Future plans

Project to bring connections, improved walkability to Manch

RAISE Manchester is a $30 million transportation infrastructure project in Manchester funded in part by a $25 million federal RAISE grant. Kristen Clarke, project manager and Manchester Department of Public Works traffic engineer, discussed the project following a public informational meeting held for residents and business owners. Visit raisemanchester.org.

How long has RAISE Manchester been in the works?

The first time we applied for the grant was in 2019. There were some planning efforts that happened leading up to that as well. We applied for the grant in 2019 and 2020 and were not successful and then won the grant in 2021.

What are RAISE grants awarded for?

The grant is [awarded] through the U.S. DOT. RAISE stands for Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity. There are several key items that they’re looking for, which are how we’re improving mobility and congestion and how we’re creating new development opportunities using infrastructure.

What are the elements of the project?

There are four different elements of the grant that are all semi-interconnected. First, there’s the Granite Street and Commercial Street intersection, where we’re going to be building a pedestrian bridge over Granite Street. Then, where South Commercial Street currently dead-ends by the Fisher Cats ballpark, we’re going to be building a bridge over the active rail line that will connect over to Elm Street at Gas Street. Then we’re going to be building a rail trail on the abandoned rail trail corridor from Queen City Avenue up to that Elm and Gas Street intersection. The last piece is the reconfiguration of the South Willow Street and Queen City Avenue intersection from a signalized intersection into a peanut-shaped roundabout.

What are some of the problems that RAISE Manchester aims to address?

The biggest things are we’re looking at how to reconnect the south Millyard area back over to Elm Street across the rail line in hopes that it’ll help spur some redevelopment and extend downtown south of Granite Street. We’re also looking at [improving] safety and traffic congestion by providing alternative ways in and out of downtown.

How are you able to predict what changes will make the biggest impact?

Part of it is looking at where the bottlenecks are happening today. We know that, getting into the city on the Granite Street quarter, there’s a lot of congestion, especially if there’s a ballgame or an event at the SNHU Arena or if a train is coming through there. So that’s where we started looking at where we could create more options.

How much of this plan is confirmed and how much is still developing?

The four elements as presented in the grant application are required to be complete; they have to be done in some fashion based on the stipulations of the grant. The width of the road or the exact alignment of it can change, and that part is still not set in stone. We are in the preliminary design phase right now, which we’re hoping to wrap up over the next couple of months. Then, the final design phase will go on for about another year.

What does that design process look like?

There are three bridges that are part of this project, so a big piece of the design is actually doing all the structural analysis to design the bridges. That’s what takes the longest of all of it.

What is the timeline?

All in all, we have to be ready for all the design to be done by September 2024, and all construction must be completed by September 2029. We’re not sure about the [order of the] stages and which would happen first. A contractor might choose to do multiple of them at the same time. We can’t know yet.

What was the response at the public meeting?

Overall, the response was positive, and people were excited. They wondered how we’ve gone this long without a lot of these projects in place. We did get some great comments from the bike and pedestrian communities on different things that we should explore to see if there were better ways to accommodate bikes and pedestrians. … We’re really excited about it. If people have ideas, we’re happy for them to share their comments through our website, raisemanchester.org, or get in touch with us. We want to make sure that if there’s something someone wants to see, and there’s a way that we can accommodate it, we look into it.

Featured photo: The biggest part of RAISE Manchester will be a new South Commercial Street Extension. Courtesy photo.

News & Notes 22/12/29

Fighting fentanyl

The Fighting Emerging Narcotics through Additional Nations to Yield Lasting (FENTANYL) Results Act, a bipartisan legislation supported by U.S. Senators and senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) and U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), has been signed into law, according to a press release. Part of the fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), annual legislation that authorizes defense programming, the FENTANYL Results Act will increase global cooperation in the fight against synthetic drug trafficking. Two programs through the State Department have been authorized to build foreign law enforcement capacity to detect synthetic drugs and operate an international exchange program for drug demand reduction experts. “Fentanyl is driving the substance use disorder crisis and making this public health emergency more lethal than ever,” Sen. Shaheen said in the release. “It is a killer and we need to get it out of our communities. That effort needs to start with preventing it from crossing our borders. We know that fentanyl is primarily being trafficked from China and Mexico, so it is paramount that we address this issue globally, which is precisely what the FENTANYL Results Act will do.”

