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
3:42 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Company Says Taking River Water For Balsams Snowmaking Would Hurt Hydroelectric Facilities

Withdrawing water from the Androscoggin River to provide snowmaking for the Balsams resort would adversely affect 15 hydro-electric facilities downstream, the Brookfield Renewable Energy Group says in a filing with the state’s Department of Environmental Services.

And, Brookfield can’t support the project unless there is a guarantee that the developers of the Balsams will compensate it for any lost revenues, according to a letter sent to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

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North Country
4:58 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Enviro Groups: Balsams' Plan To Make Snow From Androscoggin Water Needs More Detail

The resort closed in 2011. Developers hope to begin construction this summer if the legislature approves a $28 million state-backed loan.
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

Two environmental groups say they support the redevelopment of the Balsams resort, but more information is needed before the state gives its approval to water being taken from the Androscoggin River for snowmaking.

A key part of developer Les Otten’s redevelopment plan is greatly expanding the ski slopes but the extra snowmaking will require pumping water from the river about 10 miles to Dixville.

Taking that water requires the approval of the state’s Department of Environmental Services. The deadline for filing public comments on that request was last week. 

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NH News
1:13 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Crash In Stoddard Raises Another Question About Safety of ET Plus Guardrails

When struck by a vehicle the ET Plus end piece is designed to slide along the guardrail to keep from stopping a vehicle too abruptly.
Credit Trinity Industries

As state highway officials are considering whether as many as 5,000 ET Plus guardrails in the state pose a hazard to errant motorists, a Deerfield woman says she doesn’t have any doubts...

Last July Cheryl Turgeon was driving her sport utility vehicle on Route 9 in Stoddard when the 51-year-old dozed off and struck a guardrail.

“The railing went through the front wheel well and went between my legs and pushed my feet all the way to the back so it was like I was sitting on the railing.”

One leg was badly injured.

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North Country
9:03 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

Far North County To Get More Cell Coverage, High-speed Internet

Credit flickr by liewcf

For years a major complaint in the North Country has been the lack of cell service and high-speed internet. But plans to get more serious about fixing that were announced Thursday in Whitefield...

Before the end of the summer there will be cell service and high-speed internet available in more parts of the North Country including areas around Pittsburg and Errol.

“I stand before you today, the happiest guy in this room, because with this initiative going forward a lot of great things are going to happen, " said Steve Ellis, a selectman from Pittsburg.

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NH News
5:00 am
Thu March 26, 2015

The ET Plus Dilemma: Whether Many Of The State's Guardrails Pose A Danger

As many as 25 percent of the end posts used in New Hampshire are the ET Plus models shown here. All units, regardless of manufacturer, are marked in yellow and black.
Credit Courtesy of Trinity Industries

Whizzing along New Hampshire’s highways, most drivers probably don’t give much thought to those square black and yellow plates on the end of guardrails – called end plates. But there’s a concern that one of the models used in New Hampshire and many other states could be dangerous.

The worry is that, instead of guiding an errant vehicle away from danger as they are meant to do, the guardrail may pierce the passenger compartment and skewer its occupants.

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North Country
11:32 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Tender Corporation Plans New Building In Littleton

  A Littleton company is putting up a new, 117,000-square foot building.

Tender Corp. says the facility will be finished in about a year and will allow it to consolidate three facilities.

The company makes a wide range of first-aid products ranging from wilderness first-aid kits to After-Bite which is used to treat insect bites.

The company has about 160 employees and an official said some hiring is expected with the new building. It has been in Littleton since 1973.

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North Country
1:13 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Slideshow: A North Country Farmhouse Goes Up In Flames As Firefighters Practice

Not every fire has its own artist. Ard Berge, a painter who was visiting from New York, set up atop a snowbank.
Chris Jensen for NHPR

The old Lewis farmhouse on Lewis Hill Road in Bethlehem had been abandoned for decades and was so damaged it was beyond rehabilitation - so, the  new owner of the farmhouse and adjacent property decided the safest thing was to allow volunteer fire departments to burn it as a training exercise.

Click through the slideshow above to see photos by NHPR's Chris Jensen.

North Country
5:00 am
Mon March 23, 2015

Downhill Racers: In The North Country A Tough, New Venue For Going Faster, Farther

Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

For decades ski racers have gathered on slopes like Gary’s at Cannon Mountain. But some have had their eyes on the nearby, state-owned Mittersill ski area.

“Well, Franconia Ski Club for a long time has wanted to move its training operation,” said John DeVivo, the general manager at Cannon. “They’ve really wanted to be off of the main mountain and really out of everybody’s way and no surprise the general public has wanted that equally.”

And now there’s an effort to make two trails at Mittersill into first-class racing facilities that could host national competitions.

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North Country
3:12 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

After Six Generations, Making Sure The Family Farm Stays A Farm Forever

The Johnson farm covers 311 acres and includes two islands. Photo courtesy of The Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust.

Alarmed that farmland in New Hampshire is being lost to development, an unconventional type of conservation easement that encourages farming is literally gaining ground...

Tuesday Richard Johnson became the latest example.

Six generations of Johnson’s family have farmed 311 acres in Monroe since 1803.

At age 63, he’s the last of his family and it was an emotional moment when the burly, shy farmer signed an agreement that would ensure the acreage would remain farmland forever.

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North Country
4:04 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Three North Country Reps Voted To Kill Power Line Burial Bill

Three North Country legislators were among those who voted to kill a bill that would have recommended - but not required - elective, electric transmission lines on towers over 50 feet high be buried, ideally along state rights-of-way.

The bipartisan bill - H.B. 431 - was sponsored by Larry Rappaport, a Republican from Colebrook and several other North Country representatives. 

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North Country
12:09 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

How North Country Reps Voted On Gun Background Check Bill

Nine of 14 North Country representatives voted Wednesday to kill a bill that would have required criminal background checks on all commercial firearm sales.

All but one were Republicans.

Five Democrats opposed killing the measure.

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North Country
10:07 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Only One North Country Rep Votes Against Decriminalizing Marijuana

All but one of the North Country representatives voted Wednesday to decriminalize marijuana.

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North Country
10:11 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Colebrook Passes $6.5 Million Bond To Replace 1880 Water System

Voters in Colebrook approved a $6.5 million bond to replace the 1880's water system by a margin of about 15 to one.

The vote was 249 in favor and 17 against, Town Manager Becky Merrow said.

The system was leaking more than 70 percent of the water. That is the worst in the state, according to the state's Department of Environmental Services which has been pressuring the town to fix it.

Grants and other assistance will reduce the cost to about $3 million for the town of 2,300.

Town officials said if the bond had not passed they would have lost the grants.

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North Country
3:03 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Skier Killed During Charity Fundraiser At Wildcat

jddewit4 via Flickr CC

A 34-year-old man from North Conway participating in a charity fundraiser was killed Monday at the Wildcat Mountain ski area, according to a news release from Troop F of the state police.

Samuel Moore lost control in the 5-Corners area “tumbled down the trail and then fell over a 60-foot drop,” Troop F said.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

He was participating in the 12th annual 100,000 foot vertical challenge for Make-A-Wish New Hampshire.

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North Country
5:00 am
Sun March 8, 2015

Hassan Says State Needs To Support Balsams Redevelopment

Governor Hassan listens to arguments for redevelopment of The Balsams on Saturday.
Chris Jensen for NHPR

Governor Maggie Hassan was in the North Country Saturday and heard from roughly a half dozen local business owners who said they need the Balsams resort to reopen for their businesses to survive.

And, they also wanted the Democratic governor to somehow get the Republican controlled House and Senate to support the redevelopment of the Balsams.

Listen to the broadcast versions of this story:

One of the people she heard from was Mark Decareau, who five years ago bought the Diamond Peaks Motel & Store on Route 26 in Colebrook, where Hassan met the crowd.

