Category Archives: feature story

An Intimate Luncheon with Governor Pataki at The Lobster Tail Restaurant

On June 25th I was present at a small luncheon gathering at The Lobster Tail Restaurant with former New York governor George Pataki, three of his New Hampshire campaign staff members, local Republican powerhouse Bruce Breton and longtime Breton friend, Lawson Brouse, and former state senator David Currier (R- Henniker).

Mr. Pataki, in town to present the Windham Fire Department with a flag flown at the site of the World Trade Center post 9/11, recently announced he is seeking the presidency, joining 13 other Republican candidates.

I was a New York resident for much of the 1990’s and I remember Mr. Pataki as governor. He was enormously popular with both residents and businesses. He had largely dropped out of public view after his 3rd term as governor ended in 2007.

Standing at nearly 6’5″ tall, Mr. Pataki is an impressive presence from the moment he enters the room. His voice is calm and soothing; His words pleasant.

He greeted a group of a dozen or so women out celebrating a birthday, who appeared delighted to meet him and interested in what he had to say before he joined us at our table.

Our discussion was enjoyable. Topics ranged from the personal to political.

It seemed odd to me he would enter what is shaping up to be a crowded presidential campaign stage after having spent so much time in the private sector. Running for president is no easy endeavor, even if you have endless funds. When a person runs for president everything they do and say and everything they have ever done or said is scrutinized. The schedule is exhausting- cookouts, town halls, debates, interviews and impromptu luncheons with local reporters. Given that Mr. Pataki has already secured his place in history as the governor who led the healing and rebuilding process following the devastating 9/11 attacks, I asked him why he wanted to run for president, more out of curiosity than any other reason.

He said a candidate, in the candidate role, needs to be electable. While I did not get the opportunity to follow up on that specific statement, at a visceral level I think I understand what he meant. Polls are not elections. Rhetoric isn’t fact. Toting a party line isn’t debating the issues.

To be electable and to properly govern, he said a candidate needs to focus on people not politics, be able to work within the confines of a 2 party system and be willing and able to negotiate with both parties to achieve proper governance.

The people before politics statement confirms, at least to me, that he acknowledges how many Americans have come to perceive elected officials: as ideologues focused on the wants and needs of the party as opposed to the wants and needs of the people they represent.

When asked if he thought the other candidates could win the general election he said he wasn’t going to bash his opponents.

I asked what he would do if elected. Mr. Pataki will decrease the size of government. He believes the government is much too large with too many segregated departments and governmental waste.

I asked him how he felt about campaign finance. This, in my opinion, is where he really breaks away from the pack. He told me he would support campaign finance reform, that it is inappropriate for elected officials in Washington to spend 80% of their time in office fundraising for the next campaign instead of doing the job of representing the people. He also thinks it should not be legal for members of Congress and/ or the Senate to become lobbyists following their term in office.

I found that answer honest, well thought out and refreshing.

Although he had been my governor, I knew little about him aside from his popularity and the work he’d done post 9/11. So I asked about his background.

He was raised in Peekskill, NY, a sleepy Hudson River waterfront community in Westchester County bordered to the east by the Blue Mountain Reservation, an hour and a half drive from Manhattan. His father was a fire captain.

Mr. Pataki was Peekskill mayor in the early 80’s, served in the state assembly and then the NY state senate before becoming NY governor in 1995, having beat incumbent Mario Cuomo, which might be best described to New Englanders as an upset akin to someone with little name recognition beating an incumbent Kennedy in a race for Massachusetts governor.

He is fiscally conservative with a strong record of cutting taxes, creating jobs and balancing budgets. When his campaign begins to gain traction I suspect he might have problems with the rigid and divisive Republican party base because he is socially centrist. He supports a woman’s right to choose and same sex marriage and he has spent his time since he left office championing green initiatives meant to address climate change.

He feels the Republican party has taken a far right turn and the changing demographics in the country cannot relate to the party as a whole.

I, for one, have to agree.

Sharp Increase in Heroin Deaths

This piece was written by me and published last week in The Windham Independent News.

I’m primarily a news photographer. I’m also a news writer and reporter. Every once in a while I report on a story I believe so important to the pubic it needs to be shared. This is one of them.

Statehouse Rally Saturday October 18th Following Sharp Increase in Heroin OD Deaths

Susan and Tom Markievitz’s son Chad began using heroin in the fall of 2013. He died from a heroin overdose on July 28, 2014. He had just turned 25 years old.

According to Mrs. Markievitz, Chad had a normal early childhood. He enjoyed four-wheeling, fishing and sports. “Everyone loved him. He was very respectful,” she said.

