Uneventful Year is a Blessing for the Greniers
Editor’s note: The Grenier family came into the community spotlight the tumultuous year their triplets were born in 2000. After Katrina’s battles with Hodgkin’s, infertility, and a serious gestational blood disorder, the three premature babies were miraculously delivered by emergency caesarean in Boston; Olivia, Nicholas, and Madaline were born on May 17, 2000. Now married 11 years, Steve and Katrina have been together through all the ups and downs. Thankfully, their children have grown into beautiful, healthy, and happy 6 1/2 year olds. Here, in the Hudson~Litchfield News’ seventh Christmas installment is the annual glimpse into the home and hearts of the Greniers.
by Maureen Gillum
“Overall, it’s actually been a pretty boring year … thank God,” laughed Katrina Grenier in relief. First and foremost, the family is all healthy – a rare blessing that the Greniers are most thankful for and will never take for granted.
“Katrina recently got a clean bill of health,” beamed Steve, sitting across from his wife in their lovely home. This marks her sixth year being clear after her second bout of cancer.
“The kids hit a growth spurt and they’ve finally caught up,” shared Mom proudly. “All three actually made it into the normal height and weight range this year.” Watching the vivacious bunch – Nick, practicing quick karate moves; Madaline, dancing and pirouetting; and Olivia, the eldest, drawing and keeping an eye on everything, you’d never guess the challenges they once faced and their collective birth weight was a mere 6.2 pounds – slight for even one.
It was also a big year of transitions for the Greniers. “We had our first graduation (kindergarten) from Crossroads in Pelham last May,” stated Mom “and they’ve moved into first grade.” Following their father, the triplets started first grade this fall at St. Louis, a private K - 8 Catholic school in Lowell, Massachusetts.
While Nicholas and Olivia like math best, Madaline favors art. The triplets agree unanimously, their teacher, “Sister Judy is really nice.” The school is also right near Grandma’s house, which is another big bonus.
“They did great going off to school all day as they had each other,” admitted Mom, “but the separation anxiety was pretty tough for me and I had to face they were no longer babies.”
“They all seem to like school a lot and they’re doing quite well,” reported Dad, “having one teacher and one set of homework makes it easier for everybody.”
Like Steve’s heritage, St. Louis’ parish, is largely French Canadian. Without any prompts from Dad, who has been helping them learn French, the triplets recited the ‘Our Father’ in French in perfect unison, earnest sincerity, and Madaline’s emerald green lips and teeth.
While they’re all in the same class together, their interests, personalities, and gifts are developing independently. At a recent school show, Nicholas, who has achieved his purple belt or fourth level in just one year, did a dynamic karate demonstration. Olivia played piano, accompanying Madaline, who sang Frere Jacques. “The music talent comes from Steve,” confessed Katrina, “he can just listen and play almost anything on guitar, piano, harmonica, or the accordion.”
Remarkably, Steve has been with the same company since 1988, although his company – originally Digital Equipment Corp. which was bought out by Compaq and then Hewlett Packard – has changed its marquees a few times. “I tend to wear a lot of hats there, but my official title is Systems Analyst,” explained Steve with a smile. “I also tend to be the technical support go-to guy or ‘Uber Geek’ for my extended family as well.”
Katrina works in Billerica, Massachusetts, three days a week at Boyle Transportation. “I enjoy my job and it pays for groceries and tuition,” she said. “They’re a great company to work for and have been very supportive since I started there in 1991.”
“They both work very hard,” revealed Katrina’s mother, Judy Hanson, of Pelham, “They’re wonderful parents who are always there for their children.” The kids love to go to ‘Ma and Pa’s’ pool to swim and visit often. “All together, we have six grandkids,” shared Judy smiling, “but we cheated a little when we got three of them in just three minutes.”
