This Week in N.H. News: Hiring Freezes, Heated Debates and Hot Leads on Cold Cases

Jan 27, 2017

So, uh, that was fast? We're (almost) one-twelfth of the way through 2017 already, and January's certainly not saying goodbye quietly. You've probably had a busy week, too, so we did the work of rounding up some of the most interesting stories you might've missed in the last few days. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to save yourself even more time and get these headlines delivered right to your inbox each week.

Above The Fold

How the Drug Crisis is Reshaping One Busy N.H. Hospital

Credit Sara Plourde, NHPR

Last year, New Hampshire emergency departments saw some 6,000 patients struggling with opioid addiction. More than 1,000 of those – ranging from newborns, dealing with neonatal abstinence syndrome, to the elderly – were treated at Catholic Medical Center. 

NHPR’s Jack Rodolico visited the Manchester hospital to find out how it’s forcing doctors, nurses and other staff to rethink their approach to medical care.

With Health Law Repeal Looming, N.H. Substance Abuse Programs Watch and Wait

It’s unclear what, exactly, is in store for the future of the Affordable Care Act under the Trump administration.

That uncertainty is stirring up unease among a lot of people – but especially for those worried about what it means for patients who’ve been able to take advantage of expanded access to addiction treatment required by Obamacare. NHPR’s Todd Bookman caught up with one of those patients to find out more about the law’s impact.

‘Safe Stations’ Works In Manchester – But What About Other Towns?

Time of day key:  Green: 7 AM to 3 PM  Yellow: 3 PM to 11 PM   Red: 11 PM to 7 AM

Safe Station arrivals from May 5th through December 15th, 2016  Data Source: Manchester Fire Department

Since the Manchester Fire Department opened its doors to people struggling with addiction back in May, it’s offered help to nearly 1,000 people – from a few blocks away,  all corners of the state, or as far away as Florida. The program’s been hailed as a success in the Queen City, but as NHPR’s Paige Sutherland reports, it’s not always so simple for other towns to try to replicate.

In Other News
Credit Global Rescue

Who You Gonna Call? (‘Global Rescue’…?)

So perhaps they aren’t necessarily equipped to help out in case of ghost invasions, but one New Hampshire-based rescue firm does say it can get you out of other tenuous situations, from earthquakes to sites of political unrest, for $329 a year. But this fee-for-rescue service has some wondering whether it’s fair to prioritize speedy rescues only for people who can afford it. NHPR’s Cordelia Zars explores the service and the ethical questions it's raising.

‘Serial’ Season 3, Anyone? 

About a month ago, seemingly out of the blue, the attorney general announced plans to revisit a  decades-old cold case involving a Manchester woman who went missing in 1981.

Now, we know why – or, at least, why now. Authorities think they’ve found a link between that disappearance and another macabre murder involving four as-yet-unidentified bodies that turned up in Allenstown.
NHPR’s Jason Moon helps to connect the dots from here

‘Hate Has No Home Here’

So said the signs (in five different languages) that were on display at a vigil that attracted more than 100 people, organized as a statement against racist messaging that had recently surfaced around the city last week. NHPR’s Emily Corwin reports that the gathering attracted the mayor, local clergy, school board officials and others who hoped to encourage their fellow Manchester residents to “stand for your neighbor.”

N.H. Refugee Group to Trump Administration: Not So Fast

Nearly 450 refugees were resettled in New Hampshire last year. One of the organizations that helps those new residents find their way in the Granite State plans to push back on efforts by the Trump administration to slow or halt resettlement efforts – even if that means joining other groups in a lawsuit against such an order

Head of N.H. Child Protection Agency Announces Exit in Wake of Scathing Review

Several weeks after an outside agency identified a wide array of red flags in the state’s Division of Children, Youth and Families, the head of that division announced plans to step down after three years on the job. As NHPR’s Paige Sutherland reports, officials say that person made the decision to retire before the report was released publicly

A Look At the Service Waitlist for Adults with Developmental Disabilities

Earlier this week, The Exchange devoted a full hour to a conversation about the ongoing challenges the state faces when it comes to providing support services to adults with disabilities. From workforce shortages to steep costs for in-home supports, you can learn more about the scope of the issues – and what’s been proposed to fix the problems – right here

#NHpolitics

Credit Sara Plourde / NHPR

Area Business Consultant (Who Also Happens to Be the Governor's Brother) Takes Aim at Seacoast Climate Report

In a 25 page critique, Michael Sununu offered a rebuttal to the recently release Coastal Risks and Hazard Report – calling it “alarmist hand wringing” that would lead to wasteful spending of public money. A spokesperson for the governor’s office says Gov. Chris Sununu and his policy staff are looking forward to reviewing his sibling’s report

N.H. Delegation Asks Trump to Spare VA Hospitals from Hiring Freeze

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, joined by Congresswoman Annie Kuster, want President Trump to exempt the Department of Veterans Affairs from his recently unveiled plans to freeze federal hiring. The Democrats, in a letter to the president, argued that such a freeze would risk delaying veterans’ access to care and could slow down disability claims, among other issues. 

