Cub Scout Places 9th in Pinewood Derby

submitted by Diane Andrews

Jason Lee with his customized car and trophy

Jason Lee from Pelham Cub Scout Pack 610 came in 9th place at the Nutfield District Pinewood Derby, held on Saturday, May 16, in Salem.

Jason was one of the top eight finishers in the Pack 610 Pinewood Derby held in January, and went on to compete at the District level.  Jason competed against approximately 85 other boys, all who were top finishers from their packs in Derry, Londonderry, Salem, and Windham.

The Pinewood Derby is an annual event that Cub Scouts from all over the district look forward to each year.  Each Cub Scout is given a block of wood made of pine, with two notches for wheels, four plastic wheels, and four nails for axles.  The finished car must use all nine pieces, weigh 5 ounces or less, and cannot exceed a maximum length.  Cars are raced utilizing only gravity on a sloped racetrack.  The blocks of pine can be whittled with a hand knife, band saw, or carving tool, for major shaping.  The Cub Scout can carve and decorate the car as he chooses, as long as the finished car meets the requirements.

When you know about the time and effort that goes into creating these cars, and that the winners beat out the others by fractions of seconds, you realize what a feat it is to be placed anywhere in the Top 10 for this event.  We are all very proud of Jason for his fabulous accomplishment!

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Pelham Boys Tennis Tough’s out Big Tourney 5-4 Win Over Oyster River, Edged by Souhegan in Semi’s

by Tommy Gates

Matt Smith was a double winner against Oyster River last Friday, May 29

Coach Terwilliger took her Python boys up to Souhegan on Saturday for the Class I semi-finals and things were going great for Pelham in the singles sets.  Jared Taylor was off to a phenomenal start as he crushed the Sabres top player Nishon Radhaknishnan 8-2, and after Ryan Fyfe was beat by Luke Schwerdtfieger 8-3, Brad Shapiro regained the lead for the Pythons by defeating Dave McNamara 8-6 in a contested battle.  Souhegan’s Sam Protzmann then tied the match at 2-2 with an 8-2 victory over Pelham freshman Matt Smith, but the Pythons finished up singles action very strong.  Matt Mercier coasted to an easy 8-1 win over Nate Reddington at number five singles, and Ethan Ely gave the Pythons a 4-2 advantage going into doubles action with an 8-4 triumph over Nick Pollack.  That means that all the Pythons had to do was to WIN ONE DOUBLES SET against Souhegan.  That unfortunately never happened!  Radhaknishnan and Schwerdtfieger were able to out last the Python number one duo of Fyfe and Shapiro 9-8 in a tie-breaker.  Pelham’s freshmen tandem of Taylor and Smith dropped an 8-5 decision to McNamara and Protzmann, and Mercier and Ely were defeated by Reddington and Pollack 9-7 to prevent them from going to the Derryfield School this week to face Hanover in the Class I finals.

Yes, having that home court advantage really helps when the quarter-final round arrives early in June.  That’s what the Pelham boy’s tennis team certainly found out last Friday afternoon when they hosted 11-3 Oyster River in the Class I first round.  Coach Lisa Terwilliger saw her first two singles players go down to defeat as freshman Jared Taylor lost 3-8, and senior Ryan Fyfe got edged out 6-8.  Brad Shapiro had to work very hard in winning his No. 3 contest 8-4, and freshman Matt Smith gave the Pythons’ new life when we win a marathon of a contest 8-6 over the Bobcats No. 4 singles player.  Matt Mercier lost a very close 6-8 match at No. 5 singles, but Ethan Ely swept his foe 8-0 to send this match into doubles locked up at 3-3.  Shapiro and fyfe got the Pythons a little closer to the win with an 8-5 decision over the Bobcats No. 1 doubles duo.  Pelham’s two Fabulous Freshman, Jared Taylor and Matt Smith were in a little bit of trouble late in their set, as they trailed Oyster River’s No. 2 doubles tandem 7-6, but they put it in overdrive and came to clinch the victory with a 9-7 win which started a brief Python celebration.

