Hudson History - Well Worth Knowing

submitted by Meghan Kostro

H. O. Smith students at Hills Garrison marker.

As a PTO Officer for Dr. H. O. Smith School I am aware of the field trips and assemblies that the students have the pleasure of experiencing throughout the school year.

As a resident of Hudson for about 12 years, I thought I knew a reasonable amount about the town.  Was I wrong.  Recently when the third-graders took a tour of Hudson, having a son in one of the classes, I asked if I could go along as a chaperone.  I understood that the tour was to coincide with the classroom studies of the town and thought it would be very interesting.

We boarded the busses at 9 a.m. headed for Alvirne Hills House.  I had never been inside the house and I was fascinated.  I had only visited the fields for Scouting events, Harvest Fest or Old Home Days.  And here was a mini-museum right under our noses.  We proceeded on to the No. 9 School House where our tour was led by Mr. Jasper.  This school was used during a time when there were no paved roads, no buses, and no hot lunch.  It made me realize how convenient these things are.  We piled back on the bus and our next two stops consisted of the Hills Garrison marker and the Alvirne Chapel.  I was awestruck by the architectural design and the attention to so many details.  The history behind the chapel was amazing.

Back at Dr. H. O. Smith School we compared stories and ate our lunch.  The students and staff got back on the buses and headed for the south end of Hudson.  We visited the site of the First Town Meeting, the spot where the First Town Meeting House was built near Musquash Pond and the Ford Cemetery.  It seemed to me to be a lot of information to retain yet the students showed me otherwise.  As we traveled along our route Mrs. Hurley and Mrs. Eneguess took turns asking various questions about the events and the families of early Hudson settlement.  The students were right on with their answers.  If something is interesting, children will strive to learn about it and this has obviously been a very interesting part of their studies this year.  What a great field. 

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School Assembly Honors Veterans

by Lauren Danzi

Valerie Harnadek and Mark Taylor at the Library Street School’s Veterans Day assembly.

The Library Street School in Hudson held an assembly for Veterans on Friday, November 9, inviting students from the Dr H. O. Smith School as well as three veterans — Mark Taylor, Valerie Harnadek and Gerald Carrier.  

Students marched in carrying American flags.  Several students read poems.  The second-graders read the poem America in Strength as a class. with each student reading a few lines.  

The fourth grade class gave a history of Veterans Day, explaining that it originated as Armistice Day and later was changed to Veterans Day.  It was a chance for students to learn that freedom is not free and must be fought for by brave men and women.   The students also spoke of Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  

Second-graders sang several songs, including Its a Grand Old Flag.  

Its an honor that the students of the two schools have done this for us, said Carrier after introducing himself and explaining he was part of the National Guard and went to Iraq during 2004 and 2005.  He also added that he was a firefighter and explained that was his full time job while the National Guard was a part- time job one weekend a month and two weeks a year. 

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Honoring Veterans

by Lynne Ober

State Senator Joe Kenney spoke to the audience about his tour in Iraq.

Every year residents and veterans gather together at Hudson Memorial VFW Post 5791 to celebrate the gifts that veterans have given to our country and to remember those who are still protecting the freedoms that we all enjoy, and sometimes take for granted.

Cub Scout Pack 791 handed out small American flags to everyone who entered the room.

The evening began with Alvirne High School Junior Air Force ROTC cadets presenting the colors after which Alvirne High School B-Naturals sang the Star Spangled Banner.

After Post Commander, Jack Cantara, welcomed everyone and presented guests and elected officials to the audience, he thanked both the Jr. AF ROTC Color Guard and the B-Naturals.  He then turned the program back over to the B-Naturals who sang a moving rendition of Amazing Grace.

State Senator Joseph Kenney who is a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves and who has served in two war zones, Kuwait and Iraq with the most recent service completed in Iraq.

Kenney brought a beautiful slide presentation with him and talked about the places that he saw, the work that he did and the people that he met.  He said that when he first arrived in Iraq he was stationed in one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces.

Kenney talked about his work with the joint task force that worked with Iraqi Ground Forces Command.  Some of his talk was amusing, but other times it brought the reality of the war home to the audience.  Kenney talked about the difficulties of learning the complex language and the role that translators played in relations between coalition and Iraqi forces.  He also talked about the death of over 500 translators who tried to bring peace to Iraq.  Kenney said that his role was to train, mentor, coach, and teach and he noted that the most difficult challenge was the lack of initiative.  Telling the audience that Saddam had killed all personal initiative, he talked about the cultural differences that he and the rest of the team faced.  “Their culture is to work until 1500 [3:00 p.m.] and then take a nap.  Ours is to get it done now and theirs is to do it later.  Orders are not directives, but merely suggestions.”

