Penguin Players Present Beauty and the Beast

by Doug Robinson

John H. Bundock (Beast) and Kayla Whelan (Beauty), dancing together

The Penguin Players performed Disney’s theatrical play Beauty and the Beast at Sherburne Hall in Pelham.

The Penguin Players are actors ranging from six to nineteen years old.  They are the youth division of the Pelham Community Theatre and Arts Organization.

The cast of 19 actors, outfitted with wireless microphones, filled the stage with song, dance, and entertainment, while the special lighting illuminated the stage with brilliance.

The play Beauty and the Beast takes place in a quaint French village during the late 18th century.  Here, the beautiful Belle finds escape from her ordinary existence by reading books.  The wonderful story of true love evolves when she meets a hideous beast, which is actually an enchanted prince.

Future performances by Pelham Community Theatre and Arts Organization include a senior citizen’s play, A Body for Tea, to be performed in September, and a December performance of A Christmas Carol.

Members of the cast

Where the Past Unites with the Future

by Doug Robinson

In a quiet ceremony, Windham’s historic ballot box was donated to the Windham High School for display.

“The ballot box represents Windham’s past, and it is appropriate that it be placed with Windham’s future… its students.  Ultimately, our place is to educate students of how our past and future are entwined,” commented Windham High School Principal Richard Manley.

 “(The) historic, handmade, wooden ballot box was in the possession of Chilla Wheeler, who was the School District Clerk from 1956 to1975.  Chilla Wheeler, upon her retirement, gave the box for safekeeping to the office of the town clerk.  This box was used at the election when the town’s people voted for the name of the new High School,” wrote Barbara Coish.

The historic ballot box was presented to Principal Manley by Windham Town Clerk Nicole Merril, 101-year-old Maria Webber (retired Windham teacher and sister-in-law to Chilla Wheeler), and past Windham School Board Member Barbara Coish.

“It is a wonderful artifact, and I have used it for special elections as well as the primary elections,” commented Nicole Merrill.

Handmade, the box measures 12 inches x 16 inches x 16-plus inches.

During the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, when Windham’s population was only 600 residents, this box was used exclusively for elections.

Maria Webber admires the workmanship to the ballot box.

Richard Manley, Maria Webber, and Nicole Merrill accept the ballot box at Windham High School.

Forest Management and Muldoon Park Playground Road Discussed

by Lynne Ober

Normally Deb Waters, who sits on the Forestry Committee, briefs Pelham’s selectmen on forestry matters, but this time Conservation Commission Chairman Paul Gagnon sat in for her.  With him were Dan Cyr and Mike Powers of Baystate Forestry.  They had been working with the Forestry Committee on the Peabody Forestry Management Plan for Peabody Forest.  Cyr provided an overview of the proposed plan and discussed the current condition of the forest.  In the past, the Forestry Committee, with selectmen approval, had sold some timber to generate funds needed for maintenance, and this plan was an extension of that.  Cyr said they were ready to mark the timber and generate a prospectus of sale.

 Gagnon explained they were seeking approval from the selectmen to put the parcel out to bid for the timber.

Selectman Hal Lynde, who has supported the Forestry Committee, asked for a summary breakdown of the forestry plan, such as expected board feet and amount of pulp.  However, Cyr said he didn’t have that exact information.  He said there were approximately 1.5 million board feet of timber growing and 1,300 cords of firewood and pulp.  He said he would like to take out between 300,000 - 500,000 board feet of timber.  According to Cyr, that number didn’t equal one third of the trees.  He also said that until trees were actually marked they wouldn’t know the exact number, and explained that after tree-marking they would have a better idea and could respond more accurately to Lynde’s question.

Selectman Dennis Viger was concerned that the forest remains a viable forest.  He also asked if the access to the forest was still in good shape.  Cyr said they had made a bulldozer access to the power line and also noted that if a truck road, which is a three-season road, was made over the woods road it would allow for emergency access.  Cyr explained that any costs for the road could be rolled into the forestry operation and would not require taxpayer dollars.

Viger inquired about the bid process, and Cyr said the markets were doing well and the town could expect a favorable bid.

Selectman Ed Gleason discussed the importance of good maintenance, which would bring re-growth to the forest and revenue to the town.  He pointed out that neglect of maintenance would be a loss in assets to the town and would have a negative effect on the forest.  When Gleason asked if there were any problems with invasive species in Peabody Forest, Powers discussed what was found and commented that it wasn’t really bad.  However, there are plans to review and address this issue.

Lynde moved to authorize the Forestry Committee to proceed with implementing the Forest Stewardship Management Plan with Peabody Forest as presented to the selectmen, and Gleason seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Then Gagnon said he wanted to address an issue at Muldoon Park.  He wanted to discuss the road near the playground in Muldoon Park and the wetland section (sometimes called a vernal pool) that was in the area.  According to Gagnon, the road was originally put in for logging purposes and used once every 10 to 15 years so there were no problems with it being located so close to the water.  However, road usage had grown once the playground and the ball field behind it were put in.  Gagnon drew a sketch of the area for selectmen.  At this point, he said he was representing both the Forestry Committee and the Conservation Commission.

Discussions between the Conservation Commission and the Forestry Committee showed that both groups would like to resolve the issues.  To do that, he said they were proposing that some of the forestry funds from timber harvest be used to correct the situation.

