Chris Jensen

North Country Reporter

Christopher Jensen worked as a reporter for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer for 25 years, covering topics including desegregation, the 1st Gulf War, international charities’ fraud and the auto industry. He also wrote stories about competing in off-road races including the 1988 TransAmazon, the Baja 1000, the Paris-Moscow-Beijing Raid and Paris-Dakar.

Since 2007 he has lived in Bethlehem, covering the North Country for NHPR in addition to freelancing on automotive topics for The New York Times. He enlisted in the Army in 1968 and spent 15 months as a combat photographer in Vietnam. He graduated from George Washington University with a degree in journalism.

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The Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch is one of New Hampshire's historic grand hotels. The expansive property sits on about 11,000 acres which include a downhill ski area, an 18-hole golf course and miles of Nordic trails.

In 2011 the struggling, outdated hotel finally closed and was sold to two businessmen from the North Country. Their efforts to revive it failed and in 2014 Les Otten, former head of the American Skiing Company, stepped in to take over the remote resort's redevelopment effort.

It is a hugely ambitious project and holds the promise of hundreds of jobs and an economic boost not seen in the struggling North Country for decades – if ever.

However, there remain major questions about the project’s environmental impact, the state’s role in its financing, and the long-term viability of The Balsams as an economic stimulus for the region.

This month the Coos Planning Board is expected to continue reviewing developer Les Otten’s plan to greatly expand the ski area. And, that's likely to include how close skiers can get to the wind turbines on some of those mountains.

The issue arises because Otten wants to give skiers the maximum vertical drop by getting them to the top of the mountains.

But in 2009 when the Site Evaluation Committee was considering approving that wind farm it worried about people getting too close to the 400-foot high machines.

About 100 people gathered at the All Saints' Episcopal Church in Littleton to grieve and hear some members of the LGBT community share stories of the fear, hurt and sadness of the past, while expressing  hope for a better, more compassionate and safer future.

The area around Berlin will  get an economic boost in September as it hosts its first national ATV event at Jericho Mountain State Park.

And one of the draws was the newly created economic development effort called Ride the Wilds, a network of 1,000 miles of ATV trails in the North Country.

It is called Camp RZR (pronounced razor) and it is one of two gatherings held nationally each year by Polaris, which makes off-road vehicles.

Donna Beadle is a spokesperson for Polaris.

A bill that would allow landowners to sue for treble damages and legal fees for damage caused by off-road vehicles or dumping is heading to Governor Hassan’s desk.

The New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association asked for the legislation, saying  illegal dumping or damage from off-highway vehicles has become a serious problem, says executive director Jasen Stock.

“The way the laws are written much of the duty for cleanup and restoration point to an agency of one type or another," he said.

A bill that would give the Border Patrol in Coos County the same arrest powers as police is headed to Gov. Hassan’s desk.

Sen. Jeff Woodburn proposed the idea, saying police can be few and far between in Coos and often the Border Patrol is the first to arrive when there is a call for help, such as a violent, domestic dispute. But without police powers Border Patrol agents risk being sued for intervening.

Wednesday night the Coos Planning Board concluded that the Balsams developers provided all the information needed to begin an in-depth consideration of a plan to renovate the Dix and Hampshire Houses.

Those buildings are the familiar centerpiece of the old resort and developer Les Otten’s plan is for condominium units that could also be used as hotel rooms.

A search for a Canadian man reported missing Thursday by his mother has been suspended after a man said he saw  Francois Carrier carrying a duffel bag as he walked along Route 2 in Gorham Tuesday, Lt. Wayne Saunders said.

"A conservation officer met with the witness and interviewed him and had him confirm through the use of a photo that the man he saw matched the description of Carrier.  The witness was confident that the man he saw was Carrier,” Saunders said.

Saunders said the area has been thoroughly covered and searchers “didn’t know where to search next.”

Two of the four schools statewide being honored by a private group for excellence in education are in Coos County.

The schools are the Lancaster Elementary, which covers grades K-8, and the White Mountain Regional High School in Whitefield.

They were selected by the nonprofit New Hampshire Excellence In Education, which is not affiliated with the New Hampshire Department of Education.

