MARCH 28, 2010
Police await Salem official's surrender

Union Leader Correspondent
WINDHAM -- Police have yet to arrest a local man charged with holding a woman captive and sexually assaulting her over the course of three days in a home he was renting in Windham.
Jeffrey Gray, 48, a Salem Planning Board member, is facing felony charges of sexual assault and kidnapping, along with misdemeanor charges of simple assault, obstructing the report of a crime and false imprisonment, according to Windham police Capt. Michael Caron.

Warrants for Gray's arrest have been active since March 15, Caron said.
"We are familiar with where his, but right now he's not accessible to be arrested," said Caron Friday.
Caron said police are talking with Gray's attorney to arrange for Gray to turn himself in. Gray is not considered a fugitive from justice, he said.
Salem attorney Mark Stevens confirmed Friday that he was representing Gray, but declined to comment further on the case or on Gray's whereabouts.
Caron say Gray and the alleged victim – a 35-year-old woman from New York – met on Craigslist after Gray answered an advertisement the woman placed looking for a roommate.
Gray, who had previously been living on Shore Drive in Salem, had been renting a small home at 104 South Shore Road in Windham for about a month, said Kevin Bleeker of Windham, who owns the property.
"I think he seemed like a very good person, calm and sincere," said Bleeker Friday. "He looked you right in the eye when you talked to him and seemed like a level-headed person, mature. That's why I find this usual."
Bleeker said that Gray paid six months of rent up front and told him that he was going to be traveling to Haiti for work.
Gray is the owner of J.M. Gray & Associates, a land surveying company he ran from his Salem home.
Bleeker said he has not been in contact with Gray for at least two weeks.
Caron said the woman, whose name is being withheld to protect her privacy, showed up in Windham on March 5 to move in.
But from March 5 until March 8, she told police that Gray held her captive in the home and at least once sexually assaulted her, Caron said.
Caron said he couldn't comment the extent of the assaults, but said more charges could be forthcoming. He said he did not know under what circumstances the woman left the home on March 8.
Neighbors said they had seen a new renter coming in and out of the home for about three weeks, but never saw him with anyone else.
"It's very creepy and unsettling because you just wouldn't expect it here," said Vinny Piemonte Friday. Piemonte and his wife, MaryAnne, have lived on South Shore Road along Canobie Lake for 30 years.
Salem police were first contacted about the alleged sexual assault by Massachusetts State Police, said Salem Deputy Police Chief Shawn Patten.
Patten said that Gray is a longtime resident of Salem, but that when Salem detectives realized the alleged assault happened in Windham, the investigation was forwarded to Windham police.
Both Windham and Salem officers executed a search warrant on the 104 South Shore Road property on March 9, said Caron.
The police affidavit supporting the completed search warrant request was not available at Salem District Court or Derry District Court, where the request was been made by Windham police on March 9. Clerks at both courts said the document was not in their files.
Windham Police Chief Gerald Lewis refused to release documents supporting the completed search warrant Friday.
"We're not going to release them because we are considering it a part of our investigative files," said Lewis Friday. "The courts can do what they want."
The New Hampshire Union Leader filed a Right To Know Request to obtain those documents from Windham police on Friday afternoon. As of Friday evening, no response had been received.
Salem Town Manager Keith Hickey said town staff have begun to look into whether or not Gray has indeed moved to Windham, which would make him ineligible to serve on the Salem Planning Board.
"At this point, we haven't been able to determine that he does not live in Salem," said Hickey Friday. "If something does come forward to show that he is no longer a Salem resident, then we would move to have him resign from the board."
Planning Board Chairman James Keller said Friday that he first heard about the charges against Gray from news reports this week.
"Anytime you see those kinds of allegations it's surprising," he said. "I'm saddened actually, because it's such a serious situation."

MARCH 28, 2010
Student volunteers Emma Boyd and Kate Farrell served up soup with New Horizons for New Hampshire head cook Samuel Button during the Souper Bowls benefit event held on March 25.
Benefit by Windham High
 students 'Souper' successful
Union Leader Correspondent

WINDHAM -- The bowls were painted, the soup served piping hot, and judging from the lines of people making their way through the cafeteria doors, Windham High School’s first-ever “Souper Bowls” benefit was a smashing success.

 Members of Windham Girl Scout Troop 10118 lent
 a helping hand last Friday during the Souper Bowl benefit.

The fundraiser, hosted by A Walk In Their Shoes, a club of seven socially conscious Windham High School students, benefited NewHorizons, a homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Manchester.

Guests could choose from about 200 handcrafted ceramic bowls, which they filled over and over again with a variety of soups provided by local eateries.
Culinary Capers, Souper Moms, Gourmet Grille, Windham Deli, J. Michael’s Sports Pub, Windham Restaurant, The Lobster Tail, Windham Junction and Tuscan Kitchen served up their finest soups, chowders and stews, while Panera Bread breads and baked goods made by parents and volunteers completed Friday’s spread.
Last fall, sophomore Kara Yennaco, sophomore Kate Farrell, sophomore Alexa Tsao, sophomore Haley Enos, freshman Julia Enos, sophomore Maria Bessette and sophomore Madison Enos banded together to begin raising funds and raising awareness of the plight of their not-so-distant neighbors. 

As part of their yearlong project, the students are creating a documentary film on their work within the Manchester-based shelter, which will include interviews with some of the shelter’s past and current residents. 
Several of the shelter’s past residents attended last Friday’s Souper Bowl to share their personal experiences, including how they learned self-sufficiency in spite of the challenges in their lives. 
Michelle Casale, Donor Relations representative for New Horizons, lauded the girls for their efforts. 
“They’re a great group of kids who bring a lot of awareness to their high school,” Casale said, noting the current economical climate means the shelter and soup kitchen has been busier than ever. 
“The need is ongoing. We’ve been seeing a lot of new clients — new people coming into our food pantry, many who have lost their jobs,” she added. “People from all walks of life, people who never thought they’d be homeless are coming in to see us.”

MARCH 21, 2011
Kaley Missert, a seventhgrader at Windham Middle School, performs a garland
 dance during the school’s annual Medieval Day.
Union Leader Correspondent
WINDHAM -- Local seventh graders ate with their hands, got thrown into a makeshift dungeon and engaged in some downright “medieval” behavior last Friday as part of Windham Middle School’s annual Medi­eval Day. 

Forseveralhours,theschool’s gymnasium and cafeteria was transformed into “Midwin Castle,” a scene straight out of the Dark Ages. 

Seventh-grade teacher Bill Buckley and physical education teacher Erin Shirley reigned as the day’s king and queen, with their students playing the roles of lords and ladies, knights and squires, and peasants and friars. 

