Oceans of Fun at Nesmith
by Diane Chubb
Picture a room full of toddlers and preschoolers smiling, laughing, dancing and clapping. That was the scene when Miss Rose LeMay brought her Kindermusik Adventures to the Nesmith Library on Thursday, July 13.
Miss Rose started the program with a hello song to welcome everyone. She then led them on an hour-long “ocean adventure” through song and dance.
Each song had a theme and an accompanying activity. First, the children pretended to be whales, waving around a brightly colored scarf and creating a “fountain” through their “blowholes.” Then, they sailed in hula hoop “boats” on the ocean waters, sinking and rising with the tide.
Children also created their own “octopus” dance, waving pieces of crepe paper in each hand, and flew “kites” made of paper plates. Miss Rose also distributed various musical instruments to each child to accompany different songs.
As Miss Rose introduced each activity, the children would take turns coming up to the baskets of items. At the end of each song, they also returned everything to Miss Rose's boxes. Some of the children were more diligent about putting things away then others, going around to collect things from others.
According to its website, Kindermusik© International is the world's leading publisher of music and movement curricula for parents and their children, ages newborn to 7 years old. More than 5,000 licensed educators use the Kindermusik curricula in more than 35 countries, reaching one million families.
Miss Rose has been running her Kindermusik program for 10 years. A preschool teacher, she clearly enjoys her work. Miss Rose has a studio in Hampstead, New Hampshire where she teaches year round. In the summer, she has a five-week program, and during the school year, she has two 15 week programs.
“Anyone can do Kindermusik,” says Miss Rose. “There is no right or wrong way to do things. And the free movement lets kids do what they want.”
She hopes that parents who come to her classes will take away some of the ideas to spend time with their children.
Jane McCue, the Children's Librarian at Nesmith Library, was very pleased with the large turnout for the event at Nesmith. “We enjoy seeing the parents and grandparents come and have such a good time with the children, laughing and dancing together,” she said. “That makes the program a complete success.”
For more information about Miss Rose's Studio or Kindermusik, contact Rose at (603) 382-9055 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Borst Versus SAU 28
by Lynne Ober
In a recent letter to the editor former SAU 28 employee, Jim Borst, stated that he wanted the whole story on the landscaping told. In a phone conversation with Borst, he emphatically stated that the way the SAU treated employees was wrong and reiterated his remarks that the fields were in good shape.
Asked to point out where Chubb’s article was wrong, his comment was that she should have contacted him, a former SAU employee, for comments or to have contacted Dave Ouellette, the terminated Director for comments.
Chubb had contacted SAU personnel, school board members, principals, and quoted from a Thumbs Down [the resident provided no contact information to the paper]. She also delicately touched on the personnel issues surrounding this by writing, “For the most part, the current district maintenance employees who take care of the Pelham schools will continue their employment, but in a different capacity. However, the SAU chose not to renew the contract for the current Director of Maintenance, and that position will be posted shortly. As this is a personnel issue, no other information is currently available.”
But she did not contact former SAU employees and that is the crux of Borst’s complaints. According to Borst, he has been a part-time employee for 20 years. During this time period he worked as a painter and as a landscaper. He said that typically he was employed from June through September. His most recent employment period was for a stretch from April through November. At the end of that time, Borst stated he was urged by others to apply for unemployment compensation. When he did, he learned that he was not eligible, and that his job no longer existed.
“Is that any way to find out that your job is gone?” he asked. When asked if he had contacted Business Administrator Brian Gallagher, who had been his boss, Borst said no because “he wasn’t on Brian’s call list and that Brian only talked to people on his call list.”
Borst felt that the landscaping crew did the best job they could with limited manpower. He continually pointed out that only two to three people worked on the grounds for the district.
The SAU does not dispute this comment. In fact they agree with it. Both Borst and SAU personnel agreed that more people were needed to appropriately take care of the grounds. The SAU also tried to get the voters to approve newer and better mowers, but the voters rejected this request. “We asked for those mowers for more than one year,” said School Board Chairman Mike Conrad.
