Quality of Life 23/12/14

Welcome, winter enthusiasts!

New Hampshire has been recognized as the fourth-best state for a winter trip in the U.S., achieving a score of 9.31 out of 10 in a study by travel expert Viator. This commendation highlights the state’s robust offerings for winter enthusiasts, including a high count of ski resorts at 28, the most among the top four states. In addition to providing numerous winter sports opportunities with approximately 61 inches of average snowfall, New Hampshire also caters to ice skating fans with 37 rinks available across the state.

QOL score: +1

Comment: Another reason to get excited about snow.

Bird woes

New Hampshire residents have been noticing a decrease in bird populations, NHPR reported. Sean O’Brien, from the University of New Hampshire’s cooperative extension, has been addressing this concern, identifying a mast year, where oak trees produce abundant acorns, as a key factor. This abundance of forest food reduces birds’ presence in open areas. Furthermore, climate change is impacting bird species, with the National Audubon Society noting significant declines across the U.S. Migratory birds are particularly affected, experiencing habitat changes and increasing temperatures. In contrast, local winter birds like owls and woodpeckers are faring better.

QOL score: -2

Comment: In the report, O’Brien highlighted the importance of native plants in supporting bird populations, recommending that gardens should comprise at least 70 percent native perennials to help birds thrive, along with minimizing pesticide use and keeping cats indoors.

Reading help

New Hampshire is offering free training on the science of reading to parents and educators, NHPR reported, aiming to improve literacy among the state’s elementary students. The Department of Education notes more than 3,300 individuals are already enrolled in the Lexia LETRS courses, with more cohorts opening for 2024. The training covers various aspects of reading education, including phonics and phonology, and is unique in its inclusivity, being open to all adults involved in children’s education, such as parents and homeschool instructors. Funded by federal Covid relief funds, the program sees participation from more than 80 school districts.

QOL score: +1

Comment: The report said this initiative responds to concerns about declining reading scores and the use of outdated teaching methods in the state. New Hampshire’s reading and math scores have been falling since peaking in 2013, with current data showing about half of the state’s fourth-graders not proficient in reading, according to the article.

QOL score: 87

Net change: 0

QOL this week: 87

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

Quality of Life 23/12/07

Funding the show

The Community Players of Concord, an all-volunteer theater company founded in 1927, received a significant boost with a $50,000 matching gift from an anonymous donor. According to a press release, this gift is aimed at establishing an investment fund to secure the long-term future of the nearly century-old organization. The fund, named “A Fund for the Players,” requires the Players to raise an additional $50,000 to access the full pledged amount. Already over halfway to their goal, the group plans to meet this challenge before their annual meeting in June 2024.

QOL score: +1

Comment: Contributions to this fund can be made through the Community Players of Concord’s website, communityplayersofconcord.org.

Our holiday look

A “Most Popular Christmas Decorations 2023” study conducted by Lombardo Living found that New Hampshire ranks 7th among states for the most holiday decorating in 2023. The study, which analyzed Google search terms related to Christmas decorations, also indicates that the most popular decoration in New Hampshire is the window candle. This preference places New Hampshire within a unique niche of states that have chosen a specific type of holiday decoration that differs from the more commonly seen Christmas trees and lights that dominate other states’ preferences.

QOL score: +1

Comment: The study reports that 83 percent of Americans are decorating for the holidays this year, spending an average of $140 on decorations.

Jewelry thefts

The Manchester Police Department reported three mid-business-day jewelry thefts happening within a little more than a week at two local jewelry stores, according to a press release. Starting on Nov. 20, Day’s Jewelers fell victim to a “snatch-and-grab” theft of a gold chain, a tactic repeated in a subsequent theft at the same store on Nov. 25. A similar theft took place at Market Square Jewelers on Nov. 28, involving a gold rope chain, the release said.

QOL score: -2

Comment: Manchester Police Department asks anyone for information about the thefts to call Manchester Police Detective Andrew Choi at 792-5514. Descriptions and photos of the men suspected in the thefts are posted on the police department’s Facebook page.

