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6 - November 18, 2011 | Pelham - Windham News Pulitzer Prize Winner Visits Pelham Library

by Marc Ayotte Former Pelham resident and award winning journalist Barbara

Walsh revisited her roots last Thursday, November 10, as part of a book signing tour promoting her latest book, August Gale; a recounting of a “Newfoundland fishing community and an infamous storm that killed four members of her extended family.” Upwards of 50 fans, friends and family members braved the driving rain to join Walsh in the quaint and comforting surroundings of the upper floor in the Pelham library. Among those in attendance were several high school classmates who reminisced with the highly acclaimed journalist and author of children’s literature. Walsh proceeded to captivate the audience with a wonderful accounting of her diligent, detail oriented, fact-finding journey by using a unique blend of wit, intrigue and emotion. Those in attendance listened intently as Walsh passionately read three moving passages from her book, August Gale, including one describing her first visit to Marystown, when she was accompanied by her sister and father. But before Walsh began her readings, she mentioned that it was her honor to speak in front of the gathering at the beautiful Pelham Library. The author then acknowledged ‘Uncle Bill and Aunt Pam’ for making a special trip from Michigan to catch their niece’s appearance. After apparently recognizing everyone who made the trip, including her highly supportive husband and fellow journalist, Eric Conrad, a ‘mutter’ was heard from the back of the room, “Oh yeah, my father is over there” as the daughter drew laughter from the crowd for the seemingly impromptu acknowledgement of the man who entrusted her with the telling of the family based story. August Gale, which is currently the number one selling historical

biography book in Canada, received a Kirkus Review, citing the book as “a celebration of traditional family values and reconciliation.” Walsh tells of the circumstances involving her search “for memories of the August gale and the grandfather who abandoned her dad as a young boy. Together, she and her father journey to Newfoundland to learn about the 1935 storm, and along the way her dad begins to talk about the man he cannot forgive. As she recreates the scenes of the violent hurricane and a small boy’s tender past, she holds onto a hidden desire: to heal her father and redeem the grandfather she has never met.” In the world of journalism, she is renowned for her literary and

civic efforts that have earned her many prestigious awards. Walsh attributes much of the success she has experienced in her career to the implementation of her “3 p’s”; persistence, passion and pluck.

That fierceness has enabled the once self-proclaimed “quiet kid,” who grew up on Lucy Ave. in Pelham, to effectively shape much of her journalistic work. Her illustrious career was jump-started as the result of her brilliant work on the Massachusetts prison system, earning her national acclaim and a Pulitzer Prize. In reflecting upon her work while employed with the Lawrence

Eagle Tribune, Walsh noted, “The Horton story also taught me that journalists have tremendous power and responsibility to inform, to tell stories that need to be told.” She also added, “Ultimately, our investigation into the prison program changed lives, laws, affected a presidential election and earned our newspaper a Pulitzer Prize.” That experience has seemingly proven to be the foundation for Walsh’s continued profound and positive effects on organizations and individuals alike. Included in Walsh’s many journalistic acknowledgements are the Pew Center for Civic Journalism’s Batten Award (1999); the Casey Medal (2001), the top national prize for coverage of children and families; the national Anna Quindlen Award for her 2003 work on “Castaway Children: Maine’s Most Vulnerable Kids;” and the Yankee Quill Award for her lifetime contribution toward excellence in journalism in New England - considered to be the highest individual honor awarded by fellow journalists in the region.

As the second of six daughters, raised in a close-knit family by parents Ron and Pat, Barbara portrayed herself as the young girl who wrote “Stephen King-like stories about my sister’s stuffed animals coming to life.” After graduating from Pelham High School in 1976, Walsh attended the University of New Hampshire, majoring in photo/journalism. Despite the many accolades she has received in her showcase career, Walsh’s stint at UNH did have its trying moments. In a classic “stick with it “ kind of inspirational story, the Pulitzer Prize winner recalls not doing so well in one of her classes. “I flunked a magazine writing class. I was devastated, I thought my career was over before it started,” recalled Walsh. Exhibiting the feistiness that became symbolic of her future undertakings as well as a message of persistence to all those who are pursuing their dreams, Walsh noted, “I flunked a writing course and I could have given up, but I didn’t.” Always reflecting a social awareness and living the role of a supportive voice for the unfortunate and deprived, Walsh has recently concentrated her efforts on writing about personal, real life stories. Her first children’s book entitled Sammy in the Sky, a story about the death of a family dog, was released in August of this year. According to Walsh, the book is “A deeply affecting tale of love,

Barbara Walsh, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for journalistic excellence, displays her two most recent literary efforts, August Gale and Sammy in the Sky

loss, and remembrance” pictorially enhanced by the realist paintings of Jamie Wyeth. Now residing in Winthrop, ME, with her husband Eric and two daughters, Walsh will continue her book signing tour with additional local appearances. On Monday, November 21, Walsh will be at the Chelmsford Public Library, with the meet and greet commencing at 6:30 p.m. Earlier in the day at 10 a.m., Walsh will be enjoying a nostalgic visit to PHS where she will address her former English teacher, Ms. Fox’s class; “I loved her” recalled Walsh, “she encouraged me to write.” For more information on Walsh’s accomplishments and book signing locations, go to her Website:

Windham Tax Rate- continued from front page

end of 2010 ($434,000), than there was on December 31, 2009 ($280,000). Call explained that an additional $300,000 remains in the unreserved fund balance at the current time, to be used only in the event of an emergency. The other reason the town side of the tax rate decreased, Call explained, is that there was more incoming revenue than had been anticipated. The State of New Hampshire School portion of the tax rate decreased by 3 cents this year, going from $2.49 in 2010 to $2.46 this year. The Rockingham County portion of the tax rate also went down, decreasing by 2 cents over last year. In 2010, the county portion of the Windham Tax Rate was $1.08 per $1,000 assessed property valuation. For 2011, it was set at $1.06. Windham’s 2011 Tax Bills were mailed to property owners on

November 9. They are due to be paid by December 12. After that date, penalties and interest would be assessed. As for having to borrow any money to meet expenses between

now and the time tax revenue begins coming into the treasurer, Call said she doesn’t foresee having to borrow beyond the $1,000,000 tax anticipation note (TAN) arranged with Centrix Bank last June. None of that $1,000,000 was used in anticipation of tax revenue due this past July. Call said that by working with officials from the Windham School District this past summer, the need to borrow money to meet expenses was avoided. Tax anticipation notes are a short-term loan. Call said she is again working with school district officials “to reduce the impact” on taxpayers.

“Just another day at the office…”


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Staff photo by Marc Ayotte

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