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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Travis Giles, the culinary instructor at The White Mountains Community College in Berlin, is the winner of the North Country Chef’s Challenge, an effort to see who can best match culinary skills with local ingredients.

Giles was competing against seven other chefs.

The judges were from the White Mountain chapter of the American Culinary Federation.

The event is the idea of the North Country Farmer’s Co-op.

For his entrée Giles began with “a whole red deer” from a farm Milan. 

While the North Country is routinely working on economic development some people are also looking at human resources, in particular the source of the next generations of community leaders and volunteers.

Their concern:  Talented young adults being one of the North Country’s rarer creatures.

And, some research into that issue got underway recently at the North Country Resource Center in Lancaster, where fourteen young adults – in their 20’s and 30’s – volunteered to answer questions about what brought them or keeps them in the North Country.

Executive Councilor Ray Burton has received Plymouth State University’s highest award for public service, only the third time the honor has been given in almost a decade.

The Henry W. Blair Award for Distinguished Public Service was created in 2004.

“It is for distinguished public service, it recognizes someone who has devoted – as Henry Blair did – a life to making the world better through strong public service,”  PSU president Sara Jayne Steen said in an interview. “And, in that sense of course, Ray is the perfect candidate.”

Courtesy CDFA

Unofficial results show Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier was re-elected on Tuesday, beating challenger Mark Evans 971 to 272.

Evans is a member of the city’s Planning Board and former member of the city council.

This will be Grenier’s third term. He is also one of three Coos County Commissioners and is unusual in the North Country as an elected official who favors the Northern Pass project, which does not pass through his city.

It is hard to imagine there have been many openings of roadside scenic areas that attracted three former governors, a sitting governor and two US Senators as well as dozens of state office holders.

But that happened Friday afternoon in the North Country during a ceremony to honor longtime Executive Councilor Ray Burton.

In theory the ceremony was for the opening of the scenic area on US 302 across from the Mount Washington Hotel.

But it was really about North Country Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who arrived in the back seat of a yellow convertible.

A new scenic overlook will be opened Friday in the North Country and the plans include honoring Executive Councilor Ray Burton.

The new overlook and rest area is on Route 302 just across from the Mount Washington Hotel.

It cost about $1.4 million and replaces a much smaller pull-off on the other side of the road.

The old area had room for five cars or two buses which state highway officials say caused traffic problems and raised safety concerns. The new area has room for 22 cars and six buses.

State of New Hampshire

Ray Burton, a Republican who has represented the North Country for four decades, says his kidney cancer has returned and he won’t be seeking re-election.

Burton has served as both Executive Councilor and a Grafton County Commissioner.

Earlier this year Burton, who lives in Bath, said he had cancer but it was curable.

For much of the year he has been attending functions throughout the North Country, his cancer said to be in remission.

A 64-year-old Vermont man has been found responsible for the 2010 explosion in Colebrook that killed two men and injured a third.

Craig Sanborn’s trial in Coos County Superior Court in Lancaster took about four weeks and the jury made up its mind in about three hours on Wednesday, says Coos County Attorney John McCormick.

The jury returned verdicts of guilty on all counts, two negligent homicide charges and two manslaughter charges,” he said.

Despite a modified route for the Northern Pass Project Sen. Kelly Ayotte says she still has “serious reservations” about the plan and the lines along the entire route should be buried.

“I am still very concerned about the impact on the beauty on the North Country and many other areas of the state,” she told NHPR following a Town Hall meeting Wednesday in Whitefield.

Ayotte says it would be best to bury all the transmission lines, not just an eight-mile section in Northern Coos County.

At Senator Kelly Ayotte’s town hall meeting in Whitefield Wednesday Berlin resident Joe Vigue sat quietly through her description of the nation’s growing deficit and struggle to adopt a budget.

His arms were folded across his chest – and a sweatshirt reading: “I’m like an owl. I don’t give a hoot.”

