Ryan Lessard

Correspondent

Before becoming a reporter for NHPR, Ryan devoted many months interning with The Exchange team, helping to produce their daily talk show.  He graduated from the University of New Hampshire in Manchester with a major in Politics and Society and a minor in Communication Arts. While in school, he also interned for a DC-based think tank. His interests include science fiction and international relations. Ryan is a life-long Manchester resident.

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Health
4:00 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Interested Parties Await State's Next Move Towards Opening Dispensaries

Credit West Coast Cannabis / Flickr/CC

  The Department of Health and Human Services will soon begin asking for license applications from people who want to operate one of four medical marijuana dispensaries. A few proposals have already surfaced and some are partnering with outside companies.

Rex Bunnell hopes to find himself behind the counter of an Alternative Treatment Center, or ATC. That’s what the state calls its medical marijuana dispensaries.

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NH News
5:22 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Manchester Tackling Gun And Gang Crime With Outreach And Tough Penalties

From right Chief David Mara, U.S. District Attorney John Kacavas, N.H. Attorney General Joe Foster and Hillsborough County Attorney Patricia LaFrance.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

The Manchester Police Department has announced the formation of a multi-agency collaboration to tackle gun and gang-related crime in the city.

  The group was recently awarded a $50,000 grant from a federal Department of Justice program. The money will be used to increase patrols in high crime areas and parole check-ins with probationers and at-risk youth. Manchester Chief David Mara says a big part of this program is showing potential offenders that they mean business.

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Education
10:38 am
Mon November 24, 2014

New Hampshire Institute Of Art Names New President

Kent Deveraux
Credit New Hampshire Institute of Art

After about a year of searching, the New Hampshire Institute of Art has named a new President.

A music professor from Seattle will take over as president of the Institute. Kent Devereaux currently teaches at and chairs the Music Department at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.

Devereaux praises the Institute’s undergraduate programs and a new Master of Fine Arts program and says they’ll attract more students.

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NH News
5:11 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Rules Set for New Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

  A legislative committee has signed off on rules to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. But the vote hinged on new legislation to fix a possible tax issue.

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NH News
4:30 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Fitch Lowers Manchester's Bond Credit Rating

City Hall in Manchester
Credit Bryan Marble via Flickr CC

One of the big three credit rating agencies has downgraded Manchester’s overall bond rating.

Fitch Ratings has lowered Manchester’s rating from AA+ to AA. The agency cites the city’s tax cap, rising pension costs and its deficit that caused the city to raise taxes beyond its cap.

Manchester owes $122 million in general bonds and about $59 million in school facilities revenue bonds. The school bond rating also dipped from AA to AA-. But Fitch kept its rating outlook at ‘stable.’

Last year, ratings agency Moody’s similarly downgraded Manchester’s credit rating.

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NH News
5:00 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Manchester Police Bag 23 Alleged Drug Dealers In Second Joint Operation

140 grams of heroin packaged in "decks" (which typically contain one gram each) were found in the home of one of the men arrested.
Credit Carol Robidoux

  The Manchester Police Department along with various local and federal law enforcement agencies have arrested 23 low-level drug dealers in the city.

One city resident police arrested was found with about 140 grams of heroin in his home which holds a street value of $14,000.

Chief David Mara says the arrests serve as a deterrent to people engaged in illicit drug activity and improves the city’s quality of life.

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NH News
4:03 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Rep. Laurie Sanborn Drops From House Speaker Race, Big Name Republicans Back Chandler

Credit Dennis D. Hurd via Flickr CC

  Republican Representative Laurie Sanborn has dropped from the race to lead the House. She cites recent health concerns of her husband, state senator Andy Sanborn. He had emergency surgery on Election Day.

That leaves the bid for speakership between two former speakers: Gene Chandler who served from 2001 to 2004, and Bill O’Brien who served from 2010 to 2012.

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NH News
1:34 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Manchester Water Main Fixed, Road Repairs Underway

The water main break in Manchester's Goffe st caused massive road damage.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  Crews on Manchester’s west side are working Friday to repair the damage after a 16 inch water main let go Thursday night. The burst pipe led to the evacuation of nearly two-dozen residents.

