The Corps code

Alderman Phil Greazzo. As real as it gets.

Briggs says Job Corps Center ‘more like an overnight reform school’

First, it was low-income rentals that Joe Briggs took on. Now, it’s the Job Corps Center. The school board member asked the aldermen last week to take another look at the center, which will offer job training to low-income students.

“I don’t see a strong social or economic benefit. People think Job Corps is a high-end technology center, but it is more like an overnight reform school,” said Briggs. “It’s a facility where troubled, underprivileged youth can go to have one last chance to have their high school equivalency or learn a trade. … It’s not exactly the cream of the crop, in a sense. I don’t think there are going to be companies lined up for these kids.”

The $35 million Job Corps Center, slated to be built on Dunbarton Road sometime in 2013, will train about 300 low-income New Hampshire students ages 16 to 24. Programs will include health care, clerical and trades training and GED certification.

On Tuesday, Briggs asked about the cost of the water and sewer lines needed for the facility. He cited a study from the Heritage Foundation that showed Job Corps costs exceed its benefits. And with the dearth of open land in Manchester, Briggs wondered whether something else would be better suited for the location.

His suggestion didn’t go over well with Ward 10 Alderman Phil Greazzo, who graduated from a Job Corps Center program after he got out of the Army in his early 20s. Greazzo said the comments were “way off the mark” and inappropriate coming from a member of the school board.

“I don’t think he’s known anyone who’s gone through one,” said Greazzo. “There might have been some kids who were using up their last chance, but they were putting effort into it.”

There are young people like that here in Manchester, Greazzo said, and the city should support their efforts to better themselves.

“I think it’s unfortunate he doesn’t see that,” said Greazzo. “He just sees them as a drag on our economy.”

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IT’S TIME to schedule a special election for former state Rep. Mike Brunelle’s Hillsborough 10 House seat. But City Clerk Matt Normand told the aldermen last week state law would likely prevent piggy-backing the special election onto one of these upcoming election ballots.

To get the process started, the city must ask the Governor and Executive Council to approve a special election at its next meeting. The city then must hold the election no sooner than 80 days and no less than 87 days from that meeting. It’s too late to get the House seat race on the November municipal ballot, so the aldermen hoped the city could aim for the New Hampshire presidential primary. Problem is, no one knows when Secretary of State Bill Gardner will even announce the date, let alone when the primary might be held.

Unless the presidential primary is on one of the few available days for the special election — Dec. 20, Jan. 3, Jan. 17, Jan. 31 or Feb. 21 — then the city will have to spend between $3,000 and $5,000 to hold a separate election. If there’s a primary for the House seat, there will be an additional cost for that vote, too.

Normand’s concern isn’t so much the cost — though that’s always a concern for him — it’s about turnout. Ward 3 traditionally has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the city. Holding an election during the deep winter months in what could be a matter of days before or after the New Hampshire primary doesn’t help either.

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THE BALLOTS for the Sept. 20 primary are printed and ready to go. There were 17,000 ordered this year, a number Normand said he based on previous turnout.

Two weeks ago, Normand and his staff also completed testing and sealing the vote tabulators. The process is open to the public and announced through a public notice, so I stopped in to see what it was all about. After five minutes of watching staff slide test ballots through machines, I was told that of all the observers they had seen come by, I set the record for the longest stay.

To make sure the machine is counting correctly, the clerks run a kind of mock election, sliding through hundreds of test ballots, each with filled in bubbles for a variety of candidates. They then compare the hand counts with the machine tally. For an election the size of the upcoming city primary, Normand said, they run between 600 and 800 test ballots.

Once the count is complete, the machines and ballots are sealed and sent to a secure location, where they await their trip to the polling places.

The method is mandated by state law passed in 2010, but Normand said it’s something Manchester started doing before the requirement.

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THE AM DIAL is getting more local. Former Alderman At-Large Rich Girard will be the host of a new local affairs radio show airing on WGAM-AM 1250 and streaming from the website www.girardatlarge.com. The show, called “Girard At-Large,” will include local news coverage, weather, sports, traffic, politics and Girard taking listener calls and answering blogger posts. The focus will be on Manchester and the surrounding areas.

“It’s been specifically designed to solicit and display local audience input,” Girard said. “We believe this is an unprecedented grass roots effort that will revive community-based radio and facilitate the expansion of our multi-modal Greater Manchester effort.”

Girard At-Large will begin airing Sept. 26, Monday through Friday, from 6 to 9 a.m. The radio show is the first endeavor of Greater Manchester GPS, LLC, a multi-media company Girard co-founded with Manchester businessman and state Rep. Will Infantine.

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BECAUSE OF CONFLICTING schedules and a tropical storm, the Manchester Republican Committee canceled its Aug. 28 fund-raiser. Instead of rescheduling, the committee is scrapping the barbecue and will host a dessert tent outside the entrance to the 2011 World’s Championship Chili Cookoff, being held Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. City Republicans and local candidates will be invited to serve shifts at the tent — mostly to meet and greet the voters — during all three days of the event. Presidential candidates will also be invited to hang out and shake hands with a few of the 25,000 people expected to attend.

MRC Chairman Jeff Frost also noted the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be in town that same weekend, drawing even more people into the city. Perhaps the circus will let the local GOP borrow an elephant for a few hours.

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IF YOU’RE heading downtown this morning, make sure to stop at 1000 Elm Street and say thanks to the hundreds of firefighters and volunteers expected to gather for the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb in honor the 343 firefighters who lost their lives 10 years ago. A ceremony will begin at 8:15 a.m. The climb begins at 9:02 a.m. Events will continue in Brady Sullivan Plaza throughout the climb, which should conclude about noon.

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