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This Week in N.H. News: Skunks, Santas and Plenty of Stories to Make Even Scrooge Smile


Whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus or something else entirely, we're wishing you the happiest holidays as this weekend approaches! If you need a break between wrapping presents and baking cookies, or need a distraction during your layover on your holiday flight home, scroll on. (And don't forget: You can unwrap our weekly newsletters each week in your inbox. Just sign up right here.)

Above The Fold


Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Quid Pro Quo On Display in Concord

It's no secret that lawmakers sometimes negotiate backroom deals in exchange for political support or other favors — it's just not every day that you actually hear them acknowledge that out loud. But House Speaker Shawn Jasper was candid in acknowledging just such a deal this week — in this case, he was trying to explain why he appointed a lawmaker with a criminal record, Rep. Frank Sapareto, as vice chair of the House Criminal Justice Committee. 

In 2013, Sapareto was convicted of assaulting two people during a domestic dispute involving his former girlfriend and her son. Jasper says Sapareto will remain on as the committee's vice chairman, in part because he promised it to Sapareto in exchange for support in his run for speaker. 

Paige Sutherland reported the story, and you can read it here.

Report: N.H. Child Services Failing Abused Kids

An independent report on New Hampshire’s Division of Children, Youth and Families says the state falls short of its obligation to protect abused and neglected children. The report puts the responsibility for fixing that broken system – and protecting New Hampshire’s most vulnerable residents – in the hands of lawmakers. 

Click here to read Jack Rodolico's story on the report and to find out what some lawmakers are saying about its conclusions. You can also read the full 100+ pages of the report right here

With More Taking Flight, Expect Plenty of Droning About Drone Policy

You might be surprised how many drones are already hovering around New Hampshire's skies. Right now, there are more than 2,500 registered in the Granite State - and this has some lawmakers concerned that federal rules around drones aren't sufficient.

You can read Paige Sutherland's story on drones right here, and while you're in it, check out the interactive version of the map pictured to the right to see where, exactly, the most drones are registered in New Hampshire.

Can Tiny Houses Help Solve N.H.'s Not-So-Tiny Workforce Shortage?

By all accounts, commercial and residential construction is on the rebound in New Hampshire. But many general contractors say an aging workforce limits how much the market can grow. That’s why the New Hampshire Home Builders Association is leading a new effort to coax young people into the trade and connect them with local businesses. 

Click here to read Sheryl Rich-Kern's story about a high school program that's using tiny house builds to teach valuable skills.

A Big Deal For Manchester's Millyard 

The Department of Defense has awarded 80 million dollars to fund a new bio-research and manufacturing institute in Manchester. The institute will focus on bio-manufacturing tissue and organs, particularly for those in the armed services, and plans to establish New Hampshire as a hub for scientific innovation.

Click here to read Peter Biello's look into who's going to be running the initiative, and how many jobs it could bring to the region.

In Other News

Credit North Woods Law

  • This show has everything: skunks, bears, scenic views of the Granite State, intrepid N.H. Fish and Game officers, alligators… And if the trailer’s any indication, you'll want to have your DVR ready for “North Woods Law: New Hampshire” when it launches next year. (NHPRNorth Woods Law)
  • Should town employees be allowed to bring an infant grandchild to work? An Atkinson tax collector is doing just that, sparking a larger conversation about policies around children at the workplace. (Union Leader)
  • Whether you’re stocking up for holiday parties or just trying to revamp your weekly grocery routine, UNH Extension’s offering some advice on how to better buy local during the winter. (SoundNH)
  • In Concord and Portsmouth, community members gathered to pay their respects to pay their respects