A search for the Canadian man missing around Mount Washington will resume Saturday morning , according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

It will be the third day of the effort to find 47-year-old Francois Carrier who was reported missing Thursday.

Friday the search was greatly expanded with  teams from New Hampshire and Maine as well as  a Black Hawk helicopter from the Air National Guard, said Lt. Wayne Saunders of Fish and Game.

Saunders said the last report of Carrier being seen was about 3:45 p.m. Monday as he was walking along Route 16.

A search will resume this morning for a Canadian man reported missing Thursday in the area of Mount Washington, according to Fish and Game.

Thursday's search for Francois Carrier included K-9 teams, Fish and Game officers and volunteers from the Appalachian Mountain Club, said Lt. Wayne Saunders of Fish and Game.

"These search teams started hiking trails in the immediate area looking for Carrier with no avail. K-9 teams conducted searches of high probability areas and line searches were started in the mid-afternoon,"Saunders said.

Three hikers were rescued Sunday in separate incidents after suffering leg injuries, according to Fish and Game.

The most serious occurred on the Skookumchuk Trail in Franconia, when an 18-year-old woman from Glen fell and found it difficult to continue, said Lt. James Kneeland.

She had separated from her hiking partner and not prepared for a cold rain.

She called 911 and rescuers stabilized her injury, warmed her and carried her off the mountain.

The other rescues occurred on Mount Sunapee and on the Hancock Loops Trail in Lincoln.

A 23-year-old woman from Maine suffering from a medical problem was rescued from the Dry River Trail Saturday evening, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Kristina Reams, 23, began having problems breathing and since there was no cell service a companion hiked out and flagged down a motorist who called for help, conservation officer Alex Lopashanski said.

Rescuers reached her, stabilized her breathing and helped her to an ambulance.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Running a restaurant is a risky business. Many owners don’t figure out all the angles and are out of business the first year or so. But in the North Country, the family that owns Grandma’s Kitchen figured it out more than 30 years ago.

Dennis Streeter and his wife, Linda, have owned Grandma’s Kitchen since 1994.

Linda’s parents owned it for a decade before that.

As a kid, Dennis used to buy ice cream cones here.

So, the couple understands what works in Whitefield and the North Country.

There is no evidence that the death of 18-year-old Emily Clogston from Warren was anything but a no-fault accident, an investigation has concluded.

The accident happened last July in Lisbon as Troop F Commander Todd Landry was heading home with his wife and daughter after getting ice cream, according to the report released Tuesday by Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway.

A meeting Tuesday night between the Coos Planning Board and Balsams developers to discuss crucial plans to expand the resort's ski slopes didn’t go well, with each side frustrated.

The Coos Planning Board meets Tuesday night in Lancaster to consider a plan to greatly expand the ski area at the Balsams, including a proposal to clear some high-elevation forest.

The multi-year plan would expand the skiing area from 135 to almost 1,100 acres, with possibly 800 more acres of glade skiing.

Developer Les Otten says the pace would depend on “market conditions," but he would like to begin some clearing this summer.

Cold temperatures and icy trails caused problems for hikers in the North Country over the weekend, says Lt. James Kneeland of New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Sunday morning a hiker who was suffering from hypothermia was rescued on the Falling Waters Trail.

Kneeland said two hikers camped Saturday night, but lacked adequate cold-weather equipment and in the morning one reported “difficulty moving.”  Members of Pemi Search and Rescue Team reached them late morning, warmed them and helped them off the mountain.

Sunday afternoon, there were two more rescues.

For decades an abandoned paper mill sat in the center of Lincoln and Butch Burbank says it has been depressing driving past it. It was a reminder of a prosperous past and challenging future.

But now there’s a new building there. It’s called RiverWalk at Loon Mountain and it opens in June, the latest addition to a town that now lives on tourism.

“For someone who has lived in this area all my life and remembers the old mill and what was there and what is going up now, it is pretty exciting,” he says.

After almost three years of study, Monday night fish and game officials from New Hampshire and Vermont said they will not go ahead with a controversial proposal to stock the Moore Reservoir in the North Country with walleye.

