Pumpkin Run to Benefit Litchfield Resident Sofie McPherson

submitted by Linda Parke

Hadley Media is excited to announce The Great Pumpkin Run, a 5K race and relay that will be held on October 18, beginning at 2 p.m.  Participants can run the 5K course or pull together a team of four to tackle the relay course while carrying a pumpkin!

The start and finish line for the 5K course will be the Stoneywyke Road cul-de-sac.  You can register online at www.hadleymedia.com/run or on-site beginning at 12:30 p.m.  Parking is available on-site.  Everyone who enters will receive bags with gifts from some of Hadley Media’s entertainment clients, including Food Network, Fox Reality, Fox Cable Networks, NBC Universal, Cirque du Soleil, and more.

The entire community is invited to participate in this event.  Families, businesses, and community leaders are encouraged to join in the fun.  All levels of runners and walkers are welcome.  All money raised will be given directly to the McPherson family to assist with expenses they incur while helping to care for Sofie during the treatment of her illness.

Sofie has an Astrocytoma-type tumor.  It is a low-grade tumor and therefore slow-growing.  Initially she had a golf-ball-size tumor removed surgically, but some tumor still remains on her brain stem and the top of her spinal cord.  Currently she is receiving chemo treatments for what remains, but these treatments generally don’t shrink the tumor to nonexistent, but put it into a dormant state.  The tumor most likely will remain dormant for the next two to four years.  When and if the tumor starts to grow again, she will have to go for more treatments.  Most often, this pattern will continue until Sofie reaches the age when she can receive radiation treatments that effectively will remove the tumor completely.  Unfortunately, this is something that the family will be dealing with for a long time.

Sofie loves Taylor Swift and the Freshbeat Band.  She loves to dance, sing, swim, and play with her Barbie’s and baby dolls.  She has a six-year-old brother who is in first grade this year.  He loves his little sister and sports, especially baseball, soccer, and basketball.  Sofie’s mom, Kelly, is an instructor at Dance Impressions in Windham and her dad works for Silvertech Inc. in Manchester.

For more information on the run or to find out how you can help, please visit www.hadleymedia.com/run or call 603-682-3084.

Benson Park Opening on October 24 & 25

by Gina M. Votour

Vintage photo of Benson’s office at Christmas

Following nearly two hours of heavy discussion, Hudson’s Board of Selectmen this week approved a soft, or temporary, public opening of Benson Park during the weekend of October 24 and 25. 

These dates were part of a proposal submitted by the Benson Park Committee in response to the board’s unanimous September 22 motion, which required an October 2009 date be set for public access to the 165-acre property.

The plan’s presentation was preceded by weeks of debate, however, the board’s order to open the park came as a surprise to several of those involved in the project.

Back on August 4, the selectmen agreed to give the Benson Park Committee the freedom to devise a possible opening date time frame.  This decision stemmed from committee liaison Selectman Shawn Jasper’s strong belief that an overall plan and certain safety measures would be necessary prior to the allowance of public access.

Jasper, who was unable to attend the September 22 selectmen meeting due to illness, was therefore not part of the unanimous vote to open the park in October.

“I feel that this committee was ambushed by the Board of Selectmen because I was not there and I have lost all respect for the Board of Selectmen for their actions for that night,” Jasper responded during the September 24 meeting of the Benson Park Committee.

Jasper revisited this issue during a subsequent Board of Selectmen meeting, pointing out that his concern was not the board’s action itself but their failure to defer this item in his absence.

“This board showed me, as your liaison to the committee, a total lack of respect that I am unaccustomed to in any other positions I have held previously,” remarked Jasper.

Several Benson Park Committee members also expressed their disbelief with the actions of the selectmen.  In fact, at an early point of the September 24 meeting, Benson Park Committee Vice-Chairman Ken Matthews stormed out after stating that he “didn’t go on this committee to be insulted by dim-wits.” 

“I don’t get angry often…this made me angry,” committee member Harry Schibanoff added on that same evening.

A week later, on October 1, the Benson Park Committee held a special meeting.  During this time, Selectmen Chairman Roger Coutu appeared with a prepared statement. 

Vintage photo of the Elephant House at Christmas

“In no way was there a contrived plot prior to the [September 22] meeting to purposefully take advantage of Selectman Jasper’s absence due to his illness,” Coutu began, further adding that Jasper would not be removed as the Committee’s liaison. 

Coutu additionally revealed that Matthews, who returned during the October 1 meeting, had apologized for his “poor choice of words” with regard to the Board of Selectmen.

