North Country

North Country legislators split pretty much along party lines Wednesday on whether to increase the gas and diesel tax and use the money to improve roads and bridges.

Ten Democrats voted in favor of an increase. Six Republicans and one Democrat voted against.

The bill passed 207 – 163.

As NHPR’s Josh Rogers reported the House decided to increase the tax on gas and diesel fuel 15 cents per gallon.

The increase would be phased in over four years for gasoline and six years for diesel.

An amendment to Senate Bill 152, which proposes a single casino in the state, provides details on how money designated for use in the North Country would be used.

Sen. Jeff Woodburn, a Democrat from Dalton, says his amendment:

1) Requires the funds would be managed by “three public members from the North Country appointed by the governor.” Each would serve a two-year term.

2) Requires the money would be used for “job creation, economic stability and other activities which improve the standard of living of residents of the North Country."

A bill authorizing a casino with 500 slot machines and 150 table games faces its first vote in the senate ways and means committee Tuesday morning.

The proposal enjoys the backing of Governor Maggie Hassan and calls for the casino to be located on the Massachusetts border.

But as NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports, it’s also getting some attention in the North Country.

As drafted, Senate Bill 152, envisions a sending part of of the casino’s profits to the North Country for economic development.

Sen. Jeff Woodburn is a Democrat from Dalton.

The owners of the closed Balsams Grand Resort in Dixville Notch are playing beat the clock to get an important part of the financing they need to renovate and reopen the resort.

Ten North Country representatives – all Democrats - were among those who voted Wednesday to repeal the education tax credit.

Six North Country representatives – all Republicans – voted against the repeal.

As NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown reported the law grants an 85% tax credit to businesses that donate to scholarship organizations, which give the money to students going to a private school, an out-of-district public school, or home school.

Back in the 1950s, at a plant near the Balsams hotel, the Neil Tillotson family was producing products like balloons, latex gloves and disposable plastic eyedroppers. 

But a little more than two years ago, the Dixville Notch plant was forced to shut down when the Tillotson Corporation prepared to sell its Balsams resort.

But now Rick Tillotson, one of the sons of the plant’s original owner, is opening a new 100,000-square foot plant in nearby Colebrook to produce some of the same items.

Tillotson says it’s a dream he’s had since the  plant closed.

Brookfield Renewable Energy has ended a dispute with Coos County over payments for its wind turbines by paying up.

Last month Brookfield, which operates 33 wind turbines, said it only owed about $245,000.

That is about half of what the county expected under a Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes agreement. The deal was for ten years.

The county argued the contract was clear and required payments for wind turbine generators that “are actually installed and either generating energy or capable of generating energy and permitted to generate energy as required by applicable law.”

By Saturday morning it appeared the North Country had been spared the worst of the storm.

Only four inches of snow was reported in Lancaster and about nine inches in Randolph, according to spotter reports filed with the National Weather Service office in Gray Maine. Berlin was an exception with 14 inches.

Sergeant Travis Anderson of Troop F, which covers the North Country, said “things are pretty quiet.”

Anderson said only one car was reported off the road since midnight.

He said the snow is continuing and road crews are busy, but roads are still slippery.

Sean Hurley

There aren’t many roads that have books written about them, but we have one in New Hampshire.  In 1973, writer Elizabeth Yates published “The Road Through Sandwich Notch”, which more than anything else helped secure the road’s preservation status as a part of the White Mountain National Forest.  Sean Hurley has been running down and learning about the road for some time now and sends this reflection.

North Country Events

Jan 17, 2013

Compiled by Tova Cohen of Franconia.

North Country Events

Jan 10, 2013

Compiled by Tova Cohen of Franconia.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The town of Colebrook in the North Country has taken a new step to try and attract ATV-riding tourists.

It’s opening up some of its streets to the all-terrain vehicles.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Colebrook’s select board has approved opening up 21 streets in the town to ATV riders, says Jules Kennett, one of the three selectmen.

 “We finally came up with what we believe is the safest, most accessible way to get the ATVers into the center of town.”

The speed limit would be 10 miles per hour.

North Country Events

Jan 4, 2013
Chris Jensen for NHPR

Events compiled by Tova Cohen of Franconia.

The newsletter typically announces events in the next week. The calendar shows you events in the coming months.

METROPOLITAN OPERA LIVE IN HD, ST. JOHNSBURY

Several bills that would expand gambling in New Hampshire are likely to be introduced this session.  One North Country lawmaker plans to file a bill to allow two casinos in the state.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

As the legislative session begins, Governor-elect Maggie Hassan has repeatedly said that she’s open to expanded gambling in the state.

And she thinks New Hampshire would benefit most from a single high-end casino near the Massachusetts border.

Among the bills to be considered by the legislature in 2013 is one that would significantly increase the value of a gift that could be accepted by legislators, who are paid only $100 a year.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Last year Edmond Gionet, a Republican rep from Lincoln, asked the legislative ethics committee whether it was okay for him to accept free ski passes to Cannon Mountain.

Gionet volunteers on Cannon Mountain’s advisory board and he saw the tickets as a nice thank-you.

