Claremont

Brian Mitchell’s pretty busy this time of year. He’s got a full time job as a grocer in Windsor, Vermont, and his nights are spent monitoring the 50,000 music-synchronized lights that cover his property.

The day I caught him on the phone, he’d already been working on it for months.

"About April or May I’ll start dabbling with it again, and if I have any projects in mind I’ll start working on those. So it’s a full-year hobby. And then all the programming of the songs, which takes a lot of time."

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A state law enforcement investigation into a high-profile, allegedly racially motivated attack in Claremont is now complete, state Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said Thursday. The close of the investigation marks a progression in the case, but few additional details are now public. 

In August, the mother of a young biracial boy said her son was attacked by local teens. She said the teens tied a rope around his neck and pushed him off a picnic table. He had to be airlifted to the hospital for treatment of his injuries.

NHPR Staff

Claremont Schools Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin presented what he described as a compromise budget to the city’s school board Wednesday.

His plan would cut the district’s budget for the coming fiscal year, but less drastically than the board has requested.

The school board is looking to budget cuts as a mechanism to keep Claremont’s property taxes in check. The city has the highest tax rate in the state, while about one in seven Claremont residents live in poverty.

Residents packed the school board’s meeting Wednesday, speaking on both sides of the issue.

Courtesy of Project 439

The state’s first needle exchange program in Claremont has closed its doors, at least for now.

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

After starting a first-of-its-kind lead-testing program in its schools, Claremont may soon allow parents to opt-out of the requirements. The city launched the program, which requires lead tests for all incoming kindergarten and pre-k students, this year.

Claremont is one of several high-risk communities for lead poisoning in the state, largely because of its old housing stock.

But at least one community member has raised concerns that parents can't sign a waiver to opt-out of the testing requirement, as is allowed for certain vaccinations.

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

A handful of Claremont residents demonstrated outside the city’s high school Thursday, holding anti-bullying posters and asking students to sign a pledge stating they won’t bully in the future.

The demonstration comes after a highly publicized incident earlier this fall in which a young boy was allegedly attacked by local teenagers. The boy’s family says he was left to hang by a rope and nearly died.

Britta Greene / NHPR

Inside Daddypops Tumble Inn Diner in Claremont, the owner’s daughter – Fallon Carter – is working behind the counter as she talks with her mom and a friend.

They’re discussing a recent incident in town that’s been all over the news. The family of a young biracial boy says local teenagers intentionally hanged their son in a lynching-style attack. He survived, but had to be airlifted to the hospital.

Britta Greene / NHPR

The parents of a teenager involved in the alleged attack of a young boy in Claremont say the incident was an accident, and was not racially motivated.

Their son was just joking around, they told Newsweek in an interview. He saw the boy standing on the picnic table and thought he'd scare him from behind, they said. He did not know there was a rope around the boy's neck. The kids had been playing with the rope and climbing trees, the parents explained.

Britta Greene / NHPR

Over the next several months, the Claremont schools will take a closer look at issues of discrimination and bullying in the district. This comes after an alleged racially motivated attack of a young boy in town by local teenagers.

Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center for the Arts staged two shows last weekend of “Antigone in Ferguson.” The play draws connections between the ancient Greek tragedy and the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown.

Conversation after the show touched on recent events just south of Hanover, in Claremont. The family of a young boy there alleges a group of local teenagers attempted to hang the child by a rope in a racially motivated attack. They say he nearly died.

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The family of an eight year-old Claremont, N.H. boy is calling into question the police department’s initial handling of an incident they say was a racially motivated lynching attack.

The state attorney general's office is now assisting Claremont investigators with their work.

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As of Thursday morning, nearly $25,000 had been raised for the young boy injured recently in an alleged race-based attack in Claremont. 

Hundreds have contributed to an online fundraising campaign for the eight-year-old biracial boy and his family. That's in just the couple of days that the Go-Fund-Me site has been active.

Britta Greene / NHPR

About 100 people gathered in a park  in downtown Claremont Tuesday night for a vigil in response to an alleged attack of an eight year-old biracial boy in the city.

At the event, it didn’t take long before racial tensions were on full display. Organizer Rebecca MacKenzie was introducing the night's first speaker when she was interrupted by a white man, driving by and and yelling from his truck.

Gov. Chris Sununu has asked the state Attorney General's office to help police in Claremont with the investigation of an alleged attack against a biracial boy in the city, according to a statement released by the governor's office Tuesday. 

Claremont City Manager Ryan McNutt and Police Chief Mark Chase will attend a community event Tuesday night aimed at responding to the alleged race-based attack of a young biracial boy in town, McNutt said.

A social and racial justice group is calling on the Claremont Police Department to be more forthcoming with information about injuries suffered by an 8-year-old biracial boy last month.

Britta Greene / NHPR

The parking lot was overflowing at Claremont’s back-to-school fair this year, held at a playing field just outside of downtown. Families with young kids checked out the fire truck and race cars, and visited booths offering back-to-school info, giveaways and games.

