North Country

Faced with tighter budgets three hospitals in the North Country are forming an alliance to do something about it.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

With cuts in funding - and facing an increasing demand for services -  three hospitals in Coos County have agreed to work together to see how they can save money.

Without such cooperation there’s trouble ahead, says Scott Howe, the CEO of the Weeks Medical Center in Lancaster.

Courtesy White Mountain History.Org

Almost all of the grand hotels that once brought the North Country fame, fortune and tourists are gone.

But now some of the music that was composed specifically for each hotel has been played and recorded, possibly for the first time in 100 years.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen sends this audio postcard.

Rick Russack runs a web site on  White Mountain history.

Not long ago he was going through some material.

“Stereo views, photographs, postcards and prints, graphic things.”

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.”

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.

FlickR by AskJoanne

A biology professor from Rhode Island got a big, furry surprise recently when driving in the North Country.

It is called a mountain lion.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

 

Jim Chace is a biology professor at a university in Rhode Island.

He was driving south on Route 3 from Lancaster towards Whitefield just south of the White Mountains Regional High School.

It was daylight.

There weren’t any cars ahead of him.

Then, it happened.

“Smack right in front of my car, running out ahead across the road was a large cat.”

Chris Jensen for NHPR

In a move that would be good for the region’s wood-based economy Maine Energy Systems of Bethel, Maine plans to start building automated, wood-pellet boilers in the United States instead of importing them from Europe, says Les Otten, founder and chief executive officer.

“We will do the majority of the manufacture and assembly in the United States,” he told NHPR. “There is no reason we can’t be competitive globally.”

North Country legislators were almost evenly divided about whether to override Gov. Lynch’s veto of a bill that would give tax credits for businesses that make donations to not-for-profit schools.

As NHPR has reported Lynch said “the proposed bill would siphon public money away from public schools and give it to private ones. He said the budget gaps the plan would create would have to be covered by increases in local property taxes.

North Country representatives overwhelmingly voted on Wednesday to override Gov. Lynch’s veto of a bill banning partial-birth abortions.

As NHPR reported Lynch vetoed the bill saying it was unnecessary because such procedures are already prohibited under federal law.

The governor also expressed concern about a provision that would require a second opinion before a woman could receive the procedure even if her life were threatened by the pregnancy.

Chris Jensen for nhpr

For three years Coos County has been at the bottom of a list of the healthiest counties in the state.

But now groups from the North Country have decided to do something about it.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

 

Each spring for the last three years health care workers in the North Country have taken it on the nose.

Spring is when the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute releases its ranking of the health of individual counties nationwide.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy says the names of people who commented - for and against the Northern Pass project – were inadvertently removed from the agency web site.

Originally most of the 1,700 people who commented had their names and towns included.

But recently that information was removed, replaced with a note saying:

“The comment information presented below has had the personal information obfuscated for privacy as requested by the original author.”

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A Florida businessman says he plans to buy the closed Groveton paper mill, tear down most of the buildings and look for buyers or tenants for the remaining structures.

David Boshart, who heads up Groveton River Development of Naples, Florida, said he hopes to close on the 107-acre property in about two weeks.

The current owner is Groveton Acquisitions LLC, the parent company of which is based in New Jersey.

“We are going to preserve as many buildings as we can for lease or resale,” Boshart said in an interview.

Here’s how this year’s election in the North Country – including the September 11th primary - is shaping up, according to filings with the New Hampshire Secretary of State.

* Longtime Coos County Commissioner Bing Judd is being challenged by Rick Samson - also a Republican – who is deeply involved in the opposition to the Northern Pass hydro-electric project. There is no Democratic opponent.

 * Executive Councilor Ray Burton of Bath faces another Republican, Gerard L. Thibodeau of Rumney in the primary.  Democrat Beth Funicella of Jackson has also filed.

Jenni from the block/FlickR

Faced with a serious problem with overweight children two unusual partners are literally trying a new prescription in the North Country – and they don’t see any reason it couldn’t work statewide.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

 

South of children playing….

That’s a sound healthcare professionals would like to hear more often: Kids outdoors running and jumping and generally goofing around.

 Just like the good old days before the sedentary seduction of video games and television.

A group of power providers that would compete with the Northern Pass says the project can’t make money without some kind of renewable energy, government subsidy, an assertion  Northern Pass disputes.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

 

A group of New England power generators is worried Northern Pass will try to get federal or state subsidies by persuading government officials to declare its electricity is renewable.

Such hydro-electric power is not currently eligible for subsidies.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

For the first time in more than a decade a paper plant in Gorham – once thought to be dead - is hiring workers.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

 

Just over a year ago a New York investment firm, Patriarch Partners, bought the closed Gorham paper mill and promised a new future.

The Gorham facility was the last paper plant standing in the North Country and many doubted Patriarch’s CEO, Lynn Tilton, could make a go of it where others had failed.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Beginning around 1876 the town of Livermore was a hectic, noisy logging town in Northern Grafton County not far from Bartlett.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen went in search of the town’s history and sends this postcard.

It is a tale of a hard daily life, a flood, smallpox and becoming ghost town.

