Quality of Life 22/10/13

Phone scam

The Manchester Police Department is warning the public of a scam in which a person is calling citizens claiming to be a Manchester police officer and trying to solicit money. According to the notice, the caller leaves messages telling the recipient that they have warrants with the police and will face legal consequences if they do not pay a cash bail.

QOL Score: -2

Comment: Anyone who has received this call or another call that they suspect is a scam should contact the Manchester Police Department at 668-8711.

Trail for everybody

New Hampshire Audubon celebrates the opening of its new All Persons Trail at its McLane Center (84 Silk Farm Road, Concord) on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 9 a.m. According to a press release, the trail, which features a compacted gravel surface to accommodate people using assisted mobility devices, was designed to increase universally accessible trail opportunities in the state and to increase awareness of the need for native plant and wildflower meadows in the state to support pollinators. “We are pleased to announce that, after many years of planning and learning from the communities we intend to serve, we have built Concord’s first All Persons Trail,” conservation director Marc Nutter said in a press release. “This effort … has opened up new wildlife viewing opportunities for all people.”

QOL Score: +1

Comment: The NH Audubon reached out to the NH Council on Developmental Disabilities to recruit some test riders, whose feedback helped them make the final adjustments to the trail, according to the release.

Was really enjoying the $3.30s

Gas prices in New Hampshire are back on the rise for the first time since early June. According to a GasBuddy price report, the average gasoline prices in New Hampshire increased by 9.2 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $3.47 per gallon as of Oct. 10. The data is based on a survey of 875 gas stations across the state. Prices are still 23.6 cents per gallon lower than a month ago, but 35.9 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.

QOL Score: -1

Comment: The national average price of gasoline averaged $3.92, according to the report — up 22.5 cents per gallon from a month ago.

QOL score: 85

Net change: -2

QOL this week: 83

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

Baseball 2022 awards

Round 2 of the MLB playoffs is now underway.

First, boo to the new best-of-three format for the Wild Card round. I liked starting it all off with winner-takes-all games to give it drama off the bat. Second, sorry, I just can’t call the Cleveland team the Guardians. I’m fine with the Buckeyes or Cleveland’s baseball team, but I don’t like “Guardians.” Third, I’m not sure giving up seven earned runs in his playoff start is why Mets owner Steve Cohen gave Max Scherzer an astonishing $49 million per to be their ace.

With that out of the way, let’s recap notable moments and Longshots Awards for the 2022 regular baseball season.

Most notably, it was a year of historic achievements at Albert Pujols became just the fourth person to reach 700 homers, Miguel Cabrera became the newest member of the 500 homers and 3,000 hits club and Aaron Judge broke Roger Maris’s hallowed Yankees record (and, oh yeah, for the AL as well) for most homers hit in a season with 62.

Baseball 101: There are seven members of the 500/3,000 club. Name the six who did it before Cabrera.

Want to know how much the game has changed from the olden days? Once upon a time the 155 homers hit by the Red Sox was a respectable team total. The supposedly power-laden Big Red Machine that beat the Sox in the 1975 World Series hit just 124, and 141 when they beat the Yanks the next year. But today 155 ranked 20th overall as seven teams hit 200 or more.

In case you’re interested: No one reached 200 hits for the season. The Dodgers’ Freddy Freeman led the majors with 199. He was also the leader in doubles with 47. J.D. Martinez was fourth with 43.

But what ever happened to the triple, as the most astonishing stat is not one player hit double figures in triples? The leader was Cleveland shortstop Amed Rosario with 9. Not too long ago Curtis Granderson had a 20-20-20 year in doubles, triples and homers when he hit 38-23-23 with Detroit back in 2007.

Talk the Balk Award: Miami Marlins hurler Richard Bleier for balking three times in the same at-bat to become the first to do that since 1900. He did it while pitching to the Mets’ Pete Alonso to let NL batting champ Jeff McNeil come all the way around from first base to score without the benefit of a ball even being pitched! Weirdly, Bleier had never committed even one balk in his 303 MLB appearances prior to that. He avoided getting a fourth by being tossed for arguing after the third one, but only after retiring Alonso. The Marlins won 6-4 despite Bleier’s historic night.

Baseball 101 Answer: Cabrera joined Pujois, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, A-Rod, Rafael Palmeiro and Eddie Murray in the 500/3,000 club.

If the Mets outbid the Yanks to sign Judge it will give them a batting with three of the Top RBI guys from 2022. Judge and Alonso led with 131 and Fancisco Lindor was fifth with 107.

It had to be more than just losing their 2021 ace. But the dominos began falling when Kevin Gausman signed with Toronto as they tumbled from 107 wins a year ago to 81. Actually it probably started with the retirement of Giants great Buster Posey. And it helped that everyone had a big stats slide (except young’n Logan Webb) from 2021 and there were injuries. It basically made them to the NL what the Sox were to the AL: the major disappointment.

