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This Week in N.H. News: Putting the 'Brrrrrr' in Brrrrrrrrreaking News

If you're looking for a way to spend what is shaping up to be an unpleasantly frigid weekend, you might consider curling up with some blankets, a warm beverage and a long reading list — the headlines below should help get you started, and help get you up to speed on some of the most interesting stuff unfolding across the Granite State. To make sure to stay in the loop every week, sign up for our newsletters right here.

Above The Fold

Credit Sean Hurley, NHPR

 Twenty Ways to Think About . . . Snow?

In third grade, as the first snow fell, Sean Hurley's teacher had his class go to the window to watch it — to get it out of our systems, she said. 
And then, maybe because that didn’t work, she announced that they were going to do a little project. For the next 20 minutes we were going to write down 20 different ways to describe snow. 
Believe it or not, there's plenty more to say about the falling flakes than just noting that they're "cold" or "wet" or "white" — but we'd advise listening in as Hurley tries to find the words himself.
Not Enjoying the Cold? Be Glad You Have a Roof Over Your Head

Plenty of New Hampshire residents aren’t so lucky. And in Concord, those who don’t have a place to call home when the cold strikes have nowhere to turn — at least for now. (The Concord Monitor reports that the shelter is likely to open sometime in early January. )

The city’s moving forward on plans to put together a last-minute winter shelter, but not before subzero temperatures descended on the state this week

Other communities that do have shelters in place include Manchester and Dover. More information on potential cold weather shelters and homeless shelters can be found via the state’s 211 website. 


In Other News

Credit Todd Bookman, NHPR
Peter Rhoades, the owner of Hubbintons furniture store in North Hampton, renovated the Drake Farm barn to house his business.

Preserving New Hampshire History, One Run-Down Barn at a Time

Cruise along just about any back road in New Hampshire and you’re likely to come across an old wooden barn. In fact, the state is home to more than 15,000 of them, each one an iconic reminder of New Hampshire’s agricultural roots.

A lot of them, however, are starting to fall into disrepair. But the New Hamphsire Preservation Alliance is hoping a new project, — 52 Barns in 52 Weeks” — will help to keep these pieces of Granite State history alive. Read about it here.

After a Seven-Year Fight, Antrim Wind Project Gets State Approval

To say that this project has been at the center of a long battle is perhaps an understatement. Now, state regulators appear to have given developers a green light for the nine-turbine wind project slated to be installed in Antrim. Read the story.

If you’re wondering why the project’s taken so long, or why it’s so controversial, check out this earlier overview we put together last year.

63,000 N.H. Residents Have Gained Coverage Under Obamacare

That’s according to newly released data from the federal government. As it stands, the uninsured rate is down about 43 percent from before the Affordable Care Act took effect. Read the story.

Berlin Mayor: Lawsuit a Possibility in Effort to Restore State Education Aid Program

Could New Hampshire be heading for a Claremont 3.0? It’s too early to say for sure. But at least one mayor whose town is taking the hit from changes in how the state distributes money to schools says that, if he and other officials aren’t able to get lawmakers to change course, “we will have to litigate.”Read the story.

Secretary of State Singles Out Two City Clerks in Records Requests Over Election Technology

  It’s totally normal for city clerks to receive right-to-know requests under the state’s public records law, asking for emails or other government documents.

But a records request from the state itself? Less normal.

The Secretary of State recently took the unusual move of filing such a request with Manchester and Laconia — and those two cities also happen to be home to clerks that have been outspoken in questioning the Secretary of State’s approach to election technology. Read more about the back-and-forth here.

State Senator Trying to Blaze Path Toward Marijuana Legalization

Now that marijuana’s officially legal in Massachusetts and potentially on its way to being legal in Maine, the top Democrat in New Hampshire’s state Senate thinks it’s time for New Hampshire to start seriously talking about its own plans for legalization. His main arguments, besides the fact that lots of other states are doing it: It could raise much-needed money, which could in turn be used to fight the state’s opioid crisis, and it could help attract young people to the state. Read the story.

Fentanyl, Not Heroin, Behind Most of N.H.’s Drug Deaths

It might be time to officially do away with the term “heroin epidemic.” So far this year, heroin’s been connected to just 6 percent of the 369 (and counting) fatal overdoses reviewed by the state medical examiner.

