Pelham-Windham News

Summer’s Over – School Starts

by Lynne Ober

Summer just seems to fly past and before you know it school begins.  Pelham students returned to school on September first.  Some were happy.  Some were sad that summer was over and for some; it was a first time experience.

To ease the transition of first graders into the school system, Pelham Elementary School hosted a First Grade Open House Wednesday afternoon.

First Grader Lianne Pomerleau and her mother, Linda, sit on the bench in the lobby of the school.

The parking lot was full.  The halls crowded with parents and students and the classrooms lively.  Everywhere you turned; students were clutching their parent’s hand and chattering about the new experience.

The PTA had a booth in the hallway with information about joining, on-going activities, and the Boo-Hoo Breakfast that they would host on the first day of school.

Parents and students wandered the halls looking for lockers and for classrooms.  Students had an opportunity to meet their teachers and to visit their classrooms.  Parents had an opportunity to talk about the upcoming school year and to meet their children’s first teacher.

“My son is only interested in riding the school bus,” laughed one mother.  “He doesn’t care about anything else.  He just wants to get on that bus.”

On the bench in the lobby Linda Pomerleau sat with her daughter Lianne, who will attend first grade.  Lianne, with a shy grin, admitted that she was a little nervous about starting school.

The big yellow school bus would pull up to the front of the school.  With the help of School Resource Officer, Detective Anne Perriello, a bus full of students would load the bus and find a seat.  Parents were left standing on the curb – looking a bit forlorn. 

First Grader, Victor Romeo and his sister, second grader, Rachel look at lockers with their mother Kathy.

Detective Perriello and the school bus driver would explain the rules of riding the bus before the doors closed and the bus started.

Students learned that they needed to be at the bus stop early; listen to the bus driver, and follow directions and stay seated at all times.  When they get off the bus, they learned to take 10 giant steps beyond the front bumper of the bus before crossing in front of the bus and were reminded to always look both ways before crossing any road.

Once the doors closed, the bus would slowly pull away from the school and out of the parking lot.  It drove down to Village Green, made a loop on the driveway around the green and returned to the school.

Before students would get off, Detective Perriello would review the bus safety rules with them and then hand them a one page sheet with bus safety facts that she wanted them to give to their parents.

Renovations Investigated

by Lynne Ober

The Town of Pelham continues to face space needs, and some of those needs are becoming pressing.  When Selectmen deeded Old Town Hall to the VFW, that space was no longer available, but not all of the space in Pelham’s current municipal complex can be used without renovations.

Pelham Fire Inspector John Hodge wrote a letter, dated in February of this year, outlining a dozen code violations that he found in the Annex.  These included smoke detectors falling from the ceiling, non fire-rated materials on the walls, ceiling tiles missing, a broken fire alarm system and broken emergency lighting system as well as a non-functioning heater.  Hodge was concerned by some of the clutter in the Annex and wanted to have it removed.

Town Administrator Tom Gaydos had previously told Selectmen that the heater had been removed because it could not be repaired, but he outlined a number of issues that remain and discussed the significant problems for the on-going operation of Pelham Community Television [PTV] housed is this facility.

In his letter Hodge urged Selectmen to have the Building Inspector and Electrical Inspector inspect the facility because he felt that there were code issues that needed to be addressed in those areas as well.

Code Enforcement Officer Roland Soucy also submitted a written memo with more items that needed to be addressed.  Soucy identified that the rear door had to be replaced because it didn’t swing out as required by Town code.  He also noted that a second egress needed to be available and wanted a second door installed near the front of the building.  Agreeing with Hodge’s assessment, Soucy noted that lighting needed to be repaired and carpeting removed from the walls. 

In the storage room, Soucy wanted a window repaired, mold/mildew cleaned up, a floor drain repaired and he suggested that rodent control needed to be done because he saw mice.

In March Health Officer Paul Zarnowski sent Planning Director Will d’Andrea a letter with 13 items that he thought should be addressed, including the mold/mildew issue, missing ceiling tiles and electrical heat issues that had been cited by other Town officials.  In addition, he was concerned about the septic tank, water stains on the ceiling of the fuel oil tank area, rust stains, exposed wires and plumbing pipes and what he thought was a squirrel’s nest in the left front corner of the building.

