Scouts Honor Military at Fall Camporee
by Lynne Ober
The Litchfield Boy Scouts recently spent a weekend laughing and learning alongside local service people.
Boy Scouts usually gather together in both spring and fall to hold camp outs based around a theme. The Litchfield Scouts hosted the Arrowhead District fall camporee on the grounds of both Litchfield Middle School and Griffin Memorial School. The weekend was filled with activities that built skills and taught leadership techniques while incorporating a tribute to American military.
The weather couldn’t have been better for this event. The air was crisp, but not too cool. The sun shone brightly and Scouts of all ages tried their hands at a variety of fun skills.
Approximately 165 Cub Scouts worked at Griffin building pioneering monuments to honor servicemen and women. They invited military guests to help judge the tributes and to be their guests at lunch.
The Army brought, set up, and ran their climbing wall and the Air Force brought their inflatable F4 target throw tent. Not to be out done, the Army National Guard brought three Humvees and weapons and instructed the boys about their equipment.
The Cubs had lots of fun testing their skills and when the day was done, they joined with both Army and Air Personnel in a salute to the flag.
Meanwhile the Boy Scouts tested their skills on a search-and-rescue mission that required plenty of hard work, but brought lots of laughs and giggles to the Scouts as they worked together to show off their skills.
Adult Scout leaders set up a very challenging orienteering course that each patrol had to follow. They searched for a “pilot” who had gone down in the woods and needed assistance. The orienteering course was set up in the conservation land abutting Litchfield Middle School. “I know it’s very challenging,” grinned Dick Rafferty. “The boys are getting a good test of their compass reading skills today.”
Once a patrol mastered the orienteering course, they were able to find and rescue the pilot. The lost pilot was injured and the Scouts had to ask the right questions and then apply the correct first aid technique before “transporting their pilot.”
Once the pilot’s condition was appropriately stabilized and transport could begin, Scouts had to use materials they had in their backpacks and materials they found in the woods to make a stretcher to transport the pilot. They were given three water bags filled with soapy water and weighing a total of 150 pounds. They had to carefully transport the water bags back to base camp where they were verbally tested on their first aid knowledge and had to answer additional treatment questions. At each stop along the way, they were scored.
Once they passed the first aid quiz, they called command to get extraction for themselves and their injured pilot. Members of a ham radio club volunteered with radio support for this exercise.
After extraction they had to demonstrate their fire-making skills. Again, using what they had in their backpacks and what they could find, they had to build a fire. Some used a bow-and-friction technique, some used a battery and steel wool, and one group had a match. “We started our fire with one match,” chirped one happy Scout. “It’s a good thing because we only had one match.”
Next they moved to a station where they had to calculate height and distance in order to achieve a goal.
Their final challenge was to build a shelter. “There’s a bad storm coming from the Southwest. You need to make a shelter that will keep every person in the patrol and all your backpacks dry during the rain,” the Scouts were told.
If the patrol had a small number of boys, there was less conversation, but also fewer building ideas. Bigger patrols had a lot more ideas, and the leadership process evolved more quickly as the boys worked together and against each other in coming up with the best idea. Some patrols tried out two or more ideas before settling on the best shelter design.
Once again, the boys could use what they found in the woods as well as goods in their own backpacks. Although they could take as long as they wanted to build their shelter, a “watcher” would remind them that a bad storm was coming, so they had to work together.
As each patrol finally got its shelter built, the “watcher” called in the storm, which arrived with a heavy rain – about six inches fell in a minute thanks to the men of the Litchfield Fire Department who were having a wonderful time spraying the shelters with fire hoses.
After the storm passed and the boys quit laughing, they and their backpacks were inspected for wet spots and they received a score.
After dinner on Saturday night, there was a big campfire with songs, skits, stories and a talk about the history of Scouting complete with some antique Scout uniforms.
By Sunday morning the boys and adults were packing up. The camporee would remain only as a fond memory.
Quilting: The Gift of Love for a Mississippi Family
by Doug Robinson
The word “quilt” brings to mind many things. It can bring back memories of warmth, love and, above all, giving. To receive a quilt, especially one that is handmade, is a gift straight from the heart. It says, “I care about you. You are important to me. I want you to receive warmth.”
When Cindy and Steven Baker, Litchfield, learned that one of their relatives had been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, Cindy knew that she could use her talents of quilt making to help her extended family in a time of need. Cindy’s husband has family living in Gulfport, Mississippi. This Gulfport family received a direct hit from hurricane Katrina. Their beautiful home was reduced to only three standing walls, without roof, windows, doors or safety from the elements. The family, consisting of two adults and six children and one grandchild, borrowed a pop-up camper from a friend so that they could have shelter and safety from the elements.
