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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Chris Jensen for NHPR

Citing a desire to avoid a confrontation with a legislative committee, the Site Evaluation Committee Wednesday softened proposed a rule involving "public interest" as part of its consideration of new utility projects.

The issue at the meeting was whether the Site Evaluation Committee had gone beyond what the legislature intended when it ordered the body’s reorganization so it would better serve "the public good" and "provide clarity" about its rules and how it makes decisions.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The developers of the Balsams Resort told Coos County officials Tuesday night they hope to begin construction and renovation of the buildings on June 1st of next year.

That raises the possibility at least part of the now-closed resort could be open by the end of 2016 or early in 2017.

However, a spokesman for the developer said some other work may start earlier.

The news came during a meeting between the developers and the Coos County Planning Board to try and work out details of a long-range, multi-year concept plan.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Over the next year, the state’s Site Evaluation Committee will consider whether to okay the controversial Northern Pass project.  Eventually it is also likely to weigh in on at least one wind farm and the Kinder Morgan pipeline.  That puts a spotlight on the committee-- made up of seven state officials and two members of the public.

 The Department of Energy on Thursday released a supplemental environmental impact statement on Northern Pass’ plan to bury an additional 52 miles of its 192-mile route. The federal agency also said it would hold three public hearings on the 36-page document next month.

The issue of whether the Coos County Planning Board is moving quickly enough as it considers the renovation of the shuttered Balsams resort came up Wednesday night in Colebrook and in contrast to the board's normal, civil demeanor there were sharp and angry words.

Mike Pelchat

Monday  afternoon a 24-year-old hiker who thought he could take the Cog Railway down after climbing Mount Washington was rescued after making trying to descend the steep Huntington Ravine Trail. The hiker, Andy Nguyen of Billerica, Massachusetts, was at the summit when he found out the trains were no longer operating, said Sgt. Mark Ober of New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Marcelo Graciolli/Flickr

For nearly as long as anyone can remember, there’s been talk about expanding broadband and cell coverage in the North Country. Last spring several small groups in the region announced plans to provide faster internet and better cell reception. Among others, Sen Jeanne Shaheen was there to applaud the announcement.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Sometime next year an official with the White Mountain National Forest will try to answer a complex question: How wild should the wilderness be?

The issue is whether to remove – or replace - a decrepit bridge in the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has declared the landscape along the 192-mile route Northern Pass wants to use for its transmission lines to be a “national treasure" and says the project threatens “New Hampshire’s historic character.”

Chris Jensen for NHPR

  The Department of Energy says Northern Pass' new plan to bury 52 more miles of the controversial line will require additional study and it is cancelling public hearings planned in October.

The new review was requested by conservation groups and New Hampshire's congressional delegation. They told the DOE that burying an additional 52 miles was not one of the routes in the draft Environmental Impact Statement released earlier this year. So, they argued, the draft was incomplete.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Egg is dripping down Jeff Colt’s bare back as he stands in the kitchen of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Greenleaf Hut just below Mount Lafayette. Such is the peril of carrying about 28 pounds of eggs along with 50 pounds of other food.

But then again, running a restaurant high in The White Mountains is a little different than running one in Portsmouth, Laconia or Colebrook.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

In Whitefield Wednesday night, Northern Pass officials told Coos residents burying the entire transmission line would be so expensive the project couldn't move forward.

The public meeting for Coos County was one of a series required by the state before Northern Pass can seek approval from the state's Site Evaluation Committee.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

For just over two decades three towns in the North Country have held a Moose Festival at the end of August. And, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that such an homage would include a moose calling contest.

This one started with a demonstration by Roger Irwin, a wildlife photographer and experienced moose vocalist.

Now I’ll try and do a cow call. This is the cow. She’s asking for a bull to come visit her.”

There were about a dozen folks trying to make that moosey come-hither sound.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

For the first time in five decades the Appalachian Mountain Club wants to build a new, year-around hut in the mountains of the North Country.

It would be in the Crawford Notch State Park and could accommodate about 50 hikers, says Paul Cunha, the AMC’s Vice President of Operations.

“It would be a medium-sized hut located up above Ripley Falls and providing wonderful connections to the existing hut system connecting with Zealand and Mizpah.”

It would join eight other huts, the first built in 1888. The last was Mizpah Springs. It opened 50 years ago.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte says she’s not satisfied with Eversource’s plan to bury an additional 52 miles of the controversial Northern Pass project.

The utility said last week it would bury a total of 60 of the 192 miles.

“They certainly made a step forward, but I think there is more that they could do,” Ayotte told NHPR.

In 2013 Ayotte told NHPR the entire line should be buried.

But Saturday she stopped short of saying that’s still her position.

She said she is still studying the change.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The Raymond S. Burton Museum and Learning Center opened in Bath Saturday to honor the man who represented the North Country for more than 30 years, serving as both a Grafton County Commissioner and Executive Council member. He died in 2013 of kidney cancer.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Friends and foes of the Northern Pass project will have another chance to express their views next month at a series of public meetings around the state.

