In Times Past —It’s in the mail—

“Whether great or small, a post office was the visible form of the Federal Government in every community and to every citizen. Its hand is the only one that touches the local life, the social interests, and business concerns of every neighborhood.”—John Wanamaker, Postmaster General, 1889-1893.
In 2019, the U.S. Postal Service delivered 143 billion pieces of mail to 160 million addresses, including 46 million rural destinations. Additionally, it operated 31,000 local post offices.
That year at least 1.3 billion of those pieces of mail were Christmas cards, and many of the packages held Christmas gifts. In 2020, about 64 million were ballots, representing a pivotal role in the recent General Election.
This column, the first of two on the subject, explores the development of the postal system, including its impact on local communities. The information comes from newspapers, books and online sources on the history of both the national postal system and those of our two states.

Geraghty-Moats wins World Cup event

RAMSAU, AUSTRIA—West Fairlee resident Tara Geraghty-Moats realized a childhood dream on Friday when she bested 31 other competitors to win the first ever women’s FIS World Cup Nordic combined meet in Ramsau, Austria.
Geraghty-Moats was sixth after the jumping segment of the competition, but she took the top spot on the World Cup podium by reeling in Norway’s Gyda Westvold Hansen over the 5K cross-country ski race that made up the second part of the event. Considering Geraghty-Moats’ amazing journey to the top of the heap in women’s Nordic combined, two words come to mind: perseverance and dedication.

Board backs fan ban

WOODSVILLE—The Haverhill Cooperative School Board reversed course on Monday night and voted to prohibit spectators from indoor winter sports.
In October, SAU-23 Superintendent Laurie Melanson told school board members that in light of an increase in COVID-19 cases throughout the region she was hesitant to permit fans at indoor sports, such as high school basketball at the Bagonzi Community Building, during the winter.
The next month, after some public input however, board members voted to allow two to three fans per home athlete as long as those fans could adhere to social distancing requirements, according to minutes of the Nov. 9 meeting.

Jet causes buzz near airport

NORTH HAVERHILL—In terms of volume, Dean Memorial Airport in North Haverhill is no O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.
With approximately 3,000 takeoffs and landings per year, Dean Memorial is one of the smallest public airports in New Hampshire. Heck, it’s not even Lebanon Municipal, which has approximately 40,000 takeoffs and landings each year.
So, it should not come as a surprise that at least a few people in North Haverhill were astir last week as news spread that a jet aircraft with its landing gear down approached the sleepy little airport off of Route 116 in what appeared to be an attempted landing.

Upcoming vote will decide district’s fate

NEWBURY—There will be an informational meeting next week ahead of a critical vote in Newbury that could have wide-ranging impacts.
A vote to withdraw Newbury from the Oxbow Unified Union School District will conclude on Dec. 29. The polls will be open that day, but voters can also participate via absentee ballot.
An informational hearing on the special meeting article, hosted by the Newbury Selectboard, will be held via Zoom on Dec. 21 at 6 p.m.

Solar array goes dark

BRADFORD—The developers behind an embattled solar array on the Lower Plain have turned the lights off.
Earlier this month, Bradford Solar, LLC asked the Vermont Public Utilities Commission to withdraw its application “with prejudice.” The move comes a little over a month after a hearing officer issued a 68-page decision recommending that the application get denied by the full PUC.
Last year, the former owner of the Bradford Mini-Mart filed a petition with the Vermont Public Utilities Commission seeking approval to construct a a 500-kilowatt, ground-mounted array on a 2-acre hayfield next to the gas station and convenience store. Cairns Brothers Realty Partnership owns the property, which is located between NAPA Auto Parts and the Mini-Mart on Route 25 not far from the I-91 interchange.

Oxbow doubles down on budget plan

BRADFORD—Voters in Bradford and Newbury will be asked to approve the same budget they rejected last month.
As the Oxbow Unified Union School District completes the first half of its fiscal year without an approved budget, the six members of its school board are preparing for their fourth attempt to pass a spending plan.
They set a new vote for Jan. 13, 2021.

Board balks at discontinuing roads

NORTH HAVERHILL—The Haverhill Selectboard largely ruled out a proposal to discontinue town maintenance of several roads during its meeting on Monday night.
Last month, Haverhill Town Manager Brigitte Codling asked board members to consider warning several warrant articles for town meeting asking voters to discontinue maintenance of several local roads with three or less residences on them.

BMU preps budget plan

WELLS RIVER—A draft 2021-2022 Blue Mountain Union budget plan is down slightly from the current year.
School board members received an early glimpse of the proposal during a regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 2. They plan on holding two meetings next month to finalize a plan before sending it to voters.

Algae blooms prompt public warnings

FAIRLEE—The Fairlee Town Beach is closed until ice-in after late-season cyanobacteria blooms continue to plague Lake Morey.
At the selectboard meeting on Nov. 30, Fairlee Town Administrator Tad Nunez said that he had been in touch with state officials who said there is no elevated public health risk. Still he wants to let people know to keep their dogs from swimming in the water and from entering the water themselves.