Nashua Locals Hold “A Vigil for Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming”

This week, I had the privilege of helping to organize and attend a great event in Nashua. The vigil was to show support for all of the refugees and immigrants coming to New Hampshire and many of our southern states.

Over the past few months, a group led by Jerry Delemus and the “912 project” have been traveling around our state, opposing immigration reform and using the thousands of child refugees as a backdrop to promote their hate-filled agenda.

After seeing their gathering on the Exit 6 overpass on one Saturday afternoon, I was personally outraged. Yes, there is a lot of political controversy surrounding the unaccompanied minors at the US border. But these children are not coming to America as immigrants – they are surrendering themselves to US Border agents as refugees from war torn countries, where oppressive governments and gangs are literally murdering children in the streets.

The sad fact is that some of these children are killed within a week of being deported back to their home country.

I connected with Representative Sylvia Gale (Nashua Ward 1) who gathered a group of immigration advocates to organize an event to show that real Granite Staters are not bigots using children for political purposes – but that, instead, we are a truly welcoming community.

 

The Vigil for Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming

Vigil 8

At the vigil, guests were asked to leave their own message on the sign.

“Bring us your tired…Your poor…Your huddled masses yearning to be free”
— Emma Lazarus

These are the immortal words inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. For many immigrants, like my great-grandparents, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes that America is truly a welcoming country.   No matter where you come from, or why you chose to come here, the United States welcomes you to seek your own version of the American Dream.

Around 50-60 people gathered on the steps of Nashua’s City Hall, directly under the ever-waving State of New Hampshire flag, to let the people of Nashua’s bustling downtown area know that we are tolerant and welcoming.

Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church

Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church

The plaza was filled with a variety of people including labor leaders, immigration activists, and elected representatives. Dozens of people came with their own hand-made signs with phases like, “No human is illegal” and “Immigration rights are civil rights”.

The vigil was opened with a prayer from Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church.   She talked about how “God made us all in his own image” and that we are all humans.

Rep Sylvia Gale

Rep. Sylvia Gale

Rep Sylvia Gale gave a wonderful speech explaining why we need to show that New Hampshire and the United States are open and welcoming.

We will raise our voices so that all will know that here in Greater Nashua, here in the State of New Hampshire, and that all throughout this land we embrace and celebrate our differences. From Portland, Maine, to Maricopa County, Arizona, to Ferguson, Missouri, to Murietta, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to Miami, Florida, and beyond, from border to border, and from sea to shining sea, we are a Welcoming Community and we are a Tolerant Nation.”

(Rep Gale’s full speech is included below)

Eva Castillo

Eva Castillo

Eva Castillo of the Immigrant and Refugees Coalition and Janeth Orozco of Welcoming NH spoke about how we need to change the political messaging surrounding immigrants and refugees. Castillo said, “We are all human” and that “We should be open and welcoming of people and their cultures that have shaped our nation”.

Ray Ealey, a member of the New Fellowship Baptist Church, led the group in a rousing version of “We Shall Overcome.” All of the attendees gathered in a circle, held hands and sang out.

Rev. Tom Woodward gave the closing prayer and “Call to Action.”

While our elected leaders fight to overcome the gridlock in Washington D.C to pass meaningful immigration reform, we want everyone to know – despite what others may say – New Hampshire is a tolerant, welcoming community.

The differences in all of us are what make America the great nation it is today.

And New Hampshire has always welcomed people – no matter what color, what language, what religion, what circumstances – to come here and “Live Free.”

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Full Speech by Rep. Sylvia Gale

Thank you all for joining us this evening.   This event was conceived and came about as a result of the thoughts and actions of many of us who are gathered here, along with many others who are unable to join us.

We have been distressed and dismayed with the news of what has been happening at our nation’s southern most borders…..that of more than 60,000 children, many of them unaccompanied by any legal parent or guardian, making the dangerous and overwhelmingly difficult journey to find safety and comfort which can no longer be assured in their home countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

These children, some as young as 4 or 6, are literally fleeing for their lives and have been sent by their families with the last desperate hope of being reunited with other family members who may already be somewhere in the United States.   They and their families know that there is no guarantee that they will be able to stay here, but yet they come, fleeing for their very lives. 

