Sheryl Rich-Kern

Correspondent

Sheryl Rich-Kern has been contributing stories for NHPR since 2006, covering education, social services, business, health care and an occasional quirky yarn that epitomizes life in New Hampshire. Sheryl’s Challenges of Autism series won the first place award for a feature story from the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters.
 
In addition to producing news for NHPR, Sheryl has filed stories for Word of Mouth, as well the nationally-syndicated Environment Report, All Things Considered and Marketplace. She also writes for several business magazines.
 
Prior to her endeavors with radio, Sheryl worked as a public relations specialist and an adjunct college professor. She graduated Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and film, and earned a master’s degree in management from Lesley College in Cambridge.
 
Sheryl has lived in Nashua for more than 20 years.
 

Sheryl Rich-Kern

In the hallway at Nashua High South, students walk by presidential candidates like Trump, Cruz, Sanders and Clinton — or at least their life-size cutouts on cardboard. The school is hosting a mock primary, and the chatter in the library is as intense as the real deal.

"Guys by alphabet, E through K, L through P, Q through Z. Get in the right alphabet. And get out your student IDs.

As students line up to get their ballots, sophomore Thalia Henningsen lingers behind. She’s like many of today’s eligible voters. Still undecided. Here's our exchange:

Nashua public schools will reopen Tuesday after being shut down on Monday because of what school officials called credible threats aimed at the two high schools.

While schools were closed on Monday, Nashua police officials performed safety checks of the 17 schools in Nashua and found no credible devices or threats.

Police and school officials would not give details about the threats they received Sunday, other than to say they were specific.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

The long-awaited Broad Street Parkway in Nashua opened to traffic on Saturday.

Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeeau stood on the newly built Broad Street Parkway by the bridge that crosses the Nashua River.

In her opening remarks, she welcomed the crowd to the largest municipally managed project in the state of NH’s’ history.

Lozeau said the project may also be one of the longest. Planning for the 80 million dollar project began decades ago to reduce traffic on Main Street.

NHPR/Sheryl Rich-Kern

Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is back in the Granite State this week. He spent part of Monday afternoon in Nashua, where he courted students.

Sanders stood behind the podium in a large classroom at Nashua Community College on Monday afternoon. He tailored his remarks for the setting and his audience – about 100 community college students.

Sanders talked about increasing funds for public education, from early childhood learning to college.

Christian Kellermann

A rite of passage for many kids this time of year is a visit with Santa. And that usually means a trip to the mall. But for parents with kids who have autism or other sensory disorders, a rambunctious mall is the last place they want to be.

In Merrimack, kids have another option—  a quieter visit with what’s called a “Sensitive Santa.”

From a distance, he’s your typical Santa. He wears the puffy red suit and belts out a laugh that’s as hearty as any other St. Nick.

But up close, his demeanor is more calming.

www.facebook.com/jim.donchess

Nashua voters chose Jim Donchess as their new mayor Tuesday, with Donchess defeating Chris Williams by just more than 1900 votes.

Donchess will replace incumbent Mayor Donnalee Lozeau who after eight years, did not run for reelection.

A rallying cheer rumbled through the Martha’s Exchange restaurant in downtown Nashua Tuesday evening as Jim Donchess walked in to greet his supporters.

But Donchess was quick to turn to city business.

Tracy Lee Carroll, NHPR

On Tuesday, Nashua voters will elect a new mayor.  Current mayor DonnaLee Lozeau is not running for re-election.  But former mayor Jim Donchess is and so is the city’s former chamber of commerce president, Chris Williams. The race has become an expensive battle over experience and economic development plans.

Curtis Sargent catches up with a friend outside the Starbucks in Nashua—but they’re not talking politics.

Sargent is 28 years old, lives in town and works in Peterboro. But he says the city’s mayoral race isn’t on his radar.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

Sooner or later, most people are either going to care for someone they love – or need that care.

Bette Moore is one of the 44 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S. A spry 85 year-old, she  lives with her husband on a sprawling property in Londonderry.

"We both went to school on this corner where we live and we've been together 62 years."

Moore’s husband has Parkinsons, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis and two frozen shoulders. They don’t have children and she’s his sole caretaker.

C Hanchey via Flickr CC

Nashua city officials announced the top two vote getters among six candidates in yesterday’s mayoral primary.

