March 31, 2011


Li Ying from China and Adela Barillas from Guatemala discuss some vocabulary words
 with program coordinator Kathleen Mercer during Tuesday’s class.
Union Leader Correspondent
Luz Rodriguez, originally from Colombia, marks vocabulary
words in her copy of “The Bridge To Terabithia” during
 Tuesday’s class. Rodriguez, who now lives in Derry,
 has been attending the English class since last September.
DERRY -- When Jessy Lei moved from Taiwan to the United States about two years ago, she said struggles with the English language kept her isolated in her new home.
“My husband can speak very well and I asked him to teach me some foundations, so I could read most simple words. But I could not speak a complete sentence when I first came here,” said Lei, 33, who now lives in Derry. “I had no friends and I couldn’t talk.”
So when Lei found some free English classes through Adult
 Learner Services of Greater Derry, she said her new language skills began to open the doors to American life. 

“Without this class, I didn’t know any place I could practice, because many students like me, in our families we speak our native language,” said Lei. “But here everyone is like you. They come here to learn a second language, and you don’t have any pressure because no one competes.” 
Lei is one of about 40 students who meet twice each week in Derry to practice their reading, writing and conversation skills, said Adult Learner Services program coordinator Kathleen Mercer. 
On Tuesday, Mercer and her morning class spent about an hour reading aloud from young adult novel “The Bridge to Terabithia,” pausing after every few passages to discuss vocabulary words and plot content. 
“This is a community-based program, so the first emphasis is on communication,” she said. “It’s a multi-level class, so as students advance, then we can go further.” 
The center offers morning and evening English as a Second Language classes, along with a menu of other free adult base education and GED preparation courses. 
Adult Learner Services receives some state and federal funding through the umbrella of the Derry Center for Adult Education in the Derry Cooperative School District, said Mercer, but most classroom teachers volunteer their time to the cause. 
And with an army of volunteer tutors, Mercer is able to match students with natives-peaking partners to meet for a few hours of practice during the week. 
Mercer, who got her start with the Adult Learner Services in 1992 as a volunteer tutor, said that the program’s tutoring component makes it unique in the area. 
“The beautiful thing about having one-on-one tutoring also is that you can work on the specific goals of the ESL students,” said Mercer. “We get a lot of people coming from Manchester and other towns because there’s not a lot of ESL tutoring out there.” 
And with students from more than 15 different countries, Mercer said the class is about more than just learning American language and culture. 
“We emphasize getting to know each other’s cultures; it’s not about Americanizing people. We value their cultures, too,” said Mercer. “A couple of times a year we have everyone bring in things from their countries, with costumes, food, maps. It’s a multicultural, sharing kind of a thing.” 
Seventy-two-year-old Adela Barillas of Salem has been attending classes and tutoring for about three years with her husband Samuel, 75. The couple is originally from Guatemala. 
“When I came (to the U.S.), in the company where I worked, they all spoke Spanish and my children were in the schools, so they knew English,” she said. 
“When they were all grown up and married, I said I want to learn to speak English because I have a problem if I can’t even to go to the doctor,” she said. 
“It feels not so good.” 
Lei said that breaking through the language barrier is a difficult move for many. 
“In the United States, I believe there are a lot of people like us,” she said. “We all come here for different reasons, but we can’t all speak very well or even write. This program helps us to communicate with other people and that’s a very big step. If we cannot communicate with other people, we are stuck.” 
And with a year of English lessons behind her, Lei is taking another big step toward her future by participating in GED preparation classes through the Adult Learner Services program. 
Nancy Tolan, a volunteer GED math teacher and tutor, said she has seen a number of former ESL students come through the GED program in her five years with Adult Learner Services. Many continue on to pursue college degrees, she said. 
“I am amazed at the dedication that these people bring, especially those for whom English is a bit of a barrier,” she said. “I can get up there and spin it five ways to Sunday, but they need to be involved and they need to want it. These students have a drive to get there and you can just tell.” 
For more information about Adult Learner Services of Greater Derry, visit 

This April Fool's Day snow is no joke

JC Carette, a sales associate at Benson’s Lumber and Hardware in Derry, adjusts
a bike wheel next to an array of snow gear.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- Seasonal schizophrenia is a condition that affects most New Englanders. Despite sure signs of spring, like tulip shoots and robins, it doesn’t matter that you’ve flipped your calendar to April. Snow happens, as it will Friday. Only an April fool would be surprised that a nor’easter would materialize one week before the Red Sox home opener.
Just how much April snow showers are heading our way is still up in the air, quite literally, said Tom Hawley, a meteorologist stationed at the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine. 
“If you get 10 meteorologists in a room, you’ll get 10 different forecasts with this storm,” said Hawley. “But the consensus is usually correct.” Currently, the consensus is that sometime after midnight a heavy, wet snow will start falling and continue until it amounts to at least 6 inches. 
“The computer models are all over the place here — depending on the storm track, some would bring in snow that changes over to rain, another would put the snow farther east. Either way, we have a winter storm watch in effect,” Hawley said. 
“Whether it hits full force or just a glancing blow, I suspect we won’t know that for certain until sometime Thursday morning. If we get the brunt of it, and it’s heavy, there would likely be outages because the snow will be sticking to power lines and tree branches,” Hawley said. 
By no means will the storm set a record for April snow — that was set back in 1874 when 35 inches of snow fell in the month known for its spring showers. 
In recent memory, the snowiest Aprils on record were in 2003, when 12. 2 inches of snow fell; and 2007, when we hit a foot of snow in the 30 days leading into May. 
Hawley’s National Weather Service counterpart in Taunton, Mass., meteorologist Alan Dunham, characterized the looming precipitation as “heart attack” snow. 
“Given the temperatures will be in the low 30s, it’s not going to be light and fluffy. Anyone who’s not in good shape shouldn’t be shoveling. There are plenty of kids out there looking for a buck,” Dunham said. 
Perhaps. But don’t expect Vincent Pittore or John Maddison to be out there shoveling. 
“I am done with the snow,” said Pittore, 15, of Derry. 
“Yeah,I’vehadenough,”said Maddison. “Even if it means a day off from school. I don’t want it.” 
Lorna Cook of Derry was almost too busy absorbing rays of sunshine Wednesday on East Broadway to be thinking about Friday’s storm. 
“I’ve lived in New Hampshire for 50 years, so no, I’m not surprised. That doesn’t mean I have to like it,” said Cook. “I’m ready for winter to end.” 
Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton said between salt use and manpower, snow spending is running right around where projections were for this season. Still, this could end up being a million-dollar April Fool’s Day storm — which is no joke. 
“If we put all 700 plows out, of which 400 are private, that’s going to cost about $70,000 per hour, and if you figure it may turn out to be a 20-hour storm, it will easily cost over a million dollars,” Boynton said. 
That, based on a statewide seasonal snow budget of about $35 million. 
Derry’s Highway Department Superintendent of Operations Alan Cote said contrary to popular belief, even plow guys tire of pushing the snow around. 
“We’re looking forward to construction and spring cleanup at this point in the season,” Cote said. “I’ve been praying that this storm is just an April Fool’s Day joke. Of course. if God were listening to my prayers, we wouldn’t have had a winter at all.” 


