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.

News & Notes 22/03/24

Covid-19 update As of March 14 As of March 21
Total cases statewide 300,511 301,308
Total current infections statewide 821 911
Total deaths statewide 2,417 2,436
New cases 860 (March 8 to March 14) 797 (March 15 to March 21)
Current infections: Hillsborough County 196 242
Current infections: Merrimack County 67 65
Current infections: Rockingham County 142 151
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

Covid-19 news

On March 16, the state Department of Health & Human Services announced in a press release that its 11 state-managed Covid-19 vaccination sites will permanently close on March 31. Additionally, four of the seven mobile vaccination teams will demobilize that same day. The announcement comes just one day after health officials permanently closed all of the state-run testing sites. Vaccines are still easily accessible through medical providers, pharmacies, urgent care centers and mobile vaccination clinics, the release said.

State health officials announced 53 new positive Covid test results on March 21. The state averaged 119 new cases per day over the most recent seven-day period, a 4 percent increase compared to the week before. Hospitalizations continue to be low, at just 30 statewide as of March 21 — that’s the fewest since Aug. 2 of last year.

Child advocate plan

Last week the state Office of the Child Advocate released its 2022-2025 Strategic Plan, a collaboration of members of the community and state leaders. Child Advocate Moira O’Neill said in a press release that forming the plan was an “opportunity to engage with the broader community to co-create a road map for deeper impact and lasting system reform,” and input was received from children, parents, foster parents, providers, attorneys, government leaders and the Oversight Commission on Children’s Services. According to the release, the plan was developed after looking at the office’s progress and talking to the community about its future vision, mission, values, priorities and needed changes. Focus groups and interviews showed that the four-year-old Office of the Child Advocate is “respected, reliable and transparent,” the release said, but it is still not well-known throughout the state. Another issue is an unbalance of independent oversight with collaborative relationships; both of those problems could be attributed in part to not having enough staffing, the release said. The Strategic Plan has four goals: continue to be responsive to complaints, incidents and opportunities to improve the state’s support and protection of children; expand public knowledge of the office as a resource to understand and advocate for children; invest in building the capacity of the office to support the safety and well-being of children; and strengthen and expand relationships with system partners based in trust, collaboration and impact. According to the release, O’Neill has completed her four-year term of service and is waiting for the governor to appoint a replacement.

SleepOut

On Friday, March 25, hundreds of people in the Granite State will sleep outside for Waypoint’s eighth annual SleepOut, which raises awareness and funds to help end youth homelessness in New Hampshire. According to a press release, the funds will support Waypoint’s new overnight youth shelter in Manchester and its drop-in resource centers in Concord and Rochester, as well as help sustain its existing services. This year’s event will be held remotely, with sleepers spending the night outside at a place of their choosing and sharing the experience virtually. The online event will also be livestreamed on the agency’s Facebook page, allowing members of the community to show their support even if they are not registered sleepers. Last year, Waypoint had nearly 1,500 contacts with youth who were on the streets and offered services like survival aid, basic needs relief, educational support, job and life skills training, driver’s ed, access to mental health services and more, the release said. Visit waypointnh.org.

Oil tank leaks

The New Hampshire Insurance Department has received numerous questions from consumers regarding insurance coverage for cleanup costs associated with heating oil spills. According to a press release, those costs can exceed $100,000, and there are no admitted insurance carriers in the state who cover home heating oil spills. However, the state Department of Environmental Services has two programs to help consumers who have home heating oil tanks that have leaked or are in danger of leaking: the Safetank Program and the Petroleum Reimbursement Fund Program. The Safetank Program provides financial assistance to income qualified homeowners — up to $2,250 to upgrade or remove and replace an above-ground oil tank and up to $2,500 to remove an underground tank. The Petroleum Reimbursement Fund Program reimburses costs incurred by DES-required cleanup at eligible properties where a petroleum release has occurred from a tank system, with coverage of up to $500,000. The Insurance Department encourages homeowners to upgrade or replace their heating oil tanks before a release occurs, the release said.

A presentation and conversation called “The Russian Invasion of Ukraine – Why Did it Happen? What Are the Global Implications?” will be held Tuesday, March 29, at 6:30 p.m. at the Goffstown Public Library, according to a press release. Registration to attend in person or virtually is required at https://bit.ly/GPLUkraine329.

