Windham Middle School…Home to the ‘Whiptail’ Scrabble Champions

by Doug Robinson


Evan McCarthy (orange sweatshirt) and Danny Bleeker (blue sweatshirt) compete against Bradley Robins (right) during their afternoon Whiptails meeting.

Do you know the meaning of the words jupe, aw, wadi, zoon, hin, gads, or liri?  Well, to the members of the Whiptails — Windham Middle School’s Scrabble Club — these are only a few of the words they could use as they competed in this year’s National School Scrabble Championship (NSSC).

Bradley Robins, sixth grader, founded the Scrabble Club approximately two years ago.  As a Scrabble lover, Bradley, when in the fourth grade, petitioned the school administration, raised awareness, and successfully built the Whiptails Scrabble Club.

Since founding the club, many fellow Middle School students have joined in the afternoon activity.  Currently there are seven to nine students who socialize and compete against one another as they perfect their scrabble skills.

“Bradley Robins from Windham, New Hampshire won his division in the 2008 National SCRABBLE Championship, where the majority of players are adults,” commented Katie Schulz from the National Scrabble Association.

Coached by Phil Bradley, students must master all the two letter words before advancing to mastering the three and four letter words.  Students commit to memory hundreds of words in their efforts to spell more, earn more points, and defeat their opponents.  Ai (three-toed sloth), Xi (Greek letter), AA (type of lava), Za (type of pizza), and Qu (Chinese scholar) are spelt on the Scrabble board as quickly as jupe, wadi, zoon or liri.  While competing, contestants must spell their words within the appropriate timeframe or they become penalized.  Terms such as “bingo”, “rack”, “hook”, “blocks” and “move them around” can be heard as the would-be contestants coach and advise each other during their practice session.  “They get to interact with other players, practice playing scrabble, and enter tournaments as a team,” commented Evan McCarthy.  “My best word has been ‘returning’ for which I earned 113 points at one time.”

SCRABBLE tournaments are conducted at two levels — youth and adult.  The youth allows the students to compete in pairs and coach each other, and there are age restrictions.  The adult level does not allow any participation or coaching from others.

While most of the Whiptail’s participate on the youth level, Bradley Robins has been competing on the adult level as well.  Of the 3,000 registered adult Scrabble players, 12-year-old Bradley is ranked 775.  Not only does Bradley compete across the country in various SCRABBLE tournaments, he also competes online with various competitors around the world.  He has competed against adult Scrabble players from China, Thailand, and Canada.  “We got a computer from my grandparents and it came with a trial software game of Scrabble.  I joined the adult SCRABBLE Club Association and I have been competing ever since,” said Bradley.

  When Bradley is not traveling to Orlando, FL, participating in a SCRABBLE tournament aboard a cruise ship, or traveling to Mexico, Ohio or New York, he also competes and participates with the Manchester, NH Scrabble Club.  “My favorite word I have used is between ‘brains’ and my largest point word ‘retaxing’.  I earned 266 points for ‘retaxing’.  The most points I ever earned in one game is 688,” commented Bradley.

“We would really like to thank the administration, the town, the library, and the parents, as they have been very supportive of this program,” stated Bradley’s mom.  “Everyone is welcome to come and play Scrabble with these children, and they can come weekly or just once.  We are very informal, have snacks, and enjoy our time together.  The adult Scrabble Club in Manchester has been extremely supportive and we need to be especially thankful to them for all they have done.  They are a great resource.”

For more information about the Windham Middle School’s Scrabble Club, the Whiptails, please visit www.Windhamwhiptails.webs.com.


This Scrabble board took less than 15 minutes for these contestants to complete their game and run out of letters.
Jupe is a style of short jacket, historically worn by anyone, but later restricted to an item of women’s and children’s clothing.
Aw is used to express protest, disbelief, disgust, or commiseration.
Wadi is the channel of a watercourse that is dry except during periods of rainfall.
Zoon means any of the individuals of a compound organism.
Hin is an ancient Hebrew unit of liquid measure equal to about one and one half gallons.
Gads means to move restlessly or aimlessly from one place to another.
Liri is one of the principal rivers of central Italy, flowing into the Tyrrhenian Sea a little below Minturno under the name Garigliano.
Ta is a very hard, heavy, gray metallic element that is exceptionally resistant to chemical attack below 150°C.
OD means a hypothetical force formerly held to pervade all nature and to manifest itself in magnetism, mesmerism, chemical action, etc.

Rabies Clinic Held in Pelham

by Lynne Ober

Once again, the Pelham Police Station was the scene of a very successful rabies clinic.

Dr. Butterfield donates his time, and he obviously has a love for animals that the animals sense and return.  Everything went smoothly.  Barking dogs stopped barking and listened to Dr. Butterfield’s instructions — perhaps he is a Dog Whisperer.

In addition to rabies shots, pets could also receive a microchip that can be used to return the pet to its owner in case the pet wanders.

Teddy, pictured, got both a rabies shot and a microchip.  Teddy patiently stood and, with a little urging from his owner, even faced the camera and gave a doggy smile.

Town Clerk Dot Marsden and Linda Newcomb said they registered 45 dogs.

