Webelos Cross Over

During February’s Blue and Gold Banquet, with our special guest Harry Burnham, Pack 266 Webelos of Windham had their crossing over ceremony and received the ‘Arrow of Light.’  The Arrow of Light award is the highest rank in Cub Scouting and can only be earned as a Webelos Scout.  The Webelos Scout must earn the Webelos badge and at least eight activity badges, including Citizen, Readyman, and Fitness.  The total must include one from each of the five activity groups.  We are proud of our newly crossed over boy scouts, and wish them well on their road to Eagle. If your son is interested in joining Cub Scouts, e-mail teamcoppeta@comcast.net.

WHS Booster Club Launches New Website

submitted by Holly Breton, WHS Booster Club

Trish and Steve Petron join the WHS Booster Club.  In the background, Board members Joyce Carbonneau and Heather Edelstein gather other new membership applications.

On Wednesday, February 11, the Windham High School (WHS) Jaguar Booster Club kicked off their membership drive with a meeting at the Windham Middle School cafeteria.  Well over 35 parents and community members attended to learn more about the Boosters and find out about ways they can get involved!  The meeting, led by Booster Club president Beth Lippold, was full of exciting information and announcements.  

One of the big announcements was that the Booster Club Website is up and running.  The Website (www.windhamjaguars.org), although still being tweaked, will be a tremendous source of information for not only booster club members but also Windham High School athletes, their families, and community members looking for information on sports schedules, team announcements, and upcoming events.  Students interested in trying out for a sport are encouraged to continually check the Website for upcoming team registrations and sports announcements.  Windham Jag-wear and online Booster registration will be available on the site.

The Boosters have also set a date for their first fundraising event, which will be a Comedy Night and Silent Auction scheduled for Thursday, May 28.  Stay tuned for details and ticket sales information!  Anyone interested in donating a silent auction item may contact Beth Lippold at Lippoldfamily@comcast.net.

The Boosters will be at the high school Open House on Saturday, March 7, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  They will be selling T-shirts and car decals as well as taking orders for sweatshirts.  You can also sign up for membership with the Booster Club.  Baked goods will also be for sale that day.  Beth encouraged everyone to stop by for more information and to show your support.

The next Booster Club meeting is Wednesday, March 11, 7:30 p.m., at the Fire House.

The group is off to a great start and is excited to be a part of the new high school.

Sherburne Usage Policy to be Developed

by Lynne Ober

The first phase of Sherburne Hall refurbishing is complete.  New lighting has been installed and the hall has been cleaned and painted.  It can now be used for public events.

Selectman Bill McDevitt suggested developing a usage policy.  McDevitt outlined some of the items that needed to be included.  There would be a $150 fee which would cover moving all the tables, chairs, cables, and cleaning the hall.  However, he suggested that if only the front portion of the hall was used then the fee not be charged.  There’s also a need for a site supervisor who would open and lock up the building, and suggested that the town charge a fee of $15 per hour for the time that the supervisor would be at the hall.  McDevitt said it was important for someone to be in charge of the facility and to be responsible for ensuring that it was locked after an event.

Selectmen discussed the need and determined that a policy should be developed.  However, the New Greeley Singers have already asked to use the hall.  They would like to rehearse for their concert on March 22 and hold their concert on March 28.  Selectmen agreed to allow them to use the hall while the new policy is being drafted and approved.

Needlepoint Project

Shown are Phyllis St. Pierre, Anne Houghton, and Gladys Hansen, residents of Pine Hill Retirement Home, and Girl Scouts Nicole Tingle and Brittany Missert, working on a needlepoint project planned by Troop 2115 of Windham.  The residents look forward to the monthly visits, sharing in the enthusiasm the girls bring with every activity they share.

Selectmen Vote Not to Support Conservation Request of $5 Million

by Barbara O’Brien

As the result of a citizens’ petition, Windham voters going to the polls this coming March will be asked whether or not to raise and appropriate $5 million to purchase conservation land, including parcels of open space as well as agricultural land.  After much discussion at both the Deliberative Session and weekly Board meetings, the majority of selectmen (3 to 2) voted not to recommend proposed Warrant Article (5).  Articles 13 and 14, also citizen-petitioned, are related to Article 5, in that they set up the mechanism for acquiring additional conservation land for the Town of Windham.

Voting not to recommend Article 5 were selectmen’s chairman Dennis Senibaldi and selectmen Bruce Breton and Charles McMahon.  Voting to support the article were selectmen Roger Hohenberger and Galen Stearns.

According to the petitioned warrant article, any undeveloped land purchased would be at the discretion of the Conservation Commission, subject to the approval of the Board of Selectmen.  If approved by voters at the annual town meeting, town officials would be seeking the issuance of a bond not to exceed $5,000,000.

