Woodbury School Honors Veterans

by Robyn Hatch


Henry Melanson and daughter, Mary Lou Sears

The Veterans Day Breakfast and Assembly at Woodbury School was a huge success this year, maybe because the current war has touched so many lives.  Principal Maura Palmer began with a welcome to all, followed by the Presentation of Colors by the well-trained Salem High School ROTC.  The Chorus led everyone into the Pledge of Allegiance, and then the incredibly moving POW/MIA Remembrance took place.  This ceremony is so touching and so well done by the ROTC students ... one not to be missed.  A quick recognition of special guests was next, followed by a very moving speech by Governor John Lynch.  Letters from dignitaries followed.  Matt Groch (graduate of Woodbury and Salem High School) represented Congressman Paul Hodes, and Kent Nolan followed representing Senator Judd Gregg.  The Jazz Band played Swinging Salute to our Veterans, acknowledging all branches of the Armed Forces.  There was not a dry eye in the auditorium.  The distinguished William Reddel, Adjutant General, spoke with Joe Byron, Honor Flight New England; both men explained what their company does to help the veterans.  The Chorus did a great job with a fast Patriot medley.  The key speaker, POW Herman Streitburger, gave a speech that came from the heart and touched everyone.  This 90-year-old soldier, who served from 1941 to 1945, was shot down on his last mission and captured for one year.  He only thinks positive about the United States and told the students that they are the future leaders.  He is upset, though, when he said some people are trying to cut expenses by not putting flags on the crosses of the veterans who have served.  He feels this is wrong and a big disservice to the people who have so bravely given their lives.  He was given a standing ovation and led back to his station.  The Student Council came forward and gave gifts to all in attendance.  A video and written essays finished the formalities.  Principal Palmer gave her heartfelt thanks to all who attended, and the day ended with special love for all veterans present.  It was clear that all were “Proud To Be American!”

Woodbury School held its annual Veterans Day Program hosted by the sixth grade students.  This celebration honors all veterans for their courage and bravery in their service to our country.  There are usually 200 veterans and guests in attendance.  One hundred and seventy-four students were involved in the choral part of the program; other students participated in making favors, reading essays, and greeting and escorting guests to the program location.  The eighth grade jazz band also performed.  The POW/MIA presentation was done by Salem High JROTC students.

Again, speakers for this year’s event included Governor John Lynch, Adjutant General William Reddel, and Joe Byron, founder of Honor Flight New England.  The keynote speaker was Herman Karl Streitburger, a New Hampshire World War 11 Prisoner of War.

The ending video was created by John Kelly, a music teacher at Woodbury School who is dedicated to the veterans — past and present.

All of the event material and food was donated by volunteers and local businesses, in recognition of the service our veterans gave to our country.  Every member of the Woodbury School family, along with members of the community, participated in the program by doing everything from decorating bulletin boards to greeting guests at the front door.  It was an honor and privilege for everyone to participate in this program.


Partners in crime


Joe Byron and Mary Griffin


Cindy McDermell - having fun with Peter Floriddia


POW Jerry Hebert and POW Herman Streitburger


A special thanks to very special people


The very moving POW ceremony


Keith Stickney, Salem High School graduate, soon to return to the war.

 Charter Commission May Have Broken State ‘Sunshine’ Law

by Jay Hobson

The commission chosen to draft a charter that could possibly change Salem’s form of government may have broken state “sunshine” or open meetings laws by meeting in private and without a recording secretary to record dialogue and negotiations between commission members which precipitated some members’ changing their votes during the private session.

The Charter Commission met in open session on Thursday, Nov. 5 to discuss and review the charter that the commission was to send to Concord.  The meeting, which was to have lasted only one hour because the Budget Committee was scheduled to meet in the same room of the town hall, the Knightly Meeting Room, discussed the charter as written from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m.

When Commission Chairman Robert Campbell called for a vote that would send the document to the state, the motion was made but not seconded and therefore failed due to a lack of a second.

After discussion from various members of the nine member commission as to what they felt was wrong with the document, Chairman Robert Campbell again called for a motion to send it on its way to Concord citing that differences could be worked out later but that there were time constraints that dictated the charter be sent on its way.

“We’ve got to send this to the state because they have 30 days to review it after they receive it and that brings us to Dec. 5 or later and then we’ve got 30 days to fix anything that the state says should be worked on, which brings us to Jan.5 when we need to submit it,” Robert Campbell said.

Campbell again called for a motion to send it to the state.  The motion was made again and when there was no second, the chairman relinquished the gavel to vice chairman Pat Hargreaves and made the second himself.

The measure failed seven to two with Arthur Barnes and Chairman Robert Campbell in the minority.  The document would not go to Concord.

During the course of discussion, the time allotted to the Commission to use the room expired and the Budget Committee had use of the room.

That is when according to commission member Stephen Campbell, Chairman Robert Campbell and six members of the commission went to a conference room upstairs at the town hall and made changes to the document in order to satisfy enough members to send it to the state.

