Hudson-Litchfield News

Alvirne Jazz Band Presents Send Off Concert Prior to Tour of Germany

Hudson today and Germany tomorrow.  Well, almost. 

The Alvirne Jazz Band, under the direction of Gerry Bastien, will present a "Send Off Concert" for the public on Monday, February 20, at 12:20 p.m. in the Alvirne gym.  The 20-member band then departs on Tuesday, February 21, for a concert tour of Germany.  

Alvirne has an exchange relationship with a German high school, the Carl-Orff Gymnasium in Unterschleissheim, a city of 30,000 inhabitants just outside of Munich.  This concert tour is an "encore" performance of a similar trip in 2001, when the Alvirne Jazz Band was enthusiastically received in Germany.  Dignitaries invited to the Send Off Concert include the German Consul from Boston and New Hampshire Governor John Lynch.

While in Germany, the jazz band will be able to communicate with their German friends through the universal language of music - in the unique American style of jazz.  They will live with host families; attend school with their host partners; and travel to points of historical and cultural interest, such as Neuschwanstein Castle, Dachau, Salzburg/Austria, and the cathedrals and museums of Munich.  They will perform a variety of concerts at various locations during the visit, including area high schools, churches, and the historical Munich Fasching celebration.

The Alvirne Jazz Band began traveling in 1998 and has garnered numerous awards and honors, including first place “superior” ratings at music festivals in Canada, Maryland, New York and Virginia.  They played at Disney World in 2002 and have a return performance planned for April.  The band looks forward to demonstrating Alvirne Pride once again in Germany.

Firefighter Remains Close with the Baby He Delivered 26 Years Ago!

Submitted by David Morin
(Article first published in “Hudson Heat,” International Firefighters Association newsletter)

Most times when Hudson firefighters assist a person during a fire or medical situation they spend only a few minutes with these people and their families, in most cases at very terrible time of their lives.  The firefighters put their skills to work doing what they can to comfort, help, and, many times, provide life-saving services.  Then all involved go on their separate ways.  When a firefighter has the chance to bring a life into the world and watch the baby grow to adulthood and have children of her own, it is a part of a firefighter’s job that rarely happens.

As firefighters they do not perform their job for thanks, they get their personal reward knowing what they did made a difference.  This story is the exception (as) 26 years later the firefighter-patient relationship continues between all involved.

Over the years retired Captian George Fuller has watched the baby he delivered in 1979. Michell Crowley (center), is grown up and now has two children of her own. Michelle's mother Kathrine Irwin, is pictured at the far right.

On August 1, 1979, Katherine Irwin began having labor pains and knew she would not make it to the hospital and directed her mother to drive to the fire station.  A blaring horn alerted the duty crew that morning of someone needing help outside of Central Fire Station.  Firefighter Roger Spooner notified the other firefighters of the situation and they all went outside to provide assistance.  Spooner was first to the vehicle and he determined a new born baby would soon arrive.

As Spooner comforted Irwin, Lieutenant George Fuller began treatment while Firefighter Don Cole retrieved the stretcher from the ambulance.  Before the crew could get Irwin onto the stretcher and into the ambulance her labor became more intense and the baby would have to be delivered in the front seat of the car.  Fuller positioned himself to assist with the delivery.  With his heart racing he assisted the mother delivering the seven pound, 14-ounce baby girl at 06:35 a.m.  At first the mother was concerned that the baby was not breathing.  After some treatment the baby began breathing normally, firefighters cut the cord and placed the baby with the mother and both mother and daughter were transported to the hospital.

Fuller said, “During the trip back to the station the crew was on the top of the world they had brought new life into the world.”  A party atmosphere and a large crowd of firefighters greeted the crew as they returned to Central Fire Station.  Many congratulations were given for their first-ever baby delivery by a Hudson Fire Department member.  Fuller said of the delivery, “It seemed like seconds and the baby was in my arms.”  The delivery was one of the best feelings he has ever had and still holds a vivid memory of the event.  The three firefighters were awarded a pink stork pins for their uniforms and the ambulance was adorned with a pink stork sticker.  A few days’ later mother and daughter made their first visit to the station to thank the crew.  This visit was the start of a long friendship that remains today.

