Second Annual Easter Egg Hunt on the Green Goes ‘Eggs-tremely’ Well
by Lynne Ober
More than 600 people attended the second annual Easter Egg Hunt on the Village Green. Pelham Parks and Recreation Director Darren McCarthy once again orchestrated a fun event for all ages.
Four thousand and fifty eggs were spread across the green. That’s right – 4,050 eggs. They dotted the green grass with the pastel colors of spring. As each child arrived, you could see the gleam in their eyes as they looked at the field of eggs.
Fifty of the eggs were “special.” Thanks to the generosity of the Fuzzy Cow in Hudson, these special eggs had a piece of paper awarding a toy to the finder. Toys could be picked up the week following the hunt at the Recreation Office.
Orange tape was used to keep early participants from starting. As the crowd gathered, parents chatted with each other, enjoying the balmy day, and the kids anxiously eyed all those eggs.
When the Easter Bunny came out of Town Hall, he was met by his adoring fans. The Easter Bunny toured the perimeter of Village Green, stopping by each child. He let participants choose an Easter Bunny pencil from his basket.
After he had talked to every child, he moved to the center of the Village Green and raised his arms to start the hunt.
Within two minutes all those 4,050 eggs had been scooped up into baskets. Families were sitting on the green, opening eggs and enjoying the warm sunshine.
Next year McCarthy says there will be even more eggs, but he was delighted not only with the weather but that families stayed on the Green to chat and play after the hunt was over.
Celebrating the Boston Marathon While Serving in Iraq
by Lynne Ober
How do you keep your spirits high while serving in a war zone? If you are in Iraq, one way is to celebrate the Boston Marathon, Iraq style, and that’s just what Pelham resident Army Captain Chuck Chapman did.
OLN television network, together with the Boston Athletic Association and the U.S. Military, supported their continued partnership in covering the second-annual Iraq/Boston Marathon this past Patriot's Day.
Because Patriot's Day, every third Monday in April, not only marks the annual running of the prestigious Boston Marathon but also honors the anniversary of the first battle of the American Revolutionary War, a holiday commemorating one of the defining moments of America's pursuit of freedom, it seemed like the ideal combination for the military and BAA. By continuing this sponsorship, it also serves as a reminder to everyone of the courageous acts of U. S. soldiers dedicating their lives to the global war on terrorism.
The 2006 Iraq/Boston Marathon took place on Base Camp Adder, the former Tallil Airbase, located southwest of the city of An Nasiriyah in Southern Iraq – the same location as last year's race. The base is home to many coalition partner countries' forces and every branch of the U. S. Military, who all have representatives in this second-annual race. The 26.2- mile route will be contested near one of Iraq's most famous archeological and religious sites, the Ziggurat of Ur. Dominating the terrain of the area, the ziggurat is a 4,000-year-old, 40-foot temple tower of the ancient city of Ur, leading among the old Sumeria cities of Mesopotamia.
An estimated 150 individual runners and 150 four-person relay teams will compete in the marathon, for a total of 750 troops, and more than 100 volunteers will staff the event.
OLN and the BAA did their part to give the race the feel of the real Boston Marathon. Both groups are providing signage and the BAA is donating race programs, relay batons, official break tape, Boston Marathon medals, certificates, and collector's pins for finishers and olive wreaths for the champions. The BAA will be sending representatives to the race to help with the orchestration of the event. The groups are also providing race numbers, T-shirts, and water bottles and giving soldiers a chance to say hello to their loved ones back home throughout the telecast.
The inaugural race was the brainchild of Captain Rodney Freeman of the 1-172 FA (RAOC) NH National Guard, based out of Manchester, New Hampshire. Captain Freeman, who has completed his tour of duty, will be a special guest of the BAA at this year's race. In addition, the BAA has extended a courtesy to all military personnel who have served in Iraq, waiving the qualifying standards for those who wish to run the race in Boston.
Captain Chapman said, “I actually ran on a relay team. Our team ran the 26.2 miles in 3:53:47. I actually ran the last 6.3 miles in temperatures over 100 degrees.”
