Editor Letters

Letter to the Editor – What Small Towns Are About

I, as a resident of town for 54 years, have never experienced anything like this. I happily attended Lincoln Akerman 4 years, then HAJH 2 and Winnacunnet 2, graduating early. I received a wonderful education and loved and was loved by my teachers, principal and other parents. My mother used to be an ‘at home mom’ who would come get sick kids if their parents were working and they were too sick to stay in the principal’s office, I don’t remember a school nurse, certainly we did not have one full time. My mother, a doctor, pitched in to help when needed! My mother used to come pick us up after school and would pack her station wagon as full as possible with other kids who needed a ride home.

That is what a small town is all about. One of my biggest regrets was not having kids in Lincoln Akerman so I could stay part of that community. The school has become an island in itself with only certain residents allowed. Being against a large school expansion does not mean I am against repairing and upgrading the present school. Shame on whomever was responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the school since the last addition. You should know better than letting a building deteriorate as LAS has. Ask for and you would have received the money to keep the school in ‘good working repair’. Now look at the mess. Well you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, if your child misbehaves you don’t send them packing. Our school and our children are an asset to the town but instead of providing them with a safe, efficient environment to learn you have now deprived 5 graduating classes as you continue to insist on a project which has been voted down 5 times. We are very willing to meet you somewhere in the middle but not for $10 million! And for you to imply that your option would be cheaper than Article 2 only shows that you are proposing to let the new additions fall apart as you have the rest of the school. Shame.

And then to imply that our current town employees and elected officials are somehow corrupt and are not working in the best interest of the whole town is ludicrous! I have donated my time to the Planning Board for 26 years, following my mother’s 10+ years on the board! I volunteer at the library gardens, I donated most of the flowers around the town hall and library. AND was paid to be Conservation Commission Secretary and I am Deputy Tax Collector. If you think I do all of this for the money, you are wrong. I paid more for my mother’s caretaker so I could come in and work at town. That is all for the love of this town. I am sickened and saddened by the division that has occurred. I know first hand that we, the town paid staff and volunteers are working as quickly and efficiently as possible. We do not do it for any other reason than our love of town.

We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done
so much, with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.
– Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Mother Teresa, the biggest proponent of peace and harmony would request that we all take a step back and find a way to get along. I, for one, would be very
happy to sit down with anyone who has any ideas how we can get the two sides together, perhaps over a drink and a handshake? What do you say?

Abby Tonry

Categories: Editor Letters

2 replies »

  1. Hi Abby, Thanks for the note. As you may know I have been on the School Board for the last two years and I have been a proponent of the school project for the last five years. We met I believe in year two of the proposed bond. I agree with your sentiment that the town needs to heal the divide. I do disagree however with your insinuation that the current school board is responsible for the disrepair of the school and that the school board is responsible for the investigation that is now taking place at the town hall.

    The current school board and the previous school board have made many repairs to the school. In fact, we have spent over $1,000,000 on many fixes including a new sprinkler system, two new roofs, window replacements, and this year electrical upgrades, amongst a large list of other repairs. Many of these repairs were delayed over the last 10 to 15 years because there were active committees in town researching the impact of the space needs at our school. At one time we considered moving the school to the Starvish property. Because there was consideration of moving the school, many of the repairs were put on hold. Once the decision was made to maintain the current school and look to add much needed space, many of the fixes were included in those plans. However, every year that the bond has failed, many repairs have been made on an annual basis. This has certainly negatively impacted our taxes, but at least the repairs are being made.

    Now however we are forced to address the critical need for space. Because the bond continues to fail, despite the majority of the vote (56.3% this year), the school board is forced to address space on an annual basis. This is unfortunate and costly, but unfortunately it is necessary.

    I get that you had a great experience at LAS. I also agree that LAS is a great school with great teachers and parental support. The fact is however, that education has changed dramatically since you and I were in school. Technology has changed. The workforce has changed. And these changes are happening at dramatic rates. The way students are taught today is far different then how we were taught. If we do not address these changes then our great little school will fall behind. Hampton Academy is the prefect local example. That school was asking for the exact changes that LAS is looking for and requires.

    Lastly, I realize you have volunteered for this town for a long time and that is much appreciated. There are many great volunteers in this town, both in the town hall, on the school board and on many other committees in town. We are one community, school and town. The school absolutely is not an island and is welcoming to all.

    Abby, I am hopeful that this town will heal soon. I am also hopeful that our school will eventually get the space that it needs to be competitive. I am working hard to achieve both. In the meantime, I would gladly take you up on getting together to discuss the school or the town.

    Mark Lane

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  2. Mark, in order to heal, the town has to move past this last election. Part of the on-going discord comes from this belief that voters were suppressed or mislead resulting in low voter turnout–a claim that is simply not true. We saw one of the highest voter turnouts to date. Also in high numbers were the number of people who didn’t vote for or against certain ballot questions–and we need to recognize the statement that those abstained voters are making. We need the leaders in the community, whether in town or in the school, to stand up and put an end to this by ratifying the election results and moving on to new business. This is essential to achieve the healing that you mention above. The time to campaign was prior to March 16th, and now we need to move on. As the chair of the schoolboard and as a resident in town, will you stand with the people in this town like Abby, to acknowledge that the results are valid and move on to the issues that we can come together on and address?

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