The Tears of a Clown…

by R. Rodgers

Saturday, October 31 had that ghoulish weather we get only every so often, windy, warm, leaves blowing in the air like snow that gives an eerie feeling of old New England and days gone by.  Just the sort of weather that makes you feel as if something is just not right. 

Halloween night came and the Trick-or-Treat fun began, but soon turned to tragedy for a Pelham Family.  Christian Gualtieri would have been 11 years old yesterday on Thursday, November 5, but his life was cut short by what many are calling a freakish accident Saturday night. 

Christian, described as a cheerful boy with a contagious smile was happily out with his friends and neighbors for a Halloween Hayride through his Pelham neighborhood dressed as a clown when the unthinkable happened.  A tree snapped in two and struck the boy sending him into cardiac arrest that he was unable to recover from. 

Christian attended St. Jeanne d’Arc School in Lowell where he was a fifth grader.  Principal, Sister Prescille Malo issued a press release voicing great concern for the family and the student community.

“There is no rational explanation for this, his smile was contagious, and affability was his trademark.  As a community of faith, we will deal with this challenge with prayer.”  Grief counseling has been set up at his school as well as Pelham Elementary School.  Children this age need support and reassurance in times of tragedy such as this. 

Christian, like many boys was said to enjoy sports and was a member of the Recreational soccer and basketball leagues in Pelham.  Kathy Carr at the Rec. Department did not know Christian but she did confirm that he was a player,  “This is just so unbelievable and senseless, and our hearts go out to the family.”  This sort of accident makes you realize that your town is truly your family. 

Christian’s family held a private service on Wednesday with all the children from his very close nit classroom of about twenty students.  His parents took time with the children and held them and let them know how special they all were to their son.  Christian, along with his 12-year-old brother were both alter boys at St. Rita’s Church in Lowell where the service was held.  No further information was available at press time.

Credit Card Use Approved for Recreation Department

by Barbara O’Brien

Almost eight months after Windham voters approved the use of credit cards for certain town services, the majority of selectmen gave the go-ahead to start accepting plastic for programs offered by the Recreation Department.

During a public hearing on October 26, selectmen voted 3 to 1 to start accepting credit cards for the Recreation Department only.  All agreed that the acceptance of credit cards for recreation programs would be a test that must be passed before any consideration would be made of expanding credit card acceptance to other town services, such as the Planning and Building Department.

Assistant Town Administrator Dana Call reviewed the timeline that brought the new ordinance to a final public hearing.  Discussion began in 2007, Call said, but other priorities took precedence at the time and the proposed credit card ordinance did not go to the Town Warrant in 2008.  It did make the cut in 2009, however, after which it was adopted by voters this past March.

In April, the Board of Selectmen then agreed to move forward with considering usage by the Recreation Department and setting the goal of having the system available by November to accommodate lacrosse registrations.  It was members of the lacrosse program that initially asked that a credit card program be established.  Then, between August and September of this year, Call solicited pricing proposals from five vendors with submissions due from these vendors no later than October 5.

According to Call, the major question remaining in enacting the credit card ordinance was how to cover the usage charges incurred when someone uses a credit card to pay for a service.  Call noted that there are three ways in which this fee could be covered:

  • Increasing the cost of charges for recreation programs to everyone, whether he or she uses a credit card or not;
  • Adopting a convenience fee per transaction, which is allowed by Visa and MasterCard companies for certain, very limited programs, such as the payment of taxes;
  • And, finally, merchant (in this case the town) absorbed fees, through which processing fees are absorbed by any revenue generated by the Recreation Department.

Call said that processing fees charged by credit card companies are estimated to run between two and two and a half percent of each transaction.

“We can’t be sure of the precise percentage until (the program) gets underway,” Call said, adding that there will be no direct impact to the town’s operating budget.  In the case of the Recreation Department, the money goes through the revolving recreation fund.

If the cost becomes prohibitive, credit card acceptance can be reconsidered at a future date, Call said.  In any case, the cost of credit card use will be borne solely by users of the recreation programs, she added.  At this point, however, there will be no price differentiation between those who use or do not use a credit card for a Recreation Department transaction.

Call recommended that the town go with the proposal submitted by TD Bank (formerly TD Banknorth).  Percentage-wise, TD Bank offered the lowest cost, she explained.  Credit cards that will be accepted include VISA, MasterCard, and Discover.  American Express will not be accepted at this time.  The other four proposals received were from Citizens, Chase, Systems East, and Official Payments.

Voting in favor of accepting Call’s recommendation to go with the TD Bank proposal were Selectmen Charles McMahon, Bruce Breton, and Ross McLeod.  Only Selectman Roger Hohenberger voted in opposition.  Chairman Galen Stearns did not attend the October 26 meeting.

Credit card payments for Recreation Department programs will be accepted both at a terminal that will be available at the town office building as well as online transactions.  However, Selectman Hohenberger emphasized that town officials “are not forcing (Recreation Department) users to use a credit card” to pay for participation in a program.

A Decade of Adorable Horribles

by Lynne Ober

As Halloween weekend came to a close, the annual Pelham Horribles Parade kicked off.  This year marked a decade of adorable horribles.

“I’m really excited about how the community pulled together to make this the best event ever,” smiled Pelham firefighter Rich Hannegan.

The Pelham Firefighters Association sponsored the annual Spooktacular Horribles Parade and, as always, goblins, ghosts, and ghouls of all ages joined in the parade.  Because it was the end of a decade for this event, Hannegan began early on working to make it bigger and better.

