by Lynne Ober
Sara Fisher, 9, Laura Chenelle, 9, and Olivia Dorman, 9, were three beautiful witches.
Once again, Pelham’s Marsh Road was taken over by parading, giggling, and thoroughly adorable horribles. It was the annual Horribles Parade, sponsored by Pelham’s Firefighters Association. This year was bigger and better attended than ever. It was also expanded from previous years, much to the enjoyment of those adorable horribles!
The parade, once again, began at Pelham Memorial School and walked to Lyons Park. The front loader was filled with candy. Many of the horribles immediately headed for the Tot Playground. Others zoomed in on the doughnuts and cider provided by CERT. Many lined up to participate in one of the two hayrides that were given through the woods behind the library and through the Old Mill property. Hayriders could opt for either the super scary route or the one that was not scary — there was something for everyone!
A new graveyard, ghosts, spider webs, and fun awaited those who took a hayride. High school students had spent an enjoyable afternoon getting ready for the hayride. According to Tim Monette, they had dug holes so they could appear to rise out of the ground when the riders went by. They also created a number of scary scenarios. “They really got into the fun of this evening,” stated Monette.
This year, for the first time, there was a Pumpkin Walk in Lyons Park. Families were asked to bring a pumpkin for the walk and, after the parade, the pumpkins were lit and glowed in the soft twilight.
Pelham’s fire department turns out to lead the parade and, with help from Pelham police, there’s no danger to any of the adorable horribles walking down the street.
James Patchen, 1, Abigail Patchen, 6, Reese Patchen, 4, Alexander Rodrique, 9, Benjamin Rodrique, 6, Christopher Rodrique, 3, Dylan Hunt, 6, Hayley, 18 months
Windham's Harvest Fest Annual Dog Parade
Brie “the witch”
Amanda Steele and Pomeranian “prisoner” Prince Charming
Baxter, the puggle, is helped with his pirate hat by Ryan and Lisa Pascarella.
Westin terriers Mei Mei and Amy Girl
Traffic Solution Requires Fire Station Modification
by Lynne Ober
Pelham Selectmen continued their examination of proposed traffic improvements for the center of town. They now understand that construction for the fire department is mandatory with either of two options.
Both options add two roundabouts as the best means of easing growing traffic through Pelham center. Several options, including putting traffic signals at the major intersections were investigated and traffic patterns modeled. The two roundabouts offer the best traffic pattern for now and into the future.
Option A requires moving the fire station and puts the road onto the space occupied by the current fire station. At the most $435,000 would be available to aid that move, but costs of land acquisition, engineering and construction could erode that money.
Option B curves the road around the fire station, but prohibits use of the front garage bays and requires construction of an auxiliary garage for equipment, new parking area and moving and outfitting the existing station for a new septic system.
The town doesn’t own the land where the new garage building would go so that land must be acquired. Parking and septic system construction were discussed but without definitive details. At the most $407,000 would be available to aid that construction, but costs of land acquisition, engineering and construction could erode this money too.
If Option B is used, the road will come within 71/2 feet of the southeast corner of the fire station building and within 10 feet of the northeast corner.
New Hampshire Department of Transportation highway design engineer Chris Waszczuk told selectmen snow would have to be removed and not plowed along the front of the fire station because there will not be room between the road and the building to plow. Waszczuk said the town would need to use a dump truck and front loader to remove the snow. What Waszczuk didn’t say was where the town would dump this snow nor how much longer it will take to remove the snow as opposed to plowing the snow.
Additionally there will be a five-foot-wide sidewalk along the front of the fire station – between the curb and the front of the fire station. Snow will also have to be removed from this sidewalk if the front door of the fire station will remain accessible to the public.
The current road is more than a foot lower than the fire station. Today the drive slopes down to the road, but when the new roadway is built, much of the existing fire station frontage will be taken. A curb will be installed and the front bay doors will be unusable. Fire apparatus will only be able to exit through the rear doors.
Waszczuk said that now fire equipment is driven through from the back. The larger trucks sit in the front and the smaller trucks are stacked behind. Depending upon the call, firefighters either use the front or back bays when responding. However, under Option B the front doors will be closed and fire apparatus would have to be jockeyed for every call or a new garage has to be built to house the apparatus that can no longer be stacked into the bays.
Selectmen have no engineering report on the costs of moving the septic system. Nor did they discuss a new location. They also did not have costs for changing the parking configuration at the fire station.
When Selectman Bill McDevitt asked if the federal money might go away, Waszczuk said that was a possibility. He noted that the money was earmarked for Pelham, but the longer it languished without the project starting, the more opportunity for Congress to reallocate the dollars. He said there was some conversation about doing away with the program altogether.
The project is capped at $3.9 million and is an 80-20 federal-local split. Waszczuk estimated that construction would start in 2010 and would take 1 1/2 years, but he cautioned that this was an estimate.
When selectmen asked about safety, Waszczuk said Option A had a clearer line of sight, but he expected the speed between the two roundabouts to be 25 miles per hour so both options were safe.
