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.

Contact

Ways To Connect

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Republican US Senate candidates Bob Smith, Jim Rubens, and Scott Brown squared off this morning for a debate broadcast on WGIR. The repeated confrontations during the debate highlighted the growing tension between the trio as September 9th Primary nears.

Former State Senator Jim Rubens for weeks has been demanding Scott Brown lay out what – specifically – he would propose to replace Obamacare. That again was he tactic Rubens used Wednesday morning.

USDA / Flickr CC

The Manchester School Board voted Monday night not to apply for a new federal program that provides free breakfast and lunch to all students, but the state’s largest city is not alone in opting out of the program.

Any school where forty percent of students receive food stamps (SNAP), or temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) is eligible for a USDA program which began in 2010, but was only expanded to New Hampshire this year. It ensures that every student is fed breakfast and lunch.

But there’s a catch.

Josh Rogers

Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign is trying to paint a company that paid her opponent Scott Brown $270,000 dollars as a “serial outsourcer.”

Brown has been on the board of directors of Kadant Incorporated, which supplies equipment for the pulp and paper industry, since February of 2013. The company’s annual report, which Brown signed off on, says it plans to grow in the US market by “using low cost manufacturing bases, such as China and Mexico.”

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

In just three weeks, Republicans will choose who will face one of the most successful politicians in recent New Hampshire history: incumbent US Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

This race is one of less than a dozen in the country that could help decide the balance of power in the Senate.

On paper, the three leading candidates have their strengths, but the front-runner remains clear. In the field are two former Senators, and a former state-level politician who the Manchester Union leader declared Citizen of the year in 2013.

But all of them have baggage.

Nicole Tung/freejamesfoley.org via AP

The parents of journalist James Foley, who was killed by the militant group the Islamic State, say their son is now a martyr for freedom.

“Jimmy did his work. So it's up to others to pick up the ball and go forward. You know?” said John Foley, James’ father, “Our government, other foreign governments. How long are we going to tolerate all this?”

Speaking to the press outside their home in Rochester earlier today, Foley’s parents said eye-witnesses had already told them their son was still alive.

James Jordan / Flickr CC

Eastern Equine Encephalitis, also known as triple E, has been detected for the first time this year in New Hampshire. The Department of Health and Human Services found the disease, which can be fatal to humans, in a batch of mosquitos from Londonderry.

Eleven humans have contracted the disease in New Hampshire since 2005, though there have been no recorded cases since 2009.

Abigail Mathewson State Public Health Veternarian says the discovery marks the beginning of mosquito-borne illness season.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The leading candidates for U.S. Senate met for debates Thursday in North Conway.

The debate, hosted by the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council, ranged from Obamacare to medical marijuana, from the Veteran's Affairs to the National Security Agency. And with the increasing instability in the Middle East the candidates spent plenty of time airing their views on the situation in Iraq.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Republican Candidate for US Senate Scott Brown campaigned in Nashua Monday night. Both he and the critics the event attracted used the opportunity to talk about the Affordable Care Act.

Brown opened what his campaign billed as a town hall meeting by laying out his case against so-called Obamacare. Many of the questions that followed came from local democrats who stressed positive aspects of the federal health-care law. Brown meanwhile said he’d like to see the law replaced with a network of state controlled solutions.

Flickr CC

A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA finds that Atlantic Cod cod stocks have reached the lowest level ever.

Russ Brown, with the NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, says after researchers observed declining cod stocks in 2011, counts during the last fishing season showed cod populations continue to slide. 

"All three of the bottom trawl surveys have all reached record low levels, and our estimate of spawning stock biomass coming out of the stock assessment has also reached record low levels," says Brown.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

  The Republican Candidates vying for the chance to run against Jeanne Shaheen for Senate in November were stumping in Concord over the weekend. Scott Brown, Jim Rubens and Bob Smith faced questions about agricultural and timber policies at an event hosted by the New Hampshire Farm Bureau and the Timberland Owners Association at Carter Hill Orchard.

Brown used the opportunity to say that he wants to cut the red tape required to get temporary worker visas.

Pembleton / Flickr CC

Data released Friday shows that a crucial piece of the ecosystem of the Great Bay estuary continued a seventeen-year downward trend.

Eel-grass is a big deal to the Great Bay. According to Rachel Rouillard, the executive director of the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP), “eelgrass is like our canary in the coal-mine, it’s a fundamental underpinning of the health and vitality of the whole system.”

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Compost has long been the domain of farmers and gardeners, not city-folk, but with both Vermont and Massachusetts pushing ahead with bans on throwing away food waste, curb-side pickup of compost is set to become more commonplace.

Banning food-scraps from land-fills hasn’t come been high on the legislative agenda in New Hampshire, but with a few tweaks, towns could begin to turn to compost for another reason: to save money.

New Hampshire has slid to fourth place on a national ranking of places to raise children.

After decades in first place, the Granite State slid to fourth in the Kids Count Index, compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, with Massachusetts, Vermont, and Iowa now holding the top spots.

The drop was attributed to an increase in child poverty, up from 9 percent to 16 percent between 2005 and 2012.

Increases in homes with single parents and where the parents lack secure employment also factored into the decline.

Facebook: Save Market Basket

Shelves are a little barer than usual in Market Basket stores around New Hampshire. An employee strike in support of ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas held up at least some food distribution.

Employees at the Market Basket in downtown Concord say no trucks came in on Friday, and the produce cooler was already virtually empty by mid-day. 

