Category Archives: OPINIONS

Letter from Craig Vickers


Why I resigned from the School Board in 2022:

I’ve yet to actually address to anyone why I elected to resign from the FMRSD school board in July of 2022.
There was not just one reason, there were many. The biggest reason was the amount of time that I was
spending, and that all board members spend. As board chair that exponentially increased. I joined because I
thought I could make a difference to represent Walpole and to parse through the differences between our
communities; to help unite. It became clear to me that “Equity” had a very different meaning or definition to
some members of the board than the actual definition.

When I joined the board I assumed that I would be able to have open and direct conversations with the public
about all issues that arise, and to work through these based on open and creative dialogue. This assumption
was very quickly shut down, to the point where you were discouraged from having any conversations about
school related business outside of board meetings because of the fact that your discussions could be
misrepresented as “board opinion”.

Early on in my tenure on the board I had made up my mind that individual towns needed to somehow regain
control of their individual budgets, to make decisions unilaterally for their town, as best they saw fit. I was
told by administration and representative attorneys that was not possible due to the legal structure of a
cooperative district. This presented a problem, and will continue to present a problem.

The real rub here is that I was not allowed to discuss this with anybody outside of the board or
administration. It’s a stay in your lane, abide by the rules, and don’t disrupt the “unity”. “We’re 5 towns one
mission”. That last statement is a fallacy in my opinion.

I had no choice but to resign because my view of the structure of the district had come to a head and I knew
that the only representation in good conscience that I could make would be for the benefit of Walpole and
Walpole’s students. If you’re going to spend exorbitant amounts of time on something, that stresses your
business and your marriage out, you better believe in it. I don’t believe FMRSD should be a cooperative
district at the Prek-8level. I strongly disagree with this in fact. Being on that board would have been

“Equity” has become a buzzword in the educational realm, and it is being unjustly used. The term equity is
now a judgement and to gaslight towns that wish to invest above the defined adequate and equitable
standards. We’re told it is not “equitable” for Walpole to invest in an additional teacher above and beyond the
standardized district structure because that is not equitable for the other towns. People actually start
believing this, ergo the gaslighting. Let me be very clear, if Walpole INVESTS above and beyond the equitable
standards set by the state and federal government, Walpole is NOT perpetrating inequitability on the other
towns, they are making an investment in their own town, school, and students. Investment above and beyond
the equity bar is not something to be looked down on, and the results of these investments are shown in data
over and over and over again

There are changes that need to be considered including, and most importantly, consolidating schools.
Consolidation is the only clear way that we are going to be able to address the burgeoning educational costs.
Cutting a teaching position has such a ridiculously small impact on the overall budget, but a substantial impact
on educational opportunity. This is not a balanced proposition. Cutting staff was a hail mary by the budget
committee to say, “hey look, we did something”, something that none of the administrators wanted to do.
School consolidation would save so much more money and likely allow the hiring of MORE staff and teachers
to bring down the student/teacher ratio even more.

There was an error in the budget that has left Walpole with additional funds which would allow us to keep a
teacher that nobody wanted to cut in the first place. This isn’t about one teacher, this is a significant issue of
control. We don’t have any control as a town and the board made that abundantly clear on Monday night. I
urge Walpole residents and frankly residents of each five towns to watch the end of the meeting.
( *I’ve marked the start of the conversation here.

The dismissiveness of the members of the community that attended this meeting is appalling. The inferences
made about the march vote obtuse, and the generally disrespectful tone, concerning, if we value our voices as
voting citizens.

One board member stated (I’m paraphrasing) the voting outcome of the budget was declared to be a clear
representation that Walpole is in favor of the cuts being made. There is no way to know that voting members
of the public, outside of those that have ties to the school had any idea what they were voting on. What they
did see is that the school board, and the budget committee recommended a YES vote. I’m not sure that there
has ever been a warrant article voted down, when the board had recommended it. This is a manipulative

The voting results for the petition article that I had out there was also called into the mix as a failure, but there
was essentially zero context to that as well. No grassroots campaigning was done, because the outcome had
no bearing. This was a litmus test to see how many Walpole residents would vote for a withdrawal study
based on no knowledge of why. Nearly one quarter of Walpole residents that voted, voted for a withdrawal
study with absolutely zero input as to why. Pretty telling if you ask me.

