Snow Pond Farm Hosts Alpaca Day

by Gloria Sullivan

Hoping for a snack, the boys line up at the fence.

Did you know that there is an Alpaca farm in Windham?  Perhaps you have never even seen an alpaca, or maybe you did and thought it was a llama.  Alpacas are cute, quiet, and curious creatures that originate from Peru, Chile, and Bolivia.  As part of National Alpaca Open Farm Day, the Lundquist family of Windham welcomed visitors to their farm to see these extraordinary animals for themselves.

Twelve alpacas call this two-acre farm their home.  They reside in a charming and picturesque red barn with plenty of open space to explore.  A bit shy, but ever-so-cute, Sparkle and Jewels, two one-year-old alpacas, made funny humming noises and grazed in a gated area where you could touch them or just get a closer look at these funny-looking creatures.

“Jewel’s fleece just won first place at the Suri Symposium in Colorado,” said Wendy Lundquist, who is co-owner of the herd with her parents Bob and Pam Lundquist.

The family began raising alpacas in October of 2008 after falling in love with some alpacas they visited on a vacation.  They plan to use the fiber from the alpacas to turn into yarn that they can then sell.  The eldest Lundquist’s decided that this would be an interesting adventure to start and hoped it would keep them young when they retired.

“Alpacas are unique animals.  They aren’t domesticated like a pet, but they are intriguing.  The more we’re around them, the friendlier they are,” said Matt Shumpert, a family member who was happy to give tours of the farm and educate visitors.

The boys and girls live in separate sides of the barn, but they all seem to live in quiet harmony.

“They are very creative.  They open latches in the barn and play with anything that moves.  They even ring a bell in the barn as part of their play,” Lundquist explained.

The farm owners were hoping that there would be a baby alpaca born by the open farm day, since the mother-to-be is 11 months pregnant, and the gestation length for an alpaca is 11 months.  Wendy Lundquist commented, “We were hoping she’d be born this week, but not today!”

Lundquist estimated that about 40 people visited that day.  Children could do a craft with real alpaca fleece, and there were plenty of alpaca-related products for sale, including scarves, sweaters, and hats.

The farm will be hosting several Open Houses from now until Christmas.  Anyone wishing to visit can go to for more information.

Sparkle and Jewels - looking oh-so-cute!

Crime at the Castle Murder/Mystery Dinner

by Gloria Sullivan

Amy Nesheim played the ghost of Searles Castle.

The Windham Endowment for Community Action presented a murder mystery dinner theatre production last Friday night at Searles Castle.  Local author Anne Kelsey wrote this unique murder mystery for the occasion, and the cast of characters included local business owners, students, and politicians.

Guests were treated to a complimentary limousine valet up the long and winding driveway leading up to the castle that looked rather ominous on this particular night.  Cocktails and appetizers were served beside a giant event tent during cocktail hour, as people filled the castle’s courtyard dressed in their evening finery.

Director Donna Tongue mingled with the crowd and made sure all of her actors had arrived for the night’s performance.

“I am very excited.  We have been rehearsing since mid August.  All but two of our actors are from Windham.  Everyone has worked really hard and it has been a lot of fun,” she said.

Stacey Bruzzese, chairman of the committee that organized the event, was excited that some of the night’s events were kept a secret, even from the organizers.

“It will be a lot of fun,” Bruzzese commented.

The “whodunit” seemed more like a political satire of the Windham High School dedication ceremony.  Kevin Waterhouse, a seasoned Windham actor who participates in many community theater productions, who portrayed the character Don Developer, said, “This is the first of what we hope is an annual tradition.  What we want to do each year is give the Windham Achievement Award to any group that’s responsible for improving the culture in the community.”  This year the Windham Community Band would be the recipient of this award, and a flute ensemble would be performing for the audience as they dined on a four-course dinner.  A very confident Waterhouse greeted the crowd and encouraged everyone to purchase raffle tickets for various gifts that were donated by local businesses.  He informed the crowd that they would be split into groups and take tours of the castle in order to assist in solving the crime that would soon take place.

