JAN. 31, 2010
Fire Prevention Director Mike Scott

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- After 30 years of service, Director of Fire Prevention Mike Scott has called it a career after hanging up his fire hat Friday for the last time.

“It was like a tour of duty. After 30 years it’s time to try something different. It’s time to let the younger kids step up and take over,” said Scott, 50, who was honored Friday during a retirement luncheon in his honor at Derry Central Fire Station.

A Derry native, Scott attended Pinkerton Academy and went on to work for the Highway Department after graduation. He was drafted into the fire department as a volunteer firefighter at age 20.
“The commissioner came to my house and said they needed some good men, and my name had come up. It sounded like a good job. My first day, I went to three working fires — it was definitely a baptism by fire,” Scott said. “Back then it was a whole different operation.”
As a kid, Scott said he always admired how his firefighter neighbor, Donald Chase, would take off, day or night, to go answer fires calls. “Yeah, I guess you could say it was a childhood dream of mine to be a firefighter. I thought it looked like an interesting job. Nowadays there are a lot more young people interested in firefighting as a career — maybe it’s the economy, and the fact that fire service is a fairly reliable job,” Scott said. 

It’s also demanding. For 30 years, Scott has basically been on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He spent the bulk of his career as a firefighter, but in 2004 he became a fire inspector. And one year later he was promoted to director of fire prevention. 

“It gave me a chance to get involved in education, and as director we worked hard at making sure we were able to bring many of the older buildings in town up to code,” Scott said This past weekend was the first time in years he didn’t have to worry about getting that call to report to work, which felt great, Scott said. 
“Friday night I attended my daughter’s Girl Scout father-daughter dance. And Saturday was the Blue-and-Gold banquet with my sons, who are Cub Scouts in Candia,” said Scott. 
Although he says he didn’t retire strictly because of his family, it’s nice to have more uninterrupted time with wife Pamela and his younger kids, 11-year-old Rebecca, Tyler, 9 and Jonathan, 8. 
“After all these years with the department, I just thought it would be nice to be able to get up and do whatever I wanted to do on weekends, and not have to worry about anything work-related,” Scott said. 
He also has two older sons, Daniel, 20, who is serving in the Navy, and Alexander, 22, who is a volunteer with Newmarket Fire Department, looking for a full-time fire fighting gig. 
“I guess he wants to take after me,” Scott said. 
He is going to look for something new, perhaps related in some way to fire safety. But he’s taking his time putting together his resume. For now, he’s just going to enjoy some hard-earned down time. 
His best advice to anyone considering a career in fire service is to try it out first. 
“It’s a totally enjoyable career. The only difficult part is getting use to the fact that you’re running into a building when everyone else is running out. You think in your head, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’ But for anyone interested in doing it full-time, I’d suggest you find a department where you can volunteer, and see if it’s really what you like to do. Then, you should get your degree in fire science, and if you want to be sure to get a foot in the door, get your paramedic training — everyone’s looking for that,” Scott said. 

NOV. 15, 2010
Curtis Willson on the
Curtis A. Willson, President of Half Moon Sober Festival, talks about the group's fundraising efforts.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- Although the four-day Half Moon Sober Festival only happens once a year — in May — it wouldn’t happen at all without the year-round fundraising efforts of a core group of dedicated volunteers and the commitment of guys like Curtis Willson, who credits the annual festival with reinforcing his own sobriety.

“When I got sober almost 10 years ago, I had dedicated so much of my life to drugs and alcohol that I didn’t know what to do with myself,” said Willson. “If all my life was going to be was a struggle to find meetings, go to work and sit in my room alone, I wasn’t going to stay sober long.” 

But when someone handed him a ticket to attend a weekend festival featuring music and 12-step workshops, he’d found a ticket to the alternative lifestyle he’d been hoping for. 

“In all reality, my experience at Half Moon is what’s made the difference in my life. As I looked out over a field of 1,500 people, all sober, all having a great time listening to music, I knew it was what I’d been waiting for,” Willson said. 

Since being named president of the organization in September, Willson has been tirelessly promoting a series of fundraising events that will support the annual festival, in its 16th year, held at Benton’s Sugar Shack Campground in Thornton on Memorial Day weekend. 
Aside from a full lineup of musical acts, the event also features workshops on everything from meditation and recovery to crocheting, reiki, tarot, yoga and music therapy. 
“Even though it’s a music festival, our purpose is not only to entertain but to educate,” said Willson. To that end, he recently contacted the Derry and Londonderry school superintendents to propose a school-based project that would bring relevant drug and alcohol education to students — many of whom begin to dabble with their peers in drugs and alcohol as early as middle school. 
“Peer pressure is really bullying, and the idea of drug and alcohol use really brings to the forefront some of the key things kids are bullying other kids about,” said Willson. 
“I’m pitching it as a one-day auditorium-based program featuring a Connecticut-based band, Selfish Steam. I’m calling it ‘Edu-Sober-Tainment,’ something we’d like to include in the schools’ Red Ribbon Week activities,” Willson said. 
What’s changed since Willson was the cool kid in high school is that, generally speaking, today’s parents are part of a generation of acceptance — from relentless alcohol ads on television and particularly during sporting events, to the glamorization of drugs and alcohol on television, in movies and throughout popular culture, kids today are even getting mixed messages from their own parents. 
“Our children are barraged every day, through media ads, through video games — the landscape of life has changed. I was the cool kid in high school; I was the bully, and it didn’t get me very far. And I don’t believe my parents’ generation was as involved in recreational drinking or drug use as we’re seeing today,” Willson said. 
Although he stopped short of offering advice to today’s parents, he said his own philosophy in dealing with his own kids, now in their early 20s, was straightforward. 
“I was not a friend to my kids. Too many parents today want to be the ‘cool’ parent, rather than being a parent,” Willson said. 
“I don’t hide in a program. 
Just because I’m in recovery doesn’t mean I’m living in a bubble. I’m out there as a single parent myself, trying to have a relationship — I still go out tailgating or to football games, or even to bars. 
Although I don’t include drugs or alcohol in those activities, there are plenty of parents who do, and they’re sending a message through their actions to their children,” Willson said. 
And while he’s not advocating prohibition, he understands the destruction drug and alcohol dependence can have on an individual’s life and, by extension, on a family. 
“As an organization, we’re interested in getting back into schools and combating the daily barrage our kids are under. Getting an anti-drug message during Red Ribbon Week is a start. What we’d like to see is a consistent message that goes out to our kids, so that they know it’s OK not to get involved in drugs and alcohol, no matter what kind of peer pressure they’re getting to the contrary,” Willson said. 
A comedy fundraiser for Half Moon Sober Fest will be held the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, at Headliners Comedy Club in Manchester, 21 Front St. – next to Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant. 
Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. For more information, contact Willson at 300-2885. 

NOV. 8, 2010
Cora Evans is a dedicated pedestrian who loves working and living in town.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- Six days a week Cora Evans commutes from her home just off Crystal Avenue to her new job on West Broadway, pedestrian style — she prefers the 30-minute walk to the three-minute drive.

“I hadn’t driven in 16 years, and then I finally went and got my license, but I really prefer walking through downtown — it’s fantastic,” said Evans, who works as a cook at How’s Your Onion? restaurant on the edge of town.

Walking gives her a chance to take in her world and consider how life in Derry has changed in the 18 years she’s been around.

“We do need more things for kids to do — not another bar. Maybe something different,” said Evans.

“Years ago we had a pottery place up by the Clam Haven. I think something creative like that downtown, something parents and kids can do together, or something kids can do on their own, would add a lot to this town. We do need to fill up some of these empty spaces,” said Evans, of the vacant stores along Broadway. 

A grandmother of six, all under the age of 11, she says it’s hard not to worry about what kind of world they are inheriting. 

“Yes, I do worry about my grandkids — you hear so much about how kids are today, and I have to blame the parents. In my neighborhood, we watch out for one another, but it’s not like that everywhere,” Evans said. 

“I also have to say that things have changed a great deal in Derry — I was one of only a few black people around when I got here. I think that’s changed for the better — you see more diversity now, and it’s good,” Evans said. 

She doesn’t like dwelling on race issues, or politics for that matter. But she will tell you that, speaking of race and politics, she’s still not ready to pass judgement on President Obama just yet. 

“A lot of people weren’t happy when he was elected — even I wasn’t happy about it. Being the first black president, I kind of felt like he was going to be judged harshly — that’s just how society is. I almost felt like people were going to blame me somehow if he wasn’t doing a good job, just because I’m black, too. 

I think he’s done some good things, but he could’ve done better with health care,” said Evans. 
Walking two-plus miles a day is certainly good exercise for Evans — she has to do what she can to maintain her health because she’s been without health insurance for years. “I just can’t afford it, and I do have some medical issues — I should be taking blood pressure medication, but it’s too expensive without insurance,” said Evans. 
“I talked to Medicaid, but they said I made too much money to qualify. I also should have an inhaler, but they want $200 up front. I’d be all right if I could make payments on it, but they won’t let you. 
“When I can’t breath I have to go to the emergency room. The last time I ended up in the hospital for seven days. It was thousands of dollars just for the medicine and the bed. A person needs two jobs just to be able to afford health care.” 
For now, she says she’s happy to have one good job — she worked for years at The Derry Diner, but she had an opportunity to be in on a new restaurant venture from the beginning. 
Her boss, Marc-Damien Hartley, assembled a team of employees who all have years of local restaurant experience. 
“I have been cooking my whole life — my specialties are breads and soups. I like to experiment, which is why I love working with Marc. 
He’s very open to new ideas, and he’s teaching me new things,” Evans said. “Right now my life is good — I really have no complaints.” 

NOV 1, 2010
Friends of New England Pagans and Witches gathered at MacGregor Park
 to celebrate Samhain and remember ancestors.

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- Before there was Halloween or All Saints Day, there was Samhain, an ancient holiday — pronounced sow-an — observed by pagans as a time to remember those who have “crossed to the other side.”

Fyre and Steve Majick — their craft names — are founders of New England Pagans and Witches.

Yesterday they held their first Samhain Memorial Walk, beginning and ending at MacGregor Park in Derry, hoping to build awareness and acceptance for paganism and the practices that, for them, are part of life’s cyclical nature.
“In past years we’ve joined other pagans for the Walk on Gallows Hill in Salem, Mass., but it’s well over a thousand people — it’s hard to find personal meaning in all of that,” said Steve Majick. 

“We still connect with the Salem witches — we’re all sending energy out to the Spirit,” said Macha Rven Mare, of Pembroke, who joined the Derry couple for yesterday’s ritual, along with Stacey Loranger, also of Derry. 

Fyre Majick said based on the beliefs of the ancients, Samhain is one of two pivotal pagan holidays during which the spiritual barrier between life and death is easier to transcend. 

“The veil between worlds is thinner, because of the time of year,” said Fyre Majick. “Spirits are allowed to come back and walk with others, which is part of the tradition of Samhain — we light candles and walk in silence, opening our eyes and ears, and taking in the energy of the flame and the light, so that we might connect with the energy of the departed.” 

Over the years, the original practice of Samhain was convoluted by the Christianization of pagan holidays and rituals, including All Saints Day and its many rites. Samhain included wearing masks and trying to blend in with the returning spirits, providing the roots for our modern-day secular Halloween celebrations. 

Before yesterday’s walk, a three-quarter-mile circuit from the park through the adjoining neighborhood, along Crystal Avenue and back to the park, those who had gathered lit candles together. Frye Majick read a brief history of the town of Derry, which included the fact that the root of the town’s name originated from its early Irish settlers from doir, which means “oak woods.” 
“That’s interesting in that oak is a sacred wood among pagans,” said Majick. “At the heart of pagan beliefs is that cycle that forms the underlying order of the universe, from the decaying of fallen leaves to the moon’s waxing and waning. As hard as it is to lose a loved one, it’s part of nature’s process of life. Death offers an opportunity for wisdom and growth.” 
After the walk, Majick read a passage from the Pagan Book of Living and Dying called the Blessing of the Elements: “May the air carry your spirit; may the fire release your soul; may the water cleanse you of pain, sorrow of suffering; may the earth receive you and may the wheel turn again and bring you to rebirth,” said Majick, again lighting an array of candles arranged at the base of one of the park’s memorial stones. 
Following the ritual, acorns were handed out to those in attendance, symbolic of rebirth — and the seed of the oak tree, which within paganism is associated with wisdom. 
Fyre Majick then tore open a packet of instant oatmeal and sprinkled it in the grass, a ritual offering to the spirits. 
Acorns were passed out to participants.
One of the five who gathered for yesterday’s walk, Christine, said she came up from Lowell after hearing about the ritual — it was closer and more intimate than the Salem, Mass., event. 
She hesitated when asked for her full name, acknowledging that there are many who fear what they don’t understand. It doesn’t help, for instance, that Delaware Republican Christine O’Donnell has been running on the “I’m not a witch” platform, which implies that being a witch would be negative. 
“There is still a lot of stigma surrounding pagan beliefs — most people I work with only know I’m pagan because we’ve had that conversation. I think people make all kinds of assumptions, if they hear you are pagan without a chance to find out what it means,” she said. “I’ve been practicing for a long time, and was part of a coven for a long time. 
Being solitary is fun, but being around like-minded people is more fun,” she said. 
“We are all solitaries by nature,” said Steve Majick. 
“Everyone has an individual journey, but we are connected through moments like this.” 

OCTOBER 25, 2010

When he’s not booking national acts for Tupelo Music Hall, Scott Hayward finds sanctuary in his back yard. 

Union Leader Correspondent

Scott Hayward didn’t mean to become a successful music mogul. When he bought an old building that was former home to “The Muse,” an old folk music venue in Londonderry, it was just an investment.

But his personal passion for music as a fan, and something about the space, inspired him six years ago to launch the Tupelo Music Hall.

On Oct. 1, he opened the doors to Tupelo north — a second music hall in White River Junction, Vt., after renovating the old Boston and Maine Freight House on the town’s Main Street.

This time, Hayward applied everything he has learned about success to the project, starting with giving customers what they came for: awesome sound.
“It has an amazing sound system — it’s state of the art, top of the line. We’re the first venue in the world to have this kind of system,” said Hayward, of the stacked MINA steerable array speakers, manufactured by Meyer Sound Laboratories. 

“There are 2,000-seat venues that don’t have this kind of gear.” 

He also thinks about the artists, which meant including a laundry room and a place to shower. 

“Groups often are living on the tour bus. Just being able to throw in a load of wash means a lot to them,” Hayward said. 

Since the very beginning, Hayward’s focus has been on doing live music right. 

“When people come to the Tupelo, they’re not using the venue as a place to go to hear music as a backdrop — they’re coming to hear an artist and see them,” said Hayward. 

The new Vermont venue is much like the one in Londonderry — it seats 240, has the same color scheme, features movable seating and is BYOB, which allows his target customer to head out for a relaxing night of music, no strings or distractions. 

“It makes it so much easier to run a venue, without the distraction of running a bar or serving food,” said Hayward. 

He knows that Tupelo is not for everyone. What’s key to his success is that Hayward knows who his audience is — eclectic music fans between the ages of 35 and 65, a mellow crowd that prefers bringing in a favorite wine or six-pack of beer and settling in to rock, roll or simply revel. 

His Londonderry site provides an alternative to Boston, where the expense of tickets and parking, coupled with the frustration of navigating congested side streets, can be a deterrent to the quest for good, live entertainment, Hayward said. 
While no one has escaped the crush of a down economy, Hayward smiles that smile when asked how’s business. 
“In Londonderry, we had a pool of people buying lots of tickets for lots of shows. 
Because of the economy, people aren’t going to as many shows, so I have fewer of those consistent customers. Now, we are selling the same amount of tickets to a wider audience,” Hayward said. 
“I knew when things got tough, it wouldn’t be a matter of selling more tickets, just growing my customer base. 
And the way things are going, I expect we will explode when the economy recovers. I have 21,000 people on my mailing list at the moment.” 
What’s different about Hayward’s business plan is that he didn’t know what he was doing — a fact he feels has worked to his advantage. 
“We make 100 percent of our profit from ticket sales. I don’t know a lot of people who own clubs who can say that — they rely on drink sales,” Hayward said. 
For the record, he notes that the Vermont venue is actually his third venture — he briefly tried partnering with someone in Salisbury, Mass., but rescinded the license when he realized the business didn’t have the right vibe. 
“It was too big, too slick. 
It just didn’t feel right. That means a lot to me, that customers are going to get a certain experience at the Tupelo,” Hayward said. 
Expansion, perhaps to Lebanon or Portland, Maine, are on the short list of things to do. 
When he’s not personally reading through contracts and booking acts, he’s often just hanging around to see one of his favorite bands. 
“I’m going to see The Tubes tonight, just as a fan,” said Hayward. 
His roots are deep here. He owns a sprawling old farmhouse along East Derry Road, not far from his alma mater, Pinkerton Academy, which he shares with his wife, and two sons, ages 9 and 12, and a menagerie of animals, including a rabbit and a rescue cat named Fatty McFat Cat, whose preferred perch is on old pizza box on the dining room table. 
“I can do most everything from home, so I don’t miss out on much with the kids — I can be booking a show while sitting at a soccer game,” Hayward said. 
After graduating, Hayward, 43, went to college in North Carolina on a track scholarship, but by his senior year, multiple stress fractures had made running more of a chore than a relief. 
“I changed majors a few times in college. Doing this? 
It’s not something I would have ever dreamed of, but I love it,” Hayward said. 

