Ben Henry

Producer, Creative Productions Unit

Ben Henry is a production assistant for NHPR's podcasts. Previously, he was a reporter for The Scientist magazine, where he wrote about health and science and made a podcast. He earned a degree in biology and a minor in English literature from Middlebury College. 

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One of the most successful public health campaigns in U.S. history took the form of a nationwide decision to simply buckle our seat belts.

We formed that habit primarily because every state in the country passed a law that made it mandatory. 

Every state, that is, except one.

This week for Only in NH, the series in which we answer listener-submitted questions about the Granite State, producer Ben Henry explores our state’s staunch insistence on remaining the unbuckled frontier.

In the past few months, the Manchester VA Medical Center met with scandal, disaster, and a full helping of public outcry. Today on Word of Mouth, NHPR's Peter Biello looks back on the summer's news and tells the story of one woman's effort to improve hospital facilities for survivors of military sexual trauma. 

For the better part of two decades, New Hampshire has been home to dozens of Indonesian families who immigrated to the United States fleeing religious persecution. Some of them were denied their applications for religious asylum, and they've spent years checking in with authorities and receiving temporary means to stay in the country. Now, under President Donald Trump, they've been told their time is up. 

This week on Word of Mouth, producer Ben Henry follows one family's journey from Indonesia to New Hampshire to the brink of deportation. 

Ben Henry

New Hampshire's undocumented Indonesian population is taking legal action against President Trump's deportation crackdown. A judge today agreed to halt ongoing deportations for two weeks while the case moves forward. 

Ben Henry for NHPR

A group of Indonesians in New Hampshire who are facing deportation went before federal immigration officials Friday in Manchester. Many have lived illegally in the US for years under the supervision of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but are now encountering tightened immigration policies under President Trump.

Ben Henry for NHPR

Under prior administrations, Christian Indonesian immigrants living illegally in the US were required to check in with immigration officials every few months, but they were not deported. Under President Trump, that’s changing.

Twenty-three Indonesians in New Hampshire arrived at a check-in on August 1st in Manchester and were told they would be deported within a month, to a home country where they fear religious persecution.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Two high-ranking officials removed from the Manchester VA medical center last month  have been reassigned to positions at the VA New England Healthcare System in Bedford, Massachusetts. 

Northern Border Regional Commission

New Hampshire’s northern counties have been awarded $2.2 million for local economic development projects by the Northern Border Regional Commission

Town of Stark

New Hampshire is considering establishing a new veteran's cemetery in the town of Stark.

On a 20-acre plot overgrown with brush, the cement foundations of guard towers and a few old fireplaces are the only remnants of a prisoner of war camp from World War II, New Hampshire’s only POW camp.

Officials are weighing a plan to use that land and surrounding forest as a site for the new cemetery. New Hampshire currently has one veteran's cemetery, in Boscawen, but traveling to the cemetery requires a long drive for vets and their families in the North Country.

Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce

The city of Berlin will host its eighth annual ATV festival this weekend, a celebration of the sport and its importance in the local economy.

Festival-goers can take a spin on their ATVs through a mud pit at Jericho Mountain State Park, or catch live music on Main Street in Berlin.

When the Jericho ATV festival first started in 2010, it attracted a couple hundred people. Now it draws around 6,000.

Texas A&M AgriLife

The Department of Environmental Services has been issuing more warnings than it usually does at this point in the summer for algal blooms, potentially toxic mats of cyanobacteria.

But David Neils, chief water pollution biologist at the department, says that uptick is partly caused by an increase in public awareness.

“People are becoming educated about cyanobacteria, so they’re looking for them more often, and call us more often.”

Some of those blooms that residents call DES about are small or nontoxic, but the department issues a warning just to be safe. 

Independent grocery stores around New Hampshire are launching a new incentive program to help food stamp recipients pay for local vegetables.  

Starting in August, people who receive SNAP benefits, or food stamps, will have their money doubled when they buy local produce at certain independent grocery stores. A similar program has proven successful at local farmers markets.

Public Domain Pictures

A New Hampshire software developer is working on a way to protect household devices that are connected to the internet, the latest in a broader, nationwide push to keep the devices in our homes safe from hackers.

David Brooks, who writes the Granite Geek column at the Concord Monitor, has been keeping a close eye on this topic—and he’s pretty worried. Brooks spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello.

This is all about the Internet of Things (IoT), so bring us up to speed: What is that?

DTLAexplorer

The New Hampshire job market is expected to keep growing at a modest clip, according to projections released by the New Hampshire Employment Security agency. 

In the next two years, the agency predicts the service industry, healthcare, and administrative jobs will account for much of the growth.

Pixabay

If you see a family of turkeys crossing the road, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department would like to know. As the summer winds down and young turkeys begin to mature, wildlife officials are reminding residents about their annual citizen science turkey count.

Ben Henry for NHPR

For someone struggling to feed themselves or their family, it can be hard to eat healthy. Fresh produce is expensive. The offerings from food pantries or soup kitchens are often canned meals or bread items.

