Friday, October 31, 2008

Wilton's Way to Count Votes Holds Up

Article published Oct 31, 2008
Wilton's way to count votes holds up


WILTON – Come Election Day, poll workers in town will be sitting down on the job. Literally.

Sitting on votes is this town's way of preventing a miscount, and it's such an unusual method that it has been included in a documentary film being screened Sunday at the Wilton Town Hall Theater. That's upstairs from where ballots will be counted, and sat upon, this Tuesday.

The film is "Holler Back: (Not) Voting in an American Town." It explores why more people, especially young people, don't vote. It will be shown Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

"Holler Back," made by New York director Lulu Fries'dat, won the award for best documentary at this year's Sunscreen Film Festival in Florida.

Fries'dat came to Wilton and Lyndeborough during the election of 2004 to show towns that still hand-count votes.

All 322 voting precincts in New Hampshire use paper ballots. According to the secretary of state's office, 176 count them with AccuVote optical scanner machines while the rest – mostly smaller towns, including Wilton, Lyndeborough and Mont Vernon – count them by hand.

Fries'dat was particularly taken with the way Wilton has chosen to avoid miscounts.

The counting process goes like this, said Town Moderator William Keefe.

After people vote, they fold their ballot and hand it to the moderator, who puts it in a locked voting box. When the polls close, the ballots are removed and counted, then handed out to teams of four residents who sit at one table, two on one side and two on another.

Keefe expects a very high turnout Tuesday, possibly 2,500 of the town's 2,900 registered voters. He said he hopes to have six or eight teams, which ideally will have a mix of Democrats and Republicans.

The groups work off a tally sheet.

The first person reads the name of the candidate who was voted for, the second person watches to ensure the correct name is read out, then the ballot is handed across the table and the third person makes a mark on the tally sheet while the fourth person watches to see that the correct spot is marked.

The counted ballots are stacked in bundles of 25 and then, to make sure they're not counted again, someone sits on the stack – or puts a rubber band around them with a sticky note that says the bundle has been counted.

"It's primitive," said Keefe, "but it's effective."

Dennis Markaverich, owner of the Wilton Town Hall Theater, has been a counter/sitter in the past. He is shown in the film explaining this unusual practice.

The movie theater is upstairs from where voting takes place, so he decided to stay closed on the night of the election.

"If there are still lines when the polls are closed, I want there to be enough room for voters to park," said Markaverich. "Also I'd expect that people would want to run home and watch the returns and not want to spend the night at the movies."

The screening is sponsored by Women Making a Difference, a New Hampshire-based advocacy group.

For folks who can't wait until Sunday to see politically themed movies, the Town Hall Theater will be showing Frank Capra's classic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. as part of its free vintage film program.

Stacy Milbouer can be reached at

© 2007, Telegraph Publishing Company, Nashua, New Hampshire


cat-tails., originally uploaded by d*foster.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mt. Washington

Mt. Washington, originally uploaded by FeralKid1.

The sign says it all. This mountain tops out at 6,280 ft. It isn't big by western standards, but it sure represents.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

UPDATE: Woodmont Apple Farm Icehouse: GONE!

Yes, it is true. The Woodmont Apple Farm Icehouse, a true landmark, is gone.

After publishing this post on August 8, I got the following emails from Selectmen of Hollis:

Dear Tracy Lee:

Thank you for sharing this information with me. I am one of the five selectmen who will be discussing this tonight. I am also the person who encouraged my late mother's private foundation to provide the necessary funds to repair and restore the ice house for the benefit of our current residents as well as future generations.

I can not speak for all of the board, but my sense is that there is not a considerable appetite to demolish this historic building - but rather one to repair and restore.

Kind regards,

Mark A. LeDoux



Thanks very much for letting me know about this discussion of the Woodmont Orchards Ice House. Many of the comments reflect my own sentiments. I can assure you that the Woodmont Orchard Ice House is not going to be demolished on my watch.


Mark Johnson
Selectman, Town of Hollis


Hi Tracy,

Thank you for your email. I believe there has been some miscommunication in the newspapers. The intent was never to demolish the Ice House. The intent was to restore or reconstruct an exact replica. Either way it is the intent of the Board of Selectmen to ensure that the Woodmont Orchard Ice house will remain a Hollis Landmark in perpetuity.

