August 31, 2010


Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY – Two-term State Rep. Frank Emiro, R-Londonderry, is ready to lead. He pulls no punches when he tells you why he should be the next governor of New Hampshire – he is the most qualified of the four Republican gubernatorial candidates because he's the only candidate with experience working in the state legislature, says Emiro.
“I've been there, defending what the people say they want me to fight for, and knowing how the full process and method works,” said Emiro. “That is key to being an effective governor – knowing what you're up against, and knowing how to work with people from both sides of the aisle to get things done.”
Emiro, 65, describes himself as a true moderate Republican who is just as tired as anyone of the empty promises politicians make each election cycle. It's no wonder that frustration has given way nationally to the rise of the Tea Party Movement, he says. But it is a movement Emiro says has been hijacked by extremists.
“They started out the right way – just average citizens tired of government and politics,” says Emiro. “It's because the American people, across the board, are sick of the Republicans and Democrats saying what they're going to do, then not delivering the goods.”
But he hasn't lost faith in Republican ideals, or his party's ability to remain relevant with people – it's not so much about political philosophies as it is about the difference between being a politician and being a leader, says Emiro.
“Take an issue, like pro-life. A politician will tell two people on either side of that issue whatever he thinks they want to hear. An elected official doing his or her job for the people, on the other hand, will tell both constituents, face to face, where they stand on the issue. Then it's all up to the people in this country to vote for a candidate, based on what they stand for,” Emiro says.
Citizens of this country have for years backed off from holding elected officials in a representative government accountable for their voting record. It's absolutely overdue,” Emiro says.
Emiro's own voting record with the legislature reflects his personal commitment to veterans issues. He serves on the House State/Federal Relations Veterans Affairs committee and, as a Vietnam-era veteran, was Director for Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 49 in Westchester, NY.
He would bring jobs and revenue to the state through casino gaming, and was sponsor of HB 593 in 2009. The bill proposed construction of gaming resorts in Hudson, Berlin and Lincoln, but failed to gain traction, although he points out that it was something those three communities wanted.
Emiro says the immediate benefit of job creation and non-tax related revenues would also go a long way toward easing the problem of transportation funding, which has continually delayed the expansion and improvement of the I-93 corridor.
In fact, his vision for the future of New Hampshire includes rail service connecting Boston with Concord, a solution to the dangerous and antiquated I-93 commuter congestion.
I'm not talking about Amtrak. I'm talking about not for amtrak coming in and doing that. Subsidized rail to get it started – the way Abe Lincoln built rails. The federal government got them going and then they could be privatized,” Emiro said.
Emiro retired in 2005 on retirement disability from NH DOT, having served six years on the Board of Directors for State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1984. In his past lives he has owned a pizza business, a pager business and, before that, was a long-haul truck driver for a department store chain.
His campaign is low budget. He doesn't have a staff to speak of, and feels his lack of a campaign war chest somehow diminishes his credibility as a viable candidate in the eyes of the competition.
I've put myself in the front lines. I didn't go out and get big money. It's a real grassroots campaign. I don't want to take corporate money because I don't want to be beholding to any corporate entity – but I do get a lot of quiet pats on the backs from those who know me, who know my record and know why I'm doing this,” Emiro says.
After four years watching the Democrats overspending, watching the economy getting worse, watching them bring in all these intrusive taxes, and no one was stepping up to run against Lynch on the Republican side, I felt like someone had to do something,” said Emiro. “That's why I'm here.”

Depot Square Steakhouse shuts its doors

The restaurant closed Friday, unannounced.

