Hudson Lions and Dr. Appler Lead Way in Vision Care and Awareness
by Maureen Gillum
When it comes to eyesight, the Lions Club International has long had good distance vision. In this vein of promoting vision care and awareness, the Hudson Lions Club sponsored its free annual vision screenings for local preschool children on April 29.
“This is a wonderful service!” gratefully exclaimed Brazilian-born Hudson Mom, Isabela Bennett, who brought her two toddlers (Philip and Cassia) to Optometrist Dr. David Appler on 188 Central Street. After visually identifying many shapes and colors, 3 ½-year-old Philip enthusiastically declared his first eye exam as “fun in the big green chair!”
“My participation with annual vision screenings originated in the late 1970s,” recalled Dr. Appler, “when I assisted Dr. Carl Quimbey and school nurse, (the late) Anne Christopher from Dr. H.O. Smith.” A lifetime Lions member, Appler has since graciously donated his time, expertise, and optical equipment for complimentary pre-school vision screenings each year. “Thirty years ago, vision care wasn’t included in most insurance plans like today,” he stated, “but this remains a key resource for many under or uninsured and helps raise vision awareness.”
With more than 1.35 million members within 45,000 clubs across 197 countries, Lions Club International (www.lionsclubs.org) is the world’s largest service organization. “Lions supports communities in many ways,” explained Dr. Appler. “Vision care has remained a primary theme since their early days.” Helen Keller originally challenged the Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness" in 1925. Current “sight conservation” efforts -- including free quality eye care (vision and glaucoma screenings, corneal transplants) to hundreds of thousands each year; SightFirst to alleviate preventable blindness worldwide; and the redistribution of 5 million eye glasses annually -- fuel much of the Lions Club’s mission to “serve.”
Major shifts in vision use and care have also occurred. “Eyes are naturally designed to be most efficient for distance vision, with the ability to focus up close for brief periods,” Appler explained. However, changes in the society, industry and technology (TVs, PCs, hand-held video games) in the last 50-100 years, have greatly impacted vision. The fifty-something optometrist detailed, “Vision demands have largely shifted, away from distance and toward up close work, which is causing more visual problems and eye strain.” He advised, “Be aware and vary visual environments frequently.”
“Though many children have 20/20 eyesight, they may still have critical vision problems,” Appler cautions. “Parents and teachers often don’t know the distinctions and warning signs. ”While ‘sight’ is the ability to see; ‘vision’ is a complex visual process that develops as a child learns to efficiently interpret and understand the information delivered through the eyes. Vision involves -- and vision screenings assess -- the coordination of eye movement (ocular mobility), eye teaming (binocularity, stereo optics), visual acuity, eye-hand coordination, visual form perception (visual comparison and imagery), color discrimination, and refractive status (nearsightedness, farsightedness, focus problems).
Unfortunately, many parents and schools unwittingly rely on inadequate vision screenings. The most common being the Snellen 20-foot letter chart, developed in 1863, which only assesses visual acuity or the sharpness of distance eyesight. This neglects to address a child’s crucial abilities, readiness or efficiency ‘to see, to read, and write’ – or successfully work and learn within 10 to 16 inches. Many parents also wait too long for their child’s initial vision exams.
“Since up to 80 percent of any individual’s learning is dependent on vision, the ability to see may well affect a child’s whole intelligence,” asserts the Optometric Extension Program Foundation. Further, up to a third of America’s school children are suspected of “visual inefficiencies,” and vision problems are increasingly linked to learning disabilities and poor academic performance. Knowing ‘observable clues’ – in eye appearance, complaints and behavioral signs – are crucial to identify and avert learning-related vision problems early.
“A complete visual examination is strongly recommended any time a parent has concerns regarding their child’s eyes,” Appler emphasized, “and certainly by age three and checked annually thereafter.” Early eye exams help identify and avoid conditions that can lead to blindness and amblyopia (lazy eye).