He has been training by running three days a week. Captain Chapman starts his training runs at 6 a.m. on Saturdays, Mondays, and Wednesdays. “I have been running six miles one day, four miles another day and sprints the last.” The last Saturday before the race he ran eight miles.
Now that his marathon run is over, he plans to start training for a race being held May 26. “I will start training tomorrow for a ten-mile race on 26 May here in Tallil, Iraq. There is a ten-mile loop around the base which I have run once since I've been here. “
Captain Chapman has been in Iraq since October 2005. “This is my second tour in Iraq. I have been in the Army for 18 years (14 active and four National Guard).”
“My family has been living in Pelham for about 32 years. My parent and youngest sister Heather Lynn Chapman still leave on Kennedy Drive. I graduated from Pelham High in 1987 and joined the Army. I left active duty in June 1993 and went to college at U-Mass Lowell. I graduated and got my commission December 1997 as a Quartermaster Officer.”
Captain Chapman hopes to be with his wife, Heather Rechelle Chapman, and two sons (Paul, 17, and Nathan, 1) in Germany in less than six months. Until then you can write to him at: CPT Chuck Chapman, HHC 16th CSG, APO AE 09331. Why don’t you drop him a line and thank him for serving America?
Repair Costs Over Budget at Pelham Schools
by Diane Chubb
Every month, the Pelham School Board receives a report from SAU Business Manager Brian Gallagher. The report details where all of the money from the school district budget is spent, which lines are on target, and which are over their budget. Within six months of the fiscal year, all three Pelham schools were well over the budget for repairs and maintenance.
Some of the costs are routine maintenance. For instance, the elevators and fire alarms in the buildings must be inspected annually. The floors in the gymnasium are re-coated every few years. Buildings and parking lots must be repainted.
However, costs for routine maintenance and unexpected emergencies are included in the same budget line. For the unexpected emergencies that arise during the school year, there is no choice as to whether to complete these repairs, as they involve issues of student safety.
At Pelham Memorial School, the cafe had to be cleaned due to the repairs made to the roof over the cafeteria. When the sub-roof was removed, it caused ceiling debris to drop on both the cooking and eating area. Because this mess occurred the week before school was set to open in August, an outside cleaning company had to be called in to sanitize the entire area at a cost of more than $4,300.
More than $7,000 was spent installing sprinklers over the stage area at PMS. “When the portable classrooms were voted down last year (March 2005), we were forced to do expensive work in the stage area because the instrumental classes had to stay in that area for instruction,” said PMS Principal Cathy Pinsonneault. “The Fire Department also required a different door from the stage area per fire regulations.” The cost for the door was more than $1,100.
Another $1,000 was spent painting the outside poles to remove the lead paint that had been used in the past. Another $2,800 has been spent to repair boilers that were smoking and/or not working properly.
At Pelham Elementary School, the fire door kept malfunctioning every time there was a power outage. Repairs were $600.
State law requires that elevators be functioning. So when the elevator needed fixing, the cost was more than $1,000.
The cafeteria at PES also prepares the lunches for all Pelham and Windham schools, more than 2,000 lunches every day. “If something breaks in there, we have to fix that immediately,” says PES Principal Alicia LaFrance. “That area is where most of my repairs occur.” So far, more than $1,300 has been spent repairing plumbing related to the cafeteria.
Pelham High School has its share of repairs and maintenance as well. New locks for all lockers were installed, which cost more than $4,000. Over $1,800 has been spent to repair fire alarm devices that failed during the annual inspection. The boiler needed repairs that cost more than $1,500. Doors were replaced in two science rooms for more than $800. Replacement of some duct work was over $800. Emergency hallway lighting cost over $600.
All three schools have had significant expenses for repairing and maintaining equipment used for landscaping.
Chair Mike Conrad asked to discuss the repair issues in more detail at the last Pelham School Board meeting. The Pelham schools are all significantly over the budgeted amounts for repairs and maintenance.
After the repair budgets were reviewed, member Linda Mahoney observed that some of the costs were not emergencies, but rather standard maintenance issues. “Why are we at every school under budgeting this line?” she asked.
“An excellent observation,” stated Gallagher.
