Summer Senior Coffee Social a Success!
by Gina M. Votour
Activities Director Barbara Mullikin (l.) gives Catherine a hand massage
The fresh aroma of coffee and sweet scent of baked goods filled the air the afternoon of Wednesday July 9, as senior citizens attended the first annual Summer Senior Coffee Social.
Held in the main dining room of the Laurel Place Assisted Living Facility in Hudson, the event was developed and hosted by Brunny Mejia, Director of Admissions at the adjoining Fairview Nursing Care Facility. Also present was Sylvie Cotnoir, Assisted Living Director of Laurel Place.
Attending this event were several members of the Pelham Senior Center along with many residents of Laurel Place and Fairview. From 2 - 3:30 p.m., this group of more than 20 people enjoyed cookies, brownies, muffins, and fruit salad in addition to coffee and juice.
The piano playing of Laurel Place resident Roland Breault set a soothing background for this relaxed and casual affair. Many attendees chose to simply sit, unwind, and absorb their surroundings while others took the opportunity to participate in several activities which were offered during this time.
One very popular activity was the hand massages provided by Activities Director Barbara Mullikin. In another nearby room, some guests played Boggle as others worked at a craft table creating and decorating their own bookmarks with Activities Director Carolyn Abbott.
Later on, the room went quiet as Erica Bouley, a floral designer from Hudson’s Tsubaki Flowers, gave an interesting demonstration of a floral ‘cake’ creation. Mejia’s devotion to all guests was evident as she glided from room to room, ensuring that everyone was comfortable and happy.
Over the past year, Mejia has been working on ideas for a fun and informative way to make seniors more aware of various available living style options. For Mejia, it was important to show that assisted living is not necessarily the negative stereotypical scene of a nursing home.
“That is the goal,” said Mejia.
Throughout the afternoon, Assisted Living Director Cotnoir happily escorted interested guests to and from Laurel Place’s finely furnished rooms, explaining that each unit contains its own bathroom, kitchenette, and outside door.
“I love this place! It’s a very nice place,” smiled Peg Amos, a guest from the Pelham Senior Center.
Attendee Helen Harris, another Pelham Senior Center member, is in the process of researching nursing homes.
“Some places aren’t so good. But this is a very nice place,” she determined.
Other facilities and services were in attendance that day including Right at Home, represented by company president Richard Sullivan and Souhegan Home and Hospice Care, represented by Michele Logan, Clinical Director of Hospice.
Kathy Andrle of Philips Lifeline also mingled with guests and answered questions about her facility’s services. The group was captivated when Andrle beautifully sang the words to The Sound of Music!
At the end of the event, Rich Leboeuf, Administrator of both Fairview and Laurel Place, expressed his gratitude to everyone who attended. Bouley’s unique floral arrangement was then raffled off. The lucky winner, by pure coincidence, was birthday girl Janyn Provencal! As Jan accepted her prize, the entire group broke into a cheery rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.” Other raffle items included a wine basket from Right at Home and Mary Kay Cosmetics gifts sets from Souhegan Home and Hospice Care.
The Summer Senior Coffee Social turned out to be a relaxing yet informative occasion for all. The huge success of this event is a sure bet that it will be held again next year.
Peg Amos sings along with Roland Breault’s piano music
New Hudson Grader Breaks Ground at Hills House
Volvo G946 in front of the Hills House
The Volvo G946 grader turned into the historical Hills House on Friday morning for a training and shakedown mission as the dirt driveway was regraded for the approaching Hudson Old Home Days. This lease-to-own grader replaces a 1982 grader. Used for road work during the summer months this equipment plows roadways during the winter. With a blade and a wing plow it will be able to clean 22 feet of highway on each sweep. Its Volvo D7E engine produces up to 235 horsepower to move the 38,140-pound piece of equipment.
If you were ever behind the old grader on the highway you might have used bad words as it lumbered along at maybe 15 miles per hour. The new unit has a top speed of 29 mph and the estimate is that it will be able to plow at more than 20 mph. While Volvo was the low bidder for the replacement equipment, Volvo and its long line of pioneering companies have been developing the trail to the modern motor grader for more than 130 years from modified tractors to automated road scrapers to the productive and durable Volvo G900-series motor graders produced today.
If interested it this new piece of Hudson equipment, visit old Home days in August to see for yourself.
