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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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. 

GouldHillFarm.com

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.

Britta Greene / NHPR

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.

f2point8 / Flickr Creative Commons

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.

www.visitnhcolleges.com

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.

Flickr, Aranami

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.

Britta Greene / NHPR

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.

Britta Greene/NHPR

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. 

Plainfield Police

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.

NH Division of Forests and Lands

Governor Chris Sununu and Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed a joint letter to House and Senate leadership Monday, calling on Congress to increase funding for fighting and preventing forest fires.

“This is far from just a ‘Western’ issue,” they wrote, arguing the Forest Service is increasingly allocating its funds to fight fires at the expense of other priorities.

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

Will Coley walks through the old house in Keene he’s been renovating since September. It’s a work in progress.

He steps over rusted metal tiles and points to ceilings and walls awaiting a new coat of paint.

“This is the mosque,” he says, “this is our place to pray.”


Allison Quantz for NHPR

Dartmouth's student newspaper published a statement Saturday from a group of 15 students and postdoctoral researchers in the college's Psychological and Brain Sciences Department, offering further details on allegations against three of the department's professors.

The professors -- Todd Heatherton, Bill Kelley and Paul Whalen -- are under investigation by both college and law enforcement officials for sexual misconduct. 

Courtesy of Dartmouth-Hitchcock

New Hampshire's largest hospital is struggling to fill open positions, said Joanne Conroy, CEO and President of Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Conroy spoke to local government and health leaders in Lebanon Friday morning at the annual meeting of the Public Health Council of the Upper Valley.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is currently working with a staffing agency to temporarily fill more than 100 open nursing positions, she said. The hospital is looking at incentives like travel stipends to try to sweeten the deal for prospective employees.

NHPR Staff

A former Dartmouth professor says she reported an incident of sexual harassment involving Todd Heatherton – one of three professors now under criminal investigation – to the college about 15 years ago, raising questions about Dartmouth's handling of misconduct complaints.

File photo

Fall Mountain Regional School District has found a solution to an ongoing dispute over use of its high school cafeteria for shooting practices.

The district changed its weapons policy earlier this year to allow the Junior ROTC program to use the high school for its marksmanship practices, where students shoot air rifles at targets.

The school board thought the cafeteria could be safely secured, but some community members disagree. They say having weapons of any kind on school property is not a good idea.

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

New Hampshire-based white nationalist Christopher Cantwell remains in custody in Virginia, where he's raising money and hosting a podcast from his jail cell.

Governor Chris Sununu has replaced the chairman of the state Fish and Game Commission following the commission's strong public criticism of the governor around public boat access on Lake Sunapee.

Plans for a new boat access at what’s known as the Wild Goose Site had been in the works for decades when Governor Sununu pulled the plug on the project in July. Sununu cited environmental and traffic concerns in his decision.

NHPR Staff

Allegations of sexual misconduct involving three professors in the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department at Dartmouth College do not relate to the professors' treatment of human research subjects, according to the college.

 

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