Harvest Fest Brought Giggles

by Lynne Ober

Teddy Gray, 4, watches as pumpkins are added to the pumpkin decorating contest.

Windham’s annual Harvest Fest was held at Griffin Park.

Parents and kids crowded the park for an afternoon of fun. 

The day began with a parade of costumed dogs.  With more than 70 well-behaved participants, the event was a crowd pleaser.

The Pumpkin Decorating Contest began later in the afternoon.  Many brought specially decorated or carved pumpkins to enter the Pumpkin Decorating Contest.  As the pumpkins began to line the bleacher seats, people wandered over to see what was on display.  “We have to keep coming back to see what’s been added,” grinned Joyce as she was tugged by the hand by her son who wanted to see the additions.  By the time judging began, there were more than 60 entries in the contest.  “They are all winners,” laughed one judge.  “I can’t pick a favorite.  They are all great.”  Participants got ribbons, medals and goodie bags.

With a tractor donated by Delahunty’s, Dennis Senibaldi led hayrides.  Parents and kids lined up to get onto the wagon and enjoy a ride around the area.  “I’ve been hayified,” laughed Joe, who was covered in hay as he got out of the hay wagon.

This year marked the beginning of the pie contest and 10 pies were entered for judging.

Arts and crafts were available throughout the afternoon for the kids.  The Lions made popcorn, apples were provided by Apple Acres.

Children’s performer Scott Kepnes kept the crowd entertained with his antics.  He brought giggles and laughter to kids of all ages.

There was a booth for “cool hair designs” produced by Rosie and the Windham Barber Shop.  Some were brave enough to try, and others just stood and watched.

“This was a great event,” said Windham Recreation Director Cheryl Haas.  “The weather was perfect and everyone came out and had a great time.”

The hayride begins with a full wagon.

Fire Problems Didn’t Disappear

by Lynne Ober

It’s another year and the Pelham School Board has received another report from the Pelham Fire Department about fire violations in two of the town’s three schools.

Pelham’s new fire chief, Michael Walker, characterized the situation as being the worst that he has ever seen in his career.  After Fire Inspector John Hodge and Chief Walker did their fire inspections of the schools, Walker asked State Fire Marshall Chris Wyman to come down and perform a walkthrough.

As a result a second report was issued to Pelham’s School Board and to SAU administration and school administration.

Walker and Hodge then met with the school board to review the reports.

At Pelham Memorial School, the following fire/safety violations were found:

  • Areas located below grade, such as locker rooms, should be protected by sprinklers;
  • A number of doors should have been fire-rated doors and were not;
  • Combustible storage in the maintenance area should be stored in appropriate fire-rated cabinet or removed from the school;
  • All electrical panels should have a 36-inch minimum cleared space around them;
  • The shut off switch on the oil burner units shall have red service switch plates installed; and
  • Finally, a new fire alarm system is needed.

At Pelham High School the situation is more complex and more serious.  The following fire/safety violations were found:

