Portsmouth

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This weekend, the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program is celebrating 20 years of building community around poetry. It's considered one of the oldest municipal laureate programs in the country that provides a stipend and support for the laureate. Each laureate launches a project that's meant to bring poetry into the community. Bill Burtis is the co-chair of the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Board of Trustees. He spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello.

How did the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program come to be?

WPS Geography

Environmentalists will kick off a new campaign for clean energy development in Portsmouth Wednesday.

The League of Conservation Voters' "Clean Energy for All" project spans 30 states, including New Hampshire.

State Director Rob Werner says they're unveiling the campaign in Portsmouth because zeroing out greenhouse gas emissions and using all renewable sources of power are now part of that city's energy policy goals.

Maine DOT

 

A  replacement for a 76-year-old bridge connecting New Hampshire and Maine opened to traffic on Friday after months-long delays caused friction between transportation officials and the contractor.

Sarah Mildred Long Bridge replaces an old span that connected Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Kittery, Maine, along the Route 1 Bypass over the Piscataqua River.

Courtesy of U.S. Navy

The second ship to have the name U.S.S. Manchester will officially get that title during a commissioning ceremony on May 26th in Portsmouth.

The U.S. Navy, along with the ship’s official sponsor Senator Jeanne Shaheen, made the announcement on Thursday at an event inside the Manchester Millyard Museum.

“We could not be more excited to have this addition to our longstanding tradition of contributing here in New Hampshire to our national defense,” said Shaheen.

Via USGS.gov

The city of Portsmouth says it expects to release a trove of documents about toxic waste cleanup at Coakley Landfill Superfund Site around the end of this month.

It comes as a group of Seacoast lawmakers files suit to get records from the entities responsible for that pollution, known together as the Coakley Landfill Group. 

Jason Moon for NHPR

In Portsmouth, students had planned a walkout for the morning but it was interrupted by the snow storm, which caused a delayed school opening.

But that didn’t keep Portsmouth students from having their message heard.

Police in a New Hampshire city are making efforts to address loud motorcycles in Portsmouth.

Police Chief Robert Merner says he is aware of a proposed ordinance currently in a Senate committee that would ban "motorcycle-only checkpoints," but adds he has ordered decibel reading equipment for his officers to be used citywide.

The Portsmouth Herald reports Merner says enforcement of noise levels will begin in the spring during motorcycle season.

DOT

The Maine and New Hampshire Departments of Transportation just issued an update on the delayed opening of the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge: Despite rumors about why it's delayed, the bridge is "operational and safe."

Peter Biello/NHPR

Last week the VFW Post 168's bar and banquet hall on Deer Street in Portsmouth was sold. Mounting costs and competition prompted the sale, leaving members of the VFW without a permanent home. 

The day after that sale, an NHPR producer and I went to Portsmouth to learn more about what this means for the veterans who used it, and what the new owner has planned. 

 

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Portsmouth businessman Deaglan McEachern announced his candidacy for Congress in an email blast on Wednesday, becoming the seventh Democrat to enter the race in the First District.

McEachern is a well-known name in state Democratic circles: his father Paul ran for Governor several times. Deaglan, 34, is a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and UC Berkeley, who went on to row competitively for Cambridge University and the U.S. national team.

“As Americans, we are stronger when we pull together,” he writes on his website.

USPS

Portraits of the President and Vice President will no longer hang in the Portsmouth Post Office.

People in New Hampshire and surrounding states spotted a suspected meteor streaking across the sky Tuesday night.

The American Meteor Society has received more than 200 reports of the suspected meteor, with sightings from western Connecticut to Bangor, Maine. People report seeing a streak of light blaze up the sky around 6pm Tuesday, some for as long as seven-seconds.

Images captured in Portsmouth shows a brilliant white tail of light-- a suspected interplanetary chunk of debris-- zipping over the Piscataqua.

Marty Watts / Aira

It’s a Saturday night in at the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth. Hundreds of people are here to experience some vintage Christmas charm at the annual Candlelight Stroll.

Gene Lavoie, dressed in her puffy white coat, is eager to join them. But first, she puts on a pair of futuristic looking glasses.

Lavoie is visually impaired. She has some sight, but not enough to get around on her own. She’s hoping the new glasses she just put on will help that.

***This story has lots of sound -- we highly recommend listening.***

A former Portsmouth police officer and the city of Portsmouth have agreed to settle a lawsuit regarding an alleged violation of whistleblower rights.

In 2014, Portsmouth police officer Jon Connors gave an interview to the Portsmouth Herald. He told them he often saw fellow officer Aaron Goodwin at the home of his wealthy neighbor, Geraldine Webber.

A judge would later rule that former-Officer Goodwin exerted undue influence over Webber to get her to change her will to benefit him.

Peter Biello / NHPR

And now it’s time for Foodstuffs, our regular look at food and food culture in the Granite State.

A new beer on tap at Portsmouth Brewery does more than give you a buzz. It aims to ease the symptoms of menopause. It’s called Libeeration, and several years ago, when Joanne Francis pitched the idea to her colleagues at the brewery, the men didn’t get it.