Possible Use of Credit Cards Moves Forward

by Barbara O’Brien

This past March, the majority of Windham voters told town administrators that they are interested in implementing a credit card ordinance for the payment of certain services.

Since that time, assistant town administrator Dana Call has been working on how best to implement a credit card usage program in Windham.  During a recent selectmen’s meeting, Call told board members that she is recommending that the initiative be started using the Recreation Department and the Building Department as pilot programs for the use of credit cards by those doing business with the town.  The program is being implemented as a convenience to residents and was originally requested by the Windham Lacrosse Association about two years ago.

Prior to proceeding with the adoption of a credit card pilot program, Call said she would need to discuss “the mechanics” of how to implement such a program with the two departments to be initially involved.  Call also told selectmen that they will need to be cautious of which credit card vendor to use.

“We become the merchant of record,” she said, and, as such, are responsible for protecting the personal information of all customers.

One of the major issues to be decided is how to pay for the credit card program.  There are two general methods used to fund credit card use.  The first is merchant-absorbed funding, by which the town would pay an approximate three percent transaction fee to the credit card vendor.  If the three-percent transaction fee was to be paid by the town, it would mean Windham would be expending $3 for every $100 spent or $3,000 for every $100,000 spent in transactions.  The second is consumer-funded credit card use, where an additional fee is charged to the customer per transaction.  This second method “is not popular,” Call said.  With Master Card and Visa, the merchant (i.e. the Town of Windham, in this case) can’t charge a customer more for using a credit card than if she or he was paying with cash.

Another alternative, however, would be to install a kiosk at Town Hall, as opposed to allowing residents to use a credit card at the counter, and interact directly with a town employee.  If the kiosk method were employed, a convenience fee could be added to the transaction, Call added.

Selectman Bruce Breton recommended that the program be started small, with just the Recreation Department, and then expand to the Building Department if it works well.  Call agreed that it would “be a good test” to give the credit card program an initial run with the Recreation Department.  Selectman Ross McLeod also said he feels the Recreation Department is the best place to get a credit card program underway.  Selectmen’s Chairman Galen Stearns said he wants an estimate of how much a credit card program could cost the town over the next three years.  Selectman Roger Hohenberger said he’s concerned over any liability the town might incur if it decides to use a credit card program and some privacy issue is violated.  Hohenberger also said he doesn‘t feel that those customers paying by cash or check should be subsidizing those who use credit cards to transact town business.  Call said it is not her intent to “have a cash price and a credit card price.”

The types of payments that might be accepted would need to be determined by the board of selectmen, prior to going into effect.  Selectmen would also set the maximum amount of any individual credit card transaction that would be allowable.  Having such an ordinance in place is required by state statute.

Also pursuant to state statute, the selectmen will include, within the town’s internal control policies, procedures governing the collection, handling, and retention of receipts, statements, and any other documentation generated from each credit card payment, whether the transaction is conducted over the counter or via the internet, to ensure all information collected from customers is safe-guarded.

Call said she plans to develop a specific list of parameters for credit card use and then present those details to selectmen in the near future.  “Then we can move forward,” she said.

Progress Made Toward High School Opening

by Barbara O’Brien

Windham High School Principal Richard Manley has already been on the job for nearly a year, although the opening of the brand new facility will not take place for several more months.  During his first year as the school’s first principal, Manley, along with other members of the high school planning team, has been working diligently to prepare policies and curricula for incoming students.

Also during his initial year, Manley has been a regular attendee at school board meetings, keeping its members apprised of the latest developments and progress.  His most recent update occurred during the school board’s Tuesday, May 19 meeting.

“As we began planning for Windham High School, we worked to keep front-and-center all the things that are offered at Salem High School,” Manley said.  Windham High School-age students have been attending Salem High School through a tuition agreement for many years and have benefited immensely from the large variety of programs offered there, Manley said.  By bringing these high school students home to Windham, administrators want to offer similar courses and programs at the new high school.  “And many of the programs offered at Salem High School will be incorporated at Windham High School,” Manley said, giving the National Honor Society as one specific example.  “In addition, we will also be offering other opportunities at Windham High School,” Manley added.

