seacoast

Emily Corwin for NHPR

A fire sparked at a historic Portsmouth building built in 1880 required upward of 75 firefighters to battle the flames that began in a first-floor restaurant and burned its way through the roof.

The Portsmouth Herald reports the initial damage assessment for the Portsmouth Gas Light Co. building is $2.1 million.

Fire Chief Steven Achilles says no one was injured in the blaze. It was first reported just after 10 a.m. Wednesday by firefighters training on the city's fire boat in the Piscataqua River.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

  Firefighters from at least eight seacoast towns spent two hours fighting what Operations Chief James Heinz calls “heavy fire” in downtown Portsmouth.  The flames went from the second floor to the attic of both the Gaslight and Altrezzi, a kitchen accessories store next door.  

By 1pm, water was raining down from the ceiling to the first floor of the Gaslight.

“There’s only a few four-alarm fires in Portsmouth a year,” he says.  Heinz also called the conditions “ideal,” saying there were few occupants, and no wind.

Emily Corwin

  It’s been one year since James Beard award-winning chef Evan Mallett had an epiphany. “We were on a vacation that culminated in a meal at a restaurant called Saturne,” Mallett recalls, “an amazingly expensive meal with the love of my life in Paris.”

File Photo

 After two years of conflict, a Newington company got the green light today to bring propane by rail to the New Hampshire Seacoast.  

  On Friday, the state’s Site Evaluation Committee voted to allow the propane company SEA-3 to expand its facility without a year-long evaluation process.

The decision came after opponents agreed to drop objections in exchange for additional safety measures, paid for by SEA-3. The agreement limits railcar traffic and includes fire safety measures paid for by SEA-3. 

Emily Corwin

A Newington company that wants to transport propane by rail on the Seacoast has reached an unexpected deal with neighbors who have stood in opposition to the project for two years. 

The tentative agreement limits railcar traffic and includes fire safety measures paid for by SEA-3, which hopes to bring in American propane over tracks between Newfields and an expanded facility in Newington. 

Emily Corwin / NHPR

A multi-year conflict between a Newington propane company and its neighbors comes to a head this week as state regulators decide whether the company can expand immediately, or must undergo a year-long evaluation.

On the surface, Planning Board and court decisions have favored the propane company. But opponents say despite apparent setbacks, they have succeeded in stalling the project, and extracting concessions.

SEA-3 Wants To Bring Propane In By Rail

A Portsmouth Auxiliary Police officer submitted his resignation letter Wednesday to get out from under a gag order imposed by the city’s police department.

The gag order was part of a case involving a now-fired police officer accepting an inheritance from a neighbor.  The department placed Officer Connors under the gag order more than a year ago after he spoke with a local newspaper about the now-fired Portsmouth police Sargeant Aaron Goodwin.

A New Hampshire city is urging the U.S. Board of Geographic Names to restore the Cocheco River's historic spelling.

The river's name used to end in e-c-h-o instead of e-c-o, but officials say the New Hampshire Secretary of State's office removed the "h'' by mistake in 1828.

Foster's Daily Democrat reports Dover city councilors unanimously approved a recommendation Wednesday to go back to the original spelling.

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.

Emily Corwin

On Sunday, female activists in dozens of locations around the world went topless. Their goal: to encourage women to go topless anywhere that men do. To the dismay of local lawmakers, over 500 women signed up on Facebook to participate at a Hampton Beach event in New Hampshire. 

"It’s so rainy out. There’s some people on the beach not very many. But I did just see a woman walk by with a sweatshirt on but unzipped and nothing on underneath so I guess this is really happening here."

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The city of Somersworth is trying to restrict panhandling.

Foster's Daily Democrat reports the Somersworth City Council passed an ordinance Monday stating that people are no longer allowed to give or receive items from vehicle occupants on roadways.

Both the panhandler and drivers could be fined up to $500.

Councilor David Witham said residents have expressed fear and frustration about aggressive panhandlers on the roadways. He insisted it is a safety issue.

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. 

File Photo

The state Department of Health and Human Services says it's still determining if it can proceed with another round of blood tests for people exposed to contaminants at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth. 

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. 

Seacoast Charter School

An Arts and Music Charter School on the Seacoast that had faced closure is now likely to stay open.

The Seacoast Charter School has been trying to raise money to stay open since it learned its current lease from Sanborn Regional School District in Kingston wouldn’t be renewed.  The school needed to raise $125,000 by the end of May to lease a new space in Stratham. 

Seacoast Charter School Principal Peter Durso says the school met that goal through the efforts of teachers, parents, and some deep pocketed youngsters.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Two cities and eleven individuals will have the chance to weigh in on propane company SEA-3’s controversial project in Newington. 

The state’s Site Evaluation Committee is in the middle of evaluating whether to approve SEA-3’s request to expand. SEC evaluations can take up to a year, and SEA-3 has requested an exemption to speed it up. 