No longer, as in the past, are they only fleeing to escape the devastating poverty in their home countries, but now they come seeking protection and safety from the unimaginable violence in their homes and schools, with murder rates raging out of control due to the seemingly unstoppable drug cartels that appear to have exerted their rampant violence into every aspect of civic and community existence in those countries. 

And, as news of this flood of young and desperate refugees has spread across this great nation, we have been further alarmed and dismayed by the reactions of some of our fellow countrymen and women who have raised signs and slogans steeped in racism and bigotry and have loudly shouted, “Not Welcome Here……GO HOME…..

We are here tonight to lend our voices, our messages, and our commitment to carry on a dialogue for PEACE through Understanding which needs to once again become loud enough so that all members of our community can hear it.

We will raise our voices so that all will know that here in Greater Nashua, here in the State of New Hampshire, and that all throughout this land we embrace and celebrate our differences. From Portland, Maine, to Maricopa County, Arizona, to Ferguson, Missouri, to Murietta, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to Miami, Florida, and beyond, from border to border, and from sea to shining sea, we are a Welcoming Community and we are a Tolerant Nation. 

We will drown out the voices of those who cling to hatred and bigotry, and we will continue to work…together…to achieve Peace through Understanding.

In order to honor all who have come before us, and all of those who have lost their lives struggling to find safety and freedom, we will now hold a time of silence for reflection, and to strengthen our resolve to do all that we can to exert our collective influence upon local, state, and national leaders to address the needs of not only these children, but of all of this nation’s newest arrivals……

(Moment of silence) 

To borrow from the poetic words of Emma Lazarus that are inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, we say: “Give US your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free…..Here they should find safety and comfort, and be Welcomed…..

 

NH – APWU Endorse Jeanne Shaheen For US Senate

APWU logo LRG

NH Postal Workers Union Proud to Announce Endorsement of Jeanne Shaheen On Labor Day Weekend

Manchester–Today, the New Hampshire Postal Workers Union is proud to announce their endorsement of Jeanne Shaheen for re-election, citing her work protecting the postal service, creating good paying jobs and standing up for New Hampshire workers and their families. Union leaders and members made clear that their decision to endorse was an easy one due to the stark contrast in this race between Jeanne Shaheen and her likely opponent when it comes to putting New Hampshire jobs first.

 “Senator Shaheen supported every postal worker in New Hampshire when she personally urged members of the Appropriations Committee to protect the USPS service standards, helping to preserve a vital public service,” said NH APWU President Dana Coletti. “Jeanne Shaheen looks out for the people of New Hampshire and has always put the families of this state first.

“Meanwhile, Scott Brown is against increasing the minimum wage and supports tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas.” noted Janice Kelble, NH APWU Legislative Director.  “Now, he’s cashing in as a board member of a company that has offshored American jobs. That’s not the New Hampshire way. Scott Brown is wrong for the state, which is why we will work to reelect Senator Jeanne Shaheen.”

 Jeanne Shaheen has fought to strengthen the economy and create jobs for New Hampshire workers. This month, she signed a letter urging the leadership of the Appropriations Committee to protect the postal service standards, which is critical to maintaining the USPS as a public service. She’s supported investments in the state’s roads and bridges, which postal workers travel on every day, securing funding to rebuild the Portsmouth Memorial Bridge and expand I-93. Shaheen is also fighting to raise the minimum wage and voted to close tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas.

Teamsters Local 633 Endorse Diane Sheehan For Executive Council

Teamsters LogoToday Executive Council candidate Diane Sheehan was endorsed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters local 633.  After receiving the endorsement Diane Sheehan released the following statment:

“I am proud, honored and truly appreciative to receive the endorsement of the Teamsters Local 633 for Executive Council, District 5.

As a current Alderman At-Large in Nashua, I am well aware of the importance of having a solid, professional workforce. Investing in good employees is good for the long term health of our community, our economy, and our quality of life.  My track record of commitment to our labor forces is something I am proud of, and glad that is it noted by the Teamsters We see the importance and value of treating employees with respect, and compensation when we watch what just happened with Market Basket. People matter.  I pledge to bring to the Council their cares and concerns and to work as hard in representing them, and all the people of District 5, as they come to work committed each day.

