Pelham-Windham News

Windham Garden Club Gets Creative for Christmas

by Lynne Ober

Members of Windham’s Garden Club spent an entertaining evening learning how to make a long and low fall or Christmas centerpiece.

Eileen Frigon, who taught English to Windham middle school students for more years than she wanted to admit, gave an entertaining hands-on class.

Eileen Frigon shows students a centerpiece she bought, telling them to take it apart and use the pieces.

Frigon was both amusing and practical at the same time.  She had tips and tricks as well as disaster stories that usually began with, “Let me tell you why you don’t want to …”

She kept urging her students that “nothing is perfect in nature, so you can’t go wrong,” as she led them step by step through the creation of a centerpiece. 

Frigon has always had an interest in flowers and floral arranging.  “It really started years ago with a summer job that I had.  They started me out and I’ve been doing it ever since,” Frigon laughed.  “I worked for Ford Flowers for a while and they taught me a lot.”  Today Frigon shares her love by teaching classes as well as doing weddings and showers.

Frigon told them to go to the Christmas Tree Shoppe and buy floral pieces and then just tear them apart.  “Who would use this as it is?” she asked while waving a large piece through the air.  “Take it apart.  Use it in pieces.  You can’t go wrong.  Mother Nature doesn’t worry about perfect.”

It wasn’t long before her students were busily emulating her cheerful abandon in creating their own masterpieces.

“We just really like to get together and have fun,” smiled Vice President Josie Cappiello.

Windham Garden Club Vice President Josie Cappiello is having a great time creating her piece.

Garden Club ‘Elves’ Decorate Pelham Center

by Karen Plumley

Although the planning for the holiday decorations in Pelham center has been going on for quite a while, the physical labor began on Wednesday morning when four devoted individuals, including former Selectman Bill McDevitt, arrived to install the temporary wires and outlet plugs. 

Ginny Remeis with her husband, Walter, pose near the snowman at Pelham Center on Saturday.

“To do permanent wiring would cost us about $2,000, and we couldn’t afford it this year.  Hopefully, we can do it next year,” said McDevitt.  Watching these men at work, there is no question that putting the temporary outlets in is a real chore.  Among other things, the men had to dig holes with posthole diggers to put the outlets in place. 

McDevitt characterized Pelham Garden Club members as “getting older and rickety” and expressed concern about the on-going and future status of decorating the Common.  “We are a little old to be crawling around on our hands and knees in the cold,” smiled McDevitt.  In the future, the hope is that permanent wiring will be possible, or that newer, younger garden members volunteer to help out with the work.  Otherwise, the decorations may not happen for very much longer.

Terri Ferullo staples the snow onto the carolers’ display at Pelham Center on Saturday morning.

On Saturday morning, the center was bustling with garden club members putting up the decorations, lights, Christmas trees, and of course the ever popular snowman.  No one could precisely pinpoint how old the snowman actually is, but everyone agreed that he has to be at least eight.  “He is stuffed with recycled newspapers and plastic,” described Ginny Remeis, garden club member since 1995.  She and her husband, Walter, worked hard, handily placing the snowman in its familiar spot:  directly facing the fire station, with a backdrop of beautiful evergreen trees that the club purchased for a discount from Bob Hirsch.  During the off-season, the snowman has been making itself at home in Sherburne Hall.  “Because the hall gets used more and more, I’m not sure where he may end up after this season,” said Remeis.

Garden Club member Terri Ferullo worked on the carolers’ display while Flo Parece positioned Santa’s sleigh with its hefty pile of holiday presents.  There is no doubt that the Town Center decorating project is an all-out team effort.  “People I don’t think realize it, but this takes a lot of hard work,” said Parece.  Now that the project is complete, the center has become a place that will ring in the holiday season with elegance and class, thanks to the talents and diligence of the garden club.

From left, Ray Belleville, Phil Blanchette, Bill McDevitt, and Walter Remeis install the outlets and wires for the Pelham Center holiday decorations on Wednesday morning.

Revaluation Process in Pelham Has Begun

by Lynne Ober

Pelham’s revaluation is under way.  The contract with Vision Appraisal Technology, the firm that will perform the revaluation, has been signed and staff has begun the data collection.  The contract with Corcoran Associates, the firm that will provide oversight of the process for the town, has been signed and Will Corcoran is already working with staff from Vision.

At a recent selectmen’s meeting Monica Gordon, the on-site Vision Project Manager, provided an in-depth look at Pelham’s revaluation process. 

She explained that this process would affect every home, every multi-family dwelling, every industrial property, every commercial property and would even be done on empty lots.  It will be comprehensive.  Everyone in Pelham will be involved at some point.

The goal is to bring every property in town up to a 100 percent valuation for tax purposes.  “This will provide equity for all taxpayers,” said Gordon.  Currently, according to Gordon, Pelham is valued at an average of 43 percent.  That means that some properties will see an increase in their valuation.

The foundation of any revaluation project is to gather correct data.  While part of this process is visiting every project, taking outside measurements of each property and doing a visual interior inspection, it also includes a lengthy data collection process during which every property sold for the past two years is examined.

Gordon said that properties sold between family members are discarded as those properties may or may not be sold for retail value.  This analysis will include looking at current market values, determining land prices, determining building values and appropriate depreciation. 

The data collection part will also look at neighborhoods.  Gordon talked about the land valuation by location that is part of any appraisal process.  “We will look at comparable properties when making a determination,” she stated.

Vision staff will also examine building permits.  “Sometimes a person pulls a permit but doesn’t actually complete the work,” said Gordon.  “That’s why an on-site visit is so important in making an accurate determination of the value of a piece of property.”

“We will take a digital photo of each property and examine the current tax record card to make sure that it is accurate,” Gordon stated.

The final piece of the data collection process will be to develop computer models that are based on market data.  This data combined with the on-site inspections will be used to determine final value of any property.

Pelham Revaluation Schedule
Residential Data Collection 11/2005 through 06/2006
Digital Photographs 11/2005 through 06/2006
Commercial / Industrial Data Collection 02/2006 through 04/2006
Callback letters and appointments 03/2006 through 05/2006
Building Permit Checks 01/2005 through 06/2006
Sales and Cost Analysis 01/2006 through 05/2006
Field Review (Exterior Inspections) 04/2006 through 06/2006
Data 11/2005 through 07/2006
Town Review of Values 08/2006 through 09/2006
Notices and Informal Hearings 09/2006 through 10/2006
Finalization of Project 10/15/2006

The exterior inspection will include determining style, quality, design, story height, roof structure, roof covering, wall construction, and year built.  Inspectors will also examine any exterior buildings on the property and take measurements of all structures.

However, Gordon emphasized that an important piece will be homeowner participation because a thorough revaluation includes an interior inspection.

Gordon said that all Vision staff doing inspections will carry photo id badges and will be registered with Pelham Police Department.  Each of their vehicles will also be registered with the Pelham Police Department.  She urged residents to feel free to contact police before allowing anyone inside their homes.

Residents can expect that an inspector will count rooms, count bathrooms, check the wall finish and floor finish, look at heating and style of the bathroom and kitchen.  A decision will be made on quality after this inspection and that will, partly, be used to determine the value of a property.

Gordon admitted that they expect to find many homes with no one home.  “We will not leave a tag on the door.  That’s like leaving a marker for an unscrupulous person,” she declared.  Instead, addresses will be tracked and homeowners can expect to receive a letter, probably around March. 

A homeowner will be able to call and schedule a specific time for an appointment.  “We will have evening and Saturday appointments.  We know that people work and can’t be available during the day,” said Gordon.

Selectmen questioned what would happen if the taxpayer did not respond. 

“Then we will use the data we have to complete a valuation,” said Gordon.  “If selectmen want a second or third contact, they will have to pay for that.  We will be happy to do the on-site visits, but our contract calls for one letter to each taxpayer.  We will have the exterior inspection, the neighborhood information, market analysis information, and our computer models to help us make a determination if we cannot get into a property.”

Once data collection and site visits are complete, Vision will compile that data into a usable format and have a final review meeting with selectmen, the town assessor, and the town administrator.

It is expected that Pelham taxpayers will receive a written notification of their new assessment in September 2006.

When selectmen questioned the amount of information that would be contained in that written notification, Gordon explained that it would only be a short statement of the taxpayer’s property valuation.  Vision will also provide web access for property owners to search for property valuations of other properties.

Gordon told selectmen that many towns also run informational listings in newspapers or develop a brochure showing town-wide property values.

Once the written statement has been received by property owners, there will be an informal hearing process during which individual taxpayers can come and discuss the methodology used for their specific property.  “Typically during this process we have some opportunity to do interior inspections on properties that we could not inspect during the original process.  That inspection, of course, helps us make the most accurate valuation,” said Gordon.

Taxpayers will have a right to appeal the valuation of their property to the Board of Selectmen, and if still not happy, can further appeal to the Board of Land and Tax Appeals.

Selectman Ed Gleason pointed out that in addition to the oversight provided by Corcoran Associates, selectmen were also working with Department of Revenue Administration to provide monitoring.  “We want the process to be as smooth as possible for everyone.”

As part of this project, the Vision software currently in use will be upgraded to the new version of the software.  That upgrade will have embedded GPS capability, three approaches to valuing a property and integrated video imaging.  “It’s based on Oracle Relational Database technology,” said Gordon.

Even when the revaluation is complete, Pelham will need to find a way to keep their town’s evaluation current.  Selectmen have already been discussing possible models to use for this ongoing task.

Emergency Fuel Assistance on the Way

There are times when government can move quickly as Republican leaders in both New Hampshire House and Senate recently proved.  SB228 was quickly crafted, and work on developing bi-partisan support was intense, but very effective.  This bill will provide an additional $13.5 million in fuel assistance for this coming heating system.  $3.5 million will be loaned by PSNH at no interest from the SBC tariff, and up to $10 million will come from the budget surplus.  This is a temporary measure designed to provide relief from high costs in the wake of damage done by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Expected federal funding, which may not arrive until late spring, will be used to offset the $10 million taken from surplus.

At a special session of both the House and Senate, the bill passed and Governor Lynch has already signed into law.  In the Senate it passed on a unanimous voice vote and in the House it passed 332 – 4.

To see how representatives voted, check below.  Y = support for the bill.  N = no support.  X = state representative not present for the vote.

District 27 Representatives, representing Pelham, Hudson, and Litchfield:

             Name          Vote

Bergeron, Jean Guy  Y

Boehm, Ralph             Y

Buhlman, David        Y

Calawa, Leon              Y

Christiansen, Lars      X

Goyette, Peter             Y

Hellwig, Steve            N

Jasper, Shawn             Y

Lawrence, James        Y

Lessard, Rudy             Y

Ober, Lynne                Y

Renzullo, Andrew     Y

Ulery, Jordan              Y

District 4 Representatives, representing Salem and Windham:

             Name          Vote

Belanger, Ronald       Y

Bettencourt, David    Y

Coburn, James            Y

Cooney, Richard        Y

Dalrymple, Janeen    Y

DiFruscia, Anthony   X

Doyle, Christopher   X

Griffin, Mary               Y

Ingram, Russell           Y

Manning, John            X

McMahon, Charles   Y

Priestley, Anne           Y

Waterhouse, Kevin   Y

Book Swap Encourages Children to Read

by Karen Plumley

A new program for children introduced at the Pelham Library in November is encouraging emergent readers to keep at it and improve budding reading skills.  The Little Readers Book Swap is designed for children ages six and older.  Children participating in the program bring in one beginning reader book and exchange it with the book of another child.  Then, they read with each other and help one another complete the stories.  Children’s Librarian Lucie Gratton is also present to encourage and help out.  On Saturday morning, November 19, Gratton and six-year-old Rachael Alexander were sharing the story of Heidi while Rachael’s father observed.  “My daughter is six going on 13,” he said proudly. 

Children’s Librarian Lucie Gratton and Rachael Alexander share a story at the Little Readers Book Swap on Saturday morning.

K9 Drug Search Goes on at Pelham Schools

by Karen Plumley

At approximately 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, November 22, K9 units from all over the state gathered at the Pelham Police Station.  Their intent:  to search for illegal substances at Pelham Memorial and Pelham High.  As this paper goes to press, K9 units and their handlers are checking lockers, hallways, and other common areas of both schools. 

“The amount of drugs in the schools has been deterred by this process,” explained Juvenile Detective Anne T. Perriello.  “It keeps the kids on their toes.  It sends a clear message,” explained Superintendent Elaine Cutler.  Do you want to know more?  Stay tuned for details in next week’s issue of the Pelham~Windham News.

Detective Perriello organizes the search of Pelham High School on Tuesday morning.

K9 Fina and handler Keith Mackenzie of Rochester begin their search at Pelham High School.

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