QOL score: 87

Net change: 0

QOL this week: 87

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

Quality of Life 23/11/30

Bird page

Bird enthusiasts can now delve into the world of local avian life through New Hampshire Audubon’s new interactive website dedicated to New Hampshire’s birds. This comprehensive portal, accessible within the New Hampshire Audubon website, provides an in-depth look at the current status of birds in New Hampshire, the challenges they encounter and the actions that can be taken for their conservation. The site allows users to explore information sorted by breeding habitats and species groups, including waterfowl, birds of prey, shorebirds, aerial insectivores and ocean birds. It also offers insights into migration cycles and a resources page filled with bird conservation-related links. Visit stateofthebirds.nhaudubon.org.

QOL score: +1

Comment:“Why pay attention to birds?” the website asks and answers: “New Hampshire’s birds are an integral part of our ecosystem. They can tell us about our environment, and what the birds are telling us may be important, not only to their survival but to ours.”

Jobs!

In a CommercialSearch study, Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire, was recognized among the top 30 metro areas for career advancement, placing 10th with 56 points. The metrics spotlighting New Hampshire included the second-lowest unemployment rate at 2.3 percent, the fourth-best student-to-teacher ratio with 11 students per faculty, and the fourth-highest job mobility for high-skill workers at 3.9 percent. Additionally, Manchester noted a 7.5 percent growth in the percentage of high qualified jobs, adding 2,120 such positions in one year. The study, aimed at identifying metros with the best career development opportunities, evaluated factors like education and labor market conditions.

QOL score: +1

Comment: Manchester-Nashua was the only metro area from the Northeast that ranked in the top 10 for career development, representing the region amidst a list otherwise dominated by Western metros.

Helping out

The New Hampshire Bankers Association completed its third annual #NHBanksGiveBack month of service in October. According to a press release, the event saw participation from 27 member banks, which engaged in community service activities and financial contributions. This year’s efforts amounted to more than 3,186 volunteer hours across 382 events, with a total of $504,900 in monetary donations. The activities included shred events, food and clothing donations, soup kitchen work, and financial literacy outreach, among others.

QOL score: +1

Comment: “In just three short years, the volunteer efforts of our member banks have contributed more than $1.3 million in financial support to our state and communities, backed by over 5,000 volunteer hours spread out over more than 800 charitable events,” Kristy Merrill, President of New Hampshire Bankers, said in the release.

QOL score: 84

Net change: +3

QOL this week: 87

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

Quality of Life 23/11/23

Oh no, weather!

As you travel around the area for the Thanksgiving long weekend, WMUR was, as of the morning of Nov. 20, predicting a wintery mix and rain for Tuesday evening and into Wednesday. This weather pattern was expected to impact travel plans Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, particularly in central and northern New Hampshire, according to the reports. Travelers were advised to stay alert to changing weather patterns, with some areas possibly receiving several inches of snow before the transition to rain.

QOL score: -1

Comment: It’s November — messy weather is to be expected, though one of the busier travel/running around to find heavy cream days is not the greatest timing. Luckily, the storm was anticipated to clear by Wednesday evening, paving the way for a dry and cool Thanksgiving Day, WMUR reported

Oh no, kittens!

As you travel around the area for the Thanksgiving long weekend, beware stray kittens. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has identified rabies in two stray kittens from North Conway, prompting a warning for residents to avoid contact with stray, feral or wild animals. According to a press release, the first infected kitten was brought to the Conway Area Humane Society and tested positive for rabies on Nov. 13, after showing symptoms on Nov. 11. A second kitten tested positive on Nov. 16, leading to an ongoing investigation to identify potentially exposed individuals. DHHS advises those who suspect exposure to seek medical attention.

QOL score: -2

Comment: “Rabies is a fatal but preventable disease,” New Hampshire State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said in the release. “Rabies typically circulates in wild animals, and every year, 20 to 30 animals test positive for rabies in New Hampshire. The best way to prevent exposure is to avoid direct contact with stray, feral, or wild animals. If a person is exposed to a sick animal, they may need the rabies vaccine and protective antibodies to prevent disease.”

