Annual Pelham Legion Clambake

by Karen Plumley

Doris Small of Danvers, Massachusetts, greets her lobster at the American Legion Post 100 clambake in Pelham on Saturday, August 30.

The American Legion Post 100 of Pelham hosted its annual clambake on Saturday, August 30.  Concerned that the turnout might be low on Labor Day weekend, the hosts’ gamble ended up paying off:  crowds poured in steadily, bringing with them impressive appetites.  “It really is the best deal around!  For $25 you get not only a lobster, but steamers and chicken too,” said Post 100 Vice Commander Aram A. Jeknavorian enthusiastically.  According to Jeknavorian, money raised at the clambake will go directly to support American Legion programs.

The event, he said, has been one of the major annual fundraisers for the Legion, going strong for at least the past 15 years although no one in attendance could say precisely how many years it has been taking place.

Shirley Hanson, women’s auxiliary membership chairman, was selling meal tickets while her husband, Adjutant Herman Hanson, and son David, cooked up the goods.  In addition to the clams, lobsters, and chicken, fresh corn on the cob and hot dogs were available for those not enticed by the fruits of the sea.

There wasn’t an empty picnic table during the halfway point of the two-hour occasion.  Many were there to help support family who are members of Post 100, such as Doris Small of Danvers, Massachusetts.  Small’s uncle-in-law is Peter Kashulinas.  “They said no one would come on Labor Day but we proved them wrong!” she said.  “We come every year for the delicious food and great prices too.”

Jeknavorian hopes the generosity will continue during Pelham’s Old Home Day on September 6.  “We are planning some special programs such as a raffle for a full flag and pole set for your front yard and several flag folding demonstrations throughout the day, at 10 o’clock, 1 o’clock, and 4 o’clock,” he said.  Jeknavorian said many might not be aware of the history associated with flag folding.  Thirteen folds and thirteen points are made during the process, each representing something significant that the demonstrators will explain.  Additionally, the Post 100 Veteran Service Officer will be at Old Home Day to “assist any vet from any era with the Legion programs available to them,” said Jeknavorian.

Adjutant Herman Hanson and son David cook up another batch of lobsters during the American Legion Post 100 clambake Saturday afternoon. 

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To “Boo Hoo” or to “Yahoo”?

by Karen Plumley

Tina McFaddyen, mother of three children, proclaims enthusiastically, “I’m done!” as she holds up her “Yahoo” sign at the annual Pelham Elementary School Boo Hoo Breakfast on Wednesday, August 27.

On Wednesday, August 27, the PES PTA hosted its fourth annual Boo Hoo Breakfast for parents of first graders at Pelham Elementary School.  Emotions were a mixed bag but attendance was very high at this year’s event.  Parents watched tearfully (or cheerfully, as the case may be) as their little children embarked on their first experience of big kid school. 

At 9:15 a.m., most of the students were safely seated in their classrooms and the adult boo hooers made their way to the student dining area for coffee, yogurt, fruit, and baked goods.  Principal Alicia LaFrance welcomed moms and dads with a heartfelt speech, and PTA President Mary Collins read a poem that was touching enough to cause a few more tears to flow.

Two mothers of only children, Joann White and Jenny Frost, commiserated with one another as they drank their coffee.  Just when they seemed to catch their breath, flowers were handed out and the taps were turned on once again.

The scene was not all sorrow, however.  Many parents were in high spirits, such as mother of three Tina McFaddyen.  Not shy about her gleeful emotions, she held up her “Yahoo” sign for all to see and provided a welcomed bit of comedy.  Her third and last child entered into readiness this year.  “I told my mother that now we can get together once in a while and maybe even go out to lunch,” she enthused.

PTA Secretary Kristin Rodrigue, who organized the event for the second year running, had mixed emotions for her second of four children who entered into first grade this year.  Describing her feelings when the bus showed up in her neighborhood, she said that she had “a little bit of joy and some tears, too.”

For Joann White and Jenny Frost, the tears were flowing mercilessly for their first graders, who are also only children.

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Access Road Dispute Goes to Windham Voters

by Barbara O’Brien

Windham voters are being given a second opportunity to decide whether a second access road should be built at the site of Windham High School.  The school is scheduled to open in September 2009 now.  Voters will go to the polls to vote in the state primary and cast ballots on the proposed access road on Tuesday, September 9.

The special town meeting was petitioned by selectmen.  Permission to hold the meeting was granted by Rockingham County Superior Court in early August.