I humbly thank them for the confidence they have placed in me.”

Senator D’Allesandro: “Enough with the Election Year Budget Stunts”

Concord, NH — Senate Finance Committee Vice Chair Lou D’Allesandro today issued a statement calling for an end to recent election-year political stunts on the budget.

“Every year, we follow the same process for managing the budget, which includes closing the books on the fiscal year at the end of September.  This is what the law calls for, that is what we have done for many years, and this year is no different.   And taking the appropriate time is a good thing. It takes this time because agencies have to comb through hundreds of accounting units; a process that administrative services has to repeat to ensure accuracy. In addition, agencies and administrative services are still processing bills that are related to Fiscal Year 2014 expenses. Everyone who has worked within the budget process knows that closing the books is not an overnight process, and getting an incomplete picture would be misleading at best.

It’s no big surprise that in an election year, political parties would try to manufacture an issue, but the recent press releases making wild claims about the budget are coming out of thin air, and amount to nothing more than a stunt. There is no indication that agencies are exceeding their spending authority and HHS has not issued any report suggesting that they are exceeding their budget by $100 million, as some have stated as if it were a point of fact.

Actually, the state currently appears to be on track to end the year with a balanced budget — a balanced budget that was achieved through bipartisan cooperation between Republicans and Democrats under the leadership of our Governor.

The Governor has made it clear that her administration will follow the law and the traditional practice of delivering full, unaudited financial statements by the end of September, when we have a more complete picture of each agency’s situation. That is exactly what she should do. I hope that at that time, we can work together across party lines to assess the situation with full and accurate information and continue to maintain a responsible, balanced budget.”

Professional Fire Fighters of NH Proudly Endorse Diane Sheehan for Executive Council

PFF SheehanNASHUA – Today fire fighters from Executive Council District 5 gathered proudly to endorse Diane Sheehan in her campaign for Executive Councilor.  The PFFNH believe that Alderman Sheehan is the best choice to represent the Southern region of New Hampshire in the Executive Council.

“Alderman Sheehan has continuously been a great supporter of fire fighters in Nashua and a champion of public safety. We are lucky to have her here in Nashua, and know that she will serve the rest of the people of New Hampshire with the same commitment,” stated John McAllister, President of Nashua IAFF Local#789.

“Diane Sheehan’s commitment to fire fighters in our area proves that her priorities are in line with what we need in the Executive Council. She is a community leader who values public safety above all else. As fire fighters, our job is to protect Main Street, and we believe that Diane Sheehan shares in that same viewpoint,” stated Rich Ducharme, President of Merrimack IAFF Local #2904.

PFF Sheehan 2“I am proud, honored, and truly appreciative to receive the endorsement from the Professional Fire Fighters of NH for Executive Council in District five. As a current Alderman At-Large in Nashua, I am well aware of the selfless service performed daily by our professional fire fighters. When others run from a burning building, these brave public servants run in. I recognize that they put their lives on the line for community safety. I pledge to bring to the Council their cares and concerns, and to work as hard in representing them, and all the people of District 5, as they do each time they answer the alarm. I humbly thank them for the confidence they have placed in me,” said Sheehan.

The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, headquartered in Concord, NH represents more than 2,000 active and retired fire fighters and paramedics from 43 locals across the state.  More information is available at www.pffnh.org. Follow us on twitter @pffnh

 

Education Program Gutted for At-Risk Youth at State Facility

SununuYouthServices-Manchester (image by Prime Roofing Corp)

Sununu Youth Services-Manchester (image by Prime Roofing Corp)

School Taking Brunt of Budget Cuts Seen as Suspicious 

The Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC) educational services for the state’s most troubled youth may soon face legal challenges after 75% of targeted budget cuts are taken out on teaching staff.  Services for middle school through high school youth are expected to greatly suffer once personnel reductions of the uniquely qualified teaching staff are completed.

SYSC is the state’s residential detention and school facility for youth ages 13 to 17 who have either been found to be delinquent (SYSC program) or are awaiting that determination (YDSU program). Both programs are approved by NH Dept. of Education Bureau of Special Education to serve students in all disability categories. The programs include academics, special education, electives and vocational training for the youth that are taught in four distinct educational settings within the institution.

