Quality of Life 22/02/10

Olympians represent

New Hampshire ranks 12th for the number of athletes who have participated in a Winter Olympics game on behalf of Team USA, according to a recent report from BeenVerified, a public information website. Four New Hampshire-born athletes are in Beijing right now, which did not change the ranking; prior to this year, 47 state-born athletes have participated in the Winter Olympics. Those athletes have earned 19 medals, making them 9th in the country for total medals, and 8th for gold with six medals, the report said. Top cities by birthplace are Easton (six medals); Hanover, Derry and Salem (three medals); and Concord (two medals).

Score: +1

Comment: The top Olympic sport in New Hampshire, according to the report? Alpine skiing.

Students speaking up, sparking change

Central High School has a new dress code, thanks to senior and Manchester School Board student rep Kellan Barbee, who rewrote the outdated code that had been in effect since the ’80s. According to a report from NHPR, the new code — the first policy in the district authored by a student — allows items that were formally prohibited, like spaghetti straps, tube tops, ripped jeans, do-rags, bonnets and hats, while wearing the hood of a hoodie, see-through clothing and attire displaying messages with profanity and hate speech are still prohibited. The update has been a long time coming, with students asking for it for years; Barbee wrote the new code with other students’ input. For example, he told NHPR, the district wanted to keep the hat ban, but after hearing about homeless peers who didn’t have access to hair products and showers, Barbee made it a priority to get rid of it.

Score: +1

Comment: “My goal is not to impose my own views on dress — on students, on staff, on the district. It is to bring student voices to the table,” Barbee told NHPR.

Because you can’t do this in Florida

Special Olympics New Hampshire is gearing up for its two biggest fundraisers, the Penguin Plunge and the Winni Dip, and for the second year, participants are being asked to take a DIY approach in light of Covid. According to a press release, the theme of this year’s events is “Survivor,” and participants will have “Survivor Packs” delivered to their home, school or office, with items packed into a pail that can be used for do-it-yourself plunging. Penguin Plunge Weekend is Feb. 12 and Feb. 13 and includes the Penguin Plunge, the High School Plunge, Prep School Plunge and the new Middle School Plunge. Winni Dip Weekend is March 12 and March 13 and includes the Law Enforcement Dip, The Winni Dip, High School Dip, Middle School Dip and the MEGA Dip. Participants can register online at sonh.org; all fundraising can be done online, and most participants can meet the fundraising minimums in less than 72 hours, according to the release.

Score: +1

Comment: SONH President and CEO Mary Conroy said that they were pleasantly surprised last year by the turnout and participants’ creativity. “We had everything last year from schools utilizing their local fire departments to help students plunge, to individuals plunging on their own in lots of fun and creative ways,” she said in the release.

Late for love

A Google Trends analysis that looked at searches for “last minute Valentine’s Day gift ideas” shows that New Hampshire ranks 10th in the U.S. for gift-buying procrastination. According to a report from wholesale trade printer 4over, waiting until the last minute seems to be a trend on the East Coast, with New Jersey coming in first and Maryland, Rhode Island, New York and Virginia round out the Top 5, while Connecticut and Massachusetts joined New Hampshire in the Top 10.

Score: -1

Comment: Valentine’s Day is Monday, Feb. 14 — just sayin’.

QOL score: 57

Net change: +2

QOL this week: 59

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

Quality of Life 22/02/03

Winter weather cancels Winter Festival

Intown Concord sent out a notice last Saturday to inform people that almost all of the events at that day’s Winter Festival were canceled because of the snowstorm. “This is really disappointing for everyone involved [but] safety is our number one priority. Intown Concord will be working to reschedule as many elements from today’s festival as we can for the springtime,” Intown wrote in the notice.

Score: -2

Comment: The exceptions were the ice carvers and the ice bar – “the ice carvers are a hardy crew,” the notice read. The carvings were done on the Statehouse lawn, with the plan that they would remain on display for about a week.

Keeping college costs down

For the fourth year in a row, the University System of New Hampshire is freezing in-state tuition for the upcoming academic year. According to a press release, university system schools currently provide more aid to more students than at any other time in their history, and students are paying less on average to attend these public institutions than in-state students paid five years ago. The University of New Hampshire campuses in Durham and Manchester, Plymouth State University and Keene State College continue to offer the Granite Guarantee program, which makes college affordable for more than 1,800 New Hampshire residents by covering the full cost of in-state tuition for all who qualify.