On the other hand, fentanyl has been connected to 73 percent — or nearly three-fourths — of drug deaths in the state. For comparison: There were just 17 drug deaths due to fentanyl in the entire year of 2011. 

Physician Assistant Who Over-Prescribed Opioids Loses License Permanently

Last year, NHPR’s Brian Wallstin reported on a physician assistant who stood out as a “cautionary tale” on opioid prescribing: Chris Clough, who worked for the state’s largest chain of pain clinics, routinely prescribed high doses of opioids without explaining the risks to patients and without documenting why he was writing the prescriptions in the first place.

The state board of medicine eventually put restrictions on what and how he could prescribe — but the board now says he failed to abide by the restrictions, so now he’s getting his license taken away completely. Read the story.

Flashback Friday, #NHpolitics Edition

Credit Josh Rogers, NHPR
Gov-elect Chris Sununu regales the crowd at the Bridges House holiday party with the story of when he and Kitty Dukakis bonded over a Mr. T chocolate head.

Ever Hear the One About Chris Sununu, Kitty Dukakis and a Chocolate Mr. T Head?

If you’re starting to wonder whether you’ve stumbled back in time to the 1980s — well, you’re not necessarily wrong. At a recent soiree at the historic Bridges House, Governor-Elect Chris Sununu regaled the crowd with a tale taken from his time running around the place as a kid, when his dad was governor. We’d recommend that you listen to him tell the story in his own words — right here.

Listen up: Outside/In

Think the New Push to Build on Mount Washington is Novel? Think Again.

Mount Washington is famously home of the world's worst weather, but it also hosts a huge amount of tourist infrastructure. This week on the Outside/In podcast, Taylor Quimby tells the story of how the mountain was conquered, and how that process became the template for mountain tourism nation-wide.Listen to the episode and then subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your favorite audio.

Weekend Plans: Celebrate the Soltice

Credit PrescottFarm.Org
The Prescott Farm Lantern Festival.

Yup, today's cold weather is just a starter course for what's coming our way this weekend. But even worse (for some) is the early darkness that defines this time of year. There's some good news on the horizon, though, as the Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice is almost here...and this weekend, you can celebrate the approaching longer days like a Druid. Find out what's going on in New Hampshire this weekend.

Also Worth A Click

Credit Mount Washington Observatory
The crews on New Hampshire's highest peak used Friday's cold for a science experiment — using the subzero temperatures to watch boiling water turn to steam.

  • Validation for New Englanders who might be reluctant to complain about the temps: It is, in fact, really freezing around here these days. Mount Washington was for a brief time Friday morning the second-coldest place on earth, with a wind chill of 80 degrees below zero. (WMUR, Mount Washington Observatory
  • A story to warm your heart on this cold (like, very cold) winter’s day: One Portsmouth preschooler who is “obsessed with the police” got basically the best birthday surprise he could have hoped for. (Seacoast Online
  • A neat bit of New Hampshire ski history: Did you know the state was once home to the largest ski jump in the eastern United States? (Governor Francis P. Murphy Estate)
  • One Granite State Santa Claus recently traded out a real-life belly that shakes like a “bowl full of jelly” in an effort to ward off health problems. But Saint Nick traditionalists needn’t fret: He still packs his suit with artificial stuffing when he’s in character. (Keene Sentinel
  • If you’ve driven through downtown Concord lately, you might be able to relate to this letter-writer who’s a little bit fed up with the trucks stopping in the middle of the street in the middle of the day. (Concord Monitor
  • A collection of stories from UNH journalism students dives into how Seacoast communities are bracing for rising tides from climate change. (A Changing Seacoast
  • A “potato parade” sounds like something we could totally get behind — especially, in this case, since it involves a whopping 1,000 pounds of potatoes rounded up by Newport elementary students for their local food pantry. (Valley News
  • If you’ve picked up a newspaper in New Hampshire any time in the last, oh, three decades, you’ve probably seen at least a few iconic shots by the AP’s Jim Cole. This week, the #NHpolitics world mourned the news that Cole was part of a recent round of layoffs with the wire service. But that announcement also prompted a flood of stories, well wishes and, of course, throwback photos from Cole’s colleagues and admirers, some of which you can find below. (Union Leader)  

Casey is a Senior News Editor for NHPR. You can contact her with questions or feedback at cmcdermott@nhpr.org.

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