The city of Manchester took center stage in the battle against opioid addiction yesterday as approximately eight thousand middle and high school students from across the state convened at the SNHU Arena for the New Hampshire Youth Summit on Opioid Awareness. Underscoring what organizers said was the largest gathering of young people of its kind in the history of the country, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a surprise appearance to lend his support. In remarks, which we’ve linked to from this news read at Girard at Large dot com, Sessions said that while the Trump Administration was committed to disrupting the supply chain and dismantling the gangs and other criminal enterprises dealing drugs, prevention efforts like the summit were the key to breaking the epidemic.
Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas seemed to really connect with the kids as he spoke. He praised their social media skills and urged them to use them to combat the problem. Early in his talk, he had them take out their cell phones to take a great big selfie with him to share on social media. He good naturedly made fun of those running the arena’s house lights when they turned the house lights on after Gatsas said “let me see the lights.” The lights he wanted to see were the flashes of the kids cameras taking selfies to share on social media. At the end of his chat with them, every kid with a camera had turned on its flashlight.
New England Patriot safety Patrick Chung caught the kids attention, calling drug use quote “the most selfish thing a you could do” and quote “stupid.” He played off prior presentations to demonstrate his point, asking the kids if they wanted their parents to be on the stage holding a picture of their dead kid like the ones that were on stage earlier. That, by the way, was probably the most striking part of the program. In the darkness following the presentation of the short film If Only, the story of how kids get hooked on drugs where one kid goes to rehab, one kid dies and others, well, it’s hard to say what happens to them, dozens of parents who’ve lost their children to opioids, quietly gathered on stage with their pictures. When the lights came back on, they were revealed. One pair of parents, speaking for the group, told the kids the problem was real.
Others who spoke were former professional athletes and performers (click link above for “the list,” which didn’t include an unexpected visit by actress Eliza Dushku) who all had the same message, which was basically, Just Say No to Drugs. Remember that?
Also in Manchester, yesterday, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen met. In short, they passed:
- a new Housing Code regulation forcing multi family property owners to post their personal contact information, or that of their management companies, in common areas of the building,
- approved the creation of a six block cultural district downtown, centered on Victory Park,
- were told by the mayor that they didn’t need to approve increasing the police department compliment by one officer for three weeks because he had authority to do it and he did,
- approved the parking regulations recommended by city staff to address traffic hazards at arrival and dismissal times around Jewett St. Elementary and Southside,
and rehashed a trash pilot program in wards 6, 7 and 12 after former Lord Emperor Dan O’Neil complained that the board never voted to require residents in the pilot areas purchase the toters needed for the program. After a needlessly long debate, the aldermen voted ten to four to codify what everybody already knew the program entailed, that those in the pilot areas had to buy the toters needed for the pilot program at the 50% discount the board had already approved or their trash won’t get picked up. The aldermen of the three wards, by the way, had no concerns whatsoever with the program.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The N H Senate Committee on Health and Human Services has recommended Senate Bill Seven be passed. That’s the bill District Twelve Senator Kevin Avard, Republican from Nashua, introduced to tighten up the state’s food stamp program. Avard says the bill will strengthen the program by ensuring that only those truly in need are receiving the benefits.
The legislation requires:
- able-bodied, childless adults to find work or volunteer,
- deadbeat parents to cooperate with the state in making child support payments if they want the food stamps, and
- asset testing to identify those who have the resources to support themselves without state assistance.
Said Avard, quote:
The key initiative of requiring healthy adults who can work to seek employment will have the greatest effect of lifting families out of poverty, raising incomes and helping them achieve independence from government programs. This will mean our state’s limited SNAP benefits and resources will be used for those who are most vulnerable and who truly require the assistance.
Avard said he is working with Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers to design an amendment that would allow those receiving temporary cash assistance through the TANF program to use those funds to pay for things like childcare, transportation and job training, to help them overcome barriers to employment. He said he hoped to have the amendment ready to present to the Finance Committee should the bill pass.
Proving, once again, that it’s never enough, Governor Christopher Sununu announced that Teamsters Local 6 3 3 has declared an impasse in contract negotiations between the members it represents in the Department of Corrections and the state. In making the announcement, Sununu spokesman David Abrams said Sununu was caught off guard by the announcement. Quote:
We are surprised and disappointed that the Teamsters Union has declared an impasse in negotiations when the Governor prioritized corrections spending in his budget, providing for one of the largest increases given to any department. The Governor called for an additional $13.2 million for salaries and overtime, fully opening the women’s prison, and addressing the overtime issues head on. It further provides $5.2 million in capital funding to directly address the health and safety needs of the department.
On a happier note, Sununu will issue a proclamation recognizing French contributions to New Hampshire on Monday at one o’clock in the Executive Council Chambers. March is International Francophony Month, which celebrates French heritage around the world. The ceremonies will include representatives of several governments including David Alward, Consul General of Canada to Boston, Valery Freland, Consul General of France to Boston and Marie-Claude Francoeur, Delegate from Quebec to New England.
The event is free and open to the public. Attendees are asked to arrive by 12:45 p.m. The Franco-American Centre, which promotes French language, culture and heritage throughout New Hampshire, is coordinating this event. Additional details are available at f a c n h dot com.
That’s NEWS from our own backyard. Girard at Large hour ___ is next!