Three Unwelcome Words in Geography Bee

by Doug Robinson

Assistant Superintendent Roxanne Wilson, (left); Mideya Lino, second-place winner; Principal Alicia LaFrance; winner Jimmy Russo; and Dr. Frank Bass.

The group of eight finalists sat upright facing their 200 fifth-grade classmates, as they waited with anticipation for Pelhams Elementary School geography moderator, Carmen Zavoratny, to review their answers to a geography question.  Join your class were three words the finalists did not want to hear.

More than fifth-grade students competed to in the geography bee contest.

Each year, students across the nation compete with their knowledge of places, mountains and seas for the national bee.  They are tested on climate for growing crops, religious populations, and rivers.

Each year thousands of schools in the United States participate in the National Geographic Bee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. The contest is designed to encourage teachers to include geography in their classrooms, spark student interest in the student interest in the subject, and increase public awareness about geography, according to the National Geographic Society.

One by one, seven of the eight competitors were eliminated until, Jimmy Russo remained alone and still seated,

Congratulations, said Superintendent Dr. Frank Bass, you are this years winner of the National Geography Bee. 

Readers:  To test your knowledge, how would you have answered these questions:

  1. What is the term for a part of an ocean or sea that cuts far into the bordering landmass and may contain one or more bays?
  2. The port of Rotterdam is built on the delta of which major European river?
  3. To visit the ruins of Persepolis, an ancient ceremonial capital of Persia, you would have to travel to what present-day country?

The final question asked by the moderator was:  Lake Tahoe borders what two American states:  California and________?  

Answers (hilight the line to see the answers): (1: Gulf) (2: Rhine) (3: Iran)  ( 4: Nevada)

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Mittens Mittens in the Snow

by Diane Chubb

3 year olds Rachel, Jason and Kierra watch as Miss Debbie put animals into the giant mitten.

Jan Brett is a favorite author at Pelham Public Library.  And the winter classic The Mitten was the star of Story Time with Miss Debbie this past week.  

The story tells of a boy who loses his new white mitten, and all the animals that find it and crawl inside to keep warm.  Miss Debbie brought in a giant knitted mitten of her own and as the story unfolded, she had little stuffed animals “crawl” inside.  The children were delighted when the bear sneezed and all the animals went flying about the Molly Hobbs room.

Because of budget cutbacks, the Library has been forced to reduce its hours, as well as staff salaries.  With the reduction in hours, Miss Debbie has cut back on the number of children's programs.

“Limiting the story hours to 2 per week from 4 per week has, I’m sure, impacted some of our patrons.  There are some loyal library users who did not attend story hours this week due to scheduling conflicts,” says Laffond.

“I have made it my goal to provide basic pre-reading and pre-writing activities along with sharing good books with the children.  There is also the very important social component to these gatherings for families in Pelham.  Learning how to share, wait your turn, sit next to a friend and stay focused are all skills that can be worked on in a story hour format.  Now, some of these children are not being served.  Let’s hope that our change in library hours is temporary!”

The Library Trustees hope that the funds for salaries will be returning to its budget during Deliberative Session in February.  For now, however, the Trustees have had to reduce the Library's hours, as well as the staff salaries, to meet the proposed reduction in its budget.  

Story Time with Miss Debbie is held on Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m. for kids 4-5 and on Wednesdays at 11:00 a.m. for kids ages 2-3.  For more information about the Library's hours, visit the website at

Adam, Jason, Sophia and Rachel were able to create their own “knitted” mittens during the craft portion of the program.

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Big Changes at Waterhouse Mobil Station

by Lynne Ober

Located on the intersection of Mammoth Road and Route 111 in Windham, Waterhouse’s Mobil station and country store will be undergoing big changes now that Windham’s Planning Board has approved the site plan.

According to Windham resident and owner, Kevin Waterhouse a car wash will be built on the site.  In addition to that Waterhouse said, “We are moving the service station off Mammoth Road and putting up a new larger garage behind the current store.”  A Cingular cell tower that will look much like a thick flag pole will be installed toward the rear of the property with a small fenced area that is needed for the power equipment.  “We will be moving our diesel island over to where the garage was and doubling our dispensers, and we are adding two new gasoline dispensers to the outside island in front of the store,” said Waterhouse.

