Clifford’s Emily Elizabeth Visits Hudson
by Kathleen Kirwin
The book Clifford the Big Red Dog, was brought to life for children at the Hudson Recreation Center last Wednesday. Emily Elizabeth, daughter of Clifford author Norman Bridwell, came to Hudson for a meet-and-greet, and to share some of her favorite Clifford books with the crowd. Bridwell named the main character of the Clifford books after Emily, and even modeled the illustrations after her.
As a special school vacation week program set up through Hills Memorial Library in concert with the Lowell Spinners, the Rec Center was packed as over 80 people showed up to meet Elizabeth. Children sat in a circle around a large armchair in the front of the room and listened, as Elizabeth told the story of how her father first started writing the Clifford books several decades ago. With more than 40 Clifford books in the series and 44 million books in print throughout the world, the “big, red, warm dog” is a favorite of many.
After Elizabeth read two books, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Clifford the Small Red Puppy, aloud to the crowd, she then opened the floor up for questions. Many of the kids present raised their hands enthusiastically, eager to ask a question. One question that got asked frequently was if Elizabeth actually had a dog like Clifford. Elizabeth replied that she did have black poodle named Riley who looked nothing like Clifford and wasn’t nearly as big.
When it came time for Elizabeth to start signing books, the line nearly spanned the length of the room. Elizabeth smiled and took time to answer any questions asked by the children who wanted their books signed.
“I liked hearing her read,” said Zachary Neve, 5, of Hudson, with a broad grin as he clutched his freshly signed copy of Clifford’s Sports Day to his chest.
Elizabeth was very happy with the turnout for the event.
“It was more people than I expected,” Elizabeth said with a smile.
Elizabeth has been touring for two and a half years now to various places, to speak about her father’s work, and the story of how Clifford came to be. It started a long time ago when she began to follow her father on various speaking engagements he had.
“I know what he would have wanted to talk about,” Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth tours usually take her to elementary school classrooms with older students than the children who were in attendance at Wednesday’s reading. Elizabeth says she was not use to talking to such young kids but she was very happy with how things went.
“The kids were great, I had a really fun time,” said Elizabeth.
Hudson was the first stop on a tour Elizabeth is taking to support reading and writing among today’s youth, sponsored by the Lowell Spinners.
“We want to give back to the communities that support the Spinners” said Jon Goode, V.P. of communications for the Spinners.
Elizabeth had done a meet and greet at the baseball park before, and when Goode heard she was available for tours, he thought it would be the perfect way give back to the community. The first 100 kids that come to the meet-and-greets will get a free copy of the book Clifford’s Sports Day, and notebook featuring Red Sox player Jon Papelbon.
“Red Sox, Clifford, and the Spinners. What family wouldn’t love that?” mused Goode.
Goode was very happy with the large number of children that attended the first reading, and how well the meet and greet went.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the promotion,” said Goode.
Elizabeth will be visiting ten different libraries during the tour. To find out where Emily Elizabeth will be going next, go to the Lowell Spinners official Website www.lowellspinners.com.
Alvirne’s PARTS Participates in FIRST
by Sue LaRoche
For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, better known as FIRST, is an innovative program founded by Dean Kamen of Segway scooter fame. Kamen is a passionate inventor, entrepreneur, and advocate for science and technology. According to the FIRST Website, back in 1989, he founded this program, “To create a world where science and technology are celebrated…where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes.”
Alvirne High School has been fortunate enough to have the support of the faculty, local professionals, local colleges, and corporations in order to provide them with a location, the necessary parts and the finances to purchase equipment, and provide the entry fee for participation in regional or national competitions.
Initially, as a result of the participation of his children, Ted Luszey, a local engineer, volunteered his time for the FIRST program. His children have graduated and moved on, but he has remained active for the past nine years. Six years ago, Luszey wrote a Warrant Article which went to the ballot and passed, providing a matching fund – for each dollar the team raised, the town would match it. That is crucial as is can take anywhere between six to ten thousand dollars to enter a regional competition.
