Albany Town Column: Hearing scheduled on Pine Knoll site plan

By Mary Leavitt and Dorothy Solomon
A public hearing will be held Dec. 12 on a review of the site plan for Huttopia Properties LLC. This land is known as Pine Knoll Campground and is under new management. Site plans for this application are available for viewing at Albany Town Office.
Gibson Center: Join with friends for games, music and fun Mondays and Thursdays after lunch.
Angels and Elves need sponsors for local children. Parents or guardians can obtain forms by visiting Elf Headquarters in Settlers Crossing. They will be there until Dec. 16.
Now is the time to get your Christmas trees. Lot of places have trees ready now, along with wreaths, roping and kissing balls — all to decorate your home. The U.S. Forest Service usually allow you to cut a Christmas tree for a $5 fee. The fresher the tree, the longer it will keep. You can test the freshness of a pre-cut tree by seeing if the needles are flexible. When you get your tree home, cut off about one and a half in inches so it will absorb water. Water the tree daily. Keep it out of direct sun, heat and fans that will dry it out. Be sure all lights you put on it are in good working order.
On Saturday, Tin Mountain Conservation Center at 7 p.m. will have a program on owls. It will start with a brief presentation on owl adaptations and identification. Then you will go out to look for owls. It should be a good evening, as it should be almost a full moon.
Santa's Holiday Express will be running Dec. 11 and 17. This is an interesting train ride for the children with Santa and his elves. Departures from North Conway train station are is at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. There is hot chocolate and cookies for everyone.
There will be holiday music put on by the First Church of Christ in North Conway. The program is for 7 p.m. on Dec. 18. Organ and brass music will be performed by Ray Cornils. Suggested donation is $15. Children with adults get in free.

Tamworth Town Column: 'Tis the season for crafts and music

By Ann McGarity

Tamworth was bustling with several Christmas fairs on Saturday, and I spent much of the day admiring the many crafts available at various locations, including Union Hall, where I was greeted warmly by Santa and bid on the silent auction. Over at The Community School, Director Lianne Prentice welcomed visitors to the school's popular Christmas Fair with its traditional decorated theme trees offered in a silent auction. Talented crafts people displayed items, including needle work, jewelry and pottery. I followed a delicious aroma to the kitchen and ordered curried pumpkin soup and grilled cheese sandwich and was lucky enough to sit with Jay Rancourt and her two grandchildren. Jay, former director of Cook Memorial Library, is often seen around Tamworth, clearly enjoying her retirement, which has given her more time to travel and pursue her art. This seems to be a good time to mention that Jay is exhibiting some of her paintings at Cook Library until the end of December.

Jay spent time at Haystack School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine, this last August. This exhibition of gelatin prints includes both her work and that of other Haystack students. Gelatin prints are monotypes, some are modified by added media applications. She plans to teach a series of book arts workshops in January and February, which include gelatin prints, accordion books, flag books and paste paper. There is no charge for the workshops, which must be registered for individually. Stop by the library for more information.
A merry group of about 20 carolers walked from house to house singing, then gathered around the cheery bonfire-in-a-bowl Dannie Wasson had made outside Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes, joining the group already there. Tamworth fire trucks had been called to an emergency on Route 16, so Santa was a little tardy, and eventually arrived via police car. The tree lights were lit to loud cheers, and everyone climbed the stairs to a wonderful party at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes. Special thanks to Mark Smith for supplying the tree and Karl Behr and the Tamworth Outing Club for setting it up and decorating it; to Betty Wasson, Pat Cook and Barbara Walker for the great refreshments; to Becky VerPlanck for the cheerful piano music; to Santa; and to all involved.

