MOMS Club Offers Support and Friendship
by Maureen Gillum
As rewarding as being a stay-at-home Mom is, there are times when young mothers may feel isolated, lonely, bored or overwhelmed; most, occasionally need the help or interaction of someone over three feet tall. The MOMS (Moms Offering Moms Support) Club® of Hudson Area, NH, is a local support network for at-home mothers. “We sistered off from local chapters in Pelham, Amherst and Londonderry in June 2005,” explained Jennifer Jensen, Chapter President with a warm smile, “Today we have about 30 mothers, primarily from Hudson, Litchfield and Nashua, who either stay at-home or work part-time - but we always welcome and have room for more.”
The International MOMS Club (www.momsclub.org) was started by Mary James, an at-home mother in California in 1983. In the U. S. alone, it has grown to about 2,000 MOMS chapters with more than 100,000 members; international chapters have recently sprung up too. “Our number one goal is to form a network of support for at-home mothers,” summed up Jensen, “Our rapid growth speaks to the enormous need that is out there.”
“MOMS Club is really all about making friends for both the Moms and the kids,” shared Colleen Goulet, a mother of two, and a member for a year. Goulet, also the club’s party planner, detailed the group also has informal weekly playgroups, coffee chats, park get togethers, and even a monthly Mom’s night out. “This month a bunch of us went out to the new Chunky’s to see a great movie,” she added, “Everybody had a really good time.”
Her outgoing son, Jack Goulet, age 3.5, enthusiastically declared with a cookie in hand, “I like all the toys and friends!”
Thirty-two year old Kathleen Straten, who recently moved to Hudson from Brookline, Massachusetts, has been coming to MOMS with her seven-month old son, William, for about six months. “This is a great place to come when you don’t have another network,” she stated, “I’d never meet other people with kids the same age without it.” Formerly a real estate broker and still a professional Oboist for the Handel and Hayden Society in Boston, Straten is delighted and thankful for recently found friends, like Tammy Van Gemert and her seven-month old daughter, Emma. “It’s just a wonderful outlet to share stories, advice, and friendships.”
The group formally meets the last Wednesday of every month at 11 a.m. in the Hudson Recreation Center (2 Oakwood Street, near Dr. H. O. Smith School). “Most meetings feature a guest speaker, to address topics of interest to our members,” shared Jennifer White, chapter VP of Membership, “Our fall speakers addressed issues like Childcare, Nutrition, and Chiropractics, based on MOMS member’s interests.” Free playtime and snacks for Moms and kids alike, are also planned.
The MOMS Club’s next meeting topics include library expansion plans and child safety. Many young mothers considered the Hills Memorial Library (www.hillsml.lib.nh.us) “a priceless community resource.” They cited the children’s programs, (story times, Family Fun Night, and KC Web), and adult offerings (new digital audio books, on-line services) as “very helpful,” and among their “favorite” and “most used community services.” As such, they are sponsoring a discussion about Hudson’s proposed new library at their next meeting (February 28). The Molly Bish Foundation (www.mollybish.org) will be the featured March (March 28) speakers to address child-safety. Photo ID cards and fingerprinting for children of any age will be offered at the March 28 meeting.
A non-profit organization, MOMS Club is also non-religious and non-political. “We understand that being an at-home mother, or even working part-time, typically means making a financial sacrifice,” Jensen also stressed, “so we keep our annual MOMS Club dues at just $25 to help cover chapter dues and other program costs.” For more information on the MOMS Club of the Hudson Area, NH, visit www.geocities.com/hudsonareamomsclub/hudsonareamomsclub.html, or drop by any upcoming meetings.
For those young families where the Wednesday MOMS club schedule may not work, Dave Yates, Director of the Hudson Recreation Department, remarked, “There is also a weekly Tot Group offered through the Rec every Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.” For more information on the Thursday playgroup, contact the Hudson Rec at 880-1600 or www.hudsonrec.com.