Unfortunately the SAU has limited resources to just add personnel. By Pelham Budget Committee mandate, all new positions must go onto a separate warrant article so Superintendent Dr. Elaine Cutler cannot just direct the Business Administrator to hire more people. It would take a warrant article and a favorable town vote.
However, the SAU could spend the maintenance dollars on contracted services to expand the landscaping coverage and, according to Conrad that was what the board decided to do in the middle of winter. Borst, a seasonal employee, was not on the payroll at that time.
Gallagher puts yet another perspective on the situation by stating, “under the former administration that [2 -3 people for landscaping] may have been their thinking, however, the work from our viewpoint was not being done very well and on many occasions not being done. Our approach has been and will continue to be to do projects well and create a sense of ‘Pelham Pride’ on all levels including the outside of the buildings and the grounds.” Gallagher points out that more than maintaining the fields needed to be done to keep the school grounds presentable.
Once Borst knew that he no longer had a job, he said that he sent a letter to all school board members, but never heard back from them. Subsequently in a non-public session, the School Board agreed to terminate the Director of Maintenance.
“The board looked at re-structuring the Maintenance Department,” noted Conrad, who stated that there was a great deal of preventative maintenance that was not being done. “We decided to keep that position. We wanted to keep the buildings safe for the kids and ensure that appropriate maintenance was done.” As a result of the board’s decision that position has now been posted as open.
Borst indicated that he also contacted Boyden about a job, but no job offer was forthcoming from the firm hired to do the school district’s landscaping.
Gallagher was aware that he did not have total school board support for contracting the landscaping, but the contract could not be awarded without a majority support. He identified Eleanor Burton as the School Board member most opposed to contracting the services.
However, with all three principals concerned about the trash accumulating on school grounds and with interior maintenance projects requiring a great deal of attention (see previous article on maintenance planned for the summer by Diane Chubb), the board decided to go ahead with a contract to Boyden’s Landscaping. Burton was concerned about a number of factors, including whether someone would be available on game day if there was a problem.
Gallagher wrote in an e-mail, “This move represents change and as we all know people resist change. I respect Eleanor but sometimes we disagree. You (Diane Chubb) are getting a clear picture from the principals because they have not been getting the services they deserved with in house staff and Dorothy in particular loves the contracted approach because the work is getting done and someone (Charlie Boyden) is being held accountable.”
As the summer has progressed Gallagher and Cutler remain committed to the new plan. Cutler noted that previously all the principals had been unhappy with the upkeep, but were now happy. Gallagher wrote in an e-mail, “The school district discussed with the Board of Selectmen in September, 2005 the opportunity to work together on existing contracts which either group may have had in place. We chose to go off of the contract Mr. Gaydos had bid out for the town three years ago, which had one year left on it for grounds services. We simply asked the contractor to consider taking on new work for the schools.”
Borst asked in his letter what work is considered over and above the terms? Gallagher replied, “Our agreement includes on-going school lawn/grounds clean-up during the year, professional lawn mowing and maintenance with trimming, a lawn care program, fertilizer, lime, insect for 42 acres; care for athletic fields – football, baseball, soccer, field hockey.
Borst also asked about the bottom line cost. Gallagher replied to that question, “Projected contracted services for the items above is $98,650. Our recommendation to the board was to maintain the maintenance staff (two full-time with one part time) except for the director position thus savings in that one position of $70,000 alone. To date we have moved forward on the vacant position.”
Conrad stated that the school district will still be returning money to the taxpayers. “Thanks to Brian’s great budgeting skills, we will have money to return to the taxpayers from our budget and I think that’s great.”
Borst claimed in his letter that comments about the mound were a red-herring, and confirmed in the telephone conversation that he felt the fields had no issues, but Dr. Mohr told Chubb that the mound did not meet regulations. Conrad confirmed this statement and said that the mound issue had been corrected by Boyden’s.
