April 29, 2011

Greener Pastures just got greener

Click here for a slideshow of Lacey Mae at Itchy Withers Farm, before and after Lilly.


Lacey Mae was one day away from being sold to a slaughterhouse when she was rescued in
 October by Colleen Goulding. Now, six months later, Lacey Mae is a mom.One-day-old Lilly
Grace was born before a home-viewing audience of thousands, who have for months been
 tuning in to see the big event on a website called MareStare.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- A dozen pink “It’s A Girl” balloons tied to a wooden fence outside Colleen Goulding’s house were flapping in the breeze Thursday.
Colleen Goulding gets some quality time with Lilly Grace.
They were the closest Goulding could find to “It’s a Filly,” balloons.

Two days ago, Goulding’s horse, Lacey Mae, gave birth to a healthy, gangly 60-pound filly, named Lilly Grace.

“All along I wanted to name her Grace, as in Saving Grace, but one look at her and I knew she was a Lilly,” said Goulding. “One thing’s for sure: She was Lacey’s saving grace — and mine.”

Saving Lacey, literally, turned out to be a happy accident, not only for the battered cast-away racehorse that’s learned to trust again, but for Goulding, who got way more than she bargained for — two horses for the price of one — the day she brought Lacey home from a New Jersey kill pen. 
Lacey Mae gets a good look at her newborn foal, Lilly Grace.

The birth, which happened quickly and without incident early Wednesday morning, was the moment Goulding — and Lacey’s impressive community of online admirers — had been waiting for. 

“I set up something called Mare Stare, which is a webcam service that allows anyone to check in on a horse. It has been amazing,” said Goulding, who estimates by the time Lilly was born there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people who had taken to watching the “I Love Lacey” show on a regular basis. 

“It was especially comforting to know that all through the night someone was watching Lacey. Even if I fell asleep at midnight, someone in California was peeking in to see how she was doing,” Goulding said. 

For weeks now, friends, relatives and virtual strangers of Goulding’s Itchy Withers link on www.marestare.com have been hovering over Lacey’s progress, and posting hourly reports on Goulding’s Facebook. 

In October, Goulding was seriously thinking about fostering a horse in need. She had already taken in two unwanted horses, and her hands were more than full. 

But the inexplicable pull to keep looking was strong, Goulding said. 

“With the down economy, I knew a growing number of horses were being given up by their owners who just can’t afford to keep them anymore. Some of them are former racehorses, or animals who were never really wanted in the first place. For one reason or another, they wind up at auction. The ones who don’t get purchased are shipped off to slaughter in Canada and Mexico, and used for horse meat,” Goulding said. She was keeping her eye on a particular website hosted by an animal rescue organization, Helping Hearts, determined to save every animal that lands in the kill pen at Camelot Auction House, in Cranbury, N.J. 

On Oct. 27, a sad-looking, badly abused chestnut-colored mare was posted on the site. Identified only by the number affixed to her hindquarters, No. 239, the horse was hours away from being shipped off to slaughter. 

“I showed the picture to my daughter and asked her, ‘What do you think?’ The horse was barely 2 years old. She had cattle prod marks, and her ribs were sticking out, but there was something about her. We both knew that she needed us. So I cashed in a life insurance policy to get everything we needed to rehab her. We ran off to the tack store for blankets and a halter. I paid the auction house $150 for her with a credit card by phone, and with only about 17 hours to spare, we headed down to New Jersey to save her,” said Goulding. 

The horse was listed as blind in one eye and possibly pregnant. 

Turns out she wasn’t blind. 

“But she was pregnant — we got her home on Oct. 30, and on December 7 we found out she was going to be a mom,” Goulding said. 

Fighting an infection and weighing in at only 750 pounds instead of the ideal 1,100 for a horse of her size and breed, Goulding feared she wouldn’t survive the trip home. She devoted herself to restoring the horse back to health, with more than a little guidance from veterinarian Simon George of Deerfield Veterinary Clinic. 

“This has been an incredible experience. There is so much joy in what’s happened here, with Lacey,” Goulding said. “Especially with so much sadness in the world. Lacey’s story has touched so many people.” 

And while the number of people hovering over Lacey didn’t surprise Goulding, it was a funny twist of fate when she discovered one of Lacey’s virtual fans was her across-the-street neighbor, Nat Latulippe. 

“I had no idea she’d been watching Lacey on the Mare Stare,” said Goulding Thursday, greeting Latulippe at the edge of her driveway. 

“Oh my, yes. I love watching Lacey on the computer. In fact, when my computer died not long ago, within an hour I went out to get a new one — I didn’t want to miss a thing,” said Latulippe, whose great-grandsons also have become fans of Double- L TV — for Lacey and Lilly — as Goulding calls it. 

“I’m going to keep the Mare Stare running for a while longer — on Saturday we’re going to let Lacey and Lilly out for the first time to run around, probably around 2 p.m., another moment I know everyone’s been waiting for,” Goulding said. “It’s been overwhelming, in a good way, to have so much support.” 

April 26, 2011

9/11 attack on his country set school boy on path to service

Pinkerton grad deploys in June for Afghanistan.

Anton and Cassie Vorsteveld are surrounded by their family at a farewell party
 in Anton’s honor. He will be shipping out to Afghanistan in June.
Union Leader Correspondent
A journal was left out at the farewell gathering to record names
and emails so Vorsteveld can keep in touch during his deployment.
DERRY -- Anton Vorsteveld was a 14-year-old freshman at Pinkerton Academy the day terror struck the Twin Towers in New York City, shaking the foundation of everything he'd previously known about his world.
A decade later, Vorsteveld is preparing to deploy to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army
 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, a destiny he says was shaped by the impression made upon him that fateful day in September 2001, in a Junior ROTC classroom. 'When 9/11 happened it was kind of a big thing to me,' said Vorsteveld. “That’s pretty much when I made up my mind what I would do with my life, but I decided to go to college first.” 

