Tuesday, September 30, 2008

WKXL reportedly buying religious FM translator

WKXL, Concord's local AM radio station, petitioned the FCC last week to purchase a low-powered FM translator currently owned by Concord Bible Fellowship, according to paperwork filed at the FCC and postings on the radio-info.com gossip board.
WKXL has also filed paperwork to move the FM transmitter from Plausawa Hill to the AM's Redington Road location. They have also requested an increase in the power of the signal to 69 watts.
No word yet on what mechanisms or loopholes the station will have to set in place to allow these changes to take place. The station should be able to replace its commercials on the AM with underwriting notices on the FM, and get by the process of being a non-profit versus a for-profit. But these stations are usually set aside for specifically religious institutions or educational purposes, like churches, high schools and colleges, not for-profit businesses, no matter how good or positive the community programming is.
It will be interesting to see how it all pans out.

In other radio news, the former WKXL FM station, 102.3, recently servered its LMA agreement with Nassau Broadcasting after the FCC ruled the corporation had too many FM stations in the Concord/Lakes Region radio market.
No word yet from the current owners, Vox Communications, as to what they plan on doing with the station. The station was broadcasting hard rock on a loop with no ads and top of the hour bumpers after the LMA ended but the station was later taken off the air.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

School Board candidate forum scheduled for Oct. 21

The Kimball and Walker School PTOs is once again sponsoring a Board of Education candidate forum on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Christa McAuliffe Auditorium at Concord High School.
The moderator for the forum will be Ralph Jimenez of the Concord Monitor.
According to organizers, the forum will give voters the opportunity to hear from all of the candidates running for school board [there are six running for three 3-year seats; two running for a 1-year seat]. Those who plan on attending will be allowed to submit questions via index card. People who cannot attend can send questions via email ahead of time to Pia Shea, of the Walker PTO, at piashea@comcast.net.
Since I have moderated these forums twice in the past [2005 and 2006, when working for a local radio station], I can tell you that it is a great opportunity to meet and listen to the candidates running for school board. After each forum, I knew exactly who I would be voting for.
The forum is also usually recorded for cable access so if you can't make it, you can watch it on television in rebroadcast, if you have Comcast cable [it may even been put up online since cable access has been doing that lately]. It might even be recorded and broadcast on the radio, like I used to do.
Personally, I don't know if it is the best idea to have Jimenez moderating the debate. There could be a preception of bias since he is one of the editors at the Monitor who has opined in favor of the elementary school consolidation plan, easily the biggest issue the next round of school board members will have to deal with. Similarly, if asked, I wouldn't have moderated it this year, even though I have done so in the past, because I'm openly supporting one of the candidates, Eric Williams [I wouldn't and didn't last year because I was support Rick Watrous].
At the same time, thinking about it a little deeper, there might not be anything to worry about. Unlike a major presidential debate, it is difficult for moderators to get into the middle of forums like this. At the same time, I'm surprised the organizers didn't try to find someone, like a reporter or someone else, who clearly does not have potential bias towards any of the issues facing the candidates.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Moving new works from page to stage

Editor's Note: This press release was sent out by the Friends of the Audi & Community Players of Concord.

Ever walked out of a theatre thinking "I could have written that play ... and I would have changed the scene where ..."?
Here comes your chance to write your play, present a draft to a gathering of drama buffs, and hope that nobody makes much of a scene.
Or, ever walked out of a theatre wondering how the playwright got from a simple question to a dramatic tour de force or a nail-biter mystery, even a top-tapping musical?
Well, here’s your chance to meet a playwright whose pages of words are getting sharpened for the stage. Ask him. Or you can add your own two cents, and hope he doesn’t make much of a scene.
New works for the theatre by New Hampshire playwrights get a 2008-2009 incubator in the Concord City Auditorium lobby as PAGE TO STAGE opens Sunday, Oct. 5, from 3 to 5 p.m. First in the season-long series of monthly events, David John Preece will introduce his new project, an adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The House of the Seven Gables”. It will be a unique event for serious theatre folk, as David “threatens” to involve the audience in the reading and the discussions. P2S is free and open to all interested persons. Dramatic desserts will be served and donations will be accepted. Lobby seating is limited, so reservations are suggested at 225-7474 or nhdm40@comcast.net.
The PAGE TO STAGE series is supported by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, a principal benefactor of new stage works. The Friends of the Concord City Auditorium and the Community Players of Concord, NH, are honored by this support and will act as co-hosts, with Carol Bagan and Wayland Bunnell as Friends/Players co-chairs.
Shout Out to NH Playwrights: If you’ve been working on an idea for a play or your script is ready for a reading and you’d like to present it at PAGE TO STAGE, contact Concord Community Players’ President Wayland Bunnell, 668-5466 or wtarrytown@aol.com. He’ll lead you through the process, getting your script to the P2S readers – Beth Fenske, Christine Hamm, Carol Kyne, and Stuart Russell, and then on the monthly schedule. PAGE TO STAGE aims to develop new plays, foster new NH playwrights, and eventually present new works for the stage. It all starts with a reading, a workshop. And ends? Well, the best musical ever – “A Chorus Line” – started with a workshop.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

