Ice Cream Social an Icy Success
by Lynne Ober
When the rains finally stopped and the sun came out, it was still too wet for most baseball teams to play ball. So everyone got into their cars and trooped over to Windham’s Golden Brook School for ice cream and all the toppings.
The annual ice cream social is a joint PTA and school event. The goal is not only to have something fun for students and their families to do, but also to invite next year’s incoming students and their families. “It gives the students a chance to see the school and to get acquainted with some of the areas and people,” said Special Education Teacher Lisa Thornton, who was scooping ice cream into bowls as fast as she could.
There was a long line stretching out the front door to the parking lot. Kids played games on the school lawn and parents chatted in the balmy evening air.
Inside ice cream and all the toppings were dished up for eager participants.
With most baseball games cancelled, families decided to participate in the event. “Last year we had to run out and buy more ice cream and it looks like we might have to do that again.”
Once the ice cream was dished, then each person got to choose from a plethora of yummy toppings.
Madeline Sebleg, who is allergic to peanuts, was the first person at the serving table. Her job was to find out if people wanted vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Once that was decided, a dish with ice cream began making its way through the toppings.
“This is a great time for families,” grinned Thornton.
Twist to the Hunt for a New Fire Chief
by Lynne Ober
After Pelham Fire Chief Dave Fisher announced his retirement, selectmen developed a process for hiring a new chief. That process has been winding through the various stages. After the three committees interviewed the finalist candidates, a conditional offer was made to Fort Madison, Iowa Fire Chief Mike Walker. That offer was contingent upon a positive outcome from a background check.
Because the offer was contingent upon this background check, selectmen have not made an announcement nor had they met with the Pelham Fire Department management team to announce that a new chief had been hired, when in a strange twist to the process, word leaked out when Walker gave notice and the local newspaper, The Hawkeye, published an article saying that he was leaving to take the position in Pelham, New Hampshire.
According to Selectmen Vice Chairman Ed Gleason, selectmen hired a firm that specializes in background checks conduct the check and Gleason was hopeful that results would be back this week.
He’s also contacted some realtors in the area,” said Gleason, who acknowledged that the word had leaked out and that selectmen had been doing damage control. “Nothing can be finalized without that background check being complete, but I did ask him if we’d find anything when we did the check and he said no.” Walker is apparently very confident that this will be true and the contingent offer will soon be solidified.
One of the requirements for a fire chief was that he live within a 30-minute drive. Gleason said that Walker was confident that he would be able to do that and that may be why he contacted realtors as quickly as he did.
However at press time that background check had not been completed and Selectmen had to announce that a contingent offer had been made, but that they could not comment further.
Last Monday they also met in a non-public meeting with staff of the fire department to brief them.
Walker has a strong background in fire sciences and has been managing the Fort Madison Fire Department, which consists of 19 full-time staff members and serves 11,800 people of Fort Madison.
Walker has a Bachelor of Science in fire science management from Southern Illinois University and is currently enrolled in a Master’s Degree program with a major in public administration at Keller Graduate School, DeVry University, Chicago, Illinois.
He’s been the chief in Fort Madison since 2003. Prior to that, he had served in the Village of Lake Zurich Fire Rescue Department in Lake Zurich, Illinois, for seven years. His last job was as acting lieutenant, emergency medical services coordinator.
As chief, Walker was also responsible for fire protection at a maximum security prison, Iowa State Penitentiary.
Working with the Lee County Fire Chiefs Association, he developed and implemented a unified incident command system, mutual aid box alarm system, firefighter rehabilitation programs, and firefighter accountability system policies.
He wrote the largest single Fire Act Grant award given in the state of Iowa in 2004. His department was granted $650,000.
Walker has been involved in training throughout his career. He’s been a college instructor as well as an emergency medical services instructor. He supervised the re-writing of the department’s training plans, which developed and implemented mandatory professional requirements for all department ranks.
During his tenure as chief, he formed a committee that included citizens to develop a risk analysis based on a strategic plan for the fire department that allowed the department to effectively plan and implement future plans and to identify needs.
