Litchfield Celebrates Memorial Day

by Lynne Ober

Decorated tricycles join the parade.

Festivities began, as usual, with a parade from Litchfield Middle School to the old Town Hall next to Litchfield Fire Station.

Watchers were lined up long before the parade began.  Children were anxiously watching the street for the first signs that the parade had begun.  When the sound of fire and police sirens first filled the air, everyone crowded near to the road for the best view.  As always, the parade was well organized and a treat to watch.

Once everyone was settled at old Town Hall, Dr. Steven Calawa, President of the Litchfield Historical Society welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming.  He introduced Pastor Paul Miller for the invocation.  Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts presented the colors.

Then Calawa called upon Fire Chief Tom Schofield and Police Chief Joe O’Brion to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.  Because there had been an emergency call, Schofield was out on the call and Deputy Chief Paul Allard filled in for him.

The Campbell High School band, under the direction of Phil Martin, and the Campbell High School Chorus, under the direction of Jill Deleault, led the audience in singing the Star Spangled Banner.

Margaret Parent reminded the audience that Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves.  It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers.  Today it is a time to remember those who died keeping America free, as well as a time to remember those who are serving overseas in America’s armed forces.

An eye-catching antique car entertains the specators.

Campbell High School band and chorus presented a wonderful musical program.  The band played The Armed Forces Salute, Carly Mosnicka sang The Flag Goes By, and the Campbell High School Chorus sang Blades of Grass and Pure White Stone.

The benediction was given by Pastor Miller and Dr. Calawa gave closing remarks before the wreaths were placed by veterans, including Will Jewett and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.  One wreath was cast upon the Merrimack River in memory of those lost as sea; one was placed at Town Hall for those who served in World War I and one was placed at the library for those who served in World War I and World War II.

Bike Rodeo

by Lynne Ober

Officer Dan helps Danielle, almost 5, adjust her bike helmet.

Learning how to buy a bike, fit a helmet, and be a better rider was the goal of the bike rodeo put on by Hudson Police Department.

Officer Dan, Officer Dave, and Officer Roger all arrived at the bike rodeo on their Hudson Police Department Mountain bikes.  “I want to grow up and be like them,” said one wide-eyed cherub.

Officer Dan explained how a helmet should fit, and pointed out how all three of the bike officers wore their helmets.  He told parents how to determine if the helmet is too small or too large.  Then all three officers checked helmets of participants and showed parent how best to adjust and fit. 

“Why do you wear a helmet?” asked Officer Dan.  After a chorus of replies he pointed out that a crash could happen to anyone at anytime.  He talked about catching a wheel in a crack, skidding on gravel or hitting a pot hole and losing control.  “Nobody expects to have an accident.  That’s why they are called accidents,” he grinned.  He told participants that a broken bone would heal, but that head injuries could cause permanent damage. 

One of the important points that he showed them was to have the helmet completely cover the forehead.  “Never wear your helmet on the back of your head, like this,” he said moving his helmet to the incorrect position.  “Your forehead needs to be completely covered.”

He also told parents to throw away the helmet after it had been through an accident.  “You might not be able to see any damage to the helmet, but it is probably there.  Don’t take a chance.  Throw that one away and get a new one.”

“Not only is it safer to ride a bike with a helmet, it is a New Hampshire law that anyone riding a bike on a public street must wear a helmet until the age of 16.” 

The officers then moved on to fitting a bike correctly.  Officer Dan pointed out that when children are growing that they can out-grow their bikes.  “A bike is not really a toy.  It is a vehicle.  If it fits the rider correctly, there’s less chance of an accident.”

The officers brought tools with them and they adjusted seats and handlebars to a safe height.  Officer Dave demonstrated how to check if the handlebars were securely fastened while Officer Dan told the kids how to check themselves. 

Officer Dan told parents that they could call the police station and make an appointment with an officer who would help them determine if their bikes fit their children.

A well-maintained bike has lights and reflectors.  Officer Dan asked the riders one important ingredient of safe riding.  Young voices chorused, “Look both ways when riding in the street.”  Officer Dan agreed with them.  He also told them that they had to obey traffic laws when riding in the street.

“Don’t wait until you get into the street to discover that your brakes don’t work.  Test them out on your driveway,” he cautioned his audience.

Finally it was time for the riding fun to begin.  The officers had set up three different obstacle courses.  Each one was designed to help riders practice needed skills and to learn how to apply the rules of the road.  In every case, an officer demonstrated the skill and then one by one, the riders showed how they could control their bikes while becoming more skilled riders.

The officers had set up a city street, complete with stop sign, in the Nottingham West School parking lot.  Riders got to practice stopping at stop signs, making responsible turns, looking both ways and controlling their bikes.  There were lots of giggles as well as faces showing intense concentration.

At the end of the event, officers had brought freeze pops for every participant and each rider took home literature explaining the bike laws in New Hampshire.

Jacob, 6, was thrilled to test his riding skills.

Seniors Wait Again for Answers

by Tom Tollefson

In another turn of events in the Hudson Seniors’ on-going quest to find a permanent home, the Board of Selectmen have appointed Selectman Massey to meet with seniors and report back to the board on June 26 with a set of detailed needs and wants for a home for their group.  The Hudson Recreation building on Oakwood Street and the Community Center (formerly Lion’s Hall) are the two options for renovation as possible sites to hold the Hudson Senior’s meetings and activities.

If the seniors were to use the Recreation Center instead of Hudson’s Community Center, the conversion of the Recreation Department building would require an additional 1,800 – 2,000 square foot addition to the existing recreation building.

However, if the selectmen and seniors decide to use the Community Center, an extension will be added for the seniors, and will not affect the regular activities at the center.

