Wrong Way – Go Back

By S.D. Plissken | June 3, 2019

Wrong Way SignIt was announced last year that the State had postponed the long-awaited replacement of the Milton-Lebanon bridge for a further two years

At the time, some Town officials put forward a theory that this would not have happened if only we were represented on the Strafford County Planning Commission. They are wrong, of course.

Logically Fallacious

Central planning can never work, because of Hayek’s “Knowledge Problem.” It is a logically impossible. I pointed this out formerly (Milton and the Knowledge Problem), but the Town government clings to its pet notion regardless.

Such methods survive partly through a need to control and order the world (and people) around its adherents. St. Augustine termed it the libido dominandi: the lust for domination.

Town planners might serve us better in figuring out how to deal with their own Town messes: “Lockhart Field,” the Emma Ramsey Center’s failing foundation, invasive plants, unsustainable budget increases, etc. I have heard even that we have a toxic bloom in town.

There is plenty to occupy their time without attempting to plan and direct our economic lives.

We have spoken to government interventions in the market before (PawSox Put One Over the Fence). These hot-house creations must  be perpetually tended. Even so, they will fail to thrive when market forces change or if there is a better offer. Milton need look no further for instructive examples than its own economic history. (As transcribed by Ms. Bristol).

Empirically Disproven

Propping Up Marginal Businesses

Some portion of Milton Mills’ residents engaged at shoe-making at home, at least part-time, with components shipped in from outside. This might have been the economically viable level of production. You see, while Milton Mills had an ample supply of water power (Milton Water Power in 1885), as did many places in New England, it was easily five miles from the railhead at Union station.

A group of wealthier Milton Mills residents sought to “encourage” the establishment of a shoe factory in 1888. (They had wanted this since at least 1864). They purchased a disused factory building (with their own money) and offered it – free of charge – to anyone who would set up such a shoe factory in Milton Mills. The townspeople even voted to relieve the factory of all taxation – thus taking that tax burden upon themselves – for a period of ten years.

But it was not enough. Transport costs, and the limitations of a village-level (“country”) labor pool, and other factors, all required wages that were lower than those paid in the city. That occasioned discontent and the subsidized factory did not even last a year (Milton Mills Shoe Strike of 1889).

Their Ends Do Not Align with Ours

Federal central planners wanted a military road network like the Autobahn they so admired when conquering Germany. So, they created the Federal Interstate highway system. For their own reasons. Any benefits for the civilian areas through which it passed were purely incidental.

Milton enjoyed a twenty-year tourist boom when the Spaulding Turnpike funneled an increased number of people right though its business district. That ended when the Federal and State central planners bypassed Milton in the next phase of their construction (Milton and the Spaulding Turnpike).

Those planners did nothing to either help or hurt Milton. They simply did not care. They were as oblivious to Milton’s needs in diverting the traffic away from here as they had been in directing it here in the first place. Our needs are just not in their plans.

Since then, our own Town planners have for some reason worked diligently in ensuring that Milton experiences no economic resurgence. They have planned that we remain a bedroom community only and that is what they have largely achieved.

There are fewer businesses here than when they first set out to “plan” in 1982, and there is certainly much less economic activity here now than at any time since the so-called Gilded Age. One wonders how much of their oeuvre would survive if the whole package were put to a vote.

Why should we continue to abide by the unsuccessful plans of these Town, County, State, Federal, and, now, even international planners? There is simply no reason at all for us to do so.

Alton Shows the Way

On Alton’s 2014 ballot, resident petitioners placed warrant articles on the ballot to eliminate the offices of Town Planner and Town Assessor, in favor of a contract planner and a contract assessor, and to withdraw Alton from the Lakes Region Planning Commission (LRPC). They did not succeed at this initial outing, but this was merely the beginning.

(We may note that Milton has both a Town Assessor and a contract assessor, whereas Alton seemed to regard it as an either/or proposition).

In 2018, the Alton Town government put forward a warrant article to fund Alton’s membership in the Lakes Region Planning Commission. The selectmen recommended it by three votes in favor and two against. (Note that split votes are possible). The budget committee opposed it.

The Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers (CNHT) claims that these planning commissions – their ideas, plans, and goals – come straight from the American Planning Commission, a non-governmental organization that “promotes United Nations Agenda 21/2030 regional principles.” There is State and Federal nonsense in there too.

Despite the recommendation of the Alton Board of Selectmen, town residents rejected continued funding for the regional planning commission, with 401 votes (70%) opposed and 172 votes (30%) in favor. (Note that the BOS majority was the complete opposite of the voters. So, we might well ask, who was the Alton BOS representing?)

Remember, it was an attempted insertion of plug-and-play planning code that caused the virulent opposition – hysterical even – by its very creators, of last year’s Article #3.