'It takes a village" ... and the stage they rode in on.

Editor's Note: This was submitted by the Friends of the Audi:

Concord’s new Creative Economy initiative came into sharp focus on Sept. 14, as the City Auditorium’s 104th season opened with a GALA celebration that broke records for participation and excitement. It took a village to do it.
Run the numbers: Start with three people heading the 18th annual party: Director Allwynne Fine and Producer David Murdo organized a company of 114 cast and crew in the 2008 GALA show, with 14 acts previewing the season’s coming attractions (over 100 events scheduled so far!). Arts Party Organizer Candy Brehm arranged A&E displays by 19 local groups, including all four local theatres – Audi, Capitol, Red River, and Annicchiarico. The pre-show Arts Party featured Caribbean music by Paul Silverman’s Soc and Son and the Concord Coachmen Barbershop Chorus plus the treat of the night: 550 servings of seasonal ice cream (black raspberry, pumpkin, apple, and indian pudding!) generously scooped by Tom and Tootie Arnold of Arnie’s Place on Loudon Road.
The $5 ticket drew hundreds of families to the annual GALA, which is a friend-raiser for the municipal theatre. Topping off the event’s excitement was the GALA Raffle, with $3,000 awarded in 10 prizes, thanks to the Audi’s presenters and 10 restaurants: Barley House, CC Tomatoes, Cheers, Concord Grille, Common Man, Domino’s Pizza, Elizabeth’s Kitchen, Hermanos, Margaritas, and Panera Bread.
On a downtown street for the first time in years, “the stage they rode in on” – a gleaming Concord Coach -- was the centerpiece of the GALA. The Concord Coach Society brought their historic stagecoach to the Audi’s front door to help celebrate the new season of Concord’s traditional stage.
That’s some creative “Village”, filled with supporters of community-based arts and entertainment, affordable and accessible to everyone!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Audi Friends show 'your taxpayers at work'

Editor's Note: This was submitted by the Friends of the Audi:

While cable news worries about “your tax dollars at work”, the news from Concord City Auditorium is a refreshing story about “your taxpayers at work.” Local taxpayers – 124 strong – set a new record at the 18th Annual Pitch In, donating 771 man-hours of volunteer labor valued at $11,565. to the city-owned building.
Crew Chiefs Kenneth and Joye Olson of Penacook organized Friends of the Audi into teams which painted and refurbished the four floors of dressing rooms in addition to cleaning, restoring, upholstering, and polishing the house. Outside work included billboard restoration, exterior washing and painting, and landscape work.
The three-day August Pitch In got finishing touches on the United Way Day of Caring, and the Auditorium was gleaming for the GALA Season Opening on Sept. 14 when a Concord Coach, the city’s historic stage, drove up Prince Street to help a crowd of 650 showgoers celebrate the 104th season of the city’s traditional stage.
In addition to general maintenance and promotional assistance, the 18th Annual Pitch In received special help from local craftsmen including Tom Harrison, Karl Olson, and Stuart Russell, and companies including All-Brite Cleaning and Restoration, Bailey’s Custom Carpets, JAM Plumbing, Sierra Club, and Winton Frame and Gallery. Meals and refreshments served at all the work sessions were provided by Abby Lange, Alan’s of Boscawen, Hannaford Supermarket, David Murdo, Panera Bread, Shaw’s – Ft. Eddy. Guidance and supplies were provided by Jeffrey Hoadley, Concord’s Superintendent of Public Properties, and his staff.
The Bottom Line: Since the first PITCH IN in 1991, the annual summons to “Show Up and Help Out” has seen nearly 2,000 volunteers provide over $100,000 in maintenance and preservation services to the municipal building. In 2007 and 2008 alone, 1,911 hours (valued by the city at $28,665) were given by our “taxpayers at work.”
By providing in-kind services and equipment upgrades, The Friends of the Audi help to preserve the building and reduce its operating costs, which holds down the cost of performances, which holds down the cost of show tickets, keeping the theatre affordable and accessible to everyone in the community. Nothing beats a Win-Win.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Now, it's up to six

The Concord Monitor has the latest school board candidate round up here: ["Eight enter school board race"]. Two candidates I didn't write about yesterday, Jack Dunn and Eric Weiner, are new to town and signed up after 4 p.m. It will be interesting to see how all of this pans out.