Repairs to the water main wrapped up around seven Friday morning.

But City Water Works Director David Paris says they’re pressure testing the pipe before bringing it back to full force. Crews are now spending Friday removing chunks of asphalt and refilling the hole left behind by about one million gallons of water that flowed down city streets.

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NH News
10:29 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Major Water Main Breaks In Manchester

The sinkhole created by the water main break on Goffe st.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

A large water main broke Thursday night beneath a west side Manchester street, causing a bus-sized sinkhole and several flooded basements.

City Water Works Director David Paris says the broken pipe is one of five major conduits servicing the city and connecting the east and west sides of the Merrimack river.

"A large part of the road will need to be rebuilt," says Paris. He says it's too soon to estimate the cost of the damages but in the first hour the city lost about 1 million gallons of water.

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Politics
9:23 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Kuster Continues To Distance Herself From President

Ann Kuster speaking with NHPR's Laura Knoy at the UNH School of Law.
Credit Allegra Boverman

  2nd Congressional District Democrat Ann McLane Kuster worked to distance herself from President Obama during an appearance Thursday night at the UNH Law School.

Earlier this year, Kuster told NHPR’s Laura Knoy that she considered herself one of the President Obama’s biggest supporters. Thursday night, in a public conversation with Knoy, she cited areas when she disagreed with the president.

She also defended her vote on the farm bill which cut food stamps by more than $8 million.

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Politics
8:14 pm
Sun October 26, 2014

John McCain Campaigns With Walt Havenstein In Manchester

Walt Havenstein and John McCain enter the Puritan Backroom restaurant in Manchester.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

Arizona Senator and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain was out campaigning for gubernatorial hopeful Walt Havenstein Sunday.

  McCain and Havenstein greeted people as they dined at the Puritan Backroom restaurant in Manchester, shaking hands and posing for pictures. McCain says he came to lend Havenstein support in what he calls his ‘second favorite state’ because of Havenstein’s business background.

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NH News
2:55 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Manchester Police Seek To Reduce Robberies By Training Store Workers

Officer Paul Rondeau speaking to a group of store workers. Another training session will take place at the police station on October 30th at 6 p.m.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  With robberies in Manchester on the rise in recent years, police are now training convenience store workers on how to prevent robberies and what to do when one occurs.

Crime Prevention Officer Paul Rondeau told store clerks today that real life robberies are nothing like the movies. Hey says they’re typically brief and those robbing the stores are often desperate addicts.

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Politics
9:43 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Full Audio: Guinta, Shea-Porter Target Each Other's Voting Record In Debate

Credit David Lane / Union Leader

First congressional district candidates Frank Guinta and Carol Shea-Porter met Tuesday night on NH1’s TV debate. Both candidates took aim at the other’s voting record in Washington.

Scroll down for audio of the full debate.

These candidates know each other well. This is the third time they’ve run against each other. And this debate often focused on refighting old battles.

Democrat Carol Shea-Porter was quick to blame Guinta and Republicans for the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration.

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NH News
5:26 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

STEAM Ahead: Manchester Tech Companies Throw Coal In The Local K-12 Engine

The classroom of Rachel Belmont, who is tying world geography into paleolithic cave paintings and tool making.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  About 60 9th grade students in Manchester High School West are participating in a new science-focused magnet program called STEAM Ahead, this year. The partnership between the school district and several local tech companies also involves state colleges. It aims to boost the local workforce and retain youth and talent.

It’s morning in biology teacher Christine Aspinwall’s class. The students are scrambling to fill beakers with pureed food.

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NH News
2:09 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Still No End In Sight For Fairpoint Strike

Union picketers in front of Fairpoint in Manchester.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  With no meetings scheduled between Fairpoint and union heads, there appears to be no movement to resolve the strike that began last week.

Workers at the Manchester office have been picketing in front of the building around the clock since the strike began Friday. Roughly 250 Manchester employees are among the more than 1,700 workers on strike in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.

Kelly Torosian is an IBEW union member and Fairpoint employee who joined the picketers.

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