NHPR Staff

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Much of the state is officially in a drought.

WMUR reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture places central and southern New Hampshire in a moderate drought.

Northern areas of the state are in abnormally dry conditions.

Concord is running 5 inches below the average precipitation, going back to March 1.

River levels are also running lower than average.

Dry conditions have led to high fire risk across the state.

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Jury deliberations are expected to begin Friday in the case of an ex-Seabrook police officer accused of slamming a drunken driving suspect head-first into a concrete wall.

The Union Leader reports Mark Richardson took the stand in his own defense Thursday, saying he was trying to subdue the 19-year-old Michael Bergeron.

Richardson says Bergeron was being belligerent and resistant.

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Research shows students who attend preschool are more likely to have stability and success as they go through school and through life, yet New Hampshire is behind the national curve when it comes to investing in these programs.

The National Institute for Early Education Research has released its annual report, The State of Preschool, which profiles state-funded programs and tracks national trends around preschool quality and access.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Republican Yvonne Dean-Bailey defeated Democrat Maureen Mann yesterday in a special election for the state House of Representatives.

The seat is in Rockingham District 32, which represents Candia, Deerfield, Northwood and Nottingham.

Dean-Bailey will fill the seat left vacant by Republican Brian Dobson. He resigned to become director of veterans affairs for Congressman Frank Guinta. 

Both Dean-Bailey and Mann, a former state representative, received support from potential presidential candidates in the weeks leading up to the election.

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The city of Manchester could soon have a new police chief.

The Union Leader reports Mayor Ted Gatsas has nominated Assistant Police Chief Nick Willard to lead the department.

If aldermen approve the nomination, Willard would replace Chief David Mara, who announced earlier this month that he will retire at the end of June.

If he gets the job, Willard has already agreed to move to the city within 180 days.

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, the state's overall population grew from just over 1.1 million in 1990 to more than 1.3 million in 2013, an increase of 19.2%. In that same period of time, there's been a notable drop in kids aged ten and under in the state - the very population we're looking all week at in our special series The First Decade.

A Precipitous Decline 

Councilors in Claremont voted unanimously last night in support of a new city pumpkin festival.

The Union Leader reports the Claremont Citizens Group, which is organizing the festival, plans to file permits today for the first New England Pumpkin Festival.

The event is being planned for downtown Claremont on Oct. 17.

Representatives from the citizens group say they plan to raise the money to pay for any city resources that will be needed for the festival.

The House passed legislation Wednesday evening to end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of Americans' phone records and replace it with a system to search the data on a case-by-case basis.

New Hampshire Democratic Representative Ann McLane Kuster voted in favor of its passage. Republican Frank Guinta voted against it.

The overwhelming vote of 338 to 88 sets the stage for a Senate showdown just weeks before the law authorizing the program is to expire.

The House passed legislation Wednesday evening to end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of Americans' phone records and replace it with a system to search the data on a case-by-case basis.

New Hampshire Democratic Representative Ann McLane Kuster voted in favor of its passage. Republican Frank Guinta voted against it.

The overwhelming vote of 338 to 88 sets the stage for a Senate showdown just weeks before the law authorizing the program is to expire.

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The Weirs Beach Drive-In Theater is for sale.

Owner Patricia Baldi tells the Union Leader the 12.6 acres of property is on the market for $2.5 million.

Meanwhile, the theater will still operate this summer, opening this weekend. It opened in 1948 as one of the state’s first drive-in movie theaters.

Baldi says despite the planned sale, the theater is going forward with a major digital upgrade this summer, which had already been in the works.

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The head of the Manchester Police Department is stepping down.

Chief David Mara tells the Union Leader he’s retiring and his last day will be June 30.

Mara has been chief of the department for almost seven years.

He says he made the announcement to department staff Monday.

Mara has been with the department for nearly three decades, starting as a patrolman in 1986.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

It’s been a busy wildfire season in New Hampshire, with crews battling blazes in the Lakes Region Wednesday.

The Union Leader reports one wildfire closed Route 140 in Northfield yesterday.

Another atop Bayle Mountain in Ossipee burned for a second day, despite efforts to douse the fire from the air.

There were also reports of a wildfire in Merrimack.

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Police say a bicyclist was killed in Rochester in a hit-and-run incident early this morning.

WMUR reports the accident happened around 12:30 this morning, near the on-ramp of Route 16 South.

Officers found the man on the side road, with his damaged bicycle nearby.

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Police say a bicyclist was killed in Rochester in a hit-and-run incident early this morning.

WMUR reports the accident happened around 12:30 this morning, near the on-ramp of Route 16 South.

Officers found the man on the side road, with his damaged bicycle nearby.

Officer also found debris from the vehicle believed to have struck the bicyclist. Police say it was a green, older-model Dodge Ram pickup truck from the late 1990s or early 2000s. The vehicle is likely to have sustained significant damage to its front end and is missing a headlight.

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Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas, announced his candidacy for the Republican Presidential Primary on May 5, 2015. Huckabee, who ran in 2008, worked as a television host on the Fox News until January, when he resigned from the network in order to consider another run.