“The legislature ordered that $1.25 million dollars be directly cut from SYSC’s budget,” said Diana Lacey, President of SEA/SEIU 1984. “The Legislature also decided to cut an additional $7 million dollars from all of DHHS.”

At issue is the SYSC administration’s strategy for making those budget cuts.  “It defies logic that anyone would put 75% of the cuts on the department that educates the at-risk youth; it’s only going to hurt the kids.  They need their education to become independent and successful adults,” said Brad Asbury, former SYSC employee and current SEA/SEIU 1984 manager working with the educators.

“It took tremendous work to make the school what it is today.  Principal Claire Pstragowski has done a fine job and over the years we’ve seen the difference it’s made for the kids,” said Asbury.

“The teachers have worked tirelessly reaching out to state senators and representatives, executive councilors and the Governor to sound the alarm of what this cut will mean to the kids.  Some also believe there is no coincidence in the administration’s choice to slash the teaching force,” said Jay Ward, Political Director at SEA/SEIU 1984.

Multiple meetings with the administration, area lawmakers, and Governor Maggie Hassan have failed to yield a more balanced approach to the execution of the SYSC specific budget cut.  “We’ve suggested several ways to meet the savings requirement that have not been accepted, and remain suspicious that the teachers’ concerns that they were being specifically targeted are true,” said Ward.

Astutely, teachers had predicted this would happen in early 2012 – several months before legislators first raised the million plus cut in budget hearings.  Newly assigned director to the center, Maggie Bishop, asked teachers at the time to provide unpaid, after school voluntary extracurricular programs to youth.  When the teachers declined, due to legal liability and increased risk concerns, as well as labor law violation likelihood, Bishop expressed concern about the future.

“The teachers reached out to us after the director told them it would be difficult for her to justify their salaries and the cost of running the school in the future,” said Asbury.  The warning given was taken seriously and a later consultation with HHS Commissioner, Nick Toumpas, soon revealed the teachers’ account of the discussion with Bishop wasn’t far off.  “She was in that meeting and admitted she made the statements but that the teachers just took it the wrong way.  Then she said she would issue a request for information to see if there was any interest in privatizing the school and what it would cost.”

The strategy, as described by Bishop in the meeting, would enable her to better manage a budgetary challenge lawmakers might give her in the following budget cycle.

“It was then that the teachers predicted the education department would be gutted in the new budget,” said Lacey.  “More than twenty of them kept saying, she’s coming after us – just wait and see.”

Prior to moving the plan forward, Bishop sought to cut teacher pay by thirteen to twenty percent with an expectation that they would all remain at the school but for a few teaching layoffs.  “We believe that violates current New Hampshire law and is in conflict with the prescribed tools for meeting budget cuts,” said SEA Attorney, Lauren Snow-Chadwick.

“Gutting the education department by a 30% reduction in teaching staff makes no sense.  These kids need their teachers.  It’s very disturbing to think this may have all started as retaliation,” said Lacey.

The current school provides full day instruction to 60-70 youth, with a potential capacity of over 100, through fully certified and highly talented, grade/subject specific teachers.  The design came after a 1990’s class action lawsuit proved the youth’s constitutional rights were being violated because they were not receiving an appropriate education.  The improvements weren’t easily won; a court retained jurisdiction of the suit’s settlement agreement after the plaintiffs raised concerns about the state’s continued compliance.  Eventually, the plaintiffs and court agreed that the state succeeded in delivering an appropriate program.

It is likely, through this action, that the education program at the school will wind up in litigation again.

Interestingly The Center’s belief statement in a 2010 document states:

  • It is our belief every student be enrolled into approved educational programs and courses respective of individual needs.
  • It is our belief and practice that educational programs must be appropriate to the students’ academic potential, and competency-based
  • It is our belief and practice to teach vocational education, which meets the needs of the communities while also meeting the needs and interest of students.

Jerry DeLemus: Fear and Hate Mongering In New Hampshire

Today Foster Daily Democrat published a story about how Tea Party activist, organizer for Glenn Beck’s 9-12 project, and right wing whack-a-do Jerry DeLemus held a protest on a highway overpass to protest illegal immigration.

