The First Teachers Project Hosts Teddy Bear Picnic

by Doug Robinson

Soon-to-be first grade student Monica and her mother, Michelle Guevara, are enjoying the moment.

“The First Teachers Project gathers both the community members as well as the teachers together to provide our children with a great experience when they attend first grade,” commented Golden Brook Principal Debra Armfield.  “Each year this event gets bigger and bigger.  This event gives confidence to the children that their first day of school will be a wonderful day.”

The First Teachers Project “recognizes that parents are their child’s first teacher.  Students will arrive at Golden Brook School ready to learn through the collaborative efforts of the Windham School District, parents, and our community.”

Hundreds of children, with teddy bear in tow, huddled into the school’s gym where they took their special place on one of the mats already laid out on the floor.  Children played with children and parents mingled with parents, during their first visit to the school.  Children were entertained by having the children’s story My Friend Bear read to them by Principal Armfield.  After the story was finished the children then visited the craft room, snack room, music room, and to play a game of Parachute.

“It is exciting to greet and to meet the new students and their parents,” commented Principal Armfield.  “As a result of this event, there are no tears on the first day when the bus drops them off.”

  Every child carrying their fuzzy wuzzies, or not so fuzzy wuzzies, were full of smiles, talking to one another, or using their crayons and coloring.

To the question “What do you most look forward to when you come to school,” five-year-old Monica answered, “RECESS!”

School Principal Debra Armfield reads the children’s story My Friend Bear to the packed audience in the school’s gym.

Windham Pack 266 Pinewood Derby

Pack 266 of Windham held their Pinewood Derby on Saturday, March 21.  The Pinewood Derby is an annual racing event for Cub Scouts.  Cub Scouts, with the help of parents, build their own cars from wood, usually from kits containing a block of pine, plastic wheels, and metal axles.  It was an exciting day, with boys from each level competing against each other.  The top winners at each level then raced for overall standings.

Winners at each level were:

  • Tiger Cub level:  Matt Taylor (first place), Matt Nikitas (second place), Alex Lamon (third place)
  • Wolf level:  Christopher Redard (first place), Michael Foote (second place), Paul Mashimo (third place)
  • Bear level:  Jacob Howard (first place), Matt Kuczynski (second place), Marc Tausanovitch (third place) 
  • Webelo level:  Ian Dowie (first place), Joe Henniger (second place), Nathaniel Pepe (third place)

The top eight winners will go on to the district race in May where they will race against boys from other packs.

During racing, boys voted for their favorite cars (best decals, best color, etc.).  Participation awards and awards for the best looking cars will be given to all boys at the next pack meeting in April.

Boys from grades one to five participate in Cub Scouts.  For more information, e-mail Jodi Coppeta at

The winners of the overall standings were Matt Nikitas (third place), Marc Tausanovitch (second place), Jacob Howard (first place)

Selectmen Say “No” To COPS Grant

by Barbara O’Brien

Citing the poor state of the economy, Windham selectmen decided not to apply for a federal grant intended to fund hiring additional police officers.

Windham Police Chief Gerald Lewis met with selectmen on Monday, March 23 to discuss the opportunity.  The COPS grant, a federal program rejuvenated from the 1990s, provides 100 percent government funding for salaries and benefits associated with hiring additional police officers.  The grant is made available for a three-year period, after which the community hiring the officers must employ him or her for a minimum 12-month period at taxpayers’ expense.  According to Lewis, the amount of money the COPS grant would pay for a new Windham police officer would be about $70,000 per year, per person, for a period of three years.

Selectman Roger Hohenberger said he feels it would be premature for Windham to apply for any additional officers at this time.

Selectman Charles McMahon said he doesn’t feel this is the right thing for Windham at this time, because the town doesn’t have a sufficient revenue base to support new positions once the grant is exhausted.

Selectman Ross McLeod questioned Lewis as to the existing level of service in the police department.

“We’re holding our own,” Lewis said.  “Although we could use another officer or two.”  Lewis acknowledged that the federal COPS grant is “a great opportunity,” but also said he realizes that the town is already faced with numerous expenses.

