Quality of Life 22/04/28

A trail built for all

Some of the physical, cultural and social barriers to nature have been broken down with the grand opening of the All Person Trail at The Nature Conservancy’s Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve. According to a press release, the purpose of the newly constructed trail is to bring people of all abilities and backgrounds closer to nature even when they’re in the midst of the state’s largest city. The 1.2-mile trail officially opened on Earth Day after three years of planning and construction. It winds through the preserve’s diverse habitats, including wetlands and rock formations dating back to the Ice Age. It is flat and even, allowing for easy walking and use of assistance-providing devices like wheelchairs and strollers, the release said. There are benches along the trail, along with illustrated panels that highlight the sights, sounds and smells of the preserve; there’s also an app-based audio tour in both English and Spanish. The parking area includes accessible parking spaces and a nongendered, family-friendly portable toilet, according to the release.

Score: +2

Comment: Also beginning today, a new stop on the Manchester Transit Authority’s bus route provides much-needed transportation to and from the preserve, located in the Hackett Hill area of Manchester. Riders can now take the Route 11 bus to the “All Persons Trail” stop.

Spotlight on New American youth

Refugee youth will get their chance to shine at the New Americans Got Talent Show, happening Thursday, April 28, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Bank of NH Stage in Concord. According to a press release, the event is being put on by Overcomers Refugee Services and Project S.T.O.R.Y. The performers are ages 7 to 20, and they’ll be presenting talents like musical performances, dancing, athletics, cup stacking and public speaking. “Local celebrities” will be on the judges panel, and the top three performers will win cash prizes of $500, $300 and $200, the release said. Attendance is free, but donations benefitting refugee youth programs are welcome at OvercomersNH.org. RSVP at outreach@overcomersnh.org.

Score: +1

Comment: “This talent show is important to me and the kids because the kids get a chance to show their talents and perform,” Fred Nshimiyimana of Project S.T.O.R.Y, said in the release. “I think that’s really great because here in America, a lot of refugee kids haven’t had the chance to show off their skills and talents.”

Support for first responders

The New Hampshire Fisher Cats have a new charitable initiative called the First Responders Fund, created to support the families of New Hampshire Police and Firefighters in need. According to a press release, the fund will officially launch as part of First Responders Night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 11, and 50 percent of the proceeds from individual tickets sold that night will benefit the fund, as will the in-game 50/50 raffle and boot pass collection. The Fisher Cats Foundation will also make a $2,500 donation and contribute a portion of the funds from the annual Granite State Baseball Dinner, the release said.

Score: +1

Comment: “Oftentimes, first responders find themselves in need of help also. This initiative will help our members overcome some unforeseen obstacles in their personal lives,” Manchester Fire Chief Andre R. Parent said in the release.

Police impersonation scam

Last week the Manchester Police Department sent out a public alert after several people called to a report that a person claiming to be a Manchester Police Officer had called and demanded money. According to a press release, the scammer uses the name of an officer who really works at the Manchester Police Department and tells the person they owe thousands of dollars in court fees. The caller also tells the victim that they will be arrested if they hang up.

Comment: -1

Score: Always contact your local police department directly to verify any calls like this that seem suspicious, the release said.

QOL score: 72

Net change: +3

QOL this week: 75

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

Big draft blows tonight

Today is like Christmas for football personnel junkies, as Round 1 of the annual draft of college players goes off in Vegas tonight.

It’s the first of a three-day extravaganza that creates a lot of buzz around NFL Nation for mock drafts, potential trades and maneuvering around the board.

So as I sit here hoping Coach B makes the bold move I know he won’t — swing for the fences to get the home run-hitting wide receiver they need — here’s a series of thoughts buzzing in my head as Round 1 begins Thursday, April 28, at 8 p.m. in the east.

For a change there hasn’t been much rumble about QBs in this draft, the most discussed subject being the undersized hands of the guy at the top of the QB board, Kenny Pickett of Pittsburgh.