Oh no, ice cream!

As you travel around the area for the Thanksgiving long weekend, make sure to check your ice cream. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has issued a consumer advisory regarding a recall of Wilcox Ice Cream products due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. The recall was initiated after the bacteria were detected in a sample, according to a press release. The affected products, with “best by” dates of 9/13/24, 9/14/24 and 9/15/24, are sold at various New England food establishments, including Hanover Co-Op Food Store, Lebanon Co-Op Food Store and Monadnock Food Co-Op. Consumers are urged to stop consuming the product immediately and either dispose of it or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

QOL score: -1

Comment: While no illnesses have been reported, Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections. Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and more severe neurological symptoms. Treatment is available with antibiotics, and anyone who believes they may have been affected should seek medical advice.

QOL score: 88
Net change: -4
QOL this week: 84

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

Quality of Life 23/11/16

Lung health

The 2023 “State of Lung Cancer” report by the American Lung Association highlights New Hampshire’s notable performance in managing lung cancer. The state ranks 5th nationally in surgical treatment rates for lung cancer and 9th in survival, with a 28.9 percent survival rate, surpassing the national average of 26.6 percent. In early diagnosis, New Hampshire is 10th in the nation with 28.4 percent of cases diagnosed early, compared to the national average of 26.6 percent. The state also ranks 14th in lung cancer screening, with a 7 percent screening rate, significantly higher than the national rate of 4.5 percent.

QOL score: +1

Comment: Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in the state and nationally, and New Hampshire ranks 36th for the rate of new lung cancer cases, with 61 cases per 100,000 people.

Mental health

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire has announced an initiative to improve access to behavioral health care by reducing member copays for both in-person and virtual behavioral health visits, effective Jan. 1, 2024. According to a press release, these reduced copays will be equal to or lower than those for primary care visits. The company has also expanded its network with new providers who offer bundled services at a single monthly copay, instead of billing separately, making multiple or concurrent treatments more accessible and affordable for members. The reduced copay initiative applies to all of Anthem’s health plans in the fully insured large group, small group and individual markets in New Hampshire, and is also offered to self-funded plans.

QOL score: +1

Comment: “Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health and high cost shares should not be a barrier to getting on the path to recovery and good health,” Maria Proulx, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire, said in the release.

Beware the scams

Eversource is alerting customers to be wary of scammers during the holiday season, when scam activities often rise. Scammers, posing as Eversource representatives, are using advanced tactics to extort money and personal information through threatening calls, emails, and fake websites. Eversource emphasizes that its representatives never demand payment through prepaid debit cards or Bitcoin ATMs or by arranging meetings at stores, and they do not solicit for third-party energy suppliers. Customers should verify any suspicious Eversource representative, as legitimate employees have photo IDs and wear company-branded clothing. Disconnection notices are always sent in writing. If uncertain about the legitimacy of a call or visit, customers should contact Eversource directly, using contact information available on their bills.

QOL score: -2

Comment: For additional safety tips, customers can visit the Utilities United Against Scams website at utilitiesunited.org.

QOL score: 88
Net change: 0
QOL this week: 88

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

Quality of Life 23/11/09

Paying the bills

Doxo’s latest report, featured on CNBC and titled “Which Largest U.S. Cities are Most Expensive for Household Bills in 2023?,” found that the average household in Manchester spends $2,276 monthly, or $27,306 annually, on the 10 most common household bills — an amount that is 11.2 percent higher than the national average of $2,046. The report, which includes cost of living data for more than 4,000 U.S. cities, reveals that Manchester households allocate 44 percent of their annual income, which averages $62,415, to these bills.

QOL score: -2

Comment: Looking statewide, Manchester places as the No. 13 most expensive city in New Hampshire; Bedford takes the No. 1 spot.

