Story Time with Chief Lewis

by Lynne Ober

Chief Lewis held one of his littlest fans while reading the book.

Kids and parents were seated on blankets in the grass at Griffin Park waiting for story time to begin. 

“Today we have a special guest,” explained Recreation Director Cheryl Haas, “Police Chief Gerald Lewis will answer your questions about police and is going to read a story.”

Lewis had brought Officer Buckle and Gloria to read.  Gloria was a very smart dog and could give out safety tips for all occasions.  Before he started reading, he offered to take the youngsters to his police cruiser after the story and let them hit the siren and look at the equipment.

Lewis read the story and then showed the photos.  Kids crept closer and closer to look at the photos in the book and it wasn’t long before one was happily sitting in his lap and watching everything that was going on.

Little munchkins wanted a closer look at the pictures

The audience listened very intently to the antics of Gloria, the dog.

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Fond Farewells

by Lynne Ober

Tony and John Depart

“We came together and we are going together,” said John Costa, Math Dean, of his arrival at Pelham High School with science teacher Anthony [Tony] Savaris.  Costa and Savaris were two of the members who opened the doors of Pelham High School in 1974.  “We are the last of the originals,” grinned Costa.

“Only Dona D’Arcangelo, in guidance, is left from the staff who opened the doors,” chimed in Savaris.  “We are the last of the original teaching staff.”

Costa taught for a total of 38 years.  He taught math in Massachusetts for four years before arriving at Pelham High School in 1974.  Savaris taught for a total of 35 years.  He’d been at Hudson’s Alvirne High School for one year before joining the opening staff at Pelham High School.  Together Pelham High School is losing a collective 68 years of Pelham High history with the retirement of these two loved staff members.  Staff held a good-bye lunch on Friday, June 20, and it was obvious from the out-pouring of good feelings and memories how much the two men have meant to Pelham High School over their years.

Costa taught all the math courses – from low to AP Calculus.  He also filled in at various administrative staff positions as “an interim” over the years. 

“You just do whatever you can to help,” he said.  He’s also been Pelham’s driver’s education instruction, was a class advisor and in 1994, became the faculty sponsor for the student government at PHS.  Under his leadership, the annual Veteran’s breakfast has become a much enjoyed tradition at PHS.

Savaris had much the same teaching career – only in the science department.  He taught Earth Science, Oceanography, Geology, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Integrated Science, and the ever-popular Forensics Science class. 

“I used to teach Visions in Science, which was an elective that kids could take,” Savaris said.  “The class would pick a topic and we’d learn the science of the various topics.”

“We’ve really worked together,” said Ken Roberts, who teaches in the Social Studies Department.  “I teach the criminology class and then the students learn the forensics science piece from Tony.  It’s been a crossover in terms of curriculum while providing practical, hands-on experience.”

With Roberts teaching them the basics of criminology, Savaris taught them how to work a crime scene, complete with make believe blood (a product you can purchase), fingerprints, and other forensic scat.  They learned to process the scene, processing the evidence, screen for a variety of issues, and reach a conclusion that students then wrote up in a report.

Savaris also coached a number of sports, including tennis, cross-country, girl’s basketball and soccer.  During the summers, he held a variety of sports related camps where students could work together on improving their skill levels.

Together they recall their trip, leaving at 2:00 a.m. to go to North Carolina with then principal Bob Pederson to learn about block scheduling, which Pelham High School ultimately adopted.  During their tenure, they’ve seen 34 school boards, five different superintendents and five different principals.

Costa and Savaris recall when Pelham High was one huge open classroom with no walls anywhere. 

“You could see the white screens lined up and down the long wall,” recalled Costa.  “If your class was having a test and the class next to them was having a lecture/discussion, it was hard for your students to focus.”

“At least the science classes were off in their own area and more protected because of the labs and lab equipment,” said Savaris.

“There was even a cat in the building at that time and its name was Python,” recalled Costa.  Apparently the cat had been around at construction and was adopted and fed.  The janitor kept feeding him.  “Kids would see the cat in a window, ask if they could open the window and Python would either go in or out.”

Asked how their students had changed over the years, Savaris smiled and said, “Kids are the same.  The environment has changed and the things they can experience have changed, but kids are kids.”

Although both men are retiring from teaching, neither is retiring from life.  Savaris wants to travel and Costa is already making plans for the fall.  He might even come back and teach some driver’s education classes.  One thing is certain – they came together; they are leaving together, and they plan to stay in touch.