Alderman-at-large and former mayor Jim Donchess and former Nashua Chamber president Chris Williams topped the ticket in a mayoral primary that drew a little more than 20 percent of Nashua’s 50,000 registered voters.

Donchess was in first place with 4,179 votes, about 1500 more than Williams. Alderman-at-Large David Deane garnered a third place with 1,968 votes.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

It’s a hot, sunny day in August and the outdoor courtyard at Elm Street Middle School is hopping with activity. There’s laugher, chatter, almost a playground-like atmosphere. 

But these aren’t kids assembling construction kits. They’re 150 adult volunteers from Fidelity in Merrimack who on this workday would rather hammer nails than manage money. Science instructor Denise Rock is one of the two teachers who raised funds for the micro-garden project. 

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

In Nashua, construction workers are completing the nearly two-mile Broad Street Parkway, which connects the F.E. Everett Turnpike at exit 6 to Nashua’s Millyard district.

City officials are touting its potential to develop riverfront property, and breathe new life to Nashua’s downtown. All of this comes at a time when vacant storefronts dot Nashua’s Main Street and a coveted anchor store announced it was leaving by next year.


Sheryl Rich-Kern, NHPR

The only flying B-29 bomber from World War II touched down in Nashua on Friday, where it remains for the weekend for public tours.

On Friday afternoon at the Boire Field Airport in Nashua, dozens wait to get their first glimpse of the Boeing B-29, the same class of bomber plane that flew in the raiding missions in Japan.

The 92-year-old Pete Ziner moves assuredly with his cane, his memories equally as strong. He says he was a radar operator in the 315th bomb wing, one of the last to go overseas before the war ended.

Sheryl Rich-Kern

As lawmakers in Concord continue to work through the budget process, funding for the Meals on Wheels program has been in the middle of the House and Senate’s differences.

The House budget included a 50 percent reduction to payments that in part fund the program.  Last week the Senate’s fiscal committee restored $10 million in funding for in-home services, including Meals on Wheels.  But it’s far from a done deal—the full Senate has yet to vote on it and lawmakers have until the end of June to approve a budget.

C. Hanchey via Flickr CC

City officials in Nashua want to change campaign finance rules after two mayoral hopefuls established exploratory committees. The city holds its mayoral primary in four months.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau is not running for re-election and two potential and four declared candidates, Michael Broderick, Douglas Carroll, David Deane, and James Donchess, are beginning to court voters. 

The two prospective candidates - Alderman-at-Large Daniel Moriarty and Nashua Chamber President Chris Williams - have launched exploratory committees with active social media sites.

Cats and dogs are living longer these days. And more old pets is giving rise to more options for pet owners looking for pet hospice and end-of-life care.

Sharon Sernik shepherds her two greyhounds over to the feeding bowls in her Merrimack kitchen. The dogs tromp past a room that was probably meant for formal dining — but is now more like a canine retreat, with scattered pillows on a bare floor for the seven household pets. 

"We’ve got a hydrocephalic dachshund and a twisted kitty."

Scott Hamlin via Flickr CC

Residents in 30 apartments had to evacuate a large complex in Nashua Tuesday night when part of a roof collapsed from heavy snow. No injuries were reported, but city officials are urging resident and building owners to monitor the snow loads on their roofs to prevent further incidents.

The storms from the last two weeks dropped close to four feet of snow in the Nashua region. And that creates safety risks for drivers, walkers and homeowners.

Heavy snow caused a roof collapse in a Nashua apartment building.

Rachel Pics via Flickr CC

State officials released the final numbers from a two-year study that looks at the economic impacts of extending commuter rail from Lowell, Massachusetts up through Nashua, Manchester and Concord.

The final report highlights the rail line’s projected economic impact to the area – more jobs, more real estate development and a rise in property values. It also reaffirms the findings from an earlier draft that a line from Lowell to Manchester offers the best value. 

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

A staggering two feet of snow landed in southern New Hampshire yesterday. And while it didn’t create any disasters, many in the Nashua area are digging their way out. 

As Tuesday’s storm bogged the Nashua region with heaping banks of fluffy snow, many hunkered in their homes. That made it easier for city crews to work through the day and night, clearing the roads for Wednesday.