Dressed in medieval garb, the entire seventh grade was led into the gymnasium during the “Royal Procession,” while jugglers and jesters captivated the crowd’s attention. 
The Grand March was soon followed by a traditional dance, performed by the court’s leading lords and ladies — students Joy DelRio, Jeremy Worden, Becca Mitchell, Peter Caron, Aliyah Alexander, Steven Tieland, Madison Homsey, Hunter Cullen, Hannah Pesci, Larry Galasso, Brittany Missert, Kyle Anderson, Maddie Caiado, Ram Sheth, Alyssa Pierce and Anthony Bedard. 
“It’s quite similar to a certain red carpet event we enjoy today,” Shirley told the crowd. “So this time-honored tradition had carried on for quite a few centuries.” 
With that, the costumed bunch crusaded on down to the cafeteria for a feast worthy of, well, a king. 
Dancers performed traditional rites, including the Garland Dance to welcome spring, while bards performed brazen ballads. 
“Make sure you mind your manners,” Buckley told his “court,” referring to the lengthy list of Renaissance-era etiquette placed on each table. “He shall not gnaw on bones, nor tear meat into bits with his fingertips,” one rule read. 
Not everyone heeded the words of the King, however, and two young “knights” soon found themselves in the dungeon. Fortunately for them, it was made of painted cardboard rather than stone and mortar. 
The day concluded with some modified “jousting” activities held in the seventhgrade homerooms. 

MARCH 16, 2011
Union Leader Correspondent
WINDHAM -- A Windham high school senior is hoping to lend a helping “paw” to several area animal shelters during a special community day held at the Nesmith Library this weekend. 
Celina Witt, a member of Windham Girl Scout Troop 12107, is making pet beds — lots and lots of them — and she’s hoping her neighbors can help her out. 

A member of the Scouts since her kindergarten days, Witt now has her sights set on her Gold Award. 

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a senior level Girl Scout may earn, with eligible projects encompassing leadership and organization skills along with a strong commitment to the community. 

Witt said she was inspired to not only go for the Gold but to help out her four-legged friends after adopting a shelter puppy, Koko, last year.
“I just happened to notice that a lot of the local shelters had dog beds on their ‘wanted’ lists,” Witt said on Monday. “When we adopted Koko, we made a bed out of an old comforter. It lasted for almost eight months.”
Sadly, Koko was recently hit and killed by a car, though Witt said she and her family hope to adopt another shelter pet sometime in the near future.
Witt and her troop have supported similar causes in the past. She previously earned her Silver Award by making and organizing collection containers to benefit the Massachusetts SPCA in Methuen, Mass., and Troop 12107 has completed other group service projects at the same facility.
This Sunday, March 20, members of the public are encouraged to stop by the Nesmith Library from 1 to 4 p.m. to donate their old, unwanted comforters, pillows, sheets and blankets to help make pet beds for area animal rescues.
“Not only does this project help animals, it’s also ecofriendly,” Witt said, noting that one twin comforter can be used to make up to 16 pet beds.
Donors of animal bedding may simply drop off their goods, or they can stick around to help assemble some animal beds if they wish.
The finished products will be delivered to the Humane Society of Greater Nashua, the Cocheco Valley Humane Society, the Salem Animal Rescue League, the Animal Rescue League of N.H., the Manchester Animal Shelter, the New Hampshire SPCA and the New Hampshire Humane Society, among other places.
“We’re hoping to make as many pet beds as we can,” she added. “We do have a lofty dream of making up to 200 of them this weekend. Just like the animals in the shelters, those old sheets deserve a second chance.”

MARCH 15, 2011
Donna InDelicato, right, gets some tips on jumping a car battery from Windham Firefighter Scott Zins.

Union Leader Correspondent
WINDHAM -- Catherine Wentz tightened her grip on the hot-pink-and-black power drill. She leaned in and, with one squeeze, was boring a hole into a 2-by-4, with ease. Her aunt, Kim Monterio of Windham, beamed with pride.

“It sounded like an interesting event, and the boys are at home playing hockey, so I thought this would be something fun for us to do together,” said Monterio.

Her 10-year-old niece, still holding the smoking drill, looked up from under a brown fedora through her funky-framed spectacles and smiled the smile of a girl who has discovered the joy of power tools.

“I want one for my birthday,” she said.

Empowering women of all ages was only part of the ploy.

From left, Emily Cullinane, Felicia Bramante, Victoria InDelicato
 and Kayla Joyce, all age 9, are fascinated by a
lightweight pink hammer with a magnetized nail launcher.

The “Tool Belt Divas” event, organized by two-time breast cancer survivor Donna Bramante InDelicato of Windham, was also a fundraiser for Team BellaDonna, her mobile support network that has been fundraising and walking together in the annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer for the past eight years.
To date, they’ve raised $250,000 toward breast cancer research.
Although it’s been a dozen years since InDelicato’s initial cancer diagnosis, her commitment to the cause has not waned. In fact, she’s more determined than ever to do what she can to raise money while serving as a mentor for other women just beginning the long, uncertain journey that follows a cancer diagnosis. 

The event, held Sunday at Windham Presbyterian Church, featured Tomboy Tools, a national distributor of tools made particularly for women — from their signature pink construction to their ergonomically designed handles. They are distributed in the same way our foremothers sold Tupperware — through in-home parties, where “burping” was encouraged and homemaking was the point. 

This is like selling Avon, with attitude. 

Eleanor Strang of Derry gets a grip on a power drill.

Today’s women are equally interested in home repairing, said Pattie Chouinard, a Tomboy Tool distributor based in Nashua, who was enticing Carol Stevens of Salem to try her hand at painting with a line of paintbrushes that you grasp from underneath, with built-in comfort grooves for your fingers. 

“Years ago Sears used to make women’s tools. What I actually came here for today was an electric screwdriver,” said Stevens. 

Diane Coghlan of Derry also remembers the Sears line of tools for ladies. 
“I’ve always wanted my own power drill — these are wonderful,” Coghlan said. “I remember about eight years ago I went into Sears looking for a chainsaw. I asked if they had anything smaller, for a woman, and they showed me their smallest model. Then I asked if they had any other colors — color means a lot to a woman.” 
She was trying on a pair of pink gardening gloves, looking for the right size for her to get a grip on her gardening tools. 
“This is just in time for spring gardening. I’m also getting a pruner and a canvas apron. It gives me great incentive to get out there in the yard and get busy, and it’s a great cause,” Chouinard said. 
Across the room Ron White, of Windham, was showing Eleanor Strang the finer points of power drilling. 
Diane Coghlan of Derry is ready
to garden.
“From time to time I put up curtain rods, and I’ve always done it manually. Although I’ve never used a power tool in my life, now that they’ve showed me, I want one,” said Strang. “I want to be able to do things for myself.” 
At the station next door, Bill Merrill, a volunteer from Windham Fire Department, was supervising a quartet of 9-year-old girls who were pounding away with Tomboy hammers. 
“These are 8-ounce hammers, where the typical hammer is usually about 16 ounces, so it’s much lighter for them. 
And it has a magnetic nail set on the top, which you put the nail on and then, bam, it goes right into the wood without having to hold the nail in place. They’re really getting the hang of it,” said Merrill, intercepting one of the hammer heads as it comes dangerously close to a set of unsuspecting 9-year-old fingers. 
After the final test nail was hammered yesterday, In-Delicato estimated she’s raised close to $1,000 more, helping her reach this year’s fundraising goal of $30,000. 
“Despite a tough economy, we’ve been working hard. We have a team of 11 who have become 12, because of this event — one attendee became so inspired, she wants to join Team BellaDonna. There is so much inspiration in this room, people who have survived breast cancer, and are empowered by giving back. People from the community who want to support a loved one,” InDelicato said. 
“I’ve been moved to tears many times over, and over again.” 

