For Hudson bus schedules please go to the school district website.

For Litchfield bus schedules please go to the school district website.

Ringing in the New School Year

by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz

Katelyn Bergeron waves “good-bye” to parents.

Katelyn Bergeron, age 6, along with so many other first graders, started off her morning on Tuesday with butterflies in her tummy.  Mom and Dad got up early to make sure everybody was prepared and well fed.  Backpack packed, lunch made, school supplies in tow, and a brand new start to big kid life.  Katelyn was very patient this morning while Mom and Dad made sure their little angel was all set to for her first day of first grade at the Hills Garrison Elementary School.  The big yellow school bus made its way, stopping at all the stops to pick up all the kids who were geared and ready.  Katelyn waited at her bus stop, nervously wondering, “When does the bus stop here?  How will I know what to do?  Where do I go?”  When the bus finally made its way down the road and around the bend, she had a look of “Oh boy, no turning back now!”  Mom and Dad did a great job of walking her to the bus, introducing her to her new bus driver Merideth, and giving this little first grader a big boost of encouragement.

She bravely got on the bus, looking at all the kids but not knowing any of them.  Mom reassured her that her little friend Becky, who lives right down the road, was just a few stops away — a big relief to little Katelyn.  Her bus safely arrived ringing in the new school year at the Hills Garrison Elementary School.  A few children got off the bus: some knew what to do; others like Katelyn, had bewildered looks on their faces as if wanting to say “Well, what now?”

Vice Principal Lois Connor greeted the children at the school.  Several teachers helped the children find where they needed to be.  Katelyn was relieved to know the staff would make her first day as a first grader as comfortable and organized as possible.  When Katelyn realized how many other kids were there for the first time, she was still a little nervous but feeling much more confident about her first day.

Kate waits with Alyssa and Tyler for bus to come.

New Contract between Hudson and Litchfield Fire Departments

by Tom Tollefson

The Board of Selectmen and Hudson Fire Department have signed a new contract regarding dispatching fees for Litchfield. 

Apparently they did this in a vacuum, as the Chairman of the Litchfield Board of Selectmen knew nothing about the proposed contract.

“I’ve not heard a word,” said Litchfield Board of Selectmen Chairman Raymond Peeples, who is also the selectmen’s liaison to the fire department.  Later, Peeples said that he had talked to Litchfield Fire Chief Tom Schofield who indicated that he knew the contract was being looked at but hadn’t seen it as of yet.

Starting on October 1, Litchfield will have to pay $6 a call for the dispatch services of the Hudson Fire Department.  Litchfield, like Hudson, is a town with a Budget Committee and a March ballot.  As Peeples noted, there is no money in this year’s budget for increased fees.  “Hudson knows that we run on the same schedule as them.  I’m surprised they would increase fees in the middle of a budget year.  We can’t go back to the voters with this increase at this point.”

The dispatch rate will go up to $8 per call in 2008, $10 in 2009, and $12 in 2010.  The money collected from these fees will go into the town general fund.

“Obviously no one wants fees to go up,” said Peeples, “but we can budget for the 2008 dispatch increase as well as increases for the future years.”

The former contract between the two communities went into effect on January 1, 1992.  This agreement states that Litchfield will pay a flat annual fee of $2,500 to the Town of Hudson for their dispatch service.  The contract was active until termination.

“I am sure that this was a fair agreement when it was written and agreed to back in 1992; however, during the past 15 years the upgrade of equipment, increase in calls, types and levels of services provided, and the cost to operate our Communications Center have all increased,” said Hudson Fire Department Chief Shawn Murray.

The number of dispatch calls in Litchfield has increased from 2,844 in 2002 to 3,631 in 2006.  These numbers, along with the increased expense of communications equipment, carry an average cost of $3.58 per call.

Both Peeples and Schofield have praised the professional dispatch services they have received from the Hudson Fire Department and look forward to a partnership into the future.

