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Jaffrey resident replaces benches in Howard Park

  • A new picnic table in Jaffrey's Howard Park. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 12/12/2019 10:28:58 PM
Modified: 12/12/2019 10:28:46 PM

A Jaffrey resident set up four new picnic tables in Howard Memorial Park to replace the ones that were vandalized and destroyed in July.

“I just did it,” Tex Howard said, after being “disappointed” that the town had no plans to replace the benches after the vandalism. “The park is pretty, it’s on a nice portion of land, and it just didn’t seem right not to have benches there.”

Howard coordinated with the Jaffrey Belletetes to assemble and deliver the new tables on the last weekend of November. “They gave us a great price,” Howard said, when he described his plans, and described the company’s service as “wonderful.”

“We’re essentially a local business. It’s important to me and the company to do whatever we can to support … things the people in the community use,” said Ryan Stalvey, the manger of the Jaffrey Belletetes hardware department.

He said Belletetes cut Howard a deal on the cost of the tables and donated the delivery, setting up the tables around the park. Howard said the benches cost $500, and a relative in Florida, whose father is also memorialized on the stone at the park, also contributed funds.

“A lot of employees use [the park] daily, I know I do, before I was having to sit in my car because there was one picnic table left,” Stalvey said, describing the park as “one of the few places that’s kind of close by … a nice little spot in nature.”

Howard said he recently learned that 75 or more Millipore Sigma employees eat their lunch at the park every day, and that already some of the park users have voiced appreciation for the return of the benches.

“You can’t go by … without seeing people there. There’s always half a dozen or more cars,” he said. “It’s really the first thing you see coming into Jaffrey.”

Howard said that in the 1890s, his grandmother was born in a three-story apartment building stood on the site.

“The park’s been associated with the family for years,” he said.

In the park, there’s a stone that memorializes George Howard, Howard’s father, and George’s brother Charles. Howard described both as war heroes of World War Two. Every tree in the park had been donated, mostly by family members from around the country, he said. “I’m the last one here,” Howard said, and that he would be moving to Manchester in a couple weeks following the recent sale of his home in Jaffrey.

Howard said he expects the tables to see good use when the spring comes, “Not that anybody’s climbing over the snow to get there.”

Town Manager Jon Frederick said that he hadn’t known who had replaced the benches, but was not surprised that Howard followed through on his intention.

“I’m most appreciative that somebody did that out of the kindness of their heart,” Frederick said, and that he knew the citizens of Jaffrey would appreciate the gesture as well.

Jaffrey Democrats member Harry Young was at the park with his dog on July 7 when he noticed that all but one of the picnic tables in the park had been damaged, and four had been pushed over the steep embankment towards the pond below. The discovery prompted a cleanup on July 13 by the Jaffrey Democrats. The town removed and discarded the damaged picnic tables following the cleanup. At the time, Frederick described the situation as “aggravating,” but said the town had no plans to replace the benches. Police had no leads on who committed the vandalism.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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