Pelham-Windham News

Fire Equipment Brings Smiles to Pelham Students

by Lynne Ober

First grader Kayla and Firefighter James Foley.

Mother Nature threw a wrench into Pelham Fire Inspector John Hodge’s plans for Fire Prevention Week. 

“We planned to bring over an ambulance and a fire truck every day this week and play with the kids during recess,” said Hodge.  “We thought we could play kickball and show off our equipment, but it’s supposed to rain every day and the kids won’t go outdoors.”

Plan B was quickly identified.  The fire truck and ambulance were parked outside the cafeteria so that kids could see them through the windows.  On Tuesday, first graders were greeted by firefighters and given hats and junior firefighter stickers as they streamed into the cafeteria for lunch.  Grins and giggles from the first graders were infectious and, before long, joy had spread throughout the cafeteria.

“Every shift will participate this week,” said Lieutenant Jack Tirrell.  “John [Hodge] has put together a really good plan.”

Pelham firefighters greeted second graders on Wednesday and then returned on Thursday and Friday to greet third, fourth and fifth graders.

“We like to be out in the community,” said Hodge.  “It’s good for us and it’s good for the kids.”

From left, first graders Christian, Ardie, Fire Inspector John Hodge and Bradley.

From left to right First Graders Miranda, Rosie, Mikalya and Lieutenant Jack Tirrell.

American Heart Association Honors Pelham Elementary School

by Karen Plumley

The successful Jump Rope For Heart program at Pelham Elementary School has garnered an honor from the American Heart Association. 

In fact, a picture of four PES students jumping rope can be seen on the American Heart Association 2005 - 2006 school year calendar as a result of the school placing in the top-100 fundraisers in the country.  PES should be proud of its accomplishment. 

Thanks to the devotion of retired physical education teacher Jane Provencal and the extraordinary efforts of her students, the program helped promote healthy hearts and healthy habits among youngsters over the last several years.  During the 2003 - 2004-school season, the period of time in which they were honored, Pelham Elementary raised $25,788, ranking the school 33rd in the country.  The money raised has gone to heart disease research, education, and supplies. 

“It’s also worth noting that over a period of three years, the school raised a total of $70,218.58,” enthused Joyce Herndon, youth marketing specialist at the American Heart Association in Manchester. 

“Every child in the school was educated about healthy hearts, and participated in the jump rope program, but we wanted to make clear to them that they didn’t have to raise money if they didn’t want to or didn’t feel comfortable doing so,” said Provencal.  According to Provencal, out of approximately 880 students at the time, 335 were fundraisers, but all of the students jumped rope during their physical education classes to “make their own hearts healthy.” 

In addition to jumping, the school had guest speakers who talked about the importance of fitness and healthy eating habits.  “One speaker whose husband passed away 10 years after a heart transplant told the children that he would not have had those 10 years if it weren’t for their efforts in the jump rope program,” recounted Provencal.

“Pelham was the top seller for the state, and they were chosen to be on the calendar.  We were looking for smaller communities to try to show that even the smaller ones can make a difference in the fight against heart disease,” said Herndon. 

Indeed, small communities and small children can make a difference when they have big --and healthy-- hearts.  Congratulations to Pelham Elementary for this impressive honor!

Pelham Elementary students seen jumping rope on calendar page for February in the American Heart Association 2005-2006 School Calendar.

Bond Proposed for Capital Projects

by Lynne Ober

Bill Scanzani, chairman of Pelham’s Capital Improvement Projects Committee, met with selectmen to discuss Pelham’s need for improvements.

He called the CIP’s yearly report a “broad-based master plan the town should follow.”  Scanzani said that, when followed, the plan will stabilize the tax rate while allowing for important projects to be funded in a manner that will avoid huge tax increases and erratic swings in Pelham’s tax rate.

However, for the past several years, the CIP plan has not been followed and CIP Committee members are concerned because Pelham will “lose the ability to collect impact fees to help fund projects and that not following the CIP plan also guarantees large future increases in the tax rate as projects delayed will cost more in the future.”

