News & Notes 22/04/07

Covid-19 update As of March 28 As of April 4
Total cases statewide 302,181 303,010
Total current infections statewide 1,020 1,033
Total deaths statewide 2,447 2,452
New cases 873 (March 22 to March 28) 829 (March 29 to April 4)
Current infections: Hillsborough County 253 281 (as of Thurs., March 31)
Current infections: Merrimack County 86 87 (as of Thurs., March 31)
Current infections: Rockingham County 164 218 (as of Thurs., March 31)
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

Covid-19 news

On March 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a second booster dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for older and certain immunocompromised populations. According to a press release, these include people ages 50 and older at least four months after receiving their first booster dose, as well as people ages 12 and older (for Pfizer) and 18 and older (for Moderna) who have undergone solid organ transplantation, or who are living with conditions considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise. “Based on an analysis of emerging data, a second booster dose … could help increase protection levels for these higher-risk individuals,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “Current evidence suggests some waning of protection over time.”

In New Hampshire, state health officials reported 102 new cases of Covid-19 on April 4. Last week, Covid-related hospitalizations fell to the single digits for the first time in more than a year — as of April 4 there were just six statewide.

Paid leave

The state is looking for a commercial insurance carrier to fully insure and administer the Granite State Paid Family and Medical Leave Plan. According to a press release, last week Gov. Chris Sununu and the New Hampshire Departments of Administrative Services and Employment Security, with assistance from the Insurance Department, released a Request for Proposal to administer the plan, which provides participating employees in New Hampshire with 60 percent of their average weekly wage for up to six weeks per year for specified leaves of absence. “A statewide, private-market, truly voluntary paid leave plan does not exist in any other state, and New Hampshire is leading the way,” Sununu said in the release. “After years of talk, we are finally moving forward with a viable paid leave product that is available to anyone who wants it and forced upon no one who does not.” The state is required to implement a voluntary paid family and medical leave plan as a provision of the 2022/2023 State Budget Trailer Bill, the release said. Any employer can choose to participate, and a business enterprise tax credit equal to 50 percent of the premium paid by those employers is available. “This is a critical program providing current and future workers here in the Granite State with the choice to take paid time away from work to care for family or care for themselves,” Deputy Commissioner Richard Lavers of Employment Security said in the release.

Queen City budget

Last week, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig delivered her FY23 tax-cap budget address. According to a press release, the budget proposal includes a 3.57 percent property tax increase (resulting in a tax rate change of $0.63, from $17.68 to $18.31 per $1,000 of assessed property value), which equates to an increase in property tax revenues of $8.2 million. Approximately $4.3 million of that is allocated to the City and $3.9 million the Manchester School District. A significant increase in health insurance claims in the second half of FY22 prompted an increase of $1.5 million to health insurance in FY23, the release said, and an additional $1.4 million was allocated to merits, longevity and associated benefits — meaning 65 percent of all city employees will receive at least a 3 percent increase in pay. The budget also includes bonding renovations to Derryfield Park, and replacing the Livingston Park track and the playgrounds at Wolfe Park and Sheridan Emmett Park, as well as $4.1 million that will go toward improving 32.9 miles of streets and sidewalks. The budget also establishes a green streets tree canopy program that will cover half of a resident’s cost for a new tree if it’s adjacent to the street. It leverages private funds for upgrades to fields at Livingston, Precourt, Sheehan Basquil and Stevens parks. For Manchester’s schools, the budget covers current programming and staff, and costs associated with collective bargaining agreements, retirement and health insurance, the release said, and it supports the school district’s strategic plan to grow its learners, educators and systems. Approximately $4.4 million in bonding will be used for Capital Improvement Projects, including the purchase of five school buses, playground replacements at Bakersville and Webster Elementary and Cullerot Park access to green space for Northwest students.

Political poll

Sixty-eight percent of New Hampshire registered voters think the country is on the wrong track, according to a recent poll from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. That number is down from 74 percent in January, and according to a press release, the current political environment has led to slightly improved job approval for incumbents, though President Joe Biden’s handling of the economy is the same as January, with 58 percent of voters disapproving. His job approval has increased slightly: 43 percent approval, compared to 41 percent in January. Locally, Gov. Chris Sununu is up from his career low and is now at 62 percent approval, 36 percent disapproval, and, according to the release, he leads in a hypothetical matchup against his only announced challenger, State Sen. Tom Sherman, 51 to 24 percent. The approval rating for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is at 48 percent; Sen. Maggie Hassan is at 46 percent; Congressman Chris Pappas is at 43 percent; and Congresswoman Annie Kuster is at 42 percent, the release said. Results from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll are based on online surveys of 1,265 New Hampshire registered voters collected on March 23 and March 24.

TeachUNITED

The state has a new partnership with TeachUNITED to provide five rural schools with individualized professional development. According to a press release, the schools were selected based on need and instructional improvement goals. The chosen schools are Northwood Elementary School in Northwood, Strong Foundations Charter School in Pembroke, Barnard Elementary School in South Hampton, Stevens High School in Claremont and Cornish Elementary School in Cornish. The program highlights strategies for growth mindset, data-driven instruction and personalized and blended learning. “This new partnership will support teachers and rural school leaders with strategies necessary to set and reach ambitious student goals,” Frank Edelblut, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, said in the release.

