Selectmen to Request Approval of $94,260 in Community Grants/Donations
by Doug Robinson
Many parents tell their children: “Charity starts at home.” It seems that the town of Hudson has adopted that philosophy with tax dollars as well, to the tune of $94,260 in charity.
According to Town Administrator Steve Malizia, “The town of Hudson has always been involved with giving community grants long before I came to Hudson. That was in 1997.”
During the October 25 Hudson Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Selectman Kathleen MacLean, clearly stated her position regarding the town’s charity by reading from a prepared statement. Selectman MacLean stated: “You, the taxpayer, may or may not know that the Board of Selectmen during last week’s budget hearings appropriated nearly $100,000 of your money to the charities of their choice.
“Charity is in general a good thing, and most of the organizations on the board’s list, in fact, can be considered an investment in the well being of some of the people of Hudson because these organizations provide services to certain residents who may otherwise seek assistance from the town by means of welfare services.”
Selectman MacLean continued by saying, “I have begun to wonder about the principle of the whole matter in general. Does the board have the right to give away your money for charity? Don’t you, the taxpayer, have the right to choose whether or not to donate your money? And don’t you, the taxpayer, have the right to choose where you want your charitable contributions to go?”
In defending her “no” vote for the proposed budget, MacLean had the courage and commitment to defend her values by stating, “I have discovered this year that two of the organizations on the list where your money is being sent, support the abortion industry through referrals...I will never, ever, knowingly support giving taxpayer money to organizations which go against the basic code of living and decency…I apologize for not being better informed last year…but this year I know, and you should know too.”
The selectmen’s 2007 proposed charitable-giving budget, commonly known as community grants, represents “level funding” for the existing charities with fiscal year 2005 approved expenditures. However, their overall community grant budget has a dollar increase of $7,000, or 9.25 percent increase over Fiscal 2005 approved budget due to the addition of three new charities.
Listed below are the charitable agencies, a brief description of the reason for the request, and the amount of dollars being requested by the selectmen of the Budget Committee:
As budget hearings are about to begin on the selectmen’s budget, the public is invited to offer their opinions. Citizens of Hudson may either speak directly with the Board of Selectmen at one of their regularly scheduled meetings (just call Town Hall), or citizens may speak with any member of the budget committee to voice their concerns, thoughts, or ideas to this very important area of the budget.
One idea offered by Selectman MacLean states, “I’d like to see the section of the budget entitled “Community Grants” extracted for the voters as a separate warrant article … I don’t think people even realize it’s there. The voters should have the right to choose whether or not they want their tax money supporting these organizations.”
Hudson Teachers Ratify Tentative Agreement with School Board
In a school-by-school, secret ballot vote on October 31, the Hudson Federation of Teachers ratified the school board's latest SAU 81 teacher contract offer. This occurred with a final, but unconfirmed, vote of 198 in favor and 60 opposed. The Hudson School Board may meet as early as next week to advance the ratification process. Stay tuned. Details of the long-awaited negotiation, results, comments, and updates from the teachers and the school board will be featured in upcoming editions of the Hudson~Litchfield News.
Diamond Has a Nose for Explosives
When it comes to detecting explosives, this “Diamond” is extremely valuable. That’s because Diamond is one of five Labrador retrievers who recently graduated from the State Police K9 Training Center in Meriden, Connecticut. Together with their human partners, they collected diplomas and were greeted by family members at a small ceremony on October 21.
The Bate family of Hudson raised the aptly named Diamond. She was originally slated to become a guide dog. Born November 12, 2003, at the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Canine Development Center, she moved in with the Bate family when she was just nine weeks old. She returned to Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown February 12, 2005. She trained in a harness for four months before being released in June.
“Some dogs are just too curious, too energetic, or too distractible for guide work,” explained Kim Steele-Bate, Diamond’s primary raiser. “Diamond is one of those dogs. She’s very smart and confident and has a great work ethic, but guide dogs need to be less, well, nosy than Diamond. The very qualities that prevented her from becoming a guide dog are exactly what they look for in a detection dog.”
Diamond trained for 12 weeks to learn to detect explosives. Dogs’ sensitive noses can detect explosives hidden inside a packed suitcase or the trunk of a car. Since the September 11 attacks, the demand for bomb-sniffing dogs has increased dramatically.
Two days after she graduated, she examined the University of Connecticut's Stadium at Rentschler Field prior to the University of Connecticut/Rutgers football game with her human partner, Trooper First Class David Brundage. When she’s not busy keeping the world safe from terrorism, Diamond will enjoy life as a beloved family pet with Trooper Brundage, his wife, two daughters, a pet Airedale, and Diamond’s predecessor, Hallie, a yellow lab. Diamond has already befriended the Brundage’s small flock of sheep.
“I can’t emphasize enough the important role the puppy raisers play in the education of these dogs,” said Brundage. “There hasn’t been any place I’ve taken this dog that she hasn’t been before. Nothing fazes her. The training and exposure she received from her first family has helped make Diamond an excellent detection dog!”
American Council of Young Political Leaders Builds Bridges
by Maureen Gillum
Nothing builds bridges or melts walls faster than having people share their culture and perspectives. Since its founding in 1966, the American Council of Young Political Leaders has bridged more than 90 countries internationally, with roughly 25 inbound and outbound exchanges annually.
The ACYPL is a “bipartisan, non-profit educational exchange organization dedicated to fostering relations between the next generation of political leaders in the United States and their counterparts around the world,” according to www.acypl.org. The ACYPL’s practical education programs, intended for leaders ages 25- 40, include international exchanges, foreign policy, and democracy conferences and election study programs.
Last week, Hudson community leader and ACYPL alumnus, David Alukonis reciprocated as host for a delegation of 10 young leaders from El Salvador and Nicaragua in Central America. Selected as a U.S. ACYPL delegate to Morocco and the Palestinian Authority in 1999, “I thoroughly enjoyed my three-week exchange and found it a fascinating experience to work with local leaders from around the world to share our experiences and perspectives,” said David gratefully. He added, “There’s also a great camaraderie that develops between hosts and delegates.”
A developer by trade, Alukonis is Hudson’s School Board Chairman and has also served as a New Hampshire State Representative (14 years) and President of the Hudson Historical Society. “In today’s interconnected world, mutual understanding, appreciation and diplomacy has never been more important,” he explained.
When the delegates arrived for their five-day southern New Hampshire visit on October 26, a kick-off dinner was held at Charman’s Restaurant in Hudson. The event was sponsored by the Area News Group, publishers of the Hudson~Litchfield News and Pelham~Windham News. “It’s always a privilege to participate in an event that benefits our town,” declared Robin Rodgers, Managing Editor of the Area News Group, “especially one as fun and exciting as an international delegate dinner.” Rodgers also appreciatively recognized David, “on his tireless efforts and dedicated leadership to improve our local and global communities.”
A delegate from Nicaragua, Jose Francisco Rizo Falcon, the Mayor of Río Blanco, also graciously awarded Hudson’s ‘stand-in Mayor’ (Alukonis) a special host gift. Speechless, David accepted the unique Nicaraguan okarina (a musical instrument in the shape of a fish) to the cheers of all. While not sure what to do with the gift, he later reported with humor, “I’ve developed a fondness for it and am calling it Esmeralda.”
“Many New Englanders tend to think of ‘South of the border’ as Mexico, but really we’re all part of the greater Americas,” stated Chris Hodgdon, President of the Nashua Chamber of Commerce. He elaborated, “There’s so much going on in our Americas and we’re increasingly intertwined – culturally, politically, militarily and economically – across Canada, the United States, Mexico and the republics of Central and South Americas.” Hodgdon supports encouraging interaction with neighbors at all levels (government, business, local civic leaders, and citizens). Another ACYPL alumni delegate who went to Nicaragua and El Salvador in November 2004, Chris acted as the overall New Hampshire host to the visitors, along with former Deputy Speaker of the House and ACYPL delegate Donnalee Lozeau.
The Central American contingent took on a whirlwind itinerary while in New Hampshire. They visited the New Hampshire State House, the New Hampshire Supreme Court and met with senators (on both sides of the aisle), justices, police chiefs, mayors, as well as church, school and business leaders. Another special event was a Leadership Greater Nashua dinner, which Hodgdon explained, “is intended to build social capitol within our community by empowering would-be community leaders through educations and involvement.” (Visit www.nashuachamber.com for more on LGN). The visitors also managed to squeeze in a fall foliage cruise, tours of the Merrimack Budweiser plant and Flag Hill Winery, and a Manchester Monarchs hockey game before departing for Puerto Rico on Sunday. “The American Council of Young Political Leaders enables not only internationally relationships, but is also a great opportunity to forge local connections, regardless of party affiliations or partisanship,” commented Chris Hodgdon, “and you just never know where those partnerships and alliances may lead someday.”