“The goal is to make the American people aware that there are people opposed to illegal immigration,” said event organizer Jerry DeLemus during the protest. “And also let our government know.”

DeLemus was taking part in a national day of action to protest what he is calling  “illegal immigration” of children from Central America.

“The solution,” said DeLemus during the protest, “is that our federal government and our state government should follow the law.”

So which law exactly would you like them to follow?

The one that takes these children into custody, puts them into a detention facility until they can receive a deportation trail to determine if or when they will be deported.

What mister fear and hate monger does not say, or does not simply understand, is that these children are not living in the United States illegally. They are walking up to border agents and asking to be taken into custody.

These children are walking hundreds, if not thousands of miles, to claim sanctuary from the horrific death and violence in their own countries. Many of them were sent here by their parents who would rather send them to the United States, knowing they may never see their child again, than to raise them in their home country.

These are innocent children who have nothing but the clothes on their back. Some of them are less than five years old.

This is a humanitarian crisis, not a function of illegal immigration.

Where is your humanity Jerry? Are you so self absorbed and full of hate for these little children that you would rather see these kids dropped off on a street corner in some Central American country with a pat on the head, saying “good luck,” as you walk away.

It is evil and disgusting that someone could even think like that.    Jerry is just another example of an ignorant racist Tea Party Republican who thinks, “America needs more patrolling of the nearly 2,000-mile-long border,” to fix this crisis.

 

More people patrolling does not stop the children from coming Jerry, it would just make it easier for the kids to turn themselves in.

FairPoint Employees To Hold Strike Authorization Vote

Fairness at Fairpoint BannerUnion leaders hope to reach agreement before contract expires August 2

Augusta, ME—Leaders of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 and Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 have scheduled a strike authorization vote for July 11-13 to take place across the FairPoint service area. The two unions represent nearly 2,000 employees of FairPoint Communications across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Their contracts expire on August 2nd and union representatives have been in negotiations with management since April 25th.

“Our members don’t want to strike – they want to continue working for their customers and families,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320 in New Hampshire, one of the three locals that comprise System Council T-9. “Unfortunately, management is unwilling to offer any proposal other than ones they themselves describe as requiring ‘deep, painful, significant concessions’ from workers.”

A strike authorization vote is a necessary precursor to a work stoppage, but does not require the union members actually go on strike. Such a decision could be made later by union leadership. Leaders expect members of both IBEW and CWA in Northern New England to vote overwhelmingly in favor of the strike authorization.

FairPoint workers say they are not just fighting to protect good jobs in their communities but to ensure the best service to customers across Northern New England. They say the company is insisting on the unlimited ability to hire low-wage temporary workers from out of state to do their work. “When companies hire outside contractors to do the work of skilled, local employees, customers are the ones who suffer,” said Brackett.

“Our members want nothing more than to continue working to provide the best service possible to our customers,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400, which consists of members across Northern New England. “Unfortunately, management continues to insist on deep cuts that we strongly believe will hurt consumers and the hard-working employees who have repeatedly saved this company, while the Wall Street hedge fund owners of FairPoint line their pockets.”

Cheshire Country Democrats Talk About Why They Are Running For Office

The Cheshire County Democrats are proud to release their slate of candidates for the upcoming fall election.

Cheshire County Courthouse (Wiki Common)

Cheshire County Courthouse (Wiki Common)

According to Carl DeMatteo Chairman of the Cheshire County Democratic Committee “At this time it is critically important that we all support and vote for the Democratic ticket to be sure we continue to make the kind of progress made in the last Two years in Concord. There is much unfinished work to do to ensure equality of opportunity for all citizens of New Hampshire.  Every vote matters! We cannot afford to return to the policies of obstructionism and the anti labor sentiments that are prevalent in the opposition party.  Even though we enjoy a strong voter registration presence here in Cheshire County, we are not taking anything for granted. We are encouraging our candidates to pound the pavement and talk to voters about our values and our vision for moving the state forward.”

County Commissioner District 2 Candidate Terry Clark of Keene, states his reason for running for County Commissioner is “To increase the level of resource sharing among local governments. State and Federal funding to local and county government is trending down and we must make the most of every tax dollar we raise. After all, it’s the same taxpayer paying for city, school and county government expenses. I also want to make sure that any changes in nursing home care do not take away the safety net county government has been providing all these years, and that property in Keene is not taken off the tax rolls to house a new nursing home.”

