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Wednesday
Feb132013

Speaker Harold Burns Has Cancer

            As if word of the illness to Executive Councilor Ray Burton was not bad enough for this week, now we learn that former House Speaker and State Senator Harold Burns, of Whitefield, is not well.  He fought throat cancer a few years ago, but according to State House sources, the cancer has returned, and the prognosis is not good.

            Harold Burns was Speaker just prior to my arrival in the House in 1996; Donna Sytek replaced him.  After a few years’ hiatus, he returned as District 1 State Senator (between the tenure of Fred King and John Gallus).

            A Republican, he’s a good friend of current Democratic Senator Jeff Woodburn (see story below).

            As Speaker, Harold Burns earned a reputation as being fair to everyone.  In fact, he was far less political than Speakers have been since.  He let the majority office handle much of the politics and focused on making sure the House ran properly, a pretty good idea in my opinion.   We can be fairly sure that there was no challenging the rule of the chair when Harold Burns was Speaker.  Correct me if I'm wrong.

            Thus, we hear bad news about two North Country institutions this week.

            Ray Burton, according to reports, is out of the hospital; while we keep him in our thoughts and prayers, let’s open up space for Harold Burns as well.

            We’ve also learned that long-time Department of Safety Administrator Earl Sweeney is hospitalized with a hip problems.  We see a lot of him in Criminal Justice and missed him yesterday; that was the first indication that something was amiss.   He also missed the chance to testify against my bills in Transportation to raise interstate speed limits—anything further I say here would be misconstrued as politically incorrect by the humorless Drews of the world.

            Get better Earl; we miss you (some times) and keep it to 65 on your way home!           

            Medicine is not my strong suit, so hopefully there’ll be no more such reports here for a long time.

Harold Burns remembers sugaring as young boy

Posted on 07 April 2011 by WMNadmin

By Jeff Woodburn

For Whitefield’s Harold Burns sugaring is a family tradition dating back seven generations and two-hundred years. It has been in the last half-dozen years that the Burns have ramped up their operation with a new sugar house with an oil-fired evaporator.  They tap 534 trees mostly with vacuum lines, but they do haul a few buckets. Still, modernity is not what comes to mind when one glances around. Old buckets, tools, a few signs (one offering cottages for rent and another reminding wayward travelers they’re trespassing) dating back at least a century and are reminder of the back-breaking diversity of an old farm-homestead. Now, the Burns does for fun, what their ancestors did to survive.


Harold Burns, a former Speaker of the New Hampshire House and State Senator, is Whitefield’s town moderator. The season usually begins after town meeting. He only recalls once before tasting the sweetness of maple syrup, along with the bitterness of local politics. It is a contrast that jars his memory. Still, when you’re a six-generation tree-tapper, change doesn’t come easy. As Burns rests against an old stool that belonged to his grandfather, he reminds that today’s process stops short of the one of his youth. They didn’t boil sap to get maple syrup, but rather that “that was the way we got sugar.”

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Reader Comments (1)

Harold, like Ray Burton, is a good stand-up man, a Republican in the best sense, and has always shown tremendous dedication to the people of New Hampshire. Here's hoping for the best for both of them.
February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim Splaine

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