Illustrated Bites of Island News

Reporting and photographs by Jim Cerny

Town Hall news … The Wayback Machine: Ads in 1933 … Now you see them, now you don't … Call for Arts and Crafts Fair … Going to the dogs … Piscataqua ship spotting … Weather report … Signs of spring … Quick index to back issues …

Town Hall news  …

Town Meeting Day.

Spring is the time for Town Meeting day on May 12th, with the Town Report mailed to voters shortly before the meeting. A major warrant article is whether to fund a new police/fire complex building for $1,100,000. There is one more public hearing scheduled on April 21 at 7 p.m. in the Macomber Room at the Library (see more below). Whether to proceed will be determined by special paper ballot at the evening portion of the town meeting, with a two-thirds vote of those present and voting required for approval.

Several incumbents are not running for re-election: Gene Doherty is not going to run again for Selectman — and Bill Cronin, who was involved in a runoff election for Selectman last year, is not going to run again either; other openings are for two positions on the Budget Committee and one position on the Trustee of Trust Funds.

This candidate list is updated as of the close of the filing period at 5 p.m. on April 3.There are no contested offices and there are several offices for which nobody is on the ballot.

Select Board
• Patty Scholz-Cohen, 3-year term
Town Clerk
• Priscilla Hodgkins, 1-year term
Town Moderator
• Town Moderator, 1-year term
• William Marshall III, 1-year term
Collector of Taxes
• Pamela Cullen, 1-year term
Budget Committee (3 openings)
• Thomas Smith
• Damon Frampton
• David Borden
Fire Ward
• no candidate, 3-year term
Trustee of the Trust Funds (2 openings)
• no candidate, 3-year term
• no candidate, 1-year term
Library Trustee
• Patricia Burke Hickey, 3-year term
Cemetery Trustee
• Thomas Boisvert, 3-year term
Maude H. Trefethen School Board Member
• Roderick MacDonald, 3-year term
Maude H. Trefethen School Clerk
• no candidate, 3-year term
Maude H. Trefethen School Moderator
• Wayne Semprini, 1-year term

No political advertising shall be placed on or affixed to any public property, utility poles, highway signs or private property without the owner's consent. Political advertising may be placed within state-owned rights-of-way as long as the advertising does not obstruct the safe flow of traffic and the advertising is placed with the consent of the owner of the land over which the right-of-way passes. The Town of New Castle does not consent to political advertising on town property. [from the New Castle Declaration of Candidacy form]

New Castle Energy Committee.

The New Castle Energy Committee, chaired by Sandra Bissett, meets on the third Wednesday of each month. New Castle is one of three towns that received grants from the Rockingham Planning Commission and it is funding two energy-related projects which are actively underway. One project is an energy audit of the municipal buildings, including the elementary school. The other project is to develop an energy chapter for the town's master plan.

New Castle Fire/Safety Building Committee.

Eric Katz, committee chair.
Last September, after a year of preliminary development, the New Castle Selectmen formed an Independent Building Committee to evaluate the needs of the town for fire and safety. Eric Katz chaired the seven-person committee, which included the fire and police chiefs. The contractor is Ricci Construction and the design is by TMS Architects, both selected in the first stage of the project. The building committee worked closely with them, with other town committees/boards, took input from eight public meetings, and visited several recently constructed fire/safety facilities in the area. The result is a completely redesigned plan, that improves on the functionality, that respects the town architecture, that is energy efficient, and that is designed for at least a 50-year lifespan.

Cost is $1,100,000, with a 10% contingency, which works out to $108/sq.ft. with contingency excluded. The committee considers this to be an excellent competitive price. If approved, the selectmen expect to take advantage of low interest rates through the state bond bank and to follow an aggressive construction schedule, beginning in July and with completion in November.

Doing nothing is not a prudent option. Both departments have pressing needs and the police department is in violation of a variety of requirements with its current quarters in Town Hall, which raises potential liability issues if no efforts at compliance are made.

Vertical site plan of the proposed police/fire complex. Click on the drawing for a larger version. (TMS Architects)

New Castle Town Web page …

Banner on New Castle town Web page.

The Town of New Castle's official Web page is now redesigned and revitalized, to be the primary means for town communication. 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 also provide a copy of the current "Island Items" here in Saltines — see the February 2009 issue, in PDF format, which is 12 pages when printed.

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The Wayback Machine: Ads from 1933 …

For many decades a free monthly publication called The Beacon was distributed in Portsmouth, a vehicle for ads with some schedules and a few commentaries and columns. These ads ran in 1933:

From 1908-1938, Roy Prohaska ran the store at the location where Henrys' Market has opened. While Henrys' stocks an impressive variety of items, we don't think that includes paint as in this ad! Note the early awareness of lead as a problem in paint.

