For many years, the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund has given mobile home park residents like me the tools to buy and run our parks as “resident-owned communities,” also known as ROCs. This ownership empowers us to control our own housing fate, versus the possibility of being owned by a big out-of-state company that only cares about profits.
There are 140 of these ROCs all over our state. They contain nearly 8,500 homes, and they’re owned and run as cooperatives. We make the rules and we set the rent. Unfortunately, some in Concord want to undermine ROCs by changing the rules and making it harder for residents to vote to buy their parks. Why? So those big companies can raise rents until they’re totally unaffordable? This is the exact OPPOSITE of encouraging affordable housing.
The Community Loan Fund has invested time and energy for 39 years, providing loans and training residents to manage their co-ops. They continue to do amazing work.
Need proof? Not one single New Hampshire ROC has gone back to private ownership during the life of this program. They’re still operating. If that’s not a reason to reject SB 210, then the challenge of affordable housing won’t be resolved in New Hampshire.
SB 210 takes us in the wrong direction. It would effectively end the possibility of any more New Hampshire parks becoming ROCs.
I urge New Hampshire Senators to reject SB 210.
In an op-ed on Education Freedom Accounts, Sens. Ward and Ricciardi start by saying, “If Apple came out with a new phone that doubled its sales projections in the first year, Apple would not pull the product off of the market” (“Why we’re protecting choices for NH parents,” Feb. 25). They then claim that the experience of the Education Freedom Accounts is similar.
It is not. The equivalent would be if Apple gave $5,000 rebates to people buying phones, based on an estimate that 28 people would take them up on it. (New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut estimated that 28 students would take advantage of Education Freedom Accounts.) If Apple instead had 1,635 people claim rebates, they might indeed reconsider whether the rebate program made sense. That is what happened with Education Freedom Accounts. The commissioner’s estimate was that the program would cost $140,000. Instead it diverted $8,000,000 that would have gone to local public school districts. A program that goes over its estimated cost by a factor of 57 certainly deserves reconsideration!
It is awesome that Vermont increasingly has small and affordable skiing alternatives. Skiing should be available to anyone and not just for those who can afford a lift ticket that can cost well in excess of $100 for the day at big resorts.
I recently skied at Ascutney Outdoors Center and Trails. This place is phenomenal. Those who volunteered to make skiing happen at Ascutney deserve massive credit. At $20 for a full access adult ski ticket, and with a number of trails to choose from, it enables folks to ski in a cozier non-commercial environment.
Skiing does not have to entail thousands of dollars, condos, packed crowds of people and luxurious lifts at a giant resort. In fact, I think it shouldn’t. The essence of skiing exists in the beauty of the landscape and the inimitable feeling of gliding on snow.
This can be found magnificently at places such as Ascutney Outdoors, the Brattleboro Ski Hill, Berkshire East and Mad River Glen. It can also be found in the wonderful non-lift skiing areas such as the Hogback Mountain Conservation Area and the Dutch Hill Alliance of Skiers and Hikers. It is my hope that someday the old Maple Valley ski area in Dummerston can be revived in a similar model to what is happening at the old Hogback and Dutch Hill ski area mountains now.
Skiing should be able to be enjoyed by anyone who wants to engage in the activity without being financially shut out. In the face of corporate mega ski resorts that can cost well in excess of $100 for a one-day lift ticket, the fact that Vermont increasingly has these smaller, exciting and affordable skiing options is the way it should be.
West Brattleboro, Vt.
In 2018 my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, a very devastating disease.
Realizing our lives were about to change, we sold our home to downsize so I could devote my time to my husband. We moved into an apartment while looking for a home during this crazy real estate time.
One night when I took my shower, my husband was upset. When I came out of the shower, I realized he was gone. I ran downstairs and outside looking for him. Just then, two Lebanon police cars were coming in the complex. They asked me if I was looking for someone. I said yes, my husband. After realizing they were there for the same reason, a good Samaritan reported that he was walking along the road in 9-degree weather with no coat on.
The officers both had K-9s and wanted an article of clothing to search for him. After running to get the article and returning to the officers, I was told that another good Samaritan had picked him up and taken him to the police station. All ended very well that night. But my fear was far from over. What happens next time? Will there be another good Samaritan, or will we be devastated if he gets out again and we can’t locate him? My sister started searching the internet to find an answer, and thank God she did. She located something called AngelSense.
I contacted the company and we have been put at ease ever since. It is a device about half the size of a cell phone that I attach to his pants pocket. I have a special key to lock it on and take it off. If he gets out of the house and I can’t find him, I look at the app and I know where he is immediately. Plus, it is also a two-way radio/phone that we can use to communicate with each other. Now when we are out and he goes into sundowner time, he will just get up and walk away. And rather than causing a scene, I let him go and watch the direction he is going, call the police, tell them, then go pick him up and he is calmed down. We are very lucky as he is a retired state trooper, so when he sees the police uniform it is like a tranquilizer and he is very calm. So, from the time he leaves me and is picked up by the police it is less than 30 minutes. It is a very big relief to know that I can put my mind at ease knowing I can find him, and he is safe. If you have a family member who has dementia, please keep them safe and have less stress put on the family.
