Alvirne Shines at NH Allstate Art

by Deborah Ballok and Maureen Gillum

James Gillum, AHS junior, in Blue Group’s studio

Sixty high school juniors from all over New Hampshire  — Plymouth to Alvirne and Phillips Exeter to Keene — convened at the Currier Museum of Art (Manchester, NH) on April 17 and 18 for the eleventh annual New Hampshire Allstate Art Festival.  Art students  — photographers, painters, sculptors, and lots more — from 32 communities spent two days at the museum and Currier Art Center to “live and breathe art.”

Alvirne High School also has strong ties to NHAAF, as the Festival’s coordinator, Patricia Belt, taught art for more than three decades at AHS before joining the Currier.

“I know Alvirne well.  We’ve had many talented Hudson artists here over the years,” shared Belt, smiling.  “This second career keeps me involved with the kids and the NH Art Educator’s Association.”

In addition, AHS’ current art teachers — Deborah Ballok and Maria Oakley — are ardent Allstate Art supporters; Louise Hammerman, an Alvirne retiree, also often assists on the student selection committee.

Karen Kuhns and James Gillum were two of four AHS juniors nominated to compete for NHAAF 2009.  Each created a festival art entry, submitted a three-piece portfolio and essay, gathered recommendation letters, and had personal interviews at the Currier museum.  (Typically, a few hundred nominees vie annually for the 60 coveted Allstate Art spots.)  Completing the three-month selection process, James was chosen to attend New Hampshire Allstate Art and Karen was honored as an alternate.

Upon festival check-in, students were divided into five studio color groups — each including two professional artists, one studio assistant, and twelve students.  After visiting the newly expanded Currier museum for inspiration, each studio group began their room project related to this year’s festival theme from Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944): “Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye.  It also includes the inner pictures of the soul.”

“Friday morning we were sent into one of five rooms that were completely bare with a dozen kids we’d never laid eyes on before.  All the walls were all white and the floors were covered,” explained James who was on the Blue Team, which included students from Phillips Exeter, Manchester Central, Bishop Guertin, St. Paul’s, and Spaulding.

What came next was amazing.  Within an intense collaborative 12-hour session over two days, stripped studio rooms were totally transformed into major installation art.  Themes and ideas were deliberated; professional artists mentored; colors, textures, and materials were chosen; rough sketches took shape on the walls and floors.  Art emerged.  Each room was as varied as the group’s unique personalities, skill sets, and interpretations of Munch.

 “We had a very strong group of about ten alpha artists within our team, but they really came to respect each other and worked together,” expressed team Blue’s facilitator Christine Destrempes, a professional painter and printmaker from Harrisville, NH.  “As mentors, we let the students create.”

Remarkably, within this process, 12 highly creative individuals worked together as a collaborative art team.  They entered Allstate Art as remote strangers and left 36 hours later as interconnected colleagues, even friends.

On Saturday afternoon, friends and family were invited to see the results, view a gallery of students’ interview artwork, and attend a slide show of all 60 portfolios.  The festival also included a ‘college fair’, where more than a dozen art schools participated, including the RIT, NH Institute of Art, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Montserrat College of Art, and Pratt MWP.

Participants fully embraced the program.  “This was an awesome experience of total involvement,” shared one Allstate Art student who admitted it also left her “creatively exhausted.”

Assessing NHAAF 2009, James surmised passionately, “It was great to meet and work with other creative students and professionals who earn a living doing what they love in art.”

One of only two such Allstate Art Festivals in the country, the New Hampshire program has had 600-plus alumnae since its 1999 inception.  The New Hampshire Allstate Art Festival is organized by the Currier Museum in cooperation with the New Hampshire Art Educators’ Association.  For more information about the 2009 NHAAF and Currier Museum of Art, call 669-6144, x108; or visit

Common Sense is Often Not So Common

by Lynne Ober

When a situation does not impact one either positively or adversely, it is easier to take a step back and wonder why common sense wouldn’t just solve the problem.  That’s the situation with the on-going Litchfield Brickyard Soccer Field problems.

The truck shown in front of this mailbox was parked for an entire afternoon of soccer and mail could not be delivered.

Questions of common sense that have arisen over the past few years are:

Does the Recreation Commission have to build a long, tall wooden fence that requires people to enter the fields from the street to stop soccer parents and soccer players from making a path through the abutters front yards?  The answer was yes.  Until the commission installed the fence, people using Brickyard Soccer Fields refused to walk along the street and enter through the access and were, instead, wearing a path across front lawns much to the displeasure of homeowners who live on Brickyard.

