Quality of Life 22/04/07

The falcons are nesting

It’s nesting season for Manchester’s peregrine falcons, and you can watch it on the NH Audubon’s live falcon cam. According to a press release from the Audubon, the pair is currently incubating five eggs in its nest, which is at 750 Elm St. You can find a link at nhaudubon.org, or search for “peregrine networks” on YouTube. The eggs typically hatch in late April or early May and the birds fledge from the nest in late May or early June, according to information posted on the falcons’ YouTube page. The young falcons will spend four to six weeks learning from their parents how to hunt, and then they will start to migrate out of the area.

Score: +1

Comment: The date of this year’s first egg was March 21, earlier than any of the previous seven years that were recorded, according to the YouTube page; in 2016, 2020 and 2021, the first eggs were March 24, which is the second earliest date.

No more early release days in Nashua

Last week, the Nashua Board of Education voted to eliminate early release days for the 2022-2023 school year. According to a press release, early release days had allowed teaching staff to attend workshops and school meetings in the afternoon, as students left two hours early, and the district usually scheduled five or six early release days during the school year. Instead, according to the release, administrators will now plan for full-day workshops and school meetings for teachers on Sept. 13, primary day; Nov. 8, election day; and Feb. 20, Presidents Day, when students are not in school. The proposed calendar increases the total amount of instructional time by 14 hours and allows for “more full and complete weeks of schooling,” the release said. It also helps to better align calendars between CTE centers and districts, to reduce the number of conflicts.

Score: 0

Comment: The kids probably won’t care for the additional hours in school, but parents who won’t have to figure out middle-of-the-day school pickups and child care certainly will.

Watch for skimmers

Manchester has had several instances recently where credit card skimmers have been found on credit card terminals at local businesses. According to a press release, skimmers were found on March 23 at Walmart on Gold Street; on March 28 at the 7-Eleven on Beech Street; and on March 30 at the 7-Eleven on Maple Street. Skimmers can steal credit card numbers and can be hard to see, as they look very similar to legitimate card scanners, and they can be snapped onto a card reader within seconds.

Score: -1

Comment: Businesses are being asked to check their credit card terminals daily for skimmers, and customers should check their bank accounts for suspicious activity, the release said.

Lapse in 911 text service

For three days, some people in New Hampshire trying to text 911 through the Verizon Wireless network were not able to. On April 1, the New Hampshire Department of Safety’s Division of Emergency Services and Communications sent out a media alert to let residents and visitors know that some Verizon Wireless customers were experiencing a failure when attempting to send a text to 911, instead getting an automated message saying, “Please make a voice call to 911. There is no text service to 911 available at this time.” No other carriers had issues, the alert said. Verizon’s network engineers were able to resolve the problem by April 4, according to an update from Emergency Services and Communications.

Score: -1

Comment: QOL hopes that anyone who couldn’t get through to 911 via text was able to call and get help quickly.

QOL score: 70

Net change: -1

QOL this week: 69

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

Celtics rolling toward playoffs

There is an old saying that goes, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m not sure who said it first or why, but I do know the most recent team in sports it applies to is your Boston Celtics, a team that justifiably had everyone from Jamestown, R.I., to Presque Isle on their back through the first 10 weeks of the NBA season. All thanks to blowing one big lead after another in one lax effort after the next.

However, that was then and this is now. They’ve gone from 18-21 after blowing a 25-point lead in an excruciating loss to the Knicks on Jan. 6 to 49-30 following Sunday’s 42-point beatdown of Washington.

The 32-9 surge sends them into next week’s playoffs as the hottest team in the East and maybe the top seed in the conference.

The question is how did that happen, especially since it seemingly came from nowhere.

Before I get to that, first the mea culpa. Boy did I get it wrong saying in a blowtorch column right after the loss at MSG that they would be battling for the 10th playoff spot as this week arrived.

Though while I was wrong about that, I was right about what they needed most to solve their problems — a real point guard and better, more determined leadership from Jayson Tatum. Qualities that I’d given up he’d ever develop. Never saw anyone on the roster ever being a real point guard either. Finally I said Ime Udoka looked over his head.

So back to how it happened.

In order:

Point guard: Rarely does the light bulb go on for someone in their eighth season, but it has for Marcus Smart since mid-January. Now the first move is going below the three-point line to draw defenders to him, giving Tatum and Jaylen Brown better openings to shoot or drive. It also gives him 10-foot pull-up opportunities or lanes for shots at the rim or lobs to Rob. It’s been the key to the improvement.