It’s a stark contrast to last year, when the likely five first rounders were the catalyst for two major pre-draft trades, as they captured all the conversational oxygen in the room. That the last picked of those five, Mac Jones, had by far the best rookie year was a big story through the entire year, even as the Pats’ December fade helped Ja’Marr Chase deservedly sneak by Mac to be Rookie of the Year for his dramatic impact in Cincy.

Instead QB’s in the league already have dominated the pre-draft headlines. This included the Packers bowing to Aaron Rodgers’ bluff of wanting out of Green Bay to give him what he really wanted — being the highest-paid player in the NFL. Russell Wilson got his wish to get out as Seattle headed to a rebuild. Denver paid a king’s ransom to get him to end their playoff-less streak since Peyton Manning retired after 2015. Here’s hoping it doesn’t end as I hate when ungrateful quitters come out on top after walking out on teams that took a big chance on them at the start.

A similar price was paid to finally put an end to the Deshaun Watson saga in Houston and bring his enormous baggage with him to Cleveland. I’m hoping he hits rough seas too, both for his alleged sexual misconduct activities and so Cleveland Browns’ slimy, ends-justify-the-means owner Jimmy Haslam doesn’t benefit either.

That move sent Baker Mayfield into pout mode because he somehow can’t see why the Browns would want to start over at QB over committing ginormous money to a QB with a most uneven record.

Seattle and Carolina are rumored to be likely places to land. Not sure which is worse as Panthers Coach Matt Rhule looks to be a year away from the firing squad and Seattle puts him back in the same situation he was in when he got to Cleveland.

Big paydays also came to wide receivers in various ways: extensions (Stefon Diggs), free agency (Davante Adams to Vegas) and trade (Tyreek Hill to Miami, as their growing influence on the game in the 2020s becomes more evident by the year.

With both Diggs and now Hill in the AFC East, and the flush with draft capital Jets looking for a big play guy, those moves are why the Patriots need to get in the DK Metcalf and Deebo Samuel sweepstakes, as over the next five years to win in the East you’re going to have to outscore the other guy. Similar to Coach B deducing in 2007 he needed to bring in Randy Moss and Wes Welker as outscoring them would be the only way to beat Manning and the Colts. And with an evolving QB who could use the extra help and on his rookie contract it will never be more affordable than right now.

Anyone know the Vegas odds for Jacksonville taking the wrong guy with the top pick? Since they only fired Urban Meyer and not the GM who hired him, I’m betting it’s worth the investment to lay down a few bob on a blown pick.

Finally, something to bear in mind as the so-called draft insiders yack about measurables, intangibles and great value picks while gushing over every player taken as if they’ll be the second coming of Barry Sanders, Jerry Rice and/or Lawrence Taylor. It’s an inexact science where only about 25 percent turn out to be as good as they were bloviated about, and sometimes after thought 199th picks turn out to be GOATs, and first overalls like JaMarcus Russell can’t start for the local YMCA.

Exhibit A is Mike Mayock, a talking head who was considered the draft “guru” while analyzing drafts on TV before and after all the picks were made. That is until the crystal ball he was oh-so confident in magically became quite foggy when he had to do it for real as the personnel chief of the Raiders under the defrocked Jon Gruden.

The record is pretty mixed with 2019 picks Josh Jacobs in Round 2 and wideout Hunter Renfrow in Round 5 being the highlights. The lows were character misses on 2020 first-round picks Alabama wideout Henry Ruggs III and DB Damon Arnette. Ruggs is now sitting in jail with his career likely over, after a woman was killed when he crashed his car into hers while allegedly intoxicated and driving 150 MPH on the Vegas strip last October. While Arnette was released a short while after that when a video surfaced of him brandishing firearms a la Aaron Hernandez and making violent threats.

Evaluating all aspects of the talent package is a lot harder than the yackers make it out to be.

OK, Jaguars, you’re on the clock.

