But, Who Will Build the Bridges?

By S.D. Plissken | February 3, 2020

Everyone is frustrated by the abject failure of government to replace the bridge between Milton and Lebanon, ME. The four layers of government participating in this are the NH State government, the Milton Town government, the Maine State government, and the Lebanon Town government.

Milton Town officials this year were deluded enough to suggest adding a fifth governmental entity to the mix: a County planning board or commission. The reasoning was a bit unclear, but seemed to suggest that we needed to participate in this fifth governmental entity in order to get it to lobby for “our” government with “our” other government.

We hear today from the Milton Community News (and Lebanon Truth Seekers) that Lebanon, ME, is considering just getting out of this mess entirely (www.facebook.com/ourmiltonnews). Can you blame them?

In doing some research work for Ms. Bristol, I came across the following regarding the eighteenth-century bridge between Newcastle, NH, and Rye, NH, which was a much wider span, and one that passed over some serious tidal currents.

The Proprietors of Newcastle Bridge are reminded that the annual meeting of said Proprietary is to be on the first Monday in June next, on which day, they are hereby notified to meet at the house of Mrs. Elizabeth Trefethen, near said Bridge, at two o’clock in the afternoon – To choose officers for the year ensuing, and to transact what other business may be judged necessary.  HENRY PRESCOTT, Prop’r’s Clerk.  Newcastle, May 11, 1801 (Republican Ledger (Portsmouth, NH), 12 May 1801).

The Newcastle Bridge was a private toll bridge, erected by its corporate Proprietary, i.e., its investors, and maintained by tolls. That is to say, only those wanting to cross the bridge, and willing to pay its toll, paid anything for it at all. There was no taxpayer involvement whatsoever.

The Widow Trefethen kept a tavern on the Newcastle side of the bridge. That is to say, the Newcastle Bridge Propriety did not even incur any additional costs of maintaining or renting its own hall or office building. They met annually, and at any other necessary times, in the local “pub.”

New Hampshire’s first two turnpikes were built privately as toll roads, as well as other New Hampshire bridges, often along those same turnpikes. The Cornish-Windsor Bridge – a 460-foot span between Cornish, NH, and Windsor, VT – comes to mind. Its NH State historic marker reads:

CORNISH-WINDSOR BRIDGE. Built in 1866 at a cost of $9,000, this is the longest wooden bridge in the United States and the longest two-span covered bridge in the world. The fourth bridge at this site, the 460-foot structure was built by Bela J. Fletcher (1811-1877) of Claremont and James F. Tasker of (1826-1903) of Cornish, using a lattice truss patented by Ithiel Town in 1820 and 1835. Built as a toll bridge by a private corporation, the span was purchased by the state of New Hampshire in 1936 and made toll-free in 1943.

Seventy years as a private bridge corporation, including probably forty years with automobiles.

If you have had enough of “our” governments’ multi-year inability to replace this simple bridge over this short span, there are other options. I’d be willing to invest in a private toll-bridge proprietary. How about you?

References:

Wikipedia. (2019, September 2). Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornish–Windsor_Covered_Bridge

Lemonade Freedom

By Ian Aikens | January 22, 2020

Do you ever read about something in the news that gets your blood boiling?  HB1147 currently in committee in the state legislature gets mine up to a thousand degrees. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a positive, simple, and logical piece of legislation that needs to be voted into law without hesitation, but the fact that such legislation is needed speaks volumes about the state of liberty and government overreach these days.

HB1147 prohibits a city, town, or village district from licensing a lemonade stand operated by a person under the age of 18. It is an amendment to RSA 31:102-a which applies to “Hawkers, Peddlers, and Vendors” and allows municipalities to “adopt, by ordinance or regulation, provisions for the licensure and regulation of itinerant vendors, hawkers, peddlers, traders, farmers, merchants, or other persons who sell, offer to sell, or take orders for merchandise from temporary or transient sales locations within a town or who go from town to town or place to place within a town for such purposes.”  Lest you think we’re talking about just a “friendly reminder” here, think again: “Any person who violates any provision of such ordinance or regulation shall be guilty of a class B misdemeanor, and each continuing day of violation after notice shall constitute a separate offense.” The moment you don’t comply to bureaucrats in power, they start up with their threats and fines and escalate from there.

