Community Celebrates the Season at the Annual PES Fun Fair

by Karen Plumley

Santa’s jolly pizza wielding elves have fun with their task.  From left:  Paula Chausse, elementary teacher Mrs. Debbie Bourque, and Sheila Marcoux

The annual Holiday Fun Fair at Pelham Elementary School saw a multitude of jolly visitors and enjoyed another successful year.  Starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 6, families and members of the community trickled in to visit the talented local crafters, play festive holiday games, garner some great deals at the holiday store, eat pizza, and participate in the ever-popular cakewalk event. 

Santa Claus was on hand to lend his photogenic face to family pictures and add to his already sizable toy list for Christmas.  Children of all ages enjoyed chatting with him, while parents watched and waited happily in much shorter lines than one might find at the mall.

Additionally, children also enjoyed stopping over at the ‘Gingerbread Workshop’ to make their own gingerbread man tree ornaments and purchase house building kits.  Organized as a fundraiser by volunteers of the Destination Imagination project, the gingerbread ornament-making station was one of the more popular destinations at Saturday’s Fun Fair.  Donations of $2 were accepted for the craft materials.

In the student dining area, kids enjoyed participating in the beanbag and ring toss competitions as well as a pick-a-duck game for holiday trinkets.  Manned by friendly middle school volunteers, the games, as well as face painting and candy cane bead crafts, were going strong all day long.

Teachers and parent volunteers were handing out scores of pizza slices to hungry guests and having a ball at the same time, spreading good will and dancing merrily to the holiday music drifting over from the heavily attended cakewalk game.  Eager participants of all ages were sandwiched together in a musical-chairs-like parade for their chance to win some mighty tasty-looking homemade treats.

The basket raffle was also hopping, with scores of curious visitors.  Three-for-a-dollar raffle tickets were on sale and not many could pass up the opportunity to win.  All baskets were created and donated by the elementary classes and included different themes such as pets, coffee, kitchen supplies, sports, and more.

The holiday deals were plentiful, and so was the holiday spirit, at this year’s enjoyable Fun Fair.

First grader William Kane, sitting on Santa’s lap.

Katie Minichiello, 9, gets a snowman painted on her face by the talented Jess Coakley, 11.

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Holiday Mail for Heroes

by Karen Plumley

Brownies, troop 886 from Pelham, proudly display their holiday artwork during a meeting.  Their cards were sent to the American Red Cross ‘Holiday Mail for Heroes’ program to be distributed to American service men and women and their families.  Back, from left:  Caroline Joncas, Hayley Brandin, Madison Raza, Yasmina Hinkle.  Front, from left:  Brooke Fraser, Jessica Fox, Haley Vinciguerra, Erin Twoomey-Riopel, Cathryn Scanlon

On Tuesday, November 2, nine little heroes from Pelham got busy making creative holiday cards for our big heroes overseas and around the country.  Girls from Brownie Troop 886, sipping hot cocoa and listening to carols, were inspired to complete 40 lovely cards for service members.  The cards were sent on behalf of the troop to the American Red Cross, who has teamed up with mail stream technology company Pitney Bowes Inc., for the project, entitled ‘Holiday Mail for Heroes.’  The goal for this year’s effort is to guarantee the delivery of one million cards to members of the U.S. military service and their families, in the ultimate show of public support for all they do for this country.

“We hope the cards will bring some happiness to the service members during these times.  The children took great pride and care in making them,” stated troop co-leader Lauri Fraser.  “It was a wonderful time!”

In 2007, a total of 600,000 cards were distributed to members of the military.  Initially, thousands of cards for the wounded were received by the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.  In a plea for help with this enormous distribution task, administrators from the facility quickly approached the Red Cross, who in turn contacted Pitney Bowes, and together they turned the effort into a great opportunity and what appears will be an annual tradition.

For more information about the program, visit

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Director of Planning and Development Job Eliminated

by Barbara O’Brien

As the result of Windham selectmen’s decision to create a new job, the former director of planning and development position has been totally eliminated.

On Monday, December 1, selectmen voted unanimously to create a new job under the title of director of community development, someone whose major responsibility it would be to promote economic development in the Town of Windham.

Following a non-public meeting on Monday, December 8, selectmen announced that the director of planning and development slot was being done away with.  The planning director’s job was held by Albert Turner for the past 12 years.

Selectmen said Turner will be running the planning department during the interim period while they search for someone to serve as the town’s first director of community development.  They also said Turner could apply for the job of community development director, should he choose to do.  Turner was also offered the job of town planner, a position which has been vacant for an extended period.  Turner did not immediately give selectmen an answer to the job offer of town planner.