The baby, Michelle Crowley, still a Hudson resident, now is 26 years old and has two children of her own.  She said “when people hear she was born at the fire station at first they do not believe her.”  She received her middle name due to the fire station delivery.  Her aunt came up with the name which is spelled “Dorogea.”  Each of these letter represents the first two letters each of the firefighter’s first names that assisted with her birth and the A is for the work group they were members of.  Michelle said people try to guess her middle name and never has anyone come close to getting it.

The hospital would not list Hudson as the birthplace on the birth certificate so the crew had a calligrapher draw up a second birth certificate listing Hudson and the fire station as Michelle’s birth place.  Fuller, Spooner, and Cole were present at Michelle's first birthday celebration giving her a U.S. Savings Bond.  Through the years the relationship continued.  The firefighters attended barbeques, Christmas events, and (there were) the visits to the fire station.  George Fuller attended Michelle's wedding, and (she had) a special dance with Uncle George.

It must be noted that both firefighters Don Cole and Roger Spooner passed away some years back, but both had been as proud of this baby’s birth as anyone.  Today Michelle and George Fuller live a few blocks from each other in Hudson, and Katherine Irwin lives in Pelham.

Not often do a firefighter (and) patient remain in contact over the years --not to mention over 20 years.  But, in this case, being the first delivery ever seems to have led to a lasting relationship for all.

Lack of Candidates for Town Offices Reaches Crisis Level

by Lynne Ober

Look around you – you’ll see a volunteer doing work that tax dollars would otherwise have to pay for.  Schools have hundreds of volunteer hours each year.  The volunteers do office work, help teachers, and fill in wherever a pair of hands is needed.  On the town side, volunteers are needed to fill a variety of posts – frequently elected.  This year both Hudson and Litchfield have vacancies on their ballots, but in Litchfield those vacancies have reached a crisis level.

There are 11 town offices and two school district offices for a total of 13 positions.  Of those 13, only two of the town offices have candidates. 

While both school district offices have candidates, one of the candidates is a currently seated Budget Committee member and would have to give up that seat, making one more vacancy on the town side.

Only one Litchfield race is contested, and that is the one-year road agent position with both incumbent Gerard DeCosta and Health Officer Rod Jones running for that position.

Tom Schofield is running unopposed for fire chief.

That leaves one selectmen’s position vacant because Jack Schiner decided not to run for re-election; the moderator’s position vacant; two seats on the Budget Committee, but if Dennis Miller is elected to the school board, there will be three seats vacant; a six-year term for supervisor of the checklist vacant, two library trustee seats vacant, and two trustee of the trust fund seats vacant.

On the school side, incumbent Dot Beauregard is running for re-election to the Litchfield School Board.  Current school board member Dick Rafferty did not run for re-election, but current Budget Committee member Dennis Miller did sign up to run.

At the town Deliberative Session Board of Selectman Chairman Cecil Williams gave a heartfelt plea to residents.  “We have several vacancies and no one is running.  We need some help.”

In Hudson the picture is better, but there are still going to be vacancies on the ballot.  There’s a one-year seat on the Code of Ethics that is vacant; a two-year term for Library Trustee is vacant, and a three-year term for Trustee of the Trust Fund is vacant.

The only contested race is for two selectmen seats.  Four people have signed up.  Incumbents Bill Cole and Terry Stewart as well as Shawn Jasper and Ben Nadeau.  The other available positions all have one candidate running.

Robert ‘Bob’ Campbell – In Memoriam

The Hudson Fire department lost one of its longest serving and most revered firefighters, Deputy Fire Chief Robert Campbell passed away on February 3 after a long illness.

