Aargh, It’s the Pirates Life for Me

by Lynne Ober

The monkey and Percival the Parrot led the sing along.

Kids in both Pelham and Windham were thrilled by performances by the Little Red Wagon Traveling Theater, a branch of University of New Hampshire’s Theater and Drama department.

The 45 minute show, "Arrgh, It’s a Pirate’s Life for Me," conceived by Sarah Marschner, is geared toward children through fourth grade.  Using story drama, puppets, songs, and involvement theatre activity with the audience, the Little Red Wagon cast, audience, and talking monkey will voyage upon a three-masted sailing ship in search for pirate’s gold!  There’s a treasure map with a big “X” to follow, laughter and a chance for the entire audience will participate as members of the ship’s crew.

Members of the energetic five member cast are all theater majors at UNH and are all experienced thespians who love putting on a show.

Campers at Pelham thoroughly enjoy the show.

The Little Red Wagon was a tad late arriving at Windham for the morning show.  Jeremy told the assembled audience that “the little red wagon had a little red problem on the way here, but we’re here now so give us a minute.”

It wasn’t long before the entire cast was spread out through the audience singing Princess Pat, a follow along, repeat after me song.

They quickly agreed to pretend and let their imaginations roam.  Courtney had a map with an “X.”  She said it was a treasure map and soon the whole group morphed into pirates and set sail on the balmy seas.

It wasn’t long before they captured the treasure – a bag of books.  After debating whether a bag of gold was better than a bag of books, they decided the books were better.  “Let’s read,” said Josh.

“My book is written in French.  Do we know French?” asked Bartley.

“Yes we do,” said Courtney

“We do?”  Bartley asked in disbelief.

“Let me show you,” began Courtney.

With a bagful of gags and zany jokes, the pirates continued.

Finally they were joined by the monkey and Percival the Parrot for a sing along.  Everyone joined in the fun.

Pirate’s Lady Cheyann, 10, brought her doll to the show.

Jeremy talks to the audience at Windham.

Clarification Call Results in Inspection

by Lynne Ober

With the switch away from Pelham School District personnel taking care of the grounds to Boyden Landscaping, some practices and procedures have changed.  One concern over procedure was recently raised about the use of pesticides on school grounds.

The use of pesticides in New Hampshire is carefully regulated by the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture.  Their web site states, “The Division requires licensing or permitting of all commercial and private pesticide applicators as well as pesticide dealers.  Through this process, only persons demonstrating satisfactory competence in the safe and legal use of pesticides within New Hampshire may apply pesticides.  The Division also requires re-certification whereby every five years each licensed individual attends educational seminars to ensure they remain up to date in pesticide knowledge.”

Boyden applied pesticides to the school grounds, but at press time Charles Boyden had not been available to answer questions about the type of pesticides.

When asked about the incident, School Board Chairman Mike Conrad said, “As soon as we were made aware of the use, the SAU put a stop to the application of pesticides.  The well is being tested for pesticides this month, so if there was a problem it can be resolved before the students are back at school.”  Conrad is confident that appropriate steps were taken as soon as the incident was reported and that children’s health is being given top priority.

When pesticides were applied on Pelham school grounds, School Board member Linda Mahoney became concerned and made her concerns known to fellow school board members and to Business Administrator Brian Gallagher.

Conrad concurred, stating, “Linda Mahoney sent an e-mail to the board members as well as the SAU stating pesticides had been used.  As soon as her e-mail arrived, a call was made to Boyden's to stop all applications of pesticides.”

“There’s one well that is only 38 feet deep.  That’s a shallow well and was dug.  It is used for drinking water for students and that concerned me so I wanted to check out the regulations,” said Mahoney.

Mahoney was told that Boyden had switched to organic pesticides and was flagging usage of them as appropriate, but she wasn’t sure if that met state regulations or not.  Checking the regulations on-line she read them to say that no use of pesticides was allowed.  She copied these regs and distributed them to her fellow board members.

She also called the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Pesticides Division and asked if organic pesticides were acceptable per the regulations.

