Illustrated Bites of Island News

Reporting and photos by Jim Cerny

Web page redux … Building Committee report … State Reps begin work … Annual lighting of the Wentworth Hotel … Church steeple … Village Christmas Fair … Henrys' Market opens … December weather in words & pictures … Also sighted … A popular motif … Quick index to back issues …

Town Web page redux …

The Town of New Castle's official Web page is now redesigned and revitalized, to be the primary means for town communication.

Banner on New Castle town Web page.

The link is:

The town Web page is the place to go for contact information, schedules, minutes, and the previously printed "Island Items" newsletter. We will also provide a copy of the current "Island Items" here in Saltines — see the November 2008 issue, in PDF format, which is 14 pages when printed.

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Building Committee report …

The Fire and Police Municipal Building Committee, chaired by Eric Katz, made its final report to the Selectmen on December 15, proposing a building that will cost $1,050,000, not including whatever contingency fee, perhaps 3%, is determined by the Selectmen. The Selectmen liked the proposal and expect to have a warrant article for the Town to vote on in May. Meanwhile they have asked the Building Committee to help with three informational meetings, to be held in February, March, and April. And the proposal will be brought to the Budget Committee in February.

Ricci Construction was selected as the design/build contractor earlier in the process. This drawing shows two elevations as proposed in the December 15 presentation: the front elevation of the building from the parking lot and the side elevation from Main Street.

New Castle Fire/Police Building elevations by TMS Architects. (click on drawing for larger size)

The building is significantly different from the plan the committee started with last September: instead of trying to salvage the shell of the old building, an entirely new structure will be built, including a new concrete floor, with a wooden faηade designed for future expansion.

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State Representatives begin work …

The legislative session for the New Hampshire House of Representatives, runs from January 1 to July 1 and the 400 State representatives, including our returning representative David Borden and our new representative Will Smith, begin on January 7. We expect to include regular monthly reports from them as a Rye Reflections feature, starting in February.  
The House Web site is a goldmine of information, allowing you to track committee assignments, text of bills, voting on bills, and much more. Not so obvious is the House's lean support structure. Representatives have a mailbox and locker, but no office. The State Library, across the street, is a major resource and work space. Each committee has secretarial support and a key to the whole process is the Office of Legislative Services, which handles the formal drafting of bills.

Meanwhile, David Borden, who is on the Science, Technology, and Energy Committee, described some of what it is like to be a returning legislator. David observed that it is "as big a job as anyone wants it to be." Besides his committee assignment, he is on a number of commissions for specific studies. When asked what he had learned from his first two-year term, David listed three points: (1) Touch as many bases as possible; (2) Be very careful when a bill is drafted — make it self-explanatory, stating the problem and solution; (3) Aim at bills that reduce the burden of State agencies rather than add to them.

Will Smith described what a new legislator is looking at. Will completed a new-member orientation in December and is assigned to the Judiciary Committee. Will noted that new members are discouraged from introducing bills until they've had experience with the legislative process. And a significant number of the legislators are new, about 25%. An alternative is to co-sponsor a bill, and, for example, Will is co-sponsoring a bill that would reduce the cost to the State of providing an adequate education.

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Annual lighting of the Wentworth Hotel …

A number of residents turned out for the annual lighting of the Wentworth Hotel, also a chance to admire the interior decorations. The event included one of several appearances of Santa in town during the month.

Wentworth Hotel lighted for the holiday season.

Wentworth Hotel, gingerbread house as interior decoration.

Wentworth Hotel, lighted wire deer as interior decoration.

Wentworth Marina's lighted docks, with homes glowing in the distance on the Wentworth Country Club.

