Fall Festival at PMA

by Lynne Ober

Kayla Lizotte, 8, plays her guitar.

It was a beautiful, warm, sunny, late summer Saturday for the annual Fall Festival held on the grounds of Presentation of Mary Academy.  As usual, a large crowd had gathered early for fun, food and festivities.  “We usually have around 2,000 people come to the festival,” smiled Lisa Girand, one of the co-presidents of the festival.  Lisa and Chris Thompson spend a year planning and organizing the annual event, which is the only fundraiser for the school.

This year they added new features and lots of fun.  As usual, they had craft vendors inside, along with the ever-popular Sister’s Fish Pond.  The fish pond, as always, was a huge hit with the kids.  The sisters had filled almost 400 grab bags and were sold out by 2:30.

The Penny Sale had over 180 items with a great door prize of different gift cards valued at $130.00.  These were lined up in the hall, and interested people were busy choosing their favorites.  In addition, 32 theme baskets were raffled off.  These ranged from a dress-down day for the month for a PMA student to a Red Sox basket, Patriots baskets, Hair We Go basket filled with all different hair products, Crop Till You Drop basket, and many more.  Each class collected and assembled their baskets

Outside, the fair was in full swing from beginning to end.  There was a stage with live entertainment and dancing to the music that wafted over the grounds.  Amusements were by Damon Associates, entertainment was provided by Jazzercise, Tim Bielby Karate, McDonagle Irish Step Dance, and Cracker Jacks the Clown mingled with the crowd and also pulled pranks on people!

The food was delicious.  Families had choices of grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, nachos, chili, and pizza provided by Pizza Man at Connie’s Plaza, and, of course, fried dough, popcorn and cotton candy.  According to Lisa, volunteers provided some of the food this year.

Inside, in the cafeteria, a bountiful bake sale table was filled with goodies to tempt even the strongest.

Picnic tables were set up outside and families could sit, eat and chat.

Face painting was helped by the Junior Girl Scouts and PMA Jr. High. 

Sister Maria, the principal, was one of the wardens for the infamous “jail” where students can pay to have someone “arrested” and then that person needs to raise “bail money” to get out and in return the person that pays receives a ‘no uniform’ pass.

Everywhere you looked, there were games, slides, bounce houses, and fun.  Faculty and former students helped run the games and volunteered throughout the day.  Whether you worked at a game or just enjoyed the event, it was a great day to be outside.

The Hudson Fire Department was on hand.  They talked to kids about the fire engine and about safety.

“Everyone just pitches in and we have a great time,” said Chris.  “It’s a lot of work, but well worth doing.  Our sponsors have been great to us.”

If you missed this fun event, there’s always next year.  Lisa and Chris are already planning it.

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Vocational-Technical Center to Offer Series of ‘One Night’ Classes

by Doug Robinson

Susan Hanley preparing to teach her classes at the upcoming “Night at the Web”

Touted as “A Night at the Web,” The Wilbur H. Palmer Vocational-Technical Center at 200 Derry Road in Hudson will offer a series of “one night classes,” according to Dick Lutz, CTE Director.

“Last year we did not receive any enrollments for our evening classes, so this year, our marketing students surveyed the community in an effort to learn how we could best provide ongoing education for the general public,” Lutz said.  “The students created a specific questionnaire designed to find out what our community wished to learn and how we could best fill those desires.  The students’ questionnaire was presented to the Hudson Chamber of Commerce and various businesses in an effort to learn how we could best service them.”

The survey queried business leaders with the following questions:

  • What educational opportunities would the business member most likely purchase or send an employee (to the class)?
  • Would your business offer students ... shadowing or internships in an area related to their professional development?
  • What should the … center do to prepare students for the career world?
  • Would you be willing to come to school and interact with the students at the center?
  • What do you want the Greater Hudson Chamber of Commerce to provide as a service to the membership?

More than two thirds of businesses surveyed said they would buy or send an employee to a class that taught the Microsoft programs Word or Excel.  In the survey, more than 60 percent of the local businesses said they would offer students the opportunity to shadow or intern at their business.  Business ethics, communication skills, telephone skills and writing reports listed as the top three most important skills desired of the center to teach their students.  About one-half of the business said that they would be willing to interact with the students at the center during a college/career day, field trip to their business, or visit a class.  As far as “what do you want the Hudson Chamber of Commerce to provide,” the survey suggested that networking, professional development and advertising opportunities were of most interest.  Most business owners, or nearly 75 percent said they wished the Hudson Chamber of Commerce to assist in the promotion of their business.

As a result of the survey, the center designed a series of “one nighters.” 

“The courses are designed to offer those who attend a no-commitment approach to evening education.  The survey also taught us that prospective students do not like to make a commitment for a series of nights.  People’s lives are very busy, and we learned that for them to commit to a series of classes was too much to ask.  So, we designed our Evening at the Web’ around an educational series of one nighters’.  They can come, learn some tricks, and then go home,” Lutz said.

