This Week in N.H. News: A Closer Look at the Man (and the Plans) Behind The Balsams Revival

Jul 15, 2016

If you're reading this, you'll probably want to follow our newsletters, too — get these and other headlines delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here!

Special Series: A Closer Look at The Balsams Redevelopment

The Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch is one of New Hampshire's historic grand hotels. The expansive property sits on about 11,000 acres which include a downhill ski area, an 18-hole golf course and miles of Nordic trails.

In 2011 the struggling, outdated hotel finally closed and was sold to two businessmen from the North Country. Their efforts to revive it failed and in 2014 Les Otten, former head of the American Skiing Company, stepped in to take over the remote resort's redevelopment effort.

Credit Robert Hall, TheMountainProject.com

It is a hugely ambitious project and holds the promise of hundreds of jobs and an economic boost not seen in the struggling North Country for decades,  if ever. However, there remain major questions about the project’s environmental impact, the state’s role in its financing, and the long-term viability of The Balsams as an economic stimulus for the region.

In partnership with Business NH Magazine, NHPR is taking a closer look at the issues around the proposed redevelopment of The Balsams in this special three-part series.

Click here to read and listen to NHPR's stories, reported by Chris Jensen.

Click here to see the reporting in Business NH Magazine

Click here to see NHPR's ongoing coverage of The Balsams project.

In Other News

Credit Momma of Three Beauties / Morguefile

Two Loons Die from Lead Poisoning in New Hampshire

New Hampshire Fish and Game reports that the two birds died in lakes near Lempster and Stoddard. Metal jigs and fishing line were found inside the loons' gizzards, and lab tests showed fatal amounts of lead in their blood. Read the story.

N.H.'s First-in-the-Nation Status Goes Unchallenged in Cleveland

An expected effort in Cleveland this week to challenge New Hampshire’s lead-off position in the presidential primary process never materialized. NHPR's Michael Brindley reports.

First Debate Highlights Early Divisions Among Republican Candidates for Governor

There are at least a few things the four Republican candidates for governor can agree on. All of them State Representative Frank Edelblut, State Senator Jeanie Forrester, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas and Executive Councilor Chris Sununu say they want to make New Hampshire more “business friendly.” But where do they disagree? Casey McDermott reports.

N.H. RNC Member: Party Should Drop Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage

Republicans drafting the party's platform in Cleveland this week rejected appeals to soften language opposing same-sex marriage. Republican National Committeewoman Juliana Bergeron of Keene is a member of the platform committee and is in Cleveland this week. She's been open about her disagreement with her party on this issue. She spoke to Morning Edition's Rick Ganley.

N.H. Political Activists Want to Catch a Ride on Pokemon Go's Coattails

By now, you’ve probably heard about the massively popular Pokémon Go smartphone game where players roam the real world looking for virtual critters.

You’ve probably also heard the concerns some have raised about what can happen to you while you play: from getting lost, to trespassing, being robbed, an stumbling upon dead bodies, as occured in Nashua.

Now you can add political solicitation to the list of things that can happen to you while playing. Read the story.

Rental Housing Costs Still on the Rise in New Hampshire

The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in New Hampshire, plus utilities, is now over $1200 a month - up almost 15 percent from five years ago. Brady Carlson reports.

What You Should Know About Trump's Presumptive V.P. Pick, Mike Pence

Although Donald Trump has delayed his veep announcement because of the terror attacks in Nice, sources within the campaign have said he's chosen Pence, who is currently serving as Indiana's governor. NPR has the details

Better Know a N.H. Politics Bellwether
Credit Sean Hurley, NHPR

The Shelburne Identity

Here's a question: Which New Hampshire community is the best bellwether for the statewide political climate? It's not an old industrial city, or a Seacoast suburb, or a lakeside resort town. It's actually the tiny Coos County village of Shelburne.

Sean Hurley traveled there to get the story of a town that's pretty much a reflection of New Hampshire politics as a whole, but in minitature. Here's that story. 

Read on for more musings from Sean's visit...

The Birches of Shelburne

I’m standing in the woods, in the birches of Shelburne.  The wind makes an ocean sound in the treetops, makes mice in the leaves at my feet.  Someone tells me there are artists in these woods, painting the birches.  

The only thing that isn’t a birch is a sign that reads “Do Not Peel the Bark of the Trees.”  I grab a starched sleeve of birch bark, try to roll it back around the tree.

Philbrook Farm Inn

Credit Sean Hurley, NHPR

  A mile away at Philbrook Farm Inn, Ann Leger sits in her parlor.  There are 18 rooms to let, but no guests presently.  As a girl she kept a dairy herd of 20 cows but had no bedroom of her own. She liked to sleep in different spots, lived everywhere around the farm, in all its different rooms and buildings.

Her great great grandparents bought the farm in 1853.  They kept turkeys and chickens and pigs and horses.  One day in 1861, two fishermen knocked on the farmhouse door.  Lost their way, they said, couldn’t find their camp, could they be put up for the night?  This is the story of the farm’s first guests. 

Do things like that still happen anymore, Ann Leger wonders, the way those lost fishermen turned the farmhouse into an inn?

Dumpin Donuts

Credit Sean Hurley, NHPR

  On Saturday mornings the people of Shelburne go to the dump.  Usually they have trash, but not always. The chairs inside the Transfer Station office are set in a circle.  There are donuts on a table and coffee. A tide of villagers comes and goes.

“This is Dumpin Donuts!” John Gralenski says.  “This is the social center of the town!”

Silver haired Dick Lussier leans toward me. “If you want to know what's going on,” he says, “you come in here and you sit down and you find out who's doing what. What's going on in the town.”

Before the Transfer Station, the people of Shelburne held Dumpin Donuts around a trailer beside the landfill. Before that, in the 1960’s there was no such way to meet. What you did, someone tells me, is drive across the bridge and throw your trash into the river.

Someone opens the door and calls in a question.  “Teddy - he was riding his motorcycle - got injured? What do you hear about him?”

Answers come back low like the shadows of birds.  Teddy’s ok. He’s in Dartmouth.  In ICU.  Broke four or five ribs.  Word is, he’ll live. We hope. We do hope.

“This is a guy,” someone tells me, “who lives in Shelburne. He's 77 years old and he lives in the woods. He lives in the woods. No running water. And he lives in the woods.”

It sounds like a chant or a song to me. And I find myself singing it as I drive out of Shelburne. He lives in the woods, he lives in the woods.  No running water and he lives in the woods. 

NHPR reporter and resident poet Sean Hurley lives in Thornton. You can read and listen to all of his stories and musings right here.