Fun Fitness Top Earners Honored at PES

by Karen Plumley

Top Earners receive their brand new bikes at Pelham Elementary School.  From left: fifth-grader Alana Eshbach, fourth-grader and the school’s top earner Keith Brown, third-grader Patrick Collins, second- grader Jared Lemieux-Lemire and first-grader Ashley Masson

In a low-key gathering on Friday afternoon, members of the Pelham Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association awarded brand new bicycles to the top earners of last falls Fun Fitness Fundraiser event.  The five students (one per grade) checked out their bikes and listened while Principal Alicia LaFrance and Fun Fitness Chairperson and PTA Co-President Jen McPhee congratulated them.  

The fundraiser earned a little more than $30,000 for the PES children.  The five children who received the bikes earned a good chunk of this money.  The top earner for the school was fourth-grader Keith Brown, who also won the bike last year.  Keith earned $426 in pledges.  According to his mom Keith plans to give his old bike to his younger brother.   Another repeat winner, second-grader Jared Lemieux-Lemire earned $400.  In first grade, Ashley Masson accepted her new bike, as did third-grader Patrick Collins and fifth-grader Alana Eshbach.

All children who participated in the event and earned at least $50 received a sturdy cinch bag and those who earned $100 for the school received the bag plus a blue-and-white headband with Pelham knitted on the front.  Thirteen winners who reached the $200 level will be receiving tickets to a Fishercats baseball game.

Second-grader and repeat winner Jared Lemieux-Lemire with his new bike and his parents Charmaine Lemieux and Jeffrey Lemire after award ceremony

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Pelham Boys Win Fifth in a Row in 90-57 Rout

by Tommy Gates

Justin Hojlo

Pelham coach Todd Kress hadn’t played a game in a week and his kids were busy with final exams, but his Pythons came out energized last Saturday night and came away with a 90-57 victory over the Kennett Golden Eagles.  This game was played at New Hampshire Technical College in Concord where the Python girls also played the Kennett girls.  Coach Kress was happy to see his troops come away with their fifth victory in a row, and all came on the road.

Kress said, “We’ve talked for the last three weeks about hoping to go 6-0 or 5-1 in our last six games, and the kids have really stepped it up since our heartbreaking 54-53 loss to Portsmouth.  We are moving the ball around much better on offense and freshman Stephen Spirou has been playing much better since I put him back in the starting line-up.  We lost forward Grant Hebert for four games.”

As is usually the case, when Justin Hojlo and Ricky Costa come out hitting nothing but net, and setting up their teammates with pin-point passes, the Python team is a mighty force and they showed Kennett that Friday night.  This was a run-and-gun game from the get-go as Pelham and Kennett only made four free throws a piece in the game, and the Pythons were able to jump out to a comfortable 32-17 after one period.  The Pythons kept up their stingy defensive ways in the second frame too as they increased their lead to 56-28 by intermission.  Hojlo would have a seat alongside Costa for a lot of the second half after Hojlo had already pumped in 20 points and handed out 12 assists while Costa netted 22 points and had five steals. 

Freshman Stephen Spirou delivered once again with 15 points and Grant Hebert had a huge 12 underneath with some nice support from Mike Lombard, Conor McColgan, and Evan Cove, who all helped out in the rebounding department and also pitched in with four points a piece.  A key ingredient that sometimes slips through the cracks is senior guard Brady Tryon, who is great about distributing the ball around equally and is a terror on defense.  Tryon is an unselfish ball player who makes everyone around him better and Coach Kress loves that.  The bench played the entire fourth quarter as Pelham took a commanding 84-44 lead into the final frame; all the Pythons got a chance to strut their stuff.

Jamie Vaiknoras

Pelham has some tough games at home this week as Milford comes to town first and then Monadnock on Friday night with their 7-2 Husky team that has two massive forwards at 6” 6’ and 6” 5’.  Kress said his team is looking forward to playing seven of their last nine games at home, but warns his club that the Spartans will be looking for revenge of a seven-point Pelham two weeks ago at Milford. 

The coach went on to say, “We know what Milford can do and we had to play a tough second half to beat them on their court, so they are going to be coming in here looking for revenge.  We have to concentrate on sharpening our skills and continue to spread the ball around on offense.  When we play that brand of ball, we are tough to beat and the kids have shown that in our last five-game winning streak.”

