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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Town of Rye

Some Seacoast towns voted down major capital projects, although residents in New Castle, it turns out, will have a second chance at one of their warrant articles.

In Rye, residents voted not to spend $4 million dollars to renovate their town hall. In North Hampton, a simple majority favored a $7 million new library, and safety complex: but a super majority was needed to pass the measure.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

To function, town governments in New Hampshire rely on an informed citizenry. But getting informed can be overwhelming. Deliberative sessions take all day, warrant articles can be technical and hard to understand, and candidates can be numerous.

Now, civic-minded residents are finding ways to help.

Tom Vagliery via Flickr CC

On Wednesday members of the House will vote on a bill that prohibits minors from using tanning facilities. 

The bill requires indoor tanning operators to obtain proof that customers are over the age of 18. They would also have to sign a consent form acknowledging the risks of indoor tanning.

The American Pediatric Association and the World Health Organization’s Cancer research agency have recommended the measure. It’s already law in nine other states and the District of Columbia.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 On Wednesday the New Hampshire House will vote on whether schools should be able to compel students to disclose their social media activity.

The bill bans schools from demanding access to a student’s user name and password or requiring students to “friend” school officials on Facebook.

It would apply to private and public schools, K through colleges and universities. Prime Sponsor, Merrimack Rep Katherine Rogers says schools that demand access to a student’s social media accounts without a search warrant are denying that student the civil right to privacy.

The city of Portsmouth has been hauling snow from town and dumping it on Peirce Island, just across from the Naval Shipyard. But now, Public Works Director Peter Rice says the island is filling up. 

 Everything but the road is covered in mountains of snow on Peirce Island.    At the very end of the road, a snow pile towers two or three stories high.  If you peer over the hill to the park below – you see the pile doubles in size.

“This is unprecedented. We’ve never seen this before, like this. This has been amazing,” Lister revels.

Ibew Fairpoint via Flickr CC

New Hampshire FairPoint workers who have been on strike since October will vote on a new labor agreement Saturday. Ratification meetings will take place in both Manchester and Portsmouth.

Vermont workers cast their on Friday; Maine workers will follow suit on Sunday.

The new agreement comes after more than a month of negotiations led by a federal mediator.

 

Union representatives say ratification of the contract will be announced Sunday night. If successful, more than 1,700 striking workers could be back to work as early as next week.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

  The NH House is backing a bill that seeks to remove a potential financial incentive for county prosecutors who pursue liquor law violations.

The bill is fallout from mismanagement in the office of former Rockingham County Attorney, Jim Reams. Among other things, the state accused Reams of misusing fees his office collected while prosecuting liquor violations. Reams said current law allowed him to collect and spend the liquor fines.

The N.H. House is again hearing arguments to make marijuana possession punishable by civil penalties, not criminal.

Tuesday at a Criminal Safety Committee hearing crowded with supporters, cosponsor Representative Joe LaChance argued New Hampshire is the only state with criminal penalties for simple possession. 

“What’s the repercussion for that person who may not be able to afford college? Now he has a marijuana conviction, and according to federal law, you may not be eligible for student loans, public housing. What have we done to that person for the rest of their life?”

University of New Hamshire

  Researchers at the University of New Hampshire say it’s not just bad diets and little exercise causing rising rates of obesity and diabetes.    In fact, synthetic chemicals used in household items like couches and carpet padding may play a part in both of those conditions.

When Nutritional Scientist Gale Carey at UNH exposed healthy rats to high doses of flame retardant chemicals, and then inspected their fat tissue, she found that "metabolically, chemically, it behaves like it's from an animal that is obese. But the animal is not obese."

NHPR Staff

  After working triple and quadruple shifts plowing the roads in Portsmouth, public workers in Portsmouth climb into garbage trucks for regular trash removal.

Public Works Director Peter Rice says storms and snow make even trash pickup a trying endeavor. "People are trying to pass them on these narrow roads while they’re trying to pick up trash,” Rice says. “You know these guysare exhausted, they are stretched thin.”

