Building Birdhouses in Pelham

by Lynne Ober

Brett, 7, is intent on getting his birdhouse put together correctly.

Building a birdhouse is a perfect activity for adults to share with their children or grandchildren.  It can be used to teach about birds and proper use of tools.

Shelter, vital to a birds survival, is essential for nesting and resting, and if you provide an inviting habitat, you will attract birds.  The best shelter is the living kind – shrubs and trees.  A mixture of evergreen and deciduous plants provides year-round warmth and protection, but birdhouses also are an ideal way of providing shelter for growing families.  Dead trees and limbs also can provide homes for nesting birds.  If a dead tree doesnt endanger lives or property, leave it for the birds.

Shelter is especially important during the spring nesting season (about six weeks) in an environment free from man or animals.  Pelham families gathered at the Pelham Public Library on Tuesday night to build a rugged birdhouse for a family of chickadees, a bird found throughout New Hampshire.

The activity was the brainstorm of Miss Debbie.  I found a book in the library about making birdhouses and decided to make one for myself at home, she grinned.  That was so much fun, I decided to share the fun with my library friends.

Families were asked to sign up so that enough raw materials were on hand.  Wearing safety glasses, aprons and working intently, more than a dozen children and their parents worked on their birdhouses.

Sarah wanted to make a birdhouse last fall, said Sarahs mother, Hilary.  When I saw this activity listed, I decided that we should sign up.

Sarah, 5, carefully held her hammer with two hands as she drove the nails into her birdhouse.

Chickadees like to nest in deep boxes or holes in trees.  They build their nests with moss and other soft objects.

Brett, 7, said building the shelter was fun and he hoped a bird would live in it this spring.

Tiny Victorias apron was almost as big as she was.  She watched intently and offered soft instructions to her mom as they worked on their chickadee house.

Its a wonderful turnout and everyone is having a great time, said Library Director Sue Hoadley.

Sarah, 5, uses two hands to nail her birdhouse together.

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Young Inventors Win Awards at Convention

Hampstead Academy social studies teacher Jim Rand and his Young Inventors competed at the Fidelity Young Inventors’ Program in Tilton on Saturday, April 5.  Sixth graders Ashwin Murali (upper row, right) of Windham and Evan Becht won three awards for their “Robotic Snowplow.”  They won Best in Grade, Inventors’ Choice, and the Electrical Award, which included a $75 prize.  Seventh grader Joshua Fyffe of Pelham (upper row, left) won the Environmental Award for his “Clean Gripper,” and eighth grader Christopher Bundock won Best in Grade and the Environmental Award for his “Dishwasher Sink” invention.  Other winners from Hampstead Academy included sixth graders Margaret Miller-Bartley, Emilie MacDonald, Tina Safford, and Maggie Kenter (lower row) who created a Rube Goldberg device called the “Morning Rush.”  This complex contraption even made toast!

The Young Inventors Program®, held by the Academy of Applied Science, started in New Hampshire and is now held in other states, including New York and Massachusetts.  It involves participation from 600 New Hampshire schools, and over 5,000 students.  An annual statewide event brings together 200 students from 60 schools.  Entries are judged on several criteria such as originality, usefulness, presentation and illustration, and research.  Prizes are awarded in categories such as Best in Grade, Environmental, Special Needs, Fun and Leisure, and Most Marketable.  An interesting category is Rube Goldberg machines, in which a complex machine is built to perform a simple or nonsensical task.  The aim of the program is to encourage kids to think “outside the box.”

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Windham Salt Shed Study

by Barbara O’Brien

At the request of Windham Town Administrator David Sullivan, selectmen unanimously approved town officials doing an internal analysis of property being considered as the site of a new salt shed.

Initially, it was determined the study would be done by an outside firm at an estimated cost of $15,000, a sum included in the 2008 budget.  After further review and consideration, however, Sullivan decided that taxpayers money could be saved by using the expertise of certain town employees, including Highway Agent Jack McCartney, Planning Director Al Turner, Transfer Station Manager Dave Poulson and Tax Assessor Rex Norman.

The only selectman who questioned the request was Roger Hohenberger, who said someone within the industry needs to provide advice on all available options.  Hohenberger said he wasnt taking away from the expertise of the staff when he suggested getting assistance from an outside agency.

Sullivan said town officials can use state resources for advice where required, such as when dealing with stormwater protection issues.

Selectman Charles McMahon said he views doing the analysis in-house as a great opportunity to save money.  Speaking as a state representative, McMahon said, The DOT (State Department of Transportation) will definitely be willing to cooperate with town staff.

In the second half of the discussion, selectmen voted 4 to 1 to hire local engineer Peter Zohdi of Herbert Associates to assist with the analysis of potential salt shed sites at a maximum cost of $5,000.  Roger Hohenberger voted against hiring an outside engineer.  Chairman Dennis Senibaldi, Vice-Chairman Bruce Breton and Selectmen McMahon and Galen Stearns voted in favor.

The town-owned Wilson Property adjacent to the transfer station is being considered for the future salt shed site. Other town-owned areas also are being considered. 

Sullivan said the goal is to complete the study before the end of 2008. A proposed and detailed plan is expected to be sent to the state by the end of this year.  To acquire a new stormwater permit from the state, Windham must relocate the existing salt shed on Depot Road.  Sullivan said state officials expect the town to be out of the shed by the end of 2011.

Originally, the state expressed an interest in building a shed jointly with Windham, but backed away late last year due to a shortage of money.

Sullivan said he will provide periodic updates as the site analysis continues.

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Pelham Climbing Wall Offer

by Lynne Ober

Pelham Elementary School PTA Co-Presidents Jen McPhee and Mary Collins made a presentation to the Pelham School board.  The PTA has offered to donate and fund a climbing wall that would be installed around the schools gym.

The climbing wall would be designed so that children traversed around the gym rather than climbing up a wall.

The wall would consist of 10 each four-by-eight panels, 10 each four-by-eight security mats, shipping and installation for a total cost of $10,250.  The co-presidents told the school board if the project was accepted installation could be completed in the summer.

McPhee told the board that since 1980 the percentage of overweight children between ages six and 11 had doubled.  This is due to children riding school buses to school instead of walking, lack of supervised recreation time and too much snacking.  The climbing wall would be one answer to get kids exercising.  

Quoting the Pelham School District Wellness Policy, McPhee told the board the climbing wall fit into the policy and encouraged development of additional physical activity opportunities.

Physical education teacher Tony Balduc spoke in favor of the wall and talked about how it could be used to excite kids about exercising more.

The modular panels would be mounted side by side to form a traverse wall that could be safely used by younger children.  The Security mats not only provide a padded landing surface but also secure the wall when not being used and provide a padded surface in case someone runs into the wall.

As part of installation, faculty training sessions are available so staff can learn how to incorporate climbing activities into the curriculum.

McPhee said they had talked to other surrounding school districts with climbing walls and found that no additional insurance costs would be needed.  They provided references from local school districts with such walls.

One school board member complained because she did not have the presentation ahead of time.  I would have liked to have read this and prepared written questions about the donation.  As a result, board members agreed to wait a week before discussing the proposal.  McPhee and Collins offered to return to answer questions.

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