Jasper is not in favor of adding a wing off the east side of the Hudson Community Center because it will take up ample parking spaces and cause problems during the winter, but he also pointed out that there was a significant lack of parking spaces at the old Recreation Center building.

“The predominance of the sun will be hitting the west side of the building, if you put an addition off of the east, which would be facing to the south, you are going to get almost no snow in that area at all.  You’ll have a lot of ice, and not be able to remove the snow.  You create a bad situation in the winter and take up a lot of parking,” he said.

Instead, Jasper believes in investigating the possibility of building an area off the side towards the garage.

The seniors want to develop a conceptual plan for the addition onto the Hudson Recreation building and present it to the Planning Board for a site plan review.  The two-dimensional plans will be drawn out at a cost of $1,000 - $2,000. 

Selectmen questioned whether enough data had been gathered to decide to go forward with a conceptual plan.

Selectmen agreed that a major consideration for the seniors’ use of the recreation building is the amount of parking spaces. 

According to Selectman Massey, who serves as liaison to the Hudson Seniors, there is room on the lot for a maximum of 36 - 40 spaces.  Chairman Jasper believes that 70 spaces are needed to accomodate the seniors’ group in the next few years.  Jasper pointed out that seniors are a growing population across America and that it was not unreasonable to expect that more seniors would plan activities at a senior center in the near future.

“That neighborhood was so happy to get rid of the school children, I’m not sure they want to have more cars in that quiet neighborhood,” Selectman Maddox said about expanding the parking and bringing more traffic to the neighborhood again.

Jasper also commented that when school is in session, that seniors could not use the school parking lot to supplement parking at a senior center on Oakwood.

Maddox agreed that Hudson needs to plan for the future and consider the entire number of seniors in town and not just the current members of the group.

“I think we need to look at this building not just to satisfy today’s crisis, but to look to the future where we want to be in the town of Hudson if we have 1,800 seniors not just 250 in this group,” Maddox said.

“I think everybody expects that once we have a senior facility and are able to do more, we will be programming more and will grow out of the parking capabilities of that site.  There’s no way you can fit 70 parking spaces on that site.  You don’t have to spend a dime or any amount of hours of staff time to know that,” Jasper said.

Jasper also pointed out that the board has been spending an inordinately large amount of time working on this problem.  “This is a private group.  With any other private group, we would expect them to do the work and present to us,” he cautioned the board. 

The Hudson Seniors may not have a permanent home, but they have a meeting place for the summer at the American Legion Hall.  The Board of Directors for the Hudson Seniors and Board of Selectmen accepted the American Legion’s offer to hold the Hudson senior meetings on Wednesday and Thursday during the nine weeks that the Recreation Department’s summer program is held at the Community Center. 

Cecile Nichols to Retire

by Tom Tollefson

The Hudson Board of Selectmen has agreed to advertise for the upcoming opening of the Town Clerk/Tax Collector position.

Cecile Nichols, who has been Town Clerk/Tax Collector since 1988, has given her notice of retirement, effective on June 30, just one day before the town tax deadline.  Nichols has agreed to help where needed for a time after her resignation. 

The Board of Selectmen will have 30 days to fill the vacancy with a qualified Hudson resident.

“I would like to thank all of you for your support over the years.  But most importantly, I wish to thank the staff in the Town Clerk/Tax Collector’s office for their hard work and dedication.  They are the backbone of this operation and I want to recognize them for that,” Nichols said in her resignation/retirement letter to the Board of Selectmen.

At first selectmen discussed replacing Nichols with a person who was already on staff. 

Nichols made a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen to appoint Deputy Town Clerk/Tax Collector Patti Barry to fill the position.  The board has currently neither approved nor denied that recommendation, but they did discuss how to fill the position.

Whoever is chosen would only fill the position until the next election when a new Town Clerk/Tax Collector would be elected.  However, selectmen could not reach agreement on the best way to proceed.

Part of the discussion centered around criticism of selectmen, who have recently filled positions internally without advertising them. 

Another part of the discussion centered around the difference between a permanent position and one that must face elections. 

Chairman Shawn Jasper was concerned with the job security of an individual internally promoted to fill the vacancy.  According to Jasper, if someone in the town system is promoted, their former position will be filled, and after March, if that person is not re-elected in March, he or she will be out of a job.  Jasper felt this was a difficult situation to ask an employee to accept.

It would be possible for the Deputy Town Clerk/Tax Collector to remain in that position and direct the office until the next election.  Selectmen appoint the Deputy Town Clerk/Tax Collector per state law.  However, that would leave the office short-staffed.  No discussion ensued over the hazards of running the office with one less staff member.

Selectmen also discussed the lack of known criteria for the position of Town Clerk/Tax Collector.  Without knowing the criteria for the position, they felt that they were unable to develop a job posting for the position.

During the discussion, it was pointed out that Town Clerks/Tax Collectors are often elected without an intensive background in the job.  However, New Hampshire Municipal Association as well at the New England City and Town Clerk Association offer in-depth educational opportunities.

Selectmen Rick Maddox, who is the Selectmen’s Representative to the Town Clerk’s office was asked to develop specific criteria to base the eligibility of applicants.  Selectman Doug Robinson asked that he be allowed to work with Maddox on that assignment.

Chairman Jasper described the job as being the “single most important.”  He was also concerned about the timing of the retirement because the office is very busy during the time when taxes are being paid.

The primary duties and responsibilities of the Town Clerk/Tax Collector are to manage town funds, oversee vehicle registrations, election registrations, and reporting. 

“Forty-two million dollars goes into that office.  That’s a ton of cash, and we need a Pedro Martinez at the mound,” Robinson said about the position.

The individual to fill this position would serve in Nichols’ position until the next election in March 2008.

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