There was an actual 20-game winner in Atlanta’s Kyle Wright, who went 21-5 with a 3.17 ERA. He’s got my vote for the NL Cy Young award. But since wins don’t matter to the stat geeks, they’ll probably pick the WHIP leader.

Comeback Player: Guess Justin Verlander still has it. After coming back from almost two missed seasons due to Tommy John surgery, at 39 he amazingly went 18-4 in 28 starts with a 1.75 ERA. He should get the Cy Young (his third) in the AL.

In case you’re wondering: It was 35 homers, 82 RBI and .269 for Mookie Betts in L.A. while trademate Alex Verdugo went for 11-74-.280.

Yankees announcer Michael Kay’s call of Judge’s 62nd homer goes into the Top 5 Worst Calls of a Giant Sports Moment of all-time. Zero drama in the voice like an astonished Howard Cosell bellowing DOWN GOES FRAZIER, DOWN GOES FRAZIER after George Foreman shockingly dropped Joe Frazier with a thunderous right 2 minutes into Round 1 of their 1973 title fight. And worse, he talked all through Judge’s trip around the bases. The cardinal rule is make the call, then shut up to let the crowd and team reactions carry the moment. Like Joe Buck’s dad Jack saying after a barely able to walk Kirk Gibson’s pinch hit walkoff homer off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, “I DON’T BELIEVE WHAT I JUST SAW!” Then just crowd noise. Which is what Joe did when the Sox ended the curse in Game 4 of the 2004 series.

Speaking of which, the enduring argument for 2022 will be, given the suspicion from the era, is the real homer record the 62 hit by Judge or the 73 of Barry Bonds hit in 2001?

Oddly it’s similar to 1961’s “Does the record belong to Roger Maris or the Babe?” as Nos. 60 and 61 came during the new 161-game schedule and after the old 154-game season Babe Ruth hit his 60 in. At that time Commissioner and Ruth binky Ford Frick gave it an asterisk to diminish what Maris did before it eventually disappeared to make Maris the King.

Finally, congrats to the retiring Eck after 50 years of excellence in baseball. He will be missed.

Email Dave Long at dlong@hippopress.com.

Updates on the mail

The plant manager at Manchester’s USPS center talks about improvements

As part of Delivering for America, a 10-year plan for the United States Postal Service “to achieve financial sustainability and service excellence,” the USPS has installed 270 new package sorting machines across the country, including one in New Hampshire at the USPS Processing and Distribution Center in Manchester. Plant manager Janie Beltran talked about the machine and other initiatives to improve and modernize the USPS.

What is this machine, and how does it work?

It’s an automated parcel sorter. … The mail handlers will place the mail on the conveyor belt. There’s a computer system that reads the bar code [on the package], and then the machine does its magic and sorts the packages by their zip codes. It can sort into 200 different destinations across the country. It’s very simple, but it does a lot. It currently runs 3,000 pieces an hour. I can’t run 3,000 pieces in an hour doing a manual operation. … We’re running it five days a week for now … and we’ve been processing first class mail — small packages, like something smaller than a shoebox — that originates here in New Hampshire, and we’re distributing to all 50 states.

How did Manchester USPS end up getting one of these machines?

The Postal Service is modernizing its operations to accommodate the growing customer demand for packages. When Covid hit, everybody was at home, and that’s when the packages really increased. It’s grown significantly over the several holiday seasons. So Delivering for America is a 10-year plan where they’re investing almost $40 billion, and that’s an investment in people, equipment and technology. They just deployed about 137 of these new package sorters across the country … which will give us the capacity across the country to process 60 million packages a day. … [Manchester USPS] had the space, the right location, the right mail mix, so we got one of them installed here in Manchester.

Is this machine replacing any of your workforce?

No — on the contrary. It has created more need for employees to staff the machine.

How will this improve service? Will people notice a difference this holiday season?

During the holiday season, we get double to triple the amount that we normally do the other 10 months of the year. … This will ensure that we’re well-positioned to handle the peak volumes … and provide customers with efficient, predictable, reliable service that they expect and deserve this holiday and beyond … and that’s even better than last year. … The goal is to run it for 15 to 18 hours a day during the holiday season. … It’s going to help us run parcels to help Nashua [USPS] and give them some flexibility to concentrate on priority packages. … We envision that this machine can also run some priority packages, which are a little bigger, so during the peak volumes we’ll also be running some priority mail to alleviate the volumes that we anticipate Nashua is going to have, just to give them even more flexibility. … We’re ready for a successful holiday season.

What other improvements has USPS been working on?

We’ve converted some of our non-career [employees] to career [status] to stabilize the workforce. We’ve rearranged the working floor to make it more efficient, so that the mail can travel through our buildings into our trips so that they go on time. … Nashua has gotten other types of equipment to help them this holiday season and moving forward. … [Nationally,] we’ve improved our performance. We’ve decreased our projected losses. It was forecasted that we were going to have a $116 billion loss over the next 10 years, but with all these improvements and investments, stabilizing the workforce and stabilizing our service, we’ve been able to reduce it to, I think, about $70 billion now. That’s a big accomplishment for the organization. … Another thing is, during Covid, the Postal Service packaged and delivered about 60-plus million Covid test kits for America. … The government came to us and asked if we could do that, and we said, ‘Absolutely.’ That was pretty amazing for us to be able to help the American public in that way.