OCTOBER 18, 2010

Union Leader Correspondent

It didn’t matter to anyone that Saturday’s annual Community Alliance for Teen Safety walk only drew about a dozen walkers.

Maybe the blustery morning chill kept some away. But for Wendee Cloutier and Sue Centner, walking the walk together is what the ritual is all about, no matter who else shows up.
“We’ve done this every year since 1996,” said Centner, the group’s director. “That first year the walk was almost 10 miles, and it included many of the sites where our young people lost their lives.

It became an important tradition that, over the years we’ve modified a little. It was terribly emotional for so many people.”
What the group realized was that it didn’t have to mount a marathon or gather a huge crowd. It only mattered that where two or more were gathered to continue the tradition, and quietly carry a torch for teen safety, the past deaths of Derry’s sons and daughters could actually help save a life.

“I’ll always stay involved,” said Cloutier, who is a founding mother of the group. Her daughter, Deanna, was only 15 when she was killed in a crash in December 1995, a passenger in a car driven by a friend.
Centner got involved with the group early on, after she got a call from one of the founders saying they needed someone to help coordinate the group and keep momentum going.
“This group really began after Dr. Joseph Sabato, who was the emergency room doctor at Parkland Medical Center, was feeling overwhelmed by the number of young people being killed in crashes. He was talking about it with someone, and he said, ‘someone has to do something.’ And whoever he was talking to said, ‘Well, you’re someone.’ And that was the beginning,” said Cloutier.
Sabato called together local police and fire officials, and parents of the children who’d been killed.
“I think we’d lost 11 kids in 18 months time — most of them new drivers, inexperienced drivers, and the common denominator was that they weren’t wearing seatbelts,” said Centner.
Within it first two years, CATS lobbied hard for the state to change the state’s
 seatbelt laws, raising the mandatory age for buckling up from 12 to 18.
“Gov. Shaheen came to Derry to sign the law we had worked so hard — and lost so much — for,” said Centner.
“Since then, we’ve expanded to cover all kinds of teen risk behaviors.”
While it’s never easy to engage teenagers on a regular basis, CATS has managed to sustain an active Youth Advisory Board. However, many of those teens have recently graduated high school and moved on, said Centner.
“It’s a great opportunity for teens to get involved, on whatever level they’d like to be. We understand teenagers today are busy, but this group provides an opportunity to have a voice,” said Centner.
The youth board meets weekly at The Coffee Factory at Hood Plaza from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. All are welcome to share their ideas or concerns, said Centner.
Although she no longer lives in Derry, Cloutier said she looks forward to the annual walk.
“For me it began as a way to grieve for Deanna. I found that throwing myself into something that would help other children really helped me a lot. It will be 15 years since I lost my daughter. This group has accomplished a lot in that time; I will always be a part of this,” Cloutier said.

OCTOBER 3, 2010
Cynthia Dwyer is still getting settled into her new upstairs office space.

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Cynthia Dwyer had to get more dinner plates out of storage last week – there have been so many regulars at the Sonshine Soup Kitchen that volunteers have been washing plates during dinner hour just to have enough to go around.
“The day we don't have enough chairs will be my wakeup call,” said Dwyer. “My deal with God was that I'll do this job until you tell me to stop, as long as you give me what I need.”
So far, Dwyer has been able to keep her end of the bargain, thanks to the extra helpings of patience and grace God sends her way. In the 15 years since she started out as a volunteer with the church-based outreach, Dwyer has seen to it that the community's hungry are fed.
She sees no reason to judge those in chronic need, no reason to justify her mission – providing a full-course meal five nights a week for anyone who shows up to the First Baptist Church basement on the corner of Broadway and Crystal Ave.
She knows a percentage of her flock is homeless. Some struggle with mental illness, or addiction. Some are housebound, and get nightly meals delivered by volunteers, on a limited basis.
“Biblicly speaking, Jesus said there will always be a need. That's part of the human condition. I believe that those who are strong have a certain responsibility – not to carry others on their backs, or teach a man to fish. Here at the soup kitchen, it's more like we're the Italian mother who says, mangia – eat – you'll feel better,” Dwyer said. “For most of those who come, it's the only good, nutritious hot meal they're getting.”
Dwyer said for the 20 years the soup kitchen has been in place, the number of mouths fed annually ebbs and flows year over year. But lately the numbers are steadily rising – from 10,029 meals served in 2006 to 13,735 last year. She points out that last year's numbers were based on a daily average of 54 nightly meals served. For the past month, the kitchen has been serving an average of 58 nightly meals, an all-time high.
She doesn't anticipate that need diminishing anytime soon, which is why she unpacked the extra plates.
At the same time, we are running at a $24,000 deficit – the highest I've seen in my 15 years,” said Dwyer. “It's almost double what it was this time last year.”
Still, she is not hitting the panic button just yet. The organization has some cash reserves in place, and fall is the unofficial beginning of “soup kitchen season” – when local schools, churches and individuals rally to donate goods, cash and time to help them through the holiday season.
Also, for the first time Dwyer has a program director, Christine Fudala, who works five days a week, picking up the organizational slack created by the soup kitchen's recent growth – they have taken over the second-floor of their Crystal Avenue office space, allowing more room for donated clothing and food pantry items.
It's great having Christine on board. And when a group scheduled to serve dinner literally doesn't show up – which happened just last week – Christine can go manage the kitchen,whereas before Christine, I would have had to step in to that role – and my time is pretty limited as it is,” Dwyer said.
She will continue to pray for provisions, delivered faithfully and often unexpectedly, whenever the shelves start to run low. It's a faith-based system she prefers to the alternative, which would mean fundraising to make ends meet.
I don't like diverting my energy and creativity to running bingo. I feel as a Christian of faith, that until God wants to teach us a lesson, he will make sure we're provided for,” Dwyer said.

SEPTEMBER 24, 2010
Mark Hesse shows off the first tattoo he ever gave himself, on his left forearm, made using an ink recipe of Listerine, toothpaste, burned rice paper, banana peel and maraschino cherries. 

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – In 1968 Mark Hesse somehow knew he was born to be tattooed. So at 15 he borrowed a friend's draft card, hitched a ride from Malden, Mass., to New Hampshire, and got his name inked onto his right arm, set off by a skull and crossbones, skewered with a dagger.
“It was illegal to tattoo in Massachusetts – they banned it after an outbreak of hepatitis,” said Hesse, rolling up his sleeve to show off the 42-year-old body art.
“Nobody questioned my age – I had a draft card. As far as they were concerned, I was heading off to Vietnam,” said Hesse.
Destiny brought Hesse to Derry where he opened Scorpion Tattooing 15 years ago – the town's first tattoo shop, in the Hillside Plaza on Rockingham Road. It was a small narrow space which he nicknamed “the cave.”
“I was the first one in town to ever get cited for an illegal sign – someone complained about the sign I put down by the road, so I had to take it down,” said Hesse.
Despite the mainstream popularity of tattoos over the the last five years, there are still a lot of stereotypes surrounding tattoo shops – and those who make a living fulfilling people's dreams in permanent ink.
Even relocating his shop to a more central location on Manchester Road this summer was not as easy as Hesse thought it would be.
“The town put me through a lot. Five years ago I wanted to move to one of the empty spaces on Broadway, and I was told I couldn't; that it was zoned retail. Then, when I was looking into moving here, they told me I couldn't; that it was zone industrial,” said Hesse. “So I said to them, you have a Quiznos, a Laundromat, a sporting good store and a car rental place – how is that industrial?”
In the end, it has been worth the hassle, said Hesse, who had outgrown the little 8-by-60-foot cave where he got his professional start. Back then, it was a one-man operation. Now, he has four employees – all guys who've apprenticed with him, and who bring something artfully their own to the trade.
“So much has changed about tattooing – the equipment is better, the ink is better. And we have no typical customer. I had an 84-year-old grandmother whose daughter and granddaughter brought her in. She'd always wanted a tattoo, so they got her a little heart on her wrist,” said Hesse.
Owner Mark Hesse, right, watches Frankie Piessens
as he tattoos Amie Blazonis at Hesse’s shop, Scorpion Tattooing.
A 2006 study by the Academy of Dermatology estimates 1 in 4 Americans have at least one tattoo, the majority between the ages of 26 and 40.
With the rise in tattoos is a shift toward making a statement – like Erin Archibald who yesterday was in Hesse's shop, getting the words “We see but we don't observe” inked vertically down the front of her shin by tattoo artist Tyler Malek, with a Rorschach treatment that rendered the purple script more like an inkblot image than statement.
People are looking for meaning in their tattoos. We have fewer people coming in and looking through the templates. These days, we get people walking in the door with a picture in their hand, or they email us an image from the Internet,” said Hesse.
I learned how to tattoo from a friend, who had the best tattoos I ever saw. I asked him how he learned to do them, and he said in prison. Then he took me to another guy's house and they showed me how it was done,” said Hesse.
Using an old electric shaver with the razor removed, a guitar string and an ink pen were welded and threaded together, then the whole contraption was attached to a Lionel train transformer, which allowed the tattoo artist to control the speed of the guitar string needle, which is sharpened to a fine point.
We burned the pages of Bibles for the rice paper – it makes a nice, dark ash. Then we mixed it with Listerine and toothpaste, for the ink. To get brown ink, we would burn a banana peel. And for red, we mixed in maraschino cherries,” said Hesse, holding out his left arm to show off his organic tattoo.
For years Hesse used his new skills and makeshift equipment as part of the tattoo underground in Massachusetts, where he was known only by the name Scorpion.
His hobby was his passion, and when his day job as supervisor of a rubbish company was downsizing, he and his wife, Holie, decided it was time to make tattooing a permanent part of their life together.
Just over the border in Salem there were tons of shops. We decided on Derry because there were none, and the rent was cheap,” said Hesse.
Mark Hess and his 54 Chevy outside his shop.
He loves what he does, and he loves the fact that, besides being an art form, tattoos can be more than skin deep.
Five years ago I started doing free pink ribbon tattoos for any woman who is a breast cancer survivor,” a tradition that began as a gift for their daughter's grade school teacher, who battled the disease, and won.
But it's also a nod to Hesse's own mother, who died of breast cancer in 1968 – not long after he hitched a ride across the border for some ill-gotten ink. He wears a small pink ribbon tattoo on his forearm with the word “mom” inside, for her.
It wasn't until I was in my 30s that I found out my uncle was a tattoo artist. After he died one of my aunts asked me if I wanted a bag full of his old equipment. I have it up there, in my display case,” said Hesse, who loves nostalgia – he also drives a 1954 Chevy.
So maybe it was meant to be. Maybe it's in my blood. I kind of have to think I'm here for a reason,” Hesse said.

SEPTEMBER 17, 2010
Derry's Own Guide on the
 Path to Peace and Tranquility
Mariellen Rowe leads a yoga class at the Alexander-Carr Park recreation center.

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Say the word “hatha” and you're halfway there – all that's left is to inhale, and you have mastered the art of breathing.
In yoga, it comes with practice.
Mariellen Rowe has spent the past dozen years creating an affordable breathing space in town, helping others to stretch their limbs, relax their minds and live in the moment.
“For most people, it's a stress reducer. It has a very calming effect on the body,” said Rowe, preparing last night for a new class about to take shape at the Alexander Carr Park activity center.
“Hatha is two Sanskrit words combined – 'ha' is sun and 'tha' is moon. The balance of our life represents our united breath, body, spirit, emotion and mind,” said Rowe, leading the class in some opening stretches.
Yoga – sanskrit for “union” – is the ultimate yin and yang, then – day and night, together; balanced completeness.
As Rowe describes it, yoga brings attention to breathing through the practice of yoga's physical postures, and while it calms it also invigorates.
“Yoga has a magical way of promoting stillness and peace that rolls off the mat into our everyday lives,” said Rowe.
She lays out a deck of CD cases like a winning hand of Rummy – selections include the “Tao of Heaven,” “Empty Sky,” “Circle of Light” – ambient, lilting sounds provide a gentle backdrop for yoga, enhanced by a row of clear twinkle lights stretched across floor the length of one wall, and a quartet of electric candles.
Rowe sets up a welcome table with scented candles and meditation orb – a free-standing sphere the size of an ostrich egg that glows in gradient pastel hues.
Rowe has two daughters – one with Down syndrome. The joy and challenges of motherhood wholeheartedly reinforced in Rowe the importance of physical fitness and exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle and positive attitude.
For all the personal enjoyment she receives from her daily yoga regimen, what Rowe embraces most is the sharing.
A five-week class through the town is $40 for residents and $60 for non residents.
Rowe sets up some brown metal folding chairs for those who find that sitting on a mat for 75 minutes interferes with their sense of calm or personal comfort.
“All I am is just a guide. Whatever they get out of it is their own,” said Rowe. “I've been to classes that are $20 a class. I feel fortunate that the town entertained my idea of offering yoga that's affordable for everyone.

SEPTEMBER 10, 2010
Phil Abirached points to the area where he and several other land owners would like to see a
 plan for development, including town water and sewer lines.

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRYIt's not the daily grind of getting up before the sun, or manning the store to make up for the staff he's had to cut recently. It's not the long hours, or the $40,000 expense for two new gas pumps to be compliant with new federal regulations, even though the old ones worked fine.
For Phil Abirached, it's the uncertainty of knowing if his business will survive the current economic dry spell – the uncertainty of whether the businesses along Route 28 South will survive, without a blueprint for the future.
So instead of crossing his fingers, or wishing on a star, Abirached got busy. He called his neighbors – property owners and fellow business owners – asking who might be interested in getting together with town officials.
Then, he made contact with the town. Within a month, a meeting was scheduled, held yesterday in one of the empty storefronts in the MetroMart plaza which Abirached owns.
Three town councilors, Planning Director George Sioras and Public Works Director Mike Fowler showed up, with maps and information – but mostly, they came to listen to what the people who work and live and fear for their survival had to say about their hopes – and fears – for the future.
Abirached has worked hard to get where he is – born in Lebanon, he came here for a better life, going to school and learning the ropes in the business world. His American dream included buying some land and trying his hand at being his own boss. He and his wife Rita are a mom-and-pop operation, running the convenience store and adjacent wine store they recently added to fill another empty storefront, while managing the complex.
Their kids – Joseph, Andrew, Tia and Rana – spend time at the store when they're not in school – their mom, who has a master's degree in health services and management, does all the invoicing and payroll.
There is land around the parking lot that Abirached would like to develop. But not in this economy. And not without knowing if or when the town might bring public water and sewer up Ryan's Hill to the Southern edge of town.
Abirached's focused and charismatic presence has brought some unity to those who share turf along this business route. Abirached knows each of them by name, he knows their stories and their hardships.
Meeting of town officials and local business owners.
He knows that Paul George had a tough time moving his custom modular home business from Methuen, Mass., to Derry – a tangle of red tape mired the permitting process, which lasted the better part of eight months.
And Richard Roy, of Roy's Tree Service, who finally moved his home-based business to a bricks and mortar location in town. Roy told Abirached the approval process took months, and his parking lot had to meet Department of Transportation specs. Delays cost him time, and the clock is always ticking when you are running the show.
Abirached knew what his neighbors were up against. He also realized that someone had to make the first move.
Abirached was aware of the plans for the TIF Distrit, and the Downtown. He wasn't hearing anything about his neck of the woods. So he got the conversation going.
By taking a giant step forward, Abirached is doing the very thing that Derry is hoping will happen across the board – local business owners getting involved with one another and finding an open line of communication with the town.
It's civics 101 – if you want to live and work in a democracy, you have to be part of the equation.
Abirached is all in.

“It was a great turn out,” said Abirached of yesterday's meeting. “Collaboration is the key. The town was gracious in hearing what we had to say – the potential for building in this part of the community is a great opportunity. We just need to work with the town officials, and make sure plans are in place.”

From left, food pantry director Judy Jurentkuff, volunteers Sandra Noftle and Marilyn Main.

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY Judy Jurentkuff is not easily ruffled. But the morning rush yesterday at the First Baptist Food Pantry made her wonder where next week's food supply is coming from.
“We have a lot of ketchup because it was rejected by a supermarket for some reason, so as you can see we have cases and cases of it,” she said, pointing to efficient rows of upside down Heinz squeezable bottles.
“And we have Classico tomato sauce, for the same reason. Other than that, the shelves are pretty bare,” said Jurentkuff, realigning the dwindling bottles of government apple juice that arrived recently in one of the bi-monthly federal food deliveries.
“Usually our soup shelves are full. You can see we have a lot of tomato soup, but not much else,” Jurentkuff said.
She has spent the past 20 years filling the empty cupboards of Derry's poorest families, those who have trouble making ends meet for one reason or another. It's a no-judgement zone where, once a month, families in need can come by and pick up what they need.
While the number of families served has gone up steadily over the past five years – from 1,440 in 2006 to 1,948 last year, donations are down. Jurentkuff expects that trend to continue.
“We had 26 people come in today for food. A family of three is about five shopping bags full of food, so we moved a lot of food today,” she said.
Last three cans of beans.
Her sister, Marilyn Main, has been volunteering for about nine years, recruited by Jurentkuff after retirement left her with more downtime than she'd anticipated. Main slides the last three cans of pork and beans to the front of the otherwise barren pantry shelf.
“I like volunteering here, but it can be frustrating at time – because of the lack of supplies,” Main said. “But what can you do about it?”
Now that school's back in session, there will be deliveries of non-perishable foods coming in here and there from school groups and PTOs. But never knowing what next week will bring reinforces that this operation began as a faith-based program, an outreach to a faction of the community for which there is still nothing else to help fill the gaps.
“It's pretty bad. I had to go buy some food from the (New Hampshire) Food Bank this week,” said Jurentkuff, who is grateful for the statewide resource, but notes that she has to pay for the canned goods she gets there. “Naturally, it is better when we can get donations.”
Volunteer Sandra Noftle is in the kitchen filling an order, which includes Ramen noodles, boxed macaroni and cheese and frozen muffins – food groups you won't necessarily find on the FDA's revised food pyramid, which is now a vertical rainbow heavy on multigrains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
“I feel guilty sometimes about that, but we give out what we get,” said Jurentkuff.
There are a few signs posted promoting a yard sale planned for Sept. 18 at the church, which will help raise money to restock the pantry shelves. Donations of household items, clothing, toys and other salable items – just about anything except large appliances – can be dropped off at the First Baptist Church on the corner of Crystal Avenue and Broadway Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - noon.
Otherwise, cash donations are the best way to support the work of the food pantry, since Jurentkuff can buy items she needs in quantity for less than supermarket prices.
But donations are never rejected.
“We can use anything and everything – diapers, toilet paper, baby formula, rice, tuna, powdered milk peanut butter – everyone wants peanut butter,” said Jurentkuff.

