Sam Evans-Brown

Environment and Education Reporter

 

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for  New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. His work has won several local broadcast journalism awards, and he was a 2013 Steinbrenner Institute Environmental Media Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

Follow Sam's tweets about the environment, education news, and everything else he's tracking.

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Environment
5:10 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Woodstove Change Out Program Launched For Cheshire County

Credit Gord McKenna / Flickr Creative Commons

Starting Thursday residents of Cheshire County can turn in old, inefficient woodstoves for a voucher towards a new cleaner-burning stove.

The vouchers are worth $1,000 towards an EPA certified woodstove, $1,500 towards a pellet or gas stove, or $4,000 towards a new outdoor wood boiler. In all $425,000 worth of vouchers will be given out.

Woodstoves built before 1988 are a lot less efficient and put out a lot more pollution than modern stoves, and since they are essentially big chunks of iron they last a long time.

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Environment
5:42 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Fish and Game Weighs Allowing Trapping Of Bobcats

Protesters outside Fish and Game on Wednesday
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

In a meeting Wednesday, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission began a discussion on whether to open a bobcat trapping season. The proposal is far from final, but it’s already attracting the ire of the animal rights community.

Late last year biologists at the University of New Hampshire announced the results of a study, commissioned by Fish and Game. They estimated that from 1989 to today, the bobcat population in New Hampshire had rebounded from less than 200 cats to somewhere between 800 and 1,400.

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NH News
12:13 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

Pumpkin Fest Wants To Share Responsibilities, Costs For Festival Security

Credit Let It Shine, Inc.

The organizers of the Keene Pumpkin Fest have proposed a new public safety arrangement for next year’s event.

The organizers only want to be responsible for safety and security within the festival’s footprint.

In a Facebook post, Let It Shine, Inc. – the Pumpkin Festival’s non-profit organizer – said in 2015 it would like the city of Keene and Keene State College to take charge of controlling rowdy college students in neighborhoods near the event.

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NH News
11:21 am
Mon January 19, 2015

N.H. Lottery Rolls Out Bacon-Scented Scratch Ticket

Credit NH Lottery

  The New Hampshire Lottery is selling a bacon-scented scratch ticket.

The I Heart Bacon Scratch ticket features a $1,000 dollar grand prize and ink which releases the a bacon-like aroma when scratched.

To publicize the release of the ticket, the Lottery will be giving out free bacon in Keene, Durham, Hooksett and Manchester starting on Friday.

The tickets cost $1 a piece and winning tickets will reveal either a heart or a bacon symbol.

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NH News
2:54 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

PSNH Granted Request For Time To Negotiate Settlement

The scrubber at Merrimack Station in Bow, pictured here while under construction, was originally estimated to cost $250 million, but wound up costing $422 million. A major proceeding to determine if PSNH could bill ratepayers for that full cost has now been stayed.
Credit PSNH / Flickr Creative Commons

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission has agreed to put the brakes on a big decision regarding the state’s largest electric utility, Public Service of New Hampshire.

The first is how much it will be reimbursed for a scrubber on a power plant in Bow that saw more than hundred million dollars more than was initially estimated. And the second is whether they should be allowed to continue to own power-plants – period – or if instead independent, third-parties should be the only companies in the electricity generation market.

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NH News
7:31 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Pipeline Opponents Bring Fight To Concord

Homer Shannon, a resident of Windham, speaks his opposition to the proposed natural gas pipeline.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Opponents of a proposed natural gas pipeline expansion in Southern New Hampshire delivered a petition signed by 1,900 New Hampshire residents to lawmakers in Concord, Wednesday. The petition asks for one thing: more time before pipeline developer Kinder-Morgan can start its permitting process.

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NH News
6:13 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Bradley Completes 'Grid' Of 4,000-Footers, Every Mountain In Every Month

Apart from being a dedicated hiker, Bradley also takes a lot of photos of the Whites.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The hard-core hikers call it the grid, the big list.