So why all the interest in lemonade?  In case you haven’t heard, police across the country have been shutting down lemonade stands run by kids for years. It could be a coincidence, but the first reported case of a municipality shutting down a kid-run concession stand occurred in Salem Common, Taxachusetts on August 3, 2005 after a nearby sausage vendor complained to the police that a lemonade stand run by a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old was hurting his business. A county inspector in Maryland closed down a kids’ lemonade stand and fined their parents $500 on June 16, 2011. On April 16, 2012, city health officials in Hopkinton, Taxachusetts shut down the Westbury family stand that sold lemonade, cookies, and banana bread from the end of their driveway to spectators at the Boston Marathon and donated the proceeds to the Relay for Life anti-cancer charity. The official explanation was lack of a permit. On August 8, 2013, police in Queens, New York shut down a lemonade stand run by 9-year-old Nora and 11-year-old Jameala Lahoud also because they didn’t have a permit. On July 28, 2018, a New York State Health Department bureaucrat ordered a 7-year old to stop selling lemonade from a stand set up in his backyard in Ballston Spa, New York. The list of “crimes” committed throughout the country goes on and on.

Why would anyone deny young people the opportunity to become budding entrepreneurs and learn life skills that encourage independence and self-reliance?  A study in Educational Psychology Journal found that early youth engagement leads to future entrepreneurs. A Youth Impact Report in 2017 compared kids who had been involved in the national Lemonade Day program (which teaches children how to gain practical entrepreneurial experience by running a lemonade stand) to those who had not been involved. It found that 31% of the Lemonade Day kids are running their own businesses today while only 4% of the non-Lemonade Day kids are running their own businesses. One father penned “3 Sales Lessons You Can Learn from a Simple Lemonade Stand” after observing what his own son learned from his lemonade stand: fearlessness, cross-selling, and understanding what your customer is really buying. Just ask Warren Buffett or Todd Graves, founder of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers enterprise, where they got their first taste of business smarts: selling lemonade. To most of us older folks, kids selling lemonade was a normal part of childhood on the way to adulthood. Today the growth of government — with its strangulating reach of the administrative state — has coincided with overwhelming efforts to extend childhood later and later and treat young adults like children. (In San Francisco, where I used to live, the voters actually passed a ballot measure extending “youth” benefits up to age 24.) Is it any wonder that there’s a whole crop of “youth” out there in colleges and universities who have been so overprotected by helicopter parents that they can’t deal with the normal responsibilities and stress of adult life and are justifiably called snowflakes?  Clearly more children-run lemonade stands are needed, not less.

Another strange twist to this whole lemonade business is the bill only protects those under the age of 18. Aside from the fact that this is age discrimination — something that those who believe “there ought to be a law” for everything we say or do profess to be opposed to — what has age got to do with “public safety”? Isn’t “public safety” the justification for all these types of licensing, fees, and regulations?  Is an adult more likely than a child to put arsenic in lemonade he/she is selling to the public?  If not, then what’s the reason for the original law and now apparently the need to grant an exemption?  It turns out “public safety” is the least of the real reasons for enacting such laws. It’s all about eliminating the competition, and that’s all it’s ever been or will be about. Occasionally the real truth slips out. Police in Appleton, Wisconsin informed children that despite legally selling lemonade and cookies in their front yard during an annual city festival for the last 7 years, a new ordinance bans these sales in order to protect licensed vendors. In Denver police shut down a lemonade stand last spring run by two young boys who were raising money for Charity International because they didn’t have a permit that would have cost $30. And how did the police happen to notice their stand?  They were “informed on” by a lemonade vendor at a nearby festival who was charging 10 times as much as the kids for a glass of lemonade. To me, this sounds a lot more like an extortion racket (“pay to play”) than “protecting” the public.

This brings up the whole question of government licensing and regulation. Don’t get me started!  The explosion of licensing of jobs has reached epidemic proportions all over the country, and I am not happy to report that New Hampshire is doing poorly in this department these days. A cursory glance at what current bills state legislators are cooking up to license more jobs this year include art therapists; massage, reflexology, and Asian bodywork therapy; music therapists; pharmacy benefits managers, and locksmiths. At the rate they’re going, will the politicians soon be requiring licensing just to work at McDonald’s?  Lest you think I’m exaggerating how absurd the licensing-industrial complex has boomed these days, here are a few facts to ponder: 1) In 1950, only 5% of jobs required a license, but in 2020, it’s 30%–and getting higher all the time; 2) 37 states require a license just to shampoo hair in a salon; 3) Over 20 states require a license to paint houses; and 4) On average, emergency medical technicians require 120-150 hours of training to be licensed, but interior decorators need to complete 2,200 hours of training. Is there no end to this authoritarian paternalism?  Do consumers really need to be treated as helpless children who can’t choose their own service providers based on reputation, word-of-mouth, and voluntary professional association certifications?  Does a piece of paper issued by a government bureaucrat really guarantee that an individual or business is going to provide “safe” and sound service?