AUGUST 27, 2010

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY Two years ago Frank Santiago was just a guy living the life. He had moved to town from Londonderry after finding the home of his dreams, and was happy working for Stonyfield Farm – still is – after 15 years.
When the call went out from the town offices that there were openings on several boards, Santiago raised his hand.
“I applied for a spot on the Heritage Commission. I remember attending the council meeting where I was asked why I wanted to be on the commission. It was a real deer in the headlights moment. Anyway, I didn't get picked. Two incumbents were reappointed. But it was after the meeting that the magic happened,” said Santiago.
Magic in the way the existing Heritage Commission members welcomed him to the fold, recognizing his genuine interest in being involved, even if there wasn't an empty seat with his name on it.
“I started attending meetings, eventually becoming an alternate and then a full board member, after someone dropped out. I really appreciated that they took my input seriously. And I kept learning more and more about the history of the town, in particular, from Rick Holmes. He has such a way with telling the stories that shaped Derry,” Santiago said.
Earlier this year Holmes announced he was stepping down as commission chair and retiring from his role as curator of the Derry History Museum.
“I was saddened when I heard he was leaving. Those are big shoes to fill. Honestly, what we've learned since Rick stepped down is just how many details he took care of. It's been a big learning curve for all of us,” Santiago said.
Redistributing the work among the five-member board has meant a bit of a hibernation process – the museum has been open by appointment only through the summer months while the commission worked out the particulars, like how to expand the hours and get more visitors through the door.
“You need to know where you come from. You need to understand your history in order to move forward,” Santiago said.
Bringing history to life is going to be a renewed mission for the Heritage Commission, said Santiago.
“Our biggest problem is if you were to go into just about any store in town and ask about the Derry Museum, the response will typically be, 'There's a museum in Derry?' It's a shame. We have such a rich history. That's something we're planning to work on,” Santiago said.
He'd like to find ways to connect faces archived in the museum with names that are perhaps familiar to residents, but that don't always ring a bell.
“We've all heard about Matthew Thornton, or our founding father, the Rev. James MacGregor – it would be great if we can make a connection for people, so that these important historical figures come to life,” Santiago said.
“I have a lot of favorite stories about Derry – and even one about Londonderry, which I'll tell. since at one time this was all known as Nutfield,” Santiago said.
“Actually, did you know that it was named Nutfield because there were so many American Chestnut trees, in some places, the forests were inches deep with chestnuts? Anyway, do you know how Mammoth Road got its name? Mammoth was to be the main road, from Boston to Concord, and what happened is that people were derisive of the idea. 'Oh sure, they're building this huge artery from Boston to Concord, this mammoth road,” said Santiago, a smile spreading across his face.
“Good story, right?”

AUGUST 20, 2010

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – George Tsetsilas is a big believer in tradition. It's what keeps him engaged with the Pinkerton Academy community 53 years after graduating.
Now that he's president of the Pinkerton Alumni Association, he is motivated to strengthen the ties that bind those who passed through the hallowed halls of his alma mater, starting with organizing the history of the Alumni Association, which formed around 1865 and is still going strong.
“I'm trying to build on the real momentum that has been in place for the past six or seven years,” said Tsetsilas (whose Greek sir name is pronounced “Tessless.”)
With the school's bicentennial fast approaching in 2014, Tsetsilas has started by creating binders for the executive board, loaded with contact information, bylaws, financial and fund raising information, and the various good works the association is involved in.
“The information is available, but it's all over the place. No one person has it all, so I decided to put it together in what I call the Alumni Association Handbook,” said Tsetsilas. “You'd be surprised how many people have no idea what we do.”
There are more than 17,000 alumni association members – and while not all are active, Tsetsilas is working on extending the association's reach through Facebook and continuing to play an active role with the current student body, through support of the schools many club and by awarding grants and scholarships.
“Anyone who has ever attended Pinkerton for at least one semester can join the alumni association. You don't have to be a graduate – that's how our bylaws were written,” said Tsetsilas.
“I had some friends who got drafted in the 1940s and went into the service. Some came back to school and finished, but others never did. Even my father, who attended Pinkerton in the 1920s, played football his freshman year. Then he broke his arm, and his dad told him he couldn't go back to school – he had to go to work to help pay for his medical bills,” Tsetsilas said. “Times have changed, but back then, not everyone got to complete their education.”
The alumni association also provides perpetual care for the grave sites of Pinkerton's founders and family members, at various cemeteries including Forest Hills.
“That's not something we have to do, but we do it,” said Tsetsilas. “We also give hats to the freshman class and banners to the senior class. We're also working on making signs for the campus to help people navigate better. And we offer grants to any of the clubs at Pinkerton that might need assistance – like if the woodworking club needed a new saw and they didn't have the money for it, we could decide to grant them the money,” Tsetsilas said.
They also administrate the Bousquet Scholarships through an application process based on the interest earned annually for the trust fund.
“We had $45,000 one year, so we gave out nine $5,000 scholarships that year – of course it depends on earnings, but that's a wonderful thing we are able to do for graduating students,” Tsetsilas said.
Tsetsilas attended Pinkerton for three years, back when Gilbert Hood Middle School was made a three-year junior high school. After graduation, he worked for Raytheon, Sylvania GTE and Wang Laboratories, and eventually went back to earn his MBA from New Hampshire College, now Southern New Hampshire University.
“I had many opportunities to move from the area for work, but it was important to me that my kids attended Pinkerton, so I never left Derry,” said Tsetsilas.
“People have a tendency to be more tuned in to the college they graduated from rather than their high school. But I have always felt more connected to Pinkerton – I guess I'd like to see more of that among graduates. I don't know if it's pie in the sky, but there's no question people who come through the school have strong feelings for Pinkerton,” Tsetsilas said. “It's all goes back to tradition. That, and the fact that the school truly provides great opportunities for kids that they wouldn't get at another school.”

AUGUST 13, 2010

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – It's hard to resist the temptation to regard Jack Roche's plan to launch a surgical technical college in the downtown as anything short of kismet.
He arrived in town three years ago after some high profile assignments in New York, just looking for a great place to live. Drawn by the reputation of Pinkerton Academy for his teenage daughter, Roche and his wife, Valerie settled in.
His desire to get more involved in the community led him to attend a meeting of the Derry Downtown Committee. That's when it occurred to him that he might be in the right place at the right time.
Someone mentioned in the meeting that they thought it would be ideal to bring a college to Derry. I raised my hand and said that I happened to have a business plan already to go for a surgical technical college,” said Roche, a longtime educator who got interested in developing a training program for operating room assistants after his wife got her certification in the field a decade ago.
It was the push he needed to get the wheels in motion for the official launch of the non-profit New England Institute of Medical Technology. He has completed all the paperwork necessary for 501c3 tax-exempt status, the only thing standing between him and opening the doors in the next five months.
Timing is everything. I've heard it can take anywhere from a month to six months, and I can't apply for funding until that's in place. But we're still planning to open our doors the first week of January,” said Roche.
He's already created a partnership with Parkland Medical Center, which will accept NEIMT students as interns. And he's settled on a potential home, the former Children's Metamorphosis Museum at 6 West Broadway. It's got the right layout and space for classroom – once his non-profit status is finalized, he will be ready to sign a lease and set up shop.
Target enrollment is 24 day students and 24 evening students, with tuition costs expected to be less than $12,000, which will include all classes necessary for state certification as a surgical technician. He expects to employ two dozen faculty members by the end of the first year of operation.
Roche started his own career as a junior high school teacher fresh out of college. He spent eight years teaching in Kingston, NY, before entering the corporate world on Wall Street.
It was sheer coincidence. I was making a presentation to the deans and President of New York Institute of Technology, and after my presentation they asked if I would be interested in a teaching position,” said Roche.
He said he's already had five students inquire about enrollment based mostly on word of mouth. He's developed a schedule for day classes and has already got a big picture plan for expansion, including campus space and related courses like respiratory technician and phlebotomy.
I'm hoping this will be a catalyst – or maybe anchor is a better word – for something that will take off and put Derry on the map,” said Roche.

Bringing a college to the downtown could also have some interesting trickle down effects, said Roche.

I will need a bookstore and a supply store. Students will be required to wear lab coats – I can envision what that will bring to the downtown, having professional-looking students mingling around the downtown, shopping here, getting their books and supplies here,” Roche said.

Even on a small scale, having a college-town atmosphere could also prompt cafes or coffee shops – or even reinforce the idea that a major clothing retailer could find a fruitful home in the heart of Derry's downtown.
Needless to say, it's getting very exciting. Ever since that first meeting, it's been building – not only from the standpoint that certified surgical technicians are desperately needed, but I'm also excited for the town,” said Roche. “I'm so glad I can help.”

AUGUST 6, 2010


Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Maybe you've seen him at the Manchester Road traffic signal, next to the Burger King. He's been there plenty this summer, holding a well-creased cardboard sign that reads, “Homeless Will Work.”
His name is John, and he doesn't hesitate to tell you how he ended up in need of a home and a job. He also will tell you his whole name, without reservation.
Then, he'll politely ask you a favor.
If you put something in the paper, could you not use my last name? It's not that I care. But my mom, she's kind of embarrassed by what I'm doing. She tries to help me when she can, and I don't want to make it any harder on her than it already is,” says John. “I know she can't take care of me anymore, and so this is what I am doing to find work. But it hurts her.”
Although it's nearly 90 degrees out, he wears pretty much the same thing daily – white-T-shirt, gray sweatpants in need of washing, sturdy walking shoes splattered with paint from a seasonal job he had last year, painting vacation houses in Massachusetts.
Around his neck hangs a glow-in-the-dark rosary. He got it from a friend.
I'm a Christian. I believe there's a god out there. I'm not sure what religion he is, or if it even matters. I'm not sure who's right and who's wrong. And anymore, I'm not sure what my purpose is,” says John, whose serious expression seems fixed. “But I have to believe He's out there.”
When asked, he explains that his situation changed when his mother got sick a few years back. She had to sell her condo and move in with a friend in Hudson. John, 22, and his younger brother couldn't go with her.
We ended up on our own, bouncing between Londonderry, Nashua, Manchester and Mass.,” John says. “Sometimes my brother and I would look for work in Nashua together. We would find a place near the Pheasant Lane Mall to stand, but people started calling us the 'Pheasant Lane Beggars.' That made me feel bad – I'm not begging. I only ask for the time, the weather or maybe a prayer.”
He said he hasn't seen his brother in a few weeks now, and isn't sure where he landed. He shrugs, his expression unchanged.
I have some skills – like the painting. And I've done some landscaping, some moving, some jobs I got through Job Corps. In fact, a guy was supposed to get back to me today about helping move some things from a storage space, but he hasn't called,” says John, checking his prepaid cell phone for messages.
The phone may seem like a luxury, but it is a lifeline – when it's working.
Sometimes I run out of money to buy more minutes, or I don't have anyplace to charge it, so I might miss calls. But I have a lot of applications in at a lot of places. It's just that without a permanent address, it's hard. There's no shelter here in Derry, so if I got a job here, I'm not sure how I'd get from wherever I end up staying in Nashua or Manchester, to the job,” says John.
The traffic light turns red and a woman stops. She rolls down the window of her car.
Here you go, Hon,” she says, holding her hand out of the window. John walks over to the woman who hands him a folded five-dollar bill and adds, “It's not much, but I hope it helps. God bless you, Sweetie,” she says.
The light turns green. John shoves the money in his sweatpants pocket and goes back to his post.
That happens sometimes, and I do appreciate it. But a steady job is the thing I need,” he says. He does have a father, who lives in Massachusetts. But he never had much of a relationship with him. It's his mother who has always been there for him – until she got ill.
She raised five of us kids, with no help from our dad. My younger brother doesn't even know him. I do talk to him, sometimes, but that's about it,” he says.
Moving around isn't anything he had to get used to – John said he lived several different places growing up, but eventually settled in at Londonderry High School.
I didn't graduate, but I got my GED,” he said. “Actually, I got it while I was in Valley Street.”
Like many young men who struggle with chronic homelessness, John said he had lost his way and made some mistakes.
I got locked up for possession of prescription drugs. It was dumb, and I don't mess with that stuff anymore. I feel like at least the time I spent in jail wasn't wasted. I learned a lesson and I got my GED,” said John.
But what bothered me most? On the court papers, under my name, it said 'Homeless. Manchester, NH.' That's what it says on my permanent record,” said John, his brown eyes steady, but sad.
John says he enjoys manual labor, and is ready and willing to paint or landscape or work in a warehouse.
I was even thinking about going back to school for something, maybe so I could get a better job. Someone told me that because I'm half Native American, there might be grants available to help me out,” John says.
He's not sure what people think as they drive past him on the corner. He said he is just trying to figure out a better way to survive.
I'm not a drunk or a druggie. I'm not trying to hurt anyone. I just don't know what else to do. I've been living like this, pretty much, for a year and a half. I'm getting tired. I know it's a bad time, with the economy and all. But I feel like this is the best way for me to put myself out there,” says John. “The sign says it all.”

JULY 29, 2010
Childrens Librarian Adele Boeske, seen here with library mascot Chippy, will retire at the end of summer.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Once upon a time there was a busy chemist, who worked for a big company doing important chemistry stuff. That was right before she became a quality assurance manager. Then one day she woke up feeling like maybe, just maybe, there was something else she might rather be doing.
So the chemist took an aptitude test. It told her that what she really should be is a teacher, or a librarian. The chemist liked the idea of being a librarian, so she went back to college and got a degree in library science.
That was 14 years ago, and the former chemist turned librarian, Adele Boeske, has never looked back – until yesterday.
That's when she took a few minutes to talk about her decision to leave her second career at the end of the summer, giving up the Dewey Decimal system for a little more leisure time, stepping slowly away from the bookshelves in the children's section at the Derry Public Library and into the retirement zone.
“It's time to start scaling back,” said Boeske. “I'd still like to work somewhere part time – maybe another library, or a school. But it was time. Once I made the decision, I felt good about it. I will absolutely miss the kids, and their smiling faces, though.”
After earning her degree Boeske spent two year learning the ropes at the Lawrence Public Library. She loved it, but not enough to move to Lawrence, which was the only way she could stay on longer than two years.
“I wasn't moving to Lawrence. Fortunately, I saw a newspaper ad that they were hiring a supervisor of children's service in Derry, and so that's what brought me here,” said Boeske.
In the dozen years she's spent at the Derry library, she's launched several successful programs, including Bingo for Books, Chapter Readers Club and Library Bucks, which kids can earn to “spend” on the overflow of donated books. She is particularly proud of the summer programming which is hugely popular with the school age crowd.
Boeske said the library's only mission is to put books in the hands of the people. To that end, she estimates they have given away thousands of books on her watch in addition to those lent out on library cards – books donated that don't go into the permanent collection, but that need a good home among avid readers.
She has been involved in various state and national library organizations, including Children's Librarians of New Hampshire, a cooperative of librarians who work together to select and promote a cohesive summer reading theme, so that no matter which library a child enters, there is something familiar about the spirit of summer reading.
During her tenure she has seen many wildly successful book series emerge and catch the imaginations of children – from Captain Underpants and Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, to Aragon and, in particular, the Harry Potter series – all engaging books steeped in fantasy that got kids reading ambitious books beyond 100 pages in girth.
“Kids found out that if a story is good enough, you'll read it no matter how many pages. For those kids, now they will pick up a 200 or 300 page book without flinching,” Boeske said.
Another shift since she began has been getting up to speed with the increasing number of kids with autism and other learning or behavioral deficits that can add a layer of challenge to the everyday job of being a children's librarian.
“We had to learn about the range of disabilities some of these kids are experiencing so we could understand why a child might, for example, cover their ears when the other children laugh, or suffer from sensory overload if there's too much going on in a group,” said Boeske. “It's a challenge for us, and I can imagine it's even harder on teachers – and of course, parents.”
She said that while some parents might not feel welcome, or hesitate to bring a child with certain disabilities to library programs, she would encourage everyone to participate.
“These kids can sometimes feel isolated. Bringing them to the library is one way to connect with other kids, and for parents to connect with other parents who might be going through some of the same struggles,” Boeske said.“
She will miss the daily routine, and the fun. But she is also looking forward to more time to spend with her teenaged grandkids, and her parents, who still live in the house where she grew up, on Arlington Pond in Salem.
“It's hard too keep up with the grandkids -- they're 15 and  18, so they're kind of all over the place. But I want to take more trips, and spend more time with my parents. Yes, I'm ready to turn in my key and give back my company credit card,” Boeske said.