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New Command Car Approved for Pelham Fire Department

by Diane Chubb

Fire Chief Mike Walker left the Budget Committees reconsideration hearing with the approval he wanted for a new command car for the Fire Department.  The operating budget for the department will include funds for a Ford Expedition. 

The existing command car is 11 years old.  In the plan submitted by Chief Fisher, the car was to be replaced after 10 years.  Walker had requested funds for the Expedition, but because this amount was more than the New Hampshire rate for a car, the Budget Committee had questions.

A command car is the place where the person in charge at an event must assess the immediate danger of the situation, keep track of all personnel involved in handling the event and maintain accountability. 

For instance, if Walker responds to a fire, he must assess the situation and send in his team.  Every 15 minutes, the chief must conduct a PAR, or personnel accountability record.  Each team within a building will make sure that all personnel are accounted for, and inform the chief that they have PAR.  The boards on which the chief tracks all of this information are large, too large for the front seat of a sedan. 

The Chief also requires several radios at different frequencies.  If medical assistance or another mutual-aid team is called in then each requires a different frequency. 

Finally, the chief has a laptop with useful information that he would like to bring on calls.  In a recent incident, he was unable to quickly locate the gas shutoff for a building.  He explained that if he had his laptop, and the space to use it, he easily could have looked up the necessary information and found the shutoff. 

We have the program (software), but we dont have the ability to get that information into the current vehicle, explained Walker. 

Other towns with which Pelham has a mutual-aid agreement have either a Ford Expedition or a Chevy Tahoe as command cars.  The larger vehicle allows the person in charge to run the command center from the back, with the bigger space allowing for better access to the information.

The lack of a sufficient command car creates a disadvantage for Pelham in mutual aid situations.  In some instances, Walker has had to set up command in Salem or Windham vehicles.  This works fine until it is time for the other town to leave the scene but more work is to be done.  It is like having to pack up the tent before the campout is over, he said.  As you demobilize, you cant keep another towns vehicles. 

Moreover, Walker says that although Pelham is in a mutual-aid contract with surrounding towns, Pelham tends to do the calling more than the giving.  He says, It is noticed.  This is one of the reasons that he insists on training and establishing professional competencies.  We need to set up the expectation that they can rely on us when we show up to help, he says.  The neighboring fire chiefs are a great group and we get on well.  They have been very helpful.  He adds, But each of us has a responsibility to our respective communities and each of us recognizes and respects that.

The 11-year old command car may have just under 100,000 miles on it, but time has taken its toll.  According to Walker, the transmission slips, the frame is rotted and it leaks oil.  We had to bypass the cooler because of the leaks, said Walker.  The lights inside are duct-taped in and the door locks malfunction. 

It is just tired, says Walker.  It has been through its useful life, and the scope of operations has changed.  It was part of the original plan.  The plan was that the car would last 10 years, and it has done that and more.

Walker may have won this battle, but it was not without a fight. 

At the Reconsideration Hearing, Dennis Viger, vicechair of the Budget Committee, raked Walker over the coals, calling his requests helter-skelter. 

You come here talking about standards, began Viger, raising his voice.  He wondered why the Fire Department had not come forward with a long term plan for upgrading the department.  Right now it seems like we are going helter-skelter, shooting at standards we think we need.

First, we are in the process of developing a strategic plan, Walker responded calmly.  He explained that a three-year plan had been submitted to the Board of Selectmen.  He also explained that everyone has to meet standards, regardless of the size of the community.  I just want a basic level of service to manage incidents and provide safety to my personnel and the community.

Walker added that he is working on a master plan and has asked the Budget Committee to participate in the process. 

For more information about the command car, or the Fire Department, Walker invites anyone to contact him directly or visit the fire station. 

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Proposed Water System on Town Land Withdrawn by Developer

by Barbara O'Brien

Plans for the developer who brought the plan to selectmen last year has withdrawn a proposed water system on town land located off of Fellows Road in Windham.

During the selectmen's meeting on Monday, January 14, co-developer Susan Mesiti came to the podium and read a prepared statement written by her and her husband, Anthony Mesiti, both Windham residents.  Anthony Mesiti did not attend the meeting.