Score: +1

Comment: Ninety-five percent of first-year students attending University System of New Hampshire schools currently receive some form of financial aid, the release said.

Supporting our health care heroes

For the second year, the NH Healthcare Heroes effort is recognizing outstanding professionals in the health care community, naming one hero for each of the state’s seven regions. According to a press release, the winners were nominated by colleagues, family, friends and patients and were chosen by a volunteer committee made up of health care professionals across the state. Locally, winners are Laura “Beth” Nagy, director of rehabilitation services at New Hampshire Hospital in Concord; Matt Bouchie, homeless outreach coordinator at the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester; and Stacy Dionne, clinical nurse manager at Lamprey Health Care in Raymond.

Score: +1

Comment: Winners are being honored during pinning ceremonies with their employers, and runners-up stories will be shared on social media at facebook.com/healthcareheroesnh, according to the release.

Giving girls a Sporting Chance

Girls Inc. of New Hampshire is collaborating with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in support of healthy living and access to sports through its Sporting Chance Program, which provides opportunities to young girls to participate in physical activities and develop good habits that will benefit their physical and mental health. According to a press release, both the Nashua and Manchester Girls Inc. centers offer the program, with activities like basketball, yoga, soccer and racquet sports.

Score: +1

Comment: “Sporting Chance provides girls a safe and supportive environment to participate in competitive and recreational activities and sporting events and empowers girls to succeed,” Sharron McCarthy, CEO of Girls Inc. New Hampshire, said in the release.

QOL score: 56

Net change: +1

QOL this week: 57

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

Quality of Life 22/01/27

Record-breaking tourism

Summer 2021 in New Hampshire saw 4.4 million visitors, who spent more than $2.1 billion, which broke the previous record in Summer 2019 with a 21-percent increase in visitors and a 5-percent increase in spending for the season. According to a press release from the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development, fiscal year 2021 as a whole had a record number of visitors at 12.8 million, with spending over $5.5 billion, equaling $322.6 million in state tax revenue. “Our tourism team here at BEA kept a marketing presence in key states throughout the pandemic, so while other states retreated, we were poised to come out of the gate fast … and that worked,” Taylor Caswell, commissioner of New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs, said in the release.

Score: +1

Comment: The total fiscal year 2021 returns on investment generated $197 in visitor spending for each $1 invested in marketing efforts, and $12.08 in tax revenue for each $1 invested, according to the release.

Souped-up recycling

Manchester has made another step in its commitment to invest in environment-friendly practices, recently becoming the second city in the nation to use ocean-bound recycled plastic in their recycling carts. According to a press release, the OceanCore carts are 100-percent recyclable and will replace broken or new carts for residents across the city. Ten percent of their post-consumer recycled materials are made up of recycled plastics found in and near waterbodies.

Score: +1

Comment: Other environmentally-friendly steps that the city has taken include the recent sale of $46.5 million in green bonds to help finance its program to remove combined sewer overflows into the Merrimack River for cleaner water; the construction of a solar array on the former landfill; and the addition of energy-efficient buses to the Manchester Transit Authority fleet, according to the release.

More personal finance classes, please

A recent study of personal finance curriculum and graduation requirements of all 79 public high schools in New Hampshire showed that many schools still do not require students to pass a class in personal finance to graduate. According to a press release, the study done by NH Jump$tart Coalition — an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that helps prepare youth for successful financial decision-making — was completed in late 2021 and found that 68 percent of New Hampshire public high schools clearly offer a personal finance course as an elective, in addition to meeting the state requirement for economics; 13 percent clearly require a standalone course in personal finance for graduation; and 6 percent require economics only.

Score: -1

Comment: There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but we’re getting there: According to the release, in 2013, only three public high schools met the state minimum requirement in economics and required students to pass a half-credit class in personal finance to graduate, while in 2021, 10 schools met those criteria (locally, those schools are Bedford, Belmont, Bow and Pelham high schools).

Lighting up the community

Granite VNA and Central NH VNA & Hospice raised more than $65,000 during its annual Lights, Life and Memories campaign to support hospice care. According to a press release, the community added to the more than 1,800 names in the online Honor Roll, and more than 600 names were inscribed on porcelain doves to remember loved ones who have died. And in December, 150 businesses throughout the Concord area were illuminated by Lights, Life and Memories purple candles to honor the lives of those who have passed.

Score: +1

Comment: The Community Memorial Service, with music, readings, reflection and remembrance, can be seen at granitevna.org/lights.