As for the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corp) program, as well as intern opportunities through area businesses, Windham will continue to work with Salem High School.  “This will be a mutual benefit for both schools,” Manley said.

During its first year of operation, Windham High School will only be home to freshmen and sophomores.  Juniors and seniors will continue to attend classes at Salem High School, so that they can complete their high school careers at the same school where they began.  In year two, freshmen, sophomores, and juniors will be in attendance at Windham High School, while only the seniors will remain at Salem High School.  In year three (2011-2012), all four grade levels will be at Windham High School, and the facility will celebrate its first graduation ceremony in June of 2012.

As for seeking NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation for Windham High School, a process which will take a couple of years to complete, Manley said it is actually easier “to start from the ground.”  “At least we don’t have to undo anything,” he said.  Manley said recommendations made by NEASC are guiding the planning at Windham High School.

In regard to athletics at Windham High School, Manley said the programs which were submitted have been accepted by the New Hampshire Athletic Association, as presented.  Windham will begin with sub-varsity programs during its first year and move on to varsity athletics the following school year.

The average class size (freshmen and sophomore) during the 2009-2010 school year will be 16.2 students.  Those statistics have not yet been finalized, however, as new students are still registering for the upcoming school year, Manley told school board members.

In other preparations, Manley said, “We’re teaching teachers to maximize the laptop program, both technically and academically.”  Plans are to implement a one-on-one laptop computer program when school opens this coming September, with each student being issued an Apple laptop computer to use for the four years of his or her high school career.

Also, as the opening of Windham High School nears, administrators and department heads are working on a variety of school spirit activities designed to excite students as they embark on the next phase of their education.

How Not to Make Progress

by Lynne Ober

After the recent presentation made to the Pelham School Board, residents got an excellent lesson in how not to make progress, but spend a lot of time doing it.  The end result? 

When the entire school district is reviewed for needs, it is cheaper to build a new high school than to renovate and expand on the site.  The cost analysis based on information provided by Marinance with prices based on a 2010 approval was presented by the committee.  The committee got a second cost estimate from another architect and the board was told that the figures from Marinance were the same as from the second, unnamed, architect.  The costs did not include state aid which would lower the costs by 30 percent.

  • New High School on New Site:  High School; $38.8 Million, Renovate HS to middle school   ; $9.2 Million, New kindergarten building; $5.8 Million, State aid for kindergarten; ($4.3 Million), Total:  $49.5 Million *
  • Renovate/Expand High School:  High School;  $35.3 Million, Land for new elementary; $1 Million, New 90k sq. foot school; $20 Million, State aid for kindergarten; ($3 Million), Total:  $53.3 Million *

* This does not account for 30% state aid for new construction.

 If one wishes only to look at the high school and ignore the other school needs, then costs for the high school only are:

  • New High School on New Site:  Estimated cost of land; $2.0 Million, New build with 170k sq ft.; $36.8 Million, Total for New on New; $38.8 Million
  • Renovate High School:  New 83k sq. ft. High School Addition & Full Renovation of 87,000 sq. ft.; $35.3 Million.

Pelham School Board has done the same work multiple times and the results remain the same.  Will they continue on this track or will they finally vote to move forward to ease the school crowding situation?  Residents should know soon. 

When School Board Chairman Eleanor Burton introduced Sean Minuti, Chairman of the Committee, he came to the table and introduced committee members.

A half hour presentation made by the Building Committee reached the same conclusion as the research done by Frank Marinace, an architect hired by the board.  Marinace gave his report in 2007 and the Building Committee made their report in 2009.  When the Marinace report recommended that a new high school and not renovations/additions were the answer, the board formed the Building Committee.

Conversation was lively; however, no public input was allowed despite the fact that approximately 50 residents crowded into the room.  Burton said that residents would have an opportunity to give input at some future date.  One board member quoted the Message Board, but most stayed on topic and asked questions about the process, the conclusion, and the data.  The board is scheduled to vote on this during one of their June meetings.

School Board member Deb Ryan pointed out that the numbers would only go higher – especially if the recession ends.

