Editor’s Note: The Mayor’s column was submitted too late to make it into this week’s edition.
Since last year, the Claremont City Council and School Board have met on a quarterly basis to discuss and address those issues that impact the community as a whole. On June 22nd, the two governing bodies met and shared information on lead screening/prevention initiatives, the Green Dot program and childhood poverty. Here is a brief overview of those discussions:
Lead Screening/Prevention – The screening and prevention of lead poisoning in children ages 0-6 continues to be a community-wide priority. On average, 40 Claremont children in this age group are poisoned each year. In accordance with a policy recently adopted by the Claremont School Board, all children coming into the school district will have to show documentation that they were tested for lead poisoning. In preparation for the upcoming school year, the district will be working with parents to help ensure 100% of children are screened for lead poisoning.
Given that the effects of lead poisoning are permanent and irreversible, preventing it is the ultimate goal. One-third of poisonings in NH occur when lead-based paint is disturbed during renovations. Since the majority of our housing stock was built prior to 1978, when lead-based paint was banned, it is important that people working on older homes know how to avoid poisoning themselves or others in the home. In fact, the EPA Lead Renovation, Repair, and Paint (RRP) Rule requires that firms performing RRP projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, childcare facilities and pre-schools built before 1978 have their firm certified, use certified renovators and follow lead-safe work practices. On July 7th, Claremont will be hosting this 8-hour certification program. This program is free for municipal employees and anyone employed by a company that has its EPA firm certification. Please visit lead-edu.info if you would like to attend. In addition to this training, Claremont will be offering an educational session on lead poisoning on July 19th, tentatively scheduled for 5:30pm, and all are invited. Location to be announced.
Green Dot Program – Last year, both Keene and Claremont received a grant to implement the Green Dot Program, designed to reduce sexual assault, domestic abuse and stalking in communities. Turning Point Networks has partnered with SAU6 and other community organizations to implement this program in Claremont. Green Dot has been successful in the military and other communities, reducing the rates of violence by as much as 40%. It is a program based on the premise that violence should not be tolerated, and that we all have a part to play in reducing violence in our communities. During our joint meeting on June 22nd, we received overview training. The success of the program in Claremont will be dependent upon the number of people who participate. Hence, numerous overview and bystander trainings have been scheduled throughout the summer. The overview training is one hour, and the bystander training about five hours. Please visit ClaremontGreenDot.org for more information and training dates, and help reduce violence in our community.
Childhood Poverty – June 22nd meeting marked the beginning of our discussion on this issue at the joint level. Guest speaker Judge Yazinski noted, that despite two long-term economic upswings during the past 30 years, Claremont remains number two in NH in terms of childhood poverty. His premise is that, unless we address this issue, our investments in economic growth will not be fully realized. Given that 61% of K-5 students are on free/reduced lunch and that 14.1% of our working population is below the poverty level, there is much work to do. Therefore, the two governing bodies are committed to working with each other and community stakeholders to develop a strategic plan that will effectively address this issue and break the poverty cycle.
Charlene Lovett is the Mayor of Claremont and welcomes your feedback. Please email questions, comments or concerns to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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