Strawberry Festival

by Bill Marshall

Joe Freeston, age 2, of Windham enjoys his strawberry shortcake Saturday afternoon.

The rain held off Saturday for the 24th annual Strawberry Festival held by the Friends of the Library of Windham also known as FLOW.  Days before the festival kicked off a countless amount of strawberries were hand sliced, and biscuits were baked by volunteers for the famous strawberry shortcakes.

The day’s busy schedule started off with a performance by the Windham Concert Band at 10:30 a.m. along with the opening of all the food vendors and carnival games.

The sounds of the Windham Swing Band (WSB) echoed through the fields and parking lot of the Nesmith library.  Celebrating 10 years of music making, the WSB is made up of volunteer musicians; many also play with the Windham Concert Band.  Jenna Bee, a Boston College student and resident of Bedford, sang beautifully for the band as they paid tribute to some of the great swing and big band artist such as Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington.

Not too far from the Swing Band you could find plenty of pizza, sausages, hot dogs and of course strawberry shortcakes.

On the other side of the grounds was Mike Hachey, a first grade teacher at Golden Brooke, sitting on the chair of the dunk tank.  From 12:20 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., Mike was soaked in the cold waters of the tank.

Among the many performances of the day was the Golden Crane, a traditional martial arts school of Okinawa in Japan where students learn about spiritual activities and to use words over fist.  This was followed shortly by the Windham middle school cheerleaders, a pie eating contest and a performance from Dance Impressions offering a variety of activities for all.

The open street carnival was great for families to wander and for children to play in the bouncy rooms, have their faces painted and have a go at any of the games.

The day was closed with performances by the Gym Ken Gymnastics, and the Karate International, and finally, a raffle.

Jenna Bee sang tribute to jazz legends as she vocally accompanied the Windham Swing Band.

Members of the Golden Crane Karate and Tai Chi performed for spectators.

The End Is Near

by Scott E. Green

Map courtesy of

On October 31, one major road project in Southeastern New Hampshire is going to be completed; the Route 111 By-pass from Windham to the ramps of Exit 3 of I-93, bypassing most of Salem will be completed.  Two projects need to be completed:  reconstruction from the intersection of Lake Avenue and Route 28 in Salem to the intersection of Jones and Harris Roads in Windham; while at the same time constructing the Route 111 By-pass from the northbound ramps of I-93’s Exit 3 to Flat Rock Brook Bridge in Windham.

One of the principle reasons for the By-pass has been to relieve the terrible congestion of cars and trucks in downtown Salem, and some residential streets such as Shadow Lake Road going to and from I-93.

As both town and state officials told this newspaper, planning in the 80s and 90s prevented many delays when money and resources were finally able to start the work in 2003. 

Steve Cast, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation project manager for construction of the Route 111 By-pass pointed out that, “Because of careful planning we were able to avoid sensitive sites of historical, archeological or environmental nature and avoid the headaches and delays that go with it.”

Salem Town Planner Russ Moldoff noted that “Salem lost no commercial tax base to the construction.”

Growing Pains at Golden Brook School

by Barbara O'Brien

Windham continues to be a growing community and, as anticipated, available space at area schools is already at a premium.

Superintendent Dr. Elaine Cutler spoke to school board members about the impending space crunch during a meeting last month.  She focused specifically on Golden Brook Elementary School.

“It's already full now,” Dr. Cutler said, “and we anticipate a considerable increase next year (2007 - 2008).”

Currently, there are 25 classrooms, including 21 regular education classes, plus rooms for art, music, enrichment, and occupational therapy (OT) at Golden Brook.  With the anticipated enrollment increase for 2007 - 2008, however, there will be a need for 24 regular education classrooms, meaning that art, music and enrichment classes will “float” from place to place, Cutler said.  Occupational therapy will stay put in its own classroom, she said, at least for the coming year.