JULY 22, 2010
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Maria Picillo is treating her daughter to an early dinner at Depot Steakhouse. Mother and daughter, Mia, are enjoying some quality time in the late afternoon sun, as it shifts shadows across the downtown landscape.
Over dinner, the two consider what might really revitalize the downtown that has, for years, been a backdrop to their life Derry.
“As a college student, I'd say maybe more nightspots. All my friends go to The Halligan for Tuesday Night Trivia. They says it's awesome – but it's really the only place to hang out,” says Mia, who is enjoying her last summer at “home.” She graduates next May from Quinnipiac College with a nursing degree. When asked if she will look for a job at Parkland and rejoin the hometown tribe, she just laughs.
“No way. I'm looking for a job in the big city,” whatever big city that may be – it doesn't matter, she says. At 21, Mia is not unlike many who grow up in Derry, who make the most of their Pinkerton Academy education, fully prepared for whatever – and wherever -- comes next.
She was always involved in sports – four years of varsity basketball and field hockey and two years of varsity track. She was captain of the basketball team and was a decorated scholar athlete. She went on to play for Quinnipiac, a Division 1 school, says her mom, with restrained pride.
When I was a kid, we would go to Dandelion's after all our games, whether it was T-ball or soccer,” she says, a reference to the now defunct ice cream place on the corner of Crystal Avenue and Broadway, that will, in a few more months, be a full-blown municipal parking lot.
It's not that the downtown doesn't need more parking. But looking up and down the stretch of West Broadway just beyond the steakhouse, there are no fewer than nine storefronts for rent. Parking, at least for right now, isn't the biggest issue.
They started the farm market downtown, which is great,” says Maria Picillo. “And there are already plenty of places to eat. It would be nice to have something else, like a specialty clothing store, or a bookstore. Someplace you can sit and relax, read, have a coffee.”
The closest Barnes and Nobles are in Salem and Manchester,” says Mia. “And they're always packed with people.”
Yes, I think as a town we're big enough to support a business like that,” says her mom.
Their waitress sets out a giant platter of calamari and takes their dinner order – Maria orders a Caesar salad, smiling as her daughter goes for the prime rib.
She's a college student; she's milking me,” Maria says, more than happy to reward her daughter for keeping up the good work, post high school.
They ponder what other options could work, for filling up the empty downtown spaces.
When I was in high school I was always involved in sports, but there were other kids who weren't, and they really didn't have much else to do except go hang on the corner. We called it 'smoker's corner.' They need something more, where they can go and hang out and have some fun,” Mia says.
Maria is encouraged by the efforts currently underway to improve Derry. After 24 years in town, she's upbeat about the bike path and the options for dining. The new open-air market is a plus, but it's only once a week.
I actually haven't made it down for the market yet, but I will. I hear it's great,” Maria says.
Mia is her youngest of three children. She misses having her daughter around, but says she and her husband are getting used to their empty nest, which means more time to enjoy some of Derry's hot spots, like the steakhouse.
This place is our favorite. But it doesn't open until 4. Maryanne's closes at 2,” she says. “With all the good restaurants, what they need are other types of stores open in the evening, that will draw people down here, like the farm market is doing.”

JULY 16, 2010
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – This week Derry police and legislators were on hand to watch as Gov. Lynch signed off on a bill that will crack down on counterfeiters, legislation prompted in large part due to years of counterfeit sales at the Grand View Flea Market by out of town vendors.
Chuck Converse, roving vintage toy salesman and flea marketeer, said he was happy to know someone is taking a stand.
In his estimation, it's only a start.
“I have trouble feeling sorry for companies like Timberland knowing that they have moved their manufacturing operations off shore. How is that any better for American workers?” said Converse.
“And so now that the counterfeiters are out of Derry, it's time for other towns to crack down. I saw a row of vendors selling those pocketbooks last week at the Londonderry flea market. I hope someone else noticed, besides me.”
These days Converse mainly sells his collection of old toys at Shirley's Flea Market in Hollis. He said he gave up on the Derry market years ago.
“People weren't coming there looking for the kinds of things I have. They were looking for newer stuff. Even the baseball cards, nobody was looking for the real old cards, just newer ones,” Converse said.
Like a good old-fashioned salesman, the trunk of Converse's car is filled with his wares – mostly jigsaw puzzles, old games and model kits. He spent a lot of years making sure his inventory consisted only of American-made items.
“It got too hard. Like this one,” he says, pulling out a model car kit manufactured by a leading company, AMT. He flips the box and points to the three words that have become too familiar, “Made in China.”
“It's not like the cost of the models have come down now that they're manufactured overseas. In fact, in most cases, they cost the same as they ever did, if not more,” Converse said.
“You know, I would expect to go into Wal-Mart and find that the clothing is made in China or some other country where they don't pay much for labor. But when you go into stores like Macy's, and you look at the labels on $60 shirts and they're made in China or Guatemala or Bangladesh – it's disheartening,” Converse said.
He points out that while the long-sleeved pinstriped shirt he's wearing may seem inappropriate for the 90-degree summer heat, it was a conscious choice.
“This is a Hathaway – they used to make these up in Maine, but now they're made overseas, like everything else,” Converse said.
He wouldn't even mind so much if shirts, shoes – even handbags – were made in countries like Italy or France, known for paying competitive wages and crafting quality workmanship.
“You know the real problem I have with these knock-offs sold at the flea market? The actual Louis Vuittons are now being made in China and India, so really, what's the difference whether you buy a knock off or the real thing? None of it is manufactured here. I understand how it hurts companies, and I don't agree with the counterfeiting. But isn't it time we brought manufacturing back to America?” Converse said.
“Same problem with Converse sneakers, which I share a name with. For years I was loyal to Converse brand because they were made right here. But five years ago they filed for bankruptcy and moved their factories to China,” Converse said.
He packs up a few of his vintage treasures – a plastic Batman bubblegum machine ring with a tiny image of Batman that moves when you tilt the ring;  some Army men; a marble-filled clacking “Boob Tube” toy, still in the box, a kid favorite promoted regularly on the old “Uncle Gus Show.”
Although he will keep peddling his toys at Shirley's on Sundays, Converse hasn't completely ruled out renting a table at Derry's flea market in the future. Thanks to the counterfeit crackdown, there's more room there for guys like Converse, collectors of curiosity and keepers of kitsch, who may still actually be able to cash in on their American-made dreams.

JULY 9, 2010
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Some things transcend the heat. Poetry is one of them. If done right, it takes you some place else, beyond the swelter of Robert Frosts barn, landing you right into someone else's head.
It was standing room only last night the barn-turned-reading room, as about 50 poetry lovers got into the head of Pulitzer Prize winning poet Maxine Kumin, guest reader for the Hyla Brook Reading Series. She shared selections from her latest collections of essays and poetry.
Here in New Hampshire, where she has lived for more than 30 of her 85 years on her Warner farm, Kumin is regarded as poetic royalty, collecting various awards and prizes for her work spanning nearly 50 years. She has written of life, truth, memories, pain, politics, religion, suffering, civil rights and the darker side of human behavior.
Although the physical constraints of time and circumstance eventually silence the poets of this world, Kumin proudly continues the slow churn that remains her life's work.
“I'm still writing. I'm not as prolific as I once was. I write a lot of political poetry,” says Kumin. “Torture poems – that's what I'm working on now, a sonnet sequence.”
She says she was most recently moved to poetry by newspaper accounts of alleged prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay.
“People have torture fatigue. No one seems to care what's going on. I'm only doing it because I have to; I feel compelled,” Kumin says.
In a conversation hours earlier about the workshop at Frost Farm, Kumin wondered whether anyone would show up for a poetry reading in the dead of summer in the midst of a heat wave. If poetry is losing its relevance in this world, don't blame Kumin.
Her earliest exposure to poetry came in childhood, reading “A Child's Garden of Verse,” and A.A. Milne. It has been more than a few generations since committing some Longfellow to memory was part of a holistic education.
“I grew up in an era when kids in school were required to memorize poetry, which I'm grateful for. I have an enormous memory bank full of Houseman and Longfellow and James Russell Lowell: 'What is so rare as a day in June, ' you take that into yourself, you take it in by osmosis, and it's always there for you,” Kumin says. “My grad students present a poem every week by memory. They moan and groan, but I tell them, 'Hey I'm doing you a favor; I'm giving you something to rely on when you're taken political prisoner.”
When asked if she frequents Frost's farm, or is a fan of the late poet, she says she's only been there once or twice before.
“I am old enough that I knew him a little bit, in his last few years of life. It was while I was on staff at Bread Loaf (Writers Conference in Vermont) and he was up the road. He'd come after poetry readings, to socialize,” says Kumin..
And when asked if she recalled any particular encounter, she referenced a poem in her new book, called “The Final Poem,” about a moment in Frosts presence, which resonated. Kumin sifted through her memory bank, and recited the verse:

Bread Loaf, late August, the chemistry
of a New England fall already
inviting the swamp maples to flare.

Magisterial in the white wicker rocker
Robert Frost at rest after giving
a savage reading

holding nothing back, his rage
at dying, not yet, as he barged
his chair forth, then back, don't sit

there mumbling in the shadows, call
yourselves poets? All
but a handful scattered. Fate

rearranged us happy few at his feet.
He rocked us until midnight. I took
away these close-lipped dicta. Look

up from the page. Pause between poems.
Say something about the next one.
Otherwise the audience

will coast, they can't take in
half of what you're giving them.
Reaching for the knob of his cane

he rose, and flung this exit line:
Make every poem your final poem.

 JULY 2, 2010
The 411  on The 603
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – As the sun sets over MacGregor Park, two guys sit on a park bench, strumming the heck out of Jason Mraz's “I'm Yours,” just a warm up for the Bob Marley Medley they have planned for the Derry Library's open mic night.
They have been called many different names during many different band configurations over the past three years, but this day they are a dynamic duo better known as The 603. Brandon “B-Genz” Gendron on guitar and Collin Coviello on ukelele, best friends since middle school, met their musical match in one another when they met at Gilbert Hood Middle School.
This summer, they must step up their musical game. Oh yes, they prevailed at Hoodstock 2010, their alma mater's annual battle of the bands. But Pinkerton Academy is where mediocre musicians go to die. Only the dedicated, hardcore strummers survive, which is why they take advantage of every opportunity to play music in public, audience or no audience.
“Our biggest crowd? Hoodstock – we played for 325 people that day,” said Brandon.
“Yeah, there was even a high school band competing, but we won. Of course we did,” said Collin – not so much with cocky confidence as with the knowledge that they earned what they worked hard for, being the best darn punk acoustic band in town.
Collin understands the challenge ahead – not just settling into Pinkerton as a musical force, but achieving the kind of academics that will support his future goals. If the music fades, he would like to be a computer technician. “That's where the jobs will be,” he says, wise beyond his 14 years.
As for Brandon, right now he's not considering his options.
“I plan on doing this the rest of my life,” an ode to his dad, who passed away earlier this year. “This is what he wanted me to do. This is his guitar, actually. He wasn't great, but he loved music,” said Brandon, who goes back to picking out the melancholy melody of an obscure Flyleaf tune.
A band of twisted silver, his father's ring, glints in the fading sunlight as it dangles from a piece of twine tied to the headstock of his guitar.
He looks up with a smile. “It's all good. I'm OK with that,” he says, acknowledging the grief as part of what has made his life such a journey already at 15.
The troubadours count out the beat and start in on another jam. The open mic starts in about 30 minutes, just enough time to rehearse a few more times with the help of their vocalists du jour, Stefanie Amargo and Stephanie Modrak.
Collin notes that he just picked up the ukelele, adding to his arsenal of acoustic options.
“It's kind of a novelty, but it really adds volume. I like it,” he says, working out the chord progression on “I'm Yours,” and nailing it.
“We play for enjoyment. We love what we're doing,” says Brandon. “We put a lot of time into it, but we have fun doing it.”

JUNE 25, 2010
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Paul and Cathy Morlock haven't always been electric bike enthusiasts. But a few years ago they had the urge to find a way to ride a bike without interference from trick knees or sore hips, which led them to the closest retailer – in New York City.
“It was the only place we could go to test ride,” said Morlock, whose wife admits she was too afraid of the congested city streets to try.
But Morlock braved the traffic and liked what he learned about the versatility of electric bikes – you pedal them if you want, but can “electrify” your ride for ease of pedaling when you hit a steep hill or are just too pooped to pedal.
A year went by before the Morlocks acted on their hunch – that setting up an electric bike shop in southern New Hampshire would put them on the power bike map.
“I was already working from home doing other retail business, and thought what if I open a small retail space where I can do my work and sell electric bikes?” Morlock said. “We promote ourselves as the only electric bike superstore in New England – because we are.”
Right before they settled on their current Manning Street location, Morlock learned that the Derry Rail Trail bike path was within shouting distance from the storefront he was considering – which sealed the deal.
“It was a happy accident,” Morlock said, although he's been too busy selling bikes to think of ways to capitalize on his location.
“Electric bikes are the main form of transportation in China – there are like 20 million bikes in use there. Even Europe is ahead of us, but they're starting to catch on here,” Morlock said.
He grabs a tool and makes some adjustments on a custom bike that's shipping out to Arizona.
“This guy was looking for a full-size electric bike with regenerative braking, that folds,” said Morlock, demonstrating by taking what appeared to be a sturdy bike frame and closing it like a book, with ease.
The guy had found their shop on the Internet – as did a recent customer from Austria, Ludwig Zauner, who decided to make the trip to Derry to pick up his custom bike rather than pay to have it shipped.
“He was a really interesting guy,” said Cathy Morlock. “He picked up his bike and then rode it all around town. He stayed up at the Robert Frost Motor Inn and did some sightseeing here, then he rode to Manchester and did the same there, before heading home with his new bike.”
This month Morlock has also made sales to customers in Alaska, , Miami and Chicago, and in the year since he's been in business, he's shipped bikes to Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Western Europe.
“Unlike here, Europe has bike trails and more community paths, so it's more feasible to use a bicycle for transportation. But we get people up from Boston all the time, too. We're excited about the momentum here, to extend the bike bath up to Concord. Wouldn't that be something?” Morlock said.
Electric bikes range from about $400 into the thousands, depending on the model, type of battery and other perks. Morlock also electrifies traditional bikes using a conversion kit. The electric hub motor can go on either the front or rear wheel and the motor can be switched on as needed.
“Some people think it's cheating to buy an electric bike, but our target customer is really the baby boomer, someone who grew up on bicycles and still wants to ride, but sometimes needs a break,” Morlock said. “We have customers who have a 25-mile commute to work, and so the electric is a great alternative. You don't have to work as hard, so you don't have to work up a sweat and have to take a shower once you get there.”
JUNE 18, 2010
Church-going, tree-hugging, 
tender-hearted firecracker.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – If there is never an Ellie Sarcione Appreciation Society in this town, it could be that she was simply misunderstood.
Sure, she's a church-going, tree-hugger extreme, and will forever be remembered as the “deer head lady,” for the time a few years back that she delivered a severed deer head to the doorstep of a state Fish and Game official to prove a point about illegal poaching on conservation land.
But beneath her radical, firecracker exterior beats the tender heart of an independent, if not slightly eccentric, thinker.
Earlier this week she appealed to the town council during public comment on a proposed fireworks ordinance, asking if she might be granted a permit to continue using firecrackers to keep hawks from decimating her flock of racing pigeons.
“It's the only way to keep 'the girls' safe,” said Sarcione yesterday, showing off her coop of dapple gray homing pigeons, which she's been nurturing for years.
She had 25 at last count, although she figures there could be another 30 or 40 living in exile at neighboring J&F Farms.
“Sometimes, right before they go into the coop at night, they start to swirl around and around in the sky – it's beautiful,” said Sarcione, who has always had a weakness for animals.
Aside from her great dane, Simba, there are currently two geese families who stop by daily for meals on the shore of her backyard pond, sharing space with the ducks and beaver. She also keeps two feral cats well-fed enough not to give in to the temptation of all the edible woodland creatures that frequent Sarcione's mini wildlife preserve.
Her bird collection started in the 1970s with a pair of white doves, which were stolen, cage and all, from a tree in her yard. One day not long after, while traveling the back road to Londonderry, she noticed a large flock of pigeons. So she pulled over just to see where they were going. Several trips and several bird watching expeditions later, Sarcione tracked the pigeons to the yard of big time pigeon racer Bob Gorton, who taught her everything she needed to know to raise a flock of her own.
“It's just fun watching them. It's relaxing,” said Sarcione, who has had more than her fair share of reasons to stress.
She sits down in the grass and scans the clouds for pigeons, her expression softening when she glimpses four or five darting across the open space above her yard.
“My husband Bill was killed in a motorcycle accident. It will be 21 years in September,” said Sarcione. “After he died, I had to close our business. I took four jobs just to survive. My mother died four days after Bill, she fell and hit her head and had a subdural hematoma. I wanted to go down to Florida to be with her, but I had to bury my husband.”
She pulls her legs closer to her chest and watches a few more pigeons return to the roost.
“My dad was killed by a tractor trailer on my 16th birthday. To this day, I haven't opened the birthday card he had for me. I still have it. I don't need to open it. I was turning Sweet 16 – I know what he was telling me. We always had a special bond,” said Sarcione.
“That's why I'm such a tomboy at heart – I asked him once if he'd wished he'd had another son instead of a daughter. We golfed and played tennis, spent time fixing things and doing things – he just wanted me to always be able to take care of myself, to reach down inside myself and find what I needed to pull myself back up, because no one else will do it for you,” said Sarcione.
Both she and her brother were adopted, a fact of her life she always knew. But the details never followed. She has tried to find out more about her birth parents, but 70 years ago records were not kept the way they are today.
“I've had a blood test, and so I know I have some Native blood. I also have a rare blood type – AB Rh D negative,” which is why, she explains, she was never able to have children.
“Sometimes I ask God why am I still here, when everyone I have loved is gone – and I never got to say goodbye to any of them. I figure maybe it's to tell people you don't ever get over it, but you learn how to live with it,” Sarcione said.
“After my husband died, I never remarried. You have one love in your life and he was it. I guess I've transferred all that love to great danes and birds,” said Sarcione, tossing some cracked corn on the grass as she calls out “babygoosebabygoose.”
Seconds later, two goose families waddle ashore.
She takes Simba for daily five-mile walks through the woods – she figures it must be her Native American blood that binds her so closely to nature, that makes her such a warrior for conservation and preservation of the land.
“This morning I was outside early, and someone threw something out the car window as they passed by my house, so I hollered at him. He turned around, came back and explained he was just delivering newspapers,” said Sarcione, pausing to smile.
“He went on to tell me he was later than usual because his daughter was graduating, and I apologized for yelling at him. I thanked him for coming back to explain – it was so nice, really. People don't take the time to do that kind of thing anymore,” Sarcione said.
“You know, I've been called eccentric – hell, I've been called a lot of things. I just say that if I am, I've worked hard at it all my life.”
JUNE 11, 2010
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Drummer Dan McMahon and guitarist Dave Ziebart are those kids who are so into music, it's not enough to have an iPod full of tunes. They are the kids driven to pick up instruments and learn to play them well enough to form their own band, because the need to make music is greater than the urge to listen.
Six months ago, after separate attempts at musical chemistry, the former middle school friends reunited at the Sad Cafe, a local music venue in Plaistow. They decided to join forces and recruit a few friends, resulting in Cadence, a five-member punk-pop band currently poised for greatness.
Sunday they will be one of nine finalists competing in High School Band Brawl at Gillette Stadium, playing a 15-minute set of original music.
“Even if we don't win, the exposure will be great,” said Megan McMahon, who sings lead vocals thanks to her brother's faith in her voice.
“I knew she could sing, and we were knew there were a lot of guy bands out there. We thought this could be something cool,” said Dan.
Friends Alex Carrozzi on guitar and Tim Parrott on bass round out the band.
It's been an eventful six months. The five have become fast friends who spend all their down time together. When they're not jamming or writing new music, they're watching their favorite bands performing on DVD or YouTube, hoping that the subtleties of success somehow rub off.
After experimenting with different musical styles and covering some of their favorite bands, Cadence has declared itself a pop-punk band – characterized by driving guitars and more distortion than alternative bands.
Making it is equally important to each of the band members, which is why they dedicate every waking hour to their music. They are in the process of recording a four-song EP featuring original tunes, including “Caught Me Falling,” a tune which they feel really represents the band.
“We wrote it together – and we had a huge fight over the lyrics,” said Megan. “That's kind of when we decided that Dave and I should do most of the song writing. It's too hard for five people to collaborate.”
If they win Sunday, they get $2,500 donated to the school music program of their choice – it's going to Pinkerton Academy, even though a couple of the band members attended Nashua schools. They also get to open a show for Boston-based alt rockers Keep Me Conscious, and a fully produced show at a Manchester venue.
“Getting signed is our fantasy. That's the life we want, the life we've decided to go for,” said Dan.
“Yeah, it would be our dream to go on, like, a year-long tour, just traveling and playing our music,” said Megan.
“And it's not even about the money. It's about the fun and the crowds, and getting our music out there, and people actually coming to hear our music. Even now, we're getting a good response from crowds when we play, and that's for our original stuff, not covers,” said Dave.
Find Cadence online at

