Milton’s Dr. Drew (1791-1872)

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | September 30, 2018

I came across the following obituary while doing some Post Office research. Dr. Stephen Drew practiced as Milton’s physician for over fifty years. (He was for a brief time also Postmaster of the Milton Post Office).

OBITUARY OF DR STEPHEN DREW

BY DR HALEY OF MILTON

Dr. Stephen Drew studied medicine with Dr. Ayer of Newfield, Me., attended medical lectures at Harvard University and at other medical colleges, and received his diploma in medicine ahout the year 1815. He first practiced his profession for more than a year at Conway, in this State, thence he removed to Milton, N.H., where he faithfully and zealously followed his profession until about four years ago, when his strong and almost invincible frame began to yield to the relentless ravages of age and disease. He was in active practice, in this and adjoining towns, fifty-three years. Indeed, he did not entirely cease office practice until a little before his death, March 1872, so we may as well say fifty-seven years in all.

He came to Milton at the same time that Dr. James Farrington went to Rochester. Dr. Pray was also at Rochester, Dr. Hammond at Farmington and Dr. Russell at Wakefield. These fathers in medicine have all passed away most of them long ago. Had Dr. Drew lived until April, 1872, he would have been eighty one years of age. He lived to see his own generation almost all pass away, another enter upon and pass well across the stage of action, and a third generation appear and pass through infancy and childhood into youth and early manhood. 

The Milton of fifty-six years ago was very different from the Milton of to-day. Says a reliable informant: “At that early period the large tract of country over which his visits extended was a wilderness in comparison with to-day. Very few good roads, but many bridle paths, making it necessary for him to perform much of his labor on horseback, subjecting him to much inconvenience and exposure.”

He was eminent as a surgeon, preeminent as a practitioner of medicine. He was honored by his peers and revered by his younger brethren. In many respects, he was a model physician. In a word he was a physician. He brought to his profession a life-long enthusiasm, which kept him, to last, well in the advance of medical knowledge. His extensive experience, keen observation and quick reason him to anticipate many an advance in medical practice. He was studious, energetic, laborious, unwearying.

In the “sick room” he was calm and self-possessed. No ordinary or extraordinary danger or unlooked-for emergency could throw him off his guard. To the full extent of knowledge, resources and skill, he was able to do all [that] could be done for his patients. The results of all his experience, the accumulations of his extensive research, hastened in orderly array to his aid.

Then, too, he was wisely deliberate in his opinions actions, never hasty, inconsiderate or rash. And being prudently cautious in his determinations, he had great firmness in carrying them out. Yet he was liberal in his treatment of those who differed from him. He was willing candidly to weigh the reasons for modes of practice other than his own; and as he sought new light he was ready to welcome it from whatever source.

Another grand qualification in a physician, he was thoroughly trustworthy. The secrets of his patients and of their families, whether directly or indirectly communicated to him, were inviolably safe in his keeping. His own family never knew anything of the secret history of his patients. A wise head, an attentive ear, a sharp and open eye, but a silent tongue.

He was an old-time gentleman, a gentleman through and through, a man of culture in mind and heart and manners, a man whose manhood could not long be concealed.

He was benevolent, that basis quality of character, out of which all true politeness springs, and from which it gets its strength. He was the poor man’s friend, the poor man’s willing servant. He served as faithfully in the abode of poverty as in the mansion of wealth.

He was indeed “the beloved physician.” Into hundreds, thousands of families has he repeatedly entered as a messenger of hope and help. Thousands of lives, by the blessing of God, has he been the means of prolonging. Thousands have been comforted by him in hours of bitter pain and sorrow, or conducted by him through imminent peril. Yea, until this generation, and the generation after, shall all have passed away, he will continue to be in the remembrances and traditions of multitudes, “the beloved PHYSICIAN.”

In his last years he came fully into the light and life of Christ. The very day before his death he spent largely with his Bible and book of prayer. God was preparing him for his speedy exit from the scenes of this life and entrance into the glories of the life everlasting?

References:

NH Medical Society. (1873). Transactions of the New Hampshire Medical Society. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=SO8hZwj45UsC&pg=PA115

 

Multi-Millionaire Says “Enough”

By S.D. Plissken | September 29, 2018

A commenter sent me a newspaper article from the Laconia Daily Sun of September 28. It takes place in Alton, but makes several points that are pertinent here as well.

It concerns a multi-millionaire who is trying to sell his 19-acre waterfront estate. He put the property on the market for $49 million dollars four years ago (2014). He halved the price two years ago (2016) to $25 million. It is currently assessed for tax purposes at $23,109,500. (As if you can actually rate it to the nearest $500, when dealing with these numbers). It is currently offered at $17.8 million.

Note that the estate is not “moving.” In economic terms, the market did not “clear” at the $49 million, $25 million, $23 million, nor yet at the $17.8 million prices. Multi-millionaires and tax assessors can have their fantasies but the market determines the price and they do not. Of course, sufficient sales data must be somewhat difficult to obtain for 19-acre multi-million dollar waterfront estates.

Bahre paid $309,280.17 in property taxes! I know, this guy is a selectman’s dream. This summer, Alton reduced his valuation by $936,400 and refunded $12,092 in taxes from the 2017 year.

Bahre is suing the Town of Alton, because their valuation is still $5,355,811 higher than the asking price at which the property does not “clear.”

The article notes parenthetically that

At $14.98, Alton has one of the lowest tax rates among communities with extensive waterfront on Lake Winnipesaukee. Moultonborough’s rate is considerably lower, at $8.22 per $1,000 of assessed value. But Wolfeboro, Meredith, Gilford, and Laconia are higher, with tax rates of $14.98, $15.23, $17.26 and $21.03 respectively.