Does it require Litchfield Board of Selectmen to enact a parking ordinance that prohibits people using the soccer fields from blocking mailboxes so that mail can’t be delivered?  The answer is yes and selectmen recently voted to establish such an ordinance.

If you are attending a soccer game do you have the right to put your car into someone’s driveway, turn off the engine and go to the field – leaving the resident’s driveway blocked and unusable?  Apparently some who won’t walk the extra feet from the closest on-street parking believe this is true.  Will that be the next ordinance that selectmen have to enforce?   Time will tell, but perhaps common sense and common courtesy will make some headway after the passage of the parking ordinance.

Trouble with the Brickyard Soccer Fields is not new.  In 1979 a case brought by an abutter was decided in Superior Court that prohibited parking within 500 feet of the Brickyard Soccer Fields.  Over the years selectmen and Litchfield police have blatantly ignored this case and the ruling. 

At the time of the ruling, there was one soccer field and participants and their parents actually parked on the field so there was probably very little on-street parking for the selectmen or police to monitor.

Then, as Litchfield grew and the need for additional fields grew, a second field was built where the parking lot had been.  At this point in time people began to park on the street.  However, the fields were not being used every day.

Litchfield continued to grow and the field usage grew.  Today those fields are being used 7 days a week and common sense coupled with common courtesy seems to have flown out the window. 

The Cadys are purchasing a home that backs up to the soccer fields.  Between their backyard and the soccer fields is a chain link fence.  “We don’t want to stop the soccer league, but we would like some privacy,” said Dave Cady.  “I actually have been working on two fronts – one to stop people from parking so my mailbox is blocked because we get no mail and this happens all too frequently and two to have one day of privacy on the weekend.” 

People are on the soccer fields no later than noon on Saturdays and Sundays and also every afternoon.  “The fields are beautiful and the soccer league keeps them well maintained,” said Elaine Cady.  “We’d just like to cook out in our backyard without people peering into the yard all the time.”

Brickyard residents petitioned selectmen about the problems.  At the first meeting Chairman Frank Byron said that the problems had to be taken to the Recreation Commission, but upon reflection agreed that parking on town streets was a selectmen’s problem and not a Recreation Commission problem and the time for the public hearing was set.

“When Scott Innes was alive he used to come out before games and put orange cones in front of mailboxes which kept people from parking and blocking mail delivery, but since his death no one had done that,” said Elaine Cady.  “We never had this problem when Scott was around.”

At a recently held Public Hearing, nearly 30 residents showed up to discuss the issues.  While Byron tried to stop discussion of issues that were not related to parking, he was not totally successful.

The soccer league felt threatened by the Cady’s request for one weekend day a week usage of their backyard with no people peering over the fence and Jason Rossi e-mailed a letter, also printed in the HLN, that claimed that the Cady’s wanted to stop 50 percent of the field usage.

“Not so,” emphatically stated Cady.  “They use the field seven days a week.  We asked to have one day of privacy --- in no way is that a reduction of 50 percent of the field usage.”

The HLN asked Cady about other alternatives.  For example, if the Recreation Commission planted a tall evergreen hedge that would block the soccer fields from the view of the Cady’s backyard or if the Recreation Commission would install a tall privacy fence that blocked the view, would the Cady’s withdraw their request for a weekend day with no games?  Both the Cadys said yes.

“We feel like there should be a way for us to have privacy in our backyard and for the soccer teams to play.  All we ask for is a compromise.”

At the public hearing Bryon stated that they would only discuss the parking.  Rossi said that, working with Cady, the proposed parking plan of parking on Brickyard be restricted to the side of the street opposite the fields would be acceptable to both the soccer league and to the Cadys.  Rossi pointed out that was less invasive to residents along Brickyard.

When Byron opened the hearing to public comments, Linda Lascelle, who is an abutter who has lived next to the field for 31 years, talked about the growth in usage coupled with the growth in issues.  While agreeing that she supports sports for kids, she does not support littering and spoke about water bottles, disposable coffee cups and other trash left in her yard from the soccer attendees. 

Again, it appears that common sense is not working on issues.  Boy Scouts have a carry in – carry out leave no trace principle.  Perhaps each soccer team should adopt that leave no trace principal and appoint a parent to pick up trash after every game if parents cannot be responsible for carrying their debris home with them.

Others spoke about parking on culverts/bridges and on Nakomo as well as on Brickyard.  James Davis talked about several serious issues involving parked cars, no line of sight for traffic and children playing in the area.  He gave several accounts of near accidents.

Another resident asked about parking along the street on his own property.  Byron explained that the town owns a right of way in front of every home and told the owner he would have to park on his lawn if he didn’t park in his driveway.