The bigger picture

NH Travel and Tourism director joins national travel board

Lori Harnois, director of the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs Division of Travel and Tourism, has been elected to serve a two-year term on the U.S. Travel Association’s board of directors. She talked about the opportunity and the intersection between her work in New Hampshire and the part she plays in national issues.

What is your background in travel and tourism?

This is my second time serving in this role as director of travel and tourism for New Hampshire. I [returned] at the end of February 2020, a month before Covid hit. Before that, I was working for Discover New England, which is a marketing organization that promotes the New England region as a travel destination to the overseas traveler. Before that, I was in this role I’m in now. I feel fortunate that I was able to come back to this role to promote the state that I live in and tell everybody why New Hampshire is a great place to come and visit.

What does your role as director of New Hampshire’s Division of Travel and Tourism entail?

Our department’s role is to promote New Hampshire as a travel destination, both domestically and internationally, for the purposes of increasing business, the business economy and the workforce, all centered around travel and tourism. We head up all the marketing efforts that promote New Hampshire as a travel destination, like the state’s website visitnh.gov and a guidebook on New Hampshire that’s given out to travelers, encouraging them to come here. We’re also responsible for a grant program that provides assistance to chambers of commerce and other destination marketing organizations, such as Ski NH, the White Mountains Attractions Association and the Lakes Region Tourism Association, to help them pay for their marketing efforts. Since the pandemic, we’ve also been helping [the state’s industries] work through workforce issues by encouraging people to consider moving and living … playing or working here, and we’ve been trying to help the tourism industry recover, because it was actually the industry that was hit the hardest as a result of the pandemic.

What is the function of the U.S. Travel Association board of directors?

It’s a fairly large board — at least 125 people, I’d say — with CEOs from a variety of different organizations, such as Expedia and Disney World, as well as [representatives from] states, like myself. … Some of the main issues this national organization has focused on are things like reopening the international borders during the pandemic; workforce … and the importance of international workers; … and trying to help the [tourism] industry recover from the pandemic … by encouraging [a return to] in-person meetings and traveling for business. … The board meets three times a year. … We just had a meeting two weeks ago.

What are some of the issues the board discussed at the last meeting?

Promoting the U.S. as a travel destination to international travelers for the purposes of restarting international travel was a big priority that we were discussing. We talked about the international workforce … and how to speed along the visa-processing time, because there’s quite a lag right now between when someone applies for a visa and when they can actually come here to work. … We talked about how we can change the [public’s] perception of jobs within the tourism sector and [show that] there are good-paying jobs, not just low-paying jobs, and that there are opportunities to grow and climb the ladder quickly. We talked about updating and maintaining our country’s infrastructure, like our roads and our airports, to increase travel mobility; how technology plays a role in that; and how we can do it in the right manner to [meet] the need for sustainability.

How does being on the national board inform your work in New Hampshire?

There are a lot of things on the national scale that we look at and think about how we can mimic those efforts at a state level in New Hampshire. … There were also breakout sessions for state tourism directors like myself, where we were able to talk about what we do, what’s been working for us and how we can potentially take some of those ideas and implement them in our own states.

How does representation from New Hampshire inform the national board’s work?

Being part of the U.S. Travel Association board of directors allows New Hampshire to have a voice on a national level … and express our concerns on certain issues. … I can take stories from the companies here in New Hampshire and share those with people in the U.S. Travel Association, who can then communicate to Capitol Hill what is going on in the states and what issues need to be addressed … with some type of policy change. That’s how New Hampshire has a direct impact [on a national level].