Vorsteveld graduated from Pinkerton in 2005 and attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., on a full Army ROTC scholarship, graduating in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. 
Just after college graduation he married his high school sweetheart, Cassie Snook, and they moved to Fort Carson in Colorado, where Vorsteveld has been training with his unit. He received word earlier this year that he would be one of 3,000 soldiers deploying to Afghanistan this summer for one year, part of a military transition under NATO to help prepare the Afghan National Security Force to become self-reliant. 
Battle ready 
But they are also battle ready. 
They have been fully equipped with cold weather gear, eye protection and body armor vests lined with ballistic plates, as well as newly issued Multi-Cam, a multi-colored camouflage uniform in seven colors meant to keep soldiers hidden on the Afghan desert battlefields and elude detection by night vision devices. 
Farewell celebration 
But before he settles in to his new reality, Vorsteveld was able to revisit his boyhood stomping ground and enjoy an enormous group hug goodbye from his large, extended family. 
On Saturday Vorsteveld was guest of honor at a special farewell celebration planned by his wife and her family in Derry, at the Upper Village Hall on East Derry Road, where about 100 friends and family gathered to reinforce their support for Vorsteveld and the mission he's about to take part in. 
'It's so nice to be able to be here together,' said his mother, Wynie Vorsteveld, sitting next to her son on a bench inside the old town hall building. “It’s bittersweet. We have no family military history, so this is all new to us.” 
Cassie and Anton Vorsteveld moved away from the area about a year ago, around the time his parents, Wynie and Lou, sold their Derry home and moved to New Jersey. 
'Most of Anton's family comes from the Vermont area,' said Dotty Snook, Vorsteveld's mother-in-law. “To be able to have both our families here together for a send-off is wonderful — everyone is so far away now.” 
She said her daughter, Cassie, was one year behind Vorsteveld at Pinkerton Academy. 
'They actually met at the youth group at our church, Central Congregational Church, but didn't start dating until Cassie was a junior and Anton was a senior. And now, here we are,” Snook said. 
A lot of support 
During Saturday's celebration, the Vorsteveld and Snook clans enjoyed some home-cooked dishes and a patriotic sheet cake, which Vorsteveld sliced and served with military precision. 
'I've always known this is what he wanted to do. It’s going to be hard, but I have a lot of support,” Cassie Vorsteveld said. 
A table set up at the entrance to the hall was covered with balloons and red and blue star sequins, with a place for gifts and cards. Next to that was a leather journal and some pens with a note, urging everyone to leave a message and include an email address, so Vorsteveld can keep in touch. 
His step-grandmother, Helen Snook, leaned over the leather book, pen in hand, considering what she might write at a moment like this. 
"We're all so proud of Anton. This has been a nice way to say good-bye to him, all of us together in one place,” Snook said. 
“I know he’ll be safe, and back home soon.” 

An act of conscience?

Only Edward Brown knows why he came forward about a 1969 murder, 
but it will be up to a court to determine the value of the confession. 

Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- The motivation behind a confession in a 41-yearold murder investigation will be a key to how the case progresses, a legal scholar says.Edward Brown of Londonderry has been charged with manslaughter in connection with a 1969 cold case.
In the week since the news of Brown’s arrest, there has been speculation that his confession was an act of conscience.
Now it will be up to the legal system to sift through the facts and discover
 the truth.
“We don’t know yet to what extent the police department was actively pursuing it, but certainly Brown coming forward in an act of conscience helped them to clear up this very old case,” said Michael Coyne, associate dean of the Mas­
sachusetts School of Law. “What we have, in a way, is Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Tell-tale Heart.’ All your life you knew you’d done something bad, and perhaps the pressure became too much. There are so many things we could speculate on that would motivate someone to come forward.” Brown is the one who broke the code of silence that he and two others, Michael Ferreira, 57, of Salem, and Walter Shelley, 60, of Tewksbury, Mass., allegedly agreed to one fateful night in September 1969 after a high school dance. 

