Hometown Heroes: Susan Covert keeps her town informed via newsletters

  • Hometown Hero Susan Covert finds new ways to serve community of Contoocook during COVID. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Susan Covert finds new ways to serve the community of Contoocook during the COVID pandemic. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 2/13/2022 3:30:38 PM

As a girl, Susan Covert kept a close eye on the world around her.

She sat in her childhood home and digested the political climate and anguish that people felt at the time, knowing that one day she would like to be part of the solution to some of the same issues.

“It all started growing up in a family that was aware of what was going on in the world and talking about it during the Vietnam War,” Covert said. “I feel like some of the things we were protesting then, we’re back to protesting … I’ve always been political.”

In her time as a Hopkinton resident, an impactful 33 years, she has actively pursued ways to help her community environmentally and through legislation.

Covert spent much of her professional career as a private consultant in the human services industry where she focused her efforts on assisting individuals and families affected by disabilities.

She also served on the Developmental Disabilities Council in N.H., worked in the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) Institute on Disabilities and put in countless hours aiding the Disabilities Rights Center of N.H. This was in tandem with serving as a freelance editor of various publications like the ones associated with the Vermont Health Care Innovation Project and UNH.

“We were successful in getting support for families … for people with developmental disabilities and others as well,” Covert said. “We worked to get support services, working to get adequate health care and working on issues on medical services, which the legislature has provided some support for getting dental services covered by Medicaid, which is wonderful.”

It wasn’t until 2003 when Covert branched out into a different community-serving endeavor.

Not too far away from her home in Contoocook, a local waste management company, BioEnergy LLC, was burning construction and demolition debris, which it was allowed to do because it had a permit. Many Hopkinton residents including Covert took exception to the human and environmental impacts that this process had on their community, so they banded together to form the Residents Environmental Action Committee for Health (REACH).

Covert’s role in the committee revolved around outreach and organizing. She played a pivotal role in spreading the word about the need for environmental reform, which included diligent research on the issue. In 2007, with the help of town officials, legislation was passed in favor of banning the burning of construction and demolition debris in New Hampshire, after the state’s Supreme Court ruled against a similar bill a year prior.

“I didn’t realize that they’d had been burning other stuff there,” Covert said. “And I’ve never had any respiratory problems, but I had to get an asthma inhaler and it wasn’t infrequent that I needed it. And then when they finally shut down, I haven’t had to use it since.”

She added that she and others, “worked together to stop the company from poisoning our town. It was a long process … but the ban went into effect on January 1, 2008.”

Throughout both the research and legal processes of this effort, Covert developed various contacts that would periodically send her notices of events happening around the Hopkinton area. She had an email list from her community outreach efforts, so she continued to pass the information along to others.

“We no longer had a need to do the environmental protection, so people would just contact me sporadically,” Covert said. “There’s a lot that happens in one little town, so I sent out something once a week, maybe like a notice about something that somebody wanted to get. And then I started getting a lot more requests from the public.”

For the last few years, Covert has helped inform her community by formulating an e-newsletter that is sent out nearly every day. It contains all-encompassing Hopkinton news, including local high school sports, local political news, photos and general happenings in the area.

Covert’s email list that receives the newsletter now has over 700 people on it, and it has served as a platform for photographers, businesses and other events to help gain extra exposure. Her goal is to help any under-appreciated or under-recognized individual or entity get their due props.

Laurie Morrissey, a close friend of Covert and avid reader of the newsletter, stressed how important her friend’s efforts are to their town.

“That newsletter has become a really important feature of living in this town,” Morrissey said. “And a lot of people really appreciate it. People don’t always go to the town calendar to find out what’s going on.”

In Covert’s eyes, the future of the newsletter is much like its inception, unpredictable. She is content with its current state and wants to continue utilizing it as a platform for spreading information, helping her community’s and her modus operandi, social advocacy.

Along with her roots as a politically charged individual, what has propelled her to be such a staple in Hopkinton, is her love for the community. She doesn’t rule out future advocacy efforts.

“(My husband and I) have always been engaged in the community just because it’s a wonderful place to be, and have a real community spirit,” Covert said. “You don’t always see that. When it’s there, it’s really wonderful to be part of it.”

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