Vision screenings for preschoolers present some challenges. “My first objective is to put young children at ease,” shared the gentle doctor. “Even optical equipment can be imposing.” He counters children’s fears and limitations (attention, communication skills) with patience and visual symbols. Combining modern optical equipment with old-fashioned kindness, he works wonders.
Personally, Appler shared that after graduating from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry and a brief stint as a Navy optometrist, he came to Hudson to live and set up his practice in 1975. He and his wife, Phyllis, a long-time biology teacher at Alvirne High School, also have two grown children, Vivian and Douglas.
David also greatly enjoys kids and sustaining community. Amid his many team sponsorship photo plaques, the doctor excitedly shared that one of ‘his’ Hudson Youth Baseball players had come in for the free morning screening, “still wearing his blue Rangers’ uniform after a game.” Appler also advocates youth sports as “excellent for vision development.”
Regarding industry changes and competition over three decades, he smiles warmly, “You just have to keep doing what you do…and do what you do very well.”
Library Trustees Reject Benson’s Property for New Library
by Doug Robinson
At the April 25 Town of Hudson Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Library Trustee John Knowles rejected the idea that the Benson’s property was being considered as a possible site for a new library.
“At a recent meeting of the Board of Selectmen, Selectman Jasper mentioned that in the course of discussion of the Benson’s property with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, he had been told that it might be permitted to build a new library building on the site of the old animal barn, which burned down some years ago,” Knowles explained. “This would be a change in policy, since the position of the state had been that no new buildings would be permitted on the property. Because of that restriction, the Board of Trustees had not seriously investigated Benson’s as a possible site, since it was not available.”
Currently, the Library Trustees are actively … “Work(ing) on (a) plan to build a new library at the Alvirne site on Route 102,” according to Knowles. During the past months, the trustees have been soliciting proposals for an architect to design a new library on the proposed site. The library trustees have also requested of the town that they have “access to accrued impact fees for the purpose of paying for the initial design work. We … should be able to choose an architect within a few more weeks.”
On April 9, 2005, Knowles, Selectman Kathleen MacLean, and Chairman Richard Maddox, toured the Benson’s site and, and according to Knowles, made the following observations:
“After careful consideration,” Knowles added, “The Board of Trustees requests the support of the selectmen in proceeding with our work on the Alvirne site. We have committed to the selectmen to come back to you (selectmen) no later than October 25 with a fully developed concept and plan for a $3.5 million library at that site. We are still committed to that promise, and have made significant progress to achieving it.”
Hudson Man Chronicles Tour as Marine in Iraq Combat Zone
by Doug Robinson
Sergeant Chris Welcome, a 20-year resident of Hudson, is currently serving his second tour of duty for “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Iraq with Alpha Company 1/25, a Marine reserve unit from Fort Devens, Massachusetts. Sergeant Welcome graduated from Alvirne High School, and then attended Mount Ida College, Newton, Massachusetts, where he majored in criminal justice. Sergeant Welcome’s long-term goal is to become a member of the Hudson Police Department when he returns to Hudson in November.
Sergeant Welcome, 23, has been deployed in one of the most dangerous and most lethal areas of the war. He is stationed in Fallujah, Iraq. His responsibilities and duties with the military are as mind-boggling as they are overwhelming.
During several interviews with Sergeant Welcome, he has been able to bring the realities of the war and his world home, to the readers of the Hudson~Litchfield News. The following excerpts summarize his life, his thoughts, and the reality of the war in Iraq. These interviews were done via internet from April 24 to May 1.
HLN: Tell me about your family back in Hudson. Do you have brothers, sisters, and tell me about your fiancé.
