Pelham-Windham News

Pelham Veterans Memorial Park Lodge Decorated with Circus Mural

by Lynne Ober

There’s a recent addition to the lodge at Veterans’ Memorial Park in Pelham – a circus big top mural complete with clowns, lions, seals, a bear on a unicycle, a ringmaster, and a horse.

The mural, designed by Recreation Camp Arts and Crafts Director, Julie Slattery, was painted in about ten days by campers.  Julie got on the ladder and painted the high pieces.  “Mike [Whitney, a Counselor] held the ladder for me.  The painting was easy – dodging the bees that wanted to see what I was doing wasn’t as easy,” Julie grinned.  When the summer is over, Julie will return to Keene State College for her senior year where she’s studying Elementary Education.

“The older campers helped me paint.  We worked for about ten days.  It was a lot of fun,” Julie said.

“It’s a great addition to the building.  Everyone loves it,” said Pelham Parks and Recreation staff member, Kathy Carr.

Shown left to right are some of the artists who worked on the building sized mural Kristina Danevich, Alex Lapierre, Brianna Mansur, Haley Armstrong, Catherine Calnazzl, Kailynd Mercier, Nicole Paquette, Roxanne Lapierre, Abigail Blasé, Arts and Crafts Director, Julie Slattery and Camp Counselor Mike Whitney.

Theater on the Beach

by Lynne Ober

Once again University of New Hampshire’s Little Red Wagon Theater Troupe visited Windham Beach for an entertaining performance.  The Little Red Wagon is the longest running nonprofit, children's theatre tour in the United States.  

Cast members, often students in UNH’s Theater program, audition in winter for their summer performances.  Since 1971, the wagon has performed every summer at more than 70 locations throughout New England.  This summer it has been on tour since June 15th and its season will run through August 12th.

Bringing its 45 minute show about Camp Walla Walla Bing Bang to the beach was a perfect way to cap a summer tour.  Conceived by Sarah Marschner, the show is geared toward young people (PK - 4th grades).

The cast was energetic and talented.  Using story drama, puppets, songs, and involvement with the audience, they told the story of several very good friends who attend the famous and fun Camp Walla Walla Bing Bang.  This year’s cast, Tucker Cummings, Andy Geary, Rob Russ, Erin Davis, entertained with a mix of high jinx and pathos. 

“The mad cap action started when Erin accused Rob of getting them lost because “Rob was in charge of the map.”

“Hey, I couldn’t help it that the map was upside down,” said Rob, who appealed to the audience for help.

The audience laughed and clapped at the high jinx and hoped for the best when one of the gang got homesick.  When the others rally together to help their homesick friend, the audience, too, got a chance to participate in the fun camp activities - making this the perfect summer for all.

Camp Counselors Chester and Katie, taught campers how to doggy paddle, ride a horse and fall out of a canoe – oops, I mean stay in a canoe.  The audience got to participate in all those activities.

“I liked being a horse best,” said four-year old John with a wide grin. 

When Chester and Katie ran a song contest for the campers, who had to make up a song, Camper Andy fumbled around.  “Ooh   e   ooh   ah ah,” he began with a slow stutter.  “Ting tang walla walla bing bang.”

The counselors loved it and told him to do it faster and before long everyone on the beach was doing the hand gestures and singing “Ooh e ooh ah ah, Ting Tang, Walla Walla, Bing Bang.”

When the performance was over the cast was surrounded with happy munchkins who wanted them to stay and do it all again.

Camper Andy struggles to make up a Camp song while Camp Counselors Chester and Katie look on from the stage.

Pretending to ride horses on the beach.

Heated Words Exchanged at Gendron Hearing

by Lynne Ober

Pelham Selectmen held yet another public hearing on the license application made by Fred Gendron.  This one was a Public Hearing to Deny a Junk Yard License.  The hearing had already been re-scheduled once at Gendron’s request because he wanted to bring an attorney.

Attorney George Basbane and Gendron were first to speak at the hearing.  Basbane began by lecturing Selectmen about a number of things, including the reason listed for the Public Hearing.  “You’ve already made up your minds,” he said.  “I’m appalled at seeing a Public Hearing for a Denial of License on the agenda.”

Previous Selectmen Boards have taken Gendron to court and won.  The last judgment was granted in May, 2001 and that judgment found that Gendron had not complied with the Variance Order and was a public nuisance and upheld Selectmen’s right not to issue a license.

Selectmen, since winning that judgment, have refused to grant a junk yard license to Gendron.  The State, however, until this past year, did grant Gendron a license.  With the change in state statute, the State will no longer grant junk yard licenses.

