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Pelham~Windham News Volume 9 Number 4 August 5, 2011 16 Pages
Pelham Eagle Scout’s Project Damaged by Vandals Eagle Scout Speaks Out in about Recent Vandalism
submitted by Lucy E. Wilkerson Vandals on a four-wheel joy ride in Raymond
Park in Pelham destroyed a recently erected 210-foot cedar fence overlooking one of the Park’s soccer fields. Pelham Park and Recreation Director Brian Johnson discovered the disheartening sight of the wreckage on Monday, July 14, while surveying the fields in preparation for the upcoming sports season. Johnson immediately photographed the site, notified the Pelham Police Department, and filed a report. Pelham parks have suffered vandalism on several occasions over the years, and Veterans Memorial Park at the Town Beach has had its fair share. For several years, the lifeguard station was repeatedly
destroyed and had to be replaced, and at the beginning of this year, the $900 ladder used on the floating dock for summer campers was stolen. At Raymond Park, a kiosk displaying several miles of mapped hiking trails was so badly damaged it was removed, and there are no plans for replacing it. Making the situation more irritating, in each incident, the vandals leave a calling card; boulders are spray painted with an odd symbol and the words “Respect the Youth.” For one in-coming senior at Pelham High
School (PHS), this recent case of vandalism is extraordinarily personal. When Tom Lynch was 12 years old, he attended his cousin’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor. The event made such an impression on him that he immediately enrolled in Pelham’s Boy Scout Troop 25. This past year marked the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts, and Tom made it his goal to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout by year’s end to coincide with the centennial. The 17-year-old athlete put aside his high school football season in pursuit of that goal. Letters were mailed to Pelham town agencies and non-profits soliciting a project that was budget prohibitive for them but needed to be completed as soon as possible. The first to answer Tom’s offer for help was the
Pelham Food Pantry. The floor to the old Food Pantry desperately needed to be replaced, so Tom began working with Father Anthony Kuzia of St. Patrick’s Church, the home of the Food Pantry. After scoping out the labor and supplies that the
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job would require, Tom made plans to replace the floor and add some additional shelves. Day one on the job arrived, and all work came to a screeching halt. Tom made a horrible discovery. The sub-floor was all rotted. If you talk to Father
Anthony today, he’ll tell you that Tom Lynch is the reason Pelham has a new Food Pantry. The second to answer Tom’s offer of help was the Pelham Park and Recreation Department.
continued to page 11- Vandalism
Fire Department Reduces Staff by One Firefighter
by Barbara O’Brien Reducing the number of firefighters on the daytime shift is certainly not something Fire Chief Tom McPherson wanted to do for the second half of the year, but the need for overtime has resulted in departmental cutbacks elsewhere. McPherson met with selectmen during their July 25 board meeting, telling them that, as of June 15, he had reluctantly reduced the number of firefighters working Monday through Friday, during the 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift. The reduction in staff diminishes the daytime coverage from the previous five firefighters to four. “This is not the best case scenario,” McPherson said. “This is definitely something I didn’t want to have to do.”
McPherson said that he made the decision to cut back the number of firefighters working during the day shift due to concerns expressed by selectmen, who said they were worried about the heavy expenditure of overtime during the first six months of 2011. By reducing the shift from five to four firefighters, beginning June 15, $2,900 has been saved thus far. If continued for the next five months, McPherson said he anticipates saving another $15,000. McPherson explained that the
overage on the overtime account was due to two things. The first reason having to do with long-time firefighters unexpectedly making use of the earned time they had accumulated over the years. When a firefighter takes earned time off from the job, there is the need to provide replacement coverage using the overtime account. One firefighter has used 620 hours of earned time so far this year, McPherson said, adding that this is allowed by union contract. The 620 hours of earned time being taken by this one firefighter accounts for about $30,000 out of the budget. The second reason for the overspent overtime budget is that another firefighter is out on long- term disability; at a current cost to the town of $34,000. It is not certain whether or not this particular firefighter will eventually return to work, McPherson commented. Chief McPherson said he monitors calls for service and the status of the budget on a weekly basis and will continue to track how often the department runs short on manpower, resulting in the need to call in an additional firefighter to pick up the slack. Earned time usage is likely to continue heavier than other times of the year, he said, until summer vacations begin to dwindle off. One of the issues affecting earned time is the recent battle in the State
Legislature regarding municipal employee benefits and the possibility of capping the amount of earned time an employee will be allowed to accumulate. As of June 30, the halfway point for 2011, 68.7% of the fire department’s overtime budget had been expended. The overtime account included a total of $244,470 when approved earlier this year. As of June 30, $167,959 of the original amount was already spent, leaving only $76,511 remaining for the rest of the year. “The goal is to balance the
