Lyons Memorial Park Tot Playground Opens

by Michelle Pinsonneault

Lily, dressed in a patriotic outfit that matches the new playground, is all smiles as she plays in a toy car. 

It was all smiles on the sunny, Sunday morning of June 17, as the Lyons Tot Playground celebrated its grand opening.  This new park will be the stomping ground for children ages 2 - 6 and is located in Lyons Memorial Park behind the Municipal Center in Pelham.

Parents and children alike flooded the new park early Sunday morning, as they enjoyed the warm weather and donuts.  Balloons were attached to the wrists of the children, as they slid down the new slides or swung from the monkey bars.  “Parents really like it a lot,” said Parks and Recreation Director Darren McCarthy.

“Officer Lyons was considered the Father of community policing in Pelham, and absolutely would have wanted this park,” said Sergeant Anne Perriello of the Pelham Police Department.  “This park attracts all ages and is a safe place to be.”

Sarah dressed in her Pelham Tot Soccer shirt, plays on the new Lyons Memorial Park Tot Playground before her soccer game.

Ethan slides down the pole of the new playground.

Kevin is concentrating on his duty as a Pelham police officer.

Time to Remember

by Lynne Ober

Michelle Burke and Brandee Peglow sing at Pelham High School graduation.

As guests began to arrive for the Pelham High School 2007 graduation ceremonies, the PHS Band played Kings Road Overture for their enjoyment.  The skies were blue and the sun was still brightly shining as the first strains of Pomp and Circumstance filled the air.  Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and assorted friends stood and turned to watch the graduates file onto the field.

Each graduate carried a carnation and carefully left the carnation in a bin of water.  After School Board Chairman Bruce Couture led the Pledge of Allegiance, Principal, Dr. Dorothy Mohr, asked the audience to remain standing. 

“At this time we would like to remember three members of the Class of 2007 who because of divine intervention cannot be with us tonight.  These people have left an impression on families, friends, and the Class of 2007.  May the souls of Christopher Edwards, Stephanie Chakar, and Kyle Campbell rest in peace and may memories of their smiles, laughter and inspirations live on with all those they touched.  The flowers carried tonight by their classmates will be later moved to their places of eternal rest.”

With obvious pride in the accomplishments of the Class of 2007, Mohr recalled their journey through PHS.  She touched on academics, sports, travel, music, and art.  No one was left out and all activities and honors were celebrated.

Mohr also talked about the immense impact that the Class of 2007 had in the Pelham community.  Altogether the class had served 10,139 community service hours.  Mohr recognized the positive impact on Pelham from those hours of service.

Matthew Libman, Class Valedictorian, urged his fellow classmate to “push through boundaries and recognize that limits are only created when you let others draw lines through your imagination.  Each of you holds an immense amount of potential so let your imagination become your world and apply everything you have to achieve your goals.”

Libman urged his classmates to take pride in what they had accomplished before making the step into the future.  He too urged his classmates to remember their “high academic achievements, outstanding athletes, immeasurable involvement in extracurriculars, and unforgettable senior activities,” before telling them that “as you leave tonight, the only path that matters is the one you make.”

Class Salutatorian, Starsha Kolodziej, spoke of the speed at which four years of high school passes.  She said that on graduation day, “you have transitioned from an awkward teenager to a young adult.”  She urged her classmates to “grasp every opportunity with enthusiasm and face the future with an open mind.”

Bethany Murphy, Class Essayist, said, “My advice to our class, the class of 2007, is to let your heartbeats guide your footsteps and to let your footsteps leave a mark.  Whatever goal your heart is set on can be accomplished through hard work and determination.”

Superintendent Dr. Elaine Cutler was as gracious as ever.  She’s taken pride in the accomplishments of PHS high school students and has been a supporter of their activities.  She joined in celebrating the accomplishments and achievements of the Class of 2007.  She urged them never to stop learning and said that she knew that this class would accomplish great things in the future.

Before the ceremonies started, Cutler had taken the opportunity to chat individually with students one last time before they left Pelham High School.  “It’s always a wonderful night, but it is also an end for those of us who have watched them grow as scholars, athletes, artists and people, but it is the start of their next phase of life,” she smiled.

