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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Earlier this month, the Berlin City Council adopted a ban on synthetic marijuana. Now  Littleton is considering the same thing, but it has decided to let voters decide..

The ordinance will go on the ballot because there’s a controversy in town about a ban, says Milton Bratz, the chairman of the select board.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

For 15 years the Cold Mountain Café in Bethlehem has been a fixture in the North Country.

But when one of its co-owners died, it looked like the café might close.

That is until the owner’s daughter decided to turn to the community for help.

To a large extent Kate Foley grew up in the café her father co-owned, waiting tables and becoming friends with hundreds of customers.

But when she decided she wanted to buy the half of the business owned by her father’s partner she ran into a big challenge.

Money.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Almost six years after it opened the only food co-op the North Country plans to expand so it can offer more locally produced food...

On average the Littleton Food Co-op has almost 5,000 customers a week and many of them want organic or locally produced food, says Ed King, the general manager.

So, the seven-member, elected board voted to expand.

“Obviously we’re focusing on the categories in our store that are most successful and I think natural, organic and local products are the linchpin of our business.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Slightly more than half of the North Country legislators voted Wednesday in favor of allowing concealed weapons to be carried in the House chamber and Legislative Office Building.

The measure passed 248 – 149.

Those voting in favor of allowing concealed weapons:

* Brad Bailey, Republican, of Monroe

* Edmond Gionet, Republican, of Lincoln

* Erin Hennessey, Republican, of Littleton

* Linda Massimilla, Democrat of Littleton

* Larry Rappaport, Republican of Colebrook

* Herb Richardson (Republican) of Lancaster

Berlin is the first place in the North Country to ban synthetic marijuana, sometimes called spice...

At a public hearing Monday night Berlin Police Chief Peter Morency said synthetic marijuana has become a serious problem in this city of 10,000 and "is really causing havoc here."

Father Andrew Nelson urged passage of the ordinance that would ban the possession or sale of “synthetic cannabinoids” that use any of a wide range of chemicals listed in the six-page ordinance.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The holidays are the time when beloved, old Christmas decorations and some memories are dusted off...

And, at a tiny post office in the North Country an old piece of equipment is turned on again for the people who want their Christmas cards marked as coming from the little town of  Bethlehem.

That equipment is an old Pitney-Bowes stamp cancelling machine, says Brian Thompson, the post master.

Courtesy image/Manchester PD

Berlin will hold a public hearing  January 5 on a proposed ban of synthetic marijuana, sometimes called spice.

Berlin police chief Peter Morency is asking for the ban saying it is important not to wait for a federal ban on the substance.

“The problem with the federal government is we move too slowly,” Morency told the city council earlier this month.

In what is being described as progress in the $100 million renovation of the closed Balsams resort, its owners are asking state officials for permission to take water from the Androscoggin River for expanded snowmaking.

“The fact that we have submitted an application to withdraw water for our snowmaking operation is a significant step forward for the project,” said Scott Tranchemontagne, a spokesman for developers, Dan Hebert, Dan Dagesse and Maine businessman Les Otten.

A $275,000 Bearcat armored vehicle is being sought by the police department of Berlin, which, with about 10,000 residents, is the only city in the North Country...

The idea is not just to protect police officers, but to provide a way to rescue civilians, Chief Peter Morency told the city council Monday evening.

“We really don’t have anything to protect other people if we need to evacuate people from a neighborhood.”

Every year the federal government buys about $400 billion worth of goods and services including about $1.9 billion from New Hampshire. But there are many missed opportunities because doing business with the government is complex and can be confusing, says David Pease, who heads up the New Hampshire Procurement Technical Assistance Program...

Chris Jensen for NHPR

By early evening the snow was heavy in the North Country, keeping road crews working most of the night.

About 7 p.m. a trained weather spotter reported snow falling at the rate of two to three inches per hour near Orford, said Chris Legro a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

Legro said morning snow totals have yet to be reported but the highest last night was 10.9 inches in Randolph.

But there shouldn’t be any significant snowfall today.

After the fourth largest power outage in the state’s history utility companies say they have restored power to most customers.

Following the storm Wednesday night - and in the days that followed - more than 300,000 customers lost power at some point, disrupting holiday plans and sending some people to warming shelters.

This morning PSNH said about 1,900 customers are without power and it expects to have power restored to them by tonight.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A  new luxury resort - RiverWalk at Loon Mountain – is going up in Lincoln on the site of a former paper mill and 40 percent of it is being funded in a way that’s unusual in New Hampshire: EB-5 visas that allow foreigners who invest in projects that create jobs to obtain green cards...

"Next week they’ll be doing all the basement slabs,” says Dennis Ducharme, one of the owners, standing at the construction site in the center of town.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

In the North County incumbents  kept their offices, according to unofficial results from the Associated Press.

Sen. Jeff Woodburn, a Democrat from Dalton was re-elected, beating challenger Mark Evans, a Republican from Berlin. Woodburn had 9,056 votes to Evans’ 5,741 with 80 percent of the precincts reporting.

In the race for Executive Council incumbent Republican Joseph Kenney was re-elected with 42,838 votes over Democrat Michael Cryans with 41,297 and 84 percent of the precincts reporting.

In other races:

Chris Jensen for NHPR

For almost 25 years a nonprofit called Affordable Housing, Education and Development has been helping low-income families in the North Country to find housing, sometimes in rental units it owns.