For some context here: The Charlestown withdrawal study and petition to withdraw was all predicated on
saving money (false narrative) and there were two YEARS of grassroots effort put into that. Two years of
convincing people why and that was voted down by nearly 2/3.

I have no doubt in my mind that when Walpole voters see the numbers that I have been looking at for the last
5 years that they will strongly consider Walpole withdrawing from the Fall Mountain district and tuitioning
their students likely to FM (possibly others) to adopt full control of their Pre-K through 8 Budget. There are
many options for us from a HS perspective, but a proper study is needed.

What is happening to Walpole right now is suppression of opportunity born out of investment, in the falsified
name of “Equity” by people outside of Walpole. Take the photo below. In the Equity picture, if any one of those
people elected to invest in another box, or hey even a ladder or even a man-lift and the other two said no,
you’re not allowed, that isn’t equitable, that would be an inaccurate statement. It isn’t as if there is a scarcity
of “apples” in the context we’re having this conversation.

There is a selectboard meeting tonight in Walpole at 6:30 and I will be there along with some other members
of the community to discuss a proper withdrawal study which needs to start at the town level, not as a
petitioned school article. There will be a grassroots effort to educate ALL Walpoleans through this effort and
when that vote happens, we’ll be able to assess what the voters of Walpole actually think. Please join, it will
make a difference.

I want to create a school culture where we celebrate the investment in our students education and our
community and to STOP fighting. Over 50 years of fighting in the Fall Mountain District needs to come to an

Craig Vickers

From Elana Baron

Dear fellow Walpoleans,

Please accept this response to Attorney Hanna’s letter as my final thoughts on why I will be voting “no” to Article 3. 

I respectfully disagree with Attorney Hanna’s opinion, retained by and writing on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Winmill. To be frank, his analysis is flawed.  Before I explain why, it would seem there are two preliminary issues that need clarifying:

  1. I am an Attorney.  However, my March 14, 2023 opinion of Article 3, and this one, are my own opinions.  I did not write them on behalf of a secret client nor is it the opinion of my office, Bragdon, Baron & Kossayda, PC.  I am simply offering my view, as a Walpolean, of how the language of Article 3 can be interpreted. My view, and no one else’s.
  • I used a small local maple syrup producer, or a small local honey producer, as examples.  They were the first two that popped into my mind probably because I am most familiar with those two.  I know several people here in Walpole that spend some free time dabbling in those hobbies.  Instead of those examples, please feel free to swap in any small business you like. How about a widget maker, or sock seamstress, or maybe someone who makes those fancy small soaps we all love to put on display in our guest bathrooms but g-d forbid anyone ever actually use.  I personally don’t care what small business you use as an example, the analysis remains the same.

I am cut and pasting Article 3’s definition of “Formula Business” here because pulling out a small portion and analyzing the small portion separately from the rest of the language is a presentation meant to blur the omitted language for the specific purpose of guiding a reader to believe their interpretation is their own but really were lead to it (a play out of the “How to Lawyer Handbook”).

“A Formula Business is a business, including but not limited to retail sales, hotels, and restaurants, that both

(a) maintains two or more of the following five standardized features:

  • array of services, menus, or merchandise, with 50% or more of in-stock merchandise bearing uniform markings;
  • trademark, logo, or service mark;
  • architecture, facade, or exterior design;
  • decor or color scheme;
  • uniform (other than name tags);


(b) shares the same or substantially the same two or more features as 10 or more other businesses, regardless of ownership or location.”

Here is where Attorney Hanna and I are interpreting the definition differently. Attorney Hanna imposes an assumption in the first and second features which then creates a flawed analysis. 

Attorney Hanna states the small business “must share the same logo, trademark or service mark with 10 or more other businesses”.  That is not what the plain language of the first two features state.  The plain language of the first feature states that 50% or more of the in-stock merchandise bears uniform markings.  That is all it says; a “uniform marking”.  It does not say that said uniform marking must be identical to those of 10 or more businesses.