School Board member Lorraine Dube chastised the committee for their work.  When she questioned whether the committee had done the work they should have done, Christine Marion reviewed all the options the committee had examined and the work that was done.  Both Marion and Minuti talked about the need for engineering money to cost every option

Committee Co-chairman Brian Carton said "You can analyze things to death, and we just did."   He also talked about the lack of detailed analysis and construction plans.  He, like Minuti, pointed out how the lack of money prohibited costing every option.  He also pointed out the problems that would result if only part of the renovations were completed.  “That’s quite dissatisfactory for a learning environment.”

Dube, however, insisted that architects out of work would provide free costing and continued to question the work done.  “What we have?  That’s not good enough.”  While not questioning the quality of the work done by the committee, she continued to protest the work done.

Carton pointed out the educational deficiencies that Pelham students have now.  He talked about costs of a high school and the details behind it.  He pointed out that there was only ten percent difference between the plans and that there were some uncosted areas revolving around renovation. 

Ryan said she was a member to look at the overall needs of the school district.  “I don’t think it was negligent on your part to look at the overall district.  I appreciate your work.  We’ve been studying this and studying this and we get the same result.”  At the end of Ryan’s comments, the audience applauded.

At other times the audience frustration was heard as audience members made audible comments and groaned at some of the antics going on in front of them.

The Building Committee said that they looked at the following options:

  • New high school on a new site.  In order to be as comprehensive as possible, they actually considered five options and looked at how each impacted the other Pelham schools.
  • Three options were examined for a new high school on the current site. 
  • Four options for renovating and expanding the existing high school were examined.

The committee explained that they established criteria and then ranked all options.  During their presentation, they offered a glimpse at all the criteria and then keyed in on what they called “the highest rated criteria.”  These criteria were:

  • “Meets Pelham School District Educational specs and NH Dept of Ed requirements
  • “Meets Build-out/capacity requirements
  • “Accommodates flexibility in curriculum changes
  • “Allows construction to be staged/expanded to meet enrollment projections
  • “Provides viable educational space through the term of the bond
  • “Lowest Projected cost
  • “Flexible for School District and community uses
  • “Consideration of athletics and other student co-curricular activities
  • “Maintains manageable student population/school size
  • “Provides updated facilities, environmental, and health systems, such as light, heat, air, water, and septic

Then they rated each option and tallied the results.  The committee used the average and reviewed the results. 

Best result?  A new high school on a new site, which is the same as in the Marinace report.  A new high school on the current site was determined to be too disruptive to the educational process.

To get to that result the committee researched a plethora of reports and had meetings with their architect, Frank Marinace.  School Board member Linda Mahoney praised Marinace for continuing to work with the committee at no charge to the school district. 

The committee presented a lengthy list of items from their February meeting with the architect.  During this meeting, they concentrated on both renovation/expansion and building an entirely new high school.  At the presentation they said it was important to understand all the options and all the risks under each option. 

Many of the issues remain the same, but some have changed.

The committee learned that regulations surrounding Wetlands and Flood plains have changed slightly, but these changes complicate construction and permitting.  Should they have chosen to stay with the same plan as presented last year, the school district would now have to obtain permits, which can be a rather lengthy and costly process. 

How expensive?  The committee estimated $157,000 to understand if renovation and expansion is even feasible. 

In fact the permitting process is underway and has begun with a topographical map that will cost $7,500.   During this process other issues may be found.  The committee estimated that if such problems were found, it would be during the early part of the process, which they defined as during the expenditure of the first $30,000 to $50,000.

These expenses do not include any dollars for wetlands mitigation that would be needed as a result of expanding on this site.

Changes in the Shore land Protection Act affects a small area in the back of one field.  This past year this protection act was strengthened and requirements are now more rigorous.  This will add some cost, but the cost was not yet known.

Marinace estimated that there is 80 total buildable acres on site, but only the completion of the topographical map can determine this. The committee said that the estimate of the acreage was based on mathematical acreage, not an analysis of whether the land is suitable for any intended purpose.  Why is this important?  Because to get approval from NH Department of Education, a site must fit the following educational criteria:  High school needs 15 acres + 1 for every 100 students, Middle school needs 10 acres + 1 for every 100, Elementary School needs 5 acres + 1 for every 100.