Housing shortage

New Hampshire faces a severe housing shortage, NH Business Review reported, ranking fourth in the nation according to Up for Growth’s report, which highlights the state’s critical need for both owned and rental properties. The report cites a requirement for 31,000 housing units in New Hampshire, significantly higher than local estimates. This issue is exacerbated by restrictive zoning and construction challenges, as detailed in the Zoning Atlas by the Center for Ethics in Society at Saint Anselm College and other state agencies. The Atlas reveals the extensive limitations in New Hampshire’s zoning regulations, impacting the development of affordable workforce housing.

QOL score: -2

Comment: This housing crisis is further underscored by data from the New Hampshire Association of Realtors, showing a drastic decline in housing affordability, with the state’s median household income now only 59 percent of what’s needed to afford a median-priced home.

A smooth election day?

For the Nov. 7 election, which had just begun at press time, the City of Manchester implemented several initiatives to encourage voter participation. According to a press release, electronic voter checklists, successfully trialed during the September municipal primary, were used in all city wards to streamline the voting process, reducing check-in times to an average of 13 seconds per voter. Additionally, the Manchester Transit Authority (MTA) offered free rides to and from the polls on local fixed bus routes. To use the free service, residents informed bus drivers that they were commuting to or from the polls, a benefit exclusive to local routes and not applicable to intercity buses.

QOL score: +1

Comment: Similar free Election Day transit services were also provided in neighboring communities such as Dover, Rochester and Portsmouth through the COAST public transit system.

QOL score: 91
Net change: -3
QOL this week: 88

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

Quality of Life 23/11/02

Volunteer spirit

Seventy volunteers and nonprofits were honored at Volunteer NH’s 20th Spirit of NH Awards in Concord for their exceptional community service, according to a press release. Hosted by WMUR’s Sean McDonald and Erin Fehlau and streamed by ConcordTV, the ceremony recognized individuals and groups in various categories. Notable awardees included Sophia Day from Girl Scouts, Dana Hedrick from the Animal Rescue League, and the Concord Hospital End of Life Volunteer Program. Special mentions included Justin Vanasse, who received the Spirit of NH Award for resource work at Southern New Hampshire University, Doug Moorhead with a Lifetime Achievement Award for 30 years of service to Special Olympics, and Kari Karwedsky, the People’s Choice Award recipient for her work with FIRST Robotics. Volunteer NH, based in Concord, champions community-building through volunteerism in New Hampshire.

QOL score: +1

Comment: “Volunteers are the backbone of our communities,” said Gretchen Stallings, Executive Director of Volunteer NH, in the release.

Future teachers

Bedford Academy is joining forces with Southern New Hampshire University to offer its students an enhanced educational experience and pave the way for future educators, according to a press release. Aspiring teachers from SNHU will join Bedford Academy’s classrooms, acquiring hands-on experience. This partnership give teacher candidates a chance to develop their skills in a real-world setting.

QOL score: +1

Comment: Bedford Academy, a private STEAM-inspired elementary school.

Safe walking

In observance of October’s Pedestrian Safety Awareness Month, a study by Bumper highlighted the rise in pedestrian fatalities across the U.S. However, New Hampshire stands out, reporting the lowest death rate of the 50 states with 0.58 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 population in 2021, making it the safest state for pedestrians in the country. Additionally, the Granite State has seen a reduction in fatalities over recent years, from 10 in 2019 to 8 in 2021, marking a 39.58 percent decline.

QOL score: 0 (because while NH is in a good position comparatively, any pedestrian death or injury is too much)

Comment: Experts emphasized a few key precautions to prevent pedestrian accidents: pedestrians should use crosswalks, don reflective gear at night, and avoid distractions like texting. Drivers, especially those in SUVs, should yield to walkers, obey speed limits, and avoid alcohol and device distractions.

Clock o’clock

Sunday, Nov. 5, marks the end of daylight saving time. We all officially “fall back” at 2 a.m.