The same is true for Feature 2.  Feature 2 does not say the logo, trademark or service mark has to be the same amongst all 10 businesses.  It simply says “trademark, logo, or service mark.”  That means, by the plain language, Feature 2 is met if the business has a logo, trademark or service mark.

In error, Attorney Hanna uses subsection b “(shares the same or substantially the same two or more features as 10 or more other businesses) to mean the uniform markings or logos must be the same across all 10 businesses. Section b does not say that.  Section b simply says the business will be defined as a Uniform Business when it qualifies for the same 2 of the 5 features listed in Section a.  

In summary, a small business will qualify for Feature 1 if it bears a, “a” can be “any”, uniform marking on 50% of in-stock merchandise.  Additionally, Feature 2 is satisfied if the business has a, “a” can be “any”,logo, trademark or service mark.  Most businesses have uniform markings and most businesses have a logo.  Since most businesses share in both Feature 1 and 2, per section b, (share the same or substantially the same two or more Features), most businesses can be defined as a Formula Business.  It is not a stretch for an attorney to argue this to be overly broad and unconstitutional as per its definition, all businesses can now be a Formula Business.

All that said, I offer you, the Walpolean voter, the following radical thought:  Why push an Article through when you not only have the Town of Walpole Planning Board publicly announcing their opposition to it, but also two Attorneys, both with over 20 years’ experience, arguing why the language should be interpreted differently.  Why not first tweak the language?  If the intent is to have the uniform marking or logo be identical across the 10 + businesses, then tweak the language to say so before enacting it into law. 

You are creating law and when you have an opportunity to avoid future litigation based on its interpretation why not do so?  I offer this because in the end, it is you, the Walpole taxpayer, that will be footing the bill to argue the issue in Court.

I thank you for taking the time to read my opinion.

From Tom Hanna

Re: For Immediate Publication in The Walpolean – Response to Elana Baron’s March 24th Post Regarding Town Warrant Article 3 

I represent Walpole residents, Tom and Christie Winmill, who joined forces with multiple other voters to protect Walpole from spoiling what makes Walpole special with the infiltration of “homogenous and visually obtrusive businesses.” They asked my law firm, which specializes in land use law, to draft a zoning amendment that would give town officials better regulatory resources to address such businesses. Unfortunately, I am in the position of having to address Elana Baron’s inexplicable opposition to this public-spirited effort.

Rather than suggest a better path forward, she pokes holes at the language of the warrant article and claims that it is ambiguous and that town officials are likely to interpret the article in a manner that is completely contrary to the intent of the new ordinance provision. She does not give the town’s land use boards enough credit. She is incorrect that the language is too ambiguous for reasonable interpretation.  

If a development decision of a local land use board is appealed, the court will first look at the plain language of the ordinance.  If the court finds that the ordinance is subject to more than one plausible interpretation, it will then look to other information – such as the statement made in the preamble to the warrant article – to determine what the intent of the ordinance is and what interpretation is consistent with that intent. 

Ms. Baron has presented an unconvincing case that the language of the article is ambiguous, but in such a case, it is the intent of the ordinance that will ultimately prevail. And the intent of the proposed ordinance is to keep Walpole a special place. Walpole voters should be in favor of this ordinance. 

​​​​​​  Sincerely,


​​​​​​ Thomas R.Hanna​​​​​​​​

Rebuttal to Baron Letter

​​​​​​​​​​March 22, 2023

To the Voters of Walpole


I write this letter on behalf of Walpole residents, Tom and Christie Winmill, in response to the opinion piece submitted by Elana Baron in the Wapolean on March 14, 2023 entitled “Another Point of View” regarding Article 3 of the 2023 Walpole Town Meeting Warrant. 

Ms. Baron’s interpretation of the proposed ordinance amendment regarding Formula Businesses is incorrect and her article is misleading. She contends that the proposed language would limit small local businesses from occurring in Town and suggests extreme examples of the zoning amendment’s effect on maple syrup and honey producers. Were Ms. Baron’s claims based on a rational interpretation of the proposed ordinance, it would indeed be concerning. However, Ms. Baron pointed to off-based and inaccurate grounds to support her claims.  

