Drought management

Why the drought will continue, and how to save water

According to the United States Drought Monitor’s most recent data on New Hampshire (released Oct. 6), 21.99 percent of the state is experiencing extreme drought and 73.07 percent of the state is experiencing severe drought. Stacey Herbold, manager of the Water Conservation and Water Use Registration and Reporting programs at New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and a member of the Drought Management Team, talked about how the drought has affected the state and what residents can do to conserve water.

What impact does a drought have on New Hampshire residents?

We see agricultural operations having to work really hard to keep their crops going. … [Residents with wells] may see their well supply running low or going dry, and they may notice that their water has some sediment in it. … [Residents using community water] have restrictions put on their water use, mostly for outdoor watering … and that can range from a total ban on all outdoor watering, to watering on only certain days of the week, to no lawn watering and only hand watering of gardens. … Right now we have 165 community water systems with water restrictions in place.

What caused the drought? Is it due only to environmental factors, or are people also partially responsible?

It’s the increased water use during the summer, coupled with [environmental factors]. … Spring is one of the most important times of the year for recharging groundwater. … We had a really low snowpack in early spring and below-average rain in the spring, so that started us off in a deficit as we went into the summer. In the summer, we continued not to get enough rain to make up for it … and when temperatures rise, a lot of water ends up going to evaporation. … Water use also increases during the summer months because of outdoor watering. … A lot of people turn on their irrigation system and leave it running even when watering isn’t necessarily needed.

What kinds of water systems are used in New Hampshire, and what does a drought do to them?

Approximately half of the state is on their own private residence with well water, while the other half is on some kind of community water system. Community water systems usually have a diverse set of water sources. They may have wells in various areas, surface water sources and backup [sources], so they’re a bit more resilient when it comes to a drought. … Residential well owners tend to have either dug wells or bedrock wells. Dug wells are shallower wells that are in unconsolidated material above the bedrock. During a drought, they’re the first to run low on water, but they’re also the first to recharge when it rains. Bedrock wells are drilled down into the bedrock and receive water from various small fractures, and it takes longer for them to be impacted by low groundwater levels, but they take much longer to recharge. … It could take weeks to months.

How can people conserve water during a drought?

During the summer months, a reduction in lawn watering is the main thing, and not washing down driveways, power washing houses or washing cars with the hose constantly going. … As we move into the colder weather, people really need to focus on how to conserve water indoors. Do full loads of laundry and full loads in the dishwasher. Take shorter showers. Don’t run water while doing other things. Turn off the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth. When you’re doing dishes, fill up a basin rather than letting the water run. One simple thing that people don’t think about is that you don’t always need to have your faucet on full blast. If you’re just rinsing vegetables off, you could turn it on halfway. … Residential well owners need to space out how they use water throughout the day and throughout the week. You shouldn’t be showering, running the dishwasher and doing laundry all at once.

Should people be buying their drinking water?

Not necessarily. The percentage of the amount of water we use for drinking is so small, it doesn’t really make a difference. But if you have a well and you’re starting to see sediment in your water you may want to consider buying bottled water just to prevent yourself from drinking anything like that.

When is the current drought expected to end?

Different outlets are predicting that the drought will improve over the next month but not necessarily go away. We could enter the winter while still in a drought. Then, our next chance for a really good groundwater replenishment won’t come until next spring.

Is water conservation important even when there isn’t a drought?

Yes. It should be practiced every day. Water is not an infinite resource, and it takes all of us to make sure we have the water supply we need … One of the basic things homeowners should be doing is replacing their outdated water fixtures. … [Older] toilets and washing machines are some of the biggest water wasters. … This can also save you money on your utility bills, and [newer appliances] can save a lot of energy, which could save you money on your electric bills.

Featured photo: Stacey Herbold

News & Notes 20/10/15

Covid-19 updateAs of October 4As of October 11
Total cases statewide8,6459,143
Total current infections statewide492685
Total deaths statewide443456
New cases437 (Sept. 29 to Oct. 4)498 (Oct. 5 to Oct. 11)
Current infections: Hillsborough County250349
Current infections: Merrimack County4394
Current infections: Rockingham County91127
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

On Oct. 5, Gov. Chris Sununu issued Exhibit S to Emergency Order No. 29, which had been issued on April 9. Emergency Order No. 29 requires state agencies, boards and commissions t

o submit recommendations to Sununu if any regulatory deadlines should be adjusted in response to the state of emergency. Per Exhibit S, emergency waiver of attendance and leave rules previously adopted by the New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services’ Division of Personnel to provide flexibility to state employees impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic will continue for the duration of the state of emergency.

During an Oct. 8 press conference, state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said that public health officials will start to modify the way numbers are reported going forward, focusing “less on the extraneous numbers and more on numbers relative to the current situation in New Hampshire.” Even though the number of new positive test results of Covid-19 has continued to increase over the last several weeks, Dr. Chan said the percentage of positive results relative to all tests remains stable. “We believe that this is, in part, due to the large increase in testing that is being conducted statewide in many communities, both PCR and antigen testing,” he said. Dr. Chan added that there is also, however, evidence of increased community transmission, especially in Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford counties, likely due to a decrease in the relaxation of social distancing restrictions in some areas of the state.

On Oct. 9, Sununu issued Executive Order 2020-20, extending the state of emergency in New Hampshire due to the Covid-19 pandemic for another three weeks through at least Oct. 30. It’s the 10th extension he has issued since originally declaring a state of emergency on March 13.

Details of Sununu’s Executive Orders, Emergency Orders and other announcements are available at governor.nh.gov.

Voter alert

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office is alerting voters that an unidentified source has sent out mailers that contain an absentee ballot application form, a return envelope addressed to the recipient’s town or city clerk, and an allegedly handwritten note that says, “You are needed please fill this out and mail it in.” According to a press release, state law requires that such mailings include the identity of the entity mailing and distributing the form, which is not the case with this mailer. The Attorney General’s Office emphasized that these mailers have not been sent by any New Hampshire town or city clerk or by any state agency, and anyone who received this mailer who had already requested or submitted an absentee ballot does not need to complete another form. Anyone with questions can call the Attorney General’s Election hotline at 1-866-868-3703 or send an email to electionlaw@doj.nh.gov.

