Author Archives: Ray Carbone

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Warner rockin’ the state (according to The Hippo)

Here’s a couple of the “Best of 2017” awards that recently went to locals from The Hippo…
* Best Concord-area “Cup of Coffee” – Schoodacs Coffee & Tea, 1 E. Main St , Warner, 456-3400, schoodacs.com
* Best Concord-area Bookstore – Main Street BookEnds of Warner, 16 E. Main St., Warner, 456-2700, mainstreetbookends.com
* Best Concord-area Community Event – “Warner Fall Foliage Festival, held in downtown Warner every fall, is a free, family-friendly event that highlights rural life and colorful foliage. The Festival features live entertainment, parades, a 5K, amusement rides and food. This year’s event goes from Friday, Oct. 6, through Sunday, Oct. 8, wfff.org.”
The whole list is here.

Rewarding, but (really) no surprises… Great folks doing great things for the community. Who else should be on the list?

Read about the whole state’s “best” list here.


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The town has purchased this parcel at the corner of Main Street and Split Rock Road hoping to eventually build a new fire station there. (Ray Carbone/photo)

Warner approves solar array, fire station plan, budget… and idea of demolishing Odd Fellows building

Above: The town has purchased this parcel at the corner of Main Street and Split Rock Road hoping to eventually build a new fire station there. (Ray Carbone/photo)

WARNER – It took more than four hours, but more than 300 residents crowded into the town hall Wednesday for the annual town meeting, and voted to accepted virtually every proposal offered by town leaders and fellow citizens.

The group unanimously approved an annual operating budget of $3,070,486, which is an increase of 1.7-percent over last year’s budget, and will result in a projected property tax rate of $9.82. They heartily supported a proposal to advance plans for a new fire station. They accepted the idea of asking the selectman to demolish the historic Odd Fellows building if recent efforts to sell it to a local building contractor don’t work out.

But perhaps most significantly for many, in a 270-44 secret ballot vote, the residents overwhelmingly approved spending $338,530 to construct a solar panel array nearby the transfer station. The project could defray rising costs electricity costs in municipal facilities and eventually allow the town to generate revenue by selling “excess” electrical power back to the New England grid. Last year, a similar plan narrowly fell short of the two-thirds majority needed.

“I’m going to vote for it, but very, very reluctantly. Because I’m not sure a community of this size can support that level of debt.”

Paul Goneau, resident, referrinng to tentaive plans to build a new fire station.

Solar power is popular with Warner homeowners, according to town leaders, and voters at the meeting trusted their selectman’s claim that the array will have no impact on local property taxes. Speaking for the board, member John Dabuliewicz said that $273,595 of the total costs will be financed with a low 2-percent, 12-year loan the town is taking under the state’s Municipal Finance Act, and the payments will, in effect, be paid from the savings the town realizes from solar power. The remaining $64,935 will come back to the town as a refund from the NH Public Utilities Commission for extra electricity the facility puts into the regional electrical grid, Dabuliewicz added.

But not everyone was convinced. “The way this is being packaged is slightly misleading,” resident John Heaton told the crowd. “Eversource is not a charity,” he added, suggesting that the power company will raise its rates to pay for the income it loses to solar power initiatives. “Solar is expensive,” he said.

But George Horrocks of Harmony Energy Works, which is assisting the town with the project, said that recent jumps in energy costs are not related to solar, but rather to over-estimates about the impact of natural gas in the market. “As rates go up, you’re going to save over a half-million dollars (with the solar array),” Horrocks told the voters.

Resident Paul Goneau, a former chief finance operator with the NH Housing and Finance Authority, expressed concerns about cash-flow issues in the proposal, including the lack of funds for operating costs. But town leaders said there are virtually no costs to operating the passive solar array system.

The meeting then moved on to a plan to add $182,000, including $100,000 in new taxes, to a fund earmarked for the construction of a new fire station at the corner of Main Street and Split Rock Road. Town leaders have been working on the project for several years because they maintain the current Main Street station is inadequate for a modern department. The new funds will allow engineering and design work to move forward.

Some people were concerned about the final cost of the station, which town leaders currently estimate to about $2.5 million. Bill Balsam of Waterloo predicted that rising construction costs and debt service on a building loan could eventually jump the final figure for to close to $4-million. “I’m going to vote for it,” he announced, “but very, very reluctantly. Because I’m not sure a community of this size can support that level of debt.”

