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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Photos courtesy of the familes. Composite by NHPR

 

Under federal law the Occupational Health and Safety Administration is responsible for making sure workers are protected on the job.

But the federal agency rarely scrutinizes the North Country.

As NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports, it’s raising questions about how well workers are protected on the job.

 On the morning of May 14th in 2010 Jesse Kennett headed off to his new job at the Black Mag plant in Colebrook.

 That’s where he would be making a gunpowder substitute for use in replicas of muzzle-loading rifles.

 

With 200 new jobs available at the federal prison in Berlin a group of organizations from the North Country is offering a series of free meetings through the North Country to provide details and help applicants.

 The two-hour meeting will include presentations from officials with the New Hampshire Employment Security, The Gorham Family Resource Center and the White Mountains Community College.

While the jobs are seen as having good pay and benefits the application process can be tricky since much of it must be done on the Internet.

The Union Leader reports a Littleton businessman fighting with the town over a right-to-know request is likely to take his case to the state’s Supreme Court.

 Here’s part of the Union Leader’s story:

 “Littleton pizza shop owner Demetrios “Jim” Sourgiadakis alleges he was one of 13 merchants police officers and their union targeted for boycott last spring in a dispute over the proposed annual town budget.

On Monday, Nov. 28thCongressman Charlie Bass will hold a “senior health-care forum” in Littleton with experts to answer questions about Medicare and Social Security benefits.

There will also be free flu shots and blood-pressure screenings.

The meeting is from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at the Littleton Opera House, which is located at 2 Union Street. 

NH Cold Case Unit

On the 10th anniversary of a Quebec woman’s murder in the North Country state officials are hoping somebody will remember something than can finally help solve it.

Louise Chaput, a psychologist from Sherbrooke, was visiting the White Mountains to hike and planned to stay at the Joe Dodge Lodge in Pinkham’s Grant the evening of Nov. 15th, according to the police investigation.

That afternoon she asked an Appalachian Mountain Club employee to suggest a short hike. He recommended the Lost Pond Trail. Chaput, 52, left but then never checked into her room.

The Washington Post is reporting that civil rights groups are opposing an amendment by Sen. Kelly Ayotte that they say would legalize torture.

“In a letter to lawmakers Tuesday, more than 30 groups, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that Ayotte’s amendment to a defense bill would legalize torture and other cruelties by rolling back restrictions that Congress overwhelmingly approved in 2005,” the newspaper reported in a story by the Associated Press.

A two-hour meeting for people who want to know more about jobs at the new federal prison in Berlin will be held Monday, November 28th.

The meeting will include presentations from officials the New Hampshire Employment Security, The Gorham Family Resource Center and the White Mountains Community College.

Those North-Country groups have also put together classes to help those who are interested with the somewhat complex application process.

About 30 crafters and artisans from the North Country will be showing their work at the 11thAnnual Craft Fair this Saturday at the Great Glen Trails Lodge in Pinkham Notch.

The displays will include wood workers, jewelry, a spinning demonstration, fused glass, photography and holiday decorations, said Mary Power, the event director at Great Glen.

In addition there will be a bake sale and raffle to benefit the Great Glen Bill Koch Youth Ski League.

The fair (which is free) is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The lodge is located on Route 16. 

Before the end of the year the Ammonoosuc Region of Habitat for Humanity will have its third house finished and a family living in it, says Chuck McLure of Lancaster.

The North Country group’s first home was finished in 2009 in Littleton. A house in Whitefield followed last year.

The family that will live in – and pay for – the Bethlehem home is from Bethlehem, McLure said.

He said next year the group hopes to build in Coos.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

About 20 people who are part of  “Occupy The North Country” gathered outside the post office in Littleton Saturday afternoon.

The idea was to show solidarity with occupy groups throughout the country, said Sean Rutherford, of Littleton.

He said there were wide-ranging concerns from the cost of college to health-care reform.

Rutherford said the North-Country group is new and only about two weeks ago started a Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/#!/OccupyTheNorthCountryNH) to communicate.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Funding was approved today for the new federal prison in Berlin and soon it will be open season on several hundred new jobs. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

With President Obama signing a bill that includes funding for the new federal prison in Berlin hiring can finally begin.

The prison will have about 300 employees. That will include about 200 new hires.

The jobs have good pay and benefits.

But the application process is complicated.

The Boston Globe is reporting there was a small earthquake Wednesday morning near Conway.

The Globe said it was "A tiny, 1.6-magnitude earthquake" that was "small enough that it may have gone unnoticed."

The newspaper said: "The earthquake, with a depth of 15 miles, was recorded just before 11 a.m. by the Weston Observatory at Boston College. The epicenter was 8 miles southeast of Conway, N.H., at the coordinates 43.885 degrees north, 71.040 degrees west. "

The new federal prison in Berlin – which has been sitting empty – could finally be funded this week, providing a huge economic boost to the North Country.  NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

 

Funding for the federal prison in Berlin is likely to be approved this week, according to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

“We’re very excited because there has been an agreement reached between the House and Senate on the bill that includes funding for the Berlin prison.”

Shaheen sees it as a done deal.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The Northern Pass hydro-electric project is interested in buying a section of land associated with The Balsams Resort. If such a sale went through it’s likely to create a furor in the North Country. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

One of the companies interested in purchasing a slice of the Balsams resort in Dixville Notch is Northern Pass.

“They have identified land that they would like.”

That’s Tom Deans.

He’s the president of the Tillotson Corporation. It has been hoping to stem financial losses by selling the resort.

On Saturday, December 3rdat 3 p.m. there will be a performance of the Nutcracker Ballet at the Berlin Junior High Auditorium.

