North Country

A new state program is offering financial help to businesses that would like to start using wood pellets rather than heating oil.

The grants are designed to help businesses buy new heating systems that use a homegrown, renewable resource: wood.

The money is available through the Public Utilities Commission’s  Sustainable Energy Division.

Jack Ruderman is its head.

“We’re offering a rebate of up to 30 percent of the cost of the heating system and installation with a cap of $50,000 per system," says Jack Ruderman, the head of the division.

North Country Events

Dec 19, 2013

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

Tuesday night in Plymouth the state’s Office of Energy and Planning held its last public hearing on possible changes to the state’s Site Evaluation Committee - which is responsible for approving utility projects ranging from wind farms to Northern Pass - and the theme was that the SEC needs a significant and wide-ranging overhaul before it can be trusted.

About three dozen people attended and their concerns echoed those voiced at previous meetings around the state.

A central issue was that all fifteen members of the SEC are officials from state agencies.

The Composer Next Door

Dec 17, 2013
Sean Hurley

USA Today recently published a list of the fastest growing professions in the United States.  Music Composer came in at #3.  Everything, in this digital age, needs music.  With advances in technology, today's orchestras are more often found on hard drives in basements than symphony hall. NHPR's Sean Hurley has this profile of music professor and film composer Rik Pfenninger of Holderness.

It's 3:30 AM in Holderness and Plymouth State University Professor of Saxophone Rik Pfenninger is practicing in the soundproofed basement of his house. 

Bruce Lyndes / Plymouth State University

Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who died November 12th, was remembered yesterday at  a Memorial Service held at Plymouth State University.  Dignitaries large and small gathered together with Burton's friends and family to remember the longtime political face of the North Country.  NHPR's Sean Hurley attended the event and sends us this report.

A lost Massachusetts hiker was rescued Thursday afternoon after spending a bitterly cold night in the White Mountains.

North Country Events

Dec 12, 2013

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

New Hampshire State Police

There was a fatal collision Tuesday morning on Route 3 in Columbia, according to a news release from the state police.

The accident was reported about 8:40 and involved a Buick LeSabre going northbound and a Toyota Tundra pickup headed southbound, reported Lt. Todd Landry, the commander of Troop F, which covers the North Country.

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

NHPR’s Chris Jensen sent this postcard:

North Country Events

Dec 5, 2013


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

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley: This week the public has a chance to weigh in on the future of the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.  The SEC reviews major utility projects, including proposed wind farms and the Northern Pass project. 

The concerns of opponents of those projects prompted Governor Hassan to sign Senate Bill 99.  It calls for a review of how the SEC works with a report due at the end of December. 

This week’s listening sessions and workshops include one tonight in Manchester.

UPDATE: By early Sunday afternoon two members of the Fish and Game rescue party were still working their way through the tangled and challenging, Dry River drainage, trying to reach a road, said Lt. Wayne Saunders.

A solo hiker missing in The Presidentials walked out on his own late Saturday afternoon after teams of rescuers and a helicopter spent a rugged day searching for him.

The search began on Saturday morning for Michael Niles 31 of Bradford Massachusetts.

Four candidates – three Republicans and one Democrat – are in the running for the vacant District 1 Executive Councilor seat.

North Country Events

Nov 28, 2013

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

Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9-11 AM Thursday 5-6 PM. 2057 Main Street. Bring your gently used coats, jackets, and warm winter outerwear. Kids items especially needed. Drop off, pick up, swap.  

Lois Hurley

Most of us here in New Hampshire saw our first snowflakes of the year this week.  It's a gentle reminder that winter is on its way.  On this holiday that for many of us kicks off a frenzied season of shopping and parties, NHPR's Sean Hurley pauses to reflect on what it means as winter rolls in.

Winter comes in like a winter coat. Down from the storage closet to hang in the dark front hall to wait by the door. 

A Vermont man found responsible for the 2010 explosion in Colebrook that killed two men and injured a third is going to prison for at least ten years.

