Remembering Cpl. Edmund Vandecasteele

by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz


Patriot Guard at St. Matthew’s Church

Corporal Edmund Vandecasteele IV, a Salem native, wanted to be a marine since the young age of 12, a dream he lived up to, making his mother and friends so very proud of his enlistment in the U.S Marine Corps, during September of 2006.

“As a young kid, he just set his mind to it, that was it,” said Lisa Desrosiers, Vandecasteele’s mother.  “Eddie would take in any and all information he could, whether about weapons, the code, whatever, he just absorbed it, took it all in.”

Vandecasteele was killed in a tragic motor vehicle accident on August 1 in San Clemente, California near Camp Pendleton where he was stationed and is being remembered fondly in his hometown as a humorous and extremely brave young man who had such a huge heart, with so much love inside of him to give.

“He was a very dedicated young man, and I have received many compliments from a variety of Marine Corps officials who say he became an outstanding marine,” said Desrosiers.

Corporal Edmund Vandecasteele IV, 22 of Salem was riding in the passenger seat of a 2003 Ford Mustang driven by a fellow marine when the driver lost control of the vehicle, striking a tree.  Vandecasteele was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver, Andrew Stueber, 24 sustained life-threatening head injuries according to Orange County officials, while two other marines in the vehicle were not injured.  Speed and alcohol appear to be factors in the crash.  Orange County officials say that Stueber will likely face motor vehicle manslaughter charges if he survives.

Cpl. Vandecasteele was a distinguished young soldier who was an ammunitions technician with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, who had also earned several medals; the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Sea Service Deployment ribbon.

Cpl. Vandecasteele was a 2006 graduate of Salem High School, and enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps just three months after graduating high school.  He attended boot camp in Parris Island, SC and completed his Marine Corps Training at Camp Lejeune, NC.  Cpl. Vandecasteele then completed his ammunitions training at Red Stone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL.  Following his training he was stationed for two years at Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan where he was in Ammo Company, 3rd Supply Battalion.

“He volunteered three times to go to Iraq.  He didn’t go, as he was needed in Japan.  He was in charge of ammunitions in the Pacific, which is why he was needed there,” Desrosiers said.

During his time on the island of Okinawa, which is located about 1,000 miles from Tokyo he was an Ammunition Technician, Camp Guard, and a certified swim instructor, also obtaining his scuba diving certification.  During his downtime Cpl. Vandecasteele enjoyed, movies, video games, music, model cars, sports, and was an avid New England Patriots fan.  He also enjoyed being with his friends and family, who will never forget him.

“We are devastated.  It still doesn’t seem real.  We are a very close family, with a huge piece missing,” said Desrosiers.  “I’m proud of him as a Marine, but I am most proud that he was my son.  He was the best son a mother could ever, ever wish for,” she added.

Funeral services for Cpl. Vandecasteele were held Monday.  Lisa Desrosiers wishes to thank the police officers, firefighters and individuals who honored her son during his final trip home.  “I have just no words to express my gratitude to them.  When he was escorted home to Logan Airport an Admiral in First Class on the plane gave up his seat for Eddie’s escort, so he could ride first class, as the plane’s Captain announced the escort of a marine to his final resting place – home.  And when I saw all the police officers and firefighters and individuals out on the side of the roads in Salem and Windham, saluting him, just honoring my son, I can’t describe how honored I felt,” she said.

Cpl. Vandecasteele’s family encourages those who wish to make a donation in honor of him to do so in Eddie’s name to:  Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, 18251 Quantico Gateway Drive, Trangle, VA 22172.


Fire Department at Searles Chapel

PHS Athletic Director Earns Prestigious Certification

by Karen Plumley

Tim Powers is now part of an elite group of athletic directors across the country, having recently been awarded the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s (NIAAA) prestigious title of Certified Athletic Administrator.  To achieve this designation, Mr. Powers had to meet a stringent set of requirements including the completion of several related courses and a rigorous written examination, along with obtaining at least two years of professional experience in the discipline (he has three years here in Pelham).  Additionally, his impressive educational and sports background, professional contributions, and unique experiences have all helped him to obtain this goal.

The certification shows that Powers has reached a level of professionalism that many school athletic directors rarely achieve.  It also demonstrates that Powers possesses the skills necessary to handle many situations, even those that people may not ordinarily associate with the job such as potential legal liabilities.  Regarding juggling his responsibilities as a high school math teacher, coaching both the football and girls’ basketball teams, and coordinating and overseeing all of Pelham’s high school sports, Powers commented in a recent interview that, “it is really tough…everything doesn’t get done within the hours of the normal school day.”