QOL score: 54

Net change: +2

QOL this week: 56

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

Quality of Life 22/01/20

Unemployment claims below pre-Covid numbers

Last week’s unemployment claims in New Hampshire were 22.9 percent lower than they were during the same week in 2019 — the sixth-biggest decrease in the U.S. — according to personal-finance website WalletHub’s updated report on States Whose Unemployment Claims Are Increasing the Most. They are 9.71 percent lower compared to the same week in 2020, and 83.86 percent lower than the same week in 2021.

Score: +1

Comment: According to the report, New Hampshire is one of only 14 states whose unemployment claims last week were lower than before the pandemic.

Life-changing donation for local veteran

Mike Moran, a local disabled veteran who served almost 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, will soon replace his manual wheelchair with an iBOT Personal Mobility Device, courtesy of a Veterans Count donor and assistance from Manchester-based Mobius Mobility, which manufactures the device. According to a press release, Moran has been using his wheelchair for 14 years; with the iBOT PMD, the 51-year-old will now be able to get up and down stairs and curbs, move through all kinds of terrain and experience life at standing height. Veterans Count and Mobius Mobility helped Moran get the prescription and other documentation he needed to qualify for the iBOT, and helped him schedule his training, the release said.

Score: +1

Comment: “We are still taking requests for the remaining four iBOT donations, and we encourage veterans to inquire,” Kathy Flynn, senior director of development for Veterans Count, said in the release.

Camp for all kids

ReKINDling Curiosity is coming back for a second year to help ensure that all kids who want to get a chance to go to camp. According to a press release from the New Hampshire Department of Education, the initiative is meant to provide a positive childhood experience at an approved overnight or day youth recreation camp in New Hampshire. The program, which is federally funded using Covid-19 response money, will pay up to $650 of youth recreation camp fees for qualifying students.

Score: +1

Comment: “For many children, especially those from low-income backgrounds or with disabilities, this opportunity to attend a summer camp could help alleviate anxiety and trauma resulting from the pandemic, and succeed in academic instruction when they return to school in the fall,” Frank Edelblut, commissioner of education, said in the release.

Beware of Covid smishing campaign

Scammers pretending to be from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles are texting residents trying to get personal identifying information. According to a consumer alert from Attorney General John M. Formella, the scam is called “smishing” — when scammers send text messages purporting to be from a reputable agency to get personal information — and this one is a Covid-19 themed campaign. The text messages contain links to a fraudulent “New Hampshire State Covid-19 Vaccine Status Validation” website, which features legitimate-looking seals of the Department of Health and Human Services and Division of Motor Vehicles. On the site, the consumer is asked to enter personal information like their Social Security number and date of birth, the release said.

Score: -1

Comment: Residents are advised not to reply to unsolicited text messages, not to click on a link in a text message from someone you don’t know, and not to provide money or personal information over the phone or by email to someone you don’t know.

QOL score: 52

Net change: +2

QOL this week: 54

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

Quality of Life 22/01/13

This one’s for the teachers

Area 23 in Concord is making snow days even better for teachers and school staff. According to Area 23’s Facebook page, if Concord cancels school in January or February, teachers and staff get drinks and food at half price from 4 to 6 p.m. that day. The eatery, located on North State Street, offers craft beer, cider and pub eats.

Score: +1

Comment: Area 23 gets an A+ for this snow day special!

Success at the slopes

The holiday week was a success for the state’s ski areas, according to a press release from Ski New Hampshire, with most resorts reporting that business was up for the period compared to last year. Pats Peak in Henniker, for example, had significant increases in admissions and revenue; general manager Kris Blomback said in the release that business was “absolutely booming.” At McIntyre Ski Area, there was an increase in the number of visitors who had never been skiing or riding but decided to give it a try, marketing director Aly Moore said in the release. Moore also reported that many guests chose to spend time outside on the patio around the fire pits, and at Pats Peak relatively mild weather had guests stay outside the lodge for eating and breaks.

Score: +1

Comment: With the Martin Luther King Jr. long weekend coming up, “snowmaking efforts will resume in full force to refresh snow conditions and expand terrain,” the release said

It’s beginning to look a lot like winter

The weather has been brutal lately, with unexpected icing Jan. 5 leading to cars off the roads all over the state during the morning commute, followed by a snow day for some on Jan. 7 and more winter weather that made for tough driving Jan. 9. QOL got caught off guard by snow squalls in the Hooksett and Concord area Jan. 10, and the following day, wind chill advisories were in effect, getting as low as 25 below zero, according to a press release.

