The Week In N.H. News: Bobcats, Bagels and Bono (and Baby Squirrels!)

Apr 15, 2016

Each week, NHPR's Casey McDermott rounds up the stories that made news in New Hampshire.

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Above the Fold

The bobcats (and their defenders) can breathe a big sigh of relief. 

New Hampshire Fish and Game, facing lots and lots of public pushback, called off plans to revive a bobcat hunting and trapping season.

Credit pillarsofsand.tumblr.com, via GIPHY

Bagels with a schmear of social justice. 

The Works Cafe earned lots of local props (plus some national shout-outs from TIME and Eater) when it offered female customers a special Equal Pay Day discount to call attention to the wage gap.

(New Hampshire Business Review breaks down the numbers on the state’s gender pay gap — by one recent estimate, we have the largest disparity in New England.)

Testing, testing... 

The groundwater around the Saint-Gobain plastics plant showed PFOA concentrations some 58 times higher than the acceptable state standard for drinking water.

The PFOA contamination scare in southern New Hampshire is prompting a flurry of calls to at least one Manchester water testing lab — but the owner says he’s had to send samples out-of-state because, until now, that kind of analysis wasn’t done on a routine basis around here. As for the PFOA response from the state, officials are distributing bottled water to 400 homeowners near the source of the chemical.

And the state’s now starting to test wells in Londonderry and Manchester — moving beyond the initial testing area in Merrimack, Bedford and Litchfield.

Oxygen tank troubles at the State House. 

An 80-year-old lawmaker suffering from lung problems was told he’s not allowed to bring his oxygen tank to his assigned seat in the House chamber because it might block an emergency route. A lot of people were upset to learn about the ban, and some were left to wonder whether we might start to see more of these issues since the average age of state legislators is 66. (Worth keeping in mind: We’re the “oldest” Legislature in the country.)

The Granite State’s unemployment rate is at its lowest level since 2000. 

Some good news for the economy? Maybe, but it comes with some less-good news: That makes it even tougher for businesses to find new workers.

Your paycheck might not determine how long you’ll live, but... 

Your income can factor into lots of other factors that do play a role in life expectancy. And in some parts of New Hampshire, according to a sweeping new study, there’s a big gap between the lifespans of those at the top of the economic ladder and those at the bottom.

Think daycare’s expensive? You’re not alone. 

If you’re a parent, you probably don’t need an expert to tell you that childcare in New Hampshire is can take up a big chunk of your paycheck. In any case, a new report ranks the state as the 12th-costliest in the country for infant care.

ICYMI on NHPR...

 On the air: 

This week on The Exchange, we caught up with people following the evolving rules around drones, lawmakers debating abortion “buffer zones” and LGBT conversion therapy, and doctors trying to find the right balance for opioid prescribing in the midst of an addiction epidemic. History buffs might appreciate this lesson on “The Hurricane that Transformed New England,” too.

On iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts):

Do you like writing? The outdoors? Writing about the outdoors? You might like our new podcasts, 10-Minute Writer’s Workshop (which is climbing the iTunes charts!) and Outside/In (with an hour-long version of show launching next week!). 

In Other News...

Super-sneaky ‘skimmers’ scattered across the state 

Credit Rochester NH Police Department on Facebook

Skimming devices — which are basically a way for identity thieves to swipe customers’ personal information inside credit card machines — were found in Rochester and Manchester this week.

Earlier this year, local police warned people to be on the lookout for these devices after authorities linked a Texas organized-crime ring to a batch of skimmers (and about $50,000 in fraudulent purchases) found around the state. (Seacoast Online, Union Leader)

For Northern Pass, money can’t (always) buy you love 

Credit Excerpted from Colebrook Chronicle

You don’t have to look much farther than the letters section of the local newspapers to see just how hot the debate over this energy project remains. (Here, we direct your attention to pages 4 through 6 of this week’s Colebrook Chronicle.)

A lot of the venting centers around whether Eversource, the company behind the project, is trying to "bend the public to its will” by promising to give out millions of dollars for local community development — but there’s also a letter from a member of the North Country Chamber of Commerce explaining why the group recently made a (somewhat unpopular) decision to back off of its opposition to the project.

Meanwhile, Berlin wants the bulk of the redevelopment money promised by Northern Pass to stay in Coos County. And the business magnate behind the redevelopment of the Balsams Resort is denying that he pressured the chamber to change its stance on the project. (Berlin Daily Sun, Union Leader)

 More Perils for Portsmouth Police

The beleaguered law enforcement agency has tried using trading cards, among other things, to revive its image.
Credit Courtesy Portsmouth Police Department

Already struggling to boost its image in the wake of a high-profile lawsuit, the Portsmouth Police Department got hit this week with a $21 million demand letter and a new set of claims about police misconduct. (Seacoast Online)

For some background on the department’s efforts to revive its reputation — from a public TV show to police trading cards — check out this recent NHPR story.

Also Worth a Click...

* UNH Dining is at the center of a pretty contentious social media debate over yogurt. It all started, apparently, when the campus made a seemingly innocuous switch from Stonyfield to Sunrise Farms... (The New Hampshire)

* Calling all “Artie T” fans: You can relive “The Battle for Market Basket” at the Boston Film Festival this weekend. (Seacoast Online)

* A group in Cheshire County is looking for people who want to learn how to become “recovery coaches” for people struggling with addiction. (Keene Sentinel)

* Hope for New Hampshire Recovery is looking to expand into Berlin. (Berlin Daily Sun)

* The Friendship House treatment center, "the only residential drug-treatment center north of Franklin,” is also looking to expand. (Union Leader)

* A few New Hampshire activists were among the dozens arrested while protesting at the U.S. Capitol earlier this week. (Keene Sentinel)

It's like a fun slide for contaminants - probably not something you want to hear in relation to your local waterway.

* School officials in Concord and Exeter are mulling whether to start stocking Narcan. If they do, they’d join several other districts — including Manchester, Nashua and Berlin — who’ve decided to keep the overdose reversal drug on-site. (Concord MonitorSeacoast Online)

* In other education news, the New Hampshire School Board Association is defending its year-old decision to issue a sample policy for accommodating transgender student. This comes as several districts are embroiled in debates over adopting policies of their own and some opponents accused the association of “pushing” schools to adopt the new rules. (Union Leader)

* New Hampshire’s getting a new lawyer to deal solely with elder abuse. (Seacoast Online)

* “It’s like a ‘fun slide’ for contaminants,” is *probably* not something you want to hear in relation to your local waterway. In this case, it was referring to the runoff leading into the Merrimack River, which just earned the unfortunate distinction of being one of the “most endangered” waterways in the country. (Concord Monitor)

* Sen. Jeanne Shaheen talked to Bono this week. (For official business purposes — the rockstar was on Capitol Hill to testify about leveraging foreign aid, and maybe comedy, to fight violent extremism.) (New York Times)

* Not quite a “thanks, but no thanks,” but close: Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Rep. Frank Guinta say they’re going to sit out the Republican National Convention this summer. (Boston Globe)

* Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski evaded charges stemming from an incident with a female reporter, and his 2011 clash with the Windham select board is getting some national attention. (CNNNew York Times)

* Also: Squirrels! (Portsmouth Police Department Facebook)

  • Credit Portsmouth NH Police Department on Facebook

    That’s all for now. And if you spot something interesting that deserves a note next week, let us know! All tips are welcome at cmcdermott@nhpr.org.