Last week, Memorial, Central and West high schools in Manchester hosted their first-ever Sports Nights, where representatives from high school and middle school athletics and youth sports leagues in the city came together to help students find a sport they love. According to a press release, the event also highlighted the schools’ current student-athlete stars who have signed with colleges and universities to compete for them next year.

Daytime road work on the Route 101 Bridge replacement project in Bedford has begun and, according to a press release, there will be alternating one-way traffic between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Route 101 from Twin Brook Lane to Joppa Hill Road. Construction will continue in the area throughout the summer and fall, the release said.

Jersey Mike’s Subs locations in New Hampshire — most locally in Londonderry, Hudson and Plaistow — are supporting the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games through its 12th Annual March “Month of Giving” campaign. According to a press release, customers can make a donation at any Jersey Mike’s to help local Team NH athletes get to the Games, happening in June in Orlando. On March 30, Jersey Mike’s will have a “Day of Giving,” when the restaurants will give 100 percent of the day’s sales — not just profits — to the Games, the release said.

This Week 22/03/17

Big Events March 17, 2022 and beyond

Thursday, March 17

If you like corned beef and cabbage, this is your day. In last week’s (March 10) issue of the Hippo, Matt Ingersoll gathered all the St. Patrick’s Day eats and treats plans from area restaurants, bakeries and more. Find that story on page 24 in the e-edition of the Hippo, available at hippopress.com.

Friday, March 18

The Dueling Pianos return to the Tupelo Music Hall (10 A St. in Derry; tupelomusichall.com, 437-5100) tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $20. Find more concerts this weekend or beyond on page 41.

Saturday, March 19

Learn how to become an Eastern Bluebird trail monitor at the New Hampshire Audubon’s Massabesic Center in Auburn. Register in advance for today’s free event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bring a lunch; the morning will be spent in the classroom and the afternoon on the trail, according to nhaudubon.org.

Wednesday, March 23

What is the Postmodern Jukebox? Watch the “Evolution of the Friends Theme Song 1920s-1990s” video on the Capitol Center for the Arts’ website, ccanh.com, to see them take “I’ll Be There For You” from flappers to a Freddy Mercury riff. The Postmodern Jukebox’s Grand Reopening Tour comes to the Cap Center (Chubb Theatre, 44 S. Main St. in Concord; ccanh.com) tonight at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m.; tickets cost $39 (plus fees).

Thursday, March 24

Author Keith O’Brien will sign and discuss his book Fly Girls, about aviation’s female pioneers, at the Aviation Museum of N.H. (27 Navigator Road in Londonderry; aviationmuseumofnh.org, 669-4820) tonight at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10 or $40 for admission plus a hardcover copy of the book, according to a press release. Tickets can be purchased in advance at eventbrite.com (search “Aviation Museum Fly Girls” ) or by calling 669-4877.

Save the Date! March 31

The New Hampshire Jewish Film Festival kicks off on Thursday, March 31, with an in-person screening of the documentary The Automat (which will screen at the Rex Theatre in Manchester at 7 p.m.). The line-up includes 11 feature-length films, a five-film shorts program, five in-person screenings in a theater, and seven at-home film programs. A screening of the 1972 film Cabaret will close out the in-person portion of the festival on Sunday, April 10, at 3:30 p.m. at Red River Theatres in Concord. During a bonus week of the festival, April 11 to April 14, four of the in-person films will be available to view at home, according to the event’s website, nhjewishfilmfestival.com, where you can buy individual tickets for films ($12) or festival passes for either in-person and virtual events ($130 for one person, $180 for two people) or for virtual only events ($118). In addition to The Automat (see the trailer, which includes Colin Powell, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Carl Reiner talking about their automat experiences over a recording of Mel Brooks singing an ode to automat coffee), the feature film line-up includes the documentary Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen, which focuses on the making of the 1971 movie The Fiddler on the Roof, a nice companion to the delightful documentary from the 2020 festival, Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles, about the musical theater play and its lasting impact (available for rent or purchase and on Amazon Prime).

Featured photo. Corned beef and cabbage from The Shaskeen Pub and Restaurant in Manchester. Courtesy photo.

