Sharing Warm Memories of Retiring Fire Chief’s Many Endeavors

by Lynne Ober

It was a night to recognize career achievements, to share warm memories of days gone by and to dream about the future.  The event took place Friday, June 9 at the Harris Pelham Inn in honor of Fire Chief Dave Fisher, who will retire from the Pelham Fire Department at the end of June.  His impact on Pelham’s Fire Department will linger long after his retirement.

It seems like only yesterday when he joined the Pelham Fire Department as a call firefighter, but in actual fact, many years have passed since that day in April 1977.  His career, spanning more than three decades, has been filled with accolades from beginning to end.

Fisher achieved the rank of Lieutenant in 1978 and was promoted to Deputy Chief in November 1981.  He served as the Deputy Civil Defense Director from 1984 through 1987.  In September 1987 he became Acting Chief of the Call Department and one month later became the permanent chief.

In January 1988 he became full-time Fire Chief of the department.  Added to that he was sworn in as State Forest Fire Warden one month later.  He’s fulfilled both jobs since then.

From 1990 through 1997 he served as Civil Defense Director and from 1998 until the present he has been the Emergency Management Director for Pelham.

Perhaps one of the greatest accolades he achieved is high respect from so many people.  The Pelham Firefighters’ Association wrote about their chief, “Though it all he has made us feel secure, helped many, and been our friend.  We hope we have honored him this evening with many memories, awards and most of all for showing him that we will miss him and his dedication to the town of Pelham.”

Pelham Police Chief Evan Haglund joined in with his own accolades.  Haglund admitted that in most towns there is a strong rivalry between the Fire and Police departments.  “Dave never let that happen.  From the time I joined the Pelham Police Department in 1979 until now, there’s been a spirit of cooperation and friendship.  Dave treated everyone with respect and courtesy.  I credit him for the excellent working relationship between the two departments.  He’s just been a good friend and a great professional.”

Before guests got into the main room, they were snagged by Charlotte Moore who had a photo with a large white border.  She wanted everyone to sign the border and the photo was given to the Fishers as a memento of the evening.

The evening began with a warm welcome from Dave and Carol Fisher.  Wearing wide smiles, they happily greeted friends and colleagues.  Everyone gathered for cocktails and conversation.  When it was finally time for dinner, Master of Ceremonies Phil Currier had a difficult time getting people to sit down.  Not that people weren’t looking forward to the Harris Inn’s famous turkey dinner, they were just busy chatting.  Besides saying goodbye to Dave, it was a chance to catch up with friends.

After dinner the fun began.  The program was a mixture of accolades and roasts.  It was a night filled with memories and laughs.  It was a night filled with friends.  It was definitely a night to remember.

Bill Scanzani remembers a time back in the ‘70s when Pelham Men’s Softball League was getting started at Newcomb Field.  If a fielder went up for a fly ball and hit the top of the fence, he was hurt.  Scanzani approached Fisher and asked if the Fire Department had any damaged fire hose that would be thrown away.

“As it turned out, the department did have some, and it was donated to the league,” grinned Scanzani.  “We used tie wraps and secured that hose to the top of the fence.  Then when a fielder came down and hit the fence, he didn’t have to worry about an injury.  Over the years Dave has continued to help the town in many ways and not just work with the Fire Department.  He’s been a real asset to us.”

Lieutenant Jack Tirrell, the “go-to” guy if you want something repaired, remembered that during a hurricane things were more than a little hectic.  “We still had Engine 7 and it was always needing maintenance.  At that time the windshield wipers weren’t working.  The chief asked me if I could get them working one more time.”

Jack paused and grinned, “I’m not the best 12-volt electricity guy, but I did get them working.  The catch?  If the windshield wipers were running, the turn signals were blinking, but Engine 7 went out into that hurricane with wipers and turn signals going.  We’ve laughed over that so many times over the years.”

The Fishers plan to leave Pelham on July 2 in an RV.  They will spend a year traveling around the United States and plan to visit as far away as Alaska before returning home.  Everyone there wished them bon voyage and a safe return.

Family Fun Day Turns out to be Quite ‘Ducky’ Despite Damp Weather

by Karen Plumley

The fourth annual 5K Road Race and Family Fun Day was already postponed once due to the flooding of Beaver Brook.  But even though several more days of rain threatened to put a damper on this great community event for a second time, it didn’t stop runners and residents who wanted to get out of the house and enjoy some fun family time.

