Santa Arrives in Litchfield
by Lynne Ober
An all-you-can-eat pancake and sausage breakfast served at family friendly prices began at 8:00 a.m. with members of the Litchfield Women’s Club, annual event sponsors, on hand to make sure that everything went smoothly.
Thanks to the Litchfield Fire Department, Santa arrived via fire truck at 9:00 o’clock and quickly a line formed. Parents waited patiently with their excited children. Santa talked to each and every child.
With the beautiful weather, everyone came out. The cafeteria at Litchfield Middle School was filled with happy sounds and lots of families. Breakfast was served until 11:00 a.m.
Games were available. The Girl Scouts, dressed as Santa’s elves, ran the games, and helped entertain children.
A craft table was set up and everyone had a chance to make a simple craft.
You could also stop and get your fingernails painted. It was just fun everywhere that you looked.
The Litchfield Women’s Club also had a raffle table and this year had out done themselves. The table was laden with unique raffles that could become one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts for the right person. There was an autographed photo of the Red Sox, a Bruins’ hockey puck autographed by Dave Stachard, four passes to Chunky’s Cinema Pub, four tickets to Comedy Night, two ski lift tickets to Pat’s Peak, two tickets to a Manchester Monarchs’ game, several gift certificates and beautiful raffle baskets.
Members of the Women’s Club work with school counselors to adopt children at Christmas. This year they adopted a bunch and will put all of the proceeds that they make back into the community through various outreach programs, including Christmas presents for the children they have adopted.
The Litchfield Women’s Club is a non-profit organization working to improve the community while having fun.
Selectman Massey Responds to Budget Committee’s Request for Information
by Doug Robinson
Chairman of the Board of Selectman for the Town of Hudson and liaison to the Town of Hudson Budget Committee, Ken Massey, could have worn protective clothing created of Kevlar and it still would not have prevented the penetration of insults and innuendos, disdain and disregard from striking at the hearts of the Board of Selectmen during the November 29 Budget Committee meeting.
“Frustration, confusing, no plan, dumbfounded, missing pages, misspoken, disappointed, dog-and-pony show, and conspiracy,” list only a few of the endless barrage of comments aimed at the Board of Selectmen, through their liaison, Ken Massey.
In responding to the requests of the Budget Committee during the November 29 meeting, Massey presented the Budget Committee with reams of paper, notes, graphs, and figures, as well as laundry list of information for the committee to review. All of the information provided had not been included with the budget book as previously requested. Massey’s attempt at making amends was apparent and appreciated by Budget Chairman Howard Dilworth.
During the 11/29 Budget Meeting, Massey was charged with the responsibility to provide the Budget committee with a laundry list of information that they needed so that they could properly discuss the different matters that came before the Committee. The areas in question involved: Capital Reserve Account for the Town Clerk, wage and equipment information involved with the Fire Fighter’s Warrant Article, information concerning the proposed Ambulance Warrant Article, financial information regarding the GIS (Geographical Information System), data to support the repair of the Highway Vaccon Truck, and actual data which backed up the expenditures from 2005.
Selectman Massey defended the position of the Board of Selectmen regarding their warrant article to create a capital reserve in the amount of $5,000 for the town clerk. During the discussions regarding the town clerk warrant article, Massey (and the selectmen) was unable to provide documentation to the Budget Committee as to “why” they needed to create a capital reserve account. Massey was unable to give correct information regarding the actual revenue generated by motor vehicle registrations in the town during the November 29 meeting. At the December 1 meeting, Massey gave the Budget Committee information which shows that the motor vehicle registration receipts for the town of Hudson were projected to be $4.177 million.
Massey, referring to Warrant Article D, which concerned the hiring of four firefighter EMTs, stated that information would be would also be available on Saturday, December 3. However, he did explain that the Safer Grant for which the Fire Department has applied would not be applied to the cost of equipment nor would the grant cover the cost of overtime. This area of the fire department’s budget was unclear during their previous discussion.
Dilworth stated that he believed that the fire department’s proposal should cover all the expenses which would go with the warrant article. This would include overtime and equipment. When Selectman Massey stated that the areas of overtime and equipment were not part of the warrant article due to the Safer Grant, budget member Shawn Jasper took exception with Massey, stating that a “warrant article should include overtime and equipment. We always see warrant articles with overtime and gear.” Massey had no comment to Jasper’s information.
