5th Grader Zachary Waggoner Wins Litchfield Middle School Geography Bee
Zachary Waggoner, a fifth grade student at Litchfield Middle School, won the school-level competition of the National Geographic Bee on January 5 and a chance at a $25,000 college scholarship. The school-level bee, at which students answered oral and written questions on geography, was the first round in the 18th annual National Geographic Bee. The bee is sponsored by the National Geographic Society and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Zachary, took a written test that was sent to the state to be scored. The school will hear in early April if he is one of the hundred top scorers in New Hampshire who will be eligible to compete in the state bee at Keene State College.
The runner-up, sixth grader Jake Orlando also did a spectacular job in the final round of questions. Other participating students were Max Goureia and Craig Schultz from the fifth grade. Additional sixth graders were Chuck Neild and Samantha Sonnesso. Seventh grade was represented by Cassandra Baron, Jared Breton, and Delainey Hitzeman. Eighth graders that competed were Amanda Curran, Ryan McNally, and Matthew Roberge. Each of these students should be extremely proud of themselves for making it to the final competition. They won their individual classroom bees held in their social studies classes in December. These students also were victorious against their own grade finalists in a run-off to determine three winners for each grade level. The bee was held in front of the entire student body and parents, which totaled more than 500 people.
Congratulations to Zachary and Jake and all the other participants for a terrific job representing their school. Best of luck to Zachary as he awaits his letter from the National Geographic Society.
Green Meadow Developer’s Request for Input on South Hudson Water Tank Denied
by Doug Robinson
The town of Hudson received a letter from the developers of Green Meadow Golf Club, W/S Development, requesting that “they participate with the town in the planning, design, and construction effort for the south Hudson water tank.”
According to their letter, “It is W/S Development’s and Green Meadow Golf Club, Inc.’s understanding that the Town of Hudson is planning the construction of a water tank on property near Green Meadow Golf Club for the purposes of increasing water storage and pressure capacity for that general area of town. Given our intentions to develop the golf course property, we would like to analyze with the town the feasibility of expanding the water tank to accommodate the incremental amount of storage volume the new development would generate. Part of the process would be to provide the town engineer with water use data our consulting engineers have forecasted for the proposed development, and coordinate this information with the town engineer and the town’s consultants to define and quantify the design, construction, and financial parameters such an expansion would entail.”
Town of Hudson Administrator Steve Malizia suggested to the selectmen that if the town did choose to become involved with W/S Development on this project that it needs to remain clear that the town’s involvement is “by no means an approval of their Green Meadow plan.” Malizia continues by stating that the “safety of the town residents is a major concern of town government. We are not stopping our scheduled plans for anybody. This is a major concern to the town, and construction is ready to start in September or October.”
Hudson Board of Selectman Chairman Ken Massey reflected the same sentiments: “We are not going to hold up our schedule … We are not going to make any changes to our drawings. The design and construction would not change. We have known for eight years, we have the approval from the voters, (and) we have a construction plan.”
Selectman Bill Cole, stated that any association with W/S Development of this type would be considered “inappropriate, and that to participate could have many pitfalls to the town if we go down this road. The Board of Selectmen has been criticized for being in cahoots with W/S Development and for us to proceed in this format would be imprudent. The priority of this board is to the safety of the citizens of south Hudson.”
Selectman Richard Maddox disagreed with Cole and Massey stating, “It would be good planning practice…so see what they are going to offer…We would be doing due diligence.”
The motion “to Authorize W/S Development to prepare a Memorandum of Understanding for their participation in the planning, design, and construction effort for the south Hudson water tank” failed by a vote of 2/3 (Stewart, Cole, Massey voting nay).
Hudson Community Cable Television: Tuned in to Hudson’s Future
by Doug Robinson
During a Board of Selectmen’s meeting on September 13, 2005, selectmen voted to cancel the Hudson Community Television contract with its service provider. At that time, many thought that action would cause HCTV to go “dark.”
In reality, HCTV has grown with content, communication, and program production. “The format is so much better,” said Hudson Town Administrator Steve Malizia. “They have replaced the old blue bulletin board with yellow text, which gives it a much nicer look. It is more pleasing to watch.”
HCTV also provided the town of Hudson with the means to announce that trash collection and the various meetings were cancelled due to the recent snowstorm. “All I had to do was to call Mike (Michael O’Keefe, Chairman of the Cable Utility Committee) and he had the information posted on the channel immediately,” reported Malizia. “It was really a great way to get the word out. It was very effective.”
But according to O’Keefe, Hudson Cable Television’s potential for improvement is unlimited. “Londonderry’s public access television has over 100 volunteers who produce programming for their channels. They have a 4,000 square foot building which they built with the franchise fees collected from the cable users. Londonderry does talk shows, cooking shows, profiles of town government, and many more activities. In time, we can do that too.”