Chris: “I have one sister, Rachael Lowe ,18, and one half-sister, Susie Lowe, 9. My mother is Donna Lowe and my stepfather is Mike Lowe, who both still live in Hudson. While they are now divorced, they both support and encourage what I am doing over here. My mother "never thought it would happen to me," that I would be sent to the front lines. I am engaged to Aime Weber, 22, and she is from Manchester. She had lived in Hudson for about a year now. We've been engaged since October 2005. No solid wedding date (waiting until I actually make it home alive).”
HLN: Tell me about your education, both high school and military. What is the name of your unit and how many guys are in your unit?
Chris: “I graduated from Alvirne High and then I earned my associates degree from Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts. I studied criminal justice with hope that my military experience combined with my educational studies would make me a candidate to be hired as a police officer in Hudson. While I cannot tell you how many guys are in my unit 1/25, I can tell you that the number is way over 1,000 guys.”
HLN: When did you enlist and why did you enlist? What training have you had, and what are your likes and dislikes?
Chris: “I signed up for the Marines in January 2001. I went to boot camp June - August of that same year, which was my summer break between freshman and sophomore year of college. I signed up for the Marines mainly to become a better prospect for the law enforcement field. Fortunately, my responsibilities now have helped me reach my goal.
“Things I like are: sports, mostly football because I played 12 years of it and hope to play some semi-pro ball soon, too. I also love sports cars and Japanese motorcycles. They are usually called ‘crotch rockets.’ I love hitting the weights at Gold's Gym in Hudson. My dislikes are limited to paying taxes, like most people, people who are dishonest, and music that gives me a headache.”
HLN: What do you do for the military? Tell me what you have learned and how you can be a good police officer in Hudson.
Chris: “I'm in the Infantry, which is the only real part of the Marines. It’s given me a wide range of knowledge on several different weapons and tactics. Clearing rooms, handling personnel both tactfully and, if necessary, with force (martial arts program). My training has helped me learn to control crowds, as well as protect the civilian population when necessary.
“I’m a Mission Oriented Combat Shooting (MOCS) instructor in the Marines. I am responsible to teach high speed and complex combination of shooting skills to my students. I've also obtained a Meritorious Mast (good award for leadership traits) at the School of Infantry in 2003.
I became a Corporal in July 2004 and then I just earned my Sergeant stripes this April; my peers tell me that I have been fast tracked. Being only 23, and in the military for only five years, I continue to concentrate on learning how to be disciplined, remaining responsible, as well as lead the men for whom I am responsible.
HLN: Describe your day. Do you interact with the locals, what are they called, and are you cautious of them?
Chris: “I'm up at 4:00 a.m. here because I work from 3:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m., seven days a week. I usually run and workout five to six days a week right after my shift. Currently, I'm the Sergeant of the Guard for our main base here in Fallujah. That comes with a lot of responsibility, being in charge of over 60 Marines, all of their gear/weapons and personal issues; constantly. In conjunction with that, we make several patrols/convoys into the city (Fallujah). The locals are called Iraqis and 90 percent of them are harmless and actually like us. People don't realize they are regular people just trying to survive. Kids love us, they are always waving. We sometimes throw food, water or soccer balls out for the kids. It's the 10 percent that are here in the country that are always trying to kill us Marines, and they are cowards about it, too. They never show their faces, they blow us up with devices and they hide like wimps! Then again, who really wants to fight the Marine Corp?
HLN: What is the weather like and what do you eat? What do you miss eating and what will be your first meal when you get home?
Chris: “The weather is hot, being springtime, its still in the 90 - 100 range. It's the end of the rainy season, and when it rains, it dumps buckets. That surprised me, though it only happened a couple times. It's going to be 130 - 140 in the summer, plus about 70 pounds of gear! Can you spell sweat? I eat normal food twice a day, the rest of the day I eat snacks, protein shakes, or cereal. The food is reasonable; I'll survive. My first meal at home will probably consist of some seafood because they don’t get that to us here. Lobster and steamers will be likely candidates.
HLN: Are you in a combat area … are you in danger … .what do you fear?
