Governor Lynch Visits Griffin Memorial School
by Lynne Ober
Once again the Litchfield School Board is working on getting a new elementary school passed and built. Although the March election is months away, Litchfield School Board Chair Cindy Couture wanted to invite Governor Lynch to visit Griffin Memorial School to talk about the need for construction aid for their new school.
Governor Lynch accepted the invitation and had an in-depth tour of Griffin this past Tuesday. The morning opened with a welcome and a student choral presentation for the governor, who then addressed the students, stressing the importance of a good education.
Interim Principal Bo Schlichter, Ed Murdough from the Department of Education building aid, Roland Bergeron, Litchfield town building inspector, and Dan Cecil, architect, each spoke about the need for a new elementary school and why this was important to the education of Litchfield students.
Superintendent Cathy Hamblett and School Board members accompanied the governor on his tour. They showed him the 1930s building; how they use the stage area for storage, the boiler room, pre-school area, nurse’s office, art room, bathrooms, cafeteria, and kitchen before visiting some of the classrooms.
“I could spend all day with the students,” Lynch smiled as he asked first graders about their work and what they had been learning.
“We are very excited that he spent time with us this morning,” said Hamblett with a big grin.
Nottingham West Rewards its Summer Readers
by Maureen Gillum
Nottingham West Elementary School celebrated summer reading with a delightful ice cream party on a sunny afternoon last Friday in their outside courtyard.
The NWES administration, PTO, and reading specialists helped scoop and serve about 140 bowls of ice cream for each student who participated in NWES’ annual summer reading program. The minimum requirement for the program is to read at least five books over the summer and write about them in a submitted summer reading log. With the July 2005 release of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince topping the list of many NWES’ upperclassmen, many children read more than 1,000 pages last summer!
“Our main purpose is to simply encourage the kids to enjoy reading,” said NWES Reading Specialist Mrs. Matthews with her infectious smile. “We want them to get into the habit of reading in their free time over the summer, which also keeps their reading and comprehension skills sharp for school.”
A mature second grader, Julia Balukonis, revealed, “I did it because I like to read!” She cited Junie B. Jones and Arthur books as her “favorites” among her summer reading list.
Four of Mrs. Abbott’s first grade boys had a hard time deciding what their key motivators were for the program -- “summer reading is pretty fun,” they collectively admitted, in between ice cream slurps, “but we also really like the ice cream!”
2005 Tax Rate Increase of 4.2 Percent Proposed
by Doug Robinson
The Board of Selectmen for Hudson approved the motion for the 2005 tax rate to be set at $16.62, or a 4.2 percent increase over last year.
Kathy Carpentier, finance director for Hudson, provided documentation to the Board of Selectmen suggesting that the town use $1.45 million of the town’s $7.247 million in surplus to set the tax rate at approximately $16.62 per thousand. Last year’s tax rate was $15.95 per thousand.
According to Carpentier, using $1.25 million of the surplus as budgeted, an additional $200,000 as recommended and $689,896, voted from surplus for tax rate purposes, would leave a surplus of $5.11 million. This surplus is equal to 8.5 percent of fiscal year 2006 appropriations.
“Some of the figures used to calculate the estimated tax rate are not final at this time. There are certain revenues that the state supplies, such as rooms and meal tax. If we get more revenue than estimated what is the consensus of the board to use less surplus or use the additional revenue to decrease the tax rate?” Carpenter asked of the Board of Selectmen. The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to have any surplus dollars applied to the tax base.
Selectman MacLean commented to Carpentier that “not many people get a 4.2% raise.” Carpentier responded that the increases were not as a result of the selectmen’s side of the budget.
Selectman Stewart also commented that the “school side is driving the 4.2 percent rise in the tax rate. The selectmen side has not changed.”
As a result, the 4.2 percent tax increase will add an additional $182 in tax revenue for a house appraised at $175,000.
Hudson Selectmen Approve Plan “B” for HCTV
by Doug Robinson
Selectmen voted 4 to 1 (Cole voting no) to approve the Cable Committee’s proposed plan in to keep HCTV up and running.
The major change in this proposed plan is the replacement of a “service provider” with a facilitator. The Cable Committee has recommended that the town hire a facilitator whose responsibilities would include:
According to Michael O’Keefe, chairman of the Cable Committee, “The facilitator would work approximately 10 flexible hours per week. The recording of any meeting would be additional to these 10 hours. A minimum estimated standard of two hours was calculated for the recording of any meeting.” Appendix A of the HCTV Technical Support and Operations Services contract was used to calculate the yearly estimate. With this data, the Board of Selectmen has approved an annual salary of $12,000 to be paid to the facilitator.
Selectman Maddox stated that “I am looking for someone who has experience” while Selectman MacLean added, “I echo the same sentiments. According to Selectman Stewart the job description is being approved so that an ad can be run.
At one point during the meeting, Selectman Cole became argumentative and began peppering rhetorical questions at volunteer O’Keefe: While looking at O’Keefe over his glasses, he asked, “According to the Chairman’s (Massey) letter, we are looking for a contract … We do not have a new contract … Can the facilitator run a camera, How are they going to be paid?” When O’Keefe and Selectman MacLean both told Cole that the facilitator would ask the Cable Committee for advice, Selectman Cole snapped at O’Keefe and Selectman MacLean and said, “Are we making this up as we go along? You did not answer my question … How is the Facilitator going to be paid … Does the facilitator need to submit reports ...How did you come up with 10 hours per week?”
