Dogs on Parade at Griffin Park

by Gloria Sullivan

Over 60 costumed canines and their families gathered at Windham’s Griffin Park for a dog parade and costume competition.  Woof Woof Professional Dog Services hosted their 6th annual event last Saturday, which preceded Windham’s Harvest Celebration.

Event organizer and owner of Woof Woof, Belinda Sinclair appeared very happy to be surrounded by so many adorable dogs, many of which are also clients.

“I got married on Halloween so I really, really like Halloween,” Sinclair said.  She added, “The main purpose is to have fun!  I have all the different businesses that are dog-related in town help participate by putting things into the doggie goody bags so that we can give back to the community.  We service the community that services us.”

Local businesses that helped make this event a success included Windham Animal Hospital, Rockingham Emergency Veterinary Hospital, Woof it Down, and Pet Styles Grooming of Pelham.

Sinclair explained how her event sends a positive message to the town of Windham.

“My husband Ralph and I have fought very hard for the right to use this park.  We donate all the pooper scooper bags that are in the park annually so that the town will continue to let the dogs be here.  We get to prove a point by being here; you can have this many dogs here and have them all get along and leave no poop behind, which is a good thing.  But mostly it’s about giving back to the community,” Sinclair said.

The contestants marched with their people around the park, and the judges took notices and chuckled aloud as dogs of every age and size walked by.  From the tiniest dogs dressed as Shrek, Snow White, a ladybug, and clown to the larger ones dressed as Santa, Patriot’s cheerleader, or fairy, each dog appeared to be mighty proud to be getting so much attention.

The Windham Women’s Club hosted a bake sale under the pavilion, and the Canobie Lake Park’s Screeemfest hearse provided the Halloween-themed music.  Two goblins danced for the crowd as participants mingled after the parade, while the judges decided who would win a ribbon and doggie gift bag.  Prizes were awarded in four different categories that were: the cutest, funniest, most original, and best owner/pet duo.

Third place winner for most original was Caycee Carleton, a dachshund from Windham; she wore a Snow White dress and, as if she did not look cute enough, she had red rouge on her white cheeks.  This sweet dog also was celebrating her 10th birthday.  Her owner, Justine, was dressed as the witch from the Snow White story and she carried an apple to complete the look.  A yellow Lab named Pesky had “Pesky’s Pole” attached to his back and placed second for most original.  First prize for most original was an adorable Yorkie dressed as detective “Sherlock Bones”.

First prize winners for owner and pet duet were Jack Armstrong and his 13-week-old puppy, Benson.  Benson was dressed as a skunk and Armstrong wore a lab coat with the words “Critter Control” on its back.  Other award winners were a prisoner with her owners dressed as fellow inmates and a dog dressed as a pirate ship with pirate owners.

“This makes for a nice walk in the park,” Sinclair stated.  “With a little sense of humor,” she added.

Brie, a bichon frise, as a pumpkin - with her owner, Ann Collins of Windham

Caycee, a daschund, as Snow White - with her owner, Justine Carleton of Windham

Benson, as a skunk - with his owner, Jack Armstrong of Windham

Harvest Fest Good Times

by Lynne Ober

“I don’t allow rain on my events,” grinned Windham Recreation Director at Windham’s annual Harvest Fest.  All week long, weathermen could not decide if Saturday would be rainy, cloudy, or sunny.

“Rain is just not acceptable,” Haas chuckled.

And she was right.  Saturday was cool and breezy, but the sun shone and people at Harvest Fest had a wonderful time.

The Weathervane brought their famous clam “chowda” and gave it away to participants.  Delahunty Nursery decorated the pavilion at Griffin Park and also had a gorgeous fall display set up on the grass.

Hay rides were enjoyed by many.  Children got to wear their Halloween costumes, and it seemed as if the whole community had pitched in to make it a wonderful day.  Families enjoyed food and conversation.  The Girl Scouts sponsored a pie-baking contest and also sold slices of pie; proceeds will go toward shipping items to troops overseas.  The PTA sponsored this year’s Pumpkin Contest.  There were friendly pumpkins and scary pumpkins.  The Garden Club sponsored pumpkin painting, which is always a hit.

Music from the Canobie Lake Screeemfest DJ filled the air and had people dancing on the grounds.  Dance troop members from the New England Dance Academy came dressed in their Nutcracker costumes.  They will perform the Nutcracker after Thanksgiving in the Windham High School auditorium.

“This will be the first open to the public performance,” said Mrs. Indelicato, whose daughter will be part of the performance.  “This is what we hoped to get when the high school opened, a place for community performances, and it is thrilling that the Nutcracker will be the first such performance.”

The Windham Mom’s Club and Newcomers Club had booths and were chatting with prospective members.  The Lions Club also participated.  And who could pass up the baked goods offered by the Windham Women’s Club?

“This is a fun event,” said Haas, “and a great time for the community to come out and enjoy the park and all that Windham has to offer.”