“A lot of people come from other communities and we can’t register their animals, but getting the microchip is very important to many owners.  We did have 45 Pelham dogs get registered today.”

By providing this rabies clinic service, dog owners do not have to make a second trip to Town Hall.

“Today, it’s warm.  Last year, we were frozen,” smiled Marsden.

CTAP Helping to Ease 1-93 Impact

by Barbara O’Brien

CTAP, an anagram for Community Technical Assistance Program, was established by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to help communities along the Interstate 93 expansion corridor with the related growth due to that construction.  It is the first of its kind in the nation.

There are a total of 26 CTAP-designated communities, one of which is the Town of Windham.  Other towns being assisted by CTAP range north from Salem to Concord.  Seven of those are in the Rockingham County Planning Commission District and include Atkinson, Danville, Fremont, Hampstead, Salem, Sandown and Windham.

A total of $3.5 million has been set aside to assist these communities with their needs related to I-93.  Those funds, which are controlled by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) are to be spread out over a five-year period, from 2007-2012.

During the selectmen’s meeting on Monday, April 20, a representative of the Rockingham Planning Commission met with town officials to update them on the status of CTAP and how it’s directly affecting Windham.  According to information gathered through CTAP, Windham can expect a population increase of about 1,240 residents by the year 2020, due to the I-93 expansion.  This represents an annual population growth, due solely to I-93, of about 1.6 percent per year.  These statistics do not include any growth in population not related to the highway construction project.

One of the early key components of CTAP was to conduct a detailed community planning assessment, intended to help communities identify how to best use the financial and planning resources being offered through CTAP.  The primary purpose of the assessments was to determine if a municipality has the planning and policies in place to effectively manage growth and to recommend additions or modifications where needed.

During the first phase of the CTAP program, Windham received grants for a public safety and recreation impact fee study ($7,000); Cobbett’s Pond/Canobie Lake Sewer Connection Concept Study, currently underway ($5,000); and an Economic Development Competitive Analysis ($3,000).

The final goal of this CTAP initiative is to develop a broad and comprehensive program to meet a wide range of growth challenges facing Windham.  After evaluating and analyzing Windham’s planning documents, the Rockingham Planning Commission has identified certain policies that would help the town avoid a future of uncontrolled growth.  As a result, 31 recommendations have been made to town officials, including:

Municipal Services

  • Identify and protect potential municipal well locations
  • Ensure a septic disposal agreement is in place
  • Regional storm-water and flood mitigation plans are in place
  • Investigate innovative wastewater alternatives and/or water districts to serve special areas
  • Address regional impact criteria and procedures

Housing

  • Address workforce housing in the zoning ordinance
  • Research and incorporate building construction and design standards for energy conservation
  • Promote a “Conservation Subdivision” form of development
  • Expand residential use ratio in the Village Center District
  • Incorporate a new regional needs assessment

Transportation

  • Extend provisions of Route 28 access management to the Route 111 corridor
  • Develop a memorandum of understanding with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation
  • Establish subdivision street and trail connectivity plans
  • Develop a Village Center sidewalk plan
  • Address pavement width and materials
  • Consider adopting a local option fee for transportation
  • Support the CART regional transportation program
  • Support Boston commuter bus service at Exit 3 as a component of 1-93 expanded intercity transit service

Environmental Protection, Land Use and Open Space

  • Develop natural resources inventory
  • Investigate prime wetlands designations
  • Develop and adopt a conservation/open space plan
  • Investigate density transfer provisions in the zoning ordinance
  • Investigate conservation districts
  • Update zoning and subdivision site regulations to account for changes in the State’s Shore Protection Law, which became effective on July 1, 2008
  • Update/strengthen storm-water management regulations
  • Develop an energy conservation action plan

Downtowns, Village Centers and Community Vitality

  • Implement Master Plan recommendations for the Village District
  • Re-examine the Village District Ordinance to identify unintended barriers to development
  • Complete and adopt a Village Center sub-area plan component to the Windham Master Plan
  • Use the Wall Street Extension/NH-Route 111 Corridor Study to identify long-term roadway design for Route 111 through the Village Center District Area
  • Evaluate the application of density transfer credits to the Village Center District
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of an established water district to serve the Village Center District to allow a higher density of development

The Local Economy

  • Non-residential building analysis
  • Conduct assessment of economic development opportunities and strategies
  • Engage an economic development committee
  • Prepare an infrastructure plan for the Village Center District
  • Extend Access Management Districts
  • Consider a community revitalization tax relief incentive
  • Protect and preserve land for agricultural uses

According to representatives of the Rockingham Planning Commission, these recommendations will be useful to Windham in determining and prioritizing how to make the most effective use of the technical assistance, analyses and grant resources which are being made available through the CTAP program.  The deadline for grant funding for Phase One of the program has been extended from this coming May until next December.

Following the presentation by the Rockingham County Planning Commission, there was discussion on how best to investigate and implement the multiple recommendations being made by that organization.  The debate centered on whether to establish a highly structured large group of people led by a facilitator or to go with a smaller group comprised of town boards and staff, along with representatives of CTAP and the Rockingham Planning Commission.  Area towns are being encouraged to work in cooperation with one another.  However, whichever the chosen format, it will be the Board of Selectmen which makes the final decisions.  Selectman Galen Stearns, board chairman, also serves the community on the CTAP Steering Committee.

