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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North Country
3:19 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Not Quite A Sign Of The Times

Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

It was about two weeks ago that Stephen Dignazio, the executive director of the non-profit Colonial Theatre in Bethlehem, put the message on the marquee.

It said “Spring Is On The Way.”

It was a warm, fuzzy thought, but premature.

“I guess we made a misstep there,” said Dignazio.

With the snow getting heavier throughout the day Wednesday, cars churned up and down Main Street past the theater and that overly optimistic marquee

And Dignazio was not trying to escape the blame for the wintry assault.

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North Country
8:46 am
Sun March 2, 2014

A Huge, New Ski Resort At The Balsams?

Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

Coos County commissioner Paul Grenier says there are plans to convert the Balsams into a huge ski resort.

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North Country
5:36 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

The Search Is On: Colder Winter, Fewer Wood Pellets

Credit D-Kuru/Wikimedia Commons

Those big stacks of wood pellets typically seen each fall in the parking lots of big box stores aren’t so easy to find right now. And, that’s posing a challenge for people like Andy Langlois of Berlin.

He heats with pellets and has become a hunter-gatherer.

“I had to start calling around as well as just stopping by places just to see if anybody has them and then how many they have,” he said.

Around the state stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot are often coming up short, spokeswomen for the companies acknowledged.

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North Country
10:23 am
Fri February 21, 2014

North Country Events

The newsletter typically announces events in the next week. The calendar shows you events in the coming months.

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North Country
4:45 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

How North Country Reps Voted On Pay Disclosure

Nine of the 14 North Country representatives voting favored a bill under which New Hampshire employers could not prohibit their workers from discussing how much they are paid.

The bill, H.B. 1188, passed 183 – 125 on Wednesday and now goes to the Senate.

Supporters argued the bill is a step toward ensuring men and women are paid equally for comparable work.

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North Country
4:52 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

An End To The Seven-Year Itch: Developer Promises New Plant In Groveton

Seven years ago 300 jobs were lost when the Wausau paper plant in Groveton closed. But now a Marlborough, Mass. company says it plans to open a new liquified natural gas plant at the site.

The new plant will cost about $100 million, says Evan Coleman, an official with Clear Energy, the developer.

“We take natural gas out of a pipeline, we cool it down to about negative 260 degrees which transforms the gas into a liquid and then we truck that product out to utility, industrial and transportation users within New England.”

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North Country
2:56 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Stalled Effort To Reopen Balsams Gets New Team Member

More than two years ago the Balsams closed, putting about 300 full and part-time employees out of work.

But now Les Otten, a Maine businessman and former owner of the American Skiing Company, is working on reopening the Balsams.  He says he has an agreement with the resort’s two owners, Dan Hebert and Dan Dagesse.

North Country
9:23 pm
Sat February 8, 2014

Five Snowmobile Crashes Saturday

There were five snowmobile crashes in the North Country Saturday, including two on rental machines, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Three of the five accidents resulted in injuries and in two cases they were described as serious, according to Sergeant Mark Ober.

One happened about 11 a.m. near Whitefield. It involved Cydney Johnson, 42, of Alton who was on a guided tour. It is thought she accelerated by mistake, causing her snowmobile to hit a tree. She was taken by helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

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North Country
7:17 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

DOE Says It Will Reveal Alternate Northern Pass Routes

 Under pressure from New Hampshire’s congressional delegation, the U.S. Department of Energy says it will disclose which alternatives to the route favored by Northern Pass it plans to study. That is something opponents of the controversial project have been seeking.

Before the Northern Pass project can go forward it must be approved by the DOE. And, the core of that approval is an environmental impact statement. It will focus on the 187-mile route Northern Pass wants to use.

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North Country
3:04 pm
Sun February 2, 2014

How North Country Reps Voted On Allowing Keno

In the vote on whether to allow electronic Keno games to be played in the state sixteen North Country representatives were evenly split for and against, without any clear divide along party lines.

As NHPR’s Josh Rogers reported the Keno bill cleared the house by a 202-141 margin.

Under the bill, 92 percent of the proceeds would go to the state for education, with one percent of that earmarked for problem gambling programs.

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North Country
12:27 pm
Sun February 2, 2014

Berlin Woman Killed: Second Snowmobile Fatality In A Week

A Berlin woman was killed Saturday night in a snowmobile accident, the second time in a week that there’s been a fatal snowmobile accident in the North Country.

Lucie Gagnon, 58, was killed just before 10 p.m. at Success Pond when she hit an embankment and large tree, Fish and Game Conservation Officer Mark Ober reported in a news release.

“Mrs. Gagnon suffered severe trauma as a result of the crash and died at the scene,” Ober said.

North Country
1:31 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Berlin First To Let Bars Stay Open Until 2 a.m.

Credit dearbarbie via Flickr CC

Berlin is on the way to becoming the first jurisdiction in the state to allow bars to take advantage of a new law and serve liquor until 2 a.m.

