Everyone Enjoys Berries and Books

by Lynne Ober

Making animals from balloons

Once again there was a day of fun, sunshine, games, music, food, books, and, of course, lots of strawberries, as FLOW [Friends of the Library of Windham] held their annual Strawberry and Book Fest.

Before the festival began at 10 a.m., people were already arriving on the grounds.  FLOW offered shuttle service from Center School but many people chose to enjoy the walk on a beautiful day.

Entertainment began early and lasted throughout the festival, with some of the highlights being:

  • Opening Ceremony by the Boy Scouts of Troop 266 and Windham Junior Drumline
  • Windham Community Band two-hour concert
  • WMUR News Anchor Erin Fehlau as a guest storyteller
  • Golden Crane Traditional Martial Arts performance
  • Dance Impressions recital
  • New England Gymnastics Training Center gymnasts’ performance
  • Karate International Demo team
  • Windham Middle School cheerleaders’ routines
  • Project Percussion (Windham Middle School Recycling Band) performance
  • Boss Tweed (Windham’s own rock band) performance
  • Windham Fire and Police departments had vehicles on display for kids of all ages to climb aboard
  • The Southern Region SWAT team had one vehicle and one assault rifle on display
  • Closing Ceremony by the Boy Scouts of Troop 263

Also throughout the day there were a variety of games and bounce houses for kids to enjoy.  Added fun and excitement for the children were being able to have strawberries, butterflies, or other assorted whimsical items painted on their face at one booth, or oriental figures and words painted on their face at another booth.  Balloon animals were a hit with the kids, as was sand painting.

This year FLOW decided to sell game bracelets.  “We wanted everyone to have a low-cost enjoyable day, and by selling bracelets the kids could continue to play as long as they wanted,” said Stephanie Nelson Wimmer, publicity chairman for the festival.

And then there was the food.  Throughout the day, people nibbled and munched.  The famous strawberry sundaes were, as usual, a crowd favorite.  Community members baked the biscuits, FLOW members cut up 80 flats of strawberries, and there was plenty of ice cream and whipped cream to go with this treat.  People were able to enjoy their food at many shady places with tables and chairs to sit and rest while enjoying the entertainment.

Generously given by FLOW, there were two $2,000 scholarships awarded to Brian Broom-Peltz and Sarah Scannell.

Money raised by this event goes into programming at Windham Library and also supports the library in other ways.

“We often buy books that are above their budget or new shelving,” said Winner.  “We just do what we can to make the library a vibrant town resource.”

Kyle, 5, and Kaelin, 2, Gschwend

Beaver Brook Fair
Great Day of Racing, Ducks, and Dunking

submitted by Sandi O’Connell

Pelham Police Cheif Joe Roark takes a dunk in the tank.

Saint Patrick School in Pelham is grateful to all the volunteers and participants who made its annual Beaver Brook Fair a great success this past weekend.  Mother Nature was also kind in providing the perfect spring day for some running, duck racing, and dunking in the dunk tank.

Saint Patrick School Board members organized a wonderful event designed to not only gather its school families together but also members from the surrounding communities.

The overall winner of the 5K run and walk was Julia Huffman of Manchester.  Every kid was a winner in the Kids Sprint following the 5K.  Race organizer Pam McCarthy made sure every racer – adults and kids – received race goodies for their efforts, including T-shirts and a great pair of WrightSocks.  Hannaford’s of Pelham replenished the racers with water and bananas after the run.

This year, in addition to the 5K Road Race, Duck Race, and fair games, participants got to try their luck in dunking Chief Roark of the Pelham Police Department into the dunk tank donated by the Ouellette Family - A Handy Company, LLC.  Kids and adults lined up all day to give their throwing arm a try.  Other “dunkees” who got wet multiple times included Tim Jozokos, Mark Jedraszak, Lance Ouellette, Kylee Jedraszak, and Matt Horn.

Calvin and Carter Jozokos

The other new addition to the fair was the fast pitch, where players pitched a softball as fast as they could.  Pelham police lent their radar gun to accurately clock the speed of the pitch.  The thrower would guess the speed of their last pitch to win.  The winners of the Spinners tickets for the highest speed pitch were John Bilsky with a 65 mph speed in the adult division and Nicholas Foley with a speed of 55 mph.  Mitchell Kamal was closely behind with a 54 mph pitch.

Thanks to the hard work of Robin Letendre, the fair games provided hours of fun to all players who left with some pretty awesome prizes donated by Life Is Good.  In addition to the fair’s traditional grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, this year’s sausages, peppers and onions were deliciously prepared by Laurie Hogan and cooked by John Berard.  Another delicious and unique treat was provided by Lyn Jedrazsek and Tic Tac volunteers who created the perfect chocolate dipped strawberries.  If that weren’t enough of a treat, kids were given a chance to climb aboard a real fire engine, thanks to the Pelham Fire Department.