The Portsmouth Herald’s newspaper delivery crew is also struggling.

Karima Nabulsi owns Karima's Kitchen, a specialty food and catering company that operates out of Eastman's Corner Farmstand in Kensington, N.H.

Nabulsi moved to the United States from Lebanon when she was 14. Today, she uses produce from Seacoast-area farms to make traditional Lebanese food.

Listen to the audio postcard below to hear her recipe for spinach fatayer: a Lebanese finger-food.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

As the third major snowstorm in two weeks moves out of New England, exhaustion is setting in for plow drivers.

Some private and public plow drivers say they are putting in as many as 40 hours without a night’s rest here in Southern New Hampshire.

The Director of Public Works in Portsmouth says back to back storms like this happen so rarely, the city doesn’t have written policy limiting shifts for plow drivers.

By John Phelan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Drug courts are supposed to save taxpayers money: one year of intense treatment and supervision costs about a third as much as a year behind bars.

But it still requires money, up front.

Now, after squeezing four years out of a federal startup grant, Rockingham County is wrestling over how to fund the program.

Durham town administrators and University police are preparing for 5,000 UNH students to flood Durham’s downtown after the Patriots play the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Town Administrator Todd Selig says in years past, inebriated college students have wreaked havoc downtown – especially when local sports teams play in high profile games. 

Most students are responsible, says Selig.

Nevertheless, Durham police have sent letters to local businesses, “encouraging them to bring inside tables, chairs, trash receptacles,” says Selig.

As of January 1, cities and towns in N.H. have new teeth to keep landlords from letting their property get messy or run down.  On Tuesday, the city of Somersworth put this new authority to use. 

Although Somersworth has spent the last year giving itself a makeover by redeveloping much of its downtown, authorities have had a hard time getting some landlords to maintain their properties. It's a problem a lot of communities face.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

On Sunday, clergy from local Lutheran, Congregational, and Unitarian churches -- plus a rabbi -- honored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. at New Hope Baptist Church in Portsmouth.

Reverend Arthur L. Hilson reminded his speakers -- including Portsmouth Major Bob Lister and Police Chief Stephen DuBois -- that they stood behind the very pulpit Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. preached at in Portsmouth 63 years ago.  

NHPR Staff

The state’s Department of Transportation warned about slippery conditions on roadways from Manchester to Plymouth Sunday as freezing rain hit cold pavement. “Incidents are happening all over the place,” said Bill Boynton with NHDOT.  

By afternoon, a pileup on I-93 blocked traffic in both directions near I-89.

Boynton's recommendation? Watch football.

"As soon as you start using salt, the rain dissolves it," he said. That made pre-treatment impossible Sunday morning, as freezing rain moved in across the state.  

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

  Senator Kelly Ayotte fielded questions on a variety of topics at a town hall meeting in Loudon on Friday.

She reiterated her support for sanctions in Iran; for immigration reform; assured one constituent that she would vote repeal Obamacare again if given the chance. However, Ayotte suggested, it may pay to be realistic.

“I also think though we should also try to take up some areas where people are saying ‘I can agree,’” Ayotte said, “like changing the forty-hour work week.”

David Adams

On Friday, lawmakers will vote on a final rule governing what words New Hampshire drivers can have on their vanity license plates. While the Department of Safety’s interim rules did not allow drivers to receive vanity plates that refer to beer or other legal inebriants, the Department’s final recommendations reversed that decision, outlawing only illegal inebriants. 

The USS Norfolk, her crew of 16 officers and 122 enlisted personnel arrived at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Friday to undergo the process of inactivation. During its 31 year history, the Norfolk completed 15 deployments and covered 30,000 nautical miles. 

At the Shipyard in Kittery, crews will defuel the nuclear-powered ship. They will drain hydraulic systems and oil tanks, and remove tools, parts and furnishings.

Next, the sub will be towed to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard where it will be dismantled.