When John Drouin, who lives on Bear Run and not on Brickyard, asked about the court decision that impacted Brickyard parking, Byron pointed out that the town had not been following it and explained they were looking for a solution that worked.

When asked why no parking was allowed on the culvert, Road Agent Jack Pinciaro explained about the weight limitations and selectmen explained that emergency vehicles needed to get by and cars couldn’t be pulled partway off the road because of the culvert.  Pinciaro also pointed out that town voters had voted not to repair that culvert so the weight restrictions needed to be watched.

Ultimately selectmen voted to limit parking to one side of Brickyard and also to limit parking on the north side of Nakomo Drive from the corner of Brickyard Drive to #9 Nakomo Drive.  Both of these motions passed 4 – 0 with Selectman George Lambert not in attendance.

Byron referred the privacy and littering issues to the Recreation Commission, but put the onus on the abutters to take that message to the Recreation Commission and said that this was not in the purview of selectmen to report to the Recreation Commission.

The driver of this car pulled into the driveway, turned off the engine and went to the soccer field.  The car was left unattended for 7 minutes and the homeowner did not know the vehicle or the driver.  After the picture was taken of the blockage, the driver came hurrying back and waved at the homeowner.

Lockdown at Alvirne Finds No Drugs Present

The Hudson School Administration and the Hudson Police Department worked together over the last couple of weeks to conduct an administrative search of Alvirne High School with concerns that drugs may be present.  At 9:15 a.m. on Thursday, April 23 police cruisers from around the state rolled into the school parking lot and locked down the school.  There were approximately nine K-9 units from area towns and state police working in conjunction with Captain Bill Avery, Hudson’s K-9 Officer Kevin Sullivan, and his partner Akim, overseen by Police Chief Jason Lavoie who assisted with the search.  There was minimal interruption to the school day and students did not miss any of their scheduled work.  The staff at Alvirne and the SRO's from all the schools worked side by side with the K-9 teams. 

While the search took place during one period only, the Police Dogs were noticeably tired.  A debriefing was held at the end of the search with the police officers and the school administration.  There were no actual drugs found in the school but several “hits” were found by the K-9’s where drugs had been present in the past. 

 “A great deal of thanks goes out to Chief Lavoie, Captain Avery and Officer Sullivan for coordinating their end.  The Administration at Alvirne, Bryan Lane, Tim Broderick, Bill Hughen, Sue Hanley, and Mark MacLean to name a few, also did a tremendous job with coordination making sure things ran smoothly,” said School Board Chairman Gary Rodgers who was also present during the search.

The students and staff reacted well to the search with everyone remaining orderly.  The dogs, however, found no drugs, that, with concerns of under age drinking on Prom Night led to the investigation.  This is a continuing part of the Hudson School program to be proactive with the issues facing our high school students.

Hudson Selectmen Seek New Executive Assistant

by Gina M. Votour

The Town of Hudson will soon be posting internally for the position of Executive Assistant to the Board of Selectmen due to the upcoming June retirement of Priscilla Boisvert, a town employee for just over twenty years. 

The Executive Assistant provides direct support to the Board of Selectmen and is overseen by Town Administrator Steve Malizia.  Included among the many duties detailed within the updated position description is the preparation of meeting agendas, meeting attendance, meeting minutes transcription, and assistance in the preparation of the Town Warrant and other related materials.

Qualifications necessary for applicants would therefore include a strong familiarity with all ordinances, policies and procedures relating to the Town of Hudson, particularly with regard to a Senate Bill 2 (SB-2) government form.  

After an initial evaluation by Malizia, all qualified candidates will be asked to interview before the entire Board of Selectmen.

“It is my opinion that this is an important position for the function of the office of the Board of Selectmen… things run smoothly because we have a very good team and this person leaving will be big shoes to fill,” Malizia stated during a discussion held at the Board of Selectmen’s April 14 meeting.

Selectman Richard Maddox then questioned why only internal applicants would initially be sought for this position. 

Malizia responded that internal applicants’ overall familiarity with the town would be a major asset within this particular position and that he is already aware of a few candidates who may be interested. 

“You’re dealing with a sensitive position.  I think knowing the territory up front certainly would help the learning curve…,” Malizia added.

Selectmen Chairman Roger Coutu pointed out however, that no one has been pre-selected for this position and that all internal candidates will be fairly screened.

Selectman Shawn Jasper then spoke of the importance of keeping morale up among town employees.

“Part of what you need to do in any organization is provide some feeling of self worth to your employees, make them feel that they are appreciated and that they are wanted and that when they know there is a possibility for advancement that that is something that they can look forward to,” stated Jasper.

Jasper added that filling the position internally would subsequently create vacancies elsewhere in the town, which outside candidates may eventually fill.