MARCH 14 2011
Bringing the jazz
Roomful of Blues will perform at Windham High School on April 1.
The band will also offer tips to the school’s Jazz Ensemble members during a special clinic.
Union Leader Correspondent
WINDHAM -- Supporters of local music programs will be happy to sing the blues next month when a group of professional musicians stop by the high school for a very special performance.

The band Roomful of Blues is coming to Windham High School on April 1 for a special concert benefitting the Windham Musical Arts Association, a local nonprofit group dedicated to supporting middle and high school music programs in the district. 

Doug Wolverton, who plays trumpet in the group, said performing at the high school seemed a natural choice, considering the band’s mission of sharing their love of music with younger generations. 

Wolverton and his bandmates will be working closely with the high school’s Jazz Ensemble during an upcoming clinic. 

“We try to give master classes as often as we can,” Wolverton said this week. “Being able to influence students is a great feeling, not only as performers but as teachers.” 

When working with young musicians, the main goal is having fun, Wolverton noted, which is why each music clinic is as unique as the group of kids they happen to be working with. 

“We never go into a clinic with a set idea of what we are going to do. We almost let the students mold their experience,” Wolverton said. “We will listen to them perform their jazz tunes and listen to how they perform as an ensemble. This is key.” 

The medium of jazz provides ample opportunity for selfexpression, he added, since many tunes give solo players the chance to improvise — a daunting prospect for many less-seasoned players. 
“Our job is to make it fun and give pointers to make the soloist feel more confident when improvising,” said Wolverton. 
High school band director Jared Cassedy said the band’s upcoming visit promises to be a rewarding experience for students and the community alike. 
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to learn from professional musicians as well as ask questions about careers in professional music performance,” Cassedy said. “The clinic will focus on independent and ensemble playing as well as improvisation, balance, and blend all of which are important topics to speak about with any ensemble.” 
Those attending the April 1 concert will be treated to the end result of the jazz clinic, when members of the high school Jazz Ensemble play in the school’s main foyer before Roomful of Blues performs. Cassedy said some students will also take to the stage for the band’s encore that evening. 
“We believe that this is going to be a wonderful tone setter for the entire evening and will provide the students in the jazz ensemble the chance to perform for a different kind of audience,” he said. “The ensemble will be playing a variety of pieces including standard jazz repertoire and contemporary arrangements.” 
Roomful of Blues, presented by the Windham Musical Arts Association, will perform in the Windham High School auditorium on Friday, April 1, at 8 p.m. Regular tickets are $25 each, and tickets for the concert and a private reception with the band before the show are $40 each. To purchase tickets,

MARCH 8, 2011
New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice Linda Dalianis answers a student’s question during the hour-long question-and-answer session the chief justice had with the students on Monday. PHOTO/BOB LAPREE
Union Leader Correspondent
WINDHAM -- Most of us know her as the first female to head the state’s highest court, but did you know that state Supreme Court Chief Justice Linda Dalianis is a Libra who enjoys riding horses and counts the popular television show “Law and Order” among her guilty pleasures?

During a visit to Windham High School on Monday morning, Dalianis was met with a warm welcome, courtesy of the district’s fourth-graders, who regaled her with their version of the song “I’m Just A Bill,” from “Schoolhouse Rock.” 

The fourth-graders offered a brief presentation detailing Dalianis’ life and career. 

Dalianis, who joined the state Supreme Court as its first female justice in 2000, was sworn in as chief justice this past December. She previously served as a Superior Court judge for two decades, as several of her fourth-grade biographers noted. 

“She was never afraid of hard work,” fourth-grader Nicole Letourneau said. 

Fellow fourth-grader Taryn Livingstone added, “She paved the way forever for young girls with big dreams.” 

Later, Dalianis joined high school students Christine Carpenter and Colby Putnam, and teachers Shannan McKenna and Greg Racki on stage for a panel discussion, where students had the chance to ask questions. 

Windham High School Principal Tom Murphy said it was quite a challenge, indeed, to select student questions to be used during the 45-minute assembly, with well over 100 submitted. 

Freshman Steve Brand asked Dalianis what her favorite part of her job was. 
“It would be the same as my favorite part of being a judge,” she replied. “That’s trying to make the law work.” 
Sophomore Vanessa Jeffries asked, “Is it ever difficult to send someone to jail if they’ve had a traumatic background?” 
Though sending someone to jail is never pleasant, Dalianis said, it’s often necessary. 
“Sometimes if a person hasn’t learned their lesson the first or second time, especially if they’ve done a more serious crime, I have no problem sending them to jail,” she said. “Then again, sometimes people will give you a good reason to give them a second chance. It really depends.” 
Sophomore Mark Lawrence asked, “At what point does a person become responsible for his or her actions?” 
The Chief Justice noted that age 18 is generally considered the age of adulthood, though younger citizens can face charges in criminal court in certain instances. 
“In New Hampshire, a 16-year-old can be treated as an adult for criminal law purposes,” Dalianis said. 
Dalianis declined to comment on more controversial topics, such as the state’s death penalty or ongoing murder trials, but did her best to educate and inform her young audience. 
Asked about some of the weirder or more difficult court cases she’s handled over the span of her career, Dalianis admitted that “the strangest cases are ones I can’t really discuss with fourth-graders present,” though she recalled a more lighthearted incident where two neighbors came to a disagreement over a water sprinkler. 
“She wanted me to stop her neighbor from using the sprinkler because it got the inside of her car wet,” Dalianis said. “So I asked her if she ever considered closing her car windows. Stuff like that happens all the time.” 
Most of her workdays, however, are somewhat less eventful. 
“An average day is one where I spend most of my time reading and writing,” Dalianis said. “It doesn’t require a lot of physical ability, but at the end of the day my brain is tired.” 

MARCH 7, 2011
Soup is served -- and so is community
Windham High School students Haley Enos, Madison Enos and Maria Bessette are all founding
 members of A Walk In Their Shoes. 
Union Leader Correspondent
WINDHAM -- No doubt about it, a piping-hot bowl of soup offers sound nourishment for both the body and the soul.
Though the soup part will come a bit later, dozens of students, community volunteers, and local Boy and Girl scouts gathered in the art room at Windham High School Friday afternoon to paint the 200 or so ceramic bowls needed to feed the large crowd attending the upcoming “Souper Bowl” event on March 25.

Hosted by A Walk In Their Shoes, a club of seven socially conscious high school students, the fundraiser will benefit New Horizons, a homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Manchester.

Last fall, freshman Julia Enos and sophomores Kara Yennaco, Kate Farrell, Alexa Tsao, Haley Enos, Maria Bessette and Madison Enos banded together to begin fundraising and raising awareness of the plight of their not-so-distant neighbors.
As part of their yearlong project, the students are in the process of creating a documentary film on their work within the Manchester-based shelter, which will include interviews with some of the shelter’s past and current residents.

