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Forum, July 26: Norwich’s Tracy Hall energy project needs robust competitive bidding

Published: 7/25/2020 10:00:14 PM
Modified: 7/25/2020 10:00:12 PM
Norwich’s Tracy Hall energy project needs robust competitive bidding

Paul Manganiello’s letter ably laid out the case for energy upgrades to Tracy Hall (“Vote yes on Article 1 for Norwich’s energy future,” July 22), for which $2 million was authorized on March 3 by only 48 votes. Voters have the option to reconsider this vote as Article 1 on Aug. 11, the date of the Vermont primary.

After the March vote, two energy engineering experts were invited privately to review the proposed project and its price tag. They suggested much more cost-effective engineering solutions, incorporating energy-efficient ventilation, to achieve the same goals as proposed. The savings could amount to as much as $450,000 — money that could be productively applied to other town capital funding priorities.

With this knowledge in hand, the Selectboard declined to discuss a proposal to assess the cost-effectiveness of the project with a value-engineering study, as suggested to it in April. It became apparent that only a revote would persuade the board to address cost-effectiveness in addressing energy savings.

The current $2 million proposal comes from an energy consultancy firm that was the only respondent to a request for proposals to both identify energy conservation opportunities and to execute the work proposed on approval of the town. This process doesn’t offer the safeguards of past practice: to have one firm identify opportunities, another firm design their implementation, and a third firm to construct the improvements — each competitively bid. A recent request for proposals illustrates the value of robust competitive bidding. The town received eight proposals for the project; of the top three technically qualified proposals, one was 82% more expensive than the winning, lowest qualified bid.

A “no” vote on Aug. 11 will give the Selectboard time to request competitive proposals for energy upgrades to Tracy Hall and return to the voters no later than March 2021 with the most cost-effective proposal of those received that also accomplishes the energy goals requested. Such a proposal could then receive strong support from Norwich voters.



The writer is a former Norwich Selectboard member.

Mask orders destroying our republic

I read with horror that Gov. Phil Scott may order all Vermonters to put on a mask every time we leave our homes. First of all, no governor has the power to make laws; that is the purview of the Legislature. However, many governors are seizing such powers to control Americans’ private lives, all in the politically charged name of “health.” These encroachments are destroying our republic and are not beneficial for our health.

Masking the healthy population is absurd in medical terms because the weave of any mask is no bar to a microscopic virus; breathing in our own CO2 in an oxygen-deprived airflow, however, is unhealthy and even dangerous for many of us. Plus, the average person in normal settings is not going to keep his mask or face sterile, thus potentially trapping and ingesting germs as a result of masking. This is common sense. But neither common sense nor health concerns are at the root of these new social controls.

World Health Organization sources this month admitted to BBC2’s medical reporter Deborah Cohen that the organization’s shift from “don’t wear” to “do wear” masks was a result of “political lobbying,” not “evidence.” Such naked political manipulation is an outrage and a danger to all free people.

Such manipulation and fear-mongering are not without impact. Millions of healthy Americans face a deepening psychological toll from being treated as terrifying vectors of disease and wards of state authorities. Masking all Vermonters dehumanizes all Vermonters, especially children. I can’t think of a public official who has shown any sensitivity to the emotional harm that is already warping our children as they taught to distrust and fear everyone around them. According to the Vermont Health Department, Vermont has seen 9 deaths from COVID-19 per 100,000 people since the start of the pandemic. According to the CDC, the pneumonia/influenza mortality rate in Vermont is 9.8 per 100,000. Does anyone recall government edicts to destroy the economy and turn citizens against one another to flatten or stop the flu or pneumonia? I don’t.



Please require masks in NH

I have joyfully lived in the “Live Free or Die” state since 1986. With Gov. Chris Sununu’s assistance, I hope to live here a few more years.

I have high-risk lymphoma and am currently being treated with a daily oral medication and a monthly IV infusion at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. I was hospitalized five times between January and March of this year. Then came COVID-19. I have pretty much isolated for the past six months, depending on my family and friends to do everything for me.

