Annual Tennis Tournament Held in Pelham

by Karen Plumley

Morgan Wagner, 2, of Litchfield

It was a hot, sunny day on Wednesday, July 30 for the Pelham Parks and Recreation Tennis Tournament Finals.  Boys and girls ranging in age from 5 to 11 competed in events that included a ball toss as well as regular matches.  For the 26th year, tennis director Phyllis Morris of Pelham organized the tournament.  Morris, who is also a full time tennis instructor at The Next Champions in Concord, Massachusetts, was not alone however.  Her daughter Sharon, two enthusiastic grandchildren aged 2 and 6, and 14 talented staff instructors were all there to assist in this very exciting and fun day.  “All of our instructors have gone through the program (at Pelham Parks and Rec) since they were 5 years old and have played for area high schools.  They are excellent at what they do,” Morris enthused.

Two of the 14 instructors were twins Anita and Nikita Kodali, residents of Pelham who have distinguished themselves as tennis players to contend with at the tender age of 12.  With many championships under their belt already, this dynamic duo performed a quick demonstration match to kick off the tournament and get everyone excited for the event.

According to Morris, 85 youth took part in the tournament this year.  “This is always a very popular event,” she noted.  (Tennis matches for the 11- to 13-year-olds took place on the previous day to make sure the tournament wasn’t overly long.)  Once the competitive matches were over, many chose to partake in scrimmages for prizes.  Participants had to hit balls into designated court areas or barrels.  The grand prize was a new tennis racket, and many other prizes were awarded, including free ice cream coupons, movie tickets, and vouchers for individual and group lessons.  McDonalds, Chunky’s, and The Next Champions donated the prizes this year.

Silver medalist in the boys 5 - 6 category was first time tennis player Nicholas Wright.  His mother Diane hugged him tightly after he showed her his medal.  “I was really excited and so proud of him,” she exclaimed.  Notably, it was the second win in a row for gold medalists Dylan Conroy (boys 7 - 8) and Mackenzie Wagner (girls 5 - 6).  Medals of the bronze, silver, and gold varieties were all handed out at an awards ceremony that capped off a very enjoyable and exciting occasion. 

Medals Winners

Girls 5 - 6

Gold – Mackenzie Wagner

Silver – Kaylie Latolie

Bronze – Sara Vincent

Boys 5 - 6

Gold – Nathan Saratino

Silver – Nicholas Wright

Bronze – Nicholas Day

Girls 7 - 8

Gold – Hannah Flynn

Silver – Robyn Leuteritz

Bronze – Amira Eld

Boys 7 - 8

Gold – Dylan Conroy

Silver – Brian Schwab

Bronze – Matthew Poff

Girls 9 - 11

Gold – Allyson Muller

Silver – Sarah Beaton

Bronze – Kristen Behrakis

Boys 9 - 11

Gold – Chris Day

Silver – Chandler Rhealt

Bronze – Bobby Caulter

Girls Regular (11 - 13)

Gold – Kayla Andrewchuck

Silver – Rebecca Day

Bronze – Maggie Barros

Boys Regular (11 - 13)

Gold – William Muller

Silver – James LaPolice

Bronze – Zach Ryer

This year’s tennis tournament medal winners pose after the award ceremony on Wednesday, July 30.

Silver medalist Nicholas Wright who played in the boys 5 - 6 age group smiles broadly after receiving his medal.  Proud mom, Diane Wright of Pelham, hugs him tightly!

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Big Trucks – Big Fun!

by Gloria Sullivan

Ryan Lynde, 3, Tyler Golen, 4, and Katelyn Golen, 2, patiently wait to climb into a 50- ton tow truck.

The Pelham Public Library hosted their second annual Big Truck Night as part of the Summer Reading Program.  The children’s librarian “Miss Debbie” (Debbie Laffond) and library director Sue Hoadley joined forces to make this event a success again this year.  They sent out letters to area businesses and made personal requests for participation to bring the town agencies on board.  The businesses and town departments that participated this year were:  Young Brothers Well & Pump from Salem, Woody’s Auto Repair & Towing, Inc. from Pelham, Pelham Police Department, Pelham Fire Department, and the Pelham Highway Department.

Some families brought picnics to enjoy on the Village Green before the event.  The children enjoyed running around in the wide-open space as they witnessed the big trucks arriving.

On hand were a variety of bright red trucks from Woody’s Auto.  The equipment was all shined up and ready for the children to climb and explore.  A long line formed for a chance to sit in a midget racecar.  A favorite appeared to be a flatbed truck with hydraulic lift that was raised enough for the children to run up and creep back down the truck bed.  It did not take the children long to discover that they were free to honk the various horns; some were air horns, some were sirens, all were loud.  In no time at all, the night air was filled with the sound of blaring horns and the laughter of children.  Some of the parents and babies were not enjoying the clamor as much as the youngsters, but everyone kept their sense of humor intact.  Even Miss Debbie remarked, “I’m thinking to make it a requirement that they disable their horns as a pre-requisite for participation!”