Monday, September 15, 2008

New candidates come forward at the last minute

Editor's Note: This is a corrected version of an earlier post.
As of 4 p.m. today, two new candidates have revealed themselves in the race for Concord Board of Education [school board].
Auburn Street resident Clint Cogswell has signed up to be a candidate for the 1-year seat against John Stohrer. Cogswell, an undeclared voter, retired as a principal at Walker Elementary School in 2006.
In the race for three 3-year seats, former city councilor and South End Republican Paul Halvorsen has signed up to run joining Bill Glahn, Dr. Kevin Fleming, and Eric Williams.
Halvorsen is the former Ward 7 city councilor. He attended a June city council budget hearing where he voiced criticism about how the city has been spending its money of late. He stated that the council seemed to be concentrating on wants, not needs.
Halvorsen also assisted Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign this last cycle and is an assistant city prosecutor, according to the city's Web site. Halvorsen donated money the Merrimack County SPCA for a cat condo. In 2000, he was admitted to the N.H. Bar Association and had a practice in Laconia.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Chapman hired for post at Community Bridges

Community Bridges recently hired Victoria Chapman as the Director of Elder Services, a new program launching this September 2008. The program enables elders to remain in their homes, select their own service provider and manage how and when they receive services.

Under Elder Services, seniors may receive Consumer Directed Personal Care Services that will help them choose their own personal care service provider, whether it is a neighbor, friend or relative and receive assistance with tasks such as housekeeping, help with medications, grocery shopping, doctor’s visits, errands and more. The program allows seniors to remain in control of their lives and maintain their independence.

Chapman comes to Community Bridges from The Birches at Concord, where she served as the Executive Director for the assisted living community for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. Prior to that, she held various marketing positions for Hillcrest Terrace Retirement Community and Harborside Healthcare-Northwood.

“Victoria’s impressive track record working with seniors, her enthusiasm for challenges and team-based success, will serve her well in this new role” said Roy Gerstenberger, Executive Director of Community Bridges. “Her breadth of experience will help us expand awareness of the Elder Services program in Merrimack County, across New Hampshire and we hope to other states in New England. With our growing aging population, we want to make sure that our communities continue to benefit from their contributions by offering support in their own homes with choice and dignity."

Chapman earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Four emerge for school board race

During the last week, four candidates have come forward to run for four Board of Education seats in Concord.
Ren Wilkes and Martin Honigberg have decided not to seek reelection this year. Betty Hoadley has decided to retire a year early.
Democrat Wilbur Glahn of the West End is seeking another term on the board along with two other candidates: Eric Williams and Kevin Fleming.
Williams, a South End undeclared voter, did receive the endorsement of the Concord Education Association, the local teachers' union, but came in fifth last year in the seven-way race.
Not much is known about Fleming but a quick Google search yielded an online petition drive the candidate set up on Sept. 1. An undeclared voter, he lives on the East side of town. There is also a Dr. Kevin Fleming who has worked as an internist at Concord Hospital for the last three years but I don't know if the two are one in the same.
Running for the 1-year seat is Republican John Stohrer, a former board or council member and frequent critic of the school administration, via letters in the Concord Monitor.
Potential candidates have until Monday at 5 p.m. to sign up to run. Candidates must either pay $5 or gather 50 signatures of local residents.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sleepy primary yields surprising results