Grant funds

Gov. Chris Sununu and the Executive Council have approved an allocation of federal American Rescue Plan Act resources for the Community Center Investment Program, which will be overseen by the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority. According to a press release, the program will provide $20 million in grant resources to eligible entities to support infrastructure improvements to community spaces across the state.

Housing

Funding for the construction and preservation of six multifamily housing developments through the allocation of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and other federal and state funding has been approved by the New Hampshire Housing Board of Directors. According to a press release, the projects will include Pembroke Road Apartments in Concord; CATCH Neighborhood Housing at Sheep Davis Road in Concord; Hillsborough Heights in Hillsborough; the first phase of The Apartments at 249 Main St. in Nashua; Coliseum Seniors Residence III in Nashua; and the third phase of Apple Ridge Apartments in Rochester. Once constructed, the buildings will provide 341 units to help meet the need for affordable rental housing for the state’s workforce and other residents.

Overdose prevention

The City of Manchester has been selected by the National Association of County and City Health Officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Injury Control and Prevention as one of 20 communities across the country to receive $300,000 in funding to bolster overdose prevention efforts on the local level. According to a press release, Manchester recovery support worker and advocate Andrew Warner has been hired as Director of Overdose Prevention, a newly created position within the City’s Department of Health. Warner, who has experience in the field as a provider and program administrator in treating substance use disorders, will lead the City’s response in preventing drug-involved overdoses and fatalities. “My chief focus is to work with the array of resource providers in Manchester to create and implement a strategic plan to prevent drug-involved overdoses,” Warner said in the release. “It’s important to compile, monitor and use the real-time data in the city to help positively impact existing services and funding, improve planning and resource allocation, and ultimately track progress on key metrics.

St. Mary’s retirement

Ronald H. Covey Jr. will retire after 14 years as President and Chief Executive Officer of St. Mary’s Bank, the nation’s first credit union, according to a press release. Covey served as the eighth CEO in the credit union’s 114-year history. During his tenure, he expanded St. Mary’s Bank’s presence with the construction of its Perimeter Road operations center, West Side headquarters, and new branches including Northwest Boulevard Nashua, Milford and Portsmouth. Under Covey’s leadership, membership increased from 60,000 to 98,000 and grew from $652 million in assets to approaching $1.5 billion in assets. His accolades include induction into the national Credit Union House Hall of Leaders earlier this year; Manchester Chamber Citizen of the Year for 2021; and being named one of the state’s 200 most influential leaders by New Hampshire Business Review in 2019 and 2021.

The City of Concord has approved the construction of a new five-story commercial building on Main Street, the Concord Monitor reported. The building will include a Friendly Toast restaurant — the third in the state — on the first floor; 15,000 square feet of office spaces on the second, third and fourth floors; and an event space operated by the Grappone Conference Center on the top floor. Construction is slated to begin in the coming months, according to the article.

New Hampshire Humanities presents a program, “Tangled Lives: Native People and English Settlers in Colonial New England,” at the Manchester City Library (405 Pine St.) on Wednesday, Jan. 4, at 6:30 p.m. According to a press release, storyteller and historian Jo Radner will discuss Native American oral traditions and share stories told by her own New England ancestors, exploring the complex relationships between English settlers and Native peoples during the 17th and 18th centuries. The program is free and open to the public. Visit nhhumanities.org.

Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains will host an informational session, “Explore Girl Scouts,” on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 6 p.m. at the Nashua Public Library (2 Court St.). Girls in grades K through 3 and their caregivers are invited to learn about Girl Scouts and participate in sample activities, according to a press release. Walk-ins are welcome. Sign-ups for Girl Scouts are available year-round at girlscoutsgwm.org.

This Week 22/12/22

Big Events December 22, 2022 and beyond

Wednesday, Dec. 28

Recycled Percussion, the legendary drumming group from New England, opens their run at the Palace Theatre (80 Hanover St., Manchester) today at 3 p.m. The group has performed on America’s Got Talent, opened at the 2017 Super Bowl, did a run on Las Vegas and has their own Emmy Award winning show on television called Chaos and Kindness. Tickets start at $37 and can be purchased at palaceteatre.org.

