‘Whoa Rec!’

by Tom Tollefson


Ralph Carpentiere, Sean Sendall, and Tommy Scurini put together a ball rack with Calvin 4

You expect to hear the two and three syllable pump-up chants at a Celtics game, but the Hudson Recreation summer staff has also adopted a chant of their own, used every day after the last spot of the Community Center is thoroughly cleaned and just before everyone clocks out.  Being a championship team in their own right, they all put all their hands together and shout, “Whoa Rec!”

This chant was started a few years ago by a few of the former counselors, and has been continued by the current staff.  According to staff member Tommy Scurini, it builds comradery, and they have no plans to stop it anytime soon. 

“Keep it going,” Scurini said.  “Whoa Rec forever.”

Many of the staff members believe the comradery and teamwork of the group is the key to the program’s success. 

“We’re working as a good team.  No one is slacking,” second year staff member Jess Destramp said.

This “team” is made up of 17 regular staff members, 4 substitute staff members, four CITs (Counselors in training), and three substitute CITs.  The staff has become a blend of both new faces and more experienced ones.  Eight of the “teammates” are in at least their third summer at the program. 

Everyone on staff spent two days setting up the Community Center and training for the job.  Part of their preparation day consisted of the required CPR education, taught by Chief Shawn Murray, Captain Dave Morin, and a few other Hudson Firefighters. 

First year CIT Ashley Tomaswick had positive input for the training. 

“I feel a lot more comfortable with people here and what I’m going to be doing,” she said.

The staff referred to the training as being “educational” and “nicely done.”

“It’s always nice to be refreshed on something that’s important to the safety of the children,” six year staff member Ralph Carpentiere said.

This year, the parent volunteers will also receive training.  They may not be required to have CPR certification, but Recreation Director Dave Yates and second year Summer Program Director Malley held a mandatory training night for all parent volunteers on Thursday, July 10.

The meeting educated parent volunteers on the correct ways of dealing with children in the areas of the program where they would be helping such as lunch time, morning help, field trips, and arts and crafts.  They also had an overview of first aid, expectations of the parents, and filled out background checks. 

“We just felt that for the safety of the kids we do background checks and offer a mini-training session of what our staff receives,” Yates said. 

The summer program also has new changes in store for the children.  In addition to the traditional rec field trips, the children will be visiting the Boston Common for swan boat rides and picnics and the Gun Stock Ski Resort in Gilford, New Hampshire for rock climbing and bike trails. 

The kids will also have more opportunities to play field games such as capture the flag, wiffle ball, obstacle courses, kick ball, and parachute games by frequently having supervised trips to the fields at Dr. H.O. Smith Elementary School.  These fields are next to the Hudson Rec Center, the site formerly used in an effort to house the program until it moved to the Community Center in 2005.

“Kids come into this expecting what they had in the past, but with the new edition, they’ll have something new to enjoy,” veteran staff member Sean Sendall said. 

As if that’s not enough, the kids will also have the option of going to the AMC Theater (In Tyngsboro, Massachusetts) movie camp on July 16 and 30. 

Lastly, is the addition of the bubble table next to the outdoor basketball court.  The table has a large container of bubble mixer and multiple bubble wands for blowing bubbles of all sizes.

“I think they (the new editions to the program) will add energy and diversity to the program, and I’m very excited and energized about the new staff and fresh ideas,” Malley said.

J
ess Destramp practicing CPR 

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Emergency Repairs Authorized for School

by Lynne Ober

After several failed warrant articles for a new elementary school, the Litchfield School Board faced a serious dilemma when this years annual fire inspection found a significant number of issues.

Cindy Couture previously told the Budget Committee the inspection was done and the district had not kept a detailed list of all problems.  Apparently if the fire marshal gave us an item one year, it did not appear the second year, but we didnt realize that we had to keep all the items from previous years.

The school board has tried to balance minimal upkeep of Griffin Memorial School with responsible expenditures as it presented warrant after warrant article.  The rationale was well-intentioned as each expenditure had to be justified against the possibility of no longer using the building as a school.

This years inspection, done by SFC Engineering Partnership Inc., uncovered several serious issues. 

Litchfield Fire Chief Thomas Schofield presented an overview to the school board in late June an a full presentation this week.  Superintendent Elaine Cutler asked for the overview before the end of the school year so that, if needed, money could be set aside for critical work.  

Schofield told the board that he provided no reports to SFC personnel before their inspection.  I didnt want them to read the architects report and come with their minds made up.  I wanted them to walk through the school and identify those areas that need to be addressed.

When the dust cleared, the emergency repairs needed to open the school in the fall came to almost $320,000.  Business Administrator Steve Martin was able to get quotes from vendors and on June 30, the last day of the fiscal year, the school board met again and set aside money from this years surplus so the work can be done over the summer.

As part of this review, new exit doors are being made in the school.  One will use part of what had been classroom 5 and two will be in the gym.  The 1930s building had to be closed and cannot be used even for storage because storage implies a person will be in and out of the area.  Of all the issues, these two caused Principal Bo Schlichter to worry.  

We are losing a classroom with the new exit door and we have to have some storage, Schlichter told the board.  I was planning to use the teachers lounge for speech therapy this coming year and have learned that this room is too far from an exit to be safe for student usage.

The fire alarm safety system was found to be inadequate.  Simplex Grinnell, who had been the supporting vendor for the old system, worked during the weekend to provide a quote to the school board, who accepted it and set aside $94,030 for an upgraded system that solves all the fire alarm problems, including inadequate exit lighting.