Part of his responsibilities included development of a hazardous mitigation plan for Lee County and the formation of liaisons with several public and private agencies to further fire prevention programs.
Selectmen will formalize the hire only after they have the background check.
Michael walker fire chief.jpg
School Boards to Study SAU Dissolution
by Diane Chubb
The Pelham and Windham School Boards held their semi-annual meeting with members of the SAU staff on Wednesday, May 17 at the SAU Office in Windham.
The main topic of discussion was the process to dissolve the SAU. From the discussion, it seems that Windham would like to begin the process to separate from Pelham.
The Windham School board started the discussion because they believe that the growth of both Pelham and Windham is creating too much demand on the SAU. Further, Windham Board member Galen Stearns said, if the board didn't put it on the ballot, there was a very good chance that there would be a petition warrant article in Windham in March 2007.”
Currently, Pelham and Windham are part of the same school administrative unit (SAU). The SAU staff, which includes a superintendent, assistant superintendent, business manager, human resources manager, and special services manager, services both the Pelham and Windham school districts.
Costs for the SAU are also shared by both school districts. Pelham pays 49 percent of the costs, $368,745, while Windham pays 51 percent or $383,796. The combined budget for the SAU for the 2005 - 06 year was $752,541.
Bruce Anderson, Chairman of the Windham School Board, began the discussion. He said the topic of dissolution had initially been brought up at a meeting several months ago.
Since the SAU was formed, both Pelham and Windham school districts have experienced tremendous growth. In the coming months, Windham will begin construction on its own high school. The Windham Board has seen firsthand the amount of time required of SAU staff during the process of acquiring land, resolving land issues, and designing and planning for the new high school.
“I see the number of meetings that the superintendent and assistant superintendent must attend,” acknowledged Anderson. “It has to be taking a toll on them.”
Once the new high school is completed in Windham, the Windham Board believes that each school district should have its own SAU, focused solely on each district's needs.
Windham Board member Beverly Donovan stated that the decision to split the SAU was based on cost and district goals. “It is not just about money, I don't want to forget that.”
Donovan is very concerned about the drain on SAU services. Windham faces overcrowding issues at all three schools. The preschool services are growing, and there is a lack of space. “Our goals might not align with the goals of the Pelham board.”
Donovan went on to say, “Looking at the building the high school, we know how much work goes into it. If they (Pelham) pass their local issues, it stands to reason that they will go through the process as well. You just can't easily split the services of the SAU.”
Windham member Galen Stearns admits that dissolving the SAU would increase costs for both Pelham and Windham. However, he believes that Windham is in a better position to absorb those extra costs, because Windham already owns the SAU building.
“Of course there will be an additional cost to Pelham,” says Pelham School Board Chair Mike Conrad. “What that cost will be is anyone's guess, however if you're splitting cost with another town now and have to offer and pay for all the same services yourself after the split, naturally there will be an increase.”
He continued, “Right now, Pelham doesn't pay "rent" for the SAU building. Windham owns the building, and would have all the rights to that building after the split. Pelham would be forced to find space for an SAU.”
Asked about where a Pelham SAU might be housed, Pelham CIP Chair Bill Scanzani said there is no room in any of the school buildings for an SAU office, and there likely is not enough suitable space in the town hall.
“There has never been any discussion from the School Board or SAU in any CIP meeting regarding any funds to put an SAU building in Pelham,” said Scanzani. “There are no funds allocated in the CIP for a building or other capital needs which may be necessary.”
RSA 194 C-2 governs the procedure for a district to withdraw from an SAU.
A board that decides to withdraw from the SAU must first get voter approval to put together a planning committee. This committee is charged with preparing a recommendation plan for dissolution, including a timetable and the costs for the remaining district. The New Hampshire Department of Education must approve the dissolution plan.
If the state approves the submitted dissolution plan, the question of whether to dissolve the SAU is put on the ballot for voters, and requires approval by 60 percent of the voters.