The victim, John McCabe, was 15 when he was beaten, tied up and left in a vacant field to die. 
Picking apart the murder mystery that had been languishing in a Lowell, Mass., Police Department cold case file until last week had much to do with Brown coming forward. 
While both Shelley and Ferreira are being held on murder charges, Brown was released on his own recognizance, charged with manslaughter. The difference, said Michael Coyne, associate dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, is that while a murder charge can result in life in prison, manslaughter could mean as few as three to five years in prison, at the court’s discretion. 
As it stands, the manslaughter charge already signals the preferential treatment Brown will likely continue to receive in exchange for his cooperation with law enforcement, Coyne said, adding plenty of speculation and intrigue to what already promises to be an unusual case. 
Beyond the practical and legal questions there are moral questions to be answered by those who ultimately decide Brown’s fate, Coyne said, whether it’s a judge or jury. 
A brief doorstep interview by the Boston Herald with Brown’s wife, Carolyn Brown, after her husband’s arrest has shed limited light on the “why now” part of the puzzle. 
She talked about her husband as an “honorable man,” good husband and father of two sons, who retired from the Air Force a master sergeant, adding that her husband’s confession came with her “prodding and the detectives’ prodding.” 
Should the case go before a jury, a huge factor in Brown’s fate will be in knowing what that motivation was, Coyne said, “A jury would be perplexed as to how this secret was kept and what motivated Brown now, 41 years later. And the question from a lawyer’s standpoint is whether his testimony is truthful or self-serving. You have one of the three main people involved in a murder who, at this point in time, comes forward. In such cases, the person who makes the deal is always suspect to a rigorous cross-examination — not just about what happened, but about why they waited so long,” Coyne said. 
“It’s questionable, frankly, to say it was all out of honor. If he’d been so honorable his whole life, he’d have come forward years ago. There must be something else that forces the action. It could be an interesting case to see tried, but I’ll bet we’re a long way from done. The version of the story the police have is sympathetic to the one who came forward. If there are three suspects involved, you will have three views of how something took place. The solidarity is gone once one of them gives up the pact. And you can almost bet the other two will turn on Brown.” 
Whether there will — or should — be leniency for Brown is a matter for the court to decide, said John McCabe’s mother, Evelyn McCabe of Tewksbury. 
“I have no idea why Mr. Brown came forward. I just know he did. As to why, only God knows,” McCabe said. 
She firmly believes her nightly prayers were finally answered. 
“I always wanted closure, always wanted to know why. Now, I’m dealing with the why, which is honestly just as hard as dealing with Johnny’s death,” McCabe said. 
What she learned from detectives, and continues to learn from various newspaper accounts this week, shocked her. 
“They said Johnny was flirting with a girl. I never thought it would be over something that stupid. John wasn’t even interested in girls yet, at least as far as I knew,” McCabe said. “He was just a boy. I also found out many of Johnny’s classmates were still calling police as much as my husband looking for answers all these years later.” 
She said she’s hung on this long and is determined to see the process all the way through, to the end. 
“It’s for the jury to decide, not me.” McCabe said. “I don’t know why he confessed now, but I know he didn’t stop what happened to my boy. I believe in justice, and I won’t forget how, for 41-and-a-half years, I’ve suffered.” 

April 21, 2011

Moms on the Move

 Anisa El-Ghussein gets some additional help with her crunches from 2-year-old daughter
 Zaynab, who was along for the ride during the class.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- It takes a strong woman to stand on all fours, then hoist her right leg into the air and hold that pose while a small parade of babies do a slow crawl underneath the tunnel formed by your arms, leg and underbelly.
Stroller Strides instructor Dawn Stevens, left
, leads her morning class of moms while the
kids move about freely at Alexander-Carr Park in Derry. 
Moms form a line to provide a human tunnel for the kids. 
But it’s all in a day’s workout for a group of local moms who say they’ve discovered something better than a gym membership for all their fitness needs.
“I don’t get a workout unless I come here,” said Kim Yager
 of Derry, whose two kids, Bailey, 5, and Shelby, 3, seem to enjoy having down time to chalk on the sidewalk, run in circles with other kids their age or just stand and watch their mom jumping around for an hour with her friends. 

“Finding time for yourself is one of the big challenges of motherhood. This is something for me,” Yager said. 
Stroller Strides is a national fitness program that has grown exponentially by way of franchise opportunities. 
Paula Dyer, of Hollis runs the classes in Derry, along with two others in Manchester and Bedford/Merrimack. Dyer said she discovered the mom-oriented fitness classes herself in Nashua after her first child was born and liked it so much she became a fitness instructor. 
From there it was not much of a stretch to starting her own franchise. 
“This is a great way for moms to get the exercise they need while setting a great example for their kids,” said Dyer, who loves the club’s motto: “Making strides in fitness, motherhood and life.”
Wednesday was the first outdoor class for the Derry group, who gathered under the pavilion at Alexander-Carr Park at 9 a.m. Exercise mats were spread out on the concrete, along with sidewalk chalk, sippee cups, coloring books, tubs of crackers and a small fleet of strollers. 
As the moms took their places, kids who are ambu-latory start ambling about — there is plenty of room to run at the park, although toddlers quickly became moving targets for their moms who swooped in on them like heatseeking missiles, between squats, crunches, lunges and kicks. 
Instructor Dawn Stevens seemed in control as she guided the group through some impressive lunges. 
“Five, four, three, two, and release,” said Stevens, which apparently also doubled as a general round up call for several tots bundled in pink coats, who converged on their moms simultaneously, including Stevens’ 3-year-old, Brooke. 
“I’m cold, Mommy,” said the pink-coated, red-cheeked child in flowery rain boots. “C-c-c-COLD!” 
She curled herself up into a ball and planted herself on the mat next to her mom. 
With only 15 minutes left in the workout, Stevens was confident she could work around her daughter’s waning patience. 
That’s when the moms all lined up in a row and did something that resembled a yoga downward facing dog pose. Their formation was familiar enough to the kids that as the moms lowered their heads and lifted one leg behind them, all the children hit the floor and started crawling like miniature Marines on a mission, through a tunnel of love built not only to amuse them, but to strengthen their mothers’ triceps, abs and glutei maximi. 
There are also prenatal classes, which is how many of the moms found their way to the program. 
“I moved to Londonderry in May of ’07 and heard about the class, so I signed up as a way to meet other moms, and I was here the day before I gave birth to Elizabeth, who will be 3 on Saturday,” said Judy James. 
Courtney Linscott of Londonderry said she had been going to a local gym, but found it more and more difficult to get there after her husband got home so he could take over with their 16-monthold, Hannah. 
“That’s what I love about this class. I can take her with me, and she gets more exposure to other kids — I’m a stay-home mom, so this is something we can do together,” Linscott said.
For more information go to www.strollerstrides.net/newhampshire or contact Dyer at auladyer@strollerstrides.net 

April 20, 2011

Off to see the Wizards

Muggle Quidditch Match will highlight Pinkerton fundraiser

Club adviser Meagan Moran checks out Platform 9 3/4, a pivotal prop inspired by the
Harry Potter book series that will become the entrance to Saturday’s first ever
Harry Potter Quidditch Club fundraiser at Pinkerton Academy.

