Harvest Fest a Blast

by Lynne Ober

Kalie, 7, and her sister Lanie, 4, Rucker painted pumpkins.

It was a beautiful day for the annual Harvest Fest held on the grounds of Hudson’s Hills House.  By the time that festivities began in the morning, the sun was out and temperatures were warming.  Beautiful fall foliage was everywhere you looked.

As soon as you walked onto the grounds music filled the air.  Crafts for kids and pumpkin painting were the first two activities on the agenda.  Choosing the perfect pumpkin to paint took careful consideration and then it was time to roll up those sleeves and become Picasso.  Painted pumpkins gathered together to dry while their artist owners moved on to other activities.

Dr. H. O. Smith School PTO sponsored the very popular bounce house.  Some participants were Christmas shopping at the various vendor tents. 

Officer Kevin Sullivan and Akim came and put on a demonstration much to the delight of the crowd.  Freddy the Talking Fire Truck enchanted young and old – but be careful.  If you don’t watch Freddy, he might squirt you.

Alvirne’s Marching Band marched onto the grounds and entertained the crown. 

The Culinary Program from Alvirne High School had one of the more popular booths.  What’s a festival without food?  Cookies, apple crisp, hot dogs, whoopee pies, chili, fudge, and candy tempted one and all.

“It’s just a great community event,” said Eloise Case, “and it’s such a beautiful day to be outside.”

In the Alvirne High School Barn a petting zoo was open and foot traffic back and forth between Hills House and Alvirne was heavy all day. 

“We want this to be an old fashioned family day,” said Hudson Historical Society Chairman Terry Stewart.  “Some place you can come with your kids and have a fun day.  We have many community groups here.  Two of the Lions clubs, the PTOs, Friends of the Library, Friends of Music and others.  It’s great.”

When it was time for the haystack scavenger hunt, kids made a ring around the haystack.  They listened carefully as Stewart explained what they were looking for and then jumped in.  Hay flew through the air as fast as the giggles of the participants.

In the afternoon Jennifer Horn, candidate for Congress, strolled through the grounds. 

Second grader Hunter Smith painted his pumpkin.

The scavenger hunt is always a favorite.

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Roland Bergeron – Gone but not Forgotten

by Lynne Ober

A  beloved Litchfield resident died peacefully in his sleep.  Roland Bergeron’s impact on the town that he loved will never be forgotten.

Bergeron, who recently retired after 47 years of excellent service to Litchfield, loved the town.  He’ll long be remembered and no one who follows him will have the impact that he had on the growing community.

“Almost every building in town has Roland’s fingerprints on it,” said former Board of Selectman Chairman Ray Peeples.  “He touched everything built in town.”

Selectman’s Assistant Howard Dilworth recalled that he went to Alvirne High School with Bergeron’s son.  “I graduated with Michael in the class of 1972.  Roland basically came home from the war, bought a home in Litchfield and got involved.”

Michael Bergeron, Roland’s son, wrote a biography of his father that was read by his sister Jane at his retirement celebration.  The biography began when Roland Bergereon’s parents emigrated from Canada to America and highlighted his service to America during World War II, his schooling, his work and his tenure as a town employee.

When Roland married Louise, they moved to Nashua, but Louise wanted to live on a farm.  When she saw a farm for sale in Litchfield, they decided to buy it with a Veterans Administration loan and moved to Litchfield in the 1950s.  At the time there were 450 residents in Litchfield.  It wasn’t long before Bergeron was active in town as a volunteer.  He began serving on the Zoning Board of Adjustment [ZBA] and was the chairman of that board when he was asked to work for the town in 1960.

Bergeron wasn’t just the code enforcement officer.  For three years he served as Litchfield’s civil defense director.  He was the road agent for 20 years and health officer for 40 years.

Selectman Pat Jewett recalls years of working with Roland.  “We didn’t always get along very well, but we grew to respect each other even when we disagreed.”  Jewett said she had seen Roland only days before his death.  “He looked good.  He did a lot for our town.  He did sensible things.”  Jewett said selectmen didn’t know about the road that Roland put in around the incinerator.  “He stayed within his budget and we probably never would have gotten that road.”

Talk to anyone in town and you’ll hear stories about Roland and the town.  Roland himself was fond of telling stories.  He knew Litchfield when none of the roads were paved.  As building inspector, he not only watched the town grow, but had his finger on the growth.

Look around town and you’ll see his fingerprints.  Originally Ed Albuquerque laid out his dream of a road running through Litchfield, but it has been Bergeron who has steadily worked on it. 

Later he was involved in building the bike path along Albuquerque Avenue.  He helped obtain the land that town hall sits on today. 

Bergeron designed every Litchfield highway building except for one salt building.  He also worked with vendors and supervised the construction of the buildings.

