by Tommy Gates
Greg Emanuelson waits for his turn at bat.
It seems as if manager Matt Hudson’s 10-year-old baseball kids are making quite a name for themselves wherever they play this summer, as this talented group has compiled a tremendous 14-3 over the summer in tournaments, and they are still very much alive in the Salem Tournament despite a tough 4-1 loss to Riverside-Bradford last Saturday morning.
Terrific fielding plays and tough pitching from both teams had runs at a minimum. Danny Brown tossed the first three innings for Hudson and gave up just two runs; P. J. Frasca came on to finish up and also only allowed two runs. A key play in the fourth inning saw left fielder, Cam Coulter, charge a single and hit cut-off man Danny Brown with a strike, and brown wheeled and fired a bee-bee to catcher Brandon Rule, who blocked the plate and tagged the runner out. Hudson was only able to scrape one run across in the sixth inning and lost 4-1, but they’ll be hungry to get back to action Tuesday in the losers’ bracket final, in hopes of getting another shot at undefeated Riverside.
The Hudson 10-year-olds won their first two Salem games when they edged Methuen East 6-4 and then defeated a tough Salem team 5-4, with Derek Hudson and Mitch L’Hussier sharing those pitching victories. Andrew Stevens (who plays first base and third) and catcher Cameron Blake have been red hot at the plate for Hudson, and they have also been magnets with their gloves in the field all season long.
These Hudson kids are also still alive in the Hopkinton Tournament as they beat Nashua North 5-4 in their first game, and then konked Connecticut Valley 11-7 before losing a tough 4-3 game in seven innings last Sunday night to Amherst. L’Hussier and Hudson pitched three innings a piece for Hudson and this game was tied at 1-1 after six innings. Brandon Rule led off with a bunt single before Danny brown laid down another bunt that was mishandled. Greg Emanuelson has been clutch all season long at the plate, and he singled in Rule for a 2-1 lead, while Brown scored on a wild pitch to give Hudson a 3-1 lead going into the last of the season. Amherst got two runners on and took advantage of a couple of bad bounces and were able to score three runs for the 4-3 victory.Hudson assistant coach Jeff Emanuelson noted after the game “These kids have been a pleasure to watch and coach this summer. It seems as if whoever the manager sends up to pinch hit or pinch run, or to go in the field, they come up with a big play, a clutch hit, or a big stolen base. They are all having fun this summer and that’s the bottom line. We are also lucky to have a big fan base wherever we play who all come to our games and cheer the kids on. The kids all get a big thrill out of it, and, hey, we’ve still got a lot of ball left to play!”
Whispered conferences among teammates as they tried to choose the best answer.
At the end of last week, the anticipation and hoop-la surrounding the release of the seventh and last Harry Potter book reached a frenzy. JK Rowling (rhymes with bowling and not with howling) is the richest woman in England, but was nearly a starving writer when she sold the first book in the Harry Potter series.
Both the Aaron Cutler Memorial Library in Litchfield and the Hills Memorial Library in Hudson staged Harry Potter events for their young and teen-age readers.
Rowling is a fan of Greek mythology and has made the Harry Potter books an amalgam of mythology and beyond. Wizards combine with trivia to make fun events for fans and staff at both libraries, as they took advantage of this to plan and offer fun events.
At a Thursday night event at Hills Memorial Library, attendees got to learn a little bit about the wizardry behind the Potter books. Master wizard Glen Walant demonstrated some of his more powerful spells. He then taught the assembled students how to do a few tricks of their own. Who wouldn’t like to know how to fly on a broomstick or be able to cloak themselves in an invisible cloak? The wizardry is just part of the fun of Harry Potter and his friends. One lucky fan won a copy of the new book, but had to wait until the official release date to pick it up.
Friday at Aaron Cutler Memorial Library wizards in training formed two teams and had a hard fought trivia contest. The books are steeped with mythology and wizardry so that people of all ages can enjoy the stories. Contestants at Aaron Cutler Memorial Library were treated to Butterbeer and rock cakes served by the Three Broomsticks.