Score: -1

Comment: Yes, QOL knows this is New Hampshire, but with Covid putting so many events and activities in jeopardy again, it would be nice if we didn’t have to worry every day about weather canceling plans.

Family-friendly Granite State

New Hampshire is the sixth-best state to raise a family, according to WalletHub’s new report of 2022’s Best & Worst States to Raise a Family. According to a press release, the personal finance website compared family-friendliness data for all 50 states, using information like median annual family income and housing affordability. The Granite State is No. 1 in two areas: It has the lowest percentage of families in poverty and the lowest unemployment rate. It also has the second lowest infant mortality rate and second fewest violent crimes per capita.

Score: +1

Comment: New Hampshire was above average in other areas too; according to the report, it ranked 17th for child-care costs, median annual family income and percentage of residents ages 12 and up who are fully vaccinated, and it ranked 19th for its separation and divorce rate.

QOL score: 50

Net change: +2

QOL this week: 52

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

Quality of Life 22/01/06

Upgrades for local libraries

Forty-two New Hampshire public libraries will get funding through an Institute for Museum and Library Services’ “Grants to States” program, part of the American Rescue Act Plan of 2021. According to a press release, the grants, which total $825,442, will be facilitated by the New Hampshire State Library and align with its 2017-2022 five-year plan, addressing three goals: expanding access to libraries and information services for patrons of all abilities; improving equity of access to library services by offering professional support for librarians and staff; and increasing innovative services and programming to meet the changing needs for library services. Numerous local libraries will receive grants, including the libraries in Concord, Derry, Goffstown, Hooksett, Londonderry Manchester, Nashua and Windham. Projects had to start after Jan. 2 and be completed by Sept. 30.

Score: +1

Comment: Examples of funded projects include upgrading technology, digitizing historical documents and oral histories and purchasing bicycles to deliver materials to patrons who can’t come to the library, the release said.

Gubernatorial brags

A recent press release from the Office of Gov. Chris Sununu was full of brags about New Hampshire rankings. The state ranks highest in personal freedom, economic opportunity and safety in the country, the release said, pointing to recently released data, like data from the U.S. Census Bureau that shows New Hampshire was the fastest growing state in the Northeast in 2021, with a population growth of 0.8 percent, and a U.S. News & World Report that puts the Granite State first for public safety. Other data rankings include: sixth best in the Tax Foundation’s Business Tax Climate Index, first for overall freedom in the Cato Institute’s Freedom in the 50 States” report, first for economic freedom according to a report from the Fraser Institute, and lowest poverty rate according to a report from Forbes.

Score: +1

Comment: The press release did not ask if New Hampshire had been working out lately, because New Hampshire looks great.

Making veterans’ wishes come true

Residents of the Manchester VA Community Learning Center were in quarantine and confined to their rooms due to Covid during the holidays, meaning they couldn’t visit with family. According to a press release from the New Hampshire Daughters of the American Revolution — who represent the Veterans Administration Voluntary Services — the VA center asked each of the residents for their Christmas wishes, then compiled a list for the DAR, which sponsored the wishes. In return, the DAR received a “wonderful gift” on Christmas Day, in the form of a message from the VA center: “When you make a veteran cry, it’s either a very bad day or a really emotional thing. The thoughtfulness of the gifts that were provided this year was truly breathtaking. I had five veterans tear up. They truly had one of the best days I have seen, in a really long time. Your organization’s kindness was beyond measure.”

Score: +1

Comment: The message also noted that “for just one day [these veterans] were young and they were showered with gifts and love.”

This feels familiar …

As 2022 begins, events are being canceled like it’s 2020. This week, Taste of Bedford, which was scheduled for Jan. 11, was canceled “due to the rapidly escalating cases of both Covid-19 and flu during this post-holiday period,” according to an email sent by organizers the morning of Jan. 4. NHSCOT’s Hogmanay, which had been planned for Jan. 2 was canceled, and an artist’s reception for a new art display at Nashua Public Library has been postponed indefinitely (though the exhibit is still scheduled to open for viewing this Saturday, Jan. 8 — check out the story on page 14!).

Score: -3 (one for each fun time delayed)

Comment: Come on, 2022, cancellations are so two years ago. Do your own thing!

QOL score for the start of 2022: 50

Net change: 0

QOL this week: 50

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

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