Approximately 110 - 120 participants were registered and actually showed up for the road race, which took place at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.  Another 30 - 35 registrants signed up that day, paying a nominal late fee to join in.  Top performers were Tim Mallard, 17, of Pelham for the men, with a time of 14:11.  Behind him came Chris Hamel, 22, of Methuen, with a time of 14:39.  Alyssa McNeil, 24, of Lowell, Massachusetts, placed first for the women, with a time of 18:26.  Right behind her was Cynthia Springford, 34, of Pelham with a time of 18:35.  “It was a nice day for the race.  People were upbeat and didn’t have to worry about getting too hot,” described race organizer Katie Murphy.

After the road race, residents and guests were able to try their luck with the lucky straws game, located in St. Patrick’s Bingo Hall.  Each cup of 10 straws cost a dollar, but there were many prizes for the lucky, including a chance to win an iPod nano MP3 player.  Laurie Hogan eventually won the grand prize.  There were plenty of other treats in the hall, including a delectable Pie Café, and just outside were two adorable miniature horses, or “mini whinies,” named Lacy and Ruby.  The owner of the horses, Dianne Thomes of Thorough Pet, donated her time and the animals for the day.  Children flocked to see the friendly animals, and others checked out the blocked off area where they were grazing, in hopes that they could buy one or maybe even two of the 110 squares and predict where the horses may “plop.”  Jackie Blanchette picked the right location, and won the Pony Plop contest.

The duck race turned out to be quite different this year due to the weather.  “Usually, the winners from the road race place the ducks in the river and race them to the other bridge,” described one of the organizers from the event who requested to remain anonymous.  “But this year with the bridge closed, we had to think of something different.”  The duck race simply turned into a duck drawing instead, with the 1,000 numbered ducks being placed into a large barrel, and young Jack Fitzgerald volunteered to stick his hand in and pull out the winner.  Karen Blatus turned out to be the lucky duck at this contest.

In the end, everyone was a winner.  Residents were able enjoy a traditional community event regardless of the weather, and according to organizers, more than $6,000 was raised for the school and parish.

Lacy grazes while guests try to figure out which square to pick for the Pony Plop contest on Saturday outside St. Patrick’s Bingo Hall.

Adam, 10 and Nick, 11, collect donations for the MSPCA.  The organization is overrun with animals due to the local flooding, and funds are needed to provide food and medication.

Pelham Boy Chosen for Make-A-Wish Sign

by Lynne Ober

Children with disabilities and their families often work together to make the world a better place.  That’s very true of the Saffords, who live in Pelham.  Both Samuel, 8, and his brother, Benjamin, 10, have been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  This is a debilitating, devastating and deadly disease, but you wouldn’t know it if you spent any time with the family.  They enjoy life, laugh, and work together.

Now Samuel has become a model and poster boy.  Last week a sign featuring Samuel was unveiled at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.  The sign is designed to promote the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a national organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses.

On the sign is a picture of Sam kissing a dolphin at Discovery Cove in Florida where Sam's dream to swim with the dolphins came true last summer.

Make-A-Wish provides dream trips for disabled youngsters.  Benjamin went to Disney World in 2003.  Sam had to wait a couple of years for his trip to Discovery Cove. 

“He has always loved God's creatures and has been like a fish in the water, so it came as no surprise when Sam told his wish grantors that he wanted to swim with the dolphins,” smiled Lori Safford, his mother.

At Discovery Cove, Sam, decked out in his wet suit, not only got to swim with three dolphins, but he was able to be a "Trainer for the Day.”  His big day included petting sloths, anteaters, and hand feeding stingrays, dolphins, and exotic birds.  “One of my best parts was feeding the sharks,” said Samuel.

According to Donna Parker, Director of Development for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Hampshire, Samuel's picture was chosen for the high traffic area at the arena because it depicts “the magic of Make-A-Wish and the hope, strength and joy the foundation brings to children and their families.”

Safford and her husband, Mike, also have a 7-year-old daughter, Lydia, who carries the genetic defect for DMD, and, should she have children in the future may pass the disease onto them.

“I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have an organization like Make-A-Wish come alongside to help your family after you have received such devastating news about your children,” said Safford.  “The memories we have made on Ben and Sam's trips are so precious and special.  Living with a life-threatening illness can be a difficult and lonely road for a family to travel.  And yet, it is people like the volunteers and supporters of the Make-A-Wish Foundation who make the journey not only bearable, but actually enjoyable.”

If you would like to contact Make-A-Wish of New Hampshire to find out more about fundraising or volunteer opportunities, contact them by phone at 623-WISH (623-9474) or log onto their website at

Poster for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Sam kissing the dolphin.