The board also entered into a three-year lease for two portable classrooms.  During the initial meeting there was discussion about putting those onto the playground, but by the time that quotes had come in, there was enough money to include site preparation, which means that the playground can remain a playground.

Although the board discussed leasing versus buying portable classrooms, it decided to go with leasing reconditioned classrooms and said if they decided to buy, they wanted to buy new set portables.  With a lease the vendor is responsible for maintaining the portable classrooms.

Martin said the classrooms would not be delivered until mid-August.  He and Schlichter briefly discussed setup needed and whether this could be done by the time school opened.

The leased portables cost $28,425, but site preparation, utilities, installation of a propane gas tank for heating, and fencing around the propane tank ran the first year cost to $68,425.

The board also authorized the use of pods for storage at a cost of $3,771.  

The biggest ticket item was for $131,278.  This will include construction of exit doors, a bridge over the swale for exit, electrical work, replacing doors that swing in, not out, installing smoke doors, adding illuminated exit signs in all classrooms and replacing a faulty exit door from room 16.

Because several classrooms run multiple extension cords – some extending into hallways, the report said all extension cords had to be removed.  Schofield reiterated that.  It says all extension cords have to be removed.  It doesnt say that you have to get rid of your equipment, but you cant use multiple extension cords to keep the equipment plugged in.

After much discussion about this and about the equipment used in the classrooms, Couture suggested that teachers switch to laptops and use battery power during the day, recharging the batteries overnight when the other equipment is shut down.  The board considered this option and discussed installing more electrical panels.  However, Martin was reluctant to install more electrical panels because he felt the whole system would have to be redone.

It was finally decided to spend $27,013 on laptops and extra batteries for the teachers.

All votes passed 4 - 0 with Pat Jewett absent.  Jewett had been present for all the discussion, but had an appointment and could not stay for the votes.

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Hudson District Set to Receive Major Increase in Federal Funds

The Hudson School District received notification from the New Hampshire Department of Education that it qualifies for approximately $469,000 in grant money for the 2008-2009 school year.

The funds are federal grants distributed by the state to districts based on the number of socio-economically disadvantaged students to improve reading and mathematics performance.

According to Assistant Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond, the Title 1 grant was unanticipated and did not factor into the 2008-2009 budget.  Ormond explained to the school board Monday night that the allocation of is based on 2005 census data but she has not obtained the exact data used by the Department of Education that would account for such a massive increase over the average $12,000 the district usually is offered.

Ormond provided a proposed budget that would include spending $50,000 on a mathematics program and an additional $120,000 on a reading program for middle and high school students.  Included in the budget, however, are several federal requirements that must be funded including $93,829 for school choice transportation and $46,914 for professional development.  Some $40,000 is proposed to be set aside for a Title I coordinator and $25,000 for support and professional development for elementary reading teachers.  Presentation of Mary Academy will get a portion of the funds that will be decided upon by the district.

School Board Member Rich Nolan expressed concern that acceptance of the funds could be a first step in a loss of control to the state.  Ormond responded that there is no loss of control at the beginning, but as the district continues to accept grants the regulations and paperwork become increasingly burdensome.  In the past, the district has refused funds because the amounts were far too low to be worthwhile, Ormond said.

Superintendent Randy Bell said that even though the money is allocated to schools with a percentage of socio-economically disadvantaged students, there are no restrictions to other students benefiting from the programs and staff it brings with it.

The board voted 5 - 0 to accept the grant but will discuss the specifics at the July 21 meeting.

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Bridge Proposed for Hudson’s Pelham Road Culvert/Dam Site

by Gina M. Votour

A decision has been made for further analysis into a possible bridge construction over Second Brook at the Pelham Road Culvert/Dam site in Hudson.  

Although the state has determined that this area is a dam, it has not yet been registered as such with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES).  The state has instructed that the structure must be removed if it is not soon registered as a dam.

Back in March, a warrant article passed allocating $350,000 toward repairs to the dam.  This stemmed from the town’s concern that a complete removal of the dam could pose an increased threat for downstream flooding.  

However, NHDES advised that registering the area as a dam would be classified as High Hazard, meaning that it would contain a higher liability rate.  The possibility of lawsuits against the town would therefore lurk in the event of a dam breach.  This conclusion was due to the results of measurements that NHDES had taken of sill elevations on the site.

CLD Consulting Engineers and Stephens Associates Consulting Engineers, an engineering subcontractor for CLD, recommended bridge construction as an alternate plan, citing that this could reduce or eradicate storm water storage.  

Acting Town Engineer Gary Webster updated the Board of Selectmen on this predicament at their June 24 meeting.  Appearing alongside Webster was John Byatt from CLD Consulting Engineers and Robert Stephens of Stephen’s Associates. 

“Right now the structure is neither a dam nor a bridge, it’s a culvert,” said Stephens.  Stephens went on to explain that “what we’re proposing to do is….determine whether the culvert as a dam provides any meaningful flood control.  If so, it would have positive effects on flooding downstream and, if not, [to] remove it as liability from the town and replace it with a bridge.”

“DES has offered to let the town determine whether to remove [the culvert] and replace it with a bridge in lieu of registering it as a dam.  That’s the issue that we’re trying to help the town decide with this study,” he concluded. 

After some discussion, the Selectmen voted unanimously 5-0 in favor of the amendment to further analyze the situation. 

Through this amendment, a hydraulic analysis will assess the effectiveness of the dam in controlling different flood levels.  Should the town decide to proceed with bridge construction, a bridge opening size would then be hydraulically determined through the contract amendment.

The fees for this additional analysis will total $10,900, thereby bringing the contract grand total with CLD for bridge and culvert analyses to $66,350.

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