JUNE 4, 2010
Tina Cook
 Taking the Bike Path Less Travelled
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Tina Cook represents the future of Derry – she moved here specifically because of the downtown, and because the town ranked in the 94th percentile on, a website that rates walkability based on the number of essential places you can get to on foot. She shops and banks and eats out locally, not just because she believes in supporting local business, but because she is car-less, by design.
Cook commutes to her job at a Windham travel agency using the Derry Rail Trail, a 10-mile trip that takes her 40 minutes on a good day. It's a routine that began in February, after the used car they were pouring money into became a mechanical burden.
After a week of walking, Cook had enough to invest in a bike.
I had no idea walking 100 miles in a week could be bad for you, but my ankles were killing me,” said Cook, who will turn 30 on July 7 – the same day Derry launches its farm market. “And that week we walked, just happened to be the week of the 100-year torrential downpours. Not great.”
Once the farm market is up and running, Cook will feel like life in Derry is close to perfect for the lifestyle she chooses to lead.
We have been hoping that the farmer's market would happen.. We're starving for it,” said Cook. “We see the possibility for it, but we also see Derry struggling to reach its goals for the downtown.”
Moving to Derry from Maine was a culture shock for Cook.
Every town in Maine has a downtown, it's a mecca, a place where people meet and live, a place for networking and community. Derry is the closest thing we could find to that, outside of Manchester. You won't find another one for 60 miles east or west. Derry is an opportunity for the heartbeat of this area,” Cook said.
Although she enjoys her commute, and has enjoyed the chance to watch the seasons unfold along the scenic Rail Trail, transportation is still an issue. She rides, rain or shine, and is saving up for some rain gear soon. Winter will be a problem, but she's hopeful the trail may still be rideable. She'd love to see the bus lines between Nashua and Manchester network with Derry. Although having regional CART transport is a good idea on paper, it's useless for someone like her, who works.
It runs between 8 and 4:30 Monday through Friday – the hours I work. I thought great, I can at least take CART in the morning and ride my bike home, but they don't allow bikes. It's just a granny mobile; it's the only public transportation we have,” Cook said.
She tried signing up for Rideshare when she was between transportation modes, but not one person answered her ad. The Rail Trail allowed her to take responsibility for getting to work without forcing her to buy another car.
As for the immediate future, Cook is looking forward to progress – a year-round farm market, more variety of stores in the downtown, a northern extension of the bike trail. Her husband is currently between jobs, and financially they are struggling on one income. Long-term, she and her husband are not planning a family, so finding a place to put the car seat won't be a problem.
“We've been together since we were 19, and we feel that given the way the world is, and the financial unpredictability of our own lives – this crazy world we live in – that bringing children into the picture isn't for us. Who knows – if we had money, we might adopt some day,” Cook said.
She would encourage others to engage in Derry's downtown revitalization efforts because, from Cooks point of view, living a simpler life by engaging in the community where you live is truly freedom.
“Sometimes I feel like the bike trail is my own personal highway; then the weekenders join me, and people with packs of dogs. It's good that others are using the trail, but I still like thinking of it as my own,” Cook said.

 MAY 28, 20010
Tracy Love
 Devoted to Derry 
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Tracy Love grew up with Derry envy.
“I'm from Salem, and my husband is from Methuen, Mass. We moved here when our daughter was just a baby. This is where we wanted to be when she started school,” said Love.
That was 10 years ago, and despite the high tax rate, the political wrangling and the constant growing pains, it's quite possible that Love is Derry's No.1 fan.
“There isn't one thing I would change. It's everything I'd hoped it would be. The schools and the teachers are outstanding. It has everything I need, right at my fingertips,” said Love, rattling off a list of local businesses in town she patronizes regularly – The Ink Spot, Benson's Hardware, Sabatino's, The Coffee Factory, Moo's, Rigatony's, USA Subs.
“We know everybody by their first names, even at Hannaford, Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid. We take our cars to Cal's Corner, the automotive place across from Clam Haven. It's important to support local businesses. Derry does a tremendous amount of things right. There are too many people who don't appreciate or utilize the businesses and services Derry has to offer. For me, this is what community is all about,” said Love.
By the time she arrived in Derry, her life had already taken a huge, unexpected turn. Childbirth triggered a series of ailments that led to a diagnosis of Common Variable Immune Deficiency – a rare genetic disease in which the immune system is irreparably wiped out.
Although she had planned to be a stay-home mom anyway, her illness would have made it impossible to hold a steady job, with all the hospitalizations, surgeries and physical challenges from complications that have developed.
It helps that Love's natural disposition is one of positivity and action – her illness propels her to make the most of her life and give back what she can.
She is an active member of the Downtown Committee, joining after receiving an unsolicited letter of invitation. She has also volunteered in the school district for years, as needed. She cooks and bakes for her working neighbors to make their lives a little easier, is active at her church, St. Mark's in Londonderry, and approaches problems with an eye for solutions.
“I'm not a complainer. If I see something I don't like, I find out more about it and then I look for solutions. I tried to start a neighborhood watch after our neighborhood experienced some vandalism. Some of the neighbors thought street lights would make things better, but all I could see were dollar signs. I think the most important thing we can do as neighbors is look out for one another, watch what's happening outside our doors and get involved, if necessary,” Love said.
“I think people are just afraid to go outside their comfort zones, but it's important when you are part of a community,” Love said.
Dropping out of the workplace after so many years was difficult, but Love is finding other ways to apply her knack for business and finance.
“I never worked the kinds of jobs teenagers work, like at fast food joints. My first job was at a bank at 15. I have two bachelor's degrees – one in accounting and one in business management – with a minor in psychology,” said Love, which may explain her keen interest in the future of Derry.
If anyone asked, she would offer some simple advice as the town maps out its immediate and long-range plans.
“Actually, I've been thinking about this a lot. Sometimes we go to these town meetings, and share ideas. It's great to brainstorm, but sometimes we get lost in that,” said Love. “I just don't want Derry to lose its identity, and be something it's not. It needs to remain quaint and charming, yet grow to the potential it has.”
May 21, 2010
Carol Urban: Granny turned Nanny
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Carol Urban raised three kids of her own. She and her husband worked split shifts and shared all aspects of parenthood, back in the day. So excuse her if it's taken some time to get back into the swing of motherhood, once removed.
“You forget a lot of it. Some days I can't believe I used to do this – it's hard,” said Urban, hoisting bags of groceries into her trunk while her 17-month-old granddaughter, Lilly, watches intently from under the brim of her hot pink hat.
“I lost my job in 2009 – actually, I broke my wrist and was out for two months. When I was ready to go back, they said they couldn't afford to take me back,” said Urban. That ended her career as a legal assistant in a Boston law office, an unfortunate turn of events that couldn't have happened at a more opportune time.
“My daughter was getting ready to go back to work, and she and her husband were looking into daycare, but it's so expensive. I said, 'I can watch her.' I was available, and she's a sweet, sweet kid. She's bright, and now that she's walking, she will help me around the house,” said Urban.
Of course, now that Lilly's walking, she is also harder to keep up with.
“I had to baby-proof my house, but other than that, it's not too bad. We go to the playground a lot, so she can play with other kids her age, and that's fun until I start pushing her in the swing – my knees start to ache and I wonder, sometimes, how I'm going to get through the rest of the day,” said Urban.
When she lost her job last year it really threw her, said Urban, who is divorced now.
“I'm 59 years old. I didn't have even the slightest hint that this was coming. I never in my life lost a job before,” said Urban. “I have been looking, but the only jobs are entry level. That's fine for are all these young kids just out of college, but I was making $56,000 when I lost my job. Why would someone hire me if they can get someone just out of school for half that.”
She's on her second unemployment extension. While she isn't sure how much longer her benefits last, she is pretty sure she has a total of 99 weeks-worth of unemployment before she has to worry.
“Honestly, I would love to be able to watch Lilly until she's ready for school. I'd do this for the rest of my life. When I hold her she puts her head down on my shoulder and pats my back. She's so lovable,” Urban said. “We go everywhere together. It might take me a little longer to get things done, but I wouldn't trade this job for the world.”

May 14, 2010
Elena Peterson 
Mompreneur on the Move
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Elena Peterson is no high pressure sales lady. In fact, at this moment, she is more into playground management, as her 8 year old tries to negotiate a more lucrative patch of play dirt, nearer to her 11-year-old sister.
“Only if I can still see you,” says Peterson, who's spent more than a decade maneuvering in the deep end of playground platitudes.
However, when it comes to marketing her handmade jewelry, Peterson is still getting her feet wet. Even thinking of what she does as a business is new thinking for her. What started as a fun hobby about a year ago, to fill the hours that her kids were in school, has taken a serious slice out of her homemaking schedule.
“It's been about a year since I started expanding to include different items. I was doing the craft fair circuit for a while, but that's hit or miss,” said Peterson. “I did the Pinkerton craft fair and the Derry Village School craft fair – it can be frustrating. I spent more time looking at everyone else's stuff.”
In February she turned a marketing corner when she found, an online economic experiment that connects crafters with buyers, basically turning anyone into an entrepreneur.
Peterson is pumped.
I've only had 13 sales so far, but it's going well, considering how slow the economy is,” Peterson said.
Her business is called Elena's Jewelry Beans – “bean” for bracelets, earrings, anklets and necklaces. She has expanded to include rosaries, rear-view mirror ornaments and just about anything else that could be constructed from beads.
Yesterday she was sitting on a lawn chair next to the swings at Don Ball Park with a friend, her lap loaded with plastic baggies of her colorful jewelry. She got them out to show her friend -- an easier alternative to playground peddling to perfect strangers.
Then a mom of hungry kids descended, and she turned her attention to a cooler packed with snacks, and the remnants of some gourmet muffins, courtesy of her husband, the muffin man.
“He works at Gingerbread Construction Company in Wakefield, Mass. I used to work there, too. But I've been a stay-home mom now for years,” said Peterson. “I have no desire to go back.”
Her philosophy is that jewelry is essential and, like life, should be beautiful, sparkly and affordable.
“It's so much fun to match your jewelry to your outfits. Some jewelry out there is so expensive you can only afford one or two good pieces. That's why I like making my own,” she says, adjusting her black-beaded anklet which happens to match nicely with her dangly black-beaded earrings, both complementing her black sun dress and dark sunglasses.
Peterson with daughters Alexandra, left, and Gabrielle.

She isn't sure how far past the hobby stage her jewelry will take her. If she becomes a mogul mom, it will be worth all the hours of stringing and crimping. If not, she will probably continue to sell what she can online, or through her social network of friends.
“I don't think people realize how much work goes into a handcrafted piece of jewelry. Yes, it's a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun,” said Peterson. “If this takes off, and that's where the road takes me, that's where I'll go. If not, I'll keep on making them. I do get a little giddy ordering beads – I'm like a woman in a shoe store; I want them all.”
On the Web:

May 7, 2010
Dog lovers Linda Michaud and Debbie Pidatella
Pidatella, Bailey, Michaud and Scooby at Derry Dog Park

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Scooby and Bailey are so devoted to one another, and so in tune with their masters, that leashes are optional. Once they step outside of the confines of the Derry Dog Park, Linda Michaud and Debbie Pidatella release them from their tethers without any concern for what happens next.
“They are bonded,” said Michaud, formerly of Derry and now of Salem. “They're best friends, like brothers.”
Friendship is something Michaud knows a bit about – she and Pidatella are kind of inseparable, too.
“We met when I worked at Shannon Trails horse farm in Salem. Debbie had a horse there, and I used to take care of the horses,” said Michaud.
The two women found out they both lived in Derry and were both dog lovers. “We don't know too many people who love their dogs to the extent that we do,” said Michaud.
Before long, they were meeting up for doggie play dates, which has extended to include annual photos with Santa at the Barking Dog boarding and doggie daycare center, ice cream excursions for frozen pet treats and outdoor dining wherever dogs are allowed, like Windham Junction.
“The owner there has a black lab, so it's fun to take the dogs there for lunch.. They can all hang out,” said Pidatella.
Socializing their pets is an important part of responsible ownership, said Michaud, who works as a vet tech at Animal Outpatient Clinic of Methuen.
“It's awful when you read stories, like the one recently about the family that bought a pitbull from someone on Craigslist and it ended up mauling their kids,” Michaud said. “You have to do your homework when you're getting a pet, especially when adopting.”
Beyond companionship and camaraderie, both Michaud and Pidatella believe animals have an indisputable healing quality.
“It's proven that a dog can when its owner is going to have a seizure long before it happens,” said Michaud. “I know of a woman who said her dog kept sniffing at a certain part of her body, and she came to find out she had cancer there. Bailey is like that, too -- when I came home from outpatient surgery recently, he didn't leave my side for days.”
“And if I sneeze, Bailey wants to get on my lap. I think he's afraid I might be getting sick,” Pitadella said.
When Pitadella had a stroke 14 years ago and was hospitalized for six weeks, her now deceased Australian shepherd, Gracie, was so distraught she chewed off all her fur. “She was so upset that I was gone, and when I came home, it was like she knew what had happened,” Pidatella said.
She now rides horses every Wednesday at Windrush Farm in Boxford, Mass., as part of her continued physical therapy, and takes Bailey with her, to interact with the kids who also come for therapy rides.
“She's great with the kids – really, with everyone. She's so good with people, I started taking her to Haven Healthcare nursing home, on Route 102, just to spend time with the residents,” Pitadella said.
“Pets have such amazing healing powers. They can really comfort you when you're sick,” said Michaud. “I just can't see my life without animals, when you see how much joy they bring to others. That's why I love working with animals. It's so rewarding.”

