North Country

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.

By the end of 2013 the new biomass plant in Berlin should be operating and putting about $25 million a year into the forest economy, says Scott Tranchemontagne, a spokesman for the facility’s owners, Cate Street Capital of Portsmouth.

Wednesday morning a key part of the facility arrived, a 132-ton steam turbine carried on a transporter that is 175-feet long and has 74 wheels.

Powered by 750,000 tons of woodchips each year, the Burgess BioPower plant is expected to provide 75 megawatts of power to Public Service of New Hampshire.

A series of snow squalls hit parts of the North Country early Thursday night, causing a series of accidents including one that temporarily closed northbound Interstate 93 in Franconia.

The Franconia crash happened just after 6 p.m. and involved a tractor trailer. It happened just north of the Franconia Notch. The impact broke the tractor away from its cargo-carrying trailer.

The driver was thrown from the cab and taken to Littleton Regional Hospital.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The state-owned Cannon Mountain ski resort opens Friday for its 75th season, another step in the annual reawakening of the state’s ski economy.

On average skiers spend about $300 million a year in New Hampshire, according to Plymouth State University.

The snow-making machines have been going all out at Cannon Mountain for several weeks, says marketing director Greg Keeler.

“On Friday for opening day we’re planning on having three trails, that’s roughly two routes, down and two lifts open as well,” says Keeler.

North Country residents like their woods, their recreation and the sense of community that comes from knowing their neighbors.

But they’ve got a lot of worries ranging from the Northern Pass to excessive development and even over-reliance on the internet, according to a series of hearings conducted by the North Country Council, a regional planning group.

The hearings are part of the statewide Granite State Future project.

The Northern Pass Transmission project has taken a big step forward in its search for a route through the North Country – with some help from Yale University.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Northern Pass has signed a deal allowing it to put transmission lines along 20 miles through eastern Coos County.

In a statement Public Service of New Hampshire president Gary Long described the arrangement as “a huge step for the project.”

North Country Events

Nov 16, 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.

20th ANNUAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CELEBRATION

Thurs.  Nov. 15, 3:30 - 5:30 P.M., Littleton Opera House, 2 Union Street, Littleton. News, presentations and surprises in honor of this year’s beautifully decorated Main Street.  Event includes presentation of the LACC Business Leader of the Year award.

After a recount Thursday, Republican incumbent  Lyle “Rusty” Bulis lost his seat in Grafton District 1, to another Republican Ralph Doolan.

Both are from Littleton.

Originally Doolan lost to Bulis by two votes and sought the recount.

The recount had Doolan winning by four votes.

There are two seats in District 1, which includes Littleton and Bethlehem.

The other seat was taken by Linda Massimilla, a Democrat and novice politician from Littleton. She beat beat incumbent Bulis and Doolan on November 6.

A recount of the votes cast in Coos District 7 hasn’t changed the winner: Republican Leon Rideout defeated Democrat Evalyn Merrick.

Both are from Lancaster.

Merrick requested a recount which was conducted Thursday by the Secretary of State.

Originally Merrick lost by 12 votes.

In the recount, however, that margin increased to 34 votes.

That left Rideout with 3,274 votes compared to 3,240 for Merrick.

About 200 people gathered Wednesday night in Plymouth for public hearing held by a state commission studying whether high-power electric lines such as those proposed by Northern Pass should be buried.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

The commission’s goals include investigating whether it is feasible to bury utility lines on existing state rights-of-way, such as highways.

And the message to the commission from many of those who spoke was that the commission needs to keep working to develop a well-reasoned policy for new utility projects.

New Hampshire officials are hoping to start showing tourists the cultural side of a state best known for outdoor activities.

Skiing. Hiking. Kayaking. Fall foliage.

All things for which the state is known.

But tourism and cultural resource officials want to broaden that and make sure tourists know more about cultural activities.

They’re holding a series of statewide meetings at cultural spots around the state. That included Tuesday morning at the Littleton Opera House. 

Chris Jensen / NHPR

A judge in Merrimack Superior Court has dismissed a suit that the owners of the Balsams Grand Resort in Dixville Notch said was holding up its re-opening.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

The suit was filed by Andy Martin, a self-described public-interest advocate and corruption fighter.

Martin claimed the sale was “committed fraudulently.”

Among those sued were the new owners, Danny Dagesse and Dan Hebert, the town of Colebrook and the New Hampshire attorney general.

