North Country

Chris Jensen

The North Country economy is ever-changing and evolving. Laura Knoy went to the source to discuss this topic at the Colonial Theatre in Bethlehem.



A 133-year-old building in Bethlehem is headed for demolition after heavy rain collapsed part of it last fall.

A North County town is expected to get a $278,000 grant to make repairs to a broken water main suspended from a historic covered bridge across the Ammonoosuc River.  The 100-year-old cast iron pipe suspended on the underbelly of the Northumberland Covered Bridge feeds wells and storage tanks. It broke in April, and only temporary fixes have been made.  The New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority approved an Emergency Community Development Block Grant for the repairs in Northumberland.  The solution requires drilling to install 300-plus feet of new pipe beneath the riverbed.

Tourism is a huge part of the economy in the North Country and many of those tourists head to the upper reaches of the Connecticut near Pittsburg.

But those going up to fish for trout have noticed the river is lower than usual, Cindy Howe, one of the owners of the Tall Timber Lodge in Pittsburg said earlier this week.

“Well, right now the water coming out of the three dams which affect the fishing in the area is quite low. TransCanada has reduced the flows substantially and it is making it a little bit tougher on the fishing,” she said.

Abandoned New Hampshire

Jun 2, 2014
Sean Hurley

The forests of New Hampshire provide an excellent hiding place for those things that either wish to remain hidden, or have simply fallen into the past. Old logging towns, abandoned train tracks, and the leftovers of eccentrics funded by economic booms all litter the state and set the background for many a local legend. Here we’ve listed some of the loneliest, and often mysterious, spots in the state. 

Selbe B via Flickr CC

Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the Mount Washington Cog Railway's daily trips to the summit of the highest peak in the Northeast.

The Cog Railway opened its 2014 season April 26, but operated weekends only until now.

This season marks the 145th year of operation of "the Cog."

The popular tourist attraction is also rolling out a new biodiesel engine during the holiday weekend. The new engine is named Metallak, in honor of the last surviving member of the local Abenaki tribe.

If Maine entrepreneur Les Otten can expand the ski area of the closed Balsams resort he says it would create about 1,000 full or part-time jobs.

That’s something the region desperately needs. But it isn’t clear whether Otten has the money or can work through a regulatory tangle including safety issues.

The issue is being raised after Otten said he would like to work with Dan Hebert and Dan Dagesse, the owners of the closed resort.

One issue is a safety concern. Can the huge blades on the 410-foot tall turbines throw chunks of ice far enough to endanger skiers?

A construction company and school officials say the new elementary school in Unity, New Hampshire, is expected to open Sept. 2.

The project had been delayed due to various problems. Earlier this year, residents approved a $2.75 million bond to complete it.

The Eagle Times reports Ron Bauer, executive vice president of Trumbull-Nelson, the construction company, said things are on track. He said most of the dry wall is now up, framing changes have been completed and installation of windows should be done at the end of the week.

No one's been hurt, but there's been some damage to the Littleton, New Hampshire, Opera House after a tractor trailer unit struck the building this week.

Littleton police and fire officials tell the Caledonian Record that several vehicles strike the Opera House each year while attempting to make a sharp turn from Cottage onto Union Street. They say Wednesday's accident has resulted in more damage to the building than usual.

Codet Incorporated, a Canadian firm, is expanding its Colebrook plant including hiring 25 new employees.

“They plan to almost double the size of their operation,” said Michael Bergeron, an official with the state’s Department of Resources and Economic Development.

Currently the firm has 28 employees.

Codet also plans to roughly double the size of its building, which is almost 12,000 square feet.

The amount of the investment wasn’t available.

The expansion is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Among the bills considered earlier this week by the legislature were proposals dealing with licensing outpatient abortion facilities; preventing communities from purchasing military-style vehicles and allowing more serious charges if a fetus dies as the result of a homicide.

Here is how North Country representatives voted:


Only three of the eleven North Country reps voted against killing a bill that would have required licensing outpatient abortion facilities.

Sean Hurley

The annual town meeting at Hart's Location might be a small affair, but it usually attracts almost 80 per cent of its registered voters and this year was no different.

Not far from Bretton Woods and Mount Washington - the biggest ski area in the state and our highest mountain - sits the smallest town in New Hampshire - Hart's Location. Population, I'm told, just under 40.

Before the town meeting begins, Moderator Les Shoof announces the unofficial results of the just completed town election.

Republican Joe Kenney and Democrat Mike Cryans will face off in a special election March 11 to replace longtime District 1 Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who died in November.

A retired colonel in the United States Marine Corps, Kenney spent 14 years as a state legislator, in both the House and the Senate. He was the Republican nominee for governor in 2008 and lost to Democrat John Lynch. Kenney won a three-way Republican primary in January.

COBAN Technologies

Nine of the 14 North Country representatives voting opposed allowing police to use license plate scanners, while five were in favor of the technology.

As NHPR’s Josh Rogers reported supporters – including the New Hampshire Chiefs of Police – argued scanners might help solve crimes, while opponents worried about privacy issues.

The bill authorizing scanners, House Bill 675, was defeated 250 – 97.

NHPR / Chris jensen

Gorham Paper and Tissue, the town’s largest employer, is temporarily cutting back operations, a move that will lead to 20 to 50 employees losing their jobs.

The company says other employees will see week-long layoffs.