When Ayotte opened the floor to questions, Vigue wanted to know about a dysfunctional Senate.

“What is it like to deal with almost all of that 100 people that are worse than my eight and nine-year-old grandchildren,” he asked.

Federal officials say six companies building a biomass plant in Berlin have put workers at risk by not following safety regulations.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration proposes fining the companies about $280,000 for thirty-one “willful, serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards.”

“These hazards included potential cave-ins, falls, scaffold collapse, crushing, exposure to lead and electrocution hazards,” said OSHA spokesman Ted Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald said there were no serious injuries or deaths.

A Campton resort is suing the Northern Pass, claiming it has no right to use an existing Public Service of New Hampshire right-of-way for larger transmission towers.

The suit was filed in Grafton County Superior Court by the owners of The Owl’s Nest Resort & Golf Club.

The resort already has a PSNH right-of-way and the suit claims Northern Pass’ plan to add substantially taller towers is unreasonable and “wrongfully exceeds” the original right-of-way agreement.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The operator of twenty-two campgrounds in The White Mountain National Forest has been told to close them.

“We are directed now to close the gates as of Thursday the 10th unless something happens in Congress,” said Kent Tower, the owner of Pro Sports of Campton.

Last week federal officials in Washington began notifying private businesses that operate campgrounds in national forests that they would have to close even though they provide water, sanitation and other services without help from federal employees.

The shutdown of the federal government is expanding to include privately run campgrounds in national forests across the country, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service said late Thursday.

“We are in the process of shutting these operations down at facilities across the country due to the lapse in funding,” wrote spokesman Leo Kay in an e-mail. “Some closures have already taken place while others are still in progress.”

That is expected to include twenty-two campgrounds in The White Mountain National Forest operated by Pro Sports Inc. of Campton.

rickpilot_2000 via Flickr Creative Commons

 A 55-year-old Brookyn man was helped from a trail near the Crawford Notch Wednesday after suffering a leg injury, according to a news release from New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Steve Litwin slipped on a rock on the Webster-Jackson Trail and couldn’t continue,  according to Conservation Officer Kevin Bronson.

He was taken to Littleton Regional Hospital after being carried out by members of Fish and Game, the Appalachian Mountain Club, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team, and Twin Mountain EMS.

Grace Family via Flickr Creative Commons

The extent to which the federal shutdown will hurt the White Mountain National Forest – and tourism - will depend on how long the shutdown continues, says forest supervisor Tom Wagner.

Wagner says the current workforce – about 120 people – will be cut to sixteen.

That’s to cover 800,000 acres.

People can still enjoy the views and the trails. But there’s a question about facilities.

Walsh TD via Flickr Creative Commons

If the federal government shuts down at midnight it will affect the White Mountain National Forest at a time when many tourists are headed there for fall foliage.

The White Mountain National Forest covers about 800,000 acres and normally has about 120 full or part-time employees, says Tom Wagner, the forest supervisor.

If the federal government shuts down more than 100 of them will be off work.

“Sixteen of those employees between our law enforcement and our line officers at each office will continue to work if this is an extended shutdown," Wagner said.

A Vermont man will go on trial Monday in connection with the deaths of two men in an explosion in Colebrook more than three years ago.

Sixty-four year old Craig Sanborn of Maidstone, Vermont is scheduled to appear in Coos County Superior Court in Lancaster.

Sanborn owned the Black Mag factory - which made a gun powder substitute – when it exploded in May 2010, killing two workers and injuring a third.

fply via Flickr Creative Commons

Fish and Game officers rescued two Ohio hikers from a trail on Mount Washington Thursday night because the pair didn’t have flashlights.

The husband and wife, Robert Scanlon and Candy Neville – both in their mid-60’s - from Shaker, Heights Ohio, rode the Mount Washington Cog Railway to the top of Mount Washington, Fish and Game Lt. Wayne Saunders said in a news release.

