Windham Rec’s First Craft Hour for Preschoolers a ‘Hearty’ Success
by Karen Plumley
While the groundhog was busy hiding from his shadow, the Windham Recreation Department hosted a well-attended craft hour for preschool-aged children on Friday morning, February 3.
Although registration was required, there were no fees associated with the activity. However, space was limited for the program. “I didn’t want to overload our first craft, so I limited the number of children to 12,” described Recreation Director Cheryl Haas. It didn’t take very long to fill the hour once the word got out. It is a popular time of year to hold such indoor activities; after the newness of holiday gifts starts to fade, families are usually looking to get out of the house for a while with their youngsters and enjoy enrichment activities.
The craft time was held at Windham Town Hall, and tables were bustling with 3 – 5-year-old children busily making Valentine’s Day crowns, hearts, picture frames, and special gifts for their moms. “At the end of the hour, we are going to send the moms out for a few minutes so the children can make their gift bags,” said Haas.
Haas greeted the crowd by introducing herself and then expressed her desire to host more similar craft activities this year. According to Haas, some of the special days in consideration for craft times include Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Halloween. The Recreation Department plans to spread the word for upcoming craft times via e-mail.
The Royal Red Hatters Transform into ‘Mad Hatters’ During Tea Party
Forty-seven members of The Royal Red Hats of Pelham attended the first gathering of the New Year on January 10. Fourteen new Red Hat Society members, who will be joining the March gathering, were added to existing teams for each month of the year, and captains were then chosen for each team.
Nominations and elections for the 2006 - 2007 year then took center stage. The following Red Hatters ran unopposed and elected: Queen, Therese Parent; Vice-Queen, Virginia Fichera; and Secretary/Treasurer, Dot Hill. The new officers will assume their duties at the March 14 gathering, the beginning of the new fiscal year.
Following the gathering, a “Mad Hatters” Tea Party was held. This event was planned by Captain Shirley Janocha and her team consisting of Terry Desell, Terri Johnson, Norma Robinson and Paula Hancock. A contest for the best teapot was held. All teapots were given a number and the members voted for their favorite one. Some of the members gave a brief description of the teapot they submitted for judging. Some women explained their teapots as being of historical value, some of sentimental value and still others were on the comical side. There were games and numerous prizes to choose from for those who were fortunate enough to be one of the lucky winners.
Garnering the most votes for best teapot and thus taking first place was Doris Tirrell with an antique pewter teapot dating back to the early 19th century. To the best of her knowledge, it was used at the Stone Cottage in Pelham when it was a stagecoach stop on the Boston to Concord, New Hampshire, run. Doris states that it was around 1840 when Stone Cottage was acquired by her family.
Second prize was Rayna Walsh’s white ceramic teapot, sugar and creamer that was glaze-trimmed in gold. It was handmade by Rayna’s beloved late mother, Estelle Beconvsky, about 45 years ago and has never been used.
Third prize went to Connie Lanseigne-Case with a Chinese teapot from the early 1900s owned by the Case family. In 1988, in a store in Kian China (found by Terra Cotta Army), an identical teapot was for sale; however, the characters were too old to translate by guide.
While the voting was taking place, a game called “Name the Profession” was held. A volunteer from the group had a hat placed on her head and based only on yes or no answers to the questions she asked of them; she had to guess what profession would wear that particular hat. Among the many hats worn, were gladiator, Santa, firefighter, Wizard, and a nurse’s cap.
The Mad Hatters Tea Party concluded with a luncheon of a wide variety of food and desserts served buffet style that was supplied by the Red Hat Sisters. The January team is to be commended for all their time and hard work that went into planning this fun and enjoyable event.
On February 2, many Red Hat Society members, wearing their red attire, attended the annual senior luncheon hosted by the Pelham High School National Honor Society. The meal was great and these bright young ladies and gentlemen did a marvelous job serving all those in attendance.
On Valentine’s Day, February 14, at the next scheduled monthly gathering, two psychics will be present to do readings followed by a chocolate fantasy party. This activity will be hosted by Captain and Vice-Queen Sue Hovling, Madeline Annis, Kathy Moreschi, Mary Glance, and Tricia Gill.
Fourteen new members will be welcomed at the March 14 gathering: Georgette Aubrey, JoAnn Bell, Joan Berard, Lorraine Bragan, Donna O’Dette, Marilyn Hogan, Cecile Jussaume, Helen Kennedy, Simone Lausier, Joyce McDevitt, Helen Michaud, Florence Parece, Blanche Petroski, and Rita St. Onge.
Members will attend Lord of the Dance at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Thursday, March 30. The cost includes the price of admission, transportation and tips. In charge of this March activity is Team Captain Terri Parent and the members of her team are Jackee Sonia, Heather Oriole, and Doris Tirrell. Those wishing to attend should contact the Pelham Senior Center as soon as possible.
The 2006 - 2007 dues are now due and should be paid by April 15.