Now, from my relative hovel in Milton, any one of those “higher” rates seems vastly better than our $25.89. We began below the high end of this “higher” rate list eleven years ago, and rose, and rose, and rose, peaking at $28.60 in 2015 and $28.40 in 2016. Then BOS Chairman Rawson was asked last year what rate would finally be “too high.” He said $30, $30 per thousand would be too high. (“Miss me yet?”)

Only the phantasmagorical flash valuation of last year allowed the Milton selectmen to “cut” us to $25.89. Well, yes, there was not much pain in it for them. Fantastically high valuations combined with a slight cut in rate produced a fantastically higher bottom line still. (And they did not even get it right).

This Alton multi-millionaire guy can probably afford to sue the Town of Alton into the ground, so this will be interesting to watch. And the premise of his suit is itself interesting. The Town’s high tax rate – yes, he means the $14.98 – is scaring off potential buyers. He cannot realize the full value of his property because of high taxes.

Fascinating as all of that is, the real nugget was buried near the bottom of the article:

The suit filed by attorney Margaret Nelson on behalf of the Bahres, argues, “Even affluent potential purchasers are concerned about the very high tax burden, especially in light of recent changes in the federal tax law regarding the deductibility of property tax expenses.”

Beginning with this federal Income Tax year, taxpayers will only be able to deduct $10,000 in state and local taxes from their income tax.

Yes, you read it right. If a business bears a tax burden that is greater than the deductible $10,000, the portion above that amount is no longer deductible from Federal taxes. Remember, they pay a local NH State Business Tax too.

The Feds just stopped subsidizing places with high local taxes. For a valuable property, having it in Milton, or California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, etc. – all high tax places – just became even more expensive than last year.

What effect might that have on businesses? Would taxes even higher-than-high tend to make Milton more attractive to them or less?

You figure it out.

References:

Laconia Daily Sun. (2018, September 27). Bahre sues Alton, alleging taxes on lakefront estate scaring away buyers. Retrieved from www.laconiadailysun.com/news/local/bahre-sues-alton-alleging-taxes-on-lakefront-estate-scaring-away/article_7132b470-c0eb-11e8-ac87-472a3856d0fc.html

 

Non-Public BOS Session Scheduled (October 1, 2018)

By Muriel Bristol | September 29, 2018

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their agenda for a BOS meeting to be held Monday, October 1.

The meeting is scheduled to begin with a Non-Public preliminary session at 5:00 PM. That agenda has two Non-Public items classed as 91-A:3 II (a) and 91-A:3 II (c).

91-A:3 II (a). The dismissal, promotion, or compensation of any public employee or the disciplining of such employee, or the investigation of any charges against him or her, unless the employee affected (1) has a right to a meeting and (2) requests that the meeting be open, in which case the request shall be granted.

The first matter (the “a” item) suggests that some Town employee is getting either a kick in the pants, a pat on the back, or a kiss in the mail.

91-A:3 II (c). Matters which, if discussed in public, would likely affect adversely the reputation of any person, other than a member of the public body itself, unless such person requests an open meeting. This exemption shall extend to any application for assistance or tax abatement or waiver of a fee, fine, or other levy, if based on inability to pay or poverty of the applicant.

The second matter (the “c” item) might relate again to the recent tax abatement process. Although one would think they would have worked their way through those by now. It might by now be one of the other reasons cited in by the code.


The BOS intend to adjourn their Non-Public BOS session at approximately (*) 6:00 PM, when they intend to return to Public session.

The Public portion of the agenda has new business, old business, the next wave of departmental budget presentations, and the approval of minutes.

Under new business is scheduled: 1) Town Planner Contract Acceptance (Heather Thibodeau), 2) 2019-2024 CIP Discussion (Ryan Thibeault), and 3) Conservation Commission Non-Voting Member Position Discussion.

The CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) is the method by which the departments fast-track their “capital” expenses past the ballot. By definition, government has no capital. No one invests in it. It has no income apart from what it levies in taxes and fees. Government is a consumer and its inventory consists of consumption goods purchased with tax money. For that reason, some have termed this the Tax Acceleration Plan (TAP) instead.

Under old business is scheduled: 4) Downtown Parking Discussion Follow up (Rich Krauss), 5) Townhouse Heating/Cooling Discussion Follow up (Erin Hutchings), 6) Recreation Revenue and Office Discussion (Ryan Thibeault), and 7) Selectmen Discussion of Budget Presentations from 9.24.18

Chief Krauss returns to speak again on downtown parking issues. Winter is coming. Townhouse heating problems appear for the fifth time.

Chairman Thibeault will speak on Recreation Revenue. In prior meetings, the BOS was unable to distinguish between beach admittance money and boat ramp money. The Recreation Office discussion likely proceeds from Selectman Lucier’s expressed desire to shut down the Beach’s satellite office for the winter.

The BOS will discuss the prior (September 24) meeting’s annual departmental budget submissions. That bears watching. The prior meeting’s installment of departmental budget submissions included Economic Development, Budget Committee, Fire, Emergency Management, Library, Welfare, Town Clerk/Tax Collector, and Outside Appropriations. (Not in that order).

This meeting’s installment of departmental budget submissions includes (time permitting): Planning & Code Enforcement, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA), Conservation, Town Administration, Government Buildings, Solid Waste, Highway, and Debt Services.


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


References:

State of New Hampshire. (2016, June 21). RSA Chapter 91-A. Access to Governmental Records and Meetings. Retrieved from www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/VI/91-A/91-A-3.htm

Town of Milton. (2018, September 28). BOS Meeting Agenda, October 1, 2018. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/uploads/bos_agendas_831_676618924.pdf

ZBA Meeting and Some Anecdotes

By S.D. Plissken | September 28, 2018

Last night, the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) approved the variance for the Binker Brothers (Chris and Michelle Penta) to use their own Grange property in a commercially-zoned part of Milton Mills as a retail antique shop. The vote was unanimous.

