Emily Corwin

Southern New Hampshire Reporter

Emily Corwin covers news in Southern New Hampshire, and reports on the state's criminal justice system. She's also one of eight dedicated reporters with the New England News Collaborative, a consortium of public media newsrooms across New England. 

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Every other year, the organization Building On Hope rallies together hundreds of people to renovate a community organization's space. 

This time, the organization chose Crisis Center of Central New Hampshire, in Concord. It’s an emergency shelter for domestic violence and other survivors of abuse. Board member E.J. Powers says the project is "In the spirit of yankee barn raisings from many generations ago."

He says builders, architects, painters, designers, and everyday people will volunteer their time, and sometimes, their money.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Manchester Bishop Peter Libasci spent an hour visiting immigrants detained at the Strafford County Jail in Dover on Monday.

The decision to visit the jail came after the Bishop  met with a parish in Manchester on Sunday with many Hispanic congregants. That Parish, St Anne-St. Augustin, had sought to protect undocumented immigrants living in the neighborhood by proclaiming itself a, quote, “sanctuary church.”

The Bishop responded last month with a letter urging Catholic churches against such proclamations.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

A Manchester police officer allegedly struck a pedestrian with his car early Sunday morning, then fled the scene.

The victim suffered only minor injuries. Officer Steven Comacchia, the alleged driver in the hit and run, is now on leave from the department without pay. He has been charged with a misdemeanor and could face fines or up to a year in jail.

Manchester police chief, Nick Willard, said his department does not know if Comacchia was  under the influence of any substances at the time.

It’s a weekend of unusual events in New Hampshire.

Andrew W. Sieber/flickr

New police recruits in New Hampshire get paid by their towns to attend a 16-week police academy run by the state. New officers stay at the training facility during the week, and return home during weekends.  

Now, two officers are suing their employers, alleging they were underpaid while attending the academy.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

A couple years ago, Manchester police lieutenant Nicole LeDoux and two colleagues decided to crunch some numbers. They found that in a single year, 400 Manchester kids had been at either domestic violence incidents or overdoses when police were called.  LeDoux is a fast talker who oversees the juvenile and domestic violence units. “I remember sitting,” she said, “and being like ‘man, that’s a lot of kids. How do we deal with that?’” 

Emily Corwin / NHPR

There was singing in three languages, chants, even a prayer Monday night at Veterans Park in Manchester. There, demonstrators gathered in a chilly rain to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policies. The administration had created a new urgency for this annual May Day rally.

Zagster

A bike share program in Manchester could be underway as early as June 1. 

Carol Gayman is the engine behind the project. She lives in Manchester, where she rides her bike and works at the YMCA. Manchester is not known for its spending on public goods.

"We needed all private sponsorship dollars for this project to work in Manchester," Gayman said. After 18 months hustling for those sponsorships, Gayman says she’s "99.9 percent certain that as of May 2, it will get the nod from the full board of mayor and alderman."

Connor Mahar

The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus will perform in Manchester for the last time, this weekend.

This hundred and forty-six year-old spectacle is known as the Greatest Show On Earth. Recently, it’s been stopping through Manchester every year since the early 2000’s.

Since then, ticket sales have declined. Animal Rights activists pressured the circus to retire their elephants a year ago, and the circus itself will retire in May.

The Flying Gravity youth circus troupe will be in Manchester to witness the Ringling Brothers’ final performances here.  

Emily Corwin for NHPR

Jared Barbosa is an Elementary School guidance counselor who was raised by a professional soccer player. His dad, Manoel “Boom Boom” Barbosa, competed all over the world before settling down in Nashua, N.H.

Jared says professional soccer was his dad’s ticket out of poverty in Brazil. College soccer was his ticket to economic mobility.

He doesn’t think high level sports should exclude low-income kids.

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/autophotomoto/">autophotomoto</a> / Flickr

Saint-Gobain, a multinational plastics company, has agreed to pay for the design efforts to extend public water lines in Bedford.  The new water mains will connect to homes with wells contaminated by perfluorichemicals, most likely released from Saint-Gobain’s smokestacks. 

Emily Corwin / NHPR

The Greater Nashua NAACP held its first open meeting in nearly a decade on Wednesday night.

Gloria Timmons founded the group in 2004, and has started it up again after a 10-year hiatus. She says she was motivated by what she called the increasingly hostile political environment. "Kids are being called names, the bullying, people are just saying horrible things to people on the street. All kinds of hideous things," Timmons said, are happening in Nashua and surrounding towns.

Diocese of Manchester, NH

  The head of the Catholic Diocese of Manchester, NH has instructed clergy not to house unauthorized immigrants facing possible deportation.

According to Tom Bebbington, Director of Communications for the Diocese of Manchester, the Bishop had received questions from priests about how to respond to news of increased deportation enforcement. On Friday, the Bishop sent a letter to local church leaders urging them not house unauthorized immigrants in their churches.

Nashua Department of Public Health and Community Services

Nashua’s Health Department wants you to stop using the word “addict.”