Tatum’s maturity: Through the surge he’s been mostly sensational. Though after seeing him sulk his way through the second half of last week’s Miami loss after letting horrid officiating get his head, it’s not all there just yet. But he now looks so much more determined and physical in regularly taking it to the basket. The last piece needed is to better fight through the adversity like vs. Miami, because that’s what he’s going to see in the playoffs.

Shot selection: Mostly gone now are Tatum, Brown and especially Smart infuriatingly chucking up the first three that shows. Ditto for Tatum’s loved by him and absolutely despised by me Kobe-like isolation step back shot that takes everyone besides him out of the offense

Passing on all the ill-advised threes and destructive isolations has led to a greater overall patience to search out better shots through the shot clock. That’s improved field goal percentages on both twos and threes. But more importantly it’s led Tatum and Brown to attack the rim as the first option for the higher percentage attempts and more free throws that come at the rim. Both are now a threat to score 30 every night and this is why they’re so much harder to guard. Not to mention more fun to watch.

Passing: There are two kinds of passing. The first is programmed ball movement where guys automatically have places to send it to get ahead of defensive rotations and into open areas like weak side corner for a three. The quicker and more decisively it’s done the better because it’s where most open half-court shots come from. Everyone seems to be better at that now. But chief among them is Rob Williams in particular who’s become very adept at this. It’s the least talked about part of his improvement, and has a positive impact on the half-court offense.

The other kind is passing off the dribble during penetration, for drop-offs when double teamed, in transition, to cutters coming from the weak side or off picks and on lobs to Rob, which has become a major element in the half court offense and on the break. While there have always been flashes of this and Al Horford has always been solid here, Tatum and Smart have had a Cousy-esque transformation in their ability to get people wide open shots or lay-ups while on the move.

The Coach: One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made during my time writing this column was saying Udoka looks over his head as an NBA coach. Dead wrong. Turns out it was just part of the learning curve.

It’s obvious this team listens to him. Both the improved shot selection and especially the transformation of Smart’s offensive approach are coaching things. Ditto for their league-best team defense, which has been solid since Day 1. Something that makes them built more sturdily for the slower, more physical play in the playoffs.

Bottom line, he’s the biggest reason for the turnaround.

And while all this was going on, we also got the answer to the biggest question looming over the future of the franchise.

Can Tatum and Brown play together? This question was endlessly asked through the first 10 weeks. And I said in January it needed an answer. Though I added we’ll never really know until they play with a real point guard who gives them the ball where each can do something with it. With Smart now doing that, the answer is yes. Which is good, because at 24 and 25 they could be on their way to becoming the best 1-2 scoring punch in Celtics history. And yes I have heard the names Jones, Havlicek, Bird, McHale, Pierce, Walker and the rest.

Along with drastically improved play from the bench, that takes care of what happened. Next week we’ll preview the playoffs and talk about what Brad Stevens has done to change their immediate fortunes.

Home coming

New youth shelter to open in Manchester

Borja Alvarez de Toledo, president and CEO of Waypoint, talked about the social service agency’s latest expansion project, which includes the state’s first shelter specifically for youth experiencing homelessness.

What is Waypoint and who does it serve?

Waypoint is a social service agency … with more than 20 programs across the state. We basically serve [people through] the whole lifespan, from early childhood all the way to seniors. Waypoint has been the main provider of services for runaway and homeless youth for the last 25 years. We’ve had a program in Manchester on Lincoln Street, [which was] a youth drop-in center … where youth can actually come, take a shower, work on their resume on a computer, get food, get clothing, engage with case management. … We’ve also had a mobile team that works on the Seacoast, which is basically a van driving around to the different towns, and some housing and transitional living programs where youth can stay.

How many youth are experiencing homelessness in New Hampshire?

There was research done by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago that was the first real national study on the issue of youth homelessness. It became clear that, across the United States — and it’s the same in urban settings and in more rural settings in parts of New Hampshire — that one in 15 young adults ages 18 to 25, and one in 30 ages 14 to 17, experienced some level of homelessness every single year. … When you extrapolate that and look at how many youth of those ages are living in New Hampshire, we’re talking about 15,000 youths.

How has the pandemic affected youth homelessness?

‘Homelessness’ doesn’t always mean sleeping on the streets every day. It may mean housing instability. Sometimes, [the youth] are couchsurfing and are able to get a [place to stay] for a couple of weeks at a friend’s house or by staying with a family member. The pandemic made things much more complicated, because those houses that were hosting those youths closed [their doors] because of the fear and risk of Covid. We’ve found that, now, there are more youths who are sleeping in cars, in tents, in abandoned buildings.