There were also several fun vacations and events for the Greniers in 2006. Among the kid’s highlights was a trip to the Big Apple Circus in Boston. Reflecting their personalities, Nick claimed, “the jugglers were awesome”; Madaline enjoyed “the lovable Beagle dogs best”; and Olivia’s favorite were “the beautiful horses.”
They also took a trip to Fort Meyers, Florida last February and visited some of Steve’s many cousins in Saint Hilaire de Dorset, about 90 miles south of Quebec City, Canada. “We attended an authentic Canadian Sugar Shack -- a big family-style meal and celebration in the maple barn around Easter when the sap runs best,” detailed Steve.
The Greniers are now gearing up for the holidays and one thing all three kids have unselfishly put on top of their Christmas wish lists is for their classmate, Matthew Dubuc, to get better. Matthew is a courageous seven-year-old boy from Hudson who is battling Hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer. “Matty is a really brave boy that we all love,” shared Nick succinctly. For more information visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/matty, or Hudson’s Christmas decoration extravaganza at the Mousseau and Roy’s home (75 Pelham Road or www.hudsonchristmas.com).
When asked how they felt about being local celebrities, the triplets just smiled. While Madaline admitted, “It feels kind of good;” Olivia revealed, “I guess it makes me feel special and loved.” Being local front page superstars hasn’t yet gone to their heads.
In reflection, the Greniers agree it’s been a very good year. “My only complaint is the house that was once much too big for the two of us is suddenly becoming too small as our kids get bigger,” laughed Katrina.
“I have a few more gray hairs, but all the day-to-day stuff is really good,” concluded Steve. “The kids are at a really good age and it just doesn’t get any better than this.”
Once again, the Hudson~Litchfield News thanks the Greniers for opening up their hearts and home. Best wishes to Steve, Katrina, Olivia, Nicholas, and Madaline a very blessed and Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!
First Baptist Church Erects New Steeple
by Doug Robinson
After many years of planning and saving, the First Baptist Church of Hudson has its new steeple in place, replacing the 160-year-old original steeple.
Years of decay and deterioration had taken its toll on the original bell tower atop the First Baptist Church. The steeple had become the home to pigeons, been beaten up by the elements, and had become a hazard to the church. The 17-ton steeple had eroded, begun to sag, and was allowing water to leak through its seams, into the sanctuary below. The walls within the church were beginning to buckle as the weight of the steeple was off center and causing duress to the overall church structure. “We would need buckets and buckets to clean up the water which leaked through the roof,” said Ruth Parker, First Baptist Church.
After years of planning, a new steeple was constructed. The members of the First Baptist Church worked with a three-phase plan to replace the steeple. The first stage was to remove the steeple, make the necessary repairs, remove the bell, and relocate the speakers. Phase two of the plan was to “shore up” horizontal beams as well as reinforce the beams in the attic to support the weight of the new steeple. Phase three, now completed, was the installation of the new steeple.
The construction and manufacturing of the steeple was supervised by Hudson’s, Marc Fauteux, owner of Steel and Woodworks, LLC. “It has been a blessing to work with the congregation on this project,” said Fauteux. “With the help of North Point Construction (Architect), Pyramid Engineering (Structural Engineering), Bay State Industrial Welding and Fabrications (Steel Fabrication), Solid Earth Technologies, Mimco builders, Everlast Metal Roofs, Nashua Redimix Concrete, and Unitied Rentals we were able to combine our talents for the First Baptist Church of Hudson. The challenge has been awesome and I am privileged to be apart of this churches project.”
Fauteux also expressed his appreciation to his crew of dedicated professionals. “I need to give them special thanks for all they did throughout the entire project.”
Looking like the original, this $100,000 steeple sits atop the church in the same location as the original. As the crane lifted the 16,000-pound steeple, workers communicated in their own language, directing the structure away from the ground and atop the church. While some pointed to the left, others communicated with clenched fists, open palms or fingers outstretched in various directions. While some workers pointed thumbs up, others grabbed ropes to secure and direct the steeple to rest upon the large steel structure which spliced through the cavity of the church. The crane operator could be seen gingerly working the controls of the behemoth machine as the eight-ton steeple inched into the air, always moving in the direction of its soon to be new home for centuries to come.