While waiting for the parade, Sarah Patnaude, a fifth grader, dressed as Miss New Hampshire, was concerned about the boy who had died trick-or-treating the night before.

The actual parade kicked off at the middle school and marched down to Lyons Park where the SCREEEMFEST Hearse and two monsters from Canobie Lake Park were waiting.  Music filled the air and refreshments were bountiful — cookies, hot dogs, apple cider, hot cocoa, popcorn and, of course, Halloween candy ready in the huge shovel of the front loader pleased all the guests.

For the second year, there was a PTA pumpkin walk in the park.  Pelham residents donated carved pumpkins that sparkled in the dark.  This year, for the first time, a large movie screen was set up and attendees could watch Charlie Brown It’s the Great Pumpkin and the classic movie Beetlejuice.

“I’m looking forward to the movies,” said eight-year-old Madison Monette.

Some of the smaller ghosts immediately stopped at the toddler park in Lyons Park and began crawling and climbing.

“They will sleep well tonight,” smiled one parent.

The hayrides are always a hit.  Again, both scary and non-scary hayride options were offered.  Pelham students donned their favorite Halloween garb and created vignettes along the hayride routes.

“We have five haunted scenes this year,” said Hannegan.  “The students are great to help out, but there are really so many people who contributed this year that I can’t name them all.“

For the men and women of the Firefighters Association, the important thing is to host a fun family event that is free.

“No parent had to pay to attend this event or to get a drink or cookie or watch a movie.  The hayrides and just everything that we offered were free.  That’s so important to us,” said Hannegan.

Captions

Hor 09 (2) - Luke Estelle, almost 2, made an adorable lion!

Hor 09 (6) - Catie Bodenrader, 5

Hor 09 (13 and 14) - Ethan Boisvert, 9, and Faith Boivert, 7

Hor 09 (8) - Jason Chubb, 5, Catie Bodenrader, 5, and Rachel Chubb, 5

Hor 09 (20) - Jamie Taris, 7, Victoria Taris, 5, and Holly Bucker, 6

Hor 09 (10) - Moms take pictures of their horrible… smile!

Hor 09 (24) - The best looking witches… Kayli Keenan, 10, Brenna Conway, 9, and Caroline Joncos, 9

Hor 09 (42) - Waiting at Dracula’s Castle for some hayride participants were Shelly Jutras, 18, Nik Jutras, 13, Kendall Jutras, 15, and Katy Limerick, 12

School Teacher Awarded Fellowship

by Barbara O’Brien

Windham Center School fifth grade teacher Ashley Moore is already in New Orleans, Louisiana doing science-based research through a fellowship grant she recently received.  Moore left for New Orleans on October 22 for a 10-day expedition to study climate change and its effect on caterpillars.  The research project is the result of environmental changes which were wrought by Hurricane Katrina and includes regional parasites and their effects on crops.

While down south, the various teachers involved in the study program will be working with professors from Tulane University.  Moore said a total of seven teachers have received the same scholarship — teachers who make their homes and work in various parts of the country stretching from Oregon to North Carolina to New York to New Hampshire.  Six women and one man are among the teachers participating in the project.

The fellowship grant awarded to Moore is being made available through Earthwatch, a non-profit agency dedicated to investigating climatic changes.  Moore’s fellowship includes full payment of all involved costs, including round-trip airfare.  The grant also pays for a substitute teacher to replace Moore in the classroom while she’s in Louisiana.  Earthwatch is financed through HSBC Bank.  Also included in the Earthwatch fellowship is a $250 grant to be used for local conservation projects in Windham.  Moore will be working with local officials when she returns, to determine where the money can best be put to use.

As part of Moore’s fellowship in New Orleans, she will be teaching live from the field through video conferencing using Skype.  As a result, students in Moore’s fifth grade classroom will have the opportunity to watch Moore live in New Orleans.  Moore and her students will also be writing daily entries in an associated blog.  Moore has also arranged for her fifth graders to participate in E-Pals, a student-safe pen pal site.  They will be writing back and forth with students who live in New Orleans and who experienced Hurricane Katrina first-hand.

Moore hopes to visit with New Orleans teachers and students in person while she’s in the area.

“Do the kids in New Orleans speak English?” some of her Windham students wanted to know.  “Yes, they do speak English,” she laughed, “although their accent is definitely different than what you hear up here in New England.”

When asked why she thought she had been chosen to receive the Earthwatch fellowship, Moore said she’s been interested in scientific research ever since Christa McAuliffe became the first teacher in space.  Moore was in the fifth grade at the time the space shuttle ‘Challenger’ was launched.  In later years, Moore was involved in participating in a video broadcast from the top of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington during an overnight field trip to the region’s tallest mountain.  After graduating from college, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Environmental Education, Moore joined Americorps, a national service agency.  She has taught at Windham’s Center School for the past seven years.

“I’m very excited,” Moore said of her trip to New Orleans.  “This is a fantastic opportunity.”

To demonstrate what autumn is like in New Hampshire, Moore said she’s taking along some colorful fall foliage.

“In Louisiana,” she said, “the leaves just turn brown and fall off the trees sometime in December.”

Snow is a rarity, indeed.

School Superintendent Frank Bass congratulated Moore on her fellowship award.

“This is what we’re all about,” Dr. Bass said, “finding new opportunities for our teachers to learn new ways to educate our students.”

Bass said he hopes that Moore’s quest to further her own knowledge “will set the stage for others to follow.”

When she returns to Windham in early November, Moore said she plans to meet with school board members and present them with information pertaining to her experiences in New Orleans.

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