Original logo T-shirts will be for sale, along with
Butterbeer, chocolate frogs and pumpkin pastries.
Union Leader Correspondent
Pinkerton Academy seniors Nate Johnston, left,
and Cody Sutton show off several of the one-of-a-kind
 wooden wands they’ve crafted in preparation
 for Saturday’s Harry Potter Quidditch Club fundraiser.
DERRY -- Whether you know what a “muggle” is (someone who isn’t a wizard) or understand just how difficult it is to catch a snitch (it’s really difficult), Saturday’s muggle quidditch match at Pinkerton Academy promises magical family fun.
Working knowledge of the wizarding world of Harry Potter is optional.

“The students have worked hard to make this happen,” said Meagan Moran, who is coadviser along with fellow special education teacher Jessica
 Peck for the school’s newest club, the Harry Potter Quidditch Club, which launched officially in January.

On Saturday the club will mount an ambitious first community event to help raise funds to support its own mission, which is to have fun while living by the club motto: “Teamwork, imagination and acceptance.”
Central to the event is a quidditch match, which will be played on the school’s football field. Although the team sport was the literary invention of “Harry Potter” author J.K.
Rowling, it has transcended its fictional roots. In 2005 it became a reality when college students at Vermont’s Middlebury College launched an intramural quidditch league, complete with rules. Today, the extreme contact sport has expanded into the International Quidditch Association, involving teams from more than 400 colleges and 300 high schools around the world.
Saturday’s event will highlight all the quaffle and blodger passing you can stomach, as chasers, beaters, keepers and seekers do their best to chase, beat, keep and seek the elusive snitch which, in the book, is a self-propelled golden ball with wings.
In muggle quidditch, there is a human snitch who is dressed in gold and uses every trick in the book to keep everyone from catching up with him and grabbing the flag-football style flag sticking out from the back of his pants.
While in pursuit of the elusive snitch, players must hold a broomstick between their legs at all times as they attempt to pass a quaffle ball through a hula hoop to score points.
Moran is totally committed to the event — and the club. A Harry Potter devotee herself, she understands that this is the kind of club that provides a perfect outlet for fans of the book series and movies — generally speaking, those who love a good story jam-packed with imaginative twists and turns, with a taste for
“I visited Universal Studios in Florida last year and saw the Harry Potter world, and got to talking with some of the students about how we might be able to replicate some of the elements for our fundraiser,” Moran said.
To that end, one of the club members was in charge of concocting butterbeer — another imaginary element of the book — that will come to life during Saturday’s event by way of a mixture of cream soda, whipped cream and caramel sauce. The drink, along with other treats including chocolate frogs and pumpkin pastries, will be sold from the Three Broomsticks Inn. Students have also been putting together costumes with some help from Mary’s Closet in
 Manchester and building props, including dozens of magic wands, which will be for sale during the fair.
“We made every wand slightly different, and they can customize them,” said senior Cody Sutton, who was still cranking out the wooden wands on a lathe during a free period in the school’s Design and Creation class yesterday. Although he’s not a club member, he was happy to fill an order for 70 magic wands.
“Actually, we already had one around here for some reason, so we used that as a template,” Sutton said, as he magically turned out another decorative wand from an otherwise unimpressive- looking wooden block.
Entry into the event will be made through a Platform 9

 ⁄ 4,
 which in the books is a train station platform with magical properties that leads to an alternate world, Hogwarts School. As of Tuesday, most of the construction and painting was completed, thanks to the efforts of student club members Megan Bushey, Brianna LaMonica, Emily McLeod and Jessica Patch.
Teacher and student volunteers will be in costume as strolling characters from the book, and there will be face-painting, potion and spell workshops, and an owl demonstration.
“It’s exciting to put something like this together,” said Moran.
Tickets for the event are $2 per person or $5 for a family of three or more. The quidditch match is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

April 19, 2011

He can sleep at home once more

Brad Stevens of Londonderry, pictured with wife, Doris, will begin outpatient treatment today at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester instead of having to spend his nights at a nursing home. 
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- After a “series of unfortunate events” that, according to a Medicare spokesman, should not have happened, it looks as if Brad Stevens will get the care he needs, without having to spend the night at a nursing home for $335 a day.
Last week Brad and Doris Stevens were caught in what they described as a “hostage situation.” Despite repeated calls to Medicare and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, no one seemed able to resolve their problem.
Brad Stevens, 75, had been through a nine-month ordeal of surgeries and missed diagnoses. Finally in March, doctors realized that to cure his chronic infection he needed surgery to remove a patch and wires still attached to his heart — remnants of an out­
ated defibrillator that he’d received in the 1990s. 