When Hodge re-inspected the facility in August, his list of violations had shrunk to 8 from 12, but he was still significantly concerned about the status of the building.  Although smoke detectors had been repaired, the fire alarm system continued to indicate that it was having issues.  Clutter still remains; carpeting that is not fire rated remains on the walls; emergency lighting needs to be repaired and needs to run on battery backup and he concurred with Soucy’s request for a second exit near the front of the building.

As a result of the on-going issues a sign was posted on the Annex door stating that “until further notice only cable and emergency personnel are allowed to enter Annex building.”  The sign states that videotape pickup is at the Selectmen’s office and “video tape drop off at door to the left in mail slot.  PTV volunteers with keys are to contact Cable Coordinator Jim Greenwood … before entering building.”

All in all significant improvements need to be made, including the purchase of a new heater, if the Annex will continue to be used.  Gaydos expressed an opinion that CERTS, the group using the second floor of the Annex, might be able to get some grant funding to make needed repairs in lieu of rent.

Selectmen also wanted to examine options.  One of those is to use six classrooms that remain as part of the old E. G. Sherburne School.  These are located behind the Police Station and were not renovated during initial renovations two years ago.

Gaydos presented a proposal to award a contract for $3,500 to Castagna Consulting Group LLC, of Manchester to develop a conceptual design as well as detailed cost estimates for needed renovations to those rooms.  Gaydos suggested that the rooms could provide a new meeting location for Selectmen and other Town Boards and to provide studio space for Pelham Community Television.  According to Gaydos, Parks and Recreation Department is very short of space and could use at least one additional room in the municipal complex.

When Selectmen questioned the overall scope of work that Castagna would complete, Gaydos said that he expected that they would conduct a site investigation of the space, review documents of the completed renovation project, meet with Town officials to craft a conceptual design, prepare a floor plan that included a basic code review so that life safety issues and system issues could be addressed and produce an outline of the required work.  This coupled with the detailed cost estimate could be used by Selectmen to craft a warrant article for next year’s ballot.

At the time that Selectmen voted to deed Old Town Hall to the VFW, Selectman Hal Lynde had voted against it.  He clarified that he was not against the VFW, but their petitioned warrant article said that the Town would incur no cost, but Lynde felt that there would be a cost because of the condition of the Annex.

Selectmen authorized Gaydos to proceed with a cost not to exceed $3,500 and to use municipal funds to pay for the work to be done by Castagna.

It’s Time for Some Fun

by Lynne Ober

Saturday, September 10 will be the 99th year that Pelham Old Home Day has been sponsored by Congregational Church.   With the atmosphere of an old time fair, it’s a great day with something for everyone and the best part is that everything is free.

Events kick off with registration between 7:30 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. with the starting gun at for the 5K (3.1 mile) road race and fun walk.  Race organizers have changed the course again so you’ll have an opportunity to see more of Pelham.  Proceeds benefit the Hojlo/Pace Scholarship Fund.

The Victor Spaulding Memorial Auction, named in honor of a past auctioneer, kicks off at 9:30 a.m. and runs until everything is sold.  This is a great opportunity to clean our your closets and garages.  If you have donations, call the church at 635-7025.  All donations are tax deductible and monies earned support church activities throughout the coming year.

The ever popular Doll Carriage and Bike Parade kicks off at 10:00 a.m.  Certificates are given for the best decorated doll carriage and bike.  If you want to participate the line up begins at 9:45 a.m. 

Throughout the day, crafters and vendors are nestled on church property.  You can stroll under the shady tree and enjoy the wares on display.  Food will also be available for purchase so plan to come and spend the day.

The Bektash Shrine Clowns and Balloons arrive at 10:00 a.m.  This popular event thrills youngsters. 

The quilt that will be raffled off at this year’s Old Home Day.

At 10:30 the Ragg Mopps Dog Fashion Show will be held on stage and the always popular Penny Sale begins.  Every crafter must donate an item to the Penny Sale so be sure to stop by the table and take a chance.