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Word that Depot Square Steakhouse abruptly closed its doors Friday was still settling in yesterday around town, and the sinking feeling was unanimous.
“We were shocked,” said Tami Brunette, an 11-year employee of C & K Restaurant that sits just a few doors down from the steak house.
“We heard they just closed up, no notice. They were cutting back their hours recently, but we didn't see it coming. People have been talking about it all day,” Brunette said. “The thing is, there are too many restaurants in this town. We have enough pizza places, nail salons and tattoo parlors. Why don't they bring in some kind of business that actually has employees that need to go out and eat every day? “ Brunette said. “How about an office building?”
Yesterday Stu Arnett, hired last year to help boost economic development in both the TIF district and the downtown, said he had heard nothing official prior to the restaurant's closing.
“It's probably a sign of the continuing low spending by consumers, and maybe some of the competition in town – T-Bones, Halligans and other franchises – were a factor,” Arnett said.
Attempts by the Union Leader yesterday to reach restaurant owner Jane Tuerck by phone and at her other business, Janie's Uncommon Cafe in Londonderry, were unsuccessful.
Tureck launched Depot Square in 2002 to much fanfare with business partner Tim Frost in a deal that was brokered by the Derry Economic Development Corporation.
Under the agreement, the town sold the 119-year-old train station to the DEDC for $150,000. The DEDC gave the town a one dollar down payment for the property and then charged Tuerck and Frost monthly rent under a three-year finance agreement. Due to the restaurant's immediate success, they were able to pay off the loan a year ahead of schedule.
However, getting the decrepit train depot up to speed turned out to be a costly endeavor, amounting to about half a million dollars in repair and renovation costs in the end.
Arnett said without knowing the particulars of the restaurant's financial situation, it's possible that debt incurred to upgrade and maintain the place became overwhelming once the economy soured.
A few weeks ago another downtown business, Scrapbook Island, also closed its doors without warning.
When everyone has discretionary money, some of those high fixed costs associated with running a business are more manageable,” Arnett said. “Between the steak house and the scrapbook store, it seems to be a warning sign that we need to take a hard look at what's going on downtown. We need to open the lines of communication with downtown business owners. Maybe if we'd had an early warning, something could have been worked out.”
That is precisely what the town has been aiming to do, by forming a Downtown Committee about a year ago to revitalize the area. Signs of progress have been slow and steady, including a proposed farmers market that was fast tracked and launched in July. The market has brought some new life – and foot traffic – back to the downtown.
But the trickle down effect hasn't been enough, said Bud Evans, who runs the family-owned Derry Feed & Supply Co. just across the street from the old train depot.
“It helps for a while. We go like gangbusters, and things always die down around Halloween, no matter what,” Evans said. “It's like when Halligan Tavern opened. We here in the downtown sort of glom onto the success of others and hope that it helps sustain us all. In the same way, when you hear about a business folding, it's like a death in the family. We're like an unofficial team here in the downtown,” said Evans.
Yesterday, Councilor Janet Fairbanks said given the number of vacancies on Broadway, the town should have already taken more aggressive steps to connect with downtown business owners.
She also said that she has noticed Tuerck's Londonderry-based business, a breakfast and lunch spot, seems to be thriving.
“I know she's there every day, and that recently they closed the Depot for lunch. I'm disappointed. I don't know why the local business community can't get some kind of promotions on the town's cable channel, maybe a spotlight of each business so people know what we've got here,” Fairbanks said.
She said studies have shown that more than a third of every $100 spent locally recirculates in the local economy, which is key to every town's survival these days.
“If we lose our downtown, in my mind, we have nothing that allows us to compete with other towns,” Fairbanks said.
Tom Hankins, who owns Bachmann Florist in the downtown with his wife, Mary, said he's engaged with the Downtown Committee and in favor of a merchants association. He said what's wrong with the downtown is not a single problem with a simple solution.
We have the Opera House, which was beautifully restored, but they hardly have productions that can draw crowds because they feel the parking is not adequate. So there is a potential way to bring people into town to spend money at restaurants that's not happening,” Hankins said. “And that's just one example. We also have landlord problems.”
He cited a stretch of empty retail spaces across the street from the steakhouse where several businesses have recently fled – some just relocating to new places in town, and another, the Blackberry Bakery, which moved up the road to Londonderry.
“Now they have a lower rent in Londonderry and more parking,” Bachmann said.
Downtown Committee member Mike Gendron said he heard rumblings of the steakhouse's demise early last week, which were confirmed by an employee of the restaurant Friday.
“Yes, the economy has hurt people's pocketbooks. They aren't going out for meals anymore. And the fact that the Depot minimized its hours recently made it difficult for someone like me to know when they were open,” Gendron said. “Add to that the success of Janie's breakfast place, where they're probably making better money with a better turn around, and it's not hard to figure out what happened.”
He said this turn of events makes a strong case for rallying the downtown merchants.
“Merchants alone can't save the downtown. It will take help from our elected officials.We need to create a marketing campaign for our downtown,” Gendron said. “I won't let the Depot Steakhouse deter me from making our downtown great. It's a viable location; it just needs the right amount of marketing and redevelopment to make it a place people want to go to. This is not the end of the world. It's just a bump in the road.”

