Thursday, January 29, 2009

Now that's a bad day

I heard there was a house collapse this morning, so decided to take a drive by on Union Street. I was on the phone with a friend when I arrived and boy did he get an earful. "HOLY $$$" I gasped when I saw that it was not just a roof, but the entire house. I guess the place was under renovation and vacant, which is a good thing, but yikes. I hope they had insurance... it's a total loss, according to our town building inspector.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The River Film

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Shrimp, Shrimp, Shrimp.

New Venue for Buying Fresh Seafood Direct from New Hampshire Fishermen

By Charlie French and Ken LaValley

Residents of New Hampshire's seacoast region can now purchase locally and sustainably-caught shrimp and lobster direct from local fishermen at the Winter Farmers' Markets.

With shrimp and lobster prices at near 20-year lows, this is just the boost that local fishermen need.New Hampshire's rich history in commercial fishing has helped to shape the state's character and sense of community. In fact, commercial fishing has been a vital component of the state's economy for over two centuries and has grown to a multi-million dollar industry in New Hampshire employing approximately 100 commercial fishermen. Equally important, recent economic studies based on National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) data suggests that New Hampshire's seafood industry has lead to the creation of approximately 250 jobs in other sectors including food processing, tourism, restaurants, boatyards, etc.

However, the seafood industry is at a critical juncture that will determine its future viability. On the one hand, fishing regulations aimed at protecting declining fish stocks have made it difficult for commercial fishermen to turn a profit. Couple this with rock-bottom prices for shrimp and lobster, commercial fishermen worry that their livelihood is in jeopardy.

The question is; how can the shrimp and lobster industries sustain the resource and increase profits from fish sales?

The answer may lie in establishing direct markets for local and sustainably-caught seafood.This winter, the Yankee Seafood Co-op, based out of Seabrook, New Hampshire, will begin selling shrimp and lobster direct to consumers at Winter Farmers' Markets sponsored by Seacoast Eat Local.

As Bob Campbell, Manager of the co-op explains, the idea is to build stronger links between the commercial fishermen and local fresh markets and area restaurants. And what better venue than a farmers' market where a variety of locally produced foods can be purchased.If you are interested in purchasing locally-caught seafood, below are the dates and locations of upcoming farmers markets where pre-packaged shrimp will be available in the Seacoast:•

Saturday, February 7th from 10am-2pm at 21 Front Street, Exeter, New Hampshire• Saturday, Saturday, March 7, 10am-2pm at Stratham Town Hall, Stratham, New Hampshire

More information about these winter farmers' markets is available at

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Exeter Grad Dies in Afghanistan

I spent today working on a story about a story about Brian Mescall, an Exeter High grad, who was killed in Afghanistan. He had a young son, shown in the photo with him here, which is just heartbreaking.

Read the story here:

Closing the Chapter on a Long Run of Public Service

Harry Thayer has retired from the fire department after 45 years. Thayer was most recently the deputy chief in charge of the call firefighters. A lot has changed since he first joined the department, including gear, politics, personnel and firefighting techniques. (Oh yeah and Brewitt's is no longer running the ambulance service in a hearse...)
I'm working up a full story about Harry for the newspaper, so stay tuned.
But here's one little tidbit I didn't have space to include.. sort of the expose on Harry Thayer. I heard from another retired firefighter this morning that Harry once had a career as a race car driver, but that he didn't want his father to know, so he raced under a fake name. I called around to find out the race name before going back to the source, Harry. His race name was Harry Hanson. In addition to the fact that he didn't want his dad to find out what he was up to, the announcer couldn't say Thayer well, so Hanson was easier on many fronts.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New England Stone Walls

Join the Exeter Historical Society on Tuesday, February 3 at 7:30 pm (with refreshments at 7 p.m.), for a presentation by Kevin Gardner, entitled Discovering New England Stone Walls. The program will take place at the Exeter Historical Society, 47 Front Street, Exeter, and is free and open to the public.

Kevin’s informal talk covers a few of the main topics of his book about New England stone walls, The Granite Kiss, touching on history, technique, stylistic development, and aesthetics. He explains how and why New England came to acquire its thousands of miles of stone walls, the ways in which they and other dry stone structures were built, how their styles emerged and changed over time and their significance to the famous New England landscape. Other topics may include: differences in approach between historical and contemporary wall-builders, a discussion of restoration tips and techniques, and information about design, acquisition of materials, preservation, and analysis. Short readings from the book may also be included. Along the way, Kevin occupies himself by building a miniature wall or walls on a tabletop, using tiny stones from a five-gallon bucket. He often brings along his collection of books about stonework, and copies of The Granite Kiss will be available for sale.