Massey also gave the Budget Committee additional information regarding the new ambulance for which another warrant article is written. In question, was Jasper’s suggestion that the “box”, or area of the ambulance where patients are placed while they are treated and transported to area hospitals, be switched between two ambulances, versus ordering an entirely new ambulance. Massey, having checked with the fire chief, explained that “if you take the existing box and match it to a new body, the cost is $60,000 to $80,000. The ambulance would be out of service for three to four months. There would also be limited warranty because it is not a new box.”
Moving on to defend the selectmen’s position regarding the GIS (Geographical Information System) Warrant Article (the creation of a GIS Capital Reserve Fund), Massey stated that the cost of the flyover to record/film the town translates into about a $6,000 per year shortfall for five years. During the previous discussion with the Budget Committee, Massey was unable to answer the GIS questions of “what if,” and “how much.” In speaking with town Planning, Assessing, and the Selectmen, Massey concluded the need to update and record topographical updates and tax map updates via the GIS system is very important for Hudson.
However, “For us to have enough funds in the end, (after 5 years) we need to establish the Capital Reserve Fund,” stated Massey. Each year we collect approximately $14,000 and even with that revenue, we are still short $6,000 at the end (to support the GIS program). We need $20,000 (total yearly) to support the GIS program.”
The Budget Committee also asked for more information to back up the selectmen’s request for a warrant article to support the highway department’s Vaccon truck. Massey provided the following defense of the selectmen’s budget stating that the estimate from the highway department to repair the VacCon Truck, which cleans the sewers and drains, is $165,000 to $170,000 to take the existing tank to mate it to a new chassis. The cost of a new one would be $185,000. You have to add in the cost of being out of service as well,” he added.
Massey also provided the Budget Committee documentation which demonstrated the selectmen’s support of the warrant article for the combined dispatch between the police and fire departments. Massey showed drawings of not only side views of the present and future police stations, he also provided the floor layouts for the proposed center. In order for the Combined Dispatch to be managed at the Police station, the Police station will need modifications to their present facility. The Budget Committee was concerned as this important information had been omitted from the budget book.
The Budget Committee was also wrestling with the issues that the selectmen had not provided the actual versus budget expenses for the town government. The financial data was missing from the books. As a result, Budget Committee members Dilworth, Jasper, Luszey, Goodwin, Beike, Haefner, Rowell, Schweiss, and Alukonis all commented on the difficulty of providing an accurate budget for the town when they did not have the “tools to do their job.” As Jasper said, “You need a road map to know where you are going.”
During the December 1 budget meeting, Massey provided the Budget Committee with the actual versus budgets for the town of Hudson for their review. With this data, the Budget Committee will be able to make better decisions for FY07 based upon the expenditures of 2005Massey concluded his remarks by stating that the information regarding Town Hall Maintenance and Employee Earned Time analysis, which was also requested by the Budget Committee will be available no later than the December 15 budget meeting. As Massey stated, “This will give you guys time to review the data.”
Dilworth appeared pleased with the documentation that was presented stating, “Very good, you guys have been busy. Thank you.”
Litchfield Police Department Grapples with Legal Issues
by R. Rodgers
While the rest of Litchfield waits for the legal actions surrounding the Litchfield Police Department to come to a conclusion, some Litchfield police personnel have decided to move on and one, Lieutenant James Gaudet, is still in limbo.
“I know that seven people have left the Litchfield Police Department in the year and a half that Joey O’Brion has been chief,” said former Litchfield Master Patrolman Matthew L. Elliott, who recently resigned because of what he called irreconcilable differences with the chief.
“I thought that I would retire from the Litchfield Police Department. Litchfield is a great town with great people,” continued Elliott, “but the job is hard enough if you have trust in the people behind you. I don’t trust Joey.”
Although O’Brion has been reinstated, the selectmen’s lawsuit against O’Brion has not been settled and is scheduled for December 12. In addition, Gaudet’s future has not been resolved although the panel convened by the courts concluded its hearing and is deliberating the final outcome.
The Gaudet issue started at a holiday party. Gaudet, who was off duty, allegedly mooned guests.
There were also allegations surrounding his job performance, specifically that he urged a police officer to call in sick and used unnecessary force with an inmate.