“Our vision is to grow channel 21, the educational channel,” explained Chairman O’Keefe. “Right now we are on three channels, called PEG channels. ‘P’ stands for public programming, and we have dedicated channel 20 to public programming; ‘E’ stands for educational programming, and we have dedicated channel 21 for educational purposes; and ‘G’ stands for government, and we have dedicated channel 22 to government programming. That is why most of our broadcasts of town meetings are broadcast on channel 22.”
O’Keefe continued, “We have been very fortunate to partner with the Alvirne High School in our efforts to hire our pool of camera operators. Jan Moynihan-Cooney has been very helpful in working with the Cable Utility Committee, which oversees HCTV, to provide us with approximately six very talented and hard-working students who want to learn this craft.”
Along with the change to the hiring of camera operators, HCTV also advertised and hired Facilitator James McIntosh, who oversees the day-to-day operations of HCTV. McIntosh’s lengthy background and involvement with television production has helped with not only his duties, but the overall growth and direction of HCTV. The facilitator’s specific duties involve the following:
According to O’Keefe, “The facilitator would work approximately 10 flexible hours per week. The recording of any meeting would be additional to these 10 hours. A minimum, estimated standard of two hours was calculated for the recording of any meeting.” Appendix A of the HCTV Technical Support and Operations Services contract was used to calculate the yearly estimate. With this data, the Board of Selectmen has approved an annual salary of $12,000 to be paid to the facilitator.
Today HCTV has become bigger, better, and is providing the residents of Hudson with an array of program choices. They have grown from only televising Selectmen’s and School Committee meetings, to producing and broadcasting Alvirne football games, Alvirne soccer games, Alvirne basketball games, as well as the plays from Alvirne High School’s Drama Department.
HCTV has begun to produce and broadcast the library meetings, Alvirne music concerts, the Memorial Day Parade, the recent Hudson Police Department’s Accreditation Hearing at the Hills Garrison School, as well as fire education materials which have been provided to HCTV by the Hudson Fire Department.
The vision for HDTV’s future is bright and promising. “I would like to see Hudson grow like Londonderry,” O’Keefe said. “Hopefully, someday we will have an access center with studios, editing rooms, cameras, sound boards and all the equipment necessary for the public to come and use free of charge. Presently, we receive 3 percent of the town’s cable fees which currently accounts to approximately $140,000 per year, and I am thankful to the selectmen for dedicating these fees to the Cable Utility Committee. By July, we will have approximately $300,000 in our capital reserve account. Someday I see us having a whole list of programming, with hundreds of volunteers involved with the production, design, and broadcasting of shows on HCTV. It is very exciting.”
Nine-year-old Zach Couture of Litchfield is a sick little boy. He is very, very sick. While his fellow classmates at Griffin Memorial are playing ball, shooting hoops, or playing with their hand-held Game Boys, Zach is struggling just to stay alive. He has a rare genetic disorder called: Adrenoleukodystrophy and is in need of a bone marrow transplant.
“Right now we’re just waiting for a donor,” said Zach’s father, Carl Couture.
Only a few months ago, Zach was playing youth baseball as his team’s third baseman. “Zach is a happy kid … he is an unbelievable little boy” commented his father. “How many people could lose hearing, have their walk degenerate, and have their eyes go poor and not complain.” Today, his classmates spend hours with Zach reading to him and drawing pictures for him, as they continue to try to communicate with him, just being his friends.
Zach’s spirit copes with his illness through humor, jokes, and by being a “joy” to others, according to his father. “While the bone marrow transplant will stabilize Zach’s illness, it will not reverse his condition,” explained Carl. “Currently, he is on medication which will not only help him through the very difficult operation, but his present medication will hopefully stop one possible side effect of the operation - permanent blindness.”
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, ALD is one of a group of genetic disorders that causes damage to the myelin sheath, an insulating membrane that surrounds nerve cells in the brain. People with ALD accumulate high levels of saturated, very long chain fatty acids in the brain because they do not produce the enzyme that breaks down these fatty acids in the normal manner. The childhood form is the most severe, with onset between ages 4 and 10. The most common symptoms are usually behavioral changes, such as abnormal withdrawal or aggression, poor memory, and poor school performance. Other symptoms include visual loss, learning disabilities, seizures, poorly articulated speech, difficulty swallowing, deafness, disturbances of gait and coordination, fatigue, intermittent vomiting, increased skin pigmentation, and progressive dementia.
The prognosis “for patients with ALD is generally poor due to progressive neurological deterioration. Death usually occurs within one to 10 years after the onset of symptoms,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders.
In efforts to raise funds for Zach’s upcoming surgical procedures, as well as cover costs associated with relocating the family to Minnesota, a “Zach’s Night Out” was hosted at King’s Court in Hudson. The sold-out dinner/dance and raffle event was attended by Zach’s fellow students from Griffin Memorial, along with most of the teachers and educators of the Litchfield school system. “People I know, people I don’t know, and people who I have not seen in a long time came to Zach’s Night Out to help out Zach,” said Carl. “I am touched by the phenomenal outpouring of help, love, and appreciation for everyone. I am so thankful for the nearly $5,000 during the event.”
Rosa Chan, owner of King’s Court, donated not only the use of the hall for the event; she also donated 15 percent of the buffet’s receipts to help Zach’s cause. Jim Censabella, the evening’s DJ, also donated his services for the event.
Some of the other donations came from Bellavance Beverage, Rug Gallery of Nashua ($1,300 Persian rug), Senator Clegg and his wife Priscilla, and RG Smith Trucking (cordwood). Gift certificates were offered by Hair We Are, Pizza Man, Hudson True Value, Professor Pizza, Hudson Pizza, Red Sox tickets, and a one-year membership to Gold's Gym. A homemade afghan was donated and netted $250 during the live auction.
“The winner of the 50/50 raffle donated his winnings to the cause,” continued Carl. “People have been unbelievable … New England Small Tube sent a check for $500. I am amazed at how much people can come together on something like this and just get together. I cannot say enough about the school, setting up fundraisers and helping us out with dinners a couple times a week. When the school learned I was in need of a digital camera, the over 70 teachers and employees of the school got together and sent me a digital video recorder.”
Fern Seiden of Litchfield School Guidance said: “People are good. No one has to be asked to help. We are inundated at school with parents asking, ‘what can I do?’ It is amazing. The kids want to be informed throughout the process. They want and need to feel that they could do something. Every day the kids are coming up with ideas to help Zach, his dad, and his 11-year-old sister Ashley. The kids in the school have raised about $3,000 in coins. A student from the St. Francis school stopped by and donated $500.”
“The Parent Teacher Organization will be hosting a Winter Carnival on February 18, and proceeds raised from the carnival will benefit the foundation which has already been set up at Citizens Bank, for those who wish to donate. The carnival will not only host a free event from entertainer Steve Blunt, but will also have a hop-a-thon, sponsored by the fourth grade in efforts to raise funds for Zach
First grader Jillian, Zach’s friend, said, “I was at the dinner because I wanted to be here (for Zach). “I hope he gets better.”
“By January 30, we should know if we have a bone marrow match for Zach,” stated Carl. “New Hampshire Medicaid has been wonderful to me. I met with John A. Stephen, Commissioner for the Department of Health and Human Services, and he was very helpful. The estimated costs of the bone marrow transplant are approximately $500,000. While most of the costs will be covered by insurance, I still have a lot of out-of-pocket expenses involving uncovered hospital stays, prescription drugs, as well as housing. As we have to move to Minnesota for six months, at this time I estimate housing costs to be around $30,000. We will need special housing as the healing environment from the operation will need to be completely sterile because Zach will not have any immunity in his system to fight off any virus, bug, or possible germ. I am thankful for the donations which have come in to help me offset this amount I will need to spend in efforts to keep Zach healthy. I am about half way there with the fundraising efforts to date.”
For those who wish to donate to Zach, friends of Zach have set up the website: http://zachsspirit.com, in an effort to raise the necessary funds to offset the cost of the operation and upcoming living expenses. The website has provided a direct link, through Pay Pal, for the purpose of making a donation.
Other donations in Zach’s name can be made by sending a check directly to the Litchfield school system or by visiting any Citizens Bank branch and ask the teller to make a donation to Zach Couture.
Exxon/Mobil: Being Prudent and Environmentally Safe
by Doug Robinson
The Mobil/Exxon gas station on Derry Road voluntarily closed up shop for a couple of days to take preventive measures to make sure their equipment was working properly. While closed for business, the company also took the opportunity to install a new air conditioning system and repair the leaks from the ceiling.
Mobile/Exxon contracted with Crompco Corp. to verify that their systems were in working order and were environmentally friendly.
According to Crompco’s website, “Throughout our many years of operation, Crompco Corporation has developed the reputation as one of the premier underground tank, line and vapor recovery testing companies in the United States. Our experienced employees, geographic coverage, flexibility, attention to quality, and state-of-the-art testing methodologies and tools are the foundation of our success. These strengths have earned Crompco the opportunity to partner with some of the most respected names in the industry.”
According to Paula Chen, a Public Relations representative for Exxon/Mobil, ,”(The) testing was routine maintenance and that all stations perform some type of maintenance yearly.”
Town of Hudson Deputy Fire Chief Charlie Chalk stated, “There was no loss to the environment at the Mobil, and that they have shut down for precautionary measures to look for a suspected leak in a vapor recovery valve. The corporate office has sent the proper contractor and followed corporate procedures. There is no hazard.”