Another issue HB1147 broaches is local control versus central control. As a general rule, local control is the lesser of the two evils because, just as people differ, so can communities. Certainly urban, suburban, and rural folks tend to all have different political values and sensibilities, so as long as overreaching laws are kept local and not imposed on all communities, at least one can “vote” with their feet. However, when laws are passed statewide or even nationally, then voting with your feet is less effective. That said, tyranny is alive and thriving at the local level, and often times the biggest violations of individual rights happen locally when power-hungry selectmen, and planning board and zoning board members throw their weight around and ignore property rights and constitutional protections. So, in this case, though it’s a state law that overrules local control, it does protect individual rights — though in a small way — and puts a harness on local busybodies, so it should get 100% support.

I will keep an eye on what happens with this bill. It was introduced on January 8, 2020 and referred to the Municipal and County Government Committee. It’s due out of committee on March 5, 2020, so let’s see what the politicians do with it. I’ll be watching how Reps. Hayward and Rooney and Senator Bradley vote on it when it comes to a vote. I can’t imagine any reasonable person opposed to this bill, but in politics anything is possible!

References:

Freedom Center of Missouri (Dave). (2011, July 26). The Government War on Kid-Run Concession Stands. Retrieved from http://www.mofreedom.org/2011/07/the-government-war-on-kid-run-concession-stands/

Golombek, Allan. (2019, August 30). Buy From a Lemonade Stand, Take a Stand for Freedom. Retrieved from https://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2019/08/30/buy_from_a_lemonade_stand_take_a_stand_for_freedom_103887.html#!

Gordon, Steven. (2019, August 30). Op-ed: New law provides more freedom for kids to launch a lemonade business. Retrieved from https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2019/08/30/op-ed-new-law-provides-more-freedom-for-kids-to.html

Legiscan. (2020). NH Legislation | 2020 | Regular Session. Retrieved from https://legiscan.com/NH/text/HB1147/id/2072323

 

Lobbying, Finger Pointing, and Public Safety

By Ian Aikens | November 22, 2019

A recent letter to the editor in a local paper sparked my interest.  It concerned HB664, which would have mandated that “No insurance company, agent, or adjuster shall knowingly fail to pay a claim to the claimant or repairer (my emphasis) to the extent the claimant’s vehicle is repaired in conformance with applicable manufacturer’s procedures.”  The writer of the letter complained bitterly about the governor’s veto of this particular bill because it undercut support for “your local auto body shop.”  In other words, it is the job of government to “help” businesses and make sure they “survive.”

No, not really.  The last time I checked the federal and state constitutions, there was nothing in there about helping businesses and guaranteeing their survival.  I don’t always agree with the governor’s decisions, but in this case, he was right in butting out of this issue.  Forcing insurance companies to pay for steps in the repairing process that they deem unnecessary is an intrusion and would only increase insurance costs to consumers.  So, who cares if consumers pay more for car insurance?

Certainly not the hordes of repair shop owners and employees and related repair shop associations that made it a point to lobby in Concord earlier this year in support of the bill. In hours of testimony before legislators, they complained in earnest that they were unfairly getting stuck paying for repairs that were necessary for safety that the insurance companies wouldn’t pay. In other words, greedy BIG INSURANCE was squeezing out little repair shops and not reimbursing them for important repair-related steps that manufacturers deemed necessary for safety. Thus, this David vs. Goliath battle waged at the State House all centers on consumer safety.

Or does it? Let’s look at the big legal case cited the most as the basis for the necessity of HB664. It is Seebachan v. John Eagle Collision Center and came out of Texas. In this tragic car crash, a couple was trapped in their 2010 Honda Fit after being hit by another car, and they suffered severe injuries because the roof collapsed. The roof had been repaired earlier from damage due to hail, and the manufacturer’s procedures spelled out that the roof was supposed to be welded back together, but John Eagle Collision Center used adhesive bonding instead. In sworn testimony in court, a John Eagle Collision Center manager implied that it was due to pressure from the insurance company that corners were cut.  In other words, finger pointing.

