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Holiday Stroll should end with a bang

The Winter Holiday Stroll will have a fireworks display for the first time.

The city’s yearlong sesquicentennial celebration will come to a close at the event Saturday with fireworks shot over the Nashua River.

The display at the downtown festival, which will run from 5-10 p.m., is being paid for by Oracle Corp., which wanted to be part of the sesquicentennial celebration, said Claire Rioux, an aide to Mayor Bernie Streeter.

The fireworks will be set off at about 5:40 p.m., after the popular tree-lighting ceremony at Railroad Square.

Cindy George, the sesquicentennial program coordinator, said the big bang of a finale will come on the heels of great historical and festive events throughout the year made possible by sesquicentennial sponsors.

Downtown parking meters are going cashless.

The card kiosks that will make the new meters really high-tech are just waiting to be plugged in.

Boxes have been installed at the Nashua Public Library and City Hall, said Susan Klassen, acting traffic superintendent and traffic engineer.

Parking patrons will soon be able to use the debit cards that the kiosks spit out to pay for parking instead of dropping change in the meters. The debit cards are part of the city’s parking system overhaul, but were not introduced over the summer when the new meters landed downtown.

The card is about the size of a credit card, but works on the debit system.

The genius of the reusable cards is if patrons pull away with time remaining on the meter, the remaining money can be credited back to the card.

Klassen said the goal is to unveil the system in early December in a promotion with the Great American Downtown organization.

One word of advice from Klassen: The kiosks do not give change.

If someone puts in $10, there will be $10 on the parking card, not $5 and $5 returned in change, she said.

Red, white and blue

Employees of Shaw’s supermarket on Main Street have new nametags. But at least one city resident thinks the supermarket took the old nametags away because a customer objected to their hologram-like images of an American flag in the background.

An assistant store manager who refused to identify himself said that is not true. Rather, the store wanted employees to wear nametags uncluttered by stickers, he said.

Initially, the assistant manager said only one customer complained about not being able to read an employee’s name. But he also said it was an ongoing issue: “People not being able to tell who is who.”

Silvia Abelleira thinks differently. She said employees and several city residents – including one person who said it was confirmed by the store – believe the complainant actually disliked the American flag on the nametag.

“Coming from a Communist country, we know what it is like to have freedom gone,” said Abelleira, _a Cuba native. “It is going in that direction in this country.”

But the unidentified assistant manager said a customer’s anti-patriotism did not spark the nametag switch.

“That’s false,” he said. “No. No. We’re all Americans here.”

The store could not give out new tags with a flag backing because they come from a company office in the South, he said.

Asked if the store would eventually receive new tags with the flag, he said he didn’t know.

Up for grabs

The race for the aldermanic presidency ended prematurely last week with David Rootovich ceding the seat to Brian McCarthy. But the same cannot be said for the vice president’s seat.

Alderman-at-Large David Deane is mounting a challenge to incumbent VP Jim Tollner.

Tollner had said he thought he had no competition. But Deane wrote in an e-mail: “It’s not over till it’s over and people do change their minds.”

Traffic on TV

The public-access Channel 16 is reserved for municipal business. When the Board of Aldermen or other city panels meet, residents can watch the wheels of government from the comfort of the couch.

The rest of the time, the channel airs a bird’s-eye view of traffic at eight key intersections around the city.

However, a few of the cameras have been out at one time or another.

It’s hard to plan an escape from the gridlocked holiday traffic in south Nashua without the cameras.

Public Works Director George Crombie said the cameras are victims of weather.

“We’ve had some tough weather this summer and fall,” he said.

The cameras at Spit Brook Road and Daniel Webster Highway have been fixed.

His office does not hear a lot of complaints about the camera situation. Crombie said the city might consider changing the system, giving updates on road construction and presenting information on alternative routes.

Staying around?

Alderman-at-Large Fred Britton, a well-liked figure on the Board of Aldermen, is stepping down at the end of his term.

But he may not be leaving public service. His name has come up as a possible Nashua liaison to a regional water district, if one is formed.

Britton has served as a city representative to the group writing the charter for the would-be district, a process that has been described as being as exciting as watching paint dry.

Off to Florida

Barbara Pressly made a getaway to the Sunshine State after a regional water district meeting Thursday night.

The former state senator jetted to Florida to take part in an international discussion of water supply issues at the Water For All conference.

Pressly said she wanted to get the message out that a good way for activists to organize against a takeover of a water utility is to buy a single share of the company’s stock.

Doing that, as she did with Pennichuck Corp., gives people information about the discussions from the company’s point of view, she said.

The conference was held as part of the protest against the Free Trade Area of the Americas economic proposal.

No signature

Streeter was less than thrilled about the recently approved three-year contract for the Nashua Teachers Union.

The union, which backed his opponent Steve Bolton in the mayoral election, was represented in force when the pact went before the Board of Aldermen. The mayor raised questions about city taxpayers bearing the cost of the estimated $5.5 million in salary increases.

Instead of uncapping his veto pen, Streeter allowed the contract to go into effect without his signature Wednesday.

He repeated his concern that $300,000 more was spent to settle the union contract than had been budgeted.