South Church celebrates completion of restoration project: Community news update

·17 min read
Front of South Church
Front of South Church

South Church Portsmouth celebrates completion of restoration project

PORTSMOUTH — The Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Portsmouth has announced the completion of an $800,000 project to restore the slate roof and repoint the masonry on the historic South Church at 292 State St., in Portsmouth.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Portsmouth, whose 450 members hold a wide variety of religious beliefs and spiritual paths, has finished work on an $800,000 project to replace the original slate roof on its 1826 building with a new 75-year black slate roof and to repoint the granite block on the building, both to the National Park Service Preservation standards.

"We are very pleased to have this important historic restoration project completed,” said Alyssa Murphy, chair of the Planning and Implementation Committee at South Church. "This new slate roof will protect our historic building for many decades to come. Our sincere thanks to LCHIP for their grants that allowed for this important work to be completed before the upcoming 200th anniversary of the building."

ARM Consultants LLC of Chester, N.H. created and managed the specifications of the slate roofing project. Viking Roofing Inc. of Hollis, N.H. installed the new slate roof with snow pads, copper flashing at the roof-granite interfaces, copper roofing over the belfry and two church entrances, and the new copper cupola over the roof vent. Northeast Masonry Corp. of Bow, N.H. completed the repointing of the mortar on the granite blocks. The repointing focused on the beautiful cornice area and the ten original windows, a primary character-defining feature of the building.

In September, Portsmouth Advocates, the preservation outreach of the Portsmouth Historical Society, awarded this project their 2021 award for good preservation practice in the city.

Grant recipients are required to raise a minimum of one dollar for each dollar provided by LCHIP. This project leveraged donations from other sources, including over $450,000 in donations from the members and friends of South Church.

Step Up Parents gets a pre-holiday boost from Oleonda Jameson Trust

PORTSMOUTH — The Portsmouth-based kinship care nonprofit, Step Up Parents, heads into the holiday season with deeper pockets to assist kinship care families through the difficult winter months ahead thanks to a generous $5,000 grant from the Oleonda Jameson Trust.

“The Oleonda Jameson Trust supports programs that provide assistance to impoverished families and individuals,” said trustee Mary Susan Leahy. “We are pleased to support Step Up Parents in helping to alleviate the financial burden its low-income clients face in raising their loved ones’ children unexpectedly.”

As a direct-assistance organization, Step Up Parents provides financial and material support to kinship caregivers raising children whose parents struggle with substance use disorder. With this grant, many more families will receive support for their individual needs, like daycare costs, clothing, baby supplies, or utility bills.

This support is more important than ever as global supply chain issues caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continue to wreak havoc on the cost of such life basics as food, clothing, and energy.

“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on so many kinship families throughout New Hampshire,” said Step Up Parents founder, Denyse Richter. “We are grateful to be selected for this grant, which we will used to provide direct support to so many kinship care families. It’s very timely, as well, as we see an uptick in applications for basic needs this time of year.”

If you or someone you know is a relative caregiver raising children of a loved one struggling with substance misuse, visit, call 603-319-4739, or email

To make a donation to Step Up Parents, visit or mail to P.O. Box 1603, Portsmouth, NH, 03801. Step Up Parents is 100% volunteer-run..

Wiggin Memorial Library receives national grant

STRATHAM — The Wiggin Memorial Library has been selected as one of 100 libraries to participate in round three of Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an American Library Association initiative that helps library workers better serve small and rural communities. The competitive award provides a $3,000 grant. The money will be used to support conversations with Stratham residents about how they can more easily access information they need to actively participate in local government.

“We are so proud and excited to be chosen for this opportunity,” said Library Director Lesley Kimball. “Here in New Hampshire, all politics is local; the people are the legislature. Officials are elected, budgets are determined, and everything from recreation to life safety is discussed and voted on by town voters. With this grant, we can build on our successful Candidates Night forums to find additional ways for people to be heard on important community issues.”As part of the grant, Wiggin Memorial Library staff will take an online course on how to lead conversations, a skill vital to library work today, and then host conversations with residents about ways to improve the civic experience in Stratham. Grant funds will be used to host events, invite additional input, and create a summary of community needs, ideas, and outcomes.

