North Country

 

Sen. John Gallus,  a Republican from Berlin who represents the North Country, was among those voting last week not to override Gov. Lynch’s veto of so-called payday loans.

As NHPR reported “The measure would have lifted the current 36% interest rate cap on small loans. In place of that cap, Senator Matt Houde told colleagues companies could charge borrowers up to 403% interest.

 

The Conservation Law Foundation has joined in a request that newly appointed Public Utilities Commissioner Michael Harrington be disqualified from hearing a case involving the Merrimack  Station powerplant because it feels there is a conflict of interest involving Public Service of New Hampshire.

The issue is that Harrington has a pension from Northeast Utilities, the parent company of PSNH, which routinely goes before the three-member commission.

 

Nine of sixteen of North Country legislators voted against a bill that would allow for-profit specialty hospitals to avoid going through the certificate of need regulatory process.

As reported by NHPR “the bill also exempts these hospitals, most of which do not take Medicaid patients, from paying the state's Medicaid Enhancement Tax.

 

Ten North Country representatives were among those who voted Wednesday to kill a bill that would have repealed gay marriage. 

Only four North Country representatives voted to keep the repeal alive.

Two others were excused from voting.

As NHPR reported the Republican-controlled House decided to keep the state's gay marriage law in place on a 211 – 116 vote.

The Associated Press is reporting:

 

The New Hampshire Senate has approved exploring leasing ski operations to a private vendor at the

state-owned Cannon Mountain.

  The Senate voted by voice Wednesday to pass a bill requiring the Department of Resources and Economic Development to develop a master plan for Cannon Mountain and Franconia State Park.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

 

There’s a public perception that Coos County’s economic challenges mean a significant population loss over the last decade. But a new study shows that’s not quite right. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Here’s a surprise for Coos County, courtesy of The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

It has just finished  a demographic study of the Northern Forest.

 

For years the North Country’s Senator - John Gallus (R-Berlin) - has favored turning the Cannon Mountain ski area over to a private firm.  But Gallus says on Wednesday he’ll vote against a bill that would explore the idea.

Gallus says an amendment to Senate Bill 217 by its sponsor – Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) – badly weakened it.

“I’m certainly not going to support it tomorrow,” Gallus  said.

 

The House is expected to consider repealing same-sex marriage as early as Wednesday and half of 16 North Country representatives have said say they will vote against changing the law.

In October the House Judiciary Committee voted to undo the state’s gay marriage law and replace it with civil union .

The lead sponsor of the bill is Republican David Bates of Windham.

 

The White Mountain National Forest will be getting $4 million in federal funds to repair road and bridge damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene.  But that will still leave the enormous recreational area well short of what it needs, an official said.

It is still a bit of good news for the economy of the North Country.

Some of the work will be done by WMNF crews but help from outside contractors will be needed, said Tiffany Benna, a spokeswoman for the WMNF.

The money is available from the Federal Highway Administration, said spokesman Doug Hecox.

 

North Country representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of House Bill 1405 which would allow jurisdictions such as Manchester to ask for a moratorium on refugee resettlement.

As NHPR reported: “Under the bill New Hampshire towns could ask for a one-year moratorium on new refugee resettlements, which opponents say the state doesn’t have the authority to do.”

Eight North Country representatives voted Wednesday against House Bill 1659, a bill that the Associated Press reported would make pregnant women wait 24 hours and certify they had been given information on fetal development before getting an abortion.

Five North Country representatives voted for the bill and three were excused from voting.

As NHPR reported the House on Wednesday passed a so-called right-to-work bill. Barring unions from requiring non-members to pay for representation has been a priority for House Republican leaders.

The bill passed 198 to 139.

It now goes to the Senate.

Four North Country reps voted in favor and eight against.

Here are the North Country reps who voted in favor:

* Duffy Daugherty (Republican) of Colebrook.

* Edmond Gionet (Republican) of Lincoln.

Three representatives from the North Country voted not to kill House Bill 1264 which would have allowed “an individual to choose not to provide accommodations, goods, or services for a marriage if doing so would violate his or her conscience or religious faith.”

It was proposed by Rep. Jerry Bergevin, a Republican from Hillsborough.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Two of three North Country towns yesterday approved an ordinance designed to fight the Northern Pass project by trying to strip corporations of their power.

Lancaster, Sugar Hill and Easton all had the same idea: An ordinance that would assert a town’s rights over those of corporations.

The idea is to prevent large corporations – such as those behind the Northern Pass project – from using the legal muscle given them by U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

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.

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