John G. McCormick has been elected Coos County Attorney, according to results released by the New Hampshire Secretary of State.

McCormick, of Lancaster, got 9,051 votes compared to 4,722 for Phillip J. Beiner who is from Berlin.

McCormick has been the assistant county attorney for five years, working with County Attorney Robert Mekeel, who did not seek re-election and left office on Wednesday.

McCormick received his law degree from the Dickinson School of Law at Penn State University.

In the newly created Grafton District 14 Republican Brad Bailey of Monroe beat Democrat Douglas Grant of Franconia, according to final totals compiled by the Associated Press.

Bailey had 3,613 votes compared to Grant's 2,886.

In Coos District 4 Republican incumbent Herbert Richardson beat Democrat Troy Merner, according to results compiled by the Associated Press.

With all the votes counted Richardson had 1,167 votes compared to Merner’s 821.

Democrat Jeff Woodburn of Dalton has won the senate race in the North Country, according to a tally compiled by the Associated Press.

With 90 percent of the precincts reporting Woodburn had 13,664 votes.

That compared to 9,071 for Republican Debi Warner of Littleton.

The senate seat was vacated by Republican John Gallus of Berlin who chose not to seek re-election.

Democrat incumbent Evalyn Merrick apparently lost her seat for Coos District 7 by 12 votes, according to an unofficial tally compiled by the Associated Press.

Merrick had 3,253 votes compared to Republican Leon Rideout who had 3,265.

The official tally by the New Hampshire Secretary of State is not yet available.

Earlier in the evening, when only five of the 10 precincts were counted, Merrick had a lead of just over 100 votes.

In Coos District 3, Berlin, three Democrat incumbents - Gary Coulombe, Robert Theberge and Yvonne Thomas – were all re-elected.

They defeated Republican challenger Eric Catman, who hoped to take one of the three seats.

With all the votes counted Coulombe had 2,940 votes; Theberge had 2,651 and Thomas had 2,426.

Catman was a distant fourth with 1,029, according to a tally compiled by the Associated Press.

The Balsams resort is temporarily closed but next Tuesday residents of Dixville Notch still plan on being the first voters in the nation.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Just at midnight, while sensible people are sleeping, folks from Dixville Notch will be voting.

But for the first time since 1960 they won’t be at the Balsams resort.

It’s closed for a renovation.

Instead they will gather at a nearby ski lodge, says Scott Tranchemontagne, a spokesman for the resort.

In Coos District 3, Berlin, three Democrat incumbents - Gary Coulombe, Robert Theberge and Yvonne Thomas - are facing Republican Eric Catman. Three seats are available.

Voter ID: Voted against requiring voter identification. NHPR story.

In Coos District 3, Berlin, three Democrat incumbents - Gary Coulombe, Robert Theberge and Yvonne Thomas - are facing Republican Eric Catman. Three seats are available.

Here is how Theberge voted on some issues:

Voter ID: Voted against requiring voter identification. NHPR story.

Many in the North Country fretted and prepared for a battering by Sandy, however by about 11 p.m. that hadn't happened.

There was some gusty wind and rain, but nothing like rigors the rest of the state was experiencing.

Public Service of New Hampshire reported about 135,000 customers without power - mostly in the southern part of the state - but only about 300 lost power north of the notches.

They included 91 in Lancaster; 94 in Northumberland; 45 in Jefferson and 39 in Whitefield.

In Coos District 3 - Berlin - three Democrat incumbents - Gary Coulombe, Robert Theberge and Yvonne Thomas - are facing Republican Eric Catman. Three seats are available.

Here is how Gary Coulombe voted on some issues:

Voter ID: Voted against requiring voter identification. NHPR story.

Republican incumbent Herbert Richardson is running against Democrat Troy Merner in Coos District 4, which includes Dalton, Kilkenny and Lancaster.

Here’s how Richardson voted on some issues:

Voter ID: Voted in favor of requiring voter identification. NHPR story.

Democrat incumbent Evalyn Merrick is running against Republican Leon Rideout in Coos District Seven, which includes Carroll, Dalton, Dummer, Jefferson, Kilkenny, Lancaster, Milan, Northumberland, Randolph, Stark and Whitefield.

Here is how Merrick voted on some issues.

Voter ID: Voted against requiring voter identification. NHPR story.

Pages