The new zoning ordinance is intended to preserve Walpole’s unique and distinctive character while permitting commercial development. To achieve this purpose, the ordinance introduces a definition for Formula Business that establishes a two-part method for distinguishing businesses that have standardized/ homogenous services, appearances, and other features. For a business to be considered a Formula Business it would have to have two or more of the following standardized features as 10 or more other businesses: 

(1) Array of services, menus or merchandises, with 50% or more of in-stock merchandise bearing uniform markings; 

(2) Trademark, logo, or service mark; 

(3) Architecture, façade, or exterior design;

(4) Décor or color scheme; 

(5) Uniform (other than name tags)

Ms. Baron states that “…any maple syrup producer or local honey maker who puts a uniform marking on his or her products qualifies for element number 1.” First, comparisons with maple syrup and honey making are completely inappropriate and irrelevant, because these are agricultural uses protected by State law from being limited or restricted by local land use regulations (RSA 674:32-a, RSA 674:32-b, and RSA 21:34-a). 

Second, even if maple syrup and honey producers were not exempt but used standardized packaging for their products, this feature alone does not classify a business as a Formula Business. Ms. Baron recognizes this and goes on to state: “Now let’s go to the second element; you need a trademark, logo, or service mark. How is this second element different from the first?Now, our local maple syrup producers or local honey makers have satisfied two elements.” But she conveniently glosses over the distinction and importance of the second feature and conflates it with the first feature regarding uniform markings. Packaging may be labeled with uniform markings such as a logo; however, for a maple syrup or honey producer to be considered a Formula Business it must share the same logo, trademark or service mark with 10 or more other businesses. It is implausible that a local small maple syrup or honey business, or any local small business in Walpole, shares the same logo, trademark or service mark with 10 or more other businesses. Logos, trademarks and service marks are symbols or words unique to a specific business to distinguish it from its competitors. Unlike Ms. Baron’s imprecise explanation, the ordinance is not vague about this distinction. 

Ms. Baron’s article also fails to address other important elements of the proposed ordinance. The ordinance does not outright restrict Formula Businesses. It limits to 12 the number of Formula Businesses that can occur at one time in town, a reasonable threshold for a Town as small as Walpole. It also protects existing businesses that may become a Formula Business after the adoption of the ordinance. 

Finally, if adopted, Walpole would not be the first community in the state to regulate Formula Businesses. The Towns of Jaffrey and Warner have adopted zoning regulations that define and restrict Formula Businesses. Many other communities in the state have adopted related regulations that seek to protect and promote their unique and special places from looking and feeling like anywhere else in the United States. 

Walpole is a special place that people choose to visit and to call home. It is evident that many, including Ms. Baron, want to keep Walpole special. However, this will not happen on its own. The proposed ordinance, which is consistent with the purpose of the Town’s Zoning Regulations and the Master Plan, will be a tool for the Town to maintain and promote businesses that contribute to the Town’s vitality and singularity. 



Thomas R. Hanna


Another Point of View

Hello, I believe if that photo is shared, then so should the following, please and thank you, Elana Baron

Hello all,

I never join in on political debates and generally avoid it like the plague. When it comes to Article 3, it is imperative that everyone pays very close attention to the language of the Article.

I agree that Walpole is not the place for box stores or a plethora of chain stores. My husband and I moved to Walpole six years ago because of the town it is.

That said, though an Article such as this one does have a place in Walpole, it cannot pass as it is currently drafted. The language of the Article is so broad that it could be used to limit even small local businesses. As much as I don’t want to see more dollar stores or the like, when an Article isn’t written properly it can be very dangerous to a community and its future. It can be used for purposes other then what it is intended because intent isn’t what prevails, the language does.

Please consider the following: the definition of a formula business is a two-part analysis. The first analysis is that it is any business with two of the five elements listed. The first element is it has an “array of services, menus, or merchandise with at least 50% of stock having uninform markings”. A logo is a uniform marking. Any business has this element, even our local maple syrup producers or our small honey stands will qualify for this element so long as that maple syrup producer or honey maker also sells other products such as maple butter or maple candy, or the honey producer sells in addition to honey some wax candles s/he crafts from the bees wax, or maybe some lip balm or hand salve with the bees wax in it. Now any maple syrup producer or local honey maker who puts a uniform marking on his or her products qualifies for element number 1. Now let’s go to the second element; you need a trademark, logo, or service mark. How is this second element different from the first? Now, our local maple syrup producers or local honey makers have satisfied two elements. Which means we move to the second prong on the “formula business” definition.

