BATH — Under a bill that lawmakers will soon consider, the late Ray Burton, whose name is already synonymous with public service in the North Country, could become even better known.
A longtime resident of Bath, Burton — a Republican who represented District 1 on the New Hampshire Executive Council for 23 years and was a Grafton County commissioner for 22 years — died Nov. 12 from liver cancer.
Known for his collegiality and his nonpartisan approach to politics, Burton was an ardent champion of the North Country.On Wednesday, the state Senate’s Public and Municipal Affairs Committee is scheduled to consider Senate Bill 357 to name a scenic overlook and the visitor center being built on Interstate 93 in Hooksett in Burton’s honor.Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-District 2, introduced the bill, which is co-sponsored by 20 of her fellow senators.
If SB357 became law, the scenic overlook on Route 302, across from the entrance to the Mount Washington Hotel in the town of Bretton Woods, would be known as the Raymond S. Burton Scenic Overlook. Simultaneously, per an amendment to SB357 that is also being proposed by Forrester, one of the visitor centers on Interstate 93 would be called the Raymond S. Burton Visitor Center.
Burton’s connection to the rest area is through his long acquaintances with Alex Ray, the founder of Ashland-based Common Man family of restaurants and himself a North Country native, and Rusty McLear, who was Ray’s frequent business partner and is the co-owner and president of Mill Falls at the Lake, which operates several inns and properties along Lake Winnipesaukee in Meredith.
The men’s latest venture — Granite State Hospitality, LLC — was awarded a 35-year lease to operate both the northbound and southbound services areas on I-93 in Hooksett. Last October, Burton and Gov. Maggie Hassan broke ground on the visitor centers, which each will feature a N.H. Liquor Commission retail store, gas station, bank, country store, a deli and two restaurants.
Forrester said both men asked her to remember Burton in the naming of the visitor centers and she readily agreed.
Forrester said it would be “a nice tribute to Ray.”