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

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

Fundraiser Honors Memory of Justin Bissett

by Lauren Danzi and Doug Robinson

Last Friday, from 5 to 9 p.m., Tee Off at Mel’s in Litchfield teamed up with 22 volunteers and other local companies to honor the memory of Justin Bissett, a Litchfield child who suffered from an inoperable brain tumor.  The event put smiles on kids’ faces and offered prizes for holes-in-one.  Some holes had the chance to win toys or T-shirts; others had gift certificates for things like Mel’s bucks or pizza.  Before playing, golfers had the opportunity enter their names to win Red Sox versus Yankees tickets, bid on Jimmy Buffet tickets, or enter a 50/50 raffle.  They could also purchase hats, T-shirts, and bumper stickers to show their support for Justin’s Fund.

“Mel’s donated all of the golf admittance as well as donated other prizes,” said Jeff Bisset, Justin’s father.  “They were very generous.”  Other local companies got involved by sponsoring a hole and donating prizes: Mack’s Apples, Hudson House of Pizza, Tim’s Turf,and Memories by Melissa.  The money raised by Justin’s Fund will be split; some will go to Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium, which researches new treatments, and some will go to support families with children who have similar illness.  

There are other upcoming opportunities to support Justin’s fund as well.  On September 15, Creative Memories is sponsoring a 10-hour Scrap-a-Thon at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in North Andover, Massachusetts.  Described as a scrapbooker’s paradise for $20 ahead, this event offers 10 hours of uninterrupted scrapbooking.  Other events include Jammin’ for Justin, which will have live bands, a snow board raffle, and cookbook fundraiser.  For more details about these events, go to and click on “Planned Fundraisers.” 

Those who have followed the story of Justin will remember that Justin, at the tender age of 6, awoke on New Year’s Day 2006 with a “headache.”  Just 17 months later, at the age of 7, Justin quietly passed away at his Litchfield home after many surgeries, hospitals, and doctors.

Justin was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and it was located in the deepest part of his brain: the brain stem.  The Bissetts learned that the name given to this type of brain cancer was “pontine gliomas.”  According to information from the St. Jude Children’s Hospital Website: “Brain stem tumors account for 10 percent of pediatric brain tumors.  The peak incidence (age group) is between ages 5 and 10.  Pontine gliomas are so rare that only 150 children are diagnosed with this disease yearly.”

“Pontine tumors affect the cranial nerves, causing symptoms related to the nerves that supply the muscles of the eye and face, and the muscles involved in swallowing.  These symptoms include double vision, inability to close the eyelids completely, dropping one side of the face, and difficulty chewing and swallowing” states St. Jude’s Website.  “The tumor also affect the (side) of the brain, with resultant weakness of the arms or legs and difficulty with speech and walking.  Symptoms usually worsen rapidly because the tumor is rapidly growing.”

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium’s “mission is to contribute rapidly and effectively to the understanding and cure of these tumors through the conduct of multi-center, multidisciplinary, innovative studies with designs and analyses based on uniformly high-quality statistical science.  While the primary mission of the PBTC is to identify through laboratory and clinical science superior treatment strategies for children with brain cancers, the PBTC investigators recognize their profound responsibility to meet the special needs of the children and families as they face this enormous challenge.  Members are committed to working within their institutions and communities to improve support services and follow up care for these patients and their families.”

Cameron and Kiara pose for the camera before trying their luck at the next hole.

Tragic Death on Soccer Field

by Lynne Ober

The heart of Litchfield’s soccer program has been Scott Innes, 51. He’s brought fun and sport to generations of Litchfield youth over the years, but that all came to a tragic end Monday night.

Innes was, as he often was, on the side of a soccer field coaching his team.  Since the 1990s, Innes has often been on the sidelines of a soccer field as he coached both recreational soccer and the more competitive travel soccer.

His untimely death brought tears to the eyes of community members, who remember him fondly. 