Late in October a jury found Craig Sanborn guilty of two counts of manslaughter and Wednesday in Coos Superior Court he was sentenced.

“The court sentenced Mr. Sanborn to five to ten years incarceration on each manslaughter charge to be served consecutively for a total of 10 to 20 years,” said Stephen Murray, the assistant Coos County attorney.

A series of public meetings begin the first week in December to determine what changes, if any, should be made to how the state’s Site Evaluation Committee works, including whether the public should have a decision-making role in approving new utility projects.

The SEC reviews major utility projects, which will include Northern Pass.

Currently the SEC has fifteen members, all from state agencies.

North Country Events

Nov 21, 2013
Chris Jensen for NHPR

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


Photo courtesy of Grafton County Commission

Michael Cryans, a Grafton County Commissioner, plans to run for the Executive Council seat left empty by the death of Ray Burton.

Cryans is a Democrat and Littleton native who for sixteen years has been a county commissioner, serving alongside  Burton, a Republican.

In 1996 Cryans ran against Burton for executive council and lost.

But last year, in the race for county commissioner, Burton endorsed Cryans over a Republican challenger.

Starting around 2008, as the economy began struggling and banks got skittish about lending, foreign investors began sending hundreds of millions of dollars into Vermont.

They were attracted by a federal EB-5 visa program administered by the state of Vermont.

It allows foreigners willing to invest at least $500,000 to get green cards and live in the United States.

New Hampshire didn’t have anything like it, but the state is warming to the idea.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Sound  of construction……

Heavy machinery at work.

Traffic deaths increased in 2012 in New Hampshire with alcohol and failing to wear seat belts or helmets again being major factors, according to a new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In the study federal officials estimated Americans drove roughly the same number of miles in 2012 as in 2011.

Overall there were 108 traffic fatalities in the state in 2012, an increase of 20 percent over the previous year.

North Country Events

Nov 14, 2013

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Thurs. Fri. & Sat. Nov. 14, 15, 16 at 7:30 PM and a matinee on Sat. Nov. 16 at 2 PM. Colonial Theatre. The cast includes 30 students from Profile School. Directed by Cindy Burlack. Musical direction by Alyssa Comeau, Profile music teacher. Tickets $4 students, $7 adults, at the door.

Ray Burton’s burial will be private, says BJ Perry, his administrative assistant. But there will be a public memorial service on December 14th.

It will start at 1 p.m. at Plymouth State University in the student union, Perry said.

Burton died less than three weeks after he announced his kidney cancer, said to be in remission, had returned and he would not seek re-election next year.

Chris Jensen, NHPR

Less than three weeks after Executive Councilor Ray Burton announced his kidney cancer was no longer in remission he died.

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.

Travis Giles, the culinary instructor at The White Mountains Community College in Berlin, is the winner of the North Country Chef’s Challenge, an effort to see who can best match culinary skills with local ingredients.

Giles was competing against seven other chefs.

The judges were from the White Mountain chapter of the American Culinary Federation.

The event is the idea of the North Country Farmer’s Co-op.

For his entrée Giles began with “a whole red deer” from a farm Milan. 

North Country Events

Nov 8, 2013

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Thursday Nov. 7 1:30 PM in the gymnasium. Presentation of Colors, Regional JROTC, guest speaker Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Howard, LHS Chorus and Band, flag pole ceremony. Veterans and community members invited. For more information contact Connie Ward at LHS 444-5186 x2208.

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.

Executive Councilor Ray Burton has received Plymouth State University’s highest award for public service, only the third time the honor has been given in almost a decade.

The Henry W. Blair Award for Distinguished Public Service was created in 2004.

“It is for distinguished public service, it recognizes someone who has devoted – as Henry Blair did – a life to making the world better through strong public service,”  PSU president Sara Jayne Steen said in an interview. “And, in that sense of course, Ray is the perfect candidate.”