In an email Friday, CEO Mike Cummings says the move is in response to record-setting natural gas prices.

Gorham Town Manager Robin Frost says the news is devastating for the town’s economy.

N.H. Department of Transportation

Drivers will see new speed limits on much of the northern part of Interstate 93 starting Wednesday.

Saturday night it was the third annual Christmas in Bethlehem celebration in the North Country.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen sent this postcard:

The Two New Hampshires

Dec 4, 2013

New Hampshire Economist and Chancellor of the Community College System Ross Gitell is looking at the major demographic and economic differences between the rural and more urban parts of our state - a divide he says is growing. We’re talking about that, and his ideas on closing the gap.  


Around the state more institutions, towns and businesses are turning away from oil in favor of heating with wood, viewing it as a renewable resource that helps the region’s economy, lowers the carbon footprint and apparently saves money.

There’s a good example in the basement of the main building at The White Mountain School in Bethlehem.

The old is a huge, black, gray and rust-fringed H.B. Smith boiler that once feasted on heating oil.

A few feet away are three modern-looking, green and white pellet boilers.

A new fire training facility in the North Country will be named after Executive Councilor Ray Burton, said Deborah A. Pendergast, the director of the state’s division of Fire Standards & Training and Emergency Medical Services.

The center, located in Bethlehem, will allow fire fighters from the North Country to learn fire fighting techniques without the cost and time involved in traveling to Concord.

“It gives the folks up in that area a facility that meets their needs,” she said in a telephone interview.

While the North Country is routinely working on economic development some people are also looking at human resources, in particular the source of the next generations of community leaders and volunteers.

Their concern:  Talented young adults being one of the North Country’s rarer creatures.

And, some research into that issue got underway recently at the North Country Resource Center in Lancaster, where fourteen young adults – in their 20’s and 30’s – volunteered to answer questions about what brought them or keeps them in the North Country.

Courtesy CDFA

Unofficial results show Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier was re-elected on Tuesday, beating challenger Mark Evans 971 to 272.

Evans is a member of the city’s Planning Board and former member of the city council.

This will be Grenier’s third term. He is also one of three Coos County Commissioners and is unusual in the North Country as an elected official who favors the Northern Pass project, which does not pass through his city.

State of New Hampshire

Ray Burton, a Republican who has represented the North Country for four decades, says his kidney cancer has returned and he won’t be seeking re-election.

Burton has served as both Executive Councilor and a Grafton County Commissioner.

Earlier this year Burton, who lives in Bath, said he had cancer but it was curable.

For much of the year he has been attending functions throughout the North Country, his cancer said to be in remission.


Investigators say the last call made on a missing New Hampshire girl's cellphone was at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, about four hours after she was last seen.

Fifteen-year-old Abigail Hernandez of North Conway was last seen leaving Kennett High School on Wednesday afternoon. Police say she made it home but was gone when her mother arrived later.

WMUR-TV reports that police said Sunday they have not located the girl's phone, but have determined that the last call was made at 6:30 p.m. It's not clear where the call was made.

Police in North Conway say so far there is nothing suspicious about the disappearance of a 14-year-old girl.

Abigail Hernandez left Kennett High School around 2:30 Wednesday afternoon and police believe she made it home. But when her mother arrived home, the girl was gone.

The search continued Thursday. Conway Police Chief Edward Wagner says police are treating it as a missing person's case "and nothing more." Local, state and federal police agencies are involved in the investigation.

Grace Family via Flickr Creative Commons

The extent to which the federal shutdown will hurt the White Mountain National Forest – and tourism - will depend on how long the shutdown continues, says forest supervisor Tom Wagner.

Wagner says the current workforce – about 120 people – will be cut to sixteen.

That’s to cover 800,000 acres.

People can still enjoy the views and the trails. But there’s a question about facilities.

A Vermont man will go on trial Monday in connection with the deaths of two men in an explosion in Colebrook more than three years ago.

Sixty-four year old Craig Sanborn of Maidstone, Vermont is scheduled to appear in Coos County Superior Court in Lancaster.

Sanborn owned the Black Mag factory - which made a gun powder substitute – when it exploded in May 2010, killing two workers and injuring a third.

In the North Country nine chefs are getting ready to compete in the finale of the second annual North Country Chef’s Challenge, an effort to determine who can best match culinary expertise with local food.

The goal is to show people in other parts of the state that North Country dining is worth a trip north of the notches.

A Salem, Massachusetts man drowned in the Connecticut River near Colebrook on Wednesday, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

John Cornish, 71, was launching his boat with a friend when it began to drift away, carried by the current,   Conservation Officer Kevin Bronson wrote in a news release.

Cornish, who was wearing hip waders, went after the boat, lost his footing and slipped under the water. He was pulled from the river by a friend but was unconscious and couldn’t be revived.

Officials: Faulty Pipes Led To Conway Explosion

Sep 25, 2013

Fire officials say piping work that didn't comply with building codes led to a propane gas explosion inside a house in Conway, N.H.

Conway Fire Chief Stephen Solomon tells WMWV-FM the source of the problem was most likely the home's hot water heater.

The house has been condemned and will be torn down Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the condition of the homeowner, identified as 53-year-old Philip Murphy, appears to have worsened. He was listed in serious condition at Maine Medical Center in Portland on Wednesday morning. On Tuesday, he was in fair condition.