Three Alvirne Students Selected for New Hampshire Jazz All-State Festival
by Sue LaRoche
The New Hampshire Music Educators Association (NHMEA) sponsored the 25th annual 2007 New Hampshire All State Jazz Festival this past weekend at Nashua High School South. Students from all across the state attended this three-day event culminating with a concert on Saturday, February 3, by what is considered by many to be the “cream of the crop” in High School Jazz musicians.
For seniors Ryan Shumway, Joe “Rocky” Dubois, and Kevin Martin, it was the pinnacle after “many years of hard work.” Shumway was selected for bass trombone in Jazz Band; Dubois was selected as a tenor in the Jazz Choir (he also had a solo); and Martin was selected for percussion in the Honors Jazz Band.
For Martin, it was a step up this year as he moved from Jazz Band to Honors Jazz Band following his strong finish as the top percussionist for the State of New Hampshire. “I couldn’t believe it” was his first thought. “It is very prestigious to be selected, never mind be the top in the state.” He continues, “it is a great experience … one which I don’t take for granted.”
This entire process began back in May of 2006 when Gerry Bastien, in his 11th year as music director at Alvirne High School, received the music for those interested in trying out for the All State Jazz Band and Choir. Those who were serious about it, took the music home for the summer and worked on it.
In October, competing against 400-plus musicians from across the state, the kids had their auditions. For the band members, they needed to do a jazz “study” etude (Jazz improvisation) along with playing a Jazz standard piece. For the singers trying out for choir, they were required to sing along with a quartet accompaniment, (music minus their part), sing a jazz standard, and perform a jazz etude demonstrating the ability to improvise by using scat syllables.
Both Shumway and Martin are a part of the Alvirne Stage Band and Concert/Marching Band as well as members of the Greater Manchester Youth Jazz Orchestra while Dubois is a member of the Choir and the “B” Naturals (Alvirne’s a capella singing group). Martin and Shumway are members of “Tri M,” a music honor society at Alvirne and will wear appropriate cords at graduation.
The three talented students left for the Sheraton Tara in Nashua on Thursday, February 1 after school, where they checked in and were bussed over to Nashua South for rehearsal from 5 - 9 p.m. All day Friday was spent at Nashua South, with rehearsals from 8 a.m. until lunchtime, and then after lunch until 8 p.m., when they were treated to a concert performed by the University of Southern Maine Jazz Ensemble. But the culmination, was their own performance at 1 p.m. on Saturday for an enthusiastic audience full of family, friends, and aspiring musicians.
Bastien explains “the kids practiced a lot but they also took part in clinics to further their skills.” He went on to state the importance of “the networking with kids from all parts of the state.” Bastien, along with other music educators, gave of their own free time to chaperone these talented students but “it is well worth it because you feel really proud to see those kids up there performing.” The teachers attend educational sessions as well and Bastien commented how “it is nice to see that the clinicians and conductors are reinforcing what we are teaching these kids and that we are on the right track.”
Ryan Shumway is choosing to further his music career as he seeks to pursue a degree in music education. He has auditioned at several schools including Keene, Plymouth State, and George Mason University (and several schools have shown a tremendous interest in Ryan). Bastien lauded Shumway for his “self-motivation and eclectic selection of music.” Ryan switched from the clarinet in middle school to the trombone in high school upon the advice of Kurt Schweiss, an AHS drum major. “He told me to change since there were not a lot of trombone players at the high school” laughed Shumway flashing a charismatic smile. He enjoyed playing in the All State Jazz Band as it provided a “higher level of music, similar to what I’ll see in college.”
Kevin Martin is also seeking to further his music education pursuing a degree in Sound Recording Technology. He has, or will, audition at several schools including the University of Miami, University of Massachusetts - Lowell, Ithaca, Syracuse, and Berklee. Martin feels as though he was a part of a “dream band” and paralleled that to the “dream team” (the nickname for the USA Olympic Basketball team). “Being with a group of motivated students on a level playing field who all worked hard to get there” was an experience of a lifetime for him. Bastien commented that “Kevin has such a light feel for the drums. He is able to listen to ensembles and play with such great touch.”