Since the publication of The Granite Kiss in October 2001, Kevin has presented his program at dozens of historical societies, bookstores, and town libraries all over New England, including Canterbury Shaker Village, the NH Historical Society, Castle in the Clouds, Old Sturbridge Village, Boston's Arnold Arboretum, and many, many more.

The Exeter Historical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the research and preservation of Exeter’s past. The Historical Society is open to the public on a weekly basis, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 – 4:30 pm, and on Saturdays from 9:30 am to noon. Exeter Historical Society, 47 Front Street, PO Box 924, Exeter, New Hampshire, 03833, 603-778-2335,,

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Meals on Wheels Issue

So I guess I haven't been paying close enough atttention to this whole Meals on Wheels issue. I received a call today from a concerned citizen who felt that there was some misinformation, or lack of information, about exactly what the decision by the Board of Selectmen not to fund $ for the program means.
I was under the impression that the entire funding for Meals on Wheels had been cut. Apparently, this is not the case.
I have a 91 year old grandmother who lives with me and know that elderly folks are not as good about making food for themselves as they once were. Most days, my gram would sit around and eat toast and tea alone if we didn't cook her dinner. So when I thought that the program had been cut entirely, I was feeling very badly for the many elderly people in town who receive a hot meal each day from Meals on Wheels. Well, they are still going to get the meals. The part of the funding that was cut was for transportation services offered through the program. There is a line in the story in today's paper clarifying this.
Transportation for the elderly is a whole other issue and I have been involved with this as well due to my grandmother who no longer drives. We have several options for senior transportation in town, but I have to say I'm always a little confused about which program takes you where, which costs how much and so on. The new taxi from Graham's Sunoco will take elderly folks around and the Lamprey Health van will take them out to doctors and shopping and so on. I believe the transportation through Meals on Wheels is one my grandmother used a few times that utilitzes volunteer drivers to take elderly to appointments around town. It would be nice if we had a clear listing (including specifics on each program) of these services in one location for the town's elderly as it is really confusing to try to track them all down individually.
The latest story in the paper outlines the specifics:

Thinking of Spring

The Dover Cassily Community Garden is hosting a free, public gardenworkshop featuring Garen Heller of Back River Farm (Dover) on Saturday, January 17th from 9:30-11:30 at the McConnell Center (Room#2).
The workshop is open to community members of all ages. Theworkshop topics will include what seeds to buy, starting seed, andimportant considerations to make for your own garden preparations.Whether you are interested in basic gardening "how-to's" or moretechnical details, this workshop will give you the opportunity to haveyour questions answered, meet other garden enthusiasts, and learn moreabout the Dover Cassily Community Garden.
Light refreshments will be served. Event will be held snow or shine.

Please register by email

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The face behind a downtown revitalization

By lara bricker
January 11, 2009 6:00 AM
When the other 8-year-old children in his neighborhood were outside playing, Elliott Berkowitz's parents found him tucked away reading.
It was not a classic children's story they found in the hands of their son outside on the porch in his Queens, N.Y., home, but rather the United Farm Agency catalogue. He was reading up on land and farms for sale.
"I was always very entrepreneurial," said the 63-year-old Exeter man who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.
He would have liked to have forged his path in adulthood in keeping with his favorite game, Monopoly, buying up land and developing it with buildings. But his parents urged their son to consider a more secure future, as a police officer, like his father who was a captain in the New York Police Department. The younger Berkowitz spent 15 years and four days working in the narcotics division of the NYPD, before he retired.
Almost 25 years later, Berkowitz had harnessed the entrepreneurial spirit from his youth to run a successful real estate development company, the Pairpoint Group, with his wife Nancy Phillips. Their offices are now based in downtown Exeter.
Since the fall of 2004, the couple has purchased three downtown Water Street properties and renovated them, which many local observers point to as breathing new life into a portion of the downtown long due for a boost. The first two buildings now house five upscale shops, tenants that were handpicked by Berkowitz.
"I think it was definitely a revitalization of that whole area," said Steve Goren, the membership director for the Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce. "Just having five shops that are quality, destination-type shops; it revitalized not just that part of Water Street, but the whole downtown." CLICK HERE TO READ ENTIRE STORY

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Not All Ice Is Equal

I spent about 20 minutes this morning chipping the 2+ inches of ice off my car from the big storm yesterday. I did have a traditional ice scraper, but resorted to the metal mini garden shovel which really helped chip the pieces off a bit faster. We made out better than I expected with the storm yesterday, but I think everyone is so jumpy after the last storm/power outage that we were all expecting the end of the world or something. I can say none of us will ever be unprepared for a storm again. Which of course means that we won't see a storm like we did in December of 2008 for another 20 years..
For those tired of the weather already, check out the link to the Key West Web Cam:
Think of it like those people who put videos of fireplaces on their tv during holiday parties or something.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Maine, the Way Life Should Be?