Windham police prosecutor Heather Newell addresses the judge in Salem District Court
 during the video arraignment of Jeffrey Gray, 48.
Union Leader Correspondent
SALEM -- The Salem Planning Board member facing felony kidnapping and sexual assault charges remains on $50,000 cash bail following Wednesday’s arraignment after a police prosecutor told the judge he was a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Jeffrey Gray, 48, was arrested in Massachu­setts earlier this week and brought back to New Hampshire to face charges that he held a woman captive and sexually assaulted her in his Windham home over the course of three days in early March. 

“This is a case where he willfully and physically held somebody against her will, completely degraded her and sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions,” said Windham police prosecutor Heather Newell during the arraignment in Salem District Court. 
Gray, who was held on $50,000 cash bail after his Tuesday arrest, appeared via video for the arraignment from Rockingham County jail in Brentwood. 
He faces felony charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault and kidnapping, along with misdemeanor charges of false imprisonment, simple assault and obstruction of the report of a crime. 
Gray’s defense attorney, Mark Stevens of Salem, told Judge Paul Moore on Wednesday that his client had checked himself in to a veterans hospital in Brockton, Mass., on March 14, one day before arrest warrants out of Windham became active. 
“He was addressing his issues by checking himself into the VA hospital and he was under a doctor’s care when he was arrested,” said Stevens. 
Stevens argued that Gray, a longtime resident of Salem, has ties to the community and is not a flight risk. His request for $50,000 personal recognizance bail was rejected. 
Since 2003, Gray has been ordered by the Salem court to attend anger management and drug and alcohol counseling as part of his sentencing for other criminal convictions, said Newell. 
“I think this is a man who, yes, needs some psychiatric help, but since 2003 the court has had him in counseling and even with those years of counseling, he is still alleged to have committed these new crimes,” Newell said. “Clearly counseling is not enough to ensure the safety of the victim in this case and the community at large.” 
In court Wednesday, Newell outlined Gray’s previous criminal record, highlighting Manchester simple assault and stalking convictions from 1998 and more recent simple assault and criminal threatening convictions in Salem. 
“I think it’s pretty clear that this individual is a danger to the community,” she said. “This is now the second woman he is alleged to have assaulted.” 
Police say the alleged victim in this case — a 35-year-old woman from New York — came to Windham on March 5 with plans of moving into Gray’s home at 104 South Shore Road. The home’s owner said Gray has been renting the house on Canobie Lake in Windham since late February. 
Windham police Capt. Michael Caron said Gray answered an advertisement the woman had posted on Craigslist looking for a roommate in New England. 
At some point on March 9, Caron said, Gray allegedly drove the woman to Boston Logan International Airport and released her there. She reported the alleged incident to Massachusetts State Police on that day. 
All documents connected to the case against Gray have been sealed in Salem District Court. On Wednesday, a joint motion to unseal those records was filed by the New Hampshire Union Leader and The Eagle-Tribune. 
If Gray makes bail, Judge Moore said he will be required to turn over his passport, abstain from all drugs and alcohol, not possess any weapons and submit to pretrial monitoring. Further, he said, Gray will have to notify Windham police if he plans on leaving the state. 
A probable cause hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, April 5, in Salem District Court. 
Gray is still a member of the Salem Planning Board, though town officials said they are working with Gray’s attorney to determine his residency. Before these recent allegations, the town of Salem was not aware that Gray might have been living in Windham, said Salem Town Manager Keith Hickey. 
“If he’s a Windham resident, we’ll proceed with the process to open the seat up for Salem residents,” said Hickey. “We still haven’t verified his actual mailing address, and we’re trying to work with his attorney to tell us where he’s living. If he is living out of Salem, we will ask him to resign his seat.” 
If Gray resigns or is otherwise removed from the board, Hickey said the town would likely move to fill the seat temporarily and then turn the decision over to the voters next March. Gray’s term is set to expire in March 2012. 

Teen on probation now facing child porn charges

Union Leader Correspondent
SALEM -- A local teen with a history of sexual violence is facing new charges of child pornography and parole violations.
Zachary Gray, 19, of 1 Lancelot Court, Apt. 1, in Salem, was first arrested last December
 after a probation officer reported finding 22 pornographic images on his computer during a routine check, according to a police affidavit at Salem District Court.
Among those images, were five explicit photographs of girls who were “clearly” under
 the age of 13, the affidavit says. 

In October 2009, Gray, then 17, was sentenced to serve 6 months in jail and 2 years on probation after he was convicted on felony charges of sexual assault and criminal threatening, according to court documents. In that case, Gray was said to have had forcible sex with a 14-year-old girl and threatened another person with a knife, according to the affidavit. 
Earlier that year, Gray was also found guilty of a class A misdemeanor charge of simple assault, which had been originally filed as a sexual assault, according to court documents. 
Police say Gray’s most recent alleged offense violates his probation and he will also face a new class A misdemeanor charge for probation violation. 
Gray has been free on $1,000 cash bail and $5,000 personal recognizance bail since his arrest, according to court documents. 
On Wednesday, Gray was arraigned in Salem District Court on the felony child pornography charge and waived his probable cause hearing on that count. The case will now move to Rockingham County Superior Court. 
Gray was also scheduled for a Wednesday trial on the probation violation charge, but his defense attorney asked that the trial be pushed back to allow for further review of the evidence against Gray. 
The case will resume on May 4 for a status hearing at Salem District Court. 

Teacher diagnosed with Viral Meningitis

Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- School district officials urge caution, but not panic, after announcing on Wednesday that an elementary school teacher has been diagnosed with viral meningitis.
In a letter sent home to parents on Wednesday, Londonderry Superintendent Nathan Greenberg said that the faculty member worked
 at both North and South elementary schools. 