“If you’re from Windham, and you take a look at who is inside the tent, you’ve got people from all different groups in town, and that represents the endowment because the endowment wants to be all good things in Windham.  We hope to be the umbrella that brings everybody together,” said committee president Melinda Davis.

The players were introduced by Don Developer.  Anthony DiFruscia, state representative, who played Larry Laptop, portrayed as the likeable geek, joked that 842 laptops were purchased for a mere 330 students at Windham High School.

“That’s three laptops per student!” he exclaimed.

Introduced next, character Wanda Woo Hoo, played by a quirky and enthusiastic Jessi Nappo-Mead, played the head of the cheerleading committee whose group was responsible for all the fundraising for the high school.

“With all the money we got, we have plans to build a rooftop pool!” she exclaimed.  She told the crowd some of her many interests, which included making homemade jams and jellies.

Suzie Selectman, played by Kristin Waterhouse, wondered why there was such a fuss over wetlands surrounding the site of the new school.  In her best Southern drawl, she said, “Wetlands are called swamps in the South!”

The actors raised their glasses for a toast to the new high school, and Don Developer, appearing to have been poisoned, dropped to the floor, and the mystery began.  The cast took turns listing why each of their counterparts may be guilty of murdering Don Developer.  The audience was led to the dining room of the castle by Officer Move-it-Along, played by Joel Sadler.  The guests were to participate in some civilian sleuthing.  They witnessed a horticulturist, played by Celina Wilt, describe the elements found in the centerpiece of the dining table.  She explained how it had some greenery and choke cherry berries that could be poisonous if ingested.

The crowd was startled by a scream coming from the grand hall of the castle, where a startled woman, played by Sophia Djuricic, claimed to have seen a ghost-like face in the fireplace.  The lights suddenly went out and the ghost of Searles castle appeared from a balcony above.  The ghost, played by Amy Nesheim, provided clues as she eerily appeared to be floating in a breeze from above.

Next, the group was ushered off to the grassy area below a turret.  A comedic exchange ensued between Larry Laptop and the 210-year-old ghost of the farmer who owned the land in which the London Bridge was originally on.  The crowd joined the conversation as one guest asked, “Is it (pronounced) “Wind-ham” or “Wind-um”?  Everyone laughed and the ghost of yester-year replied, “It’s Wind-ham!”  Many onlookers cheered in response to this debate of opposing viewpoints.  The ghost requested an apology for moving his man-made bridge and supplied some clues from his perch above the crowd once Larry Laptop offered to offer students a history course to inform them about the historical treasure.

After the clues were presented, the biggest clue pointing to a ‘female Windham leader’, the civilians were encouraged to ask the cast questions as they mingled throughout the event tent.  An enthusiastic novice detective and Pelham resident, Sharon Atwood, asked questions and took notes.  Wendy Woo Hoo’s answer to Atwood’s question was no help as she replied, “The only thing that I know is that I’m pretty!”  Woo Hoo claimed that somebody was calling her from across the room and darted off.

The cast took the stage one final time to review clues and motives.  Don Developer was deemed to be poisoned by choke cherries, and since Wendy Woo Hoo made jellies of this sort, all fingers pointed to her.  She was arrested by Officer Move-it-Along, and the mystery was solved.

As the production came to a close, the audience rose to their feet for an ovation and waiters began filing in with platters to begin dinner service.

“This was a really great fundraiser.  The atmosphere was maximum for this kind of event.  It was a great way to bring the community together.  This community, together with the new economic planner, is really making a difference,” said Sharon Atwood.

Anthony DiFruscia, Joel Sadler, Kristin Waterhouse, Jessi Nappo-Mead, Kevin Waterhouse

The sold-out production was held in a large event tent.

The ghost of the Windham farmer who built the London Bridge is angry over the bridge being moved.

Trial Period for Field Lighting

by Barbara O’Brien

Local selectmen have agreed to give the Windham Soccer Association a one week trial period to test out portable lights at Nashua Road Field.