Monday night, Innes was coaching his team of 12-and-over players at Campbell High School.  Known for his fun-loving nature, people did not immediately realize he was having a medical problem when he fell to the ground.  Innes had been working with a group of players on the sidelines.  Reportedly, he was asking them questions that they should have known but could not answer.  When he dropped to the ground, it was first thought that he was feigning a heart attack, but when he didn’t get up, people rushed to his side.

Assistant Coach John Saunders, who had been trained in CPR, began trying to revive him.  A registered nurse, who was attending the practice, rushed over and began chest compressions.  Someone called 911.

Litchfield Fire Department rushed to the scene.  Later, Litchfield Fire Chief Tom Schofield said that Innes was in full cardiac arrest when they arrive, and breathing was unresponsive.

Innes was transported by ambulance to St. Joseph Hospital.  Innes never became responsive despite the early intervention efforts of firefighters and EMTs on the field.  His death leaves a void in the community.

Schofield said that the AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) immediately began working when it was hooked up.  Schofield said that everyone did a tremendous job, and he wished the results had been better.  “It’s hard to lose someone — anyone.”

When Litchfield selectmen got the confirmation of Innes’ death, they took an immediate recess.  Because they did not know if everyone had been notified, they said nothing on the air when they returned.

“He was in great shape,” said Selectman Raymond Peeples.  “He’s meant so much to the community.  Soccer was always fun with him around.  Kids played, learned, laughed.  What more of a legacy can a person want?”

“I just talked to him last week about indoor soccer,” said Litchfield resident John Latsha, who shook his head in disbelief.

Residents reeled in shock, but also remembered him with kind words and little stories.  Scott Innes, gone too soon, left behind a joyful heritage that will inspire others,

Innes was partner in Ruddock and Innes, a law firm located in Bedford.

Leon Hammond Honored

by R. Rodgers

On Sunday, September 9, a loyal group gathered at the top of Lowell Road at the Hudson Fire Department Memorial to honor Leon Hammond — a man who left his mark on Hudson, New Hampshire.  After the Firefighters Color Guard posted the colors, Captain Dave Morin, the driving force of the Memorial since early 1999, introduced local dignitaries.  The Firefighters Monument was originally dedicated on May 21, 2000, to the men and women of Hudson Fire.  Now in 2007 the park has a name and rightly fitting that it be the Leon Hammond Memorial Park.  No one could describe Leon better than Shawn Jasper.  Morin gave the podium to Selectmen Chairman Shawn Jasper whose words so eloquently describe Leon and his wife Gerry that we must share them with you….

“We are gathered here today to honor a man who sought no recognition, but, thankfully, was recognized during his life by those who knew him for his tireless work to make Hudson a true community.  I think we all marveled at the fact that he kept on working, not just talking or planning, but physically working long after most men his age were content to sit back and watch others do the work.  While we are dedicating this park to Leon the firefighter, we should acknowledge that there are others who spent more years answering the alarm.  In making this dedication, we recognize that Leon embodied the spirit of the call firefighter, which is one of service to community.  Firefighting was just one of the many important things that he and his wife Gerry did to make Hudson a better place for everyone.

In 1950, long before Leon joined the Hudson Fire Department, the entire Budget Committee resigned.  Leon was one of the men who stepped up to the plate to fill the void; he was always willing to do what needed to be done.

Dave Hammond (Leon’s Son)and Nancy Lee (Leon’s Daughter) admire the memorial with Slectman Jasper and Chief Murray (hidden).

Leon was a driving force in the Hudson Historical Society.  He was famous for his chicken barbeques at Old Home Days; as that event grew and it became impractical to continue with the barbeque, he switched gears and started cooking sausages, hot dogs, and hamburgers.  He was at the grill for more hours than men half his age could tolerate.  In his later years, we had to plead with him to take it easy and work only a few hours at a time.  I was impressed with his stamina during the department’s 100th anniversary, when, at about 85 years of age, he worked the whole day in front of the grill in the full sun, standing on hot top, with the temperature around 90 degrees.