Selectman Bruce Breton asked Lewis about the status of a community resource officer for the new Windham High School, which is scheduled to open this coming August.  Lewis said the position was originally proposed but subsequently removed from the 2009-2010 school budget.  The back-up plan, Lewis said, is to split the existing resource officer’s time between the middle school and the new high school.  “We may be able to get by for a year or two with this,” Lewis said.

The deadline for applying for the federal COPS grant is Tuesday, April 14, Lewis told selectmen.

Selectmen did approve another federal grant submitted by Lewis.  The Justice Assistance grant, which is made available through the U.S. Department of Justice, will provide Windham with a total of $24,725 for law enforcement purposes.  Lewis explained that the Justice Assistance grant is awarded to communities based on criminal statistics within that area.  The money is distributed on a nationwide basis, he said.

Selectmen voted unanimously (5 to 0) to accept the Justice Assistance grant money.

Furnishings at High School Estimated to Cost Less

by Barbara O’Brien

After reviewing bids solicited for furnishings for the new Windham High School, school board members voted unanimously to accept various quotes which, in total, will save the school district approximately 15 percent of the cost originally estimated.

Windham High School is expected to open this coming August.  Thus far, the construction schedule is on time and the expenditures remain under budget.

Consultant Kyle Barker met with members of the Windham School Board to discuss the status of furnishing the building on Tuesday, March 17.  Originally, the cost of furnishings was estimated at about $1.1 million.  That amount is now expected to be about $916,000, Barker said, adding that a 10 percent savings was realized by buying furnishings from multiple vendors, rather than placing the entire order through one company.

Glenn Davis, owner’s representative for the high school construction project, said that he is comfortable with these reduced numbers.  “I don’t expect any glitches,” Davis said.

Barker said that both quality and price were given ample consideration in making decisions about which companies to use.  Furnishings for all classrooms, as well as the media center, are being coordinated with the birch and maple woodwork in the building.  The amount of furniture ordered was based on an average of 26 students per classroom.

It is anticipated that the furniture will be delivered to Windham High School by early June.  As the furniture is made to order, there is a longer lead-time prior to delivery.  Davis said that individual vendors will be responsible for setting up the furniture in each room, as well as removing all packaging materials from the site.

Protest Petition Validated in Rezoning Amendment

by Barbara O’Brien

Although the majority of Windham voters who cast a ballot on March 10 supported a rezoning amendment, that vote has been declared null and void after a review by the town attorney and other town officials.

Warrant Article 3, Amendment 1 asked that voters rezone a portion of property located at 150 Haverhill Road (known as Clark Farm North) from its existing Rural District to a Neighborhood Business District beginning at the center line of Haverhill Road and continuing back 700 feet into the adjacent property.

Although the proposed amendment garnered a majority by nine votes on March 10, a protest petition that was filed a week before the election subsequently changed that slim victory.  According to the protest petition, those who signed the document requested that a favorable vote of two-thirds of all those who voted be required to adopt Article 3, Amendment 1.  For the petition to be valid, it must have been signed by a minimum of 20 percent of the abutters living within a 100-foot buffer zone of the land being considered for rezoning.

During the selectmen’s meeting on Monday, March 23, town attorney Bernie Campbell said it had been determined that 26 percent of those property owners living within the designated buffer zone had signed the petition and, therefore, it was deemed valid.  As a result, the simple majority victory of nine votes, which was sustained on Election Day, was not sufficient to meet the petitioned criteria of a two-thirds majority and the amendment, therefore, failed to pass.

By a vote of 4 to 1, selectmen also found that the protest petition was valid.  Voting in favor of the validity were chairman Galen Stearns, Charlie McMahon, Ross McLeod and Roger Hohenberger.  Voting against the validity was vice chairman Bruce Breton.

Also during the March 23 selectmen’s meeting, several other attorneys — those who were representing certain property owners affected by the proposed rezoning amendment — made statements contesting whether the correct Windham Tax Maps had been used in determining the boundaries of the 100-foot buffer zone.  There were also some comments made as to whether or not this issue might be taken to court.  Attorney Campbell said that he doesn’t “think the town can avoid going to court in this case.”

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