“Fund raising can be difficult, especially in the current economic conditions,” related Luszey. “This year we were fortunate enough to have companies donate ‘in kind’ services,” such as cutting aluminum or using a water jet to cut other parts. Gilchrist Metal Fabricating (Hudson) and HydroJet Company (Concord NH), were two such companies which provided services and allowed employees to donate their time and talents towards the finished product.
“Daniel Webster College has been a sponsor since the initial FIRST project,” credits Luszey. Professor Nick Bertozzi and Professor Craig Putnam have assisted and have procured students to assist with the engineering and design of the robots.
The students at Alvirne who are interested in science and engineering are welcome to become a member of the PARTS (Precision Alvirne Robotic Team System) Team Number 42. “Alvirne is a well known and respected team in the FIRST circuit,” boasted Luszey. AHS has won several awards, including the Engineering Award, Spirit Award and typically places 2nd, 3rd, or 4th in the national competitions.
This past weekend, PARTS Team Number 42 participated in the Granite State Regional FIRST Robotics Competition, which was sponsored by BAE Systems and held at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. Approximately 50 teams from throughout New England and Canada registered for the event. Alvirne placed 34th in the event. “It just wasn’t in the cards,” stated Luszey.
The First Robotics Competition stages “short games played by remote controlled robots.” The robots are designed and built within a short six week period, out of a common set of parts. “Each year, on the first Saturday in January, the challenge is released,” explained Luszey. At 12:00 p.m. EST, NASA, (yes NASA), does a Webcast throughout the world releasing the challenge. “We begin the season with 13-14 kids” said Luszey, “But because it is a busy time of year, including the middle of finals, some kids drop out.”
The AHS students who toiled over this project included junior Tim Hebert, seniors James Wiley and Nick Dorion, and Freshman Brad Poegel. As an added bonus, Qaiser, a foreign exchange student from Pakistan who is staying with the Dorions, also contributed to the success of the team. Hebert became involved in the FIRST program as a natural progression from the LEGO League, which Hudson Memorial School sponsors.
“I was involved in the Lego League for three years at Memorial, and I’ve always been interested in inventing and engineering,” explained Hebert, “so when they were recruiting at Alvirne, I got right into it. I love the program,” he said with the excitement evident in his voice.
The challenge always involves building a robot, which can be manipulated through a series of competitions designed by Dean Kamen, Dr. Woodie Flowers and a committee of engineers and other professionals. This year, they needed to pick up inner tubes and hang them on hooks. These robots needed to be completed by February 19th and shipped to the Arena in a specific box and remain within designated height and weight requirements. “It is very specific,” sighed Luszey.
The competitors arrived on Thursday to unwrap their robots, test them and work out any “kinks” in order to prepare for the actual competition, which took place on Friday and Saturday. In the actual competition, the teams are paired with two other schools and form an alliance, (designated the red versus blue teams) and must cooperatively complete the task at hand. These alliances change each round, thus Alvirne was paired with schools from Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Canada. There is a friendly rivalry between teams and a spirit of sportsmanship abounds as announcements are made for parts that another team may need to make adjustments to their robot.
According to the FIRST Website (USFIRST.org), “FIRST teams are rewarded for excellence in design, demonstrated team spirit, gracious professionalism and maturity, and ability to overcome obstacles. Scoring the most points is a secondary goal. Winning means building partnerships that last.”
Chief Receives No Confidence Vote
by Lynne Ober
Litchfield Selectmen continue to meet behind closed doors with their attorney and the Litchfield Police Chief.
At Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting, Selectman Al Raccio said, “Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a motion of no confidence in the manner in which Chief O’Brion has responded to the incident that occurred at the Litchfield Fire Department on February 17, 2007, and the subsequent investigation.”
Selectman Ray Peeples seconded the motion.
Raccio speaking to his motion said, “It is my opinion, that Chief O’Brion should have immediately reported the incident to the selectmen when he first learned about the entry into the fire station, but he did not.”
