Tele-Talk: Should the Conway School Board continue to sanction educational trips abroad for Kennett High students?

A week after several Kennett High students found themselves in the vicinity of a shooting in Paris on April 20, most Conway School Board members said they believe it's still safe for students to travel abroad for educational trips. But one board member disagreed. "Europe is a war zone," said Mark Hounsell, "and I'm not going to vote to send one of our students into a war zone."

This week's Tele-Talk: Should the Conway School Board continue to sanction educational trips abroad for Kennett High students?

Call 733-5822 Saturday and Sunday and leave your comments on our machine. You may fax your responses to 356-8360 or e-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Comments can also be posted on The Conway Daily Sun's Facebook page. Results will be published Tuesday.


Tele-Talk: As Carroll County's population ages, what social and medical services are lacking and how should they be paid for?

At Monday's forum, "An Open Conversation on the Needs of Seniors in Northern Carroll County," Gibson Center Executive Director George Cleveland said the number of people 65 and older in the state is expected to increase 85 percent by 2030. He added: "A lot of those people, as you all know from census figures, are going to be located in Carroll County."

This week's Tele-Talk: With an aging population in the valley, what medical and social services are lacking, and how should they be paid for?

Call 733-5822 Saturday and Sunday and leave your comments on our machine. You may fax your responses to 356-8360 or e-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Comments can also be posted on The Conway Daily Sun's Facebook page. Results will be published Tuesday.


Tele-Talk responses: With an aging population in the valley, what medical and social services are lacking, and how should they be paid for?

There were 13 responses to this week’s Tele-Talk question: “With an aging population in the valley, what medical and social services are lacking, and how should they be paid for?” As to what services are lacking, one person mentioned specialty doctors in professions that particularly serve the elderly; one person mentioned all-inclusive care for the elderly; one person mentioned death with dignity; three people mentioned senior housing and one person mentioned better housing and salaries for younger people working in service industries, particularly caring for seniors; one person mentioned transportation; and two people mentioned indoor track and pool. As to paying for services, one person said seniors should pay for all their own services and should help younger generations by paying for infrastructure through taxes; one person said if young people paid for all their own services then seniors could afford to pay for their own services; one person suggested a single-payer health care system and one person said it is not financially possible to help everyone and people should be responsible for health care costs that result from their own bad decisions.

Death with dignity is lacking. When dying, older people should have the legal right if wanting to end their lives with prescribed a medicine and in the comfort and love of family. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s and it was an absolutely terrible decline and death. When first informed of this disease, she should have had the right to decide against living.

All bills for seniors should be paid for by seniors. Many seniors citizens, old people or geezers — whichever you prefer — have become extremely selfish and irresponsible. They receive extraordinary government benefits through Social Security, Medicare and other subsidies for housing, transportation, Meals on Wheels, property tax deductions and social clubs like the Gibson Center. On the other hand, they scream about their property taxes for schools and other services. At the same time, half of the seniors are in Florida all winter. Just to drive down to Florida and their gated home at “The Villages” is going to cost them more money than their property taxes back up here in “The Frozen Chosen.” Many seniors have huge assets that they shield from paying up front for the freight at a local nursing home. So, if they go into a nursing home for 10 years, they cost us another million dollars. We need to reform our values immediately — the values that we had when we had a social contract that said that when you get old, your job is to love your kids and your grandkids and contribute to their wellbeing, and not to be a huge burden on society, on your children and on your grandchildren. Old people have become a huge industry, and as an 80 year old I will not be part of it. Think of the kids in Flint, Mich., drinking lead while we have all these people, with their two and three homes all over the country, unwilling to pay for the cost of improving water systems, schools, highways, bridges, etc. My name is Don Trimble.

I’m in my 80s, and I remember back in the ‘70s when Memorial Hospital was nothing but a clinic with an X-ray machine and a doctor who’s always seem to be there, and he was great. Memorial has come along way — a very long way — since then. The only medical services lacking that I can think of, especially for the elderly, are doctors for kidney, dermatology, arthritis and diabetes who can come to Conway more than once a week. Since these are mostly elderly problems, Medicare and insurance would help pay for them. Also, perhaps, a doctor who is expert in helping people becoming old and facing death. One comment I’d like to make, though, about Memorial Hospital: I’ve been going there for 20 years. Since they’ve remodeled the whole thing and everything is changed around, some of the young ladies who set up appointments and greet patients should be or could be a little bit nicer. I get the feeling they resent elders for getting old. They should remember that without patients they would not have a job.

