, but reality means we can only afford a Chevy." One astute resident’s retort described our options more aptly as not even a Chevy, but closer to a Yugo. Yes, Milford’s property taxes are very high – some of the highest in the state. The more vocal residents complain that with all the cash the town collects in property taxes, it should be able to handle everything and they continually rage against any budget increases as a result of mismanagment. However, the fact is that due to years of underfunding, none of our schools are fully ADA compliant, three of our schools are in deplorable condition with failing security, subadequate plumbing, heating and ventilation systems and even asbestos flooring. We buy new computer equipment, which promptly gets ruined due to leaky pipes and a dilapidated roof. Our most medically fragile student population at the Jacques and Bales schools doesn’t even have access to a registered nurse, as the additional $18,000 is seen as too costly to justify. However, when we eventually have that medical emergency for which we are unprepared, the cost of the legal suit and potential subsequent judgment may cost us millions of dollars. At this point we all must understand that the budgets presented no longer give us the options of merely living at or above our means – our town is now at the same stage as almost 15 percent of our residents (living at or below the poverty level) who regularly have to decide between rent, food, utilities and medicine. And this should be seen as a wakeup call. We need to face the fact that "the pledge" taken by most state politicians, refusing to even consider an income tax, is no longer serving the vast majority of our residents. Increasing taxes on those who are on a fixed income and forcing people to pay regardless of their means is no longer justifiable or maybe even possible. This pledge benefits the wealthy who move here to protect their income. They send their children to private schools and don’t give a hoot for any of our state’s educational shortfalls. It is time to craft a thoughtful income tax for those making more than the median income. Looking to Colorado, where they legalized recreational marijuana in 2014 and this past year they took in $135 million in taxes to benefit their education system and substance abuse centers – two things for which we desperately need funds. This tax windfall should give us all pause to reconsider the value of ending this prohibition. In the meantime, there is a small group of committed residents pledging to tackle these shortfalls with fundraisers of all types. I urge everyone to help in whatever way they are able.

Jennifer Siegrist Milford

Student seeks info about veteran

To the Editor:

I am a high school student attending Prospect Mountain High School in Alton. My name is Jac Doherty, and my classmates and I are currently researching WWII veterans from New Hampshire buried in Margraten cemetery in the Netherlands. I have some basic information about the soldier I’m researching, but would greatly appreciate any artifacts or additional information related to him. His name is Arsene H. Bussiere, and was born on Jan. 14, 1915, in Vermont and grew up in Manchester. His immediate family at the time was quite large, and I’d like to connect with any relatives who could help further develop my research. His father was named Dalcide Bussiere. His mother was named Dorilda (Castonguay) Bussiere. He had two sisters named Clara and Lillian Bussiere. He also had three brothers, Arthur, Eugene and Normand Bussiere. I know he enlisted in Manchester on Oct. 9, 1943, in the Army. He was 28 when he enlisted as an infantryman, and was killed in action northeast of Wurselen in Staufenberg, Germany, on Oct. 16, 1944. His wife at the time was Mrs. Louise Bussiere. I have copies of letters from his family, and they were all postmarked in Manchester. He was killed in battle on a mission to destroy a German railroad line when his platoon was surrounded, and he was later pronounced MIA/KIA. His beneficiaries at the time were his wife, mother and sister Clara. Together as a class we would like to honor our fallen heroes from New Hampshire. We believe every veteran should be honored every day, and through my research I feel as though I’m paying respect for all that he did for our country. If you would like to help me honor this man’s life and all he did, please send any questions or known information to mfolan@ pmhschool.com or my personal email ytrehod7@ gmail.com, please. Jac Doherty Alton

Thanks to Chappell Tractor for support

To the Editor:

On behalf of the many residents of Milford who took advantage of the ATV limousine service offered at the polls during the presidential primary on Feb. 9 and during the town elections on March 8, I want to extend thanks to Chappell Tractor for their gracious generosity. Chappell’s loaned their four-seat ATV for transporting those with walking disabilities to and from their vehicles to the doorway of the polling site. Normally, the Milford High School athletic department loans their two-seat golf cart, but fearing the conditions on both polling days might have been too slippery for the cart, an ATV was needed. Chappell’s ATV was fueled and ready for service, and offered the traction needed to overcome potential winter conditions on the driveways, plus the capacity to handle more than one passenger at a time. Although the weather this week was fantastic, it was comforting to know that we had the equipment to do the job regardless of what Mother Nature threw at us. Chappell Tractor has proven in many ways that it is a good community neighbor, and this contribution is just another sterling example of the commitment this one company has made to the people of Milford. As the driver of Chappell’s "Voter Motor," I also wish to thank the many voters who availed themselves of the service offered. While I’m appreciative of the offers for tips, my payment is the knowledge that I provided an appreciated service to my fellow citizens. Thank you, Chappell Tractor, for your generosity, and thanks to all who voted.

