Independence Day Celebration in Pelham

by Lynne Ober

The choir from Crossroads Baptist Church sang a patriotic concert in honor of veterans.

Every year Pelham’s Community Spirit Inc. organizes the Independence Day Celebration and this year was no different.  Because of the continued inclement weather, the rain date was used.  July 5 saw sunny, bright skies with little humidity – just a perfect evening to be outside.

The event kicks off at 4 p.m. with a doll carriage and bicycle parade.  First prize is awarded for the most patriotic costume, but there are prizes for all who enter which makes it a fun time.

As always there are food vendors, fun and entertainment. 

Crossroads Baptist Church offered an evening of Patriotic Tributes.  Music started at 6:30 with the choir singing a Freedom Salute to all Vets.  In honor of those who had made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of America, a display of photos, names and dates was at the back of the seating.  The Pledge of Allegiance was given and then Boy Scout Troop 25 and Pelham VFW Post 10722 did a flag folding complete with explanation of the meaning.  Pins were given to all veterans in the audience and Pastor Matt Kyzer offered a prayer for all those who are still serving and for the families waiting at home.  Following the choir, the Praise Band set up and played for an hour.  Jackie Couture sang the national anthem.  It was definitely a time to be proud to be an American.

But behind the scenes a crisis was being handled by Joyce McDevitt, who has chaired this event since 1997 and says that this will be the last year for her.  It began with an inspection of the fireworks vendor, Northstar from Vermont, by Fire Chief Jim Midgley and Fire Marshall Steve Wyman.  They found several violations of fire code and talked to the vendor.

Then they spoke to McDevitt and told her that the vendor was in violation of New Hampshire state law.  When asked to cite the RSA that the vendor had violated, the fire chief turned to the fire marshal who cited an administrative rule established not by law but by rule making authority.  When the fire marshal was further questioned he admitted that no state law was violated, but safety was an issue and there was an administrative rule violation.

While more and more residents poured onto the grounds of Pelham Elementary School to enjoy the evening, the group moved to speak to the vendor, who explained how much of the show was going to be affected by the findings.  The vendor also explained that a saw was on the way and that adjustments could be made to some racks to make them fit within the administrative rules.

McDevitt expressed her frustration and displeasure.  She pointed out that the group had been using Northstar since she joined them and noted that went back to 1996.  “I’m just furious and upset that people won’t get to enjoy the show that we wanted them to see.”

The vendor agreed to keep working and Midgeley joined him in order to help produce the best show possible under the circumstances.

Back on the grounds people were enjoying many of the activities.  The Pelham Fire Department had equipment on display and youngsters were allowed to use the fire hose again this year.  Pelham Parks and Recreation sponsored the very popular Bounce House.  Pelham Police Department in their green and black jerseys were highly visible.  Youngsters crowded around them to talk.

St. Patrick School handed out kindergarten information and sold delicious fudge.  Boy Scouts Troop 610 had strawberry shortcake; Crossroads Baptist Church offered root beer floats and American Flags and the Knights of Columbus popped the best smelling buttered popcorn.  The Pelham Fire Department sold hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages and soda.

Every direction you turned there was a community group participating.  The Pelham Community Spirit had raffles and discounted Pelham collectibles.  Pelham Fire Auxiliary had glow items and a bake table and the Pelham Gardeners sold icy cold water.  The Pelham Panic Travel Softball offered face painting, tattoos and mardi gras beads.  Pelham’s VFW offered poppies.

Fried dough, ice cream and ice slushies were very popular.

The playground was filled with happy kids while parents sat and chatted with other parents and watched their kids.

As the sky darkened, people chose their seats for the fireworks display.  Music continued to fill the air and happy sounds from happy kids could be heard.  Finally it was dark and time for the grand finale of fireworks.  Despite the problems, it turned out to be a very wonderful event.

Weeblos Andrew Masson and Deven Harrington were part of the troop selling strawberry shortcake.

Reba was dressed in her best July 4th finery and was accompanied by Dale Gordon, who said Reba belonged to his daughter who was singing in the choir.