David Petry
Vice Chairman, Board of Selectmen
Town of Hollis

I think it is interesting that David Petry said, "The intent was never to demolish the Ice House."

Today I was saddened to receive the following email:


As you may know (and I am sorry to tell you if you don't know), the ice house has been demolished. I resigned from office in late August because I will be relocating out of state. Before I resigned, I made sure that there was a contractor to repair the ice house and money to pay for it. I also lined up selectmen support for this plan. Immediately after I resigned the town reversed course. A "replica" is being built at a cost of five times the bid for the repairs.

Mark Everett Johnson


The repairs are going to cost FIVE TIMES the bid for repairs? Huh? WHY was this landmark demolished? I find this totally irresponsible, especially in a state where fiscal responsibility has always been a time honoured tradition. Forget for a moment that the building had become a historic landmark in the eyes of the people in the area and that many have chosen to honour this building in paintings and photographs, but what about Yankee Frugality? FIVE TIMES the bid for repairs, money that was already set aside for these repairs. FIVE TIMES as much. If I were a resident of Hollis I would be asking the selectmen WHY?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Disused Rail Bridge

Disused Rail Bridge, originally uploaded by jonathan020.

A disused rail bridge in Dover, NH with some wonderful fall colour.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Autumn Close Up

Autumn Close Up, originally uploaded by ski 9.

View Large On Black

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lebanon City Hall

050507 157, originally uploaded by dougtone.

Lebanon City Hall - Lebanon, New Hampshire

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ice Cooking

Ice Cooking, originally uploaded by Todd Allison.

My Grandfather cooking up some homemade soup on a nice winter day Ice Fishing

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Leaf Death

Leaf Death, originally uploaded by cthomasphoto.

Fall is Leafing...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mount Washington Railway

Mount Washington Railway, originally uploaded by Malc H.

3 rescued during busy hiking weekend in NH

By Associated Press | Monday, October 20, 2008 | | Northeast

MOULTONBOROUGH, N.H. - Beautiful foiliage brought crowds to central New Hampshire during the weekend, leading to at least three medical emergencies.

In Moultonborough, Fire Chief David Bengston says a man died on Saturday after suffering chest pains on a trail up Red Hill. He was declared dead before being carried out.

Another man who experienced chest pains was taken by helicopter to Catholic Medical Center in Manchester on Sunday on Bald Knob trail.

A woman had to be taken off Red Hill on Friday after she broke an ankle.

Bengtson says all three lived in the Moultonborough area and were experienced hikers.

Article URL

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Autumn Palette

Autumn Palette, originally uploaded by Elliot B..

Article published Oct 19, 2008
NH's true colors come in all shapes, numbers

By DAVID BROOKS Staff Writer

Millions of people come to New Hampshire each fall to see our leaves. They gasp in awe. They take photographs; maybe they slip a sample into the luggage to show Aunt Tillie back home, but there's one thing they never do:

They never count them.

Let's fix that oversight, shall we?

The question to be considered as another gorgeous leaf-peeping season winds down is this: How many leaves change color in New Hampshire each autumn? A million? A trillion? ("Wicked lots" isn't an appropriate answer.)

More important, is there any way to really know?"I've been in the tree business for 30, 35 years, and I've never been asked that question," Kevin Fredette of Gate City Tree Service said when queried about how many leaves a tree has.

Fortunately, there are folks who measure this sort of thing: those who run landfills.

Many landfills, including Nashua's, separate leaves and compost them, which is cheaper and more useful than burying them.

Unfortunately for us, the leaves are composted with grass clippings and other organic "soft waste" (i.e., not branches or trunks) brought in by homeowners and landscapers."Last year, we had 6,900 tons of soft waste," said Sally Hyland, Nashua recycling coordinator. "This time of year, (the pile) does get colorful!"

If we guesstimate that one-third of that 6,900 tons consists of leaves, and each leaf weighs one-tenth of an ounce, then 736 million leaves were raked up in the city last year.

That number includes non-peeped-at leaves such as oak, and it doesn't include leaves composting in backyards or rotting in Mine Falls Park, but we have to start somewhere.