Greenberg said the state Department of Health and Human Services has advised that there is “no public health issue at this time,” he wrote in the letter. 
Still the superintendent urged parents to be aware of the symptoms of viral men-ingitis, including high fever, severe headache and a stiff neck, and to contact a doctor immediately should issues arise. 
Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, rash, confusion or sleepiness, Greenberg said. Symptoms can develop in just a few hours or over the course of several days, he said. 
School Board Chairman John Robinson said the district was notified of the diagnosis yesterday and staff have since taken precautionary measures. 
“We’re doing everything we can, including sanitizing school facilities by following state instructions on disinfecting and wiping things down,” said Robinson. “We’re also making sure that we notify parents of any students that the staff member might’ve come in contact with.” 
But Robinson said state officials have assured Londonderry staff that there is no widespread risk to the public. 
“Viral meningitis is kind of hard to spread and it usually comes along with another virus,” he said. “You’re a lot more likely to get the primary virus and then have it turn into meningitis.” 
Viral meningitis is considered less dangerous than bacterial meningitis, he said. 
Kimberly Lynch, a parent and PTA president at South Elementary School, said yesterday’s announcement will not change her behavior. 
“(Meningitis) is always a concern to parents and as soon as we hear about this we’ll be calling our pediatricians saying, ‘Do we need to be concerned?’” she said. “But I’m a teacher in a different school district and there are kids sick all over the place. You just have to keep your kids as healthy as you can and keep them home when they are sick.” 
For many, the recent news brings back memories of Rebecca Tenney, the Londonderry junior who died after contracting viral meningitis last fall. 
But Robinson said state officials have said that tragedy is not likely to repeat itself in this situation. 
“We’re all still saddened and shaken by the loss of a young student last year, but I think that people understand that the cases are not connected,” he said. “I think people might be a little more troubled to hear the same diagnosis again, but the terrible tragedy with Becca was that it was a very unlikely and clearly unfortunate outcome of meningitis. We have no reason to think that will happen again.” 
Robinson said he did not know the identity or condition of the teacher involved. 

Healthy turnout expected at annual wellness fair

Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- With 25 local businesses and organizations already on board, the Londonderry School District’s Wellness Fair on April 14 will truly offer something for everyone.As part of the school district’s Lower Insurance Fees Effectively (L.I.F.E.) program, the event, held in the front lobby of Londonderry High School, is aimed at educating staff members on ways to stay healthy and consequently ensuring district health insurance costs stay down, though members of the general public will be welcomed as well. Over 300 people attended last year’s fair, which was held in the front lobby of Londonderry High School. Around 70 fairgoers also donated blood as part of an American Red Cross blood drive held at the same time. Human Resources Manager Suzie Swenson said the blood drive proved extremely popular, with some donors waiting up to two hours to roll up their sleeves. 
“The word is definitely getting out,” Swenson said. “This year, visitors will see a lot of interactive booths and activities.” 
The free event, now approaching its third year, will feature healthy cooking demonstrations, several massage areas, and screenings for stress, cholesterol, sun damage and high blood pressure, among other things. 
Guests will have the chance to try out some night vision goggles, which simulate their ability to drive at night, and also serve as a warning to motorists of the consequences of drinking and driving. 
Representatives from the Local Government Center will return to this year’s fair with their Wii Fit system, which was popular with guests at last year’s fair, while newcomer Janet Rodgers of Wiki’s Kitchen will demonstrate healthy cooking techniques in the home economics room, offering tempting treats like Kashi salad and a roasted corn, black bean and mango salsa. 
Embroidery Creations of Londonderry is also providing free T-shirts for the first 100 donors at the Red Cross Blood Drive. 
This year’s Wellness Fair, open to the general public, is set for April 14, from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. The blood drive is from 3 to 6 p.m. at Londonderry High School. 

March 30, 2011

No More Salt in the Wound

Annette Joyce of Derry, who was attacked at her home in June, continues physical
 therapy with Derry personal trainer Jane Clayton, right. 
Union Leader Correspondent

Nine months ago, Annette Joyce was blindsided and literally knocked to the ground outside her home in a violent attack at the
hands of a drug-crazed stranger.
Her bones were splintered, her arms badly bruised, and her peace of mind shattered.
Her assailant, 32-year-old Casey Jesson, pleaded guilty to seconddegree assault and was sentenced a few weeks ago in Rockingham
 County Superior Court to serve three to six years in state prison. 

Thanks to the N.H. Victims’ Assistance Compensation program,
 Annette Joyce’s $50,000-worth of medical bills have
been paid so she can focus on healing.
Meanwhile, life has gone on for Joyce, who continues her slow journey on the road to recovery. The strength in her right leg is starting to return. Her bones, held together by metal rods and screws, still ache. She has gotten back to a regular exercise routine three days a week with her personal trainer, Jane Clayton of Derry. 
Outwardly, she’s on the mend. Psychologically, she’s finally found some closure, not only with the relief that came with Jesson’s sentencing, but because her mounting medical bills have all been paid. 
Until three weeks ago, the unpaid bills totaling more than $50,000 were piling up on her counter. 
Joyce, whose husband, David, is self-employed, has no health insurance. 
“They are right on you, all the time, to pay the bills. My accounts were sent to a collection agency,” said Joyce. “Thank goodness someone told me about the Victim’s Assistance Program. I’ve been working with them since I got out of the hospital, and finally everything’s been taken care of. I can’t tell you what a relief that is.” 
Joyce’s bills were negotiated on her behalf by N.H. Victims’ Assistance Commission, a statewide program that helps victims of violent crime with expenses related to their injuries, said Sandra Matheson, state director of victim witness advocacy with the N.H. Department of Justice. 
Last year 673 victims received a total of $520,514 through the fund, which is paid for by fees tacked on to fines paid by the general public, whether for speeding, shoplifting, disorderly conduct, driving while intoxicated — it’s a 5 percent mandatory fee that feeds the Victim’s Assistance fund. 
Sort of like lawbreakers paying it forward to innocent victims of crime, Matheson said. 
It’s a program that was instituted 24 years ago, part of a legislative mission Matheson spearheaded to standardize assistance for crime victims. Back then, New Hampshire was one of only three states that did not have such a program. 
“We recognized it as probably one of the most essential services for victims, created really to make sure victims didn’t suffer financially in addition to all the trauma they’d already been through,” Matheson said. 
“For example, when a sex assault victim went to the hospital so that DNA evidence could be collected from her body, she was billed for that collection. Someone whose child was murdered would have to take out a loan to bury their loved one. Without coverage, the kind of counseling needed for victims following cases of homicide or sex assault were billed and, eventually, sent to collections, creating, in essence, a re-violation of the victim,” Matheson said. 
It’s not meant to work like an insurance policy. It doesn’t cover items stolen during a burglary. But if your front door has to be taken as evidence in a murder case, or your clothing and bedding are hauled away from a crime scene as evidence, a victim can recoup that kind of loss. 
“Annette Joyce is typical of someone who has been affected by violent crime. They are totally traumatized, and the last thing they need to worry about is whether they can afford medical bills or counseling. In our homicide cases, the fund pays for crime-scene cleanup. So when an individual goes back to the place where a loved one was murdered, it makes it that much easier to go home again. The fund pays for funeral and burial costs, loss of earnings and court expenses, if you have to go and testify,” Matheson said.
Although the program has been around for decades, it’s not widely known about. 
Annette Joyce said she heard about it through her cousin, who is a hospital employee. 
Cynthia Marshall, operations director for The Upper Room, believes educating the community about the program is essential if it’s going to serve all of those in need. To that end, a lunch-hour workshop has been planned at the regional community center on Tsienneto Road for April 6, to bring together all those interested in learning more. 
“A major part of what we do is provide resources, information and referrals to the community. This particular resource is not something that we had a lot of information on, so as soon as I heard about it I knew we had to plan a presentation,” Marshall said. 
While the April event has strategically targeted police and fire personnel, first responders, school staffers and crisis workers, all are invited. Marshall sees it as the kind of program that everyone should be up to speed on. 
“I’d add to the list business owners, neighbors, friends — I believe everyone in the community would benefit from knowing how the program works, who’s eligible and how to get the help you need if you’re a victim of crime,” Marshall said. “We have a mountain of resources at our center for people in need, and this was not one of them.” 
The program is April 6 from noon to 1 p.m. at The Upper Room, 36 Tsienneto Road, Derry. For more information, call 437-8477.

Work to begin around Exit 5

Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- Just over a month after the Governor and Executive Council approved a $36.7 million contract for the widening of the Exit 5 area of Interstate 93, construction on the project is well under way this week.
On Tuesday afternoon, a single lane in the northbound section of the highway near Exit 5 remained open, as workers began the long pro­cess of redirecting traffic for the lengthy project. 

State transportation officials stressed the occasional lane closures and traffic shutdowns would be limited to times of low traffic volume, and two northbound and southbound lanes would remain open the majority of the time. 
According to state Department of Transportation Commissioner George Campbell, the project, which will be completed around June 2014, includes the reconstruction of two miles of the highway and surrounding areas on Route 28, as well as improvements to both the north and south exits. 
Those improvements will include the replacement of four red-listed bridges over Route 28, reconstruction and widening of approximately two miles of highway both northbound and southbound, reconstruction and widening of approximately 0.9 miles on Route 28, construction of a new northbound on-ramp and connections to both the northbound on-ramp and the southbound on- and off-ramps, and the reconstruction of segments of nearby Perkins and Auburn roads and Liberty and Independence drives. 
A new traffic light at the intersection of Route 28 and Liberty Drive will make the area safer for the hundreds of commuters passing through each day. 
Candia’s Severino Trucking Company was awarded the contract in early February, and the project will mark the state’s first time using Garvee Bonds, which are backed by future highway funds due to the state. 
Garvee Bonds, an acronym for “Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles,” can only be used on contracts that pass Federal Highway Administration approval, and in the case of Exit 5, offer an alternative for projects that would otherwise be stalled by the state’s attempts to obtain more permanent financing. 
Londonderry Community Development Director Andre Garron said the project would increase the capacity of the Route 28 roadway from Liberty Drive to Perkins Road, as well as improve the capacity and circulation of Exit 5. 
Next summer, when the new Airport Access Road is expected to open, the updated interstate will provide a direct link to the F.E. Everett Turnpike and at the same time enable access for the dozens of local companies stationed near the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. 

Frugality fuels change at police department

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- With an eye on the bottom line, the Derry Police Department will soon ditch propane heat for natural gas, a move town officials say will save the town thousands each year.“The gas company has estimated a roughly 40 percent savings,” said Derry police Capt. George Feole. “That’s a pretty big number, and it should take us only a little over a year or so to realize the payback on the project.” The police department spent about $9,500 on 7,300 gallons of propane gas to heat the main police station and the four-bay police and fire maintenance building last year, said Feole. In the current fiscal year, the department is expecting those costs to come in at around $13,000 and, without a change, Feole said staff have estimated costs could reach $17,000 in the upcoming fiscal year. 
But with natural gas, Derry Public Works Director Mike Fowler said the town could be saving more than $10,000 on that amount for next year. 
While the town has yet to collect bids to retrofit the police station for natural gas, Fowler said he estimates the work will cost between $10,000 and $15,000 to complete. 
National Grid has said they will be ready to connect to a new 400-foot pipe from the police station to the existing natural gas line along Folsom Road in front of the station in May, Fowler said. Then, he said, it would likely take a contractor about two weeks to retrofit the station buildings. 
National Grid has also offered the town a $3,500 incentive to cover some of the connection costs, Feole said. 
“When we look at the cost of the infrastructure conversion in our buildings and factor in the incentive from the gas company, we predict that the payback to the community on this investment will be no more than two years,” Feole said. 
Upfront project costs will be covered by the existing police budget, Fowler said. 
Town staff considered making a similar switch to natural gas several years ago, Feole said, but the savings at the time were not enough to balance out the changeover costs. 
But after energy audits of town facilities this fall, Fowler said the police station was again identified as a possible location for natural gas updates. 
“We started to put the numbers together to see whether or not it might make sense,” said Fowler. “I think it’s a win-win for National Grid and the town because we’ll be saving a lot of money.” 
The audits, conducted by Boston-based consultant Peregrine Energy Group, were funded as part of the New Hampshire Energy Technical Assistance and Planning program using federal stimulus money. The town’s Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee worked with the town and Peregrine to conduct the audits. 
“Everything has fallen into place really nicely,” said energy committee chairman Tom Minnon on Tuesday. “The town is on the right track and has been for some time in looking for ways to save energy and ultimately taxpayer money. This is definitely a good way to be spending out money when we can see such a return on investment.” 
The Derry Municipal Center and the Central Fire Station are already heated by natural gas, he said. 
While natural gas was not an option during the renovations to the Veterans Memorial Hall, Fowler said other energy-efficient updates have already shown an 11 percent savings in heating costs in February over last year. This February was also 20 percent colder than last year, he said. 
And with a tight budget looming, Fowler said the town is ready to move on these kinds of cost-saving measures. 
“Dollars are limited, and we’re looking for any place we can save,” said Fowler. “Fuel usage just makes sense.” 

