Phone: 603-778-0885
Fax: 603-778-9183

On July 31,2017, Cliff retired from the RPC after more than 30 years with the Commission. Thank you for all you have done, Cliff!

Below are Cliff's kind words from his reirement celebration about planning, the region and the RPC staff, Commissioners and community.


Thank you for all this…. But mostly thank you all for coming; I appreciate your being here. I want to especially thank by friends in Exeter for allowing the use of this special place Quite an honor.

I am humbled by all this and deeply appreciative, if a little embarrassed. Thank you Annette and Glenn, everyone on the staff and Phil everyone else who had a hand in putting all this together.

I have been looking forward to this moment for quite a long time so get comfortable because I have a few things I want to say.

I’ll start by stating the obvious – 30 years is a long time to be doing the same thing – and more that long enough, for both me and the RPC. An old acquaintance of mine who worked for several non-profit organization over his carrier pontificated to me once that no one in non-profit public service should stay in their job for more than about 5 , and furthermore that it’s a disservice to so. If that’s the case, and it may well be, then I have a lot to apologize for.

I said I have been looking forward to this moment and I certainly do, but I’ve also learned that retirement is not a moment but a process – and at times an excruciating one!

As my last day at the RPC has approached its become a lot more complicated than thoughts of sunsets on the beach, long bike rides, road trips or whatever. I’ve discovered that it is not so easy to just stop what you’ve been doing for thirty years.

I’ve been thinking more and more about the all the people I’ve gotten to know and work with, gotten to appreciate – all of you – and yes taken for granted. And there is just no denying that will be a void – so it’s a mixed bag, like most things.

I feel this way especially about the people I been closest too – my collegues at the RPC – so I want to take a minute of two to talk about them so you’ll know what I mean.

  • Annette: first among equals – truly the heart of the RPC and the glue that keeps the place together and functioning. She also happens to be a wise and wonderful human being – someone I learned a lot from- especially parent skills…
  • Glenn: provides the levity and warmth that our office is noted for and that makes it a good place to work. But much more than that he is the office mentor who a helped more new planners than I care to think about to know and do their jobs well. RPC is deep in his bones and he is incredibly loyal to the organization
  • Dave: our office warrior fiercely protective of RPCs role in th world and noted for his daily jousting with our partner agencies – one in particular.
  • Scott: Scott is our office renaissance man with an amazing breath of interests, skill and compassion which he brings to the sometimes cold world of transportation planning – he’s also incredibly competent and smart and thoughtful.
  • Roxanne: is the office mind reader, who at least for me know wht I’m going to need or do before I do;
  • Julie: as Glenn dubbed her years ago, Julie is the energizer bunny. In this age of superheroes, maybe wonder woman planner would be equally apt. She has boundless initiative, and amazing breath and knowledge in planning and has lead the RPC into some of the most important work we’ve ever done.
  • Jenn: One of the most “can-do” / “get it done” people I’ve ever known. She sees a need and just gets it done. And I’ve come to learn that she can do just about anything
  • Rob: Rob, affectionately known as Bubba, which belies an incredible depth on knowledge. He has an illness: he is compulsively helpful, and would give you the shirt off his back, while fixing your computer and producing some dazzling map.
  • Christian: Christian has been with us just six months but long enough to confirm my suspicions about him: really good at his job and a terrific and thoughtful human being. I really regret that I will not have the chance to work with him -- and I hope he can forgive the facet that I announce that I was retiring on his second day on the job.
  • Theresa: who has never quite escaped from being an RPC staff person in my mind. Theresa has all all of these traits rolled into one person. She is old soul with a young heart, who brightens the office whenever she is present, someone who you just want to be around.

So now you have some insight into what I’m giving up. What I will miss is the chance to work tis this crew on a daily basis. They are family.

