Pelham-Windham News

Pelham Police Relief Association Host Annual Cookout

Pelham’s Harris Inn was the site for the Pelham Police Relief Association’s Annual Cookout.  The evening began with cocktails and appetizers being served on the back patio.  Attendees could chat with each other and enjoy the beautiful gardens laid out on the edge of the lake while listening to the soulful sounds of bagpipes and drums.

When it was time for dinner, everyone moved inside.  After Father Bob Guillemette gave the blessing Police Chief Evan Haglund introduced town, school, and state dignitaries.  Selectman Hal Lynde and his wife, Charlene Takesian, who is the Town Treasurer, School Superintendent Elaine Cutler, School Board Chairman Mike Conrad, State Representatives Jean-Guy Bergeron, Lynne Ober and Lars Christenson, as well as former State Representative Russ Ober and County Commissioner Rhona Charbonneau were introduced.  Haglund then introduced members of the Pelham Police Force and welcomed everyone to dinner.

Accompanied by bagpipes and drums, a Scottish dancer thrilled the gathered audience as staff at the Harris Inn began serving dinner.

A highlight of the evening is the awards ceremony.  The Chief’s Achievement Award went to Dispatch Officer Goldman for his work with the Pelham Police sponsored Explorer’s Post.  The post grew from two to 14 members under Goldman.  “He welcomed kids from all over the community and made them part of our community,” Haglund said.

Officer, Anne Perrillo, was awarded a Community Service Award for her outstanding contributions throughout the community, especially for efforts and achievements that personified the Mission of the Pelham Police Department by working with the communities of Pelham, Windham, Hudson and Salem New Hampshire to educate the public as to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault services.

Traffic Patrol Officer, James Johnson, received a Commendation for a drug arrest that he made while working with the education effort to teach drivers the importance of using seatbelts.

On March 8, 2005 Officer Kenneth Owen was assigned a case where a Caterpillar Excavator was set on fire and totally destroyed by vandals.  The value of the excavator was in excess of $40,000.  He too earned a Commendation from the Chief for his superb efforts in solving the crime.

Live entertainment was provided by Jim and Karrie, who raised the bar with some of the hottest high-tech audio systems available.  With stunning vocal harmonies and passionate musicality Jim and Karrie manage to sound like a full-sized band thanks to their creative use of technology.  They made everyone feel like dancing the night away.

The Pelham Police Relief Association has been serving the community for over sixty years.  Their annual picnic is their major fund-raiser of the year and proceeds are used to provide movie nights, support worthwhile charities in the community and to make a difference to the people of Pelham.  They donate to the Pelham Food pantry, award scholarships to graduating Pelham High School students, and provide assistance to local families as well as supporting members of the Pelham Police Department.

Attendees had an opportunity to participate in their “world famous” PPRA raffles.  Prizes included a trip to Cancun, weekend getaway at Pollard Brook Resort, fishing charter with Danny Marchi, Telly Demo’s gifts, Red Sox and Bruins tickets, and golfing at Campbell’s Scottish Highlands.  There was a good natured competition over who would win which prize.

Bagpiper and drummer play on the lawn during social hour.

Scottish Dancer performs.

Serving Lunch to Pelham Seniors

Lunch was served to Pelham Seniors by a number of elected officials.  Congressman Charlie Bass started serving one lunch a year at the Senior Center back in 1995.  “I was here one day when they didn’t have anyone to serve lunch.  Since then, I’ve been coming back every year to continue that tradition.”

Hillsborough County Sheriff Jim Hardy introduced Bass, State Senator Chuck Morse, State Representatives Jean-Guy Bergeron and Lynne Ober, and told the audience to behave because Pelham Police Chief Evan Haglund was on the premises.

“We served lunch and cleared the places,” said Ober.  “It’s what I think we should be doing – serving the people.”

Bass agreed and said that he thoroughly enjoyed being able to talk with the seniors on a one-to-one basis.

Echoing those statements was Morse, who commented that he like being able to interact with people.  “I always enjoy my time in Pelham,” he smiled.

Bergeron, who is also a Pelham Selectman, said it gave him a chance to talk about both town and state issues that affect seniors.

Congressman Charlie Bass chats with a Pelham Senior.

Gendron Denied Junk Yard License

by Lynne Ober

Although Attorney George Basbane’s tune had changed, his aggressive behavior had not.  Once again Selectmen held a difficult Public Hearing on granting a junk yard license to Fred Gendron.  The purpose of this one was to provide a list of items that had to be corrected before a license was granted and to allow Gendron to respond to that list.

At the last meeting, with Basbane’s sometimes not so subtle threats hanging over their heads, Selectmen decided to prepare a list of requirements that Gendron needed to meet in order to be granted a license and set another public hearing.  They also asked Town Administrator Tom Gaydos to contact New Hampshire Department of Environment Services (DES) for an updated status.