Chris: “Ha, ha, ha … I like this question. Combat area, yes. In danger, yes. Fear, no. The Infantry Marines don't get paid junk money to be scared. Today, the 28th was Saddam Hussein's birthday. And my convoys were hit by two bombs today. And that doesn’t count the other companies and units in the area. There are multiple situations everyday. It’s just a matter of when it’s 'your turn'. Explosions, gun shots, and artillery blasts are an everyday thing here in Fallujah. You get used to it. One of my complaints, and it’s a big one, is that a lot of the vehicles that we drive into the city with are not safe. They are not the best that is in Iraq right now. They just apparently haven't made it over to us yet. Though other people, who don't go on convoys every single day, have the best humvees and trucks that are being made, we have old ones that have doors that don't close and an engine that is weaker than a moped. Write your congressmen and get us vehicles that protect us.
HLN: How long are you going to be stationed there?
Chris: “My contract is done May 2007. However, this tour was an option for me because I was activated for a year in 2003 when we went to Okinawa, Japan, and the Philippines and South Korea. I'll be here until roughly November, unless the bombs get to me first and I catch an early flight. (Sick humor)
HLN: What do you want the folks back home to know about you the most, and what do you want the folks back home to know about the war?
Chris: “Back home, well I guess I just want people to know that the war isn't over, it’s been over three years now and the support isn't what it used to be. I just don’t want them to forget that young men/women are still here and it’s closer to home than they think. I don’t even consider it much of a war. War to me is two sides (or more) with uniforms and actual armies. Today it’s an explosion, from an unknown person, at an unknown location. And they have figured out how to make bombs out of everything, cars, dirt, propane tanks, and even humans! You name it, it'll explode. And if you see the pictures I sent home, there is trash all over the place, just waiting to blow up. That’s stressful! Then on top of that they have Rocket Propelled Grenades and plenty of rifles available. Having a rifle shot ping off of your vehicle is normal; you don't even jump anymore. I didn't volunteer for Bush on the 'war on terrorism 'cuz that will never end anyways. I did it for the men I've known for four to five years now, the Marines. Being in a combat zone, not knowing when, where, or how you're going to die by a meaningless explosion, definitely brings the bond of men together in a way that civilians just wouldn't understand.
HLN: How often do you get mail, and how often are you updated on information from the U. S.?
Chris: “We get mail on a daily basis. There is a new program on the internet called Motomail.us. You type your letter, and it gets printed out here and given to us in two to three days. Like an e-mail, only in letter format for us.”
Sergeant Chris Welcome’s e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Chris has also expressed that both he and the members of his unit would appreciate cards, letters, and words of encouragement from his hometown, Hudson. To accomplish this, those who wish to write to Chris must register with www.Motomail.us. First, click on this link. Then, use the following format when registering:
Scroll to the bottom and click on “new Motomail account”:
The website will take you to his personal mailbox.
If you wish to send Chris a package, use the following address when sending:
Sergeant Welcome, Chris
1/25A Company 3rd Plt.
FPO AE 09509-2180
Hudson Twins Nominated for People to People
by Lynne Ober
Dwight D. Eisenhower believed that the way to understand people was to meet and work with them. He believed that direct people-to-people communication among ordinary citizens could solve problems. Fifty years ago People to People was started as a result of that belief, and in the ensuing years other presidents have supported this outstanding program.
Participants must be nominated and cannot simply apply. Heather and Tara Hardy, fifth grade sisters and twins at Hills Garrison School, have been nominated by Media Specialist Linda Miles.
Heather and Tara hope to participate in the July 2007 trip to George Washington University in Washington, D.C. This 10-day trip will allow them to meet and interact with people from around the world. “We will learn how to give excellent speeches and how to speak up with confidence and self-esteem,” they said with wide grins.
Heather and Tara are typical all-American girls. They were among the first class to start at Hills Garrison School and when they complete fifth grade this year, they will move to Hudson Memorial School. Throughout their time at Hills they have been A and A+ students who have been quite active.
