Britta Greene

Upper Valley/Monadnock Reporter

Britta covers the Upper Valley and Monadnock regions for NHPR's newsroom. She comes to New Hampshire from Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced Morning Edition and other local programming. 

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Keene State College is expanding its financial aid offerings to low-income, in-state students. The college will cover four years of tuition for all in-state students who qualify for federal Pell grants.

It'll begin the program, called "Granite Guarantee," with incoming freshman this fall. Eligible students will still have to cover fees, as well as room and board. The college estimates about a third of its in-state students will qualify for the program. 

Britta Greene / NHPR

Speaking at a Martin Luther King Jr. event in Manchester, Governor Chris Sununu urged New Hampshire residents to add their voice to community forums in the coming months.

He pointed to his administration’s new council on diversity and inclusion, as well as a new Civil Rights Unit established within the Attorney General’s Office.

 

Vermont is poised to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana beginning this summer. Police along New Hampshire’s western border, though, say they’re not concerned about the policy change.

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Long-running efforts to expand public boat access on Lake Sunapee may be headed in a new direction.

Officials with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department had been working for decades to build a new public boat launch on a piece of land known as the Wild Goose Site when Governor Chris Sununu abruptly pulled the plug on the plan last summer.

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Dr. Anna Konopka, a physician in New London, surrendered her medical license in October to settle allegations from the New Hampshire Board of Medicine. Months later, she’s still fighting to reopen her doors.

As her battle plays out in the courts, many of her patients are struggling to find a new primary care doctor. Many of them are low income and reliant on pain medication day-to-day.

Lebanon became the second New Hampshire city Wednesday to categorically say no to Keno, without putting the issue in front of voters.

State lawmakers allowed cities and towns to authorize the gambling game last year as a way to raise money for all-day kindergarten statewide. Districts are eligible for the kindergarten funding, though, whether or not they approve the game.

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President Donald Trump has granted New Hampshire's request for federal disaster aid to cover storm damage this fall.

Heavy rain and strong winds swept across northern and western New Hampshire right around Halloween. The storm left behind damaged roads and bridges, as well as significant power outages.

FEMA estimated it cost the state nearly $6 million. Governor Chris Sununu requested federal assistance for Belknap, Carroll, Coos, Grafton and Sullivan Counties. President Trump has now signed-off on that request.

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Christopher Cantwell, a prominent Keene-based white nationalist, is suing two people who recently testified against him in court in Virginia.

Continuing sub-freezing temperatures are putting a strain on plumbers across New Hampshire.

Keith Godbout runs a plumbing business in Bow. He said he simply can’t keep up with the calls.

“This is the worst I’ve seen it since I’ve been in business for 23 years,” he said.

It’s not just the arctic temperatures, he added, but the fact that it’s been such a prolonged period of consistent cold. Godbout said he started hearing from a wave of mobile home residents last Tuesday, but that's now expanded to include more modern homes and older farmhouses.

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State lawmakers will consider a proposal this week aimed at better preventing childhood lead poisoning. Governor Sununu is expected to endorse the measure Tuesday.

Among other changes, the legislation requires all one and two year-olds be tested for the level of lead in their blood. In recent years, testing rates have remained far below where public health officials would like. Claremont moved this year to become the first community in the state to mandate the screenings at the local level. 

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A proposal to make it easier for New Hampshire farms to host things like weddings and larger-scale events will be up for consideration by state lawmakers in January.

The issue has come up repeatedly in recent years, both in the state legislature and in court cases.

Local regulations on what's known as 'agritourism' — events that bring visitors onto farm property — vary significantly from town-to-town.

Henniker Christmas tree farmer Stephen Forster, for example, has been fighting with officials in his town for years to host weddings on his property.

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Hundreds of old skis in the Upper Valley that were headed for a landfill are now being repurposed. It's a poignant end for the story of a beloved old ski shop in Lebanon that’s seen its final days.

A bill to study the impact of lower tax rates for undeveloped land will be considered in the legislative session beginning next month.

The tax structure is known as “current use.” It started decades ago as a part of a pro-environment push.

Basically, landowners who keep their property undeveloped — keep it forested, for example — pay a significantly lower tax rate, in theory encouraging them to preserve their land.

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Some New Hampshire towns hit hard by storms this year are still waiting for federal disaster relief funds. That's led to a proposal to offer short-term aid from state coffers to fill the gap. 

Orford, for example, suffered bridge damage and road washouts after storms in July and October. The Grafton County town is expecting to be reimbursed in part by FEMA funds, but there's a delay before that money comes through.

NHPR Staff

Dartmouth College is one of about 30 schools in the country to be hit by a new provision taxing endowment returns under the Republican-backed tax overhaul.

The measure targets private schools with large endowments relative to their student population — specifically, endowments that represent more than $500,000 per student.

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Keene State College Interim President Melinda Treadwell will host a live video conference for admitted students and their parents next week.  This comes as Keene State looks to improve its enrollment numbers while navigating significant budget cuts.

Treadwell says the live chat she's planned will be a first for prospective families. “I'd rather be very direct with parents about where we are and the bright future than to wait for folks to fill in the blanks,” she said, pointing to recent news headlines.