Litchfield Police Chief Joseph O’Brion initiated an internal investigation. Ultimately, O’Brion asked the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office to take over the investigation and report back.
The allegation about the use of unnecessary force was dropped as unfounded.
O’Brion placed Gaudet on administrative leave with full pay and benefits.
Most of the specific details are and will probably remain cloaked behind closed doors of non-public meetings, but O’Brion’s handling of Gaudet’s case was one of the reasons that Litchfield Selectmen did not renew O’Brion’s contract.
According to Elliott, who was on the Litchfield police force for eight years and has been a police office for ten and a half years, there have been seven internal investigations in the year and a half that O’Brion was chief. Calling his record unblemished, Elliot said he was worried about actions he had seen since O’Brion took over.
“I watched actions against other employees and wondered if at some point it would be me,” commented Elliott who said that during former Chief Iverson’s tenure there had been two internal investigations. “In Joey’s year and half as chief, there have been seven internal investigations and sometimes the officers didn’t even know they were being investigated.”
Elliott has been candid with selectmen about issues and his reasons for leaving. As part of his exit process Elliott offered to meet with selectmen and wrote them a lengthy letter detailing specific incidents that happened. “I just hope that someday everything comes out so that people will understand what’s been going on and why I had to leave.”
Although O’Brion threatened selectmen with a suit if he was not renewed, selectmen voted to proceed with the non-renewal of O’Brion’s contract.
After the non-renewal was official, O’Brion sued the town and selectmen counter-sued.
With Gaudet still on administrative leave, selectmen discussed possible solutions to Gaudet’s case and quickly realized they would have a conflict of interest if they heard Gaudet’s petition to return to work. As a result, selectmen petitioned the court to have an independent panel set up to review the case against Gaudet and make a final determination and the court agreed that this would be a better way to handle the situation. A panel of former Litchfield Selectmen was created by the court. Each panel member still resided in Litchfield.
As the case against O’Brion unfolded Hudson~Litchfield News staff read court documents submitted by both sides and reported on the case. Although O’Brion was reinstated as police chief, the lawsuit filed by selectmen is still in action and currently scheduled to be heard on December 12.
This week the independent panel met again in non-public session and listened to both sides of the Gaudet case.
At the previous meeting of the panel O’Brion brought his own attorney, Andru H. Volinsky, after his request to have the town provide an attorney for him was not granted.
Attorney Volinsky was not allowed to stay in the panel’s non-public meeting and was quickly sent to the lobby. Without completing its deliberations on that night, the panel agreed to reconvene this week, which they did.
No ruling was issued at the close of this week’s hearing. The panel is considering the following charges:
“It’s all about trust. I didn’t have any in Joey and I have zero confidence in his ability as a police officer,” stated Elliott, who noted the department established a practice of back-stabbing and going behind officer’s backs. “Trust is critical. You need to know that if you do the best you can out there that someone will support you back here. I didn’t want my record ruined for something. Not after I worked so hard to earn commendations and keep it unblemished.”
Elliott didn’t see anything changing in the near future. “I decided to join the others who left. I looked for a job and found one. I was nervous, but the atmosphere is so much better where I am now,” Elliott concluded.
At press time there was no word when the panel might finish its deliberations.
Hannah Dustin Quilters Guild Holiday Challenge Yields 131 Stockings
The Hannah Dustin Quilters Guild has held their annual Holiday Stocking Challenge and has made 131 stockings for the holiday season.
This year’s primary recipient of the stockings will be the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter. The stockings are created by the members and then filled with stuffers such as hats, mittens, small toys, craft items, playing cards, small journals, and personal care items for both men and women. Since many of the recipients this year will be adult males and older boys they have also included shave cream, razors, socks, flashlight, lip balm, and other personal care items.
The guild has decided that 50 stockings will be donated to the Spaulding Youth Center in Northfield, New Hampshire. The Spaulding Youth Center is a non-profit, intensive residential treatment and educational program with a track record of success in serving boys with emotional handicaps, and children and adolescents in the New England area with behavioral issues. These issues may be brought about by a neurological disorder, autism, abuse or neglect. Boys in grades 1-8 as well as males and females, ages 6-21, reside at the facility.
Before these stockings are donated, they are judged by popular vote, with certificates and prizes going to the winners in various categories. The winning stockings will be displayed at the Hannah Dustin Quilt Show next May.
Hudson’s American Legion Remembers Pearl Harbor Day
by Doug Robinson
“Few days in American history are burned into our national consciousness like December 7, 1941. On this date 64 years ago, the American fleet at Pearl Harbor suffered a crippling blow. More than 2,300 soldiers, sailors, and Marines were lost, and the nation was thrust headlong into the largest global conflict in human history.
“Today, it is the stalwart veteran survivors of Pearl Harbor who remind us not only of this solemn chapter in the American story, but also of the great courage and resolve that continues to define us as a Nation,” stated Secretary R. James Nicholson on Pearl Harbor Day.
The American Legion in Hudson remains committed to serving these American heroes and all veterans, as well as preserving the memory of those who paid the ultimate price at Pearl Harbor and all wars. The legion “family” salutes their courage and valor, and reminds us that these soldiers, Americans, paid the ultimate price for our freedoms and our safety.
Each year the American Legion of Hudson “family” hosts a Pearl Harbor breakfast, parade, ceremony, and moment of prayer honoring these soldiers. The Hudson American Legion, along with the American Legion in Manchester are the only two American Legions in the state of New Hampshire which celebrate Pearl Harbor Day as a day of remembrance, reflecting, dedication, and prayer for those who served and lost their lives on this day, 47 years ago.
Participants of the parade are hosted to a complimentary breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, juice, coffee, and all the fixings of a first-class meal. The public is also invited to participate with the legion members and the parade participants and eat side by side with our heroes. Each year the American Legion of Hudson serves up to 300 breakfasts during this yearly event for the community and parade group.
Each year, the American Legion marches down Central Street to the bridges crossing the Merrimack River where a wreath is thrown into the Merrimack River “Waters of Pearl Harbor in Remembrance,” according to Dick Marshall, American Legion.
However, due to the inclement weather, this year the American Legion “family” postponed the parade and remembrance activities at the bridge and held the ceremonies inside the Legion Hall.
“Swarms of people” were present stated Dick Marshall. In fact, we had present a Pearl Harbor survivor. He was from Methuen, Massachusetts.”
Pearl Harbor survivor, Tom Conlon, received a “rousing welcome: according to Marshall. Conlon was escorted to the head table where he was able to view the festivities up close and personal. In respect, the American Legion of Hudson voted Tom Conlon in as a “member of the American Legion Post 48 Hudson, New Hampshire,” continued Marshall. “The post will pay all fees, dues, and requirements for this Pearl Harbor veteran,” stated Marshall. “We are very pleased to have Tom as part of our family.”
Pearl Harbor is Remembered in Litchfield
by Lynne Ober
Once again, Selectman Pat Jewett organized a remembrance of Pearl Harbor for the Litchfield community. Held at Town Hall on Sunday, it was an opportunity for veterans and families to remember celebrate and embrace the efforts needed to keep America safe and free.
Jewett had collected names of Litchfield service men and women and asked every attendee to bring a gift suitable for sending to a serviceman. She will distribute the items – some will be shipped and some given to lucky service men and women who will be reunited with their families for the holidays.
“It’s wonderful you all came on a stormy day like this,” Jewett smiled.
Campbell High School Senior Bonnie Newell, who hopes to become a country singer, sang a poignant rendition of Let’s Remember Pearl Harbor. Before the song Jewett talked about how the song brought tears to her eyes. When Newell repeated the refrain, “In my dreams I’ll always see you soar above the sky,” the audience agreed with her.
Jewett read the Soldier’s Prayer written by Major James Middleton that ended with “you did not die in vain,” before introducing family members of active duty service personnel. Then she asked every veteran to speak briefly about their service to the country. Most of the services were represented.
Litchfield Middle School eighth grader Zack Miller read a rendition from days on the USS Arizona, one of the ships that sunk under the furious Pearl Harbor attack. “Their ship became their grave. Their bodies will never be removed. We will never forget,” he concluded.
Newell sang the Star Spangled Banner to conclude the remembrance. Everyone moved to the foyer to enjoy cider, hot chocolate, coffee and yummy desserts.
Sandra Scheiner worked with children who made a Christmas ornament.
At the end of the event, Litchfield’s Christmas tree was turned on for all to enjoy.