Basbane, however, contends that Selectmen granted a license every year and waved copies of cancelled checks at Selectmen as proof that they had done just that.  Those checks were the application fee checks that Gendron submitted each year with his application request.  Although Selectmen never granted a license, Basbane contended that Gendron had a de facto license because the application fee check was cashed and if you didn’t believe him, he’d be happy to repeat his assertion louder and louder.

One of the abutters reminded everyone that fees are often charged in towns and that paying a fee does not ensure that you get a license or obtain a building permit. 

Twice during the hearing, Basbane calmed down and apologized for his loud and angry words.  At one point he admitted that his behavior was very “aggressive.”

When Selectman Ed Gleason, who believed that the license should have been denied at the meeting, read part of the court judgment and stated his opinion that Gendron had never met the conditions of the variance, which had been granted thirty-four years ago in 1971, Basbane interrupted him and before long Gleason and Basbane were engaged in verbal fisticuffs. 

Chairman Victor Danevich intervened and tried to pour oil on troubled waters.

Basbane contended that when the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) won its court judgment in August, 2001 and Gendron subsequently signed the Consent Decree, the judgments won by Selectmen were null and void and had no meaning.

At the same time if anyone pointed out that the Consent Decree was not being followed, Basbane was quick to state that the Town had nothing to do with the Consent Decree and couldn’t use those alleged violations as a reason to deny a license.

Gendron has been pursuing every avenue to gain a license from the Town of Pelham.  There are two prevailing opinions as to why he has been pushing for this license this year.

One reason may be that his Consent Decree specifically states that he must get a license from the Town.  In the past, with the State issuing the license, Gendron apparently did not feel that he needed the Town license, but if he doesn’t get a license now, the Consent Decree states that he cannot continue to operate.

Another opinion expressed at the Public Hearing by a number of abutters is Gendron’s wish to become a licensed used car dealer.  Because Gendron has in the past, applied to the State to become a licensed Used Car Dealer and has been turned down due to his lack of Town junk yard license, the abutters feel that he is wants to accomplish this prior to August 21, 2006, which is the date that the Consent Decree states that he must stop all operation and clean up the hazardous wastes that have contaminated his lot.

Selectmen had a copy of a July 5, 2005 letter from H. Keith DuBois, DES Waste Management Division that replied to a number of Gendron requests.  DuBois responded by stating Gendron’s request and then stating the action that would be taken, if any.

Responding to Gendron’s request to operate a junk yard beyond the August 21, 2006 date, DuBois wrote, “The consent decree does not allow for the extension of the operation of scrap recycling or junkyard activities beyond the August 21, 2006 deadline and the Department does not grant the extension requested in your November 1, 2004 letter.  Therefore, all scrap recycling and junkyard activities shall cease before August 21, 2006.”

On the request for the State to intercede with Town licensing of his junk yard, DuBois wrote, “The Department and the AGO [Attorney General’s Office] have reviewed the consent decree and have found no requirement for the Department or the AGO to intercede on your behalf with the Town of Pelham.  Our review of the Department’s file for the property did not include documentation of a promise to intercede on your behalf with the Town of Pelham.  Therefore, the Department will not intercede in your contact with the Town and we do not agree with your statement that the Department ‘has seriously violated the agreement.’ ”

At the hearing Danevich had to ask Basbane and Gendron to move away from the table so that other members of the public could speak.  Basbane chose to move to a different location at the Selectmen’s table instead of taking a seat in the audience.  From his position, he continually interrupted both Selectmen and abutters who were speaking, challenging their words, debating their allegations.

One abutter, who asked not to be named, said it felt like a personal attack and commented that Basbane was quick to twist words around.

Even after Danevich closed the Public Hearing and brought the discussion back to the Board, Basbane continued to interrupt with his opinions.  Finally Danevich insisted that he move away from the table because the Public Hearing was closed and he had had ample opportunity to speak and make his points.

Gleason had prepared a detailed motion that, if passed, would result in the denial of the license.  Selectman Hal Lynde seconded for discussion.

A lengthy discussion ensued. 

Lynde cautioned Selectmen to be careful and progress slowly in order to ensure that Town interests were protected.  He felt that Selectmen should issue a specific list of requirements to Gendron and give him a set amount of time to meet those requirements.  Lynde also wanted Selectmen to get a legal opinion and asked that the attorney that the Town used in its successful court case against Gendron be consulted.

Gleason strongly disagreed and pointed out that Gendron had had more than thirty years to comply with the variance and had not done so. 