Help clean up any public area in Concord with the city’s Blue Bag Program. According to Concord’s monthly newsletter, residents can participate in the free program by filling out a release form, picking up free blue bags at the Concord General Services office at 311 N. State St., do the clean-up, leave the bags on the side of the road, and then notify General Services, which will come out and pick up the trash.

The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center will travel to the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner on Saturday, April 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. for “Spemki Nib8iwi: The Heavens in the Nighttime.” According to a press release, the free outdoor program will feature stargazing with an Indigenous focus, a bonfire, hot drinks and telescopes set up in the field for sky viewing. Bring your own chairs; restrooms will be available.

Street sweeping is underway in Manchester. The Department of Public Works started sweeping on April 6, according to a press release, and sweeping will take place in various neighborhoods around the city on the first Wednesday and Thursday of the month. From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on those days, vehicles will need to be parked on one side of the street on Wednesday and on the opposite side the following day. Signs will be posted, and the city has tried to inform all residents in these areas, the release said.

Hillsborough County Superior Court-South’s Adult Drug Court in Nashua has been named one of 10 national mentor treatment courts by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and the U.S. Department of Justice. According to a press release, the drug court will serve a two-year term as a model program to assist new or growing courts around the country.

This Week 22/03/31

Big Events March 31, 2022 and beyond

Thursday, March 31

Get music and the art of Andy Warhol at Art After Work today from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester. Admission is free (as it is all Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m.) and Joel Cage (pictured) will be performing live. The Currier’s new exhibit, “Warhol Screen Tests,” opens today with 20 silent, black and white screen test films, according to currier.org. Other exhibits on display include “The Appeal of the Real: 19th Century Photographs of the Ancient World” and “WPA in NH: Philip Guston and Musa McKim.”

Thursday, March 31

Get nearly a month of movies when the New Hampshire Jewish Film Festival begins today with a screening of The Automat at the Rex Theatre in Manchester at 7 p.m. The festival runs through Sunday, April 10, with 16 films in all — 11 features, five shorts and four in-person screenings. Most of the movies will also be available virtually, either during the festival itself or during a bonus week, April 11 through April 24. Tickets start at $12 for individual screenings, or you can buy packages for screenings of all movies, virtual only ($118) or in-person and virtual ($130 for one person, $180 for two). See nhjewishfilmfestival.com for details and check out Meghan Siegler’s story on page 10 of the March 24 (last week’s) issue of the Hippo (which you can find at hippopress.com). Amy Diaz reviews a few of the films in this week’s film section, which starts on page 44.

Friday, April 1

The Palace Theatre’s production of Bye Bye Birdie kicks off its final weekend of performances. See the musical today at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, April 2, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 3, at noon at the Palace in Manchester. See palacetheatre.org.

Friday, April 1

Meanwhile, continuing its run tonight is the drama Places You Go presented by New World Theatre at the Hatbox Theatre in Concord. The play, which opened March 25, will run the next two weekends: Fridays and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $22 for adults, $19 for students and seniors. See hatboxnh.com.

Saturday, April 2

Get some smooth jazz with Andrew Emmauel at Liquid Therapy in Nashua today at 6 p.m. Find more music at area bars, restaurants, breweries and more in the Music This Week listing, which starts on page 47.

Sunday, April 3

The Strathspey and Reel Society of NH, described as “New Hampshire’s own Scottish orchestra” according to a press release, will perform a Scottish Concert in honor of Tartan Day today at 2 p.m. at the Wilton Collaborative Space (25 Gregg St. in Wilton). The event is free but reservations are required; call the Wilton Public and Gregg Free Library at 654-2581 or email sandyl@wiltonlibrarynh.org.

Save the Date! Saturday, May 7
Enjoy “The Music of James Bond” from Symphony NH on Saturday, May 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Keefe Center for the Arts in Nashua. In addition to music from the decades of Bond movies, the program will include music from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mission Impossible and more. Tickets cost $20 to $60 for adults (children are free with an adult ticket, seniors get a discount). See symphonynh.org.

Featured photo. Joel Cage will be performing live at the Currier Museum of Art. Courtesy photo.

Quality of Life 22/03/31

Granite State innovates

New Hampshire is the 9th most innovative state, according to a new report on the country’s most and least innovative states from personal-finance website WalletHub. According to the report, the Granite State ranks 5th in eighth-grade math and science performance, 7th in projected STEM-job demand by 2028, 8th in share of STEM professionals, 9th in share of tech companies, and 10th in share of science and engineering graduates ages 25 and older.

Score: +1

Comment: District of Columbia, Massachusetts and Washington ranked highest in the report, while North Dakota, Louisiana and Mississippi were at the bottom of the list.

