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Bob Odell
State Senator
District 8

September 22, 2009

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 Board.

Senate 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.

 

There are many aspects to being a state legislator. There is much more to it than going to Concord for committee hearings, senate sessions and voting on legislation.

There is also work to be done back home. Each of New Hampshire’s twenty-four senators represents more than 55,000 residents making it impossible to meet and visit with everyone. But by participating in events, we have the opportunity to connect with groups and individuals to learn what issues are of concern to them.

It also helps simply to know what is going on in the communities as many activities have ties to state government. That often includes funding. When the legislature is in session, I often cannot get back in time for afternoon or evening events. Now, with the legislature out of session, I am usually in Concord just a couple of days each week so I get to many events. Here are some I attended in one recent week.

* * *

Community Dental Care of Claremont is open and has a steady stream of patients being served. Sullivan County has some pretty dire statistics when it comes to dental health. Poor dental health can be a severe burden for children and adults. It causes high absenteeism in schools and in the workplace and affects a person’s confidence to succeed in school or on the job. Kyle Messier has been my educator on oral health in Sullivan County for years and was the project manager to create and fund the new center. 

The Claremont center is increasing access for dental care to all Sullivan County residents but especially those who must have financial assistance. The need for the center has been longstanding and critical given the number of people who have had unmet dental health problems.

At the reception celebrating the opening of the center, Board Chair Susan Bryant, recognized the many donors, community groups, state agencies and individuals who all did their part to support the center. While I could list them, I believe the leadership of Valley Regional Hospital and New London Hospital, working together, reflects the community support that made the new dental clinic possible.

* * *

It was a beautiful September Saturday and what could be better than a walk through the woods and fields of one of the most beautiful properties in our region. It was the annual Tree Farm Field Day held at the Blake Family Tree Farm in Newport. Igor Blake has been chosen as the 2009 New Hampshire Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year.

A couple of hundred people from across the state attended the day long event. There were educational tours so visitors could see the forestry and wildlife conservation efforts being made on the 300 acre property located along the Sugar River. The Blake Farm has been managed as a tree farm by the family for nearly 80 years. 

I sense a growing interest in people across our region in using land and forestry practices that will add value of their properties, return higher yields at timber sales but mostly to improve fields and forests for the owners’ own pleasure and that of future generations. 

I was pleased to join Executive Councilor Ray Burton (Bath) in presenting Igor Blake with commendations and congratulations from the State of New Hampshire during the lunch break. We live in a beautiful place with our natural resources being the foundation of that beauty. And families like the Blakes have worked over generations to conserve and improve the properties that we all can enjoy. I congratulate Igor on this special recognition for his forestry accomplishments.

* * *

Those of us with a car and good health can get around easily. Whether to go shopping, or getting to medical appointments or a meeting at the bank, these are no problem if you have a car. But if you are a senior without car, a single parent without money for a vehicle, or a person with a disability, getting from place to place can be a major challenge.

Representatives from a group of local and state agencies have been working for several years on improving public transportation in Sullivan County. It was time to celebrate the accomplishments of the group as it received recognition as the state’s first rural region to become a Regional Coordination Council. What does that mean to you and me? It means a new bus route between Claremont and Charlestown. And legislation sponsored by Representative Rodeschin (Newport) to protect volunteer drivers from increased insurance premiums has become law. 

Among local leaders recognized by Barbara Brill of the Community Alliance for their efforts over the years was Bunny Perry, Senior Advocates, Representative Rodeschin and especially the project’s driving force, Kelly Murphy, who lent her energy and passion to successfully move the program forward. 

The success to date is built around a community driven collaboration identifying the needs of each municipality. It is tied to the region through management of the program by Pat Crocker at the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission and has ongoing support from foundations and the state’s departments of Health and Human Services and Transportation. Working quietly with a focus on improving transportation options for Sullivan County citizens, the council is making steady progress.

* * *

If there are long days in Concord combined with long drives back and forth, a senator can always look forward to meetings and events in the district. Like those described above, they are educational and almost always upbeat celebrating individual, community and organizational successes that bolster our area. It is a very enjoyable aspect of this job. 

 

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

Telephone:  603-271-6733
Email:  rpojr@aol.com

 

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