The Week In N.H. News: Water Worries, VA Apologies, School Scandals

Apr 8, 2016

Just catching up on this week's headlines? Here's what you might've missed.

Credit Cheezburger.com, via GIPHY

  Above the Fold: Water worries have plenty of people on edge.

In Litchfield, residents grilled a panel from DES about water contamination in their town. After PFOA was found in the area, Litchfield’s town manager says people are starting to fret not only over what it means for their health — but also their home values.

The state is now saying Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics is "potentially responsible" for cleaning up the chemical, and the company says it’ll buy bottled water for people whose wells were contaminated.

(For some more background on drinking water issues around PFOA and beyond, check out this conversation on The Exchange.)  

Apologies in the wake of the VA scandal.

The head of the Manchester VA Medical Center apologized after federal reports found that the facility (and another in Vermont) doctored their records a few years ago to make it seem like veterans weren’t waiting as long for appointments.

Yet another chapter unfolds in the St. Paul's sexual assault case.

Owen Labrie, the St. Paul’s graduate convicted of having sex with an underage classmate and using a computer to lure her, asked for a new trial and — a few days later — to get out of the jail sentence he just started serving.

Lots of action at the New Hampshire State House — even for new recruits.

"It's like freshman orientation!" — Visitor Center Director Virginia Drew, leading prospective state reps around the capitol as part of this week's open house.
Credit Casey McDermott, NHPR

This week lawmakers looked at a few bills that would loosen up drug laws and another that would change the rules around money collected by police during drug seizures.

They also talked about whether to ban on LGBTQ “conversion therapy” for teens and returned (again) to the issue of “buffer zones” around abortion clinics.

And while the state elections might seem far off, that’s not the case for everyone: About 70 prospective “freshmen” got a behind-the-scenes look at life in the Legislature as part of an open house for people thinking about running for state rep.

 

In Other News:

The fallout over misconduct at Phillips Exeter continues.

Credit Wikimedia Commons

About a week after former teacher Richard Schubart was barred from campus after admitting to two cases of sexual misconduct with students, local police are saying they’ve received more complaints about possible misconduct involving other current or former faculty members. (Boston GlobeUnion Leader)

Gov. Maggie Hassan, whose husband was principal of Phillips Exeter at the time the school first learned of an incident involving Schubart, has continued to face questions about what she knew and ended up apologizing for listing the teacher as a supporter during her 2012 campaign.

The national press, meanwhile, picked up on how quickly the prep school issue has turned into a political football. (POLITICO)

Elsewhere, the fallout over a school administrator’s dismissal is just beginning.

Pembroke Academy parents were surprised to learn this week that the school’s dean of students was charged with possessing heroin and steroids — especially since the incident in question happened in February and was acknowledged only after the Concord Monitor broke the news.

At a school board meeting Tuesday, officials faced an onslaught of criticism over the school’s initial decision to stay silent. On Thursday, the pushback from the public continued, as reported in the Monitor)

Can you hear me now? Probably not, at least in a good chunk of the state.

Credit Kevin H via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/sOuVt

According to a UNH study, nearly one-third of people in Coos County lack access to broadband. But a lagging or total lack of internet connection isn’t just a problem in the North Country.

The same report found that nearly 7% of state residents don’t have broadband.

And in Peterborough, town officials were just this week wrestling with how to improve the signal in their town.

North Carolina’s not the only place where bathroom policies are stirring debate.

Schools in Hooksett and Candia are looking at whether to adopt policies that would allow students to use the bathrooms that align with their gender identity. This would mean, for example, that a child who was born a boy but identifies as female wouldn’t have to use a locker room with other boys.

In Candia, the backlash against the policy has been especially heated, and the school is now planning to talk to its lawyer before moving forward. (Union Leader)

These districts aren’t alone in weighing the issue: Earlier this year, schools in Portsmouth and Dover also passed broad rules protecting the needs of transgender and gender-nonconforming students. (Seacoast Online)

Also worth a click:

  • Speaking of burly, bearded dudes: Some people in Deering and Berlin think they might’ve spotted Bigfoot. (WMUR)
  • About 300 staffers at Keene State College voted to officially unionize, which means that about 70 percent of its employees now belong to a union. (Keene Sentinel)
  • The first woman nominated to serve as a combatant commander is also a former UNH Wildcat. (The New Hampshire)

  • After some local outcry, the town of Conway’s lawyer has affirmed that, no, hosting a program billed as “A Short Course on Islam for Non Muslims” at the local library wouldn’t violate the separation of church and state. (Conway Daily Sun)
  • More time to snooze before school? In Portsmouth, maybe — it’s one of a number of districts across the country weighing whether to allow students some extra Zzzz’s. (Seacoast Online)
  • One new-ish Granite State resident asks, “When does winter end?” The responses, were... Well, you can see for yourself. (r/newhampshire)
  • And somewhere, Secretary of State Bill Gardner is smiling: Wisconsin had a record turnout in its presidential primary this week and a higher turnout than almost every other state so far this year, “except for New Hampshire.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Gardner can rest assured that the Granite State still claims primary superiority, at least when it comes to turnout.
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

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