Portsmouth

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The US says it will open its doors to at least 10,000 refugees fleeing turmoil in Syria, but that doesn’t mean open arms. Today, we’ll learn about the detention process that keeps asylum seekers behind bars for months – even years – in hidden facilities across the country. Plus, a look at the upcoming lineup for this weekend’s New Hampshire Film Festival – including a documentary about the Gore Vidal vs. William F. Buckley debates that turned televised political debates into blood sport. 

City of Portsmouth

 

The Portsmouth Police Commission has failed to endorse an agreement that would allow the city's police chief to continue working for another three months.

Chief Stephen DuBois announced in September that he was going to resign. The original agreement debated Monday would've ended his employment in March 2016. The new agreement would've accepted the chief's resignation in January and included an additional three months of severance pay.

The Commission split a vote endorsing the agreement Wednesday and voted to continue it until Oct. 20.

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Portsmouth Police Chief Stephen DuBois will resign, effective March 28, 2016.

DuBois became chief in early 2012 after 19 years on the force.

The resignation is voluntary. It comes one month after a judge ruled against now-fired Portsmouth police Sergeant Aaron Goodwin.  Goodwin’s inheritance of now diseased Geraldine Webber’s $2 million estate was contested by beneficiaries from an earlier will.

Portsmouth Police Department

  Police in Portsmouth have created a public service announcement video they hope will help the community fight heroin abuse.

The video, called "It's Time, Let's Talk," is aimed at breaking the stigma that comes with substance abuse and urging people to ask for help.

You can watch the video here.

Officials say it highlights that combating substance abuse is a complex medical issue and not simply a criminal matter, and that fighting it will take a collected effort.

Paul Goddin via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/rZZE1N

An Uber official has sent a letter to Portsmouth's City Council asking it to make changes to a new transportation services ordinance.

The ordinance calls for ride-sharing companies like Uber or taxi drivers that operate in Portsmouth to have commercial personal injury and property damage liability insurance coverage and prove to the police department that each driver has had a background check.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

The 14th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center will be particularly momentous in Portsmouth. Last month, that city received an artifact from the wreckage which they will use to memorialize the tragedy.

Courtesy photo

Portsmouth City Council isn't allowing the Prescott Park Arts Festival to have concerts on school nights next year.

The Portsmouth Herald reports the council voted unanimously Tuesday to pass a motion prohibiting the festival from holding concerts on school nights.

Mayor Robert Lister proposed the measure after councilors received complaints from residents when the arts festival held a concert at the city-owned park on a school night last week.

Courtesy Photo

A proposal to launch a high-speed ferry service from Portsmouth to Cape Cod has ignited a debate.

The Portsmouth Herald reports tugboat pilot Chris Holt raised concerns about the plan Thursday at a Pease Development Authority Port Committee meeting. He says a ferry has been tried before at the Port of New Hampshire and it "didn't fly." He also questioned how the ferry would operate in and out of the port due to the strong Piscataqua River current.

Promote Our Port president Bob Hassold says he used to be a tugboat pilot and that the ferry could easily navigate the river.

File photo

Citizen activists in Portsmouth are asking the city and state to consider a ferry from the Port of New Hampshire to Provincetown. 

The group – which calls itself “Promote Our Port,” made its case at city hall. Their audience included a staffer from US Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office, state Senator Martha Fuller-Clark, and City Manager John Bohenko.

For now the port is being used as a staging area for the new Sarah Long Bridge.

The city of Portsmouth is trying to overturn a neighboring town’s approval of a controversial propane rail project. On Tuesday, a Superior Court judge heard arguments from attorneys on both sides.

The controversial Sea-3 rail expansion project would ship propane from fracking sites in the American West to their expanded Newington facility.  And it would run through Portsmouth. 

RICH BEAUCHESNE/SEACOASTONLINE

A retired Portsmouth police officer who was placed under a gag order after talking to a local newspaper is suing the city, as well as the city’s Police Chief and Police Commission.

The police department put retired officer John Connors under a gag order almost a year ago, after he talked to the Portsmouth Herald about Detective Aaron Goodwin.

Goodwin inherited $2.7 million from an elderly Portsmouth woman who lived next door to Connors. Goodwin was fired last month after an independent investigation.  The inheritance is now pending in probate court.

The Port of New Hampshire will get $5 million to make it easier for ships to turn around.  The money is part of the state’s capital budget that Governor Hassan signed into law this week. The capital budget also includes increased funds for the new women's prison in Concord.

Port Project

Back in 1984, the Army Corps of Engineers recommended five port improvement projects. Four have been completed. With this additional $5 million from the capital budget paired with $14 million more from the feds, the final project can get underway. 

Photo by Rich Beauchesne/Seacoastonline

Portsmouth Police Sgt. Aaron Goodwin was fired last week, after an independent report cited him for several ethics violations for accepting a disputed $2.7 million inheritance.

But the story doesn’t end there, as the controversy has raised questions about the future of the city's police commission.

A judge also has yet to rule on whether he can keep the money.

Elizabeth Dinan is a reporter for the Portsmouth Herald.

She’s been following the story and joined NHPR's Morning Edition to give us the latest.

Mirko Isaia / Flickr, creative commons

Portsmouth will host its first Pride festival this weekend. Festival organizers say the festival has been in the works since early winter.  Now that the Supreme Court upheld gay marriage in all 50 states, Seacoast Outright board chair Chuck Rhoades says, "I think there’s a little extra oomph, a little extra joy, and another reason to celebrate."

Seacoast Outright is a nonprofit that supports LGBT youth.  The organization faced funding and volunteer shortages last year. With a new board and director, Rhoades says, the group is revitalizing. 