Bob began his relationship with the department when he was a boy.  His father, Oscar Campbell, served the town as fire chief for many years.  As a boy, Bob would accompany his dad to the fire station and calls where he acquired his love for the job.  He spent four years in the Navy then returned to Hudson and became a call firefighter in 1952.  He was promoted to the rank of captain in 1969 and to the rank of deputy chief in 1973.  He retired from the department on December 31, 1996, after 44 years of service.

In 2004, Bob was awarded the department’s Distinguished Medal of Service.  Bob spent over 20 years on the State Firefighters Association and its board and Hudson Firefighters Relief Association.  During this time, he worked to assist the state’s firefighters with injury compensation and other much-needed benefits.

Bob and his wife, Alice, celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on January 7.  They had five children:  a son, Oscar, and four daughters, Cindy, Crystal, Candia and Catherine.  He was predeceased by son Robert Jr.

Many did not know the other side of Bob.  For many years on Memorial Day and during Fire Prevention Week he would go to the local cemeteries in town and place flags on all the deceased firefighter graves.  He did this out of his own pocket without anyone knowing.  The only reason this great deed was discovered was his health had declined and he could no longer make it to the cemeteries.  

After his illness kept him at home his interest in the department continued.  Department members presented Bob with a digital scanner so he could keep an ear on the happenings.  Many times when members would visit him at his house, they would get many questions on the calls, activities, or departmental issues that took place at selectmen’s meetings.  He took special pride in the association’s antique fire apparatus.  He acquired an additional cab, chassis, and motor parts to keep Squad A (an antique fire truck) running for years to come and stored all these parts at his home for many years.

Bob worked for many years for the Hudson Water Company and later Consumer’s Water.  His knowledge of the town’s water system was immense.  This knowledge many times was the difference between saving or losing a building at fires.  He could tell you the size of the main, which hydrant to take and how much water you would get at what pressure.

Services for Deputy Campbell were held on February 6 at the Alvirne Chapel Cemetery.  The funeral procession passed by Central Fire Station with members in salute as the vehicles passed by. 

As the procession entered the church yard, family and friends, the department’s Honor Guard and members marched to the grave site as a bagpiper played.  As members stood at attention, Captain John Brewer placed the urn among the flowers.  During his sermon, Department Chaplin Reverend Howe recounted Bob’s service, family, and life.  Deputy Chief Charlie Chalk read and bells were rung in Bob’s honor.  The remembrance ended with Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.  All then proceeded to the American Legion for a luncheon.  A large collage of pictures of Bob’s life was at the hall with many stopping by to look and remember.

Deputy Robert Campbell served 44 years as a member of the department and many more as a member of both the state and Hudson Relief associations.  His dedication, knowledge and friendship will be missed by many in the department.  Thanks, Deputy.

Peace and Accord at Litchfield Deliberative Session

by Lynne Ober

With words of praise from the Litchfield Budget Committee, the town’s budget and warrant articles smoothly sailed through the Deliberative Session.

Longtime Litchfield Budget Committee member Bill Spencer called the budget “very tight.”  Budget Committee Chairman Brent Lemire noted that the Town and Budget Committee had worked very closely this year.

“Most of the increases are due to energy and health insurance costs,” stated Lemire.  “We tried to be as frugal as possible.  In some cases, it is not in the best interests of the taxpayers to wait (on projects).”

One such project is the $35,000 upgrade to Litchfield’s fire tanker truck.  If the budget is approved, the fire department will upgrade system components on the truck that should ensure that the truck, a 1991, will provide another 10 years of service to the town.  However, if the budget is not approved, those upgrades will not be made and the truck will probably deteriorate enough in the next year to make those upgrades impossible.  “If that happens, we would have to buy a new tanker truck at a cost of $350,000,” said Fire Chief Tom Schofield.

Michele Parzych explains the need for repairs in the Children’s Room in the library.

If the tanker truck’s life is extended by 10 years, Schofield believes that Litchfield will not have to buy a replacement truck.  More and more fire hydrants are being built in town as new developments are built.  “This should be the last tanker that Litchfield has to buy, but we do need to extend its life for another 10 years because it is estimated that it will take that long before there are enough hydrants.”

Other increases in the fire department budget are due to energy and call volume increases.  In the past five years, the call volume has increased by 50 percent, but there has been no increase in staffing.  “We are a can- do department,” grinned the chief.  “If you call us, we’ll be there.”

At Spencer’s request, the other department heads also talked about their budgets.

The fire chief is also in charge of emergency planning.  “Do you know that we’ve only had $100 for emergency planning in the budget?”  This year Schofield has requested $5,000 that will be used to write comprehensive emergency plans.

He’s also asked for money to purchase an emergency generator and told the audience that while the fire department currently has a small generator, a larger one is needed.

For the Highway Department the greatest increase is money to repair Litchfield roads.  He reminded voters that Litchfield had spent $30,000 to have a consultant develop a 10-year maintenance plan for roads.  Although it’s been a number of years since the plan was completed, “we have yet to complete the first year’s work,” Road Agent Gerard DeCosta stated.  “We need to proactively address a maintenance plan.” 

Spencer told the audience that 50 percent of the maintenance costs would come from the Highway Block Grant.  “It’s important that people know that it won’t just be tax dollars funding these needed repairs.”

Cable Committee Chairman Dick Pentheny spoke about the need for a part-time consultant to work on Litchfield’s cable channels.  “People want some training on how to use the equipment so that they can produce programs, but we don’t have anyone to do that.”  In addition there’s a need to have someone handle some of the technical chores required to keep programming running.

Police Chief Joe O’Brion has two new cruisers in the budget.  “If the budget failed, we’d have to ask for three cruisers next year,” he briefly explained.

Steve Perry from the Planning Board talked about the opportunity that Litchfield had to acquire aerial maps that could be used with GIS software.  Normally such mapping would cost $98,000, but Litchfield has an opportunity to acquire the maps at a cost of $12,000 from Pennichuck Water Works who paid to have the maps made.  GIS software is known as the best planning software and is commonly used in towns and by developers.

Lemire said that the budget process had been conducted “with dignity” and in “a professional manner, and that’s the way that it should be done.  The town has some definite needs and we need to recognize those and support what’s best for taxpayers and that is what we have done.”

Both Selectmen and Budget Committee have recommended the approval of Warrant Article 4, the Town’s operating budget in the amount of $4,247,838.

The only change made to any of the warrants was initiated by the fire department.  Warrant Article 9, supported by selectmen, would increase the fire chief’s term from one to two years.  Members of the fire department want that term extended to three years and made a motion that passed unanimously to change the wording.  Firefighters want some guaranteed continuity.  They cited safety concerns with the current situation and commented that it takes a while to understand the department and get everyone working together in an effective manner.  They’d like residents to work with them to provide that needed continuity.

Speaking to Warrant Article 5, DeCosta told the audience that last year this project was on the ballot at $208,000 and this year it is on the ballot at $306,000.  If not passed this year, there will be an additional $150,000 needed because Litchfield plans to piggy-back on a Derry Road project.  “Derry will dig up this road.  We’ll do our work, but we won’t pay for the costs of digging and repaving,” noted DeCosta.  “This is a very good deal for taxpayers.”  Selectmen and Budget Committee both recommend this warrant article.

Warrant Article 6 seeks to fund needed repairs to Litchfield’s library.  “This August it will be three years since the Children’s Room was flooded and closed,” said Library Trustee Michele Parzych.  Because of lead in the floor, trustees want to pour a new concrete floor to permanent abate the lead problem.  “That is not covered by our insurance.”  The gross appropriation is $62,326, and a total of $55,826 will need to be raised with the rest of the money coming from library funds.  Selectmen and the Budget Committee both recommend this warrant article.

Both Board of Selectmen Chairman Cecil Williams and Selectman Pat Jewett spoke to the need to add another staff member to the Town Administration office.  Both noted how many extra hours Cecille Derorcher works.  According to Williams, she never asks for overtime pay, she just comes in and works until the job is finished.  With the growth in town, there’s been an associated growth in the workload, but no increase, until now, in staffing.  Selectmen and the Budget Committee both recommend this warrant article.

Selectmen are also supporting an increase in length of term for the road agent.  Williams said that it took a while for any person to learn a job and that a one-year term was just too short. 

Warrant Article 10 is to see if the town will vote to change the purpose of the established Cablevision Capital Reserve Fund.  This warrant article has no money associated with it and will have no tax impact.

Despite Intensity, Hudson Deliberative Session Results in Little Change in Town Budget

by Lynne Ober

It took six hours, but very little changed in spite of some passionate speeches, disagreements and disgruntled points of order made against some speakers.  The Hudson Town Deliberative Session resulted in little change to the budget, but had lots of issues aired.

After the Deliberative Session ended at 3:00 p.m., the Budget Committee met again and reviewed three of the warrant articles: the operating budget will go to the ballot as recommended with a vote of 6 – 5 and two of the other warrant articles regarding trust funds that had been not recommended received a positive recommendation.

Although the operating budget received the most discussion, two of the three motions to amend it failed.

Selectman Kathleen MacLean excused herself from the board and, acting as a private citizen, made a motion from the floor to remove all of the community grant money.  Her motion would have eliminated $90,260.  MacLean spoke fervently to her subject and said that she was concerned that tax dollars were going to non-profit agencies.  “Where do we draw the line and whose line do we draw?” she asked.  She felt that donations should come from private citizens. 

Bryan Lamirande, the union's representative for town support staff.

Her husband, Joseph, supported her position.  “Have faith in the taxpayers.  Let folks dig from their own pockets.”

Other residents and selectmen spoke in favor of the community grant program.  Budget Committee Chairman related that Budget Committee member Shawn Jasper had brought in his 1983 budget book and the town was giving to three of the agencies back them.

Selectman Terry Stewart pointed out how many services Hudson residents received from these agencies.

When the vote was taken, MacLean’s motion was not supported.

Selectman Terry Stewart then moved to add $4,000 back to the community grants program to support three new programs.  Budget Committee members had cut this funding during deliberations.  Stewart’s motion failed.

Finally, Selectman Bill Cole moved to add $100,000 back to the budget for consulting fees to be used to hire consultants to work with the town during the negotiations over Green Meadows.  The Budget Committee had removed this amount and was against adding it back to the budget.

“Hudson is faced with a challenge that will impact the entire town,” said Cole noting that the ripple effects from the Green Meadows development will be felt for generations to come.  “We only have one opportunity to get it right and to protect the best interests of the entire community.”

While Jasper agreed that there was only one opportunity to get it right, he felt that selectmen should move dollars around within their budget to fund the consultants that would be used on this project.

Part of the discussion revolved around a lack of a plan for the use of this money.  Budget Committee members wanted a plan and selectmen felt that a plan could not be developed at this point in time. 

After Board of Selectmen Chairman Ken Massey spoke as to why a plan is not always necessary or even needed when a project requests money, Library Trustee John Knowles stood up and thanked Massey for that explanation and told him that he would remember it.  Later Knowles said that selectmen, including Massey, had voted against a library request for land use because of a “lack of a plan.”  “Now they are supporting a lack of a plan.  I just want them to remember their own words.”

The motion passed and $100,000 was added to the proposed budget giving it a $25.7 million total.

Another hot topic was combined dispatch.  The dollars for this project have doubled since the project was rated as the second highest ranked project in this year’s CIP report, according to Jasper.

In last year’s CIP report combined dispatch was listed as $835,000, but, since that time, some of the equipment has been purchased.  This year Jasper said it was listed as $570,000, but selectmen brought a warrant article for $1.09 million to the voters.

Embedded in the amount are costs for two handicapped-accessible jail cells, an enlarged conference room, as well as combined dispatch.

Budget Committee members did not recommend this warrant article for three primary reasons:

Selectmen propose to use surplus funds to fund this project.  According to figures presented the use of these funds will leave Hudson in a weakened financial situation, and Hudson’s bond rating will fall, which will mean that the town will pay more interest to borrow money.  Budget Committee Chairman Howard Dilworth speaks often of “prudent” expenditures.  Speaking against this form of funding, Dilworth felt that it was not prudent and not fiscally responsible.

During Budget Committee deliberations, Police Chief Dick Gendron was asked to provide statistics on how many arrests required the use of specialized jail cells but could not provide that data.

Budget Committee members felt that combined dispatch should be one warrant article, and voters should have an opportunity to vote on adding jail cells and expanding the conference room on a separate warrant article.

Budget Committee Chairman Howard Dilworth spoke in depth about the use of surplus funds.  He cautioned against going below the minimum five percent surplus amount and said, “If we go below five percent, which we will if this passes, our bond rating will be in jeopardy and we’ll pay more in interest.”

Dilworth also felt that the Hudson Police Department should have hired the approved supervisor who was supposed to develop standards for combined dispatch and cross train staff.  “This position is still empty.”

Both Jasper and Dilworth felt that the Department of Revenue Administration might disallow this warrant article, even if it passes, because the verbiage states combined dispatch, but it is also to build new jail cells and expand the conference room.

No one spoke against the need for combined dispatch, but people did question the funding mechanism and the enlarged scope of the project.

Another interesting discussion occurred over wages.  There is a warrant article that, if passed, would raise the town clerk’s salary by four percent.  Other non-union wages are on the budget to be raised by 3.5 percent.

During deliberations Library Trustees offered a warrant article to provide a 4 percent raise to library staff, whose salaries are well below market level.  Selectmen refused to recommend that warrant article so the trustees lowered the percentage to 3.5 percent.

Library Trustee John Knowles carefully questioned selectmen as to why the town clerk should get a 4 percent raise and other employees should only get 3.5 percent raises, but selectmen side-stepped directly answering his questions.

Another warrant article that Budget Committee members and selectmen disagreed on is the one requesting four additional firefighters and emergency medical technicians.  This is part of a three-year plan that would, according to Budget Committee testimony, add $900,000 to the tax base.

Fire Chief Shawn Murray began by saying that he wanted to fully staff the Robinson Road station, but conceded that the four new firefighters would be added to existing shifts and not placed at Robinson Road.  “That will give me another resource for each shift,” he explained.

Dilworth read part of the requirements for determining the cost of fire insurance.  Having water is a major factor in that cost.  Since the north end of Hudson has no available water, fire insurance will not go down if more firefighters are added he told the audience.

Budget Committee member Ted Luszey spoke against the warrant article.  According to Luszey, the impact of the Green Meadows development will affect the fire department.  Luszey wanted Murray and selectmen to prepare a growth plan for the fire department that looks at this development and proposed growth in Hudson and return with a plan that will move the department into the future before adding staff.  Such a plan could also be used to determine appropriate impact fees that developers would pay.

Two other articles were also discussed:

Bryan Lamirande, the union’s representative for town support staff, spoke at length about the fact finders report.  Selectman Kathleen MacLean also spoke and told the audience that Hudson could not and would not set salaries based on other towns.  She urged voters to vote against this warrant article.

Selectmen are again asking the town to vote on Bensons.  That last vote was in 2001 and the town approved going ahead.  According to Selectman Bill Cole, “Selectmen want to take the town’s pulse” on this issue once again.  Senator Bob Clegg spoke in favor of voting to pursue Bensons.

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