Windham Soccer Association Vice President Joe Connelly met with town officials on September 21 to request the use of the generator-powered, 30-foot tall lights, which are similar to those used at construction sites for working after dark.  Each of the lighting fixtures illuminates approximately an acre of land.  The proposal includes the use of two light fixtures.  The soccer association will pay all expenses involved in the experiment.  There will be absolutely no cost to taxpayers.

“This will allow us to make a more educated decision,” Connelly said.

The reason behind the requested lighting is to allow practice sessions to continue later in the evenings, due to increasingly earlier sunsets.  Connelly said there is a shortage of available practice time, even though teams practice once or twice a week.

There are approximately 900 boys and girls in the soccer program, with players ranging from six to 12 years old.  The league currently fields a total of 70 soccer teams.

The soccer association’s original request was to test the lights at either Griffin Park or Nashua Road Field, while the Windham Recreation Committee recommended that the lights be tried out at either the Nashua Road facility or Searles Field.

Connelly said he expects the lights would be needed for practice sessions until about 8 p.m.

“The last coach out turns off the lights,” he said.

One resident living near Griffin Park was very outspoken concerning her opposition to the proposed lighting concept.  Citing safety concerns, she said, “It’s bad enough getting out of the park in the daytime.”  Other complaints included noise from the generators that power the light poles, bright lights spilling over to neighboring residences, the possibility of vandalism, the need for additional police scrutiny, as well as “a reduced quality of life for those living in the neighborhood.”

“This is only a test,” Windham Soccer Chairman Scott Mueller said, evoking another comment from the same concerned neighbor.  She said she is very concerned that a successful test would result in lights being used even later at night and on additional fields.

Town Administrator David Sullivan said that, currently, a town ordinance allows use of Griffin Park from dawn to dusk.

Selectman Ross McLeod, who excused himself from the board due to the fact that he is president of the Windham Soccer Association, said there are no plans to add additional practice sessions or more games.

“That is not our intent,” McLeod said.

Windham Police Chief Gerald Lewis said he does have safety concerns regarding the use of Griffin Park after dark, particularly in regard to exiting the park on to Range Road, children running in the parking lot, and the chance of vandalism.

After further discussion, selectmen voted 4 to 0 to allow a one week trial period at Nashua Road Field, with the lights to be turned off no later than 8:30 p.m.  Voting in favor of allowing the test were Chairman Galen Stearns, Vice Chairman Bruce Breton, Charles McMahon and Roger Hohenberger.  McLeod did not vote on the motion.

 It is expected that the trial period will take place the first or second week of October.  The Windham Soccer Association was asked to work in conjunction with Recreation Department Coordinator Cheryl Haas and Police Chief Lewis.

“I will definitely be evaluating the impact of the lights,” Lewis said.

Once the trial period is completed and evaluated by members of the Windham Soccer Association, the discussion will be brought back to the Board of Selectmen for review.

Septic Waiver on Older Home

by Barbara O’Brien

Acting as the Windham Board of Health, town officials rendered a split decision on whether or not to allow a resident to drill a new well and put in a new septic system closer than allowed by town regulations.

On September 21, the town’s five selectmen and the Windham Transfer Station Manager Dave Poulson, acting as Health Officer, met as a single entity.  The purpose of that evening’s Board of Health meeting was to determine whether a regulation mandating that a septic system be a minimum of 75 feet apart be waived to allow the well and septic system to be located 50 feet apart.  The waiver request was made due to the under-sized lot on which the house had been built many years prior to existing regulations being put into place.  The residence under consideration is located on First Street.

The owner of the property was represented by Herbert Associates, an area engineering firm.  According to the engineer who attended the meeting, the two-story, two-bedroom house was originally built as a seasonal cottage, but was allowed to become a year-round residence in 1996.  The previous owner of the property died about three years ago, after which the house and land were bought by the present owner.  Currently the house is unoccupied, but plans are for a family to take up residence when the construction and repairs are finished.  “They could live there now,” the engineer explained, “but they want to make improvements.  They want to be good neighbors.”