Quality of Life 22/03/17

Fun at the stadium

Celebrate chicken tenders, Marvel characters and Northwoods Law, among other fun themes, with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats this season. The team recently announced its promotional schedule for 2022, with Atlas Fireworks shows, giveaways, brand new theme nights, and the debut of Benny the Bat Dog (In Training) on May 13. According to a press release, Manchester Chicken Tenders Night will be Saturday, June 4, when the F-Cats will don specialty jerseys and chicken tender hats to honor Manchester’s culinary history. Marvel’s Defenders of the Diamond Night is Friday, June 17, featuring Marvel music, movie clips and Thor jerseys worn by the Fisher Cats. Hockey Night pays homage to the history of hockey in the state on Friday, June 24, with Manchester Monarchs-inspired jerseys, a mini stick giveaway and appearances from former NHLers including Derek Bekar and Jeff Giuliano. The stars of Northwoods Law New Hampshire return Friday, July 8, to meet fans; the first 1,000 fans will receive a replica conservation officer jersey. Star Wars Night returns on Saturday, July 23, with Star Wars characters, music, movie clips, intergalactic fireworks and Mandalorian jerseys featuring Baby Yoda.

Score: +1

Comment: The Fisher Cats home opener is on schedule for Tuesday, April 12, against the Hartford Yard Goats, with a magnet schedule giveaway and a post-game fireworks show.

Hey kids, want to be a governor?

After a Covid hiatus, the Governor for a Day initiative that was launched in New Hampshire in 2018 will return. According to a press release, the goal of the program is to “foster civic education and promote youth participation in government,” and it’s open to all middle and high school students in the state. Applicants are asked to submit a 250- to 500-word essay completing the sentence, “If I were governor for a day, I would…” One student will be selected to serve as “Governor for a Day,” joining Gov. Chris Sununu for a day on the job.

Score: +1

Comment: Submissions are due by April 22, and may be submitted to GovernorForADay@nh.gov, by mail or via Facebook Messenger.

Here’s hoping for a warm spring

The good news is that warmer temperatures are coming. The bad news is that a final oil-tank fillup this season is going to cost you. According to a report last week from WMUR, the prices for oil in most New Hampshire communities is more than $5 a gallon. The price at Lemay’s Oil Services in Manchester last week was $5.32 a gallon, and owner Dan Lemay told WMUR he’s never seen it like this. Rymes Propane and Oil in Concord had its price listed at $5.29 a gallon on March 12; on March 15, the price had risen to $5.54.

Score: -2

Comment: QOL got an automatic delivery March 11 and was shocked to see the price had skyrocketed to $5.29 per gallon. QOL will be canceling automatic deliveries for now, in the hopes that prices will be less heart-attack-inducing in the fall.

Math is where it’s at

Brainly, an online homework help community, surveyed 900 American students throughout the country about math in honor of Pi Day on March 14 to find out how they feel about the subject. According to a press release, New Hampshire ranks No. 3 for states where math is the students’ favorite subject, with 37.6 percent of students preferring math over science, English, social studies or history, or “other.” Students in New Jersey and Massachusetts like math the most, at 41.7 percent and 41.6 percent, respectively.

Score: +1

Comment: QOL doesn’t understand the “new math” they’re teaching in schools these days but is all for it if it’s making the subject more accessible — and even enjoyable — for kids.

QOL score: 65

Net change: +1

QOL this week: 66

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

The week that was

News Item: Baseball Lockout Ends

I said last week that baseball’s work stoppage would amount to a big nothing, and it did when a deal was struck on Thursday. Big whoop.

Although echoing the media hysteria mentioned last week was Boston Globe Sports Business Reporter Michael Silverman describing it as something that “infuriated fans.” It did? Where’s the evidence of that, pal?

There was some reporting on the financials, but they didn’t seem to have much significance so you have to wonder what it was all about.

The dumbest part is that if the All-Star game is tied after nine innings the league that wins the Home Run Derby will now be declared the winner. How stupid is that? Just leave it a tie, Rob.

What was bargaining in mutually agreed upon changes like a universal DH throughout baseball, and the mechanism to address more changes for 2023. They include pace of play issues, possibly banning the infield shift and making the bases larger. Not sure if I’m for the ban, as major leaguers should learn to hit the other way to beat it, and I don’t get what larger bases will do, but both sides working together to improve the game is progress.

