North Country

Courtesy of the Kennett and Kendall families.

A trial date has been set for Craig Sanborn, the man accused of negligent homicide and manslaughter in the deaths of two North Country men who worked at his Black Mag factory in Colebrook when it exploded almost two years ago.

Jury selection is set to begin on January 11, 2013 in Superior Court in Lancaster for the trial of Sanborn, 62, of Maidstone, Vermont.

Earlier this year Sanborn – whose company operated the facility - was indicted in the deaths of Jesse Kennett and Donald Kendall.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A Coos County Grand jury met today/Monday in Lancaster as the investigation into the death of 11-year-old Celina Cass continues.

As NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports, the dead girl’s stepfather was questioned.

Wendell Noyes is the stepfather of Celina Cass, whose body was found last August in the Connecticut River not far from her home in Stewartstown.

Noyes is thought to have been one of the last people to see the girl before she disappeared from her home.

Courtesy of Muddy Paws

Warm weather has forced the cancellation of an attempt to mush a sled-dog team up the Mt. Washington Auto Road.

As Brady Carlson reported earlier this month the Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel in Jefferson hoped to make an attempt last Thursday.

Then, a contrary combination of winds and warm weather resulted in a postponement until this Wednesday.

But things only got worse.

Last week the Executive Council confirmed Michael Harrington’s appointment as one of three Public Utilities Commissioners.

But before Harrington could preside over his first hearing on Monday a couple from the North Country filed a motion asking he be disqualified for a conflict of interest.

As NHPR reported the New Hampshire House moved Thursday to decriminalize a person’s first two possessions of less than a half ounce of marijuana. 

House Bill 1526 passed by a single vote.

The vote was 162 to 161.

Nine North Country representatives voted against the bill. Six voted in favor and one was excused from voting.

Here are the North Country representatives voting in favor:

As NHPR reported on Thursday the House passed HB 1297 which would prevent New Hampshire from creating its own health insurance exchange.

There was no roll-call vote on House Bill 1332 so there isn’t a record of how representatives voted when it passed.

However, before that there was a roll-call vote on whether to accept the recommendation of the House Committee on Fish and Game and Marine Resources that the bill be killed.

That killing motion failed on a vote of 171-174.

Eight North Country representatives voted to kill the bill and seven voted to revive it. One was excused.

New Hampshire Fish and Game

In a surprising – and to some puzzling - move late last month the New Hampshire House narrowly passed a bill a House committee recommended be killed.

Fish and Game officials say the legislation would make it far more difficult for them to enforce state laws designed to protect wildlife.

The bill’s supporters say it protects individual rights by requiring Fish and Game to meet the same standards as other law-enforcement agencies when it comes to searches.

But a law professor says Fish and Game already has to meet those standards. 

North Country representatives were evenly split on the vote for House Bill 1546, which NHPR reported allows “any employer with a religious objection to deny workers insurance coverage for contraceptives.”

Supporters of the bill said it was about religious freedom.

Opponents note the Catholic church helped draft the bill and say it supports its anti-contraception views.

After Isaacson Structural Steel was sold off in a bankruptcy auction last month it wasn’t certain what would happen to the employees. But NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports it’s clear now and the news is not good.

In a blow to the North Country more workers at Isaacson Structural Steel in Berlin are being laid off.

About 80 have already lost their jobs with another 40 still on the job finishing up a project, says Diana Nelson with New Hampshire Employment Security.

“There will be a handful of employees at Isaacson’s through mid-April.”

The Manchester lawyer who handled the bankruptcy of Isaacson Structural Steel in Berlin will receive about $313,000 for his work if a federal judge approves.

In a recent filing William Gannon asked the judge for $191,000 for his work between September 1st and February 29th.

Previously the judge approved about $122,000 for work between June 22ndand August 31.

In the filing Gannon said he worked about 444 hours at $400 an hour in addition to work done by his staff.

There were three bidders hoping to buy Isaacson Structural Steel with a $100,000 difference determining the winning bid, according to a report filed Thursday in federal district court in Concord.

The top bid was $2.4 million by Counsel RB Capital, Myron Bowling Auctioneers and Hilco Industrial.

A federal district judge has dismissed a suit against the Town of Franconia over a double shooting that left Franconia police officer Bruce McKay and his assailant, Liko Kenney, dead. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

 

Almost five years ago a double shooting left Liko Kenney of Easton and Franconia police officer Bruce McKay dead.

McKay was shot by Kenney during a traffic stop.

Then, a passerby – Gregory Floyd – picked up McKay’s gun and killed Kenney.

Kenney’s father, David, later sued the town of Franconia in federal district court.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

At an auction today/Wednesday in Manchester an Ohio company made the highest bid for the bankrupt Isaacson Steel. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Last year Isaacson filed for bankruptcy leaving the future of about 150 North-Country workers in doubt.

Earlier this year a Whitefield firm bought a small portion of the business, an action expected to save about 20 jobs. But the larger portion was auctioned off.

William Gannon. represents Isaacson.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Hopes that someone would buy bankrupt Isaacson Steel in Berlin and continue the business are fading. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Throughout Isaacson’s bankruptcy the hope has been that someone would buy the steel-fabricating firm, operate it and save about 130 jobs.