An incentive program in New Hampshire is working to change that, by helping low income individuals get their hands on fresh food at farmers markets.

Thomas Fearon

Emotions ran high at a public forum hosted by the Manchester VA Medical Center Wednesday night. The gathering came on the heels of a Boston Globe report alleging unsanitary conditions and insufficient care at the hospital.

Dozens of veterans showed up at Manchester Community College to hear from VA officials about how they are addressing the allegations detailed in the Globe report. Those in attendance expressed concerns about long wait times, rushed doctor visits, and difficulty navigating layers of bureaucracy at the Manchester VA.

Currier Museum of Art

Outside the Currier Museum this Saturday evening, you’ll find live music, chalk drawing, face painting, and something called an “art battle.” Five food trucks will line the streets, and when twilight sets in, a parade will start.

The museum is hosting an event called "Twilight at the Currier."

It's part of a new focus by the museum on community engagement. Karen Graham, the Currier's deputy director, says the museum has been looking for more ways to have people visit in a casual setting.

Wikimedia Commons

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation and its counterpart in Vermont are considering repairs to a bridge between the two states that’s been closed since 2009. The Vilas Bridge was built in 1930 and stretches over the Connecticut River between North Walpole, N.H. and Bellows Falls, Vt.

Wikimedia Commons

NASCAR is back in New Hampshire this weekend. Races will be held Saturday and Sunday at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, where a hundred thousand fans are expected to watch some of the country’s top NASCAR drivers burn rubber.

Drivers are entering the second half of their race season, and they’ll find themselves on an unforgiving track here in New Hampshire.

Photo courtesy of Chris Connors

Residents of Warner and surroundings towns have requested to place the Warner River under a state environmental protection program. 

The Warner River is a favorite location for trout fisherman and kayakers. Joining New Hampshire's River Management and Protection Program would mean that people who live near the river will have a say in conserving it.

Wikimedia Commons

The “Climb to the Clouds” road race will take place on the slopes of Mount Washington this weekend. All eyes will be on David Higgins, a rally driver who holds the record for fastest time up the Mount Washington Auto Road—a blistering 6 minutes and 9 seconds, over 70 miles an hour on average.

The New Hampshire Union Leader has disabled the comments section on its website.

The paper’s president, Brendan McQuaid, said that responding to complaints and at times removing comments was taking up too much of the staff's time. 

Behind a cracked parking lot and below a yellowed sign sits the Hill Village Store. It’s right off the single road that cuts through Hill, New Hampshire, and it's the only store in town that sells food.

This week, after 17 years under one owner, it's closing and going up for sale. For Foodstuffs, our regular look at food and food culture in New Hampshire, NHPR’s Ben Henry went to Hill to find out what the loss of the store means for the town.

apasciuto via Flickr cc

The New England Fishery Management Council is asking the Trump Administration to slow its push for offshore oil and gas developments on the East Coast. (Scroll down to read the letter sent by the organization to the Department of the Interior.)

An Executive Order signed in April urges oil exploration in the mid and south Atlantic. Currently, five companies are seeking permits to conduct what are called seismic surveys in these areas. 

Ben Henry

In a plant-filled apartment in Lebanon during the heat wave this week, Helen Brody drank iced tea and recalled the rise and fall of the New Hampshire Farms Network (NHFN). She launched the website in 2008, to nurture local food culture at a time when “local food” was barely a thing.

For the past decade, the NHFN website had been a source of in-depth profiles on New Hampshire farmers and their families. This April, it closed down, although the New Hampshire Historical Society recently made plans to acquire the profiles.

Sharon Sinclair, Flickr

A 24-hour donation drive for New Hampshire’s nonprofits kicks off tonight. More than 350 nonprofits are taking part in the day-long event, called NH Gives.

The very first NH Gives took place last year, raising $188,000. Much of that went to small organizations that lack the infrastructure to launch large-scale fundraising efforts of their own.

Amy Quinton, NHPR

New Hampshire imports all of its fossil fuels, meaning a lot of money leaves the state to keep our lights on. Local clean energy companies want to change that, by transitioning to renewable sources like solar and biomass. 

Congresswoman Annie Kuster expressed support Monday for New Hampshire’s green energy economy  and opposition to Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. Speaking in Peterborough alongside clean energy advocates, Kuster said the state should stay committed to the goals of the Paris agreement and invest in New Hampshire energy.

The Otter, Flickr

By the end of this century, scientists predict the ocean on New Hampshire’s coast will rise anywhere between 4 and 6.5 feet above where it is today—a consequence of climate change. But when the sea rises, groundwater rises to keep up. That would spell trouble for roadways, even roads inland from the ocean, according to a new study from UNH.

Chevrolet

Electric vehicles are not quite mainstream yet, but the price of one model, the Chevy Bolt, is dropping to an accessible range. Concord Monitor columnist David Brooks was lucky enough to test drive one, and wrote this week that there’s a learning curve for driving these cars. He spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello about the experience.

About that learning curve—what exactly would we have to unlearn as drivers in order to learn how to drive electric cars?

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