Do you know what kind of owl Hedwig is? Or do you know what kind of dragon Norbert is? How about this one - a hippogriff is the offspring of a griffin and what other animal? Harry Potter fans can answer these, as well as other questions.
Harry Potter has friendship, teamwork, schoolwork and fun. The books teach mythology as they entertain readers. Fans will finally find out if Severus Snape is a good guy or a villain. Voldemort and He Who Must Not be Named have been protagonists throughout the series. Harry and his friends have been triumphing over many obstacles as they learned to be wizards. The final book in the series has fans both eager get, but upset to see an end to a great series.
Libraries and bookstores had to sign a multiple page contract agreeing to utmost secrecy to even get the books sent to them prior to the release date.
“They’ve always asked us to sign, but this time there’s been an increased interest in total secrecy,” said Litchfield Library Director Vicki Varick. “We had to sign the document and fax it back, but there was so much interest in this book that they could not accommodate all the people who wanted to fax paperwork back, so they kept extending the date and extending the date.”
As the participants at both events counted down to the time when the newest Harry Potter would be available to them, they also worried about the stories they had heard. “I really don’t want any of the characters to die and yet the news is filled with the death of two characters,” said one fan, who said she had seen all the movies and read all the books. “My mom ordered the newest book for me so I should get it Saturday and then I’m going to sit down and read until I get to the end.”
And probably that statement shows the best of Harry Potter – teachers and parents agree that anything, which gets their kids reading, is good. Harry is one of the good ones.
One of Litchfield’s hardest working selectmen is Alfred Raccio, who is in his second year on the board. Raccio was Litchfield’s Welfare Officer last year and at the direction of the board, re-wrote all the welfare policies and developed new forms to bring Litchfield’s program up-to-date with state guidelines.
Then, with police union negotiations on the horizon for selectmen, they asked him to review police SOPs and the contract, and ensure that what was in the contract was consistent with the SOPs. Also, that the police department, where applicable, had policies that were in keeping with the policies governing other town departments. After a lengthy review, Raccio suggested only one change; to have selectmen have a part in any disciplinary process, as they do in other departments.
Raccio also took on the role of Selectmen’s Liaison to the Planning Board, a position held for years by this year’s Chairman, Raymond Peeples. Sitting on the Planning Board is time-consuming. There are numerous documents to read and plans to review. The Planning Board had a number of “special” meetings that include site walks, viewing properties or, most recently, watching the fire department pump water out of a pond.
“I’d also been asked to work on union negotiations with the police department,” said Raccio. “We (the selectmen) need to present a united front and work toward a contract settlement that is fair to our employees and fair to the taxpayers. It’s going to be a lot of work.”
At this week’s selectmen’s meeting, the board voted to ask the union to present their preliminary requests as part of the negotiating process and also chose Selectman Andrew Santom to work on the negotiations with Raccio.
“After reading Attorney McGrath’s notes, I realized how much time this was going to take,” said Raccio. “I have notified Chairman Peeples that I need to step away from the Planning Board. I’m hoping another selectman will step forward and take that role. I don’t think Pat has ever held that job, nor either of the new selectmen. There’s only so many nights in any one week that each of us can be outside the home.”
Litchfield selectmen also function as Town Administrator in the absence of a professional staff member to direct the day-to-day workings of department heads. Although they hold quarterly department head meetings, there is also a great amount of liaison work that needs to be done. In other towns, while selectmen also sit on boards such as the Planning Board, they do not also carry the burden of managing and running the town because Town Administrators take on that role.
“I enjoyed my time on the Planning Board,” said Raccio, “but I have to be reasonable about how much time and effort I can put into this and ensuring that we get a fair and equitable union contract in a reasonable timeframe is very important so I’m putting that first.”
According to Peeples, he has already queried his board to see who will step forward to fill this slot.
Fire trucks evoke images of Dalmatians and men in fire gear, while police cruisers send the message to motorists to slow down and would-be criminals to think twice. The two departments seem so simple; one fights fires and the other fights crime. However, the inner workings of these two departments are much more complex than they appear.