Kenney also talked about the rich history of the region, dating back to when the area was the cradle of civilization.  He showed many beautiful slides of the country, beautiful buildings and statues and talked about the weather of Iraq.

Cantara thanked him for his presentation.  Then it was time to recognize the men and women in the audience who had served America.  

The Girls Scouts closed the musical presentation by singing for the audience.

Cantara stated, “If you enjoy your freedom, thank a vet.”

Everyone gathered for refreshments and conversation at the end of the evening.

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Hudson Seniors Denied Warrant Article

by Tom Tollefson

The Hudson Seniors Warrant Article for the addition of a building on the side of the Community Center failed to gain the Board of Selectmen’s approval due to lack of a majority vote — two for, two against and one abstention.

The warrant article read: Shall the Town of Hudson raise and appropriate the sum of Nine Hundred Sixty-Four Thousand Nine Hundred and Two dollars ($964,902) for the design and construction of a Senior Center addition to the Hudson Community Center, and authorize the issuance of not more than Nine Hundred Sixty-Four Thousand Nine Hundred and Two dollars ($964,902) of bonds or notes in accordance with the provisions of the Municipal Finance Act (RSA Chapter 33) and authorize the Board of Selectmen to issue and sell such bonds or notes and to determine the rate of interest thereon; and further, raise, and appropriate the sum of Twenty Seven Thousand Four Hundred and Four dollars and forty-four cents for the purpose of paying the 2008-2009 bond issuance cost and interest on said general obligation bonds or notes; and furthermore, to raise and appropriate the sum of Nine Thousand Seven Hundred dollars ($9,700) for the operating costs of the addition for 2008-2009 (This appropriation is in addition to Article XX, the Operating Budget.) (3/5 ballot was required)

The architecture firm Berard-Martel was responsible for the research and design work that went into the blueprints and cost estimate.  

According to Berard-Martel, the size for the proposed structure would be 4,144 square feet with an assembly hall large enough for 100 people and the rest of the facility being able to hold around 50.  

The projected operating cost for the first year after construction would be an estimated $53,000.  

Everything you see here reflects what the architect was told by the committee, said Selectman Ken Massey, liaison to the Hudson Seniors. 

According to Chairman Shawn Jasper, the addition would take away parking space at the Community Center.  He said this space was valuable during the voting season and parked cars already extend down the driveway.  

Selectman Doug Robinson thought it would be feasible to move the voting to the Hudson schools.  Jasper believed that wouldn’t work because the schools would have to be closed for the day and they wouldn’t be sympathetic to the town’s need to solve a self-created problem.

The Hudson Seniors have the ability to submit a petition warrant article for the March Town Meeting ballot.

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Building Committee Presents New School Idea to Budget Committee

by Lauren Danzi

On Tuesday, October 30 a Special Meeting of the Litchfield Budget Committee listened to the Building Committee’s recommendation for a new school.  Brent Lemire thanked the committee.  “I think we owe you a debit of gratitude no mater what the out come,” said Lemire, who felt they did a lot of work for the town.

Chair of the Building Committee Tracy Caprioglio started by explaining that they approached this situation as community members, parents, and tax payers in the town of Litchfield.  “We worked tirelessly to make cuts where cuts could be,” said Caprioglio. 

She passed out folders with documents that explain the plans for a new building and the problems with the old building.  Caprioglio explained many of the problems at Griffin Memorial School.  She explained that heating is going right through the roof.  “If you push the ceiling tiles up you can feel the wind,” said Caprioglio.  The recommendation explains that due to the rising energy cost GMS is costing the town too much already.  The recommendation also explains storage issues.  A tour of GMS will show that rooms and offices are cluttered but the recommendation makes clear there is also a financial implication to this lack of storage space.  The lack of storage does not allow GMS to buy supplies in bulk which would save on the cost.  

“The core systems are aged to the point where repair/ replacement parts are, at best, difficult to find,” wrote Caprioglio in her letter recommending a new school.  The letter also explains that moisture is a continuing problem during the spring, summer, and fall.  All surfaces must be bleached at least twice a year to eliminate mold and mildew.  “They bleach everything,” said Caprioglio who explained that they must bleach not only tile floors but also the walls and rugs.  

