Windham Halloween Party

by Tom Tollefson

From left; Owen, 4 and Reese, 6 

Thanks to the Windham Lion’s Club, local children have an additional evening to dress up as their favorite ghoul, or their favorite celebrity icon in some cases.

The Windham Lion’s Club sponsored their 38th annual Halloween party in the gym at Windham Center School.  There was candy, popcorn, juice, and clowns from Shriner’s Hospital who made balloons for the children.

“I like that it’s a controlled environment and that it gives them somewhere else to go besides trick or treat because you never know if its going to rain on Halloween,” Michelle Guevara, a mother in attendance, said. 

Credited magic man Steve Thomas proved to be the evening’s highlight as he lit up the party with his dazzling array of tricks.

Thomas chose several “special magicians” out of the droves of wide-eyed children to “magically” pull colorful handkerchiefs out of a bag, which previously held a plain white handkerchief.  He pulled a bouquet of flowers out of his hat and used a robotic snake to pick out a “magic” card from a deck of cards.

Thomas’ show concluded with a parade of children dressed as pirates, witches, fairies, and wrestlers.   

“It’s a good, safe time for parents to bring their kids,” Thomas said about the party.

Bill Brown, Chairman of Windham Lion’s Halloween Party, noted a few changes in the annual event over the years.  According to Brown, the party previously held a costume competition with winners in the 7 to 8-year-old group divisions.  Osco would provide dolls, trucks, puzzles, and various toys for prizes.  “A lot of kids didn’t get anything and they felt sad so we decided not to have prizes anymore,” Brown said.  Instead of prizes, everyone gets goody bags, popcorn, and candy, free of charge.

The evening’s food, drinks, and candy were provided by local vendors at a reduced rate.

Thomas hosted Tri-Sate Mega Bucks for 13 years, was chosen as a good will ambassador for McDonald’s restaurants, and was a regular on the show “Ring-A-Ding Clown.”

From left; Katie, 4 and Cali, 3

Aidan, 6

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Rainy Harvest Fest

by Lynne Ober

Out in the barn, goods had been arranged in attractive displays that would rival any department store.

If it’s Harvest Fest Day in Pelham, you can count on rain.  “It seems like it rains every year,” smiled Pelham Senior Center Director Sue Hoveling.  “This year is no exception.”  However, rain does not dampen the spirits or fun at this event.

One table held huge, beautiful raffle baskets; raffle tickets were being sold.  “What I like best about this,” said one senior, “I don’t have to be here.  If my name gets called, I get the basket.”  

Hoveling said that she works on the baskets.  “The money from this event is used to offset the cost of the Christmas luncheon at Harris Inn,” she noted.  “We like to keep the costs as low as possible, and generally make around $1,000 at the Harvest Fest and then use that money to lower the Christmas party ticket prices.”

Dot Carter had again made her jams and they were selling fast.  She hesitated to give away her best picking spot, but laughed that her husband had picked a lot of wild blackberries this past summer and she’d turned those into several jars of jam.

“Once again we are serving our famous dollar hot dog,” laughed one participant.  In addition to hot dogs and chips, attendees could enjoy blueberry cobbler, a variety of goodies from the bake table, and drinks.  “It’s a good day for coffee with that hot dog.”

In the back room, Georgia Atwood was helping people at the indoor yard sale.  A number of tables had been pushed together and then covered with many items.  “Good stuff, cheap,” laughed Atwood.  “I don’t know whether to call this a white elephant table or an indoor yard sale, but we’ve got lots of good items and we are selling them at really good prices.”

Shoppers were also viewing the goods in the barn.  Jewelry, home goods, and apparel for men and women were all nicely displayed.

Georgia Atword helped shoppers at the event’s indoor yard sale.

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Pre-School Program Needs More Space

by Barbara O’Brien

“Space is a huge issue for the existing pre-school program,” Tina McCoy, Director of Special Education for School Administrative Unit SAU #28, told school board members from both Pelham and Windham.  SAU #28 services both of these towns.  Although the pre-school program is presently located in Windham, it provides services to children 3 to 5-years-old from both Pelham and Windham.