April 30, 2010
Rhythm of NH: Derry's award-winning a cappella show chorus
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Making beautiful music together is what barbershop harmonizing is all about. So every Thursday, the ladies gather at the Marion Gerrish Center and prep their voices for something beyond beautiful.
“We wanted a group that was doing a little more show music and performing, rather than old-style barbershop harmonies,” said Jessie Oslan of Pelham, who planted the seeds of Rhythm Of New Hampshire back in 2005. Since then, the group has grown to 25 – and there's plenty of room on the risers for more. They are always recruiting – because when it comes to performing as a show chorus, pumping of the volume is what it's all about.
Most of the women found their way from other choruses, all of them seeking something with a bit more edge. They incorporate blues, jazz, Broadway, contemporary and pop music into tight, four-part harmonies. Performances include costumes, dance moves and an overriding sense of the joy that singing has brought to each of their lives.
“For me, it was a way to fill an empty nest,” said Nancy Fletcher, of Derry, who sings bass. “I always wanted to sing in a group, something I hadn't done since college. You know, when you have kids they never think you're good at anything. The joy for me is in the harmony, and listening to the music and watching the joy on everyone's faces.”
For Leighann Maher, it was the opposite.
“I had just had a baby, and I drove by and saw the sign for their Summer Singsation. The sign said, 'Do you like to sing?' I came back that Thursday night, carrying my baby with me,” said Maher.
Oslan said they are a diverse collection of women – housewives, mothers, professionals, teachers, administrators.
“But the one thing we all have in common is the love of music. It bonds us,” Oslan said.
They enjoy competing with other show choruses – they recently placed third in a Region One Sweet Adelines International Competition, held at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Mass. They are now preparing for the big song-and-dance – the 2011 National Festival of the States concert in Washington, D.C.
Stepping up their game is part of the process – each member pays $25 in monthly dues, which goes toward bringing in internationally-acclaimed vocal coaches and foots the bill for costumes which enhance their performances. They put emphasis on the learning process – breathing, posture and technique are essential parts of weekly singing sessions.
Of the two dozen women assembled last night for a regular Thursday night rehearsal, all but three raise their hand when asked “How many of you used to be shy?”
“Most of us walk in the door as introverted, but we don't stay that way. Singing opens you up and brings you out of yourself. I can be anybody when we perform,” said Oslan. “I don't have to be Jessie with my set of insecurities.”
Depending on the song set theme, they have been pirates, gangster molls, fairy tale characters – whatever as a group they agree will enhance their overall presentation.
Bells, whistles and occasional boas help, but they know that it's the music – more precisely the flawless harmonies – that elevate them all – musically, emotionally and spiritually.
To the uninitiated, there is actually a well-documented phenomenon associated with barbershop singing, known as “the ringing chord,” which has something to do with the physics of sound and the psychophysics of elevated harmonies on the human brain. It's not as complicated as it sounds.
“When you sing in four-part harmony, you sail – I can't explain it any other way,” said one of the women, while taking turns talking about why they wouldn't rather be watching TV, gardening, or working out at the gym.
“This is a different kind of work out – a respiratory workout,” says one of the women.
“When you're singing, you're just thinking about singing – and the joy it brings. You leave your troubles at the door, and sometimes you don't take them with you when you leave,” said another. “It's harmony – not just in music, but in our lives. It gives you a sense of accomplishment.”
When they aren't competing, the women perform locally – they have sung at New Hampshire Fisher Cats baseball games, and have a gig on May 6 at the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, entertaining shoppers during Mom's Night Out. They are also available to deliver Harmonygrams to any public or private venue, which includes a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday,” in four-part harmony.
For more information, go to, or contact Renee Fellows at 434-9433.

April 23, 2010
Emily Harris: DEEAC logo design winner
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Emily Harris is no expert, but she knows a thing or two about the environment. In particular, that she has loved growing up in a beautiful town, known for its abundance of natural beauty and resources – a lake, walking trails, schools with plenty of green space, a community garden.
She hopes that through her own efforts and those of her peers, her town will remain a great place to live and raise a family.
“Kids are such a big part oof keeping the environment clean and healthy. I'd like to do my part to keep Derry clean and maybe, when I have kids, they will grow up in an even cleaner environment,” said Emily.
Winning the Derry Energy & Environmental Advisory Committee logo contest was unexpected, said Emily, 14, an 8th grader at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School. She approached her design with a little strategy – trying to incorporate as many elements as possible while keeping it simple.
Her logo was one of 14 submissions, created by students in Kim Tufts Computer Studies class.
Their instructions were to reflect the mission of the energy committee, which is to promote conservation, energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions among the town's residents, businesses and in municipal offices.
When she's not creating computer art, Emily is a multi-sport athlete and ballet dancer described by Tufts as “an over achiever and excellent student.” She was recognized by the state PTA as Student Volunteer of the Year in 2008 while a sixth-grader at Barka Elementary. She says her future goals may include a career in medicine.
As she gets older, she thinks more about the kinds of issues that will affect the world she has inherited. Community service is important to her, and she will continue to volunteer. Now that she's got an “in” with the energy committee, Emily said she would be happy to get involved.
“I'm not sure if I'm allowed to be on the committee, but I'd be happy to help, no matter what they need,” she said.
For her efforts, Emily received a $50 gift certificate to T-Bones and a custom designed T-shirt – featuring her logo.
“Keeping Derry clean and conserving energy is something everyone can do. I always want to make sure that everyone experiences Derry the way I have. It's a beautiful place.” Emily said. “For that to go away would be sad.”
April 16, 2010
Det. Kennedy Richard: 
"Champion of Children" and funny guy
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – After six years as a Derry police officer, Det. Kennedy Richard accepted a position as a juvenile detective, thinking it would get him off the beat and be his foot in the door, to “real” detective work.
“That was 11 years ago, and I'm still hooked,” said Richard, who was recently recognized by Rockingham County Child Advocacy Center as one of 12 “Champions of Children,” honored for making a difference in the lives of the state's most vulnerable children, those who are victims of sexual and physical abuse.
Richard said while the award was not necessary, it's appreciated.
“I just found I have an easy time dealing with kids, especially the younger kids. These are kids who've been victimized and are in a pretty tough place, but I just have a way of helping them feel at ease. I can get them joking and laughing – my wife says it's because I'm childish,” said Richard, with the timing of a seasoned comedian.
Turns out, comedy is one of his other skills – he recently got back to doing stand-up comedy in local clubs, after taking a 16-year break to raise his kids, now 16 and 17. Parenthood made the late-night Boston comedy circuit a tough sell to his wife. So he switched gears, refocusing his ability to work a crowd of grown-ups in a crowded bar onto guiding teams of small children in uniform.
“I coached my son's football and basketball teams, and my daughter's softball team. Comedy and coaching are my big thing, when I'm not working. It's my way of blowing off steam,” Richard said, who explains that existing in two very different worlds helps him find the balance he needs to do the kind of police work he does, which can be emotionally draining.
“If I'm not dealing with sexual assault, I'm dealing with kids who are getting in trouble. It can be tough. So the coaching is something I do because you need to be reminded there are great kids out there – and you meet some really great kids when you're a coach,” Richard said. “The comedy? It's just a lot of fun to get up and make a fool of yourself.”
While his good humor can help him get through to a kid who's been traumatized, there are times when he must rely on his other people skills to reach those kids who've lost their way – especially when it comes to teenagers.
“Sometimes you can't be the funny, nice guy. You have to be firm. You have to let them know what's going on in their lives is serious business,” said Richard.
The toughest cases can sometimes be the most rewarding, said Richard, who talks about a 15-year-old girl who had been getting in trouble off and on for a few years.
“She had issues, but she would always be honest with me. I think it's because I tell it like it is, and she respects that. So she began to trust me, and she knew that whether she was having some trouble at home, or if she had some information for me on things going on out there, she could call me,” Richard said.
That girl is 17 now, and getting her GED. Richard said he isn't sure if it qualifies as “saving a life,” but he knows that he's had a hand in helping some kids find their way, and that feels good.
This is where having community support comes in, said Richard. Resources like the Child Advocacy Center's Diversion Program, and counseling available through The Upper Room make his job that much easier.
“There was another kid, I remember he smashed so many windows in town – and he was young, only about 14. I believe he was being influenced by another, older kid. So we sent him to a diversion program and that did it. Years later he called me and said he wanted to meet with me. He ended up doing a research paper about me, because he felt I'd changed his path in life,” said Richard.
“Keep in mind, not all kids feel that way. I have two kids who really despise me – but they're at home, and they're mine. What can I say? For Father's Day they bought my neighbor something,” said Richard.
April 9, 2010
Linda Reinelt: 
Nancy Apostol Friend of Education Award Recipient

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Linda Reinelt owes her community spirit to her parents, who made sure she was an involuntary volunteer from an early age.
“My mother would always volunteer us for activities without asking first,” said Reinelt, smiling at the thought of her humble beginnings as a volunteer. Turns out she loved every minute of it, even if she never actually raised her hand. She grew up feeling like pitching in was just a natural part of life.
That explains, in part, why Reinelt was an obvious choice for receiving this year's Nancy Apostol Friend of Education Award, a prestigious honor bestowed annually to one district-wide employee who exemplifies the generous spirit of Apostol, a former Grinnell Elementary School teacher who died of cancer.
The rest is explained by her way with kids, said Tom Poliseno, Principal at East Derry Memorial Elementary School where Reinelt has served as a teacher's aid for about five years.
Wednesday night she received her award from the district's PTA, a “teacher's apple” made of glass.
“The criteria is that you're looking for someone who captures the spirit of Nancy Apostol, who was a caring and giving teacher. Linda goes the extra mile in everything she does – she works here full time, she works a part-time late shift at Shaw's, she is always in the middle of anything we're doing here for the students, like our Fall Festival or organizing our Relay for Life team, and she volunteers an incredible amount of time in the community,” said Poliseno.
And, she's on her way to becoming a certified teacher, although she's taking the scenic route. Reinelt attends Plymouth State College at a rate of two classes a year. She should be ready to start student teaching by the fall of 2011.
Teaching was not always on her radar. It was a career path that just sort of evolved – she had a degree in accounting and worked in retail management for years. When she was ready to have her second child, she switched gears, starting an in-home daycare after a pregnant friend jokingly urged her to stay home after the baby to watch both their kids. After a few years in solitary confinement with several toddlers, Reinelt took a job at Ages and Stages in Hampstead, her main motivation was the chance to have an adult conversation that didn't involved the words “Dora” or “Explorer.”
Five years later, she started wondering what it would be like to teach in public school, so she became a paraprofessional at East Derry, working with special education students. It suited her perfectly.
“I had a lot of support from the staff here, and discovered it's really my thing,” said Reinelt. “My husband works out at the gym six days a week; my niche is education and volunteering.”
When she left the private preschool she took a voluntary pay cut, so she started supplementing her income with a part-time job at Shaws. That was supposed to be a two-year plan, but she's still working there about 15 hours a week.
“I put a lot of time into the things I do, and I get tired sometimes, but it makes me happy to give back to the community, and help some kids along the way,” Reinelt said.
Her generous nature is compounded by her team spirit, said Poliseno, who appreciates Reinelt's initiative, good humor and sense of camaraderie, which has had positive repercussions within the school community.
“She started 'Italian sub Mondays,' where she'll make a bunch of subs and sell them as a fundraiser for our Relay for Life team. Not only is it nice to look forward to Italian subs on Monday, but she really has raised the morale of the faculty, just by doing something like that,” Poliseno said.
Reinelt shrugs it off, literally – her loss for words an outward sign of her humility. Yes, she knows she's making a difference but, really, it's something she loves and, when you press her, she will admit she she does it for selfish reasons: It make her feel good inside.
“Like the other day, I was walking a student to a class, and he took my hand. It melted my heart,” said Reinelt. “If you ask me what is my favorite part of being a teacher, I'd say it's no one particular moment; it's the everyday things, something a child says, or the day they finally pass their math facts, and you're the first person they tell. It's an 'aha moment' in a student's life when you see they are passionate about learning, and you are there to see it, and encourage it.”

April 2, 2010
Charlie Samataro: 

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Charlie Samataro was chipping away yesterday at Hoodkroft Country Club, undaunted by the lake that shimmered in the morning light out where the neatly manicured greens once were.
“It's supposed to be opening day, but they're going to have to wait till the water recedes, hopefully by Saturday,” said Samataro, who has been a member of the golf course for 15 years.
He had already spent about 45 minutes on the putting green.
“I'm working on my short game today. That's where all the strokes are,” said Samataro. “This is where you can get better. I don't care what your disability, you can always improve.”
Samataro is a member of the club's senior league and plays most every Monday through Friday.
“We let the working guys come on the weekends,” he said, hitting a nice shot right to the flag post. His dog, Santo, watching his every stroke.
“He's my caddy,” said Samataro, lining up another shot with Santo's bark of approval.
At 74, Samataro has only been golfing seriously since retiring 15 years ago. By seriously, he admits that he's a competitive player who comes as much for the exercise and social outlet as he does for the win.
As a kid, he caddied at Merrimack Valley Country Club in Methuen, Mass. Distracted by basketball, football and baseball during his years at Salem High School, he never really tried the game for himself until entering the Marines. After that, he got married and raised a family.
Playing golf requires a certain luxury of time, something he's earned by virtue of his years. So, despite his bum knees and various arthritic limbs, Samataro plays every chance he gets, and he's getting better with every swing – that, according to Santo.
“My handicap is decent. Let's leave it at that. I'm somewhere in the middle of the pack, but my goal is to improve my game this year,” Samataro said.
He admits that among golfers, the topic of Tiger Woods hasn't played itself out yet.
“We feel what he did was a personal thing between him and his wife, but I lost respect for him. He had this clean boy image, and that's been lost,” Samataro said. “Everyone wants to see how he reacts to pressure.We'll see next week.”
Samataro said when Tiger returns to the game during next week's Masters tournament in Augusta, he will have a lot to prove.
“If he can prove to his wife and to the sponsors that he's still the greatest, he will regain some part of his image. Sometimes we expect too much of a mere human. The American people are forgiving, but he has to do his part,” Samataro said. “It's like the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky thing. Clinton's apparently been pretty clean since then, at least we're not hearing much, and he's certainly doing good work in Haiti. Maybe, if Tiger gets back to Buddhism, it will help him.”
Samataro said nobody in his circle of friends is defending Woods or his behavior.
“What he did was despicable. Was it unforgivable? That's between him and his wife. The rest of us just need to see that he's trying to change, and can continue to play the game like a champion,” Samataro said.
March 26, 2010
Eugene Handel: 

Union Leader Correspondent

DERRY – Eugene Handel spent his Wonder Years considering
the greater implications of science as it applied to his boyhood passion for frogs and snakes and critters in general. His eighth-grade biology teacher sealed the deal, inspiring him to dig in to the science of animals, setting the course for the rest of his life.
He became a veterinarian in 1981, bringing his practice to Derry in 1989.
“I did mostly home calls in the beginning. It was a way to meet people and their pets in a community setting. Eventually, I decided to settle into a location, and I've been here ever since,” said Handel, whose office, Handel With Care Veterinary Hospital, is tucked along Crystal Avenue, next to the Derry Diner.
Although he does occasional house calls when warranted, he has his hands full with office visits and helping out in the community with events like tomorrow's town rabies clinic, at Alexander-Carr Park Lodge.
Such clinics provide relatively painless ways for people who may otherwise find it hard to schedule appointments for office visits for their pets. Rabies is a virus of the nervous system that exists in wildlife all the time; it's not a seasonal menace, like ticks or fleas. Not only is it deadly for a pet, it can be transferred to humans, and pets are required by law to be protected.
Handel said that while treating the animal kingdom is his specialty, having a passion for people is part of the job.
“It's a significant part of what we do. While the purpose of a vet is to improve the quality of life for your pet, much of that requires you to have a good rapport with pet owners. Catching problems early through regular visits really saves people a lot of money and heartache in the long term,” said Handel.
Case in point: Charlotte Spofford of Londonderry has just arrived with her 1-year-old boxer, Maggie. Handel knows Maggie's had some adjustment issues throughout her puppy phase. Spofford has come for Maggie's routine check up, which evolves into a therapy session for Spofford, who is unraveling.
Her dog has become demanding. She chews on rocks and makes mischief when left alone. She nips and scratches Spofford if she won't devote herself to the beautiful caramel-colored dog around the clock. She has started to act aggressive toward the family's other dog, and Spofford at times.
Handel listens carefully as Spofford explains that one of her three dog's, who was the alpha, recently died, leaving Maggie at loose ends. To compensate, the young dog is trying to assert herself as the new pack leader. Handel suggest it's time for Spofford to take charge and reestablish pecking order for Maggie's sake.
“It's my duty as a vet. If I don't help Maggie, her owner will give up and Maggie will end up in a shelter, and someone else will adopt her because she's a beautiful dog, but she will come with the same problems she had that weren't corrected, and things will get worse and worse for the dog,” Handel said.
Another growing trend is the amount of time and money spent on animals by owners who lavish their pets with gadgets, clothing, and accessories.
The human-pet bond has gotten more and more intense in the past several years. You see more people who treat their pets like children. People need to find a balance between loving their pets and realizing they're animals, and they have needs as animals that include regular exercise, knowing who's in charge and being corrected,” Handel said.
He supports positive reinforcement with leash or collar correction – a quick yank and release – rather than physical punishment.
When a dog is doing something you like, give him a treat or some affection. When he's behaving badly, give him no attention, or a discipline correction. Hitting a dog only makes your pet fearful, and ultimately doesn't work in changing bad behavior,” Handel said.
Various breeds have various purposes, whether they're energetic hunting dogs or protective breeds, or little toy breeds that need a lot of hugging. Make sure you find a dog that fits your lifestyle,” Handel said.
Handel determines Maggie may need a little something to take the edge off her separation anxiety. She will need some more dog training in the home, to correct her aggressive behavior. Her rash may be an allergy, and could be contributing to her anxiety, so finding a remedy for that will help. He assures Spofford that Maggie can be reformed.
There are plenty of resources for pet owners who feel frustrated – any veterinarian is a good place to start,” Handel said. “We see it all the time, people who get in over their heads with a dog and then don't know what to do. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Dogs are trainable throughout their whole lives, you just have to figure out what the problem is, then help the pet owner with some new skills.”
Derry Rabies Clinic March 27 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Alexander-Carr Park Lodge, located on Pierce Avenue, directly off Birch Street. Vaccinations are $13 per animal. All dogs must be leashed and cats must be in pet carriers. AVID pet micro chips and registering will also be offered for $30 per animal with registration. Licensing will be available for Derry residents at a cost of $7.50 for neutered/spayed dogs; $10 for others; $3 for a senior citizen’s first dog. Sixty percent of proceeds go toward improvements at the Derry Dog Park.
March 19, 2010
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Anna Davis arrived at Pinkerton Academy 36 years ago to build the school's nursing department from the ground up. That first year, her department provided about 5,500 student services – from doling out Tylenol or mending a gym-ravaged knee to updating immunization records.
She will retire at the end of this school year as New Hampshire School Nurse of the Year, an honor she found out about this week.
“It's a prestigious award, one I've looked at longingly over the years. Winning was unexpected. More than winning, I'm just so honored to have been nominated by my team – there's nothing that gets done in this office without team work,” said Davis, one of four full-time staff nurses at the high school.
She took some time yesterday to consider what has changed since she started treating students inside her office.
By the late 1980s, the need for clinical services began to climb dramatically – more students with more complaints and more complex issues, said Davis, who has been tracking the traffic in and out her office carefully.
“The increase in services coincides with more parents working, more diagnoses of psychiatric and emotional issues. Family composition used to be a mom, a dad and some kids. Now, there are often multiple step-parents involved, or natural parents not involved at all. There are so many broken homes and blended families, a lovely term but not such a lovely reality for some of our students. That, in my opinion, has a lot to do with why the need for services are off the chart,” Davis said.
She means that literally, as she pulls out a chart graphing the dramatic surge in annual services provided by her department.
“They come to us for everything, with things we can fix and things we have no way of fixing. But we try to get them the resources they need, whether it's a walk-in clinic somewhere or an office taking new patients,” said Davis.
“Some of the kids here use us as their primary care provider – so many students don't have insurance, and have no access to other services,” said Davis.
With 3,324 students and more than 500 faculty members, it feels at times like a full-blown health clinic, minus the physician. There are eight beds and a waiting room, all of which are normally filled to overflowing. She clicks through a program on her computer and announces the current head count.
“We've had 26 new visits in the past hour, and 10 who were already here waiting,” said Davis.
Her accomplishments over the decades, besides managing the health care needs of the largest private school population in the country, include both local and national contributions to public health.
She penned both the Pinkerton's Policy and Procedure Manual and the Pandemic Plan for Pinkerton Academy – the latter of which has been used as a model throughout the state. She also serves as liaison of SNAP, a computerized health program used by school nurses across the country. She worked closely with the town's public health department, helping establish a free immunization clinic which was eventually cut due to lack of funding.
Among the recent trends Davis has tracked: the increase in students with Type 1 diabetes – currently 26, well above the national average of about 2 in every 1,000 kids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They come throughout the day for multiple insulin injections, to calculate carbs, or have their insulin pumps adjusted based on what they've had for lunch.
“We had so many kids coming in that we finally did the math and realized one of our nurses was spending 5 ½ to 6 hours every day, just for diabetes services. That's incredible,” Davis said.
“This team has a lot of specialization – asthma, pregnancy, diabetes, emotional and physical disabilities – each one of us tends to take on a certain segment of the student population, depending on the need,” Davis said.
Her vision for the future of Pinkerton's nursing department – and larger schools in general – would be a school-based health clinic.
“You could see a student right away, so they can get what they need and get back to education,” said Davis. “Of course that would be moving in the direction of socialized medicine, and takes some of the responsibility off parents, and I'm a firm believer that parents really need to be involved in their kids' healthcare.”
She has been around long enough to see second and even third generations of students coming through the door. She's heard some heartbreaking stories, discovered some unsettling realities about the secret lives of teenagers. She's had to balance the need for minor medical services with authentic emotional crises. She wishes more parents would just spend more quality time with their kids, many of whom end up in her office with vague symptoms and a heavy heart.
“Sometimes they just need some talk therapy. Parents don't seem to have the time they used to, whether they're busy working, or busy having a social life. But it's taking a toll on the kids,” Davis said.

March 12, 2010
 Don Belisle:

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Don Belisle earned his wings a few weeks ago. Although he's been piloting for years, flying a mission of mercy to Haiti – carrying medical supplies and two women with relatives aiding the relief effort into a remote area on his Cirrus plane.
      Belisle, who owns ReCore, a catalytic converter recycling company on Manchester Road, said he was browsing an online forum for fellow Cirrus enthusiasts when saw several posts about private pilots offering their services to doctors and relief workers who were otherwise unable to find a way into the country.
      “There were urgent lists of supplies posted and stories about the barbaric conditions, how doctors were setting broken limbs with makeshift splints and Bondo putty,” said Belisle.
      He found an organization, Bahamas Methodist Habitat, which gave him a connection for flying into the country. On day one he flew to Ft. Lauderdale to pick up supplies and boxes of food, then to Nassau to drop the supplies, then back to Ft. Lauderdale for intravenous bags and saline solution, and then back to Nassau to drop them off. Day two, his mission was to fly two women into the small airport at Jacmel, Haiti, one the mother of a missionary and the other the wife of the head physician.
      “Problem was, it's 580 miles from Nassau to Haiti, and my plane has a range of 600, so we had to refuel in Provo before we could fly in, said Belisle. He spent $6.50 per gallon to fill his 81 gallon tank about five times in the course of the two-day trip.
     “Once we were back in the air, it was really something to see, flying over Haiti. Tankers lined up in the harbor, unable to get supplies in. All the mountains are cleared of trees – they use the wood to make charcoal, so it was just barren, and you can understand why there were mudslides,” Belisle said.
     Nothing but rows of hundreds of collapsed houses as far as the eye could see, with occasional structures left standing amid the rubble, said Belisle. As they approached the small landing strip, Delisle could see the runway was buckled in places, and managed to touch down after a short approach – passing the wreckage of a small plane that had crash-landed the day before, after hitting a ski jump created by the quake.
     “The difference was I landed to the north, and this fella landed to south,” said Belisle. “The airport was controlled by Canadian military – a couple of guys set up in a tent with a card table. Once we landed there was another tent, which was Haitian customs – one guy and one girl in uniform. I got out with my passport and list of what was on the plane, but he didn't want any of that. He just wanted a $22 landing fee, which I'm sure went into his pocket.”
     Belisle said goodbye to his two passengers and headed back to Florida.
      “I had been briefed to get in and get out, and not to waste anymore time than necessary. I could tell it could possibly be dangerous. Guards were around the interior of a six-foot chain link fence with M1 rifles, and just outside the fence you could see that's where all the people were living, huddled under tarps. It was heart-wrenching to see the little kids just scampering around in the woods,” Belisle said.
     “It was extremely rewarding. The little bit I helped doesn't amount to a drop in the ocean, but it was rewarding to help. I couldn't afford to go back, between fuel and everything else. But it felt good to do my part, and I won't soon forget it,” elisle said.

March 5, 2010
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – For nearly 30 years Bob McFarland has devoted himself to those who walk through the doors of the Friendship Center looking for a lifeline.
     He knows the feeling all too well.
     “I was trying to get off the booze, and this place helped me do that,” said McFarland, a recovering alcoholic who now serves as operations manager and treasurer for the non-profit center, a local clearinghouse of information and support for those struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.
     After all these years in the volunteer trenches, McFarland is as committed as ever to the daily outreach of the Friendship Center, an unobtrusive presence tucked among the storefronts on East Broadway.
      Most probably recognize it as the stretch of sidewalk where people stand smoking cigarettes, said McFarland -- an unfair assessment; beyond the smoke they are people -- mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, who are working hard at sobriety. All are welcome, McFarland said, as long as they come in the spirit of friendship and mutual support.
      One thing is certain: He never knows who will come through the door or what they might need – anything from a hot cup of coffee or a pep talk to an ambulance.
     While he can't say for sure why he's never left, McFarland will tell you that once a person has been through a 12-step recovery program, part of your new lease on life includes giving back. So he gives, not from a place of guilt or obligation, but because he can't walk away.
     All these years later, he admits to still feeling frustrated that there are so few tangible resources for those in need of urgent care. He can only do so much. Perhaps even more urgent, said McFarland, is the need for public education about addiction and recovery.
     “Most people don't know what it requires, to beat addiction. They sweep it under the rug,” said McFarland. At 76, he knows that without sobriety, he would probably have been dead long ago.
     “If people can't get the help they need, they might just go sit under the bridge and croak. They feel desperate. They are desperate,” McFarland said.
     That's why the Friendship Center is looking at expansion – finding a larger space within about a half-mile of its current location, with the goal of adding services and programs. He estimates upwards of 600 people come to the center weekly for meetings and information.
     “We've been here more than 30 years, trying to do what we can, but it's hard. We still carry a stigma because the public doesn't want to know what we're doing,” McFarland says. “They look at the people out front and figure it's some kind of hangout, a bar room of some kind. They don't think of it as people trying to get sober. In the summer they see a lot of motorcycles parked out front. But you know what? There are a lot of sober bikers in the world, and they're all welcome here.”
     McFarland's mission is to be an advocate of recovery. The center hosts 23 peer support groups, and offers the only dual recovery program in the state – for those battling substance abuse and mental illness.
     “We're at the point where we need more room to do what we want to do, which is to provide more counseling services – maybe a space with small offices or conference rooms. We want to reestablish ourselves in the community and get the word out about who we are and what we do here,” McFarland said.
     He said he came by his own sobriety accidentally – at 46, he had already lost a lot of years to his addiction. He was just accompanying a friend when he found what he didn't realize he so desperately needed -- a lifeline.
     “I didn't know how sick I was. Being a drunk, you have no credibility in life. So, coming here and turning my life around, I regained credibility with my family, and with myself. I finally became aware of my surroundings, and was finally able to deal with life on life's terms,” McFarland said.
     Groups pay a fee for using the center, which covers about 50 percent of expenses. The rest of the $40,000 operating budget comes from donations or private sources.
     “We are always looking for friends and advocates. It takes funding to keep the doors open, and frankly, that's all I'm trying to do,” said McFarland.

Feb. 26, 2010

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Catching up with State Rep. Gina Hutchinson normally takes some doing.
     However, her recent brush with a logging truck imobilized her long enough to talk at some length about the many layers of her busy life. She is completing her first term as a state representative, which has been a venture into uncharted political territory after retiring from a 35-year teaching career in the Derry school district. Now that she has the hang of it, she is planning to run for a second term.
     And then, there are the Red Star Twirlers, a baton twirling program she founded that has spanned more than 30 years and 2,000 twirlers. Last week, while Hutchinson was laid up on her sunroom couch, her Red Stars were in Florida, competing at Twirl Mania, an international competition held each year at Disney World.
Hutchinson was named twirling Coach of the Year, a title she earned in absentia based on the Red Stars' cumulative score.
“As soon as they announced it, I got the call from the girls. All I could hear was screaming in the background. I was so proud of them,” said Hutchinson, flipping through a photo gallery on her laptop of images from the weekend competition.
Big props to her two assistants, Keri Anne Lynch and Ashley Tiller, who really stepped up.
Hutchinson was grounded after her right leg was fractured in three places during a Jan. 17 car accident that happened right near her home, on Route 102. After a week in the hospital, Hutchinson has managed to catch up -- and keep up -- with the demands of her busy life. It helps that she keeps three phones, a web camera and her laptop within reach at all times.
“I get updates on everything going on in Concord,” said Hutchinson. “I just can't vote. But they found a sub for me, so my committee continues to do great work in my absence.”
When she ran for and got elected as one of only two Democrats among the town's 10 legislative delegates, her urge was to find a way to continue to support the education system. She applied to be on the education committee, but had to settle for her second choice, Children and Family Law. Turns out it's just where she needed to be.
“This committee deals with the wellbeing of children. There are several retired teachers and a school principal on the committee, and we all have had a good glimpse into the face of what a child's life is like,” said Hutchinson.
     She knows that for every person who points a finger of blame at teachers for failing to educate students, she can tell you 10 stories about how family chaos affects a student's ability to learn. "Kids just aren't a priority anymore," she said.
     Through the legislature, Hutchinson has been able to reconnect with former students who, for one reason or another, have found their way into the court system.
      “It's really given me a window into how we deal with teenagers who get in trouble with the law, what kind of sentences they get that enable them to serve time, but also prepare them to be a productive citizen. In this regard, we have work to do. Our recidivism rate is so high in New Hampshire, especially for kids,” Hutchinson said.
      She admits her learning curve as a freshman legislator was steep.
      “I almost decided not to run again. It's a lot of work just to get acclimated. But I love the committee I'm on, and I feel like we can really make a difference, so I'm going to run again,” she said.
      Making a difference in her students' lives was why she loved teaching, which was her dream job since childhood.
      “When the No Child Left Behind act came along, teaching, as I knew it and loved it, was all changed,” Hutchinson said. “We were expected to teach to a test. That's not why I became a teacher. I got into teaching because I love kids, I love to apply my own creativity to those 'teachable moments' that happen, every day. Under the pressure of testing, you lose those moments.”
      She is looking forward to the challenges ahead – working toward legislation that could make a real difference in the lives of young offenders, scrutinizing current laws that regulate child custody and visitation – and of course, getting her twirling legs back under her so she can help her girls prepare to be ambassadors to China when they travel there in August to perform in the Shanghai Music Festival.
      “The Red Stars was the most random path my life ever took. It started when I was asked to fill in as majorette coach for Timberlane. Then I started coaching at Pinkerton, and my own two girls got interested in twirling, so I started a small class at the Gerrish Center, with just a handful of girls,” said Hutchinson.
     There aren't enough fingers and toes in the room to count the success stories she's witnessed – former Red Stars who go off to college, earning scholarships to perform with award-winning marching bands, or who make their way through various pageant scholarship programs with the talent portion in the bag.
       “Some towns have their marching bands that travel the world. Derry has the Red Stars – we've performed in Ireland, Spain, Germany, the Soviet Union – it's just keeps building on its own successes, and has become a wonderful program full of opportunities for kids in this town,” Hutchinson said. “It's amazing sometimes, even to me.”