The decision to initially seek internal applications held through a motion, which passed 3-2 with Selectman Maddox and Selectmen Vice Chairman Ken Massey both voting in opposition.  External candidates will be explored should the internal applicants not possess the necessary qualifications.

Given that this is a non-union position, the starting salary will be decided upon by the Board of Selectmen once a final candidate has been selected.  The goal is for the position to be filled by the time of Boisvert’s retirement.

Benson’s Committee Re-appointed in Hudson

by Gina M. Votour

Interviews were held during the Board of Selectmen meetings of April 14 and April 28 to reinstate Hudson’s Benson’s Committee.

The board established the committee as permanent back on January 27, 2009, just a few short weeks following the town’s purchase of the 165-acre Benson’s property.  Responsibilities of the committee were outlined to include an update to the 2002 Master Plan and the creation of “an operations and maintenance plan for managing the park.”

At this time, the board made the decision to “reinvigorate” the original committee, which was formed back in 2001 without term limits.  The selectmen strongly urged all previous committee members to re-apply, however.

The board nevertheless received criticism on more than one occasion for their decision to re-establish the committee.  On April 14, selectmen chairman Roger Coutu expressed the board’s sincere appreciation for the work done over the years by the original Benson’s Committee.  He then emphasized that there was absolutely no deliberate intent to disband the committee.

Selectman Shawn Jasper agreed that no disrespect or disregard was intended toward the original members.  However, he revealed that this was the only committee not to contain members with expiring terms, an inappropriate action for a permanent committee.

“Other than judges in the state of New Hampshire, nobody else has a lifetime appointment,” Jasper stated during the board’s April 28 meeting, further attempting to dispel the notion that original committee members had somehow been slighted.  Jasper also pointed out that no financial gain would be made by those sitting on the new committee, particularly with regard to the acceptance of contract applications.

During their April 28 meeting, the selectmen assembled the new Benson’s Committee, which consists of one selectman and eight members with terms staggered over three-year periods.  Appointed to terms which expire on December 31, 2009 were Ken Matthews and Patricia Nichols.

Matthews, a former Benson’s Committee member, has lived in Hudson for over nine years and previously ran a non-profit outreach center in Massachusetts.  He has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and also has experience with grant writing and fundraising.  During his interview, Matthews emphasized that he would like to see the trails on the property developed.

Senior Council on Aging member Patricia Nichols did marketing for 10 years within a credit union.  A six-year Hudson resident, Nichols described her vision of the Benson’s property as a place that all types of people could enjoy.

Appointed to terms expiring on December 31, 2010 were Jerry Desrosiers, Ken Dickinson, and Martha Lee.

Desrosiers is a 36-year Hudson resident who worked as a general contractor for 25 years.  During his interview, Desrosiers mentioned his experience with the restoration of older buildings and Victorian architecture.

Dickinson, another former Benson’s Committee member, is a registered landscape architect with 15 years of experience.  He is currently on the Conservation Commission and was previously on the Zoning Board.  “I would like to have the opportunity to see through some of the projects we [the Benson’s Committee] had initially set out to do,” Dickinson stated.

During her interview, 2-year Hudson resident Martha Lee described her love for the Benson’s property while also explaining that, at this point, she has ample time in her schedule which she hopes to dedicate to volunteerism.

To fill the remaining three terms which expire on December 31, 2011, the selectmen chose James Barnes, Sandra Rumbaugh, and Harry Schibanoff.

Barnes, who has been a Hudson resident for nearly 25 years, is currently the chairman of Hudson’s Planning Board and cited his project management experience while being interviewed.

Conservation Commission vice chairman and former Budget Committee member Rumbaugh explained that her enjoyment of walking and hiking piqued her interest in the Benson’s restoration.  She also pointed out that it is important to have ideas but that “if you can’t make them concrete, then it’s not going to go anywhere.”

Schibanoff has been a member of the Cable Utility Committee for 15 years.  He has experience as a banking consultant, primarily with regard to start-up institutions, and is also the founding chairman and one of the founding directors of the HNH Foundation in Concord.  During his interview, Schibanoff noted that the Benson’s Quit Claim Deed could be an excellent guide for future park plans.

Although several well-known members of the previous Benson’s Committee chose not to re-apply, there is talk that some of these folks plan to work on sub-committees to the Benson’s Committee.  As previously reported, sub-committees would work in a more hands-on fashion within specific realms of the overall project.

All members of the newly appointed Benson’s Committee will be sworn in shortly at the Town Clerk’s office within Hudson’s Town Hall.  Selectman Shawn Jasper will retain his seat as the committee’s selectman representative.

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