Word tips and tricks, Power Point polish, Excel tips and tricks, the World of Culinary Arts,  Introduction to Welding, and Digital photography will be the one-night courses offered.  The cost of the three-hour evening classes range from $20 to $37.

Susan Hanley, dean of students at Alvirne High School, will be the instructor of Word tips and tricks and Excel tips and tricks.  “I used to teach business and keyboarding and it will be fun to get back into the classroom,” she said.

Chef Buxton of Checker’s Restaurant, will teaching the World of Culinary Arts and Hudson resident Dave Anger will be teaching Introduction to Welding.  In addition to the one-night welding class, a five-week course in welding will be offered.

“I am trying to get all aspects of the Hudson community involved with the Vocational Center,” Lutz said.  “Our job is to continue to educate, from the age of kindergarten to the elderly.  This Center should be for everyone.”

The campus is home to comprehensive vocational education center that features programs in forestry, finance, accounting, agriculture mechanics/diesel technology, banking, biotechnology, building trades, business, culinary arts, early childhood education, floriculture, health occupations, landscaping, marketing, multimedia, natural resource management/forestry, production agriculture and veterinary technology.

For those wishing more information or to enroll in the “one nighter” program are encouraged to call, 886-1260, or visit:  www.alvirneh.org and click the CTE button on the left and then Adult Education.

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Litchfield Police Request More Money

by Lynne Ober

Discussion about process arose between Litchfield Police Chief Joey O’Brion and the Budget Committee.

Committee Chairman Brent Lemire cautioned O’Brion that the happenings at the 2008 Deliberative Session when police officers amended the police budget from the floor were not good for the taxpayers or the town.  Lemire calmly talked about the process and about wanting to work with the chief to reach a good result, but he pointed out that the budget committee does not just slash budgets.  “We look at what’s best and we try to work out a compromise with the department head.  It doesn’t help to have department staff then go to deliberative session and put the money back into the budget.”

O’Brion seeks to add the equivalent of three new positions.  He told the committee he plans to submit the same warrant article for two new officers that failed last year.  O’Brion reviewed a history of arrests that covered the last three years.  He talked about the need to have two officers on at all times.  Now there is one shift a week with only one officer on duty.  O’Brion talked, and no one disagreed, about the danger that an officer faces if he is on duty alone and has to make an arrest with no available backup.  Although the budget committee did not vote on this warrant article at its meeting, no one spoke against the need.

The other position raised some eyebrows.  O’Brion is asking for a contract prosecutor.  He originally asked for $60,000 but selectmen asked him to lower that because this contract position could not be filled until after the March, 2009 election and O’Brion complied.

When budget committee members asked where he got his backup, O’Brion told them that he had only used two communities – Hudson with 25,000 people and Bedford with a population of 21,000.  O’Brion did not provide prosecutor comparisons for towns closer in size to Litchfield.

The chief said he expected the contract prosecutor to work for his department 32 hours a week.  When Lemire asked if the chief tracked how many hours were being spent in court, O’Brion said no, but that it was “a lot.”  He talked about the work that wasn’t getting done because the lieutenant was in court instead of working at the police station.

Then there was another lengthy discussion about process.  Lemire pointed out that this was basically a new position.  “We make the school district put all new positions onto warrant articles.  I don’t see how we can leave this in the budget as it is an equivalent to a new position.  It wouldn’t be fair.”

Lemire agreed that he could understand that Litchfield is at a disadvantage when an officer represents Litchfield, but a lawyer represents the person who has been arrested.  Lemire did not contest the need, but said that in fairness, the position should be a warrant article.  “I’m talking about following the process and about being fair to both town and school.  I am not contesting the need for a contract prosecutor.”

Lemire noted that the police department has not spent any dollars against this training line item and asked why the money was put back in at the Deliberative Session when it hadn’t been spent.

O’Brion then explained that the money was used for overtime pay rather than training expenses.  The money is used for overtime for officers who are being trained.  There was a question about whether the line item should be training overtime rather than just training.

Selectmen’s Assistant Howard Dilworth said that the police department sends in its pay as regular and overtime and does not denote amounts used as overtime for training so all the overtime money goes into the overtime line even though O’Brion budgets the overtime into two line items – training and overtime.

There was quite a bit of discussion surrounding the use of the training money to pay for overtime.  O’Brion explained that officers are always paid overtime for any training that they go to and if they train during their regular shift, then other officers are called in and they are paid overtime to cover the shift.

Finally Lemire asked if the department had to pay for any training costs.  “Do you pay tuition or training fees?”

