BJ’s Wholesale Club opened for business in Seabrook with a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week. The Board of Selectmen were on hand to welcome this major new business to Seabrook. BJ’s is located on Perkins Avenue, right off Route 1 and is a major piece of economic development for Seabrook.
C&J Bus opened their brand new facility in Seabrook on the site of the old Sam’s Club. CJ relocated from Newburyport and has been the linchpin of the redevelopment of the Sam’s Club site. The Seabrook Board of Selectmen were enthusiastic supporters of this redevelopment, which is bringing millions of dollars of investment, and jobs, to Seabrook. My thanks to Jim Jalbert and his family for this investment in Seabrook. The grand opening had the honor of having Governor Chris Sununu on hand for this event. Thanks to our great legislative delegation for their strong support as well.
Town of Seabrook Wastewater Treatment Facility Climate Resilience Assessment
Seabrook’s Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF), supporting roadway, and pump stations are vulnerable to climate impacts such as sea level rise and coastal storm surge. Located on Wright’s Island, the aging WWTF collects and treats residential, commercial, and industrial wastewater from most of the town. Any disruptions to WWTF operation due to flooding from sea-level rise and storm surge could result in significant public health risks. In order to inform long-term planning and ensure public health and safety, the WWTF Climate Resilience Assessment project will help the Town:
Better understand specific climate impacts to the WWTF
Identify potential adaptation options for improving the resilience of the WWTF
Inform the public of project results
Preparing for the long-term impacts of climate change will be critical for the future of our community. Through the Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) resiliency planning process, we want to ensure you are informed about the decisions the Town is making to safeguard this critical community asset. The Town has released a video and online comment form (tinyurl.com/SeabrookComment) to hear your comments and questions about conceptual resiliency options to help ensure that our WWTF is able to function in current and future changing conditions.
This project was funded, in part, by NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act in conjunction with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Coastal Program. The Town has contracted Weston & Sampson, an interdisciplinary design and engineering consultancy, to support this project.
Follow the Town’s website and Facebook platforms (@townofseabrooknh and @seabrookwwtf) for updates on this project. Visit the comment form (tinyurl.com/SeabrookComment) or contact the Seabrook Sewer Department at Wastewater@seabrooknh.org or 603-474-8012 for questions regarding this project.
The Board of Selectmen recognized the outstanding work of the Seabrook Fire Department at their meeting yesterday. Firefighters Troy Coleman, Binky Perkins, Rich Curtis, Jeremy Wright, and Captains Frank Chase and Seth Coleman were recognized for their quick and decisive actions that helped to save the life of a Seabrook resident at a home fire in March. Congratulations and thanks to this great crew of Seabrook Firefighters.
Chris Whipple has come up with a fine book giving us a look at CIA Directors, starting in the Kennedy/Johnson era. I read Whipple’s “The Gatekeepers” which was a very insightful book about White House Chief of Staffs. He has used the same techniques here, gathering the thoughts of CIA Directors still alive through interviews which offered some excellent commentary. Whipple gives us a look at the Directors, and how they interacted with the Presidents they served, starting with the most fascinating of spies, Richard Helms. Helms was a career man at the agency, and was in a position of authority, but not director, during the Bay of Pigs fiasco that caused so much turmoil at the Agency. Whipple shows us Helms, the expert bureaucratic infighter, not being “in the loop” on the Bay of Pigs planning. He was in a position of authority when the CIA, under orders, embarked upon Operation Mongoose, a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro with the help of U.S. organized crime figures. The Helms material is augmented by interviews with his widow Cynthia, and Whipple’s treatment of Helms, in certain instances, may be considered overly generous. Whipple reports Helms statement that when he took over as DDP in 1962 he “shut down” the CIA assassination plot against Castro. Whipple acknowledges that the evidence does not support Helms on that score. Helms took over as Director after appointment by LBJ, and as Director was charged with providing intelligence on North Vietnam. In this, the first Director covered, we see the constant theme of the Whipple effort. Helms provided intelligence on the Vietnam War that was not to LBJ’s liking, with LBJ simply ignoring the analysis that he disagreed with. (The CIA provided a 250 page analysis “The Vietnamese Communists Will to Persist” that was pessimistic about the U.S. ability to achieve its war aims) Helms in this instance did his job but determined that pushing LBJ on that score was not prudent for the agency.
“Helms reached a point where, in the morning briefings and the President’s daily brief, we just slacked off on providing information on Vietnam, said analyst Kerr. We did not do the aggressive pieces that were negative because they were counterproductive.”
The Spymasters Whipple Chris p 37.
Despite the recognition that LBJ was not receptive to this line of analysis Helms CIA took on the so called “domino theory” which argued that a U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam would lead to a communist wave of takeovers in Southeast Asia by producing “Implications of an Unfavorable Outcome in Vietnam” which diplomatically called into question the domino theory. Helms may have not pushed LBJ too hard but he kept producing analysis that was honest, and not what the President wanted. He walked a tightrope, including having to deal with demands by LBJ for domestic surveillance of the anti-war movement, a violation of the CIA Charter.
