Salem Community Patriot

Coca-Cola Family Fest at Rockingham Park

by Denise Rush

Ava Cleman doesn’t even stop to say “yum.”

Rockingham Park opened their gates on Sunday, July 15, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to say to its visitors ‘Let’s rock!’ to the ‘Coke Side of Life’ at this year’s 13th annual Coca-Cola Family Fest.  It certainly was a huge success, as approximately 3000 soft-drink-seekers-of-fun in 90 degree heat found out firsthand that the Coca-Cola theme of the day was true: The Road to Victory is a Thirsty One.

The adults who played the ponies were enthralled with the thrill of harness racing.  They yelled and screamed for their bet to win the race as the horses’ hooves kicked up the dirt from the track, as well as the thirst in their throats.  As for the little ones … well … they rode the ponies, and had so much more to keep them entertained, that they might not have even realized their need for refreshment.

Peter Spofford juggled, and his wife, Mary Beth Seekamp, of Northwood, New Hampshire, helped keep the kids’ jaws dropped in awe as their eyes looked up in astonishment at the really tall lady.  The usually petite 5-foot, 2-inch Seekamp paraded through the picnic pavilion, literally head and shoulders above the crowd, as she transformed herself into the 7-foot-plus woman on stilts.

Her husband confided with a slight grin, “She’s actually afraid of heights.”  One would never know it to look at her, however.

“It may be extremely hot and humid, but I smile anyway.  In fact, it’s my smile muscles that hurt the most at the end of the day,” said Seekamp.

Speaking of smiles, there were other people on hand to help keep those pearly-whites bright, as toothbrushes and other items were given out from the booth manned by The Collins Dentistry for Children of Pelham.

What really put the smiles on the kids’ faces, however, was the pony rides of J&J Farms, and the performance put on by the Longs’ Miniature Trick Horses, owned by Tom and Diane Long of Wildwood, Florida.  Their three mini-horses stole the show:  3-year-old, Casper; 11-year-old, Fireball; and the superstar, 18-year-old, Sunny (who actually appeared on The Today Show in 2005).

Owner Tom Long proudly boasts about his talent. 

“He counts, slaps you five, line dances, plays golf (mini-golf, of course), and can do over 70 tricks in total. 

This little girl enjoys a horse “just her size”.

Diane Long, Sunny’s trainer, lovingly and laughingly adds, “He’s just like a person, he loves carrots and … believe it or not, he actually drinks Coke.”  When Sunny came out to do his act, he definitely looked the part of a television celebrity.  In fact, he could have been mistaken for the equine-equivalent of a country-garbed Elton John with trademark enormous, yellow sunglasses and straw cowboy hat.  Sunny was as cute as the kids who watched him perform.

Other costumed characters putting smiles on the kids’ faces were Ron Comeau, affiliated with the Jubilee Puppet Theatre of Lynn, Massachusetts, with his puppet, ‘Esther the Cow.’  In addition, some other talents from the Fields Entertainment Agency were on hand to dazzle the children like Brenda Nason, the magician, and Wendy Leahy, the self-described “balloon artiste,” as well as Hannah the Clown/Bubble Lady with her friend, Biscuit the Bunny.  Also making the rounds-around-the-kids was Blitz, the mascot of the Manchester Wolves arena football team, af2 league, who play at the Verizon Wireless Arena. 

As if that weren’t enough, there were still other activities for the wee ones like an inflatable jumping attraction, and even something both young and old could try their hand at:  striving to get a hole-in-one at the putting green booth.  In addition, there were items and other desirable outings raffled off that all ages could enjoy, such as Canobie Lake passes, Red Sox, Lowell Spinners, and concert tickets, a Ducane gas grill, and much more.

All in all, the event was a big success.  Lynne Snierson, Director of Communications and Marketing for Rockingham Park proudly points out, “One thing we were really pleased to do was to offer free admission for everyone this year.  It’s fun for us.  This is the 13th year I’ve done this, and it’s nice to see the same people and their kids grow up.”

Now, that is a statement that truly indicates a long and thirsty winning ‘track’ record of fun for all ages at the Coca-Cola Family Fest; particularly when the track is the 101-year-old Rockingham Park, and an ice-cold Coke is within easy reach to quench that thirst on a hot summer’s day.

Flood Action Plan

by Jay Hobson

Selectman Pat Hargreaves opened this week’s Board of Selectmen meeting with a request that the minutes of a non-public session be unsealed, stating, “the minutes have nothing in them that would harm anyone’s reputation.”

Selectman Elizabeth Roth countered by saying that even though there was nothing in the minutes of a potentially negative nature, they should be kept sealed because the new hire process of a background check was not complete, and that until the hiring process was complete, the minutes should remain sealed.  The board voted to keep the minutes sealed.

Without naming names, the subject of the discussion appeared to be Jonathan Sistare, the Town Manager candidate that was hired conditionally pending a background check and has been the subject of recent controversy stemming from accusations of impropriety by former Jaffrey Police Chief Martin Dunn.  Neither Sistare nor the board has commented publicly on the issue.

In other business:

Director of Community Development, Bill Scott unveiled a plan that would address concerns of flooding in the wake of the Mother’s Day flood that affected Salem in 2006.

Twenty-four homeowners petitioned the town regarding the flooding in the Haigh Avenue neighborhood, which prompted a meeting in November, 2006, that was attended by more than 85 homeowners.  Neighbors established a flood working group that worked together with Scott to develop a plan to address future flooding.