Selectman Tom Domenico characterized the situation “as being gamed with the ball constantly pushed farther away.”  Domenico noted that Attorney Basbane should have been at the first hearing in April rather than waiting until August to attend a meeting.  Domenico also read a motion that he would make if Gleason’s motion did not pass.  “We learn new information at every hearing.  Tonight we learned about a pipe that drained fluid from Gendron’s property directly into the brook.”

When it was time to vote, Danevich asked that the roll be called.  The motion failed 1 – 3 with Danevich, Domenico, and Lynde voting no.  Selectman Jean Guy Bergeron was recused.

Domenico then made his motion which set a time of August 16 for a specific list to be prepared and September 13 as a deadline for the list to be completed with a Selectmen’s meeting on September 14 to review the progress and make a decision. 

As soon as that motion was made Basbane hurried to Domenico, tugged on the sleeve of his suit jacket and whispered in his ear.

When Danevich ordered Basbane to sit down, Basbane stated that the dates were unacceptable because he planned to be out of the country in September.  “We need a later date.”

Danevich asked Domenico to modify his motion because September 14 was not a scheduled Selectmen’s meeting and he was not certain if he’d have a quorum at that meeting.  He preferred to hold the follow-up meeting on a regularly scheduled evening to ensure a quorum and Domenico agreed as long as a time certain was made in the motion.

With the motion modified, Danevich again called for a roll-call vote and the motion passed 3 – 1 with Gleason voting no.

Town Administrator Tom Gaydos agreed to develop a preliminary list that would include items from the 1971 variance and items from Town code that Gendron had not been following.

The list will be presented to Gendron on August 16.

Hannaford Awards Community Grants to Pelham Organizations

by Lynne Ober

Pelham’s recently opened Hanaford Supermarket, already showing that it will be a good neighbor in the community, awarded $5,300 in community grants.

Pelham High School Athletic Director, Judy Metz, received the $1,000 grant which will be used to purchase snow shoes for Pelham Elementary School physical education program.  “It’s a long winter season and it will be great to be able to get the students outside,” smiled Metz, who described the snow shoes as low maintenance, easy to store items that will fit all shoe sizes.  The grant will allow them to outfit an entire physical education class with snow shoes.

Pelham Good Neighbor Fund, a volunteer nonprofit organization that assists those in financial crisis, received a grant of $1,500.  “They gave us Hannaford gift cards,” said Frank Sullivan.  “We will use these for families who are in need and this will supplement what’s available at the Food Pantry.”

Pelham’s Food Pantry received a $1,500 grant to purchase food and supplies for the food pantry and 24 gift certificates for Hormel hams (a value of approximately $300).  Marietta Potter, who runs the Food Pantry located behind St. Pat’s, said that approximately 80 families are currently being helped.

Pelham Community Theater and Arts received a $1,000 grant to support their technology needs.  Janet Daigle and Joe Smith received the grant and said that it would go toward a spotlight a set of wireless microphones and new headsets and radios for the tech crews.

Hannaford Brothers Company, based in Scarborough, Maine, has a corporate philosophy of enriching the communities in which it operates.  These grants are part of Hannaford’s efforts to demonstrate its commitment to the Pelham community.

After the award checks had been given out, recipients and Hannaford staff lined up for a group photo.

Camp WannaRead Finale

by Lynne Ober

Ask any teacher any where in the world what they’d like most to happen during vacation and the answer is always the same.  They want their students to read.  Study after study shows that students who read during summer vacation go back to school better prepared with less erosion of their academic skills.

Libraries help keep those skills strong while providing fun ways to enjoy both reading and reading related activities.

Camp WannaRead was this year’s summer-long reading activity, but now after 6-weeks it has ended.

Artist Michael Caduto, who plays a guitar and sings as well as teaching kids about North American Indian games, entertained a full-house at Pelham Library.

Many of his songs were interactive.  Keeper of the Night is about creatures who “get up with the sun goes down.”  Each verse would describe a creature and then after Caduto sang the chorus that ended, “I’m a keeper of the night” he would stop and ask the audience to guess who was featured in that verse.  Answers ranged from firefly to bat to owl and others.  The kids were enchanted by this and Caduto’s other songs.

After the concert was over, parents, kids and Caduto moved outside under a large tent.  Caduto told them about games played by North American natives and showed them some games that they could make.  He encouraged all the youngsters to try the games.

He ended his part of the presentation by teaching everyone a Native American circle dance.  Parents and kids enjoyed participating in the dance before they ate refreshments and vied for raffle prizes.

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