Featured photo: Lori Harnois

News & Notes 22/04/28

Covid-19 update As of April 18 As of April 25
Total cases statewide 304,365 308,446
Total current infections statewide 1,544 2,444
Total deaths statewide 2,459 2,475
New cases 1,828 (April 12 to April 18) 2,253 (April 19 to April 25)
Current infections: Hillsborough County 572 709
Current infections: Merrimack County 157 180
Current infections: Rockingham County 435 507
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

Covid-19 news

On April 25, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved the Covid-19 treatment Veklury (remdesivir) for younger children, according to a press release. Before now, Veklury had only been approved to treat Covid-positive patients ages 12 and older. Pediatric patients 28 days and older and weighing at least 7 pounds can now receive the treatment after being hospitalized with Covid, the release said. The only approved dosage form for Veklury is via injection — the antiviral medicine can also be administered to non-hospitalized pediatric patients who “have mild-to-moderate Covid-19 and are at high risk for progression to severe Covid-19, including hospitalization or death,” according to the release.

In New Hampshire, health officials reported 173 new Covid cases on April 25. The state averaged 323 new cases per day over the most recent seven-day period, a 20 percent increase compared to the week before. As of April 25 there were 2,444 active cases statewide and 22 hospitalizations.

DOC jobs

The New Hampshire Department of Corrections has created a new website to help fill its many vacancies in Concord and Berlin. According to a press release, interested candidates can go to jobs.nhdoc.nh.gov to see open positions, which include corrections officers, chefs/cooks, nurses, counselors, teachers, logistics and administrative staff. The website includes salary and benefits information, and candidates can begin the application process as well by filling out an initial interest form. “It’s a great time to start your career at the Department of Corrections,” Commissioner Helen Hanks said in the release. “We offer a variety of positions that will propel your professional career while suiting your needs. We offer a competitive compensation package with outstanding benefits. Working at the Department of Corrections is a rewarding career, one which you will be proud of, and we look forward to speaking with you about our opportunities.”


Last week U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan hosted a roundtable at the Manchester School of Technology, leading a discussion on youth suicide prevention. According to a press release, Hassan talked to Granite State students, educators and mental health and suicide prevention advocates about the STANDUP Act, a new law that requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to give priority for grants that implement evidence-based suicide awareness and prevention training policies in states, tribal governments and local educational agencies. Roundtable participants then talked about the continuing efforts to prevent and respond to youth suicide and mental illness in the state, including students providing peer-based support to Manchester-based Makin’ It Happen, a nonprofit organization seeking to create a coordinated community response around improving youth mental health. “The feedback I got today was so important. What it tells me is that we have young people in this state who are very aware that mental illness is a real problem and they’re very concerned about their friends. They are also very aware that there are tools out there that can keep each other safe,” Hassan said in the release.

Restaurant support

The Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery has launched the Local Restaurant Infrastructure Investment Program, a new Covid-19 relief program that aims to help address workforce issues and overall restaurant safety challenges that small, local restaurants across the state have experienced. According to a press release, the program is funded by American Rescue Plan Act funds and will provide awards of up to $15,000 to local restaurants seeking reimbursement for eligible equipment, infrastructure and technology purchases. The deadline to apply for the program is July 13, though review of applications will begin prior to the deadline.

School heroes

United Way of Greater Nashua’s “Ribbons for School Heroes” project, created to show appreciation for local school staff, is underway, and Greater Nashua residents are invited to tie a ribbon in their town’s high school colors on their mailbox or tree. According to a press release, ribbons are currently available at local libraries in the colors of the area’s high school (Hollis residents may pick up their free ribbons at the Lull Farm instead of the library), or at the United Way of Greater Nashua office located at 20 Broad St. in Nashua. This new campaign stems from the “United With School Heroes” school staff appreciation project that took place earlier this year, which thanked all faculty and staff in local schools for their hard work over the past three years. The ribbons are an additional way to express gratitude, the release said. Anyone interested in participating can pick up a complimentary ribbon at the library in Amherst, Brookline, Hudson, Litchfield, Lyndeborough, Merrimack, Milford, Mont Vernon, Nashua or Wilton or Lull Farm in Hollis in addition to the United Way office, which is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

Energy assistance

U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas recently announced that New Hampshire has been awarded $2,881,938 to help families cover the costs of home energy expenses through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. According to a press release, the total amount of LIHEAP funding allocated to New Hampshire over the past year is now $64,347,626. “As working families struggle with surging energy costs, I’m pleased to welcome $2.8 million to the Granite State to help households afford their energy bills. LIHEAP is an important program that helps lower heating and cooling costs so families aren’t forced to face an impossible decision between paying for these expenses or paying for food or medicine,” Shaheen said in the release.