Gagnon showed the selectmen what alterations were being proposed.  The two groups would like to move a portion of the playground and then move the road away from the area.  Although costs were not known at the time of the meeting, Gagnon said he wanted selectmen to know what was being reviewed.  According to Gagnon, this would be the best possible scenario because it would allow the road to continue to be used, while preserving both the playground and the wetland area.

Gleason said the selectmen were considering secondary access to Muldoon Park because of safety.  He said that he thought he remembered there had been a recommendation to have an egress going out in the back of the major league field.  He urged Gagnon to ask the two groups to keep this in mind and said that a second egress should be part of the thinking when reviewing any plans to alter the area.

Selectmen discussed the proposal and the area.  Gleason asked about a buffer zone between the existing field behind the playground and an abutting neighborhood on Washington Street.  When asked about additional field construction, he said it was currently unknown if a second field would be constructed. 

When Lynde recommended that a gate for the playground not be on the side with the road, Gagnon said he would review the work that would need to be done and come back to the selectmen with accurate cost numbers to determine if the alterations were reasonable.

Selectman Bill McDevitt asked if constructing a second field was being ruled out or if it was something that might happen.

Viger said the initial plan was to have two fields.  He said when the first field was being built the buffer zone was requested and then an additional regulation-sized field wouldn’t fit in the area.  He still didn’t feel there was enough room for a second field, unless the field was used as a practice field. 

It was the board consensus that Gagnon proceed and come back with actual figures and plans.

School Board Member Resigns

by Barbara O’Brien

Windham School Board member Mark Brockmeier has resigned from his position and attended his last official meeting on Thursday, August 13.

At the conclusion of the evening’s workshop, Brockmeier announced that he would no longer be able to serve as one of the five Windham School Board members.  Brockmeier has rented out his home and, as of October 1, will no longer be a Windham resident.  He said he is in the process of moving to Massachusetts.

“I have a new fiancé and will be pursuing a new career,” Brockmeier said.  “I’m getting away from the corporate world.”

Brockmeier said he plans to return to school and will be studying to become a Congregationalist minister.  He did not, however, rule out the possibility of moving back to Windham again someday.

“After all,” he said, “I will still own a house here in New Hampshire.”

School Board Chairman Bruce Anderson said he thoroughly appreciates all the effort that Brockmeier has put forth in working as a board member.

“He’s always added an interesting voice to discussions,” Anderson said.

Brockmeier was elected as a school board member in March of 2008.  There is more than a year and a half left on his three-year term.  Dr. Anderson said nominations to fill Brockmeier’s seat will be made in non-public session during an upcoming meeting.  The person who is appointed to fill that job will serve until March of 2010.  Next March, on Election Day, the position will be up for a one-year term.

Windham Schools Update

by Barbara O’Brien

Everything continues to fall into place for the opening of the brand new, state-of-the-art Windham High School.  Students will begin attending classes at the town’s very first high school on Wednesday, September 2.  The project has been years in the making.

   According to School Superintendent Frank Bass, the required Certificate of Occupancy (CO) was issued on Monday, August 3.  Earlier in the summer, it was anticipated that the CO would be issued on Friday, July 10.

During the August 13 school board workshop, Dr. Bass said, “The building is up and running.”

Only freshmen and sophomores will be in attendance during the 2009-2010 school year.  Juniors and seniors will continue to attend Salem High School under an extended tuition agreement.  All four of the grade levels will not attend Windham High School until the 2011-2012 school year.  Windham High School will hold its very first graduation ceremony in the spring of 2012.

In other ‘Getting Ready for School’ news, school board members also approved hiring an additional second grade classroom teacher for Golden Brook Elementary School.  According to Dr. Bass, the second grade enrollment for the 2009-2010 school year warrants another teacher at that level in order to reduce class size.  School board members voted 4 to 0 to add the additional classroom teacher for the second grade.  Voting in favor were Bruce Anderson, Mike Hatem, Mark Brockmeier, and Edward Gallager; Jeff Bostic did not attend the August 13 board meeting.  Dr. Anderson said he felt adding this position to the existing staff is “a most positive thing to do.”  Bass said the position has already been publicly advertised, but that he also has a former Windham teacher who has expressed interest in returning to the school district.

School District Business Administrator Donna Clairmont said that the money to pay the salary and benefits for an additional teacher is available due to reductions in other areas of the budget.  Clairmont also said that nothing has been cut out of the budget to accommodate the additional teaching position.  The Windham School District is currently operating under a default budget for the 2009-2010 school year due to the fact that the recommended budget did not pass voter approval this past March.

Bass also said, “Everything is in a state of readiness,” regarding the new public kindergarten program in Windham, which was mandated by the State of New Hampshire Department of Education.  The program will be held on the grounds of Golden Brook Elementary School.  The portable classrooms were to be delivered by mid-August and the concrete pad on which they are to be placed is completed, Bass said.  The cost of the portable classrooms is being paid through state funding for the first three years.  After that time, Windham taxpayers must either build a permanent structure to house kindergarten or pay for renting the portable classrooms out of their own pockets.  As of August 13, 164 five-year-old children were enrolled in the new kindergarten program.  This is a lower number than was originally anticipated.

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