Opioid settlement

New Hampshire has joined a $1.6 billion global settlement agreement with Mallinckrodt, the biggest generic opioid manufacturer in the U.S., according to a press release from the office of New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald. The settlement comes more than a year after the state filed a complaint in Merrimack County Superior Court against Mallinckrodt alleging that the company failed to disclose risks of addiction, misrepresented the abuse-deterrence qualities of its opioids and failed to report suspicious orders of opioids, all of which violated New Hampshire’s consumer protection laws. The state also claimed that the company allegedly created a public nuisance and that between 2006 and 2014 Mallinckrodt accounted for 21.81 percent of all opioid transactions in New Hampshire; in that time, the company “sold the equivalent of approximately 153.5 million 10 mg opioid pills in New Hampshire, with a population of roughly 1.35 million people. That was enough Mallinckrodt opioids to provide each man, woman, and child in the state with 114 pills,” the release reads. Mallinckrodt, which has filed for bankruptcy, will pay $1.6 billion in cash into a trust, and a large amount of that money will go toward abating the opioid crisis. How much each state will receive will be negotiated during the bankruptcy process. The global settlement agreement includes attorneys general from 50 states and territories and local subdivisions.

NHDRA online

Last week, the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration launched Phase 2 of its new online user portal and revenue management system, for taxpayers of the New Hampshire Business Profits Tax, Business Enterprise Tax, Interest & Dividends Tax and Communication Services Tax. According to a press release, that equates to approximately 139,000 taxpayers who will now have a better online experience. The online user portal, Granite Tax Connect, allows users to file taxes electronically, schedule automated payments, and check on the status of returns, payments, and refund and credit requests. The first phase launched about a year ago, which made the portal available to those who pay the Meals & Rentals Tax, Medicaid Enhancement Tax, and Nursing Facility Quality Assessment. The department expects that by the end of 2021 all tax types will be able to utilize the online portal.

Social Security

AARP NH is hosting a free online discussion about Social Security on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 1 p.m., according to a press release. Local and national experts will talk about how Social Security affects New Hampshire and its residents, and there will be an opportunity for people to ask questions. The discussion is free but pre-registration is required at aarp.cvent.com/SSProgram1021.

SEE Science Center

The SEE Science Center in Manchester has received a CARES grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services — the only award given to a New Hampshire museum, according to a press release. Only 68 projects from museums and libraries throughout the country were awarded funding out of more than 1,700 entries. SEE’s project, Creating Flexible Field Trips: Reopening Programming by Designing for Uncertainty during the Covid-19 Pandemic, is an effort to transition the Science Center’s in-person field trips to other formats so that teachers and students can continue to use the museum’s educational offerings during and after the pandemic.

The New Hampshire Food Bank will host a drive-through mobile food pantry on Friday, Oct. 16, from noon to 2 p.m. at NHTI in Concord, according to a press release. The food bank will bring the food to people in their vehicles.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was scheduled to visit Catholic Medical Center in Manchester on Tuesday to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the state’s health care providers, according to a press announcement. Shaheen also planned to talk about providing more resources to providers through relief legislation.

There should be no shortage of golden retrievers in Amherst on Sunday, Oct. 18, as the town holds its Goldens on the Green event from 1 to 3 p.m. on the town green. According to a press release, there will be a kissing booth, pool diving and a parade of goldens. Donations will be accepted, with the money raised going to animals awaiting adoption at the Humane Society for Greater Nashua. Everyone is welcome, including people who don’t own golden retrievers.

Starting in the fall of 2021, Rivier University in Nashua will have men’s and women’s ice hockey, according to a press release. The school plans to launch a national search for head coaches this month.

Be aware

How to help in the fight against domestic violence

How to help in the fight against domestic violence

Bruce Miner is a volunteer for Bridges, a Nashua-based chapter of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. With October being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Miner talked about why raising awareness is so important and how people can join the fight against domestic violence in New Hampshire.

What does domestic violence look like?
[The abuser] is usually an intimate partner — a lover, a dating partner or an ex — who wants to have power and control over the victim. The forms of domestic violence are many. Obviously, there’s physical and sexual abuse, but there’s also economic control, stalking, intimidation and threats, the use of isolation, psychological pressure, possessiveness, the abuse of pets and even the destruction of household items.

How prevalent is domestic violence in New Hampshire?
It’s definitely a problem. Just to give you an idea, in New Hampshire, there are 13 [domestic violence centers], and they handle about 15,000 calls a year, and 9,000 of those calls are directly related to a domestic violence situation.

What is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month about?
It’s … [about] trying to open people’s eyes and bring awareness and attention to the pervasiveness and severity of domestic violence, and then have action taken as a result of the awareness. … It’s also about getting the message out there [to victims]. States do fatality review studies and have found that, in both New Hampshire and across the country, of the women killed [by their abusers], only four percent had availed services provided by domestic violence centers. That’s why it’s so huge that we make sure they know that these centers and services exist, and that they’re totally free and confidential.

What happens when someone calls the Helpline?
First, we ascertain that the person is safe and can talk safely. Then, we ask if there are any injuries, if they need to go to the hospital or if they need emergency services. If they’re in a safe spot and there are no injuries, we’ll have a conversation about what’s going on and discuss and explore what they would like to do.

Has the pandemic made it more difficult for crisis centers to help victims, or for victims to seek help?
It’s been a huge issue. Police departments have had significant increases in domestic violence calls. Women have been more reluctant to leave the house or go to the hospital for fear of catching the virus or bringing it back home to their kids. … We’ve had to cancel fundraisers. We’ve had to postpone training for new advocates. Support groups have had to be done remotely. The impact has been horrible.

What are the effects of domestic violence on the victim?
There are traumatic effects. They have a sense of helplessness, fear, lack of control and despair. Depression is a big issue. It also tends to bring on physical ailments. If a victim has children, the ability to parent becomes significantly compromised as well.

What are the effects of domestic violence on a community at large?
Money is a big one. … I’m talking about medical costs; hospitalization costs; lost wages from time out of work, since it’s difficult for a person being abused to concentrate on work, and they may not show up to work at all; and the cost of the legal system and prosecution. Homelessness is another one. Studies indicate 67 percent of women who are homeless have been victims of domestic violence.

Does domestic violence affect men?
There are situations where the woman is the abuser and the man is the victim, or there’s a man abusing a man or a woman abusing a woman, but it’s a small fraction. Nationally, in 85 percent of domestic violence situations, a woman is the victim and a man is the abuser. In New Hampshire, it’s closer to 95 percent. But we [crisis centers] treat everyone the same and provide services to anyone in a domestic violence situation.

How can [people] help?
New Hampshire chapters can always use additional volunteers to work the support lines. They’ll have to go through very intensive and comprehensive training that allows them to handle those calls, but I can say that, from my own experience, it’s tough to put into words the gratification you get when you can take someone’s tears and despair and turn them into hope and a plan going forward. … Additionally, we have shelters in all 13 chapters, and those shelters can always use household items. They could also use people to work in the shelters.