O’Brion said they did but they charged those dollars to the grants line item.  Lemire explained that this was incorrect and asked that training be charged to training in the future.  “Grants are for grants that you get from someone,” he told the chief.

O’Brion noted that selectmen had added more than $4,000 for training for the chief.  In the chief’s performance review done by MRI, but not released to the public, MRI recommended training for the chief.  The chief indicated he wanted to begin the training.

After the budget committee asked selectmen’s representative to the budget committee, George Lambert, if they could see the chief’s training plan, Lambert said selectmen have not yet developed a training plan, but expect to do so.  In anticipation of developing the plan, they added the training dollars to the administrative budget.

The budget committee asked the chief to review his training overtime dollars and return prepared to make a compromise on how much stays in the budget.  They asked to see the overtime hours used by Lt. Millette for court time and to bring back an analysis of the overtime used in the budget.  The final question revolved around what, if anything, should stay in the grant line.  If training expenses get moved to their appropriate and budgeted lines, the committee wanted to know what grants were being applied for and what O’Brion expected to receive.  O’Brion said he would come back with answers to the questions.

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Emergency Management Budget Clears Selectmen

by Lynne Ober

Perhaps one of the easiest budgets that Litchfield selectmen will review this year is the Emergency Management Budget.

Fire Chief Thomas Schofield explained that little had been expended, and he was level funding for the same items next year.  Schofield told the board that once he got their memo to hold down expenses as much as possible, that he had to pay Litchfield’s portion of the HazMat District, which is based on the 2000 census and provides protection to all of Litchfield in case of a hazardous waste problem of any kind.  “That is $6,000, but I held the line on the other expenses.”  The $6,000 is a contribution that Litchfield must pay each year to the HazMat district.

The budget also had $9,100 to develop an emergency management plan.  “Because of the memo about costs, I decided not to engage the consultant who would help with this.  We could wait a year.  This is a tough financial year and not spending the money now was the right thing to do.”

The remainder of the $26,000 budget was to cover the purchase and outfitting of a trailer that would be used to carry equipment to sites, would be enclosed and have a chemical toilet and cabinetry that could carry materials.  Schofield said that he wanted to carry barricades and cones on the trailer because it made more sense to do that than to take a large fire engine to a scene to block traffic.  He also said that when a response team is on-site for a long time, being able to get out of the cold helps.  As Schofield had described this trailer, it could be used by both police and fire departments when they responded to a scene that required an on-site presence for a length of time.

Schofield had also asked the Fire Relief Association to kick in $5,000 to help outfit the trailer and they agreed to do that.  “But I decided to wait because of the town’s financial situation.”

The board approved moving the budget forward to next year. 

Selectman George Lambert asked if the chief would be allowed to proceed with the trailer and emergency management plan if the financial picture improved and was told that this would be the case.

Schofield said that he has applied for a large grant and will know by the Deliberative Session if he gets it.  “It has a five percent match requirement and we’d have to add money to this budget if the grant is approved, but I’ll know in time for us to do that.  I want to explain that to the Budget Committee.”

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Hiring Hudson Police Chief: The Next Step

by Gina M. Votour

More details have been disclosed regarding Hudson’s search for a new police chief to replace Chief Richard Gendron, who will retire at year’s end. 

An outside firm, Municipal Resources, Inc. (MRI), has been contracted by the town to eliminate any bias during the hiring process. 

Founded in 1989, MRI provides extensive experience through its “services to meet the specific needs of local communities and (focus) on providing innovative and creative solutions to the problems and issues facing local governments.”

As previously discussed by the Board of Selectmen, two panels are being assembled to conduct an internal candidate search; a professional panel and a citizens panel.

MRI’s primary task will be to assemble the professional panel.  Hudson originally planned to use the resources of the New Hampshire Police Academy, however, the academy no longer offers this service.

The professional panel will consist of three law enforcement professionals, a fire chief and a municipal manager.  The board has chosen Fire Chief Shawn Murray to fill the fire chief role on this panel.

The citizens panel will be composed of five members.  A public posting for positions on this panel yielded 15 applicants.  Hudson School District Superintendent Randy Bell has been selected as the first panel member. 

Since time is a considerable factor, interviews for the four remaining openings will be held during the October 7 Board of Selectmen workshop meeting.  Applicants who still wish to be considered for the citizens interview panel are urged to attend this meeting.

“I’d like to maintain the flavor of a small community and citizens participating in their government,” said Selectman Roger Coutu.

MRI will facilitate candidate interviews for both panels and then arrange a joint discussion session once the separate interviews are completed.  The resulting recommendations will be presented to the Board of Selectmen, which will conduct the final interviews.

The cost to Hudson for services provided by MRI, to be drawn from the town’s legal budget, is not to exceed $7,500. 

“I think this is one of those cases where we need to spend some money,” said Selectman Vice Chairman Richard Maddox. 

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