Gallagher first reminded everyone that the budget they are looking at is for 2005 - 06 (not the budget just voted in March). He then went on to explain that the job of the SAU office is to work with the school boards to go through the budget process and make recommendations on where the money should be spent. The SAU and the School Board then go to the Budget Committee with these budget recommendations.
However, the Budget Committee has not agreed with the recommendations of the School Board and has continued to level fund the repair and maintenance lines of the budgets for each school. As a result, the schools are always over their budgets for these line items.
For instance, as listed in the chart accompanying this article, the board had recommended that the repair budget for PMS be set at $50,000. The Budget Committee reduced this line to $13,500. PMS has already spent over $40,000 on repairs, and is now approximately $29,000 over its budget.
“When the numbers come out, it puts us in an uncomfortable position,” said Gallagher. “The expenditures in this area are unpredictable and with the older facilities, are high. We work with what is budgeted, but our responsibilities and duties are to make repairs as we go along.”
Conrad stated that the budget lines for repairs and substitute teachers were always significantly over-extended because they are level funded every year. He indicated that he sent the latest repair itemization to Budget Committee members John Lavallee and Dennis Viger.
Mahoney, who was the School Board Budget Committee Representative last year, asked whether the information regarding these items had been presented to the Budget Committee. “The Budget Committee is naturally concerned with money. If we can't go before the Budget Committee and plead our case and explain to them why we are asking for the money that we are asking, then shame on us.”
Gallagher answered that they would try to bring more data this year. However, he said, “We find in our experience, at least in the last two years, sometimes the information is helpful, sometimes the information is just information.”
Mahoney was the School Board representative to the Budget Committee during the last round of budget discussions. As representative, it was her responsibility to present the information to support the board's budget requests.
Unfortunately, the school district budget for the 2006 - 07 school year does not include any increases in the budget lines for repairs or substitute teachers. However, according to Gallagher, the situation was somewhat different.
After weeks of hearings, going through each and every line of the budget, the Budget Committee set a bottom line dollar amount for the three Pelham schools.
“With that in mind,” says Gallagher, “Elaine (Cutler) and I worked with the principals to hit the target bottom line for each school.” Although additional funds had been requested for several of the lines of the budget, “we simply choose to flat fund knowing we will have to overspend anyway. But we wanted to show cooperation by complying with the Budget Committee request to hit a dollar target for each school.”
Gallagher admitted, “This is certainly not the best budget system, but since we were held to the bottom line of a $20 million-plus budget we needed to more forward.”
Windham seems to have done better with budgeting repairs. As Windham has no Budget Committee reviewing its budgets, the School Board has sole discretion to set the lines in the school district budget. For instance, Windham Center School is less than $1,500 over its repair budget, spending $18,350 of its $17,000 budgeted amount.
However, neither Pelham nor Windham has any set methodology for calculating the budget for repairs. The recommendations seem to be made only on the basis of past expenses.
Other area towns calculate their repair and maintenance budgets for the school district differently. For instance, Hudson and Litchfield set their repair budgets at a certain dollar amount per square foot of space in the buildings. In addition, they have separate budget lines for inspections, such as fire alarm testing or elevator inspections. Painting, field maintenance, and one-time repairs, such as locker replacement, are also included as separate line items.
Windham Animal Hospital Helps at Town Rabies Clinic
by Lynne Ober
It was a cloudy, breezy, chilly April day when the annual rabies clinic was held in Windham. Owners were given rabies certificates and pets were given rabies shots. The clinic is sponsored by the town, and Town Clerk Joan Tuck was working the registration table and helping out in any way that she could.
Dr. Tim Butterfield from Windham Animal Hospital worked tirelessly giving rabies shots to dogs and cats.
Dr. Butterfield brought all the supplies and paperwork so that owners could immediately get a license for their pet.
The clinic got off to a slow start because many parents had first taken their children to the Easter egg hunt, but was picking up customers as people went home and got their pets for their shots.
Benson’s Wild Animal Farm’s Gorilla Passes Away
by Doug Robinson
“Tony,” the 6-foot, 500-pound gorilla who lived for many years at Benson’s Wild Animal Farm in Hudson, passed away at the beginning of April. When Benson’s Wild Animal Farm closed it doors, Tony lived out his remaining years at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Born in Africa in 1966 the 40-year-old gorilla’s death will leave a void that will never be able to be filled. He passed away while undergoing a root canal and a routine physical. He never came out of the anesthesia.
