Hudson-Litchfield News

Litchfield Skate Park Re-opens Saturday

by Lynne Ober

As far as Litchfield youngsters are concerned, the skate park has been closed too long, but when it re-opens on Saturday, August 6, they will be happy.

Litchfield’s Recreation Committee and Selectmen worked together on skate park issues.  After Recreation Committee Member and Litchfield resident Andy Prolman got repair quotes, presented a plan and requested that funds be released, the park was on its way.

Since that time a significant amount of work has been done by Mike Loiselle, who owns BASR, a firm that specializes in repairing old skate parks and designing and installing new skate parks.

When the park re-opens, bikes will no longer be allowed.  According to Loiselle, bikes rarely have the protective equipment installed that would prohibit a bike from damaging a wooden ramp.  “They need protective chain guards as well as covers for their pedals to keep them from gouging the ramps.”

Loiselle also think that skate parks require a great deal of maintenance.  “Even the concrete ones require some maintenance, but the wooden ones should be checked once a month for loose screws.  At many skate parks, there’s a group of youngsters who have had responsibility and are also for sweeping the ramp areas once a week.  Both of those things make a difference,” he smiled.

Prolman, who’s son is also a skateboarder, has been talking with Litchfield skateboarders about respecting the park, following the rules and making it a fun, safe place to be.

In addition, he’s been publicizing the new rules, emphasizing the wear a helmet rule.  He’s also stressing no bikes and wrote in a letter to the Hudson-Litchfield News, “Bikes may be confiscated, melted and forget into helmets.” 

With everyone’s support, the skate park can be a safe place to have a great time and test your skills on your boards.

BASR’s Mike Loiselle replaces the metal sheeting over the new pressure treated wood that he installed on the ramps.

Why Are Our Oak Trees Dying?

by Doug Robinson

“Eight-four percent of New Hampshire is forested, second in the nation only to Maine” states the web site for the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.  Our forests and trees are the “environmental workhorses” filtering air, water, noise, and the sun. 

While most of New Hampshire forests are privately owned, approximately 70%, these small forests define New Hampshire’s lure to tourism, beauty, and White Mountains.  However, the fall colors of reds, oranges, and vibrant yellows are becoming challenged and we are in risk of losing our state’s autumn renderings due to the diseases now infecting our oak trees.

Have you noticed more oak leaves dropping this year in your yard?  Have you seen spots on the basswood leaves?  If so, then your precious trees may be infected. 

Oak trees are very susceptible to the changing conditions of our New Hampshire weather pattern.  Oak trees are especially sensitive to excessive cooling and excessive wet weather.  The combination of these two effects causes fungi to grow on the leaves of the oak tree.  This fungus is called anthracnose.  And earlier this spring, these were “exactly the conditions southern New Hampshire experienced.” according to the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.

Anthracnose produces a dark, discolored area along the veins or margins of the leaves.  The leaves develop brown or black areas between the veins and leaf spots.  These infections eat away at the leaves and eventually cause the leaf to drop from the tree prematurely.  The premature dropping of the leaves prevents the oak tree from continuing it normal life cycle.

Healthy oak trees draw up to 50 gallons of water per day.  As these trees take up water through their root system, the water is then evaporated from the leaves in a process called transpiration.  Trees infected with anthracnose are not able to complete this process as they lose their leaves early in the spring.

The loss of leaves, due to anthracnose, also affects the food chain of squirrels, blue jays, and woodpeckers.  These animals thrive on acorns and each year await the production of acorns from their favorite trees.  These animals not only carry acorns to their private nests, they also bury these treasures underground for their winter supplement.

While acorn production varies from year to year, the average mature oak tree produces approximately 2,200 acorns.  This acorn production is in jeopardy as our oak trees are losing their leaves early.  Because the oak leaves die early, the leaves are not able to compete the process of transpiration.  This deadly process shortens the food chain for the animals who thrive on acorns.

