Five Decades of Memories
by Lynne Ober
Michael Bergeron holding his nearly 3-year old son, Luke, Roland Bergeron and John Beaulieu.
Family, friends and colleagues shared laughs and memories at Roland Bergeron’s retirement party held at Passaconaway Country Club in Litchfield. There were remembrances, stories and tall tales – some chuckles and some outright guffaws.
Roland is retiring after 47 years of service to Litchfield. He’ll long be remembered and no one who follows him will have the effect that Roland had on the growing community.
Roland’s son Tim, at Board of Selectmen Chairman Raymond Peeples’ urging, introduced his extended family.
Son Michael wrote a biography of his father that was read by sister Jane. The biography began when Roland’s parents emigrated from Canada to America and highlighted Roland’s service to America during World War II, his schooling, his work and his tenure as a town employee.
When Roland married Louise, they moved to Nashua, but Louise wanted to live on a farm. When she saw a farm for sale in Litchfield, they decided to buy it with a VA loan. Roland immediately got involved in the town that he was to watch grow.
While you and I cannot remember when Litchfield had no paved roads, Roland can and he can tell you about the efforts to ensure that Litchfield had responsible growth.
The audience laughed when Peeples recalled one of his first town meetings when Roland was asking for funds to heat Litchfield’s highway building. “A woman took the microphone and asked, ‘What highway building? Do we have a highway building?’ Almost every building in town has Roland’s fingerprints on it,” Peeples said.
After that story, the roast was on. There were many happy stories from colleagues and friends. Five former selectmen chimed in with their own favorite ‘Roland story’ and the audience laughed along with Roland and his family.
The afternoon was filled with high accolades. He received kudos on all fronts and his many accomplishments were acknowledged and shared. Not only has Roland touched every building in town, but he helped make the bike path on Albuquerque Avenue a reality as well as helped obtain the land on which the town hall sits.
Michael Bergeron took the microphone and talked about his dad as a dad. “Bergerons all want to control. Feel sorry for our spouses,” he began with a smile. Michael talked about the stewardship that Roland brought to his family and the time that he spent with his children. He talked about what he’d learned from his father, which ranged from working hard to not feeling entitled to spending time with your kids to the Bergeron snore. Michael demonstrated the Bergeron snore to the audience’s glee. “Today my dad shops at Sam’s Club and he still shows up with food packages for all of us,” Michael grinned.
Roland received a photo collage from Gil, AKA ‘The Highway Department’ as Peeples noted. A cartoon that had been on his wall had been enlarged by two Campbell High School students, Ashley Wheeler and Katherine Emory, a T-shirt with the cartoon imprinted on it was given and a large collage of colored and framed ink drawings were given to him.
When the afternoon was over, many people had said many nice things and it was obvious that Roland made a positive impact throughout his years.
Library Announces Construction Management Firm
by Lynne Ober
Anne “Connie” Owen, Arlene Creeden, John Knowles, Linda Walkley-Kipnes, Mary “Toni” Weller, Kathleen MacLean, and Rob Smith
Hudson Library Trustees introduced Rob Smith from North Branch Construction, Inc. as their contact for construction of the George H. and Ella M. Rodgers Memorial Library.
North Branch Construction, Inc. was founded in 1958 and since that time has developed into a full service general contractor and construction manager serving both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. For the past five years, North Branch has had an average revenue of $42 million per year. They have a proven record of working with towns and school districts, and they report that 64 percent of their projects were with schools or libraries and an additional 23 percent of their projects were with municipalities.
In addition, North Branch has an innovative safety system that has allowed them to be recognized for running very safe construction sites. Both their field employees and jobsite superintendents are OSHA certified. Not only is there pre-employment drug and alcohol testing, but employees agree to be tested randomly. They hold weekly safety meetings with all subcontractors and vendors onsite.
“We have never failed to meet a contractual deadline,” said Smith, who said that they had won awards for their projects and had become known for completing projects at or below cost.
John Knowles, chairman of the Hudson Library Trustees, said there was a “fairly extensive process of choosing the construction manager.” A total of 13 firms applied and the trustees asked for proposals and did interviews for four of the firms.
Smith, who has 35 years experience and is the CEO of North Branch, noted that North Branch completed work on the $7.8 million Portsmouth Public Library. “That was a challenge because the money had been allocated earlier than construction was started. Everyone knows how construction costs go up. We worked with them to stay within the budget.”