January 05, 2009 8:45 AM
VASSALBORO, Maine (AP) — A one-time motel in a small central Maine town could soon be offering an eye-opening way to start the day — topless coffee shop waitresses.
The Vassalboro Planning Board on Tuesday will consider a business permit request for a topless coffee shop at the site of the former Grand View Motel on busy Route 3.
The one-story building has also been the home to several other business ventures, most recently Mac Daddy's Pub at the Fat Cat Grille, which closed three or four years ago.
Neighbors have mixed opinions. Some say Vassalboro is a rural town and that a topless coffee shop would bring the wrong crowd. But others say they'd like to see a business make a go of it there.
Donald Crabtree of Ellsworth, who has applied for the business permit, told the Kennebec Journal that he didn't want to discuss his plan until after the planning board meets

It Must Really Be The New Year... if


I have just returned from the gym. I know, stereotypical New Year’s event, the tourist season at all of the area fitness clubs. Though for me, it wasn’t really a New Year’s resolution type thing, but a realization that I have gotten into a pretty good and regular routine, which if often hard when you work for yourself from home, and that I could maybe start to expand in the middle of the day when I take a break from writing, by going and walking on the treadmill at the gym. (And no this has nothing to do with the fact that my husband kindly, or rather sarcastically, told me last fall that I was “supremely” out of shape when I announced I was going to go out riding with the local fox hunt). He was right and the gym, The Great Bay Athletic Club, is only five minutes from my house. And oh yes, I still had some guest passes from the 10 pass coupon I bought a while back. Turns out, my memory has gone some since Mommydom. A while back was actually right after Willie was born. That would be two and a half years ago. And apparently these guest packs are only good for a year.
I lured myself over to the gym with the thought of watching TV while I walked on the treadmill as each treadmill has individual (cable) TV. Hooray. Too bad in the two and a half years since I last entered the place I’ve lost my headphones.
And so it was off to Staples in Stratham on the way to the Great Bay Athletic Club in Newmarket for headphones. No generic, old-fashioned headphones seems to exist anymore and so I ended up with a little pair that just slip into your ears.
The gym is still standing where it was the last time I entered, but they’ve done some remodeling. And they got new treadmills, though still with the fancy personal TV’s. There were a few scary moments while I tried to figure out the new treadmill operation system, which seemed to require about as much skill as turning on the controls in the cockpit of an airplane, and I was off. It was just me and Food TV. And a few way too skinny fit people who were (gasp) running on the treadmill as opposed to my walking. There was also a warning sign up on the window in front of me that cautioned that I could get shocked through my headphones due to the dry static of the winter air. Great, just one more hurdle to clear on the way to physical fitness. Maybe a little shock might boost up my workout a bit, you know, really kick me into high gear when I was slacking off on the incline or something.
I made it through a whopping 30 minutes on the treadmill, watched Paula Deen make something with butter, butter and more butter, and left feeling good about seeing the inside of the gym again.
I know it’s not much, but sometimes baby steps aren’t just for our children, they’re for mommy too.

Another one on the Way?

My friend Jason is a bit obsessed with the weather but I think this time, he might be right. There's another storm headed out way tomorrow and it could bring more ice. Yes, you heard correctly, more ice.

Here's the forecast:

Tonight (Tuesday): A chance of snow showers after 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 24. Calm wind becoming northeast around 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Wednesday: Snow before 1pm, then rain. High near 34. East wind between 7 and 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.

Wednesday Night: Rain before 1am, then sleet likely. Low around 26. North wind between 6 and 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Thursday: A chance of snow, mainly before 1pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 37. West wind between 11 and 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

I usually brush off these storm warnings and laugh at the people at the store stocking up on water and batteries and all that stuff when they hear a storm in the forecast. I think everyone can safely say after the Ice Storm of 2008, we will never be unprepared again.

We are now the proud owners of a generator, thanks to a sale at the Seabrook Home Depot, and I have a new inverter plug for my cigarette lighter in my car to run my laptop or whatever else can safely run off one plug. My lovely neighbor Sharon, who was struck by my coffee addiction that I made public during the last storm, arrived at my door this morning with a french press so that I could make real coffee throughout any outage.

And the old lady horses are ready to rock with a big giant bale of hay and almost overflowing tub of water, should we lose water again.

Check out the latest forecast through this link to the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine: