Associated Press

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  New Hampshire's health commissioner is offering an extra apology as his agency deals with a data breach that led to personal information of up to 15,000 people being posted online.

Authorities said last week that a former patient at the state psychiatric hospital accessed the confidential data last year using a computer in the hospital library and posted the information to social media last month.

Some of the 15,000 people have died, but the state is notifying their families because the information still could be used in identity theft.

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  Maine's governor says he has signed off on the results of a referendum that legalized marijuana in the state, but he is also calling for a moratorium on sales of the drug.

Voters in Maine narrowly approved of legalized marijuana in November. Gov. Paul LePage said on Tuesday during an appearance on WVOM-FM that everything that has crossed his desk related to the election is now signed.

But the Republican governor says he remains skeptical of whether it is wise for the state to implement legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Democrat Maggie Hassan has been sworn in as a U.S. senator, becoming only the second woman to serve as a state's governor and senator in American history.

Hassan, a two-term governor, resigned at midnight Monday. She was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden in the Senate Chamber in Washington at noon Tuesday, using the Bible that she received from her mother as a child.

In New Hampshire, Hassan handed over the reins to Republican Senate President Chuck Morse. He is serving as governor until Gov.-elect Chris Sununu, also a Republican, is inaugurated Thursday.

  Police have accused a 27-year-old man of setting fire to a church in Lebanon, New Hampshire, destroyed by fire.

Authorities said the Dec. 28 fire at the First Baptist Church was determined to be suspicious. They were looking for Anthony Boisvert, of Lebanon, as a person of interest in that fire and a second one.

NHPR

 

New Hampshire's Commissioner of Education plans to resign at the end of January.

Commissioner Virginia Barry sent an email to department staff Friday announcing that she will step down from the post on Jan. 30. 

Wild Turkey
John Mizel / Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire's Fish and Game Department is again asking for the public's help in counting the state's wild turkey population.

The state's Wild Turkey Winter Flock Survey starts Sunday and runs through March 31. Volunteers are asked to report sightings of wild turkeys via an online form, making note of the number of turkeys in the flock, where they were seen, the type of habit and what they were feeding on. 

Last winter, volunteers submitted more than 2,000 reports about more than 38,000 turkeys, nearly triple the previous year's total.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Northern New England officials have scheduled their annual tri-state reciprocal snowmobile weekend.

From Friday Jan. 27 through Sunday Jan. 29, snowmobile enthusiasts can explore trails in other states without registering in those states.

All snowmobiles registered in New Hampshire may operate in Vermont and Maine, and all snowmobiles registered in Vermont and Maine may operate in New Hampshire.

  Transportation officials say work to replace the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge connecting New Hampshire and Maine is on schedule despite the cold weather.

The Portsmouth Herald reports that traffic on the Portsmouth side of the Piscataqua River has been rerouted this past week as workers add new roadway segments to pier one.

Ron Taylor, of the Maine Department of Transportation, says a vehicle span will be connected over the Market Street Extension in the third week of January. He says construction of the new bridge remained on schedule and on budget as of Thursday morning.

 

An official with the Planned Parenthood Chapter that serves Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine says the organization received a large boost in donations following the presidential election.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England's Jill Krowinski, the outgoing vice president of education and Vermont community affairs, says about 600 donations were given in honor of Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

Cigarette
SuperFantastic / Flickr Creative Commons

  Retail tobacco sales to New Hampshire youth went up between 2014 and 2015.

The state Department of Health and Human Services says a survey found 16.6 percent of retail tobacco sales in 2015 were to children under the age of 18, who are legally not allowed to purchase it. That's up from 14.4 percent in 2014. The survey was conducted among 338 randomly selected licensed tobacco outlets.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Police in southern New Hampshire are reporting an increase in overdose deaths since Christmas Eve.

The Salem Police Department says it has responded to five overdoses since Dec. 24, a higher number than normal. Two of the overdoses were fatal. The victims, found in two separate incidents, were a 24-year-old female and a 31-year-old male. The police have not released their names.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Officials at Dartmouth-Hitchcock say a "freeze" on the health care system's pension plan for its more than 5,000 participating current and former employees is set to take place at the end of January.

The Valley News reports the freeze means that pension benefits will no longer increase for employees in the system's "defined benefit" retirement plan. Benefits that have already been accrued by retirees and current employees will not be affected.

  Authorities say that based on new information, they now consider a New Hampshire woman who was last seen 35 years ago a missing person.

The attorney general's office says Denise Beaudin's family last saw the then-23-year-old on Thanksgiving in 1981 with her boyfriend, Robert "Bob" Evans, and her infant daughter. When relatives went to visit her Manchester home a few days later, the couple was gone.

Her family assumed they left town to avoid financial troubles and never called police.

  New Hampshire is closing out 2016 with the nation's lowest unemployment rate, wages that are on the rise and strong real estate sales.

Combined, these factors show the state's economy is strong heading into 2017. The state's gross domestic product growth rate of 2.9 percent is among the highest in the nation, according to the most recently available federal data.

Several New Hampshire economists say the state is in its strongest economic shape since the Great Recession.

Chris Jensen

  A neighborhood ski area in Littleton is open again with a permanent rope tow on Mount Eustis.

The ski area opened in 1939 and closed in the 1980s. In 2013, community members began working to restore it, raising more than $100,000. Two winters ago, it opened with a temporary rope tow that only went a quarter of the way up the hill. A permanent tow was installed last year, but not used because of the lack of snow.