They have been in Girls Scouts for five years.
Both are musical and have been taking piano lessons since first grade. They learned to play the recorder. Tara wants to play the clarinet while Heather wishes to try the flute.
They have also played softball for four years, but it’s perhaps their academic accomplishments that have gotten them noticed by People to People.
They have both participated in the Battle of the Books for the last two years and love to read. During the summer they participate in the reading program offered at Hills Memorial Library.
Both have submitted entries to the Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest. Heather’s latest story received an Honorable Mention for her age group.
They participated in the Math Superstars for the five years they have been at Hills Garrison and were accepted onto the school’s math team.
Both have participated in the school’s Peer Mediation program. Tara has been a Peer Mediator for two years and Heather for one year.
Tara participated at the Southeastern Regional Educational Service Center’s Thinking Maps program where she and another student demonstrated the skills that they had used.
When they get to Hudson Memorial School Tara wants to begin learning French. Both have been learning Spanish since first grade.
Now they are united in raising the funds needed to pay for the trip. They recently received a $500 donation from Suzie’s Diner and hope that they can raise the rest of the needed funds before the summer of 2007.
Selectmen Receive Capital Improvement Requests from Hudson Department Heads
by Doug Robinson
The department heads for Community Development, Fire Department, Library, Recreation, Sewer, and Water Utility recently submitted their requests for capital improvements for the fiscal year 2008.
Capital improvement programs are defined as “non-recurring expenditures for projects or facilities having a useful life of at least five years, and generally involving a gross expenditure of at least $50,000. Excluded is scheduled vehicle, or rolling stock, replacement” in the Fiscal Year 2004 Town of Hudson Capital Improvements Program.
The Community Development Department listed the following projects as having met the monetary requirements of being included in the Capital Improvement Plan for Hudson.
The Fire Department requested the replacement of a fire engine for $360,000. The vehicle in question is currently designated as Engine 2, and this fire engine will have provided 16 years of service to the town by the time the “replacement engine is complete, if approved by the committee,” stated the request.
The Fire Department’s request states that while “the Fire Department Apparatus Vehicle Replacement Report completed in 2004 showed that the 1992 engine should have been replaced in FY2007, … the decision was made to move it out to FY2008 by one year in order to not require replacement of two engines back to back. The Apparatus Vehicle Replacement details the needs of the department of the next 20 years.” Maintenance and use records for this vehicle show that more than $63,000 has been spent since July 2003, in repairs for the fire engine. Between July 2003 and June 30, 2004, the Hudson Fire Department expensed $24,282.98 in repair bills for this fire engine, and between July 2004 to June 30, 2005, the Fire Department expensed $29,755.87.
Of special interest to this fire engine, is the pump which operates the delivery of the water system. Over the years, the mechanical device with multiple moving parts begins to wear down, decreasing the efficiency and ability to deliver the maximum rated capacity of water from the pump.
The Fire Department’s request to replace this vehicle also states that the “electrical systems of the ‘80s and ‘90s are not designed to handle the number of radios, lights, sirens, flashlight chargers and other electrical components of fire apparatus.”
The Trustees of the Library have requested that the library be expanded and that a new library be built. Their request of $3.5 million would house approximately 70,000 materials.
The Recreation Department’s request for a “new soccer field” totaled $100,000. The reasoning for their request was listed as “expanded capacity of existing service, provide new facility, alleviates substandard conditions, improves the quality of existing services, provides added capacity to service growth, and provides incentive to economic development. “The town is growing at a rapid pace with future development in progress. The growth has caused an outcry for more fields so that organizations may be able to facilitate the demands of the people who want to participate in recreational sports. A soccer field will meet the demands for recreation leagues,” stated the CIP narrative justification.
The Sewer and Utility Department’s Capital Improvement Plan Submittals involved: