Battle Against Domestic Abuse Continues
by Lynne Ober
The starting line.
Pelham Police Department’s Sergeant Anne Perriello wants to stop all domestic abuse. Every year she organizes a road race aimed at raising awareness of domestic abuse and helping to stop it. “She does a fabulous job with this event,” stated Police Chief Joseph Roark. “It’s a lot of work and every year she makes it look easy.”
This year’s event, a 5K Run and Walkathon for those United Against Domestic Abuse was badgered by threatening skies, but the rains held off and the event was a remarkable out-pouring of communities coming together.
More than a walk or a road race, this has become an important community event that raises awareness and reaches across town boundaries to join other communities in supporting the action. Police departments from Hudson, Windham and Salem joined with Pelham police to provide protection and traffic control, and to run in the event.
This year’s displays were under tents in case rain came, but they were moving as always. Students had created t-shirts talking about domestic abuse. “It’s amazing to see what the kids think about domestic abuse,” said Perriello. “They are very concerned.”
Representatives from Bridges in Nashua and A Safe Place in Salem are on hand to discuss their programs and how they help victims of domestic abuse. Literature is available describing all the programming, including early intervention education offered by these two groups.
Runners and walkers lined up to begin. As soon as the Star Spangled Banner was played, the race began. The course winds through Pelham and returns to Village Green.
Chris Bougopoulos led the runners back to Village Green. He ran a six-minute per mile pace and when he finished no one else was in sight.
The other finishers were:
T-shirts made by students.
Girl Scouts Earn Awards and Recognitions
Victoria Berger, who also served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the President’s Tea ceremony, received a New Hampshire flag from State Senator Robert J. Letourneau.
Earning a Girl Scout Gold Award is a challenge in planning, perseverance, leadership and time management. Only about four percent of Girl Scouts nationwide can claim this achievement, but four members of Windham Girl Scout Troop 01007 in Girl Scouts of Swift Water Council made it seem like child’s play.
Victoria Berger, Krystal Cummings, Lauren Satkwich and Cynthia Simonoff were officially recognized for earning the Girl Scout Gold Award on November 8 during a formal ceremony in Representatives Hall at the State House.
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Girl Scouts between the ages of 14-18 must first earn the Girl Scout Gold Leadership Award. This involves completing three Senior Girl Scout interest projects, one Studio 2B Focus book, and doing 30 hours in a leadership role. The next step is to earn the Girl Scout Gold Career Award, followed by the Girl Scout Gold 4Bs (Become, Belong, Believe and Build) Challenge.
The final requirement is to design, implement and complete a Girl Scout Gold Award project that includes at least 65 hours of work. The project should build on that Girl Scout’s unique skills and experience, meet an expressed need in the community, and serve people beyond Girl Scouting.
In an unusual team effort, three Windham girls – Victoria Berger, Lauren Satkwich and Cynthia Simonoff -- and Krystal Cummings of Bow (who grew up in Windham and is still in the Girl Scout troop) restored their favorite childhood playground, the volunteer-built Windham Wonderland Community Playground.
They had enjoyed the playground as youngsters and, when they saw the park looking neglected, they took on the challenge. The girls painted the wood, and created a numbers and letters scavenger hunt for children. They brought in more picnic tables and benches. They replaced the plaques, redid the entry signs, planted flowers and cleared overgrowth. Finally, the four Girl Scouts completed an unfinished ramp to make the playground accessible to all.
Each girl logged the required minimum of 65 hours of work as an individual, so collectively, this project took more than 260 hours to complete from start to finish.
The four girls were among 12 Girl Scouts in Swift Water Council to earn their Gold Awards. Thirty-six Girl Scouts earned their Silver Awards. These included Angela Bleeker, Rachel Brissette, Stephanie Chapman, Anna Cino, Molly Donahue, Katherine Schmidt and Celina Wilt of Girl Scout Troop 536 in Windham. Tayla Satkwich of Girl Scout Troop 1007 in Windham, Abigail Blais of Girl Scout Troop 11006 in Pelham, and Kaylee Calder and Shaila Digiovanni of Girl Scout Troop 2294 in Salem earned their Silver Awards.
Also at the ceremony, Aviva Paiste of Salem became a certified Counselor-in-Training. Courtney Perry and Caitlin Jones, both of Pelham, were recognized for receiving their Leader-in-Training certificates.
High School Accreditation Report – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
by Lynne Ober
The Pelham High School accreditation report has been received and, as expected, the report is a mixed bag of excellent, good, not so good and bad items.
At the top of the excellent items are two things: first is the acknowledgement of the excellence of PHS Principal Dorothy Mohr’s leadership for the school and the second is the high quality of programming offered at the school. The report stated, “The Commission further was pleased to commend the following:
- Educational and instructional leadership of the principal
- Active leadership roles of other building administrators and teachers
- Remarkable job the school does in offering a comprehensive program for students despite building and staffing restraints
- Positive relationships between students and adult members of the community that create a positive school climate.”
The report applauded the “clear, concise, and widely visible” mission statement that is used to guide “school decision-making.” The report also commended “the alignment of the curriculum with school expectations and the use and adaptation of the school-wick: rubrics for learning in the classroom.” As well as pointing out “the focus on higher order thinking skills and the course template that provides consistency in the development and implementation of the curriculum within and across departments.”
But, it wasn’t all good news. The report condemned a number of critical areas:
- Lack of classroom space
- Ongoing instructional disruptions from students having to access regular education and special education classrooms by walking through adjoining rooms as well as students passing through two science labs to access other science labs
- Ongoing instructional distractions caused by classroom walls and partitions that do not extend from floor to ceiling
- Outdated equipment in the science labs
- Lack of science lab benches which provide access to gas and water and sufficient work space
- Limited space available to teachers for planning and collaboration
- Loud ventilation system which disrupts the learning environment
- Limited number of computer labs which often have to be scheduled two weeks in advance, inhibiting spontaneity in instruction
- Inadequate and insufficient instructional materials and supplies resulting from level-funded budgets and prompting teachers to purchase their own materials
- Limited technology training provided to classroom teachers which hinders the use of integration of technology in classroom learning activities
- Limited access of students and teachers to the media center given its space limitations
- Outdated aging condition of the facility
- Insufficient number of classrooms which limits the number of course offerings
- Student privacy issues created through the separation of the health office from the special education area and specialized learning offices and meeting spaces by only a folded screen
- Availability of only one set of student restrooms for an enrollment of close to seven hundred (700) students
- Portable classrooms which have ventilation inadequacies and lack connections to the public address system and the school's network and restrooms
- Necessity of students passing outside to access the portable classrooms in all types of weather
- I-1VAC issues throughout the facility, particularly uneven heat throughout the facility
- Limited number of student parking spaces which places limits on juniors and seniors involved in internships, pathways, and/or vocational courses
- Outdated, inadequate electrical system and the inadequate number of electrical outlets
- Limitations placed on computer technology by the two-telephone line system which can not be expanded
- Inadequate space in the food services and cafeteria areas to provide a full school breakfast and lunch program for a sufficient number of students
- Lack of ADA compliance in the gymnasium, restrooms, showers, drinking fountains and handrails which are at an improper height
- Unsafe conditions in the chemical storage area
- Lack of adequate storage throughout the facility
- Lack of windows in many classrooms.
Perhaps the strongest support for the high quality of education was found in this report statement, ”The Commission wishes to stress to the entire school community that its decision to place the school on warning for the Standard on Instruction does not in any way reflect the quality of the professional staff in their roles and efforts as classroom teachers, but rather reflects the adverse conditions under which they deliver the curriculum through instructional practices.”
But the report requires the impossible from the superintendent and principal and that impossible task is embedded within this requirement, “All accredited schools must submit a required Two-Year Progress Report, which in the case of Pelham High School is due on October 1, 2010.” While a report can certainly be written and progress can be made in many areas, it is also required that the report contain a segment on ensuring improved funding.
While the superintendent and administration can certainly develop budgets to deal with all of the options, including building additional classroom space/new school, it is the voters who either approve or do not approve budgets. The superintendent and administration have no way without a positive vote to increase funding or to build additional space.
Keeping Pelham High School accredited will be in the hands of the voters.
Two Companies Contracted for Trash Disposal
by Barbara O’Brien
Despite the recommendation of Windham Transfer Station Manager Dave Poulson, selectmen decided to go with two separate companies to handle the disposal of the town’s solid waste.