Thursday, Dec. 22

This is the last day for the snowman felting workshop at Averill House Vineyard (21 Averill Road, Brookline). The winery will provide all the materials and the workshop is for crafters of all skill levels in the art of felting. The craft will be accompanied with a winter wine tasting for visitors of age or a nonalcoholic beverage for guests younger than 21. Additional kits can be purchased at the workshop. Cost is $47 per person and tickets can be purchased at averillhousevineyard.com.

Friday, Dec. 23

Today is the last day of the handmade holiday market at Studio 550 (550 Elm St., Manchester). The market will run from noon to 8 p.m. and will have a variety of artworks to shop for. There will also be demonstrations by local artists and gift cards for Studio 550 available for purchase. For questions, call 232-5597 or email info@550arts.com.

Friday, Dec. 23

Tonight is the last showing of Palace Theatre’s (80 Hanover St., Manchester) A Christmas Carol. Follow Ebenezer Scrooge as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, so he can learn to keep the Christmas spirit all year round. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available as of Dec. 19. Prices start at $25 and tickets can be purchased online at palacetheatre.org.

Tuesday, Dec. 27

The adult winter reading challenge begins today at Derry Public Library (64 East Broadway). The theme this year is reading the rainbow, meaning that readers must log a book with a cover the same color as one in the rainbow. It can be any genre of book, from graphic novels to nonfiction. The challenge will run through Feb. 28 and the person who reads the most books will win a gift card to The Grind Rail Trail Cafe. Stop by the library to pick up a log. Visit derrypl.org for more information.

Tuesday, Dec. 27

Magician Ben Pratt is performing a family-friendly magic show today at Chunky’s Cinema in Manchester (707 Huse Road). Pratt, who grew up in New Hampshire, has performed his magic show across the country. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased at chunkys.com.

Save the Date! Sunday, Jan. 1
Join Beaver Brook Association for a First Day Hike at noon on Sunday, Jan. 1, at Maple Hill Farm (117 Ridge Road, Hollis). The walk will take families around Beaver Brook that’s designed for them by the staff in the red yurt on the farm grounds. Visitors can bring the whole family, including leashed dogs. Visit beaverbrook.org.

Featured photo. Recycled Percussion. Courtesy photo.

Quality of Life 22/12/22

Like toilet paper all over again…

QOL was unfortunately in the market for some children’s fever medicine (your acetaminophen, your ibuprofen) last week and learned, as other parents probably already know, that the over-the-counter medicines are harder to get than Taylor Swift tickets, particularly the younger-kid-friendly liquid version (the Tylenol, not the tickets). A driving tour of many Greater Manchester grocery stores, big box stores and pharmacies turned up some kid tablet versions (boo to the idea of halving a chewable tablet) and exactly one liquid acetaminophen in a brand QOL has never heard of. Online searches also showed most area stores out of stock. News stories confirm that this situation is playing out nationwide, though a Dec. 3 story on npr.org reported that Johnson & Johnson, maker of Children’s Tylenol and Children’s Motrin, said, “there is no nationwide shortage — just a lot of demand.”

QOL score: -2

Comments: All of the stories emphasize talking to a pediatrician (i.e. not the internet) about your kid’s specific symptoms and possible alternatives if you can’t find medication.

Less fun part of a snow day

The first big snow of the season, which hit New Hampshire late Thursday, Dec. 15, and continued in some parts of the state through Saturday, left around 62,000 electric utility customers without electricity by Saturday, WMUR reported. Utility crews responded to downed wires and trees throughout the state causing the outages. As of Dec. 18, 448 customers were still without electricity, most residing in the Peterborough-Jaffrey area, around Conway and in the Upper Valley.

QOL score: -1

Comment: The storm, which dropped 1 to 2 feet of snow in many parts of the state, also created hazardous road conditions. WMUR reported that New Hampshire State Police had responded to more than 200 crashes, spinouts and vehicles off the road.

Kudos to the Sandman

Manchester’s own Adam Sandler has been named the winner of this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, NHPR reported. The award, considered one of the most prestigious honors in comedy, “recognizes individuals who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th-century novelist and essayist Samuel Clemens, best known as Mark Twain,” according to the Kennedy Center website. Sandler will receive the award at a gala performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., on March 19, 2023.

QOL score: +1

Comment: Sandler paid a visit to the Puritan Backroom in Manchester last week, as captured in a TikTok video posted by ESPN.