A Day of Firsts

Shiloh Vanhyll, Matt Morse and  Brett Metz pool their directional resources on the first day of school.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Another year, another new batch of freshman officially initiated into the fold – which means they were left to find their way around the sprawling campus that will, for the next four years, be their home away from home.
Yesterday, about 900 freshman followed abbreviated versions of their new schedules, mainly just to get a feel for what it is like to make it from point A to point B in seven minutes or less.
A trio of lost boys huddled near a tree, comparing schedules and looking off in different directions, trying to determine which way to go next.
Shiloh Vanhyll, Matt Morse and Brett Metz finally accepted help, and were quickly heading in the right direction. However, a second huddle on their new path prompted English teacher Tim Cain, on hand to direct foot traffic, to ask if they were still lost. The boys all shook their heads in the negative, and then scattered.
“Probably just making meeting-for-lunch-plans,” observed Robin Perrin, of the school's alumni office.
Perrin, who's seen it all before over the past 30 years, said students arrived at about 7:15 a.m., and would be done for the day by 12:45 p.m.
This time next year, the highly-anticipated Freshman Academy will be home base for ninth graders.
Zach Gagnon, a freshman soccer player,
 rocked a soccer tie and new kicks.
Although it won't eliminate the need for campus tours, it should reduce much of the anxiety felt by freshmen who find themselves overwhelmed by the bigness of Pinkerton's campus.
Yesterday, Head Master Mary Anderson said the new building is about 20 percent complete, and construction is on track.
Other updates on campus include a new roof on both the Field House and Shepard Building, and generators that will help sustain the intercom system in the event of a power outage.
The school is also tightening up its existing dress code, letting parents know that students will either be sent home to change clothes, or parents will have to bring acceptable items to school.
Brian Jarvis demonstrates how to make
origami frogs in his tech drawing class.
Restrictions are clearly spelled out in the student handbook, said Anderson, who acknowledged that whenever school starts and the weather is particularly hot, it's a challenge to find a balance between comfortable clothing and adequate coverage of body parts.
Freshman Academy slated to be ready
by Sept. 2011. 
Also, the school is stepping up enforcement of new no-bullying legislation as required under state law, which means even isolated incidents involving insults and taunting or physical or verbal attacks of students by other students must be reported to the state. In the past, bullying was considered reportable if a student demonstrated a pattern of bullying behavior.
Today students will meet class by class with grade-level advisors in four separate assemblies, to review the school calendar of events – which is extensive.
“It takes time, but soon enough they will have everything figured out,” Perrin said. “And then there are some things that take a little longer. Like finding Room 4. It's a little room in the basement of one of the buildings, and no one can ever find it,” Perrin said.