Between those meetings DES issued another letter to Fred Gendron.  The August 11 letter gave results of a recent site inspection and found a number of “material violations of the [consent] decree.”

according to the letter DES staff “observed one or more pallets of motor vehicle batteries in the garage building that were delivered to the site for the recycling.  While the Department was present, a customer arrived with one or more vehicle batteries for recycling.  Mr. Gendron (the defendant) accepted the batteries in the presence of the Department.  When questioned about the acceptance of vehicle batteries, Mr. Gendron indicated that he has been accepting batteries for recycling/disposal.  Acceptance of batteries for recycling is a violation of the Decree.”

Although Basbane argued vehemently with Selectmen that the storage of batteries was allowed in the Decree and was appropriate under terms of the Decree, he did not address the letter’s statement that stated that under the requirements of the decree “the acceptance of batteries of any kind for recycling or disposal purposes shall be terminated immediately.”  The letter further states that “all used batteries present at the site must be removed from the site and properly disposed of within thirty days of receipt of this letter.”

During the site inspection, tires were also found and DES told Gendron, in the letter, that all tires “must be removed from the site and disposed of properly within thirty days of receipt of this letter.”

DES is also requiring, that under the Decree, “all vehicle radiators must be removed with the site within thirty days of receipt of this letter,” and explains that Gendron, under the Decree, is prohibited from accepting or storing vehicle parts that contain or may have contained fluids.”

DES also found that Gendron was storing vehicles on his site, which is not allowed under the Decree.  “The presence of non-operational vehicles and the piles of tires constitute violations of the Decree.  All non-operational vehicles and all tires must be removed from the property within thirty days of receipt of this letter.”

The letter notes other violations and actions that Gendron must take and concludes, “The Department will conduct a detailed follow-up site inspection upon expiration of the above cited thirty day period to assess compliance with the Decree.”

This letter added fuel to an already brightly burning fire.  Once again abutters were present at the Selectmen’s meeting, but Board of Selectmen Chairman Victor Danevich noted that the public hearing would primarily deal with the Selectmen’s list and was posted to allow Gendron and his attorney to respond in a public forum.

Basbane tried to get Selectmen to ignore complaints about non-compliance by stating that the junk yard would be closed next year anyway.  He attempted to get Selectmen to agree to just proceed as normal, granting a license and waiting until the time period noted in the Consent Decree for the permanent closure.

At the heart of Basbane’s argument was a recent report filed by Building Inspector Roland Soucy that said no violations were present on Gendron’s property.  Basbane told Selectmen that their own employee had found no violations with the seemingly underlying assumption that a license should be immediately granted.

Selectmen asked Soucy to move to the table to discuss his report and his findings. 

With Selectman Ed Gleason taking the lead, the first question queried the status of the fence.  Gleason want to know if Gendron had a 12 foot high fence along the brook as was stated in the ZBA variance document issued 31 years ago, Soucy responded that he hadn’t “taken an instrument to measure,” but that one had to include the height of the berm under the fence when determining if the fence was 12 feet high.

Another requirement of that variance document is that no metal be stored within 15 feet of the bank of the brook.  Danevich read the item from the variance document and asked Soucy about it.  Soucy said that Gendron was in compliance.  Then Danevich told Soucy that he and Town Administrator had walked the back of the property and could see metal stored within fifteen feet.  “I have pictures [of this violation].”  Danevich also said that he had gotten his shoes wet because the fence was so close to the brook.  Soucy seemed surprised that Danevich and Gaydos had been inspecting and taking pictures of the site.

When Danevich closely questioned Soucy as to his inspection methods, asking if he would see the batteries that DES found and what he inspected for, Soucy responded, “All I had to work with was what you had in front of you [apparently referring to the ZBA variance paperwork}.”

Danevich asked if he had seen the consent decree, but Soucy said he’d never asked for it.

“What are you actually reviewing then?” Danevich asked.

“Whatever I have to work with,” Soucy stated.

Gleason asked Soucy about the plantings that Gendron was supposed to have made in 1971 and Soucy said that it didn’t appear anything had been planted, but over the years a wild growth had grown and blocked the view so he didn’t put that in his report.

The seventh item of the 1971 variance document stated that the business had to be fenced in an attractive manner.  Basbane jumped on that wording, claiming that it was purely subjective and that his client met that requirement.  He again said that Soucy’s report found no violations and wondered why Selectmen thought the fence wasn’t appropriate if their own employee didn’t mention the fence in his report.

Under questioning from Danevich, Basbane admitted that he had never visited the site, and had never seen the fence.

Gaydos said that you didn’t need to be a linguist to see that the fence needed work.

Selectmen informed Basbane that his client’s fence was falling down, had been tied to unsightly trailers in order to prop it up and had never been maintained.

The lack of a certified plot plan was also discussed.  Town ordinances require a certified plot plan to be on file.  The only plan that Gendron has produced is one done by the EPA in an effort to support clean-up.

