This Week in N.H. News: Untangling an International Art Mystery, Bail Bonds, Electric Bills and More

Jan 13, 2017

We hope you're getting settled back into the swing of things post-holidays. Across New Hampshire, your neighbors and elected officials are wasting no time supplying a full spread of headlines from the Statehouse and beyond. Keep scrolling to catch up on some of the most interesting stuff that caught our eyes this week. And don't forget to sign up for NHPR's newsletters to get this and other updates delivered right to your inbox each week.

Above The Fold

High Art, Wall Street Money, and Forgery Claims Collide in One Quiet Corner of N.H. 

Credit Jennifer Mei/Creative Commons

 It’s not often that Rindge, N.H., finds itself in the spotlight of the international art world.

But that’s just what happened when one local professor was accused of selling forged paintings valued at $700,000 and then, seemingly, disappeared for months — only to recently resurface just a few towns away. If it sounds to you like something that belongs on the pages of a high-stakes art thriller, you're not alone.

Anyway, we'll let NHPR's Todd Bookman take the story from here.

Credit Emily Corwin / NHPR

In One N.H. Jail, Dozens of Low-Level Inmates Trapped by Inability to Make Bail

Last year, Chris Webber missed his daughter’s birth because he was locked up for 60 days in Manchester’s Valley Street Jail. But at the time, Webber wasn’t serving out any sentence related to criminal convictions — instead, he was stuck inside because he’s one of the dozens of people detained at the facility each day because they’re unable to post $1,000 or less in bail. 

NHPR's Emily Corwin analyzed the data and reports on some of the inequities that exist within New Hampshire's current bail system

Mental Health Crises Leave Some Stranded For Days, Or Weeks, in N.H. ERs

Emergency departments are often the doorstep to New Hampshire Hospital, the state’s psychiatric hospital in Concord. And on any given day, because of a lack of available treatment elsewhere, an average of 28 people dealing with acute mental health crises are stuck in those emergency rooms awaiting the care they need. NHPR's Jack Rodolico talked to one father about the toll that experience took on his son and also caught up with others about the slow pace of progress on mental health reform in New Hampshire.

N.H. Seeks to Survey Vets Facing PTSD, TBI

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury are among the most common ailments faced by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The chairman of New Hampshire’s Legislative Commission on PTSD and TBI talked with NHPR’s Peter Biello about the group’s efforts to make sure veterans dealing with these conditions are getting the help they need 

Job Openings May Benefit Seacoast Military Veterans

One Seacoast cable manufacturer, TE Subcom in Newington, is specifically encouraging veterans — as well as women, minorities and people with disabilities – to apply for the 60 entry-level positions it now has open. The company says no experience is necessary, training will be provided and pay is expected to exceed $14 an hour. NHPR's Peter Biello brings you more details here. 

Another Side Effect of the Drug Crisis: A Backlog of Overdose Autopsies

Right now, New Hampshire has just two pathologists who are tasked with performing autopsies on the hundreds of bodies that end up at the state Medical Examiner’s Office due to fatal drug overdoses. State officials are hoping a new federal grant will let them hire one more person to help deal with the backlog of cases. NHPR's Jack Rodolico has more. 

In Other News

In The Room Where It Happens: A 360-Degree View the Inauguration

Unless you happened to be there yourself, we bet you haven’t seen the inside of Gov. Chris Sununu’s inauguration from this perspective — yet. Check out the first in a series of 360-degree videos NHPR plans to produce in the months ahead. With this new tool, we’re hoping to bring you a new way to experience stories from the Granite State from a whole new angle. (Literally.)

Credit Cathy Merrill, Facebook

How, Exactly, Did A Champion Arm Wrestler Come to Read Robert Frost at the Inauguration?

We’re so glad you asked. Get to know Newport resident Cathy Merrill: Landscaper, school bus driver, 10-time national champion arm wrestler and, as of last week, the latest in a long line of Granite Staters to have the honor of reciting a poem to mark the dawning of a new gubernatorial era. NHPR's Christina Phillips brings you this profile.

Sununu Wants to Lower N.H.'s Electric Bills, But Getting There Won't Be Easy

New Hampshire’s new governor has said cutting electricity rates is one of his top priorities. But energy prices are affected by a lot of complex factors — plenty of which are outside of any single governor’s control. NHPR's Josh Rogers talked to people on all sides of the issue about the obstacles that might stand in Sununu's way.

Still Looking for Weekend Plans?
Credit NewHampshire.com

Try Lacing Up Your Dancin’ Shoes

And head over to the University of New Hampshire, where they’re hosting the annual Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend. Attendees can register for the entire weekend, or pick and choose among ten different dance sessions and several instructive workshops. 

...Or, If Dancing’s Not Quite Your Thing

You could still get in touch with your creative side, thanks to a whole bunch of studios and other artistic spaces around the Granite State that are opening up their doors for classes and more. 

..,And There’s Always the Option to Play in the Snow

And this weekend marks the sixth installment of World Snow Day at Arrowhead Recreation Area in Claremont. If you venture out, you can look forward to winter-inspired activities from Austria, China, Lithuania and elsewhere — plus “tubing, skiing, snowboarding, slebogganing, and skating activities as well as Sleboggan Cross Races," according to the Eagle-Times.