Conversations will take place in early spring 2022. If you are interested in getting involved or taking part in these conversations, contact Lesley at, 603-772-4346, or visit for more information.

Stratham Police Department receives CALEA Law Enforcement Accreditation Award

STRATHAM — On Nov. 19, 2021, the Stratham Police Department received accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). In May 2021, assigned assessors from CALEA spent nine days conducting a web-based assessment reviewing all of the police department’s policies and procedures. In June of 2021, a second assessment team spent two days virtually at the Stratham Police Department reviewing the agency’s compliance with those nationally accepted CALEA standards. The assessors inspected the police department, interviewed employees, members of the community, and held a public information session to determine that the department met the requirements of a highly regarded body of law enforcement. The assessors found that indeed the agency was in compliance with all of these standards, and was successfully accredited for the first time in the department’s history.

The purpose of the CALEA accreditation process is to improve the delivery of public safety services, primarily by: maintaining a body of professional standards, developed by public safety practitioners which cover a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence. Accreditation is a voluntary process with approximately only 5% of police departments achieving accredited status.

Specifically, CALEA’s goals are to: Strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities; Formalize essential management procedures; establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices; Improve service delivery; solidify interagency cooperation and coordination; and Increase community and employee confidence in the agency.

Attaining an accredited status is a significant accomplishment for the members of the department, but more importantly, it denotes the quality of service this agency provides the community. Currently, only 19 police departments in the State of New Hampshire have been accredited through CALEA, an international commission founded to establish standards of professional excellence for public safety agencies.

In order to receive accreditation, candidate agencies must maintain policies that are consistent with nearly 500 standards of CALEA. During an assessment, the agencies present “proofs of compliance” which demonstrate the agency practices in accordance with these policies.

Chief Anthony King said, “This award signifies the competence and professionalism that is fundamental to this organization. I am very proud of the effort everyone put forward in achieving this award, and I want to thank the town for its support through this long process.”

Although the accreditation process is arduous, the benefits of accreditation are well-known. The chief benefits are: greater accountability within the agency, liability reduction and stronger defense against civil lawsuits, support from government officials, and an increased community advocacy. The results of this process proves to the community that the Stratham Police Department is committed to serving in the most professional, compassionate and competent manner. The department will maintain an accredited status until November of 2024 at which time it will again be assessed to ensure compliance and to seek re-accreditation.

Full shelves at the Community Food Pantry located at 176 West High St., in Somersworth, thanks to to many groups and organizations who have so generously donated.
Full shelves at the Community Food Pantry located at 176 West High St., in Somersworth, thanks to to many groups and organizations who have so generously donated.

A special thank you from the Community Food Pantry

SOMERSWORTH — The Community Food Pantry located at 176 West High St., in Somersworth would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to many groups and organizations who have so generously helped keep the shelves full. During the last two months, the pantry has received numerous donations helping to feed families in need. Special thanks from the food pantry staff to all the following for their generosity and effort in collecting food and household items:

The Somersworth High School Athletic Department collected 591 pounds of food during a football game on Friday, Oct. 29.

The Somersworth Scouts collected 798 pounds of food from area residence and delivered it to the pantry on Saturday, Nov. 13.

Brixmor the group that owns the Tri City Mall collected 280 pounds of food for the pantry in early November.

Caring and Sharing sponsored by WTSN and Hannaford Supermarkets provided 14 boxes of assorted foods.

The Dover Elks collected 460 pounds of food, baby items, and cosmetics in mid-November.

The area churches have been collecting food for the pantry each week throughout the year.

The Somersworth High School National Honor Society provided 20 Thanksgiving baskets for the pantry to give to area families.

Due to all this generosity the Community Food Pantry was able to distribute 290 Thanksgiving baskets to families in need. Baskets included a turkey, stuffing, gravy, four types of canned vegetables, cranberry sauce, pumpkin, fresh apples, potatoes and onions, brownie mix and candy. The Thanksgiving basket distribution has been a tradition the pantry has carried on for over 20 years. The Thanksgiving baskets and the normal food pantry would not be possible without the help of the community. Donations are received throughout the year from many businesses, schools, organizations, churches, and individuals.