The "Sightseer" provided passenger service from 1910-1940, with some interruptions. Presumably it just served Star Island, as the Appledore House hotel burned in 1914 leaving a number of private buildings. Note that it was a steamboat! Today the equivalent passage would be on "The Uncle Oscar" out of Rye Harbor.

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Now you see them, now you don't …

The Post Office in New Castle is an important place to socialize as people come and go to get their mail. If you think we've had a lot of different staff at the New Castle Post Office, you are right. The anchor position is the postmaster, with part-time assistants. Pam Landry is the current postmaster of record, but Pam has been on extended medical leave and is expected to retire soon. Meanwhile we've had a series of acting postmasters and assistants providing us with excellent service. You may have met Amber, Diane, Sidney, Gail (longest currently active), and Annie (most recent). Expect more changes!

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Call for Arts and Crafts Fair …

Mark your calendar for the New Castle Congregational Church's Arts & Crafts Fair, to be held June 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  In previous years this was the Clothesline Art Show and held in September.

Artists who wish to participate need to complete this form (PDF) and submit it by May 1. Those planning to visit should note that in addition to the Fair, Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse will be open for tours that day and the New Castle Historical Society Museum will be open.

Clothesline Art Show action, September 2008

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Going to the dogs …

Is New Castle going to the dogs? Yes! In years past dog registrations were included in the annual town report. Let's go back to year 1950 and compare that with 2008 (thanks to Don White for the data). In 1950 there was a ratio of 13.3 people per dog, dropping to 7.6 people per dog in 2008 — in other words there are now about twice as many dogs in proportion to the human population. See the alphabetical list of names below for naming trends.

New Castle Dog Names — 1950
BabbieBlack JasperBuddyButchByronCasey
ChipsCubbyDennisDinghyDon SebastianDuke
KevinLucky (2)MacgregorMerryMing TuPeggy
PenRexRob RoyRusty (2)SandyScootie

New Castle Dog Names — 2008
AbigailAngusAnnieAugieBaileyBaxter (2)
BearBellaBella BlueBelleBenBenny
BillieBoBodeBonnieBonnie AngelBouie
Chance (2)CharleyCharlieCharlie GirlCocoaDaisy (2)
DillonDollyEliEmily RoseEmma RoseErnie
HannahHarroldHarryHenryHollyJack (2)
JackieJake (2)JasonJesseKateKatherine
Katie LoveKipperKyleLadyLarryLexi
Lily (3)LolaLucy (3)LukeMaggie (2)Magic
MarthaMaxMax HazenMaxineMerlinMikey
RaggsRaqReillyRobbieRockyRosie (3)
RubySalty DogSamanthaScruffyShelbyShelley
TakiTeddy (2)TiggerTimmyTinoTobey
WalterWhiskeyWillieYoshi InuZoe (2)

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Piscataqua ship spotting …

Anyone who is near the Piscataqua River can hardly avoid occasional ship spotting of the commercial river traffic. With the Internet it is possible to use Google to find out many details about these vessels that come and go with salt, oil, coal, cement, liquified petroleum gas (LPG), scrap metal, and occasionally other cargoes.

The "Great Summit" unloading salt in Portsmouth.

In early March the Great Summit (IMO 9268942), with a home port of Hong Kong, was unloading salt. This handysize bulk carrier with was built in 2005 at Oshima Shipbuilding in Japan and the owner/operator is Cido Shipping of Japan.

Freshly unloaded salt at Granite State Minerals in Portsmouth.

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Weather report …

If you think the first days of March were extremely cold, you are right, much below normal even for mid-January. Using the data from Durham, NH, where records go back to 1893, the daily average (mean) temperature for the first four days of March was 18.7F, which is the coldest since 1978 (17.0F), but not nearly as bad as the coldest on record in 1912 (11.4F). The daily highs for those first four days averaged 24.2F, second only to 1912 (21.3F). Brrrrr.

The year 2008 continued the pattern that began in 2005 of very wet weather in this area. In 2005 many stations broke their all-time records, even records going back over 100 years. Many of those old records were broken again in 2006, though 2006 was not quite as wet as 2005. The year 2007 was close to normal. Then, last year, many of those recently set records were broken again. See the table below with precipitation in inches and station records highlighted in yellow.

The "Living with Energy" insert in our March bills from Public Service of New Hampshire, makes note of how wet 2008 was, how it translated into very high levels of hydro-electric generation.

Station20052006200720081971-2000 average

(Thanks to Dr. Mary Stampone, the New Hampshire State Climatologist,
for supplying data.)

I heard the first spring peepers on March 19 on Pit Lane in New Castle, about two weeks ahead of normal. Then they were silent for several colder mornings, before returning in a growing chorus.

Early sun on the morning after the sticky snow of March 9.

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Signs of spring …

“The sun was warm but the wind was chill, You know how it is with an April day” — Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time

Crocuses, opposite the Post Office.

Sunset is later and later – looking along Main Street.

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Quick index to back issues of Saltines …

April, 2009