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Bob Odell
State Senator
District 8

August 18, 2008

Senator Odell is Chairman of Ways and Means, a member of the Energy, Environment and Economic Development Committee, and the Finance Committee.


Capital Comments from 
State Senator Bob Odell


            Summer breaks for the Congress may stir back and forth debates on TV talk programs, but going along with Congressman Paul Hodes in Newport and Claremont last Monday was time well spent. I find meeting with community groups, municipal officials and taking plant tours is extremely informative and helpful in thinking about decisions made in Concord that have an impact on each organization.  

            Our tour began with a stop at the weeklong Robotics Camp that was in its first day at the Newport Tool & Technology Resource Center located on the third floor of the Eagle Block.  When we entered the center, your attention was immediately drawn to little machines going back and forth across the floor. Later on, we learned that the robots had been put together that morning and were already being controlled remotely. Sounds impossible, and for a totally non technology oriented person, it seemed the same to me.

             Behind this robot building project was much more. A Manchester New Hampshire based company, INTELITEK, was partnering with the Economic Corporation of Newport (ECON) and others to use a proven educational strategy to help youngsters become interested in technology and science by successfully building what I would call a fairly sophisticated robot.  The students were between the ages of 9 and 14.  Some had been to other science camps or outside of school learning environments.  Others were trying it for the first time.

             Students were divided into two person teams with the assignment of building their robot. There were power point presentations basic to everyone’s understanding their assignment and the resources available.  One resource was a large plastic box filled with wires, wheels, erector set style pieces, screws and bolts and nuts and the like.  Each box held all the elements necessary to build a robot but one designed to the creative instincts of each team. One box with everything you needed to design, build and program your robot. It reminded me of a long time ago when many of us as teenagers hoped for a chemistry set at Christmas time … just a whole lot more sophisticated. Plus there were computers for students to program their robots to do their tasks.  

           The drive from the Robotics Camp to Latva Machine, Inc. was a very natural transition from youngsters preparing for their educational and professional futures while at Latva there is a need for employees with those very skills the youngsters at the camp were learning.  Led today by Mitch Latva, the company was started by Mitch’s father in 1979 and the company now has 132 employees.  Their products are used globally providing high quality, precision parts for military, aerospace and industrial customers.  Very importantly, too, is that the company buys some products needed in its manufacturing processes from other area businesses.

          Our region has a long and proud history of “job shops” providing employment for hundreds of men and women with high skill levels manufacturing products to be used around the world.  A UNH study a few years ago by Professor Ross Gittell showed that the highest paid sector of the employment base in Sullivan County were jobs in the precision machine field.  The lack of skilled applicants with the needed training impacts the ability of businesses to grow and in turn add to the prosperity of the region. From Governor Lynch on down, including Congressman Hodes and me as we learned once again after meeting with Mitch Latva and touring his business, all of us have a role in advancing training programs at every level of education so that we will have trained employees for our highest income employment sector for the future. No job is more important for our region.

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          The third stop was the City Council chambers in Claremont. The Congressman presented a replica of a check for $211,500 to the city for the building of a new community recreation center.  In seeking this grant, he emphasized that he relied on his staff for research on projects that merit financial support from the federal government, and makes sure there is a good purpose to be achieved and there was long term value in the project. The community recreation center met his criteria and will benefit from the grant … evidence of intergovernmental cooperation with a real public purpose that will benefit Claremont families.

Bob Odell
State Senator
New Hampshire State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301-4951

Telephone:  603-271-6733

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