The classic holiday tale will be performed by the Robinson Ballet Company (http://www.robinsonballet.org/index.html) of Bangor, Maine, according to a news release from the St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts (http://www.stkieranarts.org/).

The tickets are $12 for adults and $6 and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Executive Councilor Ray Burton of Bath says he tried unsuccessfully to keep Meredith Hatfield as the state’s consumer advocate on public utility matters because she has been “independent minded” and helped consumers.

But last week the Republican controlled Executive Council voted 3 – 2 against re-appointing Hatfield who represents consumer interests before the Public Utilities Commission.

The Union Leader says Coos County Administrator Suzanne Collins has the 35thhighest pension benefit in the state and her $93,281 represents “the highest benefit for a state, county or local public employee who is not an educator. “

For the full article and list go here: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20111109/NEWS06/711099991

 

  

A group of North Country leaders has sent Sen. Kelly Ayotte a letter expressing their unhappiness over her voting against a bill that - among many other things - included funding for the federal prison in Berlin.

Last week Sen. Kelly Ayotte voted against a wide-ranging bill that included about $28 million in funding to open the new federal prison in Berlin.

The prison would bring about 330 jobs to the area.

A 31-year-old man killed in a hunting accident in Lisbon this morning was shot by a hunter in another party, according to a news release from New Hampshire Fish and Game.

The victim, Kenneth Brunelle of Marlboro, Mass. was hunting with his father and brother off Mt. Eustis Road in Lisbon when the accident occurred about 8 a.m.

Early reports said Brunelle was shot in the neck. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The name of the alleged shooter was not released.

The accident is being investigated by Fish and Game and the New Hampshire State Police.

 

A Massachusetts man who injured his ankle spent Saturday night alone on Mount Eisenhower in freezing temperatures before being rescued late Sunday afternoon.

According to a news release from Fish and Game Sergio Mori, 41, of Brookline, was coming down the Edmands’s Path when he hurt his ankle.

He couldn’t walk and didn’t have cell phone coverage so wound up spending the night on the mountain. While temperatures were below freezing Mori was “very well prepared for his hike,” according to Fish and Game.

A new federal grant is going to be helping small businesses in the North Country. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

About $400,000 is now available in grants under a federal program aimed at helping  small businesses in Grafton, Coos and Carroll Counties.

Molly White is with the Northern Community Investment Corporation in Lancaster. It is administering the funds.

“Typically I find that most business owners know their type of business or the industry they are in very well but they have trouble with the other types of support services such as marketing or web design.”

Chris Jensen / NHPR

A free environmental symposium dealing with topics including reinventing local farms, grassroots solar energy, the effect of acid rain on songbirds in the state and “agritourism” is planned at The White Mountain School in Bethlehem on the afternoon of Saturday, November 12th.

The goal is not just to provide presentations but give participants the tools they need to make changes in their communities and lives, said Elizabeth Lokey Aldrich, the chair of the Sustainability Studies Department at the school

The Berlin Daily Sun is reporting there will be a job fair in Berlin next Thursday (Nov. 10th) for the new biomass plant but the construction workers must either be union members or agree to temporarily pay union dues.

“The job fair is being held by the New Hampshire Building Trades Council which will be providing union workers for the construction of the facility,” the newspaper reported.

The New Hampshire Union Leader is reporting that Berlin mayor Paul Grenier is not happy that Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) voted against a bill that included funding to allow the new federal prison to finally open. “I am deeply angered, saddened and mystified that Senator Ayotte voted against creating 332 jobs,” Grenier told the newspaper. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D) voted in favor of the bill.

For the first time Public Service of New Hampshire has statewide competition from another utility company. That could be good news for some consumers and bad news for PSNH.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

In 1996 the state passed a law that gave consumers the right to pick the company from which they wanted to buy electricity.

But the pickings were so slim as to be non-existent.

In short nobody gave Public Service of New Hampshire any statewide competition for residential customers and PSNH currently dominates the market.

U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte is opening an office in Berlin next week, according to a news release.

“This location will serve as a base of operations for my Senate office’s Coos County outreach efforts, with a staff member available to provide assistance to those who need help on matters related to the federal government,” Ayotte said.

The office will be located at 19 Pleasant Street, Suite 13B, Berlin. Office hours will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday On other days meetings will be by appointment.

The Boston Globe is reporting that an official working for the controversial Northern Pass project is hosting a fundraiser for presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“According to an invitation provided by the liberal Center for American Progress, Greg Butler, the senior vice president and general counsel for The Northern Pass, is one of the co-chairs of a $500-a-head fundraiser for Romney at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan this Wednesday evening,” the newspaper reported.

A 49-year-old Stratford woman was seriously injured Tuesday morning in a crash on Route 3, according to a news release from Troop F.

The release said Donna Malone, 49, was driving south through North Stratford when her car crossed the center line and struck the trailer of a tractor-trailer headed north.

 Malone suffered “critical injuries” and was taken by helicopter Dartmouth Medical Center in Lebanon.

The driver of the truck was not injured.

Trooper First Class Paul Rella of Troop F is investigating the cause of the crash.

A state trooper chasing a speeder early Saturday morning in the North Country lost control of his cruiser and crashed, allowing the speeder to escape, according to a news release from Troop F.

The release said the chase began about 12:55 am in Franconia when the trooper attempted to stop a gray or silver BMW coupe for a traffic violation.

The vehicle fled on Route 116, a particularly twisty and challenging road, towards Easton.

The Northern Pass electric project is searching for a new, less controversial path through the North Country.

But a small group of landowners is determined to block the utility’s plan even though it means giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Sound of piano music.

At 65 years of age Lynne Placey gives piano lessons.

She lives with a cat and a gray-muzzled dog in a small house in Stewartstown.

And she hopes she’s blocking the path of a corporate giant.

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