Over Easy: New Year’s revelations

By DAN MACKIE

For the Valley News

Published: 01-06-2023 4:34 PM

Right as 2022 was ending (on a locally sleepy note), the news dropped that Lebanon may get a casino on the Miracle Mile.

What timing! It just so happened that I was dreaming up fantastic scenarios for the New Year when this whopper dropped in my lap. It’s like looking down and finding a winning lottery ticket among a slag pile of cigarette butts on Main Street. Against all odds.

My predictions, based only on my columnist powers, are almost as startling. For instance, I foresee that in 2023 Dartmouth College will open a night trade school, because artificial intelligence will soon satisfy society’s need for a key Ivy demographic: hedge-funders and Wall Street traders.

“What we really need is someone to fix the plumbing,” a top school official will declare. And voila! Here comes the Dartmouth/Kohler School of Applied Mechanics and Refrigerator Repair.

Commuters are going to be rocked by the news that the Hanover-Norwich Bridge Balls Bridge will be replaced with a wooden covered bridge to satisfy a woke heritage commission. Their binding decision will have stayed under the radar “because none of our members care to Zoom,” the commission will explain. “All our notes and votes are recorded in cursive writing, so have at ’em.”

At Town Meeting this year, Norwich will leap into the future by adopting government-by-Listerv. If you aren’t following its politics, you are missing some of the most extended debates since the Federalist Papers. The Norwich Listserv moderator will be an elected position, and will render decisions based on the “sentiment of posters.” They will have hiring and firing authority, except for the Town Manager, whose fate will be decided by voters during a Saturday night bonfire at the Norwich Fair.

“I’m going to have to look into this,” the Vermont Secretary of State will say.

The world will take notice this year when Formula 1 adds Hartford, Vt., to its Grand Prix circuit, joining with other exotic locales like Monaco, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, to take advantage of its “world-class roundabouts.”

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I’m confident the suffering shoppers of the central Upper Valley will finally get the price-cutting Market Basket supermarket they crave. And Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Costco, Dave & Buster’s, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Jersey Mike’s, etc. Like the credit card companies say, wishes really can come true.

As for me, I’d prefer to go back in time and get a full-size Sears, where I could buy a cozy Mr. Rogers sweater, a comfy recliner and a reliable DieHard battery — all in one trip.

But back to the real world: In the fall emergency responders will start livestreaming calls to satisfy the insatiable curiosity of online folks who want to know “What’s going on with all the emergency vehicles down by the plazas?” or anywhere, for that matter.

In November, Southwest Airlines will announce service to Lebanon Municipal Airport, but flight cancellations will delay it to 2024 at the earliest. At least “bags fly free.”

Could these epic eventualities happen? As assured as I am in my perceptive powers, I wouldn’t necessarily bet on it.

As for games of chance, Lebanon already has a small poker and game room downtown, in the shopping center better known to me as the home of Village Pizza. I have peeked in the door once or twice, but since I am not a gambling man I’d forgotten it is there.

The new place would, according to a Valley News story, be “a charitable gaming casino and restaurant” in the former Gerrish Honda building on the Miracle Mile. By law such establishments must deal out 35% of profits to charities. It could have a 41-seat restaurant and bar, and “approximately 111 electronic gaming devices and 90 gaming tables.” I’m signing up for UNO, or maybe Go Fish.

Legalized gambling mostly helps people who can’t afford to lose money to do it faster, and with gusto. It has entertainment value, but so would betting on the pig races at the Tunbridge Fair.

The proposed location already has one of the most exciting and whimsical traffic setups I’ve seen outside of a Hot Wheels track. New York Cabbie Magazine has put it on its annual Top-10 Do Not Drive List.

But this will help charities, you might say. What good causes would benefit, I wonder. How about the Upper Valley Taxpayer Assistance Fund? Citizens United for a Bowling Alley? Or, even better, Gamblers Anonymous.

Lebanon should at least hold out for a casino that brings in Cirque du Soleil and Wayne Newton — with two shows nightly. That would be the biggest thing since Sears, and I for one am waiting for a comeback, even if it’s the longest of long shots.

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

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