This Week in N.H. News: New Year, New Governor, New(ly Born) N.H. Residents...

Jan 6, 2017

Happy first Friday of 2017! One week down — 51, give or take, to go. In New Hampshire, the year's off to a pretty busy start already, ushering a new political era in Concord and plenty of other happenings across the state. To stay in the loop on all of it throughout the year, make sure to sign up for our newsletters right here.

A New Year, A New Era in #NHpolitics
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  There's A New Governor In Town, And He Likes to Wing It

Republican Chris Sununu was sworn in on Thursday, and while ceremonial Statehouse events are often scripted affairs, media outlets were advised that rather than deliver prepared remarks, Sununu would deliver a more spontaneous, off-the-cuff address.

Want to hear for yourself what Sununu had to say in his first outing as governor? You can listen to his speech in full (all 20 minutes of it!) right here. Or, you can read more from NHPR’s Paige Sutherland right here.

After the speech, Sununu stuck around — as is tradition — to shake hands and chat with his new constituents. One 25-year-old who showed up in the receiving line made a point to ask Sununu to follow through on some of his campaign promises.

OK, So He’s Inaugurated. Now what?

New Hampshire’s governor doesn’t have a whole lot of executive power, at least compared to peers in other states. But one of the few ways a governor can exert his or her influence is through nominations to fill open seats across state agencies.

A few high-profile seats are poised to see quite a bit of turnover under Sununu’s tenure. Here’s a look at some of the issues that could be shaped by Sununu's nominees in the years ahead.

The Sununu Family Empire: From Ski Resorts to Gold Mines

  Those of you who've been around for awhile will remember that Sununus have been New Hampshire’s first family before: Back in the 1980’s, Chris Sununu’s father, John H. Sununu, was governor. But plenty has changed since then, including the family’s business interests.

Back when the senior Sununu was in the corner office, his family enjoyed ski outings at Waterville Valley. Today, the family owns the resort. But they also have some far-flung holdings — including, as NHPR's Josh Rogers reports, a hefty piece of a gold mine

Don't Forget About the Guy Who Was Governor... For 60 Hours

Credit josh rogers/nhpr

  To hear Chuck Morse tell it, being Governor isn’t anything to get too excited about.  

“Somebody has to be in charge and the constitution provided for the senate president to do that, so it’s truly an honor.”

As President of the New Hampshire State Senate, it fell on Morse to fill in as governor between former Governor Hassan's early resignation (she was being sworn in as U.S. Senator) and Sununu's swearing-in.

So was he excited about all that temporary power? Not really, as Josh Rogers found out. You can read that story and learn a whole lot more about Morse right here.

And, Just In Case You’re Wondering What Our Old Governor’s Been Up To...

  Sen. Maggie Hassan made it official Tuesday, formally taking office as the newest member of New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation. Hassan was sworn-in by Vice President Joe Biden in a series of ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol in Washington – first, officially, on the Senate floor, and again during a reenactment meant to give senators a chance to mark the occasion with their families.

Biden, who's known for bantering freely with senators' families during the biennial swearing-in ceremonies, greeted Hassan as such: "Maggie, Maggie, Maggie! How good to see you, kid."

In Other News...

Credit Boston Public Library via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/bbjDXk

Teaching tolerance at Concord High: In 1995, almost 97 percent of the students in the district were white; today, almost 20 percent of the students are non-white. As more cultures start to call Concord home, a new lesson plan is trying to bridge the gap between students of all backgrounds.

Dartmouth and Hanover are battling it out over a buildingTown-gown relations are in a bit of a stand-off over a new $18 million athletic facility the college wants to build. 

Schools have a building backlog, so where's the money? In New Hampshire, a program that has helped school districts pay for those projects for more than half a century has been on an indefinite pause for nearly a decade. Morning Edition's Rick Ganley and Michael Brindley traveled to one district in the northwest corner of the state to find out how officials there are coping. 

The fight's over, and N.H. will offer "Real ID" licenses after allThe Granite State was among the first to put up a fight against the new form of identification, and it's now among the last states to issue licenses and ID cards that meet the standards of the law, brought in part as a security response following the Sept. 11 attacks.

A Dover hospital just got bought by a Bay State giantMassachusetts' largest healthcare network has taken its first step into the New Hampshire health market by purchasing Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. 

Health commissioner offers mea culpa for data breachNew Hampshire's health commissioner is offering an extra apology as his agency deals with a data breach that led to personal information of up to 15,000 people being posted online. 

Also Worth A Click
Credit Geo Law

  • The family of any New Year’s Baby is bound to expect some extra attention. But one local father found himself unexpectedly in the spotlight, after a newspaper story about his son’s arrival mentioned the fact that he was fired for missing work to see that birth in person. That story, in turn, ended up serving as Exhibit A for lots of people who think New Hampshire needs to revisit its family leave policies, ASAP. (Concord Monitor)
  • …And, luckily for that family, there has been a silver lining: The father ended up receiving a handful of new job offers, and offers of financial support, from people who read about his story and wanted to help. (Concord Monitor) 
  • If you’ve been lamenting the state of your local sidewalks this winter, you might applaud this move by Conway: The town’s mulling a 1000 percent increase in snow removal penalties, from $20 (set in 1939) to $2000. (Conway Daily Sun) 
  • If you’re interested in fighting the power but still want to keep it civil, you might consider checking out an upcoming protest training session — “Keeping It Peaceful” — in Portsmouth. (Seacoast Online) 
  • In lieu of such laws at the state or federal level, Somersworth is taking its own steps to protect transgender city employees from discrimination. (Seacoast Online) 
  • A Peterborough author and advocate who wrote a memoir about recovering from traumatic brain injury will be a guest of honor at one inaugural ball later this month. (Keene Sentinel) 
  • For one Gilford resident, what started out as an effort to learn more about her own family history turned into a quest to tell the stories of as many as possible of the nearly 8,000 soldiers who died fighting the Nazis in World War II, including 40 from New Hampshire. (Laconia Daily Sun)
  • One Phillips Exeter alumnus is calling on his alma mater to protect undocumented students, like him, amid uncertainty about immigration policy under President-Elect Donald Trump. (Seacoast Online) 
  • For a lot of musicians, performing at Carnegie Hall might be considered hitting your peak. Not for a pair of Keene High musicians, though — after performing at the renowned Manhattan venue, they’re now poised to grace the stage at the Sydney Opera House. (Keene Sentinel) 
  • A group of Granite Staters are organizing a North Country Women’s March meant to mirror others taking place in Washington and across the country in the days after President-Elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. (Berlin Daily Sun) 
  • Some of us are lucky to fit in an hour of exercise. But one team of fitness fanatics, calling themselves “The Electric Eleven,” spent a whopping 40 hours trying to break a world record for the longest workout.  (Union Leader
  • If “method acting” had a literary equivalent, this Granite State writer — who took a forestry class and learned to play the trumpet to inform his latest short story collection — might qualify as the Daniel Day Lewis of his craft. (The Take)
  • Frigid as it may be, the Upper Valley is looking especially picturesque this time of year. (Yankee Magazine
  • From North Conway to Concord to Keene, New Hampshire’s landscape of local bookstores are always worth ducking into — and they’re offering a full deck of events for all kinds of bookworms in the months ahead. (NH Magazine
  • What has four tiny legs, a furry tail and the capacity to — apparently — knock out power for more than 5,000 people in Exeter and Kingston? Make no mistake: Squirrels might be one of the greatest threats facing our nation’s power grid, in New Hampshire and elsewhere. (Union LeaderWashington PostNew York Times)

(We assume this is not the same squirrel responsible for the local power outages.)
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