Mark of vandals erased by volunteers

Fixing the damage at Broadview: From left, Ken Gould, Ginny True, Mel True, David Milz and Margi Ives. 
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Wrongs have been righted by a group of volunteers who wanted to send a clear message to vandals who, one week ago, left the entrance to a local conservation site in shambles.
On Saturday a group of about 10 people got together and rebuilt a large informational sign that had been rammed from its wooden posts. They painted over some graffiti sprayed across a picnic table. They reinforced a post and beam fence that had been knocked out in several places.
“It took about six hours of digging and painting and hammering. In the end, we had a couple of professional carpenters who helped us get all the angles straight on the sign, and we got it done,” said Dave McPherson, who is also active with the East Derry Village Improvement Society.
Conservation Commission Chair Margi Ives had discovered the vandalism on August 24. After some debate over what to do about the damage, McPherson said it was agreed that if a team of volunteers could be rallied, the sooner the mess was fixed, the better.
“It's an ongoing problem, and it's been a problem ever since the property became a public conservation area – even before that, in fact,” McPherson said.
He added that it's not the only conservation site in town that's been under siege by late night vandals, who regularly make mischief, destroy property and leave litter, beer cans and bottles in their wake.
“You just keep hoping that the people doing this realize what they're doing to their community,” McPherson said. “It seems this time of year is when a lot of the problems happen, for obvious reasons.”
He said he's hoping between more patrols by local police and more surveillance by local residents, it might be possible to deter vandals from returning to the scene of their crime.
“It's important to show them that we care about this place, and that as a community, we're not going to stand for it,” McPherson said.

August 29, 2010

Software company provides early warning system for banks

Steve Falconer, CEO of Lender Sentinel, a start-up company ready to test drive its banking software.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Long before Wall Street tumbled, Steve Falconer had a big idea. What if there were a user-friendly software tool that could be applied to community banking records that provided an early warning system for troubled assets, something to bring general transparency to every portfolio?
It was the fall of 2007 and my brother and I were thinking that community banks really needed some kind of tool to evaluate whether they wanted something in their portfolio. All this was coming together right before the world came crashing in,” said Falconer.
Timing was not quite right for going out on an entrepreneurial limb. So Falconer made good use of the downtime as the economy continued to reel and slowly recover, tweaking his software, developing a prototype and preparing a business plan.
That big idea has since developed into a start-up company, Lender Sentinel, an innovative software system that could prove to be the missing link bank regulators have been seeking to stabilize the still-fragile investment market.
Lender Sentinel has the potential to bring community banks up to speed and then shift them into overdrive, said Falconer. Not only does the system gather up all existing portfolio data into one tidy program, but it provides access and analysis of third-party information.
Banks are all over the place, electronically speaking, in terms of loans. You can't look at your portfolio or collateral electronically because all that information is still on paper. I haven't been to a bank yet where it's not done that way – and I've been in four or five dozen banks recently,” Falconer said.
Used to be a community bank could look out the window and see the properties it owned. But with the secondary market of collateralized debt obligations, the packaging on Wall Street of these subprime, regular and jumbo mortgages, eventually things got dicey,” said Falconer.
As real estate became a commodity, like silver and gold, loans were packaged along with other properties and sold to investors, explained Falconer. But the packaged assets were impossible to unpack, in terms of assessed value.
The problem remained: How does an investor in Tokyo know the true market value of, say, a property in Derry that's sold in a 'bag' of investment properties along with a house in Cape Cod and a house in Albany?” said Falconer.
That is the pivotal question that, until now, has not had a good enough answer.
Our idea was to database the information which, right now, still exists in a big fire proof cabinet in bank vaults. Lender Sentinel will go into that vault, transfer all that information into an electronic data base, and then continue to watch the market and track portfolios against the daily changes that are happening,” said Falconer, a former software developer for Verizon who has partnered with his brother, Paul Falconer, and also John Powell of Massachusetts, both experienced real estate appraisers.
Lender Sentinel has signed on three clients so far, one on Boston's South Shore two in Connecticut, with another dozen or so proposals already in the hands of regional community banks, including several in Southern New Hampshire.
Falconer expects the client list to grow exponentially once the system goes live at New England Bank in Enfield, Ct., the first bank in the country to test drive the software.
New England Bank Executive Vice President John Parda is looking forward to being part of the buzz.
There are different competitors out there that can digitize your portfolios, but the value of Lender Sentinel, and the uniqueness it's bringing to market, is that it's building a better mousetrap. They're bringing in outside information, public data from assessors records and peer data – data from other institutions,” Parda said.
“What I really need to measure my portfolio against is third-party information. There's plenty of software that will slice and dice existing data, but nothing that tells me what's happening in the marketplace. They've married two functions with this software,” Parda said.
Parda is preparing to present the system to the Board of Directors in September.
While there is some calculated risk in being the first, there is also a sense of excitement over the potential Lender Sentinel has to offer.
“There are other people looking at it in the banking community, and people I've recommended it to. When community bank meetings get rolling in September, the word will spread,” Parda said.
“I'm hoping more banks get involved because this isn't a competitive tool; it doesn't make our money any greener. But from a regulatory standpoint, the more community banks that get on board and build a peer data bank, the more we all know about the marketplace.”
Clients can set parameters based on existing or anticipated market conditions with a feature for customizing stress and shock testing of assets. By combining bank data and local market information, clients are alerted to conditions that arise as they arise and take action before an asset becomes a liability.
Rounding out the start-up team is Dave McPherson, a former senior manager with Fidelity Investment, and Jim Heneghan, a retired banker and principal with Trinity Appraisal in Hartford, Ct.
We extract certain data points that have to be maintained,” said McPherson. “Banks are always cutting new loans. That's where we differ from the CPA who comes in and does a spread sheet of your assets. A portfolio is a living and breathing entity that needs to be maintained, and that's what we offer.”
Heneghan said a selling point is that the system was designed by non-bankers who were able to solve a long-standing problem within the industry just by coming at it from a different perspective.
This system is dynamic. If there's a potential problem, you'll know before the market tells you there's a problem. Gathering information that normally takes weeks and months to get together can now be gathered in seconds,” said Heneghan.
After 28 years a correspondent banker doing loan participations for community banks, Heneghan is convinced that this software will be a game changer.
It was designed for community banks, but can be used by any bank. Some of the larger banks may have a group that monitors this stuff manually, and some banks design Excel spread sheets to do some of this work. But to my knowledge, there's nothing out there that gives you the complete package, like this,” Heneghan said. 