“I shop here all the time so I did notice that the produce section was definitely lower,” says Heather D’Angelis, “and they did make a comment that they weren’t certain what trucks were running.”

Sam Evans-Brown Data: NH PUC

According to new numbers filed with the state’s Public Utilities Commission, a little less than 56 percent of the electricity sold to consumers in the service territory of the state’s largest utility, Public Service of New Hampshire, came from competitive suppliers. That number peaked at 58 percent last October before dropping to 49 percent in February thanks to soaring winter electric market prices.

“This could be a plateau, we did see some leveling off of the migration numbers in late 2013, and then we saw a big reversal,” says Martin Murray, PSNH spokesman.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The Governors of New England and the premiers of the Eastern Canadian Provinces have just wrapped up a meeting in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The conference was focused on the issues of energy and trade, though dueling protests outside the conference meant energy stole the spotlight for much of the event. But the speakers and resolutions of the conference barely touched on the most pressing energy issues facing New England, and this careful side-stepping of the issues  is a reflection of a tumultuous energy landscape.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

New Hampshire is hosting the latest summit between the governors of the New England states and the Premiers of Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. The conference takes place Monday at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, and follows a similar meeting held in Quebec last September

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Star Island – a 43 acre spit of land in the isles of shoals, more than 6 miles off the New Hampshire coast – is installing enough solar panels to power roughly 30 homes and a battery array to back them up.

The island is home to a hotel and conference center run by a non-profit with close ties to the Unitarian Universalist Church. Its efforts to go solar are actually culmination of years of work that some think are a model for how the future of energy could look on the mainland.

Michael Brindley / NHPR

  Visitors coming to New Hampshire this Fourth of July weekend via interstate 93 likely noticed the redevelopment of the new rest-stop facilities in Hooksett is moving quickly. According to the Department of Transportation, construction at the rest-area is about three to four months ahead of schedule.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Festivities are underway across New Hampshire despite rainy conditions.

At  well-attended 4th of july parade in Amherst, the announcer told crowds, “We might see a steady, light drizzle this morning, but after about 12 noon it’s going to get quite wet.”

While it wasn’t classic Fourth of July weather, that was just fine with some in the crowd.

“No this is fine,” said Ginger Simond.

“This is beautiful, not too hot at all,” agreed her husband Woody.

NH OEP

New Hampshire officials are working on a new state energy strategy, which is supposed to be a roadmap to a new energy future, but politics may ultimately decide whether the strategy becomes reality.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

At a forum on New England’s energy challenges at St. Anselm College, a panel of supporters of an energy proposal by the six New England Governors fielded tough questions. The plan is to pay for natural gas pipelines and transmission lines through a new charge on the electric bills of customers throughout the region.

The panel of state energy officials from New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island defended the governors’ plan, while some in the audience suggested the plan amounted to picking winners and losers.

Courtesy: Tim Olson

Architect Tim Olson, from Bensonwood homes in Walpole, has a problem.

He and a friend have screwed together the first few pieces of a design project, called the Coopered Column, backwards.

“We’re looking at the plan upside down and assembling it, so we swapped the pieces,” he says laughing.

It’s understandable: there are 118 pieces – each one a big, meaty timber – and 250 screws to hold it all together.

natural gas drilling / Flickr CC

An Environmental Group says regional energy policy makers and the natural gas industry have too cozy a relationship. To prove their case the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released a series of documents obtained by right to know requests. Those indicated therein say the claim is overblown.

The release highlights a growing unease in the environmental community toward bringing new natural gas pipeline into New England.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

This is the second of two stories about arsenic in well-water.

Almost twenty years ago, Joe Ayotte got a well drilled at his house in Concord.

“As you can see it’s a bit of a mud-pit, and it’s very red,” says Ayotte surveying the site of his artesian well, which has since been retired from service, but continues to leach iron-stained water onto his lawn.

Ayotte had some bad luck. The well must have hit what he calls “rotten rock” and brought up massive amounts of minerals in the water, including so much iron that it destroyed his fixtures.

Dave G / Flickr CC

There are basically two options: the state lab and private well testers.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

At a house in Stoddard, a Cushing and Sons truck mounted rig pounds a drill bit into bedrock 90 feet below.

“What we’re hearing now is a pneumatic hammer,” says Bart Cushing, who together with his brother runs this family owned well-drilling business, “That’s a flat-based bit with carbide buttons. And it’s literally pounding the rock.”

These artesian groundwater wells are the norm these days: something on the order of 95 percent of new wells are drilled into the bedrock.

And there’s a reason for that.

Dennis Amith via Flickr CC

A new study from the US Geological Survey estimates that as many as 80,000 people in Southeastern New Hampshire could be drinking water from wells with unhealthy levels of contaminants.

The study finds nearly 50,000 people could be drinking elevated levels of arsenic, nearly 15,000 with manganese, and fewer than 10,000 could be consuming either high levels of uranium and lead.

JP Stanley via Flickr CC

Customers of the state’s largest electric utility are set to get a tiny reprieve in their bills. Public Service of New Hampshire’s latest rate filing forecasts the average customer will save 31 cents a month, despite rising energy costs.

CorpsNewEngland / Flickr CC

New Hampshire safety officials have announced a new project to beef up flood planning. A new database will look to maximize return on dollars invested in flood mitigation.

The problem is that data on where money has been spent to repair flood damages isn’t kept in one place: some is with the federal flood insurance program, some comes from FEMA disaster declarations, and still more is with local towns.

Pages