Cindy wanted to help her extended family. For years, she has been making “memory quilts.” She started this hobby many years ago when her daughter lost a dear friend to cancer in the first grade. Cindy created a “memory quilt” for the family by asking each of the students in her daughter’s class to give her a picture so that she could create a keepsake showing the love and affection the students had for their stricken friend.
So, with her Gulfport family in need, Cindy created a “memory quilt” of Red Sox players from the 2004 World Series team, with the intention of raffling off the quilt. “I wanted to raise money for the family,” explained Cindy. “I did all the squares myself and it measured about 80 inches by 120 inches.”
The quilt was displayed at several locations to raise the much needed funds. “We displayed the quilt at a craft fair located at Wal-Mart in Merrimack, and we displayed the quilt at a couple girls’ varsity volleyball games in Litchfield.”
According to Cindy, “We raised close to $400 for our family in need. While Jack Kelly of Nashua won the raffle and now owns a beautiful handmade quilt, I think the real winners are the family members in Gulfport, Mississippi. They have been the true recipients of those things most remembered by the word ‘quilt’: warmth, love and, above all else, giving. It says, ‘I care about you. You are important to me. I want you to receive warmth.’”
Preliminary Traffic Study Suggests ‘Green Light’ for Hudson’s Traffic Congestion Issues
by Doug Robinson
The Hudson Board of Selectmen has authorized CLD Engineering of Manchester to proceed with design plans for the traffic signals at the Library Street and Central Street intersection. The board has also asked for geometric improvements at the Chase and Central Street intersection, as recommended by Community Development Director Sean Sullivan. In addition, CLD Engineering is to include signaling proposals at Library Park, striping modifications at Highland and Library streets, and the interconnectivity of Lowell Road and Library Street lights, totaling no more than $110,000.
During the September 27 Board of Selectmen’s meeting, CLD Engineering presented its preliminary findings and evaluations for the operations and signalizations of Library and Central streets as well as Chase and Central Street locations. Aerial photos, conceptual photos, and traffic data collected at eight intersections during morning peak, mid-day hours, and evening peak were used to discuss the suggested improvements. Their analysis of traffic movement involves NRPC (Nashua Regional Planning Commission) data, estimated growth data, capacity analysis, as well police accident reports. CLD Engineering studied these intersections in question during May and June.
After analyzing different options available to the town of Hudson, CLD Engineering suggested to the Board of Selectmen the following improvements to improve traffic flow through these streets: Install traffic lights at both Library and Central streets as well as Chase and Central streets; re-align the intersection of Library and Central so that the visibility is better for motorists entering onto Central from Library. As 50 percent of the westbound traffic on Central Street turns right, going north onto Library Street, the addition of a right-turn lane would be proposed as well as painting the center of the street yellow with specific traveling lanes both east and west. The sidewalks on both streets would need to be adjusted for better pedestrian flow. A raised intersection would be installed. The cost for this project alone would be about $325,000.
Along with a newly installed traffic light at the Chase Street and Central Street intersection, CLD Engineering also recommended that this intersection be re-aligned, as 90 percent of the cars traveling west on Central turn right onto Chase Street. A raised intersection would also be installed as well as special traveling lanes for motorists going in this direction. The cost of the Chase Street and Central Street improvement project is approximately $185,000.
While the proposal from CLD Engineering originally cost the town $91,000, Selectman Maddox made a motion to have a compete study seeking traffic improvements which also encompassed the intersections of Derry Road and Highland Street, Ferry Street and Library Street, and Central Street and Lowell Road. The motion passed and the new proposal estimate can not exceed $110,000.
Grant Will Ease Litchfield’s Budgetary Woes
by Lynne Ober
Back in January a huge snow storm hit the Southern tier of New Hampshire. Road crews worked long hours in an attempt to keep roads safe for drivers. When the storm finally ended, many snow removal budgets had suffered a gigantic hit with salt, sand, and pay for snowplow drivers, pushing those budgets into the red.
Then again in March another lengthy snow storm blanketed the Southern tier with white, fluffy flakes that again kept snow plow drivers working long, arduous hours. Many towns, including Litchfield, felt horrendous budgetary pangs as more unbudgeted dollars went to purchase salt, sand and salaries for the men and women who kept the streets clear and safe.
Litchfield’s road agent, Gerard DeCosta, applied for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants to help offset the large, unexpected costs of these two storms.