While careless fires destroy our oak trees, caterpillars defoliate our oak trees, and up to 90% of an oak tree’s acorns can be destroyed by beetles, the number one threat to our oak trees is fungi.  “Fungi can invade the trunks and limbs of old trees with wounds.  They soften and prepare the wood so that beetles, wasp larvae, and carpenter ants build tunnels, which further weakens the tree.”, says Interesting Facts About Oak Trees (

The University of New Hampshire’s web site for Cooperative Extension suggests that the application of chemicals and the spraying of large trees are not recommended for the control of the anthracnose fungi.  UNH Cooperative Extension also states that this practice would be “impractical (and) often unnecessary.”  The symptoms now visible were caused by infections that occurred early in the spring, when the leaves were expanding.  As a result, these established infections can’t be cured, only controlled for the future.

“Pruning the infected twigs and cultural practices that improve tree vigor and prevent stress are the preferred methods,” according to UNH.  Proper fertilization applied after the leaves have fallen in the autumn or one month before the first frost in the spring will help maintain tree vigor,” states the UNH Cooperative Extension. 

While it may be disturbing to see all the dead leaves on your ground beneath your oak tree, just remember that trees are resilient and that leaf spots and anthracnose are “just another part of the natural challenges Mother Nature exposes them to.”

With proper care, pruning, and fertilization who knows, you, too, may grow the largest oak tree in the world.  You, too, could challenge the “The Seven Sisters Oak” in Lewisburg, Mandeville, Louisiana.  It measures 37 feet, 2inches in circumference with a crown spread of 150 feet and it is estimated at over 1,000 years old.

Selectmen Clash over Fire Truck Purchase

by Lynne Ober

What began last budget season continues today and will probably affect next year’s budget season. 

The Hudson Fire Department wants a new fire truck and they have dotted every I and crossed every t to ensure that they followed all the appropriate steps, but even after voters voted to approve the purchase it’s been a struggle to get Selectmen approval, but they finally have the approval.

Last fall Chief Shawn Murray, who is very knowledgeable about fire science and had researched the department’s fire truck needs prior to presenting a warrant article for such a purchase, received Selectmen approval before sending it forward to Budget Committee members, who have the role of examining budgets, asking questions and making a final determination on what they will and will not recommend.

The Budget Committee held lengthy discussions on the issue of a new fire truck.  Some thought the financial request was too much.  Others questioned why Hudson couldn’t buy a truck “off the shelf” as Litchfield’s Fire Department had done during the summer.  Others felt that a truck costing as much as these do should last twenty years.  Others wanted to know how they could maximize the value of the old fire truck and creative ideas such as selling on eBay among others were floated and examined.  Murray explained that old fire trucks are often re-sold to third world countries and presented re-sale data to the committee.

Selectmen’s Representative to the Budget Committee, Selectman Ken Massey, took those comments back to Selectmen who, in turn, with assistance from Fire Chief Murray, cut the request to $350,000 with some of the money coming from the capital reserve fund, some from surplus and some from an appropriation.  The big concern was what was a truck going to actually cost in the summer of 2005.  How much would prices increase from the time of the original proposal to the actual purchase was an unknown that Murray and his team had to factor into their request.

The Budget Committee still had questions about the cost, the life of the truck and why Hudson couldn’t do what Litchfield did. 

When the final vote came, the Budget Committee voted on a tie vote not to recommend the warrant article.  As School Board Representative to the Budget Committee at that time, I voted to recommend as did Leo Bernard, John Beike, Ken Massey, and Bob Haefner, but the motion failed on a 5 – 5 tie vote with the other five Budget Committee members present voting not to recommend.

When Hudson’s Town Deliberative Session was held, Selectman Bill Cole while speaking in favor of the fire truck warrant article, belittled the “usual suspects” which caused a great deal of animated discussion that ended when Budget Committee Chairman Charlie Schweiss rose and urged civility and courtesy.

The fire truck warrant article passed with a slim margin of seventy votes, but it did pass.  Murray and his staff began the process of writing an RFP and getting quotes.  “We followed every town code and procedure,” Murray told Selectmen.

Although six sealed bids were received, one was just a letter indicating that no bid would be submitted.  Murray updated Selectmen on the quotes and said that after extensive review he was recommending that the contract be awarded to the low bidder, KME, for $329,667. 

