Hudson-Litchfield News

Earth Day Event was a Success

Earth day is not the jubilant affair it once was.  The New Yorker published its first of three articles on Global Warming, the House of Representatives approved the energy bill, which paves the way for more drilling in Alaska.  However, in Litchfield, two third grade classes from Griffin Elementary school were invited to participate in a Community Service Event organized by The Timberland Company of Stratham, and Nesenkeag Farm, just opposite the school on Route. 3A.  The two classes cleared brush from Parker Park, a trail on conservation land donated by the farm, and created together with the Litchfield Recreation Commission.  With the assistance of City Year, also located in Stratham, students planted 6 dogwood trees to help beautify the park.


Third graders take a break from clearing brush at Parker Park.

Approached early in the year by The Timberland Company, Nesenkeag Farm Manager and Director Eero Ruuttila and Board Liaison Liana Eastman, were asked if they had any work at the farm for volunteers.  As talks progressed, they became excited with the possibilities of an organized crew.  The Timberland Company, which promotes the community and the environment through local services projects, pays its employees for 40 hours of volunteer work a year.  And, they back up their labor with a whole warehouse of tools and equipment to carry out any kind of project they meet.  Twelve wheelbarrows, 60 assorted spades and rakes, gloves, trash bags, and anything else needed were dropped off ahead of time.  Crew leaders from City Year were sent over a day ahead of time to review their projects, and check their equipment.  On Earth Day 80 or so volunteers showed up, signed in, learned where they were working, and set to work.  It is amazing what can happen in the course of eight hours with a crew of 80 workers.

Three packing sheds were erected, as well as piping and a tarp to cover the wash area where Nesenkeag packs its produce during the course of the season.  An area of severe erosion was filled in and planted with clethra, a fast-growing plant that helps prevent eroding washouts.  Fields along the Merrimack were cleared of the annual debris and trash that comes with spring floods.  Hoop houses were weeded and picnic tables were built.  Over at Parker Park, along with the elementary school students, the trails were spread with gravel, bridges were built to cover washouts.


Manchester Country Club chefs cook up lunch.

Lunch was generously donated by the Manchester Country Club who brought their grill and cooked up hamburgers and hotdogs for everyone.  Nesenkeag lettuce was dressed with a fine mixture of olive oil and herbs.  Volunteers raved about the food. 

Volunteers came from all over, from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Kansas, and even China.     The NH Food Bank, who receives produce from Nesenkeag every year sent over four of their staff to help out.  Timberland organizers Tom Roberts and Celina Adams pulled together people, skills, materials, and tools, but Earth Day at Nesenkeag Farm was only one project out of 125 Timberland service events world-wide, and the 80 volunteers that showed up were part of 30,000 worldwide volunteers.


Former Hudson Assistant Principal Arrested

by Lynne Ober

William Crowley, former Assistant Principal at Dr. H. O. Smith and Library Street Schools, has been arrested on two counts of felonious sexual assault on a 10 year old boy.  His arrest shook both the Gilford, New Hampshire community where he had been living and teaching since leaving Hudson and the Hudson community. 

The alleged incident took place in the boy’s home where Crowley was babysitting last December.  Crowley, who is unmarried, was reportedly friends with the child’s mother. 

Only recently did the boy tell his mother.  When she relayed the details to police, an investigation ensued.  According to a Police spokesman, Gilford Detectives Kevin Keenan and Kris Kelly interviewed Crowley and Crowley admitted the incident happened and said that he had “boundary issues.” 

Police and school officials in Gilford held a press conference at town hall after Crowley’s arrest.  According to Superintendent of Schools Paul DeMinico the boy was not a student of Crowley’s. 

Counselors were available in school for students last week and DeMinico, who wants to work with the community on this issue, sent written information home to parents.

At the time this article was written, Crowley was being held on $50,000 bail at the Belknap County Department of Corrections jail.  Crowley entered no plea at his arraignment.  A probable cause hearing has been set for May 3 at 9:00 a.m. in Laconia District Court.

Crowley taught in the Newfound School District from August, 1997 to June, 2001.  He interviewed and was hired for the Assistant Principal position in Hudson, but resigned at the end of the 2002 - 2003 school year so that he could go back into the classroom.

“This is a horrendous situation,” said Superintendent Randy Bell.  “I am shocked and upset.”

Hudson School District, like most school districts, does extensive background checks on all personnel before they are hired.  Crowley passed through an intensive interview process.  “We did extensive reference checks on his previous teaching experience,” said Bell.

In addition all school district employees have a criminal background check, including fingerprints reviewed through both the New Hampshire State Police and FBI national files.  “That’s just the normal hiring practice and is consistent with the School District policy on new hires,” stated Bell.  “We do it for everyone.”

DeMinico, like Bell, reported that Crowley’s job performance had been what was expected and that there had been no indication of any problems prior to Crowley’s arrest.

“I know that Gilford also made reference checks, including calling us.  At that time we had no information or reason not to recommend Mr. Crowley,” said Bell.

Bell sent a letter home to parents last Friday.   In his letter he left both his office phone number and his cell phone number as he planned to be on vacation this week while students are on break.

His letter outlined the steps that Hudson had taken when Crowley was hired and the shock and dismay that his arrest brought to everyone in the district.  “You entrust your children to our care, and we take that responsibility extremely seriously,” Bell wrote in his letter.

He urged parents to report to authorities if they have knowledge of “anyone engaging in inappropriate behavior with your children.  We work cooperatively with the Hudson Police on these issues, and I assure you that we investigate vigorously, and, at the same time, protect your dignity and your privacy.  We cannot tolerate predators among our children.”


Budget Woes Affect Litchfield

by Lynne Ober

Last winter with its extreme storms is still being felt in a number of towns, including Litchfield where Selectmen have voted to freeze all budgets.

At issue is the approximately $80,000 over run in the road budget.  “It’s certainly not Gerry’s fault,” said Litchfield Board of Selectmen Chairman Cecil Williams.  “He couldn’t control the weatherman.”

Gerry DeCosta is not alone in trying to make ends meet after the tough winter where more manpower was needed to clear roads and more sand and salt was used than had been anticipated.

However, DeCosta has already taken a number of pro-active steps to help Litchfield.  He’s applied for a FEMA grant that is available to towns hit by the harsh January storms.  Selectmen were told that when the grant comes, they can hold a hearing, accept it and add it to the Road Agent’s budget to help offset some of the extremely high costs resulting from the storms.

In the meantime, they agreed that they needed to hold the line of spending.  Projects that have been started will be continued, but department heads will be asked to monitor overtime and to freeze other expenses while Selectmen work on budget adjustments.

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