In Hudson alone, the fire station responded to over 3,398 service calls in 2006. That equals out to about 65 calls per week. Although not all of the calls are fire-related, they are all in response to an emergency need in the community. The police station is also busy in assisting citizens. In 2006, they made over 1,200 arrests. Each week, they have 750 to 875 calls for service.
Managing these important departments are the chiefs, whose duties change with the evolving demands placed on their departments. In the case of the fire station, Fire Chief Shawn Murray does more than oversee the response calls to fires. He is responsible for supervising Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Hazardous Materials Response (Haz-Mat), Domestic and Bio-Terrorism, and Emergency Management.
“The fire chief provides the direction to the organization to assure the maintenance of an effective fire prevention training and fire suppression program for the town,” Murray explained.
Included in these duties is hiring personnel, delegating tasks, acquiring financial resources, establishing departmental operating policy, and strategically planning for the future. Under Murray’s command is a fire department with an annual budget of $4.4 million and 26 firefighters, 5 captains, 4 dispatchers, 4 lieutenants, 2 deputy chiefs, 2 secretaries, 1 fire inspector, and 1 fire prevention officer.
Murray was appointed Chief in December of 2003. He had previously been the Assistant Fire Chief of Operations since May 2001. His career began in 1980 when, at the age of 18, he worked as a United States Air Force Firefighter and has climbed the ranks in both the Goffstown and Hudson Fire Departments. Aside from managing Hudson’s fire department, Murray also collaborates with nearby fire departments, both area- and state-wide. The fire departments operate under a mutual aid agreement that, in the event of a big emergency, nearby fire stations will assist in either fighting the fire or filling in the vacancies left at the fire station that is responding to the call. It is understood that the stations are to repay the favor in the future so that no one town is paying in taxes for the fire protection of another.
The mutual assistance concept extends to the police stations as well. Many times, both the police and fire department will respond to the same call. They work together for the safety of the community. Police Chief Richard “Dick” Gendron has duties similar to Murray’s. He oversees the hiring of personnel, delegates work, and administers disciplinary action as necessary. He has been a full-time police officer since 1979 and has worked as a Patrol Sergeant, Detective Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain of Operations, Interim Chief of Police, and, finally, Chief of Police. His integrity and vision have gained him the respect of many of Hudson’s residents. He oversees the operations of a department with a $5.4 million budget and 37 police officers.
Litchfield is so small that is it often overshadowed by nearby towns. In the 2005 census cited on the town’s Website, Litchfield was listed as having 8,277 residents. Compared to the populations of 24,837 for neighboring Londonderry, and 24,568 for Hudson, Litchfield is very small. Yet, it still requires dedicated law enforcement and firefighting personnel to keep the town safe. In charge of the Police Department is Chief Joseph O’Brion, who was appointed by the Board of Selectmen in 2004. That same year, Tom Schofield was elected to serve as part-time fire chief. Although they both serve the same people, they have different roles in serving the community.
Chief Schofield officially works part-time as chief, but dedicates many unpaid hours to the supervision of the fire station. When not responding to fire calls, he can be found at his business, Suburban Auto & Truck Parts, in Hudson. Many folks coming to the store know him by name and trust him as a neighbor. Through business interactions at his store, Schofield maintains contact with the community and awareness of the town needs.
At the station, only two of Litchfield’s 29 firefighters are full-time. They are at the station Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The other members of the crew are part-time, or “call” firefighters, who respond to emergency calls from their homes or workplaces. Having only two full-time firefighters keeps the costs down at the station so Schofield is able to keep the annual budget at $595,403. This means of efficiency keeps the town safe while saving the taxpayers money.
About five minutes from the firehouse is the police station, located within town hall. The town report states that the police department is operating at a budget of $1,029,413 for the year. Chief O’Brion has a staff of eight full-time and six part-time police officers under his command. On the police department’s Website, O’Brion states, “The Litchfield Police Department provides 24 hour police protection, which includes patrol, investigations, community policing efforts, and crime prevention.”
Chief O’Brion declined to be interviewed about his department’s involvement with the community.
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