That seems less likely now.

filing in federal district court Monday shows a Texas firm that specializes in selling off industrial equipment has a tentative deal to buy Isaacson’s assets.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The Federal Correctional Institute in Berlin probably won’t get its first inmates for about a year but it has begun hiring, says Deborah Schult, the warden.

“Right now our major focus is staffing, staffing, staffing,” Schult said Friday night at the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner in Gorham.

The prison had been empty while awaiting funding from Congress, which came late last year.

“Last year we had 16 of us on site. Now we have hired 32,” she said.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Switching to natural gas at the Gorham Paper and Tissue mill cost about $5.4 million but paid for itself in about four months, says Willis Blevins, the general manager of the plant.

Last year the company made the change from heating oil.

The goal was to reduce the enormous energy cost that Blevins says was always a problem when it came to making the plant consistently profitable.

The new owner, Patriarch Partners, was willing to make the investment the previous owner was not.

A Fish and Game official says four ill-equipped hikers from Massachusetts probably would have died Sunday on the Franconia Ridge had two Connecticut men not happened along.  NHPR’s Chris Jensen has the story.

 

Brian Croce and a companion were working their way along the Franconia Ridge in blustery, frigid conditions Sunday afternoon.

Then they saw four people - three men and a woman - huddled together behind a rock.

“The guy told us that they desperately needed help and to call 911 for them.”

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The White Mountain School in Bethlehem beat almost three dozen other boarding schools in the Northeast in a recent competition to reduce electrical use.

The schools were competing in the national 2012 Green Cup Challenge,  in which 116 schools in 22 states competed.

Students at The White Mountain School relied on conservation tactics ranging from unplugging chargers to turning off lights, said Elizabeth Aldrich, the chair of sustainability studies at the school.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Facing tighter budgets North Country school districts are participating in a task force exploring ways they can cooperate and save money.

There are two broad goals, said Wayne Gersen, the former superintendent of the Hanover school district, who is heading up the group.

One is to give students more educational opportunities, perhaps by having SAUs share teachers in areas such as music, art or even special-education testing.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

It’s been a little more than four years since the Groveton paper mill closed.

But in a calculated gamble that will cost about $700,000 some people have refused to give up on it.

They’re chasing the idea of a new and far different life for the Groveton facility and the North Country.

 NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

 

Roger Caron started working at the Groveton paper plant in 1972.

Now he’s the last man there.

Sound of footsteps and Caron saying there aren’t many lights on….

Nine North Country legislators – all Republicans – voted Wednesday in favor of HR 29, resolution that asks the federal government to undo a rule requiring insurance companies to provide contraceptives to employees of religious organizations.

The six North Country Democrats voted against the resolution.

New Hampshire Fish and Game

A snow-machine crash has claimed the life of a Sunapee man. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

 

A 36-year-old Sunapee man died Saturday morning in a snow machine crash near Stewartstown.

Fish and Game said the victim was Jason Montambeault who had been riding about 1:30 in the morning with two friends near Piper Hill.

The friends last saw him crossing a field near his camp.

When he didn’t arrive a few hours later they thought he had gone to visit friends.

But shortly after dawn they were worried and a search began.

Seven North Country legislators were among those voting to pass HB 1666, a bill that gives lawmakers the final say on collective bargaining agreements with the State.

Five were opposed and four were excused from voting.  

As reported by NHPR:

The legislation is just the latest effort by Republicans in Concord to rein in the costs of public employee contracts.

The North Country’s Senator John Gallus, a Republican from Berlin, was among the 17 senators voting Wednesday in favor of a constitutional school funding amendment.

There were seven “no” votes.

As reported by NHPR’s Josh Rogers:

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Typically winter hikers try to balance what they need with not turning themselves into recreational beasts of burden. But when searchers from New Hampshire Fish and Game head into the mountains they don’t have the luxury of light weight.

They have to be ready for almost any contingency including uncooperative if not perverse weather.  And, that translates into pounds.

“I’d say my ruck weighs approximately fifty-five pounds,” says Conservation Officer Brad Morse, who often heads into The White Mountains looking for a lost or injured hiker.

New Hampshire Business Review is reporting that a potential buyer for the Isaacson Structural Steel in Berlin has fallen through.

The review reports Heico, a construction conglomerate, was seriously considering buying the company but has since backed out.

An auction is currently set for February 29th, raising a question about the future of the company’s roughly 150 employees.

Coos County residents receive far more help in federal funds than the national average, according StateImpact NH, a project between NHPR and NPR.

StateImpact’s Amanda Loder examined a recent story in The New York Times that investigated how much help various counties nationwide get from the federal government.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A pilot project in Berlin is helping homeowners get sophisticated boilers that are automatically fed wood pellets.

The idea is to persuade people throughout the region that they can save money and say goodbye to oil while bolstering the region’s forest economy.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

 

Peter Canning is in basement of his home on a hillside overlooking Berlin.

He’s showing off his new wood-pellet boiler.

“You can open up down in the bottom here. I can show you how the pellets come in if you want to kneel down here and take a peek.”

Congressman Charlie Bass will hold a town meeting in Berlin Saturday, February 11th, from 11 a.m. to noon in Berlin’s City Hall.

“Constituents with questions, comments, or those in need of assistance on a federal matter are welcome to attend,” according to a news release from Bass’ office.

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