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Church steeple …

Old steeple, temporarily placed on Church grounds.
The New Castle Congregational Church is seeking placement on the National Register of Historic Places, which raises questions about the use or re-use of the old steeple. The Church has an agreement with T-Mobile to use the steeple to house a cell relay facility, which required replacement of the old wooden steeple with a new fiberglass steeple that closely approximates the old steeple. A condition for the National Historic Register is to have a legal agreement in place for restoration of the original steeple at such time as T-Mobile no longer uses the cell relay. Which leads to the immediate question of how to store and preserve the old steeple. Alternatives discussed include placing it in storage or converting it to a gazebo on the Church grounds.

Old wooden steeple in 2005.

New fiberglass steeple in 2008.

These pictures are before and after, from similar but not identical perspectives.

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Village Christmas Fair …

The Guild of the New Castle Congregational Church put on the annual fair on December 6, the culmination of countless hours of volunteer effort. There was an amazing array of hand-crafted decorations and the chance to have a delicious bite to eat. Plus there was a visit by Santa Claus! By great good luck it missed the power outage from the ice storm that hit a week later and the payoff was $13,000 raised for the Guild.

Santa Claus (aka Mark Hopkins).

George Almgren, old-time cheese man.

Pam Cullen working at a sales table.

Santa's elf (aka Pamela Hopkins).

Decorative ball.

Flower and greens.

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Henrys' Market opens …

A village store returns to New Castle, with the opening of Henrys' Market on December 17, owned and operated by the Borden family.

The market at dusk with lighted interior.

The store interior with shelves stocked and ready for business.

According to the press release hours will be 7 days/week, with hours varying during the week:
"We are looking to provide the basics, so you no longer need to travel to Portsmouth to get a bottle of milk. We will provide quality food that is reasonable priced, local and/or organic that you might not find elsewhere. We plan to carry products in small sizes for convenient carrying so you can walk to the market."
The Market includes a small cafe and they expect to have a liquor license to sell beer and wine.

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December weather in words & pictures …

New Castle and the Seacoast were hammered by multiple storms in December, starting with the infamous ice storm, then a moderate snowstorm, then a larger blizzard-like snowstorm. All the while we were adding to the annual precipitation total, pushing against the record. Three of the last four years (2005, 2006, 2008) are the wettest on record. It is difficult to calculate a probability for this, given the usual assumption in weather/climate models of events that are not affected by an underlying trend.

The ice storm …

The night of December 11-12, Thursday and Friday, was the ice storm that paralyzed much of southern New Hampshire, southwestern Maine, and central Massachusetts. The immediate Seacoast had 2 inches of rain with some icing, but not a spectacular amount. The noteworthy impact was loss of power and the slow restoration of that power. New Castle was dark until Saturday evening, with all of the Island restored by 11 p.m. except the Bosun's Hill neighborhoods, which did not get power back for almost 20 more hours, early on Sunday evening. This was an occasion for neighbors to help neighbors, checking on each other, lending generators and supplies.

Both the Police and Fire Department were busy checking on people and the Fire Department provided assistance with loaner generators for pumping and heating.

Post Office rush …

The storm added to the Christmas rush at the Post Office, as it was closed for two days.

The other side of the wall of boxes, showing letters sorted and waiting for pick-up.

Parcels waiting for customers to present their yellow slips at the window to claim them.

As if that were not enough, a water main at the corner of Davidson and Locke Roads broke on December 22, which was repaired with remarkable rapidity, in a handful of hours, thanks to the attention of the Town Public Works crew working with Dzioba Construction.

Completion of water break repair.

Weather scenes …

Ornamental cabbage, before the ice and snow arrived.

A bulk carrier anchored off the Portsmouth harbor entrance, just at sunrise on a morning with Arctic sea smoke.

Arctic sea smoke (cold air fog) envelops this house on Cape Road, shortly after sunrise on December 21, before the blizzard began later that day.

Also sighted …

Maddi Alana's dog "Mikey," posing in his natty attire outside the Post Office.

Santa Claus (aka Bill Pappou Drew) appeared at the New Castle Library on December 23.

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A popular motif  …

Piscataqua Street, a popular New Castle motif, on the morning after our December 21 blizzard.

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Quick index to back issues of Saltines …

January, 2009