He surveyed the land for the incinerator and then designed and supervised construction of the recycling building.

He watched the roads get paved and schools built and expanded.  If there was a challenge, Roland was the go to guy for creative solutions.

Roland served many Boards of Selectmen.  He worked with many town officials.  Former Board of Selectmen Chairman Cecil Williams said, “I doubt that it comes as news to anyone in the Town of Litchfield whoever dealt with Roland on any sort of an ongoing basis that he was full of surprises.  He might cajole you one time then, and on the same subject roast you the next time, but most always with the same wry smile that said, ‘Okay, so now what do you think I really mean?’” 

“Many disagreed with the way he went about getting things done, but no one could deny the fact that accomplished big things,” said Peeples.  “Roland was a doer – the likes of which this town is not likely to see again!  He will be missed."

Board of Selectmen Chairman Frank Byron agreed with Peeples’ assessment that Roland accomplished many things.  “Roland Bergeron worked tirelessly for Litchfield and had a very strong influence in shaping our community into what it has become today.  He was one of those people who knew just about everyone in town and was involved in everything.  I'll always remember working with Roland on many of the town's key projects where his ideas and thoughts helped shape our direction.  Roland's insights and influence will be missed,” Byron said.

Town builder and shaper.  Known for his knowledge and ability to get things done.  Roland was unique in his love and devotion to Litchfield, but through it all he was a devoted dad and husband.  He loved to tell stories about his children and he was proud of their many accomplishments.  Talking to him you knew that he cherished his family.

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Hudson Senior Center Warrant Articles Proposed

by Gina M. Votour

Two potential warrant articles for the March 2009 Town Meeting were recently put forth by the newly formed Hudson Senior Committee. 

The committee, whose creation was approved by the Board of Selectmen at the end of August, serves to open communication between the board and the Hudson Senior Advisory Council regarding senior programs.

Six members make up the committee; Selectmen Ken Massey and Roger Coutu, Town Administrator Steve Malizia and Hudson Council on Aging members Jim Stafford Rogers, Mary Ann Knowles and Andy Renzullo. 

Establishing a location for a senior center in Hudson is of top priority for the committee.  A proposed warrant article relating to a capital reserve fund for a future senior center was put tabled during the October 14 selectmen’s meeting.  All members of the Senior Committee were present for this meeting, along with several Council on Aging members, including Lucille Boucher.  

The warrant article states, “Shall the Town of Hudson vote to establish a Capital Reserve Fund under the provisions of RSA 35:1 for the purposes of building, leasing or renting a facility for a Senior Center to be known as the “Senior Center Capital Reserve Fund” and to raise and appropriate the initial sum of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000) to be placed in said fund.”

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously 4 - 0 (Selectman Shawn Jasper was not present) to forward this warrant article to the voters in March. 

The Senior Committee also established a governance model along with an operation plan for a future senior center. 

The governance model involves the creation of a senior services director.  This individual would be employed by the town, reporting to the assistant town administrator. 

Among the many responsibilities of the senior services director would be creating and establishing senior programs and services, grant writing, and communicating with the selectmen and other town officials regarding senior topics. 

In terms of operation, the director would take charge of all senior programs and activities.  The group agreed that it would be “imperative to alert the Senior Advisory Council that they should be prepared to cede governance responsibilities to the town …”

Programs organized by the director would be available to all Hudson seniors.  “This (would be) a program for everybody in town …  It’s not just for the exclusive use of a private organization,” said Massey.

Therefore, another proposed warrant article involved the town’s hiring of a senior services director for $20,800 per year (20 hours per week at $20 per hour).  Should this position be filled, a committee for seniors, similar to that of the Recreation Committee, could be established later. 

The selectmen chose to defer voting on this proposition until their October 28 meeting, primarily so that alternative funding options could be examined before putting forth a warrant article for a new position and program.  Their concern was that if the warrant article were to fail, funds from another source would not be legally allowed to support the program for next year.

The seniors and the town have struggled for years with issues relating to a potential location for a permanent facility to house a senior center.  The new committee’s latest ideas again focus on renovating or adding on to the Community Center (formerly Lion’s Hall), renovating the facility on Oakwood Street and/or seeking out other accessible properties.

Since a warrant article proposing a $1 million addition to the Community Center for seniors failed in March, the newest warrant articles devised by the Hudson Senior Committee could offer yet another chance toward progress in the continuing endeavor.

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Economic Uncertainty Slows Hudson Fire Station Land Purchase

by Gina M. Votour

For some time now, Hudson’s Leonard Smith Central Fire Station has been outgrowing its present location.  A past study determined that an addition would be not be conducive since more than double the square footage of the current building may be necessary.

In May, the Board of Selectmen created the Hudson Fire Department Central Fire Station Building Committee to explore what the construction of an entirely new station would entail.