Donor milk needed

The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Women’s Health Resource Center has been providing pasteurized donor human milk for babies whose mothers might be having challenges producing a reliable milk supply since it opened in the summer of 2020. According to a press release, that milk supply is now running low, and the center is looking for donors. “When the donor milk depot and dispensary first opened, we were averaging 150 bottles of donor milk,” Krista Duval, women’s health manager of the WHRC and the Milk Depot, said in the release. “Today, the number has dropped to 50, which limits the number of bottles a family can receive and, in some cases, we are turning families away.” Pasteurized donor milk can be lifesaving for preterm infants, the release said.

Score: -1

Comment: Mothers interested in donating milk can contact the WHRC to arrange for free testing, which includes a phone screening, application and blood test. Call 650-2600 or email whrc@hitchcock.org.

Help for small businesses

The first round of grants through the Manchester Small Business Grant & Program Assistance has been distributed: Barre Life, Café la Reine, Jumpp Chiropractic, Caesario’s Pizza, Blackwood Law, Manchester Acupuncture Studio, Willows Florist, Hospitality Sports Club, Zapata Trucking Express, Studio Verne, and Patz Deli each received a $10,000 grant, according to a press release. The program is designed to help Queen City small business owners recover from the negative economic effects of the pandemic, using funds from the American Rescue Plan. Grants can be used for other fixed business costs as well, like transitioning to e-commerce business platforms and outdoor space upgrades, the release said.

Score: +1

Comment: “This grant program not only gives [these small businesses] the boost they need right now, but helps them plan for the future,” Mayor Joyce Craig said in the release.

Newman Civic Fellows

Students from five colleges and universities in New Hampshire have been named Newman Civic Fellows public problem solvers: Jonathan Cacatian of Hellenic American University, Emily Infinger of Plymouth State University, Jillian Barrett of Saint Anselm College, Kate Matthews of UNH and Aditi Gupta of Dartmouth College. The fellowship “recognizes students who stand out for their commitment to creating positive change in communities locally and around the world,” according to a press release, and provides recipients with a year of learning and networking opportunities that emphasize personal, professional and civic growth that helps prepare them to create large-scale positive change.

Score: +1

Comment: “Our state has a long history of community service and giving back to others. This fellowship advances our collective mission to work in areas of need to improve the lives of Granite Staters,” Debby Scire, executive director of Campus Compact for New Hampshire, which runs the fellowship program, said in the release.

QOL score: 68

Net change: +2

QOL this week: 70

What’s affecting your Quality of Life here in New Hampshire? Let us know at news@hippopress.com.

Brady bound for Miami next?

Idle thoughts today from an idle mind.

Given the Tom Brady-to-Miami rumor that surfaced last week, maybe we have a clue why TB’s retirement announcement seemed so botched. Maybe he quickly wanted the Bucs to contemplate life without him, to get leverage for forcing a trade to Miami. Where, oh by the way, he and Yoko are building their dream retirement home on billionaires row just off Miami Beach.

Loved Jimmy Kimmel’s assessment for the Rams’ woefully sparse Super Bowl victory parade turnout: “honestly, I think there were more football fans on the street cheering for OJ during the slow-motion chase.”

Speaking of L.A., so much for it being the center of the basketball universe. Just two summers ago when the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George after the Lakers slimily, albeit legally, tampered to pair Anthony Davis with LeBron James it looked like that city was going to dominate the NBA for several years. But with the Clips 36-39 and the Lakers 31-43, both are fighting to barely make the play-in round.

And while the Lakers did win the title in the abbreviated bubble year, they’re just 162-137 in LeBron’s time in L.A., with that lowly play-in-round finish ahead, after being bounced in Round 1 last year and missing them all together in Year 1. And with the Clips even worse, it’s turned out to be a colossal failure considering the expectations. Especially when they collectively still owe the Pelicans and Thunder an astonishing seven more first-round picks through 2026. And none are protected as both trend down!

The Lakers predicament is good news for the Celtics. They’re tied with a most-ever 17 league titles, and with the C’s suddenly surging as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum enter their prime, they look a lot more likely to get No. 18 first than I would have thought possible as late as New Year’s Day.

Anyone else notice that the Hornets have gone 8-2 since signing Isaiah Thomas when he scored 9.2 points per in 13 minutes a game off the bench? That includes their 119-110 win over the Nets in Sunday’s battle for the top seed in the play-in round that starts the playoffs.

Incidentally, with the mask mandate lifted, that game was the first one in Brooklyn for the guy Danny Ainge stupidly traded Isaiah (and the draft pick that turned out to be Collin Sexton) for — Kyrie Irving. The loss made the Nets 9-13 in the 22 games played by their so-called difference maker.

Hearing Deion Sanders say it was “disrespectful” when media people called him by his first name at a recent press conference instead of “coach” was comical. Pretty rich for a guy who showboated everyone anytime he did something big. As for not calling him by his title, you’re a football coach, Deion, not the president. Get a grip.