It was another sleepy primary in Concord with just 14 percent of the voters turning out to cast ballots in a number of contested races.
The biggest shocker of the night is probably incumbent Rep. Liz Hager's loss in the 5-way 12th District [Ward 5, 6, 7] Republican primary. Earlier this year, Hager had joked, "Don't you think 26 years is enough?" but then changed her mind and decided to run again. However, John Kalb 395, the mother and son team of Pam Ean 352 and Garret Ean 313, along with Travis Ingram 312, shocked the Concord political establishment by besting Hager 297 in the primary by a mere 15 votes.
Over in District 11 [Ward 4, 8, 9, 10], both Democrats and Republicans had primaries.
On the Democrat side, four incumbents retained their seats: Tara Reardon 702, Candace Bouchard 637, Bob Williams 604, and John DeJoie 491. Newcomer Michael Bartlett came in fourth with 499, with Klee Dienese getting 195 after dropping out at the last minute because he was being called up to Iraq. In a letter to the Concord Monitor this week, Dienese endorsed Bartlett.
On the Republican side, seven candidates duked it out for five seats with incumbent Rep. Jim MacKay heading up the pack with 598 votes, followed by Elizabeth Cheney 408, Lynne Blankenbecker 403, Jeff Newman 385, and Margaret Carnahan 312. Ed Carnahan and Frank Rosano tied for last place with 293 votes.
In the county races, Kathy Rogers beat Ted Barnes, 1,060 to 767 votes, in the county attorney race.
In the County Commissioner race, Elizabeth Blanchard beat Doris Ballard 980 to 807 votes.
In the Executive Councilor race, Dan St. Hilaire handily beat Bernie Sparks and Richard Wasson, 1,331 to 260 to 117.
In the larger races, Gov. John Lynch easily beat Kathryn Forry both in Concord and statewide. Former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen easily beat Raymond Stebbins both in Concord and statewide.
In the race for the Republican nomination for Representative to Congress, Jim Steiner 653, beat Jennifer Horn 512, Bob Clegg 492, Grant Bosse 171 and Alfred L'Eplattenier 17. However, Horn won the Second Congressional District race.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Very low turnout ...

I'm hearing that turnout at the polls today is very, very low. Some think it is due to the rain showers late this morning but others are saying it is just plain apathy. Either way, get out and vote today.


Don't forget to vote today. Polls are open in Concord until 7 p.m. Get out and vote!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The public has mandatory costs too

Guest Perspective by Kris MacNeil
Thank you Mayor Bouley, members of the City Council, and City Manager Tom Aspell for allowing me to speak tonight regarding the petition recommending a limitation of budget increases. For the record, my name is Kris MacNeil; and I live on Walker Street.
I think it is very important for the members of this Council to understand that many of us who signed this petition, did so knowing full well the limitations of the control of the Council’s spending. We understand that the school district’s budget is separate, and that you have no power over the School Board; and I think many of us regret that. We realize that Concord pays 25.8 percent of the County tax. We look each year at the mandatory costs, the increase in insurance benefits, retirement, poor investment returns, and fuel bills. We know, and regret, that 25 % of Concord’s property is tax-free; and yes, our legislature should be focusing on more specific activities that merit this tax-exemption. And we are fully aware that when bills go out for property taxes, not everyone is able to pay. And, many of us are downright angry about the cost-shifting exercises that our state government has accomplished.
But you must understand, too, that the citizens out here have plenty of mandatory costs, themselves. And times are rough, out here, for many of the very same reasons the city budget’s not healthy; but it is worse for retirees and those with small businesses and no bargaining power. To paraphrase Alice Medley, our “needs” are completely overshadowing our “wants.” And that is all we want to happen, with this petition. We “hope” you will allow this to go before the voters. We “hope” that with each budget hearing, you can separate those “needs’ from “wants”, and save them for times that are less dire. When the budget has incredible “needs”, you will have to come up with a vote of ten councilors, for a two-thirds vote, instead of eight councilors, for a simple majority. If there must be more discussion, then that’s a good thing. But, honestly, here in Concord, for those who claim the impossibility of attaining that two-thirds vote to over-ride a tax cap, having at least ten council votes to pass a budget, or more, is the norm in our city. This is not going to limit you. This will enable the City Council to be more aware of the “needs” of its people. This will make the people more sympathetic to the City Council. I hope you will agree to put this on the ballot with a two-thirds vote, at a minimum, to send that message of “hope” to your constituents. Thank you.
Kris MacNeil lives in Concord and is a candidate for state Senate. She read these comments at Thursday's tax cap public hearing.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Oh my gosh ... Council delays putting tax cap on the ballot!

Wow, did I call this or did I call it? I knew they were going to refuse to put it on the ballot! I'm totally shocked ... but, actually, not that shocked.
I watched most of the public hearing last night and was surprised at the level of confusion especially after Tammy Simmons of NHAC explained the specifics of the proposal so efficiently. She tells the Monitor today that NHAC will file an injunction to force it on the ballot but that might be too late.
So now the city will spend another $20,000 for a special election, probably in the dead of winter, in which no one will participate. Amazing. Absolutely amazing.
More on this later.