While at the Cincinnati Zoo, Tony was renamed, “Colossus,” as it was learned that he was the largest gorilla in captivity. Colossus was considered “the showcase gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo” stated the Cincinnati Enquirer. The 40-year-old western lowland silverback was only one of 346 western lowland gorillas in captivity in North America and “less than 75,000 lowland gorillas survive in the world” according to the zoo’s website.
Teri Roth, the zoo’s vice president, stated, “That’s the risk you run with older animals and anesthesia. Our veterinary staff has already done the necropsy and sent out samples for analysis. They won’t be back for weeks, but we expect them to confirm our initial findings of simple cardiac arrest,” reports the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Dr Al Conti, Hudson Animal Hospital, fondly recalls taking care of Tony for many years while Tony was at Benson’s Wild Animal Farm. “He was a well-loved character and he had his antics. In 1984 or 1985, he got out of his cage one night and we had a difficult time getting him back into his cage. We tried to administer drugs orally to him; however, he refused to take the drink. After several hours, he did not move far, and he did return to his cage on his own. While at Benson’s, we did dental work on Tony, physical exams, and some blood work too. He was always in good condition.”
When Benson’s Wild Animal Farm closed its doors in the late 1980s, Tony was sold to the Gulf Breeze Zoo in Florida. From the Gulf Breeze Zoo, the Cincinnati Zoo purchased Toni in 1993, in hopes that Tony would be able to help propagate the gorilla population in the Cincinnati Zoo.
Because of his unconventional upbringing and his isolation from an early age, Tony was never taught the social skills needed and he quickly gave the female gorillas the “brush off” and took on the responsibility of becoming a father figure to the troupe of three females. The zoo was able to “harvest and freeze some sperm, so there is still hope that he’ll be able to produce offspring, probably by in-vitro fertilizations,” reported Roth. Tony’s unique genetics are still hoped to be introduced to the zoo population.
For days after Tony’s death, hundreds of children lined the paths throughout Gorilla World with signs stating, “Good luck in the trees of monkey heaven,” “You was big good,” and “We were one day too late.”
Zoo officials state, “He was our ambassador. There were so many people who came here because of his charisma, and that helped us educate people on the bigger picture, the plight of gorillas in the wild.”
Tony leaves no next of kin.
Pelham and Windham Fare Better than State Average on NECAPs
by Diane Chubb
The reports with the individual performance for each student for the New England Common Assessment Program) tests were sent home to parents this week with students’ report cards. The SAU office also included an information sheet describing the test and providing the results from across New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Department of Education recently released the results of the tests which were administered in October 2005.
Assistant Superintendent Roxanne Wilson reported to both the Pelham and Windham School Boards regarding the results of the test.
Wilson pointed out that this was the first year that New Hampshire had participated in a test such as this. In October 2005, the test was administered to public school students from New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island to measure proficiency in reading, mathematics and writing. The test was developed as part of compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act, which requires that all states annually measure achievement of students in Grades 3-8, and in one high school grade.
The information from the test scores will be used to gauge the current curriculum and instruction, and to make improvements to ensure that students are meeting the common set of objectives known as Grade-Level Expectations. GLEs define the skills, concepts, or content knowledge a student should be able to demonstrate at each grade level.
The test results showed that Pelham and Windham students did better than the state average in reading and mathematics. However, Pelham students were below the state average on the writing exams.
“The students were exposed to testing they had never seen before,” explained Wilson. The writing portion of the test assesses five writing content clusters: Structures of Language, Writing in Response to Literary or Informational Text, Narratives, Informational Writing (Reports, Procedures, Persuasive Writing), and Writing Conventions.
The New Hampshire Department of Education website includes practice questions in all three areas tested. For one sample question on the fifth grade writing test, students are provided a list of information about frogs and toads. The question then states, “Write an introduction to a report about frogs and toads. Choose some information from the fact sheet to set the context/background for your report. Be sure to include a focus sentence in your introduction.”
A sample from the eighth grade test asks students “Do you think that school should start and end two hours later each day? Write a persuasive paragraph for your school newspaper developing one argument supporting your opinion.”