August 28, 2010

Four arrested, two sought in string of burglaries

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Derry Police announced yesterday they have made several arrests in recent weeks in connection with a number of burglaries and thefts, including the arrest Thursday of a Hampstead man at Derry District Court, already in custody on unrelated charges.
WANTED: Miller
Scot E. Jalbert Jr., 23, of 25 Glenwood North Road, Hampstead, was arrested Thursday on warrants charging him with burglary, theft and resisting detention as the result of an incident at Hannaford Supermarket on Manchester Road dating back to January 31. Police said Jalbert allegedly shoplifted two bags of baby products from the store and fled from police.
Jalbert was also charged on a separate warrant for his alleged part in a residential burglary on Jan. 28 on Warner Hill Road. Jalbert was returned to jail after the court set bail at $5,000.
Other burglary suspects arrested are:
David M. Pento, 24, of 27 Fairway Drive, #12, arrested Aug. 17 at his apartment. Pento is charged with two counts burglary in connection with a Jan. 28 burglary on Warner Hill Road and a Feb. 18 burglary on Olesen Road, where guns, jewelry, electronics and money were stolen. Pento was held on $20,000 cash bail;
Tamra Reed-Matheson, 24, of 639 Maple St., Manchester, was arrested Aug. 23 at Derry Police headquarters. She was charged with a Class A misdemeanor theft for allegedly taking UPS packages from a Stark Road residence on Dec. 22. She was held on $5,000 cash bail;
Christopher Gebala, 23, of 9 Fairway Dr., #10, was arrested June 30 for allegedly receiving stolen property in connection to a December 2009 burglary. He was released on $3,000 personal recognizance bail;
   Two other suspects are wanted in connection with various burglaries in town. They are:
Jessica Miller, 23, and Stephen Decarolis, husband and wife, last known address 41 Manchester St., Apt. 11, Manchester. Both are wanted on a number of charges including burglary, theft and receiving stolen property.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Decarolis and/or Miller should contact Derry Police detectives at 432-6111.
Police said additional arrests are expected over the next few days of other suspects in a number of burglaries still under investigation.