One Alton resident remarked, “If only more towns would get out of these regional boondoggles.” Or, better yet, if only more towns never entered into them in the first place.

Ask yourselves too, whose business district is doing better, Alton’s or Milton’s? The answer argues for less planning, a great deal less. But, if we cannot manage that, we should at least stop making it worse.

What Is to Be Done?

Take heart. If Milton officials are deluded enough to proceed along this route, – this wrong way – we can undo it as they did in Alton.

The danger for Town officials, and for their “plans” of many years, is that we might not stop at withdrawing from County planning.


There are none so blind as they who will not see. – John Heywood


References:

CNHT. (2018, March 15). Alton Residents Dump Lakes Region Planning Commission. Retrieved from www.cnht.org/news/2018/03/15/alton-residents-dump-lakes-region-planning-commission/

Laconia Daily Sun. (2014, February 20). Petitioned warrant articles would do away with Alton planner & Assessor. Retrieved from www.laconiadailysun.com/news/local/petitioned-warrant-articles-would-do-away-with-alton-planner-assessor/article_121a954d-94f5-5e2f-b2c1-505edb77ee72.html

 

Milton in the News – 1898

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | June 2, 2019

In this year, we encounter a Mystic sorority forming in Milton Mills, burglars afoot at Milton, another cooking opportunity at the Milton Hotel, and a disastrous fire at the Waumbeck mill.

(Milton got its first telephones in this year, two years after the first four were installed at Milton Mills).


Social societies first appeared in the Milton Business Directory of 1898, although some were certainly active long before that date.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) had their lodge above Asa A. Fox’s Milton Mills grocery store, until that burned in 1876. The IOOF’s Miltonia Lodge, No. 52, at Milton Mills, and Woodbine Lodge, No. 11, in Farmington, were offshoots of Rochester’s Motolinia Lodge.

The Daughters of Rebekah were the women’s auxiliary of the IOOF. Their lodge was established at Milton Mills on Wednesday, March 30, 1898.

THE MYSTIC ORDERS. Sunrise Rebekah lodge will be instituted at Milton Mills, N.H., Wednesday afternoon by the New Hampshire grand officers (Boston Globe, [Sunday,] March 27, 1898).

The Eastern Star Lodge, Daughters of Rebekah, appeared subsequently in the Milton [Milton Mills] Business directories of 1901 and 1904.

(Edward J. Brierly, Asa A. Fox, Charles H. Hayes, John E. Leach, John Lewis, John E. Marsh, Oscar F. Marsh, John Meikle, Ira Tibbetts, John F. Titcomb, Oliver C. Titcomb, Lewis B. Twombly, all of Milton; George S. Dore of Wakefield, NH; William J. Mattison, of Wolfeborough, NH; H.E. Anderson, M.D., of Acton, ME, and Charles B. Albee, of Sanford, ME, were all members of the IOOF’s Miltonia Lodge at various times).


Burglars robbed two Milton stores. These seem to have been lesser burglars than those that burgled money, watches, and revolvers in 1885, or the gang that dynamited the Milton Mills post office safe in 1894.

Burglars at Work in Milton, N.H. MILTON, N.H., April 19. The stores of H.F. Mason and W.T. Wallace were entered by burglars last night. At Mason’s a quantity of boots, shoes and clothing was taken, and at Wallace’s a small amount of change from the money drawer (Boston Globe, April 19, 1898).

Henry F. Mason, a clothing trader, aged thirty-four years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of eight years), Alice D. Mason, aged twenty-nine years (b. NH). He owned their house free-and-clear.

William T. Wallace, a grocer, aged thirty-nine years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of fifteen years), Sarah F. Wallace, aged forty-three years (b. NH). He owned their house free-and-clear.

W.T. Wallace’s grocery store appeared in the Milton Business directories of 1892 and 1894. His grocery store and H.S. Mason’s general store both appeared in those of 1898, and 1901, while H.S. Mason’s general store appeared (without Wallace) in that of 1904.


Milton had a summer repertory company or, at least, it had a summer repertory company manager.

Dramatic. YOUNG JUVENILE WOMAN wanted for summer repertoire co., singer preferred. Manager, Milton, N.H. (Boston Globe, June 8, 1898).


This same advertisement, or one very much like it, appeared previously in 1896. It would seem that the Milton Hotel (or Hotel Milton) was either replacing the cook it had hired then or adding a second one.

Female Help Wanted. WANTED – First-class cook at once, dollar a day. Milton Hotel. Milton. N H. 2t jy20 (Boston Globe, July 20, 1898).

The peculiar little code that follows the advertisement tells the Boston Globe typesetters that it should be printed two times from July 20.