Effingham Town Column: Library books Santa for Dec. 17

By Henry Spencer
On Dec. 17, Santa will be visiting our library. It seems the mail box set up in Taylor City has proven to Santa that the young folks from Effingham deserve a bit of the personal touch, so he will be at the library to listen directly to whispered wish lists. In celebration of the big visit, there will be snacks on hand for both the hopeful and their drivers. Games will be involved, too; possibly elves will be on hand if they can be spared from preparing the sleigh for the big night. So, if there are young people in your house who want to be assured that the man of the hour is fully aware of those things wanted, stop by so they can let him know that not only are certain things desired but that they've been at least good enough be on his list.
Here's a philosophical question. When in your life did you realize that thinking about what others might want, saving up to get it, buying it and giving it all came together to be better than getting something yourself? There are certain annual things any local reporter writes about from year to year. Foliage is a big one, maple syrup is another, and, of course, there's town meeting and voting. But for your reporter, the best repetitive item every year is thinking about the deeper reason for Christmas. Christ was born. Exactly how we all went from there to Santa kissing momma under the tree can be seen as base commercialism of a spiritual event, or upon deeper reflection can be seen as the outstanding effect of all having received the biggest gift ever. There is this one stone in the foundation that supports it all. Giving. We are all aware that those who followed that original star brought gifts in celebration, from things of value to things of a more ephemeral nature. But whatever the gift brought by others to the Child, the greatest gift that day, or any other, was the Child Himself, the offer of a key to your soul, the gift of unlocking all of our better natures and all that has ever been asked of us has been to receive it.
Take a minute from the rush and bustle and reflect that all the lights and ornaments, the frenetic activity, the shopping and buying, the cookies and cakes started with a gift given. A gift that only needs to be taken up, brought into our heart to reside and illuminate; to be used every day of your life. Just like a present that can be lost under all the torn paper of Christmas morning, mislaid behind empty boxes, the Gift can be lost to sight, forgotten by memory, but it still there. One just needs to remember it was given.
That's it for this year's Christmas message. Apologies extended for my taking advantage of knowing there are those who at least start reading this article every week, but as they say, "the reason for the season" and all that isn't about getting, it is about giving. All I can give everyone is the reminder to remember.
Henry Spencer can be reached at (603) 539-4964 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 

Library Connection: Finding the truth in the news

There has been a lot of talk about "fake news" and the impact it has had on America's election, the public's every day influences and belief systems. The free press allows readers and writers the privilege and freedom to share information, opinions, rumors and satire, while giving the reader the responsibility of taking in or interpreting these through different lenses and deciphering the truth.

In an age of social media and 24-hour news sources, our information intake can seem constant. How do we sift through this information to find unbiased truth and disregard the rest?

The library is a great place to start in finding reputable resources and tools for finding them. EBSCO Explora is an online resource available through Conwaypubliclibrary.org. It provides a wealth of well-researched articles, including on the topic of media literacy. It may be accessed in the library with the assistance of a librarian or from the comfort of home.

Accredited universities often put out articles outlining their latest research such as Stanford's, "Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning," an executive summary, Stanford history education group, produced with the support of the Robert R. Mccormick Foundation.

Organizations such as the Digital Resource Center provides a wealth of information teaching media literacy, including evidence-based lesson plans and free courses to take online. For example, "Deconstructing a Viral Video" may be downloaded and read from this site.

The School Library Journal released an article by Joyce Valenzia in late November entitled, "Truth Truthiness Triangulation: A News Literacy Toolkit for a 'Post Truth' World." Valenzia talks about "challenges and responsibilities faced by professional journalists, and how over the past decade we've seen professional news organizations and governments struggle with the politics and potentially loaded words, notably terrorist and illegal immigrant." Valenzia talks about the importance of implementing media literacy and civics in school-based curriculum in order to equip students to take in information critically and wisely. She attaches a link to a youth-friendly video that outlines the history and development of news sources and how information has expanded to varying points of view. The video goes on to give tips on how to "choose your news." It's a useful piece to show a teen which can then serve as a discussion tool.

Whether you are an educator, parent, news or social media junkie, or just somebody looking for ways to sift through information to find the truths that speak to you, come to the Conway Public library. Friendly staff will be glad to help you get on the right track.

For information about the Conway Public Library call (603) 447-5552, "like" the Facebook page, go to www.conwaypubliclibrary.org or call (603) 447-5552.