Currently there is a shallow dug well on the property, as well as a sub-standard septic system, most likely built in the 1950s.  The existing septic system has not failed, but it is not up to par with the systems installed today.  The engineer said plans are to put in a state-of-the-art Presby Enviro-System, one which is much more protective of the environment than the one that currently exists at that address.

Although several neighbors had questions concerning the requested waiver, only one abutter was adamant about not allowing a new septic system to be installed in the proposed location.  This neighbor told selectmen that he fears the area will be exposed to an increased chance of water pollution if the waiver is allowed.

“This property should never have been approved for year-round use,” he said, adding that he foresees “a catastrophe” taking place, resulting in polluted water that might affect everyone living in the area.

Selectman Ross McLeod said he believes the risks of pollution are greater if the situation is allowed to remain as it is rather than having the septic system upgraded.

“It doesn’t make sense not to improve the septic system and well,” Selectman Charles McMahon said.  As for whether or not to grant the waiver request, McMahon stated, “That bridge was crossed when this became a year-round home.”

The final vote by the Board of Health was 3 to 2 in favor of granting the waiver.  Voting to allow the shorter distance between the proposed well and the septic system were Selectmen Bruce Breton, Charles McMahon and Ross McLeod.  Voting against granting the waiver were Selectmen Galen Stearns and Roger Hohenberger, who said they did not want to set a precedent.  Health Officer Dave Poulson abstained from voting.

Aftermath of Accident at Fire Station

by Lynne Ober

Pelham’s Fire Station was damaged when Leon Moreau, 78, of Somerville, MA, and Frederick Pepe, 39, of Pelham, crashed into each other at the intersection of Marsh Road and Old Bridge Street.  The impact drove Moreau’s car into the center bay of the fire station, which caused serious damage to the building.

Town Administrator Gaydos talked to selectmen about the damage and the need for immediate repairs.  He asked selectmen to waive the requirements for bidding since it would be insurance money.  He said if the insurance company doesn’t approve the cost estimate, it would be dealt with.  Gaydos also told selectmen that a structural engineer was on-site immediately and that his report had been received.  Additionally, the insurance adjuster has reviewed the building and indicated he was looking for a cost estimate from the town; once reviewed and approved, the work could be done.  Because so many pieces of the project would have to be coordinated, Mr. Gaydos said he felt it would be advisable to speak with a general contractor who could put everything together.

Selectman Hal Lynde asked who would oversee the work, and Gaydos responded that he would like permission to ask David Mendes, who had offered to help, and Building Inspector Roland Soucy to oversee the work.

Selectman Ed Gleason asked what insurance company was reviewing the information, and Gaydos said it was the Local Government Center (LGC).  Gleason then asked if the intent was to recover the money, and Gaydos said yes and explained there would be no expense to the town.  Gleason also asked if Pelham had been impacted in services (i.e. overtime and labor), and Gaydos didn’t believe there had been any added personnel and pointed out that the cost of the engineer would be covered by the insurance company.  Next, Gleason asked if there was any cost to the equipment, and again Gaydos answered no.  Fire Department personnel were able to pull all the equipment out of the station immediately after the accident.

Selectman Bob Haverty asked if the building was safe to operate, and Gaydos answered yes.

There was a brief discussion regarding the work that would need to be done to the station.  There was a consensus of the Board to direct Mr. Gaydos to spend the reconstruction money with local contractors whenever reasonably possible.  Since then, a fire department spokesperson said that the general contractor had been seeking bids for the repair work.  With the garage doors inoperable from the front, all vehicles must enter and exit via the rear doors.  In addition, the masonry was damaged along the front of the fire station.

This is not the first time that the fire station has been damaged by a vehicle accident.  If the roundabouts are built and a new fire station is not, the existing fire station will be even closer to the street, and people are beginning to ask how much of a traffic hazard that will create and how many more accidents will damage the fire station.

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