We are all part of a community, and as a community we should be acting to benefit the health and well-being of ourselves and each other. Vaccines are a critical part of promoting individual and community well-being. Right now, lawmakers are considering over 40 bills that, if passed into law, would deeply impair our ability to prevent and address public health crises into the future.
One bill that is particularly concerning is HB 1035. If passed by lawmakers, this bill would make it easier for families to send their children to school unvaccinated against preventable diseases such as hepatitis, measles, mumps, polio and many others. Parents would be forced to reconsider New Hampshire schools — should we send our children to private schools that require essential public health vaccinations? Should we home-school? In addition to being forced from New Hampshire public schools, we must also consider how many are forgoing employment in New Hampshire or choosing to locate their businesses elsewhere.
Science-based public health recommendations will help New Hampshire move into a more healthy and successful future. Thanks to immunizations, we have come so far from the days of polio, measles and other terrible but now preventable diseases. Let’s continue to make our state a healthier and more inviting place for all families and businesses by keeping our state immunization programs intact. Please oppose HB 1035. Thank you.
I don’t get an upset stomach often. I rarely reach for Tums, but a wave of nausea overcame me when I read the opinion piece by Senators Ruth Ward and Denise Ricciardi (“Why we’re protecting choices for NH parents,” Feb. 25). The piece began by arguing that the Education Freedom Accounts program is hugely successful as measured by the fact that twice as many vouchers were granted than expected. By this specious logic a booming economy would be proved by rising unemployment claims. I don’t know much about Sen. Ricciardi, but she seems to be an acolyte of Betsy DeVos. Sen. Ward represents my town (Newport) and she has never placed the interests of our students or local tax payers high on her list of priorities. Sadly that can also be said of the last several governors and legislatures of New Hampshire.
Another argument the senators put forth is that no monies for vouchers come from local property tax. The shell game being run here is that money is coming from some pot and the sources are the general fund and the Education Trust Fund. The Trust Fund was originally designed to help equalize the taxes and funding across the state, and though Newport’s taxes have not increased, we still pay twice the rate of Stoddard and 50% more than Bedford where these women live so affordably. Their final argument is that EFAs save money, but education adequacy dollars to the school districts is approximately $3,800 per student while the average Freedom Grant is $5,000. The senators don’t even try to disguise this prevarication.
The root problem remains that education funding remains unequal across the many communities of this state, and local property taxes are widely disparate. Judging by the legislation coming out of Concord and supported by our governor, the end game seems to be the dismantling of public education and its eventual privatization. So when the senators play the shell game they call “protecting choice,” keep your eye on what they’re not protecting.
Should German children be taught about the Holocaust … or would that make them ashamed to be German? Of course they must learn these lessons. It may make them sad about their history, but they can find pride in the advanced humane country that Germany has become and, most importantly, they will be blessed with awareness of how prejudice can corrupt a nation.
Should American children be taught about slavery, Jim Crow and the systemic denial of equal access to education, housing, employment and justice that people of color have experienced in the United States? Of course they should, for the same reasons as above.
The argument that critical race theory makes children ashamed is false. Understanding how far our country has come is a source of pride. The only people who should be ashamed are the Americans who still believe in white supremacy and think people of color are entirely to blame for their disadvantages.
White River Junction
Last night I had reason to drive from Thetford to Strafford and back. We were in the midst of a light, fine snow storm. The driving was lovely with this fresh snow. I was driving under the speed limit, in my older Subaru, with good snow tires. No studs. After about 4 miles the road turned from quiet and lovely, to slop. Now, a noisy, messy salted road. I cringed and looked forward to the last 5 miles on a dirt road.
Much research has been done, studying the effects of this salt use on our environment, rivers, water supplies, road and bridges infrastructure, and vehicles. The U.S. uses about 25 million tons of road salt per year, up from 160,000 tons in 1940. Vermont and New Hampshire use about 25 tons per mile on their roads, some of the highest state totals in the U.S. Not only is there scientific data detailing the effects this salt has on drinking water quality, but also the effects the sodium and chloride have on aquatic and botanical life. Some of this salt is being compounded in the soils and water resources. This does not paint a rosy future.
Salt’s chemical properties exacerbate the damage roads already suffer each winter from freezing and thawing, as the liquefied salt expands and cracks the roads. To add more salt in the wound, there is data showing we are now spending more than $5 billion on infrastructure damage the road salt causes. This does not include the damage salt does to our vehicles.
I have snow tires; some folks have studded tires. Our towns do use sand on dirt roads. Salt is “cheap,” ah, but maybe the real costs may be prohibitive. Maybe we as citizens should be concerned by our use of road salt and all its associated costs. Let’s just use sand, slow down and enjoy the wintry roads. We pay for snow tires — that’s cost enough.