Rain Waits Until Old Home Day Is Over

by Lynne Ober


Brenna Conway, 8, is a dancer who has won a year-long dance scholarship.

Saturday, September 6, dawned rainy and wet, but, before the start of the road race and walk at 8:30, the rain stopped and it waited for Old Home Day to end before starting again.

As the last of the walkers reached the finish line, the day-long auction began; this is a big auction, and there are bargains for all ages.  One set of grandparents were thrilled to buy snowshoes for their grandchildren.  As always, there was a mountain of goods — something for everyone.

Many people also checked out the White Elephant Table and, from the sounds, there were a lot of happy people in that area!

Throughout the day, raffle prize winners were announced.  There were hourly winners as well as grand prize winners.  But you didn’t have to buy a raffle ticket to have numerous other chances to win — there was a silent auction for the first time, the beloved Penny Sale, a pie-eating contest, and lots of children’s games with prizes for all winners.

The doll carriage and bike parade kicked off at 10:00 a.m.  Contestants were awarded gold medals.

Throughout the day, there were Civil War re-enactments by the 13th Massachusetts Drill Infantry.  Several Pelham residents had belonged to this group during the Civil War.  At noon they fired a gun salute.

Raggmopps followed with a dog and kid fashion show.  Fashion designer Kim Catizone designs for dogs and children.  The fashion show had some of her newest fashions.  Looking for Hannah Montana PJs or doggy outfits that match your bridal party?  Call Kim.  She also showed her line of doggy snowsuits for those who want to take their dogs on a winter’s walk.

George Saterial is a magician extraordinaire and he wants the audience as close as possible.  He urged everyone to move their chairs closer, but it didn’t help — nobody could figure out how he performed those amazing tricks to the toe-tapping music.  “How’d he do that one?” echoed throughout his very attentive audience.

Then it was time for the dancing from Dance Concepts.  A variety of tap, jazz, hip hop, and lyrical numbers pleased the standing-room-only crowd.  The costumes were beautiful.  The music and the dancing were very entertaining.

Between the dancing and high-energy women’s kickboxing and fitness demo, there was time to grab some lunch in the food tent.  There was a nice variety to choose from.

CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team) was selling T-shirts and nachos, and the Fire Auxiliary was selling their red-hot ‘Support Our Troop’ T-shirts at the fire station.

All day, the kids’ games and bounce slide were filled with happy children.

O’Halloran Irish Dancers made everyone want to get up and work off their lunch with their energetic performance.

The Family Martial Arts demo team performed a lively selection of their skills before the grand parade kicked off at 2:30.

After the parade, Dave Hardwick and Friends performed both Rock and Folk music.  It was definitely time to sit down, listen, and rest tired feet.

As always, the day ended with a chicken barbeque dinner.  This year, for the first time, take-out dinners were available.

Once again, the Old Home Day committee worked hard and could bask in the glow of their accomplishments, as this was perhaps the best ever Old Home Day — best ever until next year, that is.


Dogs model their snowsuits

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Pelham Soup Stand Raises Money and Awareness for ARNNE

by Karen Plumley

Accompanied by her big sister Yana, left, and her friend Sonya, in back, Tanya, right, poses under the ARNNE  tent by a steaming crockpot of her “Creamy Corn Chowder” and accepts donations to help support abandoned and sheltered animals.

Another successful Old Home Day in Pelham brought in the local visitors on Saturday, September 6.  With the threat of tropical storm Hanna looming, undaunted souls erected their tents and tables with goods and information on town groups, local businesses, and charities.  Patiently wading through the crowds, one could certainly find a fair share of hidden gems. 

One such treasure that stood out on this dreary day was located at the tent occupied by the Animal Rescue Network of New England (ARNNE).  Young Tara Holden, 8, of Pelham, stood proudly representing the charity of her choice, selling her delectable, destined to be famous corn chowder.  Her efforts to concoct and perfect a recipe over many weeks of trial was made even more poignant by the fact that all her proceeds would be directly donated to help the plight of abandoned animals.

A few weeks prior to Old Home Day, Tara approached me with the idea of making soup to sell for the animals, said Taras mother Melanie.  Like a lemonade stand, only for soup, Tara added.  Her family thought Taras idea was wonderful and agreed to support her in her worthy endeavor.  Her soup was well received.  Many people stopped by to say hello, taste her soup, and make a donation, said Melanie. 