The idea was scrapped over a concern that the walleye – which typically eat other fish – might hurt the trout population, not just in the reservoir, but in the Connecticut River downstream.

Stocking the walleye was suggested by fish and game officials from both states.

A Midwestern company specializing in fish farming is hoping to franchise its business on the site of a former paper mill in Groveton.

Earlier this year Groveton voters approved borrowing $400,000 to provide water and sewage to the mill site mill.

The water and sewer improvements at Groveton are contingent on getting about $600,000 in federal funds.

But if that comes through the site would be a good spot for an indoor fish farm, says Traci Bell, the owner of Ripple Rock Fish Farms, which raises tilapia in Ohio.

A decision on whether to replace a dilapidated bridge in the Pemi Wilderness Area of the White Mountain National Forest won’t come until early next year. That's longer than expected because the agency is using an unusual procedure to allow additional public comment on the controversial issue, according to the forest service.

The structure is the Thoreau Falls Bridge, which crosses the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. It is a six-mile hike from the Lincoln Woods Ranger station just off the Kancamagus Highway.

Michael Bartoszek, the original developer of the Berlin biomass plant, has agreed to pay the Securities and Exchange Commission $3 million to settle charges he violated regulations, including misleading investors about the prospects and financial condition of his company, Laidlaw Energy Group.

A 25 year-old Pennsylvania man hiking on the Chandler Brook Trail on Mount Washington called for help yesterday saying he was wet and worried about hypothermia,  according to Fish and Game.

Evan Scott called for help about noon saying he and his dog were trying to cross a brook, when he slipped off a log and fell into knee-deep water in windy and snowy conditions, said Lt. Wayne Saunders.

Rescuers found Scott at the bottom of the trail. He’d changed footwear, warmed up and said he no longer needed help.


About seven percent of New Hampshire’s residents don’t have access to broadband. But in Coos County that jumps to about 31 percent. That's the worst - by a narrow margin - in the state, according to a new study by the University of New Hampshire.

And much of Coos – which has about 33,000 residents – has no broadband access because the technology is typically offered in the southernmost and most populated part of the county.

The plan to spend about $2.8 million to fix 1.8 miles of Golf Links Road, which connects the now-closed hotel with the golf course, got mixed reactions at a public meeting Monday in Colebrook.

Supporters said it is important to help the Balsams because if it reopens it would be a huge boost to the economy of the North Country.

Opponents said there are many roads in the North Country that need to be fixed. Those include roads that are in terrible shape and ambulances – sometimes carrying desperately ill or injured patients - have to go very slowly.

The department of transportation is holding a meeting this afternoon in Colebrook to discuss one of two projects that will significantly benefit the Balsams resort, even though businessman Les Otten doesn’t yet have the money he needs to resurrect the closed resort.

The state will spend about $3.6 million this summer, with about $2.8 million of that going to fix 1.8 miles of Golf Links Road. It goes from the shuttered hotel to the golf course, but it belongs to the state.

The 2 p.m. meeting at the town hall is to answer questions and hear comments, DOT says.

A 29 year-old man from Massachusetts was killed in a skiing accident at Cannon Mountain over the weekend, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Late Saturday,Trevor Hennessey of Holden Massachusetts was reported missing by his family said Lt. James Kneeland. After his vehicle was found in a parking lot, a search was started and continued through the night.

About 8 a.m. Hennessey’s body was found in the woods near the Upper Ravine Trail.

Kneeland said Hennessey missed a sharp turn and struck a tree.

The body was found about 40 feet off the trail.

In the North Country Littleton is receiving a $500,000 grant to upgrade storm drainage and sewers in its River District, the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority announced Friday.

The $500,000 is available through a federal Community Development Block Grant. Littleton voted recently to come up with a little over $555,000 in matching funds.

This summer the state plans to help the developers of the Balsams by spending almost $3 million to fix a 1.8 mile road at the resort.

The seasonal Golf Links Road connects the now-closed Balsams hotel and the golf course.

The road, which belongs to the state, is in bad shape. Erosion, steep slopes and wetlands will make repairs along its 1.8 miles tricky, according to the minutes of a DOT meeting in January.