Monitor now batting .333

The Monitor endorsed Dan St. Hilaire for Executive Council this morning which is not a surprise considering. They did note that there were three good candidates, which is nice. But clearly Bernie Sparks is the best of the three Republican candidates running.
I also thought this line was amusing:
"St. Hilaire been highly effective in his years on the Concord City Council ..."
Well, he's kept the seat warm. I guess, if you consider suffocating ethics investigations, holding meetings that aren't meetings, claiming you have had conversations with the attorney general who has stipulated certain things that are never verified and are untraceable, and being a rubber-stamper, sure, Dan has been "effective."
I grew up with Dan and his brother Rick. They were good people. But I have never been so disappointed by his ineffectiveness as an at-large city councilor, especially when there was a sense of possibility before he was elected.
Some more thoughts: He seems to have been a pretty good Republican activist and can run a good campaign. He was very effective assisting John McCain. I know others who believe he has been a good county attorney. I won't argue that. But I will say that when Kathy Rogers, the woman trying to take his place, was acting the way she was acting, he had an obligation to step up to the plate and assist in the truth getting out, as a good prosecutor should. He didn't do that. As well, he has been mum about her actions targeting a member of our community with a fraudulent police investigation.
I wonder if it has anything to do with all the dual St. Hilaire and Rogers signs parked on lawns across our fair city ...

Thursday, September 4, 2008


The Concord City Council will hold a public hearing about the tax cap petition question at city hall at 7 p.m. You can read details here: ["Tax cap hearing scheduled for Sept. 4"].
I'm told this is a formality and it will be on the ballot one way or another. However, with all the stuff going on in Manch, one has to wonder: ["Spending cap vote deadline nears"].
It will be interesting to see what happens tonight.

Integrity DOES matter ...

Kudos go out to the Concord Monitor for allowing [this time] the publication of a letter detailing the accusations against Kathy Rogers arranging an unwarranted and fraudulent police investigation - something she admitted to:

Integrity matters

Two recent letters to the editor have mentioned me in relation to Doris Ballard's employment at CCTV. Here are the facts:

As CCTV executive director (1999-2002), I hired Ballard as a temporary part-time employee. Shortly thereafter she informed me she was running for city council. Only after Ballard's election and my resignation did she achieve a permanent full-time position.

During the Concord City Council Rules Committee's investigation into her CCTV employment, Ballard testified she had never been a temporary employee.

At the hearing's conclusion, then-Councilor Katherine Rogers, chair of the committee, invited submission of related documents. I submitted a copy of Ballard's temporary employment contract, a public document legally obtained from the city manager's office. I also submitted a document showing that CCTV staff under Ballard had created a program for Rogers and her dog.

Shortly thereafter, a Concord police detective knocked at my door, and I found myself in an interrogation room being questioned as to how I obtained Ballard's contract. Rogers acknowledged instigating the investigation, stating in an e-mail: "When neither the city manager nor CCTV could verify the Ballard employment contract's existence and neither had a copy, I asked that it be investigated."

Acting on my information, the detective easily located Ballard's contract in City Manager Tom Aspell's office. Why did Ballard, Rogers and Aspell cause a needless police investigation?

Now Ballard seeks Rogers's seat as county commissioner, and Rogers aims to be county attorney.

Integrity matters. I urge citizens to vote Liz Blanchard for commissioner and Ted Barnes for attorney.



Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Monitor bats .500 ...

The Concord Monitor issued two important endorsements today - one dead-on correct, the other not-so: ["Barnes is the better choice for county attorney"] and ["Ballard for county job"].
While both are important, clearly the Monitor did the right thing with the Barnes endorsement. As I have stated on this blog and our accompanying print edition, Kathy Rogers as county attorney is a dangerous proposition. The fact that she targeted a member of our community with a police investigation for having public documents, the fact that she ran a sham committee process and assisted in suffocating the CCTV investigation, and the fact that when she was caught red-handed doing these things she refused to admit she was wrong or even apologize for her actions, leads many of us to believe this. While I have not met Barnes, he seems competent and thoughtful in his campaign literature and what has been published so far.
As far as the Ballard endorsement, what can you say? Doris Ballard is very charming person and continually manages to use this charm to get what she wants out of life. Some who know her well - or have crossed paths with her - will tell you that she is not charming at alland is downright vindictive. I personally have not had any problems with her directly, that I know of, but I know others who have and have heard the horror stories. I also have heard some rumors about things she has done behind the scenes which may have affected me personally but not enough to publish specifics.
While I don't agree with Liz Blanchard on everything, she is clearly the better candidate for this seat. Her unending advocacy for her home district of Penacook is unwavering and relentless, in a positive way. If she can do for us on the county level what she does for them, we will all be better off.