Ceyhun (Jay) Isik / https://flic.kr/p/cG7qFL

 

The state Department of Environmental Services is continuing to test water after a potentially cancer-causing chemical was found in wells and drinking water near the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility in Merrimack earlier this year.

Well and groundwater tests conducted in Merrimack and Litchfield had revealed elevated levels of PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, used in Teflon coatings, for more than one-and-a-half miles around the facility.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Dartmouth College says it has spent $8.4 million cleaning up contamination on property where scientists once dumped carcasses of lab animals in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Ivy League school began cleaning up the site in 2011 and realized a year later that at least one carcinogen had leaked into the groundwater. Last year, it determined one family's well water was contaminated.

Dartmouth provided the family with bottled water and sampled over 100 drinking wells in the neighborhood.

via maplogs.com

 

Authorities have recovered the body of a Massachusetts man who died while hiking in New Hampshire.

The Fish and Game department says 26-year-old John Holden of Jefferson, Massachusetts, had intended to hike part of Mount Bond in Lincoln on Saturday and was due home Saturday night. Authorities were alerted Sunday morning, and a search team found his body around 8 p.m. Sunday near the top of Bond Cliff, a remote peak 8.8 miles from the Kancamagus Highway.

Jason Snyder via Wikimedia Commons

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is seeking more transparency on federal animal research spending.

Shaheen is the co-author of a letter to the Government Accountability Office requesting an investigation into public reporting of animal testing. She's joined by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both Democrats.

Via LondonderryTrails.org

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has awarded funding of $2.4 million for 20 projects protecting wetlands.

Two projects, both getting $400,000, will conserve land. The first would go toward the conservation of 1,870 acres including Tower Hill pond in Hooksett and Candia. It will conserve 45 separate wetlands encompassing 280 acres, over two miles of undeveloped shoreline, forest, and other areas.

Associated Press

 A New Hampshire woman was among 78 people pardoned by President Barack Obama this week.

Amanda Kucharski DeBlauw, of Newmarket, was pardoned on Monday.

According to the White House, she was sentenced to five months in prison in 1999 after being convicted of distribution of heroin.

Hikers on Franconia Ridge
Jeff Pang / Flickr

 

 New Hampshire's Fish and Game Department says at least 4,175 Hike Safe Cards have been issued in the second year of the program, bringing in nearly $120,000 for the department's search and rescue fund.

Card sales help ensure that conservation officers trained in wilderness rescue can come to a person's aid. The card also makes the holder exempt from liability for repaying search and rescue costs due to negligence.

The cards cost $25 for an individual or $35 for a family and are good for the calendar year ending Dec. 31, 2017. Cards must be renewed annually.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

  Defeated Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte says U.S. politicians needs to remember that Russian President Vladimir Putin "is not our friend."

Ayotte commented on current events and the tenure in the Senate during a Sunday interview with WMUR-TV, one of her first major interviews since losing the election.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

  New Hampshire's four electors are soon gathering in the Executive Council chambers to vote on the next president.

The 538 members of the Electoral College are meeting in their home states across the country on Monday. New Hampshire's four electors gather at 10 a.m. and plan to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton, who won the state on Nov. 8.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan is announcing her initial committee assignments in the U.S. Senate.

Hassan, who defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte last month, has been assigned to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Hassan says she's honored to be appointed to committees that will allow her to continue to focus on critical New Hampshire priorities, such as the drug abuse crisis, access to health care, affordable higher education and keeping communities safe.

Daniel S. Hurd

  The New Hampshire House likely won't have a committee focused on child and family law in the upcoming session.

The House Rules committee has voted to eliminate the chamber's Children and Family Law Committee. Any bills related to child and family issues will instead go to the committees on judiciary, criminal justice and public safety, or health and human services. The full House must approve the rule change in January.

Flickr

 

  It is now legal in Massachusetts for adults to possess, grow and use limited amounts of recreational marijuana.

While the voter-approved law took effect Thursday, it will be at least another year before the state issues retail licenses to sell the drug. For now, that leaves recreational users with little choice but to buy it from illegal dealers.

Marijuana advocates say they're happy to see the law take effect, but worried that lawmakers and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker will try to change it.

A former Episcopal priest who worked at several elite boarding schools has been charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy in 1973 in Boston.

The Boston Globe reports that Howard "Howdy" White pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court after being indicted on five counts of assault and battery. White, of Bedford, Pennsylvania, was freed on personal recognizance.

Prosecutors say White assaulted the boy during two overnight trips to Boston, when he worked at St. George's School in Middletown, Rhode Island.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

  Republican Senate President Chuck Morse has named committee chairs for the upcoming session.

Committees help shape policy and revise bills as they work through the legislative process. The Finance Committee and the Ways and Means Committee will have particular power in the upcoming year as lawmakers craft the next state budget.

Hikers on Franconia Ridge
Jeff Pang / Flickr

  Five New Hampshire state parks are offering free admission for hikers on New Year's Day.

Guided hikes will be available at all five parks on Jan. 1. All 50 states open some parks for free as part of the America's State Parks First Day Hikes initiative.

The five open parks are Monadnock State Park in Jaffrey, Silver Lake State Park in Hollis, Weeks State Park in Lancaster, Wellington State Park in Alexandria, and Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion State Historic Site in Portsmouth. The guided hikes will range from 1 to 3.2 miles.

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