A similar warrant article was presented to voters in March during the annual school district meeting.  That article was defeated, however, and failed to garner even a simple majority, not even close to the required 60 percent majority needed for a bond issue.

During the school board workshop on Tuesday, September 2, the entire agenda was devoted to discussing the town’s latest proposed warrant article.  Despite information being presented that indicated a second access road is not required before the school is opened, school board members remained at odds on whether it should be built.  The currently proposed roadway is designed to meet town standards and would not be used just as a second emergency access to the high school.  It would also provide access to the other side of Windham and thus be deemed a public road.  There also is talk of new homes being built in that area sometime in the not-too-distant future, resulting in residents who would most likely benefit from the paved road.

Glenn Davis, the school district’s representative for the $53 million high school project, said he would “like to see the road go through, but I don’t think we need this access road for the school to open” next September.  Davis read several passages from documents written by state officials indicating that the state fire marshal has already reviewed all current plans for the high school.  “We have all the required approvals to open,” Davis said.  Based on this documentation, Davis said, “I’m not sure that the (local) fire chief (Tom Mcpherson) does have the final say.”

McPherson has maintained he wants a second access to the school for the safety of students and staff.  He has also said he is willing to work with town and school district administrators to resolve the issue and to come up with a solution.  McPherson did not attend the September 2 workshop, but has said previously he wants to see Windham High School open on time.

School Board Member Mike Hatem said it was the fire marshal who gave the local fire chief the right to issue a final decision.  “The fire marshal is not going to back down on this,” Hatem said, adding that trying to open the school without a second access could lose Windham $18 million in state educational aid.

According to Davis, the two main issues surrounding the road dilemma are funding and timing.  “I want the high school to open on time,” he said.  “And I don’t want neighbors suing neighbors.”  Davis explained that he would hate to see the school district and town become so embattled that the issue could wind up in court.  “There are other reasons for this road beside access to the high school,” he said, referring to the proposal to make the access a public road, rather than just a gated dirt or gravel road to prevent public access.

The proposed cost of the paved road is about $1.25 million;  money which Davis said does not exist in the high school budget.  If voters fail to pass the article on September 9, the money needed to build the road will not be found in the remaining high school construction budget.  The next opportunity to bring it to a vote would be at the annual town or school district meeting in March.  Davis said it would be difficult to get the road built between then and the beginning of school, less than a six-month period.  “If the road doesn’t pass in September or March, we are left with an unfunded mandate,” Davis said.  Davis said the school district needs to plan for the worst-case scenario.  If voters pass the article on September 9, then further discussion “is a moot point,” Davis said.  If it fails to pass, school officials need to come up with other options, he added.

During the past year or so, school board members and town officials have tried to work together in finding a solution to the second access road situation, but so far the issue is unresolved.  “We jumped through every hoop.  We did everything we could to solve the issue,” school board member Beverly Donovan said.  “It’s just sad the way it’s played out.”

Davis said he wanted to emphasize that, at no time, did the school board do anything inappropriate in proposing the article last March pertaining to a second access road.  School officials had hoped to receive 30 percent state aid by putting the article through the school district, rather than through the town side of government.  Davis said school board members always had the best interests of taxpayers at heart.

Mike Hatem said he doesn’t like the idea that some people are taking a tone that blames selectmen for the current situation regarding a second access road.  Instead of placing blame, he said, school board members should be focusing on the pros and cons of the road.  The only con, in his opinion, Hatem said, is cost.  Referring to the divided opinions in town, Hatem said, “We have a very angry town.  I don’t understand why anyone on the school board would be opposed.  The bottom half of the road is already town-owned.”

School Board Chairman Barbara Coish said she is opposed to the proposed warrant article.  “I don’t think we need it,” she said.  Coish said she’s not satisfied because the plans for the proposed road are not finished, nor is the cost of the proposal known.  “How can the public vote on this question under these circumstances?” she asked.  Coish also said she believes plans to build this road are substandard.  “The lowest cost is not always the answer,” she said.

School Board Member Bruce Anderson questioned whether the school district should try to buy the land on which to build a second access road, then construct a dirt or gravel road that is gated except for emergency access.  He said the cost for doing the project in that manner would be about $800,000.  If the town wasn’t allowed to use the road for public access, could the school district obtain 30 percent aid from the state department of education? he wondered.

School Board Member Mark Brockmeier, who attended the meeting via a conference telephone call, said board members are spending too much time on “pre-emptive worrying.”  “We have to wait for the vote on September 9,” Brockmeier said, then, if it doesn’t pass, board members need to explore other options.

