Barn Sweet Barn: Truly a Welcome Site

June 6, 2014

by Lynne Ober

The grand opening of the North Barn, home to Hudson’s Senior Center and Hudson Community Television, occurred this past weekend.  The weather was breezy with clouds flowing overhead and the sun peeking through the entire proceedings.  The North Barn, built in memory of the big red barn that burned down on Benson Park grounds, is just on the edge of the park.

Prior to the beginning of the grand opening festivities, people gathered in the parking lot.  Lots of talking, laughing and smiles floated through the air as everyone eagerly anticipated the opening of the senior center.

It was a celebration that seemed to span decades as people told stories about the 22-year fundraising efforts of Hudson seniors as they dreamed of a home of their own.  Town Administrator Steve Malizia kicked the proceeds off by introducing selectmen, Congresswoman Kuster, Senator Sharon Carson, State Representatives Andy Renzullo, Rick LaVasseur, Lars Christensen, Lynne Ober, Russ Ober, Bob Haefner, Shawn Jasper, Mary Ann Knowles, Charlene Takasian, school board members, the recreation director, Steve Porter of the Council on Aging, and Lucille Boucher, who has been a long time promoter of Hudson seniors.

Kuster spoke first and talked about the years of work needed to make the project a reality.  “The best part is now the facility is open.  Our seniors represent the very best of us.”

Lucille Boucher followed and said, “Welcome.  This has been a long time coming.  The seniors held their first fundraiser on March 9, 1992.”  She said that the Council on Aging had furnished the inside of the senior center.  Lucille noted that several people who had helped with the project had died, but she felt they were watching from heaven.

Steve Porter, chairman of the Senior Affairs Committee, said that he wanted to express thanks and gratitude to everyone who had helped with this project over the years.  “We want as many programs as possible held in this building.”

Mike O’Keefe, chairman of the Cable Utility Committee, said he wanted the cable group to be known as Hudson Community Television and hoped that many creative and informative programs would be developed in the new studio.

“Wow,” said former selectman Ken Massey.  “Why is the building built like a red barn?”  He spoke about the barn that burned on the Benson property and said they felt it was a fitting tribute to use that building design, but noted that the inside of the building looked nothing like a barn.

Former selectman Shawn Jasper said he liked to dwell on history and recalled the groups who had wanted a home for seniors and who had worked to make that a reality.  “This will truly be a home and it is a debt-free facility.”

Selectman Pat Nichols thanked everyone who came and recalled the decades of efforts to make this facility a reality.

Renzullo who had been chairman of the Council of Aging during a period when there was little selectmen or town support for a senior center recalled some of the early struggles to raise funds.  He and Jim Stafford worked together to generate enthusiasm for a project that seemed mired in political intrigue and gamesmanship.

Selectman Roger Coutu recalled hosting a breakfast between town groups after meeting with Stafford.  “Today we have come to the end of a journey that brought us to this building.  Now we begin a new journey.  Welcome home seniors of Hudson, New Hampshire.  Welcome home.”

After the ribbon cutting, the audience moved into the buildings for tours, music and refreshments.  Inside the Hudson Community Television studio was state of the art.  The senior center was welcoming and dressed for its grand opening.  Don Wright played the piano.  Nancy Mertz Nordstrom donated copies of her book, “Learning Later, Living Greater,” and autographed copies for residents.

Walking through both facilities it was easy to see why there were smiles on everyone’s faces.  Both Hudson Community Cable and Hudson seniors now have beautiful new homes to enjoy.  Now the question is how soon will the senior center be available more than three days a week?