Kerri Wesson and Lauren Chesnulevich organizing games.
On Monday, June 25, the sounds of new pool cues echoed throughout the Hudson Community Center as the Hudson Recreation Summer Program officially began. This summer has seen the arrival of two new pool tables, an air hockey table, shuffleboard, wiffle ball bats, and footballs.
Since moving to the Community Center in 2005, the summer program has been able to expand beyond the means allowed by the dimensions of the previous building used, the Recreation Center on Oakwood Street.
“Now that we’re here at the community center, we’ve utilized the indoor space for sporting events,” Athletic Director Ralph Carpentiere said. He was referring to sports such as speedball, indoor basketball, and dodge ball, which are played inside.
According to Recreation Director Dave Yates, the biggest asset of the community center is the facility’s space. The program has almost 600 children registered. A staff of 17 counselors and four CITs (Counselor In Training) rotate between seven zones and supervise these children at all times.
“This building has brought us a lot of flexibility with inclement weather. If kids overheat we can bring them into an air-conditioned building. If it’s pouring rain, we can now have a place to keep them inside,” Sean Sendall, a summer counselor, said about the advantages he’s seen since the program moved to the community center. Sendall was one of the 25 Hudson Recreation summer staff members who have been cleaning up, training, and setting up new and previously used equipment at the Hudson Community Center.
The majority of the staff has worked at least one summer as a guide for Hudson’s youth, but there are a few new faces this summer.
“I’m amazed that it’s so well organized. Everybody knows what they’re supposed to be doing and they get it done,” said Jess Destramp, one of the new staff members, about her first impressions of the summer program.
This group has a new leader this year. Kim Malley, who was a counselor for ten years, is the new Summer Director. During her 10 years, the staff has had nothing but good comments and feedback about Malley.
“Kim has been a counselor for ten years, and she’s brought fresh ideas to the table in only her first few days as Summer Director,” Yates said about Malley.
Whether it was making signs, lifting couches, setting up tents and equipment, or restocking supplies, the staff finished the tasks, leaving every item on Malley’s to-do sheet crossed off.
In addition to the regular staff training and setting up, everyone on staff is required to earn a CPR certification. Hudson Fire Chief Murray, Captain Steve Gannon, and firefighter Dean Sullivan taught a four-hour course on CPR to all summer employees. The course included a video, lectures by Captain Gannon, and gave the staff a chance to practice CPR on several dummies.
“I was very impressed with the level of attention. Today they were on top of it and did very well, even the new group,” Captain Gannon said about the class.
Yates also shares Captain Gannon’s confidence in the group.
“I think the summer staff is energized, excited, and looking forward to another great summer,” Yates said.
Left to right, Jess Destramp, Matt Brownrigg, Keith Thibault, and Allison O’Donaghue setting up a tent.
Towns abutting airports are plagued with noise from airplanes and worries about possible aircraft accidents. Recently, Litchfield resident and part-time Litchfield Police Officer, Steve Harris, asked selectmen if they knew how many noise complaints Litchfield residents filed with the Manchester Airport. They didn’t, but Board of Selectman Raymond Peeples decided to find out.
Peeples contacted Michael F. Farren, Acting Airport Director, and set up a meeting to discuss complaints and airport operations.
“I asked Selectman Al Raccio, Fire Chief Thomas Schofield, and Steve Perry, Planning Board Chairman, to accompany me to that meeting. I believe that this group will serve as a good geographic/demographic slice of our citizens and town government,” said Peeples.
The airport is the largest airport in northern New England and serves commercial, cargo and general aviation traffic. It first began back in June 7, 1927, when the Mayor and Board of Aldermen approved spending $15,000 to begin development of a Manchester airport. The board was no doubt influenced by the words of renowned airfield construction expert Karl Kenniston, who had told them: "You have the best natural site for an airport of any municipality in New England -- bar none."
Since then, the airport has been in constant use, although not always as a commercial airport. It was known as Grenier Field during the war, and only later became a commercial airport. In 2001, over one million commercial passengers had walked through the terminal doors on their way to or from a flight.
What Peeples, Raccio, Schofield, and Perry discovered was very interesting and enlightening. Litchfield does not have a direct flight path overhead, and with the airport built out, they probably will never have a direct flight path overhead.
However, in the warmer months Runway 17 is used more than in winter months. Farren explained that this was due to wind conditions. Noise from Runway 17 is more likely to be heard in Litchfield than noise from the other runways.
“So the runway that affects Litchfield most is used more in the warmer months when we all have our windows open,” said Peeples. “If this were used in the winter when our windows were closed we wouldn’t hear the airplanes as much as we do in the summer.”
Although the Manchester - Boston Regional Airport's passenger terminal is open 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, most of the airline ticket counters open between 4:00 - 4:30 a.m., and food and retail concessions open between 5:00 - 5:30 a.m. Most of the flights have landed before midnight.
“If flights come in after midnight,” said Peeples, “we were told it is because of a weather delay along the route. Otherwise, all flights are scheduled to be on the ground before midnight.”
The airport tracks noise complaints by community and by year. Litchfield, as a community, has the fewest noise complaints on record. There was a spike in noise complaints back in 1998 when Continental Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Northwest, and Metrojet began flying jet airplanes out of the Manchester - Boston Regional Airport, but that leveled off the next year and there have been few complaints since then.
Peeples reviewed the data that the airport provided on year by year complaints. He pointed out how Litchfield compared to some of the communities that are directly under the flight path of the airport.