Scanzani told selectmen that the results of delay are quantifiable and that the cost of known projects continues to grow.  The rising price of oil is a big player in increasing construction costs.  Scanzani pointed out that oil is the main ingredient in asphalt used to pave roads, is used by all the equipment needed in construction and is found in many construction materials.

According to data gathered by the CIP Committee, there has been a $4 million increase caused by delaying five known capital improvement projects.  These projects are the central fire station, first fire sub-station, highway garage, cemetery garage, and Senior Center expansion.

Feeling that the CIP plan and process are at a critical juncture in Pelham, the committee has developed a comprehensive plan to get needed improvements back on track.  They are proposing that Pelham fund a 20-year bond that would increase the tax rate $2.00 the first year, but less for each succeeding year and would fund the following needed projects: 

  • New central fire station;
  • First fire sub-station, probably located on Shepherd Road;
  • Cemetery garage;
  • Senior Center addition and expansion;
  • Town vehicle storage garage, primarily for highway department equipment that now sits outside; and
  • Multi-function building at Raymond Park for the Parks and Rec Department.

After these projects, $6 to $7 million would be left over to do road improvements.

Scanzani pointed out that it was the goal of the CIP Committee in recommending this bond and these projects that there was something for everyone.  “We didn’t want to pit families against senior citizens or any one group against another group.  These projects cover the whole spectrum for Pelham residents.”

According to Scanzani, if approved, impact fees could be set at a much higher rate.  New developments would pay their fair share and take some of the tax burden off the shoulders of current residents.  He told selectmen that he hopes to make a similar presentation to the Budget Committee and would be available to discuss this plan at any time.

Donated Brush Truck is Work in Progress

by Lynne Ober

Pelham Fire Chief Dave Fisher told selectmen that a two and a half ton 10-wheeler truck has been donated to the fire department by the Firefighters Relief Association, who was able to get the used truck for a reasonable price.  According to Fisher, the truck originally came from Fort Devens, and through a contact in Pelham, the Relief Association was able to purchase it.

Lieutenant Jack Tirrell sits in the brush vehicle.  The top has yet to arrive, but it will get one.

“It’s worth about $15,000 and I’d like to request that you schedule a public hearing to accept this donation,” Fisher said.  The truck has been outfitted with a poly tank, new hose and has been painted to match Pelham’s other fire apparatus vehicles. 

“We actually got the vehicle about two years ago,” said Lieutenant Jack Tirrell.  “It’s a 1975 Kaiser Jeep that can run any type of fuel – diesel, gasoline, kerosene.  Whatever is available.  A lot of military vehicles are made that way because they don’t know what fuel would be available in the field.  It has been a work in progress ever since.  I’ve been working on it weekends and evenings.”

“Fire Protection Systems in Pelham did the plumbing for us.  We got the pump with grant money.  A man gave us the spool that we’ve used to mount a hose low and the two top spools we scavenged from old Engine 6,” said Tirrell with a smile.  He is known as the “chief scrounger.”

There’s still work to be done.  The top will come from Fort Drum in New York and go to a shop in Vermont.  When the truck’s ready, Tirrell will go up with his pickup truck and get it. 

There are plans to install equipment that will allow the top two reels to be electrically re-rolled.  Tirrell is still fashioning the equipment locker that will be mounted on the top to hold chain saws and other hand tools.  Tirrell already spray painted the vehicle to match Pelham’s other vehicles.

Altogether Tirrell estimated that the Relief Association had invested between $3,500 and $4,000 in the vehicle.  “That’s a good ball park figure,” he said.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Victor Danevich said, “That’s awesome.”  Then he waited a beat, and continued with the theme of that evening’s presentation, which was how many fire vehicles are sitting outside because they don’t fit inside and grinned, “I suppose this has to sit outside too.”

Pelham Resident Rides in Honor of Her Sister

Kim Kerepka of Pelham recently rode her horse, Blaze, in the “5th Annual Quiet Corner’s Ride for a Cure.”  This is a horseback riding event that raises money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.  It is a beautiful cross country equestrian course in Northeastern Connecticut.  She rode in honor of her sister, Janice Chasse, and many others who have battled breast cancer.  Kim personally raised more than $2,200.  The total from all riders raised exceeded $50,000.

Kim Kerepka on her horse, Blaze.

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