Ten young professionals were recognized Thursday night for their contributions to the Monadnock Region, despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local business and political leaders presented the annual Trendsetters awards, lauding the winners’ accomplishments, in a ceremony held at The Colonial Theatre’s new Showroom venue and also broadcast online.
Launched in 2014, the Trendsetters awards recognize people in the region under 40 making a difference in their places of work and communities. The awards are given out by the Business Journal of Greater Keene, Brattleboro and Peterborough; The Keene Sentinel; and the Keene Young Professionals Network (KYPN).
More than 100 young professionals have been named Trendsetters, according to The Sentinel’s president and COO, Terrence L. Williams.
This year’s winners represent a diverse collection of industries, including education, banking, food and law.
In a speech during the ceremony, Williams said the 10 individuals share a distinction for their ability to make an impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. Williams called the past year “a time of many obstacles — for young people, in particular.
“If ever there was a moment in our history in which we need our young leaders to be present, to be accounted for and to lead the way, this is that time,” he said. “… I take great comfort, and I suspect many others do as well, that we see here tonight that we are in good hands.”
Judges for this year’s awards included Susan Newcomer, the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce’s former workforce development coordinator, and four past winners: BCE Consulting founder Rachel Eschle; City Councilor Mike Remy; St. James Episcopal Church Deacon Derek Scalia, who also serves as director of retention and diversity at Franklin Pierce University; and local business owner Elizabeth Wood.
Keene Mayor George Hansel congratulated the winners Thursday night and said he was “thrilled” that he has worked with several of them in the past. Hansel said it was clear the group honored Thursday understands “it doesn’t take too many people in this community to make a … tremendous impact.”
“If you have a decent idea and you get five of your friends together, you can make pretty much anything happen here,” he said.
City Councilor Michael Giacomo, KYPN’s president and a 2014 Trendsetter award winner, introduced the latest group of winners:
Laura Carbonneau of Keene, marketing manager, Food Connects, Brattleboro
Paul Dubois of Keene, owner, Safety Made, Keene
Alana Fiero of Swanzey, communications and community relations specialist at C&S Wholesale Grocers
Shaun Filiault of Keene, associate, Bragdon, Baron & Kossayda, Keene
Molly Fletcher of Keene, an art professor at Keene State College and art teacher at Our Lady of Mercy Academy and Saint Joseph Regional School
Kristen Noonan of Fitzwilliam, mortgage post-closing coordinator, Savings Bank of Walpole
Sarah Rosley of Winchester, mortgage loan officer, Savings Bank of Walpole
Jordan Scott of Keene, co-owner and chef at Machina Arts: Kitchen and ArtBar, Keene
Lisa Scoville of Keene, photographer
Catherine “Catt” Workman of Keene, investigator, N.H. Bureau of Elderly Adult Services and Keene city councilor
Profiles and videos of the winners, as well as the live stream of Thursday’s ceremony, can be found online at sentinelsource.com/business_journal/trendsetters_2021. All the Trendsetters were profiled in the spring issue of the Business Journal, copies of which went to all Sentinel subscribers Friday and are available at local newsstands.
A Hillsboro-based restaurant is looking to move into the space at Keene’s Dillant-Hopkins Airport vacated in March by the Flight Deck restaurant.
On Thursday night, the council’s Finance, Organization and Personnel Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the council authorize City Manager Elizabeth Dragon to negotiate a lease with Mama McDonough’s Irish Pub. The restaurant will bring with it a catering service and a food truck.
Airport Director David Hickling said the city put out a request for proposals to fill the space at the North Swanzey airport, and Mama McDonough’s was the better of two proposals. He explained that the restaurant is currently operating in Hillsboro and has been looking to relocate to a bigger space.
After announcing in February that the restaurant would close in March, Flight Deck Owner Tracy Gunn told The Sentinel that she declined to renew her lease because the city wanted to impose scheduling requirements on the business.
Hickling said Mama McDonough’s is expected to be open six days a week for lunch and dinner, and also for breakfast on weekends. Asked when the restaurant would open for business, Hickling said he knew only that it was planning to start “as soon as possible.”Mia Summerson can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MiaSummerson
Anyone 16 or older will soon be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine in New Hampshire, regardless of residency, Gov. Chris Sununu announced Thursday afternoon.