The pantry was started in 1990 as a combined effort of the churches in the three towns of Somersworth, Berwick and Rollinsford and Strafford County Community Action. It was the dream child of several people. Harriet Corson had distributed food as part of her work at Somersworth Community Action Program office. Rev. Mark Rideout had been giving out food to those people who came to the church in need. First Parish Church and Community Action were, originally, across the street from one another. Mark and Harriet decided it didn’t make sense to have two pantries in Somersworth, so they put their resources together to distribute the food from the church. Then, they decided to ask other churches to join in the effort, making it an ecumenical and community venture, staffed by volunteers from all the participating churches. The pantry started out serving 25 families consisting of 43 adults and 35 children per month. Since that small beginning the pantry has grown substantially. It is now not affiliated with any single church but is a non-denominational nonprofit 501(C)(3) Organization.

In the first 10 months of 2021, the pantry has served a total of 2,558 families for an average of 256 families per month. The total number of individuals served so far this year is 5,353 and the number of children served is 1,269. During the first 10 months of this year the pantry has distributed approximately 145,000 pounds of food to families needing additional help. Since the pandemic began, the pantry has been serving families from any town as often as needed and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The pantry is safe to use as clients entering the pantry must wear a face covering. Traffic in and out of the pantry is one way to help with social distancing. This protocol keeps both clients and pantry volunteers safe while still giving clients the ability to choose what groceries they want to take home.

When families visit the food pantry, they receive enough food to feed every member of their family for 15 days, provided they take everything that is offered. Without the generous donations the pantry receives throughout the year from area businesses, organizations, churches, schools, stores, and individuals it would not be possible for the pantry to distribute such a large amount of food or so many. Director Patricia Vachon would also like to express special thanks to the following businesses who donate to the food pantry on a regular basis: Hannaford Supermarkets, Shaw’s Supermarkets, Panera Bread, and Pepperidge Farm all of whom donate food approaching it’s sell by date; Spillers Farm in Wells, Maine and Zach’s Farm in York, Maine for the hundreds of pounds of produce received during the summer and early fall months; McDougal Orchards in Springvale, Maine and Smith Apple Orchards in Acton, Maine for the abundant donations of apples during September and October: and the many other local individuals and groups who donate from their own gardens. Special thanks to the Master Gardeners and Seacoast Eat Local which pick and provide all the produce the pantry receives from the farms and orchards listed above. These donations and all the volunteers who collect them and man the food pantry are what make it possible for so many area families in need to receive help in putting healthy food on their tables.

Thank you to all those who continually donate funds to help support the food pantry. Financial donations allow the pantry to purchase items which we do not receive either through USDA or the area grocery stores. Pantry staff appreciate and are gratified by the many donations received throughout the year and especially during the holiday season.

UNH launches free online COVID-19 educational webinar series

DURHAM —Faculty experts in the fields of microbiology, immunology and public health at the University of New Hampshire have developed a free online training to help participants gain an understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic and become better consumers of health information.

“COVID-19 is a very complicated subject matter for the average person and even some healthcare personnel. It is not often explained at a level where people get the background information they need to make the best decisions about their health,” said Timothy Montminy, senior lecturer in molecular, cellular and biomedical sciences and one of the faculty experts who developed the series. “Our goal with this nine-session webinar was to provide an informative and user friendly format that explores everything from the basic concepts of a virus to COVID-19 specifically, as well as clearly explaining what vaccines are and how they work.”

The webinar series (, coordinated through UNH’s Office of Outreach and Engagement, is divided into nine sessions of 10 minutes or less. Each session addresses a central question relevant to the pandemic, beginning with core concepts in virology, immunology and public health, and concludes by dispelling a myth or misunderstanding regarding COVID-19. Participants who complete all nine sessions will receive a certificate and digital badge but the series is designed for anyone to pick and choose what they want to learn about at any given time.

