Second Community Night Focuses on Fine Arts

by Karen Plumley

Stunning artwork was on display in the Pelham High School gym during the second part of Community Night.

Beautiful artwork was on display at Pelham High School during the second part of Community Night on Thursday, March 15.  Visitors wandered along in the school gymnasium to catch glimpses of their favorite student’s artistry while the school bands and choruses provided the backdrop of music. 

Last year, Community Night was held in one evening and at all three schools.  This year, it was decided to split it up into two evenings:  the first held on Thursday, March 8, showcased student school projects, sports, and various community organizations.  It took place at both Pelham Elementary and Memorial schools.  Part two of Community Night was the fine arts presentation that included visual arts and performing arts and was held at Pelham High School.  The reorganization allowed guests to spend more time on particular areas of interest without feeling rushed.

“It was awesome,” described Pelham Memorial and Elementary School Music Director Paul Santerre.  “You could view the art and listen to the music at the same time.  Plus at the high school there is much more seating,” he noted.  According to Santerre, the evening performance of the seventh and eighth grade band which he conducts provided an opportunity for the students to practice the three songs that they would be performing at the March 17 Competition Festival.  The songs they performed were Fire Dance, Adiago for Winds, and Two Sketches for Band.  At the competition, the group received kudos for good stage performance and looking sharp.  “It’s not just about the music.  Decorum, etiquette, and acting are also involved,” stated Santerre.

Sprinkled in between group performances were several songs performed by individual singers.  High school student Brandee Peglow performed Hopelessly Devoted to You, while senior Michelle Burke sang There You’ll Be.  Together, the young ladies also performed a duet on the song Breaking Free.  The high school band also performed three songs.  They were, Castles and Dragons, An American Hymetune, and Land of the Rising Sun.    “The band is challenged by the fact that many of the members did not begin rehearsing with the group until mid-January.  Since we operate on a block schedule, band membership varies by semester,” described High School Music Director Chris Koenig.  Even though the band had not started working on the pieces until after winter break, Koenig stated that he was “quite proud of their performance, especially the group’s overall sound.”  Koenig went on to say that, “It is a testament to the fine music education taking place in the Pelham schools.”

The 6th, 7th, and 8th Grade Chorus sing beautiful melodies during Community Night while some guests watch from the bleachers and others peruse student artwork.

Earning Ice Rescue and Recovery Certification

by Lynne Ober

How would you like to wear heavy equipment, be tethered with a rope, and creep, and crawl along under the ice on a lake looking for something?  If you are a Pelham firefighter, you love it.

With neighboring fire departments providing coverage via mutual aid, the men and women of the Pelham Fire Department embarked on an intensive and very tiring week of lessons.  The week kicked off with a day and a half in the classroom, followed by three days of practical work before tackling an end of course exam.

There’s a lot to know and understand besides the actual mechanics of performing a rescue.  Hypothermia prevention, recognition of hypothermia and pre-hospital care for the rescuer are included.  In addition, immersion hypothermia and drowning prevention, plus on-site care for the rescuer and the victim are all part of the classroom portion.

The most important component of an ice rescue is teamwork.

The classroom portion also covers everything that a rescuer needs to perform a successful ice rescue or recovery, including line handling and tethers, ice pole techniques for rescuer and victim, what exposure equipment is needed, how to float the victim, including  planned and improvisational flotation devices. 

Students spent time learning ice rescue standard operating procedures and best practices for a safe rescue.  They learned how to re-warm a rescuer and victim once they are out of the water and how to perform cold water resuscitation.

Contingency planning and multiple emergency planning were important topics that were covered.  They learned how to deal with unexpected personnel emergencies, how to treat dehydration and hypothermia and the EMS protocol for cold water drowning.  One important section covered what transport devices work (sleds, etc.) and which ones don’t, and how to build a water/ice rescue jump kit plus how to avoid wasting money when purchasing ice rescue equipment.

One critical component they learned was how to work effectively together as a team.

“The key is teamwork, teamwork, teamwork,” grinned Lieutenant Jack Tirrell.  “An ice rescue and recovery is only safe if the entire team in place knows their individual roles and works together.  Otherwise a dangerous situation becomes even more dangerous.  The training has been great and we’ve learned a lot.”

The training was provided by Lifeguard Systems, who specialize in certification training for police and fire departments.  “They are extremely organized and knowledgeable,” said Fire Chief Michael Walker.