A small gift (in February)

New Hampshire Eversource customers may see a slight decrease in their energy bill next year. The utility recently filed its proposal for its next energy service rate adjustment, which would go into effect on Feb. 1, with the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission. If approved, the rate will be 20.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, down from 22.6 cents per kilowatt-hour, the rate set in August.

QOL score: +1

Comment: The adjustment would lower the supply portion of the average residential customer’s bill by approximately seven percent.

QOL score: 91

Net change: -1

QOL this week: 90


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

The week that was

As the world championships and duck boat parades were piling up during the first decade of the 21st century, Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan cautioned all to appreciate what was going on, in saying these are the good old days right now. The point was that all the winning by every pro team, including seven titles in the 2000s and four more in the 2010s, couldn’t last forever.

Well it’s now the 2020s and he was right. Those were the good old days. But what he didn’t say was how much of a disaster it would be when things went bad.

Consider the last week.

The Patriots: So much for the old adage “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” said to contain embarrassment over crazy things people do on visits to Sin City. Unfortunately for your New England Patriots, their actions played out on national television as they put the exclamation point on my recent pronouncement that their dynasty was dead with the single dumbest play in the 103-year history of the National Football League, a mortifying play that led a Bill Belichick team to be mocked worse than anyone since Mark Sanchez’s butt fumble in 2012. Except it was far worse, since it turned a game headed to OT into a dynasty-ending (and probably season-ending) loss as time expired.

I’m not going to go into the gory details. If you somehow missed it, count your blessings, ’cause it was gruesome.

In addition, by allowing the Raiders to score 14 points in the last 32 seconds to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat, they gave the NFL its 21st-century answer to 1968’s infamous Heidi game.

The Red Sox: Can anyone tell me what Chaim Bloom is doing? This week he followed up the year-long lie that retaining franchise icon Xander Bogaerts was the team’s top priority when he plainly wasn’t by designating Jeter Downs for assignment, who was the alleged jewel prospect he got for Mookie Betts. A day later it was the same thing for heralded low-cost steal (in August) Eric Hosmer even though all the September at-bats at first base would be going to top prospect Triston Casas. So after 45 at-bats he’s DFA’d. Next was the two-year deal given to ex-L.A. third baseman Justin Turner. Except they already have a third baseman. Which after the Bogaerts lie-athon should have people planning Raffy Devers’ going away party.

Beyond getting (and overpaying) closer Kenley Jansen, please tell me what the plan is. That is, if there is one.

The Celtics: Just 10 days ago they were up on Phoenix by 45 in the third period and had the best record in the NBA. But then came the latest Jayson Tatum choke in a marquee game vs. Golden State to send them off on a four-losses-in-five-games tailspin. Two of which came at the Garden vs. Orlando, who had the worst road record in the NBA. While it could be just a mini-slump, one of the things they need to work out is finding how to score when the threes aren’t falling, because they became too dependent on three-balls as they ran out to their 18-4 start. And can we stop with the “Tatum is the best player on the planet” talk, Scal? Because until he can stop shrinking from the moment anytime he’s facing Steph Curry (who owns him) he ain’t that.

The Bruins: I’m not saying anything about them because I don’t want to jinx them.

Here are a few more thoughts of a positive nature to send us all off in the holiday spirit.

Congrats to the estimable Patrice Bergeron for joining the 1,000-career-point club.

Ditto to Bogaerts for his big score in San Diego and thanks for representing the region with such class.

Make it three for the American team for advancing out of group play in the World Cup. A fourth for the WC itself. But they have to go to a play-till-they-drop format to decide the winner of the world’s greatest event. Deciding it on penalty kicks is like seeing Game 7 of the NBA Finals decided by a free throw shooting contest.

While the loss to Vegas was a killer, the bright side could be it may help save the struggling Josh McDaniels’ job.

You certainly can make a case that a WNBA player for an international arms dealer wasn’t an even swap. But it is nice to see an American hostage freed and that Brittney Griner will join an effort that will try to help Paul Whelan and other Americans be freed from prison in Russia.

I’m hoping Mac Jones gets a real offensive coordinator, a QB coach who’s played the position, two good (and speedy) wide receivers and a major shot of confidence for Christmas, because right now that boy is lost.

