Illustrated bites of Island news

Jim Cerny, reporting and photography

Police update … Safety building completed … Donor towns redux … Great Island 5K road race … Casso Islands purchase … Early cold weather … Piscataqua ship spotting … Fall asters … Fall foliage … Quick index to back issues

New Castle police …

Don White is the newly named chief of police in New Castle, promoted after 14 years with the department. Other members of the department are officers Chet Lang and Erik Rappolt.

Don White receiving the chief's badge from his wife.

From left to right, officers Chet Lang, Don White, and Erik Rappolt.

Officer Erik Rappolt often patrols on a bicycle when weather permits, seen here at Fort Stark.

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Safety Building completed …

The town's building committee liaison, Dave McGuckin, reports that the new safety building, which was begun in July, was completed on schedule and on budget at the end of October!  Dave writes:

Construction of the new Safety Building, housing the New Castle police and fire departments, was completed on Friday, October 30th.  Both departments will be moving into the building and setting up their respective areas during the next several weeks.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony has been scheduled for Tuesday, November 17 at 11 a.m.

The new building contains state-of-the-art heating, cooling, security and emergency back-up systems and provides a facility that is expected to serve the town of New Castle for the next 50+ years.

Distinctive features of the building are its clean, white facade and two-over-two windows that match historic buildings surrounding it and the attractive cupola that allows natural light to brighten the 2nd floor.

A formal "Open House" for the new facility is scheduled for Saturday, December 12, 9 a.m. – noon.

Police Department end of the building, facing Main Street.

Fire Department end of the building, facing the Church parking lot.

Kitchen area.

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Donor towns redux …

If you are a taxpayer in Rye or New Castle the subtitle for this section is: "Be afraid, be very afraid." The legislated hold on donor towns expires on June 30, 2011, with payments due on March 15, 2012. Attorney Eugene M. Van Loan III calls this "Concord's dirty little secret" and has written a warning essay (PDF format) which we reprint here with permission.  

The Coalition Communities organization recently computed the cost to donor towns under several scenarios. And they met with Governor Lynch, who opposes donor towns but has not promised a veto. The first scenario would be a return to the previously existing conditions and is estimated it would cost New Castle $1,177,489 (4th place on the donor town list). Two other events could lead to much higher amounts of money to be raised, expanding the number of donor towns and greatly increasing the total amount of money to be raised both overall and from individual towns. First, $160 million in federal stimulus money that is used for educational funding is set to expire on July 1, 2011. Second, if a $150,000 homestead property tax exemption were passed (such a bill was defeated in the 2009 legislative session), it would differentially affect taxpayers in communities with high property values. Amazingly, under all of these scenarios the relatively affluent towns of Amherst, Bedford, Bow, and Hollis remain recipient towns, a vivid demonstration of the unfairness of this donor approach. See additional comments in Rye Crisp.

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Great Island 5K road race …

The 16th annual Great Island 5K road race was run on Sunday morning, October 11. These photographs were taken at about the 2/3 point in the race, at the turn onto Ritson Street from Portsmouth Avenue. There were 1,094 finishers. The top two finishers were under 15 minutes, which is fast for a 5K race in New Hampshire. As a point of reference the men's world record on an outdoor track is 12:37.35.

The first two finishers, Abraham Ngetich and Mark Miller. Winning time was a 4:49/mile pace with Miller just 2.5 seconds behind.

Jenny Campbell, first woman to finish, in 20th place overall at a 5:54/mile pace.

Mass of runners on Portsmouth Avenue with Michael Stringham in the center (red shorts).