Then, they decided to hike down on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail.

But Scanlon began having knee pain on the rocky trail, slowing their descent and it got dark before they could reach the bottom.

In the North Country nine chefs are getting ready to compete in the finale of the second annual North Country Chef’s Challenge, an effort to determine who can best match culinary expertise with local food.

The goal is to show people in other parts of the state that North Country dining is worth a trip north of the notches.

A Salem, Massachusetts man drowned in the Connecticut River near Colebrook on Wednesday, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

John Cornish, 71, was launching his boat with a friend when it began to drift away, carried by the current,   Conservation Officer Kevin Bronson wrote in a news release.

Cornish, who was wearing hip waders, went after the boat, lost his footing and slipped under the water. He was pulled from the river by a friend but was unconscious and couldn’t be revived.

Photo by Chris Jensen for NHPR

Paul Grenier, the mayor of Berlin, one of three Coos Country Commissioners and an advocate of the Northern Pass was a lonely guy Wednesday evening at the U.S. Department of Energy’s third public hearing on the project.

Grenier walked through a sea of orange to reach the podium.

There were about 350 people gathered at the Mountain View Grand Resort and most wore orange, a symbol of their opposition to Northern Pass.

Grenier was not wearing orange.

The U.S. Department of Energy held its second “scoping” hearing on Northern Pass’s amended route last night in Plymouth.  Opponents criticized not only the hydro-electric project but the federal agency.

The two ATV riders killed Saturday in separate accidents were each from the North Country, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

The first accident occurred on South Hill Road in Colebrook about 1:15 when David Howe, 40, of Colebrook was killed when he rolled his ATV.

The second accident occurred a little more than an hour later on the Dixville Peaks Trail where  Clifton Scott, 79, of Stewartstown missed a turn. His ATV also rolled.

So far this year three ATV riders have died in accidents in New Hampshire.

Two ATV riders were killed Saturday afternoon in separate accidents in the North Country, according to police and rescue reports.

One fatality occurred in the ski area near Dixville Notch and the other at South Hill Road in Colebrook.

At least one of the accidents involved a rollover.

No additional details were immediately available.

So far this year three ATV riders have died in the state.

In August a 56-year-old tourist was killed in an accident involving an all-terrain vehicle in the southern part of the state near Fremont.

The hiker killed Thursday in a fall on Mount Washington was from Canada, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

He was identified as Luc Paquette, age 25, of Boisbriand, Quebec.

Paquette was hiking was hiking with friends and left the Tuckerman Ravine trail to get water and a better look at a waterfall when he slipped and fell about 150 feet.

A 25-year-old hiker was fatally injured in a fall Thursday afternoon while coming down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail on Mount Washington, according to Sgt. Mark Ober of New Hampshire Fish and Game.

The man was hiking with friends and left the trail to get water and a better look at a waterfall when he slipped and fell about 150 feet “landing on a small ledge approximately three quarters of the way up the Headwall," Ober wrote in a news release.

National Weather Service

That odd color of the sky.

On September 21, 1938 that’s what worried Beatrice Dorsey, a 10-year-old living in Plainfield, New Hampshire.

“The sky above my house was green. It was pretty scary, that ominous green,” said Dorsey.

Dorsey and many other New Englanders didn’t know that green sky meant the most damaging hurricane to hit New England was on its way.

A group of North Country towns working with the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust has purchased 844 acres to create the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest in Easton.

The group – which includes Easton, Franconia, Landaff and Sugar Hill - has been working to buy the land, which is adjacent to The White Mountain National Forest.

A search for a man reported missing along the Baker River in Plymouth will resume Monday morning, says Lt. James Kneeland of New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Michael Gatto, 51, of Thornton, was reported missing Saturday evening by a companion, with whom he had been camping along the banks of the river near the Plymouth High School.

The search Saturday night and Sunday included the waters and shorelines of the Baker and Pemigewasset Rivers.

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