An Independent Weekly Newspaper
Pelham~Windham News Volume 9 Number 29 February 3, 2012 16 Pages Women’s
Heart Week February 1-7
Heart Disease is the number one
killer of American women over 34. Recognizing symptoms and risks, making lifestyle changes and getting timely care can save a woman’s life. Women’s Heart Week is a national outreach campaign aimed at improving women’s outcomes from this deadly disease. Most women are not aware of this fact and fail to recognize their own risk factors for heart disease. Women’s symptoms, especially those that are milder, often go ignored. Women often miss out on critical opportunities to save their own lives. The Women’s Heart Foundation (WHF) recognizes that women are busier than ever as they juggle career, family and care-giving responsibilities. For many, each day resembles a jig–saw puzzle in which a woman is required to piece together her time and obligations. Now, more than ever, women need to take time out for themselves and be given a reminder: Take Care of Your Heart. Raising awareness, the National Women’s Heart Week has designated February 1-7 for women to recognize their heart and to take care of their heart. The outreach program, that combines fun, free activities with heart health screenings. has partnered with local organizations, to help women come together and encourage fitness, promote stress reduction activities and learn about heart- healthy eating and gender-specifics on women’s heart disease. Women are encouraged to check with their personal physicians for more information as to how they can learn more about the risk factors, as well as research the local organizations which support Women’s Heart Week.
WCS Fifth Graders ‘Leaving Their Mark’
by Robyn Hatch Symmetry Tile Works of Epping went to
Windham Center School to help the fifth graders with their tile mural activity. This is the second year that an in residence artist helped the fifth graders complete the beautiful, one of a kind project. This year, artist Robert Roessel has worked with students alongside WCS’s art teacher, Lynn Middleton. This project is a permanent fixture in the school, along with last year’s. This design is a water scene and a bridge, totally different from the one done previously. This is very special to the fifth graders - a way of leaving their mark on the school as a yearly event. Completion will be in the early spring.
Supported Through Advertisers ECRWSS
U.S. POSTAGE PAID
HUDSON, NH 03051
PERMIT NO. 33 Postal Customer
View past issues and our other papers online.
Tile Works instructor helping the students
Drawing for the mural design
Two finished tiles
Disciplinary Action of Employee Upheld by Selectmen
by Barbara O’Brien The disciplinary action of a town employee has been upheld by
for Sprinklers at PHS $500K
Requested by Diane Chubb
Calling it a “critical step in addressing the facility deficiencies at Pelham High School,” the Pelham School Board is requesting funds for the installation of sprinklers at PHS. School District warrant article six requests $500,000 for the sprinkler system. Installation of sprinklers would also address one of the items on the report from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) issued in February 2011. The report specifically notes the need to “take immediate steps to address the lack of egress through undersized building windows that do not meet code requirements.” A sprinkler system would make the installation of new windows unnecessary.
One of the biggest issues with the proposed project is the source of the water. Pennichuck does not have a water line running down Marsh Road as far as the high school. The cost to pipe the water has always been prohibitive at $250 per foot. Plus, there would be extra costs as Marsh Road would be torn up for the piping, and the extra police details during the construction. Pelham Elementary School already has water supplied by Pennichuck. The pipe runs around the access road that goes behind the school. By extending the water pipes from the back of PES to the high school, the cost drops significantly, to $168 per foot. The current proposal includes running water from
Pelham Elementary School to the high school. The specific costs are as follows: Underground water Main: $184,000 Mechanical work: $35,000 Sprinkler System/Installation: $221,000 Contingency: $ 60,000 Total: $500,000 The School Board is excited about the opportunity to extend town water to the high school, as it will eliminate several other issues and potential costs. The district will no longer have to worry about testing and water quality issues from the water drawn from the private well on the property.
continued to page 5- Sprinklers
Windham Selectmen, although the decision was not unanimous. The split decision was in response to Community Planner Elizabeth
Wood’s appeal of a one-day unpaid suspension enacted by Community Development Director Laura Scott. The disciplinary action came to light when Wood requested that her appeal be held in public, resulting in the three and a half hour hearing on January 30. According to Scott, Wood was issued two written warnings that followed numerous verbal warnings, prior to the one-day unpaid suspension being levied. Wood later commented, however, that she had actually received seven written warnings in the past two years that she has been employed by the Town of Windham. The only written warnings that were noted by Scott, however, were dated July 25 and October 18, 2011. The one-day suspension was scheduled for this past December 29, but was postponed pending the results of the appeals hearing. In Scott’s letter detailing the reasons for Wood’s suspension, she cited repeated mistakes, forgetfulness, a lack of focus, weekly tasks not being accomplished in a timely manner, the lack of timely responses to incoming communications and a continual backlog of unfiled information. Scott said Wood has demonstrated a lack of consistent quality, which necessitates her “double-checking” Wood’s work. If there is no improvement in Wood’s performance, Scott stated, further disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including termination of employment. Scott noted that this stipulation adheres to town policy and was not her own idea. Wood said that she feels the issues noted by Scott “have been blown out of proportion,” is “a mountain made out of a molehill” and that the disciplinary action “is not warranted.” Wood said she feels she can’t do enough “to be the perfect Elizabeth that Laura wants.” In response to Scott’s allegation that Wood had made several errors in a posting for a planning board meeting this past December, Wood responded that the mistakes were actually made by a former employee. Wood did acknowledge, however, that the responsibility for the posting was ultimately hers. She did catch the errors “after the fact,” though, Wood said.