University of New Hamshire / Lucy Hodder has stepped down as counsel to the Governor to direct UNH Law School's new Health Law and Policy Program

The UNH School of Law announced its new Health Law and Policy program Friday.

The health law program will bridge the University’s Law School in Concord, and College of Health and Human Services, in Durham.

It aims to align curricula with the state’s growing health sector.

Interim Law School dean, Jordan Budd, says while the school does a good job already placing lawyers, this will help it do better.

Crystal Paradis / Vital Design

  A ten-year employment forecast in New Hampshire shows the Seacoast region gaining jobs faster than any other region in NH.

According to a report published by New Hampshire’s Economic Security Agency earlier this week, jobs in the Portsmouth/Salem region are predicted to grow 14.7 percent over the next 10 years –faster than anywhere else in the state. New Hampshire economist Dennis Delay says that’s a bit of a surprise.

Joe Gratz / flickr, creative commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/63126465@N00/117048243

  Former Rockingham County prosecutor Jerome Blanchard begins work Monday as a criminal defense attorney with Russman Law in Exeter.

Blanchard was a primary whistleblower in the state’s investigation into former Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams. Blanchard was later fired by Patricia Conway, a longtime prosecutor in Reams’ office who was elected County Attorney in November.

Jeff Finn / Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/44459766@N02/6385935213

It was a record year for red-bellied woodpeckers in New Hampshire. That's the word from New Hampshire's birders as the international Christmas Bird Count tradition comes to a close.

Overall, bird enthusiasts from 21 regions across the state are reporting both high individual bird counts, and high species counts.  

Emily Corwin / NHPR

  Autopsies completed Wednesday confirmed the identities and cause of death of the couple found dead at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital Tuesday morning. 

The Attorney General's office believes Mark Lavoie, 50, shot and killed his wife, Katherine Lavoie, 49, then commit suicide with a single gunshot wound to his head.

  Granite Staters greeted the New Year with festivities across the state, including First Night celebrations. 

In Portsmouth, Jeff Day estimates he’s spent the last 20 New Years Eves running his chainsaw through blocks of ice right here in Portsmouth’s Market Square. This year, he’s working with thirteen 300-pound cubes. 

"We're gonna make an iceburg, we're gonna have some penguins on there, some sliding, some sitting there," he says.

Day, who owns a diner in Rumney, won second place at the World Ice Art Championships in 2006.

NHPR / Emily Corwin

An investigation is underway into a murder-suicide involving a husband and wife at a Dover hospital this morning.

According to the attorney general’s office, Dover police responded to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital just after 6 this morning for a report of shots fired.

Officers found the husband and wife both dead in the hospital’s critical care unit.

While the investigation is ongoing, it appears the husband murdered his wife and then took his own life. 

flickr, creative commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/11388184@N05/8325737221/

  Thanks to snow blowing, most lifts and at least half the trails are open at New Hampshire's major downhill ski resorts. Now, upcoming cold temperatures will mean more cross country trails can open up, too.

Gunstock will begin blowing snow onto its cross country trails on Monday night.  Marketing Director Bill Quigley says getting snow onto these narrow, tree-lined trails requires the assistance of a local farmer. "They actually load the snow into a manure spreader," he says, "and then we drag it around with a snowcat and a tractor to spread it on the trails."

A lifelong champion for uninsured women and their children has died.  Avis Goodwin passed away on Saturday in York Harbor, Maine on Saturday at age 95. 

As Director of Social Services at Wentworth Douglass Hospital in 1969, she started the state’s first prenatal care clinic for uninsured women. It is now a nonprofit called the Goodwin Community Health Center in Somersworth.

  The Portsmouth City Council has voted down a measure that would have created a temporary legal exception for drivers of the ride-sharing company, Uber.

City Attorney Bob Sullivan established the previous week that online ride-sharing does qualify as a taxi service in Portsmouth, and could be subject to taxi inspection and medallion requirements.

But in a 5-4 vote Monday night, City Councilors rejected the 60-day protection for Uber’s drivers proposed by Assistant Mayor Jim Splaine.

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