  • “The fire alarm system for this building shall be upgraded.  There are many areas throughout the school that do not have any fire detection or notification devices.  Many of the doors shall also have door closers installed that will release when the alarm is activated.  This system shall be redesigned and approved by the Pelham Fire Department.
  • The egress through the art area shall be redesigned.  This exit area is constructed with combustible material (plywood and paneling), also the exit doors all swing into the hallway area interfering with the exit travel and exit access.  There are currently five classrooms trying to exit through this area.
  • The egress through the math area shall be redesigned.  This exit area is also constructed with combustible material (paneling); also the exit doors all swing into the hallway area interfering with the exit travel and exit access.  There are currently four classrooms trying to exit through this area.
  • The teacher’s room exit shall be properly marked with illuminated exit signs.
  • Many of the walls throughout the school are constructed with paneling and other combustible material covering the walls.  This material shall be replaced with fire-rated sheetrock or other fire-rated material.
  • There are many void spaces above the ceiling throughout the building; also many of the walls are not fire walls that carry all the way to the ceiling, creating additional void spaces.  This creates a huge problem in the event of a fire in the building.  A fire, once reaching the void spaces, can travel throughout the building and go undetected.
  • The second floor cooking area exits exceed the maximum allowable distance (150 feet).  The front exit is 212 feet away; the rear exit is 255 feet away.  There are two exits from this area one being directly though the cooking area, past the boiler, electrical room and the main electrical transformer for the building.  Also the exit doors shall swing in the direction of exit travel out of the building.  If there are any problems with any of these this exit would not be passable.  The room and hallways shall be properly marked with illuminated exit signs.
  • None of the windows in the building are large enough to quality as egress size windows.  Many of these windows do not open properly, some do not open.
  • The gas piping in the science room has no protection.  Many of the gas pipes are located in the storage rooms and can easily be damaged or broken potentially causing a gas leak at the school.
  • Door closers on some doors are broken
  • Several of the fire extinguishers in the storage room are not accessible.
  • One of the fire blankets is missing from the cabinet in the kitchen.
  • Many of the electrical panels in the storage room are no longer used.  These panels shall be marked as dead panels.
  • The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) sheets shall be updated and copies readily available in the nurse’s office and the science area.
  • It was also recommended that the electrical receptacles in the kitchen and science sink areas be changed to GFCI receptacles.
  • It was also recommended that the transformer located inside the building be relocated to the exterior of the building.”

Board members listen as Chairman Mike Conrad discusses options after the presentation.

Walker said that painting the combustible walls with fire retardant paint would be a good interim step and could be done over the Christmas break.

He told the school board that they needed to hire an architect who could look at the exit problem, the dead end hallway, the windows.  This person could make recommendations as well as look at what kind of fire alarm system is needed.  He cautioned them not to purchase a new fire alarm system without working out the exit problems because that could have an impact on the fire alarm system.

School Board Chairman Mike Conrad and Superintendent Elaine Cutler both expressed extreme frustration at the Pelham Budget Committee.

“The maintenance line is the first line cut each year.  That one line item being under funded each year has put us in this situation.  Once again, I will ask to increase this line item at all schools.  This line each year is under funded and we need to pull money from other budget lines to do just enough work to keep the buildings running.  We should have enough money in this line to do preventative maintenance instead of just fixing problems,” emphatically stated Conrad.

Cutler concurred noting that maintenance is “level funded year after year.  We never have enough money to do the maintenance that is needed much less preventative maintenance.”

Conrad pointed out that the Pelham School Board put a warrant article on the ballot to spend 10 percent of the unreserved balance on maintenance of our buildings and it was voted down.  “Why do you think we asked for this?” he wondered.  “It was because we needed to fix these problems.”

“Money to be put toward the capital reserve gets voted down all the time.  The school board asked for $100,000 and it was cut to $50,000 and finally passed last year because we had less than $1,000 in that account,” Conrad stated. 

Portable classrooms have been on the ballot for three years and have been voted down each time.

“Money to study all our schools was voted down last year,” pointed out Conrad.  “Outrage by some residents because we hired a landscaping company to mow the lawns so we could get our maintenance people inside the buildings working to fix problems.”

School board member Linda Mahoney said that the problems couldn’t wait and should be addressed now.

Cutler responded that bid documents were already being prepared for a new fire alarm system at Pelham Memorial School.  She asked Walker if the fire department would help them evaluate the bids when they came back and Walker said yes.

A number of parents have been posting to the message board since this occurred, but Conrad pointed out that this information has been out there.  “It has just been ignored by the voters.”

“You know as well as I, if the school board spent $200,000 of the unreserved balance the budget committee and everyone else would be lining up for a public stoning,” Conrad concluded.

Others have dug up some of the arguments from the co-op fight.  At that time Pelham High School was characterized as one of the top 10 schools in New Hampshire and that became the basis for those who wished to keep a Pelham only high school to vote no on the co-op.