Laffond strolled among the large crowd and greeted children by name.  She appeared to be very pleased with the turnout.  She expressed her appreciation for the volunteers, saying, “All of these area businesses and department personnel volunteered their time and talents to make this event the huge success that it was.  After working a full day, they were willing to come to the library and let the children, both young and not so young, climb on their vehicles, answer questions, and blow the horns.  The look of wonder and joy on the faces of these children was priceless!”

Pelham Police Chief Joseph Roark and Officer McCarthy were present to represent Pelham’s finest.  The chief’s son, Colin, sat in the driver’s seat of a police cruiser while his fellow young residents tried out the back seat.  “That’s where they take the guys who break the rules,” Emily Sullivan informed her mom.  Chief Roark’s wife, Kerry, beamed proudly and occasionally winced as the children tried the sirens on the police motorcycle and police car.  She remarked, “It is times like this when you really feel like you are part of a small community.  It’s nice.”

Miss Debbie was very pleased with the evening and added, “Many lifelong memories were made in those two short hours, I’m sure.  We already have a couple of other names for businesses for next year that were not able to be here but are very eager to join us next year.” 

Tyler Golen, 4, shows his little sister Katelyn, 2, how to honk the horn.

Kids convene on the hydraulic lift flatbed truck.

Abigail Patchen, 6, sits in Pelham Fire Engine.

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Single Stream Recycling to Begin in September

by Barbara O’Brien

Plans to make recycling an easier task for residents have been underway in Windham for a long time already.  Now, after much hard work and dedication by Transfer Station Manager Dave Poulson, the project is about to become reality.

On Monday, July 28, selectmen gave their unanimous (5 to 0) approval for Poulson to proceed with retrofitting the Ledge Road facility to handle single stream recycling.  The money needed to renovate the transfer station includes the purchase of a compactor.  Selectmen also approved the expenditure of money to purchase two ejection trailers at a cost of $108,000 for both.

During their recent meeting, selectmen accepted a bid from McGuire Equipment in the amount of $40,760 to complete the project.  They also approved an additional $5,000 to be used in the event that additional changes to the facility are required to achieve single stream recycling.  Previously, town officials had allocated a total of $50,000 to do the job.  The only other bid received to do the work was from Recycling Mechanical, which quoted a total of $55,989.  Poulson said he didn’t think that Recycling Mechanical wanted the job to begin with and purposely overbid.

To offset some of the cost of the renovations, Windham will be receiving a $6,000 grant.  That money will not be spent directly on the project, but will be returned to the general town budget as revenue.

“There’s a lot at stake to make this happen right,” Poulson said.  “We’re learning as we go along.”

If all goes as planned, residents can begin single stream recycling on September 1 — a process which will require minimal separation of recyclable materials by residents and saving money for taxpayers in the long-run.

Poulson answered the question “‘Why Single Stream Recycling?’  This form of recycling will reduce our internal operational cost, enhance our ability to increase recycling by adding more materials, reduce our trash waste stream saving disposal fees, increase overall efficiency at the Station, and make it easier for public participation.  There is no perfect process or program.  The town’s goal is to establish a solid waste management plan that is effective, efficient, and fiscally sound without sacrificing service.  Should Windham residents require additional information, contact the Station manager at 965-1049.”

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School Board Asks Town Officials to Let High School Construction Rep Do His Job

by Barbara O’Brien

Windham School Board members are concerned about the amount of time that the owners’ representative for the construction of the new high school is spending on projects not directly related to school district issues.  In light of that concern, School Board Chairman Barbara Coish sent a letter to Town Administrator David Sullivan.  That letter was read in public during the selectmen’s board meeting on Monday, July 28.

Glenn Davis is the person to whom the correspondence refers.  “He is being pulled in a hundred directions,” Coish said of the job Davis is doing.  “He’s more than out straight!”  Rather than helping town officials with issues unrelated directly to the high school construction, Davis needs to be “concentrating on the project at hand” (i.e., the new Windham High School, which is expected to open to students in September of 2009), Coish said.

In her letter, on behalf of the entire Windham School Board, Coish writes to Sullivan that she is contacting him “with a request of great importance to the (school) board, which directly relates to the continued success of the high school construction project.  I ask you to relay the following request to all Windham Selectmen, department heads, and agents.  As school board chair, I am concerned with the amount of time that the construction representative, Glenn Davis, is spending on issues unrelated to the project for which he is responsible.”

“The owners’ representative is working well outside the contractual obligations of his agreement with the district and has willingly taken on other projects on behalf of the Windham School District as a whole,” Coish wrote.  “This willingness to assist the district is consuming much of his valuable time, however, which concerns me greatly.”

In an effort to relieve some of the additional draws on Davis’ time, Coish requested that Sullivan instruct representatives of the town to contact either her or school board member Bruce Anderson directly, before contacting Davis about any issue that is unrelated to the project as presently permitted.

“I am sure that you will agree that it is of vital importance that Glenn Davis concentrate on the scope of his contract, in order to ensure that the high school project remains on schedule,” Coish said.

Following the reading of her letter at the meeting, Coish said that she believed her request “was already working.”

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School Board Hears Appeal for More Fields

by Lynne Ober

Windham School Board has heard another appeal to add fields at Windham’s still unfinished high school.

