Ronald McDonald Makes Appearance at First Congregational Church
by Karen Plumley
Can you think of a better way to motivate kids to read than having the most popular clown on commercials stop by for a friendly chat about books? This is just what happened on Tuesday morning at the First Congregational Church in Pelham. As part of the summer reading program for children run by the Pelham Public Library, Ronald McDonald popped by with his sidekick, Tim, for some fun, magic, and shameless reading promotion in their performance entitled “The Ronald McDonald Reading Tour.” Little ones were thrilled to see their favorite bright and fanciful clown perform some magic tricks and talk about how important it is to keep reading. “What are some great ways to learn?” Ronald asked the children in the audience. In response to his question, young volunteers came to the front and held up signs reading “Music & Movies,” “Computers”, “People & Activities”, “Newspapers & Magazines”, and “Books.” “And all of these wonderful ways of learning can be found at your local library,” Ronald stated.
Giggles were plentiful after Ronald told the audience that he needed to “catch up” on his summer reading, and in response, Tim handed him a paper bag with a bottle of ketchup in it. “No, I don’t want to put ketchup on my reading!” he responded. The joke then evolved into a magic trick in which the audience was asked to raise their arms, wiggle their fingers, and make the bottle of ketchup disappear by saying the magic words, “summer reading is magical.” According to Ronald McDonald, the bottle of ketchup disappeared, but he was reluctant to show everyone. The skeptical children heckled him and wanted to see with their own eyes. Ronald got flustered and simply crumpled the paper bag and tossed it to Tim. The audience’s trust was restored, and they laughed delightedly.
At last, the children were allowed to get up and shake Ronald McDonald’s hand and even get their picture taken with him. It was a delightful visit from an old familiar friend and another enjoyable summer event initiated by the Pelham Public Library.
Pelham Message Board Has Many Sides
by Diane Chubb
Since its launch in 1996, the Pelham Message Board has become the eyes and ears of the town. It is the source of information on yard sales, local sporting events, recommendations for business services and general town business.
People use the board to buy and sell items, advertise their business and find out how to register their children for soccer. The police department uses the board to issue press releases, informing the public of any recent developments. The board is available 24/7, so residents can access the information they need at their convenience.
During the floods that occurred in May, many roads in town were closed because bridges and roads were wiped out or under water. The Message Board was vital for residents to communicate alternate routes as everyone tried to dry out and move on.
The Message Board has also become the newest method for local politicians to respond to residents’ concerns, and for voters to obtain more information about candidates.
Pelham resident Daryle Hillsgrove is a frequent poster to the board. “The Message Board can be a good forum to present thought out plans and obtain information regarding issues and concerns from other residents. Personally, I'd rather see an exchange occur through the Message Board where the public can read it.”
Doug Fyfe agrees. He recently posted, “The Message Board is a place for discussions in the most democratic traditions. It's a place where you can't hide. Everything is exposed to the light of day as it should be in a democracy.”
Selectman Tom Domenico has been on the board recently addressing issues relating to the frequent power outages around town. In response to the many postings and concerns, Domenico contacted National Grid and put some pressure on them to address the issues in town. Crews are now seen up and down Mammoth Road in Pelham trimming the branches that might otherwise pull down power lines. For the residents of Pelham, this is government in action!
School Board Chair Mike Conrad is frequently on the board, answering questions about the schools and board actions. Though not required, he regularly posts the agenda for each school board meeting.
State Representative Lynne Ober often addresses questions regarding state legislation. Ober provides links for residents to look up information, or responds directly to questions about pending legislation. Most recently, Ober was able to provide detailed information regarding several bills that would affect the cost of obtaining health care insurance in New Hampshire. Through the Message Board, Ober has the chance to educate residents about how things going on in Concord directly affect them.
Ken Dunne provides residents with information about upcoming elections. He recently posted all of the questions that will be on the upcoming ballot. Residents get to see the questions ahead of time and do any additional research necessary to make informed decisions.
The Message Board also gives town officials a way to gage the way voters feel about certain issues. CIP chair Bill Scanzani, noting that Windham is now $12 million over budget with its high school, recently stated that a new high school in Pelham is now estimated to cost a total of $45,360,000 including land purchase in 2006 dollars. His suggestion? Since it seems unlikely that Pelham would build a new high school in the near future, perhaps Pelham should approach Windham about a new co-op deal.
With respect to elections, residents also get a chance to “meet” the candidates running for office. Eric Estevez, a new member to the Budget Committee and a candidate for state representative, has taken advantage of the Message Board as his “soap box” to post his opinions on several national issues, such as education in general, the war in Iraq, taxes, and gas prices.
However, being able to write something without actually talking face to face, things can get a little nasty at times, too. The Message Board is a place where would-be politicians must respond directly with supporters and non-supporters alike.
Residents recently challenged Eric Estevez, who is also a new member to the Budget Committee, on his positions on town issues. For example, Estevez has been asked specific questions regarding the space crunch at Pelham High School and what information he would require to make a recommendation. Estevez has responded with general discussions, rather than specific answers, which seems to frustrate many on the Message Board.
Further, when it appeared that Estevez violated state laws by putting up his signs earlier than the date proscribed in RSA 664:17, one resident posted, “I waited until we had entered the period for legal campaign signs before posting this. I wanted to give you every chance to respond. Putting out signs a week early didn't really bother me. I figured it was a rookie politician error. Ignorance of election law might be a "ding" on your record, but a tiny one at most. Your steadfast refusal to comment about it and explain just how it happened is cause for concern. Are you just going to hide whenever your specific performance comes into question? We already have one of those in town office and I certainly won't cast a vote that would put one at the state level.”
Estevez never addressed the issue of his signs. Instead, he responded, “With all of the difficulties that face us at the present time I think that there are more important things to worry about.”
After a few more posts, including one in which Dave Hennessey called Estevez a few choice names, Estevez decided he had enough. He has stated that he will no longer participate in the board, because it had “been hijacked by some of the more rude people in this town.”
On the flip side, new Budget Committee member Joe Puddister has been posting frequently to the Message Board, mostly seeking more information about school issues. By their posts, it seems that residents are pleased with Puddister's approach and desire to gather more information.
The Message Board has also been the source for some heated discussions between those with differing opinions, especially with regard to the Pelham School Board members and policies. Pelham residents who post to the board seem very unhappy with the actions of particular members of the school board, and the discussions can become downright hostile.
The digital age is here to stay and the Message Board is a great way to communicate.
But remember, you never know who is actually reading all those posts. The Message Board has an indicator that shows how many times a page has been “viewed.” That number generally far exceeds the number of responses a post may generate. People are watching.
The Message Board is paid for with private donations and business sponsors. If you or your business would like to support the Message Board, contact Jim Greenwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eight Fire Departments Respond to Pelham Brush Fire
At 2:41 p.m. Monday, August 14, the Pelham Fire Department was dispatched to a report of smoke in the area of Route 38 by Balcom Road. Several fire department units investigated the surrounding area and eventually found the fire to be at Old Lawrence Road under power lines.
Upon arrival, units reported two acres burning, which eventually spread to approximately four acres. Fire departments from Salem, Windham, Hudson, Londonderry, Litchfield and Dracut, Lowell and Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, responded to assist. The fire was declared under control at 7:06 p.m. and the scene was turned over the State Forestry Department. Fire department units were on scene Tuesday morning to ensure there were no hot spots. No one was injured; the cause of the fire is undetermined.
The fire was particularly difficult due to dry conditions, wind, terrain, and lack of water supply. Initial manpower shortages contributed to the fire spread, eventually, 33 firefighters were required to control the fire.
Fire department personnel received refreshments thanks to the efforts of the Pelham Cert team and the American Red Cross.
A Little Wind Back In the Sails of Windham High School Dream
by Hannah Tello
When the Windham School Board presented a $12 to $13 million dollar budget overrun, the deadline for construction groundbreaking was absolutely set for August. And so it came as good news that Harvey Construction, in conjunction with the school board and Team Design, was able to reorganize original architectural designs for Windham High School. The gap in the budget is being narrowed.
At a meeting on August 15, the Windham School Board, Superintendent Dr. Elaine Cutler, members of Team Design and representatives from Harvey Construction discussed the proposed changes to the original floor plans. Now working within the new lot lines approved by Windham voters, the proposal included deductions and rearrangements. Changes include deleted spaces in the building. Substantial deductions include a reduced enrollment scope from 1,000 to 750 students, a weight room, and reduced classroom space for art. The auditorium would also be built as a shell to be completed later, and the second gym would be deleted until a later date. However, the board was pleased that many of the core spaces were spared. More importantly, the curriculum and academic program would remain intact even with the changes.
Though the large changes would alleviate a majority of the budget crunch, a remaining $2 million discrepancy still needs to be addressed. The board discussed several options for this, including a percentage decrease in costs for furniture, fixtures, and equipment, as well as a reevaluation of soft costs. Carl Dubois form Harvey Construction refused to commit to any specific numbers until more accurate calculations could be made.
Though no official decision was made at the workshop meeting, board members made it clear that further delays were not an option for the proposed Windham High School if the school is to open in 2008.
Vice Chairman Barbara Coish stressed the importance of beginning the project soon. “We are in a time to build right now.”
The costs of a delay in construction include bond cost penalties, uncertain increases in inflation, and no chance of a decreased cost in building materials.
Though board members agreed that the new proposal must be presented to residents before a formal vote was taken, members were very clear in stating that groundbreaking must occur in August in order for the project to survive. Board member Galen Stearns stated, “We must move forward and take out what needs to be deleted. That plan or no plan.”
A public information session is to be held on August 17. The school board agreed to make a formal decision on that date following input from the public. Though the board could ask voters for funds in March to combat some of the necessary deletions, the original plan for the school no longer seems plausible.
State Representative Visits Pelham Elementary School
by Sarah Pacheco, 4th grader
In June State Representative Lynne Ober came to the Pelham Elementary School and spoke to all the fourth graders.
She told us about her job as our State Representative. She told us that she works for us.
We found out that she has a special license plate that has her seat number on it, because they have assigned seats, just like we do at school. Her license plate also let's her get through the state tollbooths without paying. This is nice for her because she only gets paid $200 for her two-year term.
One of the things she showed us was how to make a law. She told us how people let her know when they think we need a new law. We made a helmet law for skateboarders in public skate parks. We had a governor, lawyers, representatives, and senators. We went through the whole process. We had to write the bill and get it checked by the lawyers. Then we sent the bill to committee and when it came out of committee, we voted to see if it would make it to the governor for his vote.
It was interesting to see how many people look at bills to make sure it is a good idea.
When the class went to the State House in Concord we saw where Mrs. Ober and the other representatives work. They work hard to keep us safe.
Thank you to Mrs. Ober, we had a great time, and I now know how a bill becomes a law.
Student Hurt on Bleachers at High School
by Lynne Ober
In an ironic twist, after the Budget Committee failed to recommend a warrant article to replace the bleachers at Pelham High School, two students were injured and one mother recently spoke to the Pelham School Board about the incidents.
Pelham voters, following the Budget Committee recommendation, voted down the Bleacher Warrant Article in March.
Less than two months later, on successive days, students were injured on the bleachers during gym class.
Brenda Joyce spoke to the school board. Her son, who is 15, was lying on the bleachers waiting his turn in gym class. When it was his turn and he twisted to get up, a six-inch long splinter went through his jeans and into his thigh.
“He immediately showed the coach the piece of wood sticking out of his pants,” said Joyce, “and was sent to the school nurse.”
Joyce recalled that the nurse looked at the welt made by the buried splinter and immediately called Joyce and told her that her son had to go to the doctor’s office.
“I called the doctor’s office and alerted them and then left work to pick up my son. At the doctor’s office, they tried, unsuccessfully, to extract the splinter before making an appointment for outpatient surgery the next morning.”
After the splinter was surgically removed and her son was okay, Joyce checked on the accident report that had been filed. “Both Mr. Wilhelm and I separately took copies of that accident report to the superintendent’s office.”
The day after her son was injured, a girl in another gym class had a similar accident. According to Joyce the nurse again filled out an accident report that Mr. Wilhelm took to the superintendent’s office.
“This isn’t about money. I don’t want to sue. I just want my son safe during his classes. Is that too much to ask,” wonders Joyce.
Knowing that the matter was finally going to the school board in August, Business Administrator Brian Gallagher contacted Joyce and asked if she wanted to be on the agenda.
According to comments from school board members this is the first that they had heard of those two accident reports.
School Board Chairman Mike Conrad had to explain exactly what New Hampshire’s relatively new No Means No Law means in this case. “We are prohibited by law from replacing those bleachers because of the vote of the town.”
Joyce is frustrated because she knows in past years items had been voted down and then a governing board would do them anyway, but with the passage of the No Means No law, boards can no longer legally do that.
She wonders why the Budget Committee made the recommendation they did and if the members of the Budget Committee even bothered to look at the sad shape of the bleachers. “I feel like people think we may at some future date get a new high school, so that’s a reason for not keeping the existing high school safe.”
The school board did ask Gallagher to have the bleachers sanded before school starts, but at the late date of the request, it is uncertain that this work could occur before school begins.
Meet Zachary Lucius
by Lynne Ober
Windham resident Zachary Lucius has joined the staff of the Pelham~Windham News as an Intern Reporter. Zack is completing an internship as part of his senior year at Salem High School.
Even though school hasn’t started, Zack has completed his first article – it’s an introduction to a new TV show that he and eight friends will co-produce, write, and star in.
Zack hopes to attend Syracuse University after he graduates from high school. His plans are to double major in Journalism and Creative Writing. He sees this internship as the first step in a long, successful career.
He’s already a writer. “In my spare time, I like to write short fiction, although I am also working on a novel,” he stated.
But that’s not all he does. Zack is very interested in music. He currently plays bass and drums in a band called the Lone Arctic Frequency.
“I write most of the lyrics and I even have my own solo side project underway.”
Although he’d like to get a job with a newspaper or with a magazine after he graduates from college, his ultimate goals is to be a music journalist.
Zack is very involved with activities at Salem High School. He belongs to the Philosophy Club, Amnesty International, the school's literary magazine, and the school newspaper, Blue Ink.
He’ll be covering issues affecting and of interest to young people.
Power Outages Will Continue
by Lynne Ober
Some areas of Pelham have been plagued with power outages and, unfortunately, they will continue for a while.
But relief is in sight according to John Upham, representative from National Grid.
Crews have been cutting trees along Mammoth Road and will continue to work through August. In addition a review of potential problem trees will be made and appropriate action taken. However, due to the exceptionally rainy spring, both of these projects are behind what National Grid had originally scheduled.
What Upham called re-closure will be done by the end of August. Completing this project will provide a bit of redundancy and in the case of a brief power flicker, the equipment will be able to reset itself and restore the power rather than waiting for a crew to be dispatched to repair the problem.
The last piece concerns running a redundant line into Pelham. Upham said that work was in progress on this. The line has been run up Route 38, but this project was also negatively impacted by the rainy spring.
National Grid asks that residents call 800-322-3223 in case of a power outage. That line should never ring busy according to Upham, but Selectman Hal Lynde reported that he has had it ring busy. Residents who get a busy signal are asked to notify the Selectmen’s office of the time and date. That information will be relayed to National Grid so that they can investigate the issue with their phone system.
At this point in time, all improvements should be complete by the end of August and there should be fewer power outages.