‘Cemetery of the Unknown’ Dedicated

by Len Lathrop

Pat Hetzer, former cemetery trustee, Paul Gauvreau and cemetery trustee Dave Alukonis lay a wreath to mark the graves.

On the beautiful Saturday morning the first of September, 2007, a group of Hudson residents gathered to dedicate the ‘Cemetery of the Unknown.’  Reverend Howe set the tone for the brief sermon by saying, “There are those who have been buried in this place that were apparently ignored and forgotten by those that knew and were kin to them.  Though today we know not the reason why they were in the situation that they were, we hallow this place anew to the memory of their lives.”

Then Dave Alukonis read what Kimball Webster wrote in his History of Hudson 1673 – 1913, that gives the history bases of the burial place.  In addition to the eight burial places already described, there is one more in town, humble and unpretentious though it is, destitute of a monument or headstone to give an inscription or record as to the names of those persons whose bodies filled the graves beneath the many mounds, which are still visible but diminishing year by year.  This yard formerly belonged to the old town poor farm, which situated on Derry road at the northeast part of the town.  The second farm on that road, southwest of the Londonderry line, was bought by Hudson in 1828, in the days when the resident poor were kept at the town farm.  The town maintained this farm for 40 years, when, in 1868, it was sold and the few paupers boarded out at the town’s expense.  So far as it is possible to ascertain from the records, the number of unfortunate inmates of the Almshouse, during those two score years, varied from six to seventeen, the average being from ten to twelve.  Many of these eventually found their last resting places in unmarked graves in this Potter’s field.  Not a few of them had been prosperous citizens at some time in their lives, but had met with reverses of fortune, and thus their declining years were passed in darkness, and the closing scene became one of pathos and lasting sadness. 

A simple chain fence marks the site.

The number of deaths at the Almshouse during the 40 years of its occupancy is impossible to be ascertained at this time, but the average was probably more than one a year.  The remains of these, or at least a majority of them, were interred in the pasture, some distance west from the highway, without any identifying marks to disclose the name of the person sleeping away the years in an unmarked grave, where the feeding cattle were allowed to roam at their will, trampling upon the mounds of those who once had their friends and loved ones, but whose memories are not lost to the world.  Beyond dispute, this was an inexpensive way to dispose of the poor worn-out bodies, but would it not have been much more creditable to the Town of Hudson to have had these unfortunates interred in some ground set apart for that purpose?  If there could have been no inscribed head stones, the town could at least have had the graves numbered and recorded, so that incoming years the name of each occupant might be ascertained, if nothing more.”

A wreath was laid in the tranquil pasture with a simple chain fence marking the resting places.

Proposed Mandatory Kindergarten Could Be Trouble for Litchfield School District

by Lauren Danzi

In February 2008, the state may pass a law making half-day kindergarten mandatory.  This is being considered as part of the process for defining an adequate education.

Dennis Miller, chair of the Litchfield School Board, doesn’t think this is enough time. “Our 2008–09 budget will have been presented to and finalized by the budget committee by this point.  Not having knowledge of the required programs makes it virtually impossible to plan adequately for the 2008–09 year,” said Miller.

Litchfield currently offers pre-k and kindergarten for special needs students, ages 3 and up, but the town does not offer kindergarten for the entire population.  The requirement to offer special education students this service is part of the federal IDEA legislation.  All towns must provide this service, as well as continue high school education, until a special education student either graduates from high school or reaches the age of 21.

There are several private kindergartens, and one possible idea — if this new bill comes to pass — is contracting with the private schools that already provide the service.  There are some issues with this approach, however, because many of the teachers at these private schools are not certified in early childhood education. 

If the bill passes, depending on how it is interpreted, it could change how much state funding is provided to Litchfield and other towns without public kindergarten.   It might also require that Litchfield institute facilities, which would require construction because there are no empty classrooms in Litchfield. 

Hudson is another district without kindergarten, and they would have the same issues as Litchfield.  According to Superintendent Cathy Hamblett, the superintendents without kindergarten are carefully watching the situation.

At this point, the discussion of kindergarten remains outside of the local districts’ control.

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