During the selectmen’s board meeting on Monday, November 10, Poulson said he was recommending that the town’s mixed solid waste (MSW) and its single-stream recyclables be handled by Corcoran Environmental Services out of Kennebunk, Maine. Poulson said he had done extensive research on the subject, and taking into consideration the added cost of transporting trash to a disposal facility, Corcoran offered the least expensive alternative in the long run.
Bids for waste disposal facilities were solicited this past August, with five proposals being ultimately received. Poulson had asked bidders to consider three options in preparing bids: single-stream recycling only, MSW only, and a combination of single-stream recycling and MSW.
It was the combined service that Poulson said he preferred, feeling that “to bundle the services” would be the most cost-effective. Poulson said he wanted to use the revenue rebate generated from single-stream recycling to offset the tipping fee charged for the disposal of mixed solid waste, thereby reducing the amount of money he would need to operate the transfer station.
Selectmen disagreed with Poulson’s analysis, however, and chose to contract with two separate companies to handle the town’s trash and recyclable materials. By a vote of 4 to 1, selectmen decided to use Integrated Paper of North Andover, MA to handle materials generated through single-stream recycling, and to contract with Corcoran Environmental Services for the disposal of mixed solid waste. Windham’s mixed solid waste materials will be hauled to Haverhill, MA.
All trash hauling to each of the two disposal facilities will be done by town vehicles and employees, at the taxpayers’ expense.
Voting in favor of using both companies for the disposal of Windham’s trash were selectmen Dennis Senibaldi (chairman), Galen Stearns, Roger Hohenberger and Charles McMahon. Only Selectman Bruce Breton voted against contracting with the dual companies. Under the plan approved by selectmen, all revenue generated by single-stream recycling will be returned to the general town fund to offset the annual tax rate, and will not be used to reduce the transfer station budget.
The contracts to be signed with Integrated Paper and Corcoran Environmental Services will be for a three-year period with an additional two-year option. The cost of disposing the mixed solid waste will be based on $69 per ton. Revenue generated by single-stream recycling will be based on $22.50 per ton.
Single-stream recycling began in Windham this past September.
Fuel Budgets Over-Expended
by Barbara O’Brien
It certainly didn’t come as any surprise that the budgets set by Windham town officials for fuel consumption during 2008 are already over-expended. It’s a problem most everyone has been experiencing for months.
In order to explain the situation to town officials, Assistant Town Administrator Dana Call addressed this timely issue during the selectmen’s meeting on Monday, November 10.
Call said that fuel for town vehicles is expected to be approximately $38,000 over budget by year’s end. The 2008 budget was based on a cost of $2.33 per gallon for gasoline, Call said. The average actually paid through this past August was $3.14 per gallon.
The cost of heating the town’s multiple buildings, most of which use propane and a few of which use heating oil, is anticipated to wind up being about $6,000 over the amount initially budgeted. Call said the October to December heating budget was based on $1.63 per gallon for propane, versus the current price of $1.90 per gallon, and $2.39 per gallon for heating oil, versus the current pre-buy price of $3.49 per gallon. These prices refer to those which were in effect as of the end of October.
Legal expenses is another area where the approved budget is projected to be over-expended by year’s end. Call said it is anticipated that attorney fees may be as much as $30,000 to $40,000 over budget. This will be offset partially, however, by legal reimbursements of approximately $16,000, she said.
These over-expended line items are expected to be offset, however, by savings in other areas, mainly due to salary and benefit savings as the result of various vacant positions. For example, in the fire department there is a projection of approximately $80,000 in unexpended salaries and benefits relating to the four new firefighters hired under the federal SAFER grant special warrant article. The budget had been based on a hire date of May 1, when actually these four new firefighters weren’t hired until July 14. There is also expected to be an approximate $10,000 to $15,000 savings due to a lack of available call firefighters.
Other areas of savings, due to employment vacancies, include one laborer position in the highway department; one vacant truck driver position at the transfer station; and a vacant position in the planning department since May 9. Previous vacancies in the police department, which were necessitating the payment of over-time, have since stabilized, Call added.
The total amount budgeted for 2008 for town expenses was $13,518,200. As of Friday, October 31, the total amount of the 2008 town budget that was expended was $9,634,833; leaving a balance of $3,883,367.