Emily Corwin

Southern New Hampshire Reporter

Emily Corwin is NHPR's Southern New Hampshire reporter, doing general assignment reporting across the region. She also covers the state's justice system.

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Residents with private wells near the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant in Merrimack filed two class action cases Wednesday against the company. Saint-Gobain is the likely source of water contamination in the area, according to state officials. 

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Last week was a big news week for residents dealing with water contamination issues in New Hampshire and across the country. 

Emily Corwin / NHPR

The EPA has announced a lifetime health advisory level for two chemicals that have contaminated water in Southern New Hampshire and at the former Pease Air Force Base.

The man who appears on video being punched by law enforcement officers following a high speed car chase has been taken to Elliot Hospital. 

Richard Simone’s public defender requested a bail hearing on Friday after finding his client had not been transported to a hospital the day before. 

Attorney Tony Sculimbrene says it was expected he would be taken to a hospital following a court appearance on Thursday.

“The result of the bail hearing was that a transport order was issued to have him taken to a hospital,” Sculimbrene says.

Both a New Hampshire state trooper and a Massachusetts state trooper have been relieved of their duties after allegedly punching a driver following a multi-state car chase Wednesday. The story has gotten national attention after media outlets released a video of the incident.  

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Private wells near a former manufacturing plant in Amherst have tested high for levels of the chemical PFOA.

The contamination likely originates at a former Textiles Coated International plant. That company moved its operations to Manchester in 2005.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

This is the first week inmates about to be released from prison in New Hampshire can receive the substance abuse medication Vivitrol.

The program is designed to reduce re-offenses and drug overdoses after release.

DOC deputy commissioner Helen Hanks says the prison will give inmates a single dose of Vivitrol seven days before they return to the community. Then, Hanks says, “We connect them with a primary care provider so that we continue that continuity of care model to help them have the best success they can.”

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Saint-Gobain is not the only company using perfluorinated compounds in New Hampshire. New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services has identified 44 companies in the state that likely use or once used this water-contaminating compound in their products.

Perfluorinated compounds include PFOA, found earlier this year at Saint-Gobain’s Performance Plastics plant in Merrimack, and PFOS, found two years ago in well water on the former Pease Air Force base.

For years, New Hampshire has been unable to recruit enough prison officers. Despite spending thousands of dollars on recruitment and advertising, prisons here operate with 70 fewer officers than they need to meet "critical staffing" levels.

File photo

The physician at Manchester's Valley Street Jail has agreed not to practice medicine at any correctional facility while the Board of Medicine investigates allegations that inmates received substandard care.

The board issued an emergency order April 28 that temporarily suspended the license of Matthew Masewic, who has been physician at the Hillsborough County jail since 2009. In agreeing to the terms of the order, Masewic has not admitted to any misconduct.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

  Residents with contaminated wells in Southern New Hampshire may be able to hook up to public water in the coming months. That’s since Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics in Merrimack agreed to pay for design efforts to extend public water to affected homes.

Credit mikecogh via Flickr Creative Commons

The emergency suspension of a physician who oversees the medical needs of more than 200 inmates in Hillsborough County comes after the state Board of Medicine received numerous complaints of substandard care at Valley Street Jail. 

But well before the board launched an investigation into allegations that Matthew Masewic had failed to provide adequate treatment, attorneys for former inmates say medical care at the jail was a problem long before he arrived seven years ago.

Credit mikecogh via Flickr Creative Commons

  A doctor who oversees the medical needs of over 200 jailed inmates in Hillsborough County has been barred from practicing at the facility for at least the next 120 days, after an emergency license suspension by the state’s Board of Medicine

The board claims Matthew Masewic failed to provide his patients at the Valley Street Jail in Manchester with adequate medical care. Its investigation argues that one individual’s heart and other medications were stopped, even after a trip to the ER and subsequent doctors’ orders.

s_falkow via Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. Attorney Emily Gray Rice and New Hampshire’s Attorney General, Joe Foster, will work together to prosecute drug overdoses as crime scenes. The goal is to charge drug dealers with homicide, when an overdose death can be linked to a drug sale. 

The collaboration will expand resources for state prosecutors and allow New Hampshire drug dealers to be charged under federal law, which has tougher penalties for drug crimes.

Flikr Creative Commons / eyesore9

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has announced updated drinking water well test results for the water contaminant PFOA in Southern New Hampshire.

Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation

 

  In 2002, the Saint-Gobain performance plastics plant in Merrimack doubled in size.  That growth happened when the company decided to close its plant in Bennington, Vt., and move those operations to Merrimack, N.H.

The state’s Medical Examiner has concluded that a man found dead at the Valley Street Jail in early March died of a fentanyl overdose. The death was ruled an accident.

Ceyhun (Jay) Isik / https://flic.kr/p/cG7qFL

A second bottled water pickup has been scheduled for Southern New Hampshire residents whose wells were contaminated with the compound known as PFOA.

The state Department of Environmental Services will provide the bottled water, paid for by Saint-Gobain, at the Litchfield Transfer station on Sunday, from 9 to 3.

Residents who qualify include those within a one-mile radius of the Saint-Gobain plastics plant, as well as those in designated neighborhoods outside of that radius.

Flikr Creative Commons / eyesore9

  New Hampshire's Department of Environmental Services says test results of groundwater and soil taken at the Saint-Gobain plastics plant in Merrimack show a high level contamination at the plant. 

NHDES Website

NH Department of Environmental Services will expand their testing radius for PFOA, a contaminant found in drinking water near the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant in Merrimack. 

kennethkonica (Flickr)

  The New Hampshire American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the constitutionality of Manchester’s panhandling ordinance in federal court.  

The organization claims the ordinance violates panhandlers’ rights to free speech and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. Legal Director Gilles Bissonette says the ordinance is “particularly problematic,” because it targets the individual standing peacefully in a public space, “not a motorist that is potentially causing an obstruction.”  He adds that restrictions on speech in public places deserve heightened scrutiny.

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/">Mike Cophlan</a>

  Health practitioners across the state say the drug methadone should be available behind bars – especially to patients already on the medication. But jails and prisons in New Hampshire do not offer the drug to recovering addicts, many of whom rely on it to stay sober.    


Emily Corwin

Residents of Litchfield grilled a panel from the Department of Environmental Services Thursday night with questions about water contamination in their town.

This was round two in a series of public information sessions after the contaminant PFOA was found in groundwater surrounding the Saint-Gobain plastics plant in Merrimack. 

Two weeks ago, DES told residents they would get free bottled water only if their wells tested over 100 parts per trillion of this contaminant.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

If you move from Korea, Pakistan, or Senegal to New York City, you’ll find a whole neighborhood of shops with foods from home. Move to New Hampshire from just about anywhere else -- and there’s pretty much just Saigon Market.

Saigon Market opened twelve years ago in Manchester, but had to close in 2013 after owner Thanh Ho’s lease was not renewed.

NH Bar Association

Former New Hampshire Public Defender Dorothy Graham has taken a job with the New England office of the Federal Public Defender. Graham, who was nominated by Gov. Maggie Hassan last year to serve as a judge on the state Superior Court, saw her hopes for the bench scuttled after a conservative website accused her of a “history of trying to get child rapists off on technicalities.”

Read Emily Corwin's story about Graham's nomination and rejection.

Emily Corwin for NHPR

In New Hampshire, pretty much only rape and murder convictions can land a defendant behind bars for the rest of his or her life. Burglary? With a record? You might get fifteen years. Unless you’re Kevin Balch.

  More than 500 people showed up at a Merrimack Elementary School last night for the first public information meeting about a water contaminant found in private wells in the town.

There, the state’s Departments of Health and Human Services, and Environmental Services told the packed auditorium that the state would offer voluntary blood tests to the handful of residents whose wells test over a certain threshold. 

On Thursday, DHHS public information officer Jake Leon told NHPR "it's still early. It's hard to know what we're going to do."  

 

 New information from the Census Bureau pinpoints the fastest growing counties in New Hampshire. 

Flickr

About 130 advocates of the Capital Corridor Rail Project convened at the Nashua Library Monday night. Their goal: figure out how to get lawmakers to include rail in a 10-year transportation bill. 

Earlier this season, the House voted to strip the bill of $4 million of federal funds.  Now, rail advocates are hoping the Senate will reverse that decision. The money in question would go toward design and permitting to extend rail service from Boston to Nashua and Manchester.

public domain / wikimedia commons

  A Kentucky-based attorney is criticizing the NH Department of Environmental Services for its response to possible water contamination in Merrimack.

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