Perhaps you know someone who has walked up all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000 foot peaks. It’s a lot less likely, but maybe you’ve even met someone who has hiked them in the winter. But for the most resolute hikers, even that’s not enough. They strive to hike every 4,000-footer in every month of the year...that’s 576 hikes.

It took more than a decade, but on Wednesday New Hampshire Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley got to check off the 576th box in his grid.

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NH News
5:58 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Now You Can Text 9-1-1 In Emergencies

Credit Robert Kuykendall / Flicker CC

People in New Hampshire can now send text messages to Nine-One-One if they are having an emergency.

The new service is meant to be used only when there is no other option, such as situations when calling would put an individual at risk.

“Call if you can, text when you can’t,” explains Michael Todd, spokesman for the NH Department of Safety.

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Environment
7:16 am
Mon January 12, 2015

If Budget Writers Sweep Dedicated Funds, Is It Legal?

While many funds were raided in the past ten years, three environmental programs - the Renewable Energy Fund, LCHIP, and the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund - have contributed 65% of the money raided by the general fund since 2005.
Credit Sara Plourde / NHPR; Data: NH Legislative Budget Assistant

It’s a budget year, and lawmakers will soon be hard at work trying to come up with a balanced two year spending plan. If past is precedent, one place where budget-writers on both sides of the aisle may look for money is from what are known as dedicated funds – pots of money raised by fees and earmarked for specific purposes. But this year the practice may face serious pushback.

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New England News
3:06 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

PSNH To Change Name To Eversource Energy

The new Eversource Energy Logo, retrieved from a federal trademark filing.
Credit uspto.gov

The parent company of Public Service of New Hampshire says it and its subsidiaries will collectively change their names to Eversource Energy.

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NH News
3:10 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Franconia Ski Racer Killed By Avalanche In Austria

Credit Photo Courtesy of USSA

  A member of the US Alpine Ski Team from New Hampshire has been killed in an avalanche in Austria.

Ronnie Berlack of Franconia was one of two skiers who perished in the accident. Twenty-year-old Berlack was one of seven skiers named to the US ski team’s development squad last spring. He had finished in the top twenty in two events in last year’s US championships in Squaw Valley.

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NH News
5:00 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Pipeline Eminent Domain At Center Of Statehouse Bill Proposals

Credit A.F. Litt / Flickr Creative Commons

The power of natural gas pipeline developers to take private property using eminent domain will come under the scrutiny of state lawmakers this legislative session.

Federal law dictates that any interstate gas pipeline which has won approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) is granted the power to take land it needs for the project, so long as it pays fair market price.

Jim Belanger, a Republican from Hollis, has sponsored two bills at the request of a constituent in his town. "They weren't my idea," he says.

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New England News
5:35 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

What's Next For Vermont Yankee's Site?

Credit NRCgov / Flickr

If Vermont Yankee, the 620 megawatt nuclear power plant, and all of the spent nuclear fuel being stored on its site were to just up and vanish tomorrow, what would be left is a pretty good spot for a power plant.

Now that the plant is now offline and many are asking, what’s next? While the site of the power plant has a lot going for it, building something else where a nuclear reactor once stood is no easy task.

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Health
4:50 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

More Than 23k Sign Up In One Month Under Federal Health Exchange

Federal Health officials say 23,210 New Hampshire customers signed up for health insurance using healthcare.gov during the first month of the second enrollment period.

Nearly seventy percent of enrollees qualified for federal subsidies, and more than 40 percent were new customers under the federal exchange.

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NH News
3:41 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Lawmakers To Weigh 9-1-1 Fee For Pre-Paid Cell Phones

Credit Jonas Seaman / Flicker CC

In the upcoming legislative session state lawmakers will be asked to add a charge to pre-paid cellphone contracts to help pay for nine-one-one service.

Landlines, Voice Over IP and standard cell phone contracts already carry a 57 cent surcharge that pays for 9-1-1, but pre-paid cellphones, which are increasingly popular, don’t.