There has been much conversation over the years about existing infrastructure, including the need for a septic system.   None of these issues have gone away; in fact as the years pass, the infrastructure ages.  Heating systems have not been replaced.  No work has been done on septic systems.  The committee faced the same issues as previous studies have faced – only with older systems. 

The infrastructure plan calls for a septic tank under the first island under a proposed baseball field.   This would require a pumping station which would be built to pump the septic under wetlands to the location under the field.   Bathrooms and another tank would most likely need to be built out at the fields because the fields will be some distance from the school.

How far away will the sports fields be located?  The farthest field would be a quarter mile from main building in remote site.  In addition to sanitary conditions, field maintenance would be an on-going issue.  Fertilization would be limited, and may not sustain playing surface. Spraying for insects would not allowed.

One of the expensive items revolves around separate buildings.  The committee learned that the more stand alone buildings there are, the more expensive a project becomes. 

But construction can also be impacted by staging or the ability to move around the construction site and to store equipment.  The campus configuration at Pelham High School makes staging a more expensive item than it would be on a new site.

The reality is that a new high school, once approved, usually takes two and a half years to construct.  Obviously if construction is being done on an occupied site, there will be delays as construction has to be planned to safely work around occupants.  The committee was concerned about the quality of education during this period.

Additionally building on an occupied site can add twenty percent to the overall costs, which would make the renovation and expansion option even more expensive by the time the project was complete.  Industry experts agree that a complete listing of such costs would not be possible until after the construction was completed.

When Dube continued to reiterate the points she had previously made, the audience, frustrated, made some negative noises.  Mahoney immediately chastised the audience and told them to leave if they couldn’t show respect.

Parking has always been an issue at Pelham High School.  Last year’s proposal allowed for 1200 students and faculty and would have required 600 parking spaces.  There are presently 220 spaces and little to no easy expansion of the existing parking.

The committee met again with Marinance at the end of March.  They had provided additional questions and asked for clarification of some items.  

The committee completed a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) analysis for their options.  Then they completed their option matrix in order to determine the best option. 

There are some interesting possibilities for future savings.  One of those items is that either the full renovation/addition or the new High School could support geothermal and high efficiency operation systems, which would lessen overall operating costs while providing both heating and cooling at an extremely cost effective price.   In addition to saving future utility costs, the state will provide an additional three percent in construction aid.

The committee felt that the review of options and data was comprehensive and that an apples-to-apples comparison had been reached through thorough discussions and analyses.  They also recommended that action should be taken to move this project forward and urged the board to keep information and communication should continue and be open within the community.  Toward that end, they asked the board to post all of their documentation on the school district website.

Finally Carton reviewed the history and said that the board needed to pick a direction and start working on it.  He believed that all options had been reviewed and the board needed to stop analyzing and move forward.

Burton added her feelings and agreed with Carton and said the board needed to move forward and to improve the situation and not just sit and analyze, analyze.  “We really need to commend the staff at all three schools, but especially the high school.  What we need to have is to have the community care as much.”

The final recommendation was a new high school on a new site.  This is the same recommendation that the board heard from the Marinace report.  In making their final recommendation to the board, there were seven votes in favor, zero votes against and two people abstained.  One voting committee member was absent the night that the committee voted.

The committee also provided a plan for continued committee involvement and urged the board to develop a land acquisition strategy to address the new high school and potential future requirements.

Committee members were:  Voting Members:  Sean Minuti (Chair), Brian Carton, Rob Hardy , Daryle Hillsgrove, Brenda Hobbs , Hal Lynde (Board of Selectman), Brian Mahoney, Christine Marion, Bob Sherman (Budget Committee).  Non-voting Members:  Eleanor Burton (Pelham School Board), Dr. Frank Bass (Superintendent), Dr. Dorothy Mohr (PHS Principal), Kathleen Sargent – Pelham School District Business Administrator.

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