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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North Country
4:49 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

The Polish Princess: Baking Bread And Helping The Economy One Job At a Time

The Polish Princess Bakery is expected to open on Main Street in Lancaster this October.
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

At 7:30 in the morning on the 4th of July Magdalena Randall is in her kitchen in Lancaster with mixing bowls, dough, a large baking oven and a dream...

Many people in the North Country couldn’t tell you her real name. To them she’s The Polish Princess, purveyor of European-style bread.

Randall started baking about six years ago. It was a way to supplement the family income and she missed the kind of bread she grew up eating in Poland.

She had zero experience but did some research and gave it a shot.

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North Country
2:00 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

North Country Hospitals Form Umbrella Group To Explore Lowering Costs

Faced with increasingly worrisome economic challenges, four North Country hospitals said Monday they have signed an agreement to work together to try and find ways to “improve quality, increase efficiencies and lower cost of health care delivery in the region.”

The hospitals said their problems range from growing healthcare costs to Medicaid payments that don’t always cover services provided to the poor.

And, the situation has been getting worse, said Russell Keene, the CEO at Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin.

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North Country
6:28 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Runaway Teen Found Near Jefferson After Five-Hour Search

Rescuers found a missing teenager in the woods near Jefferson just before midnight Monday, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Matthew Darr, who is 19 and has autism, had been staying at the Easter Seals Intensive Residential Treatment Facility in Lancaster.  But about 6:30 pm he ran away from his caregivers when their van stopped near a rest stop on Route 115.

Members of Fish and Game, State Police and local police began searching almost immediately and at one point a search dog from Fish and Game picked up the scent but then lost it in a swampy area.

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North Country
6:00 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Extra ATV Riders Prompting Extra Patrols

Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

Safety officials are expecting a large number of ATV enthusiasts will be following trails in the North Country over the holiday weekend and they’re saying safety patrols will be watching for reckless behavior...

The riders are being attracted by the new 1,000-mile network called Ride the Wilds, part of an economic development effort for the North Country.

“I’m asking them to drive safe. To be out there, to think about what they are doing,” said Fish and Game Lieutenant Wayne Saunders.  “Sober is huge.”

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North Country
5:26 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Hassan Signs Bill That Saves Tiny Millsfield From Huge Tax Hike

Governor Hassan signed a bill Wednesday that keeps about two dozen residents of tiny Millsfield in the North Country from having to pay huge increase in property tax bills...  

Millsfield was facing the increase in the state tax bill because of a deal Coos County commissioners – Paul Grenier, Tom Brady and Bing Judd - made in 2008.

That’s when they decided the value of a newly proposed wind farm –mostly in Millsfield - was $113 million.

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North Country
6:00 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Supreme Court: Criticism For Coos Officials But Tiny Millsfield Still Unsure About Huge Tax Hike

Millsfield resident Mark Sandoe is among those worried about what they see as a catastrophic increase in taxes over the value of the Granite Reliable wind farm, something in which the community had no say. Photo by Chris Jensen

  Despite a Supreme Court ruling in their case about a dozen households in tiny Millsfield in the North Country still don’t know whether they’ll be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes. But they do know that the state’s highest court concluded Coos County Commissioners were wrong to use a single remark to settle on the value of the Granite Reliable wind farm, which was the subject of the court case...

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North Country
8:01 am
Thu June 19, 2014

North Country Events

The newsletter typically announces events in the next week. The calendar shows you events in the coming months.

OUTDOOR CONCERTS
Thursday Whitefield 6 PM Country trio Tim Berry, Kerry Smith, Russ Beck

FARMERS' MARKETS
Friday Franconia 4-7 PM
Sunday Littleton 10 AM - 1 PM

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North Country
4:00 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Federal Grant To Help Promote "Ride The Wilds" ATV Tourism Effort

As part of "Ride the Wilds" some towns, such as Colebrook, are allowing ATV riders to use a few streets to reach businesses. Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

  An attempt to boost the economy of the North Country by drawing tourists to a 1,000-mile network of ATV trails is getting a boost itself as the federal government is providing about $152,000.