August 26, 2010

Officers, longtime friends, sworn in

Officer Thomas Burke, left, and Officer Marc Johnson: The new recruits.

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Ponch and Jon have nothing on Derry Police Department's newest recruits.
Officer Marc Johnson and Officer Thomas Burke IV were sworn in yesterday during a brief ceremony at the police station.
Their journey to this point actually has the makings of a “CHiPS” prequel – an unlikely story of two young guys growing up in Manchester who become fast friends while attending Memorial High School together. Although they were one year apart, both were outstanding athletes with similar easy-going personalities and strong moral fiber.
Johnson, 22, admits he was actually influenced as a kid by watching reruns of the '70s police drama,“CHiPS,” featuring California Highway Patrol Officers “Ponch” Poncherello and Jon Baker.
His childhood dream of becoming a police officer actually settled in during junior high school and carried him through high school all the way to Plymouth State University, where he graduated with a degree in criminal justice this year.
Burke, 21, traces his interest in police work back to his dad, retired Bedford Police Capt. Thomas Burke III.
“As early as I can remember I was hanging around the station with my dad. I just always knew that it was what I wanted to do,” said Burke, who earned his associate's degree in criminal justice from New Hampshire Institute of Technology, and is currently working toward his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Granite State College.
“I guess we both knew that the other was interested in a career in law enforcement, but we went to different colleges after high school,” said Johnson. “We didn't realize we'd both applied for this job until we both showed up for the test.”
Burke yesterday said he was ecstatic when he learned that he and Johnson would be sworn in together.
“It's pretty awesome,” said Burke. “It feels kind of like destiny.”
Yesterday both Burke and Johnson were flanked by a fleet of family and friends who collectively captured dozens of Kodak moments during the ceremony and after, in various family configurations.
“Let's get one with Ben,” said Burke, calling over another longtime friend, Ben Dion, a fellow Memorial graduate who has known both Burke and Johnson for years.
“I've known Tom since junior high,” said Dion, who started his first job student teaching in Londonderry High School yesterday – finishing just in time to make it over for the swearing in ceremony. “I heard that Tom made it in. Then I heard Marc made it, too. It couldn't have worked out better.”