New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
Crisis centers are located in Concord, Manchester, Nashua, Durham, Portsmouth, Laconia, Berlin, Littleton, Conway, Plymouth, Lebanon, Claremont and Keene.
24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline: 1-866-644-3574; 24-hour Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-277-5570. Visit nhcadsv.org.

Featured photo: Bruce Miner. Courtesy photo.

News & Notes 20/10/08

Covid-19 updateAs of September 28As of October 4
Total cases statewide8,2088,645
Total current infections statewide339492
Total deaths statewide439443
New cases256 (Sept. 22 to Sept. 28)437 (Sept. 29 to Oct. 4)
Current infections: Hillsborough County130250
Current infections: Merrimack County3643
Current infections: Rockingham County7191
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

On Sept. 30, Gov. Chris Sununu issued Emergency Order No. 70, an order extending Emergency Order No. 52, which had been issued on June 15. Emergency Order No. 52 is an order regarding public health guidance for business operations and advising Granite Staters they are safer at home. Emergency Order No. 70 extends that advisory through Nov. 15.

During an Oct. 1 press conference, Dr. Beth Daly, Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control of the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services, reported that, after a slight increase in positive test results of Covid-19 in the Granite State over the last month, new case counts “have plateaued” at around 35 to 40 per day on average. “More recently, some of the infections that have been reported to us each day have been associated with institutional settings, such as long-term care facilities and schools,” she said.

During the same press conference, Sununu announced that $2 million in federal CARES Act funding will benefit student-enrichment programs in New Hampshire, including those offered at institutions like the local branches of the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Clubs.

On Oct. 2, the Governor’s Economic Reopening Task Force released guidance documents for the Granite State’s skiing industry this winter, according to a press release. Some of these guidelines include mask requirements in lodges and rental facilities, and when in line for and riding lifts; the strong discouragement of strangers riding lifts together; social distancing protocols; and admission limits to indoor and outdoor facilities.

For information on all other announcements, including Emergency Orders and Executive Orders, visit governor.nh.gov.

2019 drug overdoses

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has released its report summarizing 2019’s drug overdose deaths. According to the report, there were 415 drug overdose deaths last year, 383 of which were determined to be accidental and 25 of which were suicides. The manner of death could not be determined in the remaining seven cases, which typically means that it is not clear whether the death was an accidental or intentional overdose. A combination of fentanyl and other drugs (excluding heroin) accounted for the highest number of overdose deaths (220), followed by just fentanyl (119). The number of drug overdose deaths in the state reached a high in 2017, with 490, with a slight decrease in 2018 (471) and a more significant decrease in 2019. However, preliminary data has shown a slight increase in drug overdose deaths in 2020 so far, according to the release. “Although the substantial decrease in the number of drug overdose deaths in 2019 is encouraging, it remains to be seen if this downward trend will continue in 2020,” the report reads.

Drought continues

When the New Hampshire Drought Management Team met on Oct. 1, State Climatologist Mary Stampone said the latest drought conditions and forecasts indicate that drought will likely persist across southeastern New Hampshire through the fall, according to a press release. The “well-below average” precipitation in September caused drought conditions to deteriorate, Stampone said, and recent rainfall and the upcoming forecast will not make up for the precipitation deficit. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services reported that some lake levels are lower than they have been in decades, but although water supply reservoirs are low, they have enough water to meet demands right now. For groundwater, most of the 31 monitoring wells across the state are much lower than normal, with all water levels having dropped between August and September. According to the release, homeowners whose wells are running low should expect to wait more than six weeks to get a new well drilled. In the meantime, all homeowners are advised to space out water use, avoid outdoor watering, and buy water for drinking and if necessary for dishwashing and flushing toilets.

Free college classes

New Hampshire students can earn college credits through a new partnership with Modern States, which will offer free online courses and will pay for 1,000 College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests, according to a press release from the Department of Education. CLEPs are accepted for credit at 2,900 colleges and universities nationwide, including the University System of New Hampshire and New Hampshire Community College System. “Through remote instruction, New Hampshire students have gained experience with self-directed online learning, which is exactly what Modern States offers. Dual and concurrent enrollment programs give students a chance to earn high school and college credit simultaneously so that when they step onto a college campus, they are already well on their way to a degree and a bright future,” said Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut. There are 32 classes to choose from, and they are taught by professors from universities like Tufts, MIT and Rutgers. The content prepares students to pass the course’s CLEP exam, which must be taken at one of six locations across the state.

Art for veterans

The Currier Museum of Art will be able to make some of its programs more accessible to veterans thanks to CARES Act Funding, it announced in a press release. The $717,500 will go toward expanding the museum’s art therapy program for veterans and their families, enhancing the remote art therapy programs that were launched over the summer, and renovating the art therapy space in order to allow for social distancing and digital engagement. All programs for veterans, active duty service members and their families are free of charge, according to the release.

Candy & a pumpkin

Reserve a spot now for your local Lowe’s drive-through curbside trick-or-treating, happening from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22, and Thursday, Oct. 29. Families are invited to drive to Lowe’s for free candy and a small pumpkin. Costumes are encouraged but not required. Reservations open on Oct. 10 at lowes.com/DIY.

Betsy Janeway of Webster has received the Goodhue-Elkins Award for her contributions in the areas of bird study and conservation for the past 40 years, according to a press release from the New Hampshire Audubon, which presented the award at its 106th annual meeting on Sept. 19.

An adult from Epsom has tested positive for Jamestown Canyon virus, and the risk level for Epsom will be increased to high, according to an Oct. 2 press release from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. This is the fourth case of Jamestown Canyon virus in the state this year.

New England Metal Recycling in Madbury will pay a civil penalty of $2.7 million to the state for improper disposal of hazardous waste, according to a press release from the Office of the Attorney General. As part of the settlement with the state, NEMR must also remediate and properly dispose of all of the remaining hazardous material by Oct. 30, 2021, according to the release.

A new Manchester Small Business Resiliency Grant Program has been launched to help small businesses recover from the impacts of the pandemic, according to a press release from Mayor Joyce Craig. Funds are available through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant Program, and businesses can receive up to $5,000 to go toward eligible expenses incurred since March 13. Visit manchesternh.gov to apply.

News & Notes 20/10/01

Covid-19 updateAs of September 21As of September 28
Total cases statewide7,9528,208
Total current infections statewide288339
Total deaths statewide438439
New cases238 (Sept. 15 to Sept. 21)256 (Sept. 22 to Sept. 28)
Current infections: Hillsborough County97130
Current infections: Merrimack County2436
Current infections: Rockingham County7871
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

On Sept. 24, during a press conference, state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan reported that New Hampshire continues to see between 35 and 40 new infections of Covid-19 on average per day, while the percent-positivity rate relative to all tests remains low, around 1 percent or less. Chan also reported that the number of new hospitalizations as a result of the virus has “crept up slightly,” from 10 or fewer total people in the state to around 16 to 17 on any given day.

