Scott F. Innes Field Dedication

by Tom Tollefson

The Innes Family behind the granite stone

To those who knew Scott Innes, his voice can still be heard screaming “GOAL” across the Litchfield area recently renamed Scott F. Innes Field (formerly Brick Yard Field). 

“Every time a goal was scored, you could hear him no matter where he was on the field,” Chris Huston 17, who was coached by Innes, said. 

On Saturday June 21, the Litchfield Youth Soccer League held a special ceremony to signify the renaming of the field and unveil the granite memorial and bench with his engraved name.  The bench and plaque was made from granite, and according to Senior Recreation Coordinator Jon Saunders, cost the Youth Soccer League around $2,000 to $3,000.  The work was done by Hempworth Memorial Granite Company.  After Innes’ death in September, the Litchfield Youth Soccer League Board unanimously agreed to rename Brick Yard Field in his honor.

“This is the way Scott would have wanted to be remembered,” Innes’s wife Robin said. 

The bench had a quote from Scott, which friends and family say represented what he was all about.  “Did you have fun today?  That’s all that matters.”

The words of the parents and young soccer players said it all.  According to them, Innes not only taught soccer, but the intangibles of being honest, having a good attitude, and enjoying the game no matter if you win or lose. 

In his presentation, Huston said that he remembered Innes for “imparting the love of the game,” and added that even after outgrowing the youth soccer league, Innes’s inspiration had driven him to become a referee and coach. 

Cassandra Baron, 15, read a poem aloud to express how much she missed her former coach and how he had not just taught her soccer skills, but more importantly to enjoy the game. 

Innes was involved with the youth soccer league for over 15 years.  During that time he was not only a coach for travel and recreation teams, but also was a referee, referee coordinator, and also held many different positions on the Litchfield Youth Soccer League Board.  He did this as volunteer work in addition to his career as a lawyer. 

Innes also served on the school building committee and budget committee. 

“He would have been on every town board if he had the time,” Robin Innes said.

Selectman Pat Jewett, who had served with him on town boards, also attended the ceremony in what she considered “plain clothes” because she said Innes would have wanted the day to be laid back and relaxed. 

“Too bad we didn’t have 100 more just like him,” Jewett said. 

Innes past away last September after suffering a heart attack while doing what he loved, coaching soccer.  

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Dan Hodge Retires

submitted by Laurie Jasper

Mr. Hodge and Sarah Jasper

Friday, June 20, marked the last day of the school year in Hudson as well as the first day of summer.  Snow days forced the school year to end later than originally anticipated, and, due to a complex leap-year calendar, the summer solstice occurred one day earlier than its normal June 21 date, an event which has not occurred since 1896.  Another notable event on that date was the retirement of Dan Hodge from Hudson Memorial School.

Much like the occurrence of an earlier than normal summer solstice, Dan Hodge has been such a presence at Memorial School during his 31 years in education that his retirement, a significant milestone, should be acknowledged throughout Hudson.  Dan Hodge taught Language Arts and, more recently, Health Education, and was one of the few teachers at the school who taught all students at each grade level.  That means he knew the entire school population, and they knew him.  Mr. Hodge taught with kindness, respect and humor.  Once you were on his class roster, you were one of his students forever.  He truly cared for all of his charges and was the best combination of teacher, coach, cheerleader, warden, big brother, CEO and conscience for each one. He was the lifeline during that amazingly complex time of early adolescence, and often the highlight of some students’ days.  Faculty and staff members, too, relied on Dan Hodge’s boisterous personality and his ever-present dedication to the school.

In addition to teaching Health, Dan Hodge chaperoned dances, monitored lunches and detentions, and was yearbook advisor for over 12 years.  The Class of 2008 dedicated their yearbook to Mr. Hodge as a surprise, which was no easy feat as he was involved in every detail of that publication!  The entire Hudson Memorial School faculty, staff, students and parents wish nothing but the best for Dan Hodge as he begins another chapter in his busy life, allowing for more time to spend with his family, including two young grandchildren.  Mr. Hodge grew up in Hudson, taught in Hudson, and resides in Hudson and will no doubt continue to be a visible presence around the town.  I’ve known Dan for years,  and know he is a faithful friend whose generosity of time and energy extends into his hometown community.  I’m so grateful our daughter is one of Dan’s alums.  You were the sun in the Memorial School Solar System.  The sun has now reached its highest point in the sky, and days become longer and more leisurely. 

“To teach is to touch a life forever.”

Thank you, Dan Hodge, for truly making a difference.

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Hiring Freeze Topic Stirs Agitation

by Gina M. Votour

What was expected to be a subject of intense discussion among the Hudson Board of Selectmen at their June 24 meeting turned out to be a milder and more informative dialogue than many had anticipated.

Several town employees became anxious after the two-word topic of “Hiring Freeze” appeared as a last minute item on the Selectmen meeting agenda released at the end of last week. 

The heavy buzz created beforehand over this issue was further evidenced by the appearance of Manchester’s WMUR Channel 9 at that evening’s meeting. 