In a ballot vote, the proposal was approved, 159-48.

Later in the meeting, Rebecca Couser, director of the Warner Historical Society, addressed the warrant article she supported that would have the selectmen begin making plans to demolish the 125-year-old Odd Fellows building and bring a cost proposal to next year’s meeting.

Courser said that since contractor Nate Burrington entered into negotiations with the selectmen to buy the building in recent weeks, she proposed amending the article to give the board several more weeks to complete a purchase-and-sale agreement. If there is no deal, she said, the demolition plan should move forward.

A deadline is necessary, Courser said, because previous efforts to sell the building had languished for months without resolution. “I would just like a plan in place in case this (Burrington) plan does not go through in the next few weeks,” she explained.

The amendment passed, 92-25, and the approved article passed in a voice vote.

In other actions, the voters okayed beginning voting on election days at 7 a.m., one hour earlier than it currently occurs, and the selectman announced that an informal poll before the meeting indicated some support for moving the annual gatherings to Saturday mornings in the future.

Correction: The Odd Fellows building measure  approved by voters does not contain a deadline for negotiating a sale with resident Nate Burrington.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record, March 21, 2017.

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Warner’s Odd Fellow building is sold – almost


Ray Carbone (11)
Warner takes innovative approach to saving historic Odd Fellows building

At a meeting in the town hall Thursday night, the Board of Selectmen moved a step closer to selling the 125-year-old Odd Fellows building to a local contractor who wants to use it for business purposes.
The three-member board unanimously approved the sale of the historic 72’-by-42’ three-story wooden structure to resident Nate Burrington, the owner of Burrington Builders and Maintenance, “provided both sides can come to a mutually acceptable purchase-and-sales agreement.”
The board took the unusual move of approving an action with a significant contingency attached to avoid holding additional public hearings in the coming weeks. As John Dabuliewicz, a selectman, explained to the small group of people attending the meeting, state law requires an agreement be in place within 14 days of the last public hearing, which would be this Wednesday, March 15.

“You probably have it on you now.”

– Selectman Allan N. Brown, jokingly, referring to the price Nate Burrington will pay  the town for the historic Odd Fellows  building if the two sides reach an agreement.

 

“We didn’t want to do that,” the selectman said, because it’s the same night as the annual town meeting.
The action means that the board can continue negotiating with Burrington and move forward with the sale when both sides agree to all facets of a deal.
But it also means that details about the plan, including the price Burrington will pay and any special stipulations attached to the sale, is not yet been made public.
The selectmen said that their ongoing negotiations with Burrington in recent weeks have been going extremely well. “We’re not there yet, but we’re close,” Dabuliewicz said.
“He’s anxious to get this done,” added Allen N. Brown, another selectman, referring to the local contractor.
Resident Martha Michal asked if the board is considering any tax abatements as an incentive to Burrington taking over the building, or a revisionary clause that would allow the town to regain ownership if the contractor is unable to meet certain renovation benchmarks.
“There is a revisionary clause” in the tentative agreement, Dabuliewicz said, which can be used as “leverage” to make sure the building is not left to deteriorate further, but no tax abatement has been mentioned.

“Read More”

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Main Street view of site where town leaders want to put a new fire station

Warner residents learn about solar array, fire station plans

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – About 30 residents gathered at the MainStreet BookEnds store Thursday (Feb. 23) night  to hear about two ideas that will be considered by voters at the annual town meeting next month. One is a proposal to build a solar panel array to mitigate the town government’s electrical bill. The other would move forward plans to build a new fire department station on Main Street.

Selectman Clyde Carson, speaking for his board and its energy committee, said that the solar array facility would include 380 panels and be built on an acre of land adjacent to the transfer station off Main Street. (At last year’s town meeting, a similar proposal narrowly missed the two-thirds majority needed for approval.)

Carson noted that the town’s Village Water District, which provides water and sewer service to approximately 200 customers, installed a similarly sized solar facility last year and is already reaping the benefits.

“It powers the wastewater treatment plant and the wells there,” he said of the project. “They use a lot of electricity.”

Now there’s even more reason to seriously consider the solar array option, Carson explained. Under the state’s original 2012 “net metering law,” solar power users who generate more energy than they need can transfer that excess back into the regional power grid, which provides electricity to communities throughout New England. The user gets a check back from the company that can be used as a credit against his electrical bill.