News Item: Round 1 To Brooklyn

Brooklyn took the early lead in the debate over who won the James HardenBen Simmons trade.

Thanks to a complete 3-17, 11-point no show by Harden, Philly got smoked by 29 at home in the first match-up since the trade went down and Simmons didn’t even play. But, to his credit, he did show up on the bench to get roasted and he gets a bonus point for that.

News Item: Stat Geekdom Finally Comes Up With Good One

Here’s a stat from the new-age stat geekdom I can get behind. It’s Celtics center Robert Williams holding everyone he defends to 6 percentage points below their normal field goal percentage. That means if the combined FG percentage of the guys he covers is 50, they only shoot 44 percent against him. That tells you what kind of man-on-man defender he is.

News Item: Ridley Suspended For Doing Something NFL Promotes

When I was in the PR business in the ’90s and the NH Lottery was my client, a bill was advancing in the legislature to make football betting cards legal. I went one day with Lottery Director Jim Wimsatt to hear a young NFL PR flack, who my memory says was a young Roger Goodell, though a search couldn’t verify that, testify before the committee considering it, to voice the NFL’s opposition to the bill. After it was over Wimsatt, who loved talking to the press, did an impromptu press conference and predicted the NFL would be against betting on football until it could figure out how to get a piece of the action.

He was correct; that day has now arrived and their ongoing hypocrisy is worse than ever, exemplified specifically by suspending wide receiver Calvin Ridley last week for at least a year for betting on a few games while he was sidelined with mental health issues. A suspension handed out by an organization that is the official sports betting partner of Draft Kings, in whom Patriots owner Bob Kraft was one of the early investors, and whose game broadcasts every Sunday are chock full of ads promoting legal betting on its games.

And while I have nothing against sports betting, it seems ludicrous to suspend an inactive player for doing what ads on their games are inviting viewers to do. So, Roger, is gambling good or bad?, ’cause your actions send a very mixed message.

News Item: NFL Free Agency Opens

To paraphrase the famed sideline rant by legendary Green Bay Coach Vince Lombardi during a breakdown for his five-time champion Packers, here’s a question for Coach B as the new NFL year gets started: What The Heck Is Going On Down There?!

A year ago the Pats had the best secondary in football. But that was before he failed to get a long-term deal done with JC Jackson in advance of his free agency year even as he was throwing $175 million around at lesser free agents. And that was before he screwed up the Stephon Gilmore stalemate. Now both are gone with no obvious successors.

No SB was won in the Brady era without a top-flight cornerback. Ty Law was there for the first three. Then you put up a doughnut for 10 years until Darrelle Revis arrived in 2014, followed by Malcolm Butler in 2016 and Gilmore in 2018.

News Item: Flores Lawsuit Gets Stronger

The lawsuit ex-Dolphins coach Brian Flores filed against the NFL for discriminatory hiring practices picked up a little ammo last week thanks to moves related to two big-name quarterbacks. Quarterback-needy (OK, QB-desperate) Denver’s choice of Nathaniel Hackett and rejection of Flores was based on the notion the ex-Green Bay OC could bring disgruntled and wanting out of GB Aaron Rodgers with him to Denver to solve their QB ills. And since Flores couldn’t make that happen, his interview was a sham, the latest bogus Rooney Rule forced interview. But Rodgers magically became un-disgruntled when the Pack made the reigning MVP the highest-paid player in history. Which I always suspected his phony disgruntled act was designed to produce all along. That forced Denver, ah, to punt, sending three players and a boatload of draft picks to Seattle for QB Russell Wilson. Since they could have done that no matter who the HC was, that weakened the rationale for taking Hackett in the first place, and should give his legal team an extra arrow in the quiver.

News Item: Brady Un-Retires

I don’t care if you play or don’t play. So our only question is, Hey, Tom, when did you become such an attention-seeker?

Going green

Meet Manchester’s official leprechaun

The Manchester St. Patrick’s Parade returns on Sunday, March 27, with Matt Casey, owner and operator of Casey Magee’s Irish Pub & Music Hall in Nashua, as its new “official Leprechaun.”

