Soule Students Study Pirates

From left, teachers aide Estelle Savage, Garrett Sahto, Olivia Lacey and Jacob Trovato

Soule’s second grade just completed a great month.  The students have been studying about pirates – learning about maps, compasses and grids.  Many students read and wrote about real pirates, and many students developed their own pirate adventure stories, where life skills and math played a very important role.

In costumes, maps and excitement, 45 students and teachers looked used maps to find hidden treasures all over the school.  The students could hardly sit still because they were so excited about the task in hand.  What a great way to make learning fun!

Working as a team to discover the clues for the treasure

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‘Celebration of Excellence’

by Len Lathrop

Jack Clancy, Enterprise Bank CEO; Gino Baroni, President and CEO of Trident Building Group; Mary Ellen Fizpatrick, Enterprize Bank Senior Vice President

Monday afternoon Jack Clancy, Enterprise Bank CEO, before about 50 of greater Salem’s top business and community leaders at DeVito’s on Main Street, announced that Enterprise is hosting a “Celebration of Excellence” this fall.  Notables in attendance were Edward Callahan, president of Rockingham Park; George Sioras, planning director for Derry; and Beth Roth, chairperson of the Salem Board of Selectmen.

“We are a bank that’s about the advancement of business, and feel the time has come to recognize and honor the great business and community leaders of this area,”  Clancy said.  The event, taking place at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, Massachusetts, on November 13, will have as its keynote speaker Theo Epstein, executive vice president and general manager of the Boston Red Sox.

“If you look at the hard work he put in to become what he is today, you can see, that he is a business success story,” Clancy said.

To be awarded are:

  • Business of the year (four of varying size), which will recognize local 0entities whose accomplishments have resulted in a better workplace;
  • Entrepreneur of the year (two), which will recognize entrepreneurial spirit and dedication;
  • Community Excellence (one) which will honor a business or nonprofit that has harnessed the power of its assets and resources to make a difference in the community.

Clancy said anyone can nominate a business (including self-nominations) by August 1, when 15 judges, themselves prominent business leaders, including Salem’s Gino Baroni, president and CEO of Trident Building Group, and Former Celtic great M. L. Carr and noted others will collaborate to determine the winners.

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Floods Happen, But Town-wide Improvements Under Way;
Preparedness Key

by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz

Salem’s newly formed Flood Mitigation Action Committee held its first public conference at Salem High School on Thursday, May 15.  It was open to the public and has been rebroadcast on Salem Community Television.

Town Manager Jonathan Sistare said he was well aware of Salem’s flooding woes.  “This is a long-standing issue requiring long range programs,” he said.

The Army Corp of Engineers is looking into concerns regarding the Spicket River from its start at Big Island Pond through to Methuen, Massachusetts’ end of the river.

Nancy Lavalle, FMAC chairwoman, said this is the first committee of its kind in Salem and southern New Hampshire.  With six major floods since 1968 it’s time to be proactive, she said.

Jennifer Gilbert, coordinator of flood management for the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, educated residents through presentation about the myths of flood prediction and differences between flood assistance and flood insurance.  She said you do not need to be in a flood zone to experience a flood or to buy flood insurance.  She said she was aware that many Salem residents who had never experienced flooding did so during the Mother’s Day flood of 2006.  Most of these people did not have flood insurance and did not realize that their homeowner’s insurance would not cover these types of damage, or never imagined they would need such coverage.

Gilbert explained why flood insurance is important even for non-flood zone residents.  She also explained that with the formation of FMAC, Salem residents and business owners affected by flooding in the past are qualified to participate in FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by contacting their insurance agents.  She said the contents of a home such as personal belongings are not covered by flood insurance, only the building.  The contents are covered under a separate policy.  Your insurance agent can answer questions about the flood insurance options or you can contact the New Hampshire Office of State Planning at 271-2155 or the NFIP Region 1 Office in Braintree, Massachusetts at (781) 848-1908.  Another resource is

Fire Chief Kevin Breen is the town’s emergency management director.  He said that the May 2006 flood damaged 81 Salem homes.  No one neighborhood was singled out; it was a town-wide problem.  He said that during such an emergency there are three phases:

Preparedness:  Individuals need to prepare.  When you hear disaster could be on the way heed the warning and get ready.  Make a kit of important personal documents such as identification cards, birth certificates, mortgage papers, deed, banking information.  Make copies and keep the originals in a safe deposit box, keep the copies with you.  Have a supply of more than 72 hours worth of sanitary supplies, non-perishable food, medications, clothing including sturdy shoes and gloves, and one gallon of water per person and pet in your family per day.  Have flashlights, radio, batteries, manual can opener; wrench to turn off your gas if necessary, along with other tools you may need.

