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Hudson - Litchfield News April 1, 2011 - 3


The Word Around Town... Letters to our Editor


Phil Rodgers’ Legacy


I was saddened to learn that Phil Rodgers died. I had the opportunity to visit with him during the dedication ceremony of the new town library.


It


was the first time in almost 40 years that I had seen him.


In 1969, I was hired as the news editor of a new weekly newspaper called the Hudson News. Phil Rodgers was one of the businessmen who put the funds together to start the newspaper. During my years with the newspaper, I covered a number of events he was involved with. And I must add as a part owner, neither he nor any of the others attempted to influence my news reporting or editorial policy. As soon as I arrived in Hudson, I started looking for a home for my family. The one I located with the assistance of a real estate agent was on Highland Street. I learned it was built by the Rodgers Brothers Construction company. I found out how well built it was when I wanted to remodel it. I wanted to refinish the basement into a family room and wasn’t sure if the heating system was adequate. When I contacted the contractor, the first question I was asked was “who built the home?” When I told him it was a Rodgers Brothers home, I was told not to worry, as the heating system was more than adequate. That spoke well about the quality of a Rodgers Brothers home. I stayed with the Hudson News for a few years before moving on to another newspaper and then to Iowa. I sold my well-built home for more than twice what I paid for it.


When I visited with Phil at the library dedication, I was surprised to learn that after all those years, he remembered me. The town of Hudson has lost a great community member. I have lost a friend and former boss.


Gordon D. King - Laconia


Education Funding Critical to Stability and Focus on Quality to Schools


“In New Hampshire, a constitutionally adequate public education is a fundamental right.” We must take advantage of the opportunity that is before us to craft a permanent solution that will not be held hostage by politics, ideology, or shoestring economics. Parents, legislators, and citizens must actively participate in the creation of a public education system that ensures that the state cherishes all its children and honors its responsibility to all of them by providing them with a constitutionally adequate, state-funded public education. Many of the state’s school districts were unable


to provide their children with a constitutionally adequate education despite their tremendous property tax efforts. This is precisely the kind of taxation and fiscal mischief from which the framers of our state constitution took strong steps to protect our citizens.” In 1985, Governor Sununu vetoed legislation because it contained language requiring “that all children in New Hampshire be provided with equal educational opportunities.” The state’s system of funding public education worked against the best interests of approximately 75% of the state’s school children and local property taxpayers. After years of state neglect, many school districts could not comply with the state’s minimum standards nor were they are able to meet the New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ (NEASC) accreditation standards. In June 1996, approximately 90 schools (over one-fifth of the state’s 450 public schools in 53 school districts) did not meet the state’s minimum standards. Overwhelmingly, the reason for non- compliance was a lack of state funding. The state offered no assistance to these school districts but instead postponed the deadline to bring their schools into compliance. Ultimately, if a school failed to comply with the minimum standards, the state could have imposed a penalty of cutting off all state foundation aid to the school district in which the school is located. The process should focus more on encouraging schools to improve rather than evaluating how poorly they


were operated. Schools must receive adequate financial support, and must incorporate the appropriate use of technology. Common sense guidelines are part of a constitutionally adequate education. Fortunately for all the children of the state, the New Hampshire Supreme Court in its December, 17, 1997 Claremont II decision held that “children who live in poor and rich districts have the same right to a constitutionally adequate public education.” The trial evidence demonstrated just how little the state contributed to public education and the detrimental effect it has on the children in all of the state’s school districts. The Claremont II decision assigned two tasks to the governor and the legislature to be completed within the next year: 1. The definition of educational adequacy must be fashioned that meets the demands of the New Hampshire Constitution and is within the guidelines set forth in the decision.