North Branch will provide full construction management services. According to Smith, they will bid all work in order to ensure that the best price is achieved. They will provide onsite supervision and they will prepare and award all contracts after consultation with the trustees and the architects. They will prepare and maintain the construction schedule and provide all bookkeeping and cost control monitoring for the project.
“It is our job to see that the job comes in at or under budget and on schedule,” said Smith. “We have plenty experience in achieving that.”
Smith expects that construction will take 10 months and hopes to begin in late June. However, North Branch will not go away when construction is over. As part of their proposal, they will ensure that every item found after construction that still needs attention will receive attention. They will also work with the library trustees throughout the warranty period and will respond to any service calls that are needed by working with the appropriate sub-contractor.
Rob Smith and head librarian Toni Weller
Hudson Goes to Court
by Tom Tollefson
The Hudson Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to go to New Hampshire Supreme Court for eminent domain taking of portions of the properties at 60 and 64 Lowell Road. This eminent domain taking would turn over a section of the property to the town for the sidewalk project, while giving the property owner an appraised amount for the section.
After heated discussion between the Board of Selectmen and the property owner Bill Jordan at Tuesday night’s public hearing. The board also decided to investigate where the property line is between the road pavement and private property and where it would be if the town were to win the case.
“We need to be able to delineate between the existing conditions today to the conditions when we finish,” Chairman Shawn Jasper said.
The properties measurement were the one issue Jordan did agree on.
“I don’t think anybody has these numbers right,” Jordan said.
When asked a direct question as to where the property line currently lies and where it would end up, CLD engineering consultant Joann Fryer was forced to apologized for not having the exact measurements, but said she will find them for the board later.
Previously, Jordan had been under the understanding that the town would be using 60 inches at the edge of his drive to construct a sidewalk as part of the Lowell Road Sidewalk project. This estimated space would be a little over 1,000 square feet, which would leave 13 feet of space between the garage for his repair business, Bill’s Family Auto at 64 Lowell Road. According to the BOS, these measurements need to be researched before being verified for accuracy.
According to Fryer, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation grant for the project requires a sidewalk project to be completed straight down a roadway without gaps.
For the past two years, the BOS and Community Development have tried to negotiate a price for the easement on 60 and 64 Lowell Road, which serve as Jordan’s business and a residence. However, the negotiations have not led to any binding agreement.
“The construction price has gone up probably about $50,000 in the last few years, and we’d like to get it done,” Selectman Rick Maddox said.
According to Jordan, safety is his key concern with the new sidewalk. He believes that 13 feet is not enough space for him to back out vehicles from his garage, and a pedestrian could be hit walking on the sidewalk as a vehicle “blindly” backs out onto Lowell Road.
“It might look good on paper, but my building is 13 feet from Lowell Road. You can’t back a vehicle out of my shop before you’re in Lowell Road. It’s impossible for it to be safe at any speed,” he said, also stating that a sidewalk would be a false sense of security for pedestrians who could be hit.
Jordan also believes the property value of his business will go down because of this safety issue.
“Who in their right mind is going to want that property when it’s 13 feet from Lowell Road?” he said.
The BOS did not see these as reasons not to finish a project they said had been planned for 10 years.
“This is not going to increase pedestrian traffic, people aren’t going to walk out there just because there is a sidewalk,” Jasper said.
Maddox believes the sidewalk wouldn’t make a difference because pedestrians still would be walking in front of the garage. Jasper suggested Jordan hire a spotter to make sure the sidewalk would be clear as vehicles backed out of the garage, and recommended warning signs be posted to alert walkers.
The sidewalk improvement project covers 2,000 linear feet of five- to 6 1/2-foot wide sidewalk improvements from Winn Avenue to Birch Street. The total cost for the project is $405,000, which is covered by a NHDOT Transportation Enhancement Grant of $275,000 and a town match of $130,000.
Hudson Candidates’ Night
by Lynne Ober
Some Hudson offices have multiple candidates; some have just the right number and some are unfilled on the ballot. At Candidates’ Night, hosted again by the GFWC Junior Woman’s Club, the four town clerk/tax collector candidates and three of the five school board candidates vying for two seats answered most of the questions.
Several positions are not contested. J. Bradford Seabury is running unopposed for school clerk. On the town side, the unopposed races include:
- Connie Owens and Scott Slattery for two library trustee seats.
- Ken Massey for selectman
- Russell (Russ) T. Ober III for trustee of the trust fund
- Julieante Stone for supervisor of the checklist
- Paul Inderbitzen is running unopposed for two offices – school district moderator where he is the incumbent and town moderator
- Four budget committee seats are open with Ted Luszey and John Drabinowicz running write-in campaigns.