Class President Tim Mallard recalled all that the class had done together.  Laughing about class achievements and thinking about the future, Mallard said, “Throughout high school I’ve realized a few things.  I realized that being good at running and being good at life is the same thing.  In running, you get what you put into it.  If you put the work in every day and you stay true to your running, you will do well and improve.  In life, if you never give up on yourself and making decisions to make yourself stronger, then you will continue to do well and improve upon yourself as a person.  … the person who wins, who accomplishes their dreams, is the one who put in the time and effort and never gave up on what they wanted even when it seems impossible to reach.”

Director of Guidance Kathryn Sheridan presented awards to the Class of 2007.

And, finally, the moment that seemed so far away when the Class of 2007 started at Pelham High School; it was time to present the diplomas, turn the tassels, toss the mortar boards into the air and to celebrate, one more time all that the class had achieved before they started their journey into the future.

Congratulations Class of 2007.  

Police Department Re-organization Approved

by Lynne Ober

Succession planning, the process of identifying and preparing employees through mentoring, training and job rotation, to replace key players, is designed to provide an orderly transition when people leave or are promoted.  At the Pelham Police Department succession planning worked and Joe Roark was promoted to Police Chief when former Chief, Evan Haglund, retired.

But the problem with this methodology rears its head in small organizations.  No matter how well people are trained or mentored, a gap results with a promotion.  That’s what Chief Roark has been facing since his own promotion.  Roark came up through the department.  His most recent position, captain, has been empty since his promotion.  To make it worse, he was the only one with that job title that he had received when he had been promoted from Lieutenant.  His former lieutenant’s position also remained empty after his promotion.  So today Pelham has a chief and five sergeants with no one in between.

Although the Pelham Police Department has a chief, but no captain and no lieutenants, it still has 19 members.  “We have one chief, one open captain’s position, five sergeants, one detective, one school resource officers, one traffic enforcement officer and nine patrol officers,” Roark told selectmen.

After developing a number of alternatives, Roark met with selectmen to discuss down-grading the captain’s position to lieutenant and creating a second lieutenant’s position from one of the sergeant positions.  “We’d have the same number of staff,” he stated.

Roark spoke openly of the heavy workload that he had as the department’s only captain.  He talked of some programs that needed more attention, but did not receive it due to lack of time.  “With everyone pulling on one position, it is very labor intensive.  Some things didn’t get accomplished.  Other things did.”

While Roark admitted that having two lieutenants did not currently meet with selectmen’s mandate to department heads to have succession plans in place, he did comment that he wasn’t planning to go any place soon and having the two lieutenants would allow him to evaluate his staff and work with them in such a fashion that it would facilitate succession planning in the future.

One lieutenant would be responsible for administrative tasks, working with records, the detective, the school resource officer, dispatch, the prosecutor, procedures, and other administrative duties under the direction of the Chief.  The second lieutenant would handle the three shifts of patrol and would supervise the sergeants as well as provide field supervision.  According to Roark, a day shift sergeant’s position would be eliminated and replaced with this lieutenant position.

Both positions would change unions, which Roark said would be a benefit because under the current system, a union grievance was done by one member grieving another member in the same union.  “That’s just not an ideal situation,” he noted.

At least for the first year there would be a cost savings as well as operating efficiencies.  Roark expects that cost savings will carry into future years and pointed out that the lieutenant position is not eligible for overtime pay, and would work 17 more days than a sergeant.  He candidly told selectmen that candidates for the position would have to trade money for career advancement and noted that more than one sergeant had made more than $100,000, including overtime last year.

If approved, the two lieutenant positions would work closely together and would back fill each other’s position in times of vacation or illness.  This would also allow Roark to evaluate the positions with an eye toward succession planning.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Ed Gleason complimented the chief on a well thought out and documented plan.  He keyed in on the two goals of efficiency within the department and immediate cost savings and said that he was ready to approve it.

Selectman Bob Haverty agreed and echoed Gleason’s compliments on the thoroughness of the presentation.

New Selectman, Doug Viger, asked the chief if he was trying to do the same thing that the library did when they tried to create a children’s librarian position, but Gleason quickly squashed that line of questioning.

