Keene's the hook in Free State commercial
|Title:||Keene's the hook in Free State commercial|
Keene's the hook in Free State commercialby Benjamin Yelle 02/23/04
Keene's scenic beauty and vibrant downtown have been selling points for city business owners and politicians for years.
Now, the city's Railroad Square will be featured in a television commercial aimed at luring members of the Free State Project to the Granite State.
Keene resident James G. Maynard, the Free State Project's New Hampshire contact person, has produced and is featured in the commercial, which will begin airing Wednesday. He is joined in the ad by local Free Staters Patricia L. LaPree and Justin Somma.
The Free State Project was formed in 2001 as a movement to bring 20,000 libertarians to one state in hopes of gaining political power. Their tenets include small government, fiscal conservatism and individual freedom. On Oct. 1, the 5,000 members of the project voted to move to New Hampshire. Maynard estimates the group now has about 5,500 members.
"With the lowest crime in the nation, the lowest taxes in the continental U.S., and a part-time citizen legislature, the state of New Hampshire is the ideal place for libertarians and other friends of local, responsible government to relocate," the project's Web site states.
The Keene television commercial which will air on WNNE Channel 31 throughout western New Hampshire and eastern Vermont, and WPTZ Channel 5 in Western Vermont and eastern New York is part of a campaign aimed at convincing voters in Killington, Vt., to secede from that state and join New Hampshire. It was filmed last week.
The project has also developed three half-page newspaper ads which have run in the Mountain Times of Killington.
Killington selectmen are urging voters to secede from Vermont because they claim the town is overtaxed by the state. They have discussed rejoining New Hampshire a move many claim is outrageous.
Vermont Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz said Killington has little chance of secession "absent an armed-insurrection type of thing."
But supporters of the move say the town's restaurants, inns and other businesses send $10 million a year to the state capital in sales, room and meal taxes, but the state returns just $1 million in state aid to Killington.
The town is hit especially hard by a statewide property tax imposed in 1997 to fund schools. Killington, population 1,092, won a Superior Court order that called the state's method of assessing local properties "arbitrary and capricious," but the Vermont Supreme Court reversed that decision. New Hampshire, 25 miles east, has no income tax or sales tax.
Maynard said the commercial attacks Vermont's tax system "in a light-hearted, comical fashion."
He said the message the commercial tries to get across is that state government waste and a burdensome tax system can turn any town into another Killington. Maynard said the commercial serves a dual role in showing people what a great place New Hampshire and Keene specifically is to live.
"Keene is a beautiful, beautiful place," Maynard said. "I wouldn't want to do (the commercial) anywhere else."
While the Free State Project has been out of the national media spotlight lately, Maynard said the group has been busy with a "massive reorganization" designed to ease the move to New Hampshire.
"We've been working hard every day," he said. "We're really looking forward
to making things better for ourselves, our parents and our children."
Associated Press contributed to this report.
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