A good ambulance-chasing lawyer will never waste a good opportunity to go after BIG _______ (fill in the blank: BUSINESS, CORPORATIONS, TECH, OIL, TOBACCO, PHARMA, INSURANCE, SODA, etc.), so after the Seebachan’s won their $31.5 million lawsuit against John Eagle Collision Center, their lawyer wasted no time in filing suit against State Farm on behalf of the plaintiffs. Had there been any merit to John Eagle Collision Center’s allegations against such big pockets, you would have heard about it. As it turned out though, the lawsuit was withdrawn, and both sides agreed to pay their own legal costs. So, in fact the big case cited as “proof” that “There ought to be a law” was an instance where a repair shop that had been I-CAR certified in proper repairs failed miserably in its obligation to its customer (the Seebachan’s). Ironically, it was these same businesses (repair shops) lobbying against BIG INSURANCE that were nevertheless lobbying now for BIG GOVERNMENT. But I guess it’s different when the government will help your business.

The first question that comes to mind is why any insurance company would take a chance on being responsible for sending unsafe cars back on the road when it could be held liable for any damages, deaths, or injuries that might occur. Of course, as the narrative goes, BIG INSURANCE is only out for BIG PROFITS, but where would the profits be if your company has to pay out millions in claims? This doesn’t make sound business sense. In fact, cost cutting to the point of sacrificing safety would make poor economic sense precisely because it would lead to BIG EXPENSES, not profits.

But let’s suppose for argument’s sake that an insurance company behaves foolishly and refuses to pay for repairs the manufacturer recommends that are safety-related. What can and should be done? The bill’s proponents have one simple solution: mandate the repair and make the insurance company pay for it, whether it likes it or not. A better solution of how the free market would (and does) correct the situation actually came from one of the comments I read from a repair shop employee who was very critical of insurance companies. She remarked that when her repair shop informed the car’s owner that their insurance company refused to pay for repairs the shop felt were necessary, the consumer took issue with their insurance company and sometimes changed insurance companies after the incident. Thus, unscrupulous and non-profit minded insurance companies would lose business, and if they do this often enough to their customers, they’d soon run out of customers and go out of business.

This clarifies the proper relationship between the three parties. The consumer pays a premium to his/her insurance company to restore their car back to its former state after an accident, and the insurance company fulfills its obligations by paying for repairs following an accident. The contract is between the consumer and his/her insurance company. The only proper role for the repair shop is to follow generally accepted repair standards and repair the car—not to race to the State House to rally for more laws on the books, which by the way would absolutely guarantee more revenue for repair shops. If the insurance company is unwilling to pay for repairs the shop deems necessary for safety, it should simply refuse to do the job—or at the very least inform the consumer what repairs it recommends and then let the consumer decide how to proceed. As the lady from the repair shop who complained bitterly about the insurance companies noted, consumers when informed are not shy about taking matters in their own hands and don’t need BIG GOVERNMENT to protect them like children.

By the way, a footnote to the vetoed bill says, “The (Insurance) Department is unable to predict the volume of additional queries and complaints, but believes it could be large enough to require an additional staff position.” So, between the vagueness of some of the language in the bill and the eagerness of repair shops to secure as many repairs as possible, that’s a virtual guarantee of yet another useless government bureaucrat with which taxpayers would be forever burdened.

I also checked how Milton’s reps voted on this bill. Sadly, Senator Bradley was a co-sponsor of the bill, but fortunately Abigail Rooney and Peter Hayward voted against it. The next legislative session is just around the corner, and you can be sure we haven’t heard the last of this bill. Pressuring politicians to pass a mandate and guarantee more business in the name of “public safety” never goes of style.

References:

Court Listener. (2018, October 3). In the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Sherman Division: Seebachan v. State Farm. Retrieved from https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.txed.178606/gov.uscourts.txed.178606.16.0.pdf

Legiscan. (2019, September 18). NH HB 664. Retrieved from  legiscan.com/NH/bill/HB664/2019

Manchester Union Leader. (2019, August 30). Your Turn, NH – John Elias:  Hijacking consumer protection. Retrieved from https://www.unionleader.com/opinion/columnists/your-turn-nh—john-elias-hijacking-consumer-protection/article_e8580f94-fb5e-5039-8e63-b3f43ead0393.html

NH Governor. (2019, August 15). Governor’s Veto Message Regarding House Bill 664. Retrieved from https://www.governor.nh.gov/news-media/press-2019/documents/hb-664-veto-message.pdf