Speaking of pretty rich, how about ex-Patriot LeGarrette Blount recently lambasting college coach at Oregon Chip Kelly for “not supporting” him after he delivered an unprovoked sucker punch to an unsuspecting Boise State player after the first game of his senior season? So much for maturity helping him take responsibility.

Got to love ex-Trinity hooper Wenyen Gabriel getting another NBA chance in L.A. He’s started in four of his 11 games with the Lakers, while averaging 6 points and 4 rebounds a game.

I don’t get HBO, so I haven’t seen any of its 1980s Showtime Lakers series. But I saw a clip of the first meeting between Jerry Buss and a made to be the villain Red Auerbach as an over-the-top (even for him) arrogant adversary. John C. Reilly as Buss looked more like a porn king than an NBA owner. Not sure I’m interested in seeing Jerry West as a bitter drunk either.

I crossed paths with Dr. Buss one time, just outside the Kingdome during the 1989 Final Four in Seattle. True to form, he came walking toward me before the Saturday afternoon games with a gorgeous 20-something blonde on each arm.

Loved the recent line from Will Clark, whose swing was often compared to Ted Williams during his 80s/90s heyday, while talking about today’s three-outcome — walk, strike out, homer — launch angle approach to hitting: it must have “Rogers Hornsby and Ty Cobb rolling over in their graves.”

When you hear Jermaine Wiggins say on WEEI the Patriots should trade Mac Jones for (before they were) Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson, don’t listen. Remember his suggestion to fix the 2017 dumpster fire Celtics was signing ball hog Carmelo Anthony. Wiggy’s a likable fellow, but a dope.

For what it’s worth, no matter how good he is I wouldn’t want Watson with 22 sexual misconduct complaints against him. (He has denied all the allegations, according to the New York Times.) However, since I don’t have much faith in mankind when sports is involved, I think the hoo-ha around him will disappear with a win or two as football-crazed Cleveland is win-hungry since it hasn’t won a playoff game since Bill Belichick bested Bill Parcells and the Patriots in 1994!

I give ESPN’s Tom BradyCharles Woodson 30 for 30 on the Tuck Rule play a C- at best. It was 15 minutes (maybe) of new content stretched (endlessly) into 60. How many of the 900 replays shown did we really need to see? Six? How many times did we need to hear Woodson, Jon Gruden and Lincoln Kennedy say it was a fumble and they got screwed? Or Brady and Bob Kraft saying good call? All it did was remind me how close that call was, and that the play on the field would have stood because the replay was inconclusive. Bad rule. Right call.

Also, the notion Brady would have gone back to backing up Drew Bledsoe for fumbling was ridiculous. The season turned when TB replaced Drew.

Running the rules

State’s first female deputy enforcement, licensing chief

Meet Danielle Ellston, the new deputy chief and deputy director of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission’s Division of Enforcement and Licensing, and the first woman to assume the role.

What does your job as deputy chief and deputy director entail?

Within the Division of Enforcement and Licensing, we have field operations, which [consist of] all of our sworn police officers — their official title is ‘investigators’ — who provide our regulatory function throughout the state, [with] a primary mission of preventing youth access to alcohol and tobacco. We also have our administrative services, which includes our licensing, help desk, auditing and direct shipping units, as well as our training units, which provide training to our licensees and our store employees. I’m second in command to the chief, who runs the whole operation. I’m kind of the middleman; I’m a support for the chief … and I also oversee some of the day-to-day operations of the division, making sure that we’re staying on track with our mission to ensure that we’re complying with our policies, rules and regulations.

What is your background in this kind of work?

I have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Endicott College. I was hired right out of school by Liquor Enforcement in September 2008. … In January 2009, I received my police certification from the New Hampshire Police Academy, representing the [liquor] division at the academy. I’ve been here [in New Hampshire] for my entire adult career, and that’s something that’s important to me. … There’s a lot that has happened in the amount of time I’ve been here. It’s really cool that I got to see and be a part of the agency’s development and progression.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re up against?

It’s very tough for the licensees right now. They were just getting their footing back from everything that happened during Covid. At the end of last year and even last summer, we saw people out and about, feeling comfortable going to public places again. Now, with some of the inflation issues … people are going out less and spending less money … and the industry is starting to feel the impact of that. The industry is also still dealing with staffing issues. Covid created a lot of job opportunities for people to work remotely, which is good, but the industry is feeling the impact of people … moving on to different jobs. We feel that on our end, too, because they’re trying to manage more patrons with less staff. The way we combat that is through our educational platform; education … is a primary function of our investigators. They’re out there educating these licensees, giving them ways to run their business with less staff and ways to be more diligent with checking IDs and over-serving. … We have to look at what’s going on around us and really change the way we [communicate] our goals to the licensees. It’s a partnership where we have to listen to them and hear what their issues are, then educate them on what the best ways to stay in compliance are. It really is a give and take.

What do you hope to accomplish as deputy chief and deputy director, short-term and long-term?

