Hard to find consensus

Monadnock Region as divided over health care reform as the rest of U.S.

By Casey Farrar
Sentinel Staff
Published Sunday, August 30, 2009
While debate about health care reform swirls in the halls of Congress and in town hall-style meetings across the country, people in the Monadnock Region have been weighing in as well, sending letters to local newspapers and calling their legislators.

The viewpoints are as varied as the people discussing them.

What is often seen as a black-and-white, partisan debate among political heavy-hitters has dozens of shades of gray among everyday people, whose feelings are colored by their own personal experiences with the health care system.

The Sentinel has collected four such voices on the debate, each with their own take on the matter: Continue reading

Marlborough woman works to change Social Security law

By Casey Farrar
Sentinel Staff
Published Friday, August 28, 2009
MARLBOROUGH — Before Joyce “Joy” Diemond Herrick lost her battle with a rare form of liver cancer this month, her daughter Kimberley R. Diemond of Marlborough made her a promise.

She would push for a bill being considered by federal lawmakers to eliminate a mandatory five-month waiting period that barred her mother from receiving Social Security disability benefits.

In June, Diemond contacted several lawmakers including U.S. Rep. Paul W. Hodes, D-N.H., who signed on last month as the latest sponsor of the bill that would exempt terminally ill patients from the waiting period.

Diemond says she’s fighting for the bill’s passage so that other families facing terminal illness won’t encounter the financial problems hers did.

“I hope it will alleviate some of the stress a person with a terminal illness has and it will give them the resources when they need it,” she said. Continue reading

Shaheen meetings targeted

Activists, staffers clash over format
By Casey Farrar
Sentinel Staff
Published Sunday, August 09, 2009
A slew of town-hall style public forums on health care hosted by Democratic legislators across the country this summer have stirred up some heated debate.

Earlier this week, White House officials counseled Democratic senators on how to cope with orchestrated disruptions from opponents confronting them about President Barack Obama’s health reform proposals during the forums.

Recently, activists in the Granite State have used a similar approach at meetings with staff members for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in communities including Grafton and Keene.

Shaheen staffers say they’ve been scheduling office hours to allow constituents to talk with them one-on-one about individual issues — not as public forums.

But messages on a handful of Web sites for conservative and liberal groups alike have dubbed them town-hall forums, with some even implying that Shaheen would be present, according to Michael A. Vlacich, state director to Shaheen.

And demonstrators have shown up carrying video cameras and demanding to be allowed access to private meetings between constituents and staff members, Vlacich said.

A group of activists, including some members of the Free State Project — an effort to recruit 20,000 people who prefer limited government to live in New Hampshire — showed up at Keene City Hall during scheduled office hours Friday morning.

They say they came because it was billed as a public event and they don’t understand why Shaheen representative Pamela Russell Slack (who is also a Keene city councilor) turned them away without meeting with them.
Continue reading

Fresh air

Balloon pilot drops in on couple
By Casey Farrar
Sentinel Staff
Published Sunday, August 09, 2009
What do you do when a man in a rainbow-striped hot air balloon floating near your house calls down to ask if he can land in your yard?

If you’re Kelly J. Turcotte and Scott F. Lafalam of Keene you say, “Come on down.”

That’s just what happened early Saturday morning when Keene’s Stephen P. McGrath, who has been flying his balloon for more than two decades, took his 15-year-old daughter Megan and a former classmate out for a ride.

While McGrath is used to the stares of curious onlookers as he floats overhead, he drew quite a crowd Saturday when he landed on the lawn of the Hastings Avenue home.
Continue reading

Report: shooting was justified

By Casey Farrar
Sentinel Staff
Published Saturday, August 08, 2009
The state trooper injured in a fatal shootout in a Charlestown camper last summer didn’t know who was inside or that the man was armed with a gun when he entered, according to a final report released Friday by the state Attorney General’s Office.

The report concluded that N.H. State Police Trooper Phillip Gaiser and Springfield (N.H.) Police Chief Timothy Julian, commander of the Western N.H. Special Operations Unit, were justified in the fatal shooting of 53-year-old Anthony “Tony” Jarvis Sr.

But it referred further review of the decisions that led to entering the camper and the tactics used during the shooting to the N.H. Police Standards and Training Council. That report is expected to be released Aug. 25.

The July 26, 2008 shooting occurred after authorities arrested Anthony Jarvis’ son, Jesse D. Jarvis, who was wanted on charges tied to the theft of a German flag, an assault and probation violation, and his girlfriend, Desiree Wright, who was wanted for forgery.

The 28-page report prepared by the Attorney General’s Office revealed that Gaiser was chosen by Julian to be the first officer to enter the camper because he and an officer handling a police canine were the only ones near the camper who had Tasers.

Gaiser told investigators he had only been told about Jesse Jarvis during a five minute briefing in the parking lot of the Charlestown Police Department before the incident. He was not aware that authorities believed Anthony Jarvis could be on the property and may be armed with a gun, Gaiser said.

The report also showed that Julian, who was leading the operation, had not seen a copy of the warrant and believed that it included searches for Jesse Jarvis, Wright and a gun police suspected Jesse Jarvis had.

Julian said he didn’t know Anthony Jarvis was armed and thought all the buildings and vehicles on the property had to be searched.
Continue reading

It’s all in the cards

By Casey Farrar
Sentinel Staff
Published Saturday, August 08, 2009
Running a cash-only business in a growing era of plastic-flashing consumers can be tough.

Just ask Timoleon “Lindy” Chakalos, owner of Timoleon’s Restaurant on Keene’s Main Street.

“We’ve had whole groups walk out in the past, you know, business groups, families,” when they realized the restaurant didn’t accept credit or debit cards, Chakalos said.

“That’s a lot of business to lose.”

Which is part of the reason Chakalos took the step last month of arranging to accept credit and debit cards.

Mainly, Chakalos says, he’d gotten a lot of requests from many of the local regulars who make up his breakfast and lunch crowd and felt it would help his business.

“The local people like it because they don’t carry cash, especially the businesspeople,” he said. “But also all of the out-of-towners carry cards.”

And while he says he’ll need at least six months to know for sure, he thinks the move has already been a boon for business.

What Chakalos also doesn’t yet know is whether the increase in business will offset the costs associated with credit and debit cards.
Continue reading

Dublin soldier improving

By CASEY FARRAR

Published August 6, 2009

Dublin soldier Matthew Katka is steadily improving after suffering a head injury  last month in Afghanistan, his family says.

Last week, Katka, 20, was moved from Bethesda (Md.) Naval Hospital to Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Va., where he’s undergoing about six hours of therapy a day.
 
He’s able to walk, talk and, despite occasional lapses when he tries to think of certain words, his memory is intact, says his mother, Ellen J. Katka.

“It’s been really exciting,” Ellen Katka said Wednesday of her son’s recovery. “Yesterday was a superb day.”

“He was up early, joking with the doctors, walking around.”

Katka was injured after his unit was attacked during a patrol in Afghanistan’s southeastern Paktika Province. A bullet or shrapnel from a blast glanced off his helmet, fracturing his skull.

Continue reading