“But in 2013, what made this really attractive is that the state instituted ‘group net metering,’” the selectman said. “That means I can put in a lot of solar panels in one location and I can feed anything excess back into the electrical grid, and use (the value of that power) to pay for other places.

“And there are number of town buildings around the town,” he noted. That means the solar array facility can provide power for the transfer station, and pay for electric power used at the Pillsbury Free Library, the highway department’s facility and the police station, Carson said. (The proposed facility has been sized to provide – or finance – electrical energy for all the town buildings.)

The energy committee worked hard to keep the cost of the new solar project “tax neutral,” Carson added. “It will not increase the tax rate. In fact, we’ll be getting more revenue.

 

“It’s served its purpose, but it’s past its useful lifespan now.”

Anthony Mento, Warner resident and project manager with Sherr, McCrystal, Palson Architecture, who is working with town on new fire station proposal

 

 

The project’s $338,530 construction costs will be funded using a low 2-percent interest, 12-year loan from the state’s Community Development Finance Authority, and a $65,000 grant. Projections are that the facility will provide power for the transfer station and about $60,000 in additional revenue the first year it’s operating. (The town’s total annual electric bill is approximately $30,000, Carson said.)

Earlier in the meeting, Anthony Mento, a project manager with Sherr, McCrystal, Palson Architecture, Inc., of Concord, and a Warner resident, reviewed information related to the fire station project. He explained the need for a new facility because the current Main Street building is simply inadequate for a modern department.

“It’s served its purpose but it’s past its useful lifespan now,” he said. “There are lots of requirements that we fail miserably on… It’s not code-compliant, not ADA-accessible, and on and on…” In addition, the building is too small to house necessary equipment, particularly modern trucks and other apparatuses.

Since last year’s town meeting, a committee has been working on moving the building plan forward. Mentos said the group has been working with North Branch Construction of Concord to deal with some of the most important issues including noise pollution, traffic and longevity.

The tentative plan currently call for constructing a facility that would be approximately 11,00-square feet and would include offices and meeting space (for emergency management and training, as well as fire department personnel), a kitchen and a garage space for all the department’s apparatus. The one-story brick building, which would be on a 4-acre parcel at the southern corner of Main Street and Split Rock Road, will look somewhat smaller from the main road because its longest length will run north-south.

Early estimates are that the energy-efficient station will cost approximately $2.5-million or less but this year the selectmen are only asking for $100,000 to be raised in taxes. The money will be used to move engineering and design work forward, with an eye towards presenting a building proposal to voters next year.

Both the solar array project and the building proposal have the support of the budget committee and the selectmen. Voters will consider them at the town meeting on March 14.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record, Feb. 28, 2017.

Ray Carbone can be reached at raycarbone@yahoo.com


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Brewing good news in the village

Guess where one of the best cafes in New Hampshire is located?

If you said Warner, you must have already visited Schoodacs Coffee & Tea on Main Street.

Or, you may already be a regular.

In a little more than a year, owner Darryl Parker and his team have made this cozy shop into a friendly community gathering place. Add pastries and other food from Concord’s Bread and Chocolate bakery, and italian foods to-go from Marzelli Deli in Newbury – plus, their own tasty soups and assorted goodies – and it’s hard to imagine what the village was like before they got here.

And, it just so happens that a lot of other people around the state agree.

A recent poll of WMUR-TV viewers rated Schoodacs as No. 3 among the top 10 coffee spots in the Granite State.

And when you think about all the “big city” competition they have in places like Nashua and Portsmouth they had… Well, let’s just say this is one case where No. 3 may actually be better than No. 1.

Good to the last drop.


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The historic Odd Fellows building in Warner village has been vacant since the 1990s.

Local man wants to save Warner’s Odd Fellows building

(This story was originally published in the InterTown Record.)