Eloise and Ed Savage and the Comeau family were the lucky winners of the $500 first place duck in the Wacky Duck Race that took place on Beaver Brook next to Saint Patrick School.  The ducks took their time floating down stream and then picked speed up in the current at the end.  Mary Martin’s duck took second place, and the third place duck won Father Paul Ruzzo a bookstore gift certificate and a dancing duck.  The fourth place duck winner was the Fitzgerald family who also happened to be the family who generously lent their time in selling ducks and getting the ducks downstream to the finish line and out of the water.  The prize could not have been won by a nicer family.  One lone duck decided to go the other way, upstream, and has not been seen since.  Sandi O’Connell, duck race coordinator, plans to add even more prizes next year to increase the chances of winning.

Thank you to all who took your valuable time before and during the day of the event to help make the races and the fair a success and for helping Saint Patrick School in the process.  Your community and school spirit shines brightly.  God Bless.

Public Hearing Gathers Data from Residents

by Lynne Ober

Pelham residents had yet another opportunity to discuss improvements to the traffic flow for the town center of Pelham with members of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation staff, who have been working on this project.  Approximately 30 residents came to hear the presentation.

Unless a new fire station is approved at next March’s election, NH DOT will be bidding the alternative that cuts off the front of the fire station.  Project leader Chris Waszczuk explained that the front of the fire station would no longer be usable for exiting the fire station because the road bed would be dug into the terrain and there would be an 18 inch gap with a large curb between the front bay doors at the fire station and the road.  “You will only be able to use the back doors,” he told the audience.  “You will also need to build an auxiliary building to house some of the equipment that you will no longer be able to get into the fire station once the front doors are no longer usable.”

While the project has $437,000 to help fund the cost of either a new fire station or making changes to the existing fire station, NH DOT plans to bid the project next spring and proceed.  They will no longer wait for voters of Pelham to make a decision.

The project will address two intersections along with the approaching roadways leading into the Town Center.  The project was initiated through the regional Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) process at the request of local elected officials in 2003 and added to the State’s Ten-Year Transportation Improvement Plan (2005 – 2014) on the “Recommended Future Additions List”.  Subsequently, the project received earmarked funding totaling $3.94M dollars ($3.15M federal dollars) to improve safety at the NH 111A intersections and was included in subsequent Ten-Year Plans (2007 – 2016 & 2009 - 2018) for construction in 2010.

As early as 1993 the Nashua Regional Planning Commission (NRPC) was asked to perform a Signal Warrant Analysis Report for two abovementioned intersections because of traffic concerns.  Their report completed in 1993, and updated in June of 2000, concluded traffic was an issue and that both intersections were in failure.  They recommended the installation of traffic signals.

In 2002, the Pelham Board of Selectmen commissioned GEOD Consulting of Boston, Massachusetts to complete a traffic study to assess the existing and future conditions of the three intersections that comprised the triangle in the Pelham Town Center.  This study, completed in April 2002, concluded that the intersections operated at a poor level of service with long delays during the evening and morning peak hours, but it went a step farther and looked at other options and concluded that other options were also viable.

In 2003, the NRPC updated their signal warrant analysis using more recent traffic data.  This data confirmed the analysis and conclusions from the 2002 GEOD study.  During 2004 and 2005, and NRPC conducted a modeling study of a number of alternatives at the request of the Pelham Highway Safety Committee.  This study used the NRPC travel demand model to analyze the impact of changes on traffic throughout the town due to possible operational changes at the town center intersections and analyzed 5 different approaches to traffic operation at the two town center intersections and intersections in the immediate proximity.  As a result of these studies and on-going concern with traffic conditions, the town sought funding for improvements to the intersections, which were included in the transportation reauthorization in August 2005.  Since then work has been progressing on two alternatives with dual roundabouts.  The only difference is that Option A, the preferred option, requires that the fire station be moved.  Last week residents learned that the project will proceed.

There are several significant downsides to Option B – some of which will impact pocketbooks of Pelham taxpayers every year in the future and some of which may require that Pelham contribute money to the project in order to get it completed.

There is a fixed pot of money available for this project and Waszczuk said that any money over that must be paid by Pelham taxpayers.

With Option B there will be significantly higher staging costs because the firm construction the roundabouts will have to stage away from the site, at some unspecified location.  If there is a new fire station, staging will occur where the existing fire station currently sits.  Voters will have to decide if they want to spend their dollars on a new fire station, which will benefit the town, or on paying the construction company to stage off-site, which has no long term benefits.

