Haunted Hayride Still a Hit for All Ages

by Tom Tollefson

Foreign Exchange students:  Junior Iheb Ben Moussa (r) and Emanuel Schuller (l)

The ghouls and ghosts were out last week, as Alvirne High School put on their seventh annual Haunted Hayride.  Despite being rained out on the first night (October 28), the hayride drew in over 150 people the following night, and over 200 on the final evening.

“It was slow in the beginning, but then it picked up,” Alvirne Vocational Director Dick Lutz said.

The hayride was heralded “fun for all ages” as the fear factor was kept to a minimum for even the smallest audience.

“I liked the creativity.  I liked that it’s good for all ages.  They make it scary, but not too scary for the little ones to go on it,” Hudson resident Dianne McDonald said.

The 20- to 30-minute hayride through the woods near the Hills House was filled with lurching zombies, dark-figured villains, growling monsters, ghosts illuminated by tube lighting, and victims tied to trees screaming “Help me!”  A few of these creepers even followed the audience.

According to the audience, the chainsaw maniac suspended in midair was the most “terrifying” out of the 14 “ghoulish” skits.

“That was freaky!  I was afraid he was going to fall,” AHS sophomore Becca Dupont said. 

The army of menacing monsters was made up of members of the current AHS senior class, FFA (Future Farmers of America), and the Bronco Backers, totaling about 70 participants.

“It was one of the most fun things I’ve done in high school,” AHS senior Matt Preston, who played a screaming victim, said.

Other groups such as the Mechanics Club, Gaming Club, Early Childhood Education Club, and HOSA participated as well, by setting up booths for kids’ games, face-painting, and giving away candy bags, all in the Alvirne Barn.

“Quite obviously, the HOSA table is the best one set up,” AHS junior Mike Cailler said.

The money raised was divided among the participating groups.

“The way that the money is split depends on the amount of kids from each organization that attends,” Jen Hall, senior class president, said.

The audience sat on a hay-padded flat bed that was pulled along through the woods by a tractor. 

Some of the audience set out to reverse the roll of scare tactics by dressing up in similar costumes.  Two Alvirne junior Foreign Exchange students, Iheb Ben Moussa and Emanuel Schuller, took on the disguise of Yoda (from Star Wars) and Dr. Death, to scare their fellow classmates as they rode through the haunted woods. 

“I think they really didn’t recognize us,” Schuller said.

Banessa Grigan paints on the face of Alexia, 7.

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A Fright Night Full of Fun

by Doug Robinson

Alissa Rampina, 8 of Hudson, gives thumbs up for the bike she just won during the raffle.  Cameron Ortiz, Hudson (unavailable) won the second bike raffle.

Thanks to the generous donations by five local residents, the hard work of the many volunteers of the Hudson Police Department and the partnerships with many Hudson Businesses, Mr. Skeleton, Mr. Toothpaste and Ms. Christmas Tree, as well as an additional 750 costumed children enjoyed themselves at the annual Fright Night activities, on Thursday, October 30 at the Hudson’s Community Center.  The evening full of fun was hosted by Children of Hudson Interacting with Police Services (C.H.I.P.S.)

Each year, for the past 13 years, C.H.I.P.S. has hosted the annual Halloween party, specifically for children.  “We sent flyers home with the children from school to let the kids know of the event and every year we have standing room only.  The line to get in goes around the building,” commented Lt. Robert Tousignant of the Hudson Police.

C.H.I.P.S., is a charitable organization which is dedicated to fostering improved relations between the children of our town and our police department.  Since 1990 C.H.I.P.S., which consists of a committee of police officers, business people and concerned citizens, has endeavored to fund and produce programs which allow our town’s police officers to meet and socialize with Hudson’s children and their parents.

“When I read about the cancellation in the paper of this event, I decided to help,” stated contributor John Jacobs.  “I love this event and you can see from the children, they love it too.”  He, along with the VFW, Randy Tournal, and an anonymous donor, presented checks to the C.H.I.P.S. committee totaling $3100 to make up for the budgetary shortfall for the event.

Upon entering the Community Center, children were welcomed by a clown making balloon animals, as well as two volunteers who personally handed to each child a reflective bag full of goodies and treats.  Not only did the children receive information on bike safety, seatbelt safety, a ruler, a pencil, two picture frames, “be safe, and be seen” reflector buttons, and a C.H.I.P.S. tee shirt, the bags were also filled with the best Halloween gift of all: candy.

As the room filled with both children and adults, the bounce houses sported a waiting line.  Lines formed three deep at the pumpkin painting tables as children waited to paint their Picasso on their own pumpkin.