But Mayor Paul Grenier says the city council's decision has a downside.

“It is actually going to increase law-enforcement activity.”

And, an upside.

“We want to try to encourage and do everything we can to help our businesses in Berlin succeed.”

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North Country
5:16 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Hudson Woman Dies In Snowmobile Crash

A 47-year-old Hudson woman died from injuries she sustained in a snowmobile accident near Pittsburg, according to a news release from New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Pauline Robinson was injured Tuesday when her snowmobile struck a tree on an icy section of trail, said Conservation Office Matthew Holmes.

A helicopter flew her to the Central Maine Medical Center where she died about 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

“Although this crash is still under investigation, authorities believe that an unintentional hit of the throttle was the primary cause of this crash,” Holmes said.

North Country
4:52 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Michigan Hiker Charged $9,300 For Franconia Ridge Rescue

While the legislature considers whether to allow a $25 hiker’s card that would eliminate any chance of being charged for a rescue, a Michigan man is fighting a $9,300 bill for the help he got in 2012.

Earlier this month a judge in District Court in Concord decided Edward Bacon of Northville, Michigan was negligent. That meant he should reimburse New Hampshire Fish and Game for the cost of his rescue from the Franconia Ridge.

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North Country
10:18 am
Thu January 23, 2014

How North Country Reps Voted On Burying Electric Transmission Lines

Opponents of the Northern Pass transmission project strongly favored House Bill 569. Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

Only one representative from the North Country voted Wednesday against a bill that would encourage state regulators to give preference to electric transmission lines that are buried or located along public highways.

As NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown reported the House voted 171 – 139 for HB 569.

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North Country
3:50 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Ending A North Country Tradition: An Election Without Ray Burton

Ray Burton on November 1 arriving to applause and a standing ovation at a scenic overlook on US 302 being opened and expected to be named in his honor.
Credit Chris Jensen

Voters in Executive Council District 1 went to the polls Tuesday in a primary over the seat held by Ray Burton, who died in November.

Three Republicans Mark Aldrich of Lebanon, Christopher Boothby of Meredith and, Joseph Kenney of Wakefield are vying to see who will face Hanover Democrat Michael Cryans in March.

In Littleton the turnout was extremely light, says Gerald Winn, the town moderator.

“We opened at eight this morning and we’re four and a half hours in and there are fifty people who voted.”

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Newscast
7:59 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Fatal Logging Accident In Errol

A Vermont man was killed in Errol Monday evening when a colleague drove into him with a logging truck, according to a news release from Troop F.

The accident occurred on Millsfield Pond Road, where the men were putting on tire chains.

The driver, Mike Doucette, 24, of Milan, thought 42-year-old Brian Young was clear of the truck and drove forward, hitting Young, according to state police. Young died at the scene.

The investigation is continuing and no charges have been filed.

North Country
2:48 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Mount Washington Rescue: Hunkering Down Among The Rocks, Spooning And Hoping

Amid high winds and blowing snow, four people were rescued from above the treeline on Mount Washington before dawn Monday. But one rescuer said the group was lucky to get out a call for help.

"I think it would have been a bad outcome if they weren’t able to get the rescue call out,” Craig Taylor, a volunteer with the Mountain Rescue Service, told NHPR.

“Temperatures were expected to go below zero, winds were expected to ramp up to the triple digits that night. So, the forecast was really grim.”

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North Country
12:06 pm
Sun January 19, 2014

Ice Climber On Mount Washington: Lost And Found

Credit Mt. Washington Auto Road / Flickr CC

  Searchers spent hours on Mount Washington Saturday night looking for - and locating - a lost ice climber, according to a news release from New Hampshire Fish and Game.

The call for help came about 5:30 pm from Ms. Dale Edwards, 32, of the Bronx in New York, who was climbing with two companions in the back country of the Ammonoosuc Ravine, according to Conservation Officer Matthew Holmes.

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North Country
3:31 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Legalizing Marijuana: How North Country Reps Voted

By roughly a three-to-one margin North Country representatives voted against legalizing marijuana.

As NHPR’s Ryan Lessard reported the debate over HB 492 had those in favor of legalizing the use of small amounts of marijuana saying marijuana was no different than drinking alcohol.

And, those opposed said there were “negative health impacts.”

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North Country
12:22 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Allowing Police To Use License Plate Scanners: How North Country Reps Voted

A license-plate scanner made by COBAN Technologies.
Credit COBAN Technologies

Nine of the 14 North Country representatives voting opposed allowing police to use license plate scanners, while five were in favor of the technology.

As NHPR’s Josh Rogers reported supporters – including the New Hampshire Chiefs of Police – argued scanners might help solve crimes, while opponents worried about privacy issues.

The bill authorizing scanners, House Bill 675, was defeated 250 – 97.