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Ben Nadeau opened the discussion by stating that some of the currently vacant town positions, including Town Engineer and a spot in the Assessing Department, may not be filled in the immediate future.  

Selectman Ken Massey explained that the Town Engineer position has not been permanently filled to date simply because “we haven’t seen the resumes that we think the position deserves.”  

Chairman Nadeau announced that for the Town Engineer position, it may be better to look at an outside contractor to partially fill the position if needed alongside the work of the Town Administrator and the Acting Town Engineer.  

Regarding the Assessing Department’s open position, Nadeau stated that it would likely be more cost effective to shift existing personnel in other departments in order to fill this position.  However, Nadeau was quick to declare that open positions in the Fire or Police Departments should not be subject to a hiring freeze since this could jeopardize public safety. 

Selectman Roger Coutu later echoed this sentiment and stated, “Under no circumstance will I support any motion with any language that would jeopardize the public safety in the Town of Hudson.”  Coutu further proclaimed that it would be “a slap in the face” to residents who voted for the hiring of two new police officers if these positions were not filled.

Selectman Massey explained that increased uncertainty regarding gas and diesel prices were a major part of the reason that this issue was brought to the table.  He referred to the town’s $70,000 contingency fund existing for gasoline and diesel fuel, noting that it represents about .60 cents per 116,000 gallons of fuel budgeted for next year. 

Chairman Nadeau later added that it was “more of a big picture” that needs to be acknowledged here in terms of the entire economy and the direction in which it is headed.  The issue is much more than just gas and diesel prices, he pointed out.

Although Selectmen Vice Chairman Richard Maddox felt that some unnecessary town positions could be eliminated, Maddox reassuringly stated that he was “not a big fan of hiring freezes per se” and that a hiring freeze is “not where I’d like us to go.” 

Regarding the economy however, Maddox concurred with Chairman Nadeau in saying that “it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”  Maddox therefore stressed the importance of properly managing the budget in the upcoming year and beyond.

Overall, in no way was an across the board hiring freeze supported by any of the Selectmen.  However, all board members agreed that individual position vacancies would now need to be examined on a case-by-case basis.  Selectman Shawn Jasper theorized that by going forward it should be necessary for town department heads to seek Board approval before a job vacancy is posted.

A unanimous motion passed 5-0 requiring that Town Administrator Steve Malizia must now inform the Board of Selectmen of any town position vacancies before their postings. 

A second motion was put forth by Selectman Massey requesting that Malizia form a plan by the July 22 meeting, centering on ways in which town departments could spend less in order to cover the aforementioned contingencies.  Malizia was not in attendance that night, however.

A four-to-one vote was cast on this motion with Selectman Jasper opposed, stating that he would have wanted Malizia to be present before the motion’s passing.

Although these motions may not have been music to everyone’s ears, town department members can still breathe somewhat of a sigh of relief since the outcome here was initially anticipated to be a much tougher directive. 

“Chairman Nadeau, you certainly got things stirred up with this agenda item,” smiled Selectman Jasper.

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Collaboration Returns to Hudson and Litchfield Fire Departments

by Lynne Ober

After last week’s tense meeting to discuss changes to the radio frequencies at the Litchfield Fire Department, collaborative and neighborly behavior has retuned to the table.

At the request of his board of selectmen, Litchfield Fire Chief Tom Schofield has backed out the radio frequency change and according to Hudson Selectman Shawn Jasper, has had a lengthy discussion with the Hudson Fire Department.

The “can do” attitude that is normally part of Schofield’s repertoire has returned to the forefront. 

“Am I disappointed that we have to wait an additional month?” asked Schofield.  “Yes, I am, but I am also determined to move forward as I think my letter showed.”

Schofield concluded his notification letter with, “The relationship enjoyed over the decades between the Towns of Hudson and Litchfield at all levels of town government is a precious resource which I don’t take lightly.  However, I realize my well-intentioned actions could be interpreted as being disrespectful to our relationship.  I can assure you that my intention was to never strain the relationship.  I will also tell you I have learned a great deal from this incident and can assure you and the Town of Hudson better communications to prevent further incidents of this nature in the future.

Hudson’s fire department is also making strides toward supporting the requested change in Litchfield.

“The Chief [Murray] was asked to prepare a quote for equipment to install the 190 radio channel in Hudson’s Central Station,” said Jasper, who noted that while that capability could be installed on equipment at the Burns Hill station, there were on-going concerns with good communication with Litchfield for mutual aid and ambulance calls.  “We know that there are dead spots in Litchfield and those might be compounded if we tried to communicate from Burns Hill.”

The emergency meeting, held on June 17, resulted in two immediate actions – agreement that the changes would be backed out, but only for a short period, and the written request, which is part of contractual obligations for dispatch. 

By June 18, Schofield wrote, “Chief, we understand our change will cause you and your department potential reprogramming issues should you choose to install our new frequency into your communications equipment.  We would encourage you to install our new frequency in your radio equipment so your personnel responding to and working at Litchfield emergency incidents while doing so either under contract or mutual aid can utilize the full benefits and enhancements of the safety features of this frequency change.”