QOL score: –2

Comments: Because “yay” for the extra hour of sleep on Sunday but “boo” for having to remember how to access the clocks on your non-smart appliances, for the general approaching-winter post-work-day darkness and for changing clocks twice a year at all.

QOL score: 91
Net change: 0
QOL this week: 91

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

Quality of Life 23/10/26

Increased fatalities for motorcyclists

In 2023, New Hampshire experienced its highest number of motorcycle-related deaths in almost two decades. Since Jan. 1, the state has recorded 39 fatalities: 35 motorcycle operators, three passengers and one moped operator. A breakdown of these figures indicates 31 victims were men and eight were women, with 31 of the deceased being New Hampshire residents. Historical data from the Division of Motor Vehicles’ Fatal Crash Unit shows that on average 22 riders typically die in crashes each year, with the last peak in fatalities occurring in 2005 with 43 deaths. Geographical data reveals Rockingham County had the highest count with 11 deadly crashes, followed by Hillsborough with six, and both Merrimack and Grafton counties with five each.

QOL score: -3

Comment: The New Hampshire Motorcyclists’ Rights Organization has since emphasized the importance of responsible riding practices. Traci Beaurivage, president of the NHMRO, has urged riders to embrace the “RideSMART” philosophy, emphasizing safety, awareness and informed decision-making on the road.

Otherwise … safe in NH

WalletHub recently published its 2023 report on the Safest States in America, which ranked New Hampshire as the third safest state. The ranking was based on 52 key metrics, from assaults per capita to climate disaster losses per capita. In the report, New Hampshire notably ranked third-safest when it came to murders and non-negligent manslaughters per capita, second-safest in assaults per capita, seventh-safest when it comes to loss amounts from climate disasters per capita, 16th-safest in fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 full-time workers and fourth-safest in fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel (despite the above, perhaps).

QOL score: +1

Comment: All six New England states made the top 10, with Vermont securing the top spot.

Job help

Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC), a part of Dartmouth Health, was honored for its role in the Project SEARCH program, an internship initiative that helps individuals with intellectual disabilities develop job-related skills, according to a press release. Since 2011, DHMC has hosted the program, recently gaining recognition for achieving a 100 percent job placement rate for its 2021-2022 interns. The acknowledgment came during Project SEARCH’s 16th Annual Conference in Milwaukee. Interns at DHMC undergo intensive training through three 10-week internships within the hospital, alongside classroom learning. These internships foster technical and soft skills, preparing participants for a variety of job positions. Local institutions such as the Hartford, Vermont, school district, and New Hampshire Vocational Rehabilitation collaborate to administer the DHMC Project SEARCH program.

QOL score: +1

Comment: Starting from a single site at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 1996, Project SEARCH has expanded to more than 600 locations worldwide.

QOL score: 92
Net change: -1
QOL this week: 91

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

Quality of Life 23/10/19

Peanut butter & cereal

Merrimack County Savings Bank (The Merrimack) has launched a peanut butter and cereal drive to take place throughout October in partnership with #NHBanksGiveBack, organized by the NH Bankers Association. According to a press release, this initiative aims to combat child hunger by collecting essential items for local food pantries, including peanut butter and cereal, which are often requested to provide nutritious meals for children facing food insecurity. Donations collected during the drive will benefit various pantries in the region, supporting the local community in providing essential food items for those in need. The bank encourages individuals to drop off peanut butter and cereal donations at any of its eight locations in Bow, Concord, Contoocook, Hooksett, Windham and Nashua.

QOL score: +1
Comment: In New Hampshire, 1 in 12 children struggles with food insecurity, the release said.

Mac to give back

Mr. Mac’s Macaroni and Cheese in Manchester has kicked off its 7th annual “Mac Gives Back” fundraising event, according to a press release. Throughout October, Mr. Mac’s will donate $1 for each Take & Bake order of their macaroni and cheese dishes. The initiative aims to support the Boys & Girls Club and MPAL in Manchester. Founded by siblings Patrick Cain and Valerie Anderson, Mr. Mac’s places a strong emphasis on family and community, seeking to contribute to their local community through this initiative.