Following his successful surgery last month, Stevens hoped to be discharged from Massachusetts General Hospital and sent home to recuperate. He knew he needed twice-daily intravenous antibiotics, but figured a home care nurse could visit him at his Londonderry home. 
Instead, a caseworker from Mass General told Stevens his post-op care would be administered at Hackett Hill in Manchester, a skilled nursing facility. 
Medicare services 
According to Medicare spokesman Mary Kahn, this is where things likely broke down for Stevens. He should have been advised that Medicare would pay for one of three options for his post-op needs — a stay in a skilled nursing facility, if medically warranted; outpatient delivery of the medication at a hospital; or outpatient care through a physician’s office. 
Medicare will not pay for the cost of the antibiotics he needed in a home-care setting unless a patient is homebound, which Stevens was not. 
“The question would be how is Massachusetts General Hospital’s discharge planning research done? It seems likely that they rely heavily on Medicare patients, and so it’s astounding to me that the discharge planner wouldn’t have every stitch of discharge information emblazoned on her brain,” Kahn said. 
She was adamant that Medicare services are clearly outlined, and that despite what the Stevens may have been told, his being sent to a skilled nursing facility had nothing to do with Medicare. 
“The idea that someone told this man he had to go to a skilled nursing facility is beyond me,” Kahn said. 
Hospital case manager 
A spokesman from Massachusetts General Hospital yesterday declined to speak directly about Stevens’ case, but said the hospital’s case managers are committed to serving the needs of individual patients. “Case managers work collaboratively with patients, their families, patient care teams and insurers, to ensure a safe transition from the hospital to the next setting of care or home. As each patient is unique, case managers always work closely with each patient to identify and communicate all options for post acute care based on each individual’s circumstances and preferences to ensure they receive the highest qual-ity, most cost-effective care possible,” said Nancy Sullivan, executive director of case management for Massachusetts General Hospital. 
Given no options 
Brad and Doris Stevens maintain that they were given no options upon his release from the hospital. 
“They told us to take him to Hackett Hill, so we left the hospital, stopped at home so he could get a decent meal, and then I did what they told me, which was drop my husband off at Hackett Hill. Neither of us could figure out why he had to stay, since he had no restrictions from his doctor. He was supposed to be doing his own physical therapy. All he needed were the antibiotics twice a day,” Doris Stevens said. 
Because Stevens’ condition was otherwise good, he was allowed to leave Hackett Hill in the mornings, following his treatment, but was required to return at night for his second round of antibiotics, and to sleep there, at a daily cost of $335. 
For the past three weeks Doris Stevens had been making phone calls, going back and forth with a caseworker at the Boston regional Medicare offices, trying to find out why her husband had to sleep away from home. 
Worth all the trouble 
A story in Friday’s New Hampshire Union Leader detailing their predicament prompted Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office to intercede. 
Monday, a spokesman from Shaheen’s office called the Stevens to confirm that Medicare would cover the cost of outpatient services at Catholic Medical Center. 
“I told them I would like to see it in writing. At this point, I question everything, but what a relief,” said Doris Stevens. “They told me that if we have Medicare B, which we do, then it would be covered on an outpatient basis. Why didn’t someone tell us this three weeks ago?” 
On Monday, Doris Stevens tried to find out from CMC how much the outpatient treatment would cost — just out of curiosity. 
“They said they couldn’t give me a figure, but I will bet you that it’s less than the $335 a day that Hackett Hill was costing, and that was just the basic room rate; it didn’t even include the antibiotics,” Stevens said. 
“When they told me I could pick him up at 7 a.m. from Hackett Hill (Tuesday) and take him for his outpatient treatment to CMC, I was beyond happy. Just to have him home at night, where he belongs, will be worth all of this trouble,” Stevens said. 

Senior health fair is a key for caregivers

Kathy Cuneo, right, of Derry sits with her mom, Betty Norcott. Cuneo credits the annual
Greater Derry Senior Health Fair with helping her connect with the vital resources she
 needed to help get her mother settled in to the community.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- Kathy Cuneo always knew she’d be back. After growing up in New England and moving away to Ohio, she and her husband, Larry, expected that when the time finally came, they’d make their way back East.
Both of them had elderly parents here, who would eventually need care.
“The first senior health fair I attended was probably seven years ago, before mom even came to live with us. We just knew that all this information would come in handy at some point,” said Cuneo.
She can’t say enough about how much the annual Greater Derry Senior Health Fair has helped her, not only in finding practical resources in her time of need, but in making connections with others, who have provided support and guidance as she entered a crash course as caregiver.
Her mother, Betty Norcott, is pushing 96 now. Her health is good, and she loves getting out to socialize. Circumstances were different when Norcott first came to stay with the Cuneos,
 back in 2006. “We went to visit mom for Christmas in Milton, Mass., that year, and she had been living alone. It became apparent to us that she needed medical attention. She was admitted to the hospital, and when she was released on Jan. 10, she came directly to our house. We needed everything, and we had nothing. That’s when I remembered the drawer full of business cards and brochures I’d tucked away from the senior health fair,” Cuneo said.
Her first call was to ServiceLink Resource Center of Rockingham County, which is exactly what it sounds like — a network of communitybased services for the elderly and adults with disabilities and their families.
“They told me to call Community Caregivers, which is right here in Derry. They have a Loaner’s Closet where you can borrow just about any kind of medical equipment you can 
think of,” Cuneo said.
Because she was unable to leave her mother alone to go and get what she needed, someone from Caregivers drove to her house with the items she needed to get her mother settled. That really impressed her. “I can’t tell you what that meant to me,” Cuneo said.
As it turned out, Cuneo’s father- in-law would also come to live with them for about four months after becoming ill.
“He wasn’t able to walk up and down the stairs, so we got him a chair-lift, thanks to one of the many referrals we had from the health fair,” Cuneo said. “He was also legally blind, and although we didn’t know he was actually dying of cancer when he arrived, he got so much comfort from the ‘talking clock’ and the ‘talking watch’ that we were able to get for him from another resource.”
Norcott said she enjoys her weekly trips to a Hampstead adult day care center, Sarah-Care, where she spends quality time with her peers, playing games, eating meals and interacting with friends.
“Mom is pretty good at Scrabble, and last time I think they were playing modified basketball and bowling. And it gives me a chance to get my shopping done or other chores,” Cuneo said.
A grant through ServiceLink for the cost of weekly services was just the nudge Cuneo needed to try it out. Now, it’s an integral part of their routine.
“Not just for mom — they also have seminars for caregivers, which is a wonderful resource,” Cuneo said. “The grant was what I needed to get over the inertia and explore what kinds of programs were available. It really helps me, and it adds to what I have to give as a caregiver to Mom.”
The annual Senior Health
 Fair is free for seniors age 60 and older, and will be held this year on April 26 at West Running Brook Middle School, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
It began as an informal way to bring together various providers in one place where seniors could have access to health screenings. But it has grown into a genuine community outreach, said Cindee Tanuma, executive director of Community Caregivers, which is one of about a dozen organizations that sponsor the event.
“At this point, it feels like the event runs itself — it’s that well organized,” Tanuma said. “It’s truly inspiring how all these various groups can work so hard on something like this for which there’s really no fiscal benefit. We do it because we all know how important it is. We know what a difference it makes in people’s lives.”
More than 500 seniors are expected to attend the fair, which features 90 vendors with information and giveaways, including free health screenings for bone density, blood pressure, pulmonary function testing, blood sugar, vision, hearing, osteoporosis and more.
There will be wheelchairs available on site for attendees, and handicap parking with a complimentary shuttle. A free buffet lunch is included.
For more information, go to www.seniorhealthfairnh.com or call 893-9769.Participating organizations this year include: Amedysis Hospice Services; Birch Heights; Community Caregivers of Greater Derry; Derry Police Department; Elliot Senior Health Care; Home Helpers; Londonderry Senior Center; Parkland Medical Center; Rockingham VNA; ServiceLink Resource Center of Rockingham County; and Vintage Grace.