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Renovate the Old? Build Something New?

by Barbara O’Brien

Town officials were planning to complete scheduled renovations to Windham’s historic Bartley House, but those plans have recently come up for debate.  While some think the renovations should continue as planned, others are more interested in moving forward with designing a brand new building to house the town’s administrative offices.

The subject of new versus old came up for discussion during the selectmen’s meeting on Monday, June 16.  Town Administrator David Sullivan told board members he was “looking for direction” in how to proceed with the proposed second-floor renovations to the Bartley Building.  The first floor of the historic building was renovated in 2005.  In 2007, voters passed a warrant article designating $50,000 to be expended on the second floor of that same structure.  Those renovations would include three main administrative offices, as well as a smaller officer for the Historic District Commission.  Sullivan said the warrant article allows three years in which to spend the allotted money.  He said it was his initial hope to have the job completed by next summer.  Plans were to put the work out to bid in the meantime, Sullivan said.

It was Selectman Charles McMahon who brought up the topic of working toward the construction of a new Windham Town Hall, rather than continuing to spend money on renovations to the Bartley House.  McMahon said he wanted to return to the original concept design planned in 1989, which included the now existing police and fire departments, as well as ideas for a new town hall. 

“We already have the land,” McMahon said, referring to property off Fellows Road.  “This can and should be done within the CIP (Capital Improvement Program).”  McMahon said he wasn’t talking about building a new town hall immediately, but within the next three years or so.  “I prefer to put the $50,000 into a new town hall, not into an old building that has outlived its usefulness,” McMahon said.  McMahon also said he feels staff and residents deserve a better facility, one which is an upgrade from the existing facility and that will provide easier access.  “We need a quality facility to retain quality employees,” he said.  McMahon also cited the amount of money that could be saved in energy costs by building a new town hall, especially with the exorbitant costs of heating fuel.

According to McMahon, a single story building of approximately 15,000 square feet would cost an estimated $2.25 million to construct.  David Sullivan said a ten-year bond on such a project would cost taxpayers about $276,000 per year.  An existing bond, for the fire and police department buildings will be paid off in 2009, Sullivan explained.  The payment on that bond is $236,000.

Sullivan said he had been told back in 2000 to no longer pursue the idea of building a new town hall.  Back then, the estimated cost of constructing a new town hall was approximately $1.3 million, Sullivan said.

As for the old buildings that are currently used for town offices, McMahon said he would like to see the current Planning and Development Building (Windham’s original fire department, built in 1946) become the town’s maintenance building.  The Old Town Hall should be preserved “as the artifact, that it is,” he added. “It should be respected as a part of Windham’s history.  McMahon also suggested that the Bartley House be rented out and used as a financial resource for the town. 

Selectman Roger Hohenberger said he looks at building a town hall “as a want, not a need.”  It’s not the right time,” he said, referring to the hit on taxpayers because of the new high school and the potential need for a new middle school in the not too distant future.  Hohenberger said he believes the Bartley House will serve the town’s needs for the foreseeable future.  Renovating the Bartley House “is a good investment, whether we rent it out or continue to use it as an administration building,” he said.

Selectman Bruce Breton said he feels it is more conducive for residents to be able to conduct town business in one place, rather than to have to visit multiple locations.  He also expressed safety concerns about people having to cross North Lowell Road to get to one building or the other.  Breton said he didn’t want to see another $50,000 thrown at the Bartley Building. If the Bartley Building does stay in use as an administrative facility, then a crosswalk and sidewalks should be installed, he said.  That issue has been under discussion since 1986, Breton said. 

Selectman Galen Stearns said residents are already looking at a significant tax increase in the next few years.

“It wouldn’t be prudent at this time to ask taxpayers to build a nice new workplace for town employees,” Stearns said. “We should talk about it in a few years. It would be nice to have, but we don’t need it at this time,” he added.

Stearns said he feels that using the $50,000 to renovate the Bartley House will buy the town some more time. “There are space needs that need to be addressed now,” he said.

Selectman Dennis Senibaldi, who currently serves as the board’s chairman, said he feels the Bartley House is “antiquated.”

