Portsmouth

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.

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.

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