Repairer Driven News. (2017, August 23). Update:  Couple in $1M Texas body shop lawsuit drop case against State Farm – but only temporarily. Retrieved from https://www.repairerdrivennews.com/2017/08/23/seebachans-drop-case-against-state-farm/

Repairer Driven News. (2019, September 5). AASP, ASA, SCRS respond to N.H. insurance commissioner’s op-ed. Retrieved from https://www.repairerdrivennews.com/2019/09/05/aasp-asa-scrs-respond-to-n-h-insurance-commissioners-op-ed/

Repairer Driven News. (2019, September 19). N.H. Legislature fails to override Sununu veto of OEM auto repair procedures bill. Retrieved from https://www.repairerdrivennews.com/2019/09/19/n-h-legislature-fails-to-override-sununu-veto-of-oem-repair-procedures-bill/

Repairer Driven News. (2019, September 20). Insurers skip required test to help consumers, and other arguments made against N.H. OEM procedures bill. Retrieved from https://www.repairerdrivennews.com/2019/09/20/n-h-veto-supporter-insurers-skip-required-oem-tests-to-save-cars-from-totaling/

Closed for Business

By Ian Aikens | September 7, 2019

Did you see the article in the news about Faro Italian Grille, a popular eating spot in Laconia, closing early this summer for lack of workers? (See References below).

While the current low unemployment rate (if you can believe the government’s figures) is good news for those in need of a job, the other side of the coin is the current economic situation is creating havoc with businesses trying to survive. What caused this dilemma and what could be done to alleviate it?

The most obvious factor is the lack of foreign workers due to the ever-increasing crackdown and curtailment of immigrants into this country. Regardless of how one feels about legal and illegal immigration, the unavoidable fact is that American businesses need foreign labor to survive. The US economy has 7.6 million jobs open but only 6.5 million people looking for work. (The subject of work force participation and the growing number of folks dependent on government programs is a whole other subject that I may delve into at some point in the future).

Since the Department of Labor began tracking job turnover 20 years ago, this is the first time the pendulum has swung this way—and the gap is growing each month. Interestingly, while it’s common knowledge that employers have been short on workers in the science and technology field for years, the labor shortage has now crept down to blue-collar jobs like healthcare aides, restaurant workers, and hotel staff. Rather than the oft-heard proclamation that immigrants are “taking jobs away from Americans,” the reality is there simply aren’t enough native-born Americans to (willingly) do those jobs to keep the economy moving along smoothly. In the various hearings I attended in Concord this year, an oft-repeated complaint I heard was healthcare facilities in dire need of workers. “Who will take care of our old folks?” was a common theme.

Speaking of old folks, a huge part of the problem is the changing demographics of American society. Baby boomers, those who were born from 1946-1964 and about 80 million strong in the US, are retiring en masse these days. According to the AARP, 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every single day (that’s nearly 7 every single minute), and some sparsely populated states have a very high concentration of them. Maine has the most at 36.8%, and New Hampshire is a close second. While 65% of baby boomers plan to work past age 65, it turns out that 60% of retired workers had to stop working earlier than planned due to layoffs and health issues. In addition to the growing number of folks on the older end, families are having less kids these days, which means fewer young people in the future to do the work.

Another factor that comes into play here is students staying in school longer these days and entering the workforce later. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of “kids” enrolled in post-secondary degree-granting institutions increased by more than 52% between 1990 and 2014. When you look at college dropout statistics, this is a terrible trend: one-third of college students drop out entirely, and more than half enrolled take more than 6 years to graduate. Furthermore, 28% of students drop out before they even become a sophomore. At community colleges, it’s even worse with 43% of students dropping out with no degree. This is often due to the majority of students taking remedial classes for what they were supposed to learn in high school. This trend of staying in school longer and longer and extending childhood doesn’t bode well. No wonder one hears so much these days about college students turning into snowflakes and “triggered” simply by viewpoints different than their own.

Back in California, I rented out a room to a graduate student who at age 30 had never worked at a regular job for even one day in her entire life—and she was still going to school. (I often remarked to others that by the time she’s done with all her studies and is ready to get a job, it will be time to retire already.) A friend of mine who hails from Europe once told me that it’s not unusual in Europe for “kids” to study until their mid-20’s and then go to work. With more and more calls lately for “free college” to beckon young people to stay in school longer when staggering numbers of them—those who actually finish college—end up taking menial jobs not even in their fields of study, this makes no sense. Especially when there are already plenty of jobs that need to be filled. Granted, they may not be glamourous jobs, but there’s still something valuable about independence, practical work experience, being out of the ivory tower, and growing up, even in 2019.

