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Bennington recovery housing to open in June

BENNINGTON — A new transitional housing facility for those in recovery from addiction is slated to open this June, according to its co-founders.

Construction on the facility — which broke ground this fall at 608 Francestown Road, the former location of the long-gone Highland Inn across from the Crotched Mountain ski resort — is about 50 percent complete, said co-founder Stephen Bryan.

Projects complete as of Wednesday afternoon include electrical work and plumbing, as well as installation of a new septic system, new doors and windows.

“The more difficult ... complicated tasks of the job are behind us,” Bryan said.

The 40-bed residential care and transitional housing facility will provide both emergency and long-term care to New Hampshire residents recovering from addiction.

Bryan co-founded the facility with his friend and fellow Massachusetts resident John Christian. Both have varying degrees of experience in substance-use treatment.

Christian has worked for recovery programs for more than 25 years, including with many clients from New Hampshire, while Bryan is a real estate developer who oversaw several addiction-treatment center projects.

“There’s just a tremendous need in New Hampshire for substance-use treatment programs, and we are looking to fill that gap,” Christian said.

New Hampshire’s number of fatal overdoses skyrocketed starting in 2013 and 2014 as part of a nationwide epidemic. Fatal overdoses peaked in 2017, with a confirmed total of 490.

In 2018, New Hampshire ranked third highest in the country for opioid-related deaths per capita, according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, but that same year was reported to have the second-lowest level of access to substance-use treatment.

Last year marked the second year in a row that the number of drug deaths in the state dropped, with 2020 likely following suit, according to the data thus far.

Bridge Street Recovery will be for adults who are at least 30 days into sobriety and need help transitioning back into everyday life.

The facility plans to accept any form of insurance, including Medicaid.

The transitional housing clients will have the option to attend treatment, such as substance-use counseling, at the facility six days a week if needed, the co-founders have said. They will also have full access to treatment staff of varying specialties, ranging from clinicians to peer recovery workers.

Additionally, clients will receive job counseling and help finding permanent housing.

Stays at Bridge Street Recovery can range from 30 days to six months, depending on the client’s needs.

And as the opening date nears, Christian said, the facility is just about ready to hire its employees. The hope is to have 12 full-time people on staff, he said, consisting of recovery specialists and substance-use and mental-health clinicians. Those interested in applying can call 255-7070.

Peterborough detox facility on horizon

Christian and Bryan are also planning to open a detox facility under the same name in Peterborough, with hopes to break ground in late August.

The 64-bed facility will be for people who are just coming off substances, may be going into withdrawal and need a more intense form of treatment.

The idea is to have clients start in Peterborough and then come to Bennington to continue their recovery process.

“There’s the need for treatment on all levels,” Christian said.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance-use disorder, The Doorway — a referral hub for people to get help with substance-use disorders — is at 24 Railroad St. in Keene and is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Support through the state’s 24/7 hotline is available by calling 211.

A river otter takes a pause on a Fitzwilliam pond Wednesday.

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New COVID-19 cases at Keene State fall for third straight week

Keene State College reported Wednesday that 12 students tested positive for COVID-19 last week, marking the third consecutive week that new cases at the college have declined.

The latest cases were detected between March 15 and 19, according to the college’s online coronavirus dashboard, which is updated weekly.

There were 21 active cases of COVID-19 among Keene State students and employees as of 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to a separate document on the college’s website. Of those cases — which included at least two detected since Monday — 11 were among students living on campus and nine were among students living off campus.

Keene State reported last week that it had detected 16 new infections the previous week. The latest update continues a downward trend since new cases peaked at 42 in the last week of February.

Since then, the college has tested students for COVID-19 twice a week. Employees are required to be tested once a week if they enter buildings on campus and have the option of twice-a-week tests. Keene State spokeswoman Kelly Ricaurte said Wednesday that those policies remain in place.

The college is moving ahead with plans for a full return to in-person classes and events in the fall, Ricaurte said last week. Those plans include in-person athletic events, on-campus student activities and study-abroad opportunities.

Keene State has reported 150 coronavirus cases among students and employees since Jan. 4, according to its online dashboard.

Another Monadnock Region school, Franklin Pierce University, reported seven active cases of COVID-19 on its Rindge campus as of Tuesday. That is a sharp decline from when the university had 48 active cases in a mid-February outbreak that led administrators to issue a temporary shelter-in-place order. The order expired last month after cases declined.

Fire Mutual Aid log, March 25, 2021

Dispatchers at Southwestern N.H. District Fire Mutual Aid in Keene handled requests for medical aid and fire calls Wednesday, March 24, including the following:

5:13 a.m., Westmoreland Fire Department to 102 McAdam Road, odor investigation.

10:06 a.m., Keene Fire Department to 57 Birch St., brush/smoke investigation.

10:20 a.m., Antrim Fire Department to 1 Main St., brush/smoke investigation.

12:23 p.m., Hinsdale Fire Department to 15 Yeaw Road, brush/smoke investigation.

12:25 p.m., Swanzey Fire Department to 83 Monadnock Highway, vehicle crash, no medical transport.

1:28 p.m., Peterborough Fire Department to 175 Jaffrey Road, fire alarm.

5:29 p.m., Winchester Fire Department to 27 Headlands Road, deck fire extinguished before crews arrived, no injuries or further damage.

6:06 p.m., Brattleboro Fire Department to 111 Dylan Road, fire alarm.

6:16 p.m., Hancock Fire Department to 42 Cavender Road, fire alarm.

7:12 p.m., Hinsdale Fire Department to 1 Oak Hill Road, brush/smoke investigation.

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ConVal high school eyes April 5 return to full in-person classes

PETERBOROUGH — After operating under a hybrid model all year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ConVal Regional High School is planning to offer full in-person classes beginning April 5, Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders said in a statement posted on the district website Wednesday.

High schoolers in the district, currently on a two-week spring break, have been split into two cohorts this year and attend classes in person on alternating weeks. The “blue” cohort includes students from Antrim, Bennington, Francestown, Greenfield and Hancock. The “gold” cohort comprises students from Dublin, Peterborough, Sharon and Temple.

Rizzo Saunders said school administrators still need to finalize the details of the full reopening of the high school, so students in the gold cohort will return from spring break with a week of remote learning.

The district initially planned for all students to come back from spring break with two weeks of remote classes, to allow time for anyone who traveled to complete a 14-day quarantine. But after the state removed its travel-related quarantine requirement earlier this month, all ConVal students, aside from the gold cohort at the high school, can return to in-person classes Monday, Rizzo Saunders said.

ConVal elementary and middle school students had been attending in-person classes five days a week this school year. Families throughout the school district also can choose to have their children learn fully remotely, and that option will remain even after the high school fully reopens, Rizzo Saunders said.

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360 new COVID-19 cases, additional deaths announced in NH

New Hampshire’s health department on Wednesday announced that 360 more people in the state have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Department of Health and Human Services also announced another 10 deaths due to COVID-19 — but said six of those deaths occurred before March and were only recently confirmed as related to the disease.

The people who died were residents of Grafton, Hillsborough, Rockingham and Merrimack counties. Three were under age 60.

In all, the state has confirmed 1,228 deaths related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began, out of the more than 81,000 people who have tested positive.

Wednesday’s new cases included at least 23 from Cheshire County, at least five from Sullivan County and at least 60 from Hillsborough County outside of Manchester and Nashua.

As of Wednesday, 70 people were hospitalized, and 2,590 cases were considered active.