This expanded eligibility is effective April 19, Sununu said at a news conference, noting that the vaccine has been more available in New Hampshire than expected.
“We just had so much more availability,” Sununu said. “We’re going to have a lot of vaccine here, so we want to get it out to anyone who might actually be here in the state.”
Thursday’s announcement follows criticism from state Democrats and college-town leaders about the fact that the vaccine hadn’t been offered to college students who are living in New Hampshire but aren’t full-time state residents.
All New Hampshire residents 16 and older have been eligible for the vaccine since last Friday.
In a joint statement issued Monday, several Democratic senators, including Sen. Jay Kahn, of Keene, urged Sununu to expand vaccine access to out-of-state students living in New Hampshire. They said making those students travel long distances to get vaccinated would hinder efforts to end the pandemic.
“College students spend the majority of their year, and in many cases their entire year, in New Hampshire studying, working, and contributing to the local economy,” the joint statement said. “By excluding certain students from the state’s vaccination plan and encouraging them to cross state borders multiple times to receive a vaccination, we are prolonging the effects of the virus here in New Hampshire and delaying our return to normal.”
Out-of-state students account for more than half of Keene State College’s student body, according to the college’s Factbook.
“We are strongly encouraging our college community members to get vaccinated as soon as they can,” Keene State spokeswoman Kelly Ricaurte said in an email after Sununu’s announcement. “We are pleased to let all of our students know that they can get vaccinated here in New Hampshire as well.”
In the United States, the good vaccine news keeps coming. For much of the world, things look bleak.
As of Thursday, just short of 20 percent of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated, giving some 66 million people a strong measure of protection against a disease that has already killed more than 500,000 Americans.
By contrast, Covax — a World Health Organization-backed push for equitable distribution — aims to secure enough doses to cover up to 20 percent of the people in participating countries by the end of 2021, but it may not meet that relatively modest goal, experts warn.
The gap between the vaccine “haves” and “have-nots” is widening, fueling frustration and potentially extending the pandemic.
“It’s unconscionable,” said Zain Rizvi, an expert on access to medicine at Public Citizen, a watchdog group. “Many countries will be lucky if by the end of the year they are close to where the U.S. is now.”
So far, the vaccine race has been dominated by a handful of relatively wealthy nations: most notably Israel, where nearly 57 percent the population was fully vaccinated as of April 7; Chile, at about 22 percent; and the United States. Britain has been vaccinating rapidly, as well, but it has delayed second doses as it tries to get a first to as many people as possible.
Meanwhile, Our World in Data estimates based on publicly reported data that at least 5 percent of the global population has had a dose, with the real number (incorporating China’s nonpublic tally) perhaps between 6 and 7 percent.
Priority-supply deals, export restrictions and other means of hoarding by rich nations have contributed to a severe global supply crunch and left many countries scrambling.
Covax has delivered 38 million doses, providing potentially lifesaving shots to places and people that might otherwise go without. Yet divided between 100 economies, those doses amount to only a thin layer of protection.
“It’s been heartening to see a small number of doses reaching countries around the world,” said Suerie Moon, co-director of the Global Health Center at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.
“But the big picture is more troubling than reassuring, because we have a lot of things are not going well.”
While the U.S. administers millions of inoculations a day, some countries are still waiting for their first shots to arrive, or have just started vaccinating. A recent WHO estimate suggested that just 2 percent of the 690 million doses administered to date globally went to Africa.
A chorus of experts and officials have argued — for months — that rich countries have not only a moral obligation to close the gap, but an interest in doing so. With a fraction of the world’s population vaccinated, they argue, the global economy won’t recover and the virus will mutate and spread.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Monday called for speeding up distribution to poorer nations, warning that the pandemic may force 150 million people into poverty, hurting growth.
“Our first task must clearly be stopping the virus by ensuring that vaccinations, testing and therapeutics are available as widely as possible,” she said in remarks delivered to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
The same day, while introducing a new coordinator for global COVID response and health security, Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed the danger of variants.
“Even if we vaccinate all 332 million people in the United States tomorrow, we would still not be fully safe from the virus, not while it’s still replicating around the world and turning into new variants that could easily come here and spread across our communities again,” he said.
Still, Blinken defended the effort to vaccinate Americans first and suggested that further action would have to wait until the United States was more confident of its vaccine supply.
