By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – The widow of a career firefighter who fought to have her husband’s 2020 cancer death determined to be caused in the line of duty will receive a $100,000 death benefit immediately.
The state’s Executive Council approved the funds for Kimberly Galimberti of Wolfeboro who lost her husband of 18 years, Michael, to cancer at age 50 in January 2020.
The money, which will come from the state’s general funds, is to be made immediately available to his family, including their daughter at Christmastime.
Robert Quinn, Commissioner of Safety, asked for the line-of-duty death benefit after an appeal in which a number of “scholarly articles” – which had not been available for his initial review – came to light, linking an occupational connection with bile duct cancer.
This week attempts to reach Kimberly Galimberti, listed online as a school teacher, were unsuccessful.
According to his obituary, Michael Galimberti grew up primarily in the Lakes Region, graduated from Gilford High School, and served first as a volunteer with and Middleton and Farmington Fire Departments.
In 2008, he went to Iraq as a contract firefighter.
Upon his return, he worked for Pease Fire in Portsmouth before moving to Wolfeboro where he served as a call firefighter until his illness. “A strong sense of brotherhood ran deep in his veins,” the obituary said.
“Michael was a considerate, jovial caring person who enjoyed helping others,” the obituary noted, including among his life interests motorcycle riding, farming, hunting and beekeeping, drone flying, and being a drummer in a band. In addition to his wife and daughter, Emilia, Galimberti, or “Berti” as he was known, left his parents who reside in Lakes Region.
$15 MILLION FOR ADDED WEATHERIZATION
The Council approved contracts for the state’s five Community Action Programs totaling about $15 million. With high heating and electric costs among the state’s top challenges this winter, the demand for weatherization has increased.
Jared Chicoine, commissioner for the state Department of Energy asked for the additional funding with an eye toward low-income households.
“Priority is given to the elderly, disabled, households with children, and households with high-energy usage,” Chicoine wrote.
$20 MILLION FOR COMMUNITY CENTERS
The council also approved a new, $20 million grant program to help communities build, renovate and rehabilitate community centers across the state using federal funds.
The centers, which are municipally owned or operated by non-profit organizations including services for the elderly, children, food banks, disabilities services, and homeless individuals and house family resources and are “inclusive and foster a culture of health and wellbeing in the communities,” and add to “New Hampshire’s health, vibrancy,” the request for approval reads.
The plan is to have the state’s Community Development Finance Authority in charge of making grants with a $1 million cap per request with a match required of no more than 15 percent of the total project construction costs.
The money can be used for air quality improvements in existing community centers and construction costs.
The goal is to make the program easy to access and likely applications will be available in February 2023.
Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, R-Wakefield, said it would be important to have the program up before Town Meetings in March.
“Quicker is better,” Kenney said.
NO EXTENSION FOR MBTA RAIL FOR NASHUA AND MANCHESTER
The council voted down a nine-month extension for a study of extending the MBTA commuter rail line from Lowell, Mass., to Nashua and Manchester.
The $5.4 million federal contract was approved in 2020 and is 72 percent complete, but more time is needed to work with city officials on the rail plan, said William Cass, commissioner of the Department of Transportation who asked for the contract to be extended through September 2023.
Executive Councilor David Wheeler, R-Milford, said, “I think it’s time to pull the plug on this contract. We know that the project won’t pay for itself.”
Sununu said the contract runs through January and that a report is still needed on what was found and perhaps what gaps remain to develop the rail line.
WARMINGTON: NH IS ‘FAILING’ HOMELESS PEOPLE
There was a discussion at the council table about the state of the homeless situation with Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, D-Concord, saying “we are failing right now.”
She said there are a lot of fingers pointing at who is at fault but “fundamentally, we have a problem.”
Gov. Chris Sununu said that compared to other states the homeless situation is not as bad here.
“We are engaging,” Sununu said but noted that some people do not want to be sheltered.
There was criticism of the state’s 2-1-1 phone issue and all agreed that work needs to be done to improve the system.
MEDICAID FUNDS INCREASED BUT DIS-ENROLLMENT BEGINS
Henry Lipman, who handles Medicaid contracts for the state, was able to get an amendment to increase funding by $245 million, but he noted said the state is beginning to evaluate enrollment in the state’s Medicaid. As of Dec. 6, there were 246,661 enrolled but about 29,000 are not eligible anymore and will be disenrolled, another 36,000 may be ineligible and that would reduce the cost by about $300 million a year or more.
MONEY FOR DISTRACTED DRIVER PATROLS, DNA BACKLOG, AND LOON EGGS
In other action, the council approved $92,000 to launch distracted driving patrols, $106,000 to analyze the impacts of PFAS in Loon eggs, and $99,063 for the state forensic lab’s backlog in DNA evidence, among other matters.
LAST MEETING OF THE TERM
The meeting was the last of the two-year term for the five-member council. All members ran for re-election and all were re-elected with four Republicans and one Democrat. They will be sworn in in January.
The meeting began with the governor reading a passage from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the Salvation Army Band played “Joy to the World” and “Oh Come All Yee Faithful” and a commendation was given to a young girl who ignited a Brentwood effort to help the state’s food bank. Georgia Merrill, who was seven when she began the effort, has raised nearly $65,000 over the past six years through the “Peach Project.”
Sununu also swore in Julia Smith and Kenneth Vincent to the House of Representatives.