Chad’s problems started shortly before attending Salem High School. Once in high school Chad found challenges and opportunity. His path to addiction is a common one. It began with prescription medication and progressed to alcohol and cocaine. The first time his parents intervened Chad was 16 years old. He spent 35 days enrolled in an Outward Bound troubled teens program in El Paso, Texas.

Rehabilitation was successful for a time. “He had his good times, his bad times. He’d be sober and straight for months then relapse. Every time he relapsed it got worse and worse,” his mother said.

Ultimately Chad could not break away from the addiction. He wrote in his journal that it was a real struggle. “He called it his demon,” his mother said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nationally, death rates from prescription opioid pain reliever (OPR) overdoses quadrupled during 1999–2010 and the death rate from heroin overdose doubled from 2010 to 2012 (in the 28 states participating in the reporting, including NH).

The Windham Fire Department has administered the opioid antidote Narcan 13 times since the beginning of 2014. As stated by Lieutenant Jay Moltenbrey, pin point pupils and decreased respiratory drive are clear signs of an opioid overdose.

What makes heroin in particular so dangerous and easy to overdose on is its dosage inconsistencies. Regulated prescription opioids’, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, dosages are reliable. Heroin is not regulated and is obtained exclusively through illicit channels. For this reason addicts tend to buy heroin from the same person. If anything in that supply chain changes, the potency could be completely different from what the user typically uses. There is simply no way to know what the concentration is or what it’s cut with.

Mrs. Markievitz describes the warning signs as numerous. She found Chad nodding off, rambling endlessly, slurring words and he had sudden bouts of singing and dancing. Spoons went missing and she found little cotton wads around the house. Eventually household items began to disappear.

She believes one of the most important things a parent can do is monitor their child’s phone and document the phone numbers they are interacting with. Addicts often have sneaky phone calls and texts and use their own lingo that is impossible for the uninitiated to decipher. She urges any parent that finds drugs or contraband to call the police department.

While the police department is obligated to arrest anyone caught with possession, they are primarily interested in arresting those who are distributing the drug. “The dealers we want to take down and the users we want to get help,” said Windham Police Captain Caron.

“It’s illegal to possess narcotics. It’s illegal to sell them and illegal to be in possession of paraphernalia. We can and do arrest users and dealers for those things. But we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. As a society we need to put just as much focus on the root causes for the addictive behavior as we do on enforcing the law,” said Windham Police Chief Gerry Lewis.

Captain Caron admits that by the time relatives notify the police, “they are at the point of hopelessness. They don’t want them to go to jail but they don’t want them to die. With long term heroin usage, death is a foregone conclusion. It’s a demon. It’s an ugly demon.”

Chief Lewis believes early intervention is essential. “It is critically important that loved ones address the issue with the addict as soon as it becomes known they are using drugs. The longer the person uses drugs the harder it becomes to remedy.”

Both Chief Lewis and Captain Caron stress the impact addiction has on the overall public, ranging from impacting health and human resources, burglaries and associated crime and depleting local service budgets such as schools and emergency response.

“Just because it’s not in your family doesn’t mean you’re not affected by it. It affects all of society in one way or another,” said Captain Caron.

Following the death of her son Chad, Mrs. Markievitz is reaching out to anyone affected by addiction. She is the administrator of the NH chapter of The Addict’s Mom, a volunteer support group for mother’s of addicted children. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please see their website for more information www.addictsmom.com

The Hope for NH Recovery; We Believe in Recovery rally will be held at the statehouse (107 North Main Street, Concord) this Saturday, October 18th from 11AM- 2PM. NH Governor Maggie Hassan and US Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen will be speaking on the issue. The public is encouraged to attend.

WMS SMILES Club Joins Pease Greeters

NH News Photographer

Pease Greeter Mr. D.

Pease Greeter Mr. D.
1/160 @ 4.0 ISO 640

Mr. D. gave the students a museum tour

Mr. D. gave the students a museum tour
1/160 @4.5 ISO 1250

Students high-five the soldiers as they enter the terminal

Students high-five the soldiers as they enter the terminal
1/40 @ 5.6 ISO 640

The terminal entrance is called "Heroes' Walk". Greeters line the way, giving thanks for the soldiers' service and offering handshakes and hugs. Mr. Boisvert is on the left and the students are on the right.