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

https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Strafford_County,_New_Hampshire_Genealogy

The mayors of Dover, Somersworth and Rochester have created a commission to pool municipal resources. 

As cities go, these cities are on the small side, with populations from 12,000 to 30,000. Rochester Mayor T.J. Jean says he hopes together, the tri-city commission can find economies of scale through collective purchasing and other measures. 

"Each community is going to send two representatives to bring ideas and discuss ideas on how we might be able to work together so we aren’t all spending the same amount of money on the same things," he says.

Town of Rye

Some Seacoast towns voted down major capital projects, although residents in New Castle, it turns out, will have a second chance at one of their warrant articles.

In Rye, residents voted not to spend $4 million dollars to renovate their town hall. In North Hampton, a simple majority favored a $7 million new library, and safety complex: but a super majority was needed to pass the measure.

www.seacoastsciencecenter.org

The Seacoast Science Center’s Marine Mammal Rescue Team just wrapped up its inaugural year.

The team took over responding to rescue calls for seals and other stranded mammals in coastal New Hampshire last January.

The New England Aquarium in Boston previously handled those duties.

Ashley Stokes is rescue coordinator for the Marine Mammal Rescue Team.

She joins Morning Edition to talk about the group’s efforts.

Erwin Bernal via Flickr CC

Create an album in twenty-eight days - that's the idea behind the RPM Challenge. Those taking part have to create ten songs, or thirty-five minutes of original material, all of which has to be written and recorded during the month of February. 

Emily Corwin for NHPR

The unlicensed New Hampshire driver charged with plowing into a group of bicyclists last year, killing two Massachusetts women, is set to plead guilty.

Darriean Hess is scheduled to plead guilty Monday to two counts each of manslaughter and second-degree assault.

Police say the 20-year-old Seabrook woman was ticketed for speeding Sept. 21, 2013. Eight hours later, she was speeding on the same road and under the influence of drugs when she ran into the cyclists in Hampton.

photologue_np via flickr Creative Commons

The Seacoast area is expected to see the greatest job growth in New Hampshire over the next decade.

That’s according to a report issued Wednesday by the state employment office.

The report projects 10-percent job growth statewide, with 14.7 percent growth in the Seacoast region, while only 4.8 percent in the North Country.

The report cites the dispersed population and geographic isolation of the North Country as major reasons for its slow projected growth.

Maddie DeSantis

  When it comes to our state’s economic future, policymakers and business leaders bemoan New Hampshire’s aging population and the state’s failure to lure young people back to the state after college.  Usually, jobs are seen as the antidote. But in Somersworth, a youth renaissance is taking place thanks not to any employer – but to the strength of twelve millennials’ childhood bonds.

First, picture Somersworth. It’s got a couple pizza and sub shops, a pawn shop, a thrift store, and like in a lot of old New England mill towns, that’s about it.

Via Wikimedia Commons

New Hampshire Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen say the annual defense bill has provisions that authorize funding for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the Pease Air National Guard Base.

The senators, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, say the bill authorizes the procurement of two Virginia Class submarines and funding at the shipyard, based in Kittery, Maine.

Funding also is included for the KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling tanker program at Pease. The new tankers will replace the Air Force's current fleet of 1950s-era KC-135s.

Emily Corwin for NHPR

An unlicensed New Hampshire driver charged with driving into a group of bicyclists last year, killing two of them, is facing a Friday deadline to let a judge know if she will enter a guilty plea.

Related: Click here to see a photo gallery of the aftermath of the crash.

Police said 20-year-old Darriean Hess of Seabrook was speeding and under the influence of drugs when she ran into the bicyclists in Hampton. Hess was stopped for speeding in the same area hours earlier.

Chris Luczkow via Flickr CC

A judge has ruled that the public can use private land to get to Rye Beach because they've been doing so for more than 20 years.

The case was brought by 24-year Rye resident Robert Jesurum. The Sanders Poynt property and adjacent Wentworth by the Sea Country Club are owned by Bill Binnie.

The Portsmouth Herald reports that Superior Court Judge Marguerite Wageling said her ruling "may extend not only to beach access, but to parking and boat-launching rights." That will be determined later.

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.

Four N.H. Senate and two Executive Council candidates debated a range of issues in Portsmouth Monday night. The forum was hosted by a new nonprofit dedicated to engaging young adults in the democratic process, called The 603 Initiative.

Republican candidate for NH Senate District 21, Phil Nazzaro argued the state should reduce its taxes on business profits tax. But Longtime Democratic incumbent Martha Fuller Clark said NH needs that revenue:  

https://www.flickr.com/people/35626429@N08

Ships bearing West African flags do not pose health risks to Granite Staters, says Geno Marconi, Director of Ports and Harbors in New Hampshire.

Marconi says the Port of New Hampshire has received calls from citizens concerned about the transmission of the Ebola virus.

However, Marconi says, ships are often registered in Monrovia, Liberia, because of that country’s relaxed tax laws.

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