The Waumbeck woolen mill at Milton Mills suffered a major fire on September 11 of this year. The factory building was a total loss.

English immigrant John Townsend purchased an existing factory around 1846. He converted it to the production of woolen cloth. His woolen mill had a major fire in 1861. after which he had rebuilt a larger plant (which opened in 1863).  He sold out to Mudge, Sawyer, & Company, of Boston, MA,  by 1865, who later sold to the Waumbeck Company, before 1875. (See also Milton Water Power in 1885 and Milton Water Power in 1901).

The Waumbeck Company joined 916 other corporate woolen concerns in petitioning the US Senate in April 1892. Their petition sought continuance of McKinley’s woolen duties, i.e., tariffs, on foreign wool imports. (They had been in place since 1878). The Waumbeck company (J.A. Bugney, Supt.) appeared in the list of petitioners as having 10 sets of cards, i.e., 10 carding machines.

The Waumbeck Company mill suspended production for six months during the Panic of 1893. (See Milton in the News – 1893).

NOTHING LEFT. Waumbeck Woolen Mills Are Destroyed. Buildings at Milton Mills, N.H., Mass of Smoking Ruins. Thought Loss Will Reach $100,000.  Regarded as Disastrous Blow to Town. Operations Were to Have Been Resumed Today. MILTON MILLS, N.H., Sept 11. – The Waumbeck woolen mills were totally destroyed by fire between the hours of 2 and 3 this morning. The loss is $100,000, insured for $70,000. These mills had been idle for some time, and there was general rejoicing when, a few weeks ago, it was announced that the plant had been purchased by Messrs. Pratt and Whipple, president and agent of a large woolen concern. Mr. Whipple had been here for some time getting the plant in readiness to resume operations, and expected to start with a full complement of help, numbering 300 hands, on Monday morning. The fire was discovered in the picker room by night watchman Charles Williams, at 2.15 a.m., and he immediately gave the alarm by ringing the factory bell. He then attempted to return to the engine room and start the fire pump, but the heat had become so intense that he was unable to do so. The village fire department responded promptly and did everything in their power to save the structure, and by energetic effort did succeed in keeping the flames away from the office. The factory was a three-story structure with basement, 150 feet long and 50 feet wide. This was the chief industry of the town, and the loss is regarded as a disastrous blow. The origin of the fire is unknown. but is supposed to have been spontaneous combustion (Boston Globe, September 12, 1898).

Policies Placed Only Sept 3. The loss by fire of the Waumbeck woolen mills, Milton, N.H., yesterday, was unwelcome news for Insurance Inspectors here, for the risk was looked upon very favorably, and its equipment of automatic sprinkler was supposed to make a heavy loss a remote contingency. There was $83,000 insurance on the mill and the policies were only placed on Sept 3 this year. The companies carrying the line are as fellows: National of Hartford. $10,000, and these companies $5000 each: Ætna of Hartford, Granite State of Portsmouth, Insurance company of North America, Capital of Concord, Springfield fire and marine, Agricultural insurance company of Watertown, Merchants insurance company of New Jersey, Queen insurance company of America, Greenwich insurance company of New York, Commercial Union of London, Caledonian insurance company of Scotland, London and Lancashire insurance company of England, Palatine insurance company of Manchester. Niagara fire insurance company of New York. Boston marine insurance company of Boston (Boston Globe, September 12, 1898).

John Townsend’s son, Henry H. Townsend, bought the Waumbeck mill land in 1900. The Waumbeck  Company was dissolved officially on January 27, 1904.


Previous in sequence: Milton in the News – 1897; next in sequence: Milton in the News – 1899


References:

US Congress. (1892). US Congressional Serial Set, Issue 2907. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=tJs3AQAAIAAJ&pg=RA35-PA50

Wikipedia. (2019, May 4). Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Order_of_Odd_Fellows

Wikipedia. (2019, April 24). International Association of Rebekah Assemblies. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Association_of_Rebekah_Assemblies

 

Non-Public BOS Session Scheduled (June 3, 2019)

By Muriel Bristol | May 31, 2019

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their agenda for a BOS meeting to be held Monday, June 3.


The BOS meeting is scheduled to begin with a Non-Public session beginning at 5:30 PM. That agenda has one Non-Public item classed as 91-A3 II (c) – Reputation.

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 specific “Reputation” annotation again. This will be the second meeting in a row to discuss matters that would likely affect someone’s reputation, although not necessarily having to do with an application for assistance, tax abatement, or waiver. Perhaps Mr. Brown secured his private chat?

[Added from the court filings database, October 23, 2019: “New Hampshire Supreme Court, Report on Status of Cases, As of September 30, 2019. Case 2019-0278. Three Ponds Resort, LLC v. Town of Milton. 05/15/2019 – Case Filing. 06/04/2019 – Accepted.”]