Elevate or remove items stored in your basement and secure them in a dry spot if possible.  Secure loose items in your yard such as toys, gas cans, grills, propane cylinders, yard debris and trash so they do not become flood debris causing more problems.  Fill and store sandbags, available at the Department of Public Works on Cross Street, or buy flood barriers for your home and business.  Information about these products can be found by calling DoorDam toll free at (866) 366-7326 or at; or Presray at (941) 723-8755 or

On the town’s end of preparing for a flood it starts with a conference call with the governor.  Multiple agencies have representatives who meet with Salem officials and communication continues throughout the emeregency.  Vehicles and equipment are readied along with sandbags filled and deployed.  A reverse 911 call goes out to sections of town in immediate danger or those in the most flood-prone areas.  Portable water pump kits are available at the central fire st0ation on Main Street and can be signed out for use by residents.  Numbers are limited so they are available first come, first served.

Response and Mitigation:  The flood has begun and necessary evacuations are under way.  Salem fire, police and public works are managing the emergency during this phase.

Recovery:  This is the aftermath.  This phase includes damage assessment, cleanup and beginning of repairs.  Breen noted that Salem residents are known to come together during a crisis, helping one another.  The Salem Citizens Corps Council are prepared to help fellow residents with cleanup and repairs.

Cynthia Crescenzi, Salem’s information technology director, showed residents what new technology initiatives are being developed, such as a new Webpage on the town’s Website that will provide real-time information on river gauge readings, road closures, evacuations and links to agencies that provide advice and other information.

Salem Police Department’s Safety Officer Basil Chingros explained how traffic management is coordinated during a flood emergency.  He listed items Salem Police have available to assist in these situations such as two SUVs, barricades, electronic message boards, cones and a hazardous materials trailer.

Chingros said that one of the bigger problems police deal with during floods are drivers who ignore road closure barricades and driving through and become stranded.  He made it clear there is a $1,000 fine for ignoring road closures.  Towing stranded vehicles many times must wait until the water recedes.

Chingros said the department encourages residents to call to report unsafe road conditions that do not appear to have been addressed.  He asked that the non-emergency line, 893-1911, be used rather than 911.  Information on road condition changes that police may not be aware can help police stay on top of traffic diversion and road closures.

Chingros would like to see more mutual aid, signs warning drivers of the $1,000 fine for ignoring road closures, more electronic message boards at the town’s borders during emergencies and a separate phone line for residents to report road conditions or flood-related public safety problems, as well as a recorded line fo residents to obtain information on road closures and detours.  Residents can stop by the station to pick up a brochure if they are on the road during a flood and are confused about detours.  Chingros said police, fire and public works departments work well as a team during floods.

Public Works Director Rick Russell explained the DPW’s role during a flood emergency.  It works 24 hours during a flood monitoring river levels, staffing vehicles and equipment.  They touch base with emergency operations under way, assist while police close roads and the fire department evacuates homes.  They fill and deploy sand bags where needed and keep a record of all labor performed, material and equipment used for FEMA paperwork.  After a storm they review all affected roadways with the engineering department.

Russell said the Haigh Avenue sewer station has gotten flooded, but never backed up or caused a sewage spill due to a flood.  During a flood it is staffed 24 hours to monitor the station during a flood.  He would like to see a concrete wall built around the sewer station to protect it during floods.

Russell noted that high winds accompany floods that cause tree limbs to fall, causing power outages, and destroys flooded road swith swirling water.

The improvements under way in the DPW are to set priorities on cleaning catch basins and culvert repair.  Taylor, Wheeler and Millville dams have been repaired recently.  Russell said the town also owns a vacuum truck, now 23 years old, that must be replaced.  However, plans to clean catch basins have been set and a contractor will handle the job in an organized fashion.  It will take approximately four months to complete the project, followed by more frequent maintenance.  Culvert repair will begin in 2009.