Land to be Purchased for Conservation will Open Kirby Town Forest

by Lynne Ober

Pelham Conservation Commission Chairman Paul Gagnon and Conservation Commission Secretary Karen MacKay discussed a proposal to purchase conservation land with Pelham Selectmen.  Gagnon described the twenty-two acre proposed parcel for selectmen.  According to Gagnon, the land has approximately 150 feet of frontage on Windham Road (Route 111A), which means there is easy public access for future recreation.  The Conservation Commission wants to buy the parcel because it abutted Kirby Town Forest, which was virtually land locked.  With the access through this parcel, the Conservation Commission could add trail heads leading into the forest.  Having the access into Kirby would provide the public with access as well as help with timber management. 

However, Gagnon said there was a bit of challenge because the parcel contained an existing residence, a dam and a pond.  The Planning Board heard a proposal for a subdivision.  The work on the subdivision had been done pro bono by Herbert Associates, who did a survey and subdivided land away from the residence, the pond and the dam, which Gagnon said was approximately 2.5 acres and the proposal was for this piece to be sold separately.  Gagnon showed selectmen two possible development layouts for the parcel; one showing a conventional subdivision with twelve house lots and another showing a conservation subdivision with fourteen house lots.  However, the appraiser conservatively estimated that the road might be as issue.  Gagnon said it had been discussed if the road would be approved based on the grades being in excess of 20 percent.  He explained that the appraisal for the parcel was then based on the possibility of it having five new lots.  That appraisal came in at $340,000.  The Conservation Commission has negotiated a purchase price of $250,000. 

According to Gagnon, the land is largely high and dry and contained only a tiny wetland that cut across the parcel.  Gagnon noted that the Selectmen had been provided with booklets that contained the pertinent background information and he reviewed that information.

Selectmen Ed Gleason complimented the Conservation Commission for putting together a comprehensive package and said it was a pleasure to read the information because it was put together so well.  He reviewed the sales agreement and questioned if it was typical to state that the parcel wouldn’t be subdivided for a period of twenty years. 

Gagnon said the sellers wanted a provision that stated forever, however it was felt that it would not work.  Gagnon said he, Town Administrator Tom Gaydos and Town Counsel felt that a reasonable amount of time should be indicated in the document.  He noted the intent was to put a reasonable timeframe in the document, which honored the owners’ request, but not tie the hands of the town for ever.  

Gaydos said they had this issue come up in the past, where the seller wanted the town to hold the land in perpetuity, but he reminded selectman that voters at any Town Meeting could vote to sell any town asset.  He said this clause gave the seller the confidence that the town did not intend to see the land in the near future.

When Gleason asked if the real estate agent would be paid out of the $250,000, or if there was separate funding, Gagnon responded that he assumed that the agent would be paid out of the $250,000 and noted that there was no separate funding. 

Gleason then discussed the naming of the area.  Knowing that other parcels were also being reviewed, Gleason asked if the proposed parcel would maintain a separate identity. 

However, Gagnon didn’t have an answer for the question.  He said they had yet to figure out how to name parcels that had been put together from multiple purchases. 

Gleason then commented that the buyer was to bear all costs from the subdivision and questioned if there was anticipated costs.  Mr. Gagnon said they anticipated very minimal costs; the subdivision work was done pro bono by Herbert Associates; all they charged were fees that they had incurred which would not exceed $1000.  He also commented that they didn’t believe the purchase cost would have to come out of the bond. 

Selectman Doug Viger and Selectman Bob Haverty also praised how the information was laid out well and that it was easy to follow. 

Selectman Hal Lynde felt the parcel would be a good purchase.   

When Selectmen opened a public hearing on the purchase of this parcel, Paul McDonough, 7 Mammoth Road, spoke in favor of the purchase.  He believed it was important to conserve land in the town and appreciated the efforts made.  

Lynde moved and Gleason seconded to authorize the purchase of twenty one acres off Windham Road identified as tax map 8-9-64 for a price of $250,000.  The motion carried unanimously.