By the 2008 - 2009 school year, as the student population at Golden Brook continues to expand, there will need to be 28 regular classrooms, Cutler explained, and the school district will need to lease portable classrooms to house some of these students.  It is anticipated that six portable classrooms will be required, including two for housing pre-school students.

The first year cost of leasing the portables, including set-up expenses, will be about $200,000, Cutler said, but should decrease after that.  “We're trying to look several years in advance,” Cutler said, to ease budgetary implications.”

The pre-school program at Golden Brook Elementary School services students with identified educational disabilities from both Windham and Pelham, beginning at age three, many of whom show symptoms of autism and related spectrum disorders.  The pre-school development program is mandated by state law.  According to Tina McCoy, director of special services for Pelham and Windham, it is extremely important to provide quality services to these students at an early age.  “They do so much better, then,” McCoy said.

“Right now, we're using every available space for this program,” McCoy said.  “For the past 24 years, there have been more students every year.”  During the 2006 - 2007 school year, there was a total of 120 students attending the pre-school program at Golden Brook.  The program is under the direction of pre-school coordinator Meg Rugg.

“We are incredibly lucky to have the staff we have for the pre-school program,” parent Steve Calary told school board members.  “It's amazing what they achieve with these kids.”  Calary said he has two children in the pre-school system, both of whom are thriving under their teachers' tutelage.

While Calary praised the pre-school staff, he also said he was concerned about the lack of space, equipment and other enrichments available to the program; a problem he would like to at least partially solve through fundraisers.  He said he knew of several other Windham parents who are interested in getting involved, and felt confident that there are Pelham parents who would also like to assist in raising money for the program.  “We want to give back to the system that's giving so much to us,” Calary said.  “And we intend to reach out to parents in Pelham.”

School board members gave Calary their support in moving forward with this project and thanked him for his involvement and enthusiasm.

Purchase of Conservation Land Approved

by Barbara O'Brien

Windham will soon have more conservation land to its credit, thanks to months of negotiating and a unanimous vote (5 to 0) by conservation commission members to make the purchase.

The 53.4 acre parcel, now destined to become conservation land, has access from Longmeadow Road, is located entirely within the Town of Windham, and abuts the Derry and Salem town lines, conservation commission member Bruce Breton said.  Breton said he expects closing on the land to take place by the end of June.

The price of purchasing the land totals $837,500; 20 percent of which will be paid by the State of New Hampshire through a Department of Environmental Services (DES) Wellhead Protection Grant, which provides grant funds for the acquisition of land or conservation easements to assist in the protection of a community drinking water supply.  The amount paid by the grant will be $167,000.  The remainder of the purchase price ($670,500) will be taken from Windham’s current use tax fund, according to Breton.  Land that is placed under the designation of “current use” is taxed at a much lower rate than residential, commercial, or industrial property.  Under the “current use” designation, no development can be undertaken on that property.  In Windham, all taxes collected through “current use” are placed in a specific fund intended to be used for conservation land purposes.

Breton said that conservation commission members had been working with property owner Jean Blanchard of Windham for about a year before a final agreement was reached.  Approval for the Wellhead Protection Grant was received from the DES this past April, he added.

“This is very good land,” Breton said, describing it as mostly dry and heavily forested.  Its purchase was in the conservation commission’s master plan, he said.

The addition of this new parcel will provide more than 600 contiguous acres of conservation land in this particular section of Windham.  The new land is also situated so as to provide easy connectivity to the existing network of trails that meander through the area.

If the property had been sold to a commercial developer, it could have become a neighborhood of a dozen or more houses, instead of remaining undeveloped into perpetuity.  The land was recently appraised at $1.2 million, Breton said, substantially more than the town’s purchase price.

According to information provided by the DES, this land is within the wellhead protection areas of several community wells and within the source water protection area of the Salem Water Department’s Arlington Mill Reservoir, a facility which serves a population of approximately 18,000 residents.

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