So, back to the original problem for businesses like Faro’s, where do we go from here? While “open borders” are hardly feasible in the current political environment, how about something like the Bracero Program, which was established by President Roosevelt by executive order (unlike his infamous Executive Order 9066 which directed the internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans) in 1942 and lasted through 1964? It allowed nearly 5 million Mexican citizens to enter the US legally and temporarily work on farms and railroads, and in factories, while many young Americans were overseas in the military in WWII. Like any government program, it had its share of bureaucratic problems, but it did serve the useful function of bringing in workers that were desperately needed—and giving people living south of the border an opportunity to earn a better living here. (Some call this exploitation, but you have to compare the working opportunities in Mexico versus what they faced in the US—if it was that much worse here facing “exploitation” and discrimination, why did they choose voluntarily to come north?)

Hilariously, while researching this article, I ran into another government program that definitely did not pan out. It was established in 1965 shortly after the Bracero Program ended, when American farmers complained to the government that the Mexican workers had performed jobs that Americans refused to do and their crops would rot in the fields without them. Leave it to a government bureaucrat to come up with a real zinger: called the A-TEAM, which stood for Athletes in Temporary Employment as Agricultural Manpower, its grand plan was to recruit 20,000 American high school male athletes to work on farms in California and Texas during summer harvest seasons. The end result: fewer than 3,500 of the A-TEAM signed up for work, and many of them soon quit or went on strike complaining of the back-breaking work, oppressive heat, low pay, and poor working conditions. Needless to say, the zinger was zapped after the first summer. Moral of the story: US businesses need foreign workers to do a lot of the lesser jobs that native-born Americans simply will not do.

As to the more recent trend of extending childhood well into what used to be adulthood, that’s a trend worth reversing. Of course, if students themselves, their families, their donors, and their banks are willing to pay the costs, no problem, but not at the public trough. The only real benefactors of sticking it to the taxpayers are the institutions that charge more with the additional “free” tuition money floating around, and of course all the bureaucrats who feed on the largesse. One good suggestion I ran into was for employers in the real world (voluntary economy) to reduce educational requirements and increase internal on-the-job training. If they can’t get more foreign workers in here to help out, that’s just what they might be forced to do anyway.

More foreign workers, fewer useless degrees, more real-world working experience—that might help businesses like Faro’s in the future, but too late for this season.


References:

Drapcho, Adam (Laconia Daily Sun). (2019, August 1). Weirs Restaurant Closes for Lack of Workers. Retrieved from www.laconiadailysun.com/news/local/weirs-restaurant-closes-for-lack-of-workers

Faro Italian Grille. (2019). Faro Italian Grille. Retrieved from www.faroitaliangrille.com/

Tax-Titled Property Auction Results

By S.D. Plissken | May 6, 2016

The James R. St. Jean auctioneers held an auction at the Emma Ramsey Center in Milton, on Saturday, May 4, 2019. Eight tax-titled (tax seizure) Milton properties were on the block.

The descriptions below appeared in their auction brochure (see References below). One of our correspondents found the sale prices quoted below in a social media posting by an auction attendee.

(Ed. Note: The sale prices of the following properties have been revised through receipt of exact figures: #2 (added), #3 (revised downwards), #4 (revised downwards), and #7 (sale cancelled) (May 7)).

A follow-up discussion of this auction is scheduled as the tenth agenda item on tonight’s Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting agenda.


The Two Properties Sold with Covenants

The first two properties had some serious problems – health hazards – frequently mentioned in Board of Selectmen (BOS) meetings. The following conditions (or covenants) were attached to those properties.

Auctioneer’s Note for Sales 1 & 2: The Grantee agrees that within 45 days of the date of the execution of the deed, the Grantee will apply to the Town for a building permit for all work necessary to return the property to livable condition. Further, the Grantee agrees that within 1 year from the date of execution of the deed all necessary work will be completed and a certificate of occupancy obtained.

In effect, each of these two properties comes with a rather expensive albatross tied around its neck, even should they become “tear downs.”

(Their problems are not unlike those present on a much larger scale in the Town’s so-called Lockhart Field site).


Sale #1 is the so-called “Blue House” property discussed in so very many BOS meetings.