The terminal entrance is called “Heroes’ Walk”. Greeters line the way, giving thanks for the soldiers’ service and offering handshakes and hugs. Mr. Boisvert is on the left and the students are on the right.
1/160 @ 4.0 ISO 500

Patriots' cheerleaders concluded the soldiers' entrance

Patriots’ cheerleaders concluded the soldiers’ entrance
1/160 @ 4.0 ISO 1600

The students mingled outside with the soldiers, guests and other students

The students mingled outside with the soldiers, guests and other students
1/125 @ 8.0 ISO 100

Departure ceremony emcee George Davidson, retired Marine Corps, passes the microphone to retired Navy aviator Mack MacLean, a WWII and Korean War veteran. The Patriots mascot is in the background.

Departure ceremony emcee George Davidson, retired Marine Corps, passes the microphone to retired Navy aviator Mack MacLean, a WWII and Korean War veteran. The Patriots mascot is in the background.
1/60 @ 4.0 ISO 100

Windham High School student Travis Wallaker watches the ceremony as he waits to present the signed sweatshirt to the commander

Windham High School student Travis Wallaker watches the ceremony as he waits to present the signed sweatshirt to the commander
1/30 @ 4.0 ISO 100

Miss New Hampshire signs the National Anthem

Miss New Hampshire signs the National Anthem
1/50 @ 4.0 ISO 100

Retired longtime Patriots broadcaster Gino Cappelletti addresses the audience

Retired longtime Patriots broadcaster Gino Cappelletti addresses the audience
1/80 @ 4.0 ISO 250

Students watch the ceremony with former Patriots player Jon Williams

Students watch the ceremony with former Patriots player Jon Williams
1/80 @ 6.3 ISO 640

The SMILES Club waits at the "Fence Force", where visitors wave flags at the charted aircraft carrying the soldiers as they depart

The SMILES Club waits at the “Fence Force”, where visitors wave flags at the charted aircraft carrying the soldiers as they depart
1/200 @ 8.0 ISO 100

The Miami Air plane taxis the runway before departing for Camp Lejeune in North Carolina

The Miami Air plane taxis the runway before departing for Camp Lejeune in North Carolina
1/80 @ 11 ISO 125

Windham Middle School SMILES Club students joined the Pease Greeters on April 22nd. The festive event welcomed United States Marine Corps soldiers returning from Afghanistan. This was the first time the soldiers have been on American soil since last fall. Notable attendees included Miss New Hampshire, Miss New Hampshire Teen and Patriots representatives including their mascot, 2 cheerleaders, former players Jon Williams and Vernon Crawford and former broadcaster Gino Cappelletti.

American troops exited the aircraft transporting them to the United States from Afghanistan via Iceland were met at the gate by hundreds of cheering Greeters and well-wishers. The Greeters, from toddlers to decorated World War II veterans, met the troops with hugs, handshakes and smiles, while animal Greeters gave face licks and tail wags. Each of the troops made their way into the terminal via the “Heroes Walk”, part of the military museum housed at the airport in conjunction with the Pease Development Authority, the only such installment at a commercial airport in the country.

Once inside the terminal, the Greeters provided the troops with food, beverages, gifts, stuffed animals, camaraderie and companionship, all donated by local companies, private donors and the Greeters themselves. There is a permanent communications center and the troops are given cell phones to call anyone in the world free of charge.

Prior to departure the troops stopped at the U.S. Customs area for a brief ceremony, as they do prior to every flight. The veterans raised the flag and Miss New Hampshire sang the National Anthem; Everyone said the Pledge of Allegiance; A prayer was given thanking the troops and their families for their sacrifices. A star cut from a retired American flag was given to each troop.

The Pease Greeters is an all volunteer group of veterans and civilians dedicated to showing their appreciation for troops from all nations and military branches. They meet every troop flight, whether 2 A.M. on a Monday morning or 5 P.M. on a Saturday afternoon. New Greeters are always warmly welcomed. If you would like to donate or participate, please visit their website at www.peasegreeters.org

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NASA Super Guppy Transports Orion Heat Shield

NH News Photographer

Sorry for the delay. I had to wait until the images were published. They were published last week and expired this morning.

Holy super fly awesomeness!