overtime with salary savings, so that they net out to zero,” Town Administrator David Sullivan said. “But it could be difficult to get to that point this year,” he added. “I understand their position and I’m tracking OT every which way I can, in order to give them (the selectmen) the best picture of what’s transpiring,” McPherson said. Selectman Kathleen DiFruscia asked if public safety is being compromised by the reduction in the number of firefighters working daytime during the week. “Any cost savings shouldn’t come at the price of public safety,” she said. Chief McPherson said the reduction in staff does affect daily fire department operations; how much of an impact depends on what type of calls for service are being handled at any particular time. “We’re doing the best that we can, under the circumstances,” McPherson said, but sometimes being short one firefighter does delay response time. When questioned as to whether or not fire department administrators, such as the deputy chief, assistant chief or fire chief, can make up for the reduction of one firefighter, McPherson responded by saying that, “You don’t replace the labor side with management. It’s not allowed by contract.” McPherson continued to explain, however, that fire department administrators provide many other services to aid the community. “We do whatever we can to provide an extra pair of hands to assist (at an emergency scene), but we don’t replace a firefighter,” McPherson clarified. Assistant Fire Chief Ed Morgan emphasized the importance of having a sufficient number of firefighters on duty at all times. “We never know when an emergency will happen,” Morgan said. “All we can do is hope and pray that we’ll be ready for whatever happens, when the time comes.”
It is anticipated that Chief McPherson will meet with selectmen again the end of August to provide an update on the budget status.
Pelham’s Recycling ‘PERCs’ Up with Hannon at the Helm
by Marc Ayotte With the country in a recession and municipalities nation- wide struggling to cut costs with respect to the services they provide, it was a no-brainer decision when the Town of Pelham hired the shredding industry visionary, Ron Hannon, to overhaul their transfer station. The award winning, highly ambitious and seasoned professional has 35 years of experience in the waste industry.
Hannon accepted the position of director of the facility in
PERC Director Ron Hannon puts his philosophy into action as he deposits a plastic water bottle into his recycling container
November of 2009. Since that time, Hannon’s knowledge of how to get things done correctly, efficiently and profitably has been implemented at the Pelham facility and is moving forward at an expeditious pace. Hannon’s confident and aggressive approach to the refinement of the once existing operations, has led to the lowering of costs as well as the increase in recycling volume and profitability. Subsequently, Hannon was recently recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency and awarded the Environmental Merit Award, and with it, letters of commendation from U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen. The facility was also recognizer as being a National Green City finalist. On the local resident, Hannon will serve as the Grand Marshall of Pelham’s Old Home Day Parade in September. Always thinking outside the box, Hannon has been highly successful as a consultant, business owner, and entrepreneur throughout his career. His past jobs in the waste/recycling industry include the former CEO of Data Grater. With an intense purpose and drive, Hannon revealed he enjoys the opportunity to “take something from nothing, make it grow (and) bring it to fruition”. “I enjoy fixing things, refining operations” added Hannon. Noting that the transfer station was “isolated as a source of cuts,” Hannon leapfrogged over the political hurdles of the past and attacked the situation from a business perspective and added, “I constantly want to add new value. The trouble with government is they need to operate like a business. The biggest problem is politics goes too slow.” However, he also pointed out that the budget cuts many municipalities are currently facing have become an continued to page 11- Pelham Recycling
Windham Girl Scout Troop 10281 Completes Service Project
submitted by Patricia Hughes Windham Girl Scout Troop 10281 completed a service project for Warde Health Center. Using funds from selling Girl Scout cookies, troop members painted flower pots at You’re Fired and purchased plants from Delahunty’s Nursery. The troop presented the plants to the residents of Warde Health and assisted Mary Jane Moran, Activities Assistant at Warde Health, with a Blessing of the Garden Ceremony. During another visit the girls interviewed residents to learn about their favorite plants, animals and colors. Using information collected from the interviews, the girls created a plant and animal book containing poems and collages. In June, the girls weeded the perennial garden, planted an herb garden and painted a rock for the flower garden.
During their last visit, the girls presented the completed plants and animals book to Activities Director Debbie Dube, and met with the Nursing Home Administrator, Susan Denopoulos, who presented the girls with a pin to thank them for their efforts.
Troop 10281 plants flowers in pots for Warde Health residents.
Troop 10281’s members include Shila Alexander, Tessa Gustafson, Eileen Hughes, Jennifer LeBlanc, Taylor Mendes, Sarah Monahan, Molly Ryan, Emily Sargent and Mary Ann Streechon.
staff photo by Marc Ayotte
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