“There is an existing lieutenant’s position in the department.  It is not currently filled.  There is an existing captain’s position in the department and it is not currently filled.  Both are full time.  Both have benefits.  This is nothing like what the library wanted to do.  These positions exist.”

Viger also asked what would happen if the chief wanted to then have a captain. 

Roark explained that he might want to promote one of the lieutenants to a captain at some point, but it would be just that - a promotion.  “This is not a way to grow the department.  I was promoted from lieutenant to captain and the lieutenant’s position was left vacant.  If I asked for more people, it would be for more patrol officers.”

Selectmen asked Roark about the process for filling the two positions, but Roark said that he had looked at options but made no definite plans until he knew that selectmen would accept his proposal.  He did note that he expected candidates to come forth from within the department.

Selectmen unanimously authorized him to proceed with his re-organization plan. 

Curbside Pickup Not on the Agenda, at Least for Now

by Barbara O’Brien

For the time being, at least, Windham Selectmen will not be pursuing curbside pickup as an option in dealing with the town’s disposal of trash.

During a workshop on Monday, June 11, the consensus among the five selectmen was that having garbage picked up outside residents’ homes was not a good choice, at least for the time being.

Selectman Roger Hohenberger said that he felt going to curbside pickup would create an even heavier burden on taxpayers, than the current transfer station levies.  Hohenberger said he would prefer making changes to the existing system.

Selectman Margaret Crisler agreed with Hohenberger. “We should fix what we have,” Crisler said, adding that she has a difficult time believing curbside pickup would save the town money.

The issue of how to make Windham’s disposal of trash more efficient and less costly, while still providing adequate services to residents, has been on the selectmen’s agenda for months.  Transfer station manager David Poulson has come before the board on eight occasions within the last year or so, pleading with selectmen to provide him with a sense of direction in dealing with the ever-growing disposal dilemma; a problem shared with numerous other communities statewide.

“It’s time to take decisive action on Windham’s solid waste management,” Poulson said, adding that he has “no self-serving agenda,” in what he has proposed for solutions.  Poulson has been the manager at Windham’s transfer station for the past five years.

Listed among the problems Poulson feels are prevalent at the transfer station are:  a flawed sticker system for residents’ vehicles; insufficient time for employees to monitor the outside of the site; the layout of the site is not conducive for efficient policing by employees; and an inability to prove or disprove where trash brought to the site is actually generated.

Poulson said about 90 percent of employees’ time is spent indoors working on the conveyor.  “The conveyor line dominates,” he said.

Another major problem, according to Poulson, is that there is no limit on the quantities of waste allowed to be brought to the transfer station for disposal.  “We’re a sieve,” Poulson said.  “We don’t police enough.”  “We’re an easy target” for people from out-of-town, he added, due to a lack of restrictions, no fees for disposal of certain items and no adequate scale operation.

Among the possibilities discussed during the workshop was banning private commercial haulers, those who currently pick up residents’ trash for a fee to those residents, from bringing that trash to the local transfer station.  Instead, those haulers would be required to take the trash out of town to an approved waste disposal site.  Selectman Bruce Breton spoke against the idea of banning commercial haulers from using the Windham Transfer Station, because the trash they pick up is generated by local taxpayers.

Chairman Alan Carpenter agreed with Breton, adding that he feels it would only increase traffic at the transfer station, if all those residents who currently use commercial haulers began bringing their trash to the site themselves.

According to Poulson, about one-third of residents currently use a commercial hauler to get rid of their household garbage.

Selectman Dennis Senibaldi said he feels one of the biggest problems at the transfer station is that construction and demolition (C&D) materials are accepted free of charge.  “It’s not 20 years ago,” Senibaldi said.  “Things have changed.”  Other area towns don’t accept C&D materials anymore, he said.  According to Poulson, it will cost Windham about $94,000 this year to get rid of the projected C&D debris brought to the transfer station.

After further discussion, selectmen came up with a list of ideas for improving service at the transfer station in the short-term.  These ideas included:

  • Establishing fees for the disposal of construction and demolition materials (public hearing to be scheduled);
  • Prohibiting commercial haulers from bringing residents’ trash to the transfer station (effective October1, 2007);
  • Developing a better layout for the site;
  • Developing a better sticker system for residents’ vehicles;
  • More efficient monitoring of the site by employees
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