The Souper Bowl will be the group’s second fundraiser, following a fundraising walk on Nov. 7.
“Choosing to benefit a charity that wasn’t here in Windham allowed us to branch out,” Madison Enos said.
Kara Yennaco added: “They’re a soup kitchen and a homeless shelter, but they’re also much more. They just do everything to help these people.” 
After the fall fundraiser proved a success, members of A Walk In Their Shoes decided to try something different for their next fundraiser. 
Modeling the event after the success of a similar fundraiser several of them had volunteered at, Empty Bowls, a New Horizons benefit held annually in Manchester, the girls found their inspiration. 
“Then we thought of the name. We got really excited about the name,” Yennaco said with a grin. 
Thus the Souper Bowl was born. 
Sharing their mission with fellow classmates and parents, as well as underclassmen at the district’s other schools, members of the high school art club and several local scouting groups didn’t hesitate to help in the bowl-making department. 
The bowls were molded and dried in late February, and glazing took place over several hours last Friday afternoon with assistance from local potters Christine Mawby and Neil Fallon. 
The upcoming event will operate much in the same manner as Empty Bowls, where patrons make a donation and are presented with a handcrafted bowl, which they can fill (and refill) with various soups, stews and chowders. And they get to take the bowl home with them afterward. The admission price also includes bread and dessert. 
Bowls that aren’t used during the Windham fundraiser will be used at a similar event in Lawrence, Mass., to benefit the Neighbors in Need charity. 
The Souper Bowl will be held Friday, March 25, from 4 to 8 p.m. A suggested donation of $15 per person or $30 per family is requested. All proceeds will benefit New Horizons for New Hampshire. For more information or to purchase advance tickets, visit www.awalkintheirshoes. com or contact Hannah Cole at  or Thalia Bessette at  

MARCH 3, 2011
Cast members of the Windham High School Drama Club’s production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” performed a full dress rehearsal for local senior citizens on Wednesday afternoon. The show will open this Friday. 
Union Leader Correspondent

WINDHAM -- With a cast and crew of dozens of local teens, costumes straight out of the Roaring Twenties and a lively musical score, the Windham High School Drama Club’s production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” truly has something to offer all audience members.

On Wednesday afternoon, the entire cast donned vintage costumes and took to the local stage for a final dress rehearsal before opening night this Friday.

Several local senior citizen groups were invited to attend. 

“The Drowsy Chaperone” garnered multiple Tony awards during its 2006 Broadway debut. Billed as a “musical within a comedy,” the show examines the impact Jazz Age American musicals made on their fans. 
“The Drowsy Chaperone” is narrated by “The Man In Chair,”
who is obsessed with a fictional show from the 1920s. 

“The show is very much a parody of old: It’s designed to have an old musical feel,” high school theatre director George Kendall said. 

The show is narrated by “The Man In Chair,” who is obsessed with a fictional show from the 1920s and sits to the side of the stage in a vintage armchair. The story’s twists and turns are brought to life when a record is placed in an antique phonograph. 

“It’s fun to show records to students these days,” Kendall said, as the seniors in the audience chuckled. 

In the course of an hour and a half and two acts, the narrator is transported into a musical as the scratchy records play songs of old, and a drab apartment corner gives way to an impressive Broadway stage musical, where a glitzy showgirl contemplates the end of her career as she prepares to marry a wealthy oil tycoon. Not everyone is pleased with the pending nuptials. And just like in the old musical movies, much hilarity, song and dance soon ensues. 

“The Drowsy Chaperone” opens Friday. Performances will take place at the high school on March 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m., with a 1:30 p.m. Sunday matinee performance also being offered on March 6. 

Tickets are $15 for adults, and $10 for students and senior citizens. Tickets will be sold at the door starting one hour before performances or may also be purchased online at

FEB. 22, 2011
Parents give low marks to
 plan for third-graders
Union Leader Correspondent
WINDHAM -- The school district’s plans to split up Windham’s third-graders in the coming school year have met with the ire of some local parents.

Last week, one Windham mother described the proposal to place 60 third-graders at Golden Brook School and 140 at Center School as being “a logistics nightmare.”

A warrant for a proposed addition to Golden Brook to house the town’s kindergarten is set to appear on the March 8 ballot, following much discussion during the Windham School District’s recent deliberative session. 

The addition, the first part of a facilities master plan to update the town’s two elementary and middle schools, is a seven-room wing and would cost $2.9 million. 

Currently, Windham’s kindergarten classes are housed in portable classrooms at Golden Brook School. 

Should voters next month approve the addition, the district plans to temporarily split up its third-graders between Golden Brook and Center schools. The change would likely stay in place for several years, as the district embarks on the lengthy process of renovating its schools. 

An attempt by Windham mother Judy Antonucci to add $276,870 to the district’s proposed operating budget to add portable classrooms so the third grade didn’t have to be split up failed by six votes during the recent deliberative session. 

District officials are proposing having 60 third-graders complete the next school year at Golden Brook, while the remaining 140 would attend Center School. 

Last week, Antonucci said she was concerned about the proposed split, as it could have lasting effects on the children and also complicate the logistics of various third-grade programs and activities. 

Antonucci said her proposed alternative — a fourroom portable classroom installed at Center School — would be the best way to avoid complications, while allowing the third-grade class to stay together. 

“Three out of Windham’s four schools are overcrowded,” Antonucci said. “It’s an immediate problem, and this isn’t just a one-year solution. They’re proposing this stay in place until the middle school is renovated. It definitely would stay this way for several years down the road.” 

This year’s proposed district budget comes in $244,000 under the default budget. Antonucci said the proposed amendment would leave the overall budget at $32,538 over default, with an additional tax impact of 13 cents per thousand. 

“It’s not much to ask,” she emphasized. 

At the same time, Windham school officials maintained that the temporary split, though far from ideal, is still the best option, since it impacts the fewest number of children. 

“We realize this is a economically difficult time,” School Board Chairman Ed Gallagher said last week. “We want to be fiscally conservative.” 
District officials hope to build the kindergarten this year, since state aid is available only for kindergarten buildings at this time. Aid would cover up to $2.175 million of the cost. Officials said they hoped to have about $500,000 in reserve building funds at the end of the fiscal year to put toward the $900,000 needed on top of the state aid. 
Antonucci said one of her three children would be affected by the proposed thirdgrade split in the coming year, and her young son is upset with the prospect. 
Noting the change could likely mean busing kids back and forth for third-grade activities, Antonucci further noted the split could pose additional problems when some thirdgraders are mixed in with students already acclimated to their respective school. 
“It’s a logistics nightmare,” she said. 
Fellow parent Rose Lynn Armstrong agreed, noting she was worried the split could affect the district’s children over the next few years. 
“A lot of logistical issues still need to be worked out,” Armstrong said yesterday. “Not only the parents of second- graders, but parents of kindergarten and first-grade students school be made aware of this.” 
With Golden Brook School already overcrowded, Armstrong said she feared adding another 60 or so students could pose additional challenges. 
Since space at most of the district’s schools is limited, music and art programs are housed on rolling carts, which are brought to the classrooms at the Center and Middle schools. 
Armstrong said she fears the same thing could happen at Golden Brook next year, since the additional students would require additional space. 
“My understanding is they also don’t have the room for additional children to eat lunch in the cafeteria,” Armstrong added. “So will these third-graders be eating lunch at their desks? I understand the school district is looking to address these issues, but at the same time, there are many parents of first-and secondgraders that aren’t even aware this might be happening.” 
As residents prepare to head to the polls next month, Antonucci said she hopes to continue raising public awareness of the third-grade plight. 
“If you haven’t attended a school board meeting recently, you might not even be aware of this,” she said. 

