OFF THE CLOCK is a weekly feature providing you with an inside look at the people who make Derry tick – from the Assessor's office to the Water Department, each week you'll get a glimpse of who they are and what they do when they're not assessing your property tax or testing your water quality.

*Editor's note: Apologies to former Off the Clock subjects. Due to "technical difficulties" the archives are in the process of being restored prior to 8/16/10. 
 Sorry for any inconvenience. CR

SEPTEMBER 13, 2010
A chronic do-gooder and repeat offender, it's no surprise to anyone that Debbie Mailloux 
will be locked up for a "good" cause -- MDA.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- Debbie Mailloux is not one to back down from a challenge or give up when the going gets tough. In fact, she's won't take no for an answer or let opportunity pass her by. She knows her cup is half full – even without looking at it – and her outlook is sunny, with an endless possibility of good karma.
It's how she rolls, and for those who've been touched by her good humor, unyielding optimism or generosity, it's best just to get out of her way when she's on a mission, or she'll roll right over you with her good-hearted “up with people” attitude.
“I was a really shy kid – no one believes it,” said Mailloux, who is walking through the Derry Police Station in a striped prison suit and matching hat, tilted roguishly to the side. As she makes her way to the basement holding cells, she's popping her head in just about every door along the way, personally greeting the many employees who don't seem to be surprised that she's all dressed up with someplace to go.
As longtime senior bookkeeper in the town's finance department, Mailloux's reputation for dress-up is legend. She's got a closet at home reserved for her costume collection, which includes seasonal headgear and endless hats, accessories and props, which she wears promiscuously – even when there's no occasion.
The prison gear is for a photo opportunity, to let people know that on Sept. 22 she will be “locked up” to benefit Muscular Dystrophy from 1 to 2 p.m. at Luciano's in Londonderry. Her donation “bail” is $1,600, and she's hoping friends and co-workers will come donate to a worthy cause.
She has no idea how MDA got her name, or who suggested she'd be a good candidate.
The thing about me is that if I agree to do something, I'm 110 percent committed. But I'm not one to get involved with a particular cause for years and years,” said Mailloux, who is thick enough with goodness that spreading herself thin simply means there's more goodness to go around.
When she supported Relay for Life, she and a friend dressed up like old ladies with walkers and made their way to the starting line, unbeknownst to their team, stirring confusion followed by laughter. Make-A-Wish Foundation was also a passion of hers – mainly because she's unable to resist any opportunity to make kids happier.
Her inner child is irrepressible, resulting in a condition best described as young at heart.
We live in a great neighborhood in Auburn. I fell in love with the house, but it was the neighborhood that did it for me; it's filled with children,” said Mailloux, whose personal nest is currently empty. Her two daughters – Chistina, 30, and Jessica, 29, born 11 months apart, are both living their own lives to their fullest, following their mother's lead.
“We were the kind of parents who really just enjoyed our kids. We weren't strict. We didn't have schedules. We taught them that the whole world is open to them, and they took advantage of that,” said Mailloux.
As she talks about how much she enjoys her neighborhood's annual block party, she tells a story that seems more like proverbial wisdom than anecdotal.
It was a block party so, of course, I was dressing up as a clown. When my neighbors heard this, they asked me to make balloon animals for the kids. Not knowing how to do that, I agreed. Then I wondered how in the world was I going to make balloon animals. I didn't want to let the kids down, so I just blew up balloons and twisted them into nothing and told the kids they were whatever they wanted them to be, and they were amazed. Their imaginations kicked in, and they saw the giraffe or the elephant or whatever they asked for,” Mailloux said. “Eventually, I just gave them balloons and they were just as happy in the end. It all worked out.”
She's a firm believer in paying it forward, doing anonymous good deeds that can't be returned. She's guilty of seeing those in need all around her and taking immediate action – a couple out of gas stranded at a gas station, someone at the cash register coming up short, tips for hard-working Joe's who don't normally get tips, someone looking lost and in need of her uplifting sense of direction.
If she's waiting to get into the Dunkin Donuts, and someone is kind enough to let her go ahead of them on her way to the drive-thru, she pays for whatever they get. “If they pull in ahead of me, they lose,” she says, eyes twinkling at the thought of her secret game of coffee roulette.
The first Valentine from the love of her life.
I guess I learned that from my parents. My dad worked every job he could, always working side jobs. He appreciated hard work and was known to be a generous tipper – some thought too generous. And my mom – I never realized how much she did for others until after she died – people came up to me telling me all that she'd done for them, and she did it quietly her whole life, without fanfare. That really impressed me,” Mailloux said.She's been married to the same guy for 33 years – she met him while at a college party, back when she was studying to become a nurse. She already had a boyfriend, but the chemistry was immediate.
A few weeks later it was Valentine's Day. My boyfriend did nothing for me. He sent me this,” she says, pulling a yellowed Hallmark from her purse.
I'm so emotional, so sentimental. My husband has always understood that about me,” Mailloux said.
I have no talents to speak of – nothing tangible. I'm not musical. I can't do crafts. I don't have an athletic bone in my body. I can't sew or knit or paint. My husband says my gift is with people. If I dress up in a silly costume for no reason, and it makes someone laugh, that's great. Actions speak louder than words. I'd rather show people how I feel,” said Mailloux. “I am lucky – I really am. And I just want to share some happiness with others along the way. Isn't that why we're here, to try and make the world a better place?”