This is not to suggest I’m having second thoughts….Here are some things I won’t miss:

  • night meetings,
  • making presentations,
  • timesheets,
  • trying to figure out whether to close the office with winter weather
  • trying to justify the existence of the RPC to another skeptical local official who doens quite get the concpt and only wants to know what we’ve done for them lately
  • worrying about payroll
  • I could go on…!

I’ve spent some time over the last few months thinking about how the agency has changed over my years here….something I’ve been reminded of as I’ve purged and purged the piles of accumulated paper from my office.

From when George Olson had to personally guarantee a loan to make payroll once or twice in those early days over the Loaf and Ladle. Survival was not guaranteed. (But we had the occasional beer tasting to keep our mind off things)

But George and his collegues at the other RPC made it through that early ‘survivor episode’ and built the RPCs into something respectable and important in NH state and local government.

And for the most part we are still there today. But my advice to state and local officials who may be listening is to not take this or the other RPCs for granted. We belong to you, but survival is never guaranteed and certainly won’t happen without your support.

Planning itself has changed. We were born at a time of intense growth in this region when we defined ourselves and our worth by helping communities manage that growth. We’ve moved away from the era of planning as growth management to the era of planning as community building and improving. That’s a much better place to be as a planner and as a planning organization.

Looking forward I certainly see headwinds for agencies like ours, when some people can’t seem to remember why planning and other governmental functons are necessary. BUT mostly I have optimism for the RPC, for three important reasons:

  • We live in a region that people passionately care about and want to protest and improve;
  • We have a truly outstanding staff who can leap tall buildings, and many other things, a staff who as a group are deeply vested in this place, and one that includes a new, terrific, Executive Director, Tim Roache, who gets to work on Tuesday full of fantastic ideas and the skill to seize new opportunities. Be sure to welcome him.
  • And finally Our Board - who is more engaged and energized than I’ve ever known them to be, taking personal responsibility in making sure we succeed in our mission.

And speaking of the board, there are four people serving the Board that I want to especially thank individually for all they have done and the support they have given to me over the years:

  • Tim Moore – the stalwart commission – always there to help, and engage and serve. Tim has the distinction of have served on every single committee that that the commission has at one time or another
  • Barbara Kravitz: when I talk about the board being engaged and energized and involved I am thinking of Barbara who has a burning desire that we we be all we can be.
  • Glenn Coppelman: Glenn is our longest serving commissioner at this point - 31 years. Glenn is a highly respected planning professional in his own right, but to this Commission, has been its most faithful supporter. I think of him as our guradian angel
  • Phil Wilson: I played a terrible trick on Phil, knowing of his strong leadership skills and the career in human resources management. I talked him into being chair knowing that I would retire during his 2 year tenure. So I will always need his forgiveness. But I’m unrepentant because it was a really smart thing to do, as the result has borne out. He’s lead the Commission in a very successful – not an easy in a place that hasn’t had a change in leadership in so long.

There are two other people I want to thank. George Olson, who taught me everything important I needed to know to do this job (including GNO’s golden rules) and who has kept me sane and upright through 30 years of mental health lunches. And also Chris Miller long time and very good friend who got me into this business and into NH in the first place some 35 years ago.

In closing I want to say what I’ve been saying for a while now. That Planning is a privileged thinkg to do in our society. Planners are being asked in a very real way to look our for our collective future. I feel immensely privileged to have been able to do this, here, with all of you, for so long.

Thank you.


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*As a public agency we don’t have a pool of money reserved for celebratory events so it’s necessary to appeal to those of us who have worked with Cliff to raise the money required for this send off. We would like to be able to cover the costs of food and beverages. This is all voluntary of course and we greatly appreciate any donation you feel comfortable offering. There are two ways to donate. If donating by mail, send a check payable to the Rockingham Planning Commission to Annette Pettengill at 156 Water Street, Exeter NH 03833. We have set up a PayPal account to make donating on-line possible as well. Just follow the link below to make your donation! To assist our planning efforts donations would be best received by July 21st.