Livingston Taylor to play benefit show

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- People of a certain age understand that Livingston Taylor is not just the one-hit wonder and youngest member of a musical family from the 1970s.
Beyond Alex, James, Kate and Hugh, there is Livingston Taylor, a singer-songwriter and balladeer in his own right,
 turned Berklee professor and author. On Friday, he will take the stage at Stockbridge Theatre doing what he knows and loves.
An Evening With Livingston Taylor is a benefit for Center for Life Management Foundation, which supports the mission of the nonprofit community mental health agency.
 Taylor, the performer, will be shadowed by Taylor, the teacher: He is a full professor of music at Berklee College and has been since 1989. Throughout the many stage performance classes he’s taught, Taylor has tried to make one thing clear to his students: A performance is not something you give, or that an audience takes away with them; it’s a conversation that relies on both the performer and the audience being prepared for whatever happens next. 

Taylor’s dulcet voice is reminiscent of that of his older, more famous brother, James Taylor, but it has a lightness of spirit that celebrates life through the seasoned storytelling ability he brings to each composition. 
Friday’s concert experience will include a meet and greet with Taylor one hour before the 7 p.m. performance for an additional $10 at the door, which will coincide with a silent auction. All proceeds from the event will go back to the community through the wide range of services available through the Center for Life Management. 
Tickets can be purchased online at www.stockbridgetheatre. com, by phone at 437-5210 or in person at the Stockbridge Theatre box office, Monday through Friday, 1 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $15 for students. For information, call the Center for Life Management at 434-1577. 

March 29, 2011

Documents sealed in kidnapping incident involving Planning Board member

Union Leader Correspondent
SALEM -- A Salem District Court judge Monday morning sealed all court documents connected to allegations that a Salem town official held a woman captive in his Windham home for three days earlier this month.
Warrants for the arrest of Jeffrey Gray, 48, a Salem Planning Board member, have been active since March 15, according to Windham police Capt. Michael Caron.
And while Windham police say they know
 where Gray is, Caron said Gray is “not accessible” for arrest. Caron said police are working with Gray’s attorney, Mark Stevens of Salem, to get Gray to turn himself in. 

“I can’t make any promises, but we think that (his arrest) is likely by the end of the week,” said Caron Monday. 
Gray is facing felony charges of sexual assault and kidnapping, along with misdemeanor charges of simple assault, obstructing the report of a crime and false imprisonment, according to Caron. 
On Monday morning, Windham police asked a Salem District Court judge to seal all the documents on file, including a police affidavit supporting a March 9 search of the Windham home. The motion to seal the file was also sealed. 
“There’s a lot of personal information about the victim in those documents,” said Caron. “And there’s also personal information about the suspect that (if released) he’d be tried in the media instead of in the court. When he’s arrested, we’ll take it from there.” 
Caron said Gray met the alleged victim, a 35-year-old woman from New York, on Craigslist after he answered an advertisement she had placed looking for a roommate. 
Gray, a longtime resident of Salem, had been renting the small lakeside home at 104 South Shore Road in Windham for about a month, according to the home’s owner Kevin Bleeker of Windham. 
The woman is reported to have come up from New York on March 5 with the intention of moving into the Windham home, but Caron said Gray kept her captive inside the house from March 5 to 8, sexually assaulting her at least once. 
Windham police have refused to release further details about the incident, including under what circumstances the woman left the home. 
Gray has already appeared in court numerous times over the past several years. 
Gray was found guilty of a class A misdemeanor after police say he assaulted his ex-girlfriend Teri Emery of Salem in 2003. One year later, Gray was found guilty of criminal mischief after police say he threw a rock at a vehicle outside Emery’s Salem home. He later served 50 days in jail in 2007 for violating a protective order by visiting Emery’s home, according to court documents. 
That year, Gray filed a protective order against Emery, then identified as Teri Kelly, saying she was following him and making threatening comments. That order expired in November 2010. 
Emery most recently filed a new protective order against Gray, which went into effect on March 21. 
In the filing, Emery wrote that she had been “stalked” by Gray, who repeatedly texted her cell phone and called her house from November to February. In the filing, she said Salem police had visited her home in February looking for Gray after he had allegedly called a suicide hotline. 
“I feel he is not right and could be a threat to me and my children,” Emery wrote. “He has been abusive to me and my children in the past.” A hearing on the protective order was held March 21, but Gray did not show up, according to court documents. The protective order prohibits Gray from going within 100 yards of Emery or contacting her family and will continue until March 21, 2012. 
Gray is also involved in an ongoing child custody case involving his sister, who has had custody of Gray’s two children off and on since 2004. 
The children, ages 13 and 14, live with their aunt in Maine. 
According to a Salem Family Division court order, Gray owes $23,089 in child support payments to his sister. He has appealed the decision to the New Hampshire Supreme court, according to court documents. 
Gray is also the plaintiff in a New Hampshire federal court case claiming that his sister has interfered with his custodial rights and inflicted emotional distress on him and the two children. 

Derry's Dive Team on Thin Ice

Lt. Rick Fisher, kneeling above, instructs firefighter/ paramedic Justin Hart how to correctly approach a victim (firefighter Steve Davis) during recent training exercises on Beaver Lake.Below, Fisher gives instructions to firefighter/ paramedic Al Daviault and Davis as firefighter Jim Hoffman and Hart look on. COURTESY DFD
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- Nature is unpredictable, which is why it’s important never to let your guard down when you are outdoors.
But just in case you should ever find yourself the victim of a patch of thin ice that fails you, don’t worry: Derry’s guard — namely its dive team — is fully trained and ready for action.
This time of year can be tricky — many lakes still appear ice covered, but don’t be fooled. Conditions are poor in most places, as the thickness of the ice is inconsistent. Last week a crew of Derry firefighters took advantage of just how poor conditions are to don their thermal rescue gear and practice their arsenal of rescue skills in the icy drink.
Among those skills put to the test: How to crawl across unsafe ice; the best way to approach a victim who has already plunged through thin ice; and the fastest way to get someone out of the water and onto dry land.
Derry Fire Lt. Rick Fisher, a certifi ed dive and ice rescue instructor, led the training exercises at Beaver Lake.
“Conditions were ideal for ice rescue training because the ice is so unsafe,” said Derry Fire Battalion Chief Jack Webb. “Firefighters were able to create the hole in the ice by kicking it with their feet, and the ice would break and
 fail underneath them as they approached the ‘victim.’” Webb said this time of year is of particular concern for rescuers as animals and children, often lured by the warm temperatures and appearance of solid ice, can easily wander out beyond the point of safety.
Despite the stellar snow conditions and arctic temperatures,
 there have been some reports of harrowing ice-related rescues around the state this season, including a Hooksett woman who fell through the ice while snowshoeing in mid-February, and a truck that broke through the ice on Big Island Pond four weeks ago in Derry. Derry’s annual Frost Fest had to cancel events planned for Beaver Lake. Too much snow, even in the depths of winter, can have an insulating effect and actually prevent ice from solidifying. 

And in a tragic turn of events, a Sandown Firefighter suffered a heart attack and died in January following a training exercise quite similar to the one performed last week by Derry firefighters. 
Webb stressed that the most important thing to remember in an ice emergency is that calling 911 for help is always the right response. 
The hazards of ice rescue are such that most people would put the victim, or themselves, in more danger by trying to be a hero. 
Once you’ve called 911, the next most important thing to do until help arrives is maintain visual and voice contact with someone who’s slipped through thin ice, Webb said.

Help pick the next Miss NH


Union Leader Correspondent
Bill Haggerty.
DERRY -- If necessity is the mother of invention, then perhaps proximity is the father of invention. Because as Bill Haggerty watched this year’s Miss America 2010 pageant live in Las Vegas a few months ago, he found himself suddenly inspired. This time around, there were “wild card” semifinalists, including one contestant who was selected by her fellow contestants.
Haggerty’s spin: Bring together technology and pageantry, and factor in our insatiable urge to be the judge of everything as a way to shake up the local pageant scene in a good way.
“I thought it made the pageant more engaging, and so when I got back to New Hampshire, I thought about how we could do something like that here,” said Haggerty, who has been with the statewide Miss New Hampshire Scholarship organization for 47 years.
Starting April 1, voting will be open at the official Miss New Hampshire site online as well as its companion Facebook page, where everyone can cast a vote for their favorite contestant. The top
 vote-getters not drafted into the semifinals by the panel of judges will make the cut based on the popular vote, resulting in a dozen semifinalists instead of 10.
“We won’t be identifying who those two contestants are to the judges, or to the audience. We think that will add intrigue and make it more objective,” said Haggerty.
No one will know who the two contestants were who made it into the semifinals by online voting until the gala event following the official crowning of Miss New Hampshire 2011 on April 30 at the Stockbridge Theatre.
“This will encourage
 friends and family to go online and vote ahead of the pageant. It also will give two contestants a chance (who) otherwise might not have caught a judge’s eye during the two days of competition,” Haggerty said.
What happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas in that Haggerty recognized how taking a less formal approach to selecting semifinalists really seemed to re-energize the national event.
But he admits he was also inspired by peer pressure. In January Haggerty was recognized for his years of volunteerism with the National Academy of Honor award.
“It’s a prestigious award,
 and in honor of that I thought it was fitting to try and elevate our pageant a little by trying something new,” Haggerty said. “With the award comes a stipend of $5,000, which we will give out during this year’s Miss New Hampshire pageant, so our state has benefited as well.”
Last year, more than $84,000 in scholarship money was awarded to contestants.
Haggerty’s dedication to the annual scholarship pageant and all it stands for can be traced back to his college days at Keene State.
“I was a red-blooded American 19-year-old who was intrigued by beautiful
 women, and I developed a crush on one of the students here, who I thought should be in our statewide pageant. When I contacted them, they told me we couldn’t just send her down for the pageant — we had to hold a pageant here, so I started one,” Haggerty said. With an assist from a former Union Leader women’s section editor, the Keene State Pageant was launched, and a few years later, Haggerty was doing so well with it that he was asked to join the statewide organization.
Not only does Haggerty have a way with pageants, but his eye for the ladies paid off
 — he wound up marrying Peg Morin, first runnerup to Miss New Hampshire 1969.
“Despite our involvement in Miss New Hampshire, none of our children were interested in being in pageants,” Haggerty said. “They were avid athletes, but they left the pagentry up to us.”
Each of this year’s 27 contestants is being encouraged to seek votes from friends, neighbors and the public. Anyone can cast a vote between April 1 and April 27 by going to, or by finding the Miss New Hampshire Scholarship Program on Facebook.

March 28, 2011

Don't despair; it's almost time for spring planting

Emily Chakarian potting some Scottish Thumbells and
English Daisies.

Pink Santabelles in bloom inside a green house at
Chakarian Farms in Derry.
Through a thin veil of snowflakes floating outside Greenhouse 2, Emily Chakarian could be seen last week transplanting and watering,  pruning and preparing a variety of potted plants for the rush of gardeners expected when the family nursery, Chakarian Farms in Derry, opens April 1. 
A copper amethyst in bloom inside a greenhouse at
Chakarian Farms in Derry.

HAVE A CIGAR: For deployed troops, it's all about the comforts of home

Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- For soldiers serving on distant shores, the simplest trappings of home can make a world of difference.
It’s the little luxuries most civilians take for granted that they miss most: A handwritten letter, a photograph, a bag of your favorite coffee, or even a puff of one’s preferred brand of cigar.
Curt Kendall, owner of Twins Smoke Shop in Londonderry, has been sending cigars, cigar cutters and lighters to enlisted soldiers for longer than he can remember.
“We’ve done it on and off for years,” Kendall said one recent afternoon. “But our focus on this has been really big over the past year. We’ve sent over thousands of cigars.”
Located on busy Route 28, the shop draws a high volume of clientele, and since opening its doors in 1997 many regular customers have become

Over the years, Kendall said he’s gotten to know many local soldiers, and some of his employees have even been called to serve. 
“We had a couple military guys working here. One of them will be shipping out pretty soon. You meet many military families,” he said. “These guys are over there serving their country, risking their lives. Some of them like cigars. It’s a no-brainer.” 
Many of the enlisted cigar aficionados have expressed their appreciation via mail, email and even photographs of themselves savoring a muchappreciated Dunhill, Perdomo or Rocky Patel cigar. 
During the past month, Kendall and his staff members packed up two large boxes, each one overflowing with some hundred or so cigars, and shipped them to two different military companies serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
Another box will soon be sent to troops assisting in Haitian relief efforts. 
“It never goes to the same people,” he said. 
With a large cigar case placed conspicuously by the front register, store patrons and sales representatives are encouraged to spare a few stogies for likeminded U.S. soldiers on their way out. In turn, Twins Smoke Shop pitches in a few of its own cigars to match each donation. 
Kendall said its not unusual for a customer to share their enlisted love one’s address with him after tossing a few cigars in the collection box. 
“We’ll do the best we can to send some over to them,” he said. 
Twins Smoke Shop is accepting donations of cigars on an ongoing basis at both its Londonderry shop, located at 128 Rockingham Road, and in Hooksett at 1275 Hooksett Road. 
For more information, call 1-888-603-TWINS. 
Curt Kendall, owner of Twins Smoke Shop in Londonderry, posed with a collection box that’s being filled with cigars to be enjoyed by countless soldiers serving in the Middle East. 

March 26, 2011

Love the Land Conservation Day today

Members of the Conservation Commission make repairs at Broadview Farm last fall
after vandals damaged a fence, the signpost and a picnic table.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- Few have said it better than Woody Guthrie: “This land is your land, this land is my land...,” a musical idea that provides the perfect soundtrack for today’s Love the Land Conservation Day at Broadview Farm, which begins at 9 a.m.
The event, co-sponsored by Derry Conservation Commission and Go Green Derry, is a first, according to Phil Auger, an environmental educator with UNH Cooperative Extension, who will lead the program.
“We’re really excited about it — it’s something suggested two years ago by Arthur Caras and we’re finally getting it off the ground,” said Conservation Commission chair Margi Ives. “Phil Auger will be leading the program, and he tells us this is a one-of-a-kind idea.”
The idea, simply stated, is to engage residents in helping to look out for the town’s conservation properties. They will learn how to operate a manual compass, read a map, find boundary lines, and generally know what to look for when caring for community property.
“We want people who will commit to telling us what they see on a given property, whether it’s something exciting, or something like abuse of land,” Ives said.
The program will be staged at Broadview Farm, a stretch of conservation land just off East Derry Road that also is home to the town’s annual community gardens. Last year vandals did some damage to the welcome sign, a wooden fence and a picnic table there. Many of the town’s protected properties have been damaged over the
 years by vandals who leave behind trash, litter or graffiti. 

By engaging more residents in the process of understanding the importance of conservation land, the hope is that more people will take responsibility for the properties that are preserved exclusively for the enjoyment of all, Ives said. Due to current outdoor conditions, Auger recommends all participants wear rubber boots. Also, it is bring your own compass, camera and notebook. 
“I’m making soup, and my neighbor is making corn muffins, and a few of the other members are bringing some food items, so afterward we will all get together and enjoy a meal,” Ives said. 
So far, about 20 people have signed up for the event, but all are welcome, Ives said. 
For more information go to:

March 25, 2011



Aaron Tourigny, aka Malikai Macabre, left, in the large photo, and his brother, Corey “The Freak,” Tourigny,
will present “Creeps Creature Feature” on Saturday nights at 11:30.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- Night owls and horror flick fans unite: Starting March 26 a local television station will premiere a weekly alternative to late night skit comedy — think Saturday Night Dead.
“Creeps Creature Feature” will
 feature a series of short horror movies filmed by indie filmmakers from around the globe, including right here in New England. The half-hour show will air Saturday nights at 11:30 on MyTV.
For those who remember “Creature Double Feature,” or “Movie Macabre,” this is just like that, only completely different, said show co-host Corey Tourigny. His alter ego, The Freak, is joined during the 30-minute show by Malikai
 Macabre, better known as his brother, Aaron Tourigny. Together they provide some creepy interludes between films.
For the brothers Tourigny, of Leominster, Mass., this opportunity is the fulfillment of a dozen-year-old dream.

“We had a show on cable access down in Massachusetts, ‘The Scary Midnight Horror Show.’ We worked at it for about five months, and then we approached WNDS about putting us on the air, but we never heard anything,” said Corey Tourigny. 
That was then. 
Since changing over from WNDS to MyTV, Derry’s resident TV network has actually been developing local programming along these lines to help draw in a faithful following of viewers from across New England, said Christopher Murphy, who oversees Film and TV Development for the station. “What I like about it is that it follows in line with what we’re all about. It’s an outreach for indie filmmakers in New England who have horror shorts that can fit within a half-hour format,” Murphy said. “The twist is cool — that they’re focusing on short films, because short films generally have no viewership because there’s never been a vehicle like this before.” 
Murphy worked with the Tourignys to find local business sponsors to sign on as part of a “branded entertainment” ad package — their 13-episode series will be brought to you buy The Costume Ladies in Walpole, and the annual Rock N Shock Horror and Music Convention, which draws thousands of fans to Worcester, Mass., to get up close and personal with their favorite cinematic zombies, killers and ghouls. 
“That’s huge for us, to have Rock N Shock as a sponsor, because it’s such a cool horror event,” Tourigny said. 
Also cool, for viewers, will be the chance to submit an original a horror film for consideration — or to suggest a scary, creepy or haunted site from which Malikai Macabre and The Freak can go to produce fill-in bits for the show, on location. 
“It’s a great opportunity for New Hampshire horror fans, whether you’re a filmmaker, or whether you have a place you think might be a good location, that you’d like to promote. There are so many great places to shoot around here — creepy mansions, eerie graveyards. We even have some castles around here,” Murphy said. 
So far, the Tourignys have managed to generate some horrifying buzz just through word of mouth and a little social networking. 
“The local film community has been really abuzz with this. It’s amazing how many submissions we’ve gotten already,” said Tourigny.
From the pile of short horror films they’ve decided on three very different yet equally engaging movies for Saturday’s premiere: “Cold Blood,” which, as the title suggests, is a bloody tale of horror, which runs just under 10 minutes, produced by an Australian filmmaker; “Midnight Roadkill,” a four-minute sci-fi horror short with a chick flick twist, submitted by a New Jersey filmmaker; and “The Visitor,” a suspenseful tale, also packing a scary punch in just under 10 minutes. 
“We want to keep it quick to the scare,” Tourigny said. 
He also wants to assure the viewing public that, as hosts with the most — pale pancake makeup, that is — schlocky horror humor will not be part of their weekly schtick. 
“No, it won’t be the typical ‘Welcome, boils and ghouls,’ horror host humor you might remember. We will be more serious about what we’re doing — although toward the end of the show we do lighten our characters up a bit,” Tourigny said. “We just want to be true to the show, and the filmmakers who are submitting their work.” 