Marlene Bishop: Animal Control Officer
Marlene Bishop with Mouse, one of two mini horses she keeps at her home animal sanctuary.

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Marlene Bishop's interest in animal control can be traced back to her earliest childhood years, when she recalls organizing a group of household ants underneath her bed.
“My mother caught me feeding them, and she asked me what I was doing. I told her I was just playing with my friends. She, of course, gave me a good talking to; then she vacuumed them up,” said Bishop.
On a related note, it's important to understand that her mother, Florence Ouellette, was in all other cases an animal lover as well, and served as town dog catcher before Bishop joined her back in the 1970s in the Animal Control Department. The two worked together for years, until Ouellette retired in 2001.
When not single-handedly responding to suspicious fox sightings, stray dog calls or the seasonal moose on the loose calls in town, Bishop keeps busy at home, controlling her own wild kingdom which includes three corgis – Gremlin, Tilly and Mojo; an Australian shepherd named Abby; two mini horses, Mouse and Mini Me; a black cat named Kitty Girl; a lop-eared rabbit named Miss Rabbit; a flock of McCaws and parolets; and five honey bee hives.
“I'm not really sure why I wanted to start with the bees,” said Bishop, adding some grass clippings to a smoker and then pumping the billows until she is lost in a cloud of smoke. She winds her long hair into a knot on the back of her head and clips it into place, then pulls a bee jacked over her head, making sure every crevice is tightly sealed. She pulls on her bee gloves and heads toward the hives.
Bishop prepares a smoker for her bee hives.
“Had a bee stuck right here, between my chin and the jacket – got stung so many times my chin was misshapen for a while,” said Bishop. Three years in, the stings have lost their sting. “It gets to the point where it's like a mosquito bite.”
She started off with a copy of “Beekeeping for Dummies,” but soon realized everything she always wanted to know about beekeeping might be better learned from local experts. She attended bee school at Pawtuckaway Beekeepers Association in Candia, and picked up her first three hives from Hudson beekeeper Alden Marshall.
“I lost a hive my first year – they starved to death. I learned some things the hard way,” said Bishop, peeling the top off one of the hives and pulling up a screen glued together with honeycomb and dripping with bees. “But this spring I got two more hives, and then one of my hives swarmed, and so now I have five active hives. This one I've taken 21 pounds of honey from so far this season.”
She says she probably was drawn to the hobby after hearing so much about Colony Collapse Disorder in the news. Now, she has a profound understanding of the intricacies of bee behavior and how human behavior contributes to their struggle for survival, through heavy use of lawn chemicals and general disruption of the food chain.
Her expertise on human behavior is an occupational hazard – many of her own pets were “throwaways” – Miss Rabbit had been tossed in a Dumpster, found by an elderly couple taking out their trash. Mouse was a stud horse who was living in an abusive pet-owner relationship.

She believes people generally have lost touch with the reality of our intended relationship with animals.
“Farm life gives you a respect for animals – you care for them and, in return, they sustain you. We've lost that. People today in their quest to not be cruel to animals want to 'save' everything. That's not the answer. People who raise animals for food know that,” said Bishop, whose Native American roots twist a little when she thinks too long or hard about how people take nature for granted.
“Native Americans took only what they needed from the earth. There is a respect for nature, something we've forgotten – we're killing the planet,” said Bishop, stopping in her tracks as a garter snake wriggles past her feet. She reaches into the grass and plucks it up with two fingers strategically placed behind its hissing little head.
“Snakes? These guys don't bother me. Not much bothers me – except spiders,” Bishop says, releasing the snake back into the grass as she heads over to see if her houseplants are enjoying the morning sun.
In addition to fauna, Bishop also nurtures an assortment of flora – day lilies, hibiscus, jasmine, aloe, begonias, sage, catnip, grapes, and some fruit trees. Her swiss chard is thriving this season, while her tomatoes have suffered late blight.
A flurry of white butterflies circle the garden while she bends to harvest the thick stalks of chard. Mouse gallops to the fence, perhaps hoping for snack. Kitty Girl darts across the dirt path between Bishop and the corral.
“Don't let it bother you,” says Bishop, gathering the chard into a two-fisted bunch. “She's a black cat, but she's lucky.”