JAN. 29, 2011
Union Leader Correspondent
WINDHAM -- Thanks to an anonymous donor, a local nonprofit group is another step closer to building an educational wind turbine and weather station at Windham High School.
Late last week, members of the Windham Initiative for Renewable Energy (WIRE), announced their $50,000 fundraising
 goal had been achieved, allowing them to accept proposals from local renewable energy vendors.
The group’s chairman, Alan Carpenter, a former Windham selectman and planning board member, said the an anonymous donor, who offered to match any contribution made to WIRE up to a $20,000 maximum, along with fundraising efforts of the Windham Endowment for Community Advancement, assisted
 in meeting the goal.
The donation was granted in memory of the late Stephen O. Anderson, who encouraged local educational programs in technology and nature, Carpenter said.
“Those passions are also the foundation that WIRE is built upon and will become a reality through the kind and generous establishment of this fund,” he said.
Inspired by the efforts of student David Hutchings, 13, the school board formed a committee in spring 2008, in hopes of ultimately installing a wind and solar electric system at the
 new high school.
Hutchings, a member of a local FIRST Lego League team who continues to serve on the WIRE committee, said he learned about alternative energy
 while competing with his team.
After meeting with high school project manager Glen Davis, Hutchings determined a wind turbine would be ideal for the new high school, as it’s located on a windy hill.
Known as the ALPHA Project, the plan is to construct a 45-foot tall wind turbine at the high school, which could be used along with an already purchased
 weather station.
Students would have the opportunity to learn about weather and alternative energy up close and personal, since the turbine could be lowered for study and new technology would be incorporated into the school’s science curriculum.
Data from the wind turbine, solar array systems, and weather station would be available in school and science labs and online to Windham residents through the planned monitoring system. “Our committee can now actively work on reviewing responses to the RFP for the renewable
 energy systems in our Alpha Project,” Carpenter said. “We are very excited to finally get to the part of the project that will begin to impact our students.”
Carpenter said fundraising for the project, which will be entirely privately funded, has presented a challenge, though residents, corporate sponsors, the Endowment and the anonymous
 matching donor have
 made a dramatic impact.
For more information, or to donate to the program, visit, or contact Carpenter at alan. .
OCT. 29, 2010
Hilary Hall will lead the tour through Chester's historic cemetery.
Union Leader Correspondent 

CHESTER — If you’re looking to raise the dead this Halloween eve, look no further than Chester Village Cemetery. Hilary Hall will be waiting in her witch’s garb as daylight wanes, to conjure the spirits of Chester’s founders and earliest settlers, spinning a few yarns about some of the town’s oldest souls.

The annual tour has been a tradition of the town’s Historical Society as a way of keeping the stories of Chester’s founding fathers and mothers alive. For the first time the tour will coincide with other scheduled Halloween festivities. The tour is a way to encourage people to spend a little time in the graveyard — hopefully in costume — while learning some town history, said Hall.

“Our cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Sites, so we start at the oldest part of the cemetery,” said Hall. “We have many gravestones created by the Webster brothers, Abel and Stephen. They’re made mostly of shale stone or slate and have what we call frowning angels — well, some are actually smiling. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. But we also have the only signed gravestone by Stephen Webster in the state.” 

The carved angels that top many of the fragile stones have evoked a number of theories as to their meaning, most commonly that they represent how the Webster brothers felt about whether a soul was heading to heaven or hell. And that assessment depended on which brother did the carving, and his general optimism. Ultimately, it is one of the mysteries of the cemetery that can never be known for certain, Hall said. 

The six-stop cemetery tour will take only about an hour, but Hall is hoping those who come will get into the spirit by dressing up in Halloween costumes. Since the tour begins at 4 p.m., flashlights are optional. 

The graveyard is one of the state’s oldest, purchased by Col. John Blunt in 1751 for 70 pounds, or about $111. Among those buried there are several Revolutionary War heroes and two New Hampshire governors, brothers Samuel and John Bell. 

Saturday’s Halloweenthemed fun will begin with a Family Fellowship Breakfast at the Chester Congregational Baptist Church from 8 to 10 a.m., just across the street from the cemetery. That is open to the public. At 10 a.m. a “Bats in the Belfry” tour of the church’s belfry is scheduled — the first time the belfry has been opened for touring, said Jackie Brown of the Historical Society. “It’s really quite fascinating up there. There are whole trees that are round rather than flat cut and run the whole length of the church. The structure of the belfry is really something to see,” said Brown. Although the belfry tour is open only to Historical Society members, the group will happily welcome new members the day of the tour. 

“Membership is only five dollars, so what better time to become a member,” Brown said. 

OCT 26, 2010
Union Leader Correspondent

 — A local twostory single-family home sustained significant fire damage Tuesday morning after what officials say started as a fire in the building’s electrical panel.
A resident of 117 Indian Rock Road reported a problem to the Windham Fire Department at around 10:33 a.m., said Fire Chief Tom McPherson Tuesday afternoon. But McPherson said there was some initial confusion about the reason for the call.
“It was kind of weird because
 it came in as an unknown medical call and then en route they said it was an active fire,” McPherson said.
At the time of the call, Windham responders were on the scene of another medical call on the other side of town, he said. McPherson said there were two women and a small child home at the time of the fire and that both had evacuated the building by the time he arrived on scene.
“When I got here there was no visible smoke outside the building, but all of a sudden I could see the roof line puffing
 with smoke,” McPherson said.
The fire quickly spread
 through the home, McPherson said, and eventually broke through the building’s roof.
Firefighters were called in from Derry, Londonderry, Nashua, Hudson and Hampstead to assist the Windham responders, and McPherson said it took about 18 firefighters between 45 minutes and an hour to knock down the blaze.
The home sits at the end of long dirt driveway and is blocked by a large fence, which McPherson said made the response a tricky one.
“It was difficult because we had to get manpower onto the scene and the house is so far back here,” he said.
No one was injured during Tuesday’s incident and McPherson said the department will conduct further investigations as to the specific cause of the fire.

OCT. 19, 2010
Yearnin' for the WILD WEST
Gunsmoke: It’s not just an old TV show. For Cowboy Action Shoot hobbyists
Steve “Capt. Morgan Rum” Seguin, left, of Exeter and Allan “Owl Hoot”
Corriveau of Gilmanton, it’s proof of a successful round of competition.
Union Leader Correspondent

 — In this fast-paced, high-tech, gadget- driven world, nothing feels righter sometimes than an honest-to-goodness shoot-out with the bad guys.
Which is why, on any given Sunday, “Dakota Joe” Morris of Thornton might be found target shooting, in character, as a member of the post-Civil War era Cavalry stationed somewhere in the New Hampshire woods
with the White Mountain Regulators gun club. After a lifetime of sports shooting, Morris has settled on cowboy action shooting as his only gun play outlet. After all, precision shooters have their skeets; action fans have their paintball pellets. For Morris — and most of the 90,000 cardcarrying Single Action Shooting Society members worldwide — it’s all about moseying back in time to a place where the Code of the West was written on a man’s heart and honored by all who had an ounce of conscience.
Allan “Owl Hoot” Corriveau of Gilmanton,
 an avid collector of vintage guns, proudly shows off
his authentic 1896 Colt Peacemaker, which helps
him get into the spirit of the Old West
 cowboy action shooting competitions.
Wuellen “Wild & Wooly” Weber of Bow has been
 participating in cowboy action shoots for 15 years. The low number
 on his Single Action Shooting Society
badge proves his longevity:
No .3,989 out of more than 90,000 active members.
“You know, be kind to women and small animals, be courteous; kids don’t have that today, with video games and popular movies,” said Morris. “As a kid, I loved Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. The whole idea of the Code of the West was to instill values in people.”
A retired West High School science teacher, Morris has moved from Bedford and relocated to Thornton, but makes weekend travel to shoot-outs a priority.
“You can find a shoot-out any weekend by going to www. The farthest I’ve been is Maryland, but there are plenty right here in New England,” Morris said.
Kinnecum Fish & Game Club is his home gun club, and it often hosts action shooting events such as the one Sunday, which drew upwards of 150 shooters from all over the region.
“We’ll be here all day, breaking for lunch at noon, and then finishing up by about 3 p.m.,” said Morris, who was planning to help break down the eight target shoots at the end of the day. The shooting stages look much like a movie set for an old TV Western, with partial saloon doors, train engines, whiskey barrels and painted ponies.
Wuellen and Mary Weber of Bow, better known in these parts as Wild & Wooly and Tequila Sunshine, have spent the past 15 years immersed in cowboy action shoots. Mary Weber sews authentic period clothing for both of them, and they’ve recently recruited their grandson, Sebastian “Sleeping Seabass”
Franco, to their posse.
Wooly turns an ear toward Stage 3, where a scenario is being played out by each of the shooters. Seems the shooter has stopped by Old Smoke’s cabin for a friendly drink, only Smoke has already had a few, and you know how Old Smoke gets when he’s been drinking. To get through Stage 3, each shooter must fire a series of shots, first with a rifle, then with pistols blazing, in a carefully choreographed sequence that sounds something like church chimes: Ding-ding-dongggg, ding, dong, ding ding.
“That’s the sound of lead on the steel-plate targets,” said Wooly Weber, watching as “Rawhide Rod” Cramer of Belmont hustles through the drill, cracking open his rifle and jamming shells into the double barrel to finish the round in decent time.
He loses a few points for not putting his rifle back on the table, but this particular day it’s all for fun, and the points don’t matter so much.
Allan “Owl Hoot” Corriveau of Gilmanton takes great pride in the fact that all his firearms are authentic.
“No reproductions here,” he says, a puff of Cherry Cavendish tobacco smoke swirling up from his corncob pipe. He holds out his 1896 Colt Peacemaker for inspection.
“I don’t do this to compete; I just like to shoot the old guns. You know, dress up, be a kid and play cowboys,” said Corriveau, 64
. He elaborated: “We could all be doing this in our own back yards, but when cowboy shooting came along, it gave us a reason to do it together. It harkens back to the ‘old code,’ you know: Ride hard, speak the truth and never spit in front of a woman. Or whatever. The code can mean a lot of things to different people. “It’s too bad they don’t have this kind of thing for kids today. It teaches good ethics. Everyone here is a kid at heart, and we’re pure at heart.’’
“This is how the West was fun,” said Tommy “Jake the Wizard” Belanger of Hooksett, who has seen firsthand how the sport of cowboy shooting can mold young minds. He introduced his son, Matthew “Mad Dog Matt” Belanger, to shooting when he was just a
“He went on to win state and regional championships in the junior class category, and now he’s 21 years old. He’s at West Point, on the pistol team,” said Belanger, who still carries a photo of his son inside the gun cart his father built for the two of them.
Club members will spend the day playing out all eight scripted scenarios, making sure to holler the right preamble to the shoot, perhaps something like, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Tonto!” before shooting at targets, in a particular order, while someone times them.
In the end, the fastest, most accurate gun will get a ribbon, but for Desiree “Miss Delaney Belle” Knibbs of Exeter, it’s all about doing your best and learning a few tricks along the way.
“My last shoot was a train wreck,” said Knibbs. “I was overanxious with my rifle, and I hit my pistol on the windowsill as I took it out of the holster, so I fumbled it. But you learn something every single time you shoot. That’s why I
 love it.”

SEPT. 29, 2010
A sign posted by a trail regular warns others about recent vandalism on the Windham Rail Trail.

Union Leader Correspondent
WINDHAM – In the time it takes to walk two miles on the Windham Rail Trail, someone smashed the driver's side window of a Lexus parked in the far corner near the woods last Wednesday, got inside and got away with a pocketbook they found stashed underneath the dash, taking with them enough pieces of the victim's identity that she has been rendered helpless, and scared silent.
She spoke reluctantly about the crime yesterday.
“They got my wallet, my credit cards, my license, $350 in cash, the keys to my house – my life,” said the Derry woman, who said she can't risk putting her name out there, not now that she is completely exposed to the robber.
The woman called Windham Police who responded quickly, but didn't ease her mind.
“They told me that mine was the fourth pocketbook stolen from a car at the rail trail parking lot,” said the victim. It was her first visit to the popular recreation trail, walking with a friend who is a regular.
Yesterday, Windham Police Sgt. Glenn Record confirmed that the Sept. 22 break-in was one of several in the past two weeks – all on weekdays, all in broad daylight.
“The break-ins have been happening in the mornings. We're trying to alleviate the situation,” Record said. “We've got extra patrols and we're doing other things – things I'd rather not discuss – but this has not gone unnoticed.”
The victim said she went back to the scene of the crime. Her husband combed the woods for her pocketbook, after she heard someone else's stolen bag had been fished from a swamp in the woods.
“While we were there we saw a suspicious car parked across the street – a woman was behind the wheel and a man was sitting in the back seat, diagonal from the woman. It looked to me like he was too big to be in the back, like his head was up against the ceiling of the car. It looked like, if he wanted to, he could have jumped out of the back, run into the parking lot, smashed a window, grabbed some things from a car and the woman could have pulled around to pick him up. He could easily jump into the backseat while she drives off,” said the victim.
It's hard not to feel like an amateur detective, once you've been violated. The woman told a handful of friends – and one of them decided to post a sign on a bulletin board at the entrance to the trail.
“I thought someone should do something,” said Jean Roalsvig. “I was kind of surprised the police didn't post something. People should be aware that there's been some problems.”
She suspects police did not want to scare people away from the trail. She also thinks such crime should be public information, and a police presence at the park on weekday mornings might help.
Record said Windham police department does own a bike, but no one has used it for a while.
“We're still down a couple of officers, so putting an officer on bike patrol would mean taking someone off the street,” Record said.
Record also pointed out that ins some of the recent parking lot crime reports, the cars were not locked.
“People need to lock their cars and hide any valuables they're leaving behind,” said Record. “Of course, if someone really wants to get into a car, they will.”
He said in general, the trail has been a safe haven for those who enjoy walking, running, biking and horseback riding.
“It would be great to equip our patrol cars with bikes that could be used during part of a shift. It's done that way in other departments in other states, where police patrol areas with a bike for a few hours during their regular shift. Unfortunately, it all depends on money. And in this economy, that takes planning.”