Leon also played an important part in putting on church suppers in town, first at the Hudson Community Church and then at the Baptist Church at Hudson Center.  As my parents said, ‘When something was going on in town, Leon was there.’

While Leon loved to cook he also loved to ‘stir the pot.’  It took me a long time to figure out that he just liked to get a rise out of people and that there was no intended malaise in his comments; he just wanted to get us thinking.  Who can forget Leon’s strong and vigorous handshakes?  That handshake sent a clear message, intended or not, that while you might be dealing with an old buck, he had plenty of fight left in him.  He was not one to sit quietly; if he had something to say he would say it, but when the fight was over he was ready to move on in friendship.

Leon represented his generation well.  Today, too many of us find reasons why we can’t participate.  Leon and the men of his generation always found reasons why they could.  As we stand here today to dedicate this park, I hope we can find a way to inspire each other to honor Leon not just through this dedication but by volunteering our time to causes that make Hudson a better place to live, just as he did.

On behalf of the Town of Hudson, I want to thank those who have worked so diligently to build this park.  In choosing Leon, you have shown that you understand the importance of what his life was about, but you have also picked up his mantle, and for that we thank you.”

Dave Hammond followed Jasper with his own words about his Dad.  Dave thanked Shawn for his kind words and quipped that he “stole his thunder,” but he did reminisce a little about his childhood having a dad like Leon.  “When I was a kid, Dad was fast and loud and I was slow and quiet.  I thought, a little embarrassed by his demeanor, that ‘no one had a dad like me.’  But as I grew to be a man I realized how lucky I was that ‘no one had a dad like me.’  When I was a very young child, there was a house here on this property that I always thought was haunted.”  The Hammonds lived on Central Street right across the street from the now Hammond Memorial.  Eventually that “scary” house was torn down and the lot left vacant for many years. 

For all his dedication and pure love of Hudson, the Hudson Fire Department also has an award named for Mr. Hammond.  To date, only three members of the department have earned the award — Leon himself, retired Deputy Chief Harry Chesnulevich, and retired Deputy Chief Gary Rodgers.  His shoes are very large to fill. 

Fire Chief Shawn Murray reflected on the ceremony by saying, “The dedication of this park on the hallowed grounds of the Firefighter’s Memorial will provide those who visit the memorial with a place to remember and reflect on the ultimate sacrifices that those who have gone before us have given to the Hudson Fire Department and the community.  Let us not forget the ultimate sacrifice of Hudson Firefighter James A. Taylor who died in the line of duty on July 27, 1981, responding to an emergency.  James and Leon provided the Town of Hudson with many years of service, commitment, bravery, and integrity.  Our gratitude for their sacrifices shall never be forgotten.  James and Leon, as well as that firefighter who have passed on before us, provided a spiritual guardianship to our Firefighter Memorial.”

In speaking with Hudson Historian Ruth Parker, she said that “the ‘scary’ house that Dave referred to was actually a tenement house and was called the ‘Bee Hive’.”  Ironically, when Captain Morin arrived to begin preparations for the service, he was taken by surprise by a very large beehive in the garden at the site.  After being stung three or four times, the firefighters foamed down the hive and the ceremony started just a little late.  It seems the more things change the more they stay the same.  In all the “Bee Hives” in Hudson, a special place will always live for Leon and Gerry Hammond.

Third Bridge Over Merrimack Takes a Step

by Tom Tollefson

Because traffic down Route 3A in Litchfield and Route 102 in Hudson has shown such growth in recent years, elected officials are working on the construction of another bridge across the Merrimack River.

Legislation (House Bill 582) has been filed to add a bridge over the Merrimack River between the towns of Litchfield and Merrimack.  The bridge, currently part of a 10-year highway plan, lingers toward the latter years of the plan and has yet to be funded.

Hudson and Litchfield selectmen support the building of the bridge, but Merrimack selectmen refuse to support it if funding comes via a toll. They believe Merrimack would be the only town bearing heavy tolls.