When MacLean attempted to answer, Cole interrupted him again: “Is there a limit (to the hours) … I am sorry I have the floor … This is not a way to run a business … I do not have a plan in front of me … Who do the camera operators work for?” Referring to the Selectmen, Cole ended his remarks by stating, “(You are) out of your mind to go along with this proposal.”
Selectman Maddox stated that you (Selectman Cole,) ... have “the cart four miles ahead of the horse, and (that we have a) group of volunteers … who will go back and fill in the parameters.”
The Cable Committee will finalize the responsibilities and expectations for the position of HCTV facilitator within the next few weeks. Subsequently, the Cable Committee will advertise for the position of facilitator and those interested may apply to the Town of Hudson, c/o Town Administrator, Steve Malizia.
Mark Your Calendars for Harvest Fest Fun
by Lynne Ober
It’s time again for Harvest Fest, a one-day fest filled with activities, food, car show, petting zoo, craft tables, fun and music. Beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 8, the fun continues until closing at 4:00 p.m. Located on the grounds at Hills House on Route 102 in Hudson, Harvest Fest has grown to be an entertaining day for everyone.
Crafters come to Harvest Fest from all over New England and it’s a great place to get a jump on your holiday shopping or buy that special something. Every year there’s a growing variety of crafts to choose from.
Alvirne’s Mechanic’s Club hosts a car show for car buffs. It’s a chance to see some oldies and talk to owners about restoration and upkeep.
Popular children’s games run throughout the day. Pumpkin painting will begin as soon as Harvest Fest opens and run throughout the day. It’s a great chance for your child to paint a personal Halloween decoration. At both 11:00 a.m. and again at 2:00 p.m. the always favorite Hay Stack Hunt will be held. Kids love to be able to jump into the hay and search for candy and treats.
Alvirne’s barn is open all day. They offer a petting zoo and a chance to see the farm animals used in the vet tech program at Alvirne. Pumpkins will be for sale and contests are offered by Alvirne vocational students.
This year there will be a special treat for children. A professional puppeteer will perform in the Great Room of Hills House at 2:30 p.m.
Prior to the Puppeteer’s performance, house tours and a photo display of Hudson from its past to the present will be offered at Hills House. Tours begin at 10:00 a.m. and end at 2:00 p.m. – just in time for everyone to gather for the puppeteer.
Music is always a big part of Harvest Fest activities. New this year will be a concert by the Rhythm of New Hampshire Show Chorus based in Derry. They were started by a group of women who wanted to be part of an innovative and exciting performing show chorus that is committed to musical excellence while promoting barbershop harmony, friendship and a joy of music. Rhythm of New Hampshire Show Chorus will perform at noon.
Alvirne’s award winning Marching Band will perform in the front field at 2:15 p.m. After their concert, they will depart for the Salem Band Show Day.
Food and baked goods are offered throughout the day. Be sure to stop by and enjoy all the best that fall and this great fest have to offer.
Playground Being Renovated at Hudson Elementary School
Nottingham West Elementary School (NWES) principal, Peter Durso asked the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) to look at the school’s existing playground and see if there was any way to raise funds to replace some of the equipment. The playground was installed about 15 years ago by volunteer parents and it was time to pay attention to it again. Some general wear and tear had occurred, along with some vandalism attempts to one of the slides. Some broken equipment needed to be replaced as well.
The NWES PTO eagerly accepted the project. Durso sent home a letter to all the parents explaining the school’s intent to fix up the playground. The PTO was met with enthusiastic response by many of the parents. They started with replacing some broken swings and removing a dented balance beam. Peter Ripaldi of Ripaldi Construction Services, father of a first grade student at NWES, volunteered his time, crew and equipment to this playground project. Other parents have stepped up to help with the planning and fundraising portions of the project.
Dave Yates, director of the Hudson Recreation Center has also assisted with this project. Having experience himself at replacing playground equipment, he has been willing to share his thoughts and ideas. This has turned into such a community effort from all levels. When it comes to the children, people really want to help the kids play safe and have fun. George Bailey, facilities manager SAU 81, has also been eager to help with this project. He has been consulted for safety issues, and has agreed to be part of the planning process. The PTO has been able to touch upon his expertise to make sure this project is done right.
The PTO has some great fundraising ideas planned for the upcoming year. With the support of the community behind the parents’ efforts, these fundraisers should help raise enough money to get the students a fully renovated playground by next year.
Litchfield Selectmen Review Budgets
by Lynne Ober
It’s that time again. Litchfield Selectmen are meeting with each department head on next year’s budget request. It’s always a balancing act of providing needed services to residents at a reasonable cost.
Although this is a laborious and time-consuming task, it prepares each department for its annual appearance before the Litchfield Budget Committee.
Last year the budget committee made a number of additional cuts in the town budget. Then winter storms were harsher than expected and snow removal costs mounted. Even after Road Agent Gerald DeCosta applied for FEMA grants to offset some of those costs, the snow removal budget was over-expended.
“Mother Nature was not nice last year,” said Board of Selectmen Chairman Cecil Williams, “and we’ve all had to tighten our belts to make ends meet.”
As a result, Selectmen are taking even more care to refer every line item in every budget. “We need to be well prepared by the time that this budget goes to the budget committee,” Williams said, “and I think that we will be.”