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NH News
5:12 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Wood Pellets' Swift Rise Tests Supply Chain

Credit D-Kuru/Wikimedia Commons

The number of homes in New Hampshire using wood for heat has more than doubled over the last decade, from 3.8 percent in 2005 to 8.6 percent in 2013.

Much of that increase comes from wood pellets. Pellets have advantages over cord-wood – they are less work and burn more cleanly – and are cheaper than fuel oil or propane.

But the fuel’s rapid growth has meant the pellet industry has earned a few black-eyes from the occasional shortage, and manufacturers and retailers are struggling to figure out how to smooth out their supply chain.

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NH News
1:45 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

PSNH Asks For Time To Negotiate Settlement On Scrubber, Selling Power Plants

Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Public Service of New Hampshire wants to seek a settlement on two major proceedings currently before utility regulators.

The first decision facing the Public Utilities Commission is how much ratepayers should have to spend to reimburse the cost of a $422 million scrubber on its coal-fired power plant in Bow. The second is whether it’s in customers’ best interest to allow PSNH to keep its power plants, or if the utility should sell them.

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Education
5:30 am
Tue December 23, 2014

The Data Is Tricky To Parse, But Online Charter VLACS Seems To Work For Students

Pauline Landrigan (left) and Lisa Kent demonstrate what it's like to be a teacher for VLACS
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

This is the second of two stories about  New Hampshire’s Virtual Learning Academy Charter School, (VLACS) New Hampshire’s statewide online charter school. To read the first, click here.

Pauline Landrigan, an English teacher with VLACS, is touching base with one of her students, Siri Condike.

“Are you going to be together with family in a couple of days?” asks Landrigan.

“No actually I’m going to be working,” Condike responds.

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Education
5:34 am
Mon December 22, 2014

N.H. Online Charter School Growing By Leaps And Bounds

Pauline Landrigan (left) and Lisa Kent demonstrate what it's like to teach for VLACS, the state's only online charter school.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Nearly every school in the state has students like Tristan Quismundo. He goes to high school in Londonderry and failed English his sophomore and junior years.

“I kind of just get distracted, and wander off think about other things, ‘cause I don’t really find English literature that interesting.”

But as of 2008, students like Quismundo have another option. Now he’s a senior, and instead of just making another go at the classroom, he signed up for VLACS, the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School.

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NH News
7:49 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

PSNH Announces Winter Rate Hike, Smaller Than Other Utilities

Credit Christian Patti / http://christianpatti.com/

The state’s largest electric company has asked for a winter price hike. Even after the increase Public Service of New Hampshire will still have the lowest winter rate of any utility in the state.

PSNH has asked regulators for an energy rate of 10.56 six cents per kilowatt hour, an increase from the current rate of 9.87 cents per kWh. The utility estimates that for an average rate-payer, using between 500 and 700 kWh per month, bills will rise somewhere between $5 and $8.

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Environment
5:28 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Previously Rejected Wind Farm To Try Again In Antrim

Credit Chris Jensen / NHPR

A proposed wind farm in the Monadnock Region is resubmitting its application to the state. Almost two years ago regulators rejected the project.

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Energy
3:13 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Kinder Morgan Officially Moves Preferred Pipeline Route To N.H.

Credit Kinder Morgan / http://www.kindermorgan.com/content/docs/TGP_Northeast_Energy_Direct_Fact_Sheet.pdf

A natural gas pipeline developer says New Hampshire is now its preferred route for a brand new project it hopes to build in 2017. 

Kinder Morgan, a Texas-based deveoper, had initially planned to route the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline through Northern Massachusetts. After grass-roots groups and several politicians pushed back against the plan, the developer began to explore alternatives.

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NH News
3:48 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Nearly One-Quarter Of N.H. Mobile Home Parks Now Owned By Residents

Credit billy v / Flicker CC

A mobile-home park in New Ipswich has become the 110th in the state to be purchased by its residents. That means that nearly a quarter of the state’s 450 so-called “trailer parks” are now owned by the people who live in them.