This call for clarification led to a state inspector coming on-site and inspecting the grounds. 

“On Tuesday morning July 18, 2006, as Business Administrator, I was surprised to be greeted with a visit from Mr. Ronald Morris, Pesticide Inspector from the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture,” stated Brian Gallagher, SAU 28 Business Administrator.  Mr. Morris was inquiring regarding our contracted services regarding a lawn care program at Pelham School.  Our office shared with the inspector all the information he requested and thanked him for his professionalism.”  Gallagher went on to say, “The investigative review resulted from a complaint initiated by an unknown source and at the time Mr. Morris was not at liberty to disclose the source.”

Gallagher stated he did not have a copy of any complaint, but did everything he could to assist the state inspector, who told him that a ruling would be made and sent to the SAU along with a copy of the inquiry.

Principal Dr. Dorothy Mohr is currently on vacation with her family and was not available to comment on the recent incident involving her school.

Gallagher stated, “The SAU office later learned that the person who called the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture was a current sitting Pelham School Board member.  At the time of this visit our office was working closely with the contracted services of the district auditing firm in closing the books for the past fiscal year.  The audit company had on site, seven people reviewing our financials and was looking for our assistance with the closing process.  This kind of surprise interruption causes our scheduled workload in the SAU to increase and impacts many people unnecessarily.”

After the inspector left an e-mail from Ms. Mahoney was sent to Gallagher and in the e-mail Mahoney confirmed that she called the Department of Agriculture. 

When asked what the protocol was for a single school board to raise an issue, Conrad replied, “I believe the complaint should have been made to the superintendent.  She could have evaluated the situation and taken the appropriate steps.  Since a complaint was sent to the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, it takes a situation that could have been handled internally out of our control.”

Mahoney stated she has also asked that this be a topic of discussion at the next Pelham School Board meetings so that a responsible solution can be achieved.  Conrad acknowledged at the last board meeting that he failed to put the topic on the agenda and apologized to Ms. Mahoney at that time.  He said that it would be on the agenda at the next board meeting.

Gallagher concluded, “We hope that in the future that this kind of unilateral activity involving a sitting Pelham School board member will begin to decrease thus causing fewer disruptive surprises.”

Conrad believes that using this method the issue of pesticide usage was not addressed as quickly as it should have been.  “Things would have happened faster if the chain of command was followed.  The school district employee should have notified the SAU immediately.  The SAU could have put a stop to it sooner.  The SAU could have then informed the school board of the steps that were being taken to correct the problem,” he concluded.

Muldoon Park Forestry Plan

by Lynne Ober

The George H. Muldoon Park and associated forestland of Pelham Town Forest is an excellent piece of property for residents to enjoy.  Currently approximately 18 acres on the western side of the property, with frontage on Mammoth Road, has been converted to ball fields and parking areas for children and parents to use.  Behind the ball fields and adjacent to the large wetland that splits the property is a children’s playground area and behind the playground is a proposed area for clearing to make another ballfield and additional proposed parking.  According to the forestry plan developed by Dan Cyr, “The back (eastern) three-quarters of the property consists of a deep pine forest along the edge of Beaver Brook; this forest provides hiking, walking, and bird-watching opportunities for visitors …”

Muldoon Playground Closed

Until further notice, Muldoon Playground is closed because of tree cutting in the near area.
It is the goal of the forestry plan to produce enough revenue to maintain the park and its trails.

Work has begun on the additional ball fields and Selectmen agree that once these are developed that the park will have no more room for additional ball fields.

However they do have a number of goals for the park.  The Parks and Rec Master Plan incorporate the recreation goals.  This plan looked beyond recreation and worked with affected committees and department heads to develop a list of overall goals.

In addition to the on-going recreational goals, the report found, “The general goals of the Town can best be summed up with the key words of the New Hampshire Tree Farm System, of which the Town is a member:  wood, water, wildlife, and recreation.  The Town is interested in managing its woodlots for long-term, sustainable forest management.  It is interested in generating periodic revenue from timber harvests that encourage quality wood growth on residual trees as well as encourage regeneration, in order to grow tomorrow’s forest beneath the forest of today.”  Towards that end the Town continues to educate residents and developers on the benefits of having forested lands interspersed with built-up areas.