Super Guppy nose

Super Guppy nose
1/500 @ 5.0 115mm ISO100

Orion's heat shield being loaded onto the Super Guppy

Orion’s heat shield being loaded onto the Super Guppy
1/200 @8.0 200mm ISO500

The aircraft's hinged nose fully open

The aircraft’s hinged nose fully open
1/250 @ 8.0 32mm ISO100

The Super Guppy flight deck has many controls from the 1950's

The Super Guppy flight deck has many controls from the 1950’s
1/60 @ 9.0 70mm ISO4000

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport terminal and runways are in the foreground

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport terminal and runways are in the foreground
1/30 @ 8.0 24mm ISO200

The Orion heat shield in the Super Guppy cabin

The Orion heat shield in the Super Guppy cabin
1/40 @ 4.0 24mm ISO12800

Pilot in command Rick Hull speaks with NASA personnel. The aircraft was co-piloted by astronaut Mike Foreman

Pilot in command Rick Hull speaks with NASA personnel. The aircraft was co-piloted by astronaut Mike Foreman
1/200 @ 3.5 190mm ISO5000

NASA’s Super Guppy, the only one of its kind in the U.S., made a rare appearance at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport on December 4th. The Super Guppy was transporting the Orion heat shield from the northeast to its final destination at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The impressive and unique aircraft is 143 feet 10 inches long and weighs 101,000 pounds empty. Its fuselage is 36 feet 8 inches tall and the tail height is nearly as high as a 5 story building at 48 feet 6 inches. It is powered by 4 Allison 501-D22C turboprop engines with a cruise speed of 290 miles per hour at 25,000 feet.

The Orion spacecraft is being designed to allow NASA to travel further and faster than ever, commonly referred to as the craft that will transport humans to Mars. The heat shield will protect the spacecraft from extreme re-entry temperatures. Orion’s first test flight is scheduled for September 2014.

“The heat shield completion and delivery to Kennedy, where Orion is being prepared, is a major step toward Exploration Flight Test-1 next year,” said Dan Dumbacher, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development in Washington. “Sending Orion into space for the first time is going to give us crucial data to improve our design decisions and develop Orion to send humans on future missions to an asteroid and Mars.”

Pease Greeters Welcome Their 485th Flight on Thanksgiving Day

NH News Photographer

The Pease Greeters, an all volunteer group of veterans and civilians dedicated to showing their appreciation for troops from all nations and military branches, welcomed their 485th flight on Thanksgiving Day. 154 American troops exited the aircraft transporting them to the United States from Afghanistan via Iceland were met at the gate by hundreds of cheering Greeters and well-wishers. The Greeters, from toddlers to decorated World War II veterans, met the troops with hugs, handshakes and smiles, while animal Greeters gave face licks and tail wags. Each of the troops made their way into the terminal via the “Heroes Walk”, part of the military museum housed at the airport in conjunction with the Pease Development Authority, the only such installment at a commercial airport in the country.

Once inside the terminal, the Greeters provided the troops with food, beverages, gifts, stuffed animals, camaraderie and companionship, all donated by local companies, private donors and the Greeters themselves. There is a permanent communications center and the troops are given cell phones to call anyone in the world free of charge.

Prior to departure the troops stopped at the U.S. Customs area for a brief ceremony, as they do prior to every flight. The veterans raised the flag; Everyone said the Pledge of Allegiance; A prayer was given thanking the troops and their families for their sacrifices. A star cut from a retired American flag was given to each troop.

The Pease Greeters meet every troop flight, whether 2 A.M. on a Monday morning or 5 P.M. on a Saturday afternoon. New Greeters are always warmly welcomed. If you would like to donate or participate, please visit their website at www.peasegreeters.org

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The Pease airport terminal

The Pease airport terminal

The Knights of Columbus' donate to the troops and Pease Greeters. Other major donors include Coca-Cola, Dunkin Donuts and Friendly's Ice Cream.

The Knights of Columbus’ donate to the troops and Pease Greeters. Other major donors include Coca-Cola, Dunkin Donuts and Friendly’s Ice Cream.

Windham resident Dick Forde is on the Pease Greeters Board of Directors

Windham resident Dick Forde is on the Pease Greeters Board of Directors

Pease Airport manager Alan Weston reads the history of New Hampshire's state motto, read to the troops upon arrival in a private area

Pease Airport manager Alan Weston reads the history of New Hampshire’s state motto, read to the troops upon arrival in a private area

The history of New Hampshire's state motto

The history of New Hampshire’s state motto

Greeters welcoming troops home from Afghanistan

Greeters welcoming troops home from Afghanistan

Returning troops making the Heroes' Walk into the terminal

Returning troops making the Heroes’ Walk into the terminal

James Reilly stops to talk to a returning troop

James Reilly stops to talk to a returning troop

American troops enjoying their reception

American troops enjoying their reception

The departure ceremony

The departure ceremony

The commanders receive sweatshirts, singed by each Greeter

The commanders receive sweatshirts, singed by each Greeter

The Naval and Marine Corps commanders thank the greeters for their hospitality

The Naval and Marine Corps commanders thank the greeters for their hospitality