Reducing Tax Burden by Improving Facilities at Pelham Veterans’ Memorial Park
by Lynne Ober
Who wants to get up, switch on the TV, and see a negative story about their town? Well, that’s what happened to Pelham residents in the summer of 2003 when 20 people involved with the summer children's playground program were hit by lightning. ABC’s Good Morning America highlighted the incident.
This occurrence made apparent the need for expanded facilities to ensure a safely-run summer camp. Since then Pelham has closed its summer camp if there is a threat of bad weather; there is no place to safely shelter campers and staff during summer storms.
Selectmen are going to try to change that situation and provide other needed improvements at Pelham Veterans’ Memorial Park. “We want to add some facilities for seniors too,” said Parks and Recreation Director Darren McCarthy.
The proposed improvements will not all come at taxpayers’ expense. McCarthy has developed a plan to replace the lodge with a bigger facility that could be rented out to produce revenue. “This building could pay for itself within five to 10 years,” smiled McCarthy. “An informal study has found that ‘gym space’ for one single court can be rented for $50 - $75 per hour in facilities surrounding Pelham. If Pelham decides to build its own gym space, the $50 - $75 per hour could be used to pay for the facility replacement costs.”
McCarthy also envisions that the large conference/meeting room could be rented for birthday parties and other functions.
McCarthy estimates that the Parks and Recreation Department will spend well more than $6,000 to the school district just for gym rental fees related to programs in fiscal year 2005. “We have received indications from the school business manager that costs will rise as much as 30 percent for gym rental fees through the schools in fiscal year 2006 because their costs are going up too,” said McCarthy. “With a new facility at PVMP we could eliminate some of those costs.”
“The additional revenues created could be used to completely off-set the cost of the replacement lakeside buildings; additional employees and/or operating costs of the facility,” stated McCarthy.
What is now Pelham’s Veterans’ Memorial Park was purchased in 1951 by Lowell YMCA. At the time of the purchase it had been Camp Alexander. The YMCA built the lakeside restroom building and lifeguard shack. In 1954 the YMCA built the existing lodge building and put in an artesian well for drinking water.
In 1976 at a special town meeting, the town of Pelham voted for a bond to purchase Camp Alexander for $150,000 (that bond was completely paid by 1981). In 1980 voters approved the $10,000 Camp Alexander master plan. The roof on the lodge was shored up and re-shingled in 1982. The lodge restrooms received $2,686 in renovations in 1983. In 1986 the town updated and expanded the septic system and leech field. Also in 1986 the lakeside restrooms were renovated and expanded. In 1996 the town installed alarm systems in all buildings, but the reality is that the buildings are so primitive that they are only used in the summer.
In 2003 and early 2004 vandalism damage resulted in more than $2,500 in losses and repairs. According to police reports most of the vandalism occurs in the months when the park is not heavily used by recreation programs. With a new facility with basketball courts, the park would be used year-round which McCarthy believes would have a positive impact. “The park won’t be empty so it will be less likely to be vandalized.”
In 2004 all buildings received updated electrical systems. Also, in 2004, the chimney was removed from the lodge building and a window at the lifeguard shack was sealed over to prevent vandals from accessing the buildings.
Currently, all restroom facilities show signs of heavy use and need to be updated. McCarthy estimates that 400 to 500 people a day use the restrooms in the summer months.
Every building has roof leaks and all of the old roofs on all of the buildings need to be removed and replaced.
The lodge building also shows signs of wear and is too small. Replacing it will allow the camp to remain open on rainy days and provide the participants with safe shelter as well as provide additional recreational facilities that could be used year round.
None of the buildings meet current building codes.
McCarthy admits that the programs are running at capacity with children placed on waiting lists. Replacing the lodge with a larger gym facility would alleviate this issue. “We could accommodate all of the children. That would have a positive impact on Pelham families.”
The new gym facility would also make it possible for the summer camp to move indoors in case of rain. “Canceling summer camp has a very negative impact on Pelham families who count on us to provide safe care and programming for their children.”
“This project will positively affect every family in Pelham in one way or another because the facility is begin designed for multi-purpose, not just a gym for basketball,” said McCarthy. “If you look at our program numbers you will see that we have 550 in fall soccer, 450 in youth basketball, 300 in indoor soccer, 300 in summer camp, 24 in adult volleyball, 24 in adult basketball, 40 in adult yoga. Even with some overlap, in those programs alone we are talking in the area of 1,000 - 1,500 families / households.
McCarthy envisions that the new facility would have a walking area for seniors as well as allow craft, sports collectible, flower shows. It will have a large conference and meeting space.
“The lodge replacement building at the park will be open at least 360 days of the year and at least 16 hours per day,” said McCarthy. “It will be an important resource for many in town. Not only will the new buildings be built to deter damaged caused by vandals, but the vandals themselves will have little time to do their damage without being caught based on the number of hours that the facility will be open and used.”
People have asked about the location of the proposed gym, but McCarthy is aware of the capacity at all of Pelham’s recreational facilities. “Muldoon Park has a higher volume of use than any other park in the Pelham Parks and Recreation system. The highest volume is during Little League season, May through June; Recreation Soccer season, September through October; and Razorback Football season, August through November. During these seasons, the available parking is maxed out to the point where some families actually park on Mammoth Road, Route 128, causing unsafe and hazardous conditions. Were a large indoor facility to go on this property the parking impact would be too much for the current site to handle.”