During the same press conference, Gov. Chris Sununu announced the creation of the Special Education Provider fund, which provides $4 million in federal CARES act funding to Granite State schools, aimed to help students and families with developmental disabilities. According to Sununu, the fund will benefit 21 schools in New Hampshire that serve more than 750 students.

Sununu also provided updated guidance to restaurants and bars in New Hampshire. Effective Oct. 1, the six-foot distancing rule for tables and booths at restaurants can be lifted, as long as protective barriers are in place. “We do continue to see positive data in restaurants. They are currently not a source of widespread transmission,” Sununu said, “and so we’re very confident that we can move forward with this model in a very safe manner.”

With Halloween around the corner, Sununu announced the release of a trick-or-treat safety tip sheet, which is available to view online at nh.gov. The sheet contains all the regular tips for motorists and families to remember on Halloween night, but with additional safety suggestions, such as wearing a mask or face covering when handing out treats and bringing a bottle of hand sanitizer with you while out trick-or-treating.

On Sept. 28, the governor’s office announced in a press release that the state will be able to conduct 25,000 more Covid-19 rapid antigen tests per week once a new shipment of BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen testing kits from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration arrives. The nasal swab tests, which provide results in 15 minutes, are expected to be distributed across the state to community testing locations in the next few weeks, and the FDA expects the state to be able to conduct up to 400,000 rapid tests by the end of the year. They will be targeted to symptomatic individuals who are in in-person school settings, as well as frontline health care workers, emergency responders and other high-risk populations. “The BINAX test will allow the state to significantly ramp up testing in a targeted fashion — specifically for students and vulnerable populations,” Sununu said in the release. “The rapid results will make decisions much easier for parents and educators.”

Details of Sununu’s Emergency Orders, Executive Orders and other announcements can be viewed at governor.nh.gov.

City school changes

The Nashua School District will delay switching to hybrid learning for most students and continue with remote learning until January 2021, according to a letter from Superintendent Jahmal Mosley that was sent to the community on Sept. 18. “We have decided to maintain the current course and predictable remote schedule, which has proven to be a steady course for many of our students’ families and our staff as they navigate work schedules, day care arrangements, and, for some of our families, caring for loved ones during this trying time,” the letter reads. Students with special needs will start attending school in person next week, and students in kindergarten and in first grade, “who learn best through play and hands-on learning,” will start to attend school later in the season following a hybrid schedule. All other students will continue to be fully remote. “We need to be confident in having students and staff return to school. Safety and well-being is paramount and, by taking additional time this fall, we will make a decision with greater confidence about our return to in-school for all students. Right now, we are still facing too many unknowns,” the letter reads.

Meanwhile, the Manchester School District announced last week that on the week of Oct. 12 it will start a multi-week process of transitioning to hybrid learning for more grade levels, despite receiving confirmation Friday that two staff members who had been in school buildings (Memorial High School, Beech Street Elementary School and McDonough Elementary School) had tested positive for Covid-19. According to a press release, those staff members are isolating at home, and the Health Department is completing a public health case investigation and contact tracing process. “We understood from the beginning it was likely we would eventually see positive Covid-19 tests in our schools once students and staff returned,” Dr. John Goldhardt, Superintendent of Schools, said in the release. “I will be clear: I would not further open schools if I did not feel it was safe to do so; however, I also want to make sure families understand that if the situation worsens, we may need to pull back.” Students in kindergarten, first grade and some specialized programs started the year with the option for some in-person learning, and other grades will gradually start hybrid learning, if families choose, throughout mid and late October, according to the release. High school students’ return dates are tentative right now, as those schools have asked for more time to prepare for the return to in-person classes.

Interim chief

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig announced in a press release that she has named Assistant Chief of Police Ryan Grant as interim chief of police for the Manchester Police Department, effective Oct. 1, the day after Chief Carlo Capano retires. Craig plans to announce her nomination for chief of police at the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 6, though the board will note vote on the nomination until the next board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

Operation SOS

When the Department of Justice launched Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge, intended to reduce the supply of synthetic opioids, in 2018, it targeted 10 districts with some of the highest drug overdose death rates in the country, which included New Hampshire, according to a press release from the office of United States Attorney for the District of New Hampshire Scott Murray. As part of Operation SOS, Murray was asked to designate a county to focus on prosecuting every readily available case involving fentanyl, fentanyl analogues and other synthetic opioids. In a Sept. 25 press release, Murray said that since the operation started, approximately 93 defendants have been charged with drug trafficking offenses in federal court. “By taking aggressive action against drug traffickers in Hillsborough County, Operation SOS is limiting the supply of fentanyl and other drugs in the community and helping to reduce the overdose death rate in that county,” Murray said in the release.

Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester recently received two honors: It was named to the “Great Colleges to Work For” list put out by ModernThink for the 13th consecutive year, while Forbes named SNHU the best employer in New Hampshire in late August, according to a press release.

Arhaus, a retailer that sells handcrafted home furnishings, will open a 15,000-square-foot store next spring at Tuscan Village in Salem, according to a press release. Tuscan Village has previously announced lease agreements with LL Bean, Ulta Beauty, Old Navy, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Chase Bank, as well as local brands Drive Custom Fit, Pressed Café and Tuscan Market, all scheduled to open in the spring.

The Hudson and Bedford fire departments have been awarded $2,170,180 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to recruit and train new firefighters, according to a press release. The funds come from FEMA’s Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants program, and each department will be able to hire four new firefighters, with Hudson getting $1,098,456 and Bedford getting $1,071,724.

Alene Candles in Milford is looking to recognize four community members who have gone above and beyond to help their friends, families and neighbors during the pandemic, according to a press release. Alene is asking the public to nominate people for its Milford Luminaries program, through which it will donate $4,000 to area nonprofits, with each luminary choosing where to direct a $1,000 donation. Nominations are due by Oct. 16 and can be submitted at alene.com/milfordluminaries.

News & Notes 20/09/24

Covid-19 updateAs of September 14As of September 21
Total cases statewide7,7147,952
Total current infections statewide291288
Total deaths statewide436438
New cases238 (Sept. 8 to Sept. 14)238 (Sept. 15 to Sept. 21)
Current infections: Hillsborough County9397
Current infections: Merrimack County2224
Current infections: Rockingham County9478
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

On Sept. 16, Gov. Chris Sununu issued Emergency Order No. 69, authorizing the commissioner of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services to appoint new members of the state’s health ethics committee.

On Sept. 18, Sununu issued Executive Order 2020-18, extending the state of emergency in New Hampshire due to the Covid-19 pandemic for another three weeks through at least Oct. 9. It’s the ninth extension he has issued since originally declaring a state of emergency on March 13.

On Sept. 21, Sununu issued Exhibit R to Emergency Order No. 29, which had been issued on April 9. Emergency Order No. 29 requires state agencies, boards and commissions to submit recommendations to Sununu if any regulatory deadlines should be adjusted in response to the state of emergency. Per Exhibit R, the expiration of any child day care agencies and licenses in New Hampshire are stayed during the state of emergency. Renewal application deadlines for child care agencies have also been deferred until 90 days after the end of the state of emergency.

Details of Sununu’s Emergency Orders, Executive Orders and other announcements can be found at governor.nh.gov.

House upholds vetoes

On Sept. 17, the New Hampshire House of Representatives sustained every veto from Gov. Chris Sununu, including paid family and medical leave and a minimum hourly wage, prompting divisive responses from House and Senate leaders. “Over the past two years, Governor Sununu has vetoed a record-breaking 79 pieces of legislation, 65 of which had bipartisan support,” Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes (D-Concord) said in a statement. “This year, in the middle of a global pandemic, Sununu vetoed over one-third of the bills sent to his desk, many helping working families, frontline workers, and small businesses.” “This year’s session has been filled with Washington style political stunts from Democrats,” House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) said in a statement following the votes. “They want to raise taxes so badly that they have clearly abandoned professional protocol throughout the pandemic and pushed through their radical partisan agenda. Today Republicans stood united together to push back against these stunts on behalf of the citizens of New Hampshire.”


New Hampshire can begin to implement all recommendations from the New Hampshire Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency, after Gov. Chris Sununu issued a roadmap on Sept. 17 for how to move forward, according to a press release. LEACT was established through an executive order in June after the murder of George Floyd, and it recently released a report that focused on reforms to training, reporting and investigation of police misconduct, and community relations. “Today I am endorsing every single recommendation from all three parts of the LEACT report,” Sununu said. “Their charge was difficult — to come up with recommendations on how to improve law enforcement here in New Hampshire.” The release said that Sununu will issue an Executive Order to take immediate action on many of the reforms within the next two weeks, while the Attorney General will lead the effort to craft legislation for any of the reforms that require passage through the legislature.

Mental Health Plan

A report highlighting the progress that the state has made on the New Hampshire 10-Year Mental Health Plan of 2019 was released last week, according to a press release from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. The department published the plan in January 2019, and it prioritized 14 recommendations to advance the mental health system within the first two years of implementation. The new report highlights several improvements since then, including an increase in permanent housing for individuals with mental illness, new transitional housing program beds, increased the state’s Housing Bridge Subsidy Program, established more integrated primary and behavioral health care programs at community mental centers, increased the number of children served by the Care Management Entity, and expanded Assertive Community Treatment to increase accessibility throughout the state. “The 10-Year Mental Health Plan provides the pathway to a mental health system that makes services and programs available to patients when they need them,” DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette said in the release. “We are committed to realizing this goal, and while our work continues, this report highlights the important progress that is being made.”

First Lady Melania Trump visited Concord Hospital on Sept. 17 as part of her efforts to combat opioid use, according to a report from WMUR. She was there to learn about the hospital’s “Eat, Sleep, Console” protocol, the goal of which is to wean babies from addictive drugs with minimal or no medication.

Middle-school student Kaylin Emerson of New Boston recently won the Walter A. Felker Memorial Award from the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association for a paper she wrote about maple chemistry, according to a press release. Emerson took part in the annual statewide contest, which is open to kids 16 and younger.

Livingston and Bronstein parks in Manchester have been chosen as two of 14 sites nationwide to transition to organic grounds management as part of Stonyfield Organic’s #playfree initiative, according to a press release. Stonyfield is donating $5,000 and access to experts from Osborne Organics, and Hannaford is matching the monetary donation.

The construction of Exit 4A on Interstate 93 in Derry and Londonderry has been put on hold after price proposals for the design-build project exceeded the New Hampshire Department of Transportation’s cost estimate by more than $30 million, according to a press release. The department will work with both towns and affected property owners to figure out its next steps and will work toward a more cost-effective design.

News & Notes 20/09/17

Covid-19 updateAs of September 7As of September 14
Total cases statewide7,4767,714
Total current infections statewide238291
Total deaths statewide433436
New cases201 (Sept. 1 to Sept. 7)238 (Sept. 8 to Sept. 14)
Current infections: Hillsborough County8493
Current infections: Merrimack County2022
Current infections: Rockingham County5594
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

On Sept. 4, Gov. Chris Sununu issued Exhibit Q to Emergency Order No. 29, which had been issued on April 9. Emergency Order No. 29 requires state agencies, boards and commissions to submit recommendations to Sununu if any regulatory deadlines should be adjusted in response to the state of emergency. Per Exhibit Q, all continuing education requirements for currently permitted New Hampshire septic system designers and installers who had been scheduled to renew their permits by Dec. 31 have been waived. Exhibit Q also extends certain renewal deadlines for those in the Department of Environmental Services’ Waste Management Division that hold tank operator certifications or hazardous waste coordinator certifications that have expired during the state of emergency.
On Sept. 9, Sununu issued Emergency Order No. 68, an order that expands unemployment compensation to Granite Staters. The order was issued to broaden eligibility for New Hampshire residents collecting unemployment to receive an additional $300 in federal benefits from the Lost Wages Assistance Program, an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Aug. 8. The next day, during a press conference, Sununu announced that $81 million was paid out to about 57,000 people in New Hampshire through the program.
During the same Sept. 10 press conference, state Department of Health & Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette provided an update on the phased reopening statuses of New Hampshire’s long-term care facilities. She explained that long-term care facilities that operate for two weeks successfully in Phase 2 will get to move to Phase 3 if their counties drop below or maintain below 10 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 residents. Phase 3 allows up to two visitors for each resident at the facility, as well as communal dining and group activities with physical distancing. While long-term care facilities in Belmont and Coos counties were able to remain at Phase 3 of reopening, those in Grafton County fell back from Phase 3 to Phase 2. Facilities in Sullivan County were able to transition to Phase 3 of reopening for the first time, Shibinette said.
Also on Sept. 10, Sununu announced a transfer of $7 million in federal CARES act funding to the New Hampshire Department of Education to support the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School, according to a press release. The public charter school provides online virtual instruction to elementary, middle and high school students in the state. The demand from the school has nearly tripled over the summer, according to the release, with nearly 6,000 students requesting enrollment in more than 18,000 courses.
Details of Sununu’s Emergency Orders, Executive Orders and other announcements can be found at governor.nh.gov.