April 15, 2011

Homesick at Camp Medicare

Brad Stevens, 75, of Londonderry, shown with his wife, Doris, was told he had to stay
 at a skilled nursing facility to get the treatment he needed.
Union Leader Correspondent
Doris Stevens jotted down something
her husband said that resonated: "Bureaucrats
running an industry they know nothing about."
LONDONDERRY -- Brad Stevens says he is stuck in a hostage situation — forced to spend each night away from home so he can get the antibiotic treatment he needs to fight a dogged infection.
Each morning for the past two weeks, his wife, Doris, drives the 14 miles from their home on Stonehenge Road to Hackett Hill Healthcare Center in Manchester. She picks up her husband and takes him home, where he can relax, eat something, play with the dog, rake a few leaves, go for a walk, get on his computer.
By 8 p.m., however, Stevens must be back at the skilled nursing facility where he gets his nightly intravenous antibiotic. It takes about a half-hour. Then, he climbs in a bed and goes to sleep. In the morning he eats breakfast, gets another dose of antibiotics, and is free to leave the
building, until bedtime.
A nine-month ordeal

This is the arrangement made for Stevens before he was discharged from Massachusetts General Hospital, and the only way Medicare will pay for the treatment, says
 his wife. In total, it’s been a nine-month ordeal that has included five surgeries, most recently in March. That’s when doctors finally figured out that what was ailing him was an infection caused by the remnants of his outdated internal defibrillator. One of the leftover wires dangling from his heart was imbedded in his body. 

He was sent to Mass General from Catholic Medical Center, where a surgeon successfully removed the patch holding the wires attached to a thin wall of his heart. 
All that was left was to treat the infection in his belly. His surgeon initially told him he would be released to home, and a visiting nurse would handle the twice-daily IV set up, which would plug into the tube still protruding from his left arm. 
But before Stevens, 75, was discharged, he was told that he would instead have to reside at a skilled nursing facility for four weeks. If not, Medicare would not pay for the treatment. 
“It’s been a nightmare,” said his wife, Doris Stevens, who has been trying to make sense of their current situation. She’s spoken with two different Medicare representatives, and written to U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. 
A hostage of Medicare 
Nobody has explained why Stevens has to sleep away from home, or how that arrangement could be more conducive to his healing process. Stevens hates taking up valuable space at a residential center on the taxpayers’ dime when he could at home, healing in comfort with occasional visits from a home nurse. 
In printed material outlining benefits, Medicare specifies that it will pay for skilled nursing care for 20 days following a hospital stay, if it is “medically necessary.” Doris Stevens said they pay $600 for a supplemental insurance policy through Anthem, as required by Medicare. If Anthem were their primary insurer, there wouldn’t be a question of getting the care at home. 
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s a hostage of Medicare, and it shouldn’t happen to people. It would be one thing if he had something wrong with him. But this is a total waste of taxpayer money. I do know it would be less expensive to have a visiting nurse. But because of the way it has to be, we’re living like this,” Doris Stevens said. 
She was told the cost of the bed at Hackett Hill is about $147 per day. The cost of a home care nurse would be about $80. 
The principle of the thing 
Brad Stevens says it’s no wonder Medicare and Medicaid are at the center of this country’s budget woes. 
“Every time these politicians run for office they say how they want to eliminate waste and fraud. Well, if this isn’t waste and fraud, I don’t know what is,” said Stevens. 
Friends and family have offered to chip in for a home care nurse, but Stevens won’t consider it. 
“It’s the principle of the thing,” said Stevens. 
A representative contacted at Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services in Washington, D.C., Thursday would not discuss Stevens’ situation due to confidentiality issues, but added that several calls had been made on Stevens’ behalf to Boston-region caseworkers. 
No one had contacted the Stevens directly as of Thursday. 
Steven Griffin of AARP New Hampshire said the Stevens’ situation is as disappointing as it is frustrating. 
“What’s coming with the baby boomers is this huge explosion in demographics, and not just the cost of care, but the cost of building nursing homes. We’re maxed out with beds, and if we don’t shift to home and community- based services, counties will have to incur the capital cost of building facilities for a population that doesn’t want to stay in these facilities,” Griffin said. “This story, and others like it, speak to the inefficiencies in the system,” Griffin said. 

