The Week In N.H. News: Pipeline & Pot Nixed, But the Primary's Protected (For Now)

Apr 22, 2016

Each week, we're scanning news sources across the state for the interesting stuff that got people talking in New Hampshire — even if you might've missed it.

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Above The Fold

One less natural gas project

Some Granite State environmental advocates have added reason to celebrate this Earth Day: Kinder Morgan is ditching out on New Hampshire, after all. 

Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 But the region’s energy crunch remains a pretty big issue — and that means lots more attention for other infrastructure projects coming down the pipeline.

Got pot? That's still a crime in N.H.

Over at the State House, a bill to criminalize “revenge porn” is also now on its way to the governor’s desk. The Senate nixed a bill to decriminalize marijuana while the House said “no” to more funding for drug prevention programs — but they did sign off on a bill to $5 million for other anti-drug efforts, and another one to give the state more authority to intervene if a parent is using drugs.

 Yes, you should care about gerrymandering...

And while we’re talking about politics: Remember redistricting, that thing you learned about back in civics class? As it turns out, it’s had a pretty profound effect on New Hampshire politics.

Our State of Democracy team dug into decades of election data to look at how this influential-but-mostly-invisible force plays into state-level races.

This graphic is part of the interactive map created by NHPR's Digital team to illustrate the shifting shape of one New Hampshire district that's undergone many changes. You can see the full map right here.

 Mapping an epidemic: Where were last year's deadly overdoses?

We’ve heard a lot about the record number of overdose deaths seen in the state last year. But that only tells part of the story — so we tried mapping out where those overdoses actually happened, and we also took a closer look at who’s been hit the hardest by the drug crisis in recent months.

And now for some good news...

Credit Sean Hurley, NHPR

On a happier note: There’s a new Wolfman in town at Clark’s Trading Post! (Only after a rigorous selection process.)

There’s also a new monument at the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen, thanks to the work of a 95-year-old World War II veteran from Bristol.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen had good reason to smile this week at the news that Harriet Tubman’s going to have a place on the new $20 — she’s been trying to get a woman on the front of a bill for the last year.

Listen up!

NHPR is launching a brand new show today! Outside/In will make its season one premiere at 3 p.m. today with the first of five hour-long episodes.

Hosted by Sam Evans-Brown, the show is a fun, fresh, and totally surprising look at the natural world and how we use it. The show will also air on Saturdays at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 10 p.m.

Want to listen right now? Subscribe to the Outside/In podcast on iTunesStitcher, or wherever you get your favorite downloadable audio. You can learn more about the show right here

In Other News...

Water problems persist at Pease

Shari and Brooke Piper were among almost 1,000 community members to get their blood tested after exposure on Pease.
Credit Emily Corwin, NHPR

 While communities in the southern part of the state are cleaning up from PFOA contamination, some on the Seacoast are being told that it could take “decades” to clean up the perfluorochemicals (including PFOA) that were detected Pease. (Seacoast Online)

This comes a month after the U.S. Air Force and the CDC said they’d start monitoring residents who’d been exposed to the tainted water near the former air force base.

This wasn’t exactly welcome news, especially for those who’ve been calling for a more aggressive state response to the contamination. This month, a group of local moms took the issue to Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen, asking for more state and federal action to keep residents safe. (Seacoast Online)

For more on the anxieties felt by those affected by the Pease contamination, you can also check out our past reporting on the issue.

Labor gains?

Employees at the state psychiatric hospital and one of its largest schools both made moves toward officially organizing this week.

A group of doctors and nurse practitioners at the New Hampshire Hospital took steps to start forming a union — not to protest, they say, but to demand more transparency about the future of their jobs amid reports that the positions could be moving elsewhere. (Union Leader)

Plymouth State Faculty also voted to organize alongside the American Association of University Professors, a national higher education labor union that also represents faculty at the University of New Hampshire. Per the student newspaper, though, not all faculty were on board with the move. (The Clock Online)

FITN is still #FITN...at least for now

Credit Marc Nozell via Flickr / Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/3MY97U

New Hampshire’s own “Secretary of Fun” — a.k.a. Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey — reprised his role as the early-state defender at the party’s spring meeting this week.

Another committee member from Utah tried to revoke early-voting privileges for New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada. But, after Duprey pointed out that all of the presidential candidates favored keeping those states in place, the motion fizzled out. (WMURC-SPAN)

Even before any votes were cast, some were speculating that a Trump victory here could surely put the Granite State’s status in peril.

Aside from the nominating calendar, the party also had to sort out the rules for its nominating convention this summer — which could be the first one without a clear nominee in four decades. In case you’re wondering who’s going to be representing the Granite State at the conventions this year, we have the details on both party’s delegates here.

Can this mall be saved?

The Hatbox Theatre in Concord's Steeplegate Mall.
Credit Michael Brindley, NHPR

 Residents of Concord are well aware that the city's Steeplegate Mall isn't exactly in its heydey. But empty storefronts could be big opportunities — at least that's what the founder of a new performing arts theater is banking on. 

The tiny Hatbox Theatre opened this month in a space formerly occupied by retailer Coldwater Creek, and Morning Edition's Rick Ganley and Michael Brindley hit the mall to pull back the curtain on the artsy startup. 

Also Worth a Click...

  • Whether you're a real environmentalist or just outdoorsy in the sense that sometimes you like eating food outside in the sun, you have no shortage of options for celebrating Earth Day this weekend. (Parenting NH)
  • New Hampshire's down to just one dedicated pediatric intensive care unit, after Elliot Health System announced plans to close its facility next month. (Union Leader)
  • Some smoky (and scary) scenes out of Stoddard this week, where crews have been battling a spate of recent brush fires. (Keene Sentinel)
  • Ever heard of the Hills, a New Hampshire couple who said they were abducted by aliens in the 1960s? A new documentary's reviving their supernatural story. (Hippo Press)
  • Portsmouth is a little closer to getting a new parking garage. If you’ve ever tried to find a spot in the city, you understand why this is a big deal. (The Sound)
  • Driving drunk’s never a good idea, but with four sheep in tow? Baaaaaad decision. (Laconia Daily Sun)
  • Would you let a squatter live in your backyard? One Durham family did, and the mother recently wrote about what they learned along the way. (Foster’s Daily Democrat)
  • Just a few weeks after local officials faced some pushback over the event, an event billed as a chance to learn more about Islam drew a standing-room-only crowd to the Conway library. (Conway Daily Sun)
  • Following the lead of other towns like Laconia and Belmont, Berlin and Gorham are weighing whether to start splitting fire services. (Berlin Daily Sun)
  • An excuse to take the scenic route, at least eventually: A well-traveled stretch of the Kancamagus Highway is set to get a facelift this summer, and local cyclists are pretty excited. (Conway Daily Sun)
  • The kids are alright: An 8-year-old from Portsmouth and his 6-year-old brother decided to organize their own drive to help out a local homeless shelter. The pair went door-to-door to solicit donations and put a bin outside their house for people to drop off items. (Seacoast Online)