By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – A bill declaring May 3 Old Man of the Mountain Day in New Hampshire was signed by Gov. Chris Sununu in a ceremony that included original music, the unveiling of a crystal etching, and a prayer.
House Bill 96 was signed at the Executive Council meeting Wednesday exactly 20 years after the fall of the Great Stone Face in Franconia Notch.
Ron Ketchie donated a crystal piece to the state which will be on display in Franconia Notch State Park and it was unveiled at the ceremony and on the table when Sununu signed the bill.
The council also heard an original song “The Great Stone Face” written by Rick Lang and Evan Richert with the recording featuring Josh Shilling as part of the ceremony.
The bill does not give everyone a free holiday from work or school but does compel the governor to annually announce May 3 as Old Man of the Mountain Day.
The prime sponsor of the bill was state Rep. John Potucek, R-Derry who gave a thumbs up after the governor signed the bill and handed him one of the pens used to sign the bill into law.
A state marker placed in Concord on May 1 for Elizabeth Gurley Flynn https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Gurley_Flynn was criticized by Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, R-Wakefield, who said she was “Unamerican” and a “Communist.”
The N.H. Division of Historical Resources placed the marker in her hometown as a “well-known labor leader and civil liberties activist.”
It is located at the corner of Court and Montgomery streets near the site of her birthplace.
“Wonderful, we are recognizing and honoring someone who joined the Communist Party and died a Soviet,” Kenney wrote in an email to the council. “The same Soviets I fought against during the Cold War with patriotic Americans. This is Crap!”
Sarah Stewart, commissioner for the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, explained the process of creating this roadway marker and noted some may be controversial, including one in the north country noting the German POW Camp.
Sununu said he agreed with Kenney’s concern and was a bit shocked by the matter.
In a press conference following the Executive Council meeting, Sununu said, “I was pretty taken aback by that discussion in that I completely understand the councilor’s concerns. I was aware of ….like every marker doesn’t’ come to my desk. And so one thing I am doing right now is review who does have the final say, the authority when it comes to state markers on state lands and all of that. So we will review that whole process. I don’t know whether it is the council that should have the final say or view or anything like that. It is something we can definitely talk about. But we are going to look at the process internally.”
The governor said the state should always be able to take something down on their land “and that’s definitely a possibility.”
OPIOID SETTLEMENT FUNDS APPROVED
About $6.5 million for the development of opioid abatement programs across the state was approved by the state’s Executive Council Wednesday.
Tilton, Nashua, Keene, Boscawen, Newport, Manchester, Somersworth, Plymouth, Dover, Littleton, Derry, Claremont, and Lancaster will receive one or more programs for two years with funds from a settlement and produce projects recommended by the state Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission.
Producers of the drugs were sued and the proceeds of the settlement will go to help those impacted by substance abuse, according to the request for action from Lori A. Weaver, commissioner of the Health and Human Services Department.
There will be mobile intervention, treatment access, and recovery to provide access to housing, prevention, and workforce scholarships.
If the money was not accepted “individuals, families, and communities across the state may experience delays in accessing prevention, treatment and recovery services related to opioid use disorders and any co-occurring substance use disorder or mental health issues,” Weaver wrote.
MASCOMA HEALTH CENTER GETS CRITICAL FUNDING
In Canaan, a financially struggling rural healthcare center will receive funding to help keep the doors open.
The council approved, through the request of the state Division of Medicaid Services, about $775,000 for the Mascoma Community Health Center.
The agreement allows a sole source agreement is with HealthFirst Family Care Center, Inc., of Franklin to establish and operate a Federally Qualified Heath Center at the current location in Canaan, N.H.
The contract is effective July 1.
Executive Councilor David Wheeler, R-Milford, asked why they have $4 million on their balance sheets and are asking for taxpayer money.
Kenney said he supported it as did Executive Councilor Janet Stevens, R-Rye.
CONTRACT REJECTED/CONCERN FOR BID CRITERIA
A tabled contract with a West Newbury firm for behavioral health services analysis was not approved on a 5-0 vote.
In the bidding process, Keene State College’s Behavioral Improvement Institute lost out on the contract with the Health and Human Services Division of Behavioral Health over Integration Science LLC of West Newbury, though it bid half the amount, at $150,000.
Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, D-Concord, said that while cost should be factored in, she felt that the department should change the weighted criteria for its contracts.
“It’s not a good result for the taxpayer,” Warmington said.
Robert Moore, who handles the process, said the KSC contract had more administrative services cost versus service provisions than the other firm bid.
PEASE AIRPORT FUNDS APPROVED/DUPREY NOMINATED
The council approved $7 million in federal funds for airport maintenance and operations, as well as airport planning and development projects at the Portsmouth International Airport at Pease, Portsmouth, and the Skyhaven Airport, Rochester.
The award funds a terminal arrivals area expansion project. This includes expanding the public portion of the existing domestic big claim arrivals hall, replacing the electric service, and redesigning the entrance and exit.
The governor also announced he is nominating Concord developer Steve Duprey to the Pease Redevelopment Authority.
BIG CONTRACT TABLED
Councilor Warmington expressed concern about immediately voting on a $31.6 million contract with Infor (US), LLC, New York, NY, for software as a service for the Infor Cloudsuite enterprise resource planning system implementation and maintenance.
This is a sole-source contract meaning it was not competitively bid to upgrade the state’s ERP (enterprise resource planning) system NH FIRST that supports administrative functions of budgeting, general ledger, procurement accounts payable and receivable within the state Department of Administrative Services.
The current system is cumbersome and too costly to continue upgrading, according to Commissioner Charlie Arlinghaus.
“Accordingly, the DAS seeks approval of this contract with Infor to migrate the state’s ERP system from an on-premise system to the Infor Cloudsuite,” the request reads.
Warmington said it is a big contract that was just placed on the agenda and she needs time to weigh the options before approving.
The council agreed and tabled the item.