Featured photo: Janie Beltran. Courtesy photo.

News & Notes 22/10/13

Fire prevention

The New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s Office, with the National Fire Protection Association, celebrates the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week, which is nationally observed Oct. 9 through Oct. 15. According to a press release, more than 20 events have been planned throughout the state to educate the public on this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.” “It’s important for everyone to plan and practice a home fire escape,” Sean Toomey, New Hampshire State Fire Marshal, said in the release. “Everyone needs to be prepared in advance, so that they know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Given that every home is different, every home fire escape plan will also be different. Have a plan for everyone in the home.” Check with your town or city fire department to see how they’re participating, and visit the Fire Prevention Week website, nfpa.org/fpw, for tools to help you create your household’s fire escape plan.

Community health grants

The Department of Health and Human Services will award more than $2.2 million in federal grants to improve access to community health and support services in New Hampshire, including a $1 million grant awarded directly to One Sky Community Services, a statewide network that supports individuals diagnosed with developmental disabilities or acquired brain disorders. According to a press release, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, secured the funding through a congressionally directed spending request through the fiscal year 2022 omnibus package passed earlier this year. Sen. Shaheen also requested and received approval for more than $5 million in federal funding to assist New Hampshire law enforcement. Those funds, which are allocated through the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing’s Technology and Equipment Program, will support the New Hampshire Department of Safety’s Division of State Police for Statewide Digital Law Enforcement Equipment and Technology Training and radio and communications infrastructure upgrades for the Merrimack Police Department, the Durham Department of Public Safety, the Cheshire County Sheriff’s Office and Strafford County, according to another release.

Help for kids

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Division for Children, Youth and Families announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau’s Administration for Children and Families has approved its Family First Title IV-E Prevention Plan. The five-year plan focuses on family strengthening and providing services to families whose children may be at risk of entering foster care, according to a press release, and allows DCYF to secure federal reimbursement for the funding of those services. “Through Family First, we have an incredible opportunity to get services to vulnerable families in their own homes and communities, making them more resilient and reducing the risk of abuse, neglect and separation of children from their families,” DCYF Director Joseph E. Ribsam said in the release. “We are well on our way to implementing many of the new services designed to keep kids safe and keep families strong and together.”

Vax vans

Mobile vaccination clinics and the Homebased Vaccination Program have resumed in New Hampshire as part of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ initiative to make Covid vaccines, including the updated booster doses, more accessible to all residents. “As we move into the fall and winter, we want to make sure everyone has access to the updated Covid-19 booster doses that better protect against the most recently circulating Covid-19 variants,” Patricia Tilley, director of Public Health Services, said in a press release. “We know there are barriers to vaccine access, and the homebased and mobile vaccination clinics, once again, will help to close that gap.” Three mobile vaccination vans providing free Covid vaccines — both the primary series and the updated booster dose — are available upon request to groups, organizations, workplaces and community events throughout the state. Visit on-sitemedservices.com/van. Additionally, the Homebased Vaccination Program will visit and provide free Covid vaccines and booster doses to residents throughout the state who have challenges leaving their home or have been advised by a medical provider to remain in their home. Visit on-sitemedservices.com/vaccine. Both programs are federally funded through the American Rescue Plan and will run through March 2023, according to the release.

NH National Guard

Two New Hampshire Army National Guard units have been deployed to the southern border for one year, according to a press release from the governor’s office. One unit of approximately 44 soldiers will provide command and control over four subordinate units — approximately 500 soldiers total — across around 250 miles of border extending to the Gulf of Mexico. The other unit of approximately 120 soldiers will serve at surveillance sites along the border, according to the release.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department will host its annual hearing on health insurance premium rates and cost driving factors on Friday, Oct. 20, at UNH Law School in Concord. An opening reception will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by the program starting at 9 a.m. and concluding at 12:30 p.m. The event is open to the public and can also be watched online. To register to attend, in person or online, email andrew.e.demers@ins.nh.gov.

The Bow Business Expo is happening on Saturday, Oct. 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Baker Free Library (509 South St., Bow). According to a press release, attendees will have an opportunity to connect with Bow small businesses and entrepreneurs in a casual setting and enjoy free samples and demonstrations. It’s free and open to the public. Visit bowbakerfreelibrary.org.

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig joined city Director of Parks & Recreation Mark Gomez, representatives from the Board of Aldermen and members of the Shaw family at Brown & Mitchell Park (229 W. Mitchell St., Manchester) on Oct. 5 to rededicate the park in honor of Representative and Alderman Barbara Shaw. According to a press release, Shaw, who died in December 2021, was a teacher and education administrator who served on the Manchester Board of Mayor and Alderman for 11 years, from 2010 to 2021, and served in the House of Representatives for 11 terms.

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