This week in Concord history

March 11, 2003: Town meeting season swings into high gear as voters in towns across New Hampshire go to the polls to elect selectmen and school board members. Voters in Pembroke, Hopkinton and Barnstead vote to expand their boards of selectmen from three to five members. And voters in Barnstead, Pittsfield, Northfield, Epsom, Bow and Loudon endorse measures to slow the growth of housing development.

March 11, 2000: After 15 months of negotiations, the Concord teachers’ union and school board have a tentative agreement on a new contract, the Monitor reports.

March 11, 1734: Its right to self-government recognized seven years after the first white settlers arrive, Rumford in Essex County, Mass., convenes its first town meeting at 2 p.m. In time the town will be known as Concord, N.H.

March 12, 2003: Residents come out in droves to the Hopkinton town meeting to reject a nearly $1 million project to revitalize Contoocook Village. It fails overwhelmingly, 334-196. “You have to vote your pocketbook,” says Contoocook resident George Twomey, 73. “It isn’t a question of whether it’s good, bad or otherwise; you have to vote your pocketbook.”

March 13, 2001: Spurred on by months of intense debate, more than 2,100 Bow residents flood the polls to vote on whether to abandon the traditional town meeting form of government. (A majority of voters say no.) A year earlier, when turnout was lighter, proposals to switch to official ballot voting for both the town and the school district came much closer to passing.

March 13, 1993: People hunker down for what television has hyped as the “storm of the century.” Concord gets 17 inches of snow. Most roads will be clear by morning.

March 13, 1782: The Legislature meets in Concord for the first time. The site is “the Old North,” the First Congregational Church. The building will burn in 1870. It was on the site of the current Walker School.

March 13, 1852: For the third time in three years, local voters reject a plan to turn Concord from a town to a city. The vote is 458 in favor and 614 against.

March 14, 2000: Kearsarge Regional School District voters reject plans to launch the state’s first charter school. “There were still some voters out there who didn’t understand what a charter school was,” says Susan Farber, a founding member of the charter school effort.

March 14, 1660: William Leddra is hanged in New Hampshire “for being a Quaker.”

March 14, 1968: Thomas J. Saltmarsh, a 19-year-old paratrooper from Concord, is killed in action near Saigon. He is the 16th local man to die in combat during the Vietnam War.

March 14, 1939: The Monitor reports that the task of renaming city streets has been turned over to the city planning board by an aldermanic committee which has had the job for nine months and renamed just one street.

March 14, 1947: The Monitor editorializes in favor of the construction of a city swimming pool – and a plan to charge swimmers a fee: “It is no more unreasonable to expect swimmers to pay something for this privilege than it is to expect golfers at Beaver Meadow or tennis players at Memorial Field to pay enough to cover the costs of their sport.”

March 15, 2003: Fifteen communities in the area hold town meetings, many of which last from early morning until late afternoon. Pembroke voters buy a $2 million safety complex. Tilton residents purchase a new recycling center and Little League field. Gilford residents approve a 24 percent pay raise for teachers over the next three years. Pittsfield voters agree to explore purchasing the town water company. And in Loudon, residents tell police Chief Bob Fiske to work as many hours as he pleases.

March 15, 1914: The Right Rev. William Woodruff Niles dies in Concord at the age of 81. He had served as New Hampshire’s Episcopal archbishop for more than 40 years.

March 15, 1878: After two trials, Joseph Lapage is executed for the ghastly murder of Josie Langmaid. Miss Langmaid, a student at Pembroke Academy, was dragged into the woods, raped and decapitated the morning of Oct. 14, 1875. A prison historian remarks: “The evidence against him at the best was scant, but his guilt was black as night.” In his last hours, Lapage reportedly says: “Me kill girl.”

March 16, 1680: New Hampshire’s first colonial assembly meets in Portsmouth. Today’s Legislature has 424 members. That year, just 11.

March 16, 1983: The Monitor reports on the results of local straw polls on a statewide bottle-return bill. Loudon, Canterbury, Hopkinton and Deering vote in favor. Pittsfield tables the issue. Northwood says no.

March 17, 2001: Many Bow residents wake up to a surprise, learning that the school bond they defeated the night before isn’t dead just yet. Hundreds of voters went home after a proposal to build a $5.9 million elementary school had failed. Much later in the meeting, however, the issue was reopened when a motion to reconsider was approved by the remaining voters. Ultimately, the initial vote will stand.

March 17, 1999: A report on how state agencies are preparing for possible computer problems on Jan. 1, 2000, finds so many deficiencies a key legislator suggests the governor appoint a Y2K czar. Ultimately, the New Year will come and go without disruption.

March 17, 1681: The Governor’s Council proclaims this a day of public fasting and prayer for John Cutt, New Hampshire’s first colonial governor, who has fallen ill. Cutt soon dies, but New Hampshire will observe Fast Day for more than three centuries.

Author: Insider Staff

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