Windham’s Athletic Director, Bill Raycraft, who came to Windham from John Stark Co-op High School, spoke at the recently held school board workshop.  His topic was the need for more field space and the need for it sooner rather than later.

“We currently have five fields in the plans and being developed,” said Raycraft.  “With those fields, four out of five are scheduled to be used for both practice and games, with the other field being the full-time practice field.”

According to Raycraft, Windham High School will play a predominately junior varsity schedule the first year that the school is open, but even that will crowd the fields.  He also indicated that he expects to have a few varsity teams the first year.  Over and over, Raycraft talked about the issues of field overuse and soil compaction.

Even with the current fields, there are concerns the very first year.  “Only one soccer field will force back-to-back games when JV and Varsity teams are playing,” stated Raycraft, who pointed out that if the field is being used for a game by one team, then another team cannot practice.  With both boys and girls teams, he said he didn’t know where all the teams would practice.

Raycraft has worked in an environment without adequate field space before and talked about his experiences at John Stark where parking lots, classrooms, and school hallways were used as practice space.

Fields that are used daily throughout the year have problems not associated with fields that can be rested for a season.  Raycraft said that sod would have to be replaced, perhaps more than once a year, in order to maintain the fields in a suitable playing condition.  However, sod replacement brings its own set of issues as fields cannot be used while sod is being laid and should not be used immediately after placement.  Raycraft said this would negatively impact Windham school sports as well as community usage.

The replacement of sod would need to become a budget line item.  No one gave an estimate for this, but later in the meeting it was stated that sod replacement, repairing compacted fields, and general maintenance on grass fields is much more expensive than using artificial turf.

Field hockey will use the outfield of the baseball field.  The two teams have different field configurations and Raycraft expects to have dirt patches in the baseball outfield as a result.  “We won’t have time to re-seed and grow grass between the two sports.”

He also pointed out that football will be unable to practice and play on one grass field.  “With 60 to 80 players, the field will tear up and become unsafe due to compaction and loss of grass padding,” Raycraft said before he explained how the drills often tear up the sod, making a second field a necessity.  He also said that the heavier the bodies, the more compaction the field shows.

By the second year, Raycraft expects to have more teams than can be accommodated at Windham High School fields.  “We can cancel sports and not offer what our students will expect, or we can expand the fields.  Neither wrestling nor cheerleading can be safely practiced in parking lots.”  While many cheerleading teams practice in school cafeterias, Raycraft said that the Windham cafeteria will not be suitable for the cheerleaders.

“As we grow in enrollment and participation in athletics, we will have to look at locations for practices of various teams and need for auxiliary mini-gym,” he said.  “With the large size of the main gymnasium, we will double up some teams, but even then we will be short of space.”

The lack of a track will force teams to practice in the parking lot, and Raycraft said it was difficult to simulate relay handoffs, impossible to practice long jumps, high jumps, or pole vaulting.  “We will have no home meets for track, and many athletes from winter and fall sports run on the track team as a way to stay in shape.”  He also noted that practicing in the parking lot brought its own set of safety concerns.

By the second year, Raycraft estimates that the high school will have six soccer teams.  “The six soccer teams will tear up the field prior to the lacrosse season and there is no down time to repair that field.  This is what happens when a field is in constant use — one season ends just as the next begins.”

Artificial turf was discussed at length.  Both Glenn Davis and Raycraft talked out how the new artificial turf is easier to maintain and not as harsh for athletes who play on it.  Raycraft said that putting down artificial turf would help stop compaction on fields used extensively and would alleviate the need to re-sod the fields between seasons.  “You will definitely save money if you put down artificial turf.”

There was also discussion of going forward in the near future with an artificial turf field at the high school, using some of the money that is anticipated to be left over in the contingency fund.

During the discussion of an artificial turf field at the high school, school board members talked about using some of the money that is anticipated to be left over in the contingency fund.  According to Davis, there’s $1.1 to $1.2 million left in the contingency fund for high school construction at this point.  He also said the school is now 70 percent finished so he expects to have contingency dollars remaining.

Installing an artificial turf field by the time the high school opens next September would prevent over-use and the deterioration of the already approved sod athletic fields.  The school board did not take any action on an artificial turn installation during the workshop.

Raycraft also made a case for building a track and for putting an artificial turf field inside the track.  He asked that the board support surveying the land, showed a map with a potential location of a track, and had support from Davis on the proposed location.

The board consensus was to plan to include approximately $80,000 for engineering and surveying for a track and field at the high school in next year’s school budget (2009-2010).  They feel that 30 percent state aid will be available for this.  They are also planning to have the actual construction of a track and field put into the CIP plan, anticipating that the project will be put forth to voters in a couple of years, once all four grades at the high school are in attendance.  Currently, the actual construction of a track and field would cost about $2.5 million.

Raycraft said, “An additional field inside of the track will help to alleviate overuse of existing fields and allow for all teams to practice.  Synthetic turn will allow the field to be used for both practice and games, making one or more of the existing fields into an additional practice or game field for other sports.”

His other recommendation was to make the addition of a mini-gym part of the master plan and said this would help alleviate the lack of indoor practice facilities.

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