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The state’s largest utility is expecting many customers will see a drop in their monthly electric bills this summer.

Eversource Energy, formerly Public Service of New Hampshire, plans to file a rate change with state regulators next month.

The company says the reduced rates will lead to a drop of about $9 per month on average.

If approved by the state Public Utilities Commission, the new rate will take effect July 1.

Courtesy of MPD

A community forum Wednesday night will focus on how the heroin epidemic is impacting southern New Hampshire.

The Union Leader reports the forum is being held Alvirne High School in Hudson, and will include experts from the Hudson police and fire department.

Local health professionals will also be on hand to discuss treatment and support programs available for addicts.

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

Pediatric Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson announced his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential primary in an interview with Florida TV station on May 3rd, 2015, and made his official announcement at an event in Detroit on May 4th.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Carly Fiorina is the former CEO of Hewlett Packard and as such, was the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company. On May 4, 2015, she announced her candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential primary.

Fiorina received her undergraduate degree from Stanford, and earned business degrees from MIT and the University of Maryland. After surviving breast cancer (Fiorina was diagnosed and treated in 2009), she ran for U.S. Senate in 2010, and was defeated by incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer.

Further reading/viewing:

Kate Brindley for NHPR

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is an independent politician who, on April 30th, made an official announcement of his candidacy for the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. Sanders, a self-described "Democratic Socialist," is a native of Brooklyn, New York.

http://earthquake.usgs.gov

  A minor earthquake hit central New Hampshire Thursday morning.

The US Geological Survey recorded the 2.1 magnitude tremor near Contoocook just before 6.

It’s the second small earthquake in the Granite State in as many days.

A 2.3 magnitude earthquake was recorded near Sanbornton early Wednesday morning.

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New Hamsphire tourism officials say they’re concerned about the impact of proposed cuts in the state’s next two-year budget.

The plan put forth by the House Finance Committee last month cut nearly $3.8 million from $4.7 million Gov. Maggie Hassan requested for each of the next two years for the Division of Travel and Tourism Development.

NHPR has won four regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including a prestigious win for Overall Excellence in reporting for the radio and online.

Stories by Environment Reporter Sam Evans-Brown won two awards for Feature and Investigative Reporting, and a story by Todd Bookman looking at unreported incidents of child restraint in N.H. schools won for best Hard News Reporting.

Here are the winning entries:

Investigative Reporting: Do People Know About The Arsenic In Their Water? - by Sam Evans-Brown

Sara Plourde, NHPR

This winter's series of heavy snowfalls put a $9.2 million hurt on the state's annual snow removal budget and led to a raid on the fund that pays for road and bridge repair and maintenance.

Figures compiled by the Department of Transportation show the state spent $48.3 million to clear roads this season. It had budgeted $39.1 million and needed a transfer from the State Highway Fund to cover the shortfall.

DOT spokesperson Bill Boynton says not only was there simply more snow this winter, the storms were longer.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The state Republican Party held its First in the Nation Leadership Summit this weekend. Virtually every Republican thought to be considering a presidential run spoke at the event. Scroll down for stories, photos, interviews, and tweets by NHPR News and Morning Edition. Photos by Allegra Boverman unless otherwise noted.

Meet Peter Biello, the new voice of NHPR's "All Things Considered." Peter comes to NHPR from Vermont Public Radio, where he worked as a producer and announcer. Before working at VPR, Peter was Morning Edition host at WHQR in Wilmington, N.C.

If you're worried about missing Brady Carlson, don't fret! Brady has taken on a new role at NHPR; he'll be reporting on business and the economy for NHPR News and will host Weekend Edition on NHPR.

voting booths
Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Voters are heading to the polls in Merrimack Tuesday.

Resident will decide on the election of new town councilors and proposed town and school district budgets.

There are also two collective bargaining agreements on the ballot.

Polls will be open until 7 Tuesday evening.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Republican Marco Rubio is the junior U.S. Senator from Florida, a seat he has held since 2011. Prior to holding national office, he served as speaker in the Florida House of Representatives from 2007-2009. Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants and a native of Miami. He attended the University of Miami School of Law.

Rubio announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential race on April 13th, 2015. (You can watch video of his announcement speech below.)

Further reading/viewing:

Video: Senator Marco Rubio's full presidential announcement speech, via C-SPAN)

Tracy Lee Carroll for NHPR

Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State under President Obama from 2009 to 2013, after being defeated by Obama for the Democratic party's nomination for President in 2008. First coming to national prominence as the wife of President Bill Clinton, she made history as the first ever First Lady to run for office, winning a U.S. Senate seat representing New York in 2000.

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A group in Claremont will hold a public meeting this weekend to discuss the possibility of the city hosting the Keene Pumpkin Festival.

The New Hampshire Union Leader reports the Claremont Citizens Group will meet Saturday morning at Trinity Church.

The Keene City Council voted last week to reject the permit for what would have been the 25th anniversary of the festival this October.

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