Scott acknowledged that flooding is “nothing new” and that there have been floods in March of 1968, April of 1987, October of 1996, June of 1998, February of 2004, and May of 2006.  As a result of the meetings and cooperation of concerned citizens, a plan of action was developed.

“We have developed a comprehensive plan,” Scott said.

The plan has several elements to it.  First is outreach and education.  A three-tiered Web page will be developed where pre- and post-storm information will be listed, as well as how to hire a contractor and a long range plans page.

A taped information line that residents can call to be updated on events and conditions will be activated.  There will be workshops on how to apply for flood insurance and navigating the forms necessary to apply for aid.

Also included in the plan is a plan to look at and address drainage, stream beds, and cleaning and minor repair programs.  Flood water storage and creating land to hold and contain flood waters is also involved.

Among other areas in the plan is an ordinance that would address the problem of people dumping yard waste and brush in areas that would be affected in the case of a flood.  The ordinance would include a $50 fine for anyone caught dumping yard waste in streams.

“The ordinance is in the first draft stage,” Scott said.

Selectman Pat Hargreaves interjected that the fine should be substantially higher.  “Fifty bucks is nothing.  I drop 50 bucks on scratch tickets.  Five-hundred would really be more effective,” Hargreaves said.

Scott responded by saying that a first, second and third offense system could be put in place with the fine being a per day fine, until the waste was picked up and properly disposed of by the offender.

“Who will be policing this?”  Hargreaves asked.

“It will be educational at first with the fines coming in later,” Scott said.

Town Manager Dr. H. E. LaBranche informed the board that he suggested a one-time payment to police lieutenants of $10,500, to offset loss of overtime that they would receive based on a new arrangement with the police department regarding overtime.

The previous system provided that lieutenants would fill vacancies in work schedules when sergeants were not working.  Under the new system, lieutenants would replace lieutenants, and sergeants would replace sergeants, resulting in lost wages for the lieutenants that the new plan addresses.

Tuition Increase by Salem School Board

by Lynne Ober

Tuition costs for the 2008 – 2009 school year have gone up for Windham students who will attend Salem High School.  Because of the many delays in the construction of Windham’s new high school, Windham high school students will remain at Salem High School.

Salem School Board unanimously agreed to a new one-year contract for tuition.  That contract will increase tuition by five percent.  This increase is on top of the tuition rate that will be calculated in the fall.  Salem School Board was told that the increase will bring an additional $600,000 in revenue to the Salem School District.

Former Windham School Superintendent, Dr. Elaine Cutler, and Salem Superintendent Michael Delahanty negotiated the increase over several months.  Negotiations began once Windham knew that their school’s opening was pushed back a year. 

Salem, like other towns, has felt the pinch of growth.  Salem High School is over-crowded and the board and superintendent have been examining options to deal with the growth and increased student population.  Having Windham students for an extra year adds an extra burden for Salem, and the contract reflects that burden by increasing the cost of the tuition.

By fall of 2009, Windham students should have transitioned to their new high school, but this delay impacted the ability of Salem School District to renovate their own high school.

About 605 Windham students are expected to attend Salem High School during the 2008 - 2009 school year.  According to the approved contract, the increased five percent in tuition will only affect freshmen, sophomores and juniors.  Windham will be charged the regular tuition for seniors because Salem School District had expected them to stay at Salem High School for the 2008 - 2009 school year.

According to Windham Business Administrator Toby Eaton, the contract will now need to be approved by the New Hampshire Board of Education.  Tuition had already been set at $7,790 per student for school year 2007 - 2008.

As part of the agreement details, the future principal of Windham High School will have an office at Salem High School beginning in September, 2008.  There is an assurance that 90 percent of eligible Windham high school students will attend Salem High School.  In addition, the 12 portable classrooms owned by the Windham School District will remain on Salem property for the high school’s use until 2011 if the voters approve a $40 million renovation plan for Salem High School.  Both Windham and Salem School Board will meet jointly in 2008 - 2009 and Windham will continue to have a nonvoting member sit with the Salem School Board during meetings.

Real Name Next Week

The entries have been compiled.  Area News Group was excited to receive 277 entries from our Salem Readers.  Being submitted to the State Trade Mark Ofiice are the following five names, Salem Hometown News, Salem Community Patriot, Salem Patriot, Salem Depot News, and Salem Depot Times. The state will reply in approximately five days and report on which names can be used.

Watch for the redesigned banner leading the front page next week.  Thank you to all who responded.  The winner of the $100 gift certificate will be announced once the name is approved.

In other business, Free Honor Boxes are located outside our office at 68 Stiles Road, the Salem Post Office on South Broadway, and the Ingram Senior Center on Sally Sweet Way.  If you missed your Area News Group Salem Edition, or just want another copy to send friends or relatives, copies can also be picked up at Store 24 on Main Street.

Andrea Ganley – Dannewitz, a life-long Salem resident, and our Community Representative, is at the Salem office, located at 68 Stiles Road, Suite 5 on the South side of the building from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for your convenience.  We are also pleased to publish our phone number:  603-681-0510. 

If we are not at the office, Andrea will get back to you as soon as possible.  Mail can be sent to us at 68 Stiles Road Box  2 – A, Salem, New Hampshire 03079.

In this week’s paper on pages 7, 8, and 9, we feature a salute to businesses in and around Salem whose products and services are best fitted to our Salem readers.

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