Rocky Dubois, who soloed in the festival, enjoys his music thoroughly. Bastien feels that he has a “great tenor voice and such natural ability.” His smile and clapping hands on stage “draws your eyes right to him. His stage presence is captivating.” First year choral director Liz Beaton is proud of her talented senior student. “Rocky is the most hard working, dedicated student I have met since beginning my tenure at Alvirne,” said Beaton. “Seeing him on that stage, I felt he deserved it for all his hard work and how much he accomplished in one semester.” As for the future, Rocky will be pursuing a career in forensic technology and hopes to continue singing at the community level. “Going into the festival, I was nervous but it was the best music experience” beamed Dubois. “I would encourage my peers to take the opportunities afforded by our music department and audition for Jazz as well as regular All State.”
Alvirne High School has a “very deep talent pool” according to Bastien and we are the “best kept secret in the state.” These talented musicians dedicate much practice and time to the music curriculum, marching band, stage band, choir, and outside activities, that their lives are full and hectic. Bastien explained, “Our job is to make these kids ‘lifetime learners’, and they all take with them some great memories of our parades, concerts, trips and classes.” For these three talented Alvirne students, they will take with them the honor of being chosen as one of the best jazz vocal and instrumental musicians in the state!
Nathaniel Drive Resident Submits Proposal to Peacefully Co-exist with Development
By Maureen Gillum
Like many south end residents, Maryellen Davis is very concerned about the recent increase in commercial development in the town as well as the proposed RiverPlace project. “Such development is overburdening many quiet neighborhoods with increased cut-through traffic, trash, noise and safety concerns,” Davis stated, “We’ve also had a recent rash of speeding and vandalism issues and we fear this will only be greatly exacerbated with the advent of RiverPlace slated to go in about a mile away.”
While many others face her plight, the can-do Davis, started talking to her neighbors on Nathaniel Drive where she has lived for 14 years, to start a grass roots effort to see what can be done. “I have to try – I love the town and I love the people in it,” shared Davis, “I only hope that those in charge will do what’s best for all the residents. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!”
In background, Nathaniel Drive is a lovely neighborhood of 23 homes developed by Manny Sousa in 1993-1994. “It’s a real close neighborhood with lots of families and kids,” described Linda Schwartz, a Nathaniel Drive resident in support of Davis, “We just want to keep our neighborhood intact and make our road safe.” The road itself is just under a mile in length and presently connects Dracut Road with Musquash Road in the far south end of Hudson. It is the only “cut-through” between Sanders and Wason Roads. It also has two sharp S-curves and accesses the Pulpit Drive cul-de-sac.
Already with the backing of three-quarters of her neighbors, Davis, who is also a current member of the Hudson Zoning Board, put together a proposal that she submitted to the Hudson Highway Safety Committee on February 7 to make Nathaniel Drive a cul-de-sac, currently at the Dracut Road intersection end. “Nathaniel Drive is a unique neighborhood in that it does not provide direct access to any other roads directly off of it,” Davis told the committee, “Its primary purpose is to service the residents of this neighborhood only.” She also shared that she now had 32 out of 43 (74%) neighbor signatures and that she believed she will have more than 90 percent support for the project.
In addition, Davis informed the committee that she had shared her proposal with W/S Development, the developer of RiverPlace, and that they are in agreement with her proposal. “Ed Vydra (WS/Development) said that they would support me on this and even pay for the cul-de-sac project and put it on their ‘B’ list of improvements and plans.” She also added she would be willing to spearhead private funding of the project if necessary.
Kevin Burns, Hudson Road Agent and Chairman of the Hudson Highway and Safety Committee, was the first to speak in response to Maryellen Davis’ presentation. He complimented her on her highly professional and well done presentation. “I applaud your efforts and clearly it’s a great neighborhood,” Burns stated, “However, I find I would not be able to support this (Nathaniel Drive cul-de-sac proposal) as it is not in the best interest of the town.” Burns then cited there were many town regulations and requirements regarding a cul-de-sac (land requirements, wetland issues) and argued this is a “public right of way” that everyone has a legal right to use.