Keepers of the Lake: Stream Team brings young people into the mix

Paula Frank, Dan Cox and Emily Davis review some data gathered by the Beaver Lake Stream Team.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Dan Cox and Emily Davis know the good feeling you get slogging through a mucky brook and collecting macro-invertibrates in the name of science.
As core members of the Beaver Lake Stream Team, Cox and Davis spent the summer slogging, testing, collecting, observing and documenting their findings from samples taken from Beaver Lake and its main tributaries. What they learned is that the lake is in good shape, environmentally speaking.
Within that broad assessment there was good news and bad news. The good news included the presence of crayfish and freshwater clams – water-borne critters that wouldn't stick around if the water is polluted.
'The not so good news was an abundance of soap suds, oil, lawn clippings, beer cans, glass bottles, baseballs, tennis balls and even a body board – junk that contributes to pollution and can negatively effect the watershed.
Included in the final analysis, a report submitted by Cox, is all kinds of helpful information that will aid those who track the water quality of Beaver Lake, including the town's Department of Public Works and the state Department of Environmental Services.
Davis, a senior at Pinkerton Academy, heard about the project through the school's science club.
Cox, a Pinkerton grad, is a forestry major at Paul Smith's College in New York. He was recruited by Paula Frank, President of Beaver Lake Improvement Association, whose primary goal was to revive the Beaver Lake Stream Team and get students excited about the environment.
“This project serves two purposes – it's mainly about outreach and engaging high school students with a valuable service learning project,” said Frank. “And if we continue the Stream Team, over time it will give us a brief snapshot of areas of biology and erosion – snapshots of what's happening with the watershed.”
The Stream Dream learns the ropes during a training session in June.
As central as it is to life in Derry, Beaver Lake is merely a puddle in the 6,756-acre watershed that is a network of streams, lakes, ponds, marshes and wetlands that spread across much of Derry and parts of Auburn and Chester.
Over the past 50 years, the population explosion in and around the watershed has changed the biology and chemistry of the water system. Twenty years ago, Beaver Lake was polluted, due primarily to failed sewers bordering the lake.
With new sewers and a clean up effort came a renewed commitment to monitoring the water quality, which directly affects the quality of life for those who enjoy recreating in, on and around the lake year round.
Beyond engaging students, it's our hope that the community at large will want to become engaged in monitoring and maintaining the water quality of Beaver Lake,” said Frank.
The Stream Team was initially funded for a year as part of the Beaver Lake Watershed Management plan through a cooperative grant between Derry, Auburn and Chester. Under the direction of Steve Landry of DES Watershed Bureau and Lisa LaValley, a Pinkerton Academy science teacher, the team collected and recorded data about the flora and fauna within the watershed. Then, money ran out.
My initial hope was the Pinkerton would be able to keep it going as a club. But then the Beaver Lake Watershed plan became incorporated into the town's Master Plan, and some of us with the Beaver Lake Improvement Association worked to figure out a way to revive it,” said Frank.
Frank, LaValley and Landry put out the word in the spring, that a team of volunteers was needed. About 25 students initially showed interest. In the end, about six were able to consistently participate, including Cox and Davis, who have already agreed to go slogging through the muck again next summer, in the name of science.
Frank said another layer of support comes from Go Green Derry, an outreach program under the town's Conservation Commission, that hopes to engage the community in enjoying and preserving the natural beauty Derry offers.
Unlike many bodies of water around the state, Beaver Lake has been untouched by the usual bacterial suspects that threaten to stifle summer recreation – in particular the blue-green blooms of cyanobacteria that can be toxic to pets and people.
Whether the vigilance of the Beaver Lake Stream Team and the Beaver Lake Improvement Association have had everything to do with that is hard to gauge. But Frank points out that regular monitoring and tracking early signs of trouble – like an abundance of midge larvae and other tiny creatures who thrive in polluted environments – is like the canary in the coalmine.
That is, of course, if only canaries could swim.
Ultimately, we want to get the community – beyond those who live on the lake – to understand why it's important to monitor the lake regularly. It's for everyone's enjoyment,” said Frank.
You can also find Go Green Derry and Beaver Lake Stream Team on Facebook.

August 25, 2010

Vandals gone wild . . . again

The information sign at Broadview Farm was toppled by vandals.

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Vandals gone wild – no, it's not the title of another raunchy live action video; it's actually the best way to describe the latest late-night spree at Broadview Farm Conservation Area.
Sometime overnight Monday into Tuesday vandals kicked their usual mischief up a notch, decapitating the sturdy wood-frame information board that welcomes visitors, tagging a picnic table with graffiti and busting through the 160-foot post and rail cedar border fence in two places.
“Over the years we've had damage, but this is the crowning blow,” said Ellie Sarcione, a long time conservationist in town who yesterday had settled somewhere between frustrated and angry over the chronic vandalism.
Conservation Commission Chair Margi Ives discovered the damage early yesterday morning, and called vice chair Paul Dionne, who contacted police.
“Further down the road there were two mailbox posts knocked over, too. I think it's the kids – I hate to sound like an old curmudgeon, but it's getting out of hand,” Dionne said.
Late night parties have been going on for years in the woods at both the Young Road site as well as the Cole Marsh conservation site, evidenced by spent beer cans and bottles regularly retrieved by commission members, usually found strewn near campfire rings.
“Over the weekend they left a campfire going on top of the hill at Cole Marsh. The fire department was called out by neighbors after the fire spread to some of the brush,” said Conservation Commission member Dennis Wiley.
Dionne said in an effort to reclaim the conservation sites for those who want to go hiking or camping, the Conservation Commission has tried posting signs advising that the area is off limits after sunset.
“The first sign they took down. The second one they vandalized,” Dionne said.
For a while he became a vigilante, driving by nightly on his own and telling anyone loitering there to move on.
“But I was advised not to continue doing that by police, for my own safety,” said Dionne.
“You know, growing up there used to be a cop that walked the beat in my neighborhood, all year long. He knew your parents and he knew you. That in itself was a deterrent. It's not that way anymore,” Dionne said. “I know what it's like to be a kid – I have kids of my own, but this is just senseless vandalism.”
He said the Commission is considering tangible deterrents – adding some kind of street light across from the parking area at the trail head, and clearing some of the foliage that blocks the view from across the road.
“Maybe then neighbors or even the fire department would be able to see if there was anything going on over here,” Dionne said.
He said fence posts and camping platforms are consistently destroyed or left a mess with trash, cans and bottles. Ives has repainted picnic tables three or four times to cover the spray paint.
“The information sign was built for us by an Eagle Scout – it's one of many Scout projects here over the years. A lot of work went into that,” Dionne said.
Scouts from Cub Pack 402 rallied 40 volunteer workers to construct the cedar fence a decade ago, receiving credit toward the World Conservation Award.
Repairing and replacing the damage doesn't feel like enough, said Dionne.
“We just want to know why – why destroy something that is here for everyone's enjoyment. It's supposed to be a refuge,” Dionne said. “We can keep doing what we're doing, fixing the damage and cleaning up the mess, but it doesn't solve the problem, or give these kids different morals.”

