Celebrating 19 Years of Quilt Shows

by Lynne Ober

Nineteen years of beautiful quilting and still going strong.  The Hannah Dustin Guild, founded in 1980 with 8 charter members, currently has over 250 active members.  For 19 years they’ve been holding a quilt show with beautiful quilts made by members.

This year’s challenge quilt had a theme of chocolate.  Who doesn’t love chocolate?  Each contestant who entered the challenge received three pieces of fabric that represented white, dark and milk chocolate.  These three pieces had to be used in the final quilt and at least one side of the finished quilt could not be straight.    There were 15 creative entries and these were hung together by the café.  Viewers could eat a snack and chit- chat about the chocolate creativity that went into the challenge quilts.

Generations of women have quilted.  In this year’s quilt show, quilts were on display from all age groups.  ‘Kites in the Wind’ was made by a young quilter.  One quilt had been started by a woman who died before it was done; another member finished the quilt and at the close of the show this beautiful quilt was presented to the surviving spouse in memory of his wife.

Along one wall were a series of quilts done on the same pattern, but the chosen fabrics were so different that one had to stop and really stare to realize that each quilt used the same pattern.  

Quilts came in all sizes, from wearable jackets to miniature quilts to bed quilts to wall hangings.  The themes portrayed in the quilts were as varied as the quilters themselves.  Some of the quilts were made for family members and some were made just for the joy of quilting.

Quilts were judged only if the member chose to enter the judging portion of the show.  Anne Gallo, a past president of the New England Quilt Guild and a past board member of the New England Quilt Museum, acted as judge for the show.  She provided feedback to all members who chose to enter the judging.  At the end of the show, two additional awards were announced.  The Viewer’s Choice for the Challenge Division and Overall Show were chosen by everyone who came and voted.  A complete listing of winners for the show is available from the Hannah Dustin Quilt Guild.

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Future Uncertain for Pelham’s Skate Park

by Lynne Ober


Arson damage under the pipe

Vandals struck at Pelham’s skate park.  “They used some sort of accelerant to start the fire,” said Pelham’s Park and Recreation Director Brian Johnson.  “It’s clear they came to the park with one idea in mind and they accomplished their goal.”

Johnson said the fire, set around 1 p.m. did more damage than he originally estimated.  “At first I was hopeful that it would only be a few hundred dollars, but after having the person who constructed the park out to give us an estimate, I understand that it will be very expensive.”

According to Johnson any of the support beams that have been charred must be replaced for safety reasons.  “That charred wood just won’t support the continual use that the park gets,” he said.  Johnson said there was insurance, but there also is a $1,000 deductible.  “We’ll have to raise the funds for the first thousand dollars of repairs.”

Johnson hadn’t been a Pelham employee at the time that the park was installed and noted that he hadn’t known how expensive some of the pieces were until he worked with the vendor who is supplying the estimate.  “I expect to get the estimate this week and then will have to file an insurance claim.”

According to Johnson, the skate park is jam-packed with kids every day.  “That park gets a lot of use and there are a lot of good kids who will now pay the price for what just a couple of kids did.”

When asked what the future of the park was, Johnson said that it was too soon to tell.  “I don’t know how long it will be closed or whether it would be possible to open it with the half pipe closed and the other equipment open.  It’s just a waiting game right now and then I’ll have to consult with the town administrator and we’ll develop the best plan.”

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Pelham Soccer Fields to be Privately Funded

by Lynne Ober

In Marchk, Pelham voters again turned down the soccer field project for Raymond Park.  The warrant article asked for $285,000 to construct the fields, complete wetlands and control erosion at the park.  The voters said no.

Pelham previously won a DRED grant that could be used to build the fields.  There’s $45,000 left in the grant and recently Pelham Parks and Recreation Director Brian Johnson; Selectman Hal Lynde, who coached soccer for several years; and Town Administrator Tom Gaydos met with state officials on extending the grant so that the town wouldn’t lose that money.

According to Lynde they also took approximately $90,000 worth of invoices with them to the meeting.  DRED officials have evaluated the invoices and the town has met the 55 percent match requirement of the grant.  Lynde also reported that the grant deadline was extended until the end of September, 2008.

Lynde told his fellow selectmen that the project had been pared down.  No lighting will be installed.  Parking, as originally planned, has been removed from the grant paperwork.  The soccer fields, which were sited east to west have been rotated to a north and south orientation which is better for goalies.  With this new orientation, no wetlands will have to be mediated.  No irrigation will be installed at the time that the fields are built.  “The soils will hold water,” Lynde told the board, “and it was felt that it was better to play soccer on brown fields than to not have any fields for soccer games.”

Altogether the scaled down project will cost $65,000.  With the money in the grant, another $20,000 will have to be raised from private sources.  The money being raised is being deposited in a town account and ear-marked for the soccer fields.

Tim Greenwood, past president of Pelham Soccer Club, met with selectmen and pledged that the club would help with the fields.  He also underlined the extreme need in Pelham for more fields and said this was a sport that every age could enjoy.

According to Johnson, they hope to find 200 people who will contribute $100 each.  “If we don’t find 200 people, we are looking at a variety of other fund-raising for the project.”  Johnson said that 141 three- and four- year-olds were registered in the spring Tot Soccer program and more than 450 had registered last fall for the Rec fall soccer program.  “That’s about 600 kids and we have very limited field space.  There’s a real need for more fields.”

Lynde told the board that several people had offered to donate and to help with the work.  “Materials for the fields are already on-site,” said Lynde.  He told selectmen sand and topsoil have been delivered to the site.  “We have to screen, lay the sand and then roll it out and then screen the loam, lay it on top of the sand and roll it before we can seed and fertilize.”