The reality is that the infrastructure (with some minor improvements) is already in place for the facility improvements such as this. “The lodge replacement project also meets the needs of the summer program by providing a safe indoor facility large enough to contain the entire summer program,” stated McCarthy. “At PVMP a dedicated parking area for the facilities could be created without any adverse impact on any other programs. Land is available at PVMP without taking away existing field or trail space. It’s a win – win solution that will meet the needs of all ages in Pelham.”
Boy Scout Troop 263 Participates in Klondike/Freeze-Out
Windham Boy Scout Troop 263 sent two sleds to compete in the Klondike/Freeze-Out which was held on January 6 – 7 at the Pelham Fish & Game Club. Scoutmaster Spanos reported that both teams did an excellent job at the Klondike competing at stations along the course. Stations involved map and compass, nature ID, obstacle course, lashings, and more. The White Stripes patrol received a trophy for third-place overall! The Redneck patrol received an honorable mention plaque for their performance at the cooking station! Great Job, Scouts.
Windham Supports Regional Transportation Plan
by Lynne Ober
Rockingham Regional Planning Commission has been working on a regional transportation system. Senior Transportation Planner Scott Bogle discussed the details of such a system with Windham Selectmen.
Bogel told selectmen that a three-year grant had been secured to fund much of the pilot program and reported that the state, under HB 568, is supporting this concept.
HB 568 established the Greater Derry - Salem Cooperative Alliance for Regional Transportation as a “public body corporate and politic having a distinct legal existence separate from the state and not constituting a department or agency of the state government to be known as the greater Derry - Salem cooperative alliance for regional transportation, also known as CART. Creation of this regional transit alliance is a key recommendation of the greater Derry - Salem regional transportation plan, completed in 2003 by the Rockingham Planning Commission, Southern New Hampshire planning commission, and Nashua regional planning commission. The public purpose of CART is to acquire, own, and operate or cause to be operated a regional public transportation system serving the citizens of the CART region, which is the only urbanized area in the state of New Hampshire that lacks regular transit service. Municipal participation in this regional system will be voluntary, though provision of transit service to any individual municipality will be based on financial participation.”
According to Bogle, the project is designed to increase access to transportation services for senior and disabled residents by coordinating, scheduling, and dispatching services across a wide range of agencies and by leveraging federal and regional funding to support the program.
Bogle reported that a Board of Directors, from the five towns [Salem, Derry, Plaistow, Hampstead, and Danville] that did approve funding, had already been established and was working on bylaws and procedures. “They are clearing a number of hurdles. As other towns agree to provide funding, they will also have a seat on the Board of Directors, but no town will be allowed unless it pays its share of the funding.”
According to Bogle a regional call center will be established that will coordinate rides and will use vehicles already owned by entities, such as the van owned by Windham, to provide rides when that vehicle would otherwise just be sitting. “The center will coordinate scheduling and dispatching. We want to get multiple people on each vehicle in order to maximize services,” Bogle stated.
The three-year grant from the Endowment for Health would allow towns served by the regional transit system to evaluate the effectiveness for its residents. Bogle pointed out that there is no obligation to join, and, if a town joins, but decides that it is not getting value, it can withdraw.
Windham’s portion of the grant would be seven percent or $3,100 in year one. In year two, it would be $6,600 and in year three it would be $10,300. For this money the town would receive an estimated 570 trips a year based upon the percentage of the town’s contribution.
Annette Stoller, RRPC Chairman, said that if 200 residents of Windham utilized the service the cost would only be $.05 per day per person. She urged Selectmen to support this request and pointed out that the elderly population is growing.
Barbara Coish said she felt that the town van service worked well now and that the money should be used to pay a stipend to volunteer drivers instead of joining a regional transportation system.
Lee Mahoney disagreed and pointed out that more elderly housing was being built every year in Windham. She urged selectmen to join the regional transportation system.
Selectmen discussed scheduling and wear and tear on the van if they joined the regional transportation system.
After Selectman Alan Carpenter moved to join the regional transportation system and add $3,100 to the budget, Selectman Bruce Breton seconded.
Wayne Morris approached selectmen and suggested that Wal-Mart be approached for a grant to pay part or all of these monies.
When Town Administrator David Sullivan asked if joining would be a duplication of services, explaining that the town contributes to the Community Caregivers and the Great Derry Regional Transportation organization, Bogle replied in the negative and noted that funding from Windham assists to keep those organizations’ vehicles on the road and available for use.
The motion passed 3 – 1 with Selectman Roger Hohenberger voting no and Selectman Margaret Crisler absent.
Pelham Has Ballot Openings for Three Positions
by Lynne Ober
Across the state, there are openings on town ballots. The same holds true in Pelham where three positions have no one signed up to run.
A one-year opening on the Budget Committee remains open as does a three-year library trustee position.
Pelham, which had all three of the trustee of the Trust Fund positions open, will go to the March ballot with one position for a two-year term open.