Hudson Moves Closer to Benson’s Acquisition
by Gina M. Votour
Progress was made last week toward Hudson’s possible purchase of the 165 acre parcel of land once known as Benson’s Wild Animal Farm.
Owned by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) since 1989, the town has been attempting to acquire the property for over six years. Numerous stumbling blocks during this time have led the town to question whether or not the state is serious regarding a future sale.
At their July 8 meeting, the Board of Selectmen passed a motion to finalize and submit the Revised Benson’s Quit Claim Deed, a document originated by the state in 2003.
Before the motion went through, the Selectmen explained to town attorney Jay Hodes that they found several topics within the deed to be excessively vague. One such area concerned the issue of wetland mitigation.
Originally, the state desired that the entire parcel be available for wetland mitigation, regardless of town ownership. With the Revised Quit Claim Deed, “the state now has agreed that they will limit their mitigation and not disturb certain areas” planned for use by the town upon its purchase, according to Attorney Hodes. He further added that the state had presently selected five remaining areas for wetland mitigation.
Nevertheless, the deed is incomplete regarding the delineation of future wetland locations. These areas would need to be specifically identified before the town would purchase the land.
The property also contains three easements. Once wetland mitigation is complete, the State Conservation Easement will be lifted according to Section H2 on page 9 of the deed. This section further explains that “after a Release of State Conservation Easement, the Town Conservation Easement and Historic Preservation Easement shall forever apply to the Property and take precedence.” What remains unclear is a specific time frame for the achievement of state mitigation activities.
Potential good news is that the 2002 purchase price of $188,000 is still contained within the document, appearing in Section F on page 3.
On the other hand, the state’s repeated promise of a property re-appraisal carries the future threat of a significantly higher purchase price. Nancy Mayville, NHDOT’s Municipal Highway Engineer, confirmed earlier this week that the state is currently working on a re-appraisal with completion anticipated by September.
A new price could immediately halt all negotiations. Selectman Ken Massey proclaimed that the state has no right to demand more than the originally agreed upon price if only about 40 acres would be exempt from wetland mitigation.
Attorney Hodes concurred that the land value is indeed limited with this type of restriction. He further referenced that if these restrictions are removed, the monetary value of the property could skyrocket to multimillions.
As negotiations between town and state have bounced back and forth over the years, property structures have continued to deteriorate. As a purchase stipulation for building maintenance, the state originally required the town to use a strict set of historical preservation guidelines set by the Division of Historical Resources. The revised deed contains somewhat different instructions, however.
Section E5 on page 14 of the deed reads, “The condition of the buildings and property as of the date of the transfer of title to the Town shall be considered the baseline for evaluating the Town’s responsibilities herein.”
In this sense, the town may not be required to improve upon the buildings’ conditions but, at the very least, would need to maintain them in good faith with the goal of preventing further deterioration. This baseline would be applied primarily to three structures in particular….The Haselton Barn, the B&M Railroad Depot, and the Benson’s Office and Kitchen, according to the document. The deed also lists the Elephant House as a “protected historic structure.”
Selectman Massey pointed out that baseline property maintenance itself could involve a continuous spending cycle. This point is referenced in Section G on page 14 of the document, which states, “The Town agrees to assume the total costs of continued maintenance, repair, and administration of areas subject to the Historic Preservation Easement.”
Furthermore, Section B on page 12 states, “As repairs and rehabilitation of the historic structures are necessary, the Town will use the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation…as a guide.”
Selectman Vice Chairman Richard Maddox pointed out that this sounded like much more than simple building maintenance and later expressed his lack of enthusiasm about “maintaining buildings that have no use to the town.”
Selectman Shawn Jasper countered by reassuring the group that baseline maintenance would not be as difficult as the other board members feared.
Regarding property use should town ownership be obtained, the deed states on page 15, section D1 that “The Property shall be maintained in perpetuity as wildlife habitat, natural area, and open space without there being conducted thereon any residential, industrial, or commercial activities.”
The deed continues, “This restriction does not prevent the Town from using the property for educational, passive recreation, cultural and historic purposes...the Town may establish a museum, museum shop, amphitheater, caretaker’s residence, kiosks, bandstand…[etc.].”