Hurray! But it is not over. The ZBA mentioned several times that there was a follow-on stage in which the Planning Committee, the DPW, and the Police would have to approve also. The Police were to decide if the presence of three or four cars would obstruct visibility.

And if someone appeals in the next thirty days, the whole process can begin again.

There you find one of the thorny knots that obstruct businesses in Milton. All of these boards and committees are overlapping, interlocked, referenced, and cross-referenced, working from manuals originally copy-and-pasted from State exemplars and then “tweaked” over the years to make them even worse. And therein lies a problem.

My late grandfather worked all his life as a tool and die maker for the General Electric Company (GE). I often helped him do various household projects in his retirement years – painting the house, repairing the roof, building a wall, etc. He had a sort of joke that he would make when he had considered some way or means of accomplishing our objective and then rejected it. He would invariably say, “We’ll send that to Planning.” At the GE, that was what they always said when they tabled things, usually forever. Planning was where ideas went to die.

I have an acquaintance who grew up in Massachusetts. (He escaped). That acquaintance told me a story of how they think there. In the police section of his hometown’s annual Town Report, every year, the Police Chief would document with impressive charts and graphs the particular intersection that had experienced the most accidents in that year. Now, this was never “Death on the Highway.” You could count the  minor fender-bender accidents on one hand. And the solution to this grave problem? They would put up a traffic streetlight in that intersection.

Can you guess what happens next? In the next year, another intersection would move to the fore as being now the one that had the most fender-benders. And the solution to that new problem was to put up another traffic streetlight. And so on, through all the years, until nearly every intersection in town had a traffic streetlight. You may well imagine that there were still minor fender-benders, maybe even more than before, but they had created also a new traffic congestion problem.

When all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. My friend heard recently that the proposed solution to the manufactured traffic congestion was to make all the major streets in town into one-way streets. (Rochester went this way). The townspeople finally rebelled and said “no.”

We may note that reversing the original failed idea is never seriously considered. When some ill-advised government notion fails, some additional complication, or some further intervention, is always the “fix” instead.

I employed a contractor last winter for a household project. He reminded me that “all of the towns around here” had created their various boards and committees at just about the same time – the late 1970s and early 1980s. (One might even suspect they all got their bad advice from a single source). He said that “the general idea was to make sure that nothing ever changed.”

I will take that with a grain of salt, but it is true that the net effect of a passel of committees with overlapping and competing authorities is to impede change. That is how Hitler managed his satraps – he set them all against each other with overlapping authorities. Only he could “resolve” the bureaucratic differences that inevitably arose. Stalin was the same. That is the way authoritarians think.

Everyone seems to think that the Milton town government needs to “encourage” businesses. I do not know from where this bad idea comes. (Maybe the same source as the committees). It is obviously wrong, but is also obviously widely held.

But, putting that aside for a moment, if you really want to “encourage” businesses, I mean, if it is really more than just lip service, why not separate the overlaps of these committees? (Use an axe). Does the ZBA really need to reference the DPW, the Police, and Planning as the next stage for a simple variance?

I am certain – absolutely certain – that a typical Grange meeting took up more parking space – with horses and buggies – than the Binker Brothers will ever have at any one time as antiques customers. And horses are generally taller than cars. Did the Police of that time have to pass on “visibility” before the construction of the Grange hall could proceed? Of course not, they would have regarded that as absurd and tyrannical.

Or go the other way. Combine the committees that have overlapping authority into fewer committees. The Planning and Zoning were originally one entity. Right now, you are just stuck in a bureaucratic morass. “Less is more.”

Get out of the way. And reduce taxes. Do that first. Then do it again. Lather, rinse, repeat. That would be the most “encouraging” thing that could be done. Who knows which of the fine home businesses on the Milton Made Products Site might blossom into something bigger and better if the ever-increasing demands of the town apparatus were not sapping their strength?


By the way, when one is going through a list of standards, each one of them is a criterion. Criteria is the plural. This is similar to data (plural) and datum (singular).

Facts, Rumors, and Rumors about Facts

By S.D. Plissken | September 27, 2018

Just rumors. Really, rumors? Or are they just facts that you don’t like?

Closing of China Pond

On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, a sympathetic resident posted on local social media (Our Milton Home Facebook Group) that “China Pond is closing forever! I am devastated!!!!” When asked about this, the resident replied,

No. She [i.e., one of the owners] told me they couldn’t get the proper [State] permits [for Ray’s Marina]. Their lease [on China Pond] is up on October 7th and they’re gonna take a break and spend quality time with their children.

This seems pretty straightforward. The resident poster spoke with one of the owners and then reported what they had said.

It is not the State’s fault that the Cumberland Farms landlord raised the rent on the China Pond tenant. The State only is to blame for years of permitting issues having to do with parking at the hoped-for Ray’s Marina complex restaurant.

Cumberland Farms is not to blame for raising the rent on China Pond at the expiration of the lease. The Town of Milton is responsible for that. What did you suppose would happen when taxes are increased at double the rate of inflation for over a decade?

The Town of Milton imposed exorbitant taxes on Cumberland Farms (and all the rest of us); Cumberland Farms simply passed that increase on to China Pond at its earliest opportunity – the expiration of the lease. That is the way of the world and completely to be expected. In effect, the Town of Milton raised China Pond’s rent. And yours, and mine.

By the way, one of our commenters says that the Board of Selectmen (BOS) knew about the China Pond closing a couple of weeks ago. Selectman Lucier mentioned it in a BOS Meeting. At present, that is just a rumor, although one capable of being checked. (Editor’s Note: This has since been verified. Selectman Lucier announced the China Pond closing in the BOS Meeting of September 10, 2018).