Taras twin passions ­ cooking and animals ­ sparked at a very young age.  Tara has loved to cook since she went from crawling to standing.  At one-and-a-half years old she would cook for hours at her play kitchen.  As soon as she was able to pull a chair over to the counter, she was stirring soup, scrambling eggs and flipping pancakes, Melanie said.  Her older siblings and her parents help Tara by doing the manual labor such as chopping vegetables, but all the ingredients, amounts, methods, and ideas come from her.

As for her love of animals, Tara began her association with ARNNE when her big sister, Yana, decided that she wanted to rescue animals.  Yana started by gathering donations for dog food and blankets and her zeal continued during the elementary years.  In second grade when Tara was only three, Yana launched the Animal Rescue Club at Pelham Elementary School. 

Inspired by Yana, Tara found her own way of helping out by combining both her loves.  After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, many stranded animals were brought to Pelham and desperately needed fresh food.  Tara stepped in and used her remarkably mature culinary talents to help prepare ground beef and rice mixes, which they donated to the shelter.

At Old Home Day, Yana and Joseph (Taras older brother), along with a few other friends helped Tara serve up the steamy, creamy cups of goodness.  They all had a wonderful time working for such an important cause, said Melanie, who added that their collective experience with ARNNE has brought her family closer together.  Whenever we become a little bit too self-absorbed, we know its time to go to the kennel and help out, Melanie said.

ARNNE boasts a volunteer program where families can foster, transport, feed, and walk the animals, and even print and hang posters.  And now, the group also offers a junior volunteer program for middle and high school children looking to earn community service hours.  Contact ARNNE by calling 635-2211 or visit www.arnne.org.  Donations can be mailed to ARNNE, P. O. Box 1053, Pelham, NH 03076.


Tanya prepares a sample of her “Creamy Corn Chowder” at Pelham Old Home Day on Saturday, September 6.

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Pelham School Board, Residents Wrestle with Public Kindergarten

by Tom Tollefson and Lynne Ober

A dozen Pelham residents went to the public session of the school boards meeting on Wednesday, September 3, not knowing what to expect about public kindergarten.  The session was not televised.

The purpose of the meeting was to begin discussion between the school board and residents about providing a public, half-day (morning or afternoon session) kindergarten.  Pelham is one of only 12 towns in the country without public kindergarten. 

Its a rarity that a school board meeting is not televised.  We wanted people to really feel comfortable, and sometimes a camera doesnt do that, school board member Eleanor Burton said. 

According to Superintendent Frank Bass, the primary means of publicity for the meeting was the announcement at the last school board meeting on Wednesday, August 27.

Were looking to get the best possible solution for kindergarten and thats why were ensuring the kindergarten issue is on the agenda for each (school board) meeting until the issue is resolved one way or another, Bass said.

The School board hopes that more residents will take part in these discussions at the public session of the board meetings and hopes to resolve the kindergarten issue by mid to late October.

Governor John Lynch recently signed legislation that made it mandatory for all New Hampshire communities to provide public kindergarten beginning in the 2009-2010 school year.  The legislation gives Pelham one year to figure out how to house and educate about 200 kindergarteners in six to eight classrooms, in addition to paying for six teachers, aides and specialists. 

While kindergarten has been mandated, the state law did not change the starting age and children do not need to go to school until age six or first grade.  State law does not mandate busing for kindergarten pupils so a district may not or may not bus when kindergarten starts.

Single parent families or families with two working parents may opt to keep their children in private kindergartens that also provide childcare rather than put their children into half-day kindergarten.  One of the challenges for a school district is that it must prepare to accept all pupils, but may, after the dust clears, find that only a portion of eligible kindergarteners enroll.

According to Bass, salaries for the teachers, aides and specialists, would total $400,000 to $450,000 annually. 

Its a fact of life.  Its mandatory by the state and we dont have a choice, resident Sue DeSmimone said.

The meeting concluded with many questions left unanswered as Bass emphasized that public kindergarten is still in the early planning stages, and more research and development must be done before making concrete decisions.  The board also said upcoming meetings would be held to continue discussions with residents. 

Its important for us as a board to come up with a plan and educate voters on the plan, Linda Kohler said.

The next step is presenting viable alternatives for the board to deliberate over and discuss possible implications, Bass said.