In defense of Wood, Planning Board Chairman Ruth-Ellen Post commented that she finds Wood to be “accurate, cooperative, and wonderfully pleasant.” She asked selectmen not to uphold the suspension of Wood.
In response to Scott’s contention that Wood did not have all materials
ready in a timely manner regarding a rezoning issue, Wood agreed that she had not obtained the necessary maps from the Information Technology Director, but had assembled all other materials. Scott said she had instructed Wood “well in advance” as to what was required. Wood said the issue was “not a tragic infraction,” in her opinion. As for not filing information in a timely manner, Wood stated that she
can’t live up to Scott’s expectations. “Laura is the organization expert,” Wood commented. “She’d get an A+.” Wood said she didn’t think “it was fair to compare her to the person at the head of the class.” Scott said she does not compare Wood to herself, at all. “We’re talking months of not filing” paperwork, Scott said. “It’s part of her job.” Wood said she does maintain a list of tasks to accomplish, but that sometimes other things arise and the original tasks don’t get done because of it. Wood said she doubts that any of the employees in the department complete all their tasks every week. “There’s just too much work to do,” Wood said. Scott responded that the problem is with Wood’s inability to prioritize and lack of time-management skills. “Unfortunately,” Scott stated, “this is the norm for Elizabeth.” Wood acknowledged that her desk is “cluttered,” but said she is working on the problem. “It’s a pattern, again,”
Scott said. “This needs to be taken care of on a daily basis or it becomes overwhelming.”
As a portion of her testimony, Wood read several letters of recommendation from town officials and applicants with whom she has worked during her tenure in Windham. These letters cited numerous commendable characteristics that Wood exhibits professionally, but it was noted that Wood solicited these recommendations prior to the suspension. During her testimony, Scott said she felt the suspension was a necessary step as a result of Wood’s lack of progress in the areas of concern. She said she feels that Wood’s work performance is actually getting worse, which is adversely affecting both the planning board and certain public interactions. “I did not want it to come to this point,” Scott said. “Levying a one-day suspension was not pleasant, not easy for me to do, but I felt it necessary due to the pattern of poor job performance,” Scott said. Scott also said she has tried to accommodate Wood’s work style repeatedly, but to no avail. “Laura and I disagree on a lot of points,” Wood stated. Scott emphasized that she wants to continue working with Wood and helping her improve her skills. “My intent is not to wind up with a termination,” she stated. “Seven written warnings should be a huge red flag,” Selectman Roger Hohenberger said. “I’d be shaking; afraid to come to work,” he said, commenting that even one written warning should be a red flag. Wood said she did take the reprimands seriously. “I did perceive them as a bright red flag,” Wood said. “I have tried to be agreeable and to do what Laura wants.” Wood said there is a degree of truth in Scott’s complaints, but that they are not all true. Hohenberger agreed with Scott that there is “a pattern” to the issues of concern. “This has to change,” he said. “There is a deficiency that has to be corrected.” Selectman Kathleen DiFruscia said she believes Wood recognizes that she has some “deficiencies” and is working to improve. “I am concerned with the large number of reprimands, however,” DiFruscia added. Selectman Phil LoChiatto said he feels Woods is “a wonderful person.” “There is no question about that,” he said, but added that he also has concerns about the numerous reprimands. “It’s not making a mountain out of a mole hill when they keep recurring,” LoChiatto said. Selectman Bruce Breton chose not to make any comments on the issue. Selectmen’s Chairman Ross McLeod said he feels Scott is “nit-picking”
on Wood’s work style. “There’s a clash” of personalities, he added. “The conundrum is how to fix it,” McLeod stated, adding that he also questions how substantial the actual infractions were. “ When a vote was finally taken on Wood’s appeal, selectmen upheld
Scott’s one-day unpaid suspension by a tally of 3 to 2. Voting in favor of suspending Wood were Breton, Hohenberger and LoChiatto. Voting against the suspension were DiFruscia and McLeod. “I don’t feel Elizabeth’s conduct gives rise to a suspension,” DiFruscia
said. “This is difficult for both the employer and the employee,” Hohenberger said, “but there has to be something else other than just another written warning.” LoChiatto said he agreed with Hohenberger. “Individually [Elizabeth’s] actions are not egregious, but together they become a mountain,” LoChiatto commented. This is the progressive discipline that selectmen developed, Breton said, referring to suspension being the next step. “It takes two to tango,” McLeod said. “It’s a matter of different management styles. I am amazed at Elizabeth’s perseverance by staying,” McLeod said. “She’s in a death spiral here.” McLeod also said he’d prefer Wood receive additional training in time-management, rather than endure suspension. After the vote was taken, on the way out of the room, Wood commented on the results of the hearing, “I’d rather die fighting,” she said. Scott said she plans to continue working with Wood in an amicable manner and hopes that the issues of concern can be rectified.
Staff photos by Robyn Hatch
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8
| Page 9
| Page 10
| Page 11
| Page 12
| Page 13
| Page 14
| Page 15
| Page 16