Berlin

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  Under pressure from federal regulators Berlin has changed a housing ordinance that could unintentionally result in victims of domestic violence being evicted from their homes for calling the police for help…

The ordinance that concerned federal regulators required landlords to evict tenants if the tenants were cited at least three times for being disorderly.

The idea was to reduce problems at some rental properties.

But victims of domestic violence were not specifically excluded.

Berlin is the first place in the North Country to ban synthetic marijuana, sometimes called spice...

At a public hearing Monday night Berlin Police Chief Peter Morency said synthetic marijuana has become a serious problem in this city of 10,000 and "is really causing havoc here."

Father Andrew Nelson urged passage of the ordinance that would ban the possession or sale of “synthetic cannabinoids” that use any of a wide range of chemicals listed in the six-page ordinance.

Officials in Berlin voted Monday night to approve the police department’s application to purchase a $275,000 BearCat armored vehicle.

The vote by the city council came with some provisions, such as ensuring the vehicle won’t have gun ports or the ability to shoot tear gas.

City officials also created a five-person advisory council to establish regulations on how the vehicle should be used and reporting requirements on when it’s used in the field.

The purchase of such armored vehicles has been a controversial issue in several New Hampshire communities.

Via Wikimedia Commons

Three school districts in New Hampshire are sharing a federal grant worth nearly $10 million to improve access to mental health services in schools.

The grant to the Berlin public schools, the Franklin school district and the district covering Colebrook, Stewartstown and Pittsburg will serve about 4,000 people for five years. About 700 adults will be trained each year with the goal of making schools safer and reducing bullying, suspensions, substance abuse and behavioral problems.

The public has a chance to learn about cleanup proposals at a former chemical plant in northern New Hampshire that was named a federal Superfund site in 2005.  The Chlor-Alkali site is along the east bank of the Androscoggin River in Berlin. The plant had supported the production of paper in local mills.  The Environmental Protection Agency says elemental mercury and other contaminants have migrated from the site and into the river, and continue to do so.

About 51 percent of the wood purchased for the new Burgess BioPower biomass plant in Berlin during its first two months of operation came from New Hampshire, according to a new “sustainability” report filed with the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.

Thirty-five percent came from Maine.

Five percent from Vermont.

Eight percent from Massachusetts.

And "one truck load" came from Canada.

Federal officials say six companies building a biomass plant in Berlin have put workers at risk by not following safety regulations.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration proposes fining the companies about $280,000 for thirty-one “willful, serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards.”

“These hazards included potential cave-ins, falls, scaffold collapse, crushing, exposure to lead and electrocution hazards,” said OSHA spokesman Ted Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald said there were no serious injuries or deaths.

The company in charge of building a huge biomass plant in Berlin is suing one of its contractors claiming fraud.

But a spokesman for the plant’s owner - Berlin Station - says it should still open late this year, right on schedule.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen has this report.

The suit was filed in federal district court in New York by Babcock & Wilcox Construction Company.

The new federal prison in Berlin still has plenty of jobs to fill and there’s a chance next Tuesday to learn more about them.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

With 255 jobs at the new federal prison still available a job fair is planned next Tuesday in Berlin.

Officials from the Bureau of Prisons will be answering questions,  says Diana Nelson, with New Hampshire Employment Security.

“We’ve had a lot of questions come up about what were the hours be, when will my days off be, is it shift work. These people will be able to answer those questions for them.”

After several delays the new federal prison in Berlin is getting closer to opening and hiring is underway.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen has an update.

The first prisoners – about 50 minimum security inmates - could arrive at the federal correctional institute in Berlin as early as the end of August, says Judith Nichols, the prison’s spokeswoman.

But that could be pushed back because there is still plenty of hiring to do.

“We are looking to fill 341 positions. We currently have 86 staff that have been hired.”

The man who died in a fire in Berlin Sunday was Edward Wedge, according to a news release from Troop F.

Wedge, 73, died of smoke inhalation, according to an autopsy conducted Monday

Investigators believe Wedge was working on a vehicle in his garage and it appears he tried to fight the fire.

In a written statement State Fire Marshal J. William Degnan said people should not attempt to fight fire in a building.

“You have as little as three minutes to escape a fire once it begins in your home,” he said.

Fatal Fire in Berlin

Jul 8, 2012

A body was found in a burned-out garage in Berlin Sunday afternoon, according to a news release from state and local fire officials.

The fire was reported in a garage at 16 Williamson Avenue about 12:30.

The garage was engulfed in flames when the fire department arrived and the body  was found after the fire was extinguished.

The name of the victim was not released and an autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

Fire officials said they are still investigating the cause of the fire but there's a possibility repairs were being made to a vehicle.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/simplyabbey/5999846545/"> SimplyAbbey</a> / Flickr

 

After about 25 years the Car-Freshner plant in Berlin is closing.

Judy Piarulli, an official at Car-Freshner’s headquarters in Watertown, N.Y.,  declined to say how many workers are losing their jobs.

But Diana Nelson, an official with New Hampshire Employment Security office in Berlin, said 46 workers were laid off.

She said another 24 part-time workers lost their jobs in February.

The plant makes the Little Trees brand of air fresheners typically seen hanging from rear-view mirrors.

After Isaacson Structural Steel was sold off in a bankruptcy auction last month it wasn’t certain what would happen to the employees. But NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports it’s clear now and the news is not good.

In a blow to the North Country more workers at Isaacson Structural Steel in Berlin are being laid off.

About 80 have already lost their jobs with another 40 still on the job finishing up a project, says Diana Nelson with New Hampshire Employment Security.

“There will be a handful of employees at Isaacson’s through mid-April.”