“The budget meeting had begun and I was downstairs at that meeting along with (charter commission member) Arthur Barnes.  I am a member of the budget committee and Arthur is the selectmen’s representative to the budget committee.  Upstairs in the conference room, discussions were going on to make changes to the charter to get enough votes to send it to the state.  I don’t know how long we were in the budget committee meeting when we (Barnes and Campbell) were asked if we could have a recess in our committee so we could go upstairs and vote again.  We sought and received a recess and we went upstairs and the vote was taken again.  This time it passed seven to two,” Stephen Campbell said.  This time it was Pat Hargreaves and Stephen Campbell in the minority.

According to Stephen Campbell there were three essential changes made during Barnes’ and Campbell’s absence at the conference room meeting.

“Basically (commission member) Mike Lyons’ objection to a nine member town council was reduced to the lower seven member council which satisfied him was one changed, second, instead of district elections, elections would be town-wide and third, the elected town councilors would serve a three year term instead of the previously noted two year term,” Stephen Campbell said.

According to RSA Section 91-A:2 paragraph I, a meeting is “a quorum of the membership of a public body.”  The commission members meeting upstairs in private met that standard.

The law further states in RSA Section 91-A:2 paragraph II:  “All public proceedings shall be open to the public and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meetings of those bodies or agencies.”  According to Stephen Campbell, two members were not available to take part in the conference room negotiations because they were involved in the budget meeting downstairs and the public was not informed nor invited to the extended meeting or present to witness the proceedings.

RSA 91-A:3 paragraph I (a) says in part that “No body or agency may enter nonpublic session, except pursuant to a motion properly made and seconded.”  It is unknown and can never be verified that any such motion and/or second was made as according to Stephen Campbell, there was no record made of the activities in the closed-door meeting.

State law allows for closed-door meetings under certain guidelines.

Those guidelines are outlined in RSA 91-A:3 paragraph II which states in part, “Only the following matters shall be considered or acted upon in nonpublic session: a.) the dismissal, promotion or compensation of any public employee or the disciplining of such employee, b.) the hiring of any person as a public employee, c.) Matters that if discussed in public, would likely adversely affect the reputation of any person, other than a member of the body or agency itself, d.) Consideration of the acquisition or lease of real or personal property, e.) Consideration or negotiation of pending claims or litigation, f.) Consideration of applications by the adult parole board under RSA 651 A, g.) Consideration of security related issues bearing on the immediate safety of security personnel or inmates at the county correctional facilities, h.) Consideration of applications by the business finance authority, i.) Consideration of matters relating to the preparation for and the carrying out of emergency functions, including training … to thwart a deliberate act that is intended to result in widespread or severe damage to property or widespread injury or loss of life.”

Clearly none of the above scenarios were involved in the closed-door negotiations of the Charter Commission.

Commission member Pat Hargreaves said that he doesn’t know if the meeting upstairs broke the open meeting law.

“I don’t believe the meeting that we were having when it was necessary to move upstairs was ever recessed. The doors to the room were open and the town manager was there and (selectman) Everett McBride was there at some point,” Hargreaves said.

The Knightly meeting room downstairs that is used for public meetings is known to most citizens as a place for public discourse during open meetings, even when the rest of the building is closed. It is unclear as to what the public perception is of a conference room upstairs in a building that is essentially closed to the public, as it was after business hours and not in an area the public generally visits for meetings and therefore possibly recognized by the public as being off limits.

Stephen Campbell said that he brought the possibility of the illegality of the meeting to the attention of Town Manager Jonathan Sistare who according to Campbell said he brought it to the attention of Salem Town Counsel for his opinion.

The question that stands out is this: Can an open meeting move to a venue that is essentially closed to the public and still meet the open meeting law criteria or was the law broken when the commission moved upstairs and out of the public eye?

“All that had to be done when time ran out on our commission meeting was for the chairman to call for another public meeting to be held at another time and date. Now I doubt if anything can be done because it is so compromised,” Stephen Campbell said. 

Early Morning Fire Damages Salem Home

by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz

An early morning blaze Monday on Centerville Drive had an off duty fire lieutenant scrambling to get inside his neighbor’s home.

The fire was reported to Salem Fire Department at 5:49 a.m. Monday morning.  Off duty fire lieutenant Fred Doucette heard the call over his department issued radio. Lieutenant Doucette, who lives near the site of the fire was first at the scene and made entry into the split-level home at 26 Centerville Drive.  Doucette reported to Salem Fire dispatch flames coming from a front window of the home and heavy smoke condition throughout the residence.  Lieutenant Doucette made his way through the smoke filled home determined to make sure the occupants of the home made it out safely, shutting a bedroom door behind him, where the fire originated from to attempt to minimize fire extension through the rest of the home.

Initial first responders from Central Fire Station on Main Street arrived on scene at 5:52 a.m., a three-minute response time, according to Assistant Fire Chief Paul Parisi.  “The first companies on scene made sure that Lieutenant Doucette and the home’s two occupants had gotten out safely and then began an immediate aggressive interior attack to contain the blaze,” Chief Paris said.

According to Chief Parisi all companies cleared the scene at 7:38 a.m.  The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental.  A leak in a waterbed that leaked water onto the waterbed heater was the cause of the blaze.

Photos courtesy of Salem Fire Department

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