High School Construction a Done Deal

by Barbara O’Brien

“For all intents and purposes, the building is done,” said Glenn Davis, owner’s representative for the construction of Windham’s new high school.  Davis addressed school board members during their business meeting on June 30, the completion date listed on the original contract with Harvey Construction.

“We’re definitely closer to the end than the beginning,” Davis told school board officials, rather tongue in cheek.  Windham High School is scheduled to open to students on Wednesday, September 2.  Only freshmen and sophomores will be in attendance the first year.  Juniors and seniors will continue to attend Salem High School under an extended tuition agreement.

Looking ahead to the next couple of weeks, Davis said he expected the certificate of substantial completion to be signed in early July and hoped to have the certificate of occupancy signed on July 10.  Davis said he didn’t foresee any problems in achieving these two goals.  “We have built the building according to the drawings,” Davis said.  The high school building has already undergone about 20 various inspections, he added.

Once the certificate of substantial completion is signed by Davis, the Windham School District will take ownership of the building and, therefore, become liable for any issues which might arise on the property; however, there is a one-year warranty on the project by Harvey Construction.

“Is there anything to make us vulnerable?” school board member Jeff Bostic asked.  “No, and I say that with 100 percent confidence,” Davis replied.  Referring to his recent tour of the facility, Bostic said, “Everything I’ve seen is fabulous!”

As for the second access to the high school, road construction began about a month ago and is moving along better than anticipated despite the record rainfall, Davis said.  Fire Chief Tom McPherson said he would give the school district a 60-day period after the school opens to complete the second access.  Davis said he doesn’t think this extra “cushion” will be needed.

Most of the furnishings for the high school have arrived and two more tractor-trailer trucks filled with furniture and equipment were to be delivered to the high school the beginning of July.  A staff orientation is scheduled for the middle of July to familiarize teachers and other employees with the overall layout of the structure.  By the beginning of August, teachers will be able to start readying their classrooms for the arrival of students.

Chairman Bruce Anderson asked about the status of the high school construction budget.  Davis said he would have all the final figures at a future meeting once everything was said and done.  Initial indications are, however, that the project will come in under budget.

Dr. Anderson commended Davis for the fantastic job he has done in representing Windham and the countless hours he has dedicated to seeing that the job has been done right.  “We appreciate everything,” Anderson told Davis.

The official ribbon-cutting ceremony will actually be after the fact, since school will have been open for more than a week by this time.  School officials have scheduled the event for Saturday, September 12, from 10 a.m. until noon.  A number of dignitaries have been invited to the ceremony, including Governor John Lynch, who has tentatively accepted the invitation.  Other state and local officials are also expected to participate as well as a number of area musical groups.  The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be open to the public.  The new Windham High School is located off London Bridge Road just west of the SAU building on Route 111.

Fire Chief Sworn In

by Lynne Ober

With his wife by his side, Fire Chief Jim Midgley was sworn in by retired Fire Chief Dave Fisher.

With his wife by his side, his men gathered in a semi-circle, retired Fire Chief Dave Fisher, selectmen, and bagpipers, Pelham’s Fire Chief Jim Midgley was sworn in before residents, friends and family.

Before the ceremony, friends and family gathered in the lobby of Town Hall for a reception.  It was a chance to chat and to enjoy an evening of happiness.  Before long, the bagpipers called the audience to their seats inside Sherburne Hall and the short ceremony began.  This was a dream come true for Midgley who began his fire career as an on-call firefighter for Pelham.  He worked his way up the ranks, demonstrated his skill and commitment, and was chosen and sworn in as Fire Chief for Pelham.

After the ceremony, Midgley and Police Chief Joseph Roark, who were high school classmates, chatted briefly before Midgley began circulating through the assembled crowd as he accepted compliments and well wishes.  Midgley said he planned to pull back on some of the efforts and to concentrate on the core functions.  “I want Pelham to be safe, and we need to concentrate on how we can make that happen.  This is a great town.”

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