Volunteers in the kitchen were in full swing cutting pizza, filling popcorn cups, and making lemonade, as all the food for the children is free.  “The entire event is free of charge to the children,” commented Lt. Tousignant.  Music filled the air as the children, side by side with Hudson’s finest, danced, followed the giant pumpkin around the Community Center during a line dance, ducked under the bar during the limbo contest, and cheered the three Hudson Police officers for their rendition of the “chicken dance.”

“This is a great event and we are very fortunate to have the four donations so that we can run this event,” stated Hudson Police Chief, Richard Gendron. 

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Budgeting Woes

by Lynne Ober

Litchfield selectmen spent much of last year verbally squabbling over various large and small items.  While that verbal sparring has diminished this year, anger still simmers just below the surface.  This year parliamentary procedures are being used to settle the battles.  October has seen a number of early calls for adjournment motions.  Since a motion to adjourn is not debatable once made, if it garners a second, the vote must be called.  That’s exactly what happened at last week’s selectmen’s meeting, leaving the Town Clerk/Tax Collector and several members of the Recreation Commission shut out after they had waited for over three hours to present their budgets — presentations that had been requested by the same selectmen who adjourned without finishing their agenda.

The meeting began late because selectmen didn’t have a quorum.  When Vice Chairman Andrew Santom called the meeting to order he said that the first budget would be the selectmen’s financial administration budget and mentioned that he expected to complete this quickly.

As the Director of the Library, Library Trustees, Recreation Commission members, Town Treasurer and Town Clerk/Tax Collector sat and listened, selectmen struggled to review and complete the budget.  It was obvious by the questions that none of them were prepared to discuss the budget, nor was selectmen’s assistant Howard Dilworth, who had prepared the budget, prepared to answer questions.  There were a number of delays as Dilworth was sent back to his office to retrieve backup.  Finally, after more than an hour had elapsed, the budget was approved, but selectmen’s representation to the Budget Committee, George Lambert, had made a number of requests for backup before this budget moved onto the Budget Committee.  At that point, Santom said he hadn’t realized how much time that would take and asked the board to move onto the budgets that would involved the people waiting in the audience.

Selectmen reviewed the library budget line by line.  Library Director Vicki Varick was very well-prepared and could easily answer all questions.  Selectmen approved the budget with no changes.

But then they moved back to a budget that concerned only selectmen.  Santom asked Selectman Al Raccio, who is also chairman of the Mosquito District, to present his budget.  At this point in time, more than two hours had elapsed and the Town Treasurer, Town Clerk/Tax Collector and Recreation Commission members were still cooling their heels in the audience.  The Town Treasurer departed from the meeting.

After the Mosquito Control District budget was presented by Raccio, selectmen took a short recess.  During the recess, Raccio was heard stating that the Recreation Commission budget should wait until Selectman Pat Jewett was in attendance.  However, selectmen decided to begin hearing this budget.  A little past ten o’clock, the anger simmering below the surface again burst upon the scene.  Lambert moved to adjourn and Raccio seconded it.  Selectmen immediately adjourned.

The Town Clerk/Tax Collector had waited more than three hours to present her budget and was never given a chance.

The next morning Raccio sent the following e-mail message to Budget Committee Chairman Brent Lemire:

“Good morning Chairman Lemire, Unfortunately the board of selectmen did not conduct their full agenda last evening.  This basically did not allow for the review by the board of selectmen of the following budget accounts:  Legal- Salary Grid- Contingency- Cemeteries-  Recreation Commission- Budget Committee- Town Clerk/Tax Collector.  However, the following accounts were reviewed and approved:  Financial Administration- Library- Mosquito Control District.  I/we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause in your schedules.  Please feel free to distribute this to any of your members that I may have inadvertently missed.”

Lemire indicated that he was very concerned by selectmen’s actions.  “From what I can see, the BOS did not conduct its full agenda due to the intransigence of some of its members,” said Lemire.  “If this continues, we are again going to be compromised for time in properly reviewing the town budgets and the blame will be squarely on the BOS again.  If these budgets are not done by next week, we may have to consider default recommendations,” he concluded.

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Warrant Article Would Fund Fire Station Land Study

by Gina M. Votour

During the final portion of their budget reviews, the Hudson Selectmen voted to put forth Warrant Article L, which would permit the expenditure of $25,000 on a land feasibility study for a potential new fire station.

The Leonard Smith Central Fire Station is quickly outgrowing its current premises.  Previous studies have determined that the building’s location would make an expansion quite difficult and that new construction on a separate site should be the next step.  

“We need to prepare to do something because that station, as we’ve spent a substantial amount of money to determine, is under-sized and would need millions of [dollars of] renovations,” said Selectman Shawn Jasper.

A Fire Department Building Committee was created back in May to uncover details of exactly what could be involved with new construction.  Part of the committee’s task was to scope out potential locations.

Jasper, a Building Committee member, made a motion during the budget reviews that $25,000 be put under Other Professional Services as a placeholder for a new Fire Department Building.  The $25,000 would be used to fund a feasibility study on the land topography of one of the Derry Street locations recommended by the committee.