"It was met with nothing short of disdain and horror," she says. "And I'm not exaggerating when I say that."

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Several dozen people attended a public hearing Monday evening in Portsmouth to weigh in on a proposed increase in the state’s highway tolls.

Keith Shields/NHPR

A Connecticut construction company faces $330,000 in fines after federal officials found its workers were exposed to mercury at a job site in Portsmouth earlier this year.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, says Manafort Brothers, Inc., failed to protect its workers from repeated exposures to high levels of mercury.

City officials in Portsmouth have upheld a decision to prohibit a couple from renting out a second home through AirBnB.

Portsmouth couple Matthew Beebe and Barbara Jenny bought the house next door with the intention that one day their daughter will live in it.

In the meantime, they planned to rent out the house through AirBnB. But before they got the chance, the city served them with a cease-and-desist letter.

The city says the home, which is in a residentially zoned area, can’t be used for short-term rentals without a special exemption.

Richard Bartz / Wikimedia Commons

Officials have shut down a New Hampshire playground after it appears to have become infested by yellow jackets.

WMUR-TV reports the wasps can be seen all over the Portsmouth Plains Playground, which is now closed as of Tuesday. Portsmouth Recreation Director Russ Wilson says they almost had to cancel a nearby high school soccer game because one of the teams complained wasps were flying around the field.

Police in Portsmouth say they are planning to crack down on loud motorcycles.

According to state law, an idling motorcycle should be no louder than 92 decibels. But knowing whether a motorcycle exceeds that limit requires police to have specialized gear and training.

Portsmouth Police Captain Frank Warchol says in the past, his department has relied on state police to catch offenders.

Now, in response to complaints from residents, Warchol says the Portsmouth PD is investing in the equipment and training it needs to enforce the law on its own.

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

The Portsmouth City Council has banned the use of what it calls ‘synthetic toxic pesticides’ in public spaces, citing concerns about public health.

The new policy is largely aimed at weed killing chemicals the city sprays on sidewalks and streets.

Portsmouth city councilor Jim Splaine put forward the motion, which was approved Monday night.

“We may be tonight adopting New Hampshire’s first very clear and strong position against synthetic toxic pesticides. This is a step in the right direction.”

The Granite State is graying and has been for decades - so what does that mean for the state's younger population? Today, we're taking to the streets to investigate one listener's question: Why does Portsmouth shut down at 9:00pm?

Then, we talk to Stay, Work, Play New Hampshire - whose goal is attracting more 20 and 30 somethings to the state, and we'll learn about the built-in advantages of living in a state the size of New Hampshire.

And we'll hear from singer and cellist Ben Sollee ahead of his performance in Concord at the Cap Center.

A new report says the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is in poor condition and unable to keep up with the demands of the Navy.

The report comes from the legislative watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office. It paints a bleak picture of the nation’s four public naval shipyards, including the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

It says the aging facilities together have racked up deferred maintenance costs of almost 5 billion dollars.

Allegra Boverman

Gov. Chris Sununu  says he will introduce legislation to rename a bridge in Portsmouth after former Republican Executive Councilor Ruth Griffin.

Griffin says she thought the Republican governor was joking when he mentioned it to her, and she is overwhelmed with joy by the gesture. The Portsmouth Herald reports  in addition to serving as executive councilor, Griffin also served in the New Hampshire Senate and House of Representatives during her decades-long political career.

After years of debate about what to do about the city's parking problems, the city of Portsmouth will break ground on a new parking garage this week.

Portsmouth City Councilor Brad Lown says the city has been struggling with a parking shortage for more than 10 years.

“We’ve been told by a number of people that the parking shortage is acute that people aren’t going downtown -- people that might otherwise go downtown, not only residents but visitors, too.”

Jason Moon - NHPR

Schools in Portsmouth started a bit later this week—at 8:20 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. The idea is that if kids are allowed to sleep later, they’ll be better prepared to learn once they get to school. Schools in the towns of Durham, Madbury, and Lee as well as the Inter-Lakes School District in the Laconia area also are starting late this year.

Steve Zadravec is superintendent of Portsmouth's schools. He’s been a supporter of these later start times. He spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello.

The state liquor store near the Portsmouth traffic circle is set to receive a major upgrade.

The new building will be double the size of the existing liquor store and will offer some 6,000 different sizes and varieties of wines and spirits.

Joseph Mollica is Chairman of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission. He says replacing the old building is expected to generate a 10 percent increase in sales.

“The selection just isn’t there and we’re missing the boat. It’s time to step it up and get that store done.”

Library of Congress

Islands can be calm, quiet, isolated places where you can remove yourself from the stress of mainland life. Or, they can serve a more transactional purpose: a place to put people you don’t want to have around. Think Alcatraz, or Elba, where Napoleon was exiled.

Well, off the coast of Portsmouth, there are islands that were also used to remove and isolate certain individuals. Individuals who sometimes figured out novel ways to entertain themselves. 

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.

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