Muldoon Park – Type of Forest

In the report, Cyr wrote, “The Town hopes to keep these areas open to responsible recreation without compromising the other three goals.  Finally, the Town recognizes that the native wildlife species of New Hampshire need areas for food, water, shelter, and raising young.  To that end, these forests are kept as biologically diverse as possible while maintaining the other three goals as simultaneously as possible.”

Cyr concluded that there were three important goals for Muldoon Park:

  • Keep active recreation on the ball fields and playgrounds
  • Manage the forest growing alongside Beaver Brook in the eastern area of the property
  • Prevent four-wheelers from causing further soil erosion and damage to the wetlands, which will eventually degrade the water sources for Pelham.  Cyr was hopeful that education for ATV drivers would help in this area.

A thorough inventory was done in the area and results can be seen in Figure 1.  White pine is the predominant tree in the park, but there are also four types of oak trees and some hemlock scattered throughout the park.

According to Cyr, good timber management aims at keeping that tree diversity in the park, but in doing selective timbering that will open up the forest floor to sunlight and, thus, allow for a diversity of plants to grow, including plants that can be used by food for wildlife.

Buffers will be left along wetlands in order to provide shelter and a protective buffer.  Wetlands will only be harvested in dry or frozen conditions in order to minimize damage along the shoreline.

According to Cyr, the skid trails that will be used by the foresters will provide a nice trail system in the park for passive recreation and he pledged not to leave the ground rutted or to leave too much debris along the trails. 

“Care will need to be taken to leave an undisturbed buffer around the vernal pools in order to maintain colder water temperatures through shading,” wrote Cyr.  “This colder water will keep oxygen levels higher in the pools for the amphibians that live here.  Conducting this harvest as a biomass operation to remove and chip the tops will help keep this area looking good with minimal slash left on the ground.  Some additional picnic tables could be placed in the small pine area next to the building for people to relax and eat their lunches in the shade.”

Selectmen authorized the Forest Committee to proceed with this management plan.

Muldoon Park Outline map

Sea Shells Aren’t the Only Shells at the Beach

by Karen Plumley

Children at the Pelham Public Library filled the first floor sitting room on Thursday afternoon and enjoyed a nearly two-hour educational session on sea turtles.  The presentation was another treasure in the on going summer reading program series about pirates and the sea.  Alison Dixon, Program Naturalist from the Massabesic Audubon Society of Auburn, was the presenter. 

Dixon began by reading an intriguing story about marine turtles called “The Ways of the Sea Turtle” which described the grueling, unforgiving life cycle that starts out on the beach and eventually ends in the open sea.  In the story, a sea turtle lays 100 eggs in a small hole in the sand, and various predators including crabs, raccoons, and sea gulls pick away at the eggs and hatchlings until only three turtles remain and make it to the water.  There, two of the three fall prey to sharks and only one survives to adulthood. 

Many of the endangered turtles native to New Hampshire are illegal to have as pets, including this Eastern Box Turtle.

Despite their challenges, Dixon described that sea turtles have been around for 150 million years.  “Turtles have seen the dinosaurs come and go,” stated Dixon.  She went on to explain the many interesting facts about sea turtles, including that they live in primarily warmer waters in the south, their diet of jellyfish, their shells that are attached to their internal skeletons, and how sand temperature determines the gender of the hatchlings.  “Hot sand will produce girls, and colder sand will produce boys,” she said. 

According to Dixon, many efforts are being made to help increase the number of sea turtles.  There are seven to eight species of marine turtles, and each one is endangered.  Naturalists are working to regulate sand temperature around the nests in order to produce an equal number of each sex.  To help prevent turtles from getting caught in fishermen’s netting, shrimp fishermen are now required to use turtle excluder devices, or TEDs.  These small metal inserts with bars allow the turtles to slide out of the net via an escape hatch, while shrimp slip through the slits into the net.  Beach pollution is another serious danger to sea turtles.  “A wet, plastic grocery bag can look an awful lot like a jellyfish to a sea turtle.  Also, sea turtles can become entangled in discarded fishing line.  One way that you can help the sea turtles is by picking up the trash you see at the beach,” Dixon explained.