Also Worth A Click
Credit learnthegame1 via Youtube

Concord’s hometown hero in the NBA, Matt Bonner, broke the news about his plans to retire from pro basketball with a video that also happens to double as a love letter to his home state. (The Players’ Tribune

“Namaste” to this gesture of support: One Newport yoga instructor (and former paramedic) is offering free classes for local emergency responders and law enforcement. (Eagle-Times) 

If you’re a fan of Russian vodka, you might want to stock up while you still can. One of New Hampshire’s top Democratic lawmakers thinks the state should consider banning the alcohol, among other sanctions, in response to Russia’s alleged interference in U.S. elections. (Associated Press)

For what it’s worth, an initial analysis based on existing alcohol sales shows that banning Russian vodka in New Hampshire liquor stores could cost the state something like $2 million. (Union Leader) 

Whatever your definition of a “loyal customer” might be, Frances Lebel probably outdoes it. She was the very first customer to walk through the doors of the newly opened Classic Cutters salon in Portsmouth; this week, the 91-year-old celebrated her 3,000th appointment. (Seacoast Online) 

Keene officials are thinking about ways to mix public art into more of its municipal projects. (Keene Sentinel) 

As more of the state’s population ages, figuring out how to help people stay in their homes — if they want to — is an increasing challenge. One new program in Keene aims to help more Granite State seniors do just that. (Keene Sentinel) 

The state still isn’t giving up its fight against ballot selfies. (Associated Press) 

In another ongoing legal saga for the state, a federal appeals court recently sided with New Hampshire over its law allowing “buffer zones” around facilities that perform abortions. (Union Leader) 

Spurred to action after three of his customers killed themselves using handguns in one five-day period, one Hooksett gun shop owner is trying to play a more active role in suicide prevention — and he’s trying to help other gun shop owners to do the same. (New York Times Opinion

Try saying this three times fast: Teens at the Seacoast School of Technology are tinkering away on two tiny houses. The homes will go up against ones being built by students at other schools later this spring. (Seacoast Online) 

One Wilmot resident is applying his past as a U.S. Air Force soldier and aerospace pilot to use building aerodynamic vessels of a completely different kind: “sleboggans.” (Valley News) 

A Bow High School student is trying to use GIS technology to map the graves at the New Hampshire State Veterans’ Cemetery, in hopes it might help families be able to more easily find their loves ones. (Concord Monitor) 

In New Hampshire, governors get a lot of leeway in deciding what artifacts get to define their legacy. Former Gov. Craig Benson’s shelf at the state archives is basically empty. Now-Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, on the other hand, left behind a collection that includes, among other things, a TNT plunger. (Concord Monitor) 

If you want to visit a real-life bitcoin “ATM” and then use those bitcoins to buy a drink without having to leave the premises — well, you’re in luck. One bitcoin-accepting Concord bar just debuted the city’s first public bitcoin machine. (Concord Monitor) 

Who do you call when you need to refurbish a 171-foot-high ski jump to get it ready for a budding Olympian? There’s at least one New Hampshire firm that’s willing to take up the challenge — and they’re in the middle of a pretty big project of that kind right now. (Berlin Daily Sun) 

A family of Florida missionaries who’ve been living in New Hampshire for the last few months somehow managed to survive a 50-foot fall that sent their car plunging into the frozen Saco River in Maine. As the dad of the family sees it, there’s only one explanation: “I don't think God is done with us yet.” (Conway Daily Sun

This lawmaker’s, erm, car troubles will probably make you feel better about your last parking infraction. (Concord Monitor

Portsmouth isn’t just a regular coastal city, it’s a cool coastal city — or, as the Globe put it recently, “a hip foodie ‘it’ town.” And while locals probably could’ve told you that already, but people beyond the Granite State are starting to take note.  (Boston Globe

Calling all Granite State garage bands (or budding indie songwriters of all stripes)! If you need another reason to get to work on that full-length album, you might want to check out the upcoming Record Production Month Challenge. (The Sound

Don’t call it a “sex shop” — one woman says the business she pitched to Manchester’s zoning board this week would instead have been “an upscale boutique offering healthy sex novelties along with education and support for victims of sexual abuse.” That didn’t do much to sway city officials, however, who were quick to shut down the proposal. (Union Leader

On this week’s installment of “New Hampshire Lawmakers [Tweet] the Darndest Things”… (Union Leader

If you know anything about Franklin Pierce, you probably already know his presidency and his personal life were pretty sad. He also might hold the distinction of having the “saddest inauguration ever.” (Washington Examiner)

If You're Reading This...

It's not too late. And since you made it to the bottom, that probably means you're pretty plugged into what's going on around the state — which means you'll probably be interested in this new project we just launched, all about life in New Hampshire. We want to know what you’ve been wondering about the stuff that makes the Granite State, well, the Granite State. Maybe it’s something as simple as, “How did that one statue get there?” Or maybe it’s a little more complicated. Large, small, silly or serious — if you share your questions with us, we might be able to help track down an answer.