Portsmouth

Jason Moon for NHPR

The Portsmouth City Council is changing the way it interacts with the public.

After a spirited debate Monday night, Portsmouth City Councilors voted 7-1 to replace every other meeting’s public comment period with a public dialogue session.

The dialogue session would allow councilors to respond to members of the public directly, something they can’t do during public comments.

Mayor Jack Blalock spoke in favor of the changes.  He said it's meant to increase public engagement in city council meetings.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Officials in the New Hampshire city of Portsmouth are praising a new bike sharing program after two months of operating.

According to a report by Planning Director Juliet Walker, there were 548 bike rentals in a two-month period following the Zagster bike sharing program's launch on May 3. The Portsmouth Herald reports Zagster allows people to rent bikes from kiosks throughout the city.

Walker says Portsmouth pays $54,000 a year to lease 30 bikes and six stations. Zagster returns money from membership fees to the city after deducting a 7 percent processing fee.

A large federal building occupying prime real estate in Portsmouth is getting one step closer to being turned over to the city.

After almost 15 years of talks with the city about the fate of the Thomas J. McIntyre building in downtown Portsmouth, the federal General Services Administration says it is planning to move out by next fall.

Monika McGillicuddy

 Boston Harbor will host more than 50 tall ships this weekend, bringing thousands of tourists to the area.

But in a break from tradition, there will be no such display of the historic vessels along the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth later this summer.

Organizers of Sail Portsmouth say they’ve had to cancel this year’s tall ships festival due to contractual issues with the event in Boston.

Chad Chadwick is chair of the Piscataqua Maritime Commission, which organizes Sail Portsmouth. He joined NHPR’s Morning Edition.

Portsmouth’s Market Square Day takes place Saturday. It’s the annual event’s 40th year.

The festival kicks off with a 10k road race at 9am and continues with street vendors and live music until 4pm.

It’s hosted by the non-profit group Pro Portsmouth. Barbara Massar is Executive Director.

“Altogether we probably accepted 170 vendors this year. So if you stand in Market Square and look in four directions, you’re going to see –beyond a sea of people—you’re going to see rows and rows of tents.”

Downtown Portsmouth.
Squirrel Flight via Flickr/Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/squirrelflight/1355544138/in/photostream/

Nashua and Portsmouth have joined a growing number of cities around the country committing to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

In the days since President Donald Trump decided to pull the U.S. out of the global climate accord, over 270 mayors across the country have signed on to a plan to stay in.

Now the cities of Portsmouth and Nashua have added their names to the list. Jack Blalock is mayor of Portsmouth.

The man poised to be the new chief of police in Portsmouth is accused of assault in a pending civil suit.

Robert Merner stands accused of assault while on duty as a Boston police officer in 2013.

Merner denies the allegations, which were the basis of an earlier lawsuit dismissed by a judge in Massachusetts.

Jason Moon / NHPR

Beginning Tuesday, Portsmouth residents and visitors can participate in the city’s new bike sharing program.

Riders will be able to rent bicycles from five stations around downtown Portsmouth for trips of up to two hours.

The three-year pilot program is operated by a company called Zagster, which runs about 150 bike shares around the country.

Juliet Walker is a Planning Director with the city of Portsmouth. She says the program is just one part of a larger strategy to help alleviate parking and traffic congestion downtown.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Employees of businesses damaged by a major fire in Portsmouth will have a chance to connect with unemployment benefits on Wednesday.

The state Department of Resources and Economic Development is hosting what it calls a ‘rapid response jobs event’ after a major fire damaged businesses in downtown Portsmouth earlier this week.

Jason Moon/NHPR

This story includes details from an earlier story.

The air was still thick with smoke this morning as crowds gathered near Market Square to watch fire crews put out the last hot spots in what used to be the State Street Saloon. The building also housed 14 apartment units.

Jason Moon for NHPR

This story has been updated.

The air was still thick with smoke this morning as crowds gathered near Market Square to watch fire crews put out the last hot spots in what used to be the State Street Saloon. The building also housed 14 apartment units.

The Portsmouth City Council is considering a ban on single-use plastic bags – like the kind you get at the supermarket or drug store.

But despite seeking clarification from the Attorney General and Department of Environmental Services, the City of Portsmouth isn’t entirely sure it has the power to regulate plastic bags.

Wikimedia Commons

Ona Judge, a runaway slave who evaded George Washington himself, lived most of her on New Hampshire’s Seacoast after gaining her freedom. Her story isn't well known, but there are many who are working to keep Judge’s history – and the history of the black community in Portsmouth – alive.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

As President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees garners strong reaction from around the country, officials in Durham and Portsmouth have begun discussions about potentially declaring themselves sanctuary cities.

Officials in both communities say they’ve heard from residents about the idea, possibly as part of a coordinated campaign.

via Portsmouthwastewater.com

A group of residents in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, have sued the city, state, and federal government, saying an upgraded wastewater treatment plant under construction lacks the capacity to handle sewer needs.

The Portsmouth Herald reports the group filed the suit in federal court in Concord on Wednesday under provisions of the Clean Water Act. It also believes the Peirce Island plant is using the wrong technology because the city wanted to build it there, rather than at Pease International Tradeport.