While most businesses reopened, public schools remained closed, and many residents are still clearing the snow from their cars and driveways.

Sheryl Rich-Kern

It's the first big storm of the new year and crews have been out all day across the southern part of the state.

Saturday's thick snow has been a boon for ski resorts and snow plowers.

But for retailers, particularly independent shop owners, the forecast was grim news.

Cheryl Plunkett owns an upscale clothing boutique on Main Street in downtown Nashua.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

Two progressive groups – Democracy for America and MoveOn.org – launched a campaign in New Hampshire this weekend to urge Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president.

On Saturday, around 75 fans of Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren packed a small conference room in one of Manchester’s mill buildings. Many held signs that promoted a presidential candidate as much as it did a populist cause.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

The New Hampshire Retail Association expects us all to do more shopping this holiday season.  The group projects a 4.3 percent jump in sales, slightly higher than national forecasts.

In anticipation, New Hampshire retailers, warehouses and delivery services are recruiting temporary workers. And while that bodes well for the job market, not all employers and employees find what they’re looking for.

Officials in Nashua are considering plans for a new downtown performance arts venue. Architectural drawings call for a multi-level theater one block from Main Street that seats 1,400 and includes a 500-car parking garage and space for a restaurant. 

The city held a public hearing on the proposal Tuesday.

Sarah Marchant, who directs Nashua’s community development division, says the project would cost around 22-point-five million dollars, but she says the city doesn’t intend to foot that entire bill.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

Whole Foods opened its first New Hampshire store in Nashua last month. It plans to add stores in Bedford and Portsmouth by 2016.

It’s an open question whether the Texas-based chain known for high-end natural and organic products can compete with farmers markets on the one hand and with the reopened Market Basket, or the grocers that saw their business grow as the Demoulas family feuded.

Mark Stevens via Flickr CC

The upscale grocer Whole Foods, which is based in Texas with close to 400 stores around the country, opens its first New Hampshire location on Tuesday in Nashua. 

The food business has its share of troubles in New Hampshire. Market Basket’s labor protests are keeping shelves empty and customers away. And last year, Shaw’s closed many of its stores, and Stop & Shop pulled out of the state altogether.

But despite these struggles and competition from big-box retailers or local farm stands, Whole Foods is betting on consumer demand for natural and organic. 

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

What’s a classic profile of an entrepreneur? Smart, prone to risk and under the age of thirty. 

Steve Young of StreetWize Technologies personifies some of those qualities, except he’s a 56-year old starting a new business aimed at older motorcycle riders.

Young takes his fiery orange Harley Davidson touring bike out for a spin near his shop in Nashua. Soon he’ll install a product in the bike that you can’t see: a hidden third wheel. 

Sheryl Rich-Kern, NHPR

New Hampshire’s first public memorial to the victims of the Holocaust officially opens in downtown Nashua this Sunday.

Unlike many memorials and museums, its funding didn’t come from a committee or a foundation.

Instead, the $150,000 was raised by a single man, former Nashua alderman Fred Teeboom, who was a Jewish child in hiding after the Nazis occupied Holland.

Nearly 70 years after he lived as a hidden child during World War II, Fred Teeboom is on a mission.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

At New Hampshire colleges and universities, about 70 percent of faculty members are off the tenure track. And a good percentage of those non-tenured professors are part-time.

Sheryl Rich-Kern, NHPR

  The latest census numbers project that more than a quarter of New Hampshire’s population will turn 60 or older by the year 2030, up almost 40 percent from 2012.

And in that same year, the number of older adults with mental health problems could meet or exceed the number of younger adults with mental health issues.  

Among the most common mental health issues: depression and alcoholism.

This silent epidemic is creating an array of challenges for the health care workforce in New Hampshire.

Dick Lievens of Tilton sits at a coffee shop in Manchester.

Sheryl Rich-Kern, NHPR

It’s common knowledge that in New Hampshire those between 18 to 25 years of age have a drinking problem.


Sheryl Rich-Kern, NHPR

UPDATE: One of Nashua’s largest historic mansions, the Frank E. Anderson estate — last used as a school and a home for retired nuns — was sold Wednesday.

The Nashua Telegraph reports an auction scheduled for Thursday was canceled after news of the sale broke.

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