“We need to talk about substance use disorder like the disease that it is,” health educator Aly McKnight told a captive audience of thirty or so in the basement of Nashua Public Library last month.  She pointed to a list of “stigmatizing” words projected onto a screen. “Alcoholic,” “junkie,” even “addiction” should be avoided, it said. 

www.edwardsfornh.com

Eddie Edwards, a Republican, has been chief of police for the town of South Hampton, and was the top law enforcement officer for the state’s liquor commission. He announced his bid for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District on Wednesday. The seat is currently held by Democrat, Carol Shea-Porter.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

In February, the Trump White House directed immigration enforcement to begin detaining and deporting all unauthorized immigrants. This marked a change from Obama-era directives, telling agents to prioritize deporting individuals convicted of serious crimes.

But how do immigration agents find undocumented but otherwise law-abiding immigrants? New England News Collaborative Executive Editor John spoke with reporters Kathleen Masterson from VPR and Emily Corwin of NHPR about big differences between how the states approach working with Federal Immigration officials.

www.harriman.com

  Nashua's Board of Education approved a budget this week that includes full-day kindergarten at all of the city’s schools. Currently, full-day kindergarten is offered at six the city’s twelve elementary schools.

Its expansion has been championed by Jim Donchess, the city’s mayor.

Nashua’s school budget, including funds for full day kindergarten, will now go to the Board of Alderman and then the Board of Education.

About three quarters of towns and cities in New Hampshire offer full day kindergarten.

A delegation of law enforcement and public health workers from Wales visited the Manchester Police Department Tuesday. They were there to learn about a city program that connects children who have experienced trauma with mental health services.

The program trains police officers in the effects of trauma on child development, and coordinates with social workers to help recruit affected families into trauma-therapy and other programs.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

The number of people detained in New Hampshire by federal immigration authorities since Donald Trump took office was greater than the number detained any of the previous six months. 

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Those early hints of spring can call to a gardener like a siren song. Yet the urge to get one’s seeds into dirt can be dangerous: most seedlings won’t survive a single frost. To help with that, gardeners use 30-year averages that predict when the last frost will probably occur. The thing is, in New England, climate change has temperatures rising relatively quickly.

University of New Hampshire

Monday is the vernal equinox: that’s the beginning of spring, according to astronomers. For ecologists, spring isn’t just a matter of the earth’s rotation around the sun.  

  A single class-action lawsuit against Saint-Gobain – a multinational plastics company with a plant in Merrimack – will replace four cases originally filed separately in Federal Court. The plaintiffs all claim Saint-Gobain polluted their drinking water by emitting chemicals known as perfluorichemicals, or PFCs.

A federal judge had ordered the consolidation.

The new, combined lawsuit names 20 plaintiffs, represented by five law firms. They seek compensation for damages including declining property values, medical costs, attorney fees, and numerous other claims.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  The late winter blizzard led town officials across in New Hampshire to postpone town meetings and elections. It's a decision many people -- but not all -- are happy about.

Brady Carlson for NHPR / NHPR

Health care reform, public education and infrastructure spending are all hot topics in Congress – and the State House – nowadays. In Nashua, New Hampshire’s second largest city, Mayor Jim Donchess has been pushing his own ideas on these very issues. Sometimes, this puts him at odds with the folks calling the shots in Concord and Washington.

Recently, during a class on city government

Emily Corwin / NHPR

New Hampshire correctional officers have declared an impasse in contract negotiations with the Governor’s office.  The Teamsters Union, which represents the officers, say the Governor isn’t doing enough to end years of excessive overtime for staff in the state’s prisons.   

What the parties do seem to agree on is that prisons are critically understaffed. At his budget address last month, Governor Chris Sununu said “we are going to be aggressive and fully fund our corrections system to end the pattern of forced overtime and personnel shortfalls.”

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Not even Mayor Jim Donchess expected the city’s new thirteen-week, twenty-six hour class on city government to fill up so fast.  

“Fifty people seemed like comfortable number,” Donchess said. When those seats filled up quickly,  his office closed registration.

The syllabus includes subjects such as what happens to solid waste, and what tax assessors do.

“Well, I wouldn’t call it dry,” Jay Welch said as students streamed into the city’s auditorium. Like many who showed up, Welch is an avid volunteer.

What’s the appeal? Answers ran the gamut.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

In March of 2016, 26 year-old Jeffrey Pendleton died inside a Manchester, New Hampshire jail. Pendleton was a homeless African-American man charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana. He remained in the Valley Street jail while awaiting trial because he couldn't afford to pay $100 in bail.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Michael Treadwell sat at the back of a courtroom.  In a windbreaker and khaki pants, he leaned over his work boots, elbows on his knees. At first, I thought he was chewing gum – a bold choice in a courtroom.  When we began to talk, I discovered it wasn't gum Michael was chewing.  It was his own gums. Michael doesn't have any teeth.

Emily Corwin for NHPR

As immigration officials ramp up deportation of new classes of unauthorized immigrants, more residents and visitors without documents fear run-ins with police.

On New Hampshire's diverse Southern border, a traffic stop in one town could lead to very different consequences than the same kind of stop one town over.

Ryan Caron King / New England News Collaborative

New Hampshire’s refugee resettlement agencies are moving fast to bring at least six refugees to the state before February 17th. That’s after a Federal Judge on Friday blocked parts of a Trump Administration executive order, including a 120-day ban on refugee admissions, and an indefinite ban on all immigration from Syria.

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