Thus, if Windham chooses to withdraw from the SAU, it does not need the approval of Pelham voters. Pelham would have the right to submit a report showing that the withdrawal of Windham from the joint SAU would be a financial hardship on Pelham and NHDOE might rule that Windham could not withdraw.
However, if Windham voters approve dissolution by a three-fifth majority, and the state approves the plan, then Pelham will need to create its own SAU.
If the SAU is dissolved, the school district that leaves the SAU will be assigned a new number. For example, SAU #28 would consist of Windham School District if Pelham petitioned to separate.
Because state law requires a school district to belong to an SAU, Pelham School District would be required to form its own school administrative unit.
RSA 194-C, which governs the School Administrative Units, requires that each school administrative unit or single school district provide superintendent services, including administrative services, accounting services, human resource services, and curriculum assessment.
Generally, a district will accomplish this by hiring a superintendent, a business manager, a human resource person, a special education coordinator, and secretarial staff.
In Pelham’s situation, they would also need to find office space because the current SAU office is located in Windham.
The boards agreed to meet again over the summer for a special workshop meeting dedicated to the topic of the dissolution process. They will study how other New Hampshire communities have approached dissolution and the costs involved. At the October SAU meeting, the Windham Board hopes to decide whether to put the question to voters.
State Attorney General Kelly Ayotte Addresses Salem Chamber
by Len Lathrop
The Government Affairs Committee of the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce hosted an exciting event for their members on Tuesday, May 23 at the Windham Country Club as part of their “Power in New Hampshire” series. The guest speaker was New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte. The event was sponsored by National Grid and the Law Office of Hatem and Donovan.
Attorney Pat Donovan introduced Attorney General Kelly Ayotte who was born in Nashua, graduated from Nashua High School, Penn State, and Georgetown School of Law. She has been the attorney general for two years, working with both Governors Benson and Lynch. When speaking about her role, she states that an executive counselor told her that “your job is (to be) the referee of state government.”
Attorney General Ayotte highlighted the responsibilities of her office, the most visible being the active role taken by the Attorney General’s office in the approximately 20 homicides in New Hampshire each year. The other aspect is advising the governor, Senate, and House of Representatives on matters before them, representing the state in federal issues and defending the state against challenges in federal court such as the recent Right to Know abortion debate.
The attorney general encouraged any audience members who were aware of questionable government accountability or excessiveness to call her office.
At the end, Attorney General Ayotte fielded questions from the assembled about the 93-EPA lawsuit, school funding and the MtBE lawsuit.
Attorney General Ayotte praised the legislation of New Hampshire for changes in the Sex Offender Registry that they are enacting this session and their work on strengthening the state fight against amphetamine manufacturing.
Windham Plant Sale
by Lynne Ober
Normally the Windham Garden Club holds their plant sale on Windham’s Common, but with that area still much too wet after the recent torrential rains, the sale moved to the parking lot at Town Hall.
As always there were lots of plants to see. There was a table laden with a variety of herbs; a long table with perennials meant for the sun and under the tent was another large table with shade perennials.
Shoppers dragged wagons behind them or pushed wheelbarrows in front of them as they made their choices.
“We’ve had a lot of people come from Pelham,” said Master Gardener Margaret Crisler.
Lynn Anderson has lived in Windham for two years and has lots of “opportunities for gardens” at her home. She was looking for anything that caught her eye. “This is the second year I’ve attended. They offer a great variety.”
New Police Officer Hired in Pelham
by Lynne Ober
Pelham’s Police Chief Evan Haglund introduced Pelham’s newest police officer to Selectmen.
Ryan Sambataro has four year’s experience as a patrolman/executive officer with the Newfields Police Department.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Political Science and a minor in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire in Durham and will soon earn his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University.
Sambataro graduated from the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Part-Time Police Academy in 2002 and is certified as a firearms instructor, a rifle instructor, an open water scuba diver, and a Justice of the Peace/Notary Public in the State of New Hampshire.
Sambataro has earned a number of prestigious awards. He was the recipient of the Newfields Chief’s Achievement Award for Outstanding Service in 2003, and the “Looking Beyond the Traffic Stop – Drug Interdiction Town Award” from the State of New Hampshire in 2004. In 2005, he was awarded the Newfields Chief’s Achievement Award for Outstanding Service in 2005.