13 student artists received national recognition

“Clampaphobia,” by Rebecca Upham-Davis of Pinkerton Academy (Gold Medal Award) 
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- Thirteen talented New Hampshire student artists — including three from Pinkerton Academy — will be recognized during the 2011 National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards ceremony to be held at Carnegie Hall in New York City on May 31

“The Bird Catchers,” by Max Norton
“Fighting Back,” by
Max Norton of Pinkerton Academy
Work created by the 13 winning artists was selected originally from 1,391 submissions in 20 visual art categories from students in grades seven through 12. There were 237 “Gold Key” entries submitted to the national competition in January.
State program administrator Scott Chatfield, an art teacher at Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, said the 88year-old competition continues today because it means everything to young artists who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to show their work — or earn scholarships — for their efforts. Last year more than $1 million in scholarships and prizes were awarded through the Scholastic awards program, which has launched the careers of notable past recipients, including Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Joyce Carol Oates and Sylvia Plath.
Select award-winning art and writing will be exhibited at the World Financial Center Courtyard Gallery in Lower Manhattan from June 1-19. Mayor Bloomberg has declared May 31 the official Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Day and the top of the Empire State
 Building will be lit gold in honor of the students’ achievements. 

This year’s state award recipients are: Tesia Whittier, a senior at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, for her photo Watching Us from the China Cabinet — Silver Medal Award. 
Jess Rau, a senior from Campbell High School in Litchfield, for her self-portrait drawing Dysphoria — Silver Medal Award. 
Emma Johnson, a senior from Dover High School, for jewelry Navajo Dream — Silver Medal Award. 
Peter McLean, a junior from The Dublin School, for his photo Barn — Silver Medal Award. 
Katie Laurent, a senior from Gilford High School, for her photo Origins — Silver Medal Award. 
Brandon Ferroli, a sophomore at John Stark Regional High School, for his untitled self-portrait drawing — Silver Medal Award. 
Mina Hibino, a junior at Keene High School, for her drawing Dormant Conifers — American Vision Medal for New Hampshire. Aya Peters, a senior at Phillips Exeter Academy, for her Art Portfolio — Silver Medal Award with Distinction, one of 30 recipients who each received a $1,000 scholarship. 
Max Norton, a senior at Pinkerton Academy, for his painting The Bird Catchers — Silver Medal Award; and for his mixed media piece Fighting Back — Silver Medal Award. 
Rachael Ready, a sophomore at Pinkerton Academy, for her painting Rambo Pear — Silver Medal Award. 
Rebecca Upham-Davis, a junior at Pinkerton Academy, for her painting Clampaphobia — Gold Medal Award. Marie Palaima, a senior at Spaulding High School, for her mixed media piece Pieced and Bronzed Tree — Silver Medal Award. 
Megan Hopkins, a senior at Winnacunnet High School, for her painting Finding the Light — Silver Medal Award. 
Since 1923, more than 13 million students have been recognized, receiving upwards of $25 million in scholarships. 
The program is supported by Scholastic Inc., Maurice R. Robinson Foundation, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Command Web Offset, AMD Foundation, The New York Times, Dick Blick Co., Ovation and New York Life Foundation. 
Local sponsors include Pinkerton Academy, the New Hampshire Institute of Art, the Brown-Monson Foundation, the New Hampshire Art Educators’ Association, the Currier Museum of Art, Coca-Cola of Northern New England, and John and Sheila Hoglund. 

April 13, 2011

Dreams do come true at Tupelo, but the path to stardom begins ...


Meredith Padfield, 15, of Manchester sparkles during Tupelo Music Hall’s open mic night,
even without the silver sequined shoes.
Union Leader Correspondent
Mae Johnson, 17, of Amherst, works out a pair of original
tunes on her pineapple ukelele during a recent open mic night at
Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry.
LONDONDERRY -- It was round two of open mic night at the Tupelo Music Hall. The night’s feature performer, Charlie Christos of Hudson, had just earned himself the bowlful of money that was passed around during his 30-minute set and generously filled by an appreciative audience.
Next up, Chelsea Berry. With her acoustic guitar slung
 over her shoulder, Berry stepped up to the mic and dedicated her two-song set to all her fans back home in Chugiak. 