From The Archives: N.H.'s Own Witch Hunt

Jun 18, 2015

Most New Englanders have likely heard of the Salem Witch Trials – a particularly notorious episode in colonial Massachusetts that resulted in the executions of 20 people for suspected witchcraft in 1692 and 1693. Less widely known is that over three decades earlier, Portsmouth, N.H. had its own witch hunt chapter. From the archives this week, we dig into reporter Robbie Honig's June 1988 story.


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

  Police in Portsmouth say they’re investigating what may be another heroin-related death.

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This week Portsmouth holds a series of public events ahead of next weekend’s formal dedication of the Portsmouth African Burying Ground.

The public park is the city’s way to mark the final resting places of enslaved individuals as well as free African-Americans who were buried centuries ago but only fully rediscovered more recently.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

For over ten years, the city of Portsmouth has been trying to decide whether and where to build a second downtown parking garage.  On Monday night, city councilors voted unanimously to bond a $23 million new garage.

Of the 150 or so people who packed City Hall, more than 50 testified in favor of the garage; four testified against it.  Pressure was on for the three city councilors who had indicated uncertainty over the project.

Garage Enthusiasts

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

Officials in Portsmouth are set to vote Monday night on a proposed $23.2 million downtown parking garage.

The city council is scheduled to hold a public hearing before voting on the proposal.

The six-story parking garage is expected to create an additional 600 new parking spots downtown.

Hundreds of people have signed a petition opposed to the project.

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

Portsmouth is hosting a community forum Monday night on the issue of heroin use.

The city has seen several heroin and opioid-related deaths already this year; it's part of a dramatic growth in drug overdose deaths in the state. Last week a 28 year old man died in the woods with heroin paraphernalia nearby.

Courtesy/Alyssa Grenning

A new home for 3S Artspace in Portsmouth opens this week.

The renovated facility will feature a music venue, an art gallery, artist studios, and a restaurant.

Chris Greiner is executive of director of 3S Artspace.

He joined Morning Edition to talk about the new facility.

You’ve talked about this new art space filling a unique niche that’s lacking on the Seacoast. Many already see the area as having a rich arts and culture scene, so what do mean by that?

Liz West via Flickr CC

A ceremony is scheduled to mark the start of construction at an aging bridge that connects New Hampshire and Maine.

The 70-year-old Sarah Mildred Long Bridge connects Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Kittery, Maine. It is rated structurally deficient.

On Monday at 10 a.m., dignitaries from both states are gathering at the Kittery Community Center at Frisbee Common to mark the official start of the project. Members of the public will have a chance to sign a commemorative construction trestle that will be installed on the project later in the week.

The City of Portsmouth says that drivers for ride-booking companies such as Uber meet the city's definition of taxi drivers and are subject to the same regulations.

The Portsmouth Herald reports that at a city meeting Wednesday night, cab drivers applauded the city's position. The city did not rule on whether to shut down an Uber driver currently operating in the city, as the cabbies had asked.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

About 80 people gathered in Market Square in Portsmouth Friday night to show solidarity with African American victims of police brutality.

A few people of color stood among a largely white crowd. Some stood quietly, others chanted "We Shall Overcome." 

PaMela Ramsay held a sign reading “Black Lives Matter.” She’s a third generation Portsmouth Native, and African American. "It's always been very white here," she said, "and it's extremely encouraging, extremely emotional, and I'm just so happy to see all these people who would support people of color."

Matt M. / flickr, creative commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/41348459@N00/3457301638

  This week the Portsmouth police department launches a new program called “Cops on Corners,” in an effort to make department operations more transparent.

Deputy Police Chief Corey MacDonald says the community events are a response both to local tensions and a national conversation arising out of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. He says “the goal here is to get out in front of the public, go neighborhood by neighborhood --because different neighborhoods have different issues -- and just meet with people.”

Min Lee via Flickr CC

New Hampshire health, environment and wildlife officials are holding a public meeting on shellfish rules for 2015.

The information session set for Tuesday night in Portsmouth will be an opportunity for the public to hear about a dye tracking study that traced effluent flows from the Pierce Island wastewater treatment facility to Little Harbor and areas of Portsmouth Harbor out to Odiorne Point. Officials say that study indicates that shellfish harvesting in those areas need to be closed.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

The last of the scrap metal has been loaded onto a cargo ship and is headed out of Portsmouth this weekend. The scrap company Grimmel Industries had operated on the port for about 10 years. 

The Pease Development Authority voted earlier this year not to renew the scrap company’s lease after years of pressure from  the scrap yard's neighbors and environmental advocates.

Jasperdo via flickr Creative Commons

Among the things we take for granted in today’s America is knowing the time, which makes transportation, business and national events possible. This, however, was not always the case.

On today’s show, from building sewers to standardizing time, we’ll talk about the invisible innovations that got us where we are today. Then, we’ll take a look back to a controversial figure at the center of Portsmouth’s historic preservation movement, Miss Dorothy Vaughan.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Beth LaMontagne Hall for NHPR

Walk along any street near downtown Portsmouth and you’ll likely hear the buzz of a moped motor. Recently, these small motorbikes have been whizzing along Portsmouth’s streets in greater numbers and packs of scooters can often be found parked along the sidewalks and in alleyways near the Portsmouth waterfront.

But this rise in moped ridership – and where they’ve been parking – has raised some concerns among business owners and city officials.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

The streets of Portsmouth appear peaceful and idyllic this last week of summer. But just beneath the surface, all is not well in the Port City. On the Seacoast, recent responses to ongoing noise complaints have residents here in an uproar. 

Things got really crazy in Portsmouth on Tuesday. That’s when the Prescott Park Arts Festival canceled their end-of-the-season double feature film night after neighbors complained the noise would keep their kids up too late.

It was supposed to be 'Brave,' combined with 'Braveheart.'

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