I don’t know about whether social and medical services lacking. I suspect they are, but how should they be paid for? Well, there’s only one way to do that: Pay the highest premium possible to your insurance company, like Blue Cross or Anthem, and then try and get some service. Say you go in for back surgery, and the day after, you’re sent to rehab because they don’t want to keep you in the hospital — that costs money. And you go to rehab and you’re in there for two or three days, and then you’re sent home because you’re fine, and the insurance company, they can’t afford to pay out, you know. I mean, after all, those yachts down in the keys are expensive to keep up. You have to have a crew of sailors; you have to have a galley of the finest foods and wines. These people have to have the best. Yes, how should they be paid for? I’ll tell you how they should be paid for — I lived in one of those countries — single-payer health care. Try living in one of the Scandinavian countries, and you’ll find things are a little different. You’ll find that there are very few wealthy people, but on the other hand, there are very, very few poor people. There’s no poverty; there’s minimal crime; your care is there from the cradle to the grave; nobody’s kicking you out because they can’t give you any more service. Try it, single-payer health care. The insurance companies are going to fight this like hell. I mean what the hell is the president of Blue Cross or Anthem, what’s he going to do? Give up his yacht?

One of the issues for people over 65 in this valley is that there is not housing that’s available for anyone other than really low-income people, and of the few apartments that are available, there’s no sound proofing between them so you’re listening to someone’s blaring TV or loudness. So, there is no comfortable senior housing that’s affordable except for a very low-income people.

Before we allow our entitled, delusional, inept, corrupt or misled leaders in our country and town to throw away more good money after bad, we must think of the young children and adults and what kind of hope and foundation we are giving and leaving them. The desire to give life support and subsidies to everyone is not financially possible without bankrupting our children’s and country’s future to reward select lobbyists and corporations. The cost of dying in America should be free. The cost of unhealthy behavior and choices should be on that individual or family, not the taxpayers. It’s financial theft by creative math and accounting.

As we consider what an aging population needs, it’s critical to connect the dots: We older folk need younger people to take care of us! Hospital workers, doctors, nurses, hearing aid specialists and many other caregivers are essential. And yet the Mount Washington Valley has difficulty retaining those workers, as well as the many workers in service industries, because valley salaries often are too low to meet necessary rental and purchase housing costs! We need additional workforce housing — suitable for our workforce! What can we do to encourage greater diversity of housing opportunities?

As the town and school meetings showed yet again, the only thing Conway’s older citizens are valued for is their ability to pay taxes to provide services for younger ones. If you want to do something for your elders then do something for yourself for a change, instead of asking the rest of us to pay for every service, supplement and amenity you want. Then maybe we would have enough money to take care of ourselves.

This question seems very well timed, with one answer right on page 1 of the Union Leader/Sunday News. It’s a program that’s helping frail seniors stay independent, called PACE (Programs of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly). It is available in 31 states, including Massachusetts, and the “savings comes through a bundled payment program, with Medicare and Medicaid paying a monthly per-patient fee.” This program is promoted by the Federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. It is well worth the read. Many people involved with the elderly, realizing the future growth of this age group, feel we should be pressing our legislators to look long and hard at this reality and embrace this program or one like it. It is well worth the read. Secondly, we need transportation, a need that we in Freedom have found a way of addressing. We started a community outreach program with the Freedom Community Club and the First Christian Church with members who have signed up to drive residents in need of rides to doctor’s office, food shopping, etc. It has proven to be quite successful. Many other communities could help out in this way; older volunteers love helping out. RSVP is always looking for drivers; it’s very rewarding! Sandy in Freedom.

The following responses were posted on Facebook:

We very much need an indoor track and pool! There’s no safe place to go walk in the winter, and using a hotel pool with guests and kids can be difficult.