Recently, I went to the local CVS drugstore to purchase nitrile protective gloves. There were many signs posted saying “Masks Required.” I came into very close contact with two people not wearing masks.

I spoke with the manager and she said that because the state hasn’t mandated masks, the store can only encourage people to wear them, it cannot require them. I went a few doors down to BJ’s and there was someone making sure everyone had a mask and asking those without one to leave.

Last November, Gov. Sununu honored me with the Spirit of New Hampshire Volunteer Award for my work at the Listen Community Center. I beg him, with great hope and deep gratitude, to require the wearing of masks in public so that I may get back to volunteering and living again, rather than just working to stay alive.



Wearing a mask is simple, effective

As part of a collaborative effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep New Hampshire healthy, we at West Central Behavioral Health are joining in a grassroots movement to encourage the use of face masks in public and work settings.

The initiative, #MaskUpNewHampshire, will strengthen the efforts led by the Common Man restaurants and the Rotary Clubs of New Hampshire by raising awareness of the importance of wearing masks and how doing so, along with hand-washing, physical distancing and staying home when you are sick, can reduce community transmission of COVID-19.

If we want to keep our state healthy and our economy open, we must mask up. There is still much we don’t know about COVID-19, but we do know that wearing a mask is a simple and effective way to keep the virus from shutting down our state. It is also a visible way to show concern for others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, and state and public health officials recommend cloth face-coverings. According to a recent study from global investment firm Goldman Sachs, mask-wearing by every American could save the U.S. economy from a 5% drop in GDP, or about $1 trillion in reduced economic spending.

As the community mental health and substance use disorder center for the Upper Valley and Sullivan County, West Central Behavioral Health clinicians are committed to wearing masks, and advocating that our clients wear masks when they are in public or at work. Let’s keep New Hampshire safe and open. Our economy, our communities, our families, and our own physical and mental health depend on it.

To those who are doing their part to turn the tide of this pandemic, we thank you. We must all remain vigilant and continue to take steps to mitigate the spread of the virus to protect one another.

There is only one way we will get through this — together.



The writers serve as vice president of clinical services, CEO and president, and medical director, respectively, at West Central Behavioral Health.

How many COVID-19 deaths will Donald Trump tolerate?

After all these months, has President Donald Trump not yet learned the basic truth about this coronavirus, or does he just deny inconvenient truths that do not suit his re-election campaign?

In a July 19 interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, he insisted that many cases were inconsequential. “Many of these cases are young people who would heal in a day. They have the sniffles and we put it down as a (case).” No case of COVID-19 is inconsequential, even among younger people. The increasing number of cases and fatalities among younger people is undeniable testimony to this. Anyone infected with this virus, even in the absence of symptoms, can transmit it to others.

Young people do not live in bubbles. They have parents, older and younger siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. They have friends. They have teachers. Some of these contacts may be too young or too sick to have capable immune systems.

Trump’s mistaken insistence on the lack of risk of young people becoming infected and sick is at the core of his push to reopen the schools in September. I join him in that wish to reopen, but it cannot be done without extensive planning and recognition that a one-size-fits-all plan is not a plan. It is a hope. It is a dream. Plans are not created from hopes and dreams. They are created on data and reality.

In the president’s hopes and dream, how many infections, illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths will he tolerate to push his reelection agenda?



Perverting the First Amendment

The First Amendment guarantees to all people the right to practice, or not, whatever religion they choose. This freedom does not include permission to impose their religious preferences on others. This restraint has been abused by some courts and some individuals, and by some employers that will not hire gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender individuals, nor serve them in their places of business, nor tolerate same-sex marriages or abortion rights. The reason generally given is these practices do not conform with their religious beliefs. This idea is a perversion of the First Amendment and should not be an acceptable argument in any court.

The Supreme Court has not provided clear direction. Too many businesses and organizations have been given unwarranted exemptions from treating all people equally. I pray this will change.


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