, Derry, New Hampshire

January 2, 2014

Letters to the editor

Derry News

---- — Middle school needs an auditorium

To the editor:

Recently, I spent the day listening to the sixth, seventh and eighth grade band, chorus, orchestra and various configurations of the aforementioned student musicians perform in the gymnasium of the middle school. They were terrific. Some were better than terrific.

Unfortunately, I, like many of their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends couldn’t see them perform. We were delegated to sit and stand behind the band, chorus, orchestra and various configurations of the aforementioned student musicians because there were not enough seats. The bleachers were packed (this is a gym, after all), the floor was covered in a tarp to protect it and there were five or six rows of chairs on the floor to accommodate the overflow from the bleachers; however, this wasn’t enough. People stood on ether side of the bleachers, along the wall, behind (as mentioned before) the chorus risers and the band chairs. Look for yourself, the concert will soon be playing on Channel 21 (although the videographers were not trying to get the crowd, but rather the singers and other musicians).

I mention this because, for the 13 years I have lived in town (and I realize I am a newbie), I have heard talk of the elusive auditorium. It was something discussed; a dream entity that has been pushed back year after year. Except this year. It was kept for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is so that private funding could be sought and people or endowments that chose this as a worthy cause would see that the school district believes this to be a possibility. The auditorium funding is broken into two years, one for the architectural and engineering fees and the other for the construction.

But let’s get real. Surely, the roofs of the existing buildings take precedence. Of course, they do. And the safety of our public servants in the fire house -- shouldn’t their needs be put ahead of the hundreds of musicians, from elementary school through high school, who take to the gym floors at the middle school and high school several times each year? Well, of course, safety is the priority. But when is it time for the auditorium? How many parents, grandparents, cousins, siblings, aunts and uncles have to sit on an uncomfortable bleacher or stand (after happily making a contribution to support the music programs in the district), while listening to their child, niece, nephew, grandchild, cousin or sibling, before they get tired of it and become willing to pony up for the bond that will be necessary to fund the auditorium? I’m willing.

I work at the middle school and listen to the students rehearse day after day for their concerts. I’ve seen the joy on their faces as they are successful in their performances and the sadness in the realization that it was impossible for them to be seen because they were blocked by the SRO crowd.

The middle school does a wonderful job in timing the concerts so that one group will arrive as another is leaving. This can make for some interesting traffic patterns, but when the audience hears the students play or sing the traffic is forgotten. Imagine the comfort of a stadium seat, perfectly spaced so that people can pass in front of you and your toes are not in peril. Imagine acoustics that bring the music to life. Imagine the students on the stage, under the lights, with the conductor raising the baton. This doesn’t happen in a gym.

There is an auditorium committee that is exploring ideas, designs and timing of the auditorium. If you are tired of sitting in the bleachers, please let the committee know, or the School Board, or the Town Council. Any auditorium that is built will be a community auditorium, no matter where it is. There are many more groups that would use it besides the elementary, middle and high school bands, choruses and orchestra. Theater groups within the schools and community would want to use it. Dance troupes, lecturers, comedians and others would make the auditorium a valuable part of this community. When is the right time for an auditorium? How about now?

Mary Wing Soares


Taxpayers can’t afford employee luncheon

To the editor:

Thank you for your recent editorial titled “Don’t honor employees by shutting out customers.” I am glad that you agree that it is not good business for the Derry Municipal Center to be closed during normal business hours.

While standing outside the Municipal Building on Dec. 6, having just recorded my cable TV show “Upclose and Political” and waiting for my husband to pick me up, I saw first-hand how many citizens were unaware of the closing, no matter how many times and how many places the closing was advertised. In the six years that I served as Derry’s District One town councilor, I was unaware of any closing of the Municipal Building during working hours unless due to inclement weather. I can assure you that had I been aware, I would have brought my concerns forward to the Town Council.

In response to Town Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores letter to the editor titled “Nothing wrong with town employee lunch,” I would like to point out a few facts which I obtained per an RSA-91A request of Acting Town Administrator Larry Budreau regarding the luncheon. First, employees were paid to attend the annual luncheon for time that exceeded their normal 1/2-hour lunch, which in this particular matter was 2-1/2 hours. Second, town management did not buy the catered lunch, Derry taxpayers paid for the luncheon and for the rental of the hall. Third, this is not about my “total disregard for town employees”, but a matter of what the Derry taxpayer can no longer afford.

In reality, municipal employees do not work any harder than employees in the private sector. It appears that Town Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores feels that the Derry taxpayers should pay homage to town employees with paid luncheons during working hours and finds it “grossly unreasonable” that I for one do not want my hard-earned tax dollars spent in this manner.

Perhaps going forward in the future, the Town Council and the town administrator could find a way to honor the years of service and exemplary performance of outstanding town employees without it being an expense to the Derry taxpayer that is in far excess of the $3,000 dollars (including employee wages) which Town Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores stated in her letter. More importantly, whatever and where ever the celebration, I hope that it does not require the closing of our Municipal Center during normally scheduled working hours.

Janet Fairbanks