What is involved in Waypoint’s expansion project?

Two years ago we had some internal focus meetings … and we realized that there was an increasing [number of] youth experiencing homelessness in Concord; that we really wanted to build a center in Rochester that was similar to the one we have in Manchester; and that we were the only state in New England without a shelter [exclusively] for youth. We decided to expand our services … and buy two buildings: one for a center in Rochester, and one on Hanover Street in Manchester, where we can actually have that first shelter for youth experiencing homelessness in New Hampshire. It’s a huge expansion. … Those three centers won’t cover the whole need — there are also homeless youth in the North Country and in more rural areas of the state — but we felt like we needed to continue to grow our services in these three areas for now.

What will the youth shelter be like?

The shelter is what’s really going to make a difference. The youth we have engaged in Manchester keep asking us every day, ‘When is that [shelter] going to be open?’ … It’s going to be housed in the same place where we’re going to have our youth resource drop-in center. It’s very possible that a youth is going to be receiving services during the day on one floor of the building, engaging with case management or groups or other activities, and then, [at the end of the day] when it’s time to transition, they’ll just go down to the floor where the shelter is and sleep there. There’s more continuity of services that way.

Why is it important for youth to have a youth-specific shelter?

Research has indicated that it’s not appropriate for youth to be actually housed in shelters for adults, especially shelters where there are some chronically homeless adults. The minute [the youth] walk into those spaces, there’s a sense of, ‘This is going to be the rest of my life. This is going to be me when I’m 50 or 60.’ They see that right in front of them, and it almost shatters any sense of hope or sense that [their circumstances] can change. There are also sometimes very rigid rules at those shelters that don’t always apply to the youth; it’s more complicated for youth.

What is the current status of the expansion project?

We’re in the process of renovating the buildings … and we are continuing to fundraise, because the cost to renovate these buildings is about three and a half million dollars. We’ve had a lot of support already for this specific project, from the city through HUD — Housing and Urban Development — funding and through congressionally directed funding by Sen. Shaheen. Many foundations and individual donors have contributed money. If people want to donate to help us get to the finish line on this project, that would be incredible. … My hope is that by the end of the summer [the facilities] will be ready to open and start [offering] services and serving youth.

Featured photo: Borja Alvarez de Toledo. Courtesy photo.

News & Notes 22/04/07

Covid-19 update As of March 28 As of April 4
Total cases statewide 302,181 303,010
Total current infections statewide 1,020 1,033
Total deaths statewide 2,447 2,452
New cases 873 (March 22 to March 28) 829 (March 29 to April 4)
Current infections: Hillsborough County 253 281 (as of Thurs., March 31)
Current infections: Merrimack County 86 87 (as of Thurs., March 31)
Current infections: Rockingham County 164 218 (as of Thurs., March 31)
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

Covid-19 news

On March 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a second booster dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for older and certain immunocompromised populations. According to a press release, these include people ages 50 and older at least four months after receiving their first booster dose, as well as people ages 12 and older (for Pfizer) and 18 and older (for Moderna) who have undergone solid organ transplantation, or who are living with conditions considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise. “Based on an analysis of emerging data, a second booster dose … could help increase protection levels for these higher-risk individuals,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “Current evidence suggests some waning of protection over time.”

In New Hampshire, state health officials reported 102 new cases of Covid-19 on April 4. Last week, Covid-related hospitalizations fell to the single digits for the first time in more than a year — as of April 4 there were just six statewide.

Paid leave

The state is looking for a commercial insurance carrier to fully insure and administer the Granite State Paid Family and Medical Leave Plan. According to a press release, last week Gov. Chris Sununu and the New Hampshire Departments of Administrative Services and Employment Security, with assistance from the Insurance Department, released a Request for Proposal to administer the plan, which provides participating employees in New Hampshire with 60 percent of their average weekly wage for up to six weeks per year for specified leaves of absence. “A statewide, private-market, truly voluntary paid leave plan does not exist in any other state, and New Hampshire is leading the way,” Sununu said in the release. “After years of talk, we are finally moving forward with a viable paid leave product that is available to anyone who wants it and forced upon no one who does not.” The state is required to implement a voluntary paid family and medical leave plan as a provision of the 2022/2023 State Budget Trailer Bill, the release said. Any employer can choose to participate, and a business enterprise tax credit equal to 50 percent of the premium paid by those employers is available. “This is a critical program providing current and future workers here in the Granite State with the choice to take paid time away from work to care for family or care for themselves,” Deputy Commissioner Richard Lavers of Employment Security said in the release.