The second prong is you “share the same or substantially the same two or more features as 10 or more other businesses, regardless of ownership or location”.

I can’t say how many of us produce maple syrup or honey in Walpole but I bet there are more than 10.

Voila, you are now a formula business that can be told to shut down.

You don’t need a store front, you don’t need ugly signage, you don’t need to be a brick and mortar store of a certain square footage, all you need are two elements and or than 10.

In short, all I ask is that before you vote, don’t just focus on the dollar stores or the Dunkin Donuts because this Article, as drafted, is far more far reaching. Always remember that language is paramount and the devil is always in the details.

Letter from Eric

I totally agree with the comments in the Clarion concerning the curbing issue.  The result is that the borders around the common are scruffy at best, with granite curbing sporadically distributed along the roadway. And why destroy the grass border for no reason at all? It looks and feels terrible.  

One of the possible forces in the Select Board’s decision to reject the offer from one of our citizens to pay in full to install granite curbing around the entire common was that Mike Rau, head of our highway department, told the Select Board that he didn’t want the curbing because “it would interfere with snow plowing, and we didn’t reallyneed all that granite around the common”.  Excuse me?

You must understand that Rau and his crew operate as they wish, with minimal constraint by the Select Board.

Over the last three winters, the highway crew has destroyed the erosion-resistant grasses along my roadside property, smashed all our metal stakes and reflectors, and dug up the rock material that I paid to put along the road to stop erosion after the grass was plowed up. We are now left with a ditch that is eating away our land whenever it rains. 

The crew also took away all the rock borders that I had set along our property, just atthe entrance to what was Carol and John’s Hubbard’s field, to prevent any damage.

The sad thing is that, even after neighbors and I met with the Select Board about this problem, they have done absolutely nothing to help us.

The destruction continues, and what this rogue Highway Department crew has done throughout the town is going to result in very severe damage when we are hit with a once every 15-year rain event.  The cost could be overwhelming to us all.

I am now in the process of having to hire an attorney to help us fight the Select Board and have the road crew repair our damaged property. 

If you have had issues with the Walpole Highway Department, please email us at:  (only one ‘d’).

Eric Merklein


The published goal of The Walpolean is “Keeping the community up to date on community topics”.  In view of that, it has come to my attention that a number of people thought that School Board members were elected as representatives of their town to the regional school board.  As someone who (while not born here) has been around for many years, I would like to take the opportunity to clarify “the topic”.

When the School District was conceived this was, indeed the case. Langdon and Acworth each had one representative, Alstead had two, Charlestown and Walpole had three.  Each was elected by the people in their respective town.  

In 1987, the following amendment was made to the Articles of Agreement:

The main reason for the change was to create a more manageable number of Board members. (Considering the difficulty we experience in getting people to run for office, I would say the change was a good thing!)  The reason for “at large voting” was to assure that each town had a resident at the table and that the change met the principle of “one man, one vote”.

I hope that helps. – Lil

Meet the Candidate

It seems like we seldom have a race for a local election. This year we have one for school board. Meet Tom Ronning. – Lil


Name:              Thomas H. Ronning

Position:          Fall Mountain Regional School District School Board

Walpole Representative


I have placed my name on the ballot to represent the Town of Walpole as their representative on the Fall Mountain Regional School District’s Board of Education because I am passionate about the ever-changing educational needs of the youth in our community. I believe I have the knowledge and experience to continuing moving our school district forward in order to meet the needs of all students.  A few points of interest about myself:

  • Three decades of experience as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, and principal.
  • When requested, I have acted in the capacity of Superintendent of School’s.
  • I have been a member of the Alternative 3, Alternative 4 Certification Boards and the Principal’s Task Force to develop an effective evaluation template for the NH Department of Education.
  • I served as the School Board Chair for The Granite Hill School in Newport, NH for 16 years.
  • I have been involved with the New England Association of School’s and Colleges during the accreditation process for 4 schools.
  • I have served as the North Walpole Village moderator, Zoning Board Chair and been active in my church.