School funding

The New Hampshire Commission to Study School Funding recently released a report that shows that New Hampshire’s current system for funding schools “may not be working for large segments of students and taxpayers,” according to a press release. The report was prepared by the American Institutes for Research and is meant to guide the commission as it creates a new school funding model. The commission and members of the Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH will examine the report as well as possibilities for more equitable school funding, according to the release, and the commission plans to release its final report later in the year.

Equity in voting

In a letter sent last week to Secretary of State William Gardner, the Manchester Mayor’s Multicultural Advisory Council has expressed concerns about access to voting in the general election. One issue, the letter said, is that immigrants are at risk of missing out on the voting process because materials that explain how to vote are only available in English. “Since expanded Covid-related absentee registration and voting is new and unusual, people who don’t speak English at an advanced level may have difficulty finding out how to exercise their right to vote,” the letter reads. It calls on the state to make the materials available in languages such as Nepali, Swahili, Spanish and French. The second issue is that ballot drop boxes outside of City Hall hours are not allowed. “If there were some drop-off boxes, perhaps at City Hall for a few days before the elections and at the polling places on Election Day, people could drop off their ballots without risk of contracting Covid-19 or having them get delayed or lost in the mail,” the council wrote. The letter invited Gardner to contact the council if he wanted to discuss the matters.

Aluminum tariff

In a letter sent to President Donald Trump on Sept. 8, Gov. Chris Sununu, along with Maine Gov. Janet Mills and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, asked Trump to reverse the re-imposition of a 10-percent tariff on imports of non-alloyed unwrought aluminum from Canada, according to a press release. The letter said that the tariff will raise costs and reduce competitiveness for aluminum-consuming industries in New England, which would disrupt manufacturing and technical production supply chains. “Ultimately, artificially inflated costs will be passed on to consumers who are already struggling with the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the press release said.

Variance denied

Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics’ Feb. 11, 2021, deadline for completing construction and installation of a regenerative thermal oxidizer at its Merrimack facility, meant to control the emission of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), will stand after the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services denied Saint-Gobain’s request for a one-year extension, citing a danger to public health. According to a press release, Saint-Gobain submitted a variance petition for the extension in June, requesting the extension due to delays caused by the pandemic as well as the Town of Merrimack’s appeal of an air permit that was issued by NHDES in February. The variance request was denied, according to the release, because of a state statute that says a variance cannot be granted to anyone who is causing air pollution that creates a danger to public health. “The current emission of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) and precursors continue to contribute to an exceedance of ambient groundwater quality standards,” the press release said. Saint-Gobain has 30 days from the time of the decision to appeal.

The White Mountains ranked fourth in USA Today’s top 2020 fall foliage destinations, according to a press release. The only other spot in New England to make the top 10 was Stowe, Vermont, which ranked sixth

Concord is hosting its annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day for Concord and Penacook residents on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Everett Arena. Hazardous waste includes cleaners, oil-based paint, pesticides, adhesives, polishes and fuels, according to a post on concordnh.gov. Proof of residency is required.

The Solinsky Center for Cancer at Elliot Hospital in Manchester, which opened in August, received a $100,000 donation last week from Brady Sullivan Properties. The news center offers “state-of-the-art cancer care and treatment,” according to a press release.

Register now to take part in a blood drive for the American Red Cross on Wednesday, Sept. 30, from noon to 5 p.m. at LaBelle Winery in Amherst. Blood donation time slots are available every 15 minutes and all donors will be tested for Covid-19 antibodies, according to a press release. To reserve a donation time, go to redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive.

News & Notes 20/09/10

Covid-19 updateAs of August 31As of September 7
Total cases statewide7,2757,476
Total current infections statewide228238
Total deaths statewide432433
New cases141 (Aug. 25 to Aug. 31)201 (Sept. 1 to Sept. 7)
Current infections: Hillsborough County7884
Current infections: Merrimack County1620
Current infections: Rockingham County7755
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

On Aug. 31, Gov. Chris Sununu issued Emergency Order No. 66, extending Emergency Order No. 52, which had been issued on June 15. Emergency Order No. 52 is an order regarding public health guidance for business operations and advising Granite Staters they are safer at home. Emergency Order No. 66 extends that advisory through Oct. 1.
During a Sept. 1 press conference, Sununu announced the launch of an online Covid-19 case dashboard specific to schools in New Hampshire. The dashboard, which can be accessed by visiting nh.gov/covid19, features real-time data on current virus cases that is sorted by schools in the state. You can also search for any specific school’s data by town or by academic level.On Sept. 3, Sununu issued Emergency Order No. 67, an order establishing the Remote Learning Center Verification program. During a press conference, Sununu explained that the program ensures that parents with children enrolled in a school district that has gone remote has safe options available to them. During the same press conference, Sununu announced a new addition to the online jobs portal at nhjobs.nh.gov, specific to schools. “We know that some schools have had difficulties filling … some of their openings as they begin to reopen,” he said, “and so, interested folks can apply for those current job openings through this new portal.”
Sununu also announced that Jerry Little would be leaving his post as Director of the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery and returning full-time back to the Banking Department. Taylor Caswell, the Commissioner of the Department of Business and Economic Affairs, will replace Little as GOFERR director.
On Sept. 6, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services issued a press release announcing the investigation of a potential outbreak of Covid-19 at the University of New Hampshire’s Theta Chi Fraternity in Durham. Eleven people associated with the fraternity have tested positive for the virus as of Sept. 6, according to the release. Officials are advising anyone who visited the fraternity since the end of August to seek testing.

MPD chief retires

Manchester Police Chief Carlo Capano announced on Sept. 1 that he will retire after nearly 25 years. “For nearly twenty-five years, Chief Carlo Capano served the City of Manchester with distinction,” Mayor Joyce Craig said in a statement following the announcement. “In his time as Police Chief, he has led the men and women of the Manchester Police Department with honor, addressed challenges head-on, and proved time and time again the safety of our community was his number one priority.” Craig noted that Capano was responsible for implementing body cameras for officers, increasing the number of training opportunities for officers, increasing the police complement and adding more community officers downtown.

Masks for schools

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will provide 229,925 cloth masks to public and private schools in New Hampshire, meant for students who are low-income attending schools that are providing in-person instruction, according to a press release from the New Hampshire Department of Education. In August, schools in the state also received 100,000 reusable cloth face masks that were distributed by the New Hampshire National Guard and New Hampshire Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “In our communications with New Hampshire educational leaders, securing adequate supplies of PPE has been a top concern,” Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said in the press release. “Health and Human Services has identified masks as one of the important layers of protection that make it possible for our students to return to school safely, along with hygiene, social distancing, and other recommended practices.” Some of the masks will be set aside for schools that are currently providing remote instruction for when they move to in-person instruction.