 “This is a tremendous shot in the arm for the 'Ride the Wilds' marketing program,” said Harry Brown, the president of New Hampshire Off Highway Vehicle Association.

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North Country
2:41 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Low Flow On Connecticut River Prompts Complaints From Trout Tourists

Tourism is a huge part of the economy in the North Country and many of those tourists head to the upper reaches of the Connecticut near Pittsburg.

But those going up to fish for trout have noticed the river is lower than usual, Cindy Howe, one of the owners of the Tall Timber Lodge in Pittsburg said earlier this week.

“Well, right now the water coming out of the three dams which affect the fishing in the area is quite low. TransCanada has reduced the flows substantially and it is making it a little bit tougher on the fishing,” she said.

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NHPR Blogs
3:11 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Foodstuffs: A Brewery In The North Country

Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

A family from Michigan is behind a newly opened brewery in the North Country.  Schilling Beer Company is located in an old grist mill next to the Ammonoosuc River in Littleton.

That fulfills the Cozzens' family dream of one day having such a business, said CEO Jeff Cozzens.  He and brothers Matt and Stuart, parents, Bruce and Kathy and a best friend, John Lenzini, opened The Schilling Beer Company last September.

It’s named for a grandfather, Richard Schilling.

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North Country
5:00 am
Tue June 3, 2014

ATV Use On Roads Boosts Economy, But Safety Group Says It Is A Risky Business

Route 2 in Gorham. Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

 

 

The key to the new “Ride The Wilds” ATV trails network in the North Country is allowing riders to use some roads to get into towns and reach food, fuel and lodging, thus boosting the region’s economy.  But that’s part of a nationwide trend that has some safety researchers worried.

 

“At this point in the United States more ATV deaths are happening on roads than are happening off-road,” says Rachel Weintraub, a researcher with the Consumer Federation of America. 

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North Country
4:17 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Profile High School: Racing Bikes In A League Not Their Own

Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

Bike road racing is an expensive sport typically associated with prep schools. But, on a May afternoon, a North Country school is challenging that tradition as bike racers from around the state wheel away from Profile School in Bethlehem.

Soon they are huffing and puffing with youthful grit up Route 117 into Sugar Hill.

It is a long climb.

And it is only going to get worse.

At Blake Road they take a sharp right. Then, as the corner unfolds they see another hill so steep it looks like somebody painted a road on a wall.

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North Country
2:50 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Half The Wood For Berlin Biomass Coming From New Hampshire

About 51 percent of the wood purchased for the new Burgess BioPower biomass plant in Berlin during its first two months of operation came from New Hampshire, according to a new “sustainability” report filed with the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.

Thirty-five percent came from Maine.

Five percent from Vermont.

Eight percent from Massachusetts.

And "one truck load" came from Canada.

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North Country
5:00 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Tiny Millsfield: 'Collateral Damage' In A Fight Over Wind Farm Taxes

Millsfield resident Mark Sandoe worries a huge increase in taxes will make his house impossible to sell. Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

It would be easy to miss Millsfield. The unincorporated place in the North Country is home to 10 households, many of which are tucked away in the woods, and just two businesses, a bed and breakfast called A Peace of Heaven and the Log Haven restaurant.

“Electricity didn’t show up until the 60s,” said Luc Cote, who’s lived in Millsfield for roughly forty years. “Phone line didn’t come up until mid-60s as well.”

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North Country
5:34 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Expanding Balsams Ski Resort: Money, Jobs And A Regulatory Challenge

Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR.

If Maine entrepreneur Les Otten can expand the ski area of the closed Balsams resort he says it would create about 1,000 full or part-time jobs.

That’s something the region desperately needs. But it isn’t clear whether Otten has the money or can work through a regulatory tangle including safety issues.

The issue is being raised after Otten said he would like to work with Dan Hebert and Dan Dagesse, the owners of the closed resort.

One issue is a safety concern. Can the huge blades on the 410-foot tall turbines throw chunks of ice far enough to endanger skiers?

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