Illustrated Bites of Island News

Jim Cerny, reporting and photography

Patty Cohen new selectman Thursday Men's Coffee Group Jeremy D'Entremont on lighthouses Piscataqua sailboat racing Town Web page Flowers of spring Quick index to back issues

Patty Cohen, new selectman

Patty Cohen.
Patty Cohen spoke to the Thursday Men's Coffee Group for a question and answer session shortly before her election. Note, I use the term "selectman" here following usage in the New Castle Town Report.

Patty's background includes serving on the planning board for seven years and as president of the Maude H. Trefethen (MHT) school PTO for the last three years. With that experience and after talking with Gene Doherty and Lorn Buxton, Patty was convinced she could be "selectwoman"!

Patty grew up in Illinois, near Chicago. Her background includes graduating from Swarthmore, where she got a teaching certificate, then going to Japan for a year and a half. Back in Boston she was a talk show host on Boston cable in the 1980s and worked on the Dukakis campaign as a press secretary in New Hampshire. Other activities included six months in Italy with the US Information Agency and five years with the NH State writer's project, involved with newsletters, workshops, and more. For three years she was the vice president for exchange at EF Educational Tours in Boston, commuting from New Castle. For the last ten years she's been a stay-at-home mom with a daughter who is in Maude H. Trefethen school.

When asked what are the two or three most important issues facing New Castle, she listed: (1) the new safety complex; (2) using technology such as e-mail to promote more community, based on the experience doing this at the MHT school; (3) the sidewalk safety issue.

Asked about the need for an addition at the school, Patty indicated she has not been directly involved with the school building committee, but that the school is very cramped and that the town has the responsibility to support the school.

Asked about the need for a long range plan for the town, she observed that it makes so much sense.

Finally, Patty noted that she believes it is very important to approach the job in a non-partisan way, to judge things without a filter.

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Thursday Men's Coffee Group

Every Thursday the New Castle Men's Coffee Group meets in the parish hall at 9 a.m., ending when the conversation runs out, typically about 10:30 a.m. The group was started sometime in 2004, by our  moderator Leonard Seagren, who operates with two rules: (1) there is no agenda, and (2) only one conversation is to take place at at time. We sometimes have to be reminded of the second rule.

There is coffee: caffinated (aka "high-test") and decaff (aka "regular"). Normally there is no food. In recent months the group has typically consisted of 12-20 attendees. The mix gradually shifts over time and to help us remember who is who, I photograph everyone who attends and make up a sheet of mug shots with names, what I irreverently but realistically call "the geezer group." Since I started doing that in January, 2006, I've photographed at least 60 people and there are a few I've missed.

Conversation is wide-ranging, with a quite remarkable diversity and depth of expertise and information that is brought to the table. In recent months we've had a discussions of the economic meltdown, taxes, speeding, submarines, and health risks. And we like to think we've had some impetus to actions involving Fort Stark and public safety in New Castle.

Often selectman Lorn Buxton sits in, sometimes either Jim Murphy or Don White is there from the police department, and frequently one or both of our State Reps (David Borden and Will Smith) are there. Regular attendees also include our two health officers, Jim Zuckerman and Gordon Hand.

From my point of view, I'm glad we don't discuss national politics or professional sports, which are discussed in so many other places and which can strain the attempt to be civil! We often do get into political issues as they relate to New Castle. About the only sport I recall under discussion is sailing!

All this may be disappointing to some who are on the outside looking in one day last summer one of the women working next door at the Post Office, leaned out the window as several of us were leaving and said she "wanted to see what the bad boys looked like!" Flattery, flattery.

One local wag says he has heard the group referred to as New Castle's rump parliament, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as "a small, unimportant, or contemptible remnant or remainder of a body of persons"! Hmmmm.

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Jeremy D'Entremont on lighthouses

Jeremy D'Entremont.
Local lighthouse historian and author, Jeremy D'Entremont, was the speaker at the Supper Club in May. Jeremy focused on our two nearest lighthouses, Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse and Whaleback Lighthouse. An extra dimension was the presence in the room of people who were related to, or whose families knew, some of the last keepers decades ago.

Whaleback Lighthouse was first built in 1830, poorly constructed for lack of funds. In 1872 it was rebuilt for $70,000 as it stands today, minus a foghorn that used to sit adjacent to it. Many of us are used to looking at it from New Hampshire and it is important to remember it is located in Kittery, Maine, adjacent to the abandoned Coast Guard on Wood Island. Whaleback was transferred to the American Lighthouse Foundation in 2008 (the only applicant). Access remains difficult.

Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse was originally built in 1771, the first lighthouse north of Boston. In 1804 a new wooden lighthouse was built, 80 feet high, on an octagonal base. That lighthouse was later lowered by 25 feet and in 1878 the current brick-lined, cast iron lighthouse was built, whose cylindrical base sits within that larger octagonal base. The opportunity to visit Portsmouth Harbor Light is much expanded, with 30 open houses scheduled for Saturdays and Tuesdays. The plan is to paint it this fall.

For those who missed Jeremy, he is going to do a reprise as the New Castle Historical Society's August Speaker, August 25, at 7 p.m. In the meantime visit his Web pages.

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Piscataqua sailboat racing

The Piscataqua Sailing Association is the umbrella organization for much sailing activity on the Piscataqua, including Frosty Fleet 9, J24 Fleet 139, a Laser fleet, and other racing.

We have written about winter Frosty sailors in the past, these six-foot, four-inch boats seen racing every Sunday in winter, either in the New Castle back channel or in Rye Harbor. On April 25-26 the North American Frosty championships (aka "Intergalactics") were held in the back channel islands between the Wentworth Hotel and Goat Island. The winner was Ross Weene and the action is described in vivid detail in reports by Ross and by Kevin Orff on the Frosty Fleet 9 Web site, with many action pictures by Jon Taft.

Frosty sailors reaching for a yellow marker. For a larger image click here. (Jon Taft photo)

New Castle Frosty sailor Peter Follansbee in action. (Jon Taft photo)

New Castle Frosty sailor and new fleet commodore Geoff Hayhurst in action. (Jon Taft photo)

On May 16-17 the J24 District Championships were held in Portsmouth. The first sign of action was at the UNH dock near the Coast Guard Station, where the three-ton yellow crane was used to most of the boats. Unfortunately the racing action was too far offshore for the land-based observer.

A J24 being launched at the UNH pier in New Castle.

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New Castle Town Web page

Banner on New Castle town Web page.

The Town of New Castle's official Web page is redesigned and revitalized as 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 "Island Items" newsletter. We also provide a copy of the current "Island Items" here in Saltines see the May 2009 issue, in PDF format, which is 9 pages when printed.

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Flowers everywhere

a vase of flowers prepared by Pam Cullen, for sale on Voting Day to raise money for the New Castle Historial Society.

Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) blossoms, to produce chestnuts in the fall. Tell me again why these European natives are OK, but Norway maples are illegal to sell in New Hampshire?!

Rhododenron blossoms just after rain has stopped.

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Quick index to back issues of Saltines

June, 2009