Now just two years later, with a new fire chief looking at the ongoing fire/safety issues at Pelham High School, others are becoming greatly concerned about students’ safety.

Bill Scanzani attended the meeting where Walker presented and commented that he knew things were bad, but he didn’t realize just how bad.  “It’s unbelievable.  The school board voted to explore a co-op; asked for money for engineering studies; asked for money for modular classrooms; and finally proposed a four-school solution.  And they were faced with obfuscation; denial and a thunderous no once, twice, three ... numerous times”

Now the school board is taking money from other accounts within their budget to fund needed repairs and to hire an architect who can do what Walker stated needed to be done.

Pilgrims' Voyage

For the 14th year the 2nd and 3th graders at Saint Patrick’s School celebrated the first gathering for Thanksgiving. The 3rd graders as Native Americans traveled down Beaver Brook; they were greeted by the 2nd graders, new settlers who led them to the clubhouse for a feast. Principal Roger Dumont, Father Bob (chief) Guillemette and teacher Leanne Robertson assisted the children on the picturesque day.

Frights and Delights at the Doggie Halloween Costume Parade

by Karen Plumley

Fuzzy canines of all shapes, sizes, and colors had a woof of a good time on Saturday, October 14 for the third annual Doggie Halloween Costume Parade.  A whopping 79 dogs participated in this year’s event, which was held at Griffin Park. 

Sponsored in part by Woof Woof Professional Dog Services of Windham, this was the first year that the parade has been included as part of the Windham Halloween Fest hosted by the Recreation Department.  The first 60 canine contestants were treated with a free doggie bag chock-full of goodies.  Items in each bag totaling a value of nearly $100 were donated by various businesses in the area, including Windham Animal Hospital, Canobie Lake Veterinary Hospital, Woof it Down, and Foxy Dog Grooming Salon of Pelham.

According to Recreation Coordinator Cheryl Haas, the dogs were specially trained for the parade.  They were required to be on leashes and with their owners at all times while at the park.  Emphasis was placed on ensuring that any little doggie accidents were cleaned up as well.  According to Woof Woof Professional Dog Services owner Belinda Carlisle, special efforts are in place to keep the park clean so that dogs will continue to be allowed to go there.  “There is one dog for every six families in this town; it is a very high dog population,” noted Carlisle.  In response to threats of banning dogs from the park, Woof Woof donated the “pooper-scooper” stations and the bags are annually restocked.

At the parade, many owners rose to the occasion and wore costumes as well, but their furry companions were the stars of the show.  Dogs were dressed up as chickens, bees, firefighters, and Disney and Star Wars characters.  One dog was dressed as a baby, complete with a diaper.  “The diaper is full, too!” joked a spectator.

“Usually we get about two or three dozen dogs participating, but this year we were shocked to see all of the dogs!  There were people at the park with their dogs, at least 10 or 15, who came over to check out the parade as well.  They stayed on the sidelines and watched,” commented Carlisle.  Most certainly the dogs in the audience salivated at the prospect of participating in the event, but were not dressed appropriately.  Oh well, there’s always next year!

“Man and his dog” walk the path around Griffin Park on Saturday at the Doggie Halloween Costume Parade.  Dog, Cooper Sweetster, captures third place in the “Most Original” Category.

Dinosaur and Witch keep pace with each other at the doggie parade at Griffin Park Saturday afternoon.

A duo of heroes attends the Doggie Parade at Griffin Park on Saturday.  Firefighter Dog Molly Robertson takes second place in the “Dog and Owner Duet” category.

Stacy Fusco and her dog Tucker-Anthony, 2, stay in the shade during the doggie parade at Griffin Park.

“Dog and Owner Duet” first-place winner Mystique Birdsell, dressed as Minnie and Mickey Mouse, walk proudly in the doggie parade at Griffin Park on Saturday.

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