Powers will add to his list of growing duties in the 2009-10-school season when he takes over as director of sports at Pelham Memorial, relieving the already overextended school nurse, Sue Levine.  “Sue will stay on as an assistant to me and will be a huge help this year.  Taking this job will be additional work and an extra phone call or two, but in some ways it will be easier with one set of eyes overseeing all of the sports at both schools,” noted Powers. 

This year will mark the beginning of a new Pelham High School sports team as well:  ice hockey.  A booster club that has already begun raising money, Powers described, will fully fund the exciting new team.

Tim Powers will begin his fourth year as athletic director, and his enthusiasm for the position and for school sports in general is clearly evident.  “Being a director has its unique set of things to deal with.  It is an altogether different perspective than coaching.  I love to watch as the season gets underway, the schedules come together smoothly, and the athletes and coaches succeed.  I’ve been involved in athletics all my life, having played football, basketball, and baseball in high school myself, and continuing with college football.  I find this job very rewarding.”  For more information on the upcoming school sports season, Tim Powers may be contacted via email at tpowers@pelhamsd.org.

This is an excerpt from a press release describing the NIAAA:  “The NIAAA is a national professional organization consisting of all 50 state athletic administrator associations and more than 7,600 individual members. It is dedicated to promoting the professional growth of high school athletic administrators and preserving the educational nature of interscholastic athletics and the place of these programs in the secondary school curriculum.”  To find out more about the organization, log on to their website at http://www.niaaa.org.

Town Budget Status is Favorable

by Barbara O’Brien

As of June 30, the approved 2009 Windham Town Operating Budget was in good shape for halfway through the calendar year.

Assistant Town Administrator Dana Call provided selectmen with an update on the budget’s status during a recent meeting, detailing various departments, many of which had spent less than half the amount budgeted for 2009.  Many of the under-expenditures were the result of personnel vacancies, which saved money on both salaries and benefits.  As of the end of June, personnel vacancies included the deputy town clerk, a highway laborer, the town planner, the community development director, as well as a number of police officers.  Some of those vacant positions have since been filled.

According to information provided by Call, as of June 30, $5,887,279 of the overall $13,499,974 town operating budget for 2009 had been expended, leaving $7,612,695 available for the remainder of the year.  Referring to the larger town departments, the town administration’s budget was 50 percent expended as of June 30, general government buildings were 48.6 percent expended, appraisal of properties was 47.2 percent spent, information technology was 53.5 percent spent, legal expenses were 64.2 percent expended; police department was 44.2 percent expended; dispatch was 44.6 percent spent, fire department was 45.2 percent expended, planning and development was 45.2 percent spent, highways, streets and bridges were 31.6 percent expended, solid waste disposal was 50.7 percent spent, health and human services was 57.5 percent spent, library was 48.1 percent expended, and the recreation department was 35.3 percent spent.

On the downside, however, due to the poor economy, incoming revenue is lower than had been originally anticipated when the 2009 budget was formulated last fall.  State Shared Revenue will not be available for 2009 due to budget cuts at the State level.  According to Call, the overall impact of this loss on the Town of Windham will be $69,298.  Also, revenue generated through motor vehicle registration continues to be less than it was two years ago.  However, halfway through 2009, the town clerk has collected approximately 50 percent ($1,338,330) of what had been anticipated for the year.

Also related to the economic slump, fees collected for building permits continue to be down significantly from 2007 and 2008.  Building permit revenue collected this year, as of June 30, is approximately $40,000 less than at the same time last year.

On a positive note, however, revenue generated by the planning board is somewhat higher than it was halfway through last year.

Call said that cable franchise fees will be higher than was actually budgeted for 2009 due to Comcast changing its frequency of payment from once per year to quarterly payments.

Also on the negative side, revenue earned through interest on deposits is down significantly from the past two years.  The current interest rate earned is .5 percent, as compared to 1.41 percent paid in June of 2008.

Free Backpack Safety Workshop At Pelham Library

Have you ever asked your child, “Why is your backpack so heavy?”  Come to the Pelham Public Library on Tuesday, August 25 at 6:00 p.m. and learn the answer to that question and many more.