Pelham has the following options for kindergarten, as outlined in the law:

  1. The state will cover 75 percent of the cost for permanent classrooms.  Voters must pass a bond for construction.
  2. The Legislature called for a 100 percent code compliant building, but Ed Murdough, administrator of the state Bureau of School Approval and Facility Management for the state Department of Education, testified before the House Finance Committee that this option would not include heating or septic systems or bathrooms.  Murdough called these school district expenses because they were core requirements of any building.  Murdough likened that type of building to a World War II Quonset hut that might last five years.
  3. The state will pay, for up to three years, for 100 percent of rental and installation for portable classrooms and furniture.  (During legislative hearings, Pelham resident Diane Chubb told the Finance Committee it would be more appropriate for young children to be inside a building, that a school district may put any age children into the portables and do not need to limit portables to the kindergarten population.)
  4. A school district may contract with a private kindergarten provider for up to three years.  The private kindergarten provider must meet state standards.

Options 2 - 4 are designed to allow a town time to pass a bond and get a permanent building.

Not all residents welcomed this plan, and labeled a temporary structure a quick fix.

To do it right, you need more time, but to screw it up you dont need any time, resident Bill Scanzani said in support of a more permanent solution.

The state also has agreed to pay $1,200 for each child attending kindergarten.  Bass believes this number will go up as high as $1,700 per child in coming years, if the state is able to raise and appropriate the funding.

Theyve really extended themselves for us and it is time we take a look at adequate education for kindergarten, School Board member Linda Colher said

Other board members were not as welcoming to the legislation. 

Im not viewing it as a kindergarten issue, its a constitutional issue, one of the board members said. 

Residents were also concerned with the operating cost of a new structure, should the district erect a separate kindergarten building.  It is too soon to estimate the annual operating cost, but the funding will fall on the school district.

One of the next steps in the process, following additional discussions between the residents and boards, will be to take a town vote on which option to pursue and how much money to appropriate through a warrant article in March.  The board agreed against doing anything residents didnt support.

Another future step, will be assembling a committee to make decisions on the kindergarten curriculum.  The committee will be led by assistant superintendent Roxanne Wilson and the members will include a first-grade teacher, elementary school teacher, parent of a future kindergarten age child, kindergarten teacher, kindergarten special needs teacher, elementary school administrator, and possibly a school board member.

If we vote for it and the voters reject it, the state is telling (the school board) that we have to override the will of the people on that; and I wouldnt touch that with a 10-foot pole, a school board member said.

Pelham has until December to come up with answers as to how it will provide a public kindergarten.  The state education commissioner expects to see a plan outlining the long term and short term strategy for kindergarten.

Time is of the essence.  We only have a couple of months to get a plan, Burton said. 

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Windham School Board Submits Proposals to CIP Committee

by Barbara O’Brien

As the new budget season gets underway, school board members have been making preparations for which priorities to present to Windhams Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Committee.  During a recent meeting, the school boards agenda was devoted entirely to this discussion.

The first priority for the 2009-2010 school year, which will begin on July 1 of 2009, will be to finish paying off a 10-year construction and renovation bond used for Windham Center and Windham Middle schools.  The tenth annual payment, due in 2009, will pay off the total $5.992 million bond, which was financed at 4.65 percent.  The final payment will be in the amount of $475,026.

The second priority for next year is for re-locatable classrooms, otherwise known as portables.  The total cost of the proposal, expected to be paid in full by the New Hampshire Department of Education (DOE), is $609,169.  The purpose of the two portable classrooms is to address space needs within the school district, most notably the need to find a place for kindergarten.  The state has mandated that all school districts have a public kindergarten in place by September of 2009.  State law provides for 100 percent funding reimbursement for re-locatable units for kindergarten implementation.  A facilities study committee is expected to determine the best location to place these portable classrooms.

CIP priority No. 3 is a proposal calling for $140,000 to be set aside for the possible replacement of septic systems at any of Windhams school buildings.  School board members feel that adding two re-locatable or portable classrooms to an existing school site could result in an added burden on existing septic systems.  The possibility of receiving 30 percent state funding on such a project is being investigated. 

Also deemed a top priority is determining what type of school might be needed next in Windham.  At this point, the school district has contracted with Barker Architects to perform a complete study of the three schools (Center School, Windham Middle School and Golden Brook Elementary).  Windham High School, scheduled to open in September of 2009, is not included in the study.  School board members anticipate having sufficient information within the next several months to determine the best direction to follow for future construction and/or renovations.  The estimated cost of another school is set at approximately $28.266 million. The need for permanent classrooms to house a public kindergarten will be taken into account during the study being conducted. 