Town officials said they will be advertising for the new community development planner for approximately four weeks, beginning Tuesday, December 9.  A job description for that position was approved by selectmen by a vote of 4 to 0 during the December 8 board meeting.  Voting in favor of the new job description were Selectmen Bruce Breton, Roger Hohenberger, Charles McMahon, and Galen Stearns.  Chairman Dennis Senibaldi was not in attendance at the time the vote was taken.

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Kindergarten to be Half Day

by Barbara O’Brien

When the Windham School District implements its public kindergarten next year, it will be offering a half-day, five-day-per-week program.

Assistant Superintendent Roxanne Wilson told school board members that the kindergarten committee’s recommendation is to go forward with a traditional five day, half-day program per week, as opposed to the other option being considered, which was an alternation schedule between two full day along with one half day and five half days per week.

Wilson said committee members feel that the half-day program will be less expensive to implement — a serious consideration in the current lagging economy.  No lunch will be offered to the kindergarteners who attend the program, nor will they have outdoor recess periods.  The half-day program will include both a morning and an afternoon session five days per week.  “We want to make public kindergarten available at minimum cost at the beginning,” Wilson said.  “We can revisit it later.”

It is anticipated that kindergarten classes will be held at Golden Brook Elementary, which currently houses students in grades one and two, plus those enrolled in the Transition Program.

Windham is presently one of only a handful of towns across the country that doesn’t offer public kindergarten, despite a state mandate which took effect several years ago.  The deadline for implementation was extended, and Windham now has until the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year to get the program in place.

The New Hampshire Department of Education will be picking up the vast majority of the costs for setting up the program.  Windham will be leasing several portable classrooms, using state funds for the initial three years of the kindergarten program.

It was also recommended to school board members that bus transportation be provided for morning session kindergarteners to get to school (but not mid-day on pick-up) and for afternoon kindergartens to leave school at the end of the day (but not to get them there).  Kindergarten students who attend the morning session will need to be picked up at the end of the session, while those who attend the afternoon session will need to be dropped off at school but will be brought home or to a daycare provider by school bus.  The reason bus transportation was approved is to decrease traffic congestion at the school, thereby eliminating possible safety issues.

School board members voted 4 to 0 to implement a half-day program next year, as well as to include funds in the proposed 2009-2010 budget for an additional school bus.  Voting in favor of the motions were Chairman Barbara Coish, Mike Hatem, Beverly Donovan, and Bruce Anderson.  Mark Brockmeier did not attend the Tuesday, December 2 meeting.

It is anticipated that approximately 246 Windham children will be eligible for the new kindergarten program beginning next August.  It is not mandatory to send a child to kindergarten, but it is mandatory that it be offered by all public school districts.

It is anticipated that there will be seven classrooms needed for the fledgling kindergarten program, with a total of 14 sessions ( seven morning and seven afternoon) offered each week.  All teachers must be state certified.  Wilson said registration for next year’s kindergarten will likely be held in January and parents will be able to check off a preference of morning or afternoon sessions.  There is no guarantee, however, that all parents will get their first choice.  It’s basically a balancing act of having to distribute an equal number of students in both morning and afternoon programs.

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Selectmen Approve Leasing Land

by Barbara O’Brien

Another step forward has been made in planning for a future elderly housing development in the Town of Windham.  On Monday, December 1, selectmen voted 4 to 0 to sign an option to lease agreement between the Windham Housing Authority (WHA) and the Town of Windham.

The property, where members of the WHA are proposing the construction of an elderly housing development, is already town-owned.  It is located off Fellows Road, in an area adjacent to the Nesmith Library and police and fire departments.

The option to lease agreement is not a commitment to lease the land, but rather allows the option to do so.  The option to lease agreement is one of the stipulations needed by the WHA in order to apply for and receive tax credit funding from the state government.  According to state stipulations, the lease must be for no less than a period of 99 years.

Voting in favor of signing the agreement were: Chairman Dennis Senibaldi, Roger Hohenberger, Galen Stearns and Bruce Breton.  Selectman Charles McMahon abstained from voting, as he is chairman of the Windham Housing Authority.

A formal application for tax credit funding is due this coming February, McMahon said.  In that application the WHA must show that it has a secure site on which to construct elderly housing, thus the purpose of the option to lease agreement.  “We are moving forward,” McMahon said.

Should the process continue to proceed forward, it is likely that a final agreement on leasing the land could go to voters at town meeting in March of 2010.

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