Pelham-Windham News

Rain Interrupts Pelham Graduation

by Lynne Ober

Early in the afternoon the Pelham Cable TV crew set up cameras and equipment cloaked in rain protective gear, chairs were arranged, and the stage decorated.  Everyone kept looking at the sky, but by time for the Fanfare Processional, the skies were clear and the evening sun shone on the graduates in their blue and white caps and gowns. 

Happiness before the rain
Happiness before the rain.

Pelham High School Principal, Dr. Dorothy Mohr, presiding at her first graduation as principal, opened the ceremonies by telling students they had an “awesome life in front of them.”  She reminded them to thank their parents and enjoy their life’s journey.

Salutatorian, Alyssa Brawn, told her classmates that “graduation is not an end.  We are also here to celebrate our commencement – a time of beginning once again.  As we begin a new journey in our lives, we will always remember the times we spent here at Pelham High School.”  Brawn quoted from Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go! 

Class Essayist, Keri Kres, greeted the crowd with an infectious giggle.  “We actually did it.  We’re graduating today,” she said to the applause of her fellow graduates.  Kres reminded graduates of Pelham High School events that will now just be memories.

While the Pelham High School Chorus – Seniors sang Call Me Anytime, thundering could be heard from the gray clouds gathering in the western sky.  That prompted Mohr to change the order of the graduation and announce that the presentation of the diplomas would be moved up.

As each senior walked across the stage, his or her name was called, plans for the next year announced and honors students recognized.  There were 139 graduates and as the last few lined up under still sunny skies, Mother Nature dropped a few rain drops as her final warning to attendees.

After the diplomas had been presented, it was Class President Victoria Volpicelli’s turn to speak.  “Over these past four years we have all grown as one, one hugely diverse group.  We are all so different in so many ways.”  Volpicelli recalled events from their senior year and then cautioned her fellow classmates, “Take your time; tomorrow is a new day.  Remember success is measured in many different ways; ultimately success is about personal happiness.  You only live once, so live well.”

She called the other officers of the senior class onto the stage for a presentation of bouquets to Class Advisors Mrs. Judy Metz, and Ms. Jen Nugent and also to Ms. Lynn Ready.  Before that presentation could be completed a curtain of fat raindrops began to pelt the audience.  As soon as the faculty members had their flowers, Mohr urged everyone to seek temporary shelter in the school and there was a dash for haven.

After a few moments of watching the gloomy sky, faculty and graduates began setting up an impromptu stage.  Mr. Costa urged guests to find seats in the bleachers, but there weren’t enough seats.  There was an over flow standing at the back of the gym.

The podium was brought in and dried off; sound system set up; Cable TV’s Phil Scanzani got a hand held camera and took a position that would allow him to continue taping the graduation and Pelham High School’s Jazz Band, the Jazz Crusaders set up in the back corner.  Graduates and guests took their seats and the graduation continued indoors.

Class Secretary and Valedictorian George Puddister told the audience, “It’s been a long four years, but at the same time the years seemed to have flown by.”  Puddister took his classmates back to their freshman year when the tragedy now known as 9 – 11 occurred and recalled how he watched the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center fall.  He recalled other national and local events – including the Patriots three Superbowl wins and the Red Sox championship.  “I think we can learn a lesson from the Red Sox.  They came together as a team, with determination and resolve, but they also remembered to enjoy the game they loved; to not take themselves too seriously.”

Guidance Director Cheryl Bissaillon guided the Presentation of Awards to graduates.  When the last award had been given out, she announced that graduates had earned $26,350 in local scholarships and $301,500 from college scholarships.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Elaine Cutler, in kindness to the guests who had been standing for over an hour, announced that she would cut her speech short, directed graduates and guests to her message printed in the Pelham-Windham News before telling graduates that she believed that each of them “has the ability and will to be successful.”

Mohr called Class President Victoria Volpicelli forward for the switching of the tassels.  “We are now officially graduated,” she announced to a loud roar.  Hats filled the air.

With the Jazz Crusaders playing Tough Talk for the Recessional, the graduates performed their last act as a class – they marched out and into new lives.

Congratulations to the Class of 2005.


Draft Deed for old Town Hall Presented to Pelham Selectmen

by Lynne Ober

Pelham voters voted on a petitioned warrant article to donate old Town Hall to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of the U.S., Pelham Memorial Post 10722.  “For the purpose of no longer burdening Pelham taxpayers with any and all costs associated with this building.”

The warrant article further states “d.  To protect Pelham we insist the deed have the following two restrictions.  (1) The VFW cannot sell the building (2) if the VFW ever disbands the building would be returned to the town of Pelham.”

The warrant article ends, “This warrant article will have NO TAX IMPACT EVER!”

Now eighteen months after that warrant article passed, the VFW has not completed the steps to transfer the building to their organization and the Town is still paying all the bills, which has become an issue with the current status of the default budget voted this past March by voters. 

