October 31, 2012WHITEFIELD — Governor John Lynch was at the Mountain View Grand last week for the 39th annual meeting of the North Country Council (NCC). In addition to distinguished guests, the festivities included dinner, exhibits, and great North Country conversation.
The NCC serves communities in the northern part of the state. The organization works with municipalities on planning, conservation, and economic opportunity.
NCC Board President Benoit Lamontagne thanked the partners that sponsored the annual meeting. He also praised the NCC staff, including Executive Director Michael King and Jeffery Hayes, Assistant Executive Director. Lamontagne then noted "our newest employee," former Lisbon town manager Regan Pride.
At the beginning of his remarks, Lynch showed an affinity for the North Country. "I'm delighted to be here in paradise," he said.
Lynch then read a proclamation to recognize Mary Sloat. She has served North Country communities for 40 years, Lynch noted. Sloat, the proclamation declares, "has worked tirelessly on behalf of the citizens of the North Country and has contributed greatly to the region's growth."
Sloat's service includes the NCC board, Northumberland planning board, and other civic organizations. She was a Cannon Mountain ski instructor from 1988 to 1998, and managed Lancaster's Weeks State Park for several years in the 1990s.
The governor then talked about New Hampshire's high rankings in several national lists. These include the top spot for livability and the state to raise a family. Both the North Country and the state have low high school dropout rates, Lynch added.
With the Berlin biomass plant and the mill in Groveton, Lynch said business opportunity was expanding in the region. "The North Country is on an upward spiral," he concluded.
Lynch was happy to present such news, although the retiring chief executive noted that he was about to "go off into pasture."
George Bald, Commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED), was another retiring official to speak. The commissioner has served in his post since 1998. Although he joked that the department might not have a good acronym, Bald noted the crucial linkage between the environment and economic growth.
Bald was very proud that natural resources and the economy are linked in his department. DRED, Bald said, is "constantly making sure that we balance that." He also noted DRED's work with partners like the U.S. Forest Service.
When discussing NCC, Bald said, "I'm encouraged by the optimism in the North Country." He was very happy to work with NCC during his tenure, Bald said.
Paul Grenier, mayor of Berlin, praised Lynch and Bald for their assistance to the city. Both were tireless in their efforts to help Berlin and surrounding towns, Grenier said.
The Republican who hopes to succeed Lynch carried on the positive tone during the evening. Ovide Lamontagne praised the Governor during short remarks. "Governor Lynch is a friend of mine," he told the crowd. "I commend him for his service to our state."
During the evening, Chuck Henderson, from Senator Jeanne Shaheen's office, read a statement from the state's senior Senator. Shaheen praised both Lynch and Bald. "We will all long remember their exemplary leadership," the statement said.
Representative Charles Bass stopped by to observe the evening's festivities. In a short speech, Bass thanked the NCC for its devotion to the North Country.
Senator Kelly Ayotte's office was also represented at the NCC dinner. Executive Councilor Ray Burton received a warm round of applause when he was introduced.
Although politicians and candidates were at the NCC meeting, politics was not their focus. Rather, dozens gathered to celebrate our region. The looming election almost felt irrelevant. All seemed content that the spotlight belonged to the North Country.