“Right now my mom and dad in Alaska are watching us,” said Berry, speculating that it might be the most far-flung audience in Tupelo open-mic history. 
“I’ve got people watching in Australia,” someone called out from the anonymous belly of the crowd. 
“Australia? For real? Nevermind,” said Berry, who then launched into what she called her “angry ex-boyfriend song,” from her new EP which she would be selling in the back of the house when she was finished. 
Thanks to the latest in live concert technology, aspiring musicians and singer-songwriters just got a whole lot more exposure during the Londonderry venue’s monthly open mic night. Anyone can log into www.concertwindow.com and watch the entire evening of live music online, for free. 
It is the latest addition to what has been a strong musical tradition over the past seven years at the Tupelo. Held the first Thursday of every month, an average open mic turnout is upwards of 80, which includes those who come to play and sing, and those who just bring their own bottle and come to listen. 
Robert Haigh runs the operation like the professional undertaking it is. 
“This is a listening room, first and foremost,” he cautions the crowd, his way of making sure the usual barroom din that underscores most live music nights out does not happen here. 
Employing the same state-of- the-art sound system that supports national acts like Gary Hoey, John Eddy and The Smithereens, open mic budding performers like Mae Johnson can take the Tupelo stage and feel like every other rock star with a dream and a pineapple-shaped ukulele. 
“I wanna be a free bird/don’t clip my wings/give me the sky/let me fly/I feel like I’m stuck inside a child’s Barbie playhouse,” sang the 17-year-old from Amherst, who has been here before. 
“The last time I was here, someone challenged me to do some original songs, so that’s what I’m going to do tonight,” said Johnson, smoothing the edge of her orange bangs that were poking out from underneath a gray knit hat as she got back to strumming her heart out, center stage. 
Afterward, she explained that she started coming to the open mics in the summer of 2010 and has become a regular. Her goal is to bust into the music business, a dream shared by many who come early to sign up for a slot on the open mic roster. 
“We start taking names at 6 p.m. and stop by about 6:45. We have to — we only have time for about 25 acts, tops, if each of them does two songs,” said Haigh. 
Once the names are submitted, Haigh pulls them from a hat to set the order they will perform. Most would prefer to play before the featured performer’s 30-minute interlude, from 8:30 to 9 p.m. After that, the crowd begins to thin, as those who’ve already played often pack it in for the night. 
But for those who do pull the late numbers, there are die-hard fans of the monthly gathering, like “the Dutch sisters,” Uta and Tuetje. 
“They’re here every week,” said Haigh. “They don’t sing or perform. They just love the music.” 
“It’s a great night out for us, and you can’t beat the price — five bucks,” said Al Monterio of Hudson, who has been coming out with Uta Lemmermann, her sister Tuetje Boevers and her husband, Bill Boevers of Nashua for seven years — since the venue began its monthly open mics. 
“Over the years we’ve met a lot of nice people. But what we really enjoy is watching performers grow,” said Monterio. One such performer is Liz Longley, who has grown beyond the open mic stage and into a full-fledged professional, said Haigh. 
“Liz Longley is one good example. She started playing here for open mics and now, she’s just sold out her third show here as the featured performer. She sold out four months in advance — some of our national weekend acts don’t do that,” said Haigh. 
As an acoustic duo take the stage and run through a clean two-song set, Haigh smiles. 
He earned his stripes as the guy in charge at the long-running open mic night at the Old Vienna Kaffee Haus in Westborough, Mass., where many stars were born. 
“In my own head I’m Simon Cowell. These guys are not missing notes. They’re OK,” he says, letting his lack of adjectives fill in the rest of his critique. 
“This is a stage that builds character. People who’ve been playing for years are intimidated by this stage. People come all the way from New York City just for their two-song set on open mic night. It’s a powerful thing,” said Haigh. 

April 11, 2011


Runway model and cancer survivor Anna Zvagelsky of Derry strikes a pose with her son, Ivan, 4, during a break in the action at Sunday’s charity fashion show to support breast cancer research.
Jae Mawby, 17, left, and Alanna Driscoll, 16,
 model their duct tape prom dresses.

Union Leader Correspondent
WINDHAM -- Anna Zvagelsky is no stranger to the catwalk. Just last year she got her start as a fashion runway model, a gig of a lifetime for a young mom still recovering from cancer.
Her return to the runway Sunday — her second big gig — was as much an act of triumph as it was an act of pure, unadulterated fun. She is still in remission and living life to the fullest. The boy at her heels, with the big brown eyes and the purple Calvin Klein shirt, clenching her “survivor bouquet,” is really at the heart of such fundraising efforts. 
No one survives cancer just for the hell of it. 
“Ivan is 4. He was 2 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Zvagelsky, accepting the outstretched bouquet by leaning down low enough for a peck on the cheek from her No. 1 fan. 
Zvagelsky was one of several models who took the stage Sunday for the benefit fashion show and auction, held in conjunction with Windham High School’s SMILES service club. 
SMILES — Spreading Meaningful Irreplaceable Life Experiences Selflessly — helped raise $4,000 last year through this event. The goal is to surpass that amount this year, through $10 ticket sales and a slew of silent auction items. 
Organizer Donna Bramante InDelicato of Windham said it was a true community effort to get the event off the ground — from students and school administrators, to the many local businesses that donated time, fashions and auction items, small gestures that mean everything to those who are currently in the fight of their lives to beat breast cancer. 
She knows because she’s been there and back herself. 
“I brought this idea to the SMILES service club last year and they were happy to take it on,” said InDelicato. She has been at the center of fundraising efforts for the Avon Cancer Walk with her own Team BellaDonna, started by her mom, Bobbi Bramante, who organized the team while her daughter was recovering from her first brush with breast cancer. 
Highlights of Sunday’s fashion show included a pinklit runway, a contemporary routine by a troupe from the Londonderry Dance Academy, some hunky male models recruited from Windham High School, and a Duct Tape Divas competition, featuring colorful prom dresses fashioned completely of duct tape by students, “Project Runway” style. 
Another incentive, beyond their catwalk debut, is the promise of a national $5,000 Duck brand Stuck At Prom scholarship, awarded for the best dress made of duct tape and photographed at the big dance. 
Lisa Driscoll of Windham was blown away at the entries her daughter, Alanna Driscoll, 16, and her bestie, Jae Mawby, 17, whipped up for the competition. 
“Oh yes, they spent the last two months working out the designs. I kept getting these emergency calls, that I needed to go get some more leopardprint duct tape. Thank god for the Walmart in Derry,” Driscoll said. “It was hysterical.” 
Mary Jackson of Hampstead, a cancer survivor, looked fierce on the runway, even without leopard-skin duct tape. Her fashionable black-and-white print top was set off perfectly by the little black dress worn by her granddaughter, Kate Farrell of Windham, who escorted her down the runway. 
“I love life and I love my grandchildren — and I’m so happy to be here and to be a survivor,” said Jackson backstage, preparing for a second spin down the catwalk. 
Melanie Cullinane, of Boxford, Mass., took her turn on the runway modeling some clothing from GAP. Not only is she a dedicated member of Team BellaDonna, but she wanted to participate in the fashion show to honor her sister, a breast cancer survivor in remission, and her aunt, who she will represent in this year’s “In It To End It” Avon Breast Cancer Walk to be held next month in Boston. 
“That’s my story,” said Cullinane. “I’m just happy to be here, to support my sister and my aunt — and all the women out there who are fighting this disease.”