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NH News
10:29 pm
Sat March 7, 2015

Woman Dies In Pembroke Snowmobile Crash

UPDATE: The woman killed in the crash was identified as 58-year-old Deirdre Ruth Dunlea. 

A snowmobile crash in Pembroke Saturday took the life of a 58-year-old woman from Londonderry, according to a news release from New Hampshire Fish and Game.

The woman missed a turn and hit an eight-inch tree, said Conservation Officer Lieutenant Jim Juneau.

Despite wearing a full-face helmet she sustained such serious injuries that she died at the scene.

She was riding with her husband and son who were on other snowmobiles.

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North Country
5:00 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Town Meeting: In Colebrook, A Multimillion Dollar Showdown With Its 1880s Water System

Pulpolux via Flickr Creative Commons

As voters head to Town Meetings on Tuesday one of the major issues in the North Country will be infrastructure repairs. That’s an issue Kevin McKinnon, who runs Colebrook’s water department, knows all too well...

A few years ago McKinnon was looking at a hydrant that had recently been removed from Main Street.

He was chipping through decades of paint to get to a part when a date began to emerge: 1884.

“I was a little shocked.”

 It was a clear reminder that Colebrook’s system was installed around 1880.

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North Country
8:19 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

135 Jobs In Littleton Moving To Milford

Hitchiner Manufacturing says over the next year it will be shutting down its Littleton manufacturing facility and moving those 135 jobs to an existing facility in Milford.

Employees who wish to move to Milford may do so and will get relocation assistance, the company said in a news release Thursday.

The company said the move was necessary due to “the operating economics of the Littleton facility” and its distance from it Milford operation ,which already has about 470 employees.

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North Country
1:46 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Senate Committee Balks At Funding For The Balsams

Dixville Capital developer Les Otten: Says he's confident the project can move forward.
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

A Senate Committee Wednesday sidelined a bill designed to provide state backing for a $28 million loan to the developers of the Balsams Resort. But developer Les Otten says he still hopes to begin construction in June.

The legislation is Senate Bill 30 and it would have provided a state guarantee for a $28 million bond to help Otten’s Dixville Capital LLC renovate and expand the Balsams resort.

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North Country
4:54 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Economic Study Done For Balsams Developer Predicts Huge Fiscal Boost For Coos

Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

The reopening and expansion of the Balsams resort would reverse more than a decade of declining wages and employment in Coos County, according to a new 25-page economic impact study by PolEcon Research of Dover.

It was commissioned by the developer, Dixville Capital LLC, headed by Maine entrepreneur Les Otten.

PolEcon said it had “full independence” from Dixville Capital and used “conservative” assumptions.

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North Country
7:55 pm
Sat February 28, 2015

Snowmobile Crash Seriously Injures Connecticut Man

A Connecticut man on a rented snowmobile suffered serious injuries Saturday apparently as the result of being run off the trail by riders going in the opposite direction, according to a news release from Fish and Game.

The victim, Jason Jeffrey, 38, of Newington, was pinned between a tree and his wrecked snowmobile.

The accident occurred about 12:30 pm on Corridor 11 also known as Jefferson Notch Road.

North Country
4:05 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Construction of Balsams Could Begin In June, But There Is A $28 Million Catch

The resort closed late in 2011, putting about 300 full or part-time employees out of work.
Chris Jensen for NHPR

The developers of the Balsams resort hope to begin construction in June for what could be the largest economic development project in the history of the job-poor North Country. But the go-ahead depends on passage of Senate Bill 30 which would put a state guarantee behind $28 million in bonds, the developers say.

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North Country
1:11 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

How North Country Reps Voted: Cutting Funds For Weatherizing Homes To Give More Money To Ratepayers

Eight of the 13 North Country representatives voting last week favored a bill that continues participation in in a regional cap-and-trade program, but stops funding energy efficiency projects such as helping people weatherize homes. Instead that money would be sent to ratepayers.

All those in favor were Republicans, while the five representatives voting against the bill were Democrats. Three other Democrats were excused from voting.

