Government family owned ski area, other resorts get PPP loans

CONCORD, NH (AP) – An investment group led by the family of Republican Governor Chris Sununu has benefited from a program created to preserve small business jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Waterville Valley Holdings, which received between $ 350,000 and $ 1 million from the Paycheck Protection Program, is the primary investor in Waterville Valley Resort, a ski area where Sununu was CEO until he took office. in 2017. He retains a stake in Sununu Holdings, owner of Waterville Valley Holdings.

The governor’s legal adviser, John Formella, noted that the complex is part of an industry that has been shut down and severely affected by the pandemic. And at least five other New Hampshire ski areas or resort properties associated with them have also secured loans, according to data released Monday by the Small Business Administration.

As part of the P3, Congress created $ 659 billion in low-interest loans that will be forgiven if employers use the money for payroll, rent, and similar expenses. With an estimated $ 130 billion unclaimed as the application deadline closed on June 30, Congress extended the program until August 8. The public may never know the identity of more than 80% of the nearly 5 million beneficiaries to date, as the administration has refused to release details. on loans under $ 150,000. This secrecy sparked legal action by media outlets, including the Associated Press.

In New Hampshire, 23,829 companies received more than $ 2.5 billion. But the administration only released the names of the 3,442 people who received at least $ 150,000. The loan amount has been listed as ranges, with 14 state enterprises at the highest level of $ 5-10 million. Of this group, six are related to health care: Androscoggin Valley Hospital, Concord Regional Visiting Nurse Association, Huggins Hospital, Mental Health Center of Greater Nashua, Riverbend Community Mental Health, and Speare Memorial Hospital. The others include a cargo handling company, a propane company, an engineering firm, and a distributor of plumbing and heating supplies.

Among the ski areas, the owners of Pat’s Peak and Ragged Mountain also got at least $ 350,000 each. The McIntyre Ski Area got at least $ 150,000, as did Sunapee Resort Properties and Purity Springs Resort, home to the King Pine Ski Area.

Other coronavirus developments in New Hampshire:

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TRUMP RALLY

President Donald Trump’s rally at Portsmouth International Airport on Saturday will be held at least partially indoors, an airport official said on Monday.

According to the president’s campaign, the 8 p.m. rally will be held outdoors, with masks provided to all participants to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But Paul Brean, executive director of the Pease Development Authority, said part of the crowd will be inside. The development authority owns the airport, which is part of a former US Air Force base.

“The intention is to use a large hangar with large overhead doors and allow people to go onto the tarmac in front of it,” he said. “We have had a lot of different political rallies in the past. It’s a little different with COVID precautions. “

Public health officials warn against holding large gatherings as the virus continues to spread across much of the country, but they believe outdoor congregations are relatively less risky than indoor gatherings. City Councilor Deaglan McEachern has asked the mayor to schedule a special meeting before the rally to consider an ordinance requiring masks to be worn in the city. Councilor John Tabor said Monday he would support a mandate that everyone wears masks when and where social distancing is not possible, including indoors or on crowded sidewalks.

“Portsmouth has hosted Presidents for 240 years. However, our citizens have been very responsible for COVID 19 and we don’t want to lose the good progress we have made against the pandemic, ”he said in an email.

But even if such an ordinance were passed, it might not apply to airport ownership.

“We are a federally funded FAA airport and we are also a state entity,” Brean said. “Specifically at the airfield, a city ordinance – FAA policy would override that.”

Trump and his campaign announced his official return to the campaign with last month’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which ultimately ended in disappointing turnout and a virus outbreak among Secret Service personnel and agents.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has not issued a statewide mask warrant, nor has he blocked several large rallies in recent months, including marches led by Black Lives Matter and rallies calling for the reopening of state enterprises.

“As governor, I will always welcome the President of the United States to New Hampshire,” he said in a statement. “It is imperative that those attending the rally wear masks. “

Sununu said his own schedule is still being finalized, but if he greets Trump at the airport, he will wear a mask.

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THE NUMBERS As of Monday, 5,914 people in New Hampshire had tested positive for the virus, an increase of 21 from the previous day. One new death was announced, bringing the total to 382.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially the elderly and infirm, it can cause more serious illness and can lead to death.

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