Capital Comments: Mollica nominated to chair NH Liquor Commission

By State Senator Bob Odell

Last week seemed filled with bits and pieces of positive news for our region.

Joe Mollica, the former owner of One Mile West, the restaurant on Route 103 in Sunapee, was nominated by Governor John Lynch to be the next Chairman of the Liquor Commission.  He will be confirmed by the current but outgoing Executive Council at a special meeting called by the Governor for Dec. 20.

Joe was named to the three member commission last year and for a time he was the only active commissioner.  Shortly after taking office in December of 2009, the commission chair, Mark Bodi, went on paid leave.  His situation was clarified recently when the Executive Council voted to keep him on the commission but not as chairman.  The third commissioner, who has since passed away, resigned after he was arrested on a driving and drinking charge.   Joe proved his leadership during those very trying days at the commission and is respected in Concord.

And interestingly, both of the other commissioners, Mark Bodi and Earl Sweeney, talked to me about encouraging the Governor to name their colleague to be the commission’s chair.   You can be assured I was happy to do so.

Joe will take on his new role upon his confirmation on Dec. 20. His term will run through Jan. 3, 2013.

It was in the fall of 2000 during my campaign for a seat in the House of Representatives that Rep. Beverly Rodeschin (Newport) invited me to a reception in Canaan to meet Rep. Gene Chandler who was trying to become the next Speaker.  Chandler was going around the state rounding up support from candidates for the House who might win their upcoming elections.  Rep. Chandler was successful and went on to serve as Speaker.

Rep.  Rodeschin’s loyal support of Gene Chandler was there again as he ran for Speaker this year.  Beverly’s support was steadfast right up until the House Republicans caucused a few weeks ago and chose Rep. Bill O’Brien (Mont Vernon) as their candidate for the speakership.  The new speaker announced his leadership team last week and who near the top?  Beverly Rodeschin.  In spite of Rep. Rodeschin’s support for Chandler, the new Speaker looked beyond    the Speaker’s race and named Rep. Rodeschin as one of his five assistant majority leaders.  This is recognition of Beverly’s hard work in the House over 20 years and her ability to work within the caucus to move legislation forward.

Leadership positions in the House come not only with specific assignments, they also give a legislator a seat at the coveted leadership table where critical decisions are made.

Congratulations to Joe and Beverly on their new appointments and leadership positions in Concord.

The Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, better known as LCHIP, announced matching grants to 24 projects across New Hampshire.   There were five grants for projects in the 8th district reflecting the quality of the grant applications and the value of the projects to protection of the quality of life we all enjoy.  Projects conserve unique pieces of land or help preserve valuable historic buildings.

One project will help protect 1,025 acres of the Black Mountain Forest in Sutton and Bradford.  Other grants include:  The Acworth Conservation Commission funding for the  purchase of 83 acres of the Desbien Forest; the Langdon Heritage Commission received a grant to repair the chimney in their 1801 building; the Park Hill Meeting House Society in Westmoreland received a grant to repair and paint their 1764 building; and, the Washington Conservation Commission received a grant to purchase a conservation easement on 135 acres of woodlands at the Eccardt Farm, an ongoing agriculture operation.

LCHIP has limited funds which are derived from $25 recording fees charged on some real estate transactions through our county registries.  In the last two biennial budgets, the Governor and the legislature have taken money from LCHIP to help balance the state’s budget.   There are many grant requests for limited money so local projects must be well conceived and provide for the very important match by sponsoring organizations.  This round of grants totaled $1.59 million of the total value of $28 million for the projects selected.  You can see LCHIP only helps with projects; most of the work and fund-raising remains a local responsibility.

Those who celebrate Christmas often have annual events that help them kick off their family’s Christmas season.  For me, it starts with the annual performances of The Area Choir, which were held earlier this month.  My neighbors, Jim and Mary Grenier pick up me and possibly others, we meet more people at the South Church in Newport, and try to arrive in time for good seats.  It worked out this year as we got the first row.

The 2010 edition of The Area Choir was its 57th offering to the community.   For a good idea to be maintained over nearly six decades proves the quality of the performances and the importance of The Area Choir to region.  Congratulations to Musical Director, David Chaves, and all the singers, performers and volunteers who make this wonderful contribution to the Christmas season.

In spite of the weather, I also enjoyed sharing “The Nutcracker” at the Claremont Opera House with two granddaughters, Eleanor and Finley, for the first time on the weekend.  May the joys of the season continue for you and your family.

Bob Odell represents State Senate District 8—Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Claremont, Gilsum, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, Marlow, New London, Newbury, Newport, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Sunapee, Sutton, Unity, Walpole, Washington and Westmoreland.

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