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North Country
10:48 am
Mon February 23, 2015

How North Country Reps Voted On Stopping Funding To Planned Parenthood

Credit Jimmy Emerson, Flickr CC

Nine of the 13 North Country representatives voted to kill a bill that would be taken tax dollars away from Planned Parenthood.

As NHPR reported House Bill 677 would have stopped sending tax dollars to the organization. It’s already illegal in the state to use public funds for abortions, but some lawmakers still believe that’s how the money is being spent.

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North Country
5:00 am
Mon February 23, 2015

In Berlin Victims Of Domestic Violence No Longer Risk Eviction For Calling Police For Help

Credit agrippa93 / Flickr

  Under pressure from federal regulators Berlin has changed a housing ordinance that could unintentionally result in victims of domestic violence being evicted from their homes for calling the police for help…

The ordinance that concerned federal regulators required landlords to evict tenants if the tenants were cited at least three times for being disorderly.

The idea was to reduce problems at some rental properties.

But victims of domestic violence were not specifically excluded.

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North Country
3:59 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

Garnet Hill's Dilemma: Could Moving Jobs From North Country Lead To More N.H. Jobs Overall?

Garnet Hill, the nationally known clothing and bedding retailer in Franconia, is moving about one fifth of its 200 jobs to Exeter. That distresses some in the North Country, but Garnet Hill’s president said it is part of a long-term strategy to increase business.

“We are a business that is very different from what we were five, six, seven years ago in the sense that over half of our business is done in women’s fashion apparel and 84 percent of our business is done online,” said Claire Spofford, who took over as president about a year ago.

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North Country
3:46 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Balsams Developers To Present Updated Renovation Plan

Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

    

  The developers of the Balsams will go before the Coos County Planning Board next Thursday to provide some new details of the planned $130 million renovation.

 “Since Les Otten and his team has come in the scope and the vision of the project has expanded greatly. So, we need to go back to the county planning board and formally re-introduce the project," said Scott Tranchemontagne, a spokesman for the developers including owners Dan  Hebert and Dan Dagresse who have been working with ski developer Les Otten.

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North Country
5:18 pm
Mon February 16, 2015

New York Hiker Found Dead In The White Mountains

Kate Matrosova - courtesy her Facebook page

    A 32-year-old  woman missing since Sunday in The White Mountains has been found dead...

Kate Matrosova’s body was found near Star Lake between Mount Madison and Mount Adams where she apparently died from exposure, said Lt. Wayne Saunders of New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Late Sunday afternoon Matrosova activated a personal locator beacon, signaling she needed help.

Fish and Game and volunteers from the Mountain Rescue Service and the Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue searched Sunday in high winds at temperatures of -20F.

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North Country
4:06 pm
Sun February 15, 2015

Mother And Son, New York Couple Hurt In Snowmobile Accidents

Four people from New York were injured in separate snowmobile accidents Sunday, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

About 11:30 Calian Huang of Jackson Heights, New York lost control of a rented machine in Randolph, hitting a tree. The 31-year-old and a passenger, Shuo Li, were both hurt with Huang’s injuries described as “serious but non-life threatening.”

About 30 minutes later a mother and son  were injured in an accident in Pittsburg when  Bettina Baloia, 48, of Scarsdale, New York  lost control of her machine and hit a tree.

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North Country
5:00 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Hard Work And Plenty Of Nostalgia Lead To Reopening Of Littleton Ski Area

First the kids had to listen to the speeches and then there was the skiing...
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

In the 1960’s Mount Eustis was where lots of kids learned to ski, Ron Lahout remembers.

“Once you reached a certain age your parents would dump you off and you would spend the whole day there.”

“It was booming. I mean the place was packed. There was a snack bar and that was also a big deal to see if you could get a couple of bucks out of your parents to get hot chocolate.”

But in the 80’s Mount Eustis closed, the victim of problems ranging from a couple winters without much snow to concerns about insurance.

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