QOL score: +1
Comment: You can place Take and Bake orders at their Manchester location, over the phone, or online for pick-up at their drive-thru window.

Biking for funds

Lombardo Homes conducted a study on decorating for Halloween and found that New Hampshire ranks third in the nation for its decorative enthusiasm. The study also found that the crow is the state’s favorite Halloween adornment. Conducted in August 2023, the study is based on an analysis of 7,330 Halloween-related Google search terms and purchasing behaviors; data sourced from search volumes per capita over the last year; and a survey in the same month that involved 1,209 Americans discussing their Halloween decoration habits.
QOL score: +1
Comment: This year’s event saw a 16 percent increase in riders compared to the previous year.

Arts brings in the dough

Arts Alive has revealed that the nonprofit arts and culture sector in the Monadnock Region generated $25 million in economic activity in 2022, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 study conducted by Americans for the Arts. This economic activity included $18.2 million in spending by nonprofit arts organizations and $6.8 million in event-related spending by audiences. It supported 521 jobs, provided $20.6 million in personal income and generated $5.3 million in government revenue.

QOL score: +1
Comment: The study highlights the significant economic and social impacts of the arts and culture industry in the region, with spending by arts and culture audiences benefiting local merchants.

QOL score: 88
Net change: +4
QOL this week: 92

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

Quality of Life 23/10/12

Millennials on the move

A recent study by Upgraded Points revealed that wealthy millennials, defined as individuals ages 26 to 45 earning more than $200,000 annually, are increasingly moving to certain U.S. states. Factors such as improved economic conditions, remote work opportunities, and the pursuit of affordable housing and better quality of life have driven this trend. The study found that New Hampshire ranks 7th in the nation in attracting wealthy millennials, with a net gain of 4.4 percent. This influx has resulted in a positive impact on the state’s tax base, with a net increase of more than $229 million attributed to wealthy millennial movers, the press release said.
QOL score: +1
Comment: Florida and Texas were among the top states gaining wealthy millennials, while California and New York experienced losses.

Shot clock

Since the availability of updated Covid-19 boosters last month, many in New Hampshire have faced challenges in getting their shots due to limited slots, last-minute appointment rescheduling or insurance issues, NHPR reported. Previously the federal government procured and distributed Covid-19 vaccines to health care providers. Now hospitals, pharmacies and health centers purchase vaccines directly from manufacturers or wholesalers. This transition has led to shipping delays and availability issues in various pharmacies across the country, including in New Hampshire.
QOL score: -2
Comment: This season’s vaccines have been updated to guard against the latest virus strains, and the CDC recommends a new vaccine for everyone age six months and older this fall.

We’ve got Halloween spirit

Lombardo Homes conducted a study on decorating for Halloween and found that New Hampshire ranks third in the nation for its decorative enthusiasm. The study also found that the crow is the state’s favorite Halloween adornment. Conducted in August 2023, the study is based on an analysis of 7,330 Halloween-related Google search terms and purchasing behaviors; data sourced from search volumes per capita over the last year; and a survey in the same month that involved 1,209 Americans discussing their Halloween decoration habits.
QOL score: +1
Comment: The research also revealed that Americans are allocating more for Halloween decorations this year compared to the previous year, with an average expenditure of $87, a rise from $61 in 2022.

Child care woes

Since 2020 New Hampshire has received more than $142 million in federal funds for child care stabilization, covering costs like scholarships and aiding businesses that faced losses during the pandemic, However, as this funding concludes, local child care providers say that challenges like staffing shortages and limited options for families persist. NHPR reported that the central issue remains competitive wages for child care workers, who are often paid less. New Hampshire has introduced some legislation to aid child care services, but advocates emphasize the need for continued focus and funding at both the state and federal levels.
QOL score: -2
Comment: Additionally, many areas, like Lancaster, face shortages of child care facilities, leading parents to travel considerable distances.

QOL score: 90
Net change: -2
QOL this week: 88

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

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