Front row: Emily Caprilglio, Julia Brown, Molly Carlson
Back row: Lizzie Colacchio, Deanna Gooding, Kara Yennaco

SAU #28 Budget Proposed for 2010-2011

by Barbara O’Brien

School Administrative Unit (SAU) #28, which is comprised of Pelham and Windham, has already formulated and proposed its operating budget for the 2010-2011 school year.  Both of these school district budgets run from July 1 to June 30 of the following year.

After limited discussion by school board members and absolutely no public input on Wednesday, October 7, the joint SAU #28 School Board unanimously (10 to 0) approved the proposed $1,429,737 operating budget for next year.  Voters in both towns will get to have their say on the proposal next March.

Representing Pelham on the SAU #28 School Board are: Linda Mahoney (chairman), Eleanor Burton, Lorraine Dube, Debbie Ryan and Cindy Kyzer.  Representing Windham are: Bruce Anderson (chairman), Mike Hatem, Jeff Bostic, Edward Gallagher and Daphne Kenyon.

According to SAU #28 Finance Director Kathleen Sargent, the proposed 2010-2011 operating budget reflects an increase of $164,576 over what was approved for the 2009-2010 school year.  This is an increase of approximately 13 percent, she said.  Breaking down the numbers further, 11.5 percent of that 13 percent increase is due to the anticipated hiring of a second assistant superintendent, someone who will be representing either Windham or Pelham, but not both school districts.  It is uncertain at this time if the new person hired as an additional assistant superintendent or Roxanne Wilson, the only current assistant superintendent, will be focusing on Pelham or Windham.  Superintendent Frank Bass did say, however, that Wilson’s preference would be taken into consideration when the decision is made.

The proposed second assistant superintendent’s salary is being estimated, for budgeting purposes, at $100,000.  This does not include the money that will be needed to pay for this person’s benefits, an additional amount of approximately $40,000.  The cost of a second assistant superintendent will be borne by both school districts equally, at an estimated $70,000 each for the first year.

The remainder of the 13 percent budget increase for next year is due largely to the proposed 2 percent salary increase for current SAU #28 employees, at an approximate total of $42,000, Sargent said.  In addition, a 15 percent increase is expected in the cost of health insurance premiums for SAU #28 employees, at a total rate hike of approximately $16,000.

School Board members said that hiring a second assistant superintendent is a better alternative than splitting SAU #28 and having the Pelham and Windham School Districts go their separate ways.  A study was done last year of the costs involved in running two separate SAUs and it was determined that it’s cheaper to keep the partnership as it is.  Hiring another assistant superintendent is a money-saving step, board members said.

What About That New Highway Department Truck?

by Barbara O’Brien

When selectmen put together the 2009 town budget, one of the items included was a new truck for the highway department.  Three-quarters of the way through the year, however, the $35,000 earmarked for that purchase remains unspent.

Windham Highway Agent Jack McCartney told selectmen that the appropriated $35,000 just isn’t enough money to buy a new truck, unless the town is fortunate enough to find a leftover 2007 or 2008 model.  And the only way a 2009 model could be purchased at this juncture is if one is already on a dealer’s lot.  McCartney also explained that 2010 models are expected to cost about $3,000 more than comparable 2009 vehicles.  Making the situation worse, as of January 1, 2010, the cost is scheduled to increase another $8,000 due to stricter emission control standards going into effect.

One opportunity which might provide Windham with the chance to purchase a truck for less money is the state auction, McCartney said, but there is no guarantee that what the town is seeking will be available.

As a result of their discussion, selectmen have given authority to McCartney to purchase a truck for the highway department, without further consultation with town officials, if he finds something appropriate and affordable.  McCartney said that a decision on which direction to take needs to be reached prior to the end of November.  According to selectmen, a new truck could also be leased, rather than purchased outright, and the $35,000 could be used as the first year’s payment on that lease.  A number of town-owned vehicles, including those used by the police and fire departments, were obtained under a lease/purchase agreement.

Recreation Department May Be First to Accept Credit Cards

by Barbara O’Brien

The Windham Recreation Department may be the first town agency to accept credit cards from those who want to register for one of its many programs.

A local ordinance allowing the acceptance of credit cards for town services was approved by the majority of voters who participated in last March’s annual Town Meeting.  To date, that ordinance has not been put into use.

Assistant Town Administrator Dana Call is recommending that the town’s Recreation Department be allowed to accept credit cards.  Rather than open up all town departments that collect money to credit card usage at the same time, Call feels that starting out with just one department as a barometer is a better plan.  Prior discussions of the issue included allowing credit card use for fees charged by the Building and Planning Department.

Selectmen said they agree with Call’s recommendation, but the issue still needs to be discussed at a public hearing, one that is scheduled for Monday, October 26.  The hearing will be conducted during the regular selectmen’s meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Building and Planning Department next to Town Hall.

One issue to be discussed during the upcoming hearing is the related fee which is charged by credit card companies per use.  Depending on the amount of the credit card charge, the associated fee is generally around two percent.  One of the questions raised by town officials is whether that fee should be borne by the town or paid by the individual using the credit card.

Call said that the estimate is that about 50 percent of people registering for Recreation Department programs can be expected to use a credit card for their transactions.

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