"The Royal Red Hats of Pelham" News
The Royal Red Hats of Pelham event for the month of February was a trip to Chunky's Cinema on Monday, Valentine's Day. The group hosting February's event was Joan Davis, Dot Carter, and Georgia Atwood. Filling in for Georgia who was unable to make it that day was Shirley Janocha. A few meetings, work, and preparation went into the scheduling of this affair by this talented group of Red Hatters.
Popcorn was provided at each table and then there was lunch; consisting of soup, sandwiches, chips or pasta salad and followed by a home made cake in the shape of a hat served for dessert. Lots of laughs were heard while watching the very funny movie Hitch, starring Will Smith.
Carolyn Mulligan who was the lucky winner of the gift.
Each Red Hatter picked their own unique and artistically hand-made Valentine's Day card with chocolates made by the group with a purple or red bow on top containing a cute poem inside. The person that chose the only card from the basket that opened backwards was the winner of a special gift.
That lucky person was Carolyn Mulligan. Congratulations and a big thank you goes out to this group for organizing such an enjoyable day and also to Chunky's Cinema for their hospitality.
At the monthly gathering on February 8, nominations for a new Queen Mother were taken. Nominated were Virginia Fichera, Joan Davis, Diane Brunelle, and our present Queen Mother Sue Hovling. Diane respectfully declined the nomination. The elections for Queen Mother and for new officers will be held at next month's gathering on Tuesday, March 8 at the Senior Center at 1:30 p.m. Possible activities from the April group were put forth to the Red Hatters with a decision to be decided by a majority vote at the March meeting. The movie Calendar Girl will also be shown that day. Hope to see you all there.
Candidates Night Held in Windham
by Lynn McNamara
Residents’ vying for office met Tuesday night at Windham’s Town Hall for Candidates Night sponsored by the Windham Women’s Club and hosted by resident Howie Glynn. There was standing room only for most of the meeting, which lasted more than 3 1⁄2 hours.
Seven residents are running for the two open seats on the Board of Selectmen, incumbents Alan Carpenter and Chris Doyle and challengers Margaret Crisler, Andrew Lane, Walter Kolodziej, Dennis Senibaldi and Louis Hersch. Mrs. Crisler is a former member of the Board of Selectmen, having served from 1997-2003. Mr. Kolodziej is an eight year member of the Planning Board. Dennis Senibaldi is the current Chair of the Recreation Committee and Vice Chair of the Conservation Committee. For both Mr. Lane and Mr. Hersch, this is the first foray into town politics.
Mr. Glynn read questions from the audience on issues ranging from conservation to recreation and including the high school, commercial development and taxes. When asked if they support the continuation of Current Use Funds being dedicated entirely to the purchase and preservation of conservation land, six of the candidates were in agreement that this was beneficial to both maintaining the town’s rural character and keeping taxes low. According to Mr. Carpenter, "unequivocally, the more open space you have, the lower your property taxes hold." Mr. Lane was the lone dissenter, stating that all money collected should go into the general fund and be allocated according to the vote of the tax payer.
The candidates were split on the need for a Town Recreation Director, which is on the ballot again this year. Some cited the additional programs a director could provide for all residents. Mr. Senibaldi stated that without a Recreation Director, the programs in town will stagnate. Mrs. Crisler noted that the town now has significant financial investments in fields and facilities and is in need of someone to supervise their consistent maintenance. Mr. Kolodziej, Mr. Lane, and Mr. Hersch were in opposition, with Mr. Hersch stating that if the position has been voted down twice in recent years, the Board of Selectmen should listen to the taxpayers and "take a break" on this issue.
The three candidates for the School Board faced the audience for the last hour. Contending for the two open seats are Michael Hatem, Beth Valentine, and Galen Stearns. Mr. Hatem is an attorney specializing in construction litigation and contract negotiations and has been one of the most vocal opponents of the high school project. Mrs. Valentine is a current member of the High School Communications Committee and a volunteer in the schools for the past ten years. Mr. Stearns is currently on the Board of Selectmen and is a 22 year resident of Windham. He stated that "at this important time in the town’s history a shared voice on the Board of Selectmen and the School Board can bridge the two."
Mr. Stearns and Mrs. Valentine support the current School Board and the high school project. Mr. Hatem, however, asserted that there have been numerous problems with the way the School Board has developed the project and contends that there remains an option for Windham students to continue at Salem High. Mr. Stearns stressed that even if the Salem School Board were amenable to extending the AREA agreement, the residents of both Salem and Windham have previously voted against it.
The three candidates agree that the potential loss of $2.5 million in state educational funding should be a consideration when deciding on the high school project. They differ greatly, however, on how it should factor in. Mr. Hatem stated it will be very difficult for Windham taxpayers to balance the mandating of kindergarten, the loss of state funding and the added costs of operating a Windham High School. Mrs. Valentine countered that if kindergarten was mandated, state funds would be forthcoming. She also stressed that "tying (Windham) to another town (Salem) that is also scheduled to lose funds, is fiscally very irresponsible. If the Salem School Board needs to balance revenue loss, where do you think they are going to look? They report not to Windham… they report to the Salem taxpayers. That is my biggest concern."