And, while you might think that is enough of a change, the Waterhouses are opening a new restaurant inside Waterhouse's.  “It will be operated by Kevin & Kristin Waterhouse and will feature Roadies Fried Chicken, the "House-Burger", and the "House-Dog".  We will serve breakfast from 6 a.m. and we will not close before 9 p.m.,” concluded Waterhouse.

In order to make all these improvements, Waterhouse had to prepare plans and appear before Windham’s Planning Board.

Windham Planning Board Vice President Ross Logue discussed the application and the proposed expansion of the existing gas station/convenience store including a new cell tower, the relocation of the existing garage, the construction of a diesel fuel pump area, a carwash and additional parking.  According to Logue, there will be 51 parking spaces including 5 handicapped spaces on the property after the expansion.  Logue pointed out that the property, located at 175 Haverhill Road in Windham’s Neighborhood Business district, is in the aquifer protection district.  The property is 5.7 acres and the existing uses include an automobile repair garage, a convenience store, and a 15-seat restaurant.  After Logue stated that the application was complete and ready for public hearing, Planning Board member Nancy Prendergast motioned to accept for public hearing.  Planning Board member Phil LoChiatto seconded and the motion passed 6-0.

According to the Planning Board, the following waivers from the site plan regulations have been requested: 1) Section 602 – Waiver to not locate single trees with a diameter of 12” of more since this is an already developed lot; 2) Section 704.1 – Waiver to not have soil type and vernal pools certified, dated and stamped by a Soil Scientist since this is an already developed lot and the following variances have been granted to: 1) Section 405.3 – Allow additional subsurface storage of petroleum and coverage; 2) Section 609.4.2.4 – Allow additional underground fuel tanks and gas pumps; 3) Section 702.5 – Not provide a 50’ wide buffer between the use and abutting residential district; 4) Section 701.3.1 – Allow the construction, operation and maintenance of a wireless telecommunications facility; and 5) Section 604.1 and 607.8 – Allow the construction, operation and maintenance of a multi-carrier wireless telecommunications facility within 51’ +/- of the nearest property line.

At the public hearing issues that were discussed included:  Parking lot layout and design; landscaping recommendations; traffic impacts related to the proposed project; drainage; how does the carwash recycle the water used to wash cars? Where is the water being discharged? 

Peter Zohdi, Herbert Associates, appeared on behalf of the applicant and discussed the existing setbacks.  Zohdi also discussed the site including the location of the diesel gas pumps, addition of the carwash, the existing garage being reconstructed.  He explained the on-site traffic flow and that there is more parking than required.  He described the draining and explained that they are complying with pre- and post-development drainage. 

The board questioned Zohdi about proposed parking, the potential addition of concrete curbing to define the corner, and an addition of bollards and curbing to define parking.  The board asked about employee parking, drive-thru lane cueing, and traffic flow for tractor-trailers.  

Zohdi told them that state driveway permits have been requested, there are sufficient parking spaces for tractor trailers, and the Willows Site Plan has a pedestrian walkway to the site which needs to be on the plan.  Mr. Zohdi showed the walkway on the map and said the walkway will be made of stone dust. 

When the Board asked whether the soils are tested when new gas tanks are added, Zohdi replied that New Hampshrie Department of Environmental Services [DES] is involved with the project. 

Kevin Waterhouse, owner, explained the treatment shed which is required by the DES, stating that no additional underground gas tanks will be added  The underground tanks will be for the water for the carwash, the water will be trucked off-site.  Waterhouse explained how the 200’ cell tower is designed to bend inward in case of a severe storm, and he stated the cell tower would be the last thing to fall in a storm. 

Board then discussed that the variance requested from Section 609.4.2.4 is for underground water tanks for the carwash wastewater which is stored, reused, and trucked off the site.  Zohdi showed where the underground water tanks may be located, but the tanks were not shown on the plan. 

Wayne Morris, Trails Committee, asked if the walking path could be extended and connect to Mammoth Road and Route 111 as the rail bed comes right into Anderson Road, and if the applicant could work with the proposed Clarke Farm North elderly housing project.

LoChiatto moved to grant the waiver to Section 602 to not locate single trees with a diameter of 12” of more since this is an already developed lot.  Prendergast seconded and the motion passed 5-0-1 with Selectmen’s Representative to the Planning Board, Alan Carpenter abstaining because of a potential conflict of interest.

