North Country

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.

Fire officials say one person died yesterday in a house fire on Swiftwater Road in Woodsville.

The fire was reported about 3 p.m. and while fighting the fire a body was found on the second floor of the home, according to a news release from the state fire marshal’s office.

The positive identification of the victim and autopsy results are pending.

Fire officials said they didn’t find any working smoke alarm on either the first or second floor of the home.

As reported by NHPR the Senate recently delayed action on three gun bills.

The bills had already passed the House.

Here’s how sixteen representatives from the North Country voted before the bills went to the Senate.

House Bill 536which would allow carrying a concealed gun without getting a special permit.

It passed 193 – 122.

In six years a North Country group has helped low and moderate income families get more than two million dollars in tax refunds. Now the free service is underway again. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Once again the Family Resource Center of Gorham is offering free tax preparation for families and individuals earning no more than $58,000.

Last year a record 422 returns were prepared by trained volunteers.

That gave some for North Country residents a fiscal boost.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The Boston Herald is reporting that a grand jury met in Lancaster last Friday and questioned witnesses about the death of Celina Cass of Stewartstown.

The story quoted two witnesses as saying the questions focused on Wendell Noyes, the stepfather of Celina Cass.

The witnesses were Noyes’ mother, Eunice Richards, and other family members.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A Whitefield firm wants to buy part of Isaacson Steel in Berlin and hopes to save those jobs. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Last year Isaacson Steel in Berlin filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The company has about 150 employees in two operations.

One does steel fabrication for buildings.

The other, much smaller operation, sells steel. It has 19 employees.

The smaller operation is what Presby Steel of Whitefield wants to buy.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The National Transportation Safety Board has concluded its investigation into the crash of a tour bus in Littleton last year saying no action is required.

The crash occurred on March 21stand involved a tour bus carrying 23 Korean tourists, a guide and a driver. It was coming from Canada and was headed for Boston.

An ambitious plan to revitalize Berlin’s downtown and make it the social and economic focus of the city is finished and now officials are looking around for millions of dollars to carry it out.

"The downtown is the heart of the community. If people come through our downtown and don’t feel it is alive the people will pass on and go to another community,” said Sylvia Poulin, the chairperson of the Main Street Program.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A new study says far fewer jobs will be created by the Northern Pass than the utility has forecast, according to StateImpact, a project between NHPR and NPR.

Here’s part of Amanda Loder’s report:

“Today, the New England Power Generators Association released a report it commissioned from PolEcon Research.  The Association is one of the major opponents of the Northern Pass project. 

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Lynne Placey, a North Country woman who’s struggling to make ends meet but has refused to take money from Northern Pass, has been given $2,650 by a group that admires her gumption.

Placey, of Stewartstown, says she turned down an offer of around $500,000 from Northern Pass for a right-of-way on her land although her only income is Social-Security and giving piano lessons.

“She’s a modern-day hero,” said Rikki Ramsden, one of the owners of Atta Girl Records of Thornton, which was behind the fund-raising effort.

Chris jensen for NHPR

The federal government has provided $5 million to help protect some of the most beautiful land in the North Country. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

The U.S. Forest Service is providing $5 million to purchase a conservation easement near Errol.

The money will prevent development but still allow sustainable logging and recreation.

J.T. Horn is an official with the Trust for Public Land. It has been working on the huge, conservation project.

Half of the North Country’s sixteen representatives voted in favor of House Bill 228  which bars any organization that performs elective abortions from receiving any state or federal funds.

Wisconsin lured Kestrel Aircraft away from Maine – and consequently Berlin – with a far stronger, multi-million dollar package, the Portland Press Herald is reporting.

Here’s what the newspaper says each state offered Kestrel.


$30 million in tax credit allocations immediately through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority

$30 million in tax credit allocations by the end of 2012 through the Wisconsin development authority

The Concord Monitor is reporting that a statewide poll shows almost 70 percent of those responding are against the Northern Pass hydro-electric project being able to use eminent domain to get land they need.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A deal to bring the closed Groveton paper mill in the North Country back to life has fallen through raising the possibility it will be demolished. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.


For the North Country there’s been a dream that the old Groveton paper mill would reopen housing some green industry that would provide local jobs.

Last year a businessman from Bath signed a contract to buy it for $2 million, saying he wanted to do just that.

But the deal fell through.

Now the plant is being eyed for another use.

Kestrel Aircraft

The hope for hundreds of new jobs in Berlin making aircraft parts has apparently evaporated. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Last year a new start-up company called Kestrel Aircraft said it was considering building parts in Berlin.

CEO Alan Klapmeier said the plant might be located next to the new biomass plant.

It would use heat from that facility to produce high-tech, composite bodies for the new plane.

That would mean at least 150 to 200 jobs, Klapmeier said.

The six-to-eight passenger plane would be assembled nearby in Maine.

The Forest Society says it has raised the $850,000 needed for a conservation easement at the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch. It blocks a right-of-way for the proposed Northern Pass hydro-electric project. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

The Forest Society’s deadline for raising $850,000 for a 5,800-acre conservation easement at the Balsams resort was January 15th.

It raised the money with a record 1,500 contributions.

And, The Forest Society says Northern Pass’ hope to use the land for its electric towers deserves some of the credit.

John Macomber

John D. Judge, who will take over as head of the Appalachian Mountain Club next month, says its priorities will include continued opposition to the Northern Pass project and trying to get more children away from computer games and into the outdoors.

The proposed hydro-electric project would clearly have a detrimental impact on recreation and conservation, said Judge.

Chris jensen for NHPR

Concerns about a government that can’t work together to solve problems and possible cuts to valuable federal programs were top concerns of about a dozen North Country businessmen who met Thursday with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R).

“Our whole society and our economy needs greater confidence,” said Peter Powell, a realtor from Lancaster who attended the meeting held by the North Country Council in Bethlehem.

A newspaper in Duluth, Minn. is reporting that Wisconsin officials have offered Kestrel Aircraft land for an assembly plant, a move that could greatly reduce the chances Kestrel would make parts in Berlin.

But in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon Kate Doughtery, a spokeswoman for Kestrel, told NHPR that no decision has been made on the plant's location.

Last year it looked like Kestrel, a new start-up company, would build the aircraft in Maine.

The Center for Public Integrity has a new report on pollution problems in New England including the Old Town Fuel & Fiber, which is owned by the same company as Gorham Paper and Tissue.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

State officials say they are ending an investigation into a piece of a human skull found in the Eli Wallace Horse Cemetery in Littleton last summer because it doesn’t appear there has been any crime.

In a news release today state officials said Bonnie Stinchfield of Littleton admitted she buried the bone last summer.

“She said that her husband had been in possession of the piece of bone since at least 1988.  He had received the bone from another man who was moving and didn’t want it anymore,” the release said.