[Note: Rep. David Hess is Assistant Majority Leader of the New Hampshire House of Representatives]
BY KATHLEEN BAILEY – Hooksett Banner
Jim Sullivan, president of the Hooksett Lions Club, said Hess will be honored at a banquet celebrating his many civic accomplishments.
The Hooksett Citizen of the Year program is facillitated by the Lions, who accept nominations from members of the community. The nominee must be an outstanding Hooksett citizen, husband and wife team or other combination; be of good character; have had a positive influence in the community; and given extraordinary service in leadership.
The process is conducted by a nomination committee, Sullivan said, and it’s just as much a surprise to him as to the eventual winner.
He forwards the nominations, unopened, to the chairman, who meets with the committee to go over the nominees. He gets the winner’s name in January, he said.
Hess was nominated by Hooksett resident Steve Couture.
In the application, Couture wrote Hess had “unselfishly and capably served the Town of Hooksett and beyond for many years, and deserves recognition.”
Hess has served as a state representative for 22 years. He was Hooksett’s School District Moderator for 22 years. He served as the town legal counsel for 13 years. He has served on the Budget Committee and the 1988 Charter Commission, and past involvements include the Chamber of Commerce and Hooksett Youth Athletic Association. He served in the United States Air Force from 1968 to 1972 as a military judge, and was New Hampshire’s Assistant Attorney General in the 1970s.
Couture, who went to school with one of Hess’s sons, knew of the community leader before he actually met him. He was Hooksett’s state rep for most of Couture’s life.
“I have always known of Dave Hess and the leadership he has provided to the community,” said Couture.
Couture, an environmental advocate who works full-time for the Department of Environmental Services, finally got to know Hess as an adult, when Hess chaired the Natural Resources/ Open Space subcommittee for the Hooksett Master Plan update.
“I was a member of that subcommittee,” said Couture, “and appreciated the leadership and respect that Dave brought and was given due to his experience as a legislator and lawyer. It was that respect that brought legitimacy to what was proposed in the Master Plan.”
The Open Space portion of the Master Plan was, in Couture’s words, “a critical guide to consider balancing economic growth and natural resources.”
According to Couture, Hess became a member of the Conservation Commission so he could help implement the plan. The way he went about it is a testament to the man Hess is, Couture said.
Hess called him first, and asked if Couture thought the Conservation Commission would welcome his participation. This, Couture said, speaks to his humility.
“Here is a multi-term state legislator calling a fellow citizen who serves the Conservation Commission, and basically asking for a blessing to participate.”
Couture’s response? An unqualified, “Yes!” “Dave has unquestionable integrity, motivation, leadership and is respected for all these characteristics by the community,” said Couture. “As such, his participation with the Conservation Commission automatically gives the entire commission a higher level of consideration.”
Hess’s hard work and legislative experience brought the open space plan to fruition. But he didn’t stop there. Couture and Sullivan said Hess was instrumental in the purchase of the Clay Pond watershed, 500 acres that were the town’s first purchase of conservation land.
He was also instrumental in the purchase of the Pinnacle area to be preserved.
Most of all, Couture said, Hess has Hooksett’s and New Hampshire’s needs in the forefront of his life. On the nomination form Couture wrote, “He is a shining example of the level of dedication and commitment to follow the vision of Hooksett residents.” “I am surprised, honored and humbled,” Hess said.
Hess and his wife, Judi, moved to Hooksett in 1972. They wanted to return to New Hampshire after his discharge from the Air Force, and they chose Hooksett for two reasons: it was halfway between Manchester and Concord, and they had heard good things about the school system.
His two sons, Scott and Christopher, attended Hooksett schools in the elementary grades. Hess wasn’t disappointed in the school system.
Both boys were accepted at St. Paul’s School in Concord, and one graduated, while the other returned to public school after a year. But he found everything he needed at Central High School, Hess added.
The town has grown a lot bigger physically over 40 years, Hess said. The demographics have changed, and the per-household income has grown to the fourth largest in Merrimack County, a median income of $80,000 per family.
But the town hasn’t changed in its friendliness and volunteer spirit, Hess added.
“There is a lot of civic pride,” he said of his hometown. “It’s a fun place to be.”
For more information or tickets to the banquet, call Sullivan at 485-4951. Tickets are available for a $16 donation.