An affordable, small tiny house village in Intervale/Bartlett area for older independent co-op living.

Indoor track and pool. It’s been talked about for years.

It’s certain you need additional senior housing. Start there.

Tele-Talk response: Do you agree with creating just one winter/spring school vacation in March?

There were 43 responses to this week’s Tele-Talk question: “Do you agree with creating just one winter/spring school vacation in March?” Twenty-six peopl said they do not agree with creating just one winter/spring vacation; 13 people said they like the idea; four people offered other comments. A selection of the responses is reprinted here.

No, the kids, staff and buildings need a break. Stop cramming everything in to get out earlier in June. Why didn’t they air-condition the high school when they built it and the middle school and they remodeled? If it’s that bad in the classrooms mid-June, the teachers union would’ve been more willing to start the end of August, but they weren’t so it can’t be that bad. Use fans. Blizzard bags are blatant insult to the staff about the learning that happens on a typical school day. Cram it all into one little exercise? I don’t think so. Kids lose a lot of ground over the summer. Bartlett was right not to buy into this sham.

I do agree with creating a winter/spring vacation week in March. Coincide it with the spring break of UNH in Plymouth and Keene. My parents used to live in Pennsylvania; the school district where they live there did that, and it coincided with the Penn State System and everybody enjoyed it. And teachers will still get the the week back because they’ll get out a week earlier in June so they won’t lose a week of vacation. It’s a good idea.

First of all, why don’t we start school before Labor Day just by a few days like other parts of the state do? That will alleviate part of the problem. And you sure can eliminate one of the vacation weeks. However, I would suggest you keep February vacation as it stands because we are tourist industry-based area, and we have a lot of high school kids that help in the workforce. And you have seniors in high school that count on that money to go off to college with because not everybody comes with a silver spoon in their mouth. So, if you’re going to eliminate a vacation, it would be April. You don’t do a vacation in March; that makes absolutely no sense. I don’t understand the thinking sometimes at all, not one bit.

I think that we should do away with all the vacations and have the kids go to school six days a week and then they could get out May 1. It will save us a lot of money and then give the teachers a longer vacation, which they really need after working seven months a year making $80,000.

No, I strongly disagree with creating just a winter vacation in March. It’s stupid. We’ve gone over and over this over the years. Kids have to go to school 180 days. If they have to go to school later in June, they go to school later in June. If you want to get rid of April vacation, that’s fine. But February vacation is crucial for businesses in this valley that need labor.

This is Jim from Glen. The answer to your question is no. But let me pose this question: What are we teaching or not teaching by eliminating the Easter break?

I think that the school vacation in February should continue. A lot of children depend on that to make money during that week, either at the ski areas or in the resorts, and I think that would be a financial hardship for them if they didn’t have that week to earn money. And as far as the air conditioning goes, I don’t think the children the marshmallows. I lived in the Deep South without air conditioning. And I survived and I think they can, too. It might be great for the teachers these ideas, but I don’t see where it’s much of a benefit to the students.

I absolutely agree with eliminating February and April vacation weeks. It’s a no-brainer. Have one in March. Just like all the other schools do down in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York. I think it’s a great idea, but I doubt it will ever happen because we don’t change anything around here.

My name is Sharon, and I live in Conway. No, I think the whole thing is ridiculous because in March, April, we’re getting snowstorms. So, it would seem to me that if you tacked on at the end of the year five extra days, and if they’re not used for snow days, then the kids get out five days early. If they use them, then they get out on a regular date. It seems to me the school board has absolutely no common sense whatsoever.

God forbid the board do something different and be an actual leader instead of a follower. Take the lead, board, and institute a March vacation week. Don’t be so afraid of implementing something hardly any other school does. Start up change and have schools follow our idea. Let’s show everyone that we are not afraid to be daring. I guarantee you once we change to one March vacation, other schools will do the same. It’s the one and only least invasive solution to the snow day problem, but I’m sure the board will keep beating the other dead horse ideas to death before they ever listen to common sense. I have spoken to about 50 people on this, and 49 supported a March vacation or as the school board will look at it, the one person is right and the 49 others are wrong. Mark my words, that’s the way it will go down, because that would be just too much of a radical idea. Simply incredible.

