Ryan Lessard

Contributor

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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NH News
12:43 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

N.H. Communities Look At Zoning To Prepare For Possible Dispensaries

Credit DD via Flickr Creative Commons

 As the state considers applications to run four medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, some towns and cities are preparing for the new law by updating their zoning rules.

New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law requires dispensaries be more than 1,000 feet from a school or drug free zone. But during Town Meeting on Tuesday, voters in Epping will decide whether to restrict dispensaries to industrial locations.

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Education
5:31 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

SNHU President To Help U.S. Education Department Grow Non-Traditional Programs

Paul LeBlanc
Credit Courtesy of SNHU

  Southern New Hampshire University President Paul LeBlanc will spend three months at the U.S. Department of Education to help grow non-traditional higher ed programs. 

In an effort to increase access and affordability for students, the U.S. Department of Education will begin selecting universities as so-called experimental sites.

LeBlanc says experimental sites will act as centers of research and development for new models of higher ed. And he says he won’t be part of the selection process.

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NH News
5:23 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Foodstuffs: What Will A Late Start For The Maple Season Mean?

  It’s the first week of March, about the time we usually see the kickoff to the maple sugaring season. But maple syrup producers are still waiting anxiously for the sap to start flowing.

Howard Pearl joined All Things Considered. He’s a maple producer in Loudon and a director of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association which represents 400 maple farms in the state.

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Health
6:02 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Dispensary Applicant Eyeing Location In Dover

  One of the 14 applicants who would operate a medical marijuana dispensary in the state is eyeing a location in Dover.

A group affiliated with Wellness Connection of Maine says it wants to operate in the seacoast region. Board member Bill Eldridge says it would also be named Wellness Connection.

“Many of the things that have been developed in Maine, we plan to license their intellectual property and run similar operations with the same high standards in New Hampshire if we receive a license.”

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Politics
7:15 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Shaheen And Ayotte Call For Reward In Terror Killings Of U.S. Citizens

James Foley
Credit Nicole Tung/freejamesfoley.org via AP

  New Hampshire Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte have introduced legislation to set a $5 million reward for information that would point authorities to the ISIS terrorists who killed New Hampshire journalist James Foley and others.

The bipartisan bill would also authorize State Department rewards of $5 million for tips on the kidnapping and murder of any U.S. citizen by any foreign terrorist group. Seven other senators have co-sponsored the legislation. Shaheen and Ayotte introduced a similar bill last year.

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NH News
6:54 am
Thu February 26, 2015

N.H. Liquor Commission Reports Record Sales Of Locally Made Wines And Spirits

Andy Harthcock of Djinn Spirits in Nashua.
Credit Courtesy of NHLC

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission says sales of locally produced wines and spirits reached a record high of $1.35 million. Sales grew by 32.5% over the past fiscal year.

Liquor Commission Chairman Joseph Mollica attributes this growth to prominent product placement in the state’s liquor stores.

“We’re very supportive of them and we appreciate their hard work and dedication to their craft. And we’re happy to promote their products as New Hampshire citizens.”

The Liquor Commission also provides local producers with free warehouse storage.

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NH News
6:00 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Bill Would Make N.H. The First To Mandate Criminal Sentencing Attendance

Seth Mazzaglia listening to victim impact statements from family and friends of Lizzie Marriott.
Credit AP Video/Still

  Last year, Seth Mazzaglia was convicted of the rape and murder of UNH student Lizzie Marriott. But after the conviction he sought to avoid being present for the sentencing hearing. He ultimately withdrew that request, but family members of the victim were surprised and angered. They had to face the prospect that they may not have their one chance throughout the proceedings to speak directly to the killer.

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Politics
7:56 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Bills Calling For Constitutional Convention Move Forward

Constitution
Credit (Photo by <a href'="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tswartz/402696142/">Tony Swartz </a>via Flickr Creative Commons)

  New Hampshire may join several other states who are considering calling for a federal constitutional convention.

The House Committee on State-Federal Relations and Veteran Affairs voted to support two of four bills that would call for a convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

One of the bills backed by the committee targets campaign finance issues brought on by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case.

Calls from 34 states or a two-thirds vote in Congress is needed for a constitutional convention to take place.

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Education
7:38 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Manchester School Board Committee Would Allow Exemptions For Smarter Balanced Test

Credit Melanie Holtsman / Flickr CC

  The Manchester School Board’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee has approved a measure letting parents pull their child from taking tests linked to the Common Core standards.

The proposal includes a mail campaign to inform parents of this option. The letters would state that there would be no penalties if they choose to opt out of the Smarter Balanced test. And parents would need to notify the child’s principal of the decision in writing.

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NH News
7:53 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Slowdown In Federal Funding May Leave N.H. With Steep Bill For Roads

Credit Flikr Creative Commons / Mortmer

According to a report by the Associate Press, Federal transportation dollars for New Hampshire road maintenance fell by more than %5 between 2008 and 2013. New Hampshire’s department of transportation spending has also fallen by more than 16% over roughly the same period.