How did you land this official leprechaun gig?

I opened up an Irish pub, Casey Magee’s, in the middle of the pandemic, in June of 2020. … The logo for the pub is actually [an image of] me as a leprechaun. … I reached out to the organizers of the Manchester [St. Patrick’s] Parade and explained to them that I wanted to participate. They accepted me and are going to allow me to promote my pub in the parade. The plan is for me to march in the parade every year as the official leprechaun.

What will you be doing in the parade?

I’ll be walking. I try not to bring a cane or anything, because I like to have my hands free so that I can wave and shake everybody’s hand. People like to put their arm around me and take a picture with me. … This year it’ll be just me, but eventually I’d like to have my pub staff join me with a banner.

How do you prepare?

I started growing a beard — a big, red beard — out in the fall. … I bought a new hat [on which] I’m going to either sew or glue white letters that say ‘Casey Magee’s.’ I also have a green corduroy jacket that I got four or five years ago, which is vintage from the ’60s. I’m going to put ‘Casey Magee’s’ on the jacket also, somehow. Then I have all the lapel pins to put on. I have at least 30, and about half of them I actually purchased myself in Ireland. … [The night before the parade,] after I close the pub, I’m going to drive to Manchester. I rented a hotel room downtown. I’ll check in at around 3 a.m., and get everything for my outfit laid out so that I know I’m not missing anything. I’ll go to bed, wake up, put on my outfit and walk out the front door of the hotel as the leprechaun.

Do you have prior leprechaun experience?

Yes. I’ve been marching in St. Patrick’s Day parades for roughly 20 years. … I started in the Providence, Rhode Island, one. … I was a Las Vegas leprechaun for about six years years while I lived out there. I used to do the [St. Patrick’s Day] toasts on the Las Vegas strip at midnight, and that was really fun. Then I was the leprechaun in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade from 2017 to 2019.

How did you get your start?

I’ve always tried to [wear] everything-green on Saint Patrick’s Day. When I was in college, I purchased a green coat, a hat, a bow tie and a vest, and I went to the local Irish pub. The Providence St. Patrick’s Day parade was that weekend. The lady that [organized the parade] ran into me at the pub and said, ‘Hey, we don’t have a leprechaun; how would you like to be our leprechaun?’ and I said, ‘Of course, I will.’

What do you enjoy most about it?

It’s so much fun to see everybody smile and wave … and to see the looks on the kids’ faces when I shake their hand, or I give them a high five, or I give them a little plastic gold coin. Honestly, it’s the funnest day of the year for me, because I get to make everybody happy, and I get a lot of joy in doing that. I’ll continue to do it for as long as I can and for as long as they’ll let me do it. Somebody has to do it, right?

What does this opportunity mean to you, as someone with Irish heritage?

Celebrating my family’s heritage and the history of Ireland is part of why I do it. … New Hampshire has a large Irish population, so there’s a lot of excitement for the parade, and I love to share that with everybody.

Featured photo: Matt Casey. Courtesy photo.

News & Notes 22/03/17

Covid-19 update As of March 7 As of March 14
Total cases statewide 299,651 300,511
Total current infections statewide 1,045 821
Total deaths statewide 2,403 2,417
New cases 1,922 (Feb. 26 to March 7) 860 (March 8 to March 14)
Current infections: Hillsborough County 256 196
Current infections: Merrimack County 75 67
Current infections: Rockingham County 144 142
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

Covid-19 news

On March 8, the state Department of Health & Human Services announced in a press release that all of the state-managed Covid-19 testing sites will permanently close on Tuesday, March 15. Both PCR and antigen-based Covid tests remain easily accessible, including at all New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet stores and at dozens of hospitals, health care practices, pharmacies and urgent care centers. See covid19.nh.gov for a full list of locations that offer tests.

Elliot Hospital also recently said goodbye to a team of 14 officials from the federal Department of Defense helping out with the latest Covid surge, according to a March 9 report from WMUR. The team, which included several nurses and technicians, as well as a physician and an advanced care provider, had been assisting hospital staff for the past two months.

