Senator Odell is Chairman of
the Ways and
Means Committee, and
member of the Energy, Environment and Economic Development
Committee; Finance Committee; Citizens Trade Policy
Commission; State Park System Advisory Council; and Comprehensive Cancer Plan Oversight
District 8 towns: Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Claremont,
Gilsum, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, Marlow, New London, Newbury,
Newport, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Sunapee, Sutton, Unity,
Walpole, Washington and Westmoreland.
When Ray Burton left his Bath, New Hampshire home early on Friday morning headed to a 7:30 a.m. breakfast in Charlestown, it was another routine day for the Executive Councilor from District 1. The Executive Council is part of the executive branch made up of five members elected from districts of about 260,000 residents each.
Councilor Burton was first sworn in as a councilor back in 1977. And with the exception of a primary loss that took him out of office for two years, Ray Burton has been re-elected over and over again. He has served with nine governors. So, no one was surprised at the Friday breakfast when Ray announced his plans to run for re-election in 2010. He was re-elected just three months ago.
Council District 1 covers more than half of the state starting with the North Country all the way down to Claremont, Charlestown and Newport on the southern border. Ray is on the go virtually every day. Friday was a mini tour with a breakfast meeting and office hours in Charlestown and office hours, a lunch meeting, press conference and a tour of redevelopment projects in Claremont. Ray left Claremont for a northern Grafton County dinner and speech before returning to Bath. Ray also has annual tours spread over the year. There is a fly-in where he flys into each airport in his district; another is a train tour and there is even a one day 80 mile snowmobile tour coming up soon.
One breakfast guest said, “Ray, you are inspiration.” And he does set an example of what good elected officials do to stay in touch with the communities and citizens they represent. There is no substitute for one-on-one meetings. Ray Burton, with the help of his schedule of regular visits, is a very effective public servant. On a personal note, it is always enjoyable to travel with Ray. His enthusiasm and positive approach to problem solving are important for citizens to see. It helps build their confidence in our state government.
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Ray and I joined George Bald, state commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development, Guy Santagate, Claremont City Manager, other city officials and developers for a press conference and tour of the mill buildings being renovated in Claremont. I have been through the project several times starting with the groundbreaking last spring. This was the first time that hard hats were not a requirement for visitors. That is how far along the projects have come.
The Common Man Restaurant and Inn already has some reservations. The fireplaces are in the 35 rooms in the inn. Some rooms are on two floors and many have Jacuzzis. Plus, the views of the Sugar River from the rooms are especially beautiful in the middle of winter. A much needed conference room will be part of the inn and restaurant. Red River Computer will be occupying some of the most attractive office space imaginable. Not only will they have views from high level floors, the employees will work in spaces renovated for modern use while preserving the historic features of the old structure.
When project managers talk about putting down carpet in the next couple of weeks in the office space, a visitor certainly gets the sense that this complex of previously abandoned buildings will shortly be in use and a welcome and major economic generator for our region.
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At the beginning of most weekly sessions of the State Senate, outstanding athletes, scholars and others who have recently distinguished themselves are invited into the Senate chamber to be recognized. Last week, one group was from Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) representing several schools in New Hampshire. JAG is a proven program to prevent students from dropping out of school. The JAG program was started more than a quarter century ago in Delaware and now is in more than 30 states.
The JAG program relies heavily on helping students build strong personal and leadership skills. Governor Lynch and I serve on the national board of JAG and have seen the success a proven program can have in reducing the number of youngsters who drop out of school before the graduate.
Two leaders of the JAG program at Stevens High School in Claremont, Asia Colson and Amanda Bastarche, along with their staff leader, Dori Yacono, attended the ceremonies last week and were recognized for their accomplishments.
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While committees in the House and Senate have active schedules of public hearings on bills, in the Senate, at least, there were only 19 bills last week that came to the floor. This week there are just four bills scheduled for debate and floor votes. That means there are more than 200 Senate bills in the committee process. And the Senate as well as the House face important deadlines that help keep the legislative process on schedule.
The key deadline is “crossover day,” April 9. That is the day the House and Senate have agreed that both chambers will complete work on bills that originated in their respective bodies. Sticking to this and other deadlines helps insure that the legislature will finish its work and be heading home by the end of June. We have just started but already face looming deadlines.
New Hampshire State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301-4951