“I know that many countries are asking for the United States to do more, some with growing desperation because of the scope and scale of their COVID emergencies,” he said. “We hear you. And I promise, we’re moving as fast as possible.”
The woman he introduced as the new global COVID response coordinator, Gayle Smith, served as the chief executive of the ONE Campaign, a nonprofit organization that has called on wealthy countries to donate 5 percent of their surplus doses once they’ve vaccinated 20 percent of their population.
For its part, the Biden administration announced the “loan” of a combined 4 million doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine — not yet authorized by U.S. regulators — to Mexico and Canada. It is not clear, however, if or when the administration will offer up a more substantial portion of the hundreds of millions of surplus doses the country has secured.
A recent survey of 788 Americans by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University found strong support for the idea of donating 10 percent or more of the U.S. supply to less prosperous countries, but views were divided on the timing. While 41 percent of respondents said donations should happen immediately, 28 percent wanted to wait until at-risk Americans had been vaccinated and 31 percent said donations should happen only after everyone in the United States who wanted to be vaccinated had been.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered in February to donate doses to 20 foreign allies, but the plan was put on hold in the face of domestic pushback and lawsuits.
The Biden administration’s moves so far have focused on longer-term efforts to bolster the global rollout.
In February, the White House threw its support behind Covax, announcing up to $4 billion dollars, including an initial contribution of $2 billion that Congress appropriated in December.
And last month, the United States, India, Japan and Australia pledged to jointly manufacture and distribute up to 1 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine with a focus on Southeast Asia. But the timeline is long, with a goal of having things up and running before the end of next year.
The Biden administration has so far resisted pressure to waive patent protections in a way that would allow more countries to make coronavirus vaccines.
However, recent statements from Blinken suggest some new initiative could be on the way.
“The clock is ticking,” said Moon, “and the situation is not getting better.”
Keene’s Department of Public Works is proposing a change to water rates that would raise the cost for residential customers who use more than what is deemed an “essential” amount of water.
Following a rate study of the city’s water and sewer departments, Keene’s Department of Public Works, along with consulting firm Raftelis, is recommending that the city switch to a two-tier rate system for charging water customers. The proposal is to charge a lower rate for an “essential” amount of water use, while charging a higher rate for anything that goes beyond that threshold.
“The reason that we’re doing this is it helps with affordability, it helps with conservation, ensuring that the city and its customers are using its resources efficiently,” said Dave Fox, senior manager with Raftelis, during a meeting of the Keene City Council’s Finance, Organization and Personnel Committee Thursday night. “It helps provide that affordability for all residential customers, giving them the essential level of consumption at a lower volumetric rate.”
The threshold between essential and non-essential water use would be 4,500 gallons, or 600 cubic feet, a quarter, Fox said.
The recommendation stems from a rate study carried out by the city and Raftelis that started in late 2019 and was completed last year. In addition to keeping water affordable and encouraging conservation, Fox said the proposed two-tier system would help fund needed improvements to the city’s water and sewer infrastructure.
Fox explained that the average resident in Keene — someone who uses around 9,000 gallons of water quarterly — would see an increase of roughly $11.50 in their quarterly water bill, while those who use around 4,500 gallons quarterly could potentially save a dollar or two under the proposed change.
However, those who use a significant amount of water, around 13,500 gallons quarterly, could expect a quarterly increase of roughly $25, he said, noting that these numbers are not final and will ultimately depend on Keene’s budget for fiscal year 2022.
One of the biggest concerns raised about the proposal was brought up by Councilor Raleigh Ormerod, who reminded the committee that in many multi-family homes, there is only one water meter, and residents don’t usually pay the exact amount for their water use. He wondered how those individuals would benefit from this.
He also asked if, because those dwellings consume a great deal of water due to the large number of people being served by a single meter, those residents would be charged the higher rate.
“I’m not sure it’s going to work here,” Ormerod said. “I really like the fact that we’re going to balance the budget, and the water rates need to go up, and that’s really, really important, I’m looking at that as well, too. However, I’m not sure it’s going to hold unless we have done the analysis on the multi-families. That’s what my concern is.”
The committee voted 4-1 to recommend that the council adopt the proposed rate, with Ormerod opposed. If approved by the full council, the rate changes would go into effect July 1.