2. Decide how the state is going to fund the cost of that constitutionally adequate education for every educable child in New Hampshire. “A constitutionally adequate public education is not a static concept removed from the demands of an evolving world. Mere competence in the basics – reading, writing, and arithmetic – is insufficient to ensure that this state’s public school students are fully integrated into the world around them. A broad exposure to the social, economic, scientific, technological, and political realities of today’s society are essential for our students to compete contributes, and flourishes in the twenty- first century.” “The right to an adequate education mandated by the constitution is not based on the exclusive needs of a particular individual, but rather is a right held by the public to enforce the state’s duty. Any citizen has standing to enforce this right.” We must not let the state again walk away from its responsibilities to all the state’s school children, as some state politicians are currently proposing.


Stuart Schneiderman - Hudson


Why Should We Care About NH Agriculture? March 15 was National Agriculture Day.


The leadership of the House Committee on Environment and Agriculture cares, and we believe that every State Representative should care as well. Our Governor has issued a proclamation commemorating the day as National Agriculture Day and urging all New Hampshire citizens to recognize the importance of Agriculture to our state.


As we become a more urbanized state, we get further removed from our Agricultural roots. Many of our constituents and many of us forget where our food comes from. “If you ate today, thank a farmer.”


Sometimes we forget our farms are businesses, and we New Hampshire folks care about our businesses. Our farmers, like any other business, pay Business Profits Tax (BPT) when they make a profit, and they pay the Business Enterprise Tax, even if they lose money.


Our farms are not islands unto themselves.


They buy seed, fertilizer, pesticides, pay veterinarians, buy tractors and large equipment like plows, harrows, spreaders, etc. They get this equipment serviced and fill them with lots of fuel, all bought locally. They pay employees who spend their earnings locally. There is a large multiplier effect to the local economy.


It


is estimated that every cow in New Hampshire brings


$14,000 to the local economy. Food trucked in does not


add anything to the local economy, especially in the form of a multiplier effect.


Agriculture, including agro tourism, is a $950 million industry in our state. It is the second largest industry in New Hampshire after tourism. We should all care about any industry that adds that much to our local economy. Agriculture brings tourists from out of state with their money to spend in New Hampshire. Attractions like farm stands and our wine and cheese trails bring tourists who also might spend the night in a local inn, buy a couple of meals at local restaurants, and then buy tobacco products, alcohol, and gas before they leave. Farms represent open space. Open space protects our air and water quality and rural character. Our 130 dairy farms account for 122,000 acres of open space. Each cow needs one to one-and-a-half acres of crops. Vegetable farms and apple orchards add to our open space. Farmers have a saying that “my last crop will be houses.” Say goodbye to open space. Farmland is free open space. Your town does not have to buy land to keep it open; the farmer does that. Farmers often allow use of the land for hunting, snowmobiling, and walking.


Agriculture is a significant part of our culture and history. Most conservatives and liberals alike care about history and our long- standing rural culture and do not want to lose it. Our farms are much of that character. Perhaps most importantly, New Hampshire farms provide us with safe, ripe, good tasting, fresh, wholesome local food. There have been salmonella outbreaks around the country in the last couple of years. None of it though originated in our state. If there is ever a terrorist attack on our food supply, we need to have local source of food. Local strawberries picked ripe are far better than California berries, picked two weeks before they are ripe. Local cheese beats


anything coming out of Wisconsin. And do we really want Idaho milk dehydrated and shipped to New Hampshire, reconstituted, and sold as fresh milk? We don’t.


Buy local this season. Visit the farmers’ market and our local farm stands, buy local cheese, etc. Go pick your own berries and apples. We as State Representatives must set an example to support, protect, and promote local farming and food production. We ask that you support our 4-H chapters, the FFA (formerly the Future Farmers of America), and Agriculture in the Classroom. We need to be proponents for the Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food, the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, and local Farm to School/Restaurant programs. We can’t emphasis enough how much New Hampshire farmers depend on the Department of Agriculture, the Cooperative Extension, and other organizations such as the Farm Bureau.


Bob Haefner - Hudson continued to page 5 - More Letters


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