Attorney General Gordon MacDonald announced that the New Hampshire Department of Justice’s investigation into Hope for New Hampshire Recovery has turned up nothing. According to a recently released statement, MacDonald said his office has determined that allegations made by former employees did not rise to the level of criminal conduct and that the criminal investigation has been closed. MacDonald also said that the department’s Charitable Trust Unit will be reaching out to offer assistance and guidance with respect to the governance of the organization. Hope for New Hampshire Recovery has been on the front lines of expanding services to those battling opioid addiction. Starting in Manchester, they’ve grown quickly, opening several locations across the state to help battle the epidemic.
The latest stats on that epidemic in Manchester were released on Friday. Manchester Fire Department Emergency Medical Services Officer Christopher Hickey reported numbers showing that June saw a twenty seven percent increase in the number of overdose responses, with ninety four. Six of the overdoses were fatal, a fifty percent increase over May’s four. Through the end of June, the total number of overdoses this year versus last year is down by fourteen, or three point four percent. The total number of overdose deaths is down fifteen, or twenty nine percent. As of Friday morning, the department had responded to twenty three overdose calls, which puts the month on par with last July’s numbers.
Meanwhile, the number of Safe Station visits to Manchester fire stations continues to climb, now topping nineteen hundred as of Friday morning. According to statistics released by the department, about two thirds of the visits have come from people who have come from about one hundred New Hampshire communities outside of Manchester and from a dozen states, including Arizona, Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
What apparently is not going up is crime. Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard tweeted the latest crime stats for the city, which he initially revealed here in an interview on Girard at Large about two and a half weeks ago. According to the tweet, total violent crime, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, from January to June is down by nine percent over this time last year and property crimes, including burglary, larceny and theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson have fallen by eight percent. Big drops in burglary and larceny were offset by a big spike in auto thefts, which should have everybody remembering to lock-it or lose it.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The filing period for elective office in Manchester opens today and will run for the next two weeks. Expected to file for mayor is incumbent Ted Gatsas, who is expected to face former Ward One Alderman Joyce Craig in a rematch of what was one of the closest races in city history. Jeff Kassell, the self proclaimed and unchallenged “God Father of the city’s Tax Cap” has also announced he will run, as will perennial candidate Glenn Ouellette.
In Ward One, former Ward Three School Committee Member Christopher Stewart is set to square off against incumbent Kevin Cavanaugh. Andre Rosa, who was defeated by Cavanaugh last time out is also expected to run. Incumbent School Committee Member Sarah Ambrogi will file for reelection.
Ward Two’s ballot is looking to be active. Amidst rumors that incumbent Alderman Ron Ludwig, who supported the charter before he broke it, won’t seek reelection. In addition to Will Stewart who has announced his candidacy, Girard at Large has learned that outgoing Welfare Commissioner Paul Martineau will seek the seat. For school board, incumbent Debra Gagnon Langton is expected to face a challenge from Democrat political activist David Scannell.
In Ward Three, restaurant owner Tim Baines, son of former Mayor Bob Baines, has said he will challenge incumbent Board Chairman Patrick Long. Incumbent School Committee Member Mary Georges is expected to file for reelection.
In Ward Four, former Alderman Jim Roy is likely to seek the seat he held for our terms against incumbent Christopher Herbert who raised an eyebrow or two when he said that the government should have a program to remove low income elderly from their homes rather than a tax exemption to help them stay there. Incumbent School Committee Member Leslie Want will face a rematch with Mark Flanders, whom she narrowly defeated two years ago.
In Ward Five, Alderman Tony Sapienza is unlikely to face opposition in his reelection bid. School Committee Member Lisa Freeman is expected to file for reelection. Former at-Large Committee Member Kathy Staub is rumored to be running against Freeman.
In Ward Six, John Cataldo will be on the ballot for alderman in the coming special and regular elections. School Committee Member Dan Bergeron will file for reelection and may face Larraine Lencki, whom he narrowly defeated two years ago.
In Ward Seven, incumbent Alderman Bill Shea seems ready to run for a twelfth term. For school board, incumbent Ross Terrio will file for reelection. The latest on the rumor mill is that Democratic State Rep. Mary Heath will challenge him.
In Ward Eight, Ed Sapienza will seek the seat being vacated by incumbent Alderman Tom Katsintonis. Sapienza pulled up short after running an aggressive campaign two years ago. Former Alderman Betsy DeVries, a former fire fighter and state senator, has announced she will run again. Last campaign’s runner up in the school board race Jimmy Lehoux has announced he’ll again be a candidate. Lehoux was bested by incumbent Erika Connors by just seventy one votes. Connors has yet to announce whether or not she’ll seek reelection, but is running for the state rep. seat vacated by the death of Steve Vaillancourt.
Ward Nine’s looking like fun, too. Incumbent Alderman Barbara Shaw will face former Fire Chief James Burkush and a fellow named Darryl Johnston. School Board Vice Chair Arthur Beaudry will seek reelection and is likely to be opposed by Mike Ricker, if memory serves.
In Ward Ten, incumbent Alderman Bill Barry is likely to be in for a tough reelection fight with Ray Hebert, whom he narrowly defeated two years ago. In a Facebook post last night, incumbent School Committee Member John Avard announced he will seek reelection.
In Ward Eleven, incumbent Alderman Normand Gamache surprised many in announcing he will seek a fourth term. He will likely face former Alderman Russell Ouellette. School Committee Member Kate DesRochers will file for reelection.
In Ward Twelve, incumbent Keith Hirschmann will run for reelection. Rumor has it that incumbent School Committee Member Constance Van Houten will challenge him for the seat. If not, expect her to run for reelection.
In the at-Large positions, incumbents Dan O’Neil and Joe Levasseur are expected to run again for alderman and Rich Girard and Nancy Tessier are expected to run again for school board. As that guy named Rich Girard, I will confirm that I will file for reelection.
Expect there to be many surprises in this election cycle. Expect we’ll be on top of them all as they happen, so keep it tuned in here!
That’s NEWS from our own backyard! Girard at Large hour ___ is next!