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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New Hampshire Fish and Game

A snow-machine crash has claimed the life of a Sunapee man. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.


A 36-year-old Sunapee man died Saturday morning in a snow machine crash near Stewartstown.

Fish and Game said the victim was Jason Montambeault who had been riding about 1:30 in the morning with two friends near Piper Hill.

The friends last saw him crossing a field near his camp.

When he didn’t arrive a few hours later they thought he had gone to visit friends.

But shortly after dawn they were worried and a search began.

Seven North Country legislators were among those voting to pass HB 1666, a bill that gives lawmakers the final say on collective bargaining agreements with the State.

Five were opposed and four were excused from voting.  

As reported by NHPR:

The legislation is just the latest effort by Republicans in Concord to rein in the costs of public employee contracts.

The North Country’s Senator John Gallus, a Republican from Berlin, was among the 17 senators voting Wednesday in favor of a constitutional school funding amendment.

There were seven “no” votes.

As reported by NHPR’s Josh Rogers:

New Hampshire Business Review is reporting that a potential buyer for the Isaacson Structural Steel in Berlin has fallen through.

The review reports Heico, a construction conglomerate, was seriously considering buying the company but has since backed out.

An auction is currently set for February 29th, raising a question about the future of the company’s roughly 150 employees.

Coos County residents receive far more help in federal funds than the national average, according StateImpact NH, a project between NHPR and NPR.

StateImpact’s Amanda Loder examined a recent story in The New York Times that investigated how much help various counties nationwide get from the federal government.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A pilot project in Berlin is helping homeowners get sophisticated boilers that are automatically fed wood pellets.

The idea is to persuade people throughout the region that they can save money and say goodbye to oil while bolstering the region’s forest economy.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.


Peter Canning is in basement of his home on a hillside overlooking Berlin.

He’s showing off his new wood-pellet boiler.

“You can open up down in the bottom here. I can show you how the pellets come in if you want to kneel down here and take a peek.”

Congressman Charlie Bass will hold a town meeting in Berlin Saturday, February 11th, from 11 a.m. to noon in Berlin’s City Hall.

“Constituents with questions, comments, or those in need of assistance on a federal matter are welcome to attend,” according to a news release from Bass’ office.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Town meetings begin next month.

One issue some towns are looking at is a radical new tactic ultimately designed to challenge the legal power of corporations.

Opponents of the Northern Pass hydroelectric project are at the forefront of the move.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.


Northern Pass opponents have won what they see they see as a victory in their fight against the huge hydro-electric project.

A 51-year-old Massachusetts man died in a snow machine accident in Milan Wednesday night, according to a news release from new Hampshire Fish and Game.

The victim was identified as Kenneth Smalley Jr. 51 of North Billerica.

Smalley was the last rider in a group of four when he lost control of his snow machine on a corner and hit several trees, according to the release. He died at the scene from what were described as “extensive injuries.”

Ayesha Khan says her documentary – Made in Pakistan – being shown late this week in Plymouth, Bethlehem and Concord tries to show Americans a different perspective on Pakistan than the one they typically get from watching the news.

That perspective comes from a look at the lives of four professionals, two men and two women.

They are described as an aspiring politician; a young mother, teacher and magazine editor; an event manager working in the fashion industry; and a lawyer and devout Muslim.

Courtesy of Evan Embrey

While he was hunkered down in his sleeping bag waiting to be rescued from just below the Franconia Ridge a man from Maine says he was no longer worried about himself, but about the Fish and Game officers headed his way in the dark, poor visibility and high winds.

“You feel kind of horrible putting other people in that situation,” said Evan Embrey, 24, of Buxton, Maine.

Embrey told NHPR he was hiking on the ridge between Mt. Lafayette and Little Haystack Mountain when winds picked up,

“It was pushing me over, so it had to be gusts of 50 or 60 mile per hour,” he said.

Here is how the North Country representatives voted on Wednesday when the House passed a resolution – HCR32 - calling for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations “so that the United States may retain its sovereignty and control over its own funds and military forces.”

It passed 188 – 129.

Here are the North Country representatives voting in favor:

* Lyle Bulis (Republican) of Littleton

* Edmond Gionet (Republican) of Lincoln.

Here’s how North Country representatives voted on a resolution passed by the House Wednesday to express support for Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

The resolution is HCR2.

Part of the Arizona law requires the police to determine the immigration status of a person they have detained and whether the suspect is in the country illegally. The U.S. Supreme Court has said in December it would consider the law, NPR has reported.

On Wednesday the House approved HB 574, which repeals the Emergency Powers Act

The Emergency Powers Act says during a declared emergency – with the permission of the governor and the executive council - the government can take property ranging from vehicles to “provisions for man or beast… in excess of the reasonable and immediate needs of the owner and the owner's household.”

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A Chicago-based company – The Heico Companies - is interested in buying Isaacson Steel in Berlin, which is undergoing bankruptcy, the New Hampshire Business Review is reporting today.