Feb. 19, 2010
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – The five-day forecast for Montego Bay, Jamaica, is rainy, something that won't bother Tom Minnon too much. Sure, his annual birthday getaway may be wetter than anticipated, but it is still warmer and greener than New Hampshire in February.
     Emphasis here is on greener – a concept Minnon has devoted his entire career to; he was learning about solar engineering back in 1975 when most of the rest of us were still blowing holes in the ozone with Aqua Net.
     “I was studying engineering at the NH Technical Institute and got my degree in mechanical engineering there in 1974. At the time, there was a state grant program for energy improvements and solar energy. As a student, it really seemed like the cutting edge. It was very exciting for me to get involved in something like that,” Minnon said. “And yes, it has been my passion ever since.”
     Today, Minnon is applying his many shades of green knowledge and expertise to the town's new Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee. Minnon, who chairs the committee, recently prepared a Power Point presentation on strategic penny pinching, layers of recommendations for the town starting with simply plucking the “low-hanging fruit,” as he likes to call drafty windows, leaky chimney flues and juice-sucking incandescent light bulbs currently wasting energy and money in town-owned buildings.
     One such energy audit of the Taylor Library resulted in a checklist of simple fixes that will save a minimum of $2,000 annually just in obvious places, such as stopping heat loss and reducing electricity use for lighting. Currently it costs more than $3,000 to heat the 1,000-square-foot building. Minnon told the council that simply replacing bulbs in the outdoor flood light that illuminates the flagpole would save $350 per year.
     The committee is looking for a $10,000 appropriation from the council to cover the cost of energy upgrades at the library on East Derry Road, something to be decided when the council puts the request to a vote at the March 2 meeting.
     When Councilor Brent Carney proposed the committee back in August, it was outlined as a good way to set an example from the top down, for residents. As a side benefit, the committee is working at organizing informational seminars for residents to attend, and adding all sorts of useful information and links to its town-hosted Web site, creating a convenient resource for anyone interested in economy, ecology and energy efficiency.
     Although he has a full life and often travels for his work as a regional manager for a commercial window manufacturer, Minnon couldn't resist the pull to get involved with this particular committee.
     “I stepped up – in fact, 10 of us stepped up. We ended up with five full-time committee members and five alternates,” Minnon said. “Even though my time is pretty tight, this is something I was very interested in. I thought it sounded like a good idea for the town, and I do have some experience.”
     He is not alone. In fact, he characterizes the level of collective professional experience spread among committee members as “phenomenal.”
      “We have someone who owns a renewable energy company, someone involved with waste water treatment plants, someone in the methane and bio production industry, someone in heating and cooling. We really have a good, well-rounded group of professionals,” Minnon said.
     Born and raised in Exeter, Minnon has also lived in Vermont while serving as executive director of New England Solar Energy Association, and did a stint in Pennsylvania. He returned to New Hampshire in 2000, and bought the most energy-inefficient home in town.
     “We bought it for the property. It's on a nice lot located around a small lake. But we literally rebuilt the house from ground up – new siding, roofing, windows, geothermal heat. We added solar electricity, solar hot water, built on a sun room so we're gathering all that free solar energy on nice sunny winter days. And we have sustainable landscaping,” said Minnon.
     Which brings him to his short list of things people can do to save money, and the environment, starting now.
     “Gas-powered lawn mowers are one of the most polluting pieces of equipment. The exhaust is equal to something like seven cars driving for an hour. I did away with most of my lawn, but if you aren't ready for a push mower, people can also try an electric lawn mower, which I have. They run on rechargeable batteries now, and are becoming easier to find at places like Home Depot,” Minnon said.
     The top three things people can do to start saving money, says Minnon: Change out your light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones, add insulation in your attic or around duct work and hot water pipes in your basement, and replace your old thermostat with a programmable thermostat.
     Small steps can lead to big savings – and great strides toward a more eco-friendly way of life in Derry. To that end, the committee is working toward a town-wide Earth Day celebration in April, details to be announced, one way to get everyone thinking a little greener.
     “A lot of the things we recommended at the Taylor library are simple things, things people can do in their own homes as well,” Minnon said. “You know, President Obama has called energy efficient windows 'sexy.' I'm not going to go that far, but there is definitely an appeal right now for people, in finding ways to be more efficient – adding insulation, sealing up duct work – small steps that can make a big impact.”

Feb. 12, 2010

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Annette Joyce looks forward to the town's annual Frost Festival this weekend – particularly Sunday's schedule of events that will bring families in search of fun to her backyard.
     Technically, her backyard is the town-owned Gallien's Beach, the only year-round public access to Beaver Lake. But in her heart, it belongs to her. Gallien's Beach – so named in honor of her beloved grandparents Albert and Agnes Gallien – is the place that shaped her childhood, and the hub of her happiest memories.
     “There used to be ice racing on the lake, with horses, and there was an ice house, right over there,” says Joyce, pointing out toward the lake from inside her sunny kitchen. She recalled how they would chop chunks of ice from the frozen lake and and haul them to the ice house, then distribute them to people for their kitchen ice boxes. “Back in the day, this was the place to be.”
     Between their ancestors on both sides, the Galliens and the Floyds, their family's claim to this part of New Hampshire was staked back in 1699, said Joyce. They have almost every history book penned by Harriet Newell, whose volumes of facts about the development of Derry include old photos that still stop Joyce in her tracks.
     “Look, look – there's how the view from here used to look. The boat house and the camp and the old concession stand,” she says, adjusting her reading glasses for a clearer look at the small black-and-while image.
     When the Galliens purchased the house on the corner of Route 102 and Pond Road in 1953, they thought it would be a great place to raise their 11 kids, including Joyce's mother, Gloria.
     Her grandparents made their living running the beachfront concession stand, which they started. Although the old building was razed by the town in 1999 to make way for a more deluxe pavilion, summer visitors to the beach can still buy what they need there.
     “My brother and I used to park cars for a quarter – 50 cents on Sundays – and grandma would be making hamburgers and cheeseburgers down there, all day long,” said Joyce.
     Her older brother, Christopher West Floyd Sr., stands next to her in their grandmother's remodeled kitchen and gazes out across the lake as the two siblings swap childhood memories – swimming across the lake to “the point” and back, and endless games of Buck-Buck, marbles and Kick the Can.
     “They used to bring people up here by the busload from Lawrence. This place was mobbed in the summers,” Floyd said.
     “Yeah, and Grandma took care of everyone who cut their feet on clams or had a bloodsucker – she'd sprinkle a little salt on it and it would shrivel right up,” said Joyce.
      The Gallien family extended to five generations at one point. But after her grandfather died, and her grandmother finally sold the beach property to the town in 1985, things changed.
     “For the 32 years my grandparents lived here, you could fill the beach just with Galliens. There was no room for anyone else,” said Joyce.
     She said she regrets that she didn't buy the beach before the town did when she bought her grandmother's place. At the time, the $100,000 price tag seemed like a lot.
     “I play the lottery – not every day, but every week. The only reason I do it is so, when I hit, I can buy back the beach. I'm sure the town would take my money if I had somewhere between $2 and $5 million to give them for it,” Joyce says.
     Joyce, 55, wonders how many people, aside from longtime Beaver lake residents, even know the history of Gallien's Beach. Her family brought in the beach sand and transformed it into a public recreation area, says Joyce – simply because they thought everyone deserved to enjoy life on the lake, not just those lucky enough to own some surrounding real estate.
     Her grandfather built a small empire on a fifth-grade education. He managed to raise his 11 kids, all of them graduating from high school. He owned property and sold property and made ends meet so well, they overlapped.
     Seems like she has spent her whole life looking out for Beaver Lake, and its neighbors. If there is something wrong, or someone in need, she is there, the unofficial eyes and ears of the lakeside community.
     “I saved a kid's life once. Saw him drowning and swam out and just pulled him in to shore. It still gives me goosebumps,” she says, pushing the sleeve of her sweater up to her elbow, to prove a point.
     “Every day I wake up and look out my window, and there it is. The lake has always been a part of my life,” she says “It is my life,” Joyce said.
     She and her brother stroll down to a shady spot near the old boat house, just to sit for a moment on a granite bench the family placed there last year, in memory of their grandparents, and for a dear cousin, Craig Moynihan, who died of cancer two years ago.
     Joyce finds herself suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. Although she tries to laugh it off, she surrenders to the rush of feelings that, all at once, wash over her – missing her grandparents and the spirit of all that Gallien's Beach once was; missing the bond her family once had, all tied together by this place.
     “Once they sold the beach, everything went to hell,” said her brother. Joyce, lost for words, can only nod her head.
     A minute later she is back, rallied by the love that she will always have for the spirit of her family that persists at Beaver Lake. She slips her hand around her brother's arm and rests her head there for just a moment before they make the short walk back toward the house.
     “I'll live here the rest of my life,” she says, with resolve. “I told grandma I wouldn't leave her, and I won't. As long as I'm here, I will try to make sure people remember who the Galliens were, and what my grandparents did here, for the town of Derry.”

Feb. 5, 2010

John Domenicis, right, at home with wife, Diane. 

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – John Domenicis is still processing his two-week deployment to Haiti.
     For 15 years he has been on call for the Massachusetts Disaster Medical Assistance Team. When earthquakes or hurricanes or floods take a human toll, DMAT teams from around the country are dispatched to provide triage medical care.
     Domenicis has seen plenty of suffering. Haiti's devastation was like nothing he's seen.
     “It's not something you could prepare for,” said Domenicis, a paramedic for a private company in Boston and a Hampstead fire fighter, who was deployed with a team of physicians and medical professionals just days after the Jan. 12 quake.
     The Boston-based DMAT team, joined by the International Medical Surgical Response Team, was the first medical team from the U.S. to arrive in Haiti, setting up a field hospital next to a tent city housing 2,000 quake refugees in Port-au-Prince.
     Security concerns and the need to wait for an escort set them back by several days. By the time they got the makeshift hospital up and running on Jan. 17, patients were already arriving en masse – word was traveling fast, said Domenicis. Need was overwhelming.
     Many Haitians were still suffering from shock. In the short time he was there, the team of 35 delivered nine babies – including a set of twins – performed 66 surgeries, including a C-section, completed countless limb amputations, and saw many partially-healed fractures and infected wounds that had festered for lack of care.
     They absolutely saved lives.
     A woman came to them after surviving 10 days under the rubble. She was dehydrated and had some serious wounds. But it was hard to assess just how much trauma she'd suffered from the quake, said Dominicis.
     “The average Haitian sees two to five hours of electricity in a day. Most of them have to go some place else to get water. She may have been used to living without much food or water before she was buried alive,” Domenicis said. “These are resilient people. No matter how much pain they suffered during treatment, they always had big smiles and a word of thanks. They were grateful for the help.”
     Hiring interpreters and students from local schools to help translate was an important part of the team's success. Patients too ill to be treated by the team were taken to the U.S.S. Comfort, a hospital ship docked in Port-au-Prince harbor. When Domenicis left, the ship was treating 600 critically injured and ill patients. They were gearing up to expand operations to house 1,000 patients.
     He spends a lot of time looking over his photographs now that he's back – many showing the crumbled landscape and collapsed buildings. One stark scene showed rubble on the side of the road.
“Look closer. See that?” said Domenicis. “It's a body. That's 10 days after the earthquake, and there were still bodies just strewn along the roads like that.”
     As the days turn to weeks, and the suffering continues, so does the need for everything – food, water, medical care. The United Nations estimates nearly half a million people have fled Port-au-Prince. The death toll is hovering around 200,000, but it's impossible to know just how many were lost. Bottlenecks in the flow of aid and frustration over red tape has not stopped volunteers and skilled DMAT teams from rotating in and out Haiti to do whatever can be done.
     It's heartening, said Dominicis.
     “The support from home is amazing. It was wonderful seeing all supplies coming in from the United States. There are still a lot of barriers to be crossed, but they are building a lot of bridges, too. I hope that it continues, because it's going to take a long time before they recover,” Domenicis said.
Domenicis already warned his wife, Diane, that he has agreed to go back as soon as another team can be assembled. She is also a Hampstead firefighter, and understands her husband's commitment to DMAT.
     He said he joined DMAT after a friend asked if he was interested in doing something good. Hands down, it's the “goodest” thing he's ever done.
     There are 66 Medical Disaster teams across the country, including a new unit forming in New Hampshire. Domenicis said only 50 teams are currently qualified to be deployed, for lack of enough field training time.
“DMAT was at one time under the jurisdiction of U.S. Office of Public Health, then FEMA, then Homeland Security. Now we're under the Department of Health and Human Services. The patches on our uniforms have changed, but the mission is always the same,” Domenicis said.

Jan. 29, 2010: 

Nurse Josef Hodgkins, of Home Healing and Hospice

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – As politicians and pundits haggle over healthcare reform, Josef Hodgkins has been putting his own ideas into action: he's hatched a plan he hopes will promote new options for the elderly in need of healing and home care.
     After five years making the rounds at various hospitals and nursing homes around the country as a traveling registered nurse, Hodgkins was moved to consider alternatives to the costly and, often times, cookie cutter care he witnessed being administered to older patients with chronic health issues.
     The result is a business plan for Nurse Hodgkins Home Healing and Hospice. The focus is on in-home care. The goal is promoting healing, independence and compassion at an affordable cost – eliminating the need for complicated insurance premiums or reliance on Medicare for reimbursements.
     Care would be administered by the visit rather than at an hourly rate, encouraging in-home nurses to take as much time as needed with clients, said Hodgkins.
     “I'm currently in the start-up stage,” said Hodgkins, 28, a lifelong Derry resident who said his real world work experience in nursing includes cardiac, psychiatric and general nursing care at New Hampshire Hospital, Concord Hospital, Wentworth Douglass, St. Joseph's in Arizona and Salem Regional Medical Center in Oregon. He also spent some time working for a national phone-a-nurse hotline based in Manchester.
     He got into nursing because he was drawn to the idea of providing compassionate one-on-one care to patients in need; his actual experience was not what he'd imagined it would be. Rather than settle in somewhere, he started thinking about developing a plan for alternative care based on his own sense of what patients really need.
     “When you look at the economy now, starting a business is the smart way to go because you wouldn't be relying on other companies for employment, with all the cutbacks. It's not that I wouldn't want a full-time nursing job at a hospital somewhere. But I feel like now is the time to try something different. Succeeding at this, in this economy, would depend on how much work a person's willing to put in – I'm ready to work,” Hodgkins said.
     “My vision isn't to explode into a multi-million dollar company; it's really just to develop a managable business to give the elderly here the kind of care they deserve,” said Hodgkins. “It's nothing against local hospitals or nursing homes. But for me, it was a matter of thinking about what I would want for my own parents some day. I would want an option like this.”
     He said the cost of a home visit would be about $40, and could include everything from wound care to meal preparation.
     “Naturally, the focus is on what an RN can provide, and the patient's health needs. But I'm not opposed to making a sandwich. Even just the little bit of companionship a home visit provides can make a difference,” Hodgkins said.
     Finding financial backing is his current preoccupation.
     To that end, he has submitted his business plan to the 2010 Manchester Young Professional's Network Start-up Challenge, which provides one winner with a $25,000 cash award, a scholarship to Stonyfield Farm Entrepreneurial Institute and in-kind professional services to help finesse the business plan submitted for consideration.
     He has worked with a local mentor from the nationally recognized small business resource, SCORE, and is exploring other financing options, including a revolving loan fund recently made available through the Rockingham Economic Development Corporation, for those interested in starting a Derry-based business.
     “Given what's going on with healthcare right now, I think it will catch on. One reason is we're not Medicare focused – from what I've seen out there, it seems like caregivers are following what Medicare wants them to do rather than what the patient actually needs,” said Hodgkins.
     He said what he's hoping to achieve is a locally-based option that will help keep older people in their homes, where they want to be, as they recover from an illness or deal with declining health issues.
     “I purposely included the words 'home healing' in the name of my business because, to me, healing is a living word. Home healing care is different from 'home health' care,” Hodgins said.
     “What I saw going on out in the world was more like a revolving door policy with the elderly. They would go into a hospital, have some tests – many of them unnecessary but required based on Medicare – then discharged, only to come back in a few weeks because there was no healing, or sent to a nursing home,” Hodgkins said.
     He is still waiting to launch – mostly for financial reasons. He must get a home care license, and of course, develop a small client base. He has some fellow registered nurses interested in working for him once he's up and running. For right now, he's tweaking his Web site, building an online social networking community through Facebook, and moving forward with purpose, at his own pace.
     “Right now I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I'm trying to be bold – what's that saying? 'Be bold and mighty forces will come your way.' I believe that. Things will happen. If this is really a good idea and a needed service in the community, as I believe it is, then things will happen,” Hodgkins said.

Jan. 22, 2010

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Vincent Perrella and Cathy Richard are standing in the center of the traffic rotary, where five lanes swirl in a motorized vortex around them. Twice a day Perrella and Richard spend the better part of 75 minutes boldly hoisting their STOP signs and stepping into the fray, making sure hundreds of school kids get where they're going safely.
     It's a dangerous job, but someone has to do it. Good thing they love what they do.
     “People are impatient. Every day you get people who just don't stop,” said Richard of the various levels of road rage she is witness to. She was transferred last fall from her old post at St. Thomas Aquinas to what is, by far, the busiest crossing guard outpost in town. Perrella has been dodging traffic bullets at the rotary for three years.
     It's definitely a two-guard job.
     “I started doing it because I retired, and I wanted to get out of the house. Plus, I like to protect our kids,” said Perrella.
     From the time they take arrive until the time they leave – about an hour and 15 minutes per shift, twice a day -- they are vigilante. Perrella nods to Richard if he sees a kid coming toward her from South Main Street, and she gives him a head's up if a Pinkerton pileup is approaching from the direction of the high school.
     “I just can't get over how impatient people are. You can be standing there with your stop sign in their faces, and they still want to plow through,” Richard said.
    They find they are constantly looking over their shoulders – between distracted drivers and rebellious kids, someone is always trying to get by, said Perrella.
     “Just like those kids, there. See them?” he says, as two teenagers sprint across Chester Road and then East Derry, cutting through the Mobil Station on their way to some place else.
     “They completely avoid the cross walks. It happens all the time,” said Richard. “Or sometimes, when I'm crossing kids from the center crosswalk to the Mobil, cars coming off East Derry Road will keep going because they figure they don't need to stop. That's when a kid will run across toward the Mobil and then keep going, across East Derry. I' ve seen a lot of close calls. All I can do is hold my sign up and hope for the best.”
     If there is a way to make the rotary safer, Perrella and Richard can't figure it out, except to remind motorists to go slow during school hours – and stop when the stop sign goes up.
     “You could build a foot bridge to go over the whole thing, but they would never do that her in Derry. Other than that, I don't think there's a solution. You can't put in five stop signs. You can't have traffic signals here,” he said.
     “Maybe gates we could control, or maybe if we had flashing lights on our STOP signs, then at least maybe they would get people's attention and they'd stop,” Richard said. “It's scary. The only thing we can do is keep our eyes open. We never let our guard down.”

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