Finally, for those who don’t know the story of the Heidi game. After the Jets scored a TD in the final minute of their 1968 game to make them look like sure winners, NBC cut away to air their hyped holiday special movie Heidi, starring the still big former child star Shirley Temple. But two minutes into the movie a crawl came across the screen saying the Raiders had scored twice in the final seconds, to stun everyone who’d seen the game. It was all anyone talked about the next day, as NBC got blasted for pulling out of the game. Though Patriots fans wished it was the opposite, so they didn’t have to see Chandler Jones (of all people) give viewers the most stunning ending since Pittsburgh’s Immaculate Reception win over the same Raiders. Which, oh by the way, happened 50 years ago this Saturday (Christmas Eve). Which makes me wonder, when you throw in the Tuck Rule, how do the Raiders always end up in these weird-ending games?

A happy and safe holiday to all.

Email Dave Long at dlong@hippopress.com.

The big red suit

Prepping the beard & putting on bells for the season

Santa Mark (Marc Nozell in the off season) gives us a look at what it’s like to wear the big red suit.

How did you first get into being Santa?

I used to be Santa for our six kids back around the turn of the century with a suit my wife picked up at a yard sale. But I didn’t get back into it until about five years ago. My sons in their 20s were doing a No Shave November and had pretty sad beards, so I wanted to show them how it was done. Turns out it came in thick and all white. My wife and I were at the Nashua Winter Holiday Stroll and I wore a Santa cap. We noticed little kids pointing and asking their parents about if I was Santa. We ran into a local booker of Santas who pointed me to the New England Santa Society and their Santa Camp. From then on, I was hooked.

How do you get into character?

Pretty straightforward: I make sure all the tools of the trade are in my bag — copies of the classic books ‘Twas the Night before Christmas and the newer Are You Grumpy, Santa? by Gregg Spiridellis; mini candy canes; Santa wooden nickels; a special Santa Spray for the beard that some people may mistake for diluted peppermint essential oil; an extra pair of white gloves; and jingle bells for making a grand entrance. Then, suit up — pants, jacket, faux-fur lined boots and the wide leather belt complete with three magical keys and yet more bells. After brushing out the beard to make it fuller, I then apply some beard cream to curl up the mustache to look a bit like a smile. I’ve been blessed with naturally full and chubby cheeks and only need a pinch or two to make them a little bit more rosy.

Is there a Mrs. Claus? Does she ever join you?

There is the person I’m married to, but portraying Mrs. Claus isn’t her cup of tea. There is a performer in my town who sometimes comes along as Mrs. Ginger Claus. The New England Santa Society is encouraging including a Mrs. C. when people are looking for a Santa.

Is the beard real?

Yup! You can’t be a member of the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas if you don’t. I’m not kidding; when you join you need to provide a headshot showing a beard. I keep a beard year-round, and Dec. 25 I traditionally trim back down only to grow it out again in August.

What is the funniest thing a kid has ever said to you?

This year, there was a request for a real unicorn, but I had to explain that Santa can’t deliver live animals anymore because the elves don’t want to deal with the poop that gets in the sleigh. Another little one wanted just handcuffs. His parents were quick to explain he already had the rest of the cops-and-robbers toys.

What is the most asked-for Christmas present?

Legos are always popular, and there are lots of requests for L.O.L. dolls.

How do your virtual visits work?

In 2020, I started to do virtual visits with children. Through my website, parents sign up for a 15-minute visit with Santa and provide some background information including if they have an Elf on the Shelf and any particular family traditions. After having remote learning for school, the kids were pretty comfortable meeting virtually over the computer. We talk about the usual stuff you do in person. Sometimes Santa, with some assistance from the parents, will hide an early little gift somewhere in their house.

What do you love most about being Santa?

There are some children who know in their heart they are talking to the real Santa. They look in my eyes and are very sincere as we talk. I call them the true believers, and they make me love to keep this season as magical as possible for them for as long as possible.

Five favorites
Favorite Christmas song: Either “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” or John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).”
Favorite cookie: Whatever cookies are left out for me, but you can never go wrong with sugar cookies.
Favorite Christmas movie: I’m tempted to say Die Hard, but my favorite is the 1991 animated Father Christmas by the makers of “The Snowman,” written by Raymond Briggs.
Favorite winter activity: Spreading joy and happiness. Starting right after Thanksgiving, my weekends are packed with parades, family and company holiday parties, photo shoots, visiting daycares and country clubs — no rest until after Christmas Eve.
Favorite holiday aroma: Cinnamon — in cookies, pies and mulled cider.

Featured photo: Santa Mark. Courtesy photo.

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