There were 64 New Castle runners who finished the race, listed here in order of finish with position overall and position in their age group in parentheses. For complete race results, see the Cool Running site, which even includes two race times, official and actual elapsed — which can be a substantial difference for runners back in the pack when the starting gun goes off: Becky Stearns (44,3/52); Emily Stearns (68,1/43); Peter Holzaepfel (116,20/51);  Anthony Hibble (157,26/51); Brandon Leavitt (158,27/51); Jeremy Epstein (211,14/52); Zachary Leavitt (213,15/52); Melanie Baker (225,10/162); Emily Fregeau (232,5/52); Kathleen Leavitt (240,12/162); Emily Fitzpatrick (251,8/52); Suzanne Cook (280,18/162); Corey Rumph (295,9/43); Caroline Fregeau (299,10/52); Joshua Epstein (334,19/52); Annie Fitzpatrick (338,13/152); Bob Hickey (390,70/115); Eric Katz (391,71/115); Richard Ferdinand (404,48/93); Liz Fregeau (424,39/162); Sophie Maher (454,15/52); Duncan Robinson (494,17/22); Michelle Houle (499,17/52); Norman Rice (574,83/114); Meredith Rumph (576,25/43); Megan Rumph (587,22/52); Richard Gilman (593,29/52); Emma Frampton (598, 27/43); Molly Frampton (607,26/52); Jonathan Epstein (621,19/22); John De Leeuw (630,64/93); Michael Stringham (689,33/52); Carol Stringham (691,28/63); Maggie Sutherland (706,30/43); Stephanie Staples (707,31/43); Padraic Donovan (800,35/52); Grace Baker (850,34/52); Cole Maher (889,41/52); Pamela Yonkin (891,121/162); Christina Lomontagne (936,37/52); Michael Sawyer (948,38/52); Emma Wheeler (949,39/52); Paul Holloway (953,42/52); Quinn Hickey (954,43/52); Sophia Frampton (957,40/52); Mark Gardner (959,88/93); Meme Wheeler (961,137/162); Helen Wheeler (962,41/52); Ferdinand Greta (966,42/52); Bruce Street (972,89/93); Arik Williams (979,44/52); Wickie Rowland (981,142/162); Ellen Baker (983,46/52); Grayson Donovan (995,47/52); Will Stewart (1000,48/52); William Stewart (1003,108/115); Steve Cook (1011,109/115); Gretchen Heindel (1032,50/52); Steve Manion (1033,111/115); Josie Manion (1034,51/52); Branden Cook (1054,51/52); Sally McGuckin (1060,13/14); Gisela Garvey (1066,1/1); Brandon Staples (1070,22/22).

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Casso Islands purchase …

In December, 2008, we first reported on the proposal to purchase the Casso Islands as conservation land. We use that name here as shorthand because the Islands have been owned by the Casso family for the last 40 years, though in deeds they are named as Mill, Long Rock, and Birch Islands.

Looking from Birch Island along the mill dam to Long Rock Island.

In October the Open Space Committee made a formal request to the selectmen for the town to purchase the islands for $150,000 using their previously voted authority to spend up to $500,000 to acquire conservation land. The process is spelled out in NH RSA 41:14-a and requires two public hearings and then a vote by the selectmen — unless the selectmen receive a petition, during the hearing process, from 50 registered voters to put the vote on the town ballot as a warrant article. Such a petition was received and normally that would be at the May, 2010, annual town meeting. However, upon petition by 50 registered voters a special town meeting can be requested prior to the annual meeting. And at this writing such a petition has been received by the selectmen and a special town meeting is expected to be scheduled in early December. (In the interest of full disclosure, I was active in circulating the petition to require voting at a town meeting.)

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Early cold weather …

In mid-October we had some about a week of exceptionally cold weather, culminating on Sunday, October 18 — here in New Castle the temperature was about 35F at sunset, with a mix of light rain and wet snow. In Durham that day the high temperature was 42.4F, the second coldest high for that date and only the sixth time it has failed to reach 50 degrees in the 115 years of records for that station!

Is this a harbinger of our winter 2009-2010 weather? There is a great deal of uncertainty about the forecast for this winter as a moderate El Niño develops (suggesting wetter weather) combined with uncertainty as to whether the North Atlantic Oscillation will be in a positive mode or negative mode (suggesting colder weather). We are also experiencing an unusual sunspot minimum, which has caused much speculative discussion about an impact on climate. The bottom line is that carbon dioxide is steadily increasing in the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas and the global warming trend is upward, despite what happens in a given year in a given region.

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Piscataqua ship spotting …

At the October meeting of the Portsmouth Propeller Club, the speaker was retired pilot Dick Holt, Sr., who talked about his 45 years as a tugboat captain and pilot on the Piscataqua River. Dick's slides left no doubt that a pilot needs "the right stuff" and that the most dangerous part of the job for the pilot is the transfer from the tugboat to the larger vessel.