In addition to widening Route 93, the expansion project will also improve the five interchanges south of I-293 in Manchester to the Massachusetts border.  Twenty bridges will be replaced and 23 more will be rehabilitated or widened.  New Park and Ride facilities are being built at Exits 2 and 3.  A new Park and Ride at Exit 5 is already operational, with commuter bus service to and from Boston.  According to the plan, space within the median strip along Route 93 is being reserved to accommodate future commuter rail trains.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation estimates that the final stages of the project will be advertised around 2016.  Since the construction schedule is continually evolving, the best resource for up-to-date information is the I-93 website: www.rebuildingI93.com.

Selectmen to Reduce Electricity Costs

by Barbara O’Brien

In hopes of reducing the cost of municipal electricity to Windham taxpayers, selectmen have agreed to sign a contract with a different supplier than that which has been handling all of the town’s electrical services.

During the board’s meeting on April 20, selectmen voted 4 to 0 to sign a 12-month contract with Constellation Energy.  Voting in favor of the contract were chairman Galen Stearns, vice chairman Bruce Breton, Roger Hohenberger, and Ross McLeod.  Selectman Charles McMahon abstained from voting due to his having a minimal financial interest in the process.

McMahon opened the discussion by explaining that New Hampshire is a “deregulated” state when it comes to energy providers, meaning it is allowable for communities to select their own vendors.  There are 18 deregulated states across the United States.

By going with Constellation Energy, McMahon calculated that the Town of Windham could save $8,443 during the life of the 12-month contract.  McMahon obtained the information through Satori Energy, a brokerage firm, which had solicited quotes and determined that Constellation Energy was the best deal.  Seven firms had been solicited.  The contract is based on a fixed price.  “This is a guaranteed reduction over the 12-month period,” McMahon said.  “There is no risk to the town.”

Satori Energy’s headquarters are located in Chicago, Illinois.  During the past five years, the brokerage firm has grown into a nationwide company, specializing in energy markets from the Northeast to the West Coast, serving thousands of clients.  McMahon explained that this new agreement would not change who services the Town of Windham, only who supplies the electricity.  Public Service of New Hampshire will still be providing service.  Two separate bills will be sent to the town; one from PSNH, the other from Constellation Energy.

Constellation Energy, the headquarters of which are in Baltimore, Maryland, owns and operates a national fleet of generating plants and fuel processing facilities diversified by fuel, geographic location, and technology.  The company’s portfolio includes nuclear, coal, natural gas, oil, and renewable and alternative fuels that include solar, geothermal, hydro, and biomass.

As for its assets, the company owns more than 9,000 megawatts of capacity in seven states, generates nearly 52 million megawatt-hours on an annual basis, and has more than 100 years of experience in generating electricity.

According to Constellation Energy’s Website, “Our beginnings in generating electricity trace back to one of the first electric companies in the United States.  With more than 100 years of experience, we know how to generate electricity.”

McMahon, who also serves Windham as one of its representatives to the State Legislature, said he hopes to assist in spreading this energy cost reduction method statewide.  The program is not intended for individuals, however, McMahon said, because a customer must use a substantial amount of energy to see any savings.  McMahon said a minimum of 50,000 to 100,000 kilowatt hours of use per month would be needed to participate in this energy cost reduction program.

The Windham School District is already contracted with a separate supply vendor to purchase its electricity and has been doing so for some time, McMahon said.

Skate Park and Athletic Fields Open for Season

by Barbara O’Brien

Spring is well entrenched in southern New Hampshire, and one of the signs of the season is the opening of athletic fields and, in Windham’s case, the reopening of the town-owned skateboard park.

The skateboard park has generated its share of controversy in the past couple of years, but town officials are hoping that new policies will help to reduce those problems, including littering, refusing to listen to authorities, and failure to wear safety helmets.  The new policy also requires all skate park users to display a Windham permit sticker on those helmets.

Recreation Department Coordinator Cheryl Haas said there were no issues at the skate park during opening weekend, which took place the middle of April.

According to Selectman Ross McLeod, as of April 20, 35 Windham residents and 50 non-residents had signed up for their skate park helmet sticker permits.  Non-residents are being required to participate in classes to familiarize them with Windham’s rules and regulations.  Haas said she currently has five classes planned for non-residents to attend and will schedule others if needed.

As for what is becoming an annual dilemma in Windham, Haas said the Canada Geese have once again returned to Griffin Park and are fouling the area with their excrement.  The birds seem to enjoy spending time around the pond.  Town officials are presently looking into humane remedies for keeping the geese out of the area.

Lowest Gas Prices in Pelham and Windham

New Hampshire Gas Prices provided by GasBuddy.com

17 Executive Drive, Suite One, Hudson, NH 03051 Phone: (603)880-1516 Fax: (603)879-9707
email: news@areanewsgroup.com Copyright © 2005-2009 Area News Group