Juliana Eades, President of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund which financed the deal, says banks won’t give mortgages to people who live in manufactured homes located on someone else’s land.

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Environment
6:21 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

State Approaching Decision On Mount Sunapee Expansion

Snow guns and early season conditions at Mount Sunapee
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

  The Mount Sunapee Ski Resort is asking the state for permission to build new lifts and new trails. It’s a proposal that was stymied by political resistance in Concord for ten years. Now with a change of governors, a court victory, and growing local support for the expansion, the lay of the land for the expansion has shifted dramatically.

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NH News
12:09 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Executive Council Confirms Nominees To Energy Siting Body

The state’s executive council has confirmed two appointees to the Site Evaluation Committee.

Roger Hawk, a planning consultant from Concord, and Patricia Weathersby, a lawyer from Rye, will serve as the public’s representatives on the SEC.

The nine member Site Evaluation Committee consists mostly of the heads of various state agencies, and authorizes large-scale energy proposals such as power plants and transmission lines.

The positions are new this year, as the SEC was reformed in an attempt to streamline it and make it more responsive to the public’s concerns.

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NH News
5:45 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Utilities Say Storm Recovery Shows Lessons Learned

Credit Chris Jensen / NHPR

Losing power is annoying. Losing power for several days when you’ve got a large turkey to cook is infuriating.

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NH News
4:20 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

Hypothermia A Concern When The Power's Out And Temperatures Drop

Credit Tom Magliery via Flickr CC

With frigid temperatures arriving this weekend, Kimberly Ohman with Catholic Medical Center in Manchester says people should be hypervigilant for hypothermia.

"Shivering for one, that’s going to be your number one warning sign. Also just a little bit increased confusion, and the difficulty speaking is going to be another warning sign, difficulty walking, some people may have an altered gait that’s unusual for them," Ohman says.

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Snowsgiving
1:33 pm
Thu November 27, 2014

On A Thanksgiving Without Power, New Hampshire Residents Improvise

Contoocook resident Chris Saunders sent us this photo of improvised Thanksgiving cooked in his woodstove.
Credit Courtesy Chris Saunders

With tens of thousands of New Hampshire homes  without power, many residents got creative in order to cook their Thanksgiving meals.

Gilmanton resident Kelly Cleveland said her household at least has a backup plan. "My husband has grand ideas of cooking our turkey in our wood cookstove, so it should be very interesting to see how this comes out."

Asked if the family had tried this technique before, Cleveland said, "Not with a turkey. I did try a roast one time, and blew up my Pyrex baking dish. So hopefully he'll choose something other than Pyrex."

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NH News
5:33 am
Sat November 22, 2014

Ski Areas Capitalize On Cold Weather, Get A Jump On Season

Credit Andrew Moor / Flicker CC

Cold temperatures this November have been a boon to the snowmaking efforts at New Hampshire ski areas. A number of resorts are opening a week earlier than expected.

“You know when the temperatures are cold like this like in the teens and low twenties, and it’s dry, they can cover a lot, it’s amazing what they can do,” says Jessica Keeler with Ski New Hampshire.

She notes Cranmore and Pat’s Peak are opening a week ahead of schedule. Waterville valley also opened this weekend, as scheduled, and both Loon and Bretton Woods opened a week ago.

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NH News
1:07 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Capital Corridor Rail Study: Rail To Manchester a Good Deal, Concord Only So-So

MBTA Commuter Rail in Ashland, MA
Credit Mass. Office of Travel & Tourism Via Flickr CC

According to the latest study of the so-called Capital Rail Corridor released last night by the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority running commuter rail from Manchester to Boston would cost $246 million dollars, and attract at least 650,000 riders per year.

Many in a standing-room-only audience in Nashua were ready to forge ahead with expanding train service, but the study will likely face a chillier reception in other parts of the state.

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