But now it is trying something far different and it admits it is a gamble. It is selling its own design of energy-efficient modular and manufactured homes…

The idea is to help people like Tammy Zubik of Bethlehem.

For years Zubik has had a dream about living in a home of her own, not renting.

Chris Jensen

Veterans in the North Country should soon find it easier to get medical care with a VA medical clinic in Littleton moving into a larger facility next spring and a new center opening this year in Colebrook.

A 10,000-square foot facility now under construction at the Mt. Eustis Commons on Cottage Street will be about twice as big as the clinic’s current home.

A Hudson man has been fined $1,000 for riding a four-passenger ATV on a North Country snowmobile trail not marked for that use.

There were three charges brought by Fish and Game against Jeffrey Rogers, of Hudson, over the September 12th incident in Stewartstown.

Appearing in District Court in Colebrook Thursday, Rogers plead not guilty to charges of operating an off-highway recreational vehicle in a wetland and causing damage to property.

Chris Jensen / NHPR

Senator Jeanne Shaheen says she may have missed some meetings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but she is working against terrorism...

According to an article in the Boston Herald during this Congressional session Shaheen has missed 11 of the 30 meetings at which the committee published a report.

But Shaheen says it is wrong to conclude that she has been derelict and isn’t engaged in efforts to combat threats such as ISIS.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A Colebrook woman is trying to make it easier for people to buy locally grown foods while giving farmers an economic boost. Her idea is a variation on the classic roadside farm stand, and it is a model that could be used around the state.

But it’s going to require a change in state law.

Martina Oefelein via Flickr CC

Rescuers searched a flank of Mount Washington Saturday night and early Sunday morning to find a 55-year-old Massachusetts man who suffered from a “pre-existing medical condition” while descending the Jewell Trail, according to a news release from Fish and Game.

The search began about 9:30 Saturday night after Chris Trottier of Amesbury was reported missing by his wife.

A Hudson man was arrested Friday evening in the North Country after he was found operating an off-highway recreational vehicle in a wetland, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game Conservation Officer Christopher Egan.

The man, Jeffrey Rogers, 48, of Hudson was charged after his vehicle was found stuck in the mud on a snowmobile trail that is not open to all-terrain vehicles “in part because of environmental sensitivity to wetland soils and vegetation.” The trail was on snowmobile corridor 5 in  the Coleman State Park in Stewartstown. 

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Major concerns of North Country residents outlined in a new, preliminary draft report include protecting air quality and the water supply both for drinking and recreation...

There is also strong support for local agriculture and improving energy efficiency, including renewable resources.

But there is also a desire for local governments to have more of a say in whether renewable energy projects are approved.

The Trust for Public Land

    

The completion of the third largest conservation project in New Hampshire history will be celebrated today in the North Country...

The newly conserved land is called the Androscoggin River Headwaters. It covers about 31,300 acres clustered around Errol.

“The whole property will be open for public access for hiking, hunting, fishing and snowmobiling,” said J.T. Horn, an official with The Trust for Public Land, which orchestrated the project.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A new biomass plant in Berlin is finally producing electricity for Public Service of New Hampshire under a controversial 20-year contract that a report says will cost PSNH ratepayers $125 million more than if the electricity was purchased on the open market...

That estimate came from the consulting firm of La Capra Associates which did the report for the state's Public Utilities Commission as part of a wide-ranging review of PSNH’s operations.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The White Mountains Community College – in cooperation with the Appalachian Mountain Club - is offering a new program for those interested in working in outdoor recreation management...

The goal is to give young people interested in the field a head start, said Fran Rancourt, the vice president of academic affairs at the college, which is located in Berlin.

A 19-year-old man from Dracut, Mass drowned Sunday afternoon in the Pemigewasset River, according to a news release from the New Hampshire State Police Marine Patrol.

The man, whose name was not released, was swimming with companions south of the Route 175 bridge in Woodstock and was overcome by the swift current. 

His body was located in about 12 feet of water.

Sunset Power Lines
Michael Kappel/Flickr CC

A new federal report about an electric transmission project in New York says there are a lot of good reasons to bury such lines and that is likely to give opponents of Northern Pass ammunition in their campaign to get the lines underground...

The U.S. Department of Energy analyzed the impact of the proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express, which hopes to carry power from Canada to the New York metro area.

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File

Gorham Paper and Tissue, the last paper plant in the North Country, will soon be operating again – but with far fewer workers...

The plant was closed for about a month while officials considered a new business strategy, but now they have it worked out, said CEO Mike Cummings.

Two of the three paper machines that were running earlier this year will start within the next week or two. They’ll produce tissue paper and the type of paper towels typically found at gas stations, Cummings said.

A Canadian firm plans to open a manufacturing facility in Colebrook and will have at least ten employees by early next year, according to a news release from the state’s Department of Resources and Economic Development.

The company, Vaporium Inc.  of Sherbrooke, Quebec, makes electronic cigarettes. The company plans to lease about 7,500 square feet in the Colebrook Industrial Park.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Tighter budgets over the last few years have meant volunteer fire departments in the North Country have been cutting back on making the trip to Concord for training at a state facility. But that will change Friday with the opening of the first fire training facility north of the notches...

It’s something that North Country fire departments have dreamt of for decades, said Jack Anderson, the Bethlehem fire chief.

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