New NH office dedicated to connecting outdoor lifestyle to economic growth policies

CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu has signed legislation to establish the Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry Development within the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs (BEA). This legislation formalizes the state’s commitment to the businesses, natural assets and attractions that make up the outdoor industry, which employs nearly 38,000 people in New Hampshire and accounts for 3.3% of the GSP. Nationally, the outdoor industry is a $427 billion economic engine and New Hampshire wants businesses, organizations and individuals involved in this sector to find success in the Live Free state.

“New Hampshire’s low tax environment and booming economy are a beacon for business in the northeast,” said Sununu. “This office will allow us to better leverage the tremendous outdoor recreation opportunities we have here in the Granite State to not only grow the industry but attract the workforce of the future.”

BEA Commissioner Taylor Caswell shares that vision for the New Hampshire economy.

“As other states talk about leveraging economic development with tourism marketing in order to attract talent, we have been aggressively using this specific approach for two years here in New Hampshire,” he said. “When you live here, skiing a few runs or riding singletrack on a Thursday afternoon is part of your everyday life, and that’s something that is definitely appealing for our employers as they recruit a younger workforce.”

The new office of Outdoor Recreation Industry Development is one more step in BEA’s efforts to increase alignment of industry, government and educational institutions in New Hampshire. With that alignment, New Hampshire leaders can combine resources and staffing to develop stronger, more strategic messages and campaigns to promote the state.

“New Hampshire offers the best combination of a vibrant and diversified economy with outdoor lifestyle on the East Coast,” said Caswell. “Whether you are visiting or moving here, our mountains, seacoast, lakes and trails provide a phenomenal and easy escape from the everyday and we should build on that to grow a healthy workforce and vibrant economy.”

The strategy is working and is one reason why New Hampshire has the highest rate of millennial population growth in the northeastern United States.

The director position will be posted soon after BEA formally sets up the newly created office in Concord. Additional responsibilities will include coordinating policy, management and promotion at the local, state and federal levels and promoting job growth through collaborating with a variety of businesses and economic development partners throughout the state.

For more information, visit www.nheconomy.com or www.choosenh.com.

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End of the season: clothing exhibit and treatment of the poor

UNITY — Two fun events will close out the 2019 season for the Unity Historical Society.  On Saturday, Oct. 26, the History Room in the Town Offices at 13 Center Road will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for all visitors with a clothing exhibit and on Sunday at 2 p.m. there will be a Humanities program in the Town Hall on the 2nd New Hampshire Turnpike.

Our “Clothing Through the Years” will feature articles from our collection including 1890 blouses, a dress, children’s clothing and shoes.  We have mittens, with the fur on both sides, worn by Schuyler Breed when driving teams in the winter. He was born in 1860 and lived in West Unity on the Unity Stage Road. We are looking for more articles of clothing so please search your attics or maybe your grandparents’ attics for pieces of interest.  Remember poodle skirts and leisure suits? How about mini-skirts and the polyester clothes that were so hot and unbreathable?  We wore them all.  Military uniforms would be great, too.  John Callum has offered his Navy uniform.  His was the last of the flat top hats.  Loans will only be for a few days and you may contact Judi Tatem at 603-543-0955 or jtatem@myfairpoint.net .

So please join the historical society at the Town Offices, upstairs in the Unity Historical Society’s History Room adjoining the Unity Free Library.  We’d love to see you there.

The second event is the Humanities program:  Poor Houses and Town Farms: The Hard Row for Paupers. This seems very appropriate to learn about as Unity and Sullivan County housed our poor farm that became the Sullivan County Complex. Here is the description of the lecture:

From its earliest settlements New Hampshire has struggled with issues surrounding the treatment of its poor. The early Northeastern colonies followed the lead of England's 1601 Poor Law, which imposed compulsory taxes for maintenance of the poor but made no distinction between the "vagrant, vicious poor" and the helpless, and honest poor. This confusion persisted for generations and led directly to establishment in most of the state's towns of alms houses and poor farms and, later, county institutions which would collectively come to form a dark chapter in New Hampshire history.  This program will be presented by Steve Taylor at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27 in the Town Hall on the 2nd NH Turnpike.