Topics explore what a virus is, what COVID-19 is, how your immune system fights infection, how disease is transmitted, what a vaccine is, what herd immunity is, how vaccines are developed and approved, how the COVID-19 vaccines work, how pandemics are studied and controlled, and what to expect if you contract COVID-19.

“The university is pleased to be able to offer this free resource for the residents of New Hampshire and beyond,” said Anthony S. Davis, dean of the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture. “Our faculty have been teaching on these general topics since long before COVID-19 and sharing their expertise to give people the facts needed to make their own best healthcare decisions was a natural next step.”

The COVID-19 Awareness Training Webinar Series is one of many micro-credentials the university offers to provide accessible pathways for skill attainment and recognition to better serve the ever-evolving New Hampshire economy. A digital badge is one example of a micro-credential.

Civil Air Patrol celebrates 80th anniversary

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. — Civil Air Patrol members throughout the United States and in overseas squadrons celebrated the organization’s commitment to community service on Dec. 1 — a commitment that began on Dec. 1, 1941, and has continued for 80 years.

More than 56,000 members, youth and adult members, volunteer their time and talent to perform essential emergency services, advance aerospace and STEM education, and provide youth programs that build character, enhance physical and mental fitness, and shape the leaders of tomorrow.

“Civil Air Patrol members draw strength from our 80 years of history,” said Maj. Gen. Edward D. Phelka, CAP’s national commander and CEO. “On this milestone anniversary, today’s volunteers take great pride in continuing the important work of our predecessors. Just as we did in CAP’s early years, volunteers continue to perform vital missions for America, including homeland security, youth training, the advancement of science and technology, and so much more. Our proud past is a launching pad for us to rocket into the future.”

Civil Air Patrol was founded in December 1941, one week before the U.S. entered World War II. Since then, its mission has evolved over the past eight decades to meet the ever-changing needs of America’s communities with advanced lifesaving technology and world-class programs in youth development and education.

As the operator of the world’s largest fleet of single-engine aircraft, CAP also serves as the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force to perform emergency services duties as assigned, including conducting search and rescue missions; supporting local, state, and federal agencies after natural disaster; providing pandemic relief; participating in joint training exercises; and more.

“Congratulations, and happy anniversary, Civil Air Patrol. I’m happy to be here with you, and to be working with you as a partner every day,” said Brig. Gen. William D. Betts, vice commander, First Air Force and Air Forces Northern Command, who touted the organization’s ability to always adapt so that its members stay mission-ready.

“Some of the technology used in emergency services missions today did not exist decades ago — GPS, forward-looking infrared, 3D scanning capabilities, digital photography, cell forensics and more, have changed the way CAP operates and the results are impressive, saving more lives, preserving property, and relieving human suffering in ways that could not have been imagined decades ago. This is what makes CAP an invaluable Total Force partner. The investment in dollars and lives saved is a hallmark of CAP.”

Civil Air Patrol’s education programs for youth span grades K-12 with science-based aviation and aerospace education curriculum, interactive STEM kits, and career exploration. Volunteer University, the organization’s adult learning center of excellence, provides online, on-site, and on-demand opportunities for adult members to hone existing skills and learn new ones to help create a highly trained and effective volunteer workforce.

Programs for CAP cadets aged 12-18 focus on developing well-rounded community-minded servant leaders by integrating education, enhancing physical fitness, increasing confidence, and more. Civil Air Patrol is also helping address the looming national pilot shortage with innovative programs like Cadet Wings that provide scholarships to train cadets 17 and older to be private pilots — an opportunity that can change the trajectory of a young life.

Today’s Civil Air Patrol looks different than it did 80 years ago, but at its core the organization remains the same — serving in meaningful ways that meet the nation’s needs in ways no other organization can match.

“You should all be proud of the work you do as selfless volunteers of serving America’s communities, saving lives, and shaping futures,” Betts said. “You should be equally proud and grateful for the work of those who came before you, to bring us this far, and prepare Civil Air Patrol for the next 80 years.”

The Seacoast area local Civil Air Patrol squadron has been located at the former Portsmouth Airport now Pease ANG Base since back in World War II.

To learn more a visit

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Update: South Church Portsmouth NH,

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