Rocking the vote

Stay Work Play is encouraging young residents to vote in November through its NH Rocks the Vote nonpartisan campaign, according to a press release. The initiative will use digital media to provide young people with information about how to register to vote and how to vote. The campaign was scheduled to kick off Wednesday, Sept. 9, with a webinar about how to vote absentee, open to anyone interested via stayworkplay.org. Then, on Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 3), there will be a virtual “get out the vote” live broadcast, also accessible via the website, starting at noon and featuring live entertainment and music, speakers and messages from local leaders.

The public is welcome to attend the public memorial service for former Attorney General and Governor Stephen Merrill, outside the Statehouse Plaza in Concord on Friday, Sept. 11, at 12:30 p.m., according to a press release.

The New England Heart & Vascular Institute at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester has implanted the first Watchman Flx in New England, according to a press release. The release said that the device reduces the risk of stroke in patients who have non-valvular atrial fibrillation.

Londonderry High School has been named the fifth National Banner Unified Champion School in the Granite State, having “demonstrated a commitment to inclusion,” according to a press release from the Special Olympics. The school met the Special Olympics’ 10 standards of excellence to achieve national banner status.

Four-year-olds in the greater Nashua area can now take advantage of a free at-home kindergarten readiness program called Waterford Upstart, funded by a Preschool Development Grant awarded to the United Way of Greater Nashua, according to a press release. The program is designed for children and families who could use extra support.

News & Notes 20/09/03

Covid-19 updateAs of August 31As of September 7
Total cases statewide7,2757,476
Total current infections statewide228238
Total deaths statewide432433
New cases141 (Aug. 25 to Aug. 31)201 (Sept. 1 to Sept. 7)
Current infections: Hillsborough County7884
Current infections: Merrimack County1620
Current infections: Rockingham County7755
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

The number of hospitalizations in New Hampshire due to Covid-19 continues to be low. During an Aug. 25 press conference, state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said that while just under 20 new infections per day were reported in the previous week, there were fewer than 10 people hospitalized with the virus the day before, on Aug. 24 — the lowest number since early March. “We continue to see good trends in our numbers. But we believe this represents low but persistent community transmission in many areas of our state,” Chan said.

During the same press conference, Gov. Chris Sununu announced that FEMA had accepted New Hampshire’s application to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance Program, just days after the state submitted it on Aug. 21. The program, which was issued through an executive order from President Donald Trump on Aug. 8, provides additional federal unemployment relief of $300, retroactive to Aug. 1. Sununu also announced that the minimum amount of unemployment is being raised to $100 for all Granite Staters, making all filers eligible for the federal benefits.

On Aug. 26, the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery announced that it is recommending a plan submitted by Sen. Lou D’Allesandro and Rep. Mary Jane Wallner to establish rapid testing sites at community health centers across the state. The following day, during a press conference, Sununu announced that the state will be purchasing 25 rapid Covid-19 test machines to be placed at each community testing center. “The machines are called Quidel Sofia Antigen Rapid Covid test machines,” he said. “We’ve already started looking into buying these machines. … Depending on the backlog, it may be weeks or maybe even a month or so before these devices might be up and running.”

During an Aug. 27 press conference, state Department of Health & Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette announced that all long-term care facilities in three New Hampshire counties — Belknap, Coos and Grafton — have entered into Phase 3 under reopening guidelines that were outlined on Aug. 13. Phase 3, Shibinette said, begins once all non-outbreak facilities in that county see a continuous drop in coronavirus cases over a 14-day period, criteria that Belknap, Coos and Grafton all met. “What this really means is the lifting of restrictions around visitors, so having up to two visitors, and then also lessening the restrictions around communal dining and activities,” she said.

On Aug. 28, Sununu issued Executive Order 2020-17, extending the state of emergency in New Hampshire due to the pandemic for another three weeks through at least Sept. 18. It’s the eighth extension he has issued since originally declaring a state of emergency on March 13.

Details of all of Sununu’s Emergency and Executive Orders can be found at governor.nh.gov.

Masks in Concord

The Concord City Council nearly unanimously approved a city-wide mask ordinance during an Aug. 31 meeting via Zoom. After hearing public testimony for nearly two hours, councilors voted 14-1 to require people to wear masks in city buildings and businesses such as retail stores to attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Violators of the ordinance would receive a warning, followed by a fine of $15 for each additional offense. Masks are not required for children under the age of five, nor for those with underlying health issues that would prevent them from wearing one. The ordinance is in effect now through Jan. 2, 2021.

Opioid response

New Hampshire will receive funding for the second phase of the State Opioid Response Program from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, according to a press release from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. The grant will cover the first year of funding as part of a two-year, $56 million award that will help the state continue the success of its first two years of SOR funding, which totaled more than $55 million and helped create a better access and delivery system for residents with an opioid or substance use disorder. The first phase established The Doorways-NH, opening up access to services to ensure that no one in the state has to travel more than 60 minutes to begin the recovery process.

According to the release, a CDC survey estimated that about 13 percent of adults have increased their use of substances during the pandemic. “The Doorways continue to see increasing requests for services, with almost 1,000 residents seeking help last month alone,” DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette said in the release. The new SOR funds will help expand the Doorways program, and other needs like overnight respite, stimulant misuse and expanding recovery support services will be addressed.

Safe voting

The New Hampshire National Guard is delivering personal protective equipment and election materials to towns and cities to use at polling places in the upcoming elections, according to a press release. The PPE includes masks, face shields, gloves, hand sanitizer and single-use pens and pencils. Other precautions, such as social distancing and sanitation measures, are being taken for anyone who wants to vote in person on Election Day for both the primary and general elections. According to a press release from the Secretary of State’s office, informational mailers have been sent to every household in the state as part of a public awareness campaign to inform voters about their voting options. There are resources for checking registration status, requirements for absentee voter registration, information about how to obtain an Absentee Voter Registration Packet and more. The mailer can be viewed online at bit.ly/2Fjchhi.

5K civil action

The State of New Hampshire has filed a civil action to prevent the Worldwide Push Foundation based in California from promoting or conducting road races in New Hampshire and to refund race registration fees from races that were canceled in 2019 and 2020, according to a press release from the office of Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald. Worldwide Push Foundation promoted the “Margarita Madness 5K,” scheduled to take place in Loudon on Oct. 12, 2019, and the website and social media posts said the race would benefit the “Worldwide Push (Push Until Success Happens) Scholarship Foundation,” according to the release. The organization allegedly collected thousands of dollars in registration fees but did not obtain the necessary permits and licenses and failed or refused to refund registration fees. In late 2019, WWPF began advertising Margarita Madness 5Ks races at Rollins Park in Concord on July 11 and in Northfield on Oct. 24. “The race on July 11 did not take place, and WWPF has failed to obtain the necessary permits and licenses for the October race. To date, WWPF has collected a total of over $30,000 in registration fees,” the press release reads. The lawsuit claims that WWPF has committed nine violations of New Hampshire charitable trust laws and the Consumer Protection Act, each of which carries a civil penalty of up to $10,000. Anyone who has registered for the Margarita Madness 5K Run/Walk in New Hampshire and has not received a refund can file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Bureau online at doj.nh.gov.

