The Warner Wonder

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The Warner Wonder

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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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KRSD leaders boosts ‘third’ budget

For the last few months, I’ve been working with the InterTown Record, writing about the Kearsarge School District. Here is the story that ran on the front page today, Jan. 10, 2017.

KRSD leaders boosts new ‘third’ budget

By Ray Carbone

NEW LONDON – Residents of the Kearsarge Regional School District joined with district leaders at the annual deliberative district meeting Saturday saying they are concerned that voters who go to the polls on Election Day will be confused when they see three different proposed budgets for the 2017-18 school year.

The three budgets that will appear on the March 14 ballot include two that have the same bottom line – $42,492,091, as crafted by the school board and approved by the Municipal Budget Committee (MBC) recently – as well as a third option that was suggested at the meeting and unanimously approved by all in attendance.

The new, amended budget is $350,000 less than the original versions and all school board and MBC members support the lower figure.

The issue arose after significant problems were discovered with the septic system at Kearsarge Regional High School, where Saturday’s meeting was held.

Joe Mendola, a school board member from Warner, said that the budget-crafting process was well underway when the board began reviewing the issue.

He said the system “is 12 years past its useful life,” he explained. “And we’re spending $90,000 a year to keep it going.”

The board had originally added $350,000 to the 2017-18 operating budget to pay for a new wastewater treatment facility, but Mendola suggested using a building contingency fund that had approximately $800,000 in it.

“When you have a capital project (like this), the prudent thing to do is to either pay cash or borrow money,” he noted.

The contingency fund is supposed to “smooth out” unforeseen financial bumps, like the septic issue.

“But it wasn’t that easy,” Mendola said. “It turns out that there are a number of strings attached to the fund and we needed approval from the state’s Secretary of Education (Virginia Barry).”

Superintendent Winfried Feneberg wrote a letter to Barry requesting approval to use the contingency fund for the project, but it wasn’t until early December that the board learned that the idea had been okayed, Mendola explained.

The board could have then removed the $350,000 from its operating budget, but by that time, the group had already submitted its final proposal to the MBC. Since there was no time for the budget group to review the new $350,000-less figure, the board decided to revise the figure down at the deliberative session.

The amended third budget was unanimously approved, 126-0, but some residents still have reservations.

Charlie Forsberg of Sutton suggested that if the school board had supported using the contingency funds, it should have lowered the budget sooner. He called the amended budget proposal nonsense.

“It’s confusing to the voters and it’s deceptive,” Forsberg said.

Another Sutton resident, Martha Hunt, was concerned that voters would be baffled by seeing the original two budgets – one advanced by the school board and the same one, listed separately, supported by the budget committee – alongside the third, amended budget.

“This is going to be extremely confusing,” she said.

Forsberg suggested that the two original budgets could draw enough votes to defeat the new, lower amended budget.

Several school board members suggested that it was up to residents who were at the meeting, and to the local media, to make sure their neighbors understood the budget options.

Another issue, raised by resident Maureen Prohl of New London, concerned a $160,000 budget item that would pay for the demolition of most of the old New London Central School building – also known as the 1941 building – as well as the creation of a new professional development center in the space that once served as the school’s cafeteria.

Prohl said she’d rather see all of the 1941 structure demolished, and that she was skeptical about the development project.

“I’m clearly not in favor of it,” she said. “I don’t feel we need a professional development center in our school district. We have ample space in the new middle school.”

School Board Chairman Ken Bartholomew of Warner explained that the budget item would pay for the demolition of most of the 1941 building, at a cost of $130,000, as well as $20,000 for repairs to the fire suppression and HVAC circulation systems in the old cafeteria section, and $10,000 for an architectural study for the remaining space.

The board has not made any final decision on how the retained space will be used, he added.

Later in the meeting, Bartholomew addressed the increased pressure on local taxpayers to fund the district.

“Our revenue sources from other areas – the state and federal governments – have gone down (in recent years),” he said.

For instance, the state no longer supports the employee retirement fund or offers fiscal support for building project.

In fact, although it technically funds “catastrophic aid” to help districts deal with unexpected significant jumps in the costs of providing for special need students, it does not put money for the fund in the state’s budget.

“People think that if the budget stays the same, our taxes will stay the same,” he lamented. “But the money from Concord and from Washington (is decreasing).”

Ray Carbone lives in Warner. He can be reached at raycarbone@yahoo.com

 


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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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