Paul D. Bagley Milford

Wilton taxpayers deserve better

To the Editor:

As Wilton’s oldest living former selectman who is intensely proud of his town’s history and has never underestimated the hypocrisy of amateur politicians, I truly believe the taxpayers of Wilton deserve better than what they currently have as a Board of Selectmen. In their attempts to abdicate their duties and responsibilities by having a nonmember of the board assume responsibility for perambulating the town lines and now attempting to fleece the taxpayers into hiring a town administrator, they are underestimating the power of the community grapevine, or in my case as a member of the Huron Indian Nation, my moccasin telegraph. In order to comply with the obvious wishes of the board members to do nothing and protect the taxpayers, perhaps it is time for the submission of three resignations from the Wilton Board of Selectmen and their duties and responsibilities assumed by our very efficient, knowledgeable and taxpayer-friendly team of town clerk and tax collector Jane Farrell; Pam Atwood, administrative assistant; and Caitlin Martin, selectmen’s assistant. It could be a pleasant surprise for the taxpayers of Wilton. In recent weeks, this former selectman sent a letter to the current Board of Selectmen seeking responses to several legitimate questions that surfaced after reviewing the annual town report. The lack of any response was expected from the current board, who pay little attention to the concerns of any Wilton taxpayers. Abraham Lincoln once said, "Never let your correspondence fall behind," which might be a good tip for the current Board of Selectmen. It should be of concern to Wilton’s taxpayers that four of the warrant articles were not recommended by the Budget Committee, and yet were overruled and recommended by the Board of Selectmen. Is it any wonder why good people have lost interest in serving our town on any committees or boards? A comparison review of the 2014 and 2015 annual town report indicates the Wilton road agent received a 7 percent raise in salary in 2015, begging the questions of whether or not all town employees received a 7 percent increase in wages in 2015. Many in the community remain convinced that changing the name of the Wilton road agent to director of public works, adding responsibility for the Recycling Center, parks and playgrounds, and the highway department was an action taken without notification to the taxpayers, subject to taxpayer discussion and approval, and was an illegal action. If not an illegal action, it certainly was morally wrong and not in the best interests of the taxpayers. The lack of transparency in actions taken by the current board, a lack of response to taxpayer inquiries for public information and the sealing of meeting minutes, giving the appearance of wrongdoing, has no place in local government. Previous Boards of Selectmen in Wilton never sealed minutes of meetings, never went into executive session unless meeting the strict laws of the state of New Hampshire, never created new positions without the expressed approval of the taxpayers and earned the title of "Town Fathers" just as their predecessors before them. Now, the lack of transparency and abuse of authority by Boards of Selectmen in recent years has led to a dire lack of good people willing to serve our community on committees and boards, leading to unqualified and personal-goalsoriented individuals assuming important positions as part of Wilton’s government. As a longtime resident of Wilton, I will never give up trying to protect the rich heritage of our town. There was a reason the members of our Boards of Selectmen were highly respected and called "Town Fathers." The fact that this term is no long applicable in the minds of many taxpayers should be of great concern. The taxpayers of Wilton deserve better. Francis Gros Louis Leesburg, Va.

Contributions to library appreciated

To the Editor:

I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to all the trustees, past and present, for all your efforts toward the library that enables it to be such a valuable contributor to the Wilton community. I especially appreciate being given the flexibility to enhance and update the technology environment. With the backing and support of the trustees, we were able to update and greatly improve the technology by providing a larger and more robust computing experience in the pre-K, junior, young adult and adult areas. None of this could have been done without the trustees’ support. I would like to express our gratitude for the going-away breakfast for Janet and I. Also, the generous gifts at my goingaway party at the library. I miss the time spent with so many kind and generous individuals, past and present. Thank You for all you do.

Bill Bulling McKinney, Texas

Thanks for epic Trivia Night

To the Editor:

Thank you to all who participated in the fourth annual Friends of the Amherst Town Library Trivia Night. The competitiveness was palpable as 18 teams battled it out at Hampshire Hills Athletic Club in Milford. Congratulations and thanks to the "U" Usual Suspects, our champions, who generously donated $100 of their $200 prize back to the Friends of the Library. In addition to friendly competition, the evening was filled with great food, good humor and giving spirit. This event raised nearly $4,500, all of which will directly benefit the library. A special thanks to Hampshire Hills Athletic Club for generously donating the John Burns Room for the event. Hampshire Hills staff, including Lisa Mackay, Hillary Schwegler and chef Sue Carmen, made sure the space and food were perfect. A special thanks is also in order for our highly entertaining emcee, Tom Knapp. We’re extremely grateful to the following local businesses that generously donated raffle prizes: Hampshire Hills Athletic Club, Heather Elmer with the Swiss Knife Shop, Champagne Baubles by Mickey Larivee, Gallery Portraits, Pam Macdonald with Ava Anderson, Walt’s Service Station, Vouli Dance and Yoga, Mike’s Auto, Quinn Brothers, Heidi Ebol, Roxie’s Fashion, P.J. Mc- Williams’ Bon Bon, Longhorn Steakhouse, LaBelle Winery, Thrive Wellness, The Mile Away Restaurant , Likin Bikin Bike Shop, Enchanted Lace, The Toadstool Bookshops, The Flying Butcher, Homestead Grocery & Deli, Amherst Garden Center, Innovations the Salon & Spa, Gymnastic Village, Bedford Fields Garden Shop, Orange Leaf. Thank you to everyone who supported this event so the Friends of the Library can continue to provide enriching contributions to the Amherst Town Library. See you again next year. To learn more about the Friends of the Amherst Town Library, like us on Facebook.

Andrea Maier Publicity Chair Friends of the Amherst Town Library