Concord Hospital employees who want to work toward an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree can now get a significant tuition discount at Granite State College, according to a press release. The college also offers a Surgical Technologist Training Program at the hospital that can translate to credits toward an associate’s or bachelor’s degree at Granite State.

The Derry Garden Club recently presented the Community Star award to the Marion Gerrish Community Center, which provides 192 nonprofit organizations rooms for their meetings and is involved with community events such as Derry Fest and Frost Fest, and Derry’s farmers market and annual road race, according to a press release.

NASA has selected proposals from the University of New Hampshire in Durham and Dartmouth College in Lebanon to better understand the sun’s interaction with the space around Earth, according to a press release. Each school will receive $1.25 million to conduct a nine-month mission concept study, and NASA will implement up to two out of five proposals, the results of which will help protect astronauts, satellites and communications signals, according to the release.

A second full-service retail office of St. Mary’s Bank in Nashua is expected to open in mid-October, according to a press release. Part of the Westside shopping plaza, the office will feature new technology in the form of four interactive teller machines, with representatives at the credit union’s remote center in Manchester offering live assistance before, during and after normal branch hours.

News & Notes 20/08/27

Covid-19 updateAs of August 17As of August 24
Total cases statewide7,0047,134
Total current infections statewide279255
Total deaths statewide423429
New cases164 (Aug. 11 to Aug. 17)130 (Aug. 18 to Aug. 24)
Current infections: Hillsborough County12780
Current infections: Merrimack County1123
Current infections: Rockingham County8187
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

On Aug. 18, during a press conference, Gov. Chris Sununu announced that the State of New Hampshire will be submitting an application to FEMA to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance Program, an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Aug. 8 that provides additional federal unemployment relief. Under the program, which is retroactive to Aug. 1, all Granite Staters who get at least $100 per week in benefits would receive another $300 in federal benefits.

During an Aug. 21 press conference, state Department of Health & Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette announced the closing of a Covid-19 outbreak that had been at GreenBriar Healthcare in Nashua, leaving just one outstanding outbreak at a long-term care facility, at Evergreen Place in Manchester.

Sununu announced, also on Aug. 21, that all restaurants in New Hampshire can now operate at 100 percent capacity indoors, provided that all guidelines for face masks and social distancing continue to be followed.

Also on Aug. 21, state Attorney General Gordon MacDonald and Business and Economic Affairs Commissioner Taylor Caswell sent letters to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, in regard to a new rule that the latter state is using to tax income earned by non-resident employees who are working remotely. “These comments articulate our serious policy and legal concerns with Granite Staters being taxed in Massachusetts when they have not crossed the state line in months due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Sununu said in a statement. “It is my hope that this matter can be resolved promptly and in a manner that removes any necessity for New Hampshire to consider legal remedies.”

And the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery issued a deadline reminder that Covid-19 relief payment requests by municipalities in the state are due by Sept. 15. As of Aug. 21, 51 municipalities in New Hampshire have not yet submitted a Grant Agreement and Reimbursement Request Form, and therefore no reimbursements have been issued.

Insurance rates

The New Hampshire Insurance Department has announced a decrease in premium rates for individual health plans for 2021. For 2020, the second lowest cost silver plan was $404.60, while the second lowest cost silver plan proposed premium rate for the year 2021 is $318.95, representing a 21.2-percent decrease, according to a press release. The decrease in premiums can be attributed in part to the approval of the department’s Section 1332 Waiver, designed to lower rates in the individual market and to provide market stability for the future. The federal government approved the waiver on Aug. 5. Three insurance companies — Ambetter, Anthem and Harvard Pilgrim — have filed rates with the intention of offering individual products on the exchange in 2021 for New Hampshire. The companies have until Sept. 23 to commit to selling plans on healthcare.gov, according to the release.


The state Department of Education has partnered with NextStep Health Tech to launch GoodLife, a mobile application designed to build and strengthen student and social emotional resilience, according to a press release. The app allows students to join communities, set physical and emotional goals, and send and receive positive feedback, all while preserving their anonymity online. In a statement, state Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said that the app “is designed to harness the power and connectivity of social media to … [equip] young people to tackle anxiety, negativity and a host of other areas that can derail a young person, both online and in person.” NextStep was founded by UNH graduate Sam Warach in response to the passing of his older brother from a prescription drug interaction from medications he was prescribed. The GoodLife app is available free through Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Prosecution units

The Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office now has specialized prosecution units that were created to increase operational performance, according to a press release. The new units include Case Intake & Assignment Units, which reviews new cases coming to the office; a Special Victims Unit, which receives cases relating to domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse and similar cases where felonies are committed against vulnerable people; a Drug Unit, which receives cases relating to felony offenses arising from the Controlled Drug Act and is involved with investigations of untimely deaths involving drugs; a Major Crimes Unit, which receives cases relating to felony violent crimes such as robbery, burglary, assault, aggravated DWI, negligent homicide, gang-related violence and crimes involving firearms; and a Cybercrime Unit, for the detection, investigation and prosecution of cybercrime.

The Boys & Girls Club of Central New Hampshire in Concord is considering using the former Bon-Ton store in the Steeplegate Mall as a child care and learning center, according to a report from WMUR. As the Concord School District starts the school year with virtual learning, the child care would include support from adults as the kids follow their virtual lessons. The costs are estimated at $135 a week per child, according to the report.

Repairs to the Pembroke Hydroelectric Dam have closed the Suncook Village Main Street Bridge weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to a press release. The closures started Aug. 24 and are expected to last two weeks.

Renovations at the Londonderry Central Fire Station have been completed, according to a press release, and include new equipment bays, a new lobby, a secure Regional Dispatch Center, administrative offices, break room, conference room and a training room, fitness and living spaces, as well as the relocation of the station’s flag poles and the Department’s “Never Forget” Memorial and Last Call bell.

A guided motorcycle ride that starts at 10 a.m. at Stark Brewing Co. in Manchester on Saturday, Aug. 29, will benefit The Way Home, which offers assistance to veterans in Greater Manchester. The Freedom Ride heads to the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery for a ceremony, and returns to Manchester for lunch, according to a press release.

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