Superintendent Frank Bass agreed with Brockmeier.  “There are so many variables to take into account,” Bass said.  “By finger-pointing, you’re only embroiling the situation,” he said.  “The best thing to do is to wait and see what happens on September 9.”  Bass also said other options have not been discussed by the full school board and will be approached should it become necessary after the votes are tallied next week.

When asked how they plan to vote on September 9, Donovan and Anderson both said they plan to vote for the road as proposed.  “Do we need it?”  Anderson said.  “No.  Would it be nice to have?  Yes.”  Coish said she will not for the road, contending it is not a requirement for opening the school.  Hatem said he will vote in favor of the access because it is needed.  Brockmeier said he will be voting as a private citizen on September 9 and does not care to share how he will vote.

“It’s really up to the taxpayers,” Glenn Davis said.  “It all depends on their vote.” 

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Windham Awards Sand and Salt Bids

by Barbara O’Brien

  Although the summer is not officially over, Windham is getting ready for what waits on the horizon.  If Labor Day is behind us, can winter weather be far behind??

  During their meeting on Monday, August 25, selectmen took on the task of predicting how much money the town might need to pay for the salt and sand to keep Windhams roads clear in winter.

  According to Highway Agent Jack McCartney, four bids were received for road sand:

  • Plourde Sand and Gravel in Suncook, New Hampshire, at $6.13 per ton picked up by the town and $13.34 delivered;
  • Brox Industries in Dracut, Massachusetts, at $7.25 per ton picked up by the town and $10 delivered;
  • F.L. Merrill Construction in Pembroke, New Hampshire, at $3.50 per ton picked up by the town and $9.90 delivered;
  • Thibeault Construction in Londonderry, New Hampshire, at $5 per ton picked up by the town and $8.89 delivered.

   Selectmen unanimously awarded the bid for road salt for 2008-2009 to Thibeault Construction.  The cost to the town for last winter (2007-2008) was $5.63 per ton picked up and $9.65 per ton delivered, more than will be paid this year.

  As for road salt, McCartney said two bids were received:

  • International Salt Company in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, at $72.40 per ton delivered;
  • Eastern Salt Company, Incorporated  in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, at $76.03 per ton delivered.

  Selectmen voted unanimously to award the bid to the International Salt Company. 

  The firm that provided salt to Windham last year (Granite State Minerals) declined to submit a bid this year. 

  McCartney said he anticipates that the cost of road salt will exceed last years expenditure by about $15,000. Last years per ton cost for road salt was only $55 per ton. The amount of road salt used last year was about 900 tons, McCartney said. The minimum delivery provided to the town is 30 tons per delivery, he said.

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Officers Elected for New Windham Village District

by Barbara O’Brien

Voters in the newly created Breezy Gale Village District in Windham, which includes the Cobbetts Pond area, have elected the officers who will govern that district. 

The new village district was formed on Monday, August 18, following a special meeting at which only registered voters of that area could cast ballots.  Seasonal residents allowed to attend, but could not vote.  According to the supervisors of the checklist, there are a total of 48 registered voters living in the new Breezy Gale Village District.  Just fewer than 50 percent, or 22 of those registered voters, chose to participate in the balloting.

The selection of the name Breezy Gale Village District was unanimous.  The original sub-division was initially recorded as Breezy Gale Park back in 1963.  The purpose of creating the new village district was so that residents will have more control over private roads located within the district.  Previously, all those roads were private roadways.  Under the new regulations, residents of Breezy Gale will be assessed additional taxes based on the need for road maintenance.  Before the new district was created, each year-round resident was assessed $200 for annual road maintenance, while seasonal residents paid $100 per year for these services. By law, the town wasnt spending any money on these roads.

Elected as village commissioners were Dennis Rogers, whose term will expire in 2010; James Morrow, whose term will expire in 2011; and Carl DiPaulo, whose term will expire in 2009.  Dominic Tringale was elected village clerk; Gary Marlow village treasurer; and Al Schommer village moderator.

During the August 18 meeting, Breezy Gale resident Jerry Larochelle asked selectmen if this action means that Breezy Gale is seceding from Windham.  Town Administrator David Sullivan said the creation of the village district does not change the areas relationship with the town as far as other public services, such as police and fire, are concerned.  As for the roads in Breezy Gale, Sullivan said, they will still not be town roads.  They will be district roads and only district residents will be assessed for any work done on district roads.

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