Ray’s Marina

Ray’s Marina closed in 2002 after fifty years in business. According to the Town’s online assessing database – Avitar – the property was sold to Ocean Management Group for $742,000 on August 13, 2007. Those would be the people that had RVs displayed there for sale for some years before the recession. The businesses that suffer most in a recession are those that sell “optional” products, such as RVs. Did the Town “encourage” them in any way? No, it continued to raise their taxes, despite the recession. TD Bank called in their mortgage on May 30, 2013.

The current owners bought the property for $180,000 as Gold River, LLC, on August 21, 2015. (Note the $570,000 drop in price from the foreclosed bubble price of $750,000 to the reality price of $180,000). Gold River has presumably been paying Milton’s ever-increasing taxes on that amount for three years now. It is currently assessed at an increased value of $189,900.

By calculation, that would be about $4,916 in taxes this year, about $5,370 last year, and about $5,140 the year before. Gold River will have paid a three-year total of about $15,246 in taxes on a non-performing property. That is to say, nothing at all came in the door and $15,246 went out the door. They have paid already something like 8.6% of the purchase price in taxes alone, while seeking State approvals.

The costs are a fact. Ask yourself, if this were you, how long could you keep paying that much for a non-performing property? Not long, that is a fact too.

Binker Brothers Antique Store

On August 3, Mr. Elder posted regarding Chris and Michelle Penta’s purchase of the old Grange building for their Binker Brothers’ Antiques business. He congratulated them on their commitment to remaining in Milton Mills. The Pentas posted on August 9 that they had begun renovations and were seeking information about contractors. Chris Penta sought to get rid of old appliances on August 14.

But there was a dark cloud on the horizon, a Town of Milton-shaped cloud. Michelle Penta posted on September 2:

Starting a business has many necessary steps. Apparently our town has one additional step that doesn’t exist in other communities. It is a step that delays opening/generating income by AT LEAST 30 days. This has been a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs. Receiving all the encouraging words and support from other residents gives us the motivation to keep on going. Maybe together we can work towards changing the process to be more user friendly, for the next person who wants to create something great in our town.

This would appear to be referring to a particular definitional twist. The property is zoned “commercial,” which you might think would include a little antique shop. No, that is a “retail” use. I suppose the Pentas can open all the shoe factories that they want, such as used to exist in Milton Mills, but not a retail antique business. Unless they get a variance. Really?

Michelle Penta posted again yesterday:

Chris Penta and I have been diligently preparing and the time is here! We are going before the zoning board to seek approval to open an antique store in Milton Mills on Thursday 9/27 at 6pm. Endorsement from residents is powerful! This is a public hearing. Anyone can attend and speak. If you want to see a fabulous store that supports local artists and sells ridiculously cool stuff, please show up on Thursday! We are super excited, hopeful yet nervous! The zoning board approval is critical! Your presence would be greatly appreciated!!!

So, I do not see that anything said yesterday was only a “rumor.” It seems pretty fact-based to me.

China Pond is closing because their rent went up. Their rent went up because Cumberland Farms passed their Town of Milton tax increases on to their tenants. No surprises and no rumors there, just basic economics. The taxes are what economists call a “pass through” expense – they go right on through to the tenant. The Town raised the rent.

The Ray’s Marina restaurant project stalled on State regulatory issues regarding parking availability. Thank the State for its help. However, the Town of Milton tax rates definitely contributed to the financial pressure on those prior owners during the “great” recession. And it has been no picnic for the current owners either. The numbers are right there in Avitar. They are stalled by the State and the Town of Milton is bleeding them dry. Discouraging.

The Binker Brothers’ antique store is stalled on the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s (ZBA) interpretation of what constitutes “commercial” use. Factories, yes, quaint antique stores in renovated historical buildings, not so much. (It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is).

I have no words. The meeting is posted by the Milton ZBA and the antique entrepreneurs have asked us to attend.

Evidently, we should all be there with bells on. We’ve been invited. Tonight at the Emma Ramsey Center, at 6:00 PM. That is the rumor anyway. Pitchforks optional.

References:

Binker Brothers Antiques. (2018). Binker Brothers Facebook. Retrieved from www.facebook.com/Binkerbrothers/

Milton NH Community News. (2018). Milton NH Community News Facebook Group. Retrieved from www.facebook.com/ourmiltonnews/

Our Milton Home. (2018). Our Milton Home Facebook Group. Retrieved fromwww.facebook.com/groups/OurMiltonHome/

Town of Milton. (2018). Assessment Data Review Online (Avitar). Retrieved from data.avitarassociates.com/logondirect.aspx?usr=milton&pwd=Milton

Town of Milton. (2018, August 17). Case2018-2 Request for Special Excpetion [Sic], Chris & Michelle Penta. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/uploads/zba_189_808339455.pdf

Town of Milton. (2018, September 10). BOS Meeting, September 10, 2018. Retrieved from youtu.be/PlwhI_Uz_rs?t=1673

Town of Milton, ZBA. (2018). Agenda. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/uploads/zba_189_2246368897.pdf

Zài Jiàn to China Pond

By S.D. Plissken | September 26, 2018

If local social media is accurate, the owners of the China Pond restaurant intend to close it, when their lease expires on October 7. The owners intend to spend more time with their family instead.

If I have understood my fortune cookies correctly, which is doubtful, zài jiàn is Mandarin Chinese for goodbye. (Apologies in advance for any Mandarin error). So, zài jiàn to China Pond. I hope you fare well in whatever comes next for you.

As I understand it – from very far outside – the owners had hoped to set up an American-style restaurant, as well as a couple of apartments, in the old Ray’s Marina complex. This proved to be impossible due to permitting issues. The current permitting issues, at least the insurmountable ones, are said to be with the State, and have to do with parking. This has gone on for several years now.

