This past weekend was a “soft opening” for Benson Park. Despite the very rainy weather on Saturday, 78 people came out to see the park. When the sun came out on Sunday, the volunteers and Benson’s Committee were astounded at the size of the crowd. Opening at 10 a.m., the brochures with the map were gone before noon.
“We made 500 brochures,” said Pat Nichols. “Now they are copying more and bringing them to the park.”
With both parking areas full, people began parking along the street. There were dogs, kids in strollers, kids walking along with parents, bicycles, and just lots and lots of happy people strolling through the park.
Hudson resident Sandy Russo and her two daughters, Leeann Vigeant and Rosie Brachett, accompanied by their husbands and children, were strolling through the park.
“We lived in Quincy, Massachusetts, but brought the girls here a lot,” smiled Russo. She said that she had just taken her daughters’ picture in front of the Old Woman in the Shoe. “I have pictures of them when they were little in front of that shoe and now I have before and after shots.”
John Henderson, who now lives in Merrimack, came to the park as a child, enjoyed his walk.
“I can’t believe how much it is grown over,” he said. “I came as a child and then I brought my own son when the park was still open.”
Hudson resident Curt Laffin, who volunteers with the Benson Committee and was acting as a guide with his daughter Amy, said that all three of his daughters had worked at Benson Park.
“Amy used to work in food concessions. She made popcorn and cotton candy. Her supervisor was Lucille Boucher, who is now active with the Hudson seniors. Lucille came by and she and Amy talked about the customers that they used to serve.” Curt continued, saying, “Cathy used to count money from the food concessions. She always knew that she wanted to be an accountant.”
Today, Cathy no longer counts money for the park; instead, she has risen to be New Hampshire State Treasurer Catherine Provencher. She, like many others, got her start working at this beloved park.
Hudson resident Steve Moreau said he was brought to the park as a child, “but I don’t remember it. My dad brought me up from Rhode Island. Today, he, his wife, and two daughters were exploring the park.
James Barnes was talking about a former Benson’s worker who had been at the park the day before when Dick Turmel walked by. Turmel, also a Hudson resident, had a photo of himself with the bears.
“The picture was taken in 1955,” he said. “I worked with all the animals.”
Turmel recalled one embarrassing trip into the bears’ cage.
“I had my arms full of food and they were hungry. Although they didn’t attack me, they did pull on my belt hard enough that my pants slipped down.”
Another day he was working when he heard two female customers ask each other if they could pet the lion. Pet the lion? When Turmel turned around, Duke, one of the fiercest lions, was out of his cage and standing on the grassy lawn!
“We never put Duke into the shows because he was so bad tempered. We quickly got the trainer and people. The people were holding ladders and we made a human fence while the trainer tried to corral Duke.” Turmel paused and shook his head.
“That lion started running straight at me. I dropped my ladder and ran. The trainer was barely able to get control of Duke. It was a very close call.”
On Sunday, an impromptu walking tour was offered at noon because so many people had so many questions. The group met outside the elephant barn and enjoyed getting to ask questions as they walked around.
It is obvious how much work has been done. The A-frame building is spruced up. According to Pat Nichols, that will be the picnic area. Grass will be planted, picnic tables set out, and in the spring when the park is currently expected to open, families will be able to enjoy picnics on the grounds.
Curt Laffin said that the project was “taking a life of its own and things are moving along. It is great to see.” He called Pat Nichols an “Implementation Genius” and noted that she is one of those people who can make things happen.
“Some people sit in meetings and talk and some make things happen. Pat makes things happen.”
The Benson’s Committee is to be commended for the work already done and for the plans for the future. If you want to volunteer, they are actively seeking people to work. There is a volunteer form located on the town’s website. If you’d like to join, you can download it and fill it out or pick up one at Town Hall.
Steve Moreau and his daughter Lindsey
Patrick Kaplo - just moments after the award was announced
The band was playing; students had gathered and were sitting in the bleachers when Campbell High School’s principal began the assembly. At first he talked, and then New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Virginia Barry addressed the group, while people started looking around and wondering who was being honored.