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North Country
3:00 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

North Country School Offers Tips To Master Winter Driving

Students steadily increase their speed on a slalom, learning how to handle skids. Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

Winter has indisputably arrived and most of the state’s drivers figure they know what to do when the roads get slick. But a company in the North Country is helping drivers polish those skills and learn a few things even veterans of the ice capades may not know.

One of those drivers is Judy Gessner, of Whitefield, who is behind the wheel of a Honda Odyssey minivan, and, with increasing confidence she is slaloming between big, orange cones despite a slick, snowy surface.

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North Country
6:55 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Winter Storm: A Stamina Test For Road Crews

The first major storm of the season and road crews have both been going all night.

“We’re in hour twenty-nine at this point of a very long storm and it is turning into a stamina test and our crews are pretty much having to deal with a lot of blowing snow across the roads, which requires repeated runs," said  highway department spokesman Bill Boynton.

He says speeds on the turnpike interstates have been lowered to 45 miles per hour.

“And we’re  hearing motorists are really having trouble keeping up those speeds," he said.

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North Country
1:56 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Avalanche Survivor Describes The Fall, The Flight And The Landing

A 24-year-old Massachusetts man who survived an avalanche on Mount Washington Saturday afternoon says it was a bewildering and terrifying trip down the Tuckerman Ravine.

Adam Herman of Oak Bluffs, was walking ahead of his partner, Conor Lodge, when he felt the snow begin to give way.

He turned and desperately tried to sink his ice ax into the snow.

“It didn’t take, so I just fell,” he said.

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North Country
5:07 am
Tue December 31, 2013

The Mystery Donor's Tale: A Sister, A Brother And A New Library

Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

For 100 years the library in Bethlehem occupied three small rooms in Town Hall. But over the weekend that changed with opening of a new library on Main Street. It was the conclusion of a tale involving a mystery donor, a brother who moved far away and a sister who stayed in the North Country.

At the tale’s center were two people.

One was Muriel Brown, who for more than three decades was the town’s beloved librarian.

The other was her brother, Arthur Jobin, known to the family as “Bud.”

Both grew up in Bethlehem.

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North Country
5:20 pm
Sun December 29, 2013

Rescuers Astounded Two Men In Avalanche Escaped Serious Injury

Courtesy of US Forest Service: This is the Lip area as it looked on Dec 24. The Lip is the section in the upper right corner. A previous avalanche crown line is visible at the top of this snowfield. This is the approximate location of where the recent avalanche was triggered.

Rescuers say it is amazing that two men caught in an avalanche on Mount Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine weren’t seriously injured, but they had a brutal ride.

The two men were on their way down Mount Washington Saturday afternoon when they missed the turn onto the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, says Jeff Lane, a snow ranger with the U.S. Forest Service.

Then, they walked into an area known as The Lip, triggering an avalanche that carried them through a perilous area.

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North Country
5:51 pm
Sat December 28, 2013

Horse-Drawn Sleigh Carrying Tourists Flips

When the sleigh flipped on a turn tourists, coats, hats and a seat were thrown out. Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

A horse-drawn sleigh carrying tourists in the North Country flipped over Saturday afternoon, sending four people to the hospital with minor injuries.

The accident happened on a trail near the Omni Mount Washington Hotel says, Todd Bailey, a captain with the Twin Mountain Fire Department.

“The horse was spooked, apparently, and the carriage flipped over, ejecting several passengers,” he said.

Five passengers were thrown from the sleigh and four were taken to Littleton Regional Healthcare with what Bailey described as injuries that were not life threatening.

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North Country
9:02 am
Sun December 22, 2013

White Mountains Rescue: A Signal Seeking Help, But What Kind?

Rescuers were in The White Mountains Saturday night after being alerted that somebody needed help. They just didn’t know who or why.

The alert came about  6:45 Saturday when New Hampshire Fish and Game got a call from the International Emergency Response Coordination Center in Texas.

It had received a signal from a SPOTS emergency beacon that had been activated in King Ravine in Burbank’s Grant.

The signal indicated where help was needed but nothing else.

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North Country
8:29 am
Sun December 22, 2013

Temps Dropping, Some Freezing Rain Reported

At just after 8 am the National Weather Service was reporting freezing rain is finally starting to fall in some parts of the state.

While most of the state has been relatively warm temperatures are now beginning to drop says John Cannon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

“Well, right now we have cold air funneling into eastern NH and that is causing temperatures to fall to at or below freezing and we are beginning to pick up some accumulating icing conditions over eastern New Hampshire," says Cannon.

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North Country
4:39 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Switching To Wood Heat: Grants Now Available Businesses

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A new state program is offering financial help to businesses that would like to start using wood pellets rather than heating oil.

The grants are designed to help businesses buy new heating systems that use a homegrown, renewable resource: wood.

The money is available through the Public Utilities Commission’s  Sustainable Energy Division.

Jack Ruderman is its head.

“We’re offering a rebate of up to 30 percent of the cost of the heating system and installation with a cap of $50,000 per system," says Jack Ruderman, the head of the division.

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