Overall, Attorney Hodes explained that the document’s language was intended to be seen as a compromise. Nevertheless, for future purchase possibilities, the attorney clearly stated to the Selectmen that “You are making a financial commitment here. You have to be the final judges of whether it’s worth it.”
Selectman Jasper strongly urged his colleagues to move forward.
“We want to take this to the Governor before they come up with this new number [price]… We want to say we have a valid agreement, we’re ready to go, we’re waiting for you,” he proclaimed.
Selectman Jasper added that in two cases, the people of Hudson voted ‘yes’ for Benson’s and that $188,000 would be an outstanding price for 165 acres of land.
“This will be a legacy for this town forever,” Selectman Jasper avowed.
Selectman Roger Coutu agreed.
“Let’s give it a shot...We’re not signing anything by approving this motion, we’re calling their bluff… It’s time to get something done and now is the time,” he declared.
Selectman Massey eventually came around, describing circumstances as a win-win situation.
“We either get it for $188,000 and it becomes passive recreation or the state changes its mind and…puts a commercial value on the property and…we’ve suddenly got about 40, maybe 60, acres of prime real estate for commercial development,” he concluded.
A motion put forth by Selectman Coutu to instruct Attorney Hodes to finalize the deed and make the state aware that the town is ready to move forward passed 4-1 with Selectman Maddox in opposition.
Nothing has been signed as of yet. At this point, Hudson is anxious for the state to favorably “fill in the blanks” of the revised deed.
“We’re not going to spend any money out there unless the voters say ‘yes’ to it through the budgetary process,” concluded Selectman Jasper.
For now, the ball is in the state’s court.
Seven Candidates Vie for Cable Facilitator Position
by Gina M. Votour
The Town of Hudson has received seven applications for the open position of Cable Facilitator on the Cable Utility Committee (CUC).
The Cable Facilitator provides technical support and operating services to Hudson’s three public access channels. Some of the specific responsibilities include camera operator scheduling and training, and program development and maintenance. The upkeep of the Community Bulletin Board, running of the video server, and playback automation system are also required tasks of the position.
Of the seven candidates, Cable Committee Selectman Liaison Roger Coutu stated at the July 8 Board of Selectmen meeting, he found three candidates who “were quite worthy of an interview……Robert Fay, Stephen Gregoire, and Jacob Nazarian.”
Robert J. Fay, Jr., a videographer and editor for WHDH Channel 7, is also a current freelance member of Litchfield’s Cable Committee. Previously, he was Production Manager and Sports Videographer/Producer for WNDS-TV of Derry.
Stephen J. Gregoire, currently a Promotions Assistant at WZMY-TV, has over ten years of experience in the television industry. During this time he has worked within the arenas of live studio and field productions, linear and non-linear editing, audio engineering and Master Control operation.
Jacob G. Nazarian IV has nurtured a strong background in all aspects of video production and directing. Among his credentials are Director of Video Production at New Hampshire To Do Magazine and Adjunct Professor of Multimedia for UMass Lowell.
The Board of Selectmen emphasized that the chosen Cable Facilitator will now report primarily to the Town Administrator.
“Instead of having him [the new Cable Facilitator] work directly for the Committee Chairman….we work out some sort of arrangement through the Town Administrator’s office so that we don’t have the same problem we had in the past,” stated Selectman Coutu.
When asked a few days later what he specifically meant by the above statement, Selectman Coutu clarified that, “The Board of Selectmen feels that this [Cable Facilitator] position, though a contracted position, needs to be monitored by someone other than the Cable Committee Chairman. Our Chairman is a knowledgeable person who also has a family and a private sector job. It is unfair that we also add the burden of having him directly supervise and maintain the facility and the facilitator.”
Since this was a change from past procedures, Town Administrator Steve Malizia asked the board to specify his new responsibilities. He was told that the Cable Facilitator will come to him concerning areas such as hours and contractor invoice overviews, for example. In terms of technical aspects however, the Cable Facilitator will interact with the entire Cable Committee.
Interviews with the aforementioned three candidates will be conducted with Selectman Coutu, Town Administrator Malizia, and Cable Committee Chairman Michael O’Keefe within the next week or two.
“We will rely heavily on the Cable Committee Chairman’s input during these interviews and ultimate selection to fill the position. In no way will we diminish the role of the Cable Committee as they have diligently provided guidance and they have been the instrument that has us where we are today,” Selectman Coutu later stated.