MAY 6, 2010
Union Leader Correspondent
CHESTER – A Chester Academy teacher was charged last week with simple assault after months of investigation by police into allegations that the she struck a sixth-grade student in the head.
That point is not being disputed – the teacher, Ann Raspuzzi, 62, of Candia, admitted to school officials that she did physically correct the student, who was not following instructions during a science lab. As a result, Raspuzzi was suspended for three days with pay back in November.
However the boy's mother, Deb Shaw, is not satisfied. She has persisted in pressing the matter since day one, asking that the district remove the teacher until her son felt “safe enough” to be in class with her. If not for her vigilance, said Shaw, the school might not even have contacted her to let her know what had transpired.
Deb Shaw with the collection of documentation she's
accumulated since October.

“They were ready to brush it off. If not for my persistence, they wouldn't have reviewed this with the teacher at all,” Shaw said.
By all accounts, what happened on Oct. 23, 2009 was that Raspuzzi was conducting a hands-on experiment on buoyancy. Students were paired up and preparing to submerge a toy boat in a glass container, similar to a fish bowl, filled with water. Shaw's son put his hand in the bowl and was told by Raspuzzi to remove it, which he did. When the boy put his hand in the water a second time, Raspuzzi came up from behind him and struck him on the head with her hand.
Raspuzzi described the action as a “flick on the back of the head” to school officials.
District Superintendent Vic Pelzy said after reviewing the facts and speaking with Raspuzzi, he determined that a three-day suspension with pay was the proper course to take, an administrative action he maintains was appropriate and sufficient.
Shaw wanted Raspuzzi out of the classroom, replaced by a substitute during her son's class period, until she felt the matter had been addressed properly. She is the only sixth-grade science teacher.
“In my view, it doesn't rise to that level of of discipline – and this isn't just my judgment,” Pelzy said. “A lot of people have looked at this and concluded the action we took is appropriate. Ms. Shaw didn't like the decision I made – and we can always disagree about that decision, but Ms. Shaw had certain demands that just can't be met.”
Meanwhile, at Shaw's urging the state Board of Education did an independent investigation. Several interviews were conducted. In a fact-finding document issued Dec. 14, it was noted that Raspuzzi “refused to cooperate in the complaint investigation.” The state board also determined that Raspuzzi had violated state special education code 1113:4 b, which deals directly with “behavioral interventions” for special education students..
There is no gray area here, said Shaw, herself a preschool teacher in Manchester. No teacher has the right to strike a student out of anger, which she says is exactly what happened to her son.
“She was mad that he wasn't complying, and whacked him in the back of the head. The teacher said later it was a reflex, and the only alternative she had. Excuse me, but there was another teacher in the classroom. There was a telephone. There is a principal down the hall. There are other ways to deal with a student besides hitting them in the head,” Shaw said..
She said she had hoped to resolve the matter with the district, but instead had to pursue the matter through the local and state levels, eventually contacting Chester Police in November, after sensing that the school was not taking seriously her concerns about what had happened in the classroom.
Shaw has persisted so that other students won't be singled out by teachers who are ill-equipped to handle what she sees as typical middle school behavior, and says as a mother she has been fighting for her son's education ever since he was coded as “special education” in kindergarten.
She speaks candidly about the challenges involved, the years she has invested in working through those issues. It's taken several different school placements, including one out-of-district placement made after her son verbally threatened a teacher.
But she will also explain with great pride that all efforts on his behalf have not been in vain; her son has turned his behavior around to the point that he was accepted back into the district during fifth grade. His progress was so pronounced that a recommendation was made after his most recent evaluation to drop his Individualized Education Plan. She says her son was having a “great year” at Chester Academy – until the incident with Raspuzzi.
She doesn't want to lose any ground.
“They say this teacher has had a good history in the school for 12 years. I say it was 12 years and one day too long, if she's going to snap just because a student puts his hand in a bowl of water,” Shaw said. “They had a good rapport until this. Honestly, I think if they had just removed her from the classroom and my son could process all of this, he would have felt safe to have her come back into the classroom. Instead, he feels worried that it may happen again. He sees that she gets a two-day vacation, and that's it?”
Yesterday, Pelzy said he was frustrated at how far this had gone, and to learn about the police charges pending against Raspuzzi, adding that he still believes what happened does not rise to this level of investigation. Raspuzzi continues to teach in the district.
“She is one of our best teachers. I should add that Mrs. Raspuzzi has resigned, not because of this alone. It's something that she'd been deliberating over anyway , but this situation probably pushed her,” Pelzy said.
Raspuzzi is scheduled to appear in Derry District Court on June 2 to face the charges of simple assault, said Chester Police Chief William Burke.
“Although, it hasn't been too simple for anybody involved,” Burke said., “Through most of the process we wanted to make sure that our end of the investigation was completely separate from what the school had determined. At times, Ms. Shaw felt it was taking us too long to act, but that's what happens sometimes in a small police department.”
He said Raspuzzi turned herself in to police after her lawyer, Kevin Sharkey, was contacted on April 29. Efforts to reach Sharkey yesterday for comment were unsuccessful.
“I'm glad it's over with, for everyone's sake,” Burke said of the investigation and resulting arrest warrant. “The kid deserves an education, and it's time for everyone to get one with their lives. Sometimes, in looking at these cases, you see how things happen. Obviously it doesn't make it right. I've been doing this job for 26 years and I've seen a lot of good people make mistakes.”

