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Copper Cannon, Harrigan win Profile Awards

Copper Cannon Camp director Peter Christnacht accepts the 2010 Profile Award, designated for an organization, on behalf of the camp for New Hampshire children ages 9 to 16, of low-income families Sunday at the Seventh Annual Profile Awards Festival at the Peabody Lodge in Franconia State Park. Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
May 19, 2010
FRANCONIA NOTCH—Two of the 2010 Profile Awards were presented to North Country recipients Sunday afternoon at the newly expanded Peabody Lodge in Franconia Notch State Park.

Columnist and former newspaper publisher John Harrigan, of Colebrook, won the individual award; and Copper Cannon Camp in Franconia took home the award designated for an organization.

The third Profile Award was presented to the three below-the-notches towns that surround Lake Sunapee—New London, Newbury, and Sunapee—because of their unusual and successful efforts to work collaboratively with one another.

All three recipients reflect the qualities and values of the Old Man in the Mountain. The awards were established in the Old Man's memory in 2004. The winners were recognized for their work on behalf of the conservation or preservation of the state's natural resources and scenic beauty; preservation of its cultural, social, or political history, traditions, or structures; and leadership, particularly of a volunteer nature, in these areas and displaying the independence of thought and spirit symbolized by the Old Man in the Mountain.

Harrigan, who writes weekly columns for the Salmon Press Group papers of Meredith and the New Hampshire Sunday News, was the First Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 and won the Plymouth State University's Robert Frost Award, which recognizes singular New Hampshire personalities. He served as a volunteer on the landmark Northern Forest Lands Council as well as the Connecticut Lakes Partnership Task Force.

At one time, Harrigan owned both the Coös County Democrat, which was purchased in 2001 by Salmon Press, and The News and Sentinel in Colebrook, now owned by his daughter, Karen Harrigan Ladd.

Publisher Joe McQuaid of the Union Leader and Sunday News read the Award citation, and the 2009 recipient, Executive Director of the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire Frumie Selchen, of Tamworth, assisted in the presentation.

"John has become one of the best-known and most distinctive voices of the North Country in particular and of New Hampshire's great outdoors overall," McQuaid said. "He has been a consistent, clear voice for the maintenance, wise use, and preservation of the state's northern forest and lands."

In brief remarks made after he accepted the award, Harrigan said that he had been through the Notch many times throughout his life and had been shaped by it. He enjoys envisioning what it was like when under a mile or so of ice during the last great Ice Age and was up on the Old Man two or three times and saw some of the scrapes the glacier left behind. He dangled off the Old Man's forehead and also slipped on the very granular Conway granite, wearing down his fingernails to keep his grip and avoid a 400-foot fall, Harrigan recalled. The Notch divides two ways of life: "down below" and "up above" as well as two ecosystems and two plant and forest covers, he said.

"Now, everything is local. It's kind of funny; it always was," he noted.

Copper Cannon Camp was recognized with the 2010 Profile Award for an organization.

Legacy Fund board member Kimberly Beals, of North Conway, made the presentation, along with 2009 Award recipient Judi Window from the Granite State Ambassadors. Since 1963, Copper Cannon has enriched the lives of under-served low-income youth, aged 9 to 16 by providing a first-rate rustic outdoor camp experience, and are one of only a few camps in the nation to offer free tuition.

Camp director Peter Christnacht explained that 480 campers had attended Copper Cannon in 2009, and that the camp is also reaching out to military families. Hamilton "Ham" Ford founded the camp. A member of a very low-income household who attended a family camp when he was 10-years-old, "Ham," then in his 90s, told Christnacht it was there that he had experienced two 'firsts': seeing his mother smile, and having more than enough food on the table at three daily meals.

The trio of towns on Lake Sunapee won the award designated for municipalities. Legacy Fund executive assistant Maggie Stier presented the award, assisted by Beals. Not only do the town share natural and cultural resources, but also a very engaged citizenry, including numerous volunteers. The three town administrators meet weekly, and the towns' historical societies collaborate with the Barn Playhouse in shared programming as Partners Around Lake Sunapee (PALS).

President of the Legacy Fund Board of Directors Dick Hamilton, of Littleton, announced the sale of engraved granite pavers in three sizes and price points—$250, $500, and $1,000—to help fund Phase I of the planned monument to the Old Man. Seven new stainless steel "Profilers" will be installed to allow visitors to see the outline of the Old Man against the granite ledge some 1,500 feet above the Notch floor.

"We're very close to our goal of breaking ground on Phase I of the three-part memorial," he said. An economic impact study recently conducted by the Institute for New Hampshire Studies at Plymouth State University confirms that a new Old Man attraction would help restore tourism and the lost revenues resulting from far fewer visitors that followed the icon's collapse, discovered on the morning of May 3, 2003.

Hamilton said, "I'm sad to say that no funds for the monument memorializing the state's icon will come from the state." He thanked the Mount Washington Hotel and McDonald's for their outstanding monetary contributions, as well as to the many others who have contributed to the Legacy Fund (www.oldmanofthemountainlegacyfund.com) or P.O. Box 375, Concord, NH 03302-375.

The host of the awards ceremony and reception was Franconia Notch State Park general manager John DeVivo. Artist Andre Belanger, of Berlin, was commissioned in 1994 to fabricate the three identical granite and birch wood awards, that feature a thick glass medallion engraved with the rugged features of the Old Man. Each recipient is provided with a handsome white carrying and storage case, and each year the previous winners return their awards so they can be transferred to new winners. A plaque will soon go up in the Tramway Lodge to commemorate all the winners in each category.

Frank Grima, president of the Franconia Chamber of Commerce and board member of the Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund, thanked everyone for coming. The Franconia Chamber, the Lincoln-Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, and the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce as well as the Franconia State Park sponsored the Awards Festival.

A lively blues group from Monroe, The Back Shed String Band, played music during the event and band member Mary Choate sang her original composition, "The Old Man."

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