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. This is just another one of Hounsell’s instinctive and attention-grabbing suggestions backed up with absolutely nothing. Check out what Exeter, Portsmouth, and Hanover are doing. Conway Village.

I love the idea of one week in March.

No thank you.

Yes, please, one vacation.

Let’s ask the union how they feel about this.

I’m curious what the percentage was for blizzard bags in Conway for the first day?

I think cutting out one vacation would be OK and just have a spring vacation at the end of March.

Lakes Region’s district is having later school days to make up for it. Adding an hour or two to the school day until June makes more sense than taking away vacation time.

Yes, I think they should only make one school vacation. It’s ridiculous that they have three on top of summer break. They are in school to learn. By giving them vacations, all it allows them to do is sit in front of the TV or computer all day.

Sounds like they quit before really giving blizzard bags a chance. It’s a great concept. There’s more learning happening in a blizzard bag than an arbitrary day added on in June.

Bartlett doesn’t do blizzard bags and just goes a few days more in June. No big deal. It is not that hot in June. Why all the drama?

I say get rid of February and April vacation. Too many days off from January to June. April vacation was for back in the days when there was no pavements. Plus it releases the pressure of cramming everything into the last part of the school year.

So, what’s a disaster? The Conway Daily Sun reported that surveys were taken from parents and students regarding the blizzard bag day but the only result was it was a disaster. So, what quantifies a disaster? The school board and school system spent some time putting the program together and after just one try, it is scrapped. How can just one try and a limited survey, where results have not yet been made public constitute a disaster? No, the vacations should not be changed until thorough research and input from the school board and the people who elect them has been given due diligence.

As a parent with four children in SAU 9 both in elementary and high school, I must say the blizzard bags were a joke. Totally not even organized at all, and our students missed it by less than what, 2 percent? And the ones that did do it now have to suffer by the threat of having vacation(s) taken away? Give me a break! How does one extra school day equate to losing two weeks of vacation?

Absolutely not! I don’t know who came up with this vacation schedule but having taught for the past 28 years, I can assure you that this schedule is perfect. Now, I know that most people will react with why do these teachers need all of these vacations? If you are one who questions this, come on in. Do this job for seven hours a day. Trust me, you’ll be singing a different tune.

I think it may be a good idea: I know my kids are dragging come June. They should survey the parents and teachers though. This isn’t something only a few school board members should just decide for us.

Maybe the area should concentrate more on the quality of education it provides before it tacks on more time for these kids to spend becoming unprepared for the rest of the world?

I thought the blizzard bags were great, I don’t know what the problem was. Heard it was a lot of work for some people. Maybe resurrect it and continue it?

Maybe the kids should start earlier, like the end of August, along with the southern New Hampshire kids. That’s your extra week right there!

Sounds like a great idea. Agreeing that kids/teachers/parents need time off, but looking at and comparing to a typical school year, they spend about 12 weeks in class until Thanksgiving, then about four weeks until Christmas, about 11 weeks until a “mid-March vacation” then about 12 weeks until they go off for the summer. Not including any days like Labor Day, half-days for teacher workshops, etc., they make the “12-week stretch” once during the year already. And there’s plenty of days off in between. Certainly something to consider!

Time for New England school districts to get with the rest of the country, where most districts only have a single vacation week after the first of the year, typically the week before or after Easter.

I have two children in SAU 9, and we all thought blizzard bags were wonderful. And we support February and April vacations. The kids need it!

March vacation when our kids might get a chance to enjoy the valley without 3/4 of Massachusetts crowding them out sounds great. And build in seven snow days instead.

As a mother of four as well as a daycare owner, I strongly feel that vacation times are important for children as well as teachers. I completely disagree with the thought of taking away February and April vacations. I personally feel that blizzard bags are a wonderful. I would support this fully in my school.

I work in two schools and am a mother to two kids. From my experience the vacation time is necessary not only for the kids to recharge but for the adults to recharge. With the cold, snow, cabin fever, etc., it is necessary to have some unstructured time after weeks of structure — some down time, if you will.