North Country

Newly appointed Public Utilities Commissioner Michael Harrington says having a pension from Northeast Utilities is not a good enough reason to disqualify him from hearing a case involving the utility – and so he won’t.

Harrington made the statement in an order he signed Tuesday dismissing a motion arguing that he has an unacceptable conflict of interest.

Northern Pass May Face Right of Way Legal Battle

Apr 3, 2012
Photo: Chris Jensen

Much of the battle over the Northern Pass hydro-electric project has focused on cutting a new route through the forests of the North Country.

Northern Pass intends to use 140 miles of existing right of way for much of the remainder of the project.

That may not be as easy as it sounds.

NHPR's Chris Jensen reports.

 

It takes maybe five minutes – including crossing a large brook on a narrow board – for Kris Pastoriza to reach the right-of-way that cuts through her wooded land in Easton.

Health Study Ranks Coos Last in New Hampshire

Apr 3, 2012
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrd00dman/2358726807/">MrdOOdman</a> / Flickr

A new nationwide study released today/Tuesday ranks Coos County as the least healthy county in the state. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

A Massachusetts man fell into a deep crevasse in the Tuckerman Ravine Sunday afternoon and is thought to have died, according to a news release late Monday from the White Mountain National Forest.

The man was identified as Norman Priebatsch of Boston.  He was said to be in his late 60’s.

He was hiking with friends when he tripped and slid down a slope before falling into a crevasse between areas known as the Lunch Rocks and The Lip.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

 

On a late winter’s day three film crews are busy at Lisbon Regional School.

Inside one crew is editing film on a computer, quickly and cleverly trimming and rearranging sequences.

Another is working on a soundtrack, drawing fingers across a guitar’s strings.

And outside the third crew is filming, working out camera angles and a script.

“Okay, I’m going to explain your parts to you,” says Sydney Lambert, a seventh grader. “You are basically a person who doesn’t really care that you are littering.”

 

Seven North Country legislators were among the majority passing a bill on Thursday that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

Three North Country representatives voted against the bill while six were excused from voting.

The bill, HB 1660, passed 190 – 109. It now goes to the Senate.

Here are the legislators who voted in favor of the bill:

* Lyle Bulis (Republican) of Littleton

* Larry Rappaport (Republican) of Colebrook.

 

Ten out of 13 North Country representatives voted against a bill that would have abolished the State Art Fund.

According to the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts the fund is also known as the Percent for Art Program and it was established by the legislature in 1979.

That 1979 action “authorizes one-half of one percent of the capitol budget appropriation for new buildings or significant renovations to be set aside in a non-lapsing account for the acquisition or commissioning of artwork.”

 

In unusual alliances Democrats and Republicans from the North Country paired up for and against a bill that would have allowed gambling.

The bill failed on a 118 – 226 vote.

Eight representatives – including five Republicans and three Democrats – voted in favor of the bill.

Six representatives - including four Republicans and two Democrats – voted against the bill.

As NHPR’s Todd Bookman reported:

 

Nine North Country representatives voted in favor of a bill that requires women to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion and three voted against.

As NHPR’s Josh Rogers reported:

The so-called women’s right to know bill had to be pared back to win final house passage.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

 

A live World War II era hand grenade was found at the Moore Reservoir in Littleton Sunday.  NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

 

The grenade was found by two men using a metal detector in an area that would normally have been under water.

“They were very surprised. They were hoping to find, I think, a little bit more valuable item.”

That’s Littleton police officer James Gardiner.

“They told me they found a penny, an old New Hampshire token and then the grenade. They are done with today’s metal detecting.”

 

Sen. John Gallus, a Republican from Berlin who represents the North Country, was among 19 senators voting last week in favor of a new and more restrictive voter identification measure.

Sen. Gallus Supports Lynch Veto Of Payday Loans

Mar 25, 2012

 

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.

How North Country Reps Voted on Right-To-Work Bill

Mar 15, 2012

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.

Celina Cass Stepfather Questioned Before Grand Jury

Mar 12, 2012
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.

How North Country Reps Voted On Marijuana Bill

Mar 9, 2012

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:

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