Running for town clerk/tax collector, in alphabetical order, are interim Town Clerk Patti Barry, Joyce Goodwin, Ben Nadeau and Harry Schibanoff. These candidates fielded numerous questions about improving customer service, their educational qualifications, lengthening office hours and goals if they won the position.
In response to a question about educational background, Schibanoff said he had an MBA from Boston University and did a fellowship in accounting. Goodwin said she had a bachelor’s degree in psychology, had taken accounting classes and had started a master’s degree at Rivier College. Nadeau said he had an AA from UNH in greenhouse and garden center management and had taken computer courses. Barry said that she had taken classes in vehicle registration and other areas relating to the town clerk’s office.
Several questions surrounded improving customer service, extending office hours and improving services. Barry said that she had extended hours until 6 p.m. two nights a month and didn’t see any need to expand more. She talked about moving toward electronic motor vehicle registration and said a committee had been formed to look at that. Nadeau said there should be Saturday hours and hours until 8 p.m. one night a week so residents who commute to jobs could get home in time to register vehicles, pay taxes and talk to people in the office. Goodwin and Schibanoff agreed that hours needed to be extended to assist commuting residents.
Schibanoff talked about using more Internet capability and said residents should be able to register their vehicles from the comfort of their homes as is done in other towns. Goodwin and Nadeau agreed. Barry reiterated that a committee had already been formed to look into that.
Nadeau and Schibanoff felt there needed to be a friendlier attitude in the office to improve customer service and customer satisfaction.
When one questioner asked if the prospective candidates had looked into working in the clerk’s office, Nadeau, who is also a selectman, noted that selectmen had filled two of the three available positions internally and had not advertised them to the public. Barry, who had been the Recreation Department secretary had applied and moved into one of the internally posted jobs. Goodwin noted that she had been involved in her family’s business as well as, at the time, had a number of family issues that required a flexible schedule. “I’m ready to work full time,” she said.
School board candidates also fielded questions – some that flummoxed the incumbents and non-incumbents. One especially difficult question concerned the pay of teachers in comparison to other towns. None of the candidates addressed that question, but instead talked about the hiring process. Two of the candidates, Lee Lavoie and Michael Mell, talked about wanting to increase hiring opportunities for Hudson staff. Incumbent Lars Christensen said teachers who came to Hudson stayed in Hudson and retired from Hudson schools.
Candidates were grilled on items ranging from making lunches more nutritious to funding for kindergarten. Unanimously, candidates felt that if the state was going to mandate kindergarten, then the state should pay for kindergarten. Lavoie pointed out that $2 million would be needed to fund construction of nine additional classrooms to house kindergarten students.
When asked what each would like to accomplish, Lavoie said he’d like to offer the best possible education at the best price. Mell said he wanted an open dialogue with residents and Christensen said he felt the board had been doing a good job in supporting educational goals and felt the board had been doing a good job for the taxpayer.
Two candidates are up for one cemetery trustee slot. Seabury is the incumbent and said that he had been plotting every plot, making maps and spreadsheets and wanted to continue to make that information available on the town’s Website for genealogists and others to use. Seabury also talked about the accomplishments that the cemetery trustees had made during his tenure.
George Mosnicka also is running for the position. He said that while this would be his first attempt at elective office, he had been serving on the recreation committee and was on the Executive Board of Hudson’s Girls Softball league. He said he wanted to give back to the community and noticed that often one person held more than one position.
Thaddeus (Ted) Luszey and John Drabinowicz are running write-in campaigns for two of the four available budget committee seats. Luszey is a member of the budget committee and said he had served for 10 years in that position. Drabinowicz also has a decade of experience on the budget committee, but has not served for the past few years because of work commitments.
Both talked about the process and when asked, along with the school board, how they felt about Hudson teachers being underpaid, Luszey said, “In the spirit of openness, I need to say that my wife is a teacher at Hudson Memorial School.” Luszey paused and then quipped, “And I think she is grossly underpaid.” Both candidates talked about the process of approving the contract and how they didn’t set the details or have anything to do with negotiations.
Moderator Paul Inderbitzen told the audience that more write-in candidates were needed to fill all budget committee slots and explained that interested people should get their friends to write them in.
When the last question had been asked and answered, Lisa Nute thanked Inderbitzen for moderating and the candidates for participating. She said that anyone could join the GFWC Junior Woman’s Club. “We meet the second Wednesday in the Ann Seabury Room in the Hudson police station. Stop on by. We are looking for new members. Remember to vote and thank you for watching and participating in this year’s forum.”