The Helms portion of the book, as mentioned, in some fashion sets the stage for the rest of the Whipple effort. How does the CIA Director maintain relevancy, and access to the President, if the intelligence being provided does not dovetail with what the Presidents desires? We get to examine the George Tenet “slam dunk” to George W. Bush on Iraqi WMD. A great section on the time of George H.W. Bush as CIA Director, considered by most observers to be a successful tenure. (Bush felt, with some justification, that he had been maneuvered into the slot by rival Donald Rumsfeld, who was looking to isolate Bush into what he believed to be a dead end job politically) Ronald Reagan’s Director, William Casey, led him into what became the Iran-Contra scandal, which wounded the Reagan presidency.
The book, from my perspective, gets high marks, giving us an overview of the Agency, and how it operates. Enhanced interrogation techniques? Yes we get a pretty good back and forth on that, and so many of the issues that have dogged the agency over the years. One theme referenced by Whipple is the Washington cliche that “there are only policy successes-and intelligence failures.” With the recognition, articulated by former Director Bob Gates, that “the CIA has one protector, and one customer, and if you can’t get that relationship right then the agency is screwed” the Agency has unfortunately molded intelligence to that reality. Whipple has given us the good, the bad, and the ugly in this book. We even get a quick look at James Jesus Angelton, likely the most impactful non-director to ever work at the Agency. More on Angelton in the fine book “Wilderness of Mirrors.” Pick this one up!
Due to the abnormally dry conditions, the Town of Seabrook Water Department is asking its customers to observe Voluntary Outside Water Use Restrictions.
The drought of 2020 has continued in the form of Abnormally Dry conditions through the winter and spring, resulting in lower groundwater levels. These conditions have reduced production capacity.
Restrictions are voluntary at this time, and the focus of our messaging is to eliminate excessive water use . This can be done by repairing any leaks inside or outsides of homes or businesses, reducing the frequency of washing cars and refraining from washing driveways and sidewalks. Also the Town would like residents and businesses to limit irrigation to 30 minutes every other day. Hopefully, this will reduce the need for mandatory water use restrictions later this summer.
The Seabrook Board of Selectmen were joined by Senator Tom Sherman in offering citations to Officer Dave Hersey of the Seabrook Police Department, who risked his life by charging in to a house fire and pulling a resident to safety. Officer Hersey was first on the scene, and his courageous, and quick action, saved a life. Congratulations Officer Dave Hersey.
With the return to in person meetings in Seabrook for the Board of Selectmen and all boards and commissions the question has come as to whether there are some aspects to “remote meetings” that can be utilized in the future. The likely end to the emergency regulations in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts has led to debate about whether some aspects of the emergency regulations that allowed public bodies to meet remotely should be retained.
Our experience, in Seabrook, has been that remote meetings have brought a significant increase in public participation. There are likely several reasons for this that are not that hard to figure out. Once the public became comfortable with the technology (Zoom in our case) the convenience of remote participation drove greater public input and participation in local municipal meetings. With screen capture and the ability to make full presentations readily available through the available technology Planning and Zoning Boards have been able to seamlessly continue to work through remote meetings.
As we do return to pre-pandemic law governing public meetings both states are looking at legislation to allow for some continuation of the ability to conduct “remote meetings.” In Seabrook we have managed to return to in person meetings while still allowing the public to interact with our Boards and Commissions via Zoom. This hybrid model allows the Zoom participant to interact with, both visually and through audio, the municipal board in session. We have managed to utilize the technology without any problems for the past month, and will continue to do so.
In Massachusetts the Massachusetts Municipal Association has advocated for retention of some aspects of remote meetings. A trio of Massachusetts Town Managers offered compelling testimony in favor of retention of some of the pandemic rules before the State Legislature. With new technology getting better and making public participation easier reverting to pre-pandemic rules is not the best way forward.
Seabrook held its Memorial Day Service yesterday, and although the weather was not the best there was a great ceremony, as well as the Parade. A few raindrops did not stop Seabrook from honoring the memory of those that made the ultimate sacrifice. A big thank you to Katie Duffey of Seabrook Recreation for all of her work, as well as Seabrook DPW, Seabrook Police, and Seabrook Fire for all of their work on the event as well. As always a big thank you to American Legion Post 70 for all of the work they put in to this event. The Seabrook Board of Selectmen were on hand, and have always been huge supporters of this event in Seabrook. Thank you to Senator Tom Sherman, as well as Reps. Tim Baxter, Max Abramson, Tina Harley and Aboul Khan for their participation as well. The video of the service is below.
The Seabrook Board of Selectmen recognized Kelly McDonald and the Emergency Management Department for their outstanding work in seeking, and receiving, over $400,000 in reimbursements from the federal CARES Act as well as FEMA. Kelly has been the lead on this, with support from department head Joseph Titone and Fire Chief William Edwards. This has been vital for the Town, amounting to about 1.5% of the total Town budget. Thank you to Kelly for this great work.