Murray did request that Selectmen add $2,879 worth of options bringing the total to $332,546 which is less than the amount in the warrant article.

Selectmen discussed a number of items, including the refurbishing of one of the other KME trucks owned by Hudson and the fact that fire trucks were now taller than the doors at Lenny Smith Central Fire Station.

Selectman Rick Maddox, who had gone to a fire truck show with Murray, suggested that the order was reversed and perhaps Selectmen should decide what to do about renovations at Lenny Smith Central Fire Station with an eye toward buying a “stock” fire truck and saving taxpayers some money.

Selectman Kathleen MacLean paraphrasing a movie line kept saying, “Show me the truck.”  She wanted to defer a decision one more meeting so that Maddox could show Selectmen what a stock truck is and they could discuss how that is different from a custom truck, such as the one quoted by KME.

Finally Selectman Bill Cole, who is the liaison to the Fire Department, began by saying, “Selectman Maddox has managed to throw in every little buzz word he knows.  If he says it long enough, you believe it.”  Cole had prepared a speech with an analogy to the Little Engine that Could.  “The voters approved Little Engine #8 [the Little Engine that Could],” he continued and then slammed the Budget Committee because they did not recommend the warrant article after Selectmen had lowered the amount of money.  He characterized their questions as, “We [Selectmen] were asked to go to South America and see if we could find a drug lord who wanted to start his own Fire Department and would buy our used truck.”  Referring to the people who wanted to know if Hudson could follow in Litchfield Fire Department’s steps when purchasing a truck, he told Selectmen that Hudson was not like “East Overshoe.”

Working to his conclusion, he said, “The latest mumbo jumbo is that we have to do renovations of Central Fire Station.  Another false trail.”  He then said that Selectmen were on the verge of “criminal dereliction to their duty” because they hadn’t approved the fire truck and Cole feared a death would occur in a fire.  He urged immediate approval.

When he finished, MacLean turned to him with a big grin and said, “You missed your calling.”

Maddox responded, “I think my nomenclature is inflammatory to Selectman Cole,” and tried to re-state his position with different words and phrases.  “The biggest problem was the height requirement.  I just want a better approach to a long term solution,” he commented before asking Murray if he agreed that the height was the biggest problem.

Murray agreed about the height, but was concerned with the concept of a stock fire truck and indicated that he preferred a custom truck and cited a number of items that a custom truck would have.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Ken Massey, carefully not replying to any previous comments made by his fellow Selectmen, told the Board that he learned long ago that you couldn’t look for perfect facts to make a perfect decision and urged the approval of the fire truck.

Finally a motion was made and seconded to authorize the purchase of the truck and options.  During discussion it became obvious that Selectman Terry Stewart would be the determining vote, which she acknowledged.  “I’m torn.  Part of me says go forward and part of me says the task is to direct the Fire Department to look to the future.”

Massey told her there was a consensus to look to the future and that the issue of the small doors at Central Fire Station wouldn’t be tabled.  After urging her for several minutes and promising to continue to look to the future, Massey seemed to get her agreement.

Seeing no more discussion, he called for the vote.  It was 3 – 2 with Stewart, indeed, being the determining vote.  Cole and Massey also voted in the affirmative.

Selectmen then had a discussion about the future and how to proceed.  After listening to Cole for several minutes, Stewart asked if she could rescind her vote and stated that she disagreed with Cole’s characterization of how to proceed to the future.  One of the issues was whether the Lenny Smith Fire Station would exist in 10 years.  “I don’t plan to support the building of any new buildings,” Stewart said.

Maddox summed up the entire conversation by saying, “You {Stewart} changed your vote for smoke and mirrors.”

Murray, who has an open door policy, is available to discuss this issue with anyone.  “I thought that we might not get an approval and the prices on the quotes are only good for a set period of time.  Prices keep going up and I was afraid if we delayed that would happen.”  He concluded by stating that he hoped anyone with questions about the truck would come and see him. 

Lots of Activities at the Rec this Summer

The past couple of weeks at the Hudson Community Center have been filled with excitement.  This past Monday the highly anticipated egg drop contest took place.  There were about 15 participants who all tried their best to create an indestructible container to protect their egg.  The contest lasted through five rounds of dropping the containers off the roof of the building and surviving vicious beatings from the Rec staff with baseball bats. 