APRIL 25, 2010
Union Leader Correspondent
BOSTON – As metaphors go, “making lemonade” means different things to different people. It's about squeezing the goodness out of a bad situation as much as it's about the birth of the entrepreneurial spirit – kids with a sweet-tart pitcher of ambition and a change jar ripe for the jingle of pocket-change profits.
Making “Lemonade,” a mini documentary about life after layoffs, means all that to Erik Proulx – and more.
Proulx, a 1993 UNH grad and seasoned advertising copywriter, had an occupational awakening when he got laid off from Arnold Worldwide in October of 2008. It was his third career layoff, making him one of more than 2.6 million Americans who were part of the pink slip epidemic that year – a chronic ailment that continues to take its toll.
But Proulx had every reason to get up the next morning – his wife and kids, his $3,000 monthly mortgage on his home in Boston, his pile of bills, empty food cupboards and perhaps most of all, his professional pride.
He started blogging about his job search and state of mind, and created a job board,, recognizing that there was a whole community of advertising professionals out there in need of work – and moral support.
He took his first-hand unemployment experience and extrapolated it, finding out in the process that life after layoff didn't have to involve moping or heavy drinking or desolation. Rather, the possibilities were limitless once you let go of who the world has made you and follow your passion to a more authentic self, an epiphany that led to his movie's tag line: “It's not a pink slip. It's a blank page.”
“People started writing how thankful they were they got laid off, and about all the opportunities presented to them that they were able to pursue because of this time they had. That kind of struck me, that people were looking at losing a job in a positive way,” said Proulx.
He started collecting stories, and decided he wanted to make a documentary about losing your job and finding your calling. He said as word about his endeavor got out through Twitter and word of mouth, he had a loyal following of fans and fellow unemployed professionals, which meant the cost of making a short film was absorbed by those who believed in what he was doing.
“I didn't do it for the money. I have no ambitions with 'Lemonade.' I did it just for the enlightenment I had making a positive out of a negative circumstance. I wanted people to feel what I felt. Ultimately, the hard costs were zero – all the labor was donated,” Proulx said.
Although you can watch the movie alone in front of your computer on, Proulx would encourage you to make it a social moment and come to a free screening April 28 in Concord, at New Hampshire Technical Institute's Sweeney Auditorium, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., with a discussion to follow.
“It's not something I'd ever done before. I'd worked in advertising, so I had made commercials. But a 30-second format is different from coordinating a month-long documentary. I also learned that having not done something before is no reason not to try it,” said Proulx, whose 35-minute film includes profiles of 16 people from the advertising industry – including Proulx – who have reinvented themselves as painters, a yoga instructors, a coffee roasters, filmmakers and more.
It's not the first time Proulx has had to weigh his options.
Fresh out of high school, Proulx headed to UNH with a business degree in mind. It was the 1990s, and an MBA was your ticket to anywhere you wanted to go, or so he was told.
“I realized early on, after my first micro economics course as a freshman, that I couldn't abide it. It didn't connect with me, Proulx said.
So he switched majors, and exited the system in 1993 with a degree in English.
“I spent a year trying to figure out “what next?” Then I saw a commercial on TV for United Way that brought a tear to my eye. It was beautifully written and I thought, hey, someone had to write that. That's amazing. That's what I want to do, so I went into advertising. After 15 years in an ad agency, and not affecting anyone the way that commercial affected me, I started thinking again, about what was next,” Proulx said.
Fortunately, the economy tanked and the advertising world shed itself of talented but extraneous guys like Proulx, who still isn't certain what's next, but he's open to all the possibilities.
“This is where the binaries fail and you're stuck back into the 'declare your major' problem. It doesn't have to be one thing. I'm a man of a thousand jobs right now, and what I'm enjoying are these personal connections and stories. Am I a filmmaker? Yes. A writer? Yes. A public speaker? Yes. A teacher? Yes. I can't just assign one title to it – it's not an easy elevator speech to give, but I'm doing a collection of things, all completely fulfilling,” Proulx said.
It's really the liberation that comes from not feeling like I have to be that one thing,” Proulx said.
He's not an author, but he's currently writing a book version of “Lemonade,” still soliciting stories through his website from which he will select the best ones to profile. This time, rather than focusing solely on advertising professionals, he is collecting stories from all walks of life, “industry agnostic,” he calls it.
Going around promoting his no-budget film does not put food on the table. He's cautiously realistic, buoyed by the freedom he's experiencing as he continues to write his own script. He's depleted his savings, raided his 401k and is prepared to sell his home.
“I don't want to move. That's our last resort, but it's possible. My wife and I decided it wouldn't be so bad if we lose the house. The idea of getting a job and staying with a particular company, with benefits, for 30 or 40 years is obviously a model long since gone,” Proulx said. “For right now we're making it, month to month. I'm feeling it's a personally better decision to find a way to keep doing what I'm doing and pursue what I'm pursuing, without the added stress of failure at another advertising job.”

APRIL 2, 2010
Billy Donohue, Darby DeChristopher, Holly Winchell and Christian Wisecarver.
Union Leader Correspondent
HAMPSTEAD – Calling out sick is the same as calling out famous for a guy like Christian Wisecarver – if, by "sick," you are assigning street cred to the New Hampshire-themed video he dropped two days ago on YouTube.
Talk about sick: It's so viral that, as of last night, it had more than100,000 hits, and counting.
“I told my boss I was calling out famous. I needed a day just to catch my breath,” said Wisecarver, who's been fielding non-stop e-mails and phone calls ever since uploading his latest work, “Granite State of Mind” Wednesday morning.
What he's produced with a little help from his friends is a clever spin on rapper Jay-Z's ode to New York City, “Empire State of Mind,” so clever – and laden with New Hampshire history, trivia and fun facts – that it was almost assigned as homework for a group of fourth-graders. Almost.
If only he hadn't included the bleeping f-bomb.
“You know, in retrospect, I wish I hadn't put it in there. I didn't even want to include it, but it just sort of happened,” said Wisecarver, only a little apologetic for the slip of the tongue that is just a blip in an otherwise stellar rundown of all things New Hampshire, dropping way more names than f-bombs while including everything from geography and landmarks to hot spots and newsmakers.
He recruited a friend of a friend, Holly Winchell, to help on vocals. His musical partner, Billy Donohue, appears as "the plow guy."
Wisecarver had a good feeling about this one. He's made more than two dozen videos. But this was the first time he followed in the footsteps of Weird Al Yankovich and parodied a hit. It had all the ingredients for a winner.
“You know, the original was sort of begging to be parodied, the music is so catchy. It really started when I was listening to the lyrics of the Jay-Z video – it just started to come together in my head,” said Wisecarver.
“And he had access to a New Hampshire belt buckle,” said Darby DeChristopher, the video's producer, referring to one of the many subtle nods to the Granite State included in the 4 minute and 43 second video.
She works with Wisecarver as a video production specialist in Cambridge, and is one quarter of The Super Secret Project, Wisecarver's production company.
“Of all the videos we've done, this one is definitely the most viral. I did one a few years back, an Ode to Zach Braff. He actually posted that one on his site and they showed it on “The Tonight Show” when he was on,” Wisecarver said.
His day off is just a three-day weekend – he's not quitting his day job anytime soon. But you don't get your degree in filmmaking from Emerson College and spend a year in Los Angeles working with directors like James L. Brooks on films like Adam Sandler's “Spanglish” if you aren't dead serious about making it as a filmmaker.
“Granite State of Mind” combines his favorite genres – music and comedy.
“Actually, I love making the music videos. We have lots of ideas – like, we're working on an animated music video about road rage,” said Wisecarver. “You know, road rage in a funny, music video kind of way.”
A 1996 graduate of Timberalane High School, Wisecarver's creative juices are just starting to flow. He's also working on putting together a live sketch comedy type show, for live performances of their music videos, and he's writing a book. Sort of.
“Actually, I said if this video didn't do something, I was going to quit making videos and write a book. Now that it's taking off, I may have to write the book anyway,” Wisecarver said.

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