Having been involved with the creation of the “Vision of the Graduate” in our school district, I believe it is right in line with New Hampshire’s Community College System’s goal to attract, grow, and retain businesses in NH.  In order to do this, we must first train our youth and have the expectations for them to remain in the State of NH.  The belief of the Community College System is to ensure that our state has sixty-five (65) percent of adults twenty-five (25) and older “well equipped to success in the community, the nation and world” by the year 2025.  Fall Mountain has the ability to achieve this goal with so many supportive businesses and organizations.

I also believe that in addition to focusing on local government, we need to be cognizant of what is happening at the State level.  For example: 1) The new Governor could help our school district by funding kindergarten at 100% vs. the 50% level, thus, bringing revenue to our five towns and helping offset the educational portion of property taxes.  2) The new Commissioner of Education could take a look at what it means for a child to demonstrate competence beyond taking a test.  At the high school level extended learning opportunities, outside the school setting, may present valuable work experience for our youth, allowing them to earn certificates and increase their chances of long term employment.

I would appreciate your vote.

Thank you,

Thomas H. Ronning



Candidate’s Statement

The Grange was forced to cancel “Meet the Candidates Night” but encouraged candidates to share their position statement in The Walpolean.  I would be pleased to post others that might be sent my way – – Lil


Greetings fellow Walpoleans and residents of the Fall Mountain Regional School District,
My name is William K. Stahl, although most people know me as Billy. I am honored to be running for the position of Walpole School Board Representative for the Fall Mountain Regional School District.
After more than twenty years of involvement with this school district, I still feel like a cheerleader for our town and for our schools. In fact when I encounter families who are considering relocating, I often encourage them to consider Walpole — not only because it’s a great town, but also because it boasts great schools. Yes, taxes are high, but look at all we get.
My own sons have thrived in the Walpole schools. During the time they’ve been there I’ve had numerous interactions with our schools’ principal, teachers, guidance counselors, nurses, secretaries, special education personnel and everyone else who works here. I’ve continued to be impressed with their collective talent and professionalism, as well as with the genuine empathy they demonstrate for all students. Since my retirement from Fall Mountain Regional High School, I’ve had ample opportunity to get a real feel for our Walpole schools through working with them during lunch-time reading and book fair sales, as well as my wife and I working various special events. As a former teacher, I can spot a poseur from a long hallway away, but they seem scarce among the professionals who work with our children. So, I continue to value the benefits of a quality public school education for students and as an indication of our community’s health.

However, I do recognize that the taxes levied to support our schools have become nearly unbearable for some community members.
It is painful to hear how burdensome current taxation is for many district residents. Perhaps it is time to explore new and innovative approaches to our current educational programs, as well as the methods we use to fund them. While there are no quick fixes to the long-standing dilemma regarding how to fund New Hampshire schools, there will be opportunities for exploring new approaches — though only if we actively search for them.
This, then, is what I look to initiate during the coming year, the search I hope to begin.
We must continue to meet the needs of children, parents and educators. We must also meet the needs of our entire community, as well attracting and keeping residents. Of course we will economize in every possible way. Still, we need to be searching for new answers or school funding will continue to seem like a rock grinds us.

I hope you will grant me the opportunity to work for our community in the March 14 vote.

Attention Walpole Voters

Steve Dallesio asked me to alert my readers to this issue regarding school funding.  I must confess to being unsure of the issue since I have been out of town since February 1, but if it affects taxes it is certainly something that needs to be made available if The Walpolean is to fulfill its mission of keeping the community up-to-date. – Lil

By now you may have received a copy of the Fall Mountain School District Ballot in the mail or picked up a copy of the 2016 Annual Report at the town hall.  Please carefully read and understand the impact that the passing of Article 9 will have on our town (Back cover of Ballot mailing and Page 53 in report).

The Article proposes to change the way the school district allocates the budget between the towns in the district.  The passing of this article will have a significant impact on our town’s school tax rate.

Please consider voting NO to this article and note that the Fall Mountain School District School Board voted  Not To Recommend This Article.