This park still has significant erosion and tire dump issues.  The state has been monitoring Pelham’s lack of progress at stopping the erosion into the wetlands and selectmen have been concerned about their inability, due to town votes, to control the erosion.  Lynde pointed out that stones that are moved as part of the field development can be placed so that they help control erosion.  “The town will benefit from this project even though we do not plan to use any tax dollars.  No means no and we understand that.”

Lynde also noted that some work would be done by volunteers and the first project that used volunteer labor would be to remove some saplings.

Fund raising for the $20,000 has already started and Johnson said that $1,100 was received in the first week.  “We hope as more people know about this, more people will donate.”  To make a donation, contact the Parks and Rec department.  When Selectman Bill McDevitt asked if checks were being made out to the town, Lynde said, “Make the check out Pelham Parks and Rec/Soccer Fields and the money will go to the soccer field fund.”

Johnson said lighting and irrigation are projects that could be completed separately and at a later date.

Several years ago, Spike Hayes had been working with a contractor in that park.  While digging test pits to check for a spot for an irrigation pond, the tire dump had been uncovered.  Since then, the state has ordered Pelham to mediate the tire dump, but funding for that project has not been allocated.

If everything goes to plan, the fields would be available for play sometime in 2009.

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School Access Road Back on Windham Agenda

by Barbara O’Brien

The building of a second access road to Windham High School is back on the town’s agenda.  Selectmen have scheduled a discussion of the mandated roadway for their meeting on Monday, May 12.

This past winter selectmen initially proposed a warrant article seeking the money to build a second road to the new high school.  Subsequently, the school district took over the proposal in hopes of acquiring 30 percent state building aid for the project.  Voters defeated the school district’s warrant article asking for $1.25 million to build the road.  That warrant article had been submitted by citizens petition and authored by State Representative and now Selectman Charles McMahon.  As a result of that defeat, the issue is back on the agenda.

According to McMahon, who spoke about the warrant article during the school district’s deliberative session this past February, “The high school will not open if we don’t have a second access.  No waiver will be granted,” McMahon said. According to McMahon, the second access has been required for such a facility since 2005 and is recommended by Windham’s fire and police chiefs for safety reasons. The type of road required, however, continues to be subject of debate.

Glenn Davis, the high school construction representative for the school district and town, said that according to National Fire Protection Standards the only requirement for a secondary access is a gravel road.  School district legal counsel Gordon Graham said the local fire chief has authority on this issue.  Windham High School is scheduled to open in September of 2009.

The land needed to build the access road is owned by abutting property owners.  The old London Bridge Road, over which the new access road is proposed to be built, was discontinued in the 1960s, when the land reverted to the abutters.  To rebuild the road, the town would need to acquire that land from the abutters.  McMahon said negotiations regarding acquisition of those parcels are in progress.

If selectmen decide to go forward with asking voters to spend the money to build the second access road, it will need to be put on the warrant for next March, only six months before the high school’s scheduled opening.

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Police Officers Leaving Pelham

by Lynne Ober

“The day after the March election, one of my officers called the Windham Police Department and asked if they had any openings,” said Pelham Police Chief Joseph Roark.  “Within the week he had a conditional job offer.”

Roark said his department was being decimated by the March ballot.  When voters again turned down the police contract, his officers had to start making financial decisions.  Those decisions are going to affect Pelham residents.

Detective Mike Marshall, who was also the school resource officer, took a comparable job with the Lowell, Massachusetts, police department.  Roark read Marshall’s resignation letter to the Board of Selectmen.  In his letter, Marshall, who had been with the Pelham department for three years, said that he was leaving only because of financial reasons.  “My wife and I want to have children in the next couple of years.  I have to think about my family’s finances.”  Marshall praised Roark and the department, said it was a great place to work and that he had been very torn in making the decision.

Roark explained that Marshall, with three years’ experience, was still working at his rookie pay because of the continued failure of the contract.  “He worked for three years and did a great job.  He was frozen at his rookie pay and no raise was on the horizon.”

Roark said he was not filling the school officer position and planned to put a warrant article on next March’s ballot to fill that slot.  “I had a warrant article for an officer for the midnight shift on the ballot and that was shot down.  I believe that having a school resource officer is very important to both the schools and the kids, but I have to look at providing base core services before I fill the nice-to-have slots.”  Roark said the most basic core facility was to have officers patrolling the town’s streets.  “That’s where Marshall’s replacement will have to go and I’ll ask for a school resource officer next year,” he said.

Marshall told selectmen that in Windham a top step patrolman would earn $53,173 with three years’ experience and in Pelham a top step patrolman with five years experience, or two more year’s experience than in Windham, would earn $45,000.  “I can’t keep employees when they know that Pelham’s pay scale is so much lower than surrounding towns.  All they have to do is call a department.  We are all having issues recruiting and they get an offer.”

Roark said that while the situation was discouraging he was proud that all the Pelham officers were working as hard as ever.  “No one has let down.  No one misses a shift.”  Roark also said that other towns were offering $5,000 to $10,000 recruiting bonuses.  “I don’t want to become a training facility for my neighboring police departments.  I want to train and keep my men.  We must do something about the salaries in Pelham.”

Roark said he realized that financial times were tough, but noted that the future was bleak and said that he had one officer in Iraq and 25 percent of his force with pending job offers.  “We are using mandatory overtime.  When that phone rings you must come to work.  It is not voluntary and I’m proud of how the men and women are handling it.”  While proud, Roark is also worried about the near and long-term future.  

Selectman Bill McDevitt engaged Roark in a commentary about how overtime drives up salaries, but also wearies the men.  “I really don’t like to have my men working too much overtime.  They need family time and remember they work on weekends and only get one weekend every five weekends off.  I also like to have them fresh when they go out on calls.”

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