Based on a 20-year bond note, the first annual payment on $5 million would be approximately $574,000 (at an interest rate of six percent).  The tax impact for the first year would be approximately 26 cents per $1,000 property assessment.  The total interest to be paid over the course of 20 years would amount to $3,174,167.  Should Windham borrow the same amount of money over a 10-year note, the first payment would be approximately $770,000 (at an interest rate of five percent).  The tax impact of a 10-year bond in the first year of its issuance would be 34 cents per $1,000 property assessment.  The total interest on a 10-year bond would amount to $1,395,139.

Conservation Commission member and author of the proposed warrant article, Wayne Morris, said the Commission is fully aware of the hard economic times facing Windham, as well as the rest of the country.

“So why now?” he asked.  “Why not wait until the economy improves?”  Morris said conservation commission members are concerned about this open land being sold to developers for sub-division.

When asked why the sum of $5 million was being sought to purchase conservation land, Morris explained that the Conservation Commission is currently in possession of seven appraisals totaling $3.7 million, plus Conservation members are also looking at two farms (Taylor and Campbell) that might be made available.  Investigation is also being directed at the possible availability of Apple Acres Farm.  Morris identified this quest for additional conservation land as ‘The Farmland Preservation Initiative.’

“We’re losing a little bit of the character of Windham when we lose these farms,” he said.

“It’s the dollars and sense of open space,” Morris said, referring to what would happen if all this open land were to be turned into housing developments, with the resulting need to provide services and schools for the people who would live in these sub-divisions.  Morris said that Conservation members are considering the possibility of leasing some of these land parcels to farmers to encourage agricultural endeavors in Windham.  In response to Morris’ comments, selectman Charles McMahon said there has to be “a balance between building and not building” in a community.

Resident Chris Rosetti said many people who move to Windham “are lured here because of the rural character.”  Rosetti said he wants to see that character preserved for future generations to enjoy.

“These warrant articles will allow the purchase of these pristine parcels in the near future, rather than having to wait for the necessary funds to come in over time,” Rosetti said.  “This is the best opportunity we’ve had in years to assure this,” he added.  “Once these parcels are gone, they’re gone for good.”

The two other citizen-petitioned warrant articles (13 and 14), relating to the one requesting $5 million for the purchase of conservation land, were proposed to “show voters that the Conservation Commission has every intent to use this money to pay down the bond (proposed in Article 5),“ Morris said.  Article 13 asks that any revenue received from the land use change tax be placed in an account which is separate from the general fund.  Such funds would remain in that separate account until voters have the opportunity to appropriate a specific amount from that account for any purpose not prohibited by the laws or by the New Hampshire Constitution.  Any money in that account not appropriated for a specific purpose at the annual town meeting would revert to the general fund as revenue for the current year.  If Article 5 fails to pass, Article 13 will become null and void.

In Article 14, voters are asked to deposit 50 percent of all revenue collected through current use taxation into the existing conservation fund.  Currently 100 percent of current use taxes are deposited into the conservation fund.  According to wording in Article 14, should Articles 5 and 13 fail to procure voter support and a land use change tax fails to be created, Article 14 would be declared as null and void.

Resident Tom Case said he’s in favor of passing the articles related to the purchase of conservation land, but also feels that the remaining 50 percent of current use penalty money should be used to reduce the town’s tax rate by returning it to the general fund.

The purpose of establishing current use taxation was to preserve open space by allowing property owners a significant reduction in taxes.  However, when land is removed from current use there is a penalty assessed on the person removing it.  That penalty is 10 percent of the value of the land being removed from current use.  In 1998, voters at town meeting approved placing 100 percent of any money collected through current use taxation into a specific conservation fund, with the intention being to purchase undeveloped land for the town.

During the Deliberative Session, selectmen’s chairman Dennis Senibaldi said he is not in favor of the proposed warrant articles relating to conservation issues, due to the lack of a mechanism assuring that the money in the conservation fund will be specifically used to make payments on the proposed $5 million bond.  He said he feels there is a better mechanism by which to make conservation land purchases and that he would prefer to see the land purchased a portion at a time.

“We should set milestones to be achieved over time,” Senibaldi said.

Former selectman Alan Carpenter said spending $5 million to buy undeveloped land might prevent an additional 350 houses from being built in Windham.  Less children and less of a need for additional services will reduce taxes over time, Carpenter said.

“I feel that no one is going to be building large sub-divisions in these economic times,” Senibaldi replied. 

“This is the worst real estate market in decades,” Carpenter countered.  “The time to buy is now.”

Registered Windham voters will get to have their say on Tuesday, March 10.  The polls, located at Golden Brook Elementary School, will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

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