The Mesiti's change of heart appears to have come about due to a proposed warrant article, one identical to a warrant article narrowly passed by residents in March of 2006.  That warrant article asked voters to allow selectmen to enter into certain agreements to permit the creation of a water system to be developed on town-owned property; a water system designed to serve parcels of land situated within the Village Center District of Windham.  These agreements could include the installation of water wells, clauses governing the potential sale of groundwater on town-owned land, as well as easements to allow the placement of equipment needed to support a water distribution system.

Selectmen said the warrant article was placed on the ballot again in order to give voters an additional and final vote as to whether or not Windham should enter into such an agreement with Mesiti Development using wells that were drilled on the town-owned Fellows Road property.

"We were trying to do something good (for the town)," Susan Mesiti said. "It didn't turn out that way."  Mrs. Mesiti said that she and her husband don't need the town's water to go forward with their proposed housing development, but were trying "to jumpstart the Village District's commercial development" by providing a better water supply than currently exists in that area.  The Mesiti's proposal also included providing land to the town to be used as a town common, as well as water to be used by town offices located in the adjacent area.

In the early months of 2007, selectmen had given permission to the Mesitis to drill test wells on a parcel of town-owned property, located behind the Windham Police Department on Fellows Road.  As a result, three test wells were drilled and an adequate water source was located.  A proposal was then developed, Mrs. Mesiti said, to share that water with the town.  "We never anticipated any negative reactions from the town," she said.  "Our intent was to locate the open space for our sub-division directly behind the town complex;" an area to be used as a town common.  All of the work done regarding the test wells was at the Mesitis' expense.

"We spent a lot of money, because we were told the selectmen could vote yea or nay without going back to the voters," Susan Mesiti told selectmen.  Town Administrator David Sullivan said the Board of Selectmen does have the legal right to implement the warrant article that was passed in 2006 without going back to the voters for another opinion.

Mrs. Mesiti said she didn't feel town officials were working with her and her husband in good faith and, therefore, they were going to install the water system needed for the sub-division completely on their own property; thereby, eliminating any potential sharing of water with the town.  Mrs. Mesiti also said she had heard that some people were insinuating that she and her husband were trying to take advantage of the situation.

Selectman Dennis Senibaldi said he was "disappointed" with the Mesitis' withdrawal of the water proposal and felt to do so was "premature".  Senibaldi also said he hadn't heard anyone say that the town has been taken advantage of by the developers.  He said he would like to see the proposal continue. 

Prior to the withdrawal, the Mesitis and town officials had drawn up a 40-page draft proposal regarding a water agreement between Mesiti Development and the Town of Windham.  That proposed document was still under consideration when Mrs. Mesiti withdrew the offer.

Selectman Roger Hohenberger said he didn't feel anything negative about the proposed agreement with the Mesitis, but does see it as "a major step."  "There is a need for extensive discussion," Hohenberger said, adding that, he, too, would like to see the project continue to move forward.

Selectman Margaret Crisler said she has heard "no negative comments whatsoever."  There are a lot of logistics to be worked out in such a project, Crisler said.  There's also the question of whether or not the town wants to be in the water business, she added.

Mrs. Mesiti asked how long it would take to move forward if she and her husband change their minds about withdrawing the proposal.  Hohenberger said he thought town officials could have a definitive proposal ready for voters in time for the deliberative session on Saturday, February 9.  "Don't yank it now," Hohenberger said.  "It can be amended at the deliberative session."

"We don't care to wait for another town vote," Mrs. Mesiti said, explaining that they've already been carrying a $3 million debt on the property for the past three years.

Chairman Alan Carpenter suggested that the proposed warrant article (#28) be removed from the ballot. "We don't need it legally to proceed," Carpenter said.  "The 2006 vote is valid until the end of 2008."

By a vote of 4 to 1, selectmen decided to withdraw the proposed warrant article from this coming March's town ballot.  Selectmen Carpenter, Crisler, Senibaldi and Bruce Breton voted to remove the warrant article. Only Selectman Hohenberger voted against the motion. 

The proposed water agreement is scheduled to be on the agenda again for Monday, February 4th's selectmen's meeting.  Selectmen agreed that the delay will give the Mesitis time to reconsider their withdrawal of the proposed agreement with the town.

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