For much of the year officials at Northeast Utilities have been saying they would have the new route for Northern Pass submitted to the US Department of Energy by the end of the year.

But the New Year is here and while nothing has been posted with the DOE Northern Pass says it has a new route.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

In a conference call with analysts early in October Northeast Utilities official Lee Olivier said the company was “still on track” to file a new route with the Department of Energy by the end of the year.

Two Canadian men who were lost in the White Mountains overnight were rescued Monday afternoon after an extensive search by Fish and Game and a National Guard Black Hawk helicopter.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

The two Canadian men had planned to climb Mt. Lafayette, a 4,000-footer in the Franconia Notch.

But they lost their way late Sunday afternoon due to fog, high winds and blowing snow, says Dany Daigle of Quebec, one of the hikers.

“We found a big rock and sleep under it. We tried to make a fire and our matches didn’t work. And our water froze.”

Courtesy of Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust

A group of North Country residents is much closer to creating a community forest alongside the White Mountain National Forest.  

Now they’re beginning to think about what kind of playground it should be.

For years people in the western part of the White Mountains –have admired an 840-acre tract of privately owned land.

It is located in Easton, which abuts the better-known towns of Sugar Hill and Franconia.

From its ridgeline there are fabulous  views of the nearby White Mountain National Forest.

Among the hundreds of bills proposed for the 2013 Legislature one seeks to change the somewhat unappealing name of a pond in the North Country.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Blood Pond.

It sits just off Route 3 in Lancaster and it sounds more like the perfect location for a horror movie, than a vacation.

That’s the concern of the Mountain Lake Campground located nearby.

Its owners want the name changed to Mountain Lake Pond.

Rep. Leon Rideout is one of the sponsors.

North Country Events

Dec 26, 2012

Compiled by Tova Cohen of Franconia.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS:

BurningQuestion via Flickr Creative COmmons

Hikers could be charged for their  rescues even if they didn’t do anything wrong under a bill being filed by the NH House’s top republican.

Currently much of the money for rescue operations carried out by New Hampshire Fish and Game comes from fees such as licenses for hunting, fishing and snowmobiles.

Only those guilty of the most reckless behavior risk having to pay for their rescues.

But rescues cost about $300,000 a year, says Major Kevin Jordan, of Fish and Game.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A new community radio station is up and running in Littleton.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen tuned in.

Announcer – Red Hot Chili Peppers….

It would be an understatement to call the studio of North Country Community Radio modest.

There’s a single microphone and a hand-me-down control board with dozens of levers and switches.

There’s a flowered couch, a row of vinyl records.

Some eight-track tapes.

North Country Events

Dec 20, 2012
Chris Jensen for NHPR

  

Compiled by Tova Cohen of Franconia

Senator Kelly Ayotte says he North Country should have a major voice in what happens with the Northern Pass hydro-electric project.

Ayotte spoke about the project while in Pittsburg in the North Country on Friday for a town meeting.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen was there.

Pretty much the first issue raised with Sen. Kelly Ayotte was the Northern Pass project which – if approved – would probably cross the border near here.

“It seems to me you all should have the voice in this.”

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Sen. Kelly Ayotte says she's optimistic that a deal can be reached to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff at the end of the year.  Ayotte held a town meeting in Pittsburg Friday and the major topic was the economy.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen was there.

Talking to about 150 people in the tiny Northern town, Kelly Ayotte said the Democrats and the Republicans got the country into the debt crisis together.

“It is going to take two parties to get us out of it. We have divided government in Washington and we've got a lot of challenges.”

Chris Jensen for NHPR

During a visit to Pittsburg Friday for a town meeting, Sen. Kelly Ayotte said she thought fellow Senator John Kerry has the experience to be the next Secretary of State.

Earlier this week, U-N Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration after criticism over her response to the attack on the Libyan embassy. 

Ayotte had been highly critical of Rice.

The former owners of a company accused by the federal E.P.A. of water pollution in the North Country have paid a $150,000 fine to settle the accusation.

CSG Holdings – which formerly operated Columbia Sand & Gravel – recently paid the fine, according to a document from the E.P.A.

But EPA spokesman David Deegan said the company “did not admit or deny any of the facts and violations alleged in the complaint.”

Governor-elect Maggie Hassan will tour the North Country Friday as part of what she is calling an “Innovate NH Tour” seeking “ideas on how to keep New Hampshire moving forward.”

Hassan will start in Colebrook at 7:30 in the morning and continue to Groveton, Berlin, Gorham, Littleton and Conway.

The meetings are open to the public.

Here is her schedule:

7:30 a.m:         Community Roundtable Meeting, Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital, 181 Corliss Ln., Colebrook.

North Country Events

Dec 13, 2012

Compiled by Tova Cohen of Franconia

The newsletter typically announces events in the next week. The calendar shows you events in the coming months.

THE HOBBITT BOOK DISCUSSION, Lincoln

Date: December 13, Thursday, 6:30 pm FREE (Phone: 603-745-8159), Lincoln Public Library, 22 Church Street

Led by Emily Burritt

Paul Filippov for NHPR

Saying the North Country communities “possess unique strengths and face unique challenges” Governor-elect Maggie Hassan has appointed a North Country Priorities team.

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