The children were fascinated by the presentation and all eyes lit up when finally, Dixon took out two live turtles to show the audience.  One was a pond turtle known as a painted turtle, and the other was a box turtle, which lives on land.  She spread out a large blanket and the excited children gathered around it and eagerly watched the turtles take a stroll.  For more information on educational programs run by the New Hampshire Audubon Society, visit www.nhaudubon.org.

Little Anthony of Pelham volunteers to wear a turtle shell while demonstrating how the animal moves at the Pelham Public Library “Turtles of the Deep” presentation.

Massabesic Audubon Society Naturalist Alison Dixon describes the exoskeleton of the sea turtle at the Pelham Public Library on Thursday afternoon.

Road to High School Approved, but at What Cost?

by Lynne Ober

“We are very appreciative that the road to the high school has been approved,” said SAU 28 Business Manager, Brian Gallagher.  “That’s a big plus and we are already working on the design.”

Windham Selectmen approved the road at a recent meeting, but they added on a number of items.  According to Gallagher none of these items were in the original budget and may add as much as half a million dollars.  “We just don’t have accurate and final figures yet, as the engineers are working on the best and most reasonably priced solutions for us.  The board will look at this at a future meeting.”

London Bridge Road, approximately 4,500 feet in length, will connect the high school to Route 111. 

During the nearly three hour public hearing, many comments were made and considered, but the overall concern was about the lack of a second egress.

Selectmen discussed at length the issue of having only one egress and entrance for emergency vehicles.  At the discussion Police Chief Gerald Lewis strongly urged that a second egress be developed. 

Planning Director Al Turner said that police cruisers could enter the property from the sound end, but that the Fire Department could not get fire apparatus into the school from the south end.

State Representative Charlie McMahon also expressed concern about the lack of a second egress.  He called the lack of a second egress unconscionable and was very concerned about safety issues, but in the end Selectmen decided to go ahead.  They did add several provisions to the original request.

Selectmen told the School District that they must install underground utilities along the road.  The idea behind these is that future developers will pay when they develop in the area, but the School District will be required to pay for the design and installation.  It was not clear when or how they would be reimbursed.

Selectmen also required drainage pipes and catch basins be installed.  The pipes must extend to the catch basins.  Gallagher said that he couldn’t comment on the final cost or number of catch basins until the design was done, but agreed that this was a new expense.

Visual barriers must be established for all the abutters of the road.  Gallagher said that these might include plantings, but that the Board would make a determination after talking with their engineers.

Selectmen also required speed measures to be installed, but they did not specify the type of speed measures. 

No sidewalks will be installed along the road and the Planning Board had approved the use of reflectors along the road, but both chiefs asked Selectmen to have lighting installed along the roadway.

“We are looking at everything right now,” said Gallagher, “but it would be speculative to say what the final design will include.”

Bids for the building were due at the SAU on July 20 and Gallagher said that the engineers and architects were currently reviewing the bids and would bring something to the school board at the August 1 meeting.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Days Legislation Signed Into Law

House Bill 1429, an act relative to costs of personnel and rates for equipment use in hazardous waste incidents was recently signed into law.  House Bill 1429 allows for local communities to conduct “household hazardous waste collection days” for proper disposal.

Many towns and communities avoid holding hazardous waste collections as they were concerned about the liability of transporting the waste to a facility where it can be properly disposed of.  House Bill 1429 requires the Department of Environmental Services to be liable for the cleanup and restoration of an affected site should the hazardous waste be spilled during transport.

Senator Bob Letourneau (R - Derry), co-sponsor of the bill commented, “This legislation protects citizens and municipalities.  Household hazardous waste accounts for 90 percent of the toxicity found in landfills.  I commend everyone that worked so hard to get this piece of legislation passed.  New Hampshire residents can rest assure that harmful chemicals that are found in the waste are being properly disposed of.”

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