Anna Tilton, Cheshire County Registrar of Deeds who is running for re-election, “It is critical that the land transaction record of Cheshire County be accurate and safely maintained for future generations. I am committed to always improving our on-line services, serving the public and protecting the public record.”

“I am running for re-election as Cheshire County Register of Deeds to continue with updating our technology to secure our paper and digital records and to better serve those who use our services now and in the future.”

Eli Rivera Sherriff of Cheshire County who is running for re-election “During my first term in office, as Cheshire County Sheriff, I’ve been able to increase revenue by reviewing current practices and making the proper adjustments to reflect a true cost for services.  Our community involvement has increased and we’ve become active participants with local organizations throughout the county. It is important that our momentum continues and we stay focus on moving into the 21st century.”

State Senator Molly Kelly of District 10 is who is running for re-election “Through the tremendous efforts of the people of New Hampshire, our beautiful state has begun to make its way to recovery. The economy is growing and unemployment is at its lowest levels since 2008.   We have made progress with restoring funding to our University System and our Community College, providing health insurance for 50,000 hard-working people, and working together to solve difficult problems.

We have made great strides, but the recovery remains fragile. Now is the time for proven and experienced leadership to secure continued growth. Over the past eight years, I have worked with our political and community leaders to be that force for greater opportunities for our citizens, and more importantly a voice for the needs of the people of Southwest, NH. There is still work to be done and I would be honored to serve once again as your NH State Senator.”

State Senate:

District 10

Molly Kelly Keene

State Representative

District 1

Michael D. Abbott Hinsdale

Tara Sad Walpole

Lucy McVitty Weber Walpole

Paul Berch Westmoreland

District 2

John E. Mann Alstead

District 3

Daniel Adams Eaton Stoddard

District 4

James Cleaveland Keene

William Pearson Keene

District 5

John Bordenet Keene

District 6

Timothy N. Robertson Keene

District 7

Gladys Johnsen Keene

District 8

Cynthia L. Chase Keene

District 9

Richard Ames Jaffrey

Douglas Ley Jaffrey

District 10

Marge Shepardson Marlborough

District 11

Luke Sacher Fitzwilliam

District 12

F. Barrett Faulkner Swanzey

Ben Tilton Swanzey

District 13

Henry A.L. Parkhurst Winchester

District 14

Patricia Martin Rindge

District 15

Bruce L. Tatro Swanzey

District 16

Larry Phillips

Kris E. Roberts Keene

Conan Salada Keene

COUNTY OFFICES:

Sheriff

Eli Rivera Keene

County Attorney

D. Chris McLaughlin Westmoreland

County Treasurer

Roger T. Zerba Keene

Register of Deeds

Anna Z. Tilton Keene

County Commissioner District 1

John M. Pratt Walpole

County Commissioner District 2

Charles Weed Keene

Christopher C. Coates Keene

Philip Dale Pregent Keene

Terry M. Clark Keene

 

 

 

 

Rochester Fire Department to Receive $175,500 Assistance to Firefighters Grant

Shea-Porter’s Letter Helped Rochester Secure the Funding

ROCHESTER, NH – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) is pleased to announce that the Rochester Fire Department has been selected as the recipient of a $175,500 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG). The grant will help the fire department purchase updated breathing apparatuses, such as spare bottles, communication devices, and equipment to outfit their Rapid Intervention Team.

“We must provide first responders with the equipment they need to safely serve in the line of duty,” Shea-Porter said. “I was proud to support this grant that will help the Rochester Fire Department keep our communities and first responders safe.”

Since 2001, Assistance to Firefighter Grants have helped firefighters and first responders purchase critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.

Shea-Porter frequently assists cities and towns in their applications for federal grants by writing letters of support, and she did so in this case. In January, she wrote to FEMA, “As a resident of Rochester, I can attest to the hard work of the full-time and on-call firefighters that serve our community of 30,000 residents. Our two fire stations serve a 45-square-mile area, and the new equipment would provide numerous benefits, ranging from operational effectiveness to firefighter protection.”