Although some money is projected to offset the costs at the fire station, Waszczuk was clear that most of the fire station issues were a town problem. Whether a new fire station is built or the old one is renovated with a new septic system and a new garage and parking area, it is clear Pelham taxpayers must foot the majority of that bill.
As Selectman Victor Danevich said, “You have to spend some money to get some money.”
As a result of the site walk and subsequent briefing, selectmen have a better understanding, but still a great deal of exploratory work to complete. McDevitt wondered if this could be completed in time for the March, 2009 ballot.
Tax Rate Increases in Windham
by Barbara O'Brien
Windham property owners will be paying higher taxes due to an increase in the 2008 tax rate, which was set by the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Assessment (DRA) earlier this month.
Town Administrator David Sullivan announced the new numbers during the selectmen’s board meeting on Monday, October 20.
According to Sullivan, the 2008 tax rate has been set at $18 per $1,000 of property valuation. This compares with a 2007 tax rate of $16.10, translating into a $1.90 per $1,000 increase over last year’s tax rate.
As for the breakdown on the overall tax rate, the town portion of the 2008 assessment is $3.51 per $1,000 property valuation. The local school portion of the 2008 tax rate is $11.41 per $1,000 property valuation. The State School tax rate for 2008 is $2.20 per $1,000 property valuation. And the county portion of the 2008 tax rate, which saw a slight decrease from last year, is now set at 88 cents per $1,000 property valuation.
Sullivan said that the average home in Windham (approximately $400,000 in value) will see an increased tax burden for 2008 of about $800 over what was paid last year. Based on a $400,000 home, with a tax rate of $18 per $1,000 property valuation, the 2008 tax bill on that property will be about $7,200.
Sullivan said one of the major reasons for the increased tax rate is the fact that there was little increase in revenue this year due largely to the stagnant economy. During 2008, Windham saw only a one percent increase in net revenue. In recent years that increase has been about 4 percent, Sullivan said.
Tax Assessor Rex Norman said that the current equalization rate for Windham is at 105 percent, which indicates that property in Windham is assessed about five percent higher than market value. If the equalization rate were at 100 percent, then the tax assessment and the market value would be the same.
Athletic Programs Proposed for First Year at Windham High School
by Barbara O’Brien
The athletic director for Windham High School has proposed the programs he would like to offer during the first year of the new facility’s operation. Windham High School is scheduled to open for the 2009-2010 school year. In the first year, only freshmen and sophomores will attend the new high school. Juniors and seniors will continue to attend Salem High School under a tuition agreement.
Athletic Director Bill Raycraft met with Windham School Board members on Tuesday, October 7, to present the programs he feels will be important to students when the new high school opens next year. Raycraft, who took on the job of high school athletic director this past July 1, said he based his proposals on the level of participation in area athletic youth organizations, at Windham Middle School and at Salem High School. He also said he based his ideas on athletic programs offered at similar high schools in New Hampshire, as well as a student survey he recently conducted. That survey was provided to students who are currently freshmen at Salem High School and will be sophomores at Windham High next year, as well as eighth graders at Windham Middle School, who will be freshmen at Windham High School in 2009-2010.
Raycraft said he also obtained feedback from other newer area high schools, including Bedford and Bow, as well as Windham’s own high school athletic committee.
The programs Raycraft hopes to develop with Windham High students include both individual and team sports. “There are a wide range of opportunities” he hopes to offer students, Raycraft said.
During the fall next year, Raycraft hopes to offer the following sports to boys: cross-country, football, golf, and soccer. For the girls next fall, he proposes offering cross-country, field hockey, golf, soccer, cheerleading, and volleyball.
Proposed winter sports for 2009-2010 include the following for boys: basketball, indoor track, ice hockey (co-ed), wrestling, gymnastics, swimming and alpine skiing. If approved by the school board, the girls will be offered the following winter sports next year: basketball, indoor track, ice hockey (co-ed) cheerleading, gymnastics, swimming, and alpine skiing.
In the spring of 2010, Raycraft is proposing the following athletic programs for boys: baseball, outdoor track, lacrosse, and tennis. For girls in the spring of 2010, he hopes to be able to offer softball, outdoor track, lacrosse, and tennis.
Raycraft is recommending that during the first year of operation Windham High School enter the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) with all programs listed as “sub-varsity. “ “This will allow Windham High School to effectively offer new sports programs at a pace that will properly develop the student athletes using reserve and junior varsity teams,” he said. “Starting with freshmen and sophomores, this will allow our students to participate with opposing players of similar skills and abilities ... safely and competitively,” he explained.
Following the initial season of each sport in which Windham High School students participate, Raycraft plans to evaluate each program to determine a recommendation for their status for the following year, based on several criteria, including: available facilities, feasibility, participation level, the safety of participants, the availability of qualified coaches, NHIAA approval, scheduling availability and program sustainability.
It is his goal to move into the varsity level for all sports in the second year of operation, Raycraft said. He also said that it is likely that Windham High School will be listed as Class I, based on projected enrollment numbers. When all four grade levels are in attendance at the new high school, it is anticipated that there will be approximately 700 students.