September 03, 2020REGION — Last week, Congresswoman Annie Kuster spent time visiting constituents in the North Country. While up north, she discussed many issues facing North Country residents, such as food insecurity.
"I was thrilled to be in the beautiful North Country this past week to meet with Granite Staters and discuss the important issues affecting our communities. From our physically distanced meeting with community leaders and the New Hampshire Food Bank in Berlin to our outdoor discussion with local health care providers and leaders in Colebrook – I'm grateful for the opportunity to 'mask up' and meet folks in their communities for these important conversations," said Kuster.
Kuster also addressed the "elephant in the room," commenting "Like many of you, I have spent the past few months working remotely and staying home when I can to help slow the spread of COVID-19. It's important that we all continue to practice physical distancing, wash our hands frequently, wear a mask while in public, and stay home if we are feeling sick."
She went on to say, "As we continue to navigate this 'new normal' we are living in, I was excited to be able to safely spend a few days up north."
She then toured the Affordable Housing, Education and Development (AHEAD) Bethlehem Workforce Housing project at Lloyd's Hills. This location will soon hold 28 new affordable housing apartments.
"I am excited to see the progress AHEAD is making at this development to ensure all Granite Staters can afford a place to call home. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced my belief that the federal government must do more to support projects that expand the housing stock here in New Hampshire. I look forward to my continued work to expand access to affordable housing in the state," said Kuster.
The Congresswoman then met with leadership from WMCC (White Mountains Community College) in Berlin, where she received updates on the school's reopening plans.
"For educational institutions like White Mountains Community College, the COVID-19 public health emergency has been uncharted territory with many complicated challenges to navigate. WMCC's commitment to providing a safe environment for their students during this unprecedented time is evident, however, WMCC and other institutions still need additional support from Congress," she noted.
She went on to say, "While the relief funding Congress has provided to schools has been helpful, we must take further action. I look forward to taking the insights I heard today back with me to Washington as I continue my efforts to ensure schools and the academic sector have the necessary resources to get through this crisis."
In Gorham, Kuster met with local elected officials and environmental advocates at the Gorham Community Forest. Here, she viewed the forest's recent upgrades and expansion.
"We discussed the importance of community forests to the North Country economy. The Gorham Community Forest is a beautiful space that provides economic and recreational value to the North Country and a measure of environmental protection to our world," said Kuster.
"I was proud to be involved in securing the necessary Forest Service funding to add these important lands to the Gorham region. This project will provide countless benefits for the North Country and New Hampshire in the years to come," she added.
Food insecurity was discussed when Kuster met with leaders in Berlin, and noted "No family should have to worry about being able to put food on the table, especially during a pandemic. Sadly, this is the reality many Granite Staters face in the North Country and across our state. It was wonderful to hear from advocates today about what they are doing to combat the problem of hunger in this region."
On to Crawford Notch, Kuster met with leaders from the AMC's Highland Center to talk about the Land and Water Conservation Fund's role in supporting the protection of the White Mountain National Forest, along with other areas of interest.
To that, Kuster shared some thoughts, commenting "As we continue working to slow the spread of COVID-19, many of us are spending more time outside and rediscovering our love of the outdoors and the importance of community recreation areas. The White Mountains are a natural treasure that draw in over six million visitors each year, and I'm thrilled the Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law to help safeguard and preserve this beautiful place."
Back in Berlin, she showed support in the restoration of the Nansen ski jump. Kuster supported the grant to make the restoration possible. In keeping with recreation, the Congresswoman visited Parker Mountain in Littleton. "Outdoor recreation in the North Country is so much more than a beloved pastime, it is a lifeline for our Granite State economy, and I remain committed to securing the funding and resources that are needed to support this industry and help it thrive," said Kuster.