“I am on your side” and have the “utmost respect for Selectman Jasper,” Coutu concluded, and later promised to be more respectful to Jasper as the committee’s liaison.  After Coutu praised the committee as a whole for its work, members responded with appreciation for his having come forward. 

Committee Chairman Ken Dickinson’s belief in the need for “better communication with the Board of Selectmen” was subsequently put into action through the presence of committee members Pat Nichols and Jim Barnes alongside Schibanoff during the October 6 Board of Selectmen meeting.

Upon presenting the committee’s document to the board, Schibanoff described it as a work in progress which lists the actions needed for a safe and sound permanent opening. 

Along with the potential October dates, the proposal also names and classifies tasks as high, medium or low priority.  Addressing parking issues, removing poison ivy, and securing historic structures including the foundation of the former Red Barn, are all high priority areas, for instance.

Before accepting this proposition, the selectmen debated over several issues, the majority of which concerned the high priority list and its direct relation to pubic accessibility of the park.  Certain high priority items, such as that of a live-in caretaker and restrooms, remained in question.

Other topics such as a soft versus a hard, or permanent, opening were also explored.  Selectman Ben Nadeau once again expressed his long held belief that the park should be opened immediately and permanently since members of the public are already entering the property on a regular basis. 

“I think this is a pretty simple thing….I think that we could move along a lot faster than we are,” stated Nadeau.  He later suggested a walk-through in order to create a list of safety issues that need immediate attention.  “I think we need to stop trying not to open the park,” he concluded.

Emphasizing the park’s future focus on passive recreation, Selectman Richard Maddox added that the board has put too much time and money into buildings within the property and not into items such as trails.

Remaining true to his previous stance, Jasper attempted to remain calm in describing the current condition of the property.

“Right now, it’s [Benson Park] not a warm, friendly, clean place, it is a mess,” revealed Jasper.  “I didn’t become a selectman…to be proud of something that’s trash…  I believe with all my heart that the voters of his town want something that they can be proud of and they want us to do this right,” he continued.

With regard to potential safety hazards on the property, Jasper also suggested that taxpayers may end up liable if the property is opened prematurely “because you [the selectmen] didn’t want to heed the advice of the committee that you formed and asked to advise you.” 

Admittedly becoming angry, Jasper later proclaimed to the selectmen,  “[You guys] sit here like a bunch of tin-horned dictators and think that somebody else is going to do the work that you want done, you’ve insulted the Benson Committee…it’s your job ultimately to do the things that you want done to open the park.” 

Selectman Vice Chairman Ken Massey was persuaded to vote in favor of the plan by several of Jasper’s comments regarding hazards within the property.  “I am concerned that if we open the park without any understanding of some of the issues that Selectman Jasper raised tonight that we could create some difficulties for the town,” stated Massey. 

Overall, an agreement was reached that the committee will further develop the elements of this list, subject to selectmen approval on a case-by-case basis, based upon importance for each stage of the park’s opening.  A motion to accept the plan, including the soft opening dates later this month, therefore passed 3-2 with Nadeau and Maddox in opposition.

Jasper later urged better communication between the selectmen.  “Let’s stop fighting….let’s work together, talk to me…we can’t get things done if we’re working against each other,” he pleaded.

According to the committee’s proposal, soft openings for limited time frames will be monitored by volunteers and should serve to “provide the community the opportunity to see the current situation within the Park, allow trained volunteers to discuss what is being planned for the Park, and provide an opportunity for the public to view the progress to date on restorations.”  The committee also hopes that these occasions will aid them in the acquisition of potential subcommittee volunteers for future projects.

Additional soft opening weekends are anticipated prior to the start of winter, pending volunteer availability.  At this point however, a hard opening is unlikely to occur until the spring or summer of 2010 at the earliest.

‘The Alvirne Fab 5’ Class Reunion

Alvirne High School held a class reunion for the classes of 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, and 1960 — better known as ‘The Alvirne Fab 5’ —  from September 18-20.

Friday evening, everyone enjoyed a Sock Hop in the Alvirne gymnasium.

Saturday had festivities that included a tour of Alvirne, a Lawn Luncheon on the grounds of Hill House, and a Dinner Dance held at the Holiday Inn.

Sunday morning was breakfast and fond goodbyes at the Holiday Inn.

A wonderful time was had by all!

Class of 56

Class of 57

Class of 58

Class of 59

Class of 60

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