North Country

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.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Town meetings begin next month.

One issue some towns are looking at is a radical new tactic ultimately designed to challenge the legal power of corporations.

Opponents of the Northern Pass hydroelectric project are at the forefront of the move.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

 

Northern Pass opponents have won what they see they see as a victory in their fight against the huge hydro-electric project.

A 51-year-old Massachusetts man died in a snow machine accident in Milan Wednesday night, according to a news release from new Hampshire Fish and Game.

The victim was identified as Kenneth Smalley Jr. 51 of North Billerica.

Smalley was the last rider in a group of four when he lost control of his snow machine on a corner and hit several trees, according to the release. He died at the scene from what were described as “extensive injuries.”

Ayesha Khan says her documentary – Made in Pakistan – being shown late this week in Plymouth, Bethlehem and Concord tries to show Americans a different perspective on Pakistan than the one they typically get from watching the news.

That perspective comes from a look at the lives of four professionals, two men and two women.

They are described as an aspiring politician; a young mother, teacher and magazine editor; an event manager working in the fashion industry; and a lawyer and devout Muslim.

Courtesy of Evan Embrey

While he was hunkered down in his sleeping bag waiting to be rescued from just below the Franconia Ridge a man from Maine says he was no longer worried about himself, but about the Fish and Game officers headed his way in the dark, poor visibility and high winds.

“You feel kind of horrible putting other people in that situation,” said Evan Embrey, 24, of Buxton, Maine.

Embrey told NHPR he was hiking on the ridge between Mt. Lafayette and Little Haystack Mountain when winds picked up,

“It was pushing me over, so it had to be gusts of 50 or 60 mile per hour,” he said.

Here is how the North Country representatives voted on Wednesday when the House passed a resolution – HCR32 - calling for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations “so that the United States may retain its sovereignty and control over its own funds and military forces.”

It passed 188 – 129.

Here are the North Country representatives voting in favor:

* Lyle Bulis (Republican) of Littleton

* Edmond Gionet (Republican) of Lincoln.

Here’s how North Country representatives voted on a resolution passed by the House Wednesday to express support for Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

The resolution is HCR2.

Part of the Arizona law requires the police to determine the immigration status of a person they have detained and whether the suspect is in the country illegally. The U.S. Supreme Court has said in December it would consider the law, NPR has reported.

On Wednesday the House approved HB 574, which repeals the Emergency Powers Act

The Emergency Powers Act says during a declared emergency – with the permission of the governor and the executive council - the government can take property ranging from vehicles to “provisions for man or beast… in excess of the reasonable and immediate needs of the owner and the owner's household.”

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A Chicago-based company – The Heico Companies - is interested in buying Isaacson Steel in Berlin, which is undergoing bankruptcy, the New Hampshire Business Review is reporting today.

The Business Review quoted “several parties involved with the bankruptcy,” as the source.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The full report on a plan to revitalize Berlin’s downtown is now available here on the city’s website.

It details how to make the area the social and economic focus of the city.

 

 

 

Lynch On Northern Pass

Jan 31, 2012
Chris Jensen for NHPR

The controversial Northern Pass hydro-electric project “cannot happen without local support” and “should not happen with eminent domain,” Gov. Lynch’s said today in his State of the State address.

Here is the paragraph from his speech:

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Josh St. Onge spent about three hours working on a resume to apply for one of the new jobs at the Federal Correctional Institute in Berlin. Good thing he didn’t just turn it in.

“It was nothing close to what needed to be done,” said St. Onge after getting help from the Northern New Hampshire Talent Team.

The Talent Team is a coalition of North Country groups working to help people interested in jobs at the federal prison with the rigorous and complex job application.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The new owners of the Balsams resort in Dixville Notch are pulling together the money they need for a massive renovation. And, they hope federal programs will give them a big boost. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Late last year North-Country businessmen Dan Herbert and Dan Dagesse bought the Balsams Grand Resort in Dixville Notch for about $2.3 million.

Now they are looking for the money they need for an extensive renovation.

It is badly needed to make the resort competitive, get it open again and put hundreds of people back to work.

StateImpact’s Amanda Loder has an interesting analysis – with some help from the Concord Monitor – at how opposition to eminent domain breaks out demographically and by political persuasion.

Here’s her report.

StateImpact NH is a cooperative project between NHPR and NPR.

 

Flickr - Images of Money

North Country representatives were evenly split on a bill  Gov. Lynch said would allow lenders to charge an annual percentage rate of 400 percent interest. 

Senator John Gallus (Republican) of Berlin voted against the bill.

Four reps were excused from voting.

On Friday Gov. Lynch vetoed that bill, Senate Bill 160.

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