This Week in N.H. News: Finding Holiday Cheer (and Chocolate) in Unlikely Places

Dec 9, 2016

You made it to the weekend! (Almost, at least.) Congratulations. And some good news: We only have three more Fridays left in 2016. In the meantime, catch up on some of the most interesting stories unfolding all across New Hampshire as the year starts to wind down. And don't forget to sign up for our newsletters to get these and other headlines delivered straight to your inbox each week.

Above The Fold
Credit Natasha Haverty, NHPR

At One N.H. Jail, the Only Way to ‘Visit’ Is In Front of a Screen

If you have a loved one behind bars, there are more ways than ever to stay connected: letters, phone calls, and just in the past couple of years, a new way: a video service that lets inmates and families communicate through a screen, along the lines of Skype.

But there’s a catch: When jails add video visitation, sometimes they also get rid of in person visits.
And there's at least one place in New Hampshire —  Cheshire County Jail — where that’s already happening.

Did gerrymandering help Republicans win the state senate? Maybe...

Heading into November, New Hampshire Democrats talked a big game when it came to their hopes for retaking control of the state Senate.

But when the Republicans ended up maintaining the same 14-10 margin they’ve held for the past two years, Democrats placed at least part of the blame for their losses on gerrymandered district lines.

As it turns out, they might have a point. 

Dig into this story to find out why.

Bill Gardner will continue as N.H.'s primary guardian — but will he guard its voting laws?

Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Bill Gardner, best known as the guardian of New Hampshire’s First in the Nation Presidential Primary, was elected to his 21st consecutive term as Secretary of State Wednesday. 

Having held the position since 1976, Gardner is the longest serving Secretary of State in the country.

Gardner's known for promoting the New Hampshire way as the right way when it comes to elections. But during his victory speech, Gardner, whose office oversees state elections, told the packed House Chamber that taking a closer look at the New Hampshire's voting law might not be such a bad idea. Read on for the full story.

Also Worth A Click

  • Long before the days of clickbait headlines and dubiously sourced rumors floating around on Facebook, one New Hampshire school district was doing its part to make students more media literate. (Concord Monitor)
  • Bonus! If you’re interested, This American Life took a glimpse inside that very same media literacy class when it was at the center of a much-hyped, much-sensationalized moment of the 2000 election. The insights in the story about the role of the press in shaping our politics still hold up pretty well, 16 years later. (This American Life)
  • And speaking of fake news… Goffstown students (and parents and teachers) got an unintentional lesson in the speed at which false stories can spread, after a fake memo outlining a new “photocopying tax” as part of a class assignment was mistaken for an official school policy. (Union Leader)
  • Meanwhile, in Salem, “Baby Jesus is missing in action” — for the second year in a row, no less. (Eagle-Tribune)
  • If you’re looking elsewhere for holiday merriment, might we suggest a trip to the theater? (NHPR)
  • Good news: New Hampshire is home to something called the “The Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour,” which promises caroling, chocolates and a Christmas-y tour in an Austrian Drawn Sleigh. Bad news: As you might imagine, it sells out pretty quickly. (NH1 News)
  • On the average day at the Statehouse, the ratio of representatives-to-reporters is about 10-to-1. But one lawmaker thinks journalists need to do more to publicly identify themselves, just like legislators and lobbyists already have to. (Nashua Telegraph)
  • "Dance Like A Drone Is Probably Watching And Might Collide With You At Any Moment" might be a new, if not super eloquent, mantra to live by — as two women found out the hard way at a New Hampshire wedding. (NHPR)
  • Backlash over an early 20th-century flour sack bearing a swastika symbol forced a tiny antique shop in Littleton to shut down for a few days. The owner says she received threats after a customer posted a picture of the item online but maintains that the item was not intended to promote anti-Semitic views. (Union Leader, Caledonian Record)
  • The Troy brewery formerly known as “Mooselick” is changing its name after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from a much larger brewery, also with “moose” in its title. (Sentinel Source)
  • Pop quiz: Is it "Plaist-ow" (like “cow”) or “Plaist-oh” like “dough”)? It depends on whether you’re referring to the one in New Hampshire, or the other, across the pond in the United Kingdom — which recently sent a few unofficial ambassadors to their sister city in the Granite State. (Eagle Tribune)
  • One newly sworn-in Manchester policeman (and his chief, for that matter) hopes his personal experience a refugee might help the department to better serve the city’s diverse refugee population. (Associated Press)
  • Think all Republicans are in favor of getting rid of same-day voter registration? Think again. (NHPR)
  • From when microfilm and card catalogs ruled the day to the dawn of Google and Wikipedia, one soon-to-retire UNH librarian has seen plenty of changes in the 50 — yes, 50 — years she’s worked among the stacks in Dimond. (The New Hampshire)
  • And while we’re on the subject of books: One of our favorite annual traditions, The Exchange’s Holiday Book Show, has you covered on the best titles to restock your shelves. (NHPR)

In Other News...
Credit University of New Hampshire on Facebook

Bob Woodward on the Press, the Presidency and Confronting a Historical 'Pivot Point'

Woodward (of “Watergate” and Washington Post fame) was in New Hampshire this week for a lecture at UNH. But before he talked on campus, he caught up with NHPR’s own Peter Biello. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this titan of journalism isn’t ready to buy into the idea that we’re living in a “post-truth” society quite yet. 

Will New Hampshire get big dollars to fight opioids? 

It sure looks like it. Federal legislation aimed at helping states struggling with the opioid epidemic is headed to President Obama’s desk. That’s after the U.S. Senate Wednesday passed the proposal 94 to 5.

The legislation is called “The 21st Century Cures Act” and is focused on spending money to support drug education, prevention, treatment and recovery efforts. The bill has $1 billion attached to it, to be doled out to states based on their per-capita drug overdose rates. Get the story to find out what that could mean for New Hampshire.

Kindergarten: A hot-button issue for New Hampshire lawmakers

As a state, New Hampshire has been slow to warm to the idea of kindergarten, despite research that suggests it can make a lasting positive impact on students’ success. Today, a smaller percentage of kids attend full-day kindergarten in New Hampshire than in almost any other state. 

The state currently funds kindergarten programs at half the rate as other grades, whether it’s half-day or full day. That’s something some lawmakers are hoping to change this session, even as others, like House Speaker Shawn Jasper, are signaling their plans to oppose more funding. 

The Best Way to Spread Seasonal Cheer?
Credit Sean Hurley

Some people get their trees at the supermarket, some at Christmas tree farms. Some cut them down in the National Forest. They take them home and get out the tinsel and the ornaments and the lights. But in these New Hampshire parts, not everyone brings a tree home — in fact, some decorate them right where they are.

Listen to this story by Sean Hurley.

Foodstuffs!
Credit Peter Biello / NHPR

Enna Grazier's kitchen is a lot like a normal home kitchen, except she's got a few things most people don't have at home: a commercial food production license, and countertop-sized tools that turn cocoa beans into carefully crafted chocolate bars. 

There you'll find, among other gadgets, machines that look like they belong in a chemist's lab. Click here to take a bite of this story.

I Spy...

Yup, that's our very own Sam Evans-Brown on the side of that bus. 

Outside/In host Sam Evans-Brown probably wouldn't tell you this, but he’s a really great athlete. He has another secret, too. There’s this photo of him leading a ski race, and it’s plastered on the side of a city bus in Argentina. So, how did Sam wind up on the side of a bus? And what's the surprisingly touching story of the guy right behind him in the photo? This week's Outside/In podcast episode explains.

Take a listen.