Gallagher said that there were a number of areas that needed improvement on the fields. “The fencing areas were weed filled and had high grass growing through them. Papers were on many occasions left to blow away until the snows arrived. Residents, coaches, and teacher staff have commented on the improved conditions (including board members).”
Although not in his letter, Borst made another claim during our telephone conversation. He stated that Boyden had applied pesticides to the fields and then failed to flag that usage per state law. He also spoke with some School Board members. According to Conrad, once Borst has spoken with School Board Member Linda Mahoney about this, Mahoney e-mailed the rest of the board. Boyden was contacted and stated that no one had alerted him to the situation. Since then he has not only flagged the area, but has switched to organic pesticides and fertilizers according to Conrad. “That issue was handled in a simple phone call once Linda made us aware of the situation.”
Borst also wrote that the landscaper was out to make money and Gallagher agreed. “A profit is not a bad word, but actually the reward from actually improving property. This has also freed up maintenance personnel to do preventive [maintenance] on buildings thus [resulting in] long term annual savings, which our principals had requested for years.”
The bottom line is that there is a definite gap between what the SAU feels and sees and what a former employee feels and sees. During our phone conversation even Borst could not point to problems in Chubb’s article, but felt strongly that someone should have talked to him, as a former employee, because he feels that he has been wrongly treated. Although he requested that calls be made to Dave Ouellette to substantiate his story, he had no contact number for Mr. Ouellette and the number that the paper had did not reach him by press time.
Gallagher summarized his feeling about the Borst letter by stating, “We certainly now have the benefit of a different point of view from a former employee.”
Conrad took the high road and pointed out the benefit to the interiors of the schools. “Our staff is able to use the summer productively working on a number of maintenance issues and we expect the schools will be in better shape when they open in the fall than they have been in previous years. We want to keep our new school’s condition up and do the best that we can with our older buildings. It was a win-win for everyone – including the taxpayers who will see that money used to offset the tax rate.”
All in the Family: Harris Pelham Inn Celebrates its 100th Year
by Karen Plumley
“The strength of our business is all about family,” stated fourth generation property owner and Harris Pelham Inn proprietor George Harris. The story of the Harris Pelham Inn begins with a family of devoted, hardworking farmers who believed in themselves and in the importance of family. Through thick and thin, hardships and prosperity, the Harris family has continued to stay faithful to the business that they started generations ago. The first generation property owners lived in the large farmhouse that still exists today, surrounded by beautiful, sprawling pastureland, cows, chickens, horses, and vegetable crops. All the property was set against the glittering backdrop of White’s Pond, named after another family who lived along its shore. Sadly, that family did not last: they disappeared or moved on as many families do, and in the 1930s the state aptly decided to rename the pond to Harris Pond, perhaps knowing that the name Harris would be sticking around for a while.
In addition to the farm, the business also included the Pelham Riding Academy and a dance hall. The one story building was a popular destination that accommodated up to 100 people. Parties abounded on weekends with scenic hayrides up and down the glorious fields and along the shore of the pond delighting guests in summer and fall, only to give way to frosty sleigh rides which would ring in the joyous New England winter season. In the late 1800s, Alonzo Harris owned all of the property and ran the farm. He was the great grandfather of George Harris who currently occupies the original 300-year-old farmhouse. Back then, farming was backbreaking, unrelenting, and sometimes even dangerous work. Alonzo would spend many grueling hours farming, hosting parties, and transporting cartloads of potatoes to Canada. A coal stove aboard the transport would keep the potatoes from freezing in winter but unfortunately claimed the life of Alonzo who, according to his great grandson, was asphyxiated during one fateful trip.