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, Other Business, and some housekeeping items.

Under New Business are scheduled four agenda items: 1) Strafford Regional Planning Commission Presentation 2. Resident Concerns (Skip Bridges) 3. 174 Ford Farm Road and abutting town-owned lot (Kathy Wallingford / Jim Flanagan) 4. Proposed Budget Committee Schedule / Process and Selectmen Guidance.

Mi-Te-Jo.jpgStrafford Regional Planning Commission Presentation. The Strafford County Planning Commission will be making a presentation. Some have said that our bridge repairs would not have been put on the back burner if we had been represented on this commission.

Central planning is an oxymoron because of Hayek’s Knowledge Problem. While it is bad at the Town level, it is even worse at the County level, worse still at the State level, and so on.

Milton would be better served by building a replacement bridge from old pallets than it would be in joining the Strafford County Planning Commission.

Resident Concerns (Skip Bridges). Resident concerns? That takes in a lot of territory. The smart money says that he is concerned about Mi-Te-Jo.

174 Ford Farm Road and abutting town-owned lot (Kathy Wallingford / Jim Flanagan). “Out-Buildings possibly encroaching on L34 – Town property … deferred maintenance, yard cluttered.” Overvalued, overtaxed. Placed on the agenda by the Town Assessor and by Jim Flanagan. According to Avitar, James R. Flanagan owns a property at 66 Ford Farm Road.

Proposed Budget Committee Schedule / Process and Selectmen Guidance. The Budget Committee has indicated that they will meet at the Police station to go over the Police budget. They hope to do the same for the other departments.

Guidance for a game with “the house” and using their baseline? Get a brand-new deck. Shuffle it. I have heard that seven shuffles are necessary. Then cut the cards.


Under Old Business are scheduled four items: 5) Request to Repurchase Town-owned Property, Tax Map 37 – Lot 64 6. Acceptance of $5,000 from Atlantic Broadband for the Purchase of Equipment 7. Proposals from Law Firms – Process for Evaluation 8. Disposition of Brookfield Drive Parcel, Tax Map 17 – Lot 5.

Request to Repurchase Town-owned Property, Tax Map 37 – Lot 64. Returning from the last BOS meeting, when the Town’s offer seemed a bit pricey to them. The Town took the land for taxes and then wanted to sell it back for both the value of the land and the back taxes. Crazy. The value of the land or the back taxes with interest, but not both. Only government thinks this way. Thank God for auctions.

Acceptance of $5,000 from Atlantic Broadband for the Purchase of Equipment. Hopefully, more meetings are to be recorded or even just better versions of the current meetings.

Proposals from Law Firms – Process for Evaluation. Definitely something different from the prior evaluation process. The Town has been so poorly advised by a succession of lawyers. Issues of State pre-emption: plain wrong; the whole old fire station saga: wrong and wrong again; and several other issues: just wrong. And there was that whole threatening to sue thing. Perhaps the town needs somebody better acquainted with municipal law than they are with Town officials.

Disposition of Brookfield Drive Parcel, Tax Map 17 – Lot 5. A 4.87-acre lot on Brookfield Drive, seized for taxes in 2015. Avitar says it has 2.87 acres whose condition is 50% and 2.0 acres whose condition is 25%.

Isn’t this the lot the auctioneer described as having one possibly useful acre and the rest all wetlands? If so, it seems like the Town valuation has been putting a shine on a sneaker. A poor piece of land, overvalued, overtaxed, and foreclosed. Color me surprised. Perhaps we could re-designate it as the “Town vernal pool.”


Other Business That May Come Before the Board has no scheduled items.


Finally, there will be the approval of prior minutes (from the BOS meeting of May 20, 2019), the expenditure report, Public Comments “Pertaining to Topics Discussed,” Town Administrator comments, and BOS comments.

The expenditure report has had short shrift for quite some time now. Nobody ever mentions it. By the time of this June 3 meeting, eleven (21.2%) of the year’s fifty-two weeks will have elapsed. It might be nice to know that the amount of money spent so far does not exceed 21.2% or, even better, has been less than 21.2% of the default budget.

Conceivably, there might be higher beginning-of-year costs that will taper off or cease at some point in some planned way. That the BOS might be allowing expenditures to run amok is difficult to imagine. That could never happen.

Imagine, if you will, a second year with a default budget. That could happen.


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. (2019, May 31). BOS Meeting Agenda, June 3, 2019. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/board-selectmen/agenda/board-selectmen-agenda-63

Youtube. (1965). Cone of Silence. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1eUIK9CihA&feature=youtu.be&t=19