Workers slid bolts through exacting predrilled holes while others quickly attached washers and nuts to hold the structural pieces in place. The steeple looked like a huge erector set being assembled before the eyes and attention of the spectators. The workers performed a concert of excellence as their harmony of precision prepared the steeple for its new home.
Spectators stopped their cars and lined the streets while others stood closely by and cheered as this “welcoming beacon” was lifted higher and higher, until it reached its new home atop the First Baptist Church.
Unlike the original steeple, the exterior of the steeple has been constructed of vinyl and has been attached to framing contracted of metal framing. The design to support the weight of the new steeple involves the installation of footings in the basement of the church and lengthy framing was installed either along the walls or in the walls of the church, which extends to the roof, upon which the steeple rests.
An access ladder will be installed from the attic rafters and lightning rods will be attached to each corner of the steeple. A speaker system will be installed within the steeple so that music may hear which has been played from the organ below. The original bell will be placed in front of the church, in a location not yet determined.
The origins of the First Baptist Church of Hudson dates back to 1805 “when a group of 65 people petitioned to be set off” from the Baptist Church of Londonderry,” stated Parker. The present sanctuary was constructed in 1841.
The steeple has been designed as a “cupola on top of a large square box. On top of the cupola, at each corner are four spires, said to represent the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,” explained Parker.
Members of the First Baptist Church of Hudson express their excitement with the steeple’s return. For many years, their steeple has been recognized as Hudson’s “welcoming beacon” to all of those who visit Hudson.
Land Swap Proposed
by Lynne Ober
The question is whether the Town of Litchfield will swap eight acres of land for nearly 15 acres of mostly wetlands so that Moheban and Senator Development can build two duplexes. The answer was, not with the attached strings.
Attorney Andy Prolman met with the Board of Selectmen to discuss his proposal. Prior to that meeting selectmen held a lengthy non-public meeting with Attorney Buckley and members of the Conservation Commission.
Prolman began by telling selectmen that his clients, Moheban and Senator Development, had been refused permission to install a small cul de sac road and build two duplexes on tax map lot 150. This lot is approximately 13 acres and the majority of it is wetlands. They have now appealed in Superior Court.
However, they would prefer to find another way to build their proposed duplexes and asked Prolman to approach the Conservation Commission about a land swap, which he did on December 7.
The proposal would give the town lots 150, 136, and 147 and the developers, in return, wanted a number of things, including lot 196. They also wanted the following:
Board of Selectmen Chairman Cecil Williams stated that he did not want to subvert town ordinances or to show favoritism to one builder over another one. Therefore, he was not in favor of asking the Conservation Commission to get the building certificate early or of a warrant article that gave special privileges to one builder. “Attorney Buckley is having a hard time swallowing that,” he said.
Selectman Pat Jewett agreed and noted that the town had to be fair across the board and could not make exceptions for one builder that they couldn’t make for all builders.
Prolman’s first reaction to that was “No deal. We’ll just pursue our appeal in court.”
Selectman Al Raccio had pointed out Litchfield’s growth ordinances, and Williams had also talked about them before Prolman asked if Litchfield would accept the land swap and other conditions if the developer dropped the building certificate requirement.
Williams said there were other areas that needed some negotiation, but that they would look at the swap again.
Jewett asked Prolman to elaborate on exactly how much land was wet on the three lots. According to Prolman about half of lots 136 and 147 are wetlands and a large portion of the 13 acres on lot 150 are also classified as wetlands.
Williams also questioned Prolman about the duplexes versus single family homes and was told that the developer wanted “to keep his options open.”
With no resolution from the land swap proposal, Prolman did say that he would talk to his client about selectmen’s concerns.