Pelham-Windham News

Old Sign Put in a New Place

by Lynne Ober

When Pelham opened its new municipal complex, the old Town Hall sign remained on old Town Hall, but now it’s been moved to the side of the oldest section of Sherburne Elementary School and is easily visible to all who drive by.

When old Town Hall was deeded to Pelham’s VFW, the historic sign was removed. 

According to Jim Greenwood, that sign was originally on the side of Pelham’s Grange Hall back in the 1880s.  When Pelham built a Town Hall, the sign was refurbished and placed on the Town Hall.  Now it’s been refurbished again by Hammer and Sons and placed on the new municipal complex.

Rod Gerard drives the last screw in place.

Windham Children Hear Stories in Chinese

by Lynne Ober

Windham children had an opportunity to hear stories told both in Chinese and in English.  The bilingual story hour, held at Nesmith Library, provided a unique opportunity to learn about other languages.

There are many separate dialects in Chinese and each is monosyllabic and tonal.  In order to indicate differences in meaning between words similar in sound, tone languages assign to words a distinctive relative pitch-high or low-or a distinctive pitch contour-level, rising, or falling, which gives Chinese its distinctive sound.

The children enjoyed two stories, Peter Pan and the Monkey King.  First a section was read in English and then it was read in Chinese.  Approximately 20 children intently listened as the stories were read.

After the stories were read, each participant got to make a Monkey King puppet to take home.

Sharon Chu reads a section in Chinese while the children listen. 

Access Gained to Site of Proposed Windham High

by Lynn McNamara

After months of negotiations, an agreement has been reached between the Windham School Board and James Logan which resolves the access issues to the high school land.  Members of the Windham School Board announced the agreement at Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting.

School Board Chairwoman Bev Donovan began by thanking the many parties instrumental in putting together the agreement.  In addition, Donovan expressed the board’s thanks to the Windham residents for their patience.  "Be assured," she stated, "the school board has never forgotten that your concern with this issue stems from your love for your children and your desire for Windham High School to open on time, on budget, and provide a premier education for the children of Windham.  This board has never lost sight of that fact."

Donovan stated that with this agreement, the school board was able to meet two goals.  The first was providing access to the new high school; the second was providing a strategic road layout consistent with the town’s master plan.  "The simplicity of the agreement ...” she noted, "understates the months of work it has taken."  She further added that the negotiations required substantial engineering and legal work on behalf of both parties.

The agreement is for an exchange of 13 acres of land on the northeast corner of the high school property for roughly 13 acres of land owned by Logan.  The land the school board received in the swap consists of two parcels, one roughly three acres and one 10 1/2 acres.  The smaller parcel is land necessary to reconstruct London Bridge Road in direct alignment across Route 111 from Ledge Road.  According to the school board’s statement, the reconstructed London Bridge Road will bend around the edge of the wetland on the Logan property and continue along and near the existing road bed to the high school site.  "The road will not be constructed on land currently owned by any other abutter except Mr. Logan," School Board member Bruce Anderson stated.

The larger of the two parcels is approximately 10 1/2 acres bordering the southeast corner of the high school site.  This second parcel will be used to construct two to three athletic fields.  While the 13 acres at the northeast corner, now deeded to Logan, were originally considered for athletic fields, they are on a 40- to 50-foot-high slope and would have required the construction of staircases.  Anderson stated that the fields placed on the new parcel will have easier access to the high school.  He further noted that the land swap will also allow the town to construct a walking path between Center School and the new school site and access to the town wells in the area is preserved.

Anderson emphatically stressed that the agreement involved the trading of land only.  "This land swap entails an exchange of virtually equal amounts of land and no exchange of funds.  Let me repeat," he added, "this is a land swap with no monetary cost to either party."

Since the March election, when the town voted by a wide margin to approve both the $9.6 million bond for the purchase and engineering of the land and the $34.2 million bond for construction of the high school, access to the property has been a source of much interest and speculation among residents.  Often described as landlocked by those opposed to the purchase, eminent domain was cited as one of the avenues available to the school board.

The public will be invited to an open-house in mid-November to review the high school floor and site plans.  "With the land negotiations complete, the future of Windham High School is in the hands of the residents of Windham.  It is up to each and every one of us to make Windham High a truly great school," Anderson stated.  He further noted that during the land negotiations, the board and committees have been working on many issues related to the project.  "We are still well on schedule to open Windham High in September 2008," he added.

By agreeing to the swap of parcels, Logan can now connect other land he owns and develop it.  To this end, Peter Zohdi of Herbert & Associates and Mr. Rattigan, Mr. Logan’s attorney, later in the meeting presented the selectmen with initial plans for the layout of the road connecting Logan’s land to London Bridge Road.  While it was the consensus of the selectmen that what Logan was proposing made sense, they stressed that he would have to submit it for Planning Board review and follow the appropriate process. 

While the board members referred to the high school as Windham High, they noted that the contest to submit a name for the school is still ongoing.  Board member Barbara Coish explained that the pronunciation of the name as WinDUM High instead of WindHAM High would be an issue.  Anyone with a suggestion for the name can submit it to the school board through November 1.  Residents may cast their vote on the name during the Special Election at Golden Brook School on November 14.

Windham Tax Rate

The town of Windham has released the final analysis of their recently announced 2005 property tax rate of $19.46 per thousand.

Total Town Appropriations $11,214,673.00
Less Revenues $5,924,063.00
Less Shared Revenues $20,383.00
Add:  Overlay $18,869.00
Add:  War Service Credits $122,750.00
Net town Appropriations: $5,411,845.00
Approved Town Tax Effort $5,411,846.00
Town Rate $3.66
Approved School Effort $16,903,443.00
School Rate $11.42
State Education Taxes
Equalized Valuation (no utilities)  $1,642,865,833 x $2.84
State School Rate $3.17
Approved County Tax Effort $1,794,966.00
County Rate $1.21
Total of Town, School, State, and County $28,775,994.00
Less War Service Credits $122,750.00
Property Taxes to be raised $28,653,244.00
Total Tax Rate $19.46
In 2004 the total tax rate was $18.50, which was broken down as follows
Town Rate $3.86
School Rate $9.99
State School Rate $3.49
County Rate $1.16

2005 Pelham Tax Rate Rises by 4.7 Percent

The town of Pelham has released the final analysis of its recently announced 2005 property tax rate of $31.25 per thousand.  This represents an increase of $1.40, or 4.7 percent, over the 2004 tax rate of $29.85.  According to selectmen, “The increase can mainly be attributed to a decrease in state aid for education at $0.69, an increase in the county tax, at $0.14, and the cost for revaluation at $0.64.  The selectmen offset some of the cost for revaluation by applying half of the fund balance increase from 2004 to offset taxes.  The net effect of the $31.25 rate on the Pelham taxpayer will be an increase of $140 per hundred thousand of assessed value.

Total Town Appropriations $9,042,106.00
Less Revenues $4,268,229.00
Less Shared Revenues $27,099.00
Add: Overlay $44,834.00
Add: War Service Credits $229,500 .00
Net town Appropriations $5,021,112.00
Approved Town Tax Effort $5,021,112.00
Town Rate $7.16
New Local School Budget (gross appropriation – revenue) $17,978,790.00
Less Equitable Education Grant $2,670,787.00
Less State Education Taxes $3,416,033.00
Approved School Tax Effort $11,894,970.00
School Rate $16.96
State Education Taxes
Equalized Valuation (no utilities) $1,201,722,084.00
State School Rate $4.98
Approved County Tax Effort $1,509,021.00
County Rate $2.15
Total Tax Rate $31.25

Pelham Senior Center Aglow with Holiday Cheer

by Karen Plumley

The Pelham Senior Center had a beautiful fall glow to it on October 29, thanks in part to the orange-lighted harvest tree in the corner, the pleasantly warm popcorn popper, and the cheerful faces of members taking part in their annual fall festival event. 

Enjoying the festival are Diane Brunelle with 5-year-old Kristyn Demers, granddaughter of Pelham Senior Center member Barbara Tracy.

There were so many interesting and beautiful things to see at the festival; it was hard to decide where to go first.  Suddenly, bursting in through the side door with the fall breeze came Diane Brunelle all dressed up like a pumpkin to the delight of everyone in attendance, especially five-year-old Kristyn Demers of Pelham.  Behind her came her husband, Don, clutching a handful of balloons.  Mrs. Brunelle then wasted no time and began handing out goody bags to the children.

Many talented members of the center contributed their specialties to the festival.  For example, Dot Carter worked for days in her kitchen canning all sorts of wonderful jellies and pickles that were on display at the bake sale table.  “I enjoy canning, so it wasn’t a chore,” said Carter.  A lovely array of knitted winter items, slippers, and crotched afghans were artfully arranged at the craft table.  They were on sale, and you would be hard-pressed to find a better bargain. 

Kay Silloway and Blanche Forest are at the craft table.

And who could resist some early holiday shopping when faced with an attractive exhibit of knick-knacks at the Christmas table?  Behind yet another table loaded with goodies hung an exquisite quilt with local landmarks and scenery cleverly sewn throughout it.  There was even a bargaining table where buyers could get a nice gift and name their price.  The festival also made use of the attached barn area, where there was an assortment of women’s clothes, purses, and jewelry for sale.

Senior Center Director Sue Hovling, a 30-year member of the Senior Center, has hosted many of these festivals over the years.  “This is one of two annual events that we run.  The other is the springtime strawberry festival,” she said.  According to Hovling, funds earned from the two festivals go directly to the Council on Aging, the money-holding entity for the Senior Center.  The funds help pay for center supplies and activities, including a free flu shot clinic for the seniors as well as new dining room chairs. 

“It will also help to defray costs of the annual Christmas party and our fall foliage bus trip,” said Hovling.  Most importantly, the festival is a chance for seniors, as well as local residents of any age, to socialize and joyfully ring in the holiday season.”

From left, Senior Center members Don Brunelle, Dan Atwood, Roger Nolin and Terry Desell serve up the popcorn and hot dogs at the fall festival on Saturday, October 29.

Searles School Gets Spruced Up

by Lynne Ober

One could say that Searles School has been spruced up from top to bottom with the completion of two projects.  The roof needed repaired and outside the school has been landscaped.   

Windham resident Joe Raboin who works in his family’s business, Old Timers Slate Roofing, talked about the project that was completed by his firm.  “We replaced badly worn copper on the roof.  I learned how to do this from my family and enjoyed being able to help my town.”

From left are Patricia Skinner, Bill Wallace, Marion Dinsmore, George Dinsmore, and Jill Martin, standing next to one of the landscaped beds.

The outside of the building has new landscaping thanks to a grant from the Windham Garden Club.  The $700 grant was awarded as part of the Garden Club’s community investment grant, named in honor of one of the original members, Arthur Baker.

Marion Dinsmore, Windham’s 2004 Volunteer of the Year, praised local nurseries for helping stretch the grant monies.  “Both Delahunty and Windham Nursery really pitched in and helped us.  Without them we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish as much.”

Nearly 40 shrubs and daylilies have been planted in beds circling Searles School.  With the fresh mulch and attractive plantings, the landscaping made quite an improvement.

“We are very pleased with the [landscaping] results,” said Jill Martin, President of the Windham Garden Club.  “They did a wonderful job.  It’s great to see the results that are achieved from this grant.”

From left, George Dinsmore and Joe Raboin inspect the newly installed copper pieces on top of the tower.

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