“It is my opinion, that when Chief O’Brion learned that it was possibly police officers that were responsible, he should have immediately reported that fact to the Selectmen as well, but he did not.”
“It is my opinion, that as the person responsible for the discipline of his employees, he should not have prematurely characterized their conduct in the press.”
“It is my opinion Chief O’Brion should have attended the selectmen’s meeting on February 26, 2007, but he did not.”
“It is my opinion, that he has not dealt with this incident and his employees in a timely manner, although the specifics are confidential employee matters which I cannot discuss at this time.”
“It is my opinion, that the incident brings to light an unacceptable lack of respect by the police department towards the fire department. The mere fact that the incident occurred, reflects not just a lack of respect for the fire department, but also a serious lack in the command authority of the police department.”
“For these reasons, I move that the Board of Selectmen express their serious concerns about the way this incident has been handled by Chief O’Brion, through a vote of no confidence.”
As soon as Raccio finished speaking, Selectman Pat Jewett said she had been unaware of this until just now.
Raccio asked if he could respond and then said, “Mrs. Jewett I contacted you by telephone to discuss a vote of no confidence last night, and subsequently at 7:30 p.m., I left a confidential envelope for the vote of no confidence at town hall for you.” Raccio had brought the letter and supporting documentation to Town Hall because Jewett does not use a computer, and has no access to e-mail.
Raccio went on by stating that he made a follow up phone call to Town Hall and was told that Jewett’s husband, Will, had picked up the document. “Is that not true?”
Jewett agreed that she had gotten the document, and that she had indeed send the letter despite her earlier statement, but she contended that her husband had not brought the document to her. “I do my own dirty work,” she declared.
Peeples said, “I could not echo Al’s statements any better myself. There’s obviously a lack of ability to bring things to a quick closure.”
The vote was 4 – 1 with Jewett voting no.
Then Raccio moved that the vote of no confidence be entered into the Town record. That passed by the same 4 – 1 vote.
Jewett said, “We’ve all made mistakes. We need to have faith people are trying.”
No Women on Board
by Maureen Gillum
This election day, something will likely happen in Hudson that hasn’t occurred in almost thirty years. With the only woman selectman’s term ending, and no females running, there will soon be only men on the Hudson Board of Selectmen (BOS) for the first time in decades. Alvirne High School students – indeed AHS graduates in the last ten years - have never seen Hudson’s key governing board without a woman. The last time BOS didn’t have a woman seated, gasoline was 75 cents a gallon, and Alvirne High nearly burned to the ground.
“Technically, March 13 is my last official day in office,” shared BOS Kathleen MacLean, who opted out of re-election. The 20-year resident who served one three-year term emphasized, “I really did love it” as the BOS “oversees everything.” She liked “seeing how everything works,” interacting with “so many dedicated citizen volunteers,” and “going to lots of fun community events.”
MacLean cited plans to “temporarily retire for one year and travel the states” with her husband, Joseph. She is also stepping down as a part-time teacher at Infant Jesus School (Nashua). The couple’s first stop in April will be to visit their only child, Sister Julia, who recently entered the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Alma, Michigan.
She also downplayed the gender issue. While some told her “the only reason I was elected was because I was a woman,” she believes her constituents voted for “who she was, and what she stood for.” She called her BOS compatriots - Chairman Richard Maddox, Vice Chair Shawn Jasper, Ken Massey, and Ben Nadeau -- “gentlemen.”
As MacLean leaves office she acknowledged, “I’ve made my share of mistakes,” but she is also proud she’s tried to “stay above the fray,” act “with dignity,” and seemed to have “a calming effect” on the board. She also admitted, “I can see myself getting involved again after our sabbatical. I certainly enjoyed and learned a lot being a Selectman.”