My big goal here is to keep us moving forward and to be progressive … and to really try to streamline everything we do, to work with the industry and to make it a great, very successful relationship. … When I say ‘be progressive,’ it’s [referring to] everything — technology, education, community outreach. How can we make our processes more efficient for the licensees? How can we make our internal procedures more efficient for our employees? … There’s a mentality to say, ‘This is the way we’ve always done things,’ … but there are so many opportunities for us to partner with the industry and our coalition groups to really step forward.

What does being the first woman in this position mean to you?

I’m very honored and grateful. It’s a very cool situation to be in. … Going back to [the idea of] being progressive, we’re seeing … a movement throughout law enforcement of more females getting into the profession. I’m the first female deputy chief, but we have a pretty big group of females working here, and we have some female supervisors. … If I can help show that [women] can be successful in it, then that’s a very cool opportunity.

What do you find rewarding about this work?

The cool thing about our agency is that there are so many people you get to interact with. We’re interacting with licensees who are just trying to have a successful business. We’re interacting with our coalition groups, which have such an outstanding mission they’re trying to achieve, and they like including us in that. We get to work with local law enforcement agencies and help them be successful in establishing their business relationships with their licensees. We get to interact with youth. For me, that’s the best part — getting to interact with all these different people and to really be a part of their mission and bring them in to be a part of our mission.

Featured photo: Danielle Ellston being sworn in. Courtesy photo.

News & Notes 22/03/31

Covid-19 update As of March 21 As of March 28
Total cases statewide 301,308 302,181
Total current infections statewide 911 1,020
Total deaths statewide 2,436 2,447
New cases 797 (March 15 to March 21) 873 (March 22 to March 28)
Current infections: Hillsborough County 242 253
Current infections: Merrimack County 65 86
Current infections: Rockingham County 151 164
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

Covid-19 news

State health officials reported 76 new cases of Covid-19 on March 28. The state averaged 126 new cases per day over the most recent seven-day period, a 5 percent increase compared to the week before. As of March 28 there were 1,020 active infections and just 26 hospitalizations.

State of Manchester

On March 23, Mayor Joyce Craig gave her State of the City speech, during which she announced the launch of The Manchester Promise Program, which would enable some Manchester public school students — those who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity — to attend college debt-free. According to a press release, the program will start in the coming weeks as the city partners with Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester Community College and Duet.

Other speech highlights, the release said, included:

The formation of an exploratory committee to bring hockey back to Manchester.

In the past two years, the city has exceeded its goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent, with current reductions at 58.4 percent, in large part because of the city’s solar array.

The Manchester Police Department is focused on reducing gun crimes and has formed a community-focused gun crime problem-solving team and has deployed additional walking patrols to increase police presence and community engagement in neighborhoods, according to the release, and in 2021 the department seized 81 illegal guns off the streets.

Manchester was named a finalist for the Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge Phase 1 and submitted its Phase 2 application March 15; if awarded, the grant would provide more than $100 million in federal dollars to accelerate job creation in tissue engineering and advanced aerial mobility — potentially creating more than 20,000 jobs — and fund a pedestrian bridge over the Merrimack River connecting the Millyard to the West Side.

The Manchester Transit Authority is in the process of piloting a program for an on-demand bus service that it hopes to launch in FY23.

Manchester allocated $8 million in federal funds to develop new affordable housing and established the Manchester Housing Commission to assist in that process. Proposals for 450+ new mixed-income apartments to be built on underutilized city-owned parking lot are currently being finalized. The city has also hired its first Director of Homeless Initiatives, is working with outreach teams to address the needs of the chronically homeless, and is establishing new relationships with recovery service providers to help people enter treatment.

Redistricting

Gov. Chris Sununu has submitted a draft Congressional redistricting map that he said in his letter to legislative leaders he would sign if it reaches his desk. Sununu has said he will veto the redistricting map put forth by Republicans in the New Hampshire House and Senate, according to a report form WMUR, and his own map “includes adjustments to the current districts that would likely create a more competitive first district and a second district that still leans Democratic.” Sununu wrote in his letter that his proposed map “keeps our districts competitive, passes the smell test, and holds our incumbents accountable so that no one elected official is immune from challengers or constituent services.”

LNA training

The New Hampshire Veterans Home is accepting applications for its new Licensed Nursing Assistant course that will allow students to earn hourly wages while learning in the expense-paid course. According to a press release, the salary includes a 15-percent enhancement of the base pay available for all Veterans Home nursing positions. Students who commit to providing care at the Veterans Home will receive education in a classroom setting and through clinical hours. Successful completion of the course prepares students for the Board of Nursing license exam, the release said, and after completing training and passing the exam, students will apply for full- or part-time positions at the home. The 10-week LNA Course begins April 19 at the New Hampshire Veterans Home campus, 139 Winter St. in Tilton. Applications are due by April 7 and are available at nh.gov; click on “careers,” then “NH State Government Job Opportunities,” then type “Tilton” in the location box when searching for jobs.

