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Bob Odell
State Senator
District 8

September 1, 2008

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

            A valued government executive and trusted friend is leaving state government.  Allison McLean, who lives with her family in New London, has worked for more than 20 years in the Division of Parks and Recreation.

            Allison grew up in Sunapee.  In 1988, as a college student, she started as a laborer at Bear Brook State Park and then had an internship with the division that launched her on a two decade career.  Allison worked her way up through the parks system and in 2005 Governor Lynch nominated her to be the first woman to be state park director.  Her appointment as director came at perfect time as some of us in the legislature were becoming very concerned about the condition of our parks and historic sites.

            In the 2005 legislative session, I introduced Senate Bill 5 with the strong support of Republican and Democrat leaders.  The bill created a study commission to look into the condition of our state parks and historic sites and the departmental operations that supported the parks system.  The members of the commission included legislators and public members appointed by the Governor including Allen Damren of Claremont.  I chaired the commission which held meetings in Concord as well as around the state listening to employees as well as members of the public.  Allison was a first rate partner in the process and helped insure 100% cooperation from the parks division. 

            The “SB 5 Commission” found a park system in dire need of attention.  Delayed maintenance, no long range plan and lack of money to catch up on repairs and upgrades essential to have parks be attractive to visitors became obvious to commission members.  The commission issued a report with very specific recommendations starting with a performance audit, the need for partnering with other private and public groups, preparation of a long range plan and that a bureau to manage the historic sites be created.  Most importantly, the state needed to step up and provide funds for sorely needed capital improvements.  Allison and her team concurred with every recommendation. 

            In 2007, with others legislators who had served on the commission, we introduced legislation to implement our recommendations.  Thankfully, the legislation passed including the first capital funds for the parks system in 40 years.  New Hampshire has the only park system totally reliant for funding on the revenue the system generates.  That means if annual revenue does not exceed expenses maintenance and improvements are deferred.

            Across the state, there is a state park or historic site nearby.  We have 45 state parks with 19 of them offering camp sites ranging from RV camping to primitive sites. There are also 13 natural areas/waysides and 9 historic sites.  The attractiveness and accessibility of our parks system is important to New Hampshire residents and a key to our very important tourism industry.

            Allison McLean in her short tenure as director has left her mark on the park system.  New Hampshire state parks are in a much better place today thanks to her unique leadership and ability to partner and work with legislators and other state leaders.  I wish her well as she begins her second career with an important private sector position. I will miss my good friend and ally as we continue to work to improve our parks system.

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            A couple of months ago there was the groundbreaking for the Monadnock Mills renovation projects in Claremont.  Thursday, I had the opportunity to catch up on the progress on a tour with Senator John Sununu.  It is exciting to see the work going on and it is a major economic development project for our regional economy with 50 to 75 workers on site every day.

            Jim Hoag, the site superintendent for the construction company, ReArch, is confident that he will make his goal for completion of the Wainshall Building by May of next year.  That building will house the Common Man Inn, a 27 room hotel, as well as the 75 plus employees of Red River Computer.  Along side, the parking garage and Common Man restaurant construction is also underway.

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            Jeff Holmes, Langdon, is president of the New Hampshire Farm Bureau.  He and Lisa hosted the annual Sullivan County Farm Bureau legislative dinner at their farm last Wednesday.  More than 60 farmers, legislators, candidates, and farm bureau, agriculture department and extension service staff participated.  These annual dinners provide a good forum for the exchange of information and ideas on the status of agriculture in our region and across the state.

            Agriculture remains a very significant part of the state’s economy but more important in our region than it is in most of the rest of the state.  Agriculture is more diverse today and farmers must be innovative to get their products to market at prices that allow them to make a profit.  Government needs to help and not hinder agricultural development in New Hampshire and last week’s exchange helps to highlight key issues for legislators.

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            Sullivan County Nutrition Services (SCNS) (Meals-on-Wheels program) hosted the 3rd Annual Senior Appreciation Bar-B-Que at the Earl Bourdon Center last Thursday.   The mission of SCNS is to promote the social well being of older adults by providing nutritious meals and opportunities for social interaction.  The turnout last week was terrific and I thank Brenda Burns and her team for their efforts. 

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

Telephone:  603-271-6733

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