“It’s time to move forward and update,” he said.  As for the cost of school district construction, Senibaldi noted that “school stuff is always gong to be coming.”  Senibaldi said he wants to see town officials pursue the concept of a new town hall, largely for the convenience of residents.  “I’m not looking for something elaborate,” he said.  Senibaldi did say, however, that he would still like to put the Bartley House renovations out to bid. “In this economy, it might cost less than $50,000,” he said.

Selectman McMahon said he “rejects the notion of only doing the minimal to get by.”  “It’s abhorrent,” he said.  McMahon said he believes a new town hall can be constructed without impacting the town’s tax rate.  “It’s time to bring Windham into the twenty-first century,” he said.  “The old way of doing business is just that…the old way.”

Windham Tax Collector Joan Tuck said she feels it’s important to bring all the departments together so they can serve residents as a consolidated team.  The existing facilities can no longer accommodate the town’s population growth, Tuck said. 

“It doesn’t have to happen right away, but, at least, think about it.  We’re always getting school stuff jammed down our throat,” Tuck said.  “We need to think about the town side for a change.”

From an operating standpoint, it would be more efficient to have all administrative offices in one building, Sullivan said, but, on the other hand, he doesn’t feel having staff members in different buildings affects their ability to work together as a team. 

After the extensive discussion, selectmen voted 3 to 2 to put the Bartley House renovation project out to bid.  Selectmen Breton and McMahon voted against going out to bid.  Selectmen Senibaldi, Hohenberger and Stearns voted in favor of the bid process.  It is expected, however, that the concept of a new town hall building will be brought up again in the near future in regard to the Capital Improvement Program.  McMahon also said he plans to pursue the idea, working with whomever is interested in the potential project.

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Castle Hill Bridge Eligible for Historic Registry

by Barbara O'Brien

A study of the narrow bridge which spans the town line of Windham and Pelham has deemed that the structure is eligible to be listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

The historic study was conducted in conjunction with plans to reconstruct the bridge.  Plans for the refurbishment have been in the works since 2002.  The condition of the bridge was worsened when the area was inundated by floodwaters during the spring of 2006.  Castle Hill Bridge remains closed at the present time, awaiting reconstruction.

Based on the recent historical inventory, Castle Hill Bridge is more than 50 years old and contains wooden beams dating back circa 1946, just after the end of World War II.

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Transfer Station Adopts New Rules

by Lynne Ober

Pelham Selectmen have approved the new operating rules for the town’s transfer station.  

Only Pelham residents or seasonal camp owners may obtain stickers.  Once they get their sticker, it must now be affixed to the lower right windshield of the vehicle.  Prior to this, residents could place their stickers in any location they wanted, but this was causing difficulty for staff at the transfer station who needed to check the stickers.

Any colored glass bottles, jars, and containers can be recycled.  Metal caps and rings must be removed, but plastic caps are okay.  The transfer station asks that these be rinsed clean.  Small ceramic and pottery items may be placed with the glass.

Dry latex paint, i.e. “paints that can be cleaned up with soap and water,” are acceptable.  Residents need to leave the tops off the paint cans until the paint dries and then seal and dispose with regular trash.  All other paints, sealers, and stains must be taken to the hazardous household waste disposal days in Nashua.

There is absolutely no picking and there will be no exceptions to this rule.

A number of other items require a fee.  Refrigerators, air conditioners, freezers, dehumidifiers, water coolers, or any freon-containing appliance require a $10 fee paid by check to the Town of Pelham.  Any unit listed without a compressor must also pay a $10 fee.  According to federal law, all units must be certified by a licensed contractor.

Televisions, projector screen TVs, computer monitors, laptop computers, or any other item with a CRT, screen, or tube also requires a $10 fee.

Industrial waste, commercial waste, construction waste, demolition material, or hazardous waste is not accepted at the Pelham Transfer Station.  Construction and demolition material can be taken to the Lowell Road Wood Processing in Salem, NH.  Call them at 898-4089 for fees and disposal information.  In some cases, containers can be rented for disposal of such materials.

Asbestos is not accepted, and Pelham recommends calling Nashua Solid Waste Division at 594-3329 for disposal information.

Brush is accepted, but nothing can be more than five inches in diameter.  No stumps or other wood is accepted.  It is against state law to bring leaves or grass.

Selectmen unanimously approved the new operating rules and signed them.  For a complete listing, check out Pelham Policy #02-02, Rules and Regulations for the operation of town of Pelham, New Hampshire Transfer/ Recycling Facility.

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