AUGUST 30, 2010
Not coaching doesn't compute
Doug Rathburn debriefs the soccer parents during Friday's practice at Rider Field.

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRYWhen he's not managing the town's technological interests as IT/GIS manager, Doug Rathburn is working in the field – specifically the soccer field – teaching kids the finer points of soccer.
When my oldest was old enough to play I got into coaching. They were hungry for coaches – as they always are. But since I had some idea about how to play the game, I figured why not,” said Rathburn.
That was 11 years ago – and he's still coaching kids, currently that includes his youngest, Hunter, who plays for Derry Eagles U10 travel team.
Rathburn came to soccer naturally – he grew up in Germany because his father was a military officer and his mom was a native of Germany.
Especially when my father was serving in Vietnam, it was just easier for my mother to go home and live with her family then to stay on base, so I have a lot of memories of growing up at my grandmother's house, playing soccer with my cousins,” said Rathburn.
Soccer was to kids in Germany like baseball is to American kids – a pickup game of soccer was just how you passed the time.
Rathburn eventually settled in Derry in time for his freshman year at Pinkerton. He said the story of how his parents found their way from Munich to Derry is another one of those instances of happenstance that ends up directing the course of your life.
They were going to Nashua to look at something, and took a cab – Curley's Cab out of Derry. Turns out the cab driver was selling his house in Derry. One thing led to another, and the next thing you know, my parents ended up buying his house,” said Rathburn.
Coaching is just a good fit for Rathburn, who comes at the game from perhaps a more philosophical point of view than the average American coach.
I think in some ways, American kids come at soccer the same way they regard football – it's a linear thing, and it's all about moving the ball down the field to make a goal. My approach is in trying to teach kids that it's really a game of keep away. You teach the kids to pass the ball and that you don't always have to take it to the net yourself. Sometimes, your best chance to score is the guy standing right next to you on the field,” said Rathburn.
Although he doesn't think soccer will ever be No. 1 here as it is in other countries, Rathburn acknowledges that soccer has come a long way – and is more a part of American culture than ever before.
It's definitely found a following. It's a great sport – it's really a contact sport, a very physical sport. If you watched World Cup soccer you saw how much those guys use their bodies in the course of a game,” said Rathburn.
He raised his hand to coach when his oldest, Even, now 17, was about 6.
My middle son, Conor, is 12, and so basically after coaching Evan, I would drop down and start again with the younger kids – which is really my favorite place to be,” said Rathburn. “It's so cool to see them come out and learn the basics and progress, from showing up with the shin guards on upside down to learning how to dribble down the field and really do well.”
His youngest, Hunter, is 9. Rathburn coached him for four years and thought maybe this would be the year to take a break and just join the other parents cheering on the sidelines.
One of the coaches dropped out and they needed another coach. I think now that I'm back into it, I'm in it for the long haul,” said Rathburn. “I thought maybe I could be happy to just watch from the sidelines, but coaching is something I've really come to love.”
He is co-coaching with Antonio Noj, a native of Guatemala who also grew up regarding soccer as the only sport. Together they've been nurturing their team of 20 boys, continuing the spring soccer sessions all through summer and into fall.
We didn't know if any of the kids would actually show up over the summer, but we told them we'd be at the field every Tuesday and Thursday, and if they wanted to play, just to show up. Some nights we had a dozen kids,” said Rathburn.
He said his wife, Maribeth, is a devoted soccer mom, and enjoys supporting which ever team needs supporting. Although their oldest, Evan, has mostly switched his energy to tennis, the other two boys continue to play for the town of Derry.
I guess for me the thing about coaching is that I get to see a lot of kids in the upper level who started out with me when they were just learning the game. The fact that they're still playing, still loving the game reinforces that my philosophy works. I feel it's important that kids just learn to love the game when they're young. It gets competitive later on, and that's fine,” Rathburn said. “But if it's not fun for you when you're starting out, you lose that spark.”

AUGUST 23, 2010
Big guy, big heart
Firefighter Mike Willinsky helps 4-year-old Jewls, who is one
 of 22 kids enrolled in his wife's daycare, get her hands on a baby chicken.