The Manchester lawyer who handled the bankruptcy of Isaacson Structural Steel in Berlin will receive about $313,000 for his work if a federal judge approves.

In a recent filing William Gannon asked the judge for $191,000 for his work between September 1st and February 29th.

Previously the judge approved about $122,000 for work between June 22ndand August 31.

In the filing Gannon said he worked about 444 hours at $400 an hour in addition to work done by his staff.

There were three bidders hoping to buy Isaacson Structural Steel with a $100,000 difference determining the winning bid, according to a report filed Thursday in federal district court in Concord.

The top bid was $2.4 million by Counsel RB Capital, Myron Bowling Auctioneers and Hilco Industrial.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

At an auction today/Wednesday in Manchester an Ohio company made the highest bid for the bankrupt Isaacson Steel. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Last year Isaacson filed for bankruptcy leaving the future of about 150 North-Country workers in doubt.

Earlier this year a Whitefield firm bought a small portion of the business, an action expected to save about 20 jobs. But the larger portion was auctioned off.

William Gannon. represents Isaacson.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Hopes that someone would buy bankrupt Isaacson Steel in Berlin and continue the business are fading. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Throughout Isaacson’s bankruptcy the hope has been that someone would buy the steel-fabricating firm, operate it and save about 130 jobs.

That seems less likely now.

filing in federal district court Monday shows a Texas firm that specializes in selling off industrial equipment has a tentative deal to buy Isaacson’s assets.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The Federal Correctional Institute in Berlin probably won’t get its first inmates for about a year but it has begun hiring, says Deborah Schult, the warden.

“Right now our major focus is staffing, staffing, staffing,” Schult said Friday night at the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner in Gorham.

The prison had been empty while awaiting funding from Congress, which came late last year.

“Last year we had 16 of us on site. Now we have hired 32,” she said.

New Hampshire Business Review is reporting that a potential buyer for the Isaacson Structural Steel in Berlin has fallen through.

The review reports Heico, a construction conglomerate, was seriously considering buying the company but has since backed out.

An auction is currently set for February 29th, raising a question about the future of the company’s roughly 150 employees.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A pilot project in Berlin is helping homeowners get sophisticated boilers that are automatically fed wood pellets.

The idea is to persuade people throughout the region that they can save money and say goodbye to oil while bolstering the region’s forest economy.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

 

Peter Canning is in basement of his home on a hillside overlooking Berlin.

He’s showing off his new wood-pellet boiler.

“You can open up down in the bottom here. I can show you how the pellets come in if you want to kneel down here and take a peek.”

Congressman Charlie Bass will hold a town meeting in Berlin Saturday, February 11th, from 11 a.m. to noon in Berlin’s City Hall.

“Constituents with questions, comments, or those in need of assistance on a federal matter are welcome to attend,” according to a news release from Bass’ office.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A Chicago-based company – The Heico Companies - is interested in buying Isaacson Steel in Berlin, which is undergoing bankruptcy, the New Hampshire Business Review is reporting today.

The Business Review quoted “several parties involved with the bankruptcy,” as the source.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Josh St. Onge spent about three hours working on a resume to apply for one of the new jobs at the Federal Correctional Institute in Berlin. Good thing he didn’t just turn it in.

“It was nothing close to what needed to be done,” said St. Onge after getting help from the Northern New Hampshire Talent Team.

The Talent Team is a coalition of North Country groups working to help people interested in jobs at the federal prison with the rigorous and complex job application.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A Whitefield firm wants to buy part of Isaacson Steel in Berlin and hopes to save those jobs. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Last year Isaacson Steel in Berlin filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The company has about 150 employees in two operations.

One does steel fabrication for buildings.

The other, much smaller operation, sells steel. It has 19 employees.

The smaller operation is what Presby Steel of Whitefield wants to buy.

An ambitious plan to revitalize Berlin’s downtown and make it the social and economic focus of the city is finished and now officials are looking around for millions of dollars to carry it out.

"The downtown is the heart of the community. If people come through our downtown and don’t feel it is alive the people will pass on and go to another community,” said Sylvia Poulin, the chairperson of the Main Street Program.

Wisconsin lured Kestrel Aircraft away from Maine – and consequently Berlin – with a far stronger, multi-million dollar package, the Portland Press Herald is reporting.

Here’s what the newspaper says each state offered Kestrel.

WISCONSIN:

$30 million in tax credit allocations immediately through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority

$30 million in tax credit allocations by the end of 2012 through the Wisconsin development authority

Kestrel Aircraft

The hope for hundreds of new jobs in Berlin making aircraft parts has apparently evaporated. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Last year a new start-up company called Kestrel Aircraft said it was considering building parts in Berlin.

CEO Alan Klapmeier said the plant might be located next to the new biomass plant.

It would use heat from that facility to produce high-tech, composite bodies for the new plane.

That would mean at least 150 to 200 jobs, Klapmeier said.

The six-to-eight passenger plane would be assembled nearby in Maine.

A newspaper in Duluth, Minn. is reporting that Wisconsin officials have offered Kestrel Aircraft land for an assembly plant, a move that could greatly reduce the chances Kestrel would make parts in Berlin.

But in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon Kate Doughtery, a spokeswoman for Kestrel, told NHPR that no decision has been made on the plant's location.

Last year it looked like Kestrel, a new start-up company, would build the aircraft in Maine.

The Berlin Daily Sun is reporting there will be a job fair in Berlin next Thursday (Nov. 10th) for the new biomass plant but the construction workers must either be union members or agree to temporarily pay union dues.

“The job fair is being held by the New Hampshire Building Trades Council which will be providing union workers for the construction of the facility,” the newspaper reported.

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