Meghann Beauchamp

To vote, or not to vote – that is the question in Catherine Stewart’s new play “She Will Lead” at the West End Studio Theatre in Portsmouth.  NHPR’s Sean Hurley attended the show and hoped to find the answer to a second question:  Can a play about the 2016 Presidential Election change minds about the election?   

UNH Art Department

Climate change is by and large an issue discussed by scientists, but a current show at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth is devoted to the topic. 

“Rise: Climate Change in Our World” is an exhibition featuring work by current students, alumni, technical staff and faculty from UNH.  The UNH art department collaborated with NextGen Climate NH, an environmental advocacy organization and 3S Artspace. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Donald Trump is back in New Hampshire for a rally in Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon.

This is the first time the Republican presidential nominee has been in the Granite State since a 2005 video surfaced showing him boasting of groping women. 

Feel like singing a forebitter?  Portsmouth is hosting its 17th Annual Folk Festival on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 23rd through 25th. 

Jason Moon for NHPR

For families going through a difficult time, whether financially or emotionally, it’s sometimes the simpler things that make a difference. NHPR’s Jason Moon reports on a program in Portsmouth that offers one of those simple things – a meal and a little time to relax.

Sara Plourde, NHPR

At thirteen miles in length, New Hampshire has the shortest coastline of any US state (excluding those with no coast at all). But what it lacks in distance, it makes up for in vibrancy. As part of our series Life on the Seacoast, I traveled the full length of NH's coast, along Highway Route 1, stopping each mile to document the happenings and the habitats on the way.

Click here to view the photo essay in its entirety.

Photo via bringfido.com

A federal judge in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has rejected a request to delay ruling on a deal to upgrade the Peirce Island wastewater plant.

The Portsmouth Herald reports that the tentative deal between Portsmouth and the federal Environmental Protection Agency spells out the type of sewer plant the city must build on the island and its timeline for construction.

via Portsmouthwastewater.com

The Environmental Protection Agency has asked a federal judge to approve a deal reached with the city of Portsmouth about an $83.4 million plan to upgrade the existing Peirce Island wastewater treatment plant.

The Portsmouth Herald reports that the agreement, called the second consent decree, lays out the timetable for building the new plant. It has to be entered by the court before it can go into effect.

k2parn / Flickr/CC

With its 'lily-white' reputation, the Granite State doesn't often highlight the role that people of color have played throughout its history. A new documentary aims to reveal those hidden stories though, and their importance to the state's history. 


Via Port City Moped

Portsmouth's parking and transportation engineer has recommended that the Parking and Traffic Safety Committee approve an ordinance forcing moped drivers to pay for parking on city sidewalks.

The Portsmouth Herald reports Eric Eby has proposed that drivers of mopeds and "similarly sized motorcycles" be required to display a sticker stating that they comply with the state's legal description of a moped.

Eby says the sticker would be purchased from the Parking Clerk's office for a nominal fee.

Muffet / Flickr Creative Commons

A malfunction during a lift opening on the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Portsmouth was to blame for a 2-hour closure of the bridge that passes over the Piscataqua River into Maine.

State Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton tells The Portsmouth Herald that a span lock on the bridge malfunctioned Wednesday during a 5 p.m. lift opening. Travelers along the U.S. Route 1 Bypass encountered bridge gates that remained closed and a traffic light that refused to turn green.

TV on the Radio & the Penny Poet of Portsmouth

Apr 22, 2016
stevestein1982 via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7aGdeb

Big-budget movies aim to break box office records, not win over critics.  Today, a reporter comes up with a formula to rank the worst-rated, highest grossing movies of all time...and there are a lot of them.

Then, the creators of Naked and Afraid bank on nudity hooking viewers in, but know they can't show the naughty bits during prime time. That's where "the blur man group" comes in.

Plus, we'll speak to a woman who counsels reality TV stars -  a population excessively prone to addiction, depression and suicide - to cope with sudden and fleeting fame.

4.18.16: Small Bombs & the Penny Poet of Portsmouth

Apr 18, 2016
Todd Van Hoosear via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/ozXTre

In the age of global terrorism, some attacks get more attention than others. We got blanket coverage of coordinated bombs in Brussels, but little on explosions in Turkey just nine days before or the devastating suicide bomb in Iraq a week later. Today, the far-reaching effects of "small" bombs - those exploding in Middle Eastern and South Asian cities with alarming regularity that often go ignored.

Then, a writer reflects on her friendship with Robert Dunn, a character seemingly from another age, known as Portsmouth's Penny Poet.

File photo

A committee formed by the mayor of Portsmouth gathered for its first meeting to discuss creating a master plan for a 10-acre park located along the city's waterfront.

The Portsmouth Herald reports that Mayor Jack Blalock's Blue Ribbon Committee on Prescott Park met yesterday to discuss what Blalock called "a very active park with no real coordination."

Blalock says multiple "cooperative interests" make use of the city-owned park, and he believes it's up to Portsmouth to coordinate activities there.

Natasha Haverty

Last night Presidential Candidate Donald Trump came to Portsmouth for a few minutes, to pick up an endorsement from the New England’s police union. 

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