Kay Baretto from Chiropractic First Center for Family Wellness in Salem will be at the Library’s Molly Hobbs Room to present this fantastic, FREE workshop.  She will go over how to properly pack, fit, and ultimately decide what really needs to go in your child’s backpack.  She will also explain what to look for when shopping for a good backpack.

Bring yourselves, your children, their backpacks, and all their stuff and Kay will show you how to make sure your children balanced -- at least on their backs! -- For the first day of school! Stay after the workshop for an Ice Cream Social!  Bring your favorite toppings to share.  Chiropractic First Center for Family Wellness is located at 14 Stiles Road, Suite 104, Salem, NH 03079.  For more information phone: (603) 894.5654, or visit their website at http://www.drholly.net/index.html.

Robotics Teams coming to Pelham

On July 29, 2009 the Pelham School Board approved the formation of Pelham FIRST Robotics to serve Pelham Memorial School and Pelham Elementary School.  Each school will have one First Lego League Team serving the ages of 9-14. 

FIRST LEGO League (FLL) a Sport for the Mind is an exciting and fun global robotics program that ignites an enthusiasm for discovery, science, and technology in kids’ ages 9-14.  Each year FLL teams embark on an adventurous Challenge based on current, real-world issues.  Guided by a team coach and assisted by mentors, the kids will: research and solve a real-world problem based on the Challenge theme, present their research and solutions, build an autonomous robot using engineering concepts, and keep a detailed “Engineering Notebook” documenting their journey and discovery practices.

FLL is a program that was started in New Hampshire by Dean Kamen (the inventor of the Segway) to encourage young people in the areas of science, engineering, and technology.

There are four parts to FLL; the two main parts are the table challenge and the research project.  For the table challenge, each team has to build and program a robot, which is then created with LEGO parts.  On a game table, the robot must autonomously accomplish pre-determined missions assigned by FIRST each September.  The theme of the challenge changes each year.

For the research project, teams have to choose a topic that reflects the year’s theme.  Then they have to come up with an extension to the technology that is presently in use or create a solution to a problem that has not yet been solved.  After much research and meeting with scientists in the field, the teams must create a presentation to explain their solutions to the research project judges.

The other two parts of FLL are the teamwork and technical judging.  In teamwork judging, teams are interviewed and scored on how well they’ve worked together that year.  For technical judging, teams are scored on their robot’s unique design and how well it performs.  Put that together and you’ve got FIRST LEGO League!!

Using the yearly Challenges, FLL entices kids to think like scientists and engineers, provides a fun, creative, hands-on learning experience, teaches kids to experiment and overcome obstacles, builds self-esteem and confidence, and inspires kids to participate in science and technology

In the 2009-2010 “Smart Move” Challenge the children will explore how to use transportation equipment for accessing people, places, goods and services in the safest, most efficient way possible.  In this journey, teams will consider many modes of transportation beyond their daily routine and streamline their options by making smart moves!  Our children can transform the way we look at transportation?

No matter what the child’s subject interest, FLL offers an opportunity for engagement.  Whether it is by creativity, technology, or research, FLL dares kids to test, explore, expand, or completely change thoughts and approaches for different sciences each year.  Please keep in mind that there are many roles on a FLL Team such as Team Captain, Building Team Leader, Programming Team Leader, Website Manager/Blogger, Videographer/Photographer, Research Project Team Leader, Program and Data Manager, Equipment Manager, Team Spirit Leader.

You do not have to be technical to participate either as a participant or as a coach or mentor.

STUDENTS MUST BE AGES 9-14 ON JANUARY 1, 2009 IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE.  (grades 4 - 8 for the 2009 - 2010 school year)  Students will be separated into teams of 6-10 students and a min of one coach made up of grade 4 – 5 grade (PES) or 6 – 8 (PMS) grade.

Registrations must be submitted by August 21, 2009 so the teams can get started right as school starts. 

The teams will meet Tuesday evening and Saturday mornings.  Up to four hours a week from September 5, 2009 to November 24, 2009 and then participate in a qualifying tournament.  If the team wins then they will be expected to go to the State Tournament the first Saturday in December in Nashua, NH.

Coaches will be available at the Pelham Memorial Athletic night on August 19 from 6-8 p.m.  Further information about FFL can be found at www.usfirst.org.  For more information or a registration form please contact Jennifer Correa at correaj@comcast.net

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