“We recognize the economy, and now, instead of asking for a couple hundred thousand for land purchases and a couple hundred thousand more for building design, all we’re asking for is to fully evaluate the site and next year come back and we’ll evaluate the economy at that point,” Jasper continued.

To Jasper’s dismay, he was out-voted (4 to 1) on his motion.  Exasperated, he said to his fellow board members, “It appears you sent us [the Building Committee] out on a fool’s errand because now you’re not willing to support us in any way.  So what do you want to do?  Do you just want to tell the fire department that they can just sit there and the building can fall down around their heads?  We’ve got a big problem and it’s not going to go away.”

Selectman Vice Chairman Richard Maddox, who, from the beginning, has been completely against building a new station, asked Jasper why the town would want to spend money to study a parcel of land that it does not yet own.  Selectman Roger Coutu also questioned whether or not this land would still be for sale by the time the town would be able to purchase it.

“I will get you a commitment that this land will be available.  I’ll get it for you in writing,” Jasper replied.

Coutu stated that he would be willing to support a warrant article that would allow voters to decide whether or not to proceed with this endeavor.

The motion to create Warrant Article L which would “forward to the warrant $25,000 for a feasibility study to determine what it would cost to site a fire station along the route 102 corridor” then passed (4 to 1) with Maddox in opposition.

“If the voters of this town decide to approve this warrant article, I believe in essence they’re saying that ‘we concur, we would like to take the first step forward’ in making a commitment to do the inevitable, which is to build a new fire station,” said Coutu.

Allotting funds for this study does not mean that a new fire station is approved and, at this point, there is no projected cost for what it would actually take to construct a brand new station.

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High School Mock Election Elects Obama

by Tom Tollefson

The results are in!  According to Alvirne High School (AHS), Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is “cool.”  The young senator won the hearts of Hudson’s youth as 414 students voted for him in the mock election on Monday.  This number compares to 224 votes for American veteran John McCain. 

“I think it’s important that students take a stand for what they believe in.  We are the next generation,” senior Cindy Richard said.

Alvirne is one of many schools in New Hampshire participating in the national mock election. 

“It’s a great way to get students excited about the electoral process and they seem to be responding,” said AHS Principal Brian Lane.

The election was run by the American Government, U.S. History, and Sociology classes.  The students rotated in and out of the cafeteria to assist students with voting ballots during all the lunch periods.  The Social Studies classes then counted the ballots during the second to the last period of the day. 

“The thing that’s good about this is that they say if kids take part in this (mock election), they’re more likely to vote when they get older, and many times the mock election is an accurate predictor of the real election,” Social Studies Department Head Jeff Peterson said.

The war, economy, and taxes were the major issues students were concerned about. 

“I believe in his ideas for keeping middle class taxes low,” senior Ariel Schloner said of Obama.

Some female students also voted for Obama because of his promise to help women in the work world.

“He wants to make equal pay for women, so they don’t get 77 cents for every dollar a man makes,” senior Rachel Ewing said.

Many AHS students had kept up with both candidates’ speeches and stands on important issues such as Obama’s slogan for “Change in America.” 

“It’s change, and not the same thing we’ve had for eight years,” sophomore Tara Johnston said. 

While the majority supported Obama, some students had differing opinions that led them to vote for McCain.

“I like his views on the war and that he doesn’t just want to get up and leave like Obama does,” senior Rob Russell said about McCain.

Junior Courtney Nelson also supports McCain and does not favor Obama.

“I don’t think we should vote for Obama because he’s going to take money from the people who earn it and give it to the people who have less money and can get a job,” she said.

Still, a few students were not swayed by the promises of either front-runner. 

“I’m voting for some random person because I don’t like either one of the candidates,” senior Angela Freeman said.  “I don’t like how Obama is anti-Patriotic because he refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance or have the National Anthem played at any of his events, and a lot of stuff McCain is using for commercials is hitting below the belt.”

According to students, the vice presidents also need to be analyzed as well because either Joe Biden (Democrat) or Sarah Palin (Republican) could bear the responsibility of President should a death occur. 

“It’s not just about who’s going to be President, it’s who’s going to be vice president because both presidents could die.  McCain is old and someone’s going to assassinate Obama,” Junior Olivia Jennings said.

Even though it was a mock election, some of the 18-year-old seniors have the right to make their “real” vote count.

“I’m excited because I get a say of what happens in our country,” 18-year-old senior Ally Webb said.

Many of the 17-year-old seniors will just barely miss the voting age by a few months. 

“I’m very depressed because I won’t be able to vote for four years,” senior Courtney Hatfield said.

Obama and McCain were not the only ones on the ballot.  A total of 17 students voted for Ralph Nader, two voted for Bob Barr, and one for George Phillies.

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