It is lucky for all past and present patrons of the Inn that Alonzo did not leave this earth before passing along his noble genes to his sons Harry and George Harris. This second generation of dutiful members of the Harris family took over the farm, recognizing immediately that their location on the pond was prime. In 1906, one hundred years ago, the brothers set to work and built the Inn and summer cottages. Additionally, the boys also owned an immensely successful milk business nearby on the Pelham - Methuen line. “My father would tell me that they slept in Methuen but had breakfast in Pelham,” described Harris. Horse drawn carriages would deliver the precious milk to the Inn and to customers all over town. In a story that exemplifies what the Harris family is all about; one milk customer with eight children was unable to keep up payment to the Harris family business. This man, a gifted mason, ran up an unheard of $430 milk bill to which neither George nor Harry ever sought payment for. The mason, grateful for the Harris’ generosity, gathered up his sons and offered to build something for the Inn in an attempt to rectify his family’s enormous debt. The Harris’ agreed to accept his offer, and the mason and his sons built the stone porch attachment that still remains on the right side of the Inn today. According to Harris, it was constructed so competently that it never gathers frost beneath it even on the coldest of winter days. Eventually, the milk business was lost to a fire, but the Inn continues to stand strong.
Many a weary traveler called the Inn and its cottages home over the last 100 years, even if their stay was a brief one, for everyone was welcomed warmly and made to feel like part of the family. Cottages were rented out for the summer, and some would come from as far away as New York and Pennsylvania. Businessmen would be able to bring their whole families with them. They would work in Boston during the week, and be able to spend time with their wives and children at the Inn on weekends. Promoting family was always a priority at the Inn. There was a children’s playground, and Harris remembers his mother, father, and sisters working hard in their farmhouse kitchen to provide guests with daily meals. Rates at the time were between $7 and $10 per week and included bellhop and chambermaid service, and three meals per day. Since travel was not easy in those days, guests of the Inn arrived in Methuen by electric car and a covered wagon driver would pick up the travelers and bring them to the Inn. Some would stay for a week, while others would remain at the Inn for the entire summer until Labor Day. Area attractions such as Benson’s Wild Animal Farm, and Canobie Lake Park, and Rockingham Park, which also opened in 1906, helped to make the Inn a popular place to stay.
In the early 1950s, the summer resort business began to see a slowdown. Travel was becoming easier, and hotels and motels were cropping up. George Harris credits his mother, Annette (Cote) Harris with starting up the function room business around this time, and in 1962, the Inn was almost completely converted. The upstairs rooms at the Inn were no longer used for extended guest stays, but began to fill up with storage. It was in 1962 that the larger upstairs room was added to the Inn. This room, stately and bright with a majestic fireplace at the heart of it, can accommodate up to 300 people comfortably. The downstairs function room is used for more intimate gatherings, and accommodates approximately 120. The grounds are now a beautifully landscaped location for lovely wedding photos.
In 1965, the Harris Family sought to obtain a liquor license, but the state was unsure of how to proceed. There were no other such function room businesses around at the time, and they did not fit in to the existing criteria. Coincidentally, a Harris brother-in-law was in the senate at the time, and he wrote the house bill to make it legal to have a liquor license at an on premises catering service. The bill passed, and the Harris Pelham Inn became the first such business in New Hampshire to obtain its liquor license, again providing proof that a family that sticks together can accomplish anything.
Today, many families come back to the Harris Pelham Inn over and over to experience the personalized touch that this type of function hall can provide. “At the Harris Pelham Inn, you don’t feel like a number. Other places can be lovely, but at the Inn you don’t have to worry about anything. You can sit back and relax, and get treated like part of the family,” enthused Barbara Koza, long-time resident of Salem and frequent guest at the Inn. “We have guests that come here that had their weddings here. Now they come to see their grandchildren getting married,” described Harris. And they are enjoying the same delicious recipes that have been perfected over the course of the century, including their famous Vienna Rolls, a boneless chicken or turkey stuffed with potato dressing. Their salad dressing and seasonings are always a big hit as well, and according to Harris, 13 specialty shops in the area carry their brand. Guests may even find that they have the same waitress that they had years earlier. Jackie Blanchette, a 45-year employee of the Inn, continues to work for the Harris family because she says she feels like she is part of the family. “I grew up with them. They have always been good to me. Even when I did not have a vehicle, someone would come and pick me up and bring me to work every day,” stated Blanchette. She would do everything from waiting tables, to cleaning rooms, to even babysitting some or all of George’s five children.
