Justin Hojlo Breaks 1000 point mark

Justin’s record shot came in the second period when he threw up a two handed jumper from inside the 3 point line to pass the 1000 mark

From the beginning of the game you could feel that it was a special night for Python Captain Justin Hojlo.  Both teams and all in attendance knew he needed only 11 points to break a career 1000-point mark.

The first time he touched the ball he threw up a 3 pointer from outside the key for the first score of the game. Coming back down the court after a Bow miss, Hojlo scored another 3 pointer, this time from the right corner.  Play continued and everyone saw Number 22 launch one from just in front of the scorers table before being mugged by the Bow defender. After going to the free throw line the magic number became one.

The second period began with the starters for the Pythons on the floor. Hojlo brought the ball down the floor several times and passed it off. About half way though the period with Justin on the right side just out side the 3 point line the ball came around from the top of the circle to Justin and he put it away for another 3 pointer;  and his 1000, 1001 and 1002 points. The crowd cheered and applauded.

At the half, Coach Kress brought Justin and his family to center court and presented him with a game ball especially prepared for the occasion. Kress in his introduction of Justin pointed out the last Python to break 1000 points was Justin’s good friend James Roman, and that Justin had reached the mark in 5 less games than Roman, making him the Python to reach the 1000 point mark the fastest.

Coach Kress and 1000 pointer Justin Hojlo.

Justin with his mom Jody, dad Frank, and brother former Python Star Frankie.

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PES Holds First Ever School Spelling Bee

by Karen Plumley

On the morning of Thursday, January 31, students in grades three through five gathered in the Pelham Elementary School gymnasium to cheer on 25 of their classmates in the first ever schoolwide spelling bee.  The 25 were the winners of a spelling contest held previously in each of their classrooms.  It was a challenge to keep the chatter down during the hour-long contest in which finalists were given words selected from the 2008 Spell-It study guide.

Presiding over the bee was School District Superintendent Frank Bass, who made the introductions and gave the words to the students.  The judges were Principal Alicia LaFrance, longtime Pelham resident and volunteer Judy Hayes, and veteran school board member Eleanor Burton.  “It takes a lot of courage and stamina for these students to be up here in front of their peers,” noted Dr. Bass, who also thanked Michelle Viger for her work on the project and devotion to the kids.  “This is a really exciting day,” Viger said.  She explained the rules of the bee.  Students were allowed to ask for the definition of words and sentence usage.

After round one, there were only eight children left standing, and after the second round three students remained; two were fifth-graders Mackenzie Bryant and Renee Gagnon.  The third was fourth- grader Kaylie Golding.  It took three more rounds to determine a winner.  Renee Gagnon spelled “implement” correctly to take first place.  A spell-off round was held to determine an alternate, and Mackenzie beat out Kaylie by spelling “confetti” correctly.  The word “filibuster” tripped up Kaylie.

Renee Gagnon will go on to the regional bee championship, and if successful, will compete in the state contest.  If she is unable to attend the regional spelling bee for any reason, her alternate, Mackenzie Bryant, will attend in her stead.

Pelham Elementary School Spelling Bee winner Renee Gagnon and alternate winner Mackenzie Bryant await their awards.

With all eyes upon her, fifth-grader Renee Gagnon spells “implement” correctly to win the school’s first ever spelling bee.

Dr. Frank Bass wishes each of the 25 contestants good luck at the spelling bee.  Here he is shaking hands with contestant Trevor Hayes.

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First Historic District Sign Gets Go-Ahead

by Barbara O'Brien

Selectmen have given members of Windham's Historic District Commission permission to go ahead with having the first sign, designating one of the town's five historic districts, manufactured.  The anticipated cost of that sign is $1,450.

Last year, it was believed that all five historic districts could be posted at a total cost of $1,000.  As a result, selectmen approved the expenditure ($200 for each sign).  Subsequently, however, it was learned that the cost had been seriously underestimated.  "This was very unrealistic," Carol Pynn, Chairman of the Windham Historic District Commission told selectmen.  Pynn met with board members on Monday, January 28.

After gathering additional information about the cost of signage, Pynn said commission members realized they needed to return to selectmen and take a different tact in pursuing markers for the town's historic districts.  Pynn said that prices she had been quoted ranged from $1,450 per sign to $1,750 (plus a $250 one-time charge for tooling Windham's Town Seal).  Pynn said she was recommending the lower priced sign, as it is similar to the higher priced version.

As a result of the higher than anticipated cost, Pynn said that commission members are now only asking for one sign per year, a process that would extend for a total of five years, until all the districts are similarly marked. 

The $1,450 signs, which Pynn described to selectmen, are:  two by three foot rectangles, double-sided, cast aluminum; mounted on a single post.  Installation would need to be done locally and is not included in the price quoted.  "They're very classy" looking, Pynn told selectmen.

Following a short period of discussion, selectmen decided to add another $450 to the $1,000 they allocated last year for the purchase of historic signs.  The decision to purchase one sign this year for $1,450 was unanimous.

Pynn said she is looking forward to having the signs erected, in order "to draw attention to some of the neat, historic stuff we have in Windham."

Windham's five historic districts, which will be marked on an annual basis until the task is completed, include:  the Town Centre, which is the largest of the five districts; Searles School and Chapel; Union Hall; John Simpson Cellar Hole; and the Depot, which is currently being in the process of restoration.

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Proposed Town Operating Budget Up 6.69%

by Barbara O'Brien

The proposed 2008 Windham town operating budget being brought forth to voters shows an overall increase of 6.69% over last year's approved operating budget.  In 2007, voters approved an operating budget of $11,667,820.  This year, town officials are asking for $12,448,387; an increase of $780,567 over what was approved for 2007.  The 2007 town operating budget was 4.92% ($547,565) higher than what voters had agreed to spend in 2006.

According to information provided by Windham Town Administrator David Sullivan, approximately 82% of the increase for 2008 ($642,475) is due to salary hikes, while about 18% of the increased budget ($138,092) is the result of proposed spending for operations, including employee benefits.

The largest increase in this year's budget proposal is for the new police contract, which is actually retroactive to April 1 of 2006 ($275,425).  The second largest area of increase is for the highway department ($136,570).  Third highest on the list of increases is the police department ($125,990), with the fire department coming in fourth ($122,785).

Also accounting for the rising budget proposal are health insurance premiums, amounting to a hike of 13.9% over premiums paid for employees in 2007.  Sullivan did note, however, that this year's increase in health insurance premiums for employees is about half the rate hike that occurred last year.

On a more positive note, there is a sizeable decrease in capital expenditures slated for 2008.  According to Sullivan, the drop in capital improvement expenses amounts to a total of $329,558 over last year's expenditures.

Voters will get their chance to have a say in the proposed town operating budget and all other proposed warrant articles during the upcoming deliberative session on Saturday, February 9, beginning at 9 a.m., at Golden Brook Elementary School.  The annual Town Meeting Day is set for Tuesday, March 11.  On that day, polls will be open to voters from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Golden Brook School.

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