From afar, I have often wondered if they might rent the use of ten or a dozen spaces from the Dollar General complex across the street. I have never seen the Dollar General parking lot full, especially out at the margins, because most of its customers park naturally near the store entrance. Some spaces along the street would be relatively far from the Dollar General’s entrance and relatively close, if not actually closer, to the Ray’s Marina complex.

Too bad. It might have been sort of a win-win: extra money for Dollar General and parking access for the intended restaurant across the street. There is probably some sort of regulation that forbids such a solution. There usually is.

I shudder to think of the regulatory tortures of the damned that have been imposed upon these hapless restaurant entrepreneurs. This has been going on for a couple of years now. Again, from afar, they seem to have purchased the Ray’s Marina property. (I could be wrong). That is a pretty big investment. Now add a couple of years of Milton’s crushing tax burden to a non-performing property. And, as the cherry on top, a couple of years of legal expenses wrestling with boards and regulatory officials. Their working capital must be pretty much exhausted. Not a very “encouraging” prospect is it?

So, China Pond joins Stop, Drop & Rolls in leaving the so-called business district. Do a count: there are more businesses out of the business district than there are in the business district. We have really more of a business district museum than a business district. An exhibit of the business district that was, when there was a train depot and before the Spaulding bypassed the town. Is it time to just stop calling this the “business district”?

Social media has reported also that the antique store proposed for Milton Mills got bogged down in regulations too. And these were not State regulations. The owner said that Milton has some sort of extra layer of regulations above and beyond every other place in New Hampshire. Sort of like a “double secret probation.” He politely said that he is trying to work with the town on this. Of course, the town could just eliminate that extra hurdle – just to stay even with everywhere else. If they want really to move forward towards being “encouraging,” they could go on to whack a couple of more layers of nonsense too.

The ongoing Mi-Te-Jo expansion tragicomedy comes to mind. It would be difficult to imagine something with a lower environmental impact than expanding a seasonal campground. I mean, compared with hiring out the town as a landfill. But NIMBY. I suppose now Mi-Te-Jo will depart too and a housing development or something will spring up instead. Try that in your back yard. Much better than expanding a seasonal business.

I wonder if a Mi-Te-Jo failure to thrive will have any effect on that other store. The one near the bridge-that-was.

How about if we post Economic Revitalization Zone (ERZ) signs? I mean, as opposed to reducing taxes and regulations. That should do the trick. Yeah, that is the sort of thing you see in places that have check-cashing stores and title-loan shops instead of banks. (Rochester has a check-cashing store, a title loan shop, and ERZ signs). Is that where we are headed? I do not find that very encouraging.

How about if we just try liberty? (We pledge to it before every meeting). That seems to have worked in the past. You know, let us try what worked in the time before Economic Development, Planning, Zoning, and whatever boards and committees even existed. It has not been that long – within living memory.

If it is really vital that we have businesses for some reason – a reason that is never satisfactorily explained – let us return to the regulatory conditions that prevailed when businesses thrived.

Try to reproduce the conditions that existed when the business district created itself.

References:

Our Milton Home. (2018, September 26). China Pond Is Closing Forever. Retrieved from www.facebook.com/groups/OurMiltonHome/

Rochester Voice. (2018, June 22). China Pond’s Plan for Move Across Street Inches Forward. Retrieved from www.therochestervoice.com/china-ponds-plan-for-move-across-street-inches- forward–cms-10350

PawSox Put One Over the Fence

By S.D. Plissken | September 25, 2018

The minor league Pawtucket Red Sox’s contractual agreement with their “home” city of Pawtucket, RI has run its course. It was little mentioned in press reports, but the Pawtucket Red Sox (PawSox) organization shopped around for the best terms. That would be its fiduciary duty. It did the right thing.

Pawtucket, and the State of Rhode Island, failed to come to terms with the “home” team. The best that Pawtucket and Rhode Island could offer was an $83 million project without any state bond involvement. That was nowhere near good enough.

Worcester’s economic developers offered more, which “encouraged” the PawSox to come to an understanding with them. The PawSox will invest a bare $6 million on new facilities in Worcester. Worcester will take out $100.8 million in bonds for the venture, up front, repayable over thirty years. The PawSox will contribute $30.2 million toward repayment of that, but spread over the thirty year period. The Worcester taxpayers will pony up the rest. If bond interest functions anything like mortgage interest, the “rest” will be a vastly larger number than $100.8 million minus $30.2 million equals $70.6 million. It might cost double the $70.6 million, or even more, before the bonds are “retired.”

So, the PawSox will become the WooSox, or something of the sort, when they take up their new residence in Worcester, MA. Grand. Hopefully, other businesses will flow into town in the WooSox wake. That is the idea, anyway – a WooSox business district.

Some other cities that have financed minor-league baseball stadiums have failed to cover debt payments with new revenue, and have had to dip into their general funds (WBUR, 2018).

Of course, even if new businesses do take up residence around the new stadium, they will have been subsidized by Worcester taxpayers. The taxpayers will have paid partially already for whatever those businesses might offer, before they even step into them. They pay to create those businesses and then they pay more after for the goods and services themselves. That sounds great, for those new businesses.

And, heaven forbid, what if the WooSox were to fail and go out of business before the period of thirty years elapses? The taxpayers would still be on the hook for those bonds. Even those not yet born and who would never have even seen the WooSox play.

What happens in thirty years? Well, the WooSox will shop around again, just as they should. Worcester can then try to further “encourage” them, as Pawtucket did. Perhaps the WooSox will want a new stadium, an exit ramp, or some other basket of goodies, in order to remain in Worcester. More taxpayer money. Failing that, the WooSox will be happy enough to become the Someplace-Else-Sox, if someplace else can come up with a better “deal.”