Also ranked as a top priority is the need for a high school track, an artificial turf athletic field and a second gymnasium at Windham High School; for a total anticipated cost of $4 million. 

School board members say they feel that for the new high school to be a complete project, the addition of a track is essential.  The track would include a turf field inside the track area.  Fences and field lights also are being considered. The track part of the proposal is estimated to cost about $2.5 million.

The idea of a second gymnasium was eliminated from current construction, but school administrators feel that restoring the facility would allow for additional activities and greatly assist in the scheduling of practices and events.  The second gym is estimated at a cost of about $1.5 million.

Kitchen equipment for Golden Brook, Center and Windham Middle schools also is ranked as a top priority for the towns CIP.  The estimated cost of such equipment and upgrading is about $200,000.

When the high school opens, all meals for the entire school district will be prepared at that location and then delivered to the other schools.  The equipment now used to keep food cold or hot at the three schools is said to be outdated and belongs to the Pelham School District, where hot lunches for students in Windham are prepared.  School board members feel that new equipment is needed to assure the safety and quality of the food that will be served to Windham students.  Plans are to have a contracted firm operating the high school kitchen.  It is not known 0if the firm that will be hired to handle this job will have its own delivery van.  The cost of Windham buying a van for that purpose is included in the $200,000 estimate for new equipment. 

Once the CIP Committee reviews the proposed projects being put forth by school board members, those projects will be ranked according to that committees listing of priorities.  The CIP Committee also will need to take into consideration any proposed town projects put forth by the Windham Board of Selectmen.  The purpose of the CIP is to plan for capital expenditures up to six years in advance of when they might be required. 

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Zimmer Honored for 60 Years in Baseball


Mary Griffin and Don Zimmer share a special laugh.

As the song Take Me Out to the Ball Game turned 100 years old this year, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorate stamp to honor baseball and its heroes.  In Windham at Griffin Park on Tuesday, September 9, a legend with long-standing roots in Windham was presented with a poster-size framed copy of the stamp with a special engraved plaque for his 60 years in baseball.

Windham Postmaster Donald Snow introduced Don Zimmer as thunder and lighting punctuated Zimmers history in baseball with loud booms every time the Yankees were mentioned.  Mary Griffin, who provided the land for the park, greeted Zimmer and his wife, Jean, and mentioned how the Zimmers have supported the park with donations of memorabilia that raised money for baseball and softball.

Youd think I was the mayor up here, he said as he received the commemorative stamp.  I hit .235 lifetime.

Zimmer has served as senior baseball adviser for the Tampa Bay Rays since January 8, 2004.  Zimmer is in uniform as a coach during spring training and for pre-game practices at all regular season home games and most road games.  He also assists the Rays in community affairs and wears No. 60 for his 60 years in baseball.

Postmaster Snow gave those assembled Zimmers managerial and player history highlighting that Zimmer has been a major league coach or manager every year since 1971, 35 years total.  Before joining the Rays he spent eight seasons as bench coach on the staff of New York Yankees Manager Joe Torre, managed the Red Sox in 1978 when they lost a one-game playoff to the Yankees and their right fielder Lou Piniella, managed the Yankees for the first 36 games (21-15) of the 1999 season when Torre was recovering from prostate cancer, became the third base coach on Manager Piniellas staff with the Yankees.

Zimmer owns six World Series rings:  four as Yankees coach and two as player for Brooklyn in 1955 and Los Angeles in 1959.  In 1990, he managed the Major League All-Star team that toured Japan.  Don and his wife bought a condo in Seminole, Florida, two years ago after living 49 years on Treasure Island, Florida.   Zimmer and his wife, his high school sweetheart, were married on August 16, 1951, at home plate in the baseball stadium at Elmira, New York.

In his remarks Zimmer spoke of the farm that preceded Griffin Park and coming with his family to have ice cream at a nearby stand to enjoy the view.  He said there never was such a facility when he was growing up in Cincinnati

The Zimmers visited with the many assembled as he signed baseball and trading cards and provided some batting hints to 13-year-old Matt Peterson before signing Petersons bat.  Zimmer posed for pictures with the volunteers who manage the complex as Charlie McMahon complimented the Zimmers on all they have done for baseball and softball in Windham.


From left, Joel Cadoret, Mike Savasland, Don Zimmer, Charlie McMahon and Scott Mueller


Don Zimmer with Windham Postmaster Donald Snow


Matt Peterson gets some tips from the legend himself.

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