August 24, 2010

East Derry Petitions Post Office

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Word on the street is that the East Derry Post Office is about to lose its postmaster – a signboard urging public support for Glenn Gray has been posted outside the little post office on East Derry Road since last week.
Gray has been manning the one-man mail operation since January, when he was transferred from Windham to run the daily operations that includes more than 230 post office boxes and a steady flow of foot traffic.
Gray said that he has mostly been kept out of the loop. All he knows is he's being called back to the Windham office, which is “in crisis” due in part to several employees who are about to go on medical leave.
They are in trouble, and are bringing me back to cover. I don't know how they're going to fill the space left here,” Gray said.
Yesterday, longtime Derry resident Dave McPherson, who also serves as vice president of the East Derry Village Improvement Society, said Gray has become an integral part of the close-knit community, which explains the outpouring in recent days of support to keep him put.
"The small but large-in-spirit community of East Derry is anchored by our post office, church and store. Glenn has quickly become an institution in East Derry. The customer service he provides to every person that comes in his door – taking the time to welcome the school kids from the Nutfield Pre-School or assisting an elderly customer – Glenn has become an integral member of our community,” McPherson said.
Glenn is a member of our extended family here and we value the service he provides us. There are many small things that, when looked at separately, have little or no value; however, when looked at as a whole, it's what makes a community, " McPherson said.
Tom Rizzo, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service Northern New England District, said the decision to move Gray is not personal.

“Glenn is returning shortly to his permanent, valuable position as a window clerk at the Windham Post Office. The move is based solely on the current needs of the Postal Service,” Rizzo said.
We are not surprised by the loyalty shown by Glenn’s customers. It certainly validates our original decision to place him in this temporary assignment. While Glenn’s developmental detail as Officer in Charge in East Derry is coming to a close, we’re pleased to hear very positive customer feedback on his performance. Public goodwill will certainly be to Glenn’s benefit when future career opportunities arise,” Rizzo said in an e-mailed statement.
Gray said the outpouring of support only solidifies what he already knew – East Derry is a great place to work. He'd stay if he could, but also understands that, as the U.S. Postal Service struggles with a growing systemic financial crisis, tough decisions will have to be made.
So many people have come in the door, asking to sign the petition – and also to find out if the post office is closing; it's not. For now, the plan may be to bring someone else in as a temp-to-perm postmaster,” said Gray. “Maybe I'll be back, but the way things look right now, I don't think that will happen.”
In a July 28 Union Leader article about Gray, the history of the post office, current plans to cutback service and staff across the country, Rizzo said that while there are no plans to close postal offices in New Hampshire, the future is hard to see, given the postal service's financial woes.
We don't know what the future holds. We have no present plans to close small-town post offices,” Rizzo said in that story. “However, the changes that are going to be necessary are still quite open to discussion. Doing nothing is no longer an option.”