It was a long time until Barry introduced Patrick Kaplo, 36, as the winner of the prestigious Milken Educator Award, which was first established by Milken Family Foundation Chairman Lowell Milken, to provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary teachers, principals, and specialists who are furthering excellence in education. Since the inception of this award in 1987, the Milken Educator Awards has honored more than 2,400 educators from coast to coast with over $60 million in unrestricted cash awards.
Kaplo is one of 50 winners this year. In addition to the honor of being New Hampshire’s winner, Kaplo also was given $25,000.
“He can spend this money any way that he wants,” Barry told the audience.
Kaplo will also be given an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles to meet with the other winners.
According to the Milken Award Foundation, “The criteria for the selection of outstanding elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and other education professionals as Milken Educators include all of the following:
“Exceptional educational talent as evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results in the classroom and school;
“Exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession;
“Individuals whose contributions to education are largely unheralded yet worthy of the spotlight;
“Early- to mid-career educators who offer strong, long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and
“Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.”
The winners are not nominated. They are found and no one knows exactly how.
“We did submit Patrick to be ‘Educator of the Year’ in New Hampshire,” said Superintendent Dr. Elaine Cutler, “but we have no idea how he was chosen for this award, but it is fabulous and so well-deserved.”
When his name was announced, Kaplo stood up. He’d been sitting in the bleachers with his students who also stood and began loudly applauding. It was obvious from the cheers and support that this was a popular award.
Barry said that athletes and artists are recognized, but that teachers rarely get recognition. The spotlight definitely shone on Kaplo and his accomplishments. Kaplo was an engineer who began teaching six years ago.
“His classes are fantastic,” said Cutler. “He has brought so much to the district and to our students. He is a wonderful educator and a great role model.”
When the lengthy applause finally died down, Kaplo spoke at the podium. He thanked those who had mentored him in Litchfield and talked about the talented team of educators who worked with him. When he was presented with his check for $25,000, the band played in celebration.
“I feel like I won the lottery. This is really unexpected,” Kaplo smiled.
Kaplo is a Navy veteran who began his career as an educator at Worcester Polytechnic Institute where he was pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. Student teaching left an impression that stayed with him while he worked in the private sector. He entered a master’s degree program at UMass Lowell. Following that, he began teaching both physics and engineering at Campbell High School.
Kaplo tries to focus on application of the sciences in his class by having students engage in real-world projects. Included in physics is a study of motion, so it is no surprise that his students participate in a Trebucket Day, where students build old-style projectile weapons and compete to see who can shoot their projectile the farthest.
His students love his approach and his use of humor.
“He’s very well-liked, while teaching a high-quality, difficult subject,” said Cutler. “That’s a hard balance to achieve.”
Spire Solar, a global solar company that produces solar cells and panels, will soon be moving into Hudson’s Sagamore Industrial Park. Spire Solar is a branch of the Spire Corporation that was established in 1969 by Roger G. Little and operates locally out of Bedford, MA.
During the October 27 Board of Selectmen meeting, Spire Corporation representatives revealed that Uni-CHEM Co., Ltd, based in South Korea, had contracted with them for assistance in providing turnkey, or solar production line, services. This was largely due to Spire having been recently named the best turnkey company for solar sun lines and module lines.
In response, Spire recommended the Hudson location of 25 Sagamore Park Drive for the development of this contract. Another branch of the Spire Corporation, Spire Semiconductor, is currently located at this address. For Spire Solar to take up residence in Hudson, however, a sewer capacity guarantee of up to 100,000 GPD (gallons per day) would be essential. On October 8, Hudson’s Sewer Utility Committee therefore chose to forward their recommendation for this allocation to the Board of Selectmen. Before making their decision, the selectmen were assured that the project would be monitored using the newest regulations of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and that all wastewater would be neutralized prior to discharge.
Overall, the Spire Solar message emphasized the importance of encouraging other countries to locate their factories in America.
After Hudson’s Acting Town Engineer Gary Webster verified that the town does indeed currently have a 100,000 GPD capacity and distribution available, the selectmen unanimously moved (5-0) to grant this sewer allocation total to Spire Solar. Upon its full establishment within Hudson, Spire Solar is eventually expected to occupy two renovated buildings totaling 150,000 square feet, to operate round-the-clock within four shifts, and to potentially create 150 to 175 jobs with an average salary of $50,000.