Wilson stated that she will be looking at the results and working with teachers to make sure they are using the same terminology in the classrooms. They will also be working with students to improve writing skills in the areas assessed by the test.
Whereas the prior test, NEAP only tested three grades, the NECAP tests at every grade. “Looking at the data has tripled my workload and will triple the workload of teachers in order to look at all the data,” said Wilson. However, she stated that she is glad to have this information for every grade level.
“Now that we have some idea of what is being asked of kids, we also have the ability to look at what it is we need to put in our instruction,” said Wilson.
More information is available at the New Hampshire Department of Education website located at www.ed.state.nh.us .
Pelham Reval Update for the Month of April
During the month of April 2006 Vision Appraisal Technology data collectors working for the Town of Pelham, will be measuring and inspecting homes located in Tax Maps 7, 8, 14, 17 and 21. Vision will also be conducting inspections of all commercial, industrial, and mixed-use properties during the months of April and May.
These areas include the following streets/neighborhoods:
Contact the Pelham Assessor's office at 635-3317 with any questions or concerns about this process.
These data collectors will have photo identification, and a description of their cars and license plate numbers will be on file with the Pelham Police Department and with the town offices of Pelham. In addition to listing properties, digital photographs of the exterior of each property will be taken. The entire process of measuring the home, inspecting the interior, and taking a digital photograph takes approximately 15 minutes.
Ron Doyon from Corcoran Consulting and Keith Gagnon from the Department of Revenue Administration are monitoring the work done by Vision Appraisal Technologies. This means they will be in the field and actually re-measuring to verify the work done as well as meeting with homeowners. Doyon and Gagnon also carry identification with them.
If a homeowner is not there when a data collector calls, he/she will stop by again at a later date. If homeowners are still unavailable to meet with a data collector, they will be sent a letter with a phone number to call to make an appointment. This will occur sometime in the spring of 2006.
Will an Expanded Pelham Senior Center Be Enough?
by Lynne Ober
Pelham Senior Center is much too small for its 700 members. As a result, the three-year plan’s central theme is expansion, but Selectman Hal Lynde wondered if what was really needed was a whole new Senior Center.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Victor Danevich commented that people were frequently turned away from the nutrition program because there just wasn’t enough room and the original proposed expansion would not completely meet the needs. “That would have held about 250 people, but there are many more members than that.”
With America aging, seniors are the fastest growing segment in America today.
Senior Center Director Sue Hovling noted, “We are facing many space constraints at our Senior Center. This is affecting our ability to provide the type of programming that attracts a younger more active group of seniors.”
Hovling’s goal is to develop an expansion plan that will accommodate a growing senior population. “Our membership spans an age group of at least forty years (55 – 95) or more. I would like to have a center where an 85-year-old woman can come and enjoy a hot meal and play bingo while her 55-year-old daughter can enjoy a salad bar and attend an exercise class.” With the space currently available, that is simply not possible.
The plan notes that younger seniors are often still physically more active than the older seniors. Hovling pointed out that the younger seniors want to ski, dance, go swimming, or attend an exercise class while the older group prefers bingo, card games, health screenings, and the nutrition program.
“Knowledgeable and caring staff is essential to our success,” she wrote in her plan. Hovling said she wanted to retire in five or six years and wanted to have the new center in place with trained staff to carry on the programming.
Hovling’s other goal is to work with community resources to ensure that a transportation system is in place. She has frequently spoken to selectmen about the need for a transportation system and for the last two years warrant articles with relatively small amounts of money (less than $5,000) have failed. “Keeping seniors in their homes and independent means that there must be a transportation system.”
The last part of the plan is a Succession Plan that identifies the unique set of skills needed to be director. “My job is very unique because it involves not only being the Director of a Senior Center, but also overseeing a nutrition program.” Hovling was working at the Senior Center when the nutrition program evolved and took classes in Clinical Nutrition at the University of New Hampshire in order to be able to manage the nutrition program.
Hovling also recommended that her job description be updated because it was a decade old and programming at the center had drastically changed in that time.
Selectmen agreed with the need for more space for the senior center and planned to discuss this at a later date.