This has meant delays to regular maintenance to secondary roads and bridges. And as these roadways deteriorate, the state will have to pay a higher price for reconstruction.

New Hampshire rates more than a third of state roads as in “poor” condition. And another 50 miles get added to the list each year.

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Politics
8:06 am
Fri February 20, 2015

John Bolton Visits N.H.

John Bolton
Credit AP Photo

  Potential Republican candidate for president, John Bolton is visiting New Hampshire today. He is scheduled to speak during a Politics and Eggs event hosted by The New England Council and The New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.

The visit by the former U.N. Ambassador was originally scheduled for late January but was postponed due to snowy weather.

Other potential candidates are expected to arrive in the Granite State next week including Florida Senator Marco Rubio and former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich.

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NH News
7:42 am
Fri February 20, 2015

Kibby Kidnapping Trial Slated For Next Year

Nathaniel Kibby.
Credit NH Attorney General

  The case of Nathaniel Kibby, the Gorham man accused of kidnapping and repeatedly sexually assaulting a Conway teenager for several months, will likely go to trial next year. That’s according to a superior court justice who presided over a dispositional hearing Thursday.

After listening to both defense and prosecution, Judge Peter Bornstein said he's putting the trial on track for January of 2016. The delay was largely to afford the defense enough time to sift through thousands of pages and dozens of CDs containing evidence provided by the prosecution.

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Politics
8:05 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Lawmakers Consider Expanding Background Checks For Gun Sales

Credit Gun Store / Flickr Creative Commons

  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hear arguments Thursday on a bill that would expand background checks for gun sales in the state.

The bill, sponsored by five Democratic representatives and one Republican senator, would require all commercial sales or transfers use a licensed firearms dealer. Licensed dealers are required to vet buyers through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. But sales at gun shows or through personal ads are currently possible without background checks.

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Politics
7:25 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Bill To Defund Planned Parenthood Defeated By N.H. House

  The New Hampshire House voted 216 to 142 to defeat a bill that would stop sending tax dollars to Planned Parenthood. It’s already illegal in the state to use public funds for abortions, but some lawmakers believe that’s how the money is being spent.

The bill was not recommended for passage by the Judiciary committee and, ultimately, the full house agreed.

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NH News
8:15 am
Wed February 18, 2015

Unpredictable Pressure Formation May Mean Snow For Seacoast

Snow in Rye
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  Rob Carolan with Hometown Forecast says an unpredictable ‘trough’ of low pressure sitting in the Atlantic is poised to bring some possible snow to the seacoast area this afternoon.

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Politics
8:20 am
Tue February 17, 2015

N.H. House Hears Bill To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hear arguments this Tuesday afternoon for a bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession of an ounce or less. It would also reduce criminal penalties for greater amounts and would make it a misdemeanor to grow up to six marijuana plants.

Penalties for possessing less than an ounce would be a $100 fine for adults or 35 hours community service for a minor.

Possession of any amount of marijuana currently carries with it a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

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Politics
5:30 am
Tue February 17, 2015

N.H. House And Senate Considers "Right-To-Work" Bill

FairPoint workers in Manchester on strike.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  Tuesday afternoon, the state Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would make New Hampshire a so-called “Right-to-Work” state.

The bill prohibits collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a union.

It’s a perennial issue in the state and it went as far as passing the Republican-controlled legislature in 2011. But it didn’t have enough votes to override then-Governor John Lynch’s veto.

Governor Maggie Hassan is against Right-to-Work.

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Politics
5:00 am
Tue February 17, 2015

N.H. Senate To Revisit Authorizing Casinos

Credit SalFalko via Flickr CC

  The state senate Ways and Means Committee will hear a bill that would approve the creation of two casinos this Tuesday morning.

Long-time casino champion and sponsor of the bill, Democratic Senator Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester, says this bill has a lot more revenue sharing than past bills.

“Every person in the state has a stake in this piece of legislation.”

D’Allesandro says the hosting community, neighboring communities, the hosting county and the state health department each get a cut of the revenue.

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Politics
10:47 am
Mon February 16, 2015

Chris Christie To Speak At Republican Event In Concord

Chris Christie
Credit Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC

  Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is returning to New Hampshire today. He’s scheduled to speak at a dinner in Concord at 6pm.

Christie was a frequent visitor to the Granite State last year. He made a number of trips to stump for Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein.

Christie is being eyed as a potential GOP candidate for president in twenty-sixteen. 

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NH News
9:41 am
Mon February 16, 2015

Tomorrow's Snow To Be Minor, But Record Accumulation Means More Big Storms

Credit Nedra / Flickr Creative Commons

  We have another snowstorm in store for the state tomorrow afternoon but, Steve LaVoie with Hometown Forecast Service reports New Hampshire will be largely spared the worst of it.

“Looks like the amounts are generally gonna be a quick inch or two. The North Country may not see anything at all, actually. The best chance of any higher snowfall amounts will be along the seacoast again.”

He says there might be another round of snow showers Wednesday.