“Welcome to Hudson. The fact that you’re going to be bringing in high-paying jobs is great, but what’s more important to me is it’s manufacturing jobs. Thank you very much for considering Hudson,” stated Selectmen Vice Chairman Ken Massey following the vote.
A target date of November 1, 2010 has been set for Spire Solar to become operational within the town. The full 100,000 GPD allocation is anticipated to be in use at some point in 2011.
The Hudson Fire Department will soon be the proud owner of a new thermal imaging camera (TIC).
Through the use of TICs, according to wikipedia.org, “warm objects stand out well against cooler backgrounds … humans and other warm-blooded animals become easily visible against the environment, day or night.”
Deputy Fire Chief Neal Carter explained during the October 27 Board of Selectmen meeting that “Basically, it allows us to see through smoke. It allows firefighters to operate in a hazardous environment and, as you can imagine, that means everything for the firefighters. A thermal imaging camera is essential to what we do. It’s an important tool in our everyday lives.”
The acquisition of a new camera was deemed necessary since one of the department’s current units “is over ten years old and operates with outdated technology,” according to Carter. Furthermore, the maker of this unit no longer carries this particular model.
After checking out several companies, including Scott and MSA, the fire department chose Bullard, a personal protective equipment and system manufacturer based in Cynthiana, KY, whose products are sold worldwide. For a total of $12,000, the department will purchase Bullard’s T3MAX. Standout features of this model include the capacity to identify heat levels by color. Carter emphasized several of the device’s other benefits, such as its ability to search for trapped civilians and firefighters, to check for hot spots, and to find a fire’s particular location from outside a structure.
Before the board passed a unanimous motion to allow this purchase, the selectmen, along with members of the media, were invited to compare old and new units.
Funds totaling $9,500 from the fire department’s Thermal Imaging Donation Account will be put toward the T3MAX. The remaining $2,500 balance will be drawn from the small equipment line item of the department’s Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10) operating budget.
The fire department has a total of two thermal imaging cameras. The replacement is expected to arrive within a couple of weeks.
The Hudson Police Department has received permission to apply for a grant which will allow for participation within the New Hampshire Highway Safety Agency’s DUI Enforcement Patrols Project.
According to its mission statement, “The Highway Safety Agency is the agency responsible under the executive direction of the governor to develop and implement a statewide program designed to reduce traffic crashes and the resulting deaths, injuries and property damage.”
A 2007 New Hampshire state statistic showed that 31.8 percent of fatal crashes were alcohol related that year. Furthermore, in 2008, a total of 269 DWI arrests were made in Hudson. The Highway Safety Agency’s DUI Enforcement Patrols Project will therefore specifically target the problem of those who drive under the influence of alcohol.
Within a report submitted to the agency, Hudson Police Captain William Avery stated that “Impaired motorists typically are traveling after consuming alcoholic beverages from within establishments located in Tyngsborough, Dracut, and Lowell, MA. Nashua, NH also has numerous clubs/bars which motorists leave while under the influence of alcohol.” Avery’s report further pointed out that these incidences most frequently occurred on weekend nights and holidays.
As a result, between the dates of May 1 and September 1 of 2010, DUI enforcement patrols are planned for Hudson through 15 six-hour shifts running from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Friday, Saturday, and holiday evenings.
Federal funding for the project is expected through a $5,625 Highway Safety Grant which covers sergeant overtime rates along with Medicare and retirement fees. During their October 27 meeting, Hudson’s Board of Selectmen unanimously voted (5-0) for the police department to apply for this grant.
The results expected through this effort are that “The roads of Hudson shall become safer for all motorists and pedestrians. It is anticipated that for each six-hour patrol conducted that one DUI arrest shall be made.”
In Hudson, Road Agent Kevin Burns currently serves as chairman of the Highway Safety Committee. Other committee members include Police Chief Jason Lavoie and Fire Chief Shawn Murray.
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