The committee, which met five times between June and August, consisted of Selectman Shawn Jasper, Budget Committee Representative Steve Nute, Fire Chief Shawn Murray, Deputy Fire Chiefs Bob Buxton and Neal Carter (alternate), and citizen representatives Lionel Boucher, Andrew LaCourse and Todd Graham.

The main objectives were to devise a square footage estimate, develop a Request for Proposal (RFP) which would contain a schematic building design, and locate a suitable parcel on which to build.

Jasper said earlier this year the town was looking toward a three-year plan for the entire project.  A portion of the committee’s current report states, however, that “due to the current economic uncertainty … it would be prudent to recommend that the acquisition of land should not be pursued during the Fiscal Year 2010 budget cycle.” 

The committee nevertheless provided various details of their findings.  A necessary square footage of approximately 21,170 feet was disclosed, based on the committee’s studies of two previous space needs analysis reports.  A current RFP included the attributes for a candidate architect along with a list of architect responsibilities.

Ten possible locations were considered, focusing on emergency response times, cost, lot size (a minimum of three acres), property status, and build ability. 

Of the 10 sites, three top choices emerged; 66-68 Derry Street (assessed at $819,000 but listed on the market at $1.5 million), 43 Baker Street (assessed at $111,000) and 105 Derry Street (assessed at $750,000).  Each location offered a lot size between three and 3.75 acres.

Although the parcel at 66-68 Derry Street is construction-ready, it was later eliminated as a potential choice due to high price and possible presence of asbestos on the property. 

The Baker Street site allows more efficient delivery of fire and EMS services.  However, increased preparation costs would be needed due to topography. 

The property at 105 Derry Street offers flat topography.  If purchased, a three-acre subdivision would be needed from 49 acres owned by Nashua’s St. Patrick Church.

During the October 14 Board of Selectmen meeting, Murray requested that further engineering studies, costing about $40,000, be conducted on the two remaining sites.  However, the request was put on hold as Selectman Roger Coutu questioned whether these properties would be available by the time the town had the financial means to make a purchase.

Coutu also asked why the potential location for a new station was located on the western border of the town as opposed to a more central site.  Murray explained that this was due to population densities. 

“From this [current] central fire station to this Smith Road [Baker Street] location … the distance in time did not skew the overall response percentages for the entire town.  In fact, we improved our [response] capabilities by moving up in that direction,” said Murray.

Murray later stated that the main arteries of Routes 111, 102, and 3A are what allow station locations to be moved and adapted.

Deputy Chief Buxton said that although it would take longer to get to the south end of town from one prospective location, it would provide improved fire and EMS service to the town’s northern area. 

Buxton added that the potential new sites would bring the eight-minute response time up to 83 percent from 75.8 percent when all three stations are staffed.  He also explained that research into a possible location in the 111 area showed “a reduction in services well below what we are delivering now.”

A motion put forth by Selectman Richard Maddox to “thank the committee for their work” passed 4 - 0 (Selectman Jasper was not present).  For the time being, the town will hold on to the committee data until it is economically possible to move further along with this plan.

“I think this is a nice exercise, we have a lot of information … [to] keep going forward at some point …, ” Maddox said.

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Vocational-Technical Center Students Take Honors at Deerfield Fair

by Doug Robinson

Students of the Wilbur H. Palmer Vocational-Technical Center recently participated in the Deerfield Fair, commonly known as New England’s Oldest Family Fair.  For 132 years, the Deerfield Fair has featured “agriculture activities and demonstrations, horse shows, a pig scramble, oxen pulling, a large midway, 4 H exhibits, diverse musical entertainment” as well as events for competition and judging.

More than eight-dozen students from the center competed in floral, tractor driving, forestry and dairy events. 

Alvirne’s Future Farmers of America forestry team continued to be strong during the 2008 event as it won the championship trophy.  Fifteen Alvirne forestry competitors included students Todd Soucy, John Collishaw, Mike Buxton, Pat Berrigan, Cody Simpson, Bobby Ducharme, Deidre Hall, Shannon Brennan, Aaron Garofalo, Josh Provost, Kevin Kaufman, Devon Malburne, Andrew Larkin, John Roarke and Tim Wahl.

The events in which Alvirne competed were:  two-man cross-cut, bow saw, log roll and pulp toss.  The team is training for the State FFA interscholastic forestry event at the University of New Hampshire.

Tractor driving student Jake Barss earned top honors while Steve Hutchinson came in second and Mike Livingston fourth.  Students were required to demonstrate proper heavy equipment operation, general inspections as well as specific course requirements and safety.

Students from the floral department placed third overall as they competed against seven schools.

At press time, the Deerfield Fair organizers had not communicated with the center on dairy competition results.

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