During post-flood or recovery phase the town is working out plans for contracted help to assist in cleanup.

Selectman Everett McBride said at the close of the conference that “this is the first step in trying to address the flooding issues.  This is the most proactive approach I have seen, and I’ve been on the board since 1993.”  He noted a program in Methuen that sends text alerts to subscribers that keep residents informed and said he would like to see coordination across jurisdictions.

  Now Salem is raising awareness and creating solutions. 

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Baptist Church at Salem Depot, 1869

At a recent meeting at the Salem Historical Society, it was announced that the old Baptist Church building at the Salem Depot is being torn down within the next week or so.  Samantha’s Restaurant used to be housed in the building, but the structure as been vacant for a couple of years.  Only an “Opening Soon” sign remains on the front of the building.  No one really knows what happened to the previous owners.  Some of the society members had just returned from capturing some of the old artifacts there, and they said it was almost as if the previous owners just locked the doors and left.  Menus, food and beverages were still there as they were discarded many days ago.

The society passed along the following information on the building:

Clarissa Hovey of Salem gave the church a piece of land on which to erect a house of worship; and in May, 1869, Hovey,  Thomas B. Middleton and Clarissa H. Middleton jointly conveyed a piece of land to the deacons for a church site.  The lot was 90 feet front, 60 feet back and 180 feet deep.  Subsequently the adjoining strip four feet front, 15 feet back the full depth of the first lot was added, making the property as it is today.  The church was to be built not less than 40 by 45 feet.

Frye Austin was appointed an agent to convey the land owned by the church on the turnpike.  The church was erected, and dedicated December 30, 1869.  Rev. S. Pillsbury, a student at Newton, supplied the pulpit from February, 1870 to July 1871; Rev. Horace Eaton of Wakefield served from that time till April, 1873.  When he left, the church numbered 32 members.  Rev. E.J. Whittemore was called to the pastorate May 9, 1873.  At his coming an extensive revival commenced, in which Rev. E.A. Whittemore, an evangelist, assisted.  In four months, 25 converts were taken into the church.  This pastor closed his work on March 1, 1875.  In the records of the preceding year is found the first reference to a vestry, under date May 13.  On January 1, 1875, Tristram C. Adams, Thomas B. Middleton and Frye Austin were chosen a committee to investigate building the vestry.  Austin resigned and Alfred E. Goodwin was put in his place on the committee.  The vestry was finished in the basement and the church was remodeled in the summer.  The debt of $700.00 contracted at the time was provided for two years later.  On June 15, it was “voted to reseat the house of worship,” in accordance with the new accommodations.

In August 1875, Rev. A.S. Stowell came to the church, being ordained September 9 following.  In 1888, a steeple was put on the belfry and repairs were made by Gilman Corning, whose mother, Lydia Corning, was a member of the church.  In 1906, extensive repairs and alterations were made.  The old steeple and belfry were torn down and a new one built outside the main church edifice, but adjoining it.  The church was reshingled and painted, a steel ceiling was put into the auditorium, and other repairs were made.  This work was accomplished through the generosity of Levi Woodbury, whose father and mother were among the early members of the church.

Many memories and tales lie hidden in the beautiful white church.  It is too bad its history has to end with its destruction.

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Police Chief Honored with Good Scout Award

by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz

From left: Luke Morris, Eagle Scout from Troop 459; Police Chief Paul Donovan, Good Scout Award Recipient; and Harrison Flodi, Eagle Scout from Troop 266.

The Daniel Webster Council, Boy Scouts of America, honored Salem Police Chief Paul Donovan with the Greater Salem Good Scout Award on Tuesday, May 13, at the Atkinson Country Club and Resort.

The award cited Donovan as a community leader who exemplifies scouting’s values of character, citizenship and fitness.

Hank LaBranche, last year’s award recipient, was the chairman of Tuesday’s event.  He nominated Donovan for his leadership in the Salem community as police chief and his work with several local organizations.

Though an award recipient does not need to be someone involved with scouting, Donovan is.  He is an Eagle Scout who holds three palms in scouting and is an active merit badge counselor.

Donovan said the award meant a lot to him because through scouting he became successful in life and police work.  He was a member of an inner city troop, Hartford Troop 2, in Connecticut.  He values those times as a boy when he could leave the city for the weekend and go camping, learn leadership skills and how to interact with people of different walks of life.

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