The Business Review quoted “several parties involved with the bankruptcy,” as the source.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The full report on a plan to revitalize Berlin’s downtown is now available here on the city’s website.

It details how to make the area the social and economic focus of the city.




Lynch On Northern Pass

Jan 31, 2012
Chris Jensen for NHPR

The controversial Northern Pass hydro-electric project “cannot happen without local support” and “should not happen with eminent domain,” Gov. Lynch’s said today in his State of the State address.

Here is the paragraph from his speech:

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Josh St. Onge spent about three hours working on a resume to apply for one of the new jobs at the Federal Correctional Institute in Berlin. Good thing he didn’t just turn it in.

“It was nothing close to what needed to be done,” said St. Onge after getting help from the Northern New Hampshire Talent Team.

The Talent Team is a coalition of North Country groups working to help people interested in jobs at the federal prison with the rigorous and complex job application.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The new owners of the Balsams resort in Dixville Notch are pulling together the money they need for a massive renovation. And, they hope federal programs will give them a big boost. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Late last year North-Country businessmen Dan Herbert and Dan Dagesse bought the Balsams Grand Resort in Dixville Notch for about $2.3 million.

Now they are looking for the money they need for an extensive renovation.

It is badly needed to make the resort competitive, get it open again and put hundreds of people back to work.

StateImpact’s Amanda Loder has an interesting analysis – with some help from the Concord Monitor – at how opposition to eminent domain breaks out demographically and by political persuasion.

Here’s her report.

StateImpact NH is a cooperative project between NHPR and NPR.


Flickr - Images of Money

North Country representatives were evenly split on a bill  Gov. Lynch said would allow lenders to charge an annual percentage rate of 400 percent interest. 

Senator John Gallus (Republican) of Berlin voted against the bill.

Four reps were excused from voting.

On Friday Gov. Lynch vetoed that bill, Senate Bill 160.

Fire officials say one person died yesterday in a house fire on Swiftwater Road in Woodsville.

The fire was reported about 3 p.m. and while fighting the fire a body was found on the second floor of the home, according to a news release from the state fire marshal’s office.

The positive identification of the victim and autopsy results are pending.

Fire officials said they didn’t find any working smoke alarm on either the first or second floor of the home.

As reported by NHPR the Senate recently delayed action on three gun bills.

The bills had already passed the House.

Here’s how sixteen representatives from the North Country voted before the bills went to the Senate.

House Bill 536which would allow carrying a concealed gun without getting a special permit.

It passed 193 – 122.

In six years a North Country group has helped low and moderate income families get more than two million dollars in tax refunds. Now the free service is underway again. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Once again the Family Resource Center of Gorham is offering free tax preparation for families and individuals earning no more than $58,000.

Last year a record 422 returns were prepared by trained volunteers.

That gave some for North Country residents a fiscal boost.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The Boston Herald is reporting that a grand jury met in Lancaster last Friday and questioned witnesses about the death of Celina Cass of Stewartstown.

The story quoted two witnesses as saying the questions focused on Wendell Noyes, the stepfather of Celina Cass.

The witnesses were Noyes’ mother, Eunice Richards, and other family members.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A Whitefield firm wants to buy part of Isaacson Steel in Berlin and hopes to save those jobs. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Last year Isaacson Steel in Berlin filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The company has about 150 employees in two operations.

One does steel fabrication for buildings.

The other, much smaller operation, sells steel. It has 19 employees.

The smaller operation is what Presby Steel of Whitefield wants to buy.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The National Transportation Safety Board has concluded its investigation into the crash of a tour bus in Littleton last year saying no action is required.

The crash occurred on March 21stand involved a tour bus carrying 23 Korean tourists, a guide and a driver. It was coming from Canada and was headed for Boston.

An ambitious plan to revitalize Berlin’s downtown and make it the social and economic focus of the city is finished and now officials are looking around for millions of dollars to carry it out.

"The downtown is the heart of the community. If people come through our downtown and don’t feel it is alive the people will pass on and go to another community,” said Sylvia Poulin, the chairperson of the Main Street Program.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A new study says far fewer jobs will be created by the Northern Pass than the utility has forecast, according to StateImpact, a project between NHPR and NPR.

Here’s part of Amanda Loder’s report:

“Today, the New England Power Generators Association released a report it commissioned from PolEcon Research.  The Association is one of the major opponents of the Northern Pass project. 

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Lynne Placey, a North Country woman who’s struggling to make ends meet but has refused to take money from Northern Pass, has been given $2,650 by a group that admires her gumption.

Placey, of Stewartstown, says she turned down an offer of around $500,000 from Northern Pass for a right-of-way on her land although her only income is Social-Security and giving piano lessons.

“She’s a modern-day hero,” said Rikki Ramsden, one of the owners of Atta Girl Records of Thornton, which was behind the fund-raising effort.