“In 2004, we paid $728 in electric and $1,576 in heating fuel [for old Town Hall].  So far in 2005 we’ve spent $502 in electric and $851 in heating fuel,” said Town Administrator Tom Gaydos.  Those bills do not include any snow removal, or maintenance on the heating and air-conditioning systems.  In addition the Town continues to pay the insurance on this building.

Pelham Selectmen recently reviewed a draft deed and proposed a July 5 transfer date.  Mooskian spoke at that meeting and was against several items in the deed and the proposed transfer date. 

At that meeting Mooskian claimed that the warrant article gave the building to the National VFW organization and not to the post, but when Selectman Ed Gleason read the warrant article, it did say that it would be donated to Pelham Memorial Post 10722.  Mooskian responded that he wanted his attorney to review the deed and again stated that the old Town Hall should go to the national organization.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Victor Danevich questioned this statement.  “Do you think the voters thought they were giving it to a national organization or to the local post?” he wondered.

Paying the on-going costs for old Town Hall has obviously become a hardship for Selectmen, who struggle at every meeting with ways to fund programs and department activities.  As a result of March’s vote, they have already cut Recreation programming, decided not to repair the tennis courts, worried about how to pay for plowing this coming winter, and have put off road projects.  Road striping won’t get done this year nor will much brush cutting.  The Police Department had to cut back its School Resource Officer program in order to meet budgetary requirements.

A quick look at this year’s Town budget will show that there is no line item for paying old Town Hall Maintenance, and yet, requests for assistance come in from the VFW. 

Mooskian stated that the air conditioner “fan motor had frozen”, indicated that the VFW did want to have air-conditioning, but didn’t think that maintenance would cost much.  Gaydos disagrees about the cost and noted that there are startup costs every season for both heating and air-conditioning.

According to Gaydos when the VFW held a blood drive, “Charlie informed us of the blood drive and, still having the deed and the insurance responsibilities, I informed Charlie that attention would have to be paid to keeping the sidewalks, steps, and parking areas clear.”  Because we were having a snowy winter, Pelham bore the costs of snow removal prior to the Blood Drive.

In response to a query, Mooskian said that it was against VFW bylaws to pay for items on a piece of property that the VFW doesn’t own.  As a result, the VFW not only asked the Town to pay for snow plowing, but continues to believe that the Town must pay the utility bills without any financial assistance from the VFW.

In 2004 Mooskian did appear before the Board of Selectmen and ask why the deed hadn’t been transferred.  At that time he was told that the VFW needed to go through the Zoning Board of Adjustment and Planning Board or the Town would have to issue a cease and desist order if the deed was transferred and the VFW attempted to use the building.

Mooskian questioned this process, but finally seemed to understand what needed to be done.  He then asked that the VFW be allowed to use the building while the steps were completed and this request was granted.

Now, more than 18 months have passed since the vote, and the steps still remain to be completed.

Although the VFW did go before the ZBA, they have not gone before the Planning Board.  To complete that they must have a site plan and they do not. 

Mooskian stated that Herbert and Sons will do a site plan at no cost to the VFW, but that he was told that if it was done without a design for a septic system, that the VFW would have to later pay for the septic system design.

According to Mooskian, he’s met with Town Administrator Tom Gaydos on a number of times. 

To design the septic system would require that test pits be dug.  Some group would have to pay to dig these test pits.  Mooskian said that Gaydos told him to hold off so he had stopped work on this.

Gaydos, on the other hand, said that was not true.  “Why would I tell Charlie to stop if I would later be the person who had to work with him on the cease and desist order?”

The draft deed deeds not only the old Town Hall, but also the property where the parking is located.  Selectman Hal Lynde questioned if the second property should be included in the deed, but after discussion Selectmen agreed that both parcels should be included – otherwise the VFW would have no parking at their building.

The deed also states:

  • VFW Memorial Post 10722 is the Grantee.
  • Grantee cannot dispose of or transfer ownership of the premises to any person or entity other than the Town of Pelham, New Hampshire
  • “If Grantee disbands, dissolves, or ceases to operate or exist as a New Hampshire non-profit corporation, or ceases to use the building on a regular basis for a period of three (3) months, the ownership of the premises will automatically and without further action by either party, revert to the Town of Pelham, New Hampshire.”
  • “Grantee cannot mortgage, pledge, lease, encumber, or otherwise lien the premises.”
  • “Grantee shall abide by and comply with the restrictions imposed by the Pelham Zoning Board of Adjustment in its decision dated December 13, 2004, as follows:
  • No alcoholic beverages to be sold on the premises;
  • Except for reasonable maintenance, the exterior façade of the buildings is to be maintained in its current visual style, except for changes that increase the historical character of the building;
  • The signage can be changed, but kept in the same style as the existing Town Hall sign, and
  • Parking is to remain in existing Woodbury Avenue location.”
  • “Grantee shall maintain casualty insurance in an amount equal to the replacement value of the building.”
  • “The Grantor has no easement for the septic system and any agreement for future use of the septic system shall be between the Grantee and the owners of that abutting property.”