Young Artist’s Work to be on Display in Capitol Building

by Lynne Ober

Part of a mural that Janet is painting on a wall at Pelham High School.

Pelham High School Senior Janet Yun loves to draw and paint.  Much of her work was on display at Pelham’s Community Night.  Her self-portrait was submitted to the District 1 Congressional Art Award for the State of New Hampshire competition. 

Janet won this competition.  This year's award was headed and conducted by Congressman Charles Bass' office. 

Her work was a self-portrait rendered in watercolor.  It had amazing depth and brilliance.  Few people can say that they have had artwork displayed in the Capitol Building, but Janet will join that elite group.

Her work will be on display for one year at the Capitol Building in Washington, D. C., representing the state of New Hampshire. 

Janet was born in Korea and moved to America with her family.  At first English was difficult for her.  “I learned English in school in Korea, but everyone spoke slowly so that we could understand.”  Then she moved to Connecticut and no one spoke slowly.  It sounded like one long sound, but gradually Janet learned to differentiate the words and today speaks English like a native.

Janet skipped the intro art classes at PHS.  She has always loved to draw.  One of her favorite styles is fashioned after the oriental cartoon art known as Anime-Style Cartoon.  However, Janet realized that this wasn’t thought of as art in America and has worked on learning fine art techniques.

“When I asked if I could skip the intro class, I was told to bring in some of my art.  At first I brought in some of the anime style cartoons, but then I brought in some of my fine art work and then was told that I could skip the intro.”

Janet thought she wanted to study both design and computer animation.  “I just love kids’ movies such as “Finding Nemo,” she grinned.

However, after visiting Full Sail Real World Education in Orlando, Florida, she decided to concentrate on computer graphics.  “I just loved the school and it is in such a beautiful place.”

After she graduates, she will return to Korea for a visit before going to college.

Southwest Airlines is providing Janet and her parents with three round-trip tickets to Washington to view the display.

The Self Portrait that won the competition.

Janet Yun

Smoke Bomb at Pelham High Causes Disruption but no Damage

by Lynne Ober

On Tuesday, June 13, a smoke bomb was dropped between lockers in the hallway at Pelham High School.  As the hall filled with smoke, the school was evacuated and Pelham Fire Department was called.

According to Fire Chief Dave Fisher, the department found the smoke bomb, which he said could have come from a joke shop or a fireworks stand.

“We used our fan and cleared the hallway in about half an hour,” Fisher said.  “The students remained outside and then returned to the school to finish the day.”

No damage was done to the school building.

It’s that Time of Year:  First Concert on the Green for 2006

The first annual outdoor summer music series, Concerts on the Green, will begin on Pelham Village Green on Sunday, June 21 at 6:00 p.m. with a leadoff concert by the Pelham Memorial School Jazz Band.  The jazz band is comprised each year of approximately 20 - 25 young musicians who audition for seats in this prestigious group.  These instrumentalists in grades six through eight play saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass or drums.

The PMS Jazz Band was founded in 2001 when current instrumental music teacher, Paul A. Santerre, began his tenure at the school.  The band plays in the Pelham Memorial School Winter and Spring Concerts, as well as Pelham Community Night; competes in the Music in the Parks Festivals at Six Flags in Agawam, Massachusetts; and performs for several civic functions.

The band plays a wide variety of musical selections and styles each year.  The members of the PMS Jazz Band are frequently recognized for their outstanding musical achievements.

The Concerts on the Green are free and are for the whole family to enjoy.  Everyone is invited to bring a blanket or chairs, perhaps a picnic supper, and spread out on Pelham’s spacious Village Green to enjoy the music.

Plans are being made for the concert to go on in another venue in the event of bad weather.  Last-minute weather-related changes will be posted on the Community Events section of the Pelham Message Board, 

Upcoming concerts include Two Fiddles on July 16, The New Liberty Jazz Band on July 30, Christy O’Conneld & Eire Go On Aug. 13, The Sound –A-Bouts on Sept. 10 and The Van Gogh Carts on Sept. 24.

The concert series is sponsored by the Sherburne Hall Committee with the assistance of the Pelham Police Explorers.  Individual concerts are sponsored by a variety of civic-minded individuals, businesses, and organizations including Innovative Realty, Lowell Five-Cent Savings Bank, The Pelham Police Relief Association, Sovereign Bank, Advance Look Home Inspectors, and MOMS® Club of Pelham.  Sponsorships are still available and are needed for the success of the series.  For business sponsorship information and opportunities contact Joanne Riopel at Innovative Realty, 635-2131.  For other sponsorship contact Charlene Takesian 635-7215 or Bill McDevitt 635-7642.

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