Burns also reviewed the latest traffic count (from June 2006) and speed measurements of Nathaniel Drive. “There is an average daily count (east and west bound) of 378 cars a day or 16 cars per hour using Nathaniel,” he revealed, “The vast majority of those – likely 12 or at least 10 out of the 16 per hour - are from the residents who live in your 23 houses.” Burns also roughly estimated that a cul-de-sac project of this nature would cost “in excess of $100,000.” He also voiced concerns of “isolating residents for up to several days” in cases of emergency (fire, accidents, power outages) and the “2x cost of maintaining a dead end versus a through street.” He added, “(If the cul-de-sac were approved) how do we tell the residents on Mushsquash and Sanders Road they’ll have 378 more cars to deal with daily?”
Last, but perhaps greatest of all, Burns shared, there were many other south end streets facing similar issues and he was very cautious “to start down this path as it will never end.” He and George Hall (Planning Board) cited Winslow Farm Road, Pine Road, Sanders Road will likely be affected even more from commercialism and RiverPlace and other roads like Haverhill Street and Derry Lane who are also looking for solutions to slow or abate traffic and reduce cars from cutting through.
“This is a huge issue that many face in Hudson,” stated Hall, “but it doesn’t make good planning sense to make all these roads cul-de-sacs.” Hall claimed the “double-loop” effect is “totally inefficient for town services” like plowing, trash pick-up, school buses and comes at too great a cost.
Shawn Murray, Hudson Fire Chief, agreed this issue is a “big challenge for many citizens of Hudson.” However, he also stated he could not support Davis proposal as he felt it would “limit my access” and “delay emergency response time.”
The meeting also shifted gears to consider other alternatives and “traffic calming” approaches. Speed bumps, inverted speed bumps or gouge-outs, rumble strips, and traffic limitations were all discussed – but each had their own flaws. Davis cited the National Regional Planning Commission (NRPC) iTrac Website (www.nashuarpc.org/itrac/itrac_ref_traffic.htm) also offered additional suggestions and traffic calming techniques.
Hudson Police Chief, Richard Gendron also agreed there are “major problems with main roads in Hudson that must be addressed,” citing Lowell Road, River Road and Dracut Road being top priorities. “However, I would fight tooth and nail” against limited traffic or no through traffic postings as it was a “nightmare to enforce” and “simply doesn’t work.” Instead, he favored reducing the speed limit from its current standard of 30 mph to 25 mph “especially given the horrific S-curves” on Nathaniel Drive. “I’m trying to slow traffic down there and make it safe for kids.” He also inquired to the background of Nathaniel Drive and if a cul-de-sac option once existed, and suggested an engineering study (from Hudson Community Development) be completed so as to “reduce the speed limit to 25 mph and provide some relief.”
Gendron also reminded Davis and eight of her neighbors in attendance that the Hudson Highway and Safety Committee had no real jurisdiction on something like this and only had the power to make recommendations to the Board of Selectmen for consideration of a public hearing and possible warrant article. Citing that River Road and Dracut Roads are under New Hamphsire Department of Transportation jurisdiction, he also mentioned that many traffic issues go beyond Hudson authority.
Sean Sullivan, Hudson Community Development Director, the last member of the Hudson Highway and Safety Committee to weigh in, acknowledged the mounting traffic issues in the Hudson and gave kudos to Davis’ approach. “The unique thing with this proposal is you already have someone to pay for it,” Sullivan stated. He also backed Gendron’s suggestion to gather background information on the Nathaniel Drive development and conduct an engineering study to reduce the speed limit to 25 mph.
The committee approved the motion for the engineering study. Burns stated the issue would be reassessed at the next meeting on April 4 (8:30 am, Community Development Room in the Town Hall), which is open to all residents.
Maryellen Davis and her neighbors were very pleased with the reception of the proposal. “This is a process with many defined steps and we’ve taken our first one,” shared Davis. She admitted “We’re by no means the only ones affected by all this” but they were “just ahead of the curve.” Davis also called for the town officials to place greater emphasis on a pro-active “master plan on how best to deal with all this development.” She also realistically re-emphasized, her grass roots neighborhood effort, wasn’t necessarily opposed to the development in town, but wanted to find a way “to peacefully co-exist with Hudson’s inevitable change and growth.”