Lieutenant Ray Cashman, Jr., who is the department’s dive master, had the job of keeping everything rolling; that’s not easy when you are moving pound upon pound of equipment through a muddy environment and deploying it to provide either a rescue or a recovery.

There’s a tremendous amount of work in organizing an operation.  Everyone has a part and by the end of the week, the team was moving together like a well-oiled Ferrari.

“They have been very motivated and have worked hard,” said Walker.  “They have been going home exhausted.”

In order to get certified, the classroom portion had to be completed and then at least three dives had to be completed.  Both rescue and recovery dives were performed.

“In a real situation, we’d arrive and the divers would dress in orange suits and go out to attempt a rescue,” said Tirrell.  “The recovery divers take much longer to dress because we wear different and heavier equipment.  We’d dress while a rescue was attempted.  If that failed, we’d go in and do a recovery.”

Every diver is tethered by long ropes to a team of people on the shore who have to carefully monitor the operation and react to keep the diver safe. 

Divers are deployed with rescue gear.  The operation crew and diver work under the direction of a technical leader who has been trained, and certified in ice rescue and recovery.  It is the leader who must direct all the activities, and keep the ropes from getting tangled while watching the integrity and safety of the diver, the operations team, and the person being rescued.

Divers had an opportunity to practice what they learned in the classroom.  Working with instructors, and “victims,” they learned how to work together to make a rescue.

They also practiced recovery operations.  In a recovery operation the diver cuts a hole in the ice and goes under the ice.

“We spider along the underside of the ice until we come to the place where we need to dive and then we go down and conduct the search,” said Tirrell.

In theory, the diver will never get stuck in the ice because he can always follow the rope back to the hole, but Walker recalled an ice rescue a couple of years ago where the diver died.  “It is dangerous no matter how well trained you are.”

After the dives were over, muddy, wet equipment was loaded back into trucks.  The men and women returned to the fire department where they would first clean and store all of the equipment, and then finish their certification process by taking a long, rigorous written test.

Jack Tirrell wearing ice recovery gear.

Recreation Update

by Barbara Jester

Spring has arrived, at least officially on the calendar, and with it comes the very human desire to get outside and enjoy all that spring might entail.  With those thoughts in mind, Windham Recreation Director Cheryl Haas provided selectmen with an update during the board’s Monday, March 19 meeting.

The most controversial portion of the discussion centered on Salem High School’s request to continue using Windham’s town-owned tennis courts, both for practice sessions and actual matches.

According to Haas, the Salem High School Tennis Team needs all six of Windham’s tennis courts during matches.  In addition, they want to use three of the courts during practice sessions, leaving three courts available for others to use.

Based on the agreement presented to selectmen, practices are to be held Monday through Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. from March 19 through May 30, except on days when matches are held.  Seventeen matches are to be held between April 6 and May 25, from 3 to 7 p.m., with an average of two matches per week.

Selectman Margaret Crisler was the most outspoken about being opposed to Salem High’s tennis players monopolizing the town’s courts for so many weeks during the spring.  “Windham’s tennis courts were built for Windham residents,” she said.  Crisler said she had no objection to using the local courts for matches, but wanted the team to practice elsewhere.

Selectman Bruce Breton said many of Salem High’s students live in Windham.  He said about 60 percent of the high school tennis team is actually comprised of Windham residents.  Selectmen Dennis Senibaldi and Roger Hohenberger suggested that one tennis court be left open during games for others to use.

After further discussion, selectmen voted 4 to 1 to allow four tennis courts to be reserved for Salem High for practices, and that five courts be set aside for the high school team’s tennis matches.  Only Crisler voted in opposition to the proposal.

  • Practice Dates:  April 2 through May 31 (Monday - Friday) 3 - 5:30 p.m.
  • Match Dates:  April 6, 11, 13, 18, 20, 27, 30, and May 2, 3, 9, 11, 14, 16, 22, 23, 24, 25 – 3 - 7 p.m.

Residents are encouraged to speak with the tennis coaches, if a court is not available, to inform them you are interested in using a court.

Note that there are also tennis courts at Tokanel Field on Meadow Road and at Herbert Field on Nashua Road (two courts).