 

Sound of walking…

“My name is Peter Crane, I live in Bartlett, New Hampshire, we’re here on the Sawyer Road on the way to into what was once the village of Livermore, New Hampshire.”

Sen. John Gallus, a Republican from Berlin, was one of six senators who voted against a voter-identification bill.

 Nevertheless on Wednesday SB 289 passed 17-6.

In the House it passed 255 – 103 with 10 North Country representatives voting in favor of it.

Five voted against and one was excused from voting.

Sen. John Gallus, a Republican from Berlin, was among 17 Senators voting in favor of a constitutional amendment – CACR 12 - that would have given voters the chance to change the state constitution and give the Legislature more control over public school funding. 

But while eight North Country representatives also voted for it in the House Wednesday the amendment did not have the three-fifths majority needed.

Seven North Country representatives voted against it and one was excused from voting.

Ten of sixteen North Country representatives – and Sen. John Gallus, a Republican from Berlin – voted in favor of letting New Hampshire voters decide whether to add a ban on personal income taxes to the state’s constitution.

As NHPR reported on the House and the Senate on Wednesday passed CACR-13, the proposed constitutional amendment. 

The House passed the measure by a vote of 256-110.  The Senate passed it 19-4.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Gov. Lynch has signed a bill to establish a fire training site in Bethlehem.

It will allow a long-sought $550,000 training facility.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Sound of fire departments being dispatched for fire in Bethlehem…

For decades North Country fire fighters rushing to fires such this one last month first had to go to Concord for training and practice.

And for years fire chiefs have dreamed of having a training facility above the notches, says Jack Anderson, the fire chief in Bethlehem.

A flood warning is in effect until 6:30 am Sunday for Southern Coos, Carroll County and Northeast Grafton County, according to the National Weather Service.

The alert – which means “flooding is occurring or is imminent” – was issued about 8:30 a.m.

It was prompted after radar showed heavy rain stretching from the seacoast to The White Mountains. The weather service said it could generate an inch or two of additional rain that will cause “rapid rises” in small streams.

Two adults and four small children were rescued Friday night in the White Mountains after they became lost and were trying to light the trail with a cell phone, according to a news release from New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Lt. James Kneeland said about 9:15 p.m. Fish and Game was notified that the group has used a cell phone to call for help.

The group was composed of Josie Rogers and her husband, Christopher Kangas, of St. Johnsbury, Vt.  They were with their four children, ages eight, six, five and two.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Harry Brown shuts off his ATV on the side of a cross-country ski trail notched in the woods above the Balsams Grand Resort.

 “We’re going to head north out of the Balsams property,” he says.

Brown is among those working on a new network of ATV trails through the North Country.

Currently ATV enthusiasts have permission to ride in a half dozen places including Jericho Mountain State Park in Berlin and on private land.

But ATV enthusiasts say touring the same trails again and again can be boring.

Debi Warner, a clinical psychologist from Littleton, is running for the seat being vacated by Sen. John Gallus, a Republican from Berlin.

So far Warner is the only Republican running.

Warner got her doctorate in clinical psychology from Bowling Green State University.

She’s been in private practice in Coos and Grafton Counties and previously worked for a non-profit family clinic as well as state agencies in New York and New Hampshire.

Gallus told NHPR he doesn’t plan to endorse any candidate until after the September primary.

The majority of North Country representatives voted for a bill that would allow murder charges for causing the death of a fetus more than eight weeks old.

As the Associated Press reported:

“Both the House and Senate had voted in favor of charging someone with first-degree murder, second-degree-murder or negligent homicide for causing a pregnant woman to lose her fetus, but they disagreed over when the bill should apply. The House originally wanted to apply the bill to fetal deaths after 24 weeks of pregnancy while the Senate set the threshold at eight weeks.

Residents of Southwestern Coos and Northern Grafton County are being warned of possible flash floods due to heavy rain.

The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning about 7:30 saying in the following two hours an additional one to two inches of rain was expected and streams were rising rapidly.

It said areas of concern include “but are not limited to Franconia Notch State Park, Littleton, Franconia, Crawford Notch and Bethlehem.”

The warning was expected to end about 10:45 p.m.

A Massachusetts woman who became lost near Pittsburg was rescued last night, according to a news release from New Hampshire Fish and Game.

The woman, Sharon Matthews, 49, of Warwick, Mass., was reported missing about 4:30 Sunday by her  husband after she failed to return from a hike to look for moose antlers.

About 8 p.m. a plume of smoke in South Bay Bog was spotted by Conservation Officers Chris Egan, Adam Cheney and Pittsburg Police Chief Richard LaPoint.

Matthews was reached about 40 minutes later sitting next to a fire with her dog at her side.

Warm weather over the weekend and climbing a 4,000 footer in the North Country was a bad combination for a Penacook man.

 NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Early Sunday afternoon hiking companions of a 51-year-old man used a cell phone to call for help.

Lt. James Kneeland of Fish and Game said the problem was apparently heat related.

“Dehydration, heat stroke. Something along those lines to the point where he was losing, in and out of consciousness.”

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The Colebrook Planning Board Tuesday night removed what the new owners of the Balsams Grand Resort have said was an impediment to the redevelopment needed to allow hundreds of people to get back to work.

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