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NH News
9:09 am
Mon February 16, 2015

Keene Officials Clash With Pumpkin Festival Organizers

Police responding to last year's riot in Keene.
Credit Courtesy Kaitlyn Coogan / Keene Sentinel

  Let It Shine, the group that organizes the Keen Pumpkin Festival, and city officials are at an impasse as this year’s festival hangs in the balance.

After the riot that took place during last years’ pumpkin festival, Let It Shine was saddled with an unusually high bill due to the added police response needed to control the disturbance.

It has already paid about $60,000 of the $90,000 bill and is now asking the city for approval to move forward with this year’s festival.

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NH News
9:06 am
Mon February 16, 2015

New State Record For Drug-Related Deaths

  The state’s Medical Examiner’s Office says the number of people who died of drug overdoses in 2014 is up to 300. That’s a record for the state and the number could still climb as ‘cause of death’ is determined for pending cases.

The synthetic opioid fentanyl was identified in a growing number of overdose deaths and even outpaced heroin as the leading cause of drug-related deaths last year. There were 193 drug-related deaths in 2013.

State officials say opioid abuse has reached epidemic levels.

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NH News
8:47 am
Mon February 16, 2015

Hiker Missing Overnight Near Mount Madison

Watson Path, Mount Madison
Credit Whit Andrews / Flickr/CC

  Searching resumes this morning for a 32 year old woman who may have spent the night in deadly weather conditions between Mount Adams and Mount Madison.

Fish and Game Advanced Rescue and volunteers from Mountain Rescue Service searched the area last night after a missing hiker activated a personal locator beacon registered to Kate Matrosova of New York City.  But after searching through deep snow and scrub trees in an area identified as the probable last known location of the beacon, rescuers turned back.

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NH News
7:54 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Eversource Wins Major Bid To Build Power Lines In MA And N.H.

Credit Michael Kappel/Flickr CC

  After months of heated bidding against NextEra Energy Resources, Eversource Energy, formerly Northeast Utilities, has won the right to build one of the largest electric infrastructure projects in New England history.

Citing lower costs, ISO New England, the regional grid operator, selected Eversource—partnered with National Grid—to build the ‘Greater Boston and Southern New Hampshire Reliability Project.’

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Politics
8:53 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Hassan Plan To Include New A 'Chief Operating Officer'

Credit Marc Nozell / NHPR

  Governor Maggie Hassan will include a new, administrative position for state government: a Chief Operating Officer.

The position, modeled after COOs in the private sector, would improve the state’s efficiency. The idea came from a commission convened by Hassan in twenty thirteen. It released its final report last month, which says the Chief Operating Officer would oversee operations for staff and IT across state agencies.

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Education
8:09 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Manchester School Board Reverses Position On 'Smarter Balanced' Tests

Credit Melanie Holtsman / Flickr CC

  The Manchester School Board voted Wednesday night to administer the Smarter Balanced exams which would test students’ progress in meeting Common Core standards.

The vote puts an end to months of wrangling with the state Department of Education. Board members had originally voted to opt out of the test last summer but the DoE said doing so could mean the loss of millions in federal education aid.

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NH News
8:01 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Fish And Game Move To Ban Chocolate As Bait Following Recent Bear Deaths

Black bear.
Credit Michael Webber via Flickr CC

  New Hampshire Fish and Game laid out a proposal Wednesday that would ban the use of chocolate to bait bears. This follows four confirmed bear deaths. Officials say the animals overdose on the theobromine in the sweets.

Those against the measure say limiting chocolate would be a better alternative to banning it.

The Fish and Game Commission voted to move the proposal forward. The public will have a chance to submit their concerns.

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Politics
8:48 am
Wed February 11, 2015

House Committee To Consider "Home-Grow" For Medical Marijuana... Again

  The New Hampshire House committee on Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs will hear bills to expand the medical marijuana law Wednesday.

One bill would reintroduce a home-grow provision which had been proposed in a failed bill last year and it was cut from the therapeutic cannabis law’s original language.

It would allow qualified patients to grow a certain amount of cannabis in their home and require them to report their cultivation location to the state.

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Environment
8:45 am
Wed February 11, 2015

N.H. To Stay In RGGI But Bill Would Eliminate Renewable Energy Projects

Credit iStock Photo/Thinkstock

  A bill to take New Hampshire out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, has been changed in the House Committee on Science, Technology and Energy.

It would now maintain New Hampshire’s participation in the program but would allocate all of the money raised by the program away from renewable energy projects and into electric rate relief.

Right now, the state puts four out of every five dollars it gets per carbon allowance into rate subsidies.

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Education
4:00 am
Fri February 6, 2015

UNH Manchester Rethinks Classroom Design Ahead Of Move

One of Mihaela Sabin's pod-style classroom studios.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  As UNH Manchester prepares to move down the road to the larger Pandora Mill building, it’s going back to the drawing board to modernize its classrooms. The school turned to its faculty and students to help design the classroom that works best for them.

This month, researchers in Manchester, England will publish a report on the impact class environment has on learning. They find factors ranging from furniture to lighting can cause a significant variation on a student’s performance. And UNH Manchester is paying attention.

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