Under state regulations Northern Pass must hold such meetings at least 30 days before it can file an application with the Site Evaluation Committee.

In addition to federal approval the SEC’s approval is necessary for the project to be built.

The format includes a project overview  from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. There will be questions and answers from 6:30 to 7:30 with comments taken from 7:30 to 10:30 pm.


The VA has opened a new health clinic in Colebrook, part of a plan to expand coverage to veterans in the North Country.

It is using some exam room and office space at the Indian Stream Health Center, says Dr. Hugh Huizenga, the Chief of Primary Care at the White River Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

It is starting out two days a week but plans to expand to every weekday as new staffers are hired, he said.

It will offer services including primary care and mental-health counseling.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

At this time of year farms across the state are brimming with corn and tomatoes, zucchini and beans.  And if you stop by one of those farms to pick up some of that fresh produce it’s then up to you to find a way to prepare it at home.  But at Ski Hearth Farm in Sugar Hill you can pick up dinner such as new potatoes with season pesto; chilled chickpea-tahini soup and a salad, all ready to go.

Davis and Tina Mangold recently bought the well-known farm once owned by Sel Hannah. And it was their idea to start preparing carry out dinners.

Department of Energy

Last week Eversource official Lee Olivier told analysts that the company still thinks completely burying the Northern Pass line is “unnecessary” and “prohibitively expensive.”

But, he said, some additional burial might be possible.

That comes in response to the release of a new report from the Department of Energy that includes a look at the issue.

For years opponents of the controversial Northern Pass project have contended the overhead transmission lines could be buried.

And Northern Pass officials have insisted burial is too expensive.

A state official says about 50 people -- roughly half of the spectators in the circus tent that collapsed in Lancaster Monday killing a man and his daughter -- sustained some kind of injuries, although many were minor.

Chris Jensen for NHPR



State officials say the father and daughter killed Monday evening in the collapse of a circus tent in Lancaster were from Concord, Vermont.

They were identified as 41 year-old Robert Young, and his six-year-old daughter Annabelle,

State fire marshal Bill Degnan said they died of “blunt force trauma” from beams that had been supporting the tent.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon Degnan also faulted the circus operators.

“The circus did not have a place-of-assembly permit and that is one of the things were are looking into.”

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Update at 3:30 p.m.

Authorities say the father and daughter who were killed when the circus tent collapsed during the storm were from the town of Concord, Vermont.

They were identified Tuesday as 41-year-old Robert Young and 8-year-old Annabelle Young. Fire Marshal William Degnan says an autopsy showed they died of blunt force trauma.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

State officials will be investigating Tuesday whether a circus tent at the Lancaster fairgrounds that collapsed in a storm Monday evening - killing a father and daughter - was properly set up, State Fire Marshal Bill Degnan said.

Gov. Maggie Hassan is asking anyone who was there to reach out to the fire marshal's office.

Dixville Capital

More details on the proposed redevelopment of the Balsams Resort in the North Country are available as developers seek a zoning change in the North Country.

The new Balsams resort would start with 4,600 “dwelling units” ranging from hotel rooms to condos.

Its core would be called the Balsams Lake Village and would be anchored around the historic Dix and Hampshire houses, which would be “largely preserved.” The village would include shops and restaurants.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The resurrection of the closed Balsams Resort in the North Country got past a critical hurdle Thursday as state officials approved a request to take water from the Androscoggin River for snowmaking.

The Department of Environmental Services report said the Balsams’ developers could take about 22 million gallons of water a day and pump it about nine miles to the resort.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

When it comes to what floats your boat there are many possibilities.

For a retired North Country doctor it is literally corks.

About 65,000 wine corks are keeping his home-built catamaran afloat on the Connecticut River and on a recent morning at the Bedell State Park near Haverhill a group of teenagers was transfixed when they saw it in the water.

“Look at that guys, the boat is made out of wine corks!"

"No way."

"You drank all the wine yourself, right?"

"That is so sick."


The Department of Energy has released a long-awaited draft of its Environmental Impact Statement examining the Northern Pass project as well as alternatives including complete or partial burial.

The agency found that full burial of the lines would have the smallest impact visually but would be about twice as expensive.

However, it would also provide about 1,500 jobs, almost twice as many as putting the lines overhead.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A series of violent thunderstorms struck the North Country Sunday evening with the worst hitting Littleton and Bethlehem just before 7 p.m., said Michael Cempa with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

“We were indicating fifty to sixty mile per hour gusts on our radar.”

Within minutes dozens of trees were felled, often blocking roads.

At one point one lane of Interstate 93 in Bethlehem was closed by a downed tree.

Nicole McGrath and her daughter were just trying to drive to their home in Bethlehem when one of those trees hit their car.