Only one team winner was able to keep their egg unharmed, Chris and Samantha Brownrigg, and they have been undefeated for almost eight years.  Second place went to Sam and Scott Bernstein, and third place to Justin Rodonis.  Other contests that took place were:  Softball Hitting: -6, 7, and 8 Division, 1st place, Sean Murphy; 2nd place, Matt Boudreau; and 3rd place, Nick Geehan. -9, 10, 11 Division, 1st place, Ryan Martineau; 2nd place, Travis Dumont; and, 3rd place, Tyler Prue.  12 and up Division, 1st place, JD Daniels; 2nd place, Tommy Mahoney; and 3rd place, Jeff Bolton and Jon Porter. Sand Sculpture Contest:  1st place went to Fenway Park designed by Brittney Matte, Caitlin Sullivan, and Sabrina Searles. 2nd place went to Melissa Rodonis for her sculpture of a cat.  3rd place went to Ashley Guy and Shilo Guinnazzo for Turtle Island.

Knock Out Contest: -6, 7, and 8 Division, 1st place, Alex Bolton; 2nd place, Cole Enos; and 3rd place, Luis Martin. -9, 10, 11 Division, 1st place Jessica Roberts; 2nd place, Britton Doyle; and 3rd place Tony Beaulieu. -12 and up Division, 1st place JD Daniels; 2nd place Felicia Melo; and 3rd place, Brianna Knapp.  

4 Square Contest: -6, 7, 8 Division, 1st place, Justin Mailloux; 2nd place, Mark Davey; and 3rd place, Taleen Bahou.  -9, 10, 11 Division, 1st place, Kevin Kauffman; 2nd place, Nick Iannaco, 3rd place, Diego Figueroa. -12 and up Division, 1st place, Jimmy Reidy; 2nd place, Becky Gould; and 3rd place, Jon Porter.

Rick Charette hitting Justin Rodonis’egg.

Hudson Police Chief Awarded $45,000 in Yearly Bonuses

by Lynne Ober

Hudson Police Department is going to experience a dramatic change this year.  Captain Bill Pease announced his retirement several months ago.  Captain Ray Mello is also planning to retire.

Those retirements will have a domino effect within the department with Lieutenants being promoted to the rank of Captain and Sergeants being promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and, finally, officers will be promoted to Sergeant.

Selectmen, who have been discussing this in non-public, have finally gone public with their plan.  They are offering Police Chief Dick Gendron a bonus to be awarded on June 30 of each of three years.

If Gendron is still employed on June 30, 2006 he will get a $10,000 bonus.  If he is still employed on June 30, 2007, he will get a $15,000 bonus with the final bonus being awarded on June 30, 2008.  The final bonus will be $20,000 for a total of $45,000 spread over three years.

Selectman Rick Maddox said that he had voted against this plan in non-public, but not because he felt that Gendron did not do a good job.  “I just thought this went one year too long,” he explained.  “I plan to change my vote tonight and vote yes.”

Selectmen unanimously approved the plan.

Litchfield School District Announces Sale Of Bus Tickets

Bus tickets for the 2005 - 2006 school year will go on sale beginning the week of August 22 from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. in the Campbell High School Main Office.  All high school students who live more than two miles from the school and want bus transportation to Campbell High School may purchase their tickets between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. in the main office.  The cost for the school year is $56.  All tickets must be purchased on a yearly basis.

Should the above hours not be convenient, send your check to Campbell High School, 1 Highlander Court, Litchfield, New Hampshire 03052.  All checks should be made out to Campbell High School, with the student’s name and address on them.  Tickets will be forwarded to you.  High school students will not be permitted to board the bus without a bus ticket.

Parking permits will also be on sale beginning the week of August 22 from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. in the Campbell High School Main Office.  Students need to bring their license, registration, proof of insurance, and $5.00 in order to purchase a parking permit.

17 Executive Drive, Suite One, Hudson, NH 03051 Phone: (603)880-1516 Fax: (603)879-9707
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