Trump Nominates Keene Native to Head Air Force

Heather Wilson, who once represented New Mexico in Congress and graduated from Keene High School, was tapped by the president to serve as Secretary of the Air Force. If confirmed, Wilson is expected to be the first Air Force Academy alumna to serve in that position, according to the White House. 

Meanwhile, at the Statehouse, lawmakers got to work on proposals to...

Also Worth A Click

Credit Library of Congress

If you’re feeling particularly nostalgic, this eulogy to the “Old Man” might hit the spot this weekend. (Take Magazine

Some Keene residents might take the city to court to stop it from cutting down 2,000 trees around a local airport. (Keene Sentinel

“Secret gigs in secret locations” sounds like a pretty promising premise for a new performance series. You’ll be able to catch those shows somewhere in Portsmouth this weekend — if you can get on the waiting list. (The Sound

Speaking of hidden studio spaces: Take a peek inside this Barrington barn that’s housed a rotating lineup of “psych-folk,” “psych-rock” and other lo-fi bands in recent years. (Take Magazine

Laconia’s 102-year-old Colonial Theater is $21,000 closer toward a revamp (more on that project here), thanks to a recent radiothon. (NH1 News

Sea Dog Brewing Company, which operates in Maine and North Conway, plans to open a new location right along the river in downtown Exeter. (Seacoast Online

After Portsmouth’s “teepee man” was left living in an unheated home while awaiting a payout on property the city recently took over, the city stepped in with some cash to help pay for a hotel until the rest of the money is paid out. (Seacoast Online

Among the responsibilities needed to transport a litter of rescued greyhounds that recently arrived in Swanzey back to their home in Alabama: “puppy duty will include one person driving, one sleeping, and one watching over the little greyhounds in two-hour shifts.” Sign us up, please. (Keene Sentinel)

This primer on companies’ legal considerations during severe weather might come in handy if you’re looking to lobby for a snow day. (NH Business Review

In case your bosses are kind enough to grant a snow day, make sure you’re prepared: It’s worth bookmarking this guide to the best sledding slopes in the state. (New Hampshire Magazine

Outside of the street cred that already comes with being the town’s oldest citizen, 107-year-old Flossie Blake is now the proud owner of the prestigious, gold-tipped “Boston Post Cane.” (Conway Daily Sun

Following the example of a handful of other New Hampshire districts, Keene’s school board is taking new steps to spell out protections for transgender and gender non-conforming students. (Keene Sentinel

A reminder that forgiveness can happen even in the most unlikely of circumstances — in this case, one Vermont couple finds reconciliation in a courtroom with the New Hampshire man whose car collided with their motorcycle a few years ago, leaving them severely injured and drastically changing their lives. (Valley News

No one really knows why things smelled kind of weird in downtown Keene Thursday morning, but authorities are pretty sure it wasn’t anything to worry about. (Keene Sentinel

Meanwhile: That, um, distinct smell you might’ve noticed emanating from Portsmouth municipal buildings isn’t because the city loosened its substance policies. The city seized more than 50 marijuana plants during a drug bust two weeks ago and, well: “It brought up an issue that we have a ventilation problem with our evidence room." (Seacoast Online

On the subject of other weed woes: You might want to hold off on ordering your fries “extra crispy” at local Burger Kings for the time being, unless you want to raise suspicions that you’re part of a recently discovered drive-thru pot operation. (Associated Press

Listen To This

You might learn something! NHPR’s Word of Mouth is out with a new (and especially timely) podcast dedicated to all of the stuff you wish you would’ve learned back in civics class. Tune in for answers to everything from “What’s a Chief of Staff?” to “What does the White House press corps do, anyway?” And while you’re at it, you can also send in your own questions about our democracy or the people who keep it running – you might get an answer!

And When You're Done With That, Listen to This
Credit Sara Plourde / NHPR

You might know Caitlin Moran as the best-selling author of How to Be a Woman or Moranthology  or (most recently) Moranifesto — or maybe as a columnist for the Times of London, or as one of the minds behind the British comedy series “Raised by Wolves.” Or maybe you’ve never heard of her. In any case, you can get to know more about Moran and her musings on writing in less time than it might take for your morning coffee break