Join us again for a interesting afternoon complete with refreshments.

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Child Advocate responds to first Annual DCYF Data Book release

CONCORD Today the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) released its first Annual Data Book. The Office of the Child Advocate applauds any effort DCYF makes to quantify the needs of children and families and the efforts of the department.

In general, while the initial view of the data is promising, what the data book tells us is DCYF still has an enormous task before it and not enough resources.

Numbers of intakes and assessments continue to rise. The workload for assessment workers has dropped significantly over the past few years but 40-44 cases is still far from the recommended standard of 12-15. Moira O’Neill, Director of the Office of the Child Advocate states, “We have seen the impact of that overload in our System Learning Reviews - assessments with only minimum collateral contacts, referrals not followed up, incomplete documentation.” The recently passed SB 6 should significantly address the pressures on caseworkers with 57 new hires in the next two years. Since the bill was passed, with funding allocated for SB 6 in July, it has been reported to us that DCYF has hired 31 caseworkers. Some of those were for non-SB 6 positions; however only 18 of the 27 positions allocated by SB 6 for this fiscal year have been filled.”

O’Neill pointed out that the data demonstrating that the number of children leaving the system is outpacing those coming into placement is encouraging on the surface. However, we need to examine closely why children are leaving the system and how prepared they are to go. The Office of the Child Advocate has seen a trend in 18-year-olds leaving the system without comprehensive transition plans. It would also be helpful to have the data on adoptions broken down by children’s age, and destination. “Without the data on age we don’t know who is not being adopted,” O’Neill stated. “It would be helpful to know how many teens age out with the Teen Independent Living Aftercare Program, Extended Care Services or other programs to support them.” In addition, “Knowing the numbers regarding children’s placement status in foster homes, kinship care or residential should help DCYF plan for better supporting all families who take children into their homes and lives.” O’Neill stated.

The Office of the Child Advocate will closely review the Data Book and the meaning behind the data. Ultimately, having a good picture of the breadth of DCYF’s responsibilities is helpful for planning and resource allocation. O’Neill says she still has questions. “When children do come into care, the data that would be most meaningful is that which tells us, are those children okay when they leave DCYF care? Are they better? Are they safe? That is the data the Office of the Child Advocate is interested in.” It is also crucial that we continue to identify why children come into care in the first place. There is a critical need to look upstream for ways to better support families, so children never come to protective or juvenile services.

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DOE seeking applications for $1.5 million in Robots Education grants

CONCORD — The New Hampshire Department of Education is seeking applications from schools looking to join the NH Robotics Education Development Program. Two-year grants totaling $1.5 million will be available for school robotics teams and can be used for the purchase of robotics kits, stipends for coaches, and competition expenses including transportation.

The purpose of the program is to motivate public school students, including those attending traditional and charter schools, to pursue educational and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, while building critical life and work-related skills. Grants from the robotics education fund established in RSA 188-E:24 shall be available to any eligible public school, traditional or charter, for the purpose of financing the establishment of a robotics team and its participation in competitive events.

“Robotics is a great way to engage students in math and science, giving them hands-on experience and life-long memories,” said Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut. “New Hampshire has been a leader in robotics education, and this program will help bring that opportunity to more students.”

Eligibility:

  • Must be for students attending public schools, traditional or charter.
  • The school must develop a two-year itemized budget for the robotics program.
  • The school must establish a partnership with, or have a valid letter of commitment from, at least one sponsor, such as a business entity or institution of higher education.
  • The school must participate in at least one competitive event each year.
  • Grants will support robotics teams for the next two years.

Please email the completed application to: Melissa White, Science/STEM Education Consultant, Bureau of Student Support, New Hampshire Department of Education

Grant application deadline is Nov. 15.

For more information, contact Melissa White at Melissa.White@doe.nh.gov or 603-271-3855.

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