Well, here’s a thought. Will the taxpayers get tickets to the games at least? Yes, if they buy them. Seats sold separately.

References:

Business Insider. (2018, February 24). What abandoned Olympic venues from around the world look like today. Retrieved from www.businessinsider.com/abandoned-olympic-venues-around-the-world-photos-rio-2016-8

Forbes. (2018, August 21). Red Sox Affiliate, A Minor League Gold Mine, Is Leaving Pawtucket For Worcester. Retrieved from www.forbes.com/sites/barrymbloom/2018/08/21/the-loss-of-red-sox-triple-a-franchise-for-pawtucket-is-worcesters-gain/#24de56112fb4

Milton Observer. (2018, August 31). Milton’s Idée Fixe. Retrieved from wordpress.com/post/miltonobserver.com/206

Providence Journal. (2018, September 3). PawSox season finale brings poignant sense of loss to fans. Retrieved from www.providencejournal.com/news/20180903/pawsox-season-finale-brings-poignant-sense-of-loss-to-fans

The Simpsons. (1993, January 14). Marge Vs. the Monorail – Excerpt. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=taJ4MFCxiuo

WBUR. (2018, September). Worcester City Council Approves $100 Million Stadium Package To Lure PawSox. Retrieved from www.wbur.org/bostonomix/2018/09/13/worcester-city-council-approves-100-million-stadium-package-to-lure-pawsox

WGBH. (2018, August 17). Why The Pawtucket Red Sox Are Moving To Worcester. Retrieved from www.wgbh.org/news/local-news/2018/08/17/why-the-pawtucket-red-sox-are-moving-to-worcester

Wikipedia. (2018, July 21). Crony Capitalism. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crony_capitalism

 

 

Puzzle #5: Smith, Jones and Robinson

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | September 25, 2018

A puzzle posed by British puzzler Henry Ernest Dudeney. It was published in the Strand magazine in April 1930.

Smith, Jones and Robinson are the driver, fireman and guard on a train, but not necessarily in that order. The train carries three passengers, coincidentally with the same surnames, but identified with a “Mr.”: Mr. Jones, Mr. Smith and Mr. Robinson.

Mr. Robinson lives in Leeds.
The guard lives halfway between Leeds and Sheffield.
Mr. Jones’s salary is £1,000 2s. 1d. per annum.
Smith can beat the fireman at billiards.
The guard’s nearest neighbour (one of the passengers) earns exactly three times as much as the guard.
The guard’s namesake lives in Sheffield.

What is the name of the engine driver?

The salary amount of £1,000 2s. 1d., or one thousand pounds, two shillings and one penny, is significant only in that it is not evenly divisible by three.


[Answer to Puzzle #5 to follow in the next Puzzle]


Solution to Puzzle #4: Charlemagne’s Puzzle

Alcuin’s original solution involved seven steps:

  1. Take the sheep over
  2. Return – the sheep is on one side and the wolf and cabbage are on the other
  3. Take the cabbage over
  4. Return with the sheep – the cabbage is on one side and the sheep and wolf (and farmer) are on the other
  5. Take the wolf over
  6. Return – the wolf and cabbage are on one side and the sheep is on the other
  7. Take sheep over – all three have crossed over

Thus there are seven crossings, four forward and three back.

This river-crossing puzzle has spawned many “cosmetic” variations, such as fox, goose, and beans, and has appeared in the folklore of many lands. It appeared in the Simpsons episode Gone Maggie Gone with Homer Simpson trying to shuttle Maggie, Santa’s Little Helper, and a Jar of Rat Poison that Looked like Candy.

One of our more “waggish” commenters suggests a cosmetic variation of a selectman, a taxpayer, and the taxpayer’s money.

Milton’s Winter Soldier, Part Two

By Muriel Bristol | September 23, 2018


Continued from Milton’s Winter Soldier, Part One


Mount Independence

Prior to the Declaration of Independence, Mount Independence had a less grandiose name: Rattlesnake Hill.

Two years previously, Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys had surprised and captured Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775. He famously did so “In the name of Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress.” He was certainly an interesting man. He had rebelled against New York prior to the Revolution. He was a rebel’s rebel. The Revolution just sort of joined him. Guns from Fort Ticonderoga had been sledged to Boston, where they were used to expel the British from that city. Under threat of those guns, mounted on Dorchester heights, the British “evacuated” on their fleet to occupy New York City instead. (Boston celebrates a city government holiday on “Evacuation Day,” which is coincidentally also St. Patrick’s Day).

Fort Ticonderoga had been built by the French in 1755 and had seen better days. It stood on the New York side of the narrow bottom of Lake Champlain at its river outlet. It had been built with an eye to blocking any approach from the south (up the Hudson River from Albany and New York). Its strong defenses were less formidable when approached from the north (down Lake Champlain from Canada).

To improve those defenses, the Colonial forces built an ancillary fortress on Rattlesnake Hill in 1776. That was a sort of hilly semi-peninsula on the Vermont side (modern Orwell, VT) of the lake. They constructed also a rough military road, with log planking and bridges to span wet places, between there and Hubbardton, Vermont, and a pontoon bridge over to Fort Ticonderoga. News of the Declaration of Independence came there on July 18, 1776 and Rattlesnake Hill became Mount Independence.

British General Guy Carleton arrived there from Canada with his army in October 1776. He abandoned this initial invasion attempt when he saw the double-fortressed position with its approximately 12,000 defenders. Most of the Colonial forces dispersed to their homes for the winter not long after. Their enlistments had expired. Only a skeleton force of 2,500 remained to hold the forts over the winter.


The British planned a much more serious invasion attempt for 1777. They hoped to split New England off from the rest of the colonies. To accomplish this, General John Burgoyne’s army would proceed south across Lake Champlain from Canada and General Gage’s army would come north up the Hudson River from New York City. They planned to meet in Albany, control the Hudson River, and thus split the colonies in two.