Now fully grown, all of his children work at the Inn and contribute, and are quickly becoming the fifth generation to run the Inn. George Harris, now 77, stated frankly, “there is always a great temptation to sell. It is hard work. This week alone, we will be feeding over 1200 people.” But he then gave his reassurance, “there is a certain amount of pride in holding on to a family business. It is not always about the money.” Anyone who frequents the Inn will second that emotion. “When we go there, it’s like coming home,” said Barbara Koza.
Museum of Science Visits Pelham Camp
by Lynne Ober
Okay, why do lizards lounge? How do snakes slither? What happens when snapping turtles snap? And what makes a reptile, a reptile? Campers at Pelham Veterans Memorial Summer Camp got the answers to those questions and more when the Museum of Science Traveling Show on Reptiles visited them.
With cages set up on the front table and campers sitting in the audience, the program began. The first reptile that came out was a salamander. He curled around his presenter’s hand and watched the audience as eagerly as they watched him.
The campers learned how his coloring helped him survive in his normal habitat and they watched as he was sprayed frequently with water. “You can’t let his skin dry out,” said his trainer. “His skin must be kept moist or it will dry out and crack and he will die.”
The campers learned what made him a reptile and how he was related to lizards. They learned about his food habits and about what he did all day – take a mid day nap was a highlight of the salamander’s day.
Questions were asked and answered. Then it was time to switch reptiles.
This time a rainbow snake from Brazil came out and wrapped around the presenter’s arm. The rainbow snake is a type of boa snake. Rainbow boas are so named because of the iridescent sheen imparted by microscopic ridges on their scales which act like prisms to refract light into rainbows. They can be found from Costa Rica through central South America in forests, woodlands, plains and swamps. They are primarily nocturnal creatures, sleeping during the day and prowling at night. Rainbow boas range from four to seven feet in length and can live for 20 years in captivity.
Again the campers got to ask question and learn about the snake’s habitat.
The campers learned what made a reptile different from a mammal. They learned about reptile’s tough, dry, scaly skin and how the reptiles cared for themselves. They learned about the wide breadth of reptiles found today.
They talked about turtles and about alligators. “This is very fun,” grinned one happy camper. “I love turtles and it’s fun to learn about other reptiles.”
Pelham Eighth Graders Get Promoted
by Karen Plumley
“We’ve shared so much in the past three years, happy as well as sad,” said Pelham Memorial School Principal Cathy Pinsonneault, as she addressed the eighth grade graduates and their proud families on Tuesday, June 20.
One of those sad moments came just the day before during graduation practice, when Pinsonneault got her hand caught in the folding stage and fractured her wrist. “There were a lot of rumors floating around about what happened to my wrist,” laughed Pinsonneault, as she went on to tell the true story. But although she wouldn’t be shaking anyone’s hand that evening, the promotion certificates were proof enough for the 179 eighth graders that they had finally made it to the next level of their academic careers.
The first graduating class who can stake a claim to having Principal Pinsonneault for all three middle school years earned its right to be recognized for its collective achievements and hard work. Many awards were handed out during the course of the ceremony, and then finally, after three years of anticipation, each and every student had the chance to climb up on stage and be acknowledged. Even though there were many attempts to maintain silence and hold applause until the last graduate was called, the audience would have none of it. Rapturous applause burst forth like machine gun fire for virtually every name that was called, as if the energy had been pent up for over a decade.
In an appropriate quote for the event, Pinsonneault stated, “The undertaking of a new action brings on new strength.” It is time for these students to move on to a new school, and a new era in their education. Their time at the top of the heap is temporarily over. But it will come again. Look out Pelham High School, here comes the class of 2010.