A friend in Stoddard, Mike Meyer, called me in June about Don Healy, a part time resident of his town who had just climbed Mount Everest. He asked if I could make a presentation on behalf of Governor Lynch at an upcoming meeting of the Stoddard Historical Society.
I always enjoy being part of recognition events and that was especially true for Don Healy. His accomplishment is quite significant. A complete non athlete until a couple of years ago Don has taken up mountain climbing in a major way. But as he was getting started with a planned climb up Mount Washington in 2007, he fell off a bicycle and shattered his hip.
His hip was replaced and he recuperated and was quickly back on his mountain climbing mission with plans for the next few years of the peaks he would like to conquer. That included mountains in New Hampshire along with Denali in Alaska and Mount Rainier in Washington State.
The culmination of his original goal was to climb Mount Everest and celebrate his 65th birthday on the mountain. He did that and celebrated his birthday on April 24th. He is now one of 20 people 65 and over to reach the summi, and he is the first person with a hip replacement to reach the top of Mount Everest.
The town hall in Stoddard was full, with standing room only when I arrived. Don gave a fascinating story of his climb with beautiful pictures. No wonder he has been interviewed on the Today show and had stories in major newspapers. You never know who is living down the street from you. And for me, it was a pleasure to present a congratulatory citation from the Governor.
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Last Saturday night, I was a guest at the first induction ceremony for the new Newport Athletic Hall of Fame. It was a wonderful event that provided recognition for individuals and teams from Richards and Towle High Schools and more recently from the Newport High School.It was a chance for the athletes to be recognized for their achievement but also to offer a history lesson on the power of athletics in one of New Hampshire’s premier "football towns."
John W. McCrillis was inducted posthumously for his local and national leadership in promoting, in the 1930's and 40's, the growth of downhill skiing. The 1971 football team and the 1979-80 girls basketball team were noted for their state championship victories. Whether it was stories of the games, of the bus trips or the community support athletics has always had in Newport, interwoven into the evening was the connection with the power of athletics to help students mature and succeed.
David Campbell, now a state representative from Nashua, accepted the award for his late father, Hal Campbell. David had gone back and researched the 1945-1949 era of sports in Newport. His father, amazingly, lettered in four sports in all four years he was at Towle High School. In an era before television and interstates, local high school sports drew the interest of everyone in town. There was a serious rivalry between Claremont and Newport and football games between the communities could draw 4,000 fans.
The Newport Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be an annual event held during homecoming weekend in the years ahead.
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I visited the Claremont Brew Fest early in the day on Saturday. Many of my friends have special passions for one or more beers that come from New Hampshire or more likely Vermont micro-brewers. Organizers of the beer fest, John Hall and Kipp Ryan, were certainly courageous to take on such an ambitious project. From my brief walk around, I saw many familiar faces and as well as many others who had come some distance to be there. All seemed to be enjoying the entertainment, excellent food and, of course, some of the brews. Congratulations to Kipp and John and the other organizers.
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To make sure readers do not think I only went to fun events last week, I will report that I attended the semi-annual Upper Valley Housing Coalition Business Leaders Breakfast. It was an opportunity to learn what is going on in the real estate market as well as commercial and real estate development in the communities in the Upper Valley.
Two points to me where highlighted. The City of Lebanon is an anomaly with its low unemployment and resilience to negative impacts from recessions. Currently under review by the city are commercial projects with over 1.8 million square feet with another 600,000 square feet already in process. While there is not enough affordable housing in the city, there are a number of residential projects underway.
Lebanon benefits from the positive economic impact of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Dartmouth College, the Veterans Administration Hospital and other economic drivers in the Upper Valley.
The other point noted by a presenter was discouraging. It will take until 2020, by one estimate, for residential properties to return to the same value as those same properties had in 2005. That helps explain why sales have been in decline for five years, there has been a build up in inventory of houses for sale, and an extension of the number of days houses are on the market before being sold. This has been a very tough recession and will have long term consequences for many of us.
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