The largest and handsomest business block by far in our village is the new Odd Fellows’ building that is just approaching completion… – Kearsarge Independent, April 1, 1892

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – After almost 20 years and multiple development plans, and spending more than $50,000, town leaders may have finally found the person who can restore and renovate the historic Odd Fellows Building by looking right down the road.
At a public hearing before the board of selectmen in town hall Tuesday, Warner native and resident Nate Burrington, of Burlington Builders and Maintenance, announced his intention to purchase the 125-year-old wooden village structure from the town. He plans to restore and renovate the 72’-by-42’, three-story building on his own, and use it primarily for his personal and business needs.
“I think we can do it,” Burrington said late last week. “I think it’s a good building, and even if I don’t make a ton of money (on the renovation), it should be in Warner.”
Burrington said he has experience repurposing old structures locally, including the adjacent Schoodacs Coffee & Tea building and several homes in the Bradford area. His tentative plans are to restore the local building’s first floor and use it for his building contracting business, probably a combination office and workshop. The third floor, which Burrington said has a gorgeous and unique view of the community, could become residential space for one or two tenants, he said.
And if stabilizing the second floor proves too difficult, the contractor might take it out and allow the first floor to have a high ceiling; the building’s many windows will flood the space with natural lighting.
He’s proposing a six-year project estimated to cost between $300,00 and $400,000. “It would all be out-of-pocket; no bank would give me the money right now,” he said He said he will do most of the work himself and that, as a contractor, he’ll be able to make use of left-over materials from other projects.
Town administrator Jim Bingham agreed with Burrington that the 19th century Church Street building is structurally sound. “The most serious pollution issue on the site has already been resolved,” he noted, referring to an environmental cleanup project completed about five years ago.
The town has resolved a drainage problem in the area that hampered earlier proposals, and allowing the new building owner to have nine spaces in the village area will rectify a shortage of available parking.
Burrington said he wants to seek grant support to restore the iconic clock tower – and, perhaps, the slate roofing. And he plans to shore-up the foundation; earlier proposal called for raising the building to install a new foundation. Both ideas will keep the renovation within reasonable costs, he said.
It was back in 1892 that local businessmen, who were members of the local Central Lodge of the international Fraternal Order of Odd Fellows, built the handsome facility. Jim McLaughlin, chairman of the town’s building committee, said its design and structure are unique to the region.
“It’s amazing how it was put together,” he said. “There’s not any other buildings like this in New England.”
The Odd Fellows and the local Masons, another fraternal organization – used the village structure until 1964. Since then, it’s served as everything from an industrial arts classroom to commercial space to private housing. A variety of owners used it until 1998 but after Bruce Martin, who lived and rented out rooms in the building, passed away in the late 1990s, some townspeople were afraid the Odd Fellows building would be purchased and demolished by a developer.
The town bought it for $50,000 in 1999, and a committee of residents was formed to find a way to maintain, renovate and reuse the Odd Fellows building. The group worked with several developers as well as myriad government agencies and grant organizations but was unable to find a program that would work. Proposals ranged from developing the space for commercial use to workforce housing to elderly housing however none were able to find the financial backing needed.
As recently as the February 2 budget committee hearing, Rebecca Courser, director of the Warner Historical Society and a longtime proponent for saving the Odd Fellows building spoke in favor of a petition article that would ask the selectmen to begin looking into ways to take the structure down. Courser said she was concerned about the safety of the empty wooden building after so many years of futility. (Residents will consider the petition at the annual town meeting next month.)
Burrington said that his approach – doing the work himself and utilizing the building, rather than looking for a big profit down the road – will work where other plans have not.
Bingham reported that about 25 people attended Tuesday’s hearing and most were appreciate of the local man’s idea. “It seemed like there was a strong level of support for transferring the property to the contractor,” he said.
One issue that still concerns the selectmen is a timeline for completing the work, Bingham explained. They want some recourse if Burlington is unable to fulfill his part of the sales agreement, Bingham said. “So they’re looking into how they can work that into an arrangement that obligates the contractor to meet certain deadline on rehabbing the building.
“That being said, the board and myself are walking away (from initial negotiations) fairly optimistic,” Bingham added.
Building committee chairman McLaughlin, who was at the meeting, is even more enthusiastic. “This is probably the first real bright spot we’ve had in a long time,” he said.
The selectmen hope to release more information about Burrington’s proposal – including the “token price” he would pay the town for the building – at their next public hearing on Wednesday, March 1, at 7 p.m. in the town hall.

Ray Carbone can be reached at raycarbone@yahoo.com


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MainStreet BookEnds of Warner featured on WMUR-TV

Katherine Nevins and the folks at our favorite solar-powered bookstore made the “big time” (New Hampshire-style) on channel 9 last week.