If the fire station is not moved, Pelham residents will pay snow storm after snow storm for high snow removal for this area because the roadway cannot be plowed because the existing fire station is too close.  Waszczuk said that snow would have to be removed and clarified that he meant loaded into dump trucks and hauled to a location away from the road because there was no room to plow the snow.  No one knows that this will cost.

Additionally the existing fire station will not be as functional.  A new auxiliary building must be constructed to house equipment such as ambulances that are currently housed in the existing fire station.  Once the front set of bay doors are blocked, it will be impossible to house as much equipment as is now housed in the equipment bays.  No one knows what this building will cost.

Waszczuk told residents that they could submit input in writing for ten days after the public hearing and that all public testimony would be considered as the project moves ahead.

Selectmen Bob Haverty, Ed Gleason and Hal Lynde all spoke and thanked staff for their work.  Haverty read a letter from selectmen.

The project will be bid in the spring of 2010.  Construction will take approximately one and a half years.  Waszczuk said it might take longer if the fire station is not moved as staging off site will add time to the work schedule, but he could not estimate how much as the staging location is unknown.

“Skinning” School Baseball Field Questioned

by Barbara O’Brien

A decision made by members of the Windham School Board several weeks ago is being questioned by a former town selectman.

During the meeting on Tuesday, June 2, former Windham Selectman Dennis Senibaldi addressed school board members, saying he wanted “a reasonable explanation” for why they had decided to skin the baseball field at Windham Center School.  Senibaldi said he was speaking to school administrators as a taxpayer, not in any official capacity.

Referring to the skinning of the baseball field (the “skinning” of a baseball field involves removing the grassy surface from the infield and replacing it with dirt, in this case a substance known as Fenway Mix), Senibaldi said he doesn’t feel the decision made by school board members was based on sufficient information.  He also said he objected to the late night discussion, one which was not even on the board’s agenda for that evening.  The issue should have been discussed further publicly, he said.  It was Senibaldi’s suggestion that the proposal either be included in the Master Plan or the idea “completely squashed.”

The estimated cost of the project, according to school administrators, is approximately $7,000.  The money would be taken from the 2008-2009 school district budget which expires on June 30.

Senibaldi said he believes the project should have been put out to bid rather than just awarded to a vendor.  He also said he would rather see the money returned to taxpayers at the end of the year, due to the poor economy.  Senibaldi said it is his opinion that school board business being conducted with such “a cavalier attitude” is the reason so many voters have been saying “no” to numerous proposals.  People feel like it’s “being shoved down our throats,” he added.

School board member Mark Brockmeier said he understands Senibaldi’s concern about the field skinning, noting that the school board’s decision was based on information provided by administrators at the time. Brockmeier said he didn’t think the school board should “be impugned” for trusting the administration.

Superintendent Frank Bass said it’s not a completely closed deal and can be brought up again for discussion. Bass also said that he believes Chairman Bruce Anderson would want to be included in any further discussion of the issue.  Anderson did not attend the June 2 meeting.

Water Runoff Contamination Being Investigated by DES

by Barbara O’Brien

Selectmen are in receipt of a letter from the Department of Environmental Services (DES) responding to correspondence they sent to that department on April 14.  The response is in reference to highway construction taking place near Exit 3 off Route 93 in Windham.

During the Monday, June 1 selectmen’s meeting, it was reported that DES has been looking into complaints that water runoff from the I-93 construction site is resulting in sediment being deposited into tributaries emptying into Cobbett’s Pond.  The selectmen had written the letter to DES following the receipt of two complaints from the Cobbett’s Pond Improvement Association (CPIA).  The letter from CPIA alleged that the construction project is violating turbidity standards which are required through the state permit process.

Cobbett’s Pond has already been determined to be an endangered body of water, and, as such, area residents are adamant about protecting it from further deterioration.

According to the recent letter from DES, officials are consulting with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT), as well as any private contractors working on the expansion of I-93, to assure that all state and federal regulations are being met. The general contractor that was awarded the bid on this portion of the I-93 expansion is Middlesex Corporation of Littleton, Massachusetts.

Also, on Wednesday, June 3, blasting at the Exit 3 worksite was halted and expected to continue for an indefinite length of time, following reported contamination of monitoring wells near the area.  Amounts of nitrates, nitrites, and benzene were reportedly discovered in samples tested.  All these chemicals are found in blasting components.  Representatives of DES said that no residential wells have been affected.

The reconstruction work taking place near Exit 3 is expected to total approximately $25 million and is scheduled to continue until June of 2010.  The entire project includes construction from the Massachusetts state line to Manchester, New Hampshire, an approximate length of 20 miles.

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