Chairman Shawn Jasper has given a petition for the bridge, signed by over 300 Hudson residents, to the Public Works Committee.   The petition was signed by residents at last March’s polls and by residents who dropped by town hall.

The Board of Selectmen also decided to send a letter to the Nashua Regional Planning Commission [NRPC], letting them know that public works has the petition.  In addition, the board sent a letter out to all New Hampshire State representatives and senators to keep them updated on the latest step in building a third bridge.

Hudson’s own Lynne and Russell Ober, members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, are two of the supporters of House Bill 582.  Lynne Ober, the prime sponsor for the legislation, has been working hard to get it passed.  According to Lynne Ober, this bill ”directs the Department of Transportation to expedite the project development and construction of a bridge to cross the Merrimack River, and authorizes the commissioner to establish tolls.”  However, she said that Merrimack would not even support a one-way toll with the tollbooth on the Litchfield side. 

“With the cost of gasoline today, it is cheaper to pay a $1.00 toll than drive from the middle of Litchfield to the middle of Merrimack,” said Lynne Ober.  “The price of gas has made the idea of a toll more palatable and definitely more cost effective than driving around.”

According to the bill, the design and construction expense of a bridge to connect U.S. Route 3 in the town of Merrimack to NH 3A and NH 102 in Litchfield shall be paid by bonds authorized in the state 10-year transportation improvement program.  The financial impact is the following (taken directly from the bill itself): The Department of Transportation has determined this bill may increase turnpike fund expenditures by $6.2 million in fiscal year 2008, $7.2 million in fiscal year 2009, $7.2 million in fiscal year 2010, and $20.55 million in fiscal year 2011, and increase turnpike revenues by an indeterminable amount in fiscal year 2008 and each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on county and local revenues or expenditures. 

The methodology for this project is the following (taken directly from the bill itself): The Department of Transportation (DOT) states the construction project proposed by this bill will be funded initially through a bond issue which will be serviced by toll revenue.  The bonds are assumed to have a term of 30 years at a rate of 5.5 percent, resulting in a debt service of $4.4 million per year.  In addition to the debt service payments, the costs involved in the project are estimated to be $7.1 million for preliminary engineering, $2 million for right-of-way land acquisitions, and $57.8 million for construction, a total of $66.9 million.

The engineering would occur over four years, fiscal year 2008 through 2011, with cost allocated equally over these years ($1.8 million/year).  Right-of-way acquisitions would occur during fiscal year 2009 and 2010 with costs allocated equally over these two years ($1 million/year).  Construction would occur over four years, fiscal year 2011 through 2014, with costs allocated equally over these four years ($14.45 million/year).According to Ober, this bridge project is currently in the 10-year highway plan, but it will probably not be built without a funding mechanism.  “Working with NH DOT staff, selectmen and representatives from Hudson, Litchfield, and Pelham, this legislation was crafted to provide a payment mechanism.  With the high cost of gasoline today, it is cheaper to pay a toll to cross the bridge than to drive around by crossing bridges either in Hudson or Manchester,” Ober said.

It was proposed to use a one-way toll with the tollbooth located in Litchfield.  Ober said, “Even with that proposal, there was opposition from residents of Merrimack who believe that they pay too many tolls today.  Since there is little industry in Litchfield, the people paying the tolls would be crossing from Litchfield into Merrimack to go to work.  Few if any Merrimack residents work in Litchfield and so the toll impact would be borne by those crossing into Merrimack.”

The added construction costs of $14.45 million per year will be incurred from fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2014.  The debt service payments of $4.4 million per year will follow until the last payment is made in fiscal year 2038 or until the debt is eradicated.  Currently, there are no estimates for future maintenance and operation costs, which are funded by revenue from tolls. 

Recently, Merrimack residents staged a revolt against the tolls.  They designated a day to pay with pennies instead of the recommended quarters.  The DOT commissioner is also authorized to establish these tolls, in order to fund the project.  At this time, the revenue is indeterminable, but officials estimated that if the bridge were built now, that more than 20,000 vehicles a day would use it.

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