Prior to MacLean, several Hudson women made key BOS contributions. Most recently, Terry Stewart served three terms (1997 - 2006) and acted as former Vice Chair. As a citizen, Stewart recently shepherded petitioned Warrant Article 30 (for two additional police officers) to the ballot with heated debates. Reviewing her BOS years, Stewart thoughtfully assessed, “I was most proud of building the new public works garage for the DPW and our town.” As a citizen, she praises Police Chief Gendron with “accreditation and building one of the most respected departments in the state today.”
“Women offer a different perspective and have come a long way in politics overall,” stated Stewart, a resident since the 1960s. Recalling many late-night intense meetings, she also warned, “Politics isn’t for the faint of heart, or thin skinned.”
A few other exceptional women power-housed the BOS from 1992 - 2004; several of those years, only one man survived Hudson’s BOS. “Shawn (Jasper) took it okay and was always a good sport,” laughed Rhona Charbonneau, who moved to Hudson in 1951, and served as BOS from 1993 - 2003. Citing the new Police Station, purchase of Lion’s Hall and the widening of Lowell Road, Charbonneau affirmed, “Under women’s leadership, we achieved a lot.” Recollecting her first defeated BOS race in 1968, Charbonneau laughed, “I was naïve then and put flyers in mailboxes.” Since then, the highly respected Republican leader went on to serve as State Representative, VP of the NH Senate, and most recently Hillsborough’s County Commissioner.
Charbonneau also identified a discouraging and wider trend of fewer women in government. “It’s harder to get women involved today.” She also assessed, “Men work hard; women work much harder. Women also typically don’t have egos or personal agendas.”
Charbonneau’s well-deserved awards for her years of dedicated service include: Hudson Citizen of the Year (2001), Edna McKenna Community Service, and the Governor Thompson Award for her long-standing work for the Republican Party. “It was all a way to give back and I loved every minute of it,” shared Charbonneau warmly, “If I were 55 again, I’d run for Congress in a heart beat.”
There was also the much-beloved “Town Mother of Hudson.” The late Ann Seabury was the first woman BOS Chair in the early 1990s and Selectman/Town councilor (1984 - 1986; 1992-2004). She was also a founding (1966) member (later Co-President) of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) of the Hudson Community Club; School District Clerk (1970 - 2005); District trainer for Girls Scouts; staunch advocate for the Hudson library and police; minute-taker; and a substitute at Hudson Memorial for 25 years. Tragically, Ann Marie (McNally) Seabury died in August 2005, leaving a large void in her family and the very heart of Hudson. Extending Ann’s legacy, her husband (Brad) and daughter (Suellen Quinlan) remain indefatigable Hudson volunteers, respectively serving as Zoning Board of Adjustments Chair and on the Planning Board.
Other women served BOS, too. E. Lorraine Madison succeeded Seabury as BOS Chair (2000). Long-time Library Trustee, Lisa Riley, served briefly on BOS (resigned 5-02). Fran Parkhurst and Nan Cote served within the Town Council in the 1980s. Phyllis Keeney is believed to be Hudson’s first woman Selectman (1974 - 1977) and later fulfilled one term as State Senator.
Selectmen, in concert with the annual town meeting, have long governed Hudson. Up until the mid-1980s, Hudson BOS consisted of three members, but then expanded to its present five member format. Briefly (1986 - 1992), Hudson’s government was comprised of a Town Council with a Municipal Charter, but reverted back to a BOS format in 1992 via a repeal. As the chief governing board, the BOS also uphold “liaison assignments” to 18 town committees, such as planning board, school, and budget committee, and eleven departments like fire, police, finance, library, public works, and recreation. Given their enormous dedication, and the nominal annual pay ($3,200.04), selectmen are largely considered civic volunteers – like most town committee members.
Ironically, while BOS is loosing its only woman, the Hudson School Board looks like it may gain one for the first time in several years. With two open slots and two candidates on the ballot, newcomer Brenda Levesque appears to be a shoe-in, along with incumbent Rich Nolan for SAU 81.
What will life be like without a woman on the Hudson BOS? Time will tell, and it won’t likely last long. Even now, rumors swirl of putting a female write-in BOS candidate in for next Tuesday’s election.