He’s also served on the Hampton Police Department and is well versed in community policing.
Clarification of High School Land Survey Issue
On Monday, May 15, at the Windham Board of Selectmen's Meeting, there were some inaccurate statements made about the Windham High School Building project. As many in town are aware, there are discrepancies between the survey done of the property for the School District and the survey done for Mr. James Logan in preparation for the land swap that will give both parties road access to their lands. This discrepancy relates to the location of the lot line between the high school parcel and the town owned Gage Lands.
To resolve this issue, the Selectmen and the School Board agreed to engage Benchmark Survey Inc. to complete a third survey. This survey is not complete. It will not be complete until the end of May. When the survey is complete, it will be reviewed by the School Board and shared with the Board of Selectmen and the town. The Windham School Board is preparing to take immediate corrective actions after the survey is complete, should they be necessary.
Approximately two weeks ago, the School Board further decided to use a Construction Management approach to build the high school, rather than the Design-Bid-Build paradigm.
According to Superintendent Dr. Elaine Cutler, "Hiring a construction manager will allow us to begin portions of the work, such as building the road, sooner than under the Design-Bid-Build approach. We believe this will be crucial in helping to complete the construction on-time to open Windham High School in September, 2008."
The School Board and the Facilities Subcommittee will be interviewing four pre-qualified firms for the position of construction manager this week. Despite rumors that have circulated, these firms arc ready to begin building Windham High School immediately, not next spring.
In March of 2005, an overwhelming majority of voters supported building Windham High School on the London Bridge Road property and opening it in the fall of 2008. The School Board and our subcommittees, of over 100 volunteers, continue to work make this happen. Should you have any questions, contact the SAU or any of your School Board members for accurate information and updates.
The Best Little Creative Art Show in Town
by Karen Plumley
The Pelham Elementary Creative Arts Club presented their interpretation of “The Best Little Theater in Town” to a packed crowd on the evening of May 12. Two other performances would follow over the weekend. Directed by Music Teacher Erin Palmer, the musical “play within a play” was a rousing success and paved the way for a display of mutual admiration that was heartwarming. “I would like to thank … all the students involved who gave it everything they got,” said Palmer. In an emotional presentation after the performance, the drama students gave Palmer a gift of appreciation and some very kind words. “We’ve never met a more cooler and nicer drama teacher,” enthused one. “She is so funny and so cool. We just love her,” said another.
The performance mixed dramatic scenes with a musical score sung by the Elementary Chorus. In the story, James P. Pennypacker (a shady accountant played by Allie Lyons) announces that she'll have to shut down "The Best Little Theater in Town" due to lack of funding. That's when the theater's owner Mrs. G. (played by Aleesha Kosik), popular director Mr. D. (performed by Kody Thach), and the theater’s cast get together, struggling to keep the theater open and somehow make ends meet. There's plenty of drama, but also some wonderful musical numbers, such as “On the Stage”, “Save the Show!”, “The Chase”, “There’s Something Sneaky Going On”, and of course the title song, “The Best Little Theater in Town”.
The creative show was truly a team effort from beginning to end. Members of the creative arts club designed and decorated the scenery for the play. Mr. Lyons provided the group with the sound equipment and his talents as sound technician. Ms. Duff provided cookies for the three rehearsals. Even custodians were involved with the stage set up. “I would like to also thank all of the parents for helping their children practice their lines. I’m sure that they have heard the musical score over and over already,” Palmer said. But as the parents are sure to attest, the practices did not take away from the thrill of seeing their little ones perform on stage.
Baby CPR Taught to Parents
by Lynne Ober
Nothing could be worse than to confront a small child who is not breathing. Friends of Windham Library held a training class to teach parents how to do CPR on babies and very young children.
The course was designed for those who care for children, either full time or occasionally, and taught participants how to recognize and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies in infants and children age 12 and younger.
Participants had an opportunity to practice on small dolls under the watchful eye of an instructor.