It isn't much of a start, though, because urban Nashua is hardly representative of leaf-peeping land as a whole.

So let's try another source: the U.S. Forest Service. Those folks love to count trees.

The service says in its New Hampshire's Forest Resources report that there were 4 billion live trees in New Hampshire in 2006 that were 1 inch in diameter or bigger. (Actually, it's 3.996 billion, but let's not be picky.)It also says almost exactly one-sixth of the forest land in the state is taken up by sugar maple, yellow birch and beech trees, which are the heart of peeping targets. That makes 666 million peep-able trees.

Unfortunately, the Forest Service was born of logging, so it doesn't care much about leaves.

The report estimates the "dry biomass" of live trees in the state (300 million tons) and their total volume (9.5 billion square feet), but that's wood. There's nothing about what researchers call foliar biomass, which North Country hotel owners call foliage.

"Our biomass estimates are estimates of aboveground biomass, excluding the foliage – in other words, the wood," said Randall Morin, a research forester with the Northern Research Station, based in Pennsylvania. "We definitely don't have data" about leaves.

But we aren't done yet. Fortunately for us – if not so fortunately for the planet – the specter of global warming exists.

It's fortunate because calculating the ebb and flow of carbon in the atmosphere requires figuring out growth patterns in forests, and a lot of that growth, from the carbon-consumption point of view, happens in leaves.

As part of their research, scientists have developed a formula for estimating "foliar biomass" based on the aboveground biomass estimates developed for foresters. Notable, I was told, is work by Jennifer Jenkins of the University of Vermont, whose Web site lists "measuring and monitoring forest carbon" as a top research topic.

It isn't straightforward, because the ratio depends on the size of the tree, but I got some help from the friendly folks at the Forest Service in Durham, who asked not to be identified, probably because they should have been doing something useful instead of helping answer this quirky question.

They crunched the numbers last week and concluded there are 0.73 tons – 1,460 pounds – of leaves per acre of sugar maple, birch and beech trees.

Fourteen hundred pounds of leaves per acre! No wonder raking makes my back hurt.

Multiply that figure by 2.6 million acres of maple/beech/birch in New Hampshire, estimated by the Forest Service, and you get 1.9 million tons of peep-able leaves.

At a tenth of an ounce per leaf, that's 608 billion leaves in New Hampshire.

Six hundred billion explosions of orange, red, yellow and pink – not bad! No wonder people come from all over the world to see it.

As a mild check of this back-of-the-envelope estimate, notice that it implies the average peep-able tree in New Hampshire has 800 leaves. This sounds a little low, but within a reasonable margin of error.

So, the next time somebody wonders why you live through New Hampshire winters and mud season and black flies, tell them you have 608 billion good reasons.

Happy peeping season!

David Brooks can be reached at 594-5831 or

© 2007, Telegraph Publishing Company, Nashua, New Hampshire

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Alton Bay, NH train station

Alton Bay, NH train station, originally uploaded by kla4067.

Built by Boston & Maine Railroad in 1907 and now used as a tourist information center. The tracks are gone but it remains in its original location between the lake shore and the highway.


Daybreak, originally uploaded by m@percy.

Dawn. Russell Pond in the White Mountains National Forest. North Woodstock, NH.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sarah Palin To Appear On SNL This Weekend

Following Tina Fey's spot-on, popular Palin parodies in recent episodes of SNL, Governor Sarah Palin has confirmed that she will appear on Saturday Night Live this weekend.

read more | digg story

The Last Dance Before Winter

The Last Dance Before Winter, originally uploaded by Makingpixels.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hollis Church

Hollis Church, originally uploaded by nhpe1.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

John, Paul, George, and Ringo

John, Paul, George, and Ringo, originally uploaded by rizzolo.

Pumpkin People, Jackson, New Hampshire.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Senator Joe Biden

Senator Joe Biden, originally uploaded by StarrGazr.

Vice Presidential Candidate
Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire

Watch a video of a portion of the speech.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chris looking towards the notch


IMG_8912, originally uploaded by pdlstudios.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Town Quilt

Town Quilt, originally uploaded by zantimisfit.

This is an amazing quilt that was featured at the Temple NH Harvest Festival this year. All the panel depict historical buildings in the town. Some I recognize and some I don't.