The N.H. Division of Historical Resources’ State Conservation and Rescue Archaeology Program is accepting applications for its field school at Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown. According to a press release, participants will continue the excavation of a pre-contact archaeological deposit that was identified last year and will focus on additional areas that might contain pre-contact deposits. Sessions are June 6 to June 17 and June 20 to July 1. The program is open to ages 16 and up (16- and 17-year-olds must participate with a parent or guardian), and registration closes April 30. Visit nh.gov/nhdhr/SCRAP.htm or contact the NHDHR at 271-6433.

New England College in Henniker has announced that Gov. Chris Sununu will be the Commencement Speaker at its 2022 graduation ceremony in May. According to a press release, Sununu will also be awarded an honorary doctorate in recognition of his years of public service to New Hampshire.

Schools across the Manchester School District were recipients of picnic tables built by Hillside Middle School students and donated by Girls at Work. According to a press release, more than 100 middle school girls participated in the Team Build Program, building 10 picnic tables that were then painted by students in the art department. The tables were donated to Manchester schools as well as local businesses, the release said.

This Week 22/03/24

Big Events March 24, 2022 and beyond

Thursday, March 24

Conjure up the weekend spirit early with a little rock ’n’ roll music from Studio Two: The Beatles Tribute at LaBelle Winery in Derry (14 Route 111, labellewinery.com) tonight at 7:30 p.m.. Tickets cost $35.

Friday, March 25

Get just what you needed from Panorama — A Tribute to the Cars tonight at 8 p.m. at the Bank of NH Stage (16 S. Main St. in Concord, ccanh.com) with opening act Being Petty: The Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Experience. Tickets cost $16 general admission, $25 for the balcony (plus fees).

Saturday, March 26

Work on your plans for planting season with help from the Concord Garden Club and Gibson’s Bookstore today during a virtual presentation with author Ellen Ogden, whose 2021 release was The New Heirloom Kitchen. Registration is free but required and tickets are by donation (up to $20) with proceeds split between the club and the bookstore, according to gibsonsbookstore.com.

Saturday, March 26

Ballet Misha presents Danse Nouveau VI, a concert of original choreographed works, today at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Concord City Auditorium (2 Prince St. in Concord; theaudi.org), according to the website. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased at balletmisha.com.

Sunday, March 27

The Manchester St. Patrick’s Parade returns today at noon stepping off from the north end of Elm Street and heading through downtown Manchester. Find the parade particulars at saintpatsnh.com. The parade is preceded by the Citizens Shamrock Half-Marathon, Relay and Shuffle, which will take place Saturday, March 26 (for the half-marathon and relay) and in the morning on Sunday, March 27 (for the shuffle and 8-and-under Lil Leprechaun Run). See millenniumrunning.com/shamrock. And for a closer look at one of the participants, check out last week’s (March 17) issue of the Hippo, where Angie Sykeny interviews Matt Casey, the parade’s official leprechaun. Find the e-edition on hippopress.com and the story on page 6.

Sunday, March 27

It’s the final day of the New Hampshire Orchid Society’s annual show and sale which starts Friday, March 25, at the Courtyard Marriot in Nashua. The show is open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Friday; from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 26, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 27. Admission costs $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $18 for a three day pass (kids under 12 get in free). See nhorchids.org.

Save the Date! Friday, April 15
Beaver Brook Association (117 Ridge Road in Hollis; beaverbrook.org, 465-7787) will hold a full moon hike (the “pink moon”) on Friday, April 15, from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission costs $20 per person; go online to reserve a spot.

Featured photo. St Patrick’s Day Parade, 2018. Courtesy photo.

Quality of Life 22/03/24

Earn credit with esports

Uptime Esports has been approved as a new Learn Everywhere program by the New Hampshire State Board of Education. According to a press release, esports can be used to promote teamwork, engage students and boost the exploration of STEM learning and careers. Uptime Esports, which has locations in Bedford, Exeter and Hanover, Mass., offers programs focused around competitive gaming, coding, engineering, game design and computer building, as well as sensory-friendly gaming, the release said. Uptime Esports is one of 15 programs approved for Learn Everywhere, which allows students to earn credit for learning outside of the classroom.

Score: +1

Comment :If you can’t get the kids away from gaming anyway, why not sneak in some education?

Extreme weather possible

Last week New Hampshire residents, scientists and legislators gathered via Zoom for a preview of the soon-to-be-released 2022 NH State Climate Assessment, an update of the last statewide assessment of 2014. According to a press release, Dr. Cameron Wake, Lamprey Professor of Climate and Sustainability at UNH, said assessment results show that if we don’t lower emissions rates, heavy rain events and flooding will become more common in the state, especially in winter and spring, which could alternate with “extended drought periods and summers with as many as 60 days above 90 degrees.” Dr. Mary Stampone, State Climatologist and Associate Professor of Geography at UNH, said that without fast reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, she foresees “more winter days above freezing and fewer days with snow on the ground.”

Score: -1

Comment: To find out what specific actions we can take, NH Network is hosting a free online event, “Is Net Zero by 2050 Possible?” on Monday, March 28, at 7 p.m. Visit newhampshirenetwork.org.

