Over Easy: Lebanon by the numbers

  • Dan Mackie (Courtesy photograph)

For the Valley News
Published: 9/24/2021 9:50:20 PM
Modified: 9/24/2021 9:50:27 PM

Lebanon isn’t one of those cities that never sleeps. I think I can speak for many when I say that a good, sound, peaceful, comfy, restorative sleep is one of the chief desires of its citizens, and we would rather not have any excitement of any kind after hours.

Generalized boredom after 9 p.m.? Bring it on.

But Lebanon is busy as a beehive during the day, buzzing with swarms of commuters drawn to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the Route 12A retail scramble, Listen’s thrift superstore and our world-class assortment of auto parts shops.

Recently, I have developed a new appreciation for all that, through a deeper reading of something called the City Manager Update, available on the city website. Here you can find out about local government in tremendous detail, both the nitty and the gritty. From major initiatives to balky sump pumps, it has it all.

The updates are reports to the manager from various departments. They are straightforward, with few flourishes. Unlike me, the writers feel compelled to get right to the point.

And so they do. In the August wrap-up, we learn that “enplanements” — curious word that — stood at 4,343 year-to-date at the Lebanon Municipal Airport, which some people consider an aeronautical white elephant, but I can’t say, really, since I am a nervous flyer and would rather avoid all airports. There were 2,562 aircraft boardings in the same period last year, so things are looking up, or down, depending on your perspective.

The assessors report that 95 city properties were sold in August, with 420 for all of this year. No word on whether everyone paid too much. I say yes, but our house has always primarily been our home, not an exotic financial instrument. If we cashed in now, we might have to take up residence at the Walmart parking lot, and all things considered, I’d prefer to be near Target.

From the office of the city clerk comes an intriguing report that dog licenses brought in $456 last month, toward a total of $12,650 this year. That’s more than I would have imagined. It also said that Lebanon police are assisting in contacting “negligent’’ dog owners, with this ominous note: “Any dog that remains unlicensed by Sept. 23 will be issued a summons to Lebanon District Court.” Lawyer up, Fido!

The fire department reported 10 fire calls for the month, and 37 false alarms. I would say the gap between real emergencies and emotional false alarms in my own life is roughly similar, if not even greater. That is why one should wait before declaring a five-alarm drama.

On the book front, Lebanon libraries report 6,502 books and other materials borrowed for the month, along with 2,860 e-books and audiobooks. Since my journalism career was essentially made of paper, I am cheered that paper still rules.

The police stayed busy, with 2,829 dispatch calls. I’m impressed, since I get so few calls on my cellphone, other than robo-nags about warranties. There were 55 traffic accidents, almost two a day, so think carefully about whether you need to make a special trip for that new car air freshener.

More eye-opening to me is the revelation that Lebanon police made 254 motor vehicle stops in the month, giving 218 warnings and 16 citations. I don’t think I have done as well through the years in the warnings/citations ratio. Was sullen seething — even to near spontaneous combustion — at such stops not the best strategy for me? Now, finally, older, calmer and wiser, I think not.

There is always something going on in Public Works. Roads are being paved, grass mowed, new equipment purchased. In August some 47,516,400 gallons of wastewater were treated. That seems like a lot to me; I assume that everyone is doing their part. In sewage and related matters there is transparency of the highest order.

Meanwhile, the landfill is taking in more materials than last year — I won’t bore you with the numbers — and there’s an upbeat note on recycling: Revenues “continue to be above projections.” I’m glad. Dede and I happily take our paper, plastic, metal and cardboard to the landfill almost weekly. Perhaps we are virtue-signaling with our copies of the Valley News that we hope will be processed and go on to even greater glories.

Oh, well. It’s one thing after another in Lebanon, where it can be said by philosophers and trash haulers that all roads lead to the landfill. This very page may find its way there, which is something for me to contemplate until the September update is out.

Dan Mackie lives in Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.

Valley News

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West Lebanon, NH 03784


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