The recommendation explains civil engineer Ed Murdough’s opinion from the Department of Education and also gives an attachment with his email to the school district.  He felt that renovation and dehumidification would not solve the water issues at GMS.  “Doing work that involves installation of new materials in the building without solving the water problem makes no sense as the water will destroy the new materials,” wrote Murdough.  If renovations failed to solve the water problem the state would withdraw any money they previously allotted for the renovations.  This means that the town would have to give back 30% or several millions of dollars to the state.  The committee felt that this was not worth the risk to commit Litchfield’s tax dollars to a project that was not likely to succeed.  This is why the committee decided not to renovate.

In the recommendation Caprioglio explained that renovations would also not solve the problem of 5 graders in portable classrooms who must walk outside in the cold winter months to use the bathroom or if they are sick and must see a nurse.  It also explains that they looked at renovating and building a new school but discovered that the renovation and building alone would cost more than building one new school.  It would also be more costly, to heat, maintain, and bus kids to two schools.  GMS would also be at maximum capacity with no opportunity for expansion.  This option would still risk the town loosing money on state funding.   

At the meeting Caprioglio explained that there is a cascading effect on the building codes.  If they repair one thing they must repair others in order to bring the building up to code to remain grandfathered in they can do little to repair the building.  

She explained that the 1930’s section of building could not be renovated and they wouldn’t even recommend it for storage because the old concrete would not hold the weight of the file cabinets.  “I personally cringe when I walk down their,” said Caprioglio referring the ramp that leads down to the oldest section of the school.  That section of the school is the oldest.  It is dimly lit with narrow corridors and pipes and wires overhead.  

Their proposal for the new school will cost $20,919,323 but with the 30 % state aid the school will only cost the town $14,703,527.  The minimum for renovating GMS is about $10.5 million.  The committee felt that a new school would best solve all the issues and save the town less in the long run.  The new school plans include space for 30 classrooms for grades 1-5 and 2 Special Education pre-k classrooms.  A large gym, cafeteria and library built to core capacity which can hold 1,060 students.  These structures are built larger than they need to be in order to make expansion easier should the town grow but the space will not be wasted with only half that number of students.  The way this works is additional space in the Library will be used for a computer lab and the additional space in the café will be walled off for a music room which will make the school sized correctly but easily expandable.

There was a lot of discussion about the enrollment estimates given by the state of New Hampshire.  Budget Committee member, Bill Spencer asked many questions of the Building Committee related to these enrollment projections.  He looked at both the actual births and what the state was predicting and didn’t feel they could justify the need for a new school based on enrollment or space issues alone.  He did support the committee in the other issues such as building code and environmental issues. 

Spencer felt that the numbers showed a drop in birthrates and the state enrollment estimates reflected that.  Cindy Couture from the school board pointed out that while the state enrollment estimates are down certain pockets of New Hampshire are growing.  She cited nearby towns of Hudson and Windham.  Cindy explained that Windham has its largest first grade class that they have ever seen.  They building committee recognizes that enrollment is down currently but they are looking at a more long term solution in the hopes to avoid what happened at Griffin.  Caprioglio explained that they added on in 1955 then in 58 and then just two years later in 1960.  There was a lull in construction but then they added on again in 72, 78, and 83.  Building new additions every few years is more expensive than building a school all at once and construction costs are down.

Caprioglio understands the enrollment projections are down but felt that does not mean that numbers will never go back up.  They want the school to be built for the long term.  “Should the town never require more than 640 students we would never need to expand and we’re sized correctly but should those numbers change we can more easily expand,” said Caprioglio who explained that knocking down interior walls and building new classrooms is easier than expanding core spaces.  

Kindergarten was also mentioned briefly at the meeting.  There is no current plan for what would happen if the state mandated kindergarten, which could be as soon as September 2008, but if there is a drop in enrollment the extra classrooms could be used for kindergarten.  The Building Committee will continue to explore options for adding kindergarten as well as other ways to reduce the cost.

Principal Bo Schlichter felt that next year it looked like enrollment would be down by 52 kids but this does not necessarily translate to extra classroom space because those kids could be spread out through the grades.  He felt he might be able to reduce the amount of classrooms by one or two at the most next year.  Schlichter explained that when he became principal of the school he originally thought made sense to do a modest renovation of GMS but after spending time in the building and seeing what was uncovered in February by teams of experts he felt that any renovation to GMS would have to be extensive.  Other concerns about actual birthrates and enrollment were addressed.  It seems last year there were more kids born to families in Litchfield than actually enrolled in school.  Questions were raised, did these people move or loose faith in Griffin and decide to send their kids to another school.  No one knows for sure why these numbers do not add up.