Entertainment continues until the parade begins on the center stage.  At 11:00 a.m. there will be a Karate International Martial Arts Demonstration.  This group performs their choreographed routines to music with a toe tapping beat.  They are followed at noon by a number of groups from Dance Concepts.  At 1:00 p.m. the Rhythm of New Hampshire Show Chorus will perform and at 2:00 p.m. there will be a family Martial Arts Demonstration.

The Grand Parade kicks off at 2:30 p.m.  It runs down Marsh Road from Pelham Memorial School to St. Pat’s School. 

Penny Sale Prize Drawings are made at 3:00 p.m.  You must be present to win.

This is the seventeenth year for the Pretty Pie Contest.  Pies need to be entered by 2:00 p.m. and winners in the category are announced at 3:00 p.m.

Entertainment starts up again at 3:30 p.m. with live country music by Tom Dixon.  Sit and listen while you wait for the doors to open for the chicken bar-be-que dinner. 

The dinner begins at 4:30 p.m. and runs until 7:00 p.m.  Participants enjoy Bar-B-Q Chicken, corn-on-the-cob and all the fixings, including marvelous desserts, coffee and smiles by the dozen.  It’s a great way to cap off a full day of fun at Old Home Day.

The Grand Prize Raffle Drawing will be held at 5:00 p.m.  This year’s grand prize will be a beautiful hand-made quilt that has been made by a quilting group sponsored by the church.  The quilt will be on display throughout the day so stop by and see it, buy your raffle tickets and good luck to the lucky winner.

Partners in Crime

by Lynne Ober

Pelham Officer Eugene Stahl and his partner Zahn represent Pelham Police Department’s K-9 partnership.  Zahn, an energetic two-year old German Shepherd, has warm whiskey colored eyes and obvious devotion to Officer Stahl, who, in turn, is equally devoted to Zahn.  They are a team.  A crime-fighting team.

With K-9 Duke aging, Pelham Police Chief Evan Haglund wanted to have a second dog and worked with Selectmen to ensure that Duke’s retirement would not leave the Pelham Police Department without a trained dog. 

“Zahn completed his training early,” Stahl proudly said as Zahn sat by his side.  Using dogs to enhance police work is not new.  In fact, throughout history when man has gone to war, he’s often taken a dog as his partner.

According to K-9 History – Dogs in War, “The first recorded American Canine Corp was during the Seminole War of 1835, and again in 1842, in Florida and Louisiana, where Cuban-bred bloodhounds were used by the army to track the Indians and runaway slaves in the swamps.”  During the Civil War, dogs were used as messengers, guards and as mascots.

Officer Eugene Stahl and K-9 Zahn are partners.

Today across America well-trained dogs partner with police officers.  The dogs are recognized as one of the best non-lethal weapons in crime prevention and crime detection.  Trained police dogs are taught to do some or all of the following:

  • Search buildings and areas for unauthorized persons.
  • Track criminals and search for lost children and adults.
  • Search for evidence dropped by criminals in flight.
  • Search for hidden explosives, narcotics, chemicals, illegally taken game and cadaver substance.
  • Pursue and apprehend, with minimum force, criminals fleeing a serious crime and arrest.
  • Apprehend on command only and in Protection of the Handler.

Every police department decides which tasks a dog will be trained for and then pursues a variety of training for their dogs.  Following in the footsteps of former Pelham Police Officer Ken Owen and K-9 Duke, Officer Stahl and K-9 Zahn trained at the New Hampshire K-9 Academy, located at Pease Air National Guard Base in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  “We trained for a variety of scenarios,” said Stahl, including apprehension, searches and pursuit.  “The academy offers different opportunities for us to work as a team.”

Part of that training makes man and dog aware not only of each other, but of the threats that they will jointly face.  The academy setup allows them to work in buildings, to gain “street smarts” and to work in wooded areas.  “Zahn just did a fantastic job,” smiled Stahl.

When Stahl decided to become the K-9 officer, he made a commitment to live in Pelham.  Zahn lives with him.  “We are on-call for a variety of situations where having a trained dog can make it easier and safer to resolve the situation,” said Stahl.

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