One booth had a freebie no child was begging for: free on-site lead tests. 


By AlexiusHoratius (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A historic church in Claremont that’s been vacant for years will soon open its doors once again. The church dates back to the 19th century and occupies a prime spot in Claremont’s downtown historic district.

It was owned by the city. but the cost of keeping up the property was simply too high, and it wasn’t being put to use. So, Claremont put it out to bid and got a single offer, from lake Sunapee Baptist Church of Newport.

They settled on a price of $700, a tiny fraction of the property’s approximately $240,000 value.

NHPR

In the nearly 20 years since  state the Supreme Court issued its landmark Claremont II decision calling for equal access to an adequate education, significant disparities among communities persist, according to a recent report by the N.H. Center for Public Policy Studies.

Claremont School District v Governor of New Hampshire led to the allocation of additional state money for communities in need, yet these districts still lack sufficient funds from local resources such as property taxes. 

Paying for Public Schools

Jul 12, 2017
NHPR

Almost twenty years after a court ruling that was supposed to radically alter education funding, a new report says not much has changed. And, it says, poor and rural towns could be in for a bigger hit in terms of state dollars in the near future. We'll find out more, including what the report calls a "new education normal."

  

Peter Crowley via Flickr CC

Lead tests will be required for all students entering kindergarten and pre-k in Claremont schools this fall.

The district is believed to be the first in New Hampshire to require the screenings for students.

Claremont is one of several communities where health officials recommend that all children be screened, largely because of its older housing stock. Lead paint can be poisonous to children even in tiny amounts.

File photo

A New Hampshire police officer who was involved in the fatal shooting of a Claremont man has been cleared for duty.

Claremont Police Chief Alex Scott said Monday that Cpl. Ian Kibbe has been returned to line-duty status, effective that day. An administrative review of the incident has been completed.

The state attorney general's office recently ruled that Kibbe was justified when he fatally shot 25-year-old Cody LaFont on Sept. 25.

Dover School District

On Friday, all three branches of New Hampshire’s government will meet in a courtroom, in the latest dispute over how the state pays for public schools.

The showdown is prompted by a lawsuit brought by the city of Dover. It challenges a spending cap the Legislature has placed on how much money public schools can get from the state each year.

Scroll down for a chart and map tallying the impact of this policy over the past few years.

NHPR’s Jason Moon recently talked with Morning Edition host Rick Ganley to discuss the case and its place in a long history of education funding battles.

Planned Parenthood officials say a Claremont clinic that police say was badly damaged by a hatchet-wielding juvenile will be closed for three more weeks while contractors work to repair extensive damage.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A series of violent thunderstorms struck the North Country Sunday evening with the worst hitting Littleton and Bethlehem just before 7 p.m., said Michael Cempa with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

“We were indicating fifty to sixty mile per hour gusts on our radar.”

Within minutes dozens of trees were felled, often blocking roads.

At one point one lane of Interstate 93 in Bethlehem was closed by a downed tree.

Nicole McGrath and her daughter were just trying to drive to their home in Bethlehem when one of those trees hit their car.

 

A New Hampshire city that considered holding a pumpkin festival after Keene decided against one this year has changed its mind.

Members of the New England Pumpkin Festival Committee in Claremont say concerns about traffic, parking and crowd control led them to say no about holding the festival in the city this year. They may try again for next year.

Organizers said they also struggled to secure a location for the event.

This year, Laconia is hosting the pumpkin festival that tries to set a record for the number of carved and lighted pumpkins.

David Wilson/Imelda via Flickr CC

As with other health markers, N.H. consistently ranks high in measures of youth dental health and, overall, the state of children's teeth in New Hampshire is strong.

But in some of the state's least affluent areas, health outcomes are generally poor, and dental health is no exception. 

Councilors in Claremont voted unanimously last night in support of a new city pumpkin festival.

The Union Leader reports the Claremont Citizens Group, which is organizing the festival, plans to file permits today for the first New England Pumpkin Festival.

The event is being planned for downtown Claremont on Oct. 17.

Representatives from the citizens group say they plan to raise the money to pay for any city resources that will be needed for the festival.

Robert Wilson/flickr

After Keene officials rejected the license for the city’s annual Pumpkin Festival earlier this month, there’s been no shortage of other Granite State communities vying to host the event.

Laconia, Exeter, Franklin and Portsmouth are among those said to be interested.

And in Claremont, a citizens group has been meeting regularly to come up with a formal proposal.

That group is set to bring its proposal before the Claremont City Council tomorrow night.

Michael Charest heads up the Claremont Citizens Group.

Courtesy

A group in Claremont will hold a public meeting this weekend to discuss the possibility of the city hosting the Keene Pumpkin Festival.

The New Hampshire Union Leader reports the Claremont Citizens Group will meet Saturday morning at Trinity Church.

The Keene City Council voted last week to reject the permit for what would have been the 25th anniversary of the festival this October.

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