At this point, Selectmen are ready to proceed with the deed transfer.  Mooskian is taking the deed to his attorney.

“There are other options for using old Town Hall, if the VFW decides not to accept it,” said Gaydos.  One such option would be to move Pelham TV into the basement which would be a better location than the Annex and to move the CERT program into the building so that it can continue to expand.


Pelham Elementary Students Score With Reading

by Karen Plumley

The Pelham Elementary School reading incentive program, Score With Reading, came to a conclusion on Wednesday, June 15 at an assembly complete with music, dancing, and an awards presentation.  Steve Blount, entertainer and schoolteacher from Nashua, was the main attraction.  Mr. Blount did many of his own original favorite children’s tunes including Summer Vacation, Hang on Henry, and a song promoting the “Camp Wannaread” summer reading program at the Pelham Public Library.  Lastly, he and four teacher volunteers engaged the students in a rousing game of Simon Says.  After his performance, Principal Alicia Lafrance handed out the awards to the top reader of each of the elementary classes; there were a total of 40 winners.  “The top students were chosen based on the number of minutes they spent reading”, said Deb Bourke, chairman of the reading incentive committee.  “The committee decided to do a sports-related theme this year”, described Bourke.  The teachers, as well as the students, were clad in their favorite sports attire, while they clapped, danced, and enjoyed the show.  The accomplished readers received two tickets apiece to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats baseball game on Saturday, June 18.  Ten “Baseball Buddies” chosen at random out of the 40 award winners will be able to spend some quality time out on the field with the players, and one lucky youngster will be selected at the game to throw out the first pitch. 

Reading Students

Baseball Buddies at Fisher Cats game on Saturday, June 18:

Jason Bonaparte, Andrew Lameiras, Brooke Vermette, Brendan Butler, Emma Tello, Alex Plutnicki, Hunter Gotshall, April Dunning, Sally Dunning, Katherine Rondeau


VFW Honors Police Officer and Fire Fighters

by Lynne Ober

VFW Hargreaves Memorial Post 10722 Commander Charlie Mooskian presented awards to three men in recognition of their contributions to the Pelham Community.

Eugene Stahl received Police Officer of the Year award for his participation in capturing suspects involved in an armed robbery in Windham.

“Officer Stahl consistently works in partnership with the community in doing his duty,” state Mooskian.

“He’s an outstanding member of the Pelham Police Department,” said Police Chief Evan Haglund.

Stahl was presented with the Law Enforcement Gold Medal Award for his actions in capturing the armed suspects.  “He was very alert and took every appropriate action in making the capture,” said Haglund.

Pelham Fire Department’s Lieutenant Jack Tirrell received the VFS Firefighter of the Year Award.  In presenting the award, Mooskian outlined Tirrell’s eighteen year history with the fire department and talked about the many projects that he’d undertaken over the years.

“He’s a professional model for other members of the department,” Mooskian stated.

Also recognized was Greg Atwood.  Mooskian presented him with the Emergency Medical Technician of the Year Award. 

“He’s dedicated and hard working,” said Fire Chief David Fisher.

“After completing Paramedic School, he helped train new personnel,” stated Mooskian, who concluded by commenting that he was honored to be able to make these presentations.

 Officer Eugene Stahl is congratulated by Police Chief Evan Haglund.
Officer Eugene Stahl is congratulated by Police Chief Evan Haglund.

Fire Chief David Fisher and Lieutenant Jack Tirrell.
Fire Chief David Fisher and Lieutenant Jack Tirrell.


Windham PTA Remodels Center School Teachers' Lounge

by Lynn McNamara

During April vacation, PTA Center School Volunteer Coordinators Lisa Smith and Carrie Reny organized a surprise decorating makeover of the teachers' lounge at the school.  This project was part of the Teacher's Appreciation Week spearheaded annually by the Windham PTA.  After a spring cleaning of the space, volunteers got busy painting the walls a deep burgundy, hanging new curtains and replacing old furniture with a fresher set donated by the Smiths and the Renys.  The group first called on the services of Bev Donovan, of Bev Donovan Designs, to reconfigure the space.  There is now ample room for lunch tables and a sitting area.  Liz Greenleaf made table skirts to match the curtains and brighten the room.  Painting was done by Linda Adams, Vice Principal Saranich and other parents, with the paint donated by the Donovans.

When the staff returned from vacation, the door to the lounge was wrapped in a bow.  The new room was greeted with great enthusiasm.  Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Reny report that the project has been a real morale booster for the staff and that many teachers have commented that they certainly do feel appreciated by the parents and the PTA. 

Instructional Assistants Patricia Bouley and Ruthann Gminski spend a peaceful moment in the redecorated lounge. 
Instructional Assistants Patricia Bouley and Ruthann Gminski spend a peaceful moment in the redecorated lounge. 

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