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Even when he's off the clock, Derry firefighter Mike Willinsky is on duty – he serves as volunteer Deputy Fire Chief for the town of Chester in his down time. It's not that he's not busy enough with a full-time job. But one day he was home listening to his scanner and heard a call go out for a car on fire up against a house in Chester.
He knew that he could probably get there faster than any of the other guys from Chester, who all have day jobs.
They have two full-time employees – I just felt like I live here in Chester anyway, and if I can help, why not?” said Willinsky, whose sizable heart was not affected in any way by his recent tremendous weight loss.
I got a lap-band two years ago. I've lost 85-ish pounds,” said Willinsky, flipping through some old photos which, every once in a while, prompt him to stop and say, “Oh yeah; there's big me.”
He said his decision to finally take charge of his weight has inspired several of his fellow firefighters, who also have been successful losing weight with the laparoscopic stomach band.
A native of Connecticut, Willinsky spent 20 years as a paramedic. He'd always thought he'd become a firefighter, but was enjoying his work as an EMT. Sometime after the age of 30 it occurred to him that it was now or never – all the incoming firefighters were getting younger and younger, and it would be harder for him to train and compete.
He came to Derry for his first full-time firefighter job eight years ago. His refuge has been tending to his 2.5 sprawling acres, which are normally bustling with activity. His wife, Sheila, runs a daycare in the basement of their home that spills out onto the backyard for games of whiffle ball or kick ball. Willinsky keeps a growing menagerie of farmyard animals in the back half of his property – countless chickens, some teen-aged pheasants, a couple of rabbits, a duck named Walter, and two goats, Oreo and Mudslide.
How many chickens? I have no idea. They just keep coming,” said Willinsky, stooping to pick up a few eggs left on the ground by fruitful hens. He said he ends up taking in other people's chickens when they get tired of feeding them in the winter. “Some people wonder why we don't just eat them when they stop laying eggs. I can't do that. They come here to live, not to die.”
Willinsky is a big hit with the kids at his wife's daycare, who call him “Fire Mike.” One of his most devoted proteges is a little 4-year-old named Jewls, who is Willinsky's No. 1 farm hand. She knows just how to dump piles of chicken feed from coffee cans, or chase Walter in circles, and where the best rocks are for dropping into the water bucket.
I wanna pet the goat,” she says to Willinsky, who halfheartedly tries to convince Jewls that the goats are busy doing other things. Without much coaxing, however, Willinsky finds himself standing in a barn, legs apart, arms open wide, ready to capture a charging goat in a big bear hug just so a little girl can look into its slanty goat eyes and give the frantic farm animal a hug.
He's a softie,” confides Willinsky's wife, who points out that under his tough-guy exterior beats the heart of a gentle giant. “He's the best father in the world to my two boys – that means the world to me,” she said, showing off photos of the boys, in their 20s, who have successfully launched into their own worlds.
Willinsky also keeps koi fish in a waterfall pond outside his sliding door, and keeps a small garden where he grows peppers and tomatoes and sunflowers, all of which he sends home regularly with the daycare kids, along with fresh chicken eggs.
I picked up 12 more goldfish last week, someone in Warner was getting rid of them. It's like a home for wayward animals here,” said Willinsky, with a warmth that implies he wouldn't have it any other way. He drops a few more tomatoes into the “take home” basket and plucks a broken stem heavy with sunflowers from its stalk.
He is an avid bow hunter and enjoys shooting bear – but only with a video camera.
I shot a bear once. That was it. After that, I vowed I'd only film them. It was not pleasant,” Willinsky said. “What I love most about hunting is not the hunting part as much as I love being in the woods. I normally go alone. When I'm out there I see things others don't get to see, like being up in a tree, face-to-face with an owl.”
He teaches a bow hunter safety class for NH Fish and Game Department, and sometimes thinks if he could go back and do it all over again, he might have become a Fish and Game conservation officer.
I love what I'm doing now. But I really love all the outdoor stuff – I always have,” Willinsky said.
When Jewls isn't following him around the farmyard, he is shadowed by his two dogs, Tyler, a Chesapeake Bay retriever, and Katie, a golden retriever.
He and his wife don't apologize for having grown up New York sports fans, a symptom of coming from Connecticut, just a train ride from Yankee Stadium. They attend Ranger hockey games whenever possible.
Sheila takes great pride in wearing her Yankees shirt – one day she was wearing it at Home Depot, and the guy in line next to her got so mad he left all his stuff at the register and left the store,” said Willinsky. “That's kind of crazy, don't you think?”
He and his wife make regular weekend to Pittsburgh, Pa., where they have built a five-season home.
Mud season is a season all to itself,” said Willinsky. They would like to retire there someday – but not until the next chapter of their life is completed.
We're on a waiting list to adopt a little girl from China. It's been a five-year process, and they say we're getting closer to the top of the list. We want her to go to school here, so I won't be retiring anytime soon,” said Willinsky.