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Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan have introduced legislation to give the town of Swanzey its own, unique zip code.

The issue is North Swanzey shares a zip code with neighboring Keene. But North Swanzey isn't part of Keene — it's technically part of Swanzey.

And, because there's crossover with street names and addresses in the two zip codes, there's been issues with mail delivery. There's also been delays for emergency responders as they try to figure out where to go.

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

Hundreds of books from a single collector in the Upper Valley are headed to the African nation of Liberia next month.

It started when Ray Clark, of Lyme, was cleaning out his bookshelves last week. He’s a passionate reader, so it was quite an endeavor. He packed full box after box, and then posted on his local town message board to see if anyone would take them.

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The New Hampshire Department of Justice is launching a new Civil Rights Unit to strengthen its enforcement of anti-discrimination law. The move is one of two equity and inclusion efforts announced by Gov. Chris Sununu on Thursday.

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A state law enforcement investigation into a high-profile, allegedly racially motivated attack in Claremont is now complete, state Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said Thursday. The close of the investigation marks a progression in the case, but few additional details are now public. 

In August, the mother of a young biracial boy said her son was attacked by local teens. She said the teens tied a rope around his neck and pushed him off a picnic table. He had to be airlifted to the hospital for treatment of his injuries.

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Rory Gawler bought a big, old farmhouse in Lebanon about seven or eight years ago. It has beautiful views of the Mascoma River valley and a little orchard in the backyard. 

It’s mostly surrounded by open space, but next door — and really, right next door — is another house that’s not in good shape. Lebanon’s property records list it in “very poor” condition. It’s run-down and sprawling, with low ceilings and peeling walls. There’s even trees growing up through the pool outside, Gawler said. 

Editor's Note: We strongly recommend listening to this story. 

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A man charged in a murder-for-hire plot in the town of Plainfield was found not guilty by a jury Tuesday.

Prosecutors argued Maurice Temple, along with his 83-year-old mother, plotted to pay another man to kill his ex-wife. Temple’s attorney said he was instead set up by that would-be hit man, who owed his mother money and first went to police with the story of the murder plot.

Temple’s mother was found to be mentally unfit for trial last month. 

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

Dr. Anna Konopka, a New London doctor who's been fighting in the courts to reopen her practice, was dealt another disappointment this week. In a decision released Wednesday, a judge in Merrimack County Superior Court denied her motion to have her case reconsidered.

The news comes after Konopka learned just last week that she's under investigation by her local police department. The details of that investigation remain unclear. 

NHPR Staff

Claremont Schools Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin presented what he described as a compromise budget to the city’s school board Wednesday.

His plan would cut the district’s budget for the coming fiscal year, but less drastically than the board has requested.

The school board is looking to budget cuts as a mechanism to keep Claremont’s property taxes in check. The city has the highest tax rate in the state, while about one in seven Claremont residents live in poverty.

Residents packed the school board’s meeting Wednesday, speaking on both sides of the issue.

A still from Vice News "Charlottesville: Race and Terror"

Keene resident and white nationalist Christopher Cantwell has been granted bail in Virginia.

Cantwell has been in the Charlottesville area since the Unite the Right rally in August that turned violent. He was featured in a viral documentary about the unrest, and has been held in a local jail on charges relating to his use of teargas in the crowds.

Plainfield Police

  A judge has ruled one of two defendants in a murder-for-hire case out of Plainfield is not competent to stand trial.

Pauline Chase, 83, was charged with plotting to pay a local man to kill her son's ex-wife. That man, the would-be hit man, ended up going to the police. He recorded phone calls and videos for police investigators of his interactions with Chase and her son.

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

Keene State College’s alumni weekend this fall kicked off with a 5k run around campus. Justina Reichelt, a 2003 graduate, crossed the finish line pushing her 2-year-old son in a stroller.

Reichelt actually grew up in Keene. She now lives in Vermont, so not far away, but she almost didn’t come back for alumni festivities this year. “I was at one of those turning points where I was thinking - maybe I should take my degrees off my wall and put them under my desk,” she said. “You know, I was embarrassed.”

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Keene State College will offer buyouts to faculty and staff as part of ongoing efforts to cut costs. The college may also look at layoffs in early 2018, said Interim President Melinda Treadwell.

Enrollment declines have fueled Keene State's recent financial struggles. The college relies heavily on tuition income for its operating budget. 

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

A judge in Merrimack County Superior Court has dismissed a case brought by a New London doctor who said she was forced to close her practice under pressure from the state.

Dr. Anna Konopka agreed to surrender her license this fall to settle allegations from the New Hampshire Board of Medicine. The details of those allegations are sealed, but Konopka admits she failed to use an online database required for doctors prescribing opioids. In her mid-80s, Konopka does not use a computer.

The Keene Public Library is hosting an immigration-related event Thanksgiving morning. 

Organizer Mohammed Saleh hopes locals will take a moment to step away from their celebrations and reflect on how other families might be separated on this day.

It only made sense to choose Thanksgiving, he said, as a day that recognizes the coexistence of immigrants and natives.

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