On the Web: www.creepscreaturefeature. com

Sen. Ayotte visits Derry Medical Center during statewide tour

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte discusses the impacts of health care reform with Dr. Ted Brooks and
 other local physiciansatDerryMedical Center in Derry Thursday, as part of her
 week-long tour of Granite State medical facilities.

Union Leader Correspondent
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, left, chats with Derry Medical Center
 lobbyist Maura Weston and center CEO Tom Buchanan.
DERRY -- Marking the one-year anniversary of the new health care reform law, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R.-N.H., spent this week touring New Hampshire medical facilities to discuss Medicare reimbursements, a new medical device tax and the lack of incentives for incoming primary care doctors.
Ayotte’s final stop Thursday was at the Derry Medical Center, a family practice founded 47 years ago by a Scottish doctor looking to escape a volume-based, nationalized health care system.

“Things have changed tremendously over the years and now we sort of micromanage people’s lives, but we’re doing a lot more for chronic disease identification and management,” said Dr. Ted Brooks, a physician at the Derry center. “We are very concerned that that’s being directly threatened by what is essentially a national health care system that we don’t have any control over.”

Dr. Albert Northcutt, of the
 group’s Londonderry Family Practice Center, highlighted decreasing reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid patients as one of the main concerns for smaller, community- based practices.
“The reality is that if our pay drops by more than 30 percent, as a business decision not necessarily an ethical or moral decision, we can’t stay viable if we lose that kind of money,” Northcutt told Ayotte. “Then we can’t take those patients even though we would want to see those patients and we’ve always seen those patients. You just can’t do it because then I can’t pay my staff every two weeks.”

It’s not just about what’s in the new law, they said, but also what’s been overlooked.

Derry Medical Center CEO Tom Buchanan said he wanted
 to see more incentives to draw students into primary care as opposed to higher-paying specialties.
“There’s really nothing in that 2,700-page law that did anything to create or improve access in primary care,” Buchanan said. “... There’s no debt repayment or other things that would change these medical students to say, no, I will go into primary care. There was no real acknowledgement.”

Tufts University students often spend six-week rotations at the Derry Medical Center each year, but Brooks said fewer and fewer students are considering primary care.

“It’s a minority of students who are going into primary care,” said Brooks. “Reimbursements are going down; the future is uncertain. They are graduating with $200,000 or $300,000 in debt and it doesn’t make sense for them logistically or economically to go into a field where they don’t know if they can pay their bills.”

After touring the facility, Ayotte applauded the group for their approach to patient care.

“You’re a model for the types of organizations that we should be fostering in terms of cost effectiveness and quality care,” Ayotte said. “But when you tell me you’re not sure how your model will thrive under the new health care reform bill, obviously that’s a deep concern.”

This week Ayotte also visited iCad, Inc., a Nashua-based manufacturer of computerized detection systems, Next Step Orthotics and Prosthetics in Manchester and Salient Surgical Technologies in Portsmouth.

She said those companies were especially concerned about a 2.3-percent excise tax on medical devices included as part of the year-old law.

Ayotte said she is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill that would repeal the medical devices tax.

“It’s a tax on innovation and it’s going to hurt those companies that are developing new medical products and generating new ideas,” said Ayotte in an interview after the tour. “I heard from a company just this afternoon that said it could force them to ship jobs out of the country.”

In New Hampshire, she said, 50 companies and some 3,800 employees could be affected by the tax.

All clear for work to begin on Route 28

With construction ready to begin the fate of the
Pinkerton Tavern building still undecided.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- With all major land agreements out of the way, town officials say the widening of Route 28/Manchester Road could begin by August.
“We’re really pleased to see this moving along,” said Derry Public Works Director Mike Fowler on Thursday. “Sometimes you muddle along on a project and it doesn’t seem like it’s making any substantial progress, but then all of a sudden in the last 30 to 40 days a lot of things have fallen into place.”

Town officials are scheduled to close today on the Pinkerton Tavern property at 13 Manchester Road in a “friendly agreement” between the town and property owner Arnold Goldstein of Bedford, said Fowler. 
For $722,500, the town will acquire both the parcel and its existing building. 
Earlier negotiations had stalled after Goldstein pushed for an amount closer to a 2008 assessed value of $910,000. A more recent town appraisal of the property put the value at $700,000. Goldstein sought his own reappraisal, which came in at $745,000. 
“Mine was somewhat better than the town’s, so we struck a bargain in between,” said Goldstein. “I guess you have to compromise sometimes, and I’m going to accept it because I don’t want to go to the trouble of appealing it.” 

The owners of the Pinkerton Tavern restaurant were also paid $305,000 by the town to vacate the premises by March 15. 
Fowler said the town has secured agreements for pieces of 14 other properties within the widening zone, though there is some final paperwork to be completed. 
In total, the town will spend about $1.3 million on land acquisition associated with the widening, less than the anticipated $1.8 million, he said. 
Coupled with a favorable construction market, Fowler said, the project could end up more than a million dollars under budget. 
Originally, the town had planned on $6.5 million for the project to be covered by a fund balance and a bond of up to $5.8 million. Now, Fowler said, the total project will likely cost about $5.3 million. 
Walmart will pay about an 8 percent “fair share” portion of the project, which Fowler said now sits at about $424,000. The state is also expected to reimburse about $700,000 of the total costs, he said. Down the line, Fowler said, the goal is that TIF District revenues will cover the bond repayment. 
“Things have worked out favorably for the town and the general point is that we’re really close to getting a start,” he said. 
Fowler said he hopes to put construction out to bid in May and to begin relocating utilities shortly thereafter. The state will also still need to complete a final review of the project, he said. 
Actual construction work should begin by August, he said. 
The project will move in phases, he said, working on one side of the road at a time. At least two lanes of traffic will remain open throughout the project. 
Construction will continue until about Thanksgiving, he said, and then resume again in April 2012 for final overlay work. By July 2012, Fowler said, the entire project should be complete. 
But the future of the Pinkerton Tavern building that lies in the middle of the widening zone is less defined. 
Fowler said the town will likely send out requests for proposals to see if anyone is interested in purchasing the building as a whole or dismantled into pieces. In the worst-case scenario, he said, the building would be torn down. 
“Obviously we want to keep the building intact as opposed to doing a complete demolish job,” he said. “If somebody out there has a use for the building, certainly they could take it if the price is right. But otherwise we obviously have to look at some alternatives.” 
Fowler said he expects to begin soliciting proposals as early as next week.