Due to these space constraints, McCoy said some students have had to be placed in programs elsewhere in the community. “Over-crowding is a very serious problem,” she said.  McCoy met with school board members during their recent review of proposed budgets for the 2008-2009 school year.

One of the goals McCoy mentioned during the meeting was to have Pelham and Windham provide separate facilities within their own towns.  “The goal is to split in a couple of years,” she said, “but for the time being everyone needs to make the best of the situation.”

Changes in the need for space will also come about, McCoy said, with the state’s mandate of public kindergarten within the next year or two.  Windham and Pelham are two of the few remaining towns in New Hampshire which do not provide public kindergarten.  “We will need to have a plan in place beforehand,” Superintendent Frank Bass said, referring to the state’s potential mandate.

Currently, the pre-school program is housed next door to SAU #28’s administrative office building in what is, literally, “a house.”  Some pre-school students also attend programs at Golden Brook Elementary School. Presently, there are 85 children in the pre-school program; 42 from Pelham and 43 from Windham.  McCoy said that 24 of these children have been diagnosed with some form of autism.

“We have a moral and legal responsibility to provide special education to those in need from ages three and up,” McCoy said, referring to state and federal guidelines.  “If we can catch them early, that gives us a good head start,” she added.

McCoy said she is “very proud of the staff and the work they do with these children.”  A variety of programs are offered; some are held on a daily basis, others are three days per week.  Some children also come in only for specific services such as speech or occupational therapy.  “We offer a lot of speech and language services,” she said.

One of the major goals mentioned during McCoy’s meeting with the joint school board is the need to provide inclusive education for special education students.  “We want these pre-schoolers to be able to interact with students without disabilities,” she said.

Another issue mentioned by McCoy is the lack of a school nurse at the preschool facility.  McCoy said she is “increasingly uncomfortable” without having a nurse in the building.  “I feel this is putting the kids and the (school) district at risk,” she said.  There are currently a number of students attending the program who have medical problems, McCoy said.

As for the proposed budget for the 2008-2009 school year, the total projected costs for the pre-school program are: $875,604 for Pelham’s portion and $913,431 for Windham’s portion of the bill.  The total for both school districts combined is $1,788,861.  The majority of this expense is for personnel which totals $1,356,695.  Windham’s share of personnel costs is $697,368; Pelham’s share is $659,521.

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Ladder Truck to be Repaired

by Barbara O'Brien

It’s getting into the season where a ladder truck is a necessity for the Windham Fire Department, and with that thought in mind selectmen approved much-needed repairs to the aging vehicle.  According to Fire Chief Tom McPherson, oil is dripping from the truck and the engine has been blowing smoke quite a bit and the problem is getting progressively worse.

On Monday, October 15, McPherson told town officials the ladder truck had been removed from service. We can't continue to run it as it is, McPherson said, adding that to do so could cause serious damage to the engine. McPherson told selectmen the ladder truck is used for chimney fires, ventilation and search and rescue calls.

The 1982 Spartan ladder truck was donated five years ago in recognition of September 11, 2001. Previously, the truck served Merrimack.

Selectmen discussed the problem during meeting in two consecutive weeks, allowing McPherson to check pricing for the repairs.  Selectmen voted 4 to 0 to go forward with the work. Selectmen Dennis Senibaldi, Margaret Crisler, Chairman Alan Carpenter and Bruce Breton voted in favor of making the repairs as soon as possible. Selectman Roger Hohenberger did not attend the October 22 meeting.

McPherson said he solicited five vendors for price quotes but received only three responses. The companies that replied were: New England Detroit Diesel of Wakefield, Massachusetts; MacDevitt of Manchester, New Hampshire and Pelham Diesel of Pelham, New Hampshire. New England Detroit Diesel came in with the highest price ($15,750 not including the “cam”; $19,250 including repairs to the cam); MacDevitt ($15,376 without cam; $17,776 with repairs to the cam) and Pelham Diesel ($9,000 without cam; $10,000 with repairs to the cam). All three quotes included remanufactured parts with warranties, McPherson said.

Selectmen awarded the job to Pelham Diesel, which will do the job in the Windham fire station with the help of the department’s mechanic, thereby saving on the cost. McPherson said the money to pay for the repairs will come from the fire department’s maintenance budget.

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