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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Plymouth State University

Plymouth State University is reorganizing its Center for Rural Partnerships to provide more resources to help communities and businesses. And it gets a name change: now it will be the Center for Business and Community Partnerships.

But the big difference is that resources from throughout the university will be available, says Donald Birx, who took over last year as president.

That help ranges from arts and technology to health and human enrichment, tourism, environment and sustainable development, Birx says.

“Now, we’ve broadened the scope immensely.”

A Rhode Island man was killed in a snowmobile accident Saturday and two other men were injured in separate crashes, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

The fatality occurred in Lincoln on the Power Line Trail near Bog Pond, said Lt. James Kneeland.

Kneeland said 29-year-old Jordan F. Desousa of Warwick died of injuries before he could be transported to a hospital.

Kneeland said it appears Desousa hit a water bar across the trail, lost control of his snowmobile and hit a tree.

A 31-year-old man suffering from hypothermia and a leg injury was rescued late Friday afternoon from Mount Cardigan in Orange, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Mark Ireland of Somerville fell as he was leaving the summit and couldn’t walk, said Lt. James Kneeland, of Fish and Game.

Kneeland said Ireland was hiking alone, lacked much of the winter gear needed for safe travel and was lucky that several other hikers found him.

He was later carried off the mountain by rescuers and taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

A 65-year-old Nashua man who died hiking the Franconia Ridge on February 13 suffered a heart attack, the state’s medical examiner says.

Maxim Raykin was with four companions when he collapsed near the summit of Little Haystack Mountain.

His companions failed to revive him and helped carry the body down the Falling Waters Trail where they were met by rescuers.

Fish and Game said Raykin was an experienced hiker who was well equipped and had hiked the Franconia Ridge many times.

h080 / Flickr/cc

Lancaster could become the first town in the North Country to extensively use solar energy to help cover its electric costs. But that’s contingent on getting an okay from voters next month.

The proposal, going before voters at the March town meeting, would pay for a series of solar panels providing about 121 kilowatts, says town planner Ben Gaetjens-Oleson.

“We’re looking at placing three solar arrays at two locations, one at the transfer station, one at the waste-water lagoon to run the aerators and one also at the lagoons for the chlorinator building," he said.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

 

A 45-year-old Massachusetts woman suffered serious injuries Monday afternoon when her snowmobile crashed in Pittsburg, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Laura King of Danvers lost control of her snowmobile – apparently when she inadvertently accelerated - and hit some trees adjacent to the trail she was riding on.

She suffered injuries described as severe but not life threatening.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The North Country is pinning its much of its hope for an economic boost on the effort to reopen the Balsams Resort, but a tourism official says the region should have a Plan B.

“I would really encourage the development of two strategies," says Gloria Bruce, the executive director of the Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association.

“One, in the event that the Balsams were to open, which I think would be fantastic, what does that look like, what are the outcomes, what do we need to plan for.”

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The warm winter is having a terrible impact on businesses tied to snowmobiles and logging, says Wayne Frizzell the president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and a Colebrook native.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The redevelopment of the Balsams will take another step forward soon, says Ed Brisson, an official with Dixville Capital LLC.

“In the next couple of weeks we will be coming in with ski area site plan approval as well as, we anticipate coming in with plans for renovating Dix and Hampshire House,” he said.

Those plans would go before the Coos Planning Board, which must approve them before work can begin.

"We are actually looking to put a shovel in the ground sometime this summer," he said.

He said there would be a series of applications in the coming months.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Federal regulators say that the circus tent that collapsed during a storm last year in Lancaster killing a father and daughter and injuring dozens of others hadn’t been put up properly.

Walker International Events, which ran the circus, is being cited for 14 “serious” violations of safety standards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says.

Those violations include not properly anchoring the tent stakes.

Courtesy of New Hampshire Fish and Game

Two teenagers from Amesbury, Massachusetts were  rescued Wednesday after their snowmobiles broke through the ice and were partially submerged, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Jacob Bent and Victoria Holbrook, both 17, were crossing the First Connecticut Lake in Pittsburg at about 1 p.m. when their machines broke through the first layer of ice, sank about three feet and then came to rest on another layer of more solid ice, said Conservation Officer Eric Fluette.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A three-day sled dog race scheduled to start Thursday has been cancelled due to a lack of snow in the North Country.

“Honestly I’ve never seen a winter this bad since I moved up here and started running sled dogs," said Jaye Foucher, one of the organizers of The Great North Woods Sled Dog Challenge who has lived in the North Country for 13 years.

"I had hoped that the winter would turn around," she said.

The event was scheduled to start in Bretton Woods and then move to Colebrook, Pittsburg and Milan.

A lack of snow in the North Country has forced the cancellation of the 24th Annual SnoDeo at Coleman State Park, according to organizers.

Although many trails are open in the area, an official from the Swift Diamond Riders Snowmobile Club said it doesn’t look like enough snow will fall before March 3 and 4th to make the event  feasible.

A main feature of the event has been snowmobile test rides from four manufacturers.

It is the first cancellation since the event - which provides an economic boost to the area - began in 1993.

A 30-year-old Seabrook man was killed Monday afternoon in a snowmobile crash near Pittsburg, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Eric Tatarinowicz lost control of his snowmobile in a turn and struck a tree about five miles north of Back Lake Road, said Conservation Officer Glen Lucas.

Efforts by his companions to revive him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

An autopsy was planned Sunday for a Nashua man who died Saturday while hiking on the Franconia Ridge Trail, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

However, it could take several weeks for the results, said Lt. James Kneeland.

Maxim Raykin, 65, collapsed about 11 a.m. near the summit of Little Haystack Mountain while hiking with four companions, Kneeland said.

“Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.  He was carried from the exposed ridge by his companions, down the Falling Waters Trail to escape the treacherous weather,” Kneeland said.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

If the voting in Bethlehem is typical it could be a very busy day at the polls in the North Country.

“The turnout has been phenomenal. People are coming out in droves," says Ellen Roy, a supervisor of the checklist. “We had so many new voters, people that have never voted before, across the board in age.”

And that was all before 1 p.m.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

At Dixville Notch the traditional midnight primary voting took less than a minute for the ballots to be cast by the four Republicans, four independents and one Democrat.

Moderator Tom Tillotson announced the results.

“On the Republican side we have for Donald J. Trump two. For John R. Kasich we have three. On the Democratic side we have four votes cast for Bernie Sanders. None for Hillary.”

The vote took place at the shuttered Balsams Resort. Most of the voters in previous years moved away after the resort closed late in 2011.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

It’s roughly 10 degrees on Saturday morning at the Mahoosuc Inn in Milan and about 200 sled dogs are yowling and barking, making it clear it is time to race.

There are 17 teams entered in the Mahoosuc 100 and each has 12 incredibly impatient, excited dogs.

The mushers move among them. There are hugs and licks.

And, preparation.

The dogs throw themselves against their harnesses and are so eager to go that an ATV is hooked to the back of each sled to hold the dogs back as they approach the starting line.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

For the first time in five decades the Appalachian Mountain Club wants to build a new hut, which would be its ninth,  in the mountains of the North Country.

The group wants the state to lease it land in the almost 6,000 acre Crawford Notch State Park.

But the proposal is controversial and even New Hampshire Fish and Game has objections.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen has been looking into this and spoke recently with Morning Edition host Rick Ganley.

What makes this controversial?

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The top official with the Attorney General’s Charitable Trusts Unit said Tuesday there is nothing wrong with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests's plan to modify a conservation easement to help the developer of the Balsams resort.

The change "does not propose or threaten a change of overall purpose," Thomas J. Donovan, the director of Charitable Trusts, wrote in a 12-page letter.

A North County woman has been named to a Site Evaluation Committee group to consider the Northern Pass project.
 
Rachel Whitaker of Stark will serve as  one of two public members on the subcommittee.  She fills a spot left vacant by the death of Roger Hawk.

The citizen positions are new, following a legislative restructuring of the SEC in an attempt to streamline it and make it more responsive to the public’s concerns.

Narcan, also known as naloxone, is an anti-overdose drug.
Paige Sutherland for NHPR

Citing concern about illegal drug use, the Berlin school board will be making the anti-overdose drug Narcan available in its schools.

Almost six percent of Berlin high school students admitted trying heroin at least once, according to a 2013 student survey prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says Corinne Cascadden, the superintendent of the Berlin schools.

A food co-op in Littleton has been so successful that it plans to expand the size of its building next year. And now some people are exploring whether to try the same thing in Berlin.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

On Friday Senator Jeanne Shaheen said the federal government should take the problem with heroin and opioids as seriously as its concern over Ebola.

She made the comments during a meeting with about two dozen health and social workers, educators and police at the Berlin High School.

She said while the budget Congress approved last month has more money to deal with drug problems it is not enough.

Matt Bowman - Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue

With winter now here, New Hampshire's search-and-rescue teams are watching for storms in the Presidential mountains and worrying that once again, a hiker will make a decision that puts lives at risk.

That's what happened last February, when Kate Matrosova, a 32 year-old from New York, who thought she could beat an approaching storm.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

In 2008, when some North Country residents were trying to start a food co-op in Littleton, one of the goals was to support the region’s economy by buying as much locally as possible.

Six years later, the co-op is buying about $1.7 million a year in the area, says the Co-op’s general manager, Ed King.

“The local food and producer business is probably 25 percent of our business. That is a pretty good chunk of money going back into the local economy," he said.

That money goes to producers like Tim Wennrich.

An artist's conception of the new hotel expected to open in the spring of 2017.Credit Mt. Washington Auto RoadEdit | Remove

From the 1880s until the late 1960s, visitors to the Mt. Washington Auto road could stay in a hotel right at its base.

Now the company that owns the road wants to rebuild that hotel.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

During a town hall meeting Tuesday night in Bethlehem Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio covered plenty of policy turf -- including the New England Patriots.

"Tom Brady should retire, because the Miami Dolphins deserve a chance to win the AFC,” Rubio declared.

Laughter mixed with the tiniest rumble of boos...

“When I’m president, Tom Brady is going to be secretary of the Air Force," Rubio continued. "He knows a lot about throwing stuff and flying…and the Miami Dolphins will have a chance to win the division."

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A 54-year-old Massachusetts man suffering from hypothermia was rescued Tuesday in the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area, according to Lt. James Kneeland of Fish and Game.

Christopher Wright of Mattapoisett triggered an emergency locator beacon about 1:30 pm and the request for help was relayed to Fish and Game.

Two Fish and Game officers found Wright in his tent on the bank of the Franconia Brook, warmed him and escorted him out of the woods. Kneeland said Wright, who was on a two-day trip, had appropriate gear but said he wasn’t able to stay dry during steady rain.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

At a town hall meeting in Bethlehem, N.H. on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said the United States must be willing to use military force to stand up for allies such as the Philippines against China’s encroachment on fishing rights and attempts to expand its territorial waters. He compared China’s actions to the use of force by Russia in neighboring Ukraine last year.

“It is not unlike what Vladimir Putin has done in Crimea. He invaded a neighboring country, he took over an area of that country and today everyone has just accepted it.”

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