Queen City budget

Last week, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig delivered her FY23 tax-cap budget address. According to a press release, the budget proposal includes a 3.57 percent property tax increase (resulting in a tax rate change of $0.63, from $17.68 to $18.31 per $1,000 of assessed property value), which equates to an increase in property tax revenues of $8.2 million. Approximately $4.3 million of that is allocated to the City and $3.9 million the Manchester School District. A significant increase in health insurance claims in the second half of FY22 prompted an increase of $1.5 million to health insurance in FY23, the release said, and an additional $1.4 million was allocated to merits, longevity and associated benefits — meaning 65 percent of all city employees will receive at least a 3 percent increase in pay. The budget also includes bonding renovations to Derryfield Park, and replacing the Livingston Park track and the playgrounds at Wolfe Park and Sheridan Emmett Park, as well as $4.1 million that will go toward improving 32.9 miles of streets and sidewalks. The budget also establishes a green streets tree canopy program that will cover half of a resident’s cost for a new tree if it’s adjacent to the street. It leverages private funds for upgrades to fields at Livingston, Precourt, Sheehan Basquil and Stevens parks. For Manchester’s schools, the budget covers current programming and staff, and costs associated with collective bargaining agreements, retirement and health insurance, the release said, and it supports the school district’s strategic plan to grow its learners, educators and systems. Approximately $4.4 million in bonding will be used for Capital Improvement Projects, including the purchase of five school buses, playground replacements at Bakersville and Webster Elementary and Cullerot Park access to green space for Northwest students.

Political poll

Sixty-eight percent of New Hampshire registered voters think the country is on the wrong track, according to a recent poll from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. That number is down from 74 percent in January, and according to a press release, the current political environment has led to slightly improved job approval for incumbents, though President Joe Biden’s handling of the economy is the same as January, with 58 percent of voters disapproving. His job approval has increased slightly: 43 percent approval, compared to 41 percent in January. Locally, Gov. Chris Sununu is up from his career low and is now at 62 percent approval, 36 percent disapproval, and, according to the release, he leads in a hypothetical matchup against his only announced challenger, State Sen. Tom Sherman, 51 to 24 percent. The approval rating for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is at 48 percent; Sen. Maggie Hassan is at 46 percent; Congressman Chris Pappas is at 43 percent; and Congresswoman Annie Kuster is at 42 percent, the release said. Results from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll are based on online surveys of 1,265 New Hampshire registered voters collected on March 23 and March 24.


The state has a new partnership with TeachUNITED to provide five rural schools with individualized professional development. According to a press release, the schools were selected based on need and instructional improvement goals. The chosen schools are Northwood Elementary School in Northwood, Strong Foundations Charter School in Pembroke, Barnard Elementary School in South Hampton, Stevens High School in Claremont and Cornish Elementary School in Cornish. The program highlights strategies for growth mindset, data-driven instruction and personalized and blended learning. “This new partnership will support teachers and rural school leaders with strategies necessary to set and reach ambitious student goals,” Frank Edelblut, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, said in the release.

Help clean up any public area in Concord with the city’s Blue Bag Program. According to Concord’s monthly newsletter, residents can participate in the free program by filling out a release form, picking up free blue bags at the Concord General Services office at 311 N. State St., do the clean-up, leave the bags on the side of the road, and then notify General Services, which will come out and pick up the trash.

The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center will travel to the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner on Saturday, April 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. for “Spemki Nib8iwi: The Heavens in the Nighttime.” According to a press release, the free outdoor program will feature stargazing with an Indigenous focus, a bonfire, hot drinks and telescopes set up in the field for sky viewing. Bring your own chairs; restrooms will be available.

Street sweeping is underway in Manchester. The Department of Public Works started sweeping on April 6, according to a press release, and sweeping will take place in various neighborhoods around the city on the first Wednesday and Thursday of the month. From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on those days, vehicles will need to be parked on one side of the street on Wednesday and on the opposite side the following day. Signs will be posted, and the city has tried to inform all residents in these areas, the release said.

Hillsborough County Superior Court-South’s Adult Drug Court in Nashua has been named one of 10 national mentor treatment courts by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and the U.S. Department of Justice. According to a press release, the drug court will serve a two-year term as a model program to assist new or growing courts around the country.

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