Once the decision has been narrowed down to one candidate, that person will proceed to meet with the entire Board of Selectmen. This process will hopefully be complete by the July 22 Board of Selectmen meeting.
The new Cable Facilitator can expect to put in about 45 hours per month over the next year within this part-time position. A flexible schedule is a must and pay rate will be determined by the chosen candidate’s level of experience.
Fire Safety Vendor Meets with School Board
by Lynne Ober
Litchfield’s school board met with Litchfield Fire Chief Thomas Schofield prior to the end of the fiscal year to look at the fire safety report presented by SFC Engineering Partnership. Because there were a number of serious issues, the board encumbered nearly $320,000 for repairs at Griffin Memorial School. These repairs will be made over the summer, and include the installation and lease of a double classroom portable module.
Recently, SFC Engineering Partnership staff met with the board. SFC Engineering Partnership, Inc., is a multi-disciplined engineering consulting firm that has been providing civil, structural, fire protection engineering and surveying services to private, commercial, industrial and municipal clients collaboratively for over thirty years. Nick Cricenti, Jr., P.E., President of SFC, said that his firm is known for its high quality work.
Although the board did not learn any new, unsettling findings, the fire codes applicable to schools were reviewed.
“NFPA 101 requires that all classrooms over 250 square feet in size that are part of a building not equipped with automatic sprinkler systems have exterior windows suitable for rescue. The windows must be operable from the inside without special tools and have an opening when opened of 20 inches wide and 24 inches high and have an opening capable of passing a solid of 5.7 square feet with a depth of 20 inches. The windows must be within 44 inches of the floor and the opening mechanism must be within 54 inches of the floor. The opening must be readily accessible. One exception to this requirement in existing schools is to have interior doors that connect two or more classrooms and lead either directly to an exit or through a smoke compartment that provides access to another exit in the other direction as long as the following conditions are met: the travel distance from one classroom to the corridor door or exit is not more than 75 feet, the path of travel to each door is at least 30 inches wide and without obstructions, and each door is at least 28 inches wide, does not have locks of any kind, and is self-closing. The doors must be marked with an illuminated exit sign that is of a size, distinctive color, design and location that it is readily visible.
“NFPA 101 also requires every classroom to have an exit door that leads directly to an exit or exit access corridor. All doors must be at least 28 inches wide.
“NFPA 101 requires that the travel distance from the classroom to an exit be no more than 150 feet without a sprinkler system or no more than 200 feet with sprinklers installed. Existing approved travel distances may be permitted to continue in use.
“NFPA 101 requires emergency lighting for means of egress, meaning for the classroom exit doors, however, approved existing emergency lighting installations shall be permitted to be continued in use.
“NFPA 101 requires the walls and ceiling of every classroom be of a material that is classified as Type A or Type B. Artwork and teaching materials attached directly to the walls in accordance shall not exceed 20 percent of the wall area in a building that is not protected throughout by an approved automatic sprinkler system.
“NFPA 101 requires that educational occupancies be provided with a fire alarm system that is initiated by manual means with occupant notification that is audible and has visible signals in accordance with NFPA 72', National Fire Alarm Code', and 1CC/ANSI A117.1, American National Standard for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, or other means of notification acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction shall be provided.
“To prevent students from being returned to a building that is burning, the recall signal shall be separate and distinct from any other signals and such signal may be given through the use of distinctively colored flags or banners.”
“Fire Chief Schofield was very thorough when he reviewed the report with us,” said Superintendent Dr. Elaine Cutler. “After meeting with the vendor, we feel comfortable that we took the appropriate and needed corrective action so that the students will be safe.”
Business Administrator Steve Martin presented a thorough look at the expenditures approved by the board after they got the preliminary report. It was agreed that appropriate steps had been taken.
“I’m not sure I learned anything new,” said School Board Member Cindy Couture. “The vendor was very impressed with how quickly the kids exit in a fire drill which is a credit to the GMS staff and fire dept. He said a great many older NH schools do not meet codes so we’re not that unusual and said we still have many areas that do not meet code, but the immediate safety of the kids would be taken care of by the changes we are making and he would help Steve at budget season to see what else we may need to address. The money the budget committee cut from the GMS repair budget would certainly have come in handy this year,” she concluded.