LoChiatto moved to grant the waiver to Section 704.1 to not have soil type and vernal pools certified, dated and stamped by a Soil Scientist since this is an already developed lot.  Prendergast seconded and the motion passed 5-0-1 with Carpenter abstaining.

LoChiatto then moved “to approve the site plan for Waterhouse Realty Trust with the following recommendations: 1)  All state and federal approvals shall be received prior to the signing of the plans; 2)  Lighting, signage, landscaping and screening shall meet the requirements of the Windham Zoning Ordinance and Site Plan Regulations; 3)  All facades of the carwash to be reviewed and approved by the Planning Board before the final signing of the plans; 4)  Install concrete curbing at the drive-thru and steel bollards at parking spaces 34 and 35; 5)  Parking spaces #14 and #31 be removed as amply parking is provided; 6)  Applicant to apply for a Special Permit for the walking trail through the WWPD from the southerly portion of the site as it abuts the Willows Site Plan; and 7)  Add location of underground wastewater tanks for the carwash.”  Planning Board member Rick Okerman seconded.  After additional Board discussion about the location of the cell tower, the motion passed 5-0-1 with Carpenter abstaining.

Waterhouse said that he would like to have construction completed by early summer, but grinned and said, “We’ll see.”

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Warrant Article Asks For Four More Firefighters

by Barbara O'Brien

Windham Fire Chief Tom McPherson said he's asking voters to support a proposed warrant article, one which will provide the money to hire four new full-time firefighters; with a substantial amount of the cost to be paid for through federal funds.

McPherson said he's pursuing the federal SAFER grant in an attempt "to be fiscally responsible," adding that he knew selectmen wouldn't support hiring four full-time firefighters at full cost to the town.  SAFER is an anagram for Security Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response; a federal program administered through Homeland Security.

According to the proposed warrant article (#21), should the grant be awarded to Windham and should voters give their support on election day in March, federal funding would run from 2008 through 2012, with the federal share declining with each subsequent year.  During 2008, the federal share would be $101,200; the town's portion $81,030.  Funding in 2008 would not be for an entire year, since voters will not be making a decision until March.  McPherson said he would expect to hire the new firefighters about halfway through 2008.  In 2009, the federal share would be $140,545; the town's portion $167,305.  During 2010, federal money would total $101,185; the town's payment $233,895.  In 2011, the grant would provide $61,880; the town $302,505.  And in the final year, 2012, the SAFER grant would provide Windham with $16,890, while taxpayers would need to come up with $370,190.  After that, the full cost would be paid through the town's annual operating budget. 

The grant provides money to be used for firefighters' salaries and benefits only.  The level of those salaries and benefits would be capped under the conditions of the grant, McPherson said.  Uniforms and any other necessary equipment would need to be provided by the town.  McPherson said it would be his goal to hire firefighters/EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) who are already trained; thereby saving residents that additional cost.

Selectman Bruce Breton said receiving and accepting the SAFER grant would save taxpayers about $421,000 over the five-year duration of the program.  Selectman Roger Hohenberger said the money would only be saved if the four additional firefighters are needed at the current time.  McPherson said adding four additional firefighters would substantially increase the department's efficiency in responding to emergencies.

"It's all or nothing," McPherson said, referring to the number of firefighters to be added under the SAFER grant.  For instance, Windham could not hire two new firefighters, rather than the stipulated four new members of the fire department.

Although the SAFER grant has already been offered for a number of years, McPherson said he doesn't know how much longer it will be offered to communities throughout the country, particularly with the upcoming presidential election and the resulting "changing of the guard" to follow in January of 2009.

McPherson said the Windham Fire Department is experiencing annual increases in the number of calls received.  During 2007, he said, the department handled in excess of 1,400 calls for service.  Complicating the situation, about 33% of those calls were simultaneous, meaning that more than one incident was occurring at the same time.

Although Chairman Alan Carpenter and Selectman Dennis Senibaldi both said they still have some questions regarding the warrant article, the decision to recommend the proposed hiring of four new full-time firefighters and the acceptance of the federal grant, should it become available, was approved by selectmen by a vote of 4 to 1.  Only Selectman Hohenberger voted against the recommendation.

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