Legislative committee meetings are infrequent these days as the focus is increasingly on the upcoming election. An exception was a brief meeting last week of the Capital Budget Overview Committee.
I was surprised that all 10 of the committee members, six from the House and four from the Senate, were present. It turned out the only business for the committee was to approve a $2 million purchase of new trucks. This is part of the Department of Transportation normal cycle to replace older vehicles. The money appropriated is in the current budget.
How long does the state keep its trucks? They keep 10 wheel trucks for eight to 12 years; six wheel, 10 to 13 years; 3/4 ton trucks, 10 years or so. Mileage on trucks being replaced is 160,000 to over 200,000 miles. The old trucks are sold at auction.
The committee voted to approve the purchases and a couple of questions were answered. Then, the meeting was quickly adjourned. The pace of legislative activity in Concord is pretty slow these days. That is probably the way it should be six weeks before an election.
As I went into the State House before the committee meeting, I ran into a legislative friend for a decade, Representative David Welch (Kingston). I expressed my disappointment that he had lost his primary. His loss was a surprise simply because he has served in the House for 28 years.
David and I share a long association as members of the Joint Legislative Historical Committee. Our mutual interest in history always brings questions about what each of us is reading or doing. He often responds with something like "well, I was out your way last weekend at a military re-enactment at the Fort at No. 4 in Charlestown." I will miss working with Representative Welch.
Years ago when a seniors group was being organized in Milford, I encouraged my dad to participate. He gave me an emphatic response, "no." He didn’t think it was for him. As I have visited centers throughout the region over the last 10 years, I think he may have missed out on important benefits of being involved with a local senior center.
I attended a celebratory lunch at the Mountain View Senior Center in Bradford on Thursday. As noted in the invitation, senior "centers and communities they serve benefit from the resources, knowledge and expertise of their senior members." They often offer community dining and opportunities to socialize with other seniors. At Thursday’s lunch in Bradford, I saw friends from Henniker, South Newbury, New London and Sutton.
In addition to the food services, Mountain View offers transportation for seniors to medical appointments and to meet other needs, group recreational trips, programs as wide ranging as quilting and yoga, bridge and watercolor painting.
Mountain View also offers Meals on Wheels just like Sullivan County Nutrition Services as reported in this column last week. While being part of a senior center may not be for everyone, hundreds of seniors have embraced their senior centers in our region. It was good to take a few minutes last week to celebrate the importance and positive impact of the senior center movement over the last few decades.
In 2009, Governor Lynch, knowing of my interest in Abraham Lincoln, asked me to serve as his liaison with the National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. I was worried at one point about attendance at a Lincoln event and Mike Pride, a history writer and former editor of the Concord Monitor, said "if it is Lincoln, they will come."
That was true on Saturday night at the Ivey Science Center at Colby-Sawyer College. It was an event to commemorate the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s announcement of his Emancipation Proclamation plan on September 22, 1862.
It is always exciting to see Steve Wood from Claremont portray Lincoln. He had done much research and preparatory work as the emancipation announcement was a unique presentation. Steve pointed out later that normally he would use some of Lincoln’s humor in his portrayal but the subject of freeing the slaves did not lend itself to humor. It was a powerful presentation.
Beth Salerno, a former colleague of mine on the board of the New Hampshire Humanities Council, and a history professor at St. Anselm college, offered her insights on Lincoln and the environment surrounding the announcement of his support for emancipation. The audience then was engaged by her in a spirited and informative question and answer period.
I sound like a broken record when I write that we live in a special place. The collaboration between the Fells which produced the event, the Humanities Council which provided funding and the support of several other area historical organizations, brought out a large and appreciative crowd for an excellent program.