Map showing the flight path from each of the airport’s runways.
While technology has moved across America, it seems to have taken a curve around Litchfield, New Hampshire. Have you tried to e-mail Town Hall? You can’t. Fire and police departments have provided e-mail addresses for some of their staff, but are not interconnected. Police Chief Joe O’Brion, who purchased a new e-mail server for his department, announced during a televised meeting that it was against state law for anyone other than police department staff to be on his e-mail service, so no other town employee would be allowed to use this town resource. His statement was confusing because such a state law has not been passed in New Hampshire, but perhaps had been passed in Florida where he served as a police officer for a number of years. Town Clerk Theresa Briand set up a yahoo e-mail account so that residents could communicate via e-mail with her department.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Raymond Peeples wants to provide better communication between town residents and town employees, and wants to provide a more unified way of using e-mail within town offices. Toward that end, he has developed a simple technology plan that piggy backs on the plan of the Town Clerk for providing more automated services for residents.
Peeples presented his plan and costs to the board. Included in the plan were hardware, software, and security needs. Peeples had gotten quotes and provided specifications to his board members.
Selectman George Lambert asked clarifying questions about the hardware which both Peeples and Selectman Andrew Santom were able to answer. Selectman Pat Jewett, who does not use a computer, had concerns about training for support staff in the selectmen’s office.
As part of the plan’s development, Peeples had also contacted an outside vendor about providing Telephony and Internet connectivity within the building. With many providers providing centralized network-based IP Telephony platforms, organizations frequently discover that their overall phone bills will go down with such an expanded service.
“We would save $1,800 tax dollars a year by making the switch in our service to the building,” Peeples happily reported.
When Selectman Al Raccio asked if that would allow them to add additional phone extensions within the building, Peeples clarified that this would not be possible because the phone equipment used within the building was maxed out and no new extensions could be added.
“We’d need to buy a new phone switch to fix that problem. This savings is for the service to the building and does not expand what is inside the building,” said Peeples.
When Jewett wanted to know if other towns had done such a thing, it was pointed out that she only had to look no farther than Hudson where the school board had made that change five years ago and has been enjoying the cost savings ever since.
Lambert stated that he used a different vendor at work to provide the same connectivity and he was displeased that Peeples had not contacted his vendor. Lambert wanted a quote obtained from the vendor that his business uses and while Peeples agreed to do that, it brought the implementation of the plan to a screeching halt. Selectmen will not meet until July 9 and Lambert announced that he would not be attending that meeting due to work commitments.
After more discussion, Peeples agreed to wait for a quote from Lambert’s vendor, but when Lambert did not offer to obtain the quote, Peeples then announced that he would contact the vendor and get a quote.
“It looks like the earliest that we can discuss this again, providing George’s vendor gives us a reasonable fast quote, will be the end of July,” stated Peeples. “That will put this off until the fall because there is a lead time for installing any telephone service. Waiting will just cost more tax dollars.”
With a fairly substantial list of projects still up for consideration, the Hudson School Board met with unanimous approval last Monday as the fiscal year for the School Administrative Unit (SAU) nearly comes to an end.
Hudson School Board Chairman David Alukonis opened the meeting describing to the public that although the meeting may be short, the importance of the projects under consideration were without question. He addressed a number of persistent problems with the district’s school buildings.
The list of year-end projects, which were reviewed by the school board at their last meeting and under consideration for some time, included cost and priority descriptions and copies of winning proposals for items over $5,000. Business Administrator for the SAU Normand Sanborn provided the board with a quick review and overview of each project slated for approval and the reasons behind the need.
Dr. H. O. Smith School and the Hudson Memorial School topped the list of schools on the receiving end for number of projects. Each school had three projects apiece, totaling $73,814.
Highlighting the projects included the Dr. H. O. Smith School, which will be receiving a number of new radiator covers as well as a new sound and lighting system for the gymnasium. The gymnasium at the Dr. H. O. Smith School is also slated to receive new 2,000-square foot sound panels, similar to the ones already installed at the Nottingham West School. The total cost would be $24,024.
The Hudson Memorial School is set to receive some repairs and replacements to a few nagging items. Included is the replacement of the wood fascia and the attachment to the school so that bees, insects, and water can no longer access the building. The Memorial School will also complete the shade replacement schedule as the building will finish replacing all non-flame retardant shades with code compliant ones at a cost of $6,930. The maintenance and custodial staff at the school will also receive a portable lift at a rental cost of $7,300. This will allow them to replace tiles in high areas and to work on the gym lights. The lift will also enable workers to reach high electrical and HVAC areas much easier.
Bathroom partitions at the Library Street School have been deemed no longer serviceable and will be replaced along with the fixtures as well. The total cost for the replacements are expected to total $23,423.
$11,200 was also approved for two separate items for the SAU building including shingle replacements in a number of locations and exterior painting at the front and rear of the building. The roof of the SAU building is expected to have full roofing replacement at some future date, as part of the District’s capital improvement plan.
Rounding out the list of items included the replacement of the tile and carpet in the hallway of the Nottingham West School and the replacement of an inoperable irrigation well pump at the Hills Garrison School. The items cost a total of $14,222 and bring the total expenditures for the end of year school project list to $197,449.
At the end of the meeting the board wished the public a happy Independence Day and joked that although this was the last budget meeting for the fiscal year, a new one awaits just around the corner.