SALE #1: Tax Map 22, Lot 19, 1121 White Mountain Highway • Cape style home on a 2.64± acre lot includes 3,256± SF GLA, 4BR, 2 BA, & FHW/oil heat • Attached garage & detached shed • Zoned Low Density Residential • Assessed value $168,300. 2018 taxes $4,289. DEPOSIT: $5,000

Sold for $11,000. This would be 6.5% of its previously assessed value.


SALE #2: Tax Map 9, Lot 2, 16 Spruce Lane • Single family home on 0.4± acre lot on a dead end street • Property features 968± SF GLA, 1 BR & 1 BA • Storage Shed, FHA/gas heat, & wood deck • Assessed value $69,000. 2018 taxes $1,759. DEPOSIT: $5,000

Sold for $69,000. This would be exactly its assessed value.


The Six Undeveloped Lots Sold “As Is”

The following six properties are undeveloped lots. Note that in some cases there was a considerable variance between their auction prices – their actual value as determined by the market – and their assessed values. This variance should be a matter of some study by the assessors, who will likely want to make some adjustments in similar properties – for accuracy’s sake.


SALE #3: ABSOLUTE – Tax Map 43, Lot 24-6, Campbell Road • Undeveloped 1.51± acre lot located on a cul-de-sac street in the Briar Ridge development • Lot is wooded and gently rolling in topography • Zoned Low Density Residential • Assessed value $33,600. 2018 taxes $857. DEPOSIT: $2,500

Sold for $24,000. This would be 71.4% of its previously assessed value.


SALE #4: ABSOLUTE – Tax Map 43, Lot 24-8, Campbell Road • Undeveloped 1.58± acre lot located on a cul-de-sac street in the Briar Ridge development • Lot is wooded and gently rolling in topography • Zoned Low Density Residential • Assessed value $33,800. 2018 taxes $862 DEPOSIT: $2,500

Sold for $21,000. This would be 62.1% of its previously assessed value.


SALE #5: ABSOLUTE -Tax Map 5, Lot 7, Willey Road • Undeveloped 11.98± acre lot along a quiet paved road • Lot is wooded and slopes down from the road • Zoned Low Density Residential • Assessed value $45,000. 2018 taxes $1,147. DEPOSIT: $2,500

Sold for $12,000. This would be 26.7% of its previously assessed value.


SALE #6: ABSOLUTE – Tax Map 47, Lot 27-1, White Mountain Highway • Undeveloped 10.83± acre lot along heavily traveled Rte. 125 • Lot is wooded, level to gently rolling and has water frontage along the Salmon Falls River • Zoned Commercial/Residential • Assessed value $50,800. 2018 taxes $1,295. DEPOSIT: $2,500

Sold for $20,000. This would be 39.4% of its previously assessed value.


SALE #7: ABSOLUTE -Tax Map 37, Lot 64, Ford Farm Road • Undeveloped 0.4± acre lot along a paved road in a quiet residential neighborhood • Lot is wooded and gently rolling in topography • Zoned Low Density Residential • Assessed value $8,100. 2018 taxes $207. DEPOSIT: $1,000

This property reportedly sold for between $4,000 and $5,000. That would have been between 49.4% and 61.7% of its previously assessed value However, the winning bidder withdrew, so the property remains available. .

Quiet residential neighborhood would be one way to describe it. This property is situated along one of the proposed “no through trucking” routes mentioned at the BOS meetings of last year.


SALE #8: ABSOLUTE – Tax Map 39, Lot 9, Middleton Road • Undeveloped 4± acre lot along a paved road close to the Farmington Town Line • Lot is rolling in topography and much of the lot is made of wetlands • Zoned Low Density Residential • Assessed value $2,200. 2018 taxes $56. DEPOSIT: $1,000

Sold for $100. This would be 4.5% of its previously assessed value. The auction attendee described this as “the wetlands lot.”

Assessors should take note, with an eye to adjusting their cards, that the market values wetland properties as virtually worthless, at least for small-scale building purposes. Neither Rome nor Washington, DC,  achieved their current values until after they had drained their pestilential swamps. (Their actual swamps, rather than their metaphorical ones).


Overall, the seven properties, with a combined assessed value of $402,700, sold at auction for $157,100. That would be an average of 39.0% of their previously assessed value.

