CHEERS to having a place to call one’s own, and the opportunity to do so being given to 10 veterans in Danville.
A ceremonial ribbon was cut last week on an expansion of the Rock Rimmon Cooperative, a community in the process of adding 10 manufactured homes reserved for veterans. So far, three of the 500-square-foot homes are occupied, while another three are in the process of being sold. Four more will be available after that.
Each has a single bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen, and sells for under $50,000. With $250 down, veterans who occupy the new homes will pay less than $200 per month — not including rent for a lot at Rock Rimmon — which is far less than they would spend on an apartment.
The project is organized by the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund and Harbor Homes, a multifaceted Nashua-based nonprofit that works to find transitional housing for homeless vets, as well as options for permanent housing, through its Veterans FIRST program. “We were galvanized into action when we learned that veterans were ready to leave supportive housing but couldn’t because there were no affordable places to move to,” said Juliana Eades, president of the Community Loan Fund, in a statement. “These veterans deserve better housing opportunities.”
Rep. Chris Pappas, on hand for the ribbon-cutting, noted the housing crunch in southern New Hampshire works against people who deserve better. “We’re talking about individuals who put everything on the line for our country,” he said. Hopefully the Rock Rimmon project is just the first of many like it.
JEERS to waning interest in politics, at least in Lawrence. There won’t be a citywide preliminary election for local offices next month because, for the first time in anyone’s memory, they’re aren’t enough candidates to force one.
As staff writer Bill Kirk reported last week, three at-large seats on the City Council are open, and six candidates have qualified to contest them. There are two qualified candidates in each ward except District C, where there are three. A preliminary will be held, but only in that ward, to winnow the field to two.
Interest in the School Committee, which is mostly a ceremonial group since the state Department of Education and its appointed commission are receivers of local schools, is even more tepid.
The thin ballot was met with surprise at last week’s council meeting, as Kirk reported, mostly from City Clerk Bill Maloney. “This is the first time in my 14-year tenure as city clerk that I’m invoking state law to cancel the preliminary elections, except for Ward C,” he told the council. “There aren’t a sufficient number of candidates to justify a preliminary election.”
The good news, at least from the perspective of the city’s budget, is that scratching the election will save about $70,000 that would have been spent opening the polls and counting the votes.
On the other hand, it will sap some enthusiasm from the political season that picks up after Labor Day. Even long-shot candidates, who only make the ballot by virtue of their persistence collecting signatures, can raise important topics and questions in a campaign. Certainly they make it more fun.
Alas, voters everywhere in Lawrence except District C will have wait until November to go to the polls. Councilor Pavel Payano suggested throwing off the rhythms of the campaign season like this could cause some people to forget to vote in the general election. Let's hope that isn’t the case.
Finally, a JEERS to the summertime pests that bring not only their itchy, annoying bites but now the potential for harmful disease as well.
Within the past week the town of Pelham sprayed fields, parks and schools for mosquitoes following the discovery of Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Similar spraying is expected in Andover this coming week after EEE was found in a mosquito in town.
The virus is potentially deadly. While it usually causes flu-like symptoms in people — headache, fever, muscle aches, etc. — a more serious version causes swelling of the brain. To be sure, it poses more of a danger than West Nile, which is also borne by mosquitoes.
“People need to take steps to prevent mosquito bites,” said New Hampshire state epidemiologist Benjamin Chan, “including avoiding being outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, wearing protective clothing, using an effective mosquito repellent on exposed skin, and removing standing water from around the home where mosquitoes reproduce.“
All of us would be wise to take heed — and to cross our fingers that fall and the first frost come early.