News & Notes 23/01/05

Opioid settlement

New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella has joined a national attorneys general settlement with pharmaceutical retailers CVS and Walgreens for a total of $10.7 billion in regard to the companies’ alleged contribution to the opioid crisis. According to a press release, the civil lawsuit alleges that the companies overly distributed and irresponsibly dispensed prescription opioids at their retail stores. The settlement has brought the national amount from investigations and litigation against the pharmaceutical industry for its role in the opioid crisis to more than $50 billion. New Hampshire stands to receive nearly $57 million from the CVS and Walgreens agreements, which will be dedicated to opioid treatment and prevention programs in the state. CVS has agreed to pay $5 billion over a period of 10 years while Walgreens has agreed to pay $5.7 billion over a period of 15 years, with payments expected to begin during the second half of 2023. “People trust their local pharmacies and these pharmacy chains failed to provide the people of New Hampshire with the pharmacy care and protection they had a right to expect,” Attorney General Formella said in the release. “This agreement mandates significant changes to these pharmacy chains’ business practices, including court-ordered monitoring to ensure checks that should have been in place will now be aggressively enforced.”

New director

The City of Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously approved the nomination of Michael Quigley for the position of Director of the Office of Youth Services. According to a press release, the city department provides youth programming designed to engage young people who are experiencing difficulties with academics, anger and aggression, bullying and fighting, changes in behavior, communication, changes in family structures, self-harm, death and loss, homelessness, isolation, tensions at home, substance abuse, trauma and more. Quigley, who holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in adult education and leadership, has worked in youth services since 2007 and has extensive experience working with families, schools, nonprofit partners and government agencies to help better the lives of youth. “I am inspired by the young people in Manchester and believe in their endless potential,” Quigley said in the release. “I am eager to take part in the great work that OYS is currently doing in the community and will work to broaden our impact by strengthening our mission and vision. … The Office of Youth Services will do this by providing new opportunities, partnerships and programs that will allow youth to thrive, and provide spaces for them to use their voice to help this community continue to grow.” Quigley assumed the role on Dec. 27, according to the release.

New logo

Manchester School District has unveiled a new logo that incorporates visual elements from the city. According to a press release, students and school staff were presented with a number of potential logos and asked to vote for their favorite. The logo depicts a school clock tower, the Merrimack River and ornamental flourishes inspired by architecture and signs of Elm Street, in a color inspired by the red brick exteriors of the city’s schools and mill buildings. “We are excited to share this new logo with the community,” Jennifer Gillis, superintendent of the Manchester School District, said in the release. “It’s a significant change, but we feel this logo does a great job of capturing our community and history. In focus groups we held, the historical elements in this logo really resonated with people, particularly our students. We feel this logo does a great job of tying together our present and our past.” The new logo will be implemented as the District launches its new website this month.

New assistant commish

Gov. Chris Sununu and the Executive Council have approved the nomination of David Rodrigue for the position of New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) Assistant Commissioner, according to a press release. Rodrigue, who has a bachelor of science degree from the University of New Hampshire, has worked for NHDOT since 1991 in the Bureaus of Highway Design, Construction, Traffic and Highway Maintenance. He became the Department’s first Intelligent Transportation Management System Program Manager in 2005, where he worked to construct, outfit and open the Bureau of Transportation Systems Management Operations, also known as New Hampshire’s Transportation Management Center. He has served as the director of operations since 2016.

The Dairy Queen on Second Street in Manchester finished 2022 as the highest-earning Dairy Queen location out of 4,353 locations throughout the country, WMUR reported, with a $3,000 lead over the Dairy Queen in Gray, Georgia. The Manchester restaurant has come close in the past, finishing second last year to the Dairy Queen in Medford, Massachusetts, and it has held the No. 1 spot for total ice cream sales for three years running.

Jaffrey couple Chelsie and Jeffrey Thibault welcomed New Hampshire’s first baby born in 2023, WMUR reported. Cayson Thibault, who was originally due on Jan. 3, arrived early on Jan. 1 at 12:36 a.m., at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, to ring in the new year. He is the couple’s second child, little brother to their 4-year-old son.

With the new year comes a new policy on overdue books at Nashua Public Library, WMUR reported. The library is no longer issuing fines, and all existing fines have been forgiven. Library director Jennifer McCormack said in the article that fining people for late books is largely ineffective at ensuring that books are returned on time and often deters people from using the library.

The litany

By the time you read this, December will have slipped into January and another year will have ended. A time of transition, this — new calendars, new dates on checks (if you still write them), a new tax year, and the passing of the shortest day of the year. As has been my custom for many years, I pull out my journal for the year just ending and read over the entries that range from a simple recounting of daily events to musings about family, work or national happenings. There are regular mentions of the books I am reading (or want to read), of conversations with friends and occasionally strangers met by chance. Some of the earliest entries record promises made to myself back in January that I’ll get more exercise, follow less news, FaceTime my children and grandchildren, meditate each morning and take walks with my wife.

In the back of the journal, however, there is a list of the names of relatives, friends and colleagues who have died that year. The list is much longer than a single year, however, as it is one to which names are added regularly and it stretches back five years to when I began so noting the deaths. Akin, I recognize, to the Litany of the Saints that was a liturgical practice in my Catholic youth, I read down that now very long list (more than 50) and softly speak the names. The very sound of a deceased’s name immediately brings to mind some memory of a time spent with them — an event, a snippet of conversation or an image of something they have done. While there is no “Ora pro nobis,” as in the liturgy of my past, there is my own silent expression of gratitude for the time I did have with them. Each name is a so very distinct person who entered my life and left an impression. At the end, the litany itself is a mosaic of vastly different individuals who, together, have enriched my life and to whom I owe great gratitude.

After the hustle and stress of preparations for Christmas, followed by the celebrations of the day itself, there comes each year a more quiet time. The daily emails are fewer, there are fewer appointments to be met, and even, on occasion, a day completely free and clear of obligations. These are truly sacred times in the sense that religions the world over built them into their calendars to give people time to reflect and resolve. They are like a “Sabbath” for the year, a time when we leave off ordinary responsibilities and pay attention to our inner selves as we reflect on the year passing, those we have lost, and begin to set a new course for the year ahead. Soon enough the routine will be reestablished and these treasured days will have passed. One solid resolution is to not lose them in the moment of their quietude and reflection.

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