All three Continental regiments of the New Hampshire Line marched westward from New Hampshire in May 1777 in order to reinforce Fort Ticonderoga’s skeleton garrison. It took them six or seven weeks to get there.

At the head of the Second Regiment, its commander, Colonel Nathan Hale (not the famous spy, but another one from Rindge, NH) rode on horseback with his staff. The Second Regiment’s national and regimental colors flapped in the breeze.

The Regimental and National Flags of the 2nd Regiment, New Hampshire Line

The colors they carried before them had been made in Boston in April 1777. The buff-colored national flag’s ring of thirteen interlocked state rings was based on a Benjamin Franklin design. It had also been used on Continental currency the year before. Its motto “We Are One” appeared in the center of the rings. The blue-colored regimental flag had a shield with “NH 2nd Regt” upon it and a banner or scroll appeared above with the motto “The Glory Not the Prey.” The two cantons were “mocks” or variations on the British Union Jack.

Colonial soldiers and engineers had built encampments for three brigades (enlarged or reinforced regiments) at Mount Independence in 1776.  The defenses in progress there included a large shore battery, with a another horseshoe-shaped battery or citadel above it. They also built storehouses, workshops and had begun a star-shaped picket fort. Some of this work continued in the spring of 1777, including the beginnings of three new batteries along the peninsula’s eastern shore.

Mount Independence was as yet an unarmed and undefended construction project. When the New Hampshire regiments arrived, they joined the skeleton garrison of Fort Ticonderoga.

British General John Burgoyne and his army of 7,800 British and Hessian soldiers arrived soon after at nearby Fort Crown Point on June 30, 1777. It was unoccupied and his presence went unnoticed. He next had his troops drag cannons up onto the summit of Mount Defiance (Sugarloaf Hill), which overlooked both Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence. (“Where a goat can go, a man can go; and where a man can go, he can drag a gun.” – British Major General William Phillips, as his men brought cannon to the top of Mount Defiance in 1777). The British occupation of Mount Defiance remained completely unnoticed until July 5, when some British-allied Indians lit a fire there.

The Colonial commander, General St. Clair, was completely surprised. British guns overlooked Fort Ticonderoga now, which made it completely untenable. He had little choice but to order an immediate evacuation of Fort Ticonderoga. The Colonial forces snuck out that night across the pontoon bridge to Mount Independence, under its British guns, and from there down the military log road to Hubbardton. They were headed for the Rutland, Vermont area.

Most of the sick and wounded were taken to bateaux boats at Skenesborough (now Whitehall, New York), while that was still possible. The baggage went there too.

Battle of Hubbardton

Colonel Seth Warner commanded the rear guard covering the Continental retreat toward Rutland, Vermont. His detail included his own Green Mountain Boys and Colonel Hale’s Second New Hampshire regiment. There were also some stragglers from other units, as well as some number of sick and wounded men.

Colonel Warner paused in Hubbardton, Vermont, on July 6, 1777, while the main force escaped down the Castleton road. He set his men to felling trees to make a obstacle of downward-facing branches on Monument Hill and to extend that position on either flank. The British did not appear that day and Colonel Warner decided to spend the night.

The next morning, July 7, at 5:00 AM, Colonel Warner’s pickets spotted approaching British scouts. There was an exchange of gunfire and the scouts retreated. A more substantial British force arrived at the bottom of Monument Hill at 6:30 AM. They attacked and were repulsed.

The British regrouped, attacked again, and were repulsed again. British General Fraser sent now for his Hessians. Meanwhile, his Grenadiers climbed the Pittsford Ridge beyond the Colonial east flank in order to block their escape route down the Castleton road.

The Hessian reinforcements arrived about 8:30 AM and counter-attacked on the Colonial northern flank, where the British were being hard-pressed. The Second’s commander, Col. Hale, and a detachment of seventy Second Regiment men were captured. Colonel Warner decided it was time to go. The Colonials withdrew across the Pittsford Ridge as best they could.

This is considered to have been a British victory, as they held the field when it was all over, but the rear guard had accomplished its mission. They forced the British to stop, deploy their forces, and fight. All of this took time, valuable time. After the battle, British General Fraser gave up his pursuit of the Colonial main body entirely.

The Battle of Hubbardton involved approximately 2,230 troops – 1,000 to 1,200 Americans, 850 British, and 180 Germans fighting for the British. It resulted in the deaths of 41 American, 50 British, and 10 German soldiers. Of the 244 wounded, 96 were American, 134 British, and 14 German. The British took 234 American prisoners. Total casualties, including prisoners, were roughly 27 percent of all participating troops.

Milton’s Private Enoch Wingate was wounded during this rear guard action. Captain Rowell’s next muster roll listed him as one of sixteen men that had been “Missing since July 7th.”

The Second New Hampshire Regiment continued to regard the captured Colonel Hale as its commander. His name headed all their paperwork, until as late as January 1779, when Lt. Colonel George Reid was listed as commander. Hale died in captivity in September 1780.

The fancy Regimental flags also went missing. They had been packed away with the baggage on the bateaux at Skenesborough to go down river. The British got the lot.


And next came Bemis Heights? Yes.