Bee data

The NH Beekeepers Association is asking all beekeepers in the state to help it collect data on 2021-2022 winter beehive survival. According to a press release, this data, along with data collected in five previous surveys, is being used to understand why New Hampshire’s winter hive loss has been higher than the national average, and what management practices have been helping improve survival. The survey takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete and is available online until April 30 at surveymonkey.com/r/NH2022HiveSurvey. It is open to all beekeepers in the state, not just Association members. The survey analysis and results will be available in mid-June, the release said.

On April 22, 17 dogs and handlers from across the country came to the New Hampshire Fire Academy in Concord for a demonstration of the training that arson dogs and their respective handlers get to find evidence at fire scenes, including accelerants such as gas, oil or fuel used to start fires. According to a press release, the media event was hosted by The New Hampshire Department of Safety, Maine Specialty Dogs and State Farm Insurance, which funds the national Arson Dog Program.

The bi-annual National Take Back Day will be held on Saturday, April 30, and Manchester residents can drop off their unused or expired prescription medications between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Manchester Police Department at 405 Valley St., at Elliot at River’s Edge at 175 Queen City Ave. or at the NH National Guard Armory at 1059 Canal St. According to a press release, pills, patches, vaping devices and cartridges will be accepted, but liquids, needles and sharps will not.

Temple Beth Abraham and Rivier University in Nashua will host a presentation for Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 28 at 7 p.m. in the Dion Center at Rivier. According to a press release, Tom White, coordinator of Educational Outreach for the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, will present “Remembrance, Education and Resiliency” and discuss the relevance of Holocaust and genocide education.

Deep thinking

I worked for over seven years to increase awareness of an important health condition that warrants everyone’s attention as 1 in 10 of us have it, and 1 in 3 of us are at high risk of developing the mostly preventable version — diabetes.

Every year as November approached, we would see and begin the preparations for Diabetes Awareness Month, and yet I would think to myself: “Every day is diabetes awareness day!” Thus my mixed feelings toward awareness days even as I knew that 1 in 5 people with diabetes don’t know they have it, and more than 8 in 10 individuals with prediabetes are unaware. This for a health condition that has the potential for significant improvement or control, and potential prevention — if we have the understanding of how to care for ourselves and manage our diabetes or prediabetes.

There are other kinds of awareness events, such as National Wear Red Day (on Feb. 4, this year), which raises attention to heart disease being the No. 1 killer of women, and all of February being American Heart Month; June being Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and Sept. 5 to Sept. 11 being National Suicide Prevention Week. The calendar is now full with these kinds of awareness events and it’s difficult to register their existence, let alone keep track of them. Which has helped me now realize there actually can be a benefit to focusing much-needed attention, and has me wondering: As all of us are touched by one or more of these health issues, how do we support and amplify each other’s concerns so that we can all, together, contribute to building a healthier future?

Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. And we have long considered the United States to be the land of opportunity. Yet our current standing among developed countries as having the worst maternal mortality — where most maternal deaths are preventable — reminds us that we face a significant threat to the opportunity for all to thrive and contribute to this country’s future prosperity. There are many contributing factors for our current situation — some relate to individuals, many relate to our living conditions, and even more relate to systemic factors such as the availability of health insurance coverage, access to health care, bias that may be built into how things are done and more. Thankfully, more attention is being focused on helpful policy solutions that impact how care is provided in the clinical setting as well as the supports that can help all birthing people have healthy and positive perinatal experiences and contribute to community well-being.

This year April 11 through April 17 marked Black Maternal Health Week — I hope we will all be curious to learn why we should all care enough to be aware.

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