Associated Press

The average number of people waiting to gain access to a mental health bed in New Hampshire is now 46, up from nine in 2013.

The Portsmouth Herald reports that Republican Gov. Chris Sununu says he gets daily reports on the issue which he calls a crisis.

The governor has a meeting scheduled for Monday to develop plans to tackle the problem.

The executive director of the New Hampshire chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illness says the problem is exacerbated by hospitals closing their psychiatric units to focus on more profitable endeavors.

  The New Hampshire Senate has approved a bill to ratify the results of town elections that were postponed due to the March 14 snowstorm.

Nearly 80 towns rescheduled their elections due to the powerful nor'easter that brought blizzard-like conditions and more than a foot snow to much of the state.

The Senate on Thursday passed an amendment that will allow towns who moved their elections to ratify the results after a public hearing and vote of the governing body.

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  A measure providing up to $2 million in emergency funding for New Hampshire dairy farmers strained by last year's drought is ready for Republican Gov. Chris Sununu's signature.

The Senate on Thursday concurred with changes made by the House last month to the measure. The bill originated in the Senate.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire is sponsoring legislation aimed at helping ease the student debt burden for young entrepreneurs.

Hassan on Wednesday introduced a bill that will allow the founders and full-time employees of some small business startups to have their federal student loan payments and interest accrual deferred for up to three years while launching their business. Those who start businesses in economically distressed areas could be eligible for cancellation of up to $20,000 in student loans after making 24 monthly payments.

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New Hampshire's child protection agency is responding to the state's drug crisis with new policies requiring greater intervention when infants and toddlers are at risk.

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A top counselor to President Donald Trump is headlining a New Hampshire Republican Party dinner this spring, continuing the steady stream of prominent politicos heading to the state.

Kellyanne Conway is slated to speak at the party's 2017 Spring to Victory Dinner on May 18 in Nashua.

Conway ran Trump's presidential campaign, making her the first woman to successfully run a presidential bid. She now serves as a counselor to Trump and frequently appears on television promoting his agenda.

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House Speaker Shawn Jasper wants to give towns that postponed their elections due to a snowstorm a way out of facing potential lawsuits from voters who may have been disenfranchised.

Jasper is proposing letting towns ratify the results of their elections by holding another vote. A bill he's sponsoring would give towns that moved Election Day the option of letting townspeople vote to ratify, or confirm, the results on May 23.

Salem Police Department

Police say a condemned house exploded and went up in flames in Salem as they responded to a neighbor dispute over stacking firewood, and about eight homes were evacuated.

Police said they tried to approach a man near the home Monday night, but never spoke to him. Police Capt. Rob Morin said they heard a hissing sound, followed by a strong odor of gas, and backed away. An explosion blew off the roof and broke windows. Neighbors said they heard a popping sound.

  Former Vice President Joe Biden is the first major Democrat scheduled to return to the early primary state of New Hampshire since the November election.

Biden will headline the state Democratic Party's annual McIntyre Shaheen 100 Club Dinner on April 30. He attended the dinner in 2011 and 1986. All four members of New Hampshire's congressional delegation will also attend.

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  New Hampshire communities are being asked for damage assessments from the March 14 nor'easter to see if the state meets the threshold for federal assistance.

State Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Perry Plummer says the state "may be in the ballpark" of meeting the threshold, which could result in a request from Gov. Chris Sununu for a major disaster declaration.

The nor'easter dropped more than a foot of snow in many areas, caused blizzard conditions and winds that damaged trees and utilities, leaving more than 55,000 customers powerless.

  Republican Gov. Chris Sununu will attend a special meeting of the Governor's Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery.

The first-term governor is joining the group Friday afternoon. He's outlined fighting New Hampshire's heroin and opioid crisis as a key priority of his administration.

Commission members will discuss their spending priorities and give an update on the budget. Sununu boosted the commission's funding by several million dollars in his proposed budget, although the House's plan reduced some.

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

A major snowstorm is brewing just in time for April Fools' Day in parts of New England.

The National Weather Service says the coastal storm is going to bring heavy, wet snow to Maine and New Hampshire starting Friday and continuing through Saturday afternoon.

Meteorologist Tom Hawley says the "jackpot" is going to be 12 to 18 inches of snow in higher terrain between Nashua and Keene in New Hampshire. He says interior sections of southernmost Maine can expect 6 to 10 inches while lesser amounts are forecast farther north.

Manchester Police Department

  Several New Hampshire officers are being credited with saving a man's life by performing CPR on him in the police department's front lobby.

The Manchester officers noticed the 51-year-old man sitting in the front lobby seemed pale Tuesday and looked as though he may be sleeping. They weren't able to get a pulse, so they started CPR.

An officer retrieved a defibrillator as others assisted with chest compressions. An ambulance arrived a short time later and took the man to a hospital, where he was treated for a possible heart issue.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  Ohio Gov. John Kasich is returning to New Hampshire in April to promote his new book on the road ahead for America.

A Kasich spokesman says the governor will speak at Saint Anselm College on April 27, two days after "Two Paths: America Divided or United" is published.

Kasich took second place in the Republicans' 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary and became a strong critic of Republican President Donald Trump. His return to New Hampshire makes him the first major Republican to visit the key primary state following the November election.

Todd Bookman

 

  New Hampshire's two Democratic U.S. Senators say they will not support Judge Neil Gorsuch, Republican President Donald Trump's pick to serve on the Supreme Court.

