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This Week in N.H. News: Need a Distraction from Campaign Headlines? We Can Help.

Happy Friday! Perhaps, like many people, you could use a break from campaign news right now. (Political nerds, no worries: We still have you covered. Just keep scrolling down.) But for those of you who’d prefer some stress-free, spin-free, smile-inducing reads, we thought we'd try to start things off on a lighter note. Enjoy!

And if you want to make sure not to miss out on our updates, political and otherwise, sign up for our newsletters to get this delivered straight to your inbox every Friday. It only take a few seconds, and you you can do it right here.

Worth A Click

Credit Rebecca Sananes, VPR
A Dartmouth student gets his monthly haircut from Sean Taylor in the basement of a Dartmouth dorm. The college has contracted Taylor, who is from Philadelphia, to provide his services for students who have limited options in the Upper Valley.

Learn how the basement of one Dartmouth dorm doubles as an occasional barbershop, providing a space for both community and cuts for students of color, who, in Northern New England, can struggle to find stylists willing or able to work with a diversity of hair textures. (Story and photo via VPR's Rebecca Sananes)

Click here to meet the vegetarian chef behind some of New Hampshire’s best tacos. 

How’s this for a headline? “Missing mushroomer delays weekend wedding in Landaff.” Luckily, the mushroomer, a relative of the newlyweds, was found safe and sound after veering off course. (Union Leader)

Looking for weekend plans? Check out the 16th annual New Hampshire Film Festival, running in Portsmouth through Sunday. Or head up to Berlin, where they've got water on fire, zombies, and pumpkins on tap for the annual RiverFire festival.

Pumpkins will once again be aglow along the Androscoggin River this weekend as part of the annual RiverFire Festival in Berlin.

An antidote to those creepy clown stories: One Goffstown man is taking his act as a juggling, slapstick character named “Stargazer” on tour with Ringling Bros. — and defending his fellow clowns against all of the negative headlines as of late, while he’s at it. (Eagle Tribune)

Those of you who watched Saturday Night Live's latest episode might have caught a cameo by one Exeter High alumna. The 2014 graduate and NYU junior made an appearance in "Crucible Cast Party," which "depicted high school kids 'letting loose' after a play production." (Seacoast Online) 

A retired painter in Berlin believes he’s found auditory proof, among other forensic evidence, showing that Sasquatch indeed walks among residents of the North Country. (NH1 News)

If you tuned into NHPR at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, you probably heard Garrison Keillor reading the work of a former Granite State poet laureate, Marie Harris. But if you missed it, you can catch it here. (The Writer’s Almanac)

Now, The Political Stuff...

OK, fine. Time to get back to business.

Credit Paige Sutherland, NHPR

FLOTUS Draws Thousands, Drops the Mic at SNHU

In her first major visit to New Hampshire in years, First Lady Michelle Obama drew thousands to SNHU for a rally on Thursday on behalf of Hillary Clinton. The First Lady delivered an emotional rebuke of Donald Trump’s comments about women without once saying the Republican nominee’s name. Get the story.

Trump Tapes Prompt Disavowal, But Only One De-Endorsement

The decade-old audio of Donald Trump boasting about groping women without consent was apparently the final straw for Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who has been walking a fine line with her support for Donald Trump for months. The senator, who faced some backlash fumbling an answer over whether Trump was a “role model” last week, said these newly unearthed comments were “fundamentally different” than the other things he’s said throughout the campaign. Read the story.

But Ayotte, as it stands now, is the only major Granite State Republican — running for office, at least — to dump Trump. Chris Sununu and Rep. Frank Guinta both distanced themselves from Trump’s comments but said nothing’s changed about their support otherwise.

As noted by the Concord Monitor, Congressional candidate Jim Lawrence had not spoken out publicly about the tapes as of earlier this week.

Got Questions for Jim Lawrence?


  Click here to let us know, and you might get an answer. 

We’re sitting down with incumbent Congresswoman Annie Kuster's Republican challenger on Monday for the latest installment in our “Conversations with the Candidates," and we want to know what you’d want to know, if you were leading the conversation. If you’re interested in attending the live taping of the forum, you can reserve your seat here.