May 3, 2010
Elizabeth Robidoux: Planning Department
Something is out there
Elizabeth Robidoux, left, and Karrye Berglund of Massabesic Paranormal.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY - Elizabeth Robidoux believes in ghosts. She also believes the majority of what other people might think are "hauntings" are not really the result of restless spirits who've failed to "cross over to the other side." But she knows, without a doubt, that some are.
Robidoux, Derry's planning clerk by day, has always been interested in the supernatural. She loves figuring out whether things that go bump in the night are real or imagined, which is why she's a full-blown ghost buster, providing free confidential paranormal consulting services through Massabesic Paranormal. 
It is an endeavor that is too serious to be called a hobby and too philanthropic to be called a business, something that really got started two years ago whenRobidoux attended a Beyond Reality event at Mount Washington Hotel. That's where she met Karrye Berglund."We sort of said hello to one another as we were leaving our hotel rooms, and wondering whether the other was one of those psychic weirdos or actually a serious student of the paranormal," said Robidoux.
 "We got to talking and quickly found out we were both from Auburn and neither of us was a weirdo. We figure it was meant to be. We couldn't have planned meeting the way we did."They decided to join forces and see whether they could help others dealing with the kinds of stress and fear that often go along with the perceived presence of paranormal activity."We don't charge for our services, and we don't publicize. We are very discrete. Most people who contact us believe there's something going on inside their homes. We always go in with the assumption that it's not paranormal, and we set out to prove it's not. For me, it's really about making sure that nobody feels unsafe in their home. If we can find an underlying reason for strange activity, we can actually help put someone at ease," Robidoux said.
Although a believer in ghosts from a tender age, Robidoux said as an adult she had an experience that was " frightening enough" that she actually thought something was wrong with her."At that time, I didn't know there was such a thing as ghost hunters or they'd have been at my house. So I understand first hand what the fear is like, and that's why Karrye and I believe so firmly that no one should ever fear being in their own space. It's why we do what we do," Robidoux said.
A lot has changed in the last decade. There is more of a mainstream interest and acceptance for real-life ghost busting now, thanks to television programming like "TAPS" and "Ghost Hunters," that follow teams of investigators into various spooky places. No longer relegated to the ranks of the "Twilight Zone," Robidoux credits such shows with helping educate the public about the science behind energy fields and paranormal activity.She pulls out her EMF detector, a gray gadget with a rainbow of colored lights that flash when in the presence of high electromagnetic fields, one of her tools of the trade.
"Lots of things cause high electromagnetic field readings -- unshielded electric wires, power lines , microwaves, hair dryer. If I held my EMF detector up to your computer, it would light right up," said Robidoux.
She also relies on the use of a digital voice recorder, which can pick up EVPs -- for electronic voice phenomena, sounds she likens to "a dog whistle," in that sometimes other-worldly voices aren't audible in human frequencies.
"We did one investigation where we left feeling like nothing was there, based on what we observed. But you get a feeling about a place sometimes, so we went back and listened to the audio we recorded and it was amazing: We heard a woman humming on the tape. There was four of us in one room having a conversation, and the recorder was in another empty room. As you listen to the playback, you can hear our conversation, and you can hear the humming. It's very clear -- kind of weird and very cool," Robidoux said.
Robidoux says everyone has different levels of intuitive ESP. She stops short of calling herself a psychic, explaining she's simply more sensitive to energy fields than the average person, and uses her abilities to investigate claims of hauntings or otherwise unexplainable occurrences.
"I can go into a space and say, 'Yeah, this is not a good space.' It's just something I've always been able to do," Robidoux said.When she's not coordinating Planning Board agendas or hunting ghosts,Robidoux is the busy mother of four children -- an 11-year-old and 9-year-old triplets. They are all curious about what she does and supportive. But they aren't ready to get too deep -- something that really should be left to adults who know what they're doing.She and Berglund recently attended another Mount Washington conference, which reinforced their own work as paranormal investigators.
"We don't have all the cool equipment like they use on 'TAPS,' but we have had some good investigations, and we've come up with some things we can't explain," Robidoux said. 
"Sometimes we joke about the fact that I like to carry my digital voice recorder with me, sort of the way other people carry their cell phones. It's just that sometimes I get those feelings like something's out there, and I'd just like to flip on my recorder and see if I'm right."

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