Sen. Maggie Hassan says Gorsuch has sided with corporations over families and undervalues the federal act requiring equal education for students with disabilities. Hassan's adult son, Ben, has cerebral palsy. She says Gorsuch has "repeatedly ruled against the rights of people with disabilities."

AP/Jim Cole

Advocates for Pamela Smart, who's serving a life sentence for plotting with her teenage lover to kill her husband, say they are planning to file a petition seeking a reduced sentence.

Dr. Eleanor Pam, a legal advocate for Smart, tells WMUR-TV the new petition could reach the desk of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu in a few months. Smart's mother is involved in preparing the petition.

Michael Brindley for NHPR

  A newspaper reports that New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut forwarded a department job opening to a Croydon School Board member, then passed along an application from her husband to a human resources administrator.

The Valley News reports reported on the email exchange from this month, obtained through a Right-to-Know request.

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  The newly appointed deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee says the Democratic party can't spend all of its energy focusing on Republican President Donald Trump.

Minnesota U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison spoke Saturday to a gathering of New Hampshire Democrats about the future of the party and its efforts to fight back against Republicans. Ellison was named deputy DNC chair after he lost the chairman's race to former Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

 

  A first-of-its-kind program aimed at connecting veterans with mental health treatment and other resources in New Hampshire is raising lots of questions, and that's just what it set out to do.

Under the state's Military Liaison Initiative, all 10 community mental health centers have a staff member each to direct veterans, military service members and their families to available services.

  New Hampshire is planning a new, universally accessible trail near the plaza dedicated to its famous fallen icon, the Old Man of the Mountain.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

  Police say a New Hampshire corrections officer is being held at the county jail where he works, accused of attempting to bring in heroin.

The Strafford County Sheriff's office says 25-year-old Bryant Shipman, of Rochester, was detained before entering the jail.

Foster's Daily Democrat reports Sheriff David Dubois said Wednesday the investigation has been ongoing for about a month.

Shipman is being held on $35,000 cash bail at the Strafford County Jail.

He's scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney.

Manchester Police Department

  A former day care worker in Manchester has been charged with assaulting three infants.

Police say they've arrested 32-year-old Chelsea Blais, who worked for the Alpha Bits Learning Center.

On March 7, Manchester police started investigating allegations that a worker at the day care was inappropriately caring for and possibly abusing infants.

An arrest warrant was issued charging Blais with four counts of simple assault. Her bail was set at $5,000 and her arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday.

 

  Five communities in New Hampshire's Seacoast have formed a campaign to provide energy efficiency and clean energy options at bulk discounts for homeowners and businesses.

Participants in "Energize 360" will get a free site visit, a Home Heating Index score, and an analysis of their energy usage specific to their home. The initiative will offer energy audits, weatherization, solar electric systems, and heat pump installations to help qualify for rebates and incentives.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  New Hampshire would face a higher burden of proof in terminating a parent's rights under a bill before a House committee.

The House Judiciary Committee is holding a public hearing Tuesday that would require a court to find proof beyond a reasonable doubt that parental rights should be terminated. Under current law, the standard is clear and convincing evidence, which is a lower burden of proof.

NHPR Staff

  Twenty-four towns may be receiving additional state education money under a bill before the House.

Lawmakers are voting Thursday on legislation that would provide $9 million in back payments to the districts, who allege they were underpaid by the state in recent budgets. The city of Dover sued the state in 2015 over a law that capped how much fast-growing school districts could receive in state aid.

A state court ruled the cap unconstitutional last year. The bill offers back payments to any towns affected by it.

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  Toll booth workers could be a thing of the past under a bill before the New Hampshire House.

The legislation would allow the state to implement all-electronic tolling at locations in Hooksett, Dover and Rochester. All of the locations currently have E-ZPass lanes along with traditional toll collectors.

The House Transportation Committee is taking testimony Wednesday on the bill. It's already passed the Senate.

If New Hampshire does move to all-electronic tolling, the bill gives users an option to purchase an "anonymous" transponder.

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  New Hampshire's dairy farmers will soon be one step closer to getting financial relief.

The House is taking up legislation Thursday to provide $2 million in relief payments to dairy farmers strained by last year's drought.

The bill has already passed the Senate.

The $2 million is less than farmers had initially hoped for and will come months after they first asked for relief. The drought forced many farmers to spend more on feed or reduce the size of their herds. Dairy farmers say they're already facing a financial strain due to low federal milk prices.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

  U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is holding a roundtable discussion in Somersworth to highlight her opposition to proposed cuts to the Meals on Wheels program.

The popular service that provides food to the elderly faces a sharp funding cut under President Donald Trump's budget proposal. The exact size of the cut is unknown, but White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said the government "can't spend money on programs just because they sound good."

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  Democrats are introducing legislation aimed at protecting towns from lawsuits that postponed Tuesday's elections due to a winter storm.

The bill says any municipal elections set for Tuesday that were postponed are "legalized, ratified and confirmed." Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn is the bill's sponsor.

Dozens of towns moved their elections due to the snowstorm, despite Republican Gov. Chris Sununu's calls to hold them. He suggested towns could be open to lawsuits if they chose to postpone.

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Authorities in New Hampshire say a juvenile has been charged with murder after a man was found apparently shot to death and a woman was found with a gunshot wound in a Farmington home.

Assistant Attorney General Jason Casey says police responded to a call at the residence just after 12 p.m. Wednesday. They found two adults with gunshot wounds. The man was pronounced dead and the woman was hospitalized with injuries not considered life-threatening.

Casey says the juvenile was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder.

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