Litchfield Selectmen took the unusual action of freezing budgets because they knew that if they didn’t get FEMA grants, they would have to eliminate several projects in order to balance the budget by the close of the year. As they review next year’s proposed budgets, they are now hearing a familiar refrain. “We didn’t spend that money because of the budget freeze,” department head after department head announces.
Fortunately for Litchfield they will now be able to complete a few more budgeted projects because they have received FEMA grants. At a recently held selectmen’s meeting, they held a public hearing on accepting grant money.
Litchfield received two checks from FEMA. For the January 2005 storm, they received $28,392.31 and for the March 2005 storm they received $33,583.20.
With no public present to speak on the grants, Board of Selectmen Chairman Cecil Williams quickly closed the public hearing and asked selectmen for a motion to accept the monies. When Selectman Jack Pinciaro moved to accept the monies and Selectman Ray Peeples seconded the motion, the motion passed unanimously.
A Star Among Us at Campbell High School
by Lynne Ober
There’s a star burning a little brighter in Litchfield. Campbell High School Music Teacher Phil Martin was awarded the U. S. Department of Education American Stars of Teaching award.
While this prestigious award is given in every state and the District of Columbia, only one teacher per states gets it in any given year. This year Martin is New Hampshire’s recipient.
The award was presented to a surprised Martin last Friday by Michael Sentance, the New England representative to the U.S. Department of Education. It focuses attention on exemplary teachers who are successful in raising student academic achievement for all of their students, often through the use of innovative classroom strategies. American Star teachers are highlighted as representatives of the thousands of teachers who, regardless of the challenges they face, are making a positive difference in their students’ lives.
Friday’s ceremony was a surprise to Martin, but not to others, who carefully kept the secret. Both of Martin’s sons and his wife Sherry attended the award ceremony. They like the faculty and administration in Litchfield, had known that Martin was getting the award but were sworn to secrecy.
For Sentance it was especially poignant to give Martin this award because his own daughter had been cutting class, not doing her homework and, as a result, getting poor grades in high school. Then her music teacher took a special interest and went out of his way to encourage her. “On a day when my daughter was absent from class, he tracked her down and told her that she was talented in music and theater,” Sentence smiled. “He was able to convince her and she once again began attending her classes, doing her homework and her grades improved. She graduated from college with honors and I believe that this teacher gets all the credit. In my view, he saved her life.”
Martin, who thought he’d be a history instructor, also had a music teacher who was a mentor and who showed Martin that music could be so much more than just a hobby. “I had a wonderful high school music teacher who was a great influence,” Martin said. “He made me understand that music could be more than a social thing.”
From that moment on, Martin knew that he wanted to teach music, and 30 years later, he’s convinced that he made the right choice.
Today he teaches, band, guitar, and chorus at Campbell High School. When he’s around his students, one can easily see what a positive influence he is on their lives. Ask him about a class and his face lights up with a bright smile. His dedication shines through in every interaction with his students.
The American Star of Teaching award is given to a select few who are using innovative classroom strategies to make a profound difference for their students, regardless of the challenges they face. These are educators who have significantly raised student achievement, who are extraordinary teachers in the classroom, who were nominated by their peers, and who were selected by a committee of teachers at the Department of Education.
Even though Martin has joined an elite group, his dedication and caring will continue to be felt by his students in Litchfield.
Brandon Mansur Awarded Presidential Freedom Scholarship
Alvirne senior Brandon P. Mansur has been awarded a $1,000 Presidential Freedom Scholarship from the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Jean Serino Fund for Tolerance of Diversity. This is in recognition of his outstanding commitment to public service.
Brandon was Alvirne's representative to the 2004 Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Summit; he participated in a Congressional Student Leadership Conference; he was a student ambassador to Australia through People to People; he served as the lieutenant governor for the New Hampshire Division of Key Club, International, and he is currently an international trustee for Key Club. He attended the U.S. Air Force JROTC Honor Camp, as well as the Summer Leadership seminars at both the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. At Alvirne, Brandon is active in Student Council, Alvirne Ambassadors, Key Club, Model UN and SADD. He serves on the planning committee for both the United Way Youth Day of Caring and the Americorps National Youth Day of Service. He is also Alvirne's student representative to the Hudson School Board.
The Presidential Freedom Scholarship is a national initiative that promotes young people's leadership in community service. "Community service is an integral part of what it means to be an American citizen, and these young adults are exercising their duty with great distinction," explained David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation of National and Community Service. "We're proud to be able to offer these scholarships, which recognize outstanding service-related achievements; build community partnerships; provide educational opportunity; and spur other young people to get involved in service and volunteering."