Couture felt that many parents believed Griffin was unsafe now.  “If this were to fail again what you are going to do?” asked Spencer.  The Building Committee did not have an answer. 

Since the meeting they have received an email from the Budget Committee which outlined the concerns Spencer’s addressed at the meeting.  They voted in favor of looking into cutting 3 classrooms from the top floor but anticipated a dissenting vote from members who were not present at the meeting.  If the warrant article were to pass the school would open in 2010 and according to the enrollment estimates they would need about 27 classrooms.  If finalized the cut would reduce the number of classrooms to from 30 to 27.  They have not officially decided to cut classrooms but will make their final vote on November 13 and if they decided to make the cut they will make a final recommendation to the school board the following day. 

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Selectmen Reconsider Replacement of the Fire Alarm Truck

by Tom Tollefson

After voting 3-2 in favor of approving a warrant article that would raise and appropriate $110,000 for the purchase of a new fire alarm truck, the Hudson Board of Selectmen revisited their decision and voted against approving the warrant for the town ballot.

The truck would replace the current 37-year-old fire alarm truck.  Fire Chief Shawn Murray stated that the $110,000 was a budgetary estimate, and that he is open to investigating into multiple vendors’ price estimates.  

“We’re servicing over eight circuits, over 37 miles of municipal fire alarms,” Fire Chief Shawn Murray said about the truck which the fire department uses to gain access to fire alarms around town.  He also added that the fire alarm truck would be used to run fiber optic cable across town instead of contracting another company for the project.

“I would not at this point in time be favorably disposed to continue looking at a $110,000 expenditure without a lot more detail from the fire and highway department,” Selectman Ken Massey said.  “Why do we need a truck?  We have trucks in town that can pull and tow.  These devices are self propelled and appear to me that you can tow them, and they are significantly less expensive than buying a truck that is very limited in its use.”

Massey was in favor of purchasing a self propelled mobile boom as an alternative.  He stated that a 1999 model would cost around $27,000 instead of the $110,000 for the new fire alarm truck.  He reiterated his concern about the cost of a specialized vehicle.

“That device is not feasible for the fire alarm, you just couldn’t use it.  Those types of lifts are used for construction sites, places where they don’t have to wrap fire alarm cable and move down the road.  While it seems a good idea, they’re not designed for the type of work that we need the vehicle for,” Murray replied.

Throughout the discussion, Massey remained consistent in his opinion on the replacement of the fire alarm truck.  “I’d still like to understand why a self-propelled mobile boom isn’t an equally viable option,” he said.

Selectman Rick Maddox was not in favor of replacing the fire alarm truck with a self-propelled mobile boom, but had his own alternative, which has yet to be fully researched.

“It’s (the mobile boom) really meant to be on construction site to do a specific job, but I like the idea of taking a vehicle that the town has and re-using it.  That is good all around,” he said.   

Both the fire and highway departments would share the use of a replacement truck.  The highway department would use this truck to trim trees and repair traffic signals. 

Selectman Doug Robinson researched the records to find out how often the current truck was used and by which department, dating from July 5, 2007 to August 20, 2007.  “It’s easily a 50/50 split between the Fire Department and the Highway Department.”  Robinson said referring to the fact that the truck had been used by the fire department 59 times and 55 times by the highway department in the last two years. 

Robinson also said that the total times of usage to get 117, which he averaged out to about 4.5 times a month, with one use being for emergency at night.  He added that it burns 1.8 gallons an hour when it’s in use.

Another alternative would be to purchase a vac-on truck to replace the fire alarm truck. 

The vac-on truck could be modified to fit the use of the fire alarm truck for about $40,000. 

“I don’t think we serve ourselves well when we started piecing and parting equipment together to save money,” Murray said. 

Massey acknowledged Murray’s background work in developing the warrant article.

“I don’t doubt that you didn’t look at all the you looked at all the alternatives, but just like everything else you’re so into the moment that you don’t wind up looking outside the box,” Massey said.

Robinson made a motion to re-consider the BOS’s action of passing the fire alarm truck warrant.  He made the recommendation before.  Massey seconded it.  The motion passed 4-1 with Jasper was opposed.  

The motion to not forward the warrant article to the ballot was also passed 5-0.

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