Valley News Forum for Dec. 2, 2023: Inclusivity statement is divisive

Published: 12-01-2023 6:22 PM

Inclusivity statement is divisive

Recently, I’ve come under very harsh criticism for an action I took regarding a motion that was made during a Grafton County Commissioners meeting. An inclusivity statement was introduced to the board after incidents in Littleton regarding public art supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.

I thought long and hard about Grafton County adopting an inclusivity statement after this incident that occurred in an individual municipality. I wondered if the well-intended promises made by representatives of county government were enforceable. Was such an issue even within the purview of the County Commissioners, a 3-person Board representing 90,000 people? The answer to the above questions, of course, is “no.” The majority of the Board of Commissioners believes this is an issue to be taken up by local governments.

Further, I worried that the assertion was politically divisive. In such a time of rampant division, was it wise to underscore our differences rather than to assert our similarities?

County government is charged with the important tasks of funding and providing long term services and supports and running our Departments of Corrections, both of which functions serve the vulnerable.

In addition to these statutory duties, here are a few other actions taken by the Grafton BoC just this term: we’ve released $2 million of federal money into the community to support municipalities, small businesses, and nonprofits. We’re deploying a $12 million federal grant to bring fiber optic access to all towns in Grafton County that want it. We’ve recently provided a substantial raise to our employees to mitigate staffing shortages due to continuing effects of COVID-19. So far, we’re having success. As a commissioner, I am one of three, committed to a deliberative process that solves problems of our constituents in a cost-effective way.

Let me be very clear regarding the issue that I’ve raised above. No one — gay, straight, trans, Christian, Jew, Muslim, differently abled, and of any racial or ethnic origin — should be discriminated against or suffer harassment in Grafton County or anywhere else. I’m hoping that we all agree on this.

Wendy Piper

Grafton County Commissioner, District 1

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Claremont can do
better than Acuity

As long-time Claremont residents, we envision a safe, vibrant, community where people’s health is prioritized over private profit. We applaud both our City Council and our Sullivan County legislators for stating their opposition to Acuity’s proposed transfer station.

This out-of-state company has shown no respect for local zoning laws. The health and economic welfare of the people of Claremont are not on Acuity’s radar. That’s exactly why our public servants have come out in support of both the city’s land-use regulations and the community’s rights to protect its future.

The people have spoken, and both our elected and appointed officials have listened. Furthermore, we have received word that the NH Department of Environmental Services has deemed Acuity’s most recent permit application incomplete.

It’s clear that a polluting transfer station plays no role in Claremont’s future, especially as we suffer the long-term impacts of an incinerator and ash landfill. Instead of piling on the pollution, let’s work together to make the Claremont Junction neighborhood and all of Claremont a healthier, safer place to live, work and learn.

We propose a community conversation to brainstorm alternative proposals for the Junction, proposals by and for our neighbors. Together, we can build A Better Claremont that truly values our health, economy, and environment.

Rebecca MacKenzie, Judith Koester, and Nelia Sargent


The writers are members of A Better Claremont.