State health officials announced 86 new positive Covid test results on March 11, surpassing the 300,000 mark for overall cases in New Hampshire since the start of the pandemic two years ago. Despite this milestone, numbers continue to trend downward — only 43 active hospitalizations were reported on March 14, the fewest since early August of last year. In a press release issued that same day, DHHS reminded people of the availability of two oral antiviral medications, Paxlovid and molnupiravir. According to the release, both can be prescribed by providers via phone or through a telemedicine visit and can be taken at home.

Trooper training

Eleven members from the New Hampshire Division of State Police have completed the national Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement Project, which provides training and support to help law enforcement agencies build a culture of peer intervention that prevents harm. According to a press release, those 11 designated instructors will now be able to provide ABLE training to all other New Hampshire state troopers. The Project’s Board of Advisors is made up of civil rights, social justice and law enforcement leaders, and the strategies and tactics that are taught through the program aim to prevent misconduct, reduce mistakes and promote health and wellness, the release said. The training is consistent with the recommendations of the state’s Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community, and Transparency. “This training will ensure that we continue to provide the highest degree of law enforcement service throughout the state while maintaining our core values of professionalism, fairness and integrity,” State Police Col. Nathan Noyes said in the release.

Courtroom equity

The New Hampshire Women’s Foundation released a new Gender Matters report last week that explores the inequitable representation of women and people of color in the New Hampshire judicial branch, according to a press release. “Women in the New Hampshire Judiciary” points to the fact that 38 percent of all New Hampshire state court judges are women, with the ratios of female judges being even smaller in the state’s Superior and Supreme Courts. Only one person of color, a woman, is currently serving as a judge in the state judicial system. According to the release, governors’ administrations play an important part in who makes up the judicial system; former Gov. Maggie Hassan’s administration appointed the highest percentage of women during her tenure, at 48 percent. “Representation matters in all branches of government,” Tanna Clews, CEO of the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation said in the release. “We see many opportunities in New Hampshire to increase gender and racial diversity among New Hampshire judges.” Some of the Foundation’s policy recommendations to increase gender and racial diversity include urging governors to nominate more women and people of color; appointing more members with gender and racial diversity to the Judicial Selection Commission; and providing female attorneys a mentorship program that supports career trajectory, including judgeship.

University system chancellor

The University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees voted last week to combine the university system’s chancellor position with the role of the president of the University of New Hampshire on an interim basis for the next two-plus years. According to a press release, UNH President James W. Dean Jr. will serve as interim chancellor effective immediately, and the combined role will be in place through June 30, 2024. The board will evaluate the efficacy of the new position throughout that time. The chancellor role has remained vacant since former Chancellor Todd Leach departed in June 2021; since then, the board and administrative leadership have focused on “the economic stability, growth and transformation of its institutions” and explored various governance structure options to determine which might best secure those outcomes. In the new role, Dean will “lead and ensure the success of UNH, including the current merger of UNH and Granite State College, while working with the other campus presidents to advance the interests of KSC, PSU and the overall university system,” the release said.

Preschooler support

Federal funds are being used to make the Waterford Upstart at-home program available to hundreds more pre-K-age children in New Hampshire. According to a press release, the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund will give more kids access to Waterford Upstart Summer Learning Path from June to August. The program is designed to prepare young students for kindergarten, and many who complete it “will be reading at a nearly first-grade level,” the release said. It offers positive parent-child interactions through personalized online instruction. The summer program has kids working on the curriculum for 20 minutes a day, five days a week. “Preschool is the ideal platform for children to build a strong academic foundation and enhance language and literacy — skills that are critical for school readiness,” Christine Brennan, deputy commissioner of education, said in the release. New Hampshire families with a child entering kindergarten in the fall of 2022 or the fall of 2023 can register by calling 1-888-982-9898 or visiting WaterfordUpstart.org. “The Waterford Upstart program helps close the well-documented preschool access gap, providing proven school-readiness support for children most at risk of school failure,” Frank Edelblut, commissioner of education, said in the release.

The Nashua Board of Education and the Nashua Teachers’ Union have tentatively reached a four-year contract agreement. According to a press release, negotiating teams met last week and agreed to an average salary increase of 4.1 percent over four years for all teachers, totaling $11,127,830. “Our teachers, nurses, counselors, school psychologists, and many others have been at the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic these last two years and this agreement recognizes their efforts and honors their work with increased pay, benefits, and support,” Superintendent Garth J. McKinney said in the release.