Not sure it’s a recent production but still good to see that “Something Wonderful is Happening in Warner”…

Did you see it? Check it out here…

http://www.wmur.com/article/thursday-january-12th-mainstreet-bookends-of-warner/8562451


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The Warner Wonder

Cuttin2-

By Ray Carbone (raycarbone@yahoo,com)

Befitting our small size, New Hampshire has not produced an abundance of notable athletes.

There have been baseball players like Carlton Fisk and Bob Tewskbury, gold-medal skier Penny PItou in the 1960s, and the recently retired pro basketball player Matt Bonner of Concord. Old-time baseball fans still brag about Bobby “Red” Rolf of Penacook, who became third baseman for the same New York Yankees team that featured Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

But, around here, the closest we have to a confirmed champion is Howard Crossett of Bradford. He was part of a four-man bobsled team that won an Olympic silver medal about 65 years ago.

And then there’s Ralph Cutting – also known as the “Warner Wonder.”

An old “Sports Galley” column in the Concord Monitor referred to him as a “spirited competitor and gallant gentleman.” Teammates noted his “devotion and self-discipline, (and) his rigorous training habits,” it added.

Cutting was born on July 6, 1886, in Sutton, but he must have moved to Warner soon afterwards. As a teenager, he was a stellar player on the Simonds Free High School baseball team.

It wasn’t long before the talented left-handed pitcher was competing against more accomplished athletes in the Concord Sunset League – the same league that produced “Red” Rolf. The league, which was formed in 1909, allowed the best athletes in the area to face off against one another every summer weeknight.

Cutting proved to be a winner, pitching strong enough for his “White Parks” team to help them win the league’s first three championships. (The league, which still plays summer weeknights in the city park, is the oldest “sunset” or, “twilight,” league in America.)

On weekends, Cutting did as most Sunset League players did: he played for his local town team.

That was trouble for the teams that came to face the “Warner Nine.”

“The guys from Concord would always know when they took the train up to Warner that it would be a long afternoon,” said the late Edson (Red) Eastman, long-time Sunset League director in a 1970s Concord Monitor story.

Eventually, word about Cutting’s pitching skills spread beyond the Granite State and he drafted to pitch in a bigger baseball town. The Brockton (Mass.) Tigers were a minor league team that was part of the old New England League.

But he wasn’t there long.

Cutting soon graduated to the Milwaukee Brewers – not the current major league baseball club, but a stellar “AA” minor league team that eventually won seven “little World Series” championships. He had a hand in the first two, in 1913 and 1914, during his five years with the club.

A sports story published in the 1913 Louisville (Ky.) Herald showed a strong, casual Cutting (above), and identified him as “the No-Hit Hero,” presumably a reference to his pitching accomplishments. Midwestern sports writers also dubbed him the “Codfish Ball Expert”; “codfish ball” was an early nickname for a curve ball.

According to the old “Sports Galley,” it was only Cutting’s small statute – “a few inches on his stalwart” – that kept him from becoming a major league pitcher.

And the “Warner Wonder” moniker?

It apparently referred to Cutting’s ability as a local angler and not his baseball abilities.

The local man fished – and played golf – in the Concord area into his nineties.

A real life wonder.


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Our Authors

Anastasia (Anna) Glavas was born in Canada but somehow found her way to small town America. She works part-time in the local schools and at Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum. When she isn't there, she is either at home...

Darryl Parker is an elected official with the Town of Warner (Almoner) and a Director for the Warner Historical Society. He and his wife purchased 1 East Main Street next door to Town Hall in 2014 and renovated...

Joanna and her family have lived in Warner for 14 years. She enjoys her job in Special Education in the Kearsarge District, her Communications and Illustration freelance work, and her volunteer work as a Costume Desi...

Katie has lived in Warner for the last two years and has enjoyed becoming familiar with the small town's atmosphere. Prior to living in Warner, she lived in Henniker, NH. Katie is an alumni of New England College and...

Ray Carbone was born in Virginia and grew up in the New York City area. But he moved to New England in the 1970s and he's he never left.
Ray's byline has appeared on a variety of media platforms including National Pu...

Vince was born in New Mexico, raised in California and then moved to New Hampshire in 1993. He became a resident of Warner officially in 2001. Vince has coached soccer in the WYSA program for many years. Now that...

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