References:

Town of Milton. (2019, April 11). Tax-Titled Property Auction, May 4, 2019. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/miltonnh/files/news/one_page_brochure.pdf

Durgin-Park Restaurant Closes

By Muriel Bristol | March 25, 2019

Boston’s famous Durgin-Park restaurant closed its doors for the last time on Saturday, January 12, 2019, after nearly two hundred years (founded in 1827). I heard about it recently from a friend that lives in Boston.

Durgin-Park occupied an upstairs location in the northern row of buildings at the Quincy Marketplace. It was known for its communal seating at long tables, and its menu of what might be called traditional “Yankee” food: cornbread, seafood, chowders, broiled meats, Boston baked beans, boiled dinners, apple pie (and cheese), and Indian pudding. Even spruce gum for afters.

There were and are many fine ethnic restaurants in Boston and New England, but only Durgin-Park presented traditional Yankee cuisine so authentically and so thoroughly.

I have (from an older relative) one of their postcard-like handouts from some forty-five years ago, which featured their recipes for Boston Baked Beans, Baked Indian Pudding; Tea Cake, Blueberry Cake, and Cornbread; and Old-Fashioned Apple Pie.

I will here reproduce, as a sort of tribute, the Durgin-Park recipe for Tea Cake, Blueberry Cake, and Cornbread, which all shared a common base.


TEA CAKE, BLUEBERRY CAKE, AND CORN BREAD

For Tea Cake:

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups milk

Mix sugar with beaten eggs. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add melted butter and milk. Beat up quickly and bake in a large buttered pan in a very hot oven. This makes one large pan, which will cut into 21 squares.

For Blueberry Cake, add one cup blueberries last.

For Corn Bread, substitute one cup granulated yellow corn meal for one of the three cups of flour.


One may notice that, as with the Milton Cookies of 1895-96, no specific temperature or time is given. You are supposed to just know that. For those that do not, a modern oven temperature of 400° might be taken to be a “very hot oven,” and a baking time of about ½ hour should be about long enough, but keep an eye on it. A 9″x14″ baking dish of 3″ depth would be about the right size.

Should there be sufficient interest, I am prepared to reproduce one or all of the other Durgin-Park recipes from the handout also.

Meanwhile, if you ever find yourself in need of lunch in Boston, Jacob Wirth’s German Restaurant (founded 1868) offers a not too dissimilar experience, except with German food instead of Yankee food. You might drown your sorrow over the loss of Durgin-Park in a nice Hefeweizen beer.

References:

Boston Globe. (2019, January 4). Durgin-Park, a Faneuil Hall Stalwart, Closes after Almost 200 Years. Retrieved from www.boston.com/food/restaurants/2019/01/04/durgin-park-a-faneuil-hall-stalwart-closes-after-almost-200-years

Forbes. (2019, January 10). After 192 Years, Boston’s Iconic Durgin-Park Restaurant Serves Its Last Meal. Retrieved from www.forbes.com/sites/julietremaine/2019/01/10/after-192-years-bostons-iconic-durgin-park-restaurant-serves-its-last-meal

Wikipedia. (2019, March 4). Durgin Park. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durgin-Park

Miltonia Mills Blankets Advertisement, 1921

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | November 29, 2018

Here follows a 1921 advertisement for Miltonia Mills white wool blankets. This particular advertisement seems pitched towards the institutional blanket trade. Others highlight Milton Mills as a supplier to Admiral Peary’s polar expedition and to Admiral Robert E. Byrd’s Antarctic expedition.

Miltonia Mills operated in some form from 1856 until its bankruptcy in 1950, a period of ninety-four years. Greene Tanning took up its building in or after the 1954 bankruptcy sale.


MILTONIA MILLS

ESTABLISHED 1856

White Wool BLANKETS

The product of these mills in use by Hospitals and Institutions for over half a century.

Made in special sizes and weight for service and wear.

==

SUPERIOR IN QUALITY AND FINISH

==

Ask your dealer for

MILTONIA MILLS BLANKETS

==

ROGERS, HENNESSEY & JENKINS

Selling Agents Boston and New York


References:

Anthony, Henry S., and Company. (1954, June). Auction! Machinery and Equipment of the Bankrupt Miltonia Mills (Woolen Blanket Manufacturers) … Wednesday, June 16, 1954 at 11:00 A.M. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=cOXUYgEACAAJ

Modern Hospital. (1921, August). Miltonia Mills Advertisement. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=gmUhAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA3-PA83

Wikipedia. (2018, October 12). Robert Peary. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Peary