He also went one step farther with an offer of help in the form of a trained staff member plus equipment.

“The Litchfield Fire Department currently owns and operates our own programming equipment and software that is available to your department,” Schofield wrote in his letter.  “In an attempt to make this transition possible for you without your department incurring any monetary costs, I am not only willing to loan you our equipment, but with your approval, I will provide a trained employee at no charge to you for as long as it takes to accomplish the reprogramming project at your location.  If you accept this offer, my recommendation would be to team Litchfield Captain Nicoll up with a Hudson Fire Department employee of your choosing so they can oversee the project and gain the knowledge necessary to become a mutual resource for both departments.”

Jasper pledged that if Hudson is not getting adequate response on the delivery of their own radio licenses that he would get involved and make some calls. 

“I told the Chief that I would call Senator Gregg’s office if he wanted me to do so,” he said. 

Jasper also noted that he felt that collaboration between the two departments is back on track.  “We enjoy working with Litchfield.  The reality is that in any given relationship there are ups and downs – some tense moments and some happy moments.  Both chiefs are working at a very professional level and it is great to see,” he concluded.

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Middle School Emergency Plan Accepted

by Lynne Ober

Emergency plans for both Griffin Memorial School and Litchfield Middle School have now been accepted by the Litchfield School Board.  

Once again, the board has chosen to use a double session model in “the event that Litchfield Middle School is unable to be used as a middle school due to a catastrophic event such as failure of the leach field, septic system, electrical system or heating system,” said Superintendent Dr. Elaine Cutler with a smile.  

Because fifth graders are housed in the middle school, this plan will support grades 5 – 8 if there is a crisis.  The plan will be to have the middle school students and the high school students both attend school at Campbell High School.  

The recommended option is for high school students to attend school from 7:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and the middle school students to attend from 12:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Cutler explained the rationale for this option to the board:

  • “5 hours and 30 minutes is required in instructional time for middle schools [for a full day’s instruction]
  • 5 hours and 30 minutes is also required in instructional time for high schools
  • This option provides an ability to have seven periods for LMS students with one Unified Arts class
  • CHS will have shortened blocks of 70 minutes, 10 minute advisory, 16 minutes total passing time and a 22 minute lunch.”

Implementing this option allows for athletics and co-curricular activities to continue for all students.  Cutler told the board that NHIAA is crucial to the athletic program and that CHS practices can be held in the afternoon with LMS practices held in the morning.  According to the plan, Campbell’s gym can be divided into five courts so that two events can occur simultaneously.  To accommodate LMS basketball games, the schedule for games could be at 6:30 p.m. or be an away game.

Co-Curricular Activities can also be accommodated according to the plan, which states:

  • “CHS Co-Curricular can be held in common areas: Cafeteria, auditorium, second art room and other classrooms that are not being utilized by LMS
  • LMS Co-Curricular can be held in common areas: Cafeteria, auditorium, and other classrooms that are not being utilized by CHS.”

The locker situation is still under advisement, but it could be that the middle school students will not have access to general lockers and the high school students would continue to use them.  There would be no gym lockers for the middle school students, but Cutler reminded the board that this situation would only exist on a temporary, emergency basis.

The plan proposes the following for Administrative Space.  Campbell’s principal will remain in his current location and the LMS principal will use the CHS principal’s conference room for an office.  Campbell’s assistant principal will remain in her current location and space will be made for the LMS assistant principal in Room 135.

Cutler also proposed classroom assignments and told the board that it was determined that it would be more efficient to organize by disciplines rather than grade levels with the exception of fifth grade which is self contained.  She made the following proposal to the board:

  • “Fifth Grade Classrooms: 207, 209, 210, 213,214, 261
  • Science:  Room 244 - Grade 8, Room 243 - Grade 7, Room 241 - Grade 6
  • Mathematics:  Room 251 - Grade 8, Room 253 - Grade 7, Room 26 - Grade 6
  • Language Arts:  Room 233 - Grade 8, Room 223 - Grade 7, Room 224 - Grade 6
  • Social Studies:  Room 235 - Grade 8, Room 236 - Grade 7, Room 239 - Grade 6
  • Spanish:  Room C141
  • Art:  Room 162 Unified Arts
  • Music, Art, Tech. Ed., FACS, PE, Health, Computer Lab, Media Center facilities will be shared by both schools.”

Although Cutler proposed two options, the second one was not recommended because it greatly reduced opportunities for students to participate in athletics and other interscholastic events held at the high school level.

There were also significant unanswered questions about before school care for middle school students, about transportation, about parking and the use of shared space for materials and activities.  Altogether, the second option offered fewer opportunities for students and parents.

The school board has approved the recommended option. 

“We hope we won’t have to use these emergency plans,” said Cutler, “but we have them if we need them and we will be quickly able to continue educational programming for our students.  An emergency plan for CHS will be developed over the summer and brought to the board,” she concluded.

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