Pilot's view of the LPG tanker "Rhroud Enouss" (IMO 9284025) as it approaches the Mildred Long middle bridge. The ship is 672 feet long and 108 wide. Bridge vertical clearance is 135 feet. (courtesy of Dick Holt, Sr.)

The NOAA vessel S222, the Thomas Jefferson, which is used for coastal mapping, visited the port in October, a reminder that the Ferdinand R. Hassler, which is under construction, is expected to be completed in 2010 and will be home ported in New Castle.

NOAA surveying ship "Thomas Jefferson" docked at the State pier.

The Sichem Ruby (IMO 9344174) is a small 8,824 DWT chemical tanker with double hull and stainless steel tanks. The information available online gives a glimpse at the complexity of modern shipping operations. The vessel is owned by Fresh South Shipping S.A. of Japan, with Bernhard Schulte Ship Management India Pvt. Ltd. of India as the technical owner, and Eitzen Chemical Pte. Ltd. of Singapore as the commercial operator. The nationalities on board include: Filipino (master, officers, crew), Bangladeshi (officers), Indian (officers), and Burmese (crew).

Bow detail of the "Sichem Ruby" chemical tanker. Note the markings on the hull. We can see that the ship was previously named named the "Songa Ruby". The painted hull markings show it is drawing 5.8 meters (19 feet), that it has a bulbous bow, and that is has a bow thruster (partly worn circular mark).

The Hassi Messaoud 2 is in LPG tanker that regularly visits the Piscataqua, along with its sister ships the Alrar and Rhourd Enouss (pictured above).  See our March, 2008, report on Hassi Messaoud 2 and its LPG cargos.

The LPG tanker "Hassi Messaoud 2" making the turn at Henderson's Point in the Piscataqua, swinging not far from a moored sailboat.

The bulk carrier Atlantic Arrow (IMO 9296315) is flagged in Panama and was built in 2005 with a capacity of 28,653 DWT.

The bulk carrier "Atlantic Arrow" taking on a very full load of scrap metal at the State pier.

The USS Carter Hall is a dock landing ship designed to transport amphibious craft and crews. In this case it is here to take a 105-foot research submarine to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

The "USS Carter Hall" docked at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard with a Marine Patrol boat in the foreground.

The Sea Miror (IMO 8906846) is a bulk carrier, in this case delivering salt to Granite State Minerals in Portsmouth. It is flagged out of Valletta, Malta, was built in 1990 in Oshima, Japan, and has a capacity of 42,125 DWT.

The bulker "Sea Miror" offloading salt.

Then in contrast we have this Zodiac!

A Zodiac heading to a mooring with its canine passenger!

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Fall asters …

Following the goldenrods, asters are about the last flowers of the season, generally lasting until November near the shore. In Celia Thaxter's words:
The aster by the brook is dead
 And quenched the goldenrod's brief fire,
The maple's last red leaf is shed,
 And dumb the birds' sweet choir.
This is the first stanza in the poem "In Autumn," published in The Poems of Celia Thaxter.

For most wildflower identification in this area I recommend Marilyn Dwelley's wonderful guide, Summer & Fall Wildflowers of New England, supplemented with more detailed guides if needed. Two of the most common and easily identified asters in New Castle are the New England aster, with larger and brighter purple flower than most, and the heart-leaved aster, with pale purple flowers and heart-shaped leaves.

New England aster (Aster novae-angliae) flowers and leaves.

Heart-leaved aster (Aster cordifolius) flowers.

Heart-leaved aster (Aster cordifolius) leaves.

There are a great many species of aster, undistinguished in our casual glances, and it is an interesting challenge to learn to identify at least a few. Arieh Tal provides a key and guide. However, identifying asters is more demanding than goldenrods and a serious student will need to master some botanical terminology to effectively use the key.

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Fall foliage …

Virginia creeper.

Sugar maple turning yellow.

Pink spirea (Spiraea japonica).

Unusually red rugosa rose leaves.

Quick index to back issues of Saltines …



November, 2009