SCOTUS on a New England Stage

Who edits a Supreme Court justice? How do you make a legal opinion sound at least somewhat snappy? And what do the people who sit on the nation’s highest court read in their spare time? Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer stopped by the Music Hall in Portsmouth recently for a conversation on his latest book, The Court and the World. You can find that full conversation here. (Photo by David Murray

Breyer also stuck around for a conversation with NHPR’s podcast the 10-Minute Writer’s Workshop, where he weighs in on literary legalese and more. Take a listen

Getting Beyond the Soundbytes on Security in the #NHsen Race

If you’ve been following the twists and turns of the U.S. Senate matchup between incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Gov. Maggie Hassan, you’ve probably heard plenty of rhetoric about which candidate would — according to her supporters — be stronger on national security. But if you’re having trouble getting past the sound bites on this front, we can help: We put together an interactive spelling out Ayotte and Hassan’s positions on cybersecurity, ISIS, Russia and refugees, among other issues. Check it out here.

In Other News...

Fentanyl (Not Heroin) To Blame for Most of N.H.’s Drug Deaths

Here's a breakdown of the opioid-related deaths confirmed by the state so far this year.

 So far this year, at least 286 people have overdosed on drugs in New Hampshire — most of them, about 70 percent, using fentanyl. The actual total could be even higher, though, because it takes several months for the state to review and confirm each suspected overdose case reported to the state crime lab. 

At this rate, though, we’re inching toward another somber record: Officials predict that, by the end of 2016, we’ll see more than 488 fatal overdoses in total; last year, there were 439. Get the story.

In an effort to better understand trends in those overdoses, Gov. Maggie Hassan this week announced a new Drug Overdose Fatality Review Committee - their job will be to analyze the data to better inform policy and make recommendations about how resources should be spread out to prevent more deaths in the future.

And as these deaths pile up in New Hampshire and elsewhere, there is at least one silver lining: The New York Times reports that it’s been “an unexpected lifeline for people waiting for organ transplants, turning tragedy for some into salvation for others.” According to the times, 69 New Englanders who died from overdoses have donated their organs to others in need.

Black In Blue: A Profile Of Police Sergeant Lakeisha Phelps

Credit Emily Corwin

  What’s it like to be one of two black police officers in one of New Hampshire’s most quickly diversifying cities, at a time when the country is grappling with issues around racial bias and police violence? In short: Not easy.

Lakeisha Phelps, with the Nashua Police Department, spoke to NHPR’s Emily Corwin about feeling “like she’s living in two increasingly incompatible worlds.”

“You get it from both ends,” she says. “I get it from law enforcement friends ‘I don’t get this Black Lives Matter thing, why does race matter?’  You’re sitting there saying ‘what if I am a part of that movement?’”

But Phelps says she also feels the pressure outside of work, too: “I’ll get from actual family members ‘cops f**king suck, not you Auntie!'” Usually, when that happens, she gets up and leaves the table.  

High Demand for Care, But Not Enough Help

New Hampshire’s social workers are dealing with a lot these days — some 54 allegations of child abuse and neglect each month, according to a new report. But those caseloads are also leading to a lot of burnout: One-third of the state’s case worker positions were vacant between July 2015 and June 2016. And that, in turn, further complicates the state’s ability to handle those reports that keep piling up in the first place. Read the story.

Meanwhile, the state’s mental health system also continues to deal with a workforce shortage of its own. NHPR’s The Exchange devoted an hour-long conversation to issues around mental health staffing in New Hampshire and its implications for residents in need. You can read a recap and listen to the full program here.

What’s Up With N.H.’s Economy These Days?

In short: Incomes are rising, but companies are reshuffling jobs in some places and some rural areas are (still) trying to recover from the recession. NHPR’s The Exchange caught up with local experts to try to make sense of what forces are having the biggest impact on the Granite State’s economy lately and what it all means for the people who live and work here.

Casey McDermott is a senior news editor at New Hampshire Public Radio. Throughout her time as an NHPR reporter and editor, she has worked with colleagues across the newsroom to deepen the station’s accountability coverage, data journalism and audience engagement across platforms.

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