To be continued in Milton’s Winter Soldier, Part Three


References:

Concord Monitor. (2017, May 23). NH Gets Its Flags Back. Retrieved from www.concordmonitor.com/New-Hampshire-Gets-Its-Flags-Back-9404052

CRW Flags. (2018, July 25). Second New Hampshire Regiment, Continental Line. Retrieved from www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/us%5Enhrcl.html

Fort Ticonderoga. (2018). Fort Ticonderoga: America’s Fort. Retrieved from www.fortticonderoga.org/

Fort Ticonderoga. (2018). Mount Defiance. Retrieved from www.fortticonderoga.org/history-and-collections/places/mount-defiance

National Archives. (n.d.) Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files (NARA microfilm publication M804, 2,670 rolls). Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

State of Vermont. (2018). Hubbardton Battlefield. Retrieved from historicsites.vermont.gov/directory/hubbardton/history

State of Vermont. (2018. Hubbardton Battlefield. Post-Visit Exercise: Using Primary Sources to Learn about the Battle. Retrieved from historicsites.vermont.gov/sites/historicsites/files/Documents/directory/hubbardton/Hubbardton%20Battlefield%20Post%20Visit%20Primary%20Sources%20Exercise%5B1%5D.pdf

State of Vermont. (2018). Mount Independence. Retrieved from historicsites.vermont.gov/directory/mount_independence

Wikipedia. (2018, September 16). Ethan Allen. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethan_Allen

Wikipedia. (2018, September 13). Fort Ticonderoga. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Ticonderoga

Wikipedia. (2018, July 20). Mount Defiance (New York). Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Defiance_(New_York)

Wikipedia. (2018, June 20). Mount Independence (Vermont). Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Independence_(Vermont)

Wikipedia. (2018). Nathan Hale (Colonel). Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_Hale_(colonel)

 

Non-Public BOS Session Scheduled (September 24, 2018)

By Muriel Bristol | September 21, 2018

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their agenda for a BOS meeting to be held Monday, September 24.

The meeting is scheduled to begin with a Non-Public preliminary session at 5:00 PM. That agenda has three Non-Public items classed as 91-A:3 II (c), 91-A:3 II (j), and 91-A:3 II (c).

91-A:3 II (c). Matters which, if discussed in public, would likely affect adversely the reputation of any person, other than a member of the public body itself, unless such person requests an open meeting. This exemption shall extend to any application for assistance or tax abatement or waiver of a fee, fine, or other levy, if based on inability to pay or poverty of the applicant.

The first and third matters (the “c” items) appear to relate again to the recent tax abatement process.

To Repeat. In November, the BOS made a serious error in setting the 2017 tax rate. It affected all of the taxpayers, i.e., about 2,700 taxpayers, to a very large degree. Various figures have been given, ranging as high as $1.4 million. In December, the BOS suggested that those affected should file for abatements, which was a bit of shell game. An abatement fund of $20,000 could not possibly resolve an unauthorized tax levy of $1.4 million. This would be the fourth meeting that devoted agenda time to hearing abatements or appeals of rejected abatements.

91-A:3 II (j). Consideration of confidential, commercial, or financial information that is exempt from public disclosure under RSA 91-A:5, IV in an adjudicative proceeding pursuant to RSA 541 [Rehearings and Appeals in Certain Cases] or RSA 541-A [Administrative Procedure Act].

The second item (the “j” item) might also relate to abatements. Of course, it could be anything at all. It has been suggested to us since last time that it might have to do with discussing revisions of employee manuals and employee insurance buyouts, issues that have been mentioned in the open sessions.


The BOS intend to adjourn their Non-Public BOS session at approximately (*) 6:00 PM, when they intend to return to Public session.

The Public portion of the agenda has new business, old business, and the approval of minutes.

Under new business is scheduled: 1) Recording Clerk Agreement (Danielle Marique), and 2) Milton EOP Acceptance (Nick Marique).

We tried to research the somewhat cryptic acronym EOP, which will no doubt be explained (and accepted) in the meeting, but cannot decide to what those initials might refer. Possibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Early Oil Project (the development of the Chirag oilfield),
  • Earth orientation parameters, a collection of parameters that describe irregularities in the rotation of the Earth,
  • Electroosmotic pump, a device that generates flow using an electric field,
  • Enhanced Outpatient Program, a program in the California Department of Corrections to provide care to mentally challenged inmates,
  • Ethernet over Power, a type of home networking in power-line communication,
  • Executive Office of the President of the United States, a part of the executive branch of the United States government often referred to as the White House,
  • Exchange Online Protection, an email filtering service, part of Microsoft’s Exchange Online family,
  • External occipital protuberance, part of the human skull, and
  • Hellenic Cycling Federation (Greek: Ελληνικη Ομοσπονδια Ποδηλασιας), the governing body of cycle racing in Greece.

None of these seem to be likely. It could refer to anything at all. Bureaucracies love their alphabet soup (and chapter heading numbers).

Under old business is scheduled: 3) Employee Handbook Update (Heather Thibodeau), 4) Insurance Buyout Discussion Follow up (Heather Thibodeau), 5) Town Report Printing Cost Discussion (Heather Thibodeau), 6) Building Permit Fees & Policy Discussion Follow up (Heather Thibodeau), and 7) Townhouse Heating/Cooling Discussion Follow up (Erin Hutchings).

The Employee Handbook and Employee Insurance Buyout items return from last time. Townhouse heating problems appear for the fourth time.


The Town Report Printing Cost discussion will be where they break it to Selectman Lucier that printing two Town Report publications could not possibly be cheaper than printing one. (After a diversion of staff resources to confirming the obvious). He has not noticed evidently that the tax assessment information he remembers as being in the back of the Town Report in days of yore is now available in an online system (Avitar) instead. A system for which we are already paying quite a bit.

Perhaps we could save the cost of printing two reports by just printing the URL of the Avitar database in the one report?

As for wanting to publish the names of tax delinquents in the Town Report. It is not difficult to see where that might end badly, very badly.


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


References:

State of New Hampshire. (2016, June 21). RSA Chapter 91-A. Access to Governmental Records and Meetings. Retrieved from www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/VI/91-A/91-A-3.htm

Town of Milton. (2018, September 7). BOS Meeting Agenda, September 24, 2018. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/uploads/bos_agendas_828_71713156.pdf