In other business, selectmen approved the purchase of a portable scoreboard for Windham Lacrosse at a cost of $1,552.  The purchase was OK’d by a vote of 4 to1, with only Roger Hohenberger voting in opposition.  Haas said the scoreboard, which operates on batteries, will be stored in a town-owned building for security reasons.  The money for the purchase will be taken from the revolving tennis fund, at no cost to taxpayers.

“Lacrosse is a very growing program in Windham,” Senibaldi said.

Windham’s Skate Park will open for business on Monday, April 2.  If the snow is gone from the ground, tennis nets will also be erected that day, according to Haas.

Selectmen also voted to re-hire six returning life guards for the town beach, as well as one returning tennis instructor for the town’s summer program.  Two additional life guards, as well as one more tennis instructor will also be hired in the near future.  The Windham Town Beach is expected to open for use on June 9.

Cheryl Haas, as approved by voters at town meeting, will begin working as recreation coordinator on a full-time basis on May 3.

Automation for Parks and Rec

by Lynne Ober

It’s been a dream slow in coming, but Pelham’s Parks and Recreation Director, Darren McCarthy, will soon see his department automated.

“We know the first year will be difficult.  We’ll be starting from scratch with a brand new system and will have to enter every piece of data at the keyboard, but after that, registration will get faster and better.  I’m really looking forward to this advance,” grinned McCarthy.

Parks and Rec has chosen RecTrack as their software vendor.  RecTrack has a proven track record of successful implementations and is used by many programs, including the Nashua Parks and Rec program.  McCarthy and Selectman Victor Danevich have made a number of on-site visits to other parks and recreation departments to see the software in action.

“Everyone tells us the first year will be hard – more than hard, but after that benefits are quickly reaped,” said McCarthy.

RecTrack software was designed exclusively for parks and recreation departments. 

The software has many friendly pieces of information that make life easier when making decisions.  For example you can track participants in programs, including their medical emergency information.  In case of emergency, that information is quickly available, and one does not have to go to the paper files to search for an emergency contact phone number.

The program will also track responsible adults allowed to pick up children.  For example, if a group of neighborhood children car pool back and forth to a program, the names of non-related adults can be entered into the program.  When it is time to dismiss the children, a fast peek will show if an adult is authorized to pick up a child.

RecTrack will automatically create an audit on all programs and will track all payments.  It does not allow someone to sign up for an additional program until their balance is paid in full.

“This is the first step in getting Parks and Rec to be a self-funded program,” said Danevich.  “They will finally have the data that they need to analyze their programs and to plan for future offerings.”

Nashua Parks and Rec currently enters all information for league, Cal Ripkin baseball, youth football, and adult softball.  They do not allow the leagues to enter their own information.  RecTrack allows for individual team names to be set up, and then will track players assigned to a team as well as coaching staff.  McCarthy said that this is done in a manually intensive way now; games are tracked on a desk calendar.

Selectman Ed Gleason, who is involved in the Little League, was very enthusiastic about the future of using the program for youth team sports.

In addition, RecTrack has a facility scheduling module that will allow schedules for fields, courts and other facilities to be created.

Danevich said that once up and running, he hoped to add the trips taken by the seniors to the program.

Pelham has chosen to use both the credit card module as well as the web-based registration module.  According to Danevich, Finance Director Janet Gallant is already working on the credit card pieces that need to be done before credit cards can be used.

“Once we have the system fully implemented, people will be able to register for programs over the web and will not have to come into the office.  That will help working parents,” said Danevich.

Because there is an intensive two week training session on how to use the program, Danevich said that Parks and Rec was going to use the second conference room and the office would be manned by volunteers during the training cycle.

Newly elected Selectman Bob Haverty, who also works in a technical field, asked questions about servers and infrastructure.  After Danevich brought him up to date on town infrastructure, Selectman Tom Domenico pointed out that Gleason and Lynde were now out-numbered by techies.  Domenico jokingly made a motion to replace Gleason and Lynde with PCs.  Everyone laughed.

McCarthy suggested implementing the program after the budget passed in March because that is the quietest season for his department.  “The only major program that we have running at that time is indoor soccer with 200 – 300 participants.  Once May 1 comes, we are inundated with sign ups for our summer programs.”

Selectmen authorized the expenditure for the system after reviewing the spec sheets for the various system components.  McCarthy will come to the next meeting to discuss what line items will be used to fund this expenditure.

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