Be a state ambassador

Granite State Ambassadors Certification Training, which prepares participants to become GSA volunteers, starts virtually April 5 and in person April 6 at Kimball Jenkins in Concord. According to a press release, the course includes presentations from tourism organizations and attractions, and training modules include Outdoor Recreation, Attractions and Heritage, New Hampshire History and more, as well as information on serving as a GSA volunteer. The program encourages participants to volunteer at events, museums and visitor centers throughout the state, the release said. The training will continue virtually on Tuesday mornings until the final session, which will be in person, statewide, during the week of May 16.

Score: +1

Comment: The organization has certified over 1,940 industry friends and volunteers, and approximately 350 volunteers are actively volunteering at any time, the release said. Visit nhgraniteambassadors.org.

Back on the ice for CHaD

More than 4,000 fans celebrated the return of the CHaD Battle of the Badges Hockey Championship on March 13 at SNHU Arena in Manchester. After almost three years, the fundraising event for Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock was back in person and helped raise more than $210,000, according to a press release. Law enforcement and fire and rescue personnel returned to the ice exactly two years after Team Fire’s victory in the streaming 2020 game. The 2021 game was canceled due to Covid. At this year’s game, which was also streamed online, Team Police skated off with a 5-2 victory. Police leads the series 8-5.

Score: +1

Comment: Police got the victory as top fundraisers too, raising more $72,000 as a team, according to the release. Kyle Daly of the Manchester Police Department was the top individual fundraiser — he collected more than $11,000 with his CHaD Buddy Elliot.

QOL score: 66

Net change: +2

QOL this week: 68

What’s affecting your Quality of Life here in New Hampshire? Let us know at news@hippopress.com.

Good new story for Sox

For the second straight year Red Sox Nation was on the cusp of entering the final week of March wondering what in the name of Haywood Sullivan was going on up there in the executive suite. It seemed Chaim Bloom was again in the increasingly hated (for me) bargain basement mode while Rome burned.

But news broke Saturday that John Henry has finally opened his wallet to outbid the Yanks and others for free agent Trevor Story. A major get that let some of the Nation’s building frustration escape. Though Chaim’s not out of the woods just yet.

But enjoy it for the day before getting back to the important business of grousing about the other issues that need addressing before the season starts.

Trevor Story implications: Signing him was a two-fer, as the former shortstop (for now) gives them a solid fielding second baseman with major offensive pop. It also sends Kike Hernandez out to right field to fill both the offensive and defensive holes left by the departure of Hunter Renfroe that everyone has been wondering about all winter. It also provides insurance at short if Xander Bogaerts opts out and leaves at the end of the year.

So, since Bloom “only” had to go six years and $25 million per to get all that, job well done. Especially since Texas gave their arguably not as good and definitely more injury-prone new shortstop Corey Seager a whopping $330 million over 10 years to get him.

Losing Kyle Schwarber: Letting him walk was a missed opportunity. Keeping him would have given them three more years of contractual control at DH and let them trade J.D. Martinez when every team in the NL suddenly needs one. It would have been revenue-neutral too, as Schwarber will get less per year than the $20 million the Sox pay J.D., while also making the line-up less right-handed dominant than it is now.

With the line-up and defense settled, we turn to pitching, which looks like a hodge-podge mess.

Starting pitching: The good news is the stat geeks tell us number of wins by a starter is totally circumstantial and unimportant. Phew! Because the six guys likely to get the bulk of the starts — Chris Sale, Nate Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck and newcomers Rich Hill and Michael Wacha — won a combined 34 games against 35 losses in 2021. Which means if 90 is the target, they need 56 wins from the pen. And while I like the promise Houck and Pivetta showed in 2021, am hopeful Sale and Eovaldi can avoid the injuries that have plagued their careers, wonder when it’ll end for the ageless Hill and have no faith in Wacha, the group as a whole doesn’t provide a lot of confidence.

So there are many questions looking for answers here, with the biggest coming from Chris Sale. The 5-1, 3.16 numbers after he returned from his 18-month Tommy John surgery absence look good. But it was a different story in the final 10 days of the regular season and in the playoffs when he struggled mightily. Was it natural fatigue or something more alarming?

Now comes the latest, a stress fracture in the ribcage. He’s calling it “a freak thing,” but it’s another reminder making you wonder if he has the body to face the rigors of pitching the 200-plus innings a year needed from your ace. Especially considering his last healthy season was way back in 2017. I don’t see him making a full 200-inning season anymore, which suggests a role change could be needed. Which brings us to the bullpen.

The bullpen: I know Tampa Bay won 100 games with a bullpen filled with guys making under a million dollars. But we also saw them knocked around in the playoffs, so I’d prefer a hybrid approach so you’re not bringing in seven new bargain basement guys every year as Chaim did in 2021 and basically is doing now, beyond Matt Barnes, who they’re stuck with after giving him an extension during his tremendous first half last year, and 2021 scrap heap find Garrett Whitlock. But beyond Whitlock, I had zero confidence in the pen after Barnes’ astonishing second-half collapse, because it has control issues and was used far too much by the suddenly micro-managing Alex Cora in games it was needed in. And 2022 starts out the same way.

Closer: To solidify the back end I’d make Sale the closer when he comes back for three reasons: (1) Pitching one inning every other day and 70 over the entire year would likely keep the arm fresher for the whole year instead of dealing with the dramatic second-half drop-offs that have plagued him since his days in Chicago; (2) Pitching just one inning gives him a better chance to regain the life to his fast ball and snap to his slider that have been missing since July 2018. (3) There’s no guarantee it’ll work, but almost every great closer was originally a failed starter. Including Mariano Rivera, who had durability issues starting. Not to mention the one-season record for saves is held by John Smoltz, set when arm issues prevented him from starting for three seasons.

Bottom line on the pitching: I know $30 million is usually too much to sink into a closer, but the money is already spent and the issue now is how to get the best bang for their $30 million.

So the Sox should not waste any more time. When Sale comes back, leave Houck in the rotation, give the seventh to Barnes, the eighth to Whitlock, and bite the bullet to make Sale the ninth-inning closer.

OK, so while I think it’s how you spend it, not how much, with payroll pruning done and David Price finally coming off the books after 2022 it’s time to spend to find more quality for the rotation and pen to give them a real chance in 2022.

Crowning achievement

Meet Miss New Hampshire Volunteer, Grace Orfao

Grace Orfao, 23, of Manchester, has been crowned the first Miss New Hampshire Volunteer. The new pageant program provides scholarship and growth opportunities for young women across the country who actively volunteer in their communities. Orfao talked about the program and how she’s preparing to represent New Hampshire at the Inaugural Miss Volunteer America Pageant in Jackson, Tennessee, in May.

How did you become Miss New Hampshire Volunteer?

I grew up dancing, starting at 4 years old. … I’ve been doing pageants since I was a junior in high school. I started in the Miss America program. … My dance teacher introduced me to the program because her daughter was the state title holder for the teen program, and she thought it would be a great opportunity. … I competed in my first state pageant when I was 16 and was the first runner-up, which was super exciting. … Then, I was a teen title holder and the Miss title holder for a few years. … Eventually, I was approached by a few people, including my director, who introduced me to the Miss Volunteer America program. I was given the opportunity to do some interviews and perform my talent and show my gown, and I ended up [being chosen] as Miss New Hampshire Volunteer.

How are you preparing for the national pageant?

I’m taking care of my body, being super active and maintaining a good skin care routine so that I can put my best self forward. … I’m also volunteering a lot and have a lot of [visits] set up with [schools in] the Manchester school district … to talk about my platform and to talk about the [Miss Volunteer America] program to see if any girls would be interested.

What is your community service platform?

The first few years I did pageantry, my platform was autism awareness. Once I was out of high school I wanted to change my platform to something that could really connect with many different people on many different levels, so I thought, ‘What’s something that people do every day?’ I did some research and found that texting while driving is unfortunately a big problem that a lot of people have right now, so my platform now is ‘Stay Alive; Don’t Text and Drive.’ I’m very passionate about it. I’ve created my own little emblem, and I’ve made stickers and handouts teaching people about the issue. There’s also a pledge that I [organized], where people can pledge to turn on the ‘do not disturb’ [feature] on their phone while driving. I’m just really trying to spread awareness and help make the roads a safer place.

What talent will you perform?

I’m doing a lyrical dance. … I’ve trained in all forms of dance, but my favorite style is lyrical, because you can really tell a story with lyrical dance, and people can relate to it. … I love being able to connect with the audience in that way. … It’s just a beautiful form of dance, and I’m just so excited to share that with everybody.

What are your future plans?

I’ve been teaching dance since the age of 17, and I choreograph dances for competitive dancers. … I’m taking classes online through Southern New Hampshire University and working toward my bachelor’s degree in business management. … I would love to open and own and operate my own competitive dance studio; that’s my dream.

What advice do you have for other young people in New Hampshire who want to get involved in volunteering?

The biggest thing I want to do is spread the word about this program, because [it offers] so many opportunities. Not only is it a great way to get involved in volunteering, but the scholarships are amazing; Miss Volunteer America gives out over $100,000 in scholarships to the girls who are competing. … You also make a lot of connections in the program and build relationships that you’ll have forever. It’s just such a rare opportunity, and I don’t think people take advantage of it enough. … I know pageants can be a little intimidating for some people, so if people are just looking to get involved in volunteering they can go to volunteernh.org, [which has] a huge list of volunteer opportunities that people can sign up for across New Hampshire. … Once you start [volunteering], you can’t stop, and once you find your passion in helping others, it’s a feeling you’ll never forget.

Miss Volunteer America
The Inaugural Miss Volunteer America Pageant will take place in Jackson, Tennessee, from May 1 through May 7, and will be streamed on the Miss Volunteer America website, missvolunteeramerica.net. Follow Orfao’s pageant journey and volunteer work on Instagram at @missnhvol and @grace_orfao_volunteer.

Featured photo: Grace Orfao. Courtesy photo.

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