Husband and wife Max and Saverna Ahmad of Bedford, who founded the ride-share startup Rydelinx, have expanded their operations beyond New Hampshire to all 50 states. According to a press release, Rydelinx lets riders name their price and choose specific drivers or vehicle types, while drivers can accept the ride, counter the offer or decline the ride.

Hollis police are cracking down on drunk drivers, having doubled the number of arrests for suspected drunk driving this year compared to this time in 2021, according to a report from WMUR. Several officers have taken advanced roadside impairment detection classes to help with this effort, the report said.

This Week 22/03/10

Big Events March 10, 2022 and beyond

Thursday, March 10

Thursday means it’s Art After Work at the Currier Museum of Art (150 Ash St. in Manchester; currier.org, 669-6144), when, from 5 to 8 p.m, museum admission is free and you can view the art, listen to music (performing this week: River Sister) and check out the food and happy hour specials in the Winter Garden. This week’s special tours include “A Glitter of Green” at 6:30 p.m., when you can get ready for St. Patrick’s Day (next Thursday, March 17) by looking at the significance of green in three museum pieces, according to the website. Current museum exhibits include “Appeal of the Real: 19th Century Photographs of the Ancient World” and “WPA in NH: Philip Guston and Musa McKim.”

Friday, March 11

Majestic Theatre presents the comedy Nana’s Naughty Knickers tonight through Sunday, March 13, at the Majestic Studio Theatre (880 Page St. in Manchester; majestictheatre.net). The show runs Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and 17 and under.

Friday, March 11

Oscar completists can add another movie to their “seen it” list: The Worst Person in the World (R, 2021), nominated for original screenplay and international feature film, starts screening today at Red River Theatres (11 S. Main St. in Concord; 224-4600, redrivertheatres.org). Red River is also still screening the nominated shorts packages: Catch documentaries on Thursday, March 10, at 6:15 p.m. Live-action shorts will screen Thursday, March 10, and Friday, March 11, at 3:15 p.m. and Saturday, March 12, at 11:30 a.m. And the animated shorts will screen Saturday, March 12, at 5 p.m.; Sunday, March 13, at 3:15 p.m. and Thursday, March 17, at 4 p.m.

Saturday, March 12

Get a taste of AC/DC with Dirty Deeds The AC/DC Experience at the Tupelo Music Hall (10 A St. in Derry; tupelomusichall.com, 437-5100) tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35.

Sunday, March 13

The Milford Area Players production of the comedy The Philadelphia Storyfinishes its run today with a 2 p.m. show. Other shows this weekend are at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 11, and Saturday, March 12. The show runs at the Amato Center for the Arts (56 Mont Vernon St. in Milford). Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors. Visit milfordareaplayers.org.

Tuesday, March 15

Lil’ Buck brings “Memphis Jookin’ The Show” to the Capitol Center for the Arts’ Chubb Theatre (44 S. Main St. in Concord; ccanh.com) tonight at 7 p.m. The show is presented with free admission for four tickets for Concord-area residents by the William H. Gile Concert series according to the website, where you can see a video of Lil’ Buck’s dance moves.

Wednesday, March 16

It’s storytime at the New Hampshire Telephone Museum (1 Depot St. in Warner; nhtelephonemuseum.org, 456-2234) tonight when Miss Sue of the Pillsbury Free Library in Warner comes to read some of Gianni Rodari’s Telephone Tales at 3 p.m. Suggested donations are $5. Telephone Tales features stories within the story of a father who travels for work but calls his daughter every night to tell her stories.

Save the Date! Saturday, March 26, and Sunday, March 27

The Citizens Shamrock Half-Marathon, Relay and Shuffle will take place the last weekend of March in downtown Manchester. Sunday, March 27, is also the day of the Manchester St. Patrick’s Parade, for which the shamrocks have already been painted on Elm Street, according to saintpatsnh.com. As for the races, the half-marathon and relay take place on March 26 and the Shuffle and an 8-and-under Lil Leprechaun Run take place on March 27. There are also virtual options. See millenniumrunning.com/shamrock.

Featured photo. River Sister. Courtesy photo.

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