Selectman Tom Domenico again noted that new, and more disturbing, information came to light at every public hearing.  “He isn’t a stellar junk yard owner.”

Danevich carefully reviewed ordinances with Gaydos and confirmed that even if a license was denied, Gendron could re-apply as soon as he met all the conditions.

Throughout the deliberations, Selectmen Jean-Guy Bergeron, who also files for a junk yard license and has been found guilty of MtBe pollution, recuses himself and does not participate in the discussions or votes.  This leaves Selectmen short-handed.  There’s one less voice discussing issues and it only takes two votes to kill a motion.  With Bergeron at the table, it takes three votes to kill a motion.

Domenico moved to deny the license because there was no certified plot plan on file, metal storage needs to be 15 feet from the bank of the brook, the height of the rear fence needed to comply with the ZBA variance and the fences and building are not attractive.  Gleason seconded and the motion passed 4 – 0 with Bergeron not voting.

Pelham Hires Planning Director

by Lynne Ober

When Pelham Planning Director Will D’Andrea decided to leave governmental service and attend a seminary, Pelham Selectmen were faced with having to hire yet another Planning Director.  Instructing Town Administrator Tom Gaydos to advertise, Selectman began working on evaluation criteria that would be used during the interview process.

Then the interviewing began and it was an intensive process for all involved.  Finally Pelham resident Jeff Gowan was chosen. 

“The process worked very well.  In the end, it was similar to electing a pope,” smiled Board of Selectman Victor Danevich.  “All five of us were coming from a different direction and we worked towards building a consensus.  When we reached a majority vote, we extended the offer.”

Everyone is delighted that Gowan accepted.  “Jeff brings a very unique set of skills to Pelham,” said Danevich. 

Besides his work experience, Gowan brings a breadth of knowledge about Pelham and about planning and building in Pelham that another candidate might not bring.  He was the Planning Board Chair for more than five years, served on the Zoning Board of Adjustment and helped author and chair the committee that developed Pelham’s Planning Master Plan.

Gowan was the original author of the Pelham Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and chaired that committee for over four years.

Over the years, he’s authored many of Pelham's zoning changes, including the Cell Tower and Adult Sexual Business zoning amendments.

All of this in-depth Pelham experience will be immediately put to work when he takes over the reins in the Planning Department.

Gowan has participated with the New Hampshire Office of State Planning and has attended multi-year training classes for Planning and Board of Adjustment members.  He’s well acquainted with New Hampshire regulations and requirements.

He’s been a delegate to Nashua Regional Planning Commission (NRPC) and been very involved in NRPC projects, training classes and sessions.

Gowan felt that New Hampshire Municipal Leadership training was extremely important so he paid for it himself.  “That’s something our own employees have not taken yet,” remarked Danevich.

“He presented a lot of new ideas on how to improve our escrow account tracking, engineering inspection services, and code enforcement,” stated Danevich.

When he applied, Gowan had been the Newburyport Massachusetts Community Director, and was very involved with commercial, residential and economic development.  This experience will help in his new position with Pelham.

Danevich described Gowan has having a certain authoritative presence that has a calming effect on people.  “He is a seasoned and mature employee who understands who he is working for, i.e. the residents of Pelham and he has a long standing sincere commitment to making Pelham a better place to live.”  Danevich paused.  “There’s a mutual respect between Jeff and developers, residents and staff employees and the Board of Selectmen.”

Gowan brings a strong set of computer skills and writing skills and is well versed in how to prepare reports, meeting packages and bid specs. 

“Jeff will have the full support of the board to be successful in his new role as Planning Director,” concluded Danevich.

Jeff Gowan

Pelham Police Officers Sworn In

Pelham Police Department is working to get fully staffed now that Selectmen have given approval to hire again.  Because of the default budget, a freeze had been put on the department. 

Having a default budget is not easy even when it has been correctly calculated, but when that budget is incorrect, the issue is worse.  Last year when the default budget was prepared, the Town forgot to include the voter approved and contractually mandated pay raises for union employees.  This significant error caused the default budget to be significantly under funded and that added a layer of complexity that Selectmen have been juggling.

Two new officers were sworn in this week.  A third will be sworn in next week and Police Chief Evan Haglund told Selectmen that a fourth candidate may have been found, but needed background checks have not yet been completed.

Myia Yates, who came from St. Paul, Minnesota, earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Providence College.  She has coached for six years and loves sports – soccer, softball, ice hockey are her favorites.  She rides horses and loves animals.  Yates said that she wanted to help people and thought that this would give her that opportunity.

Mike Marshall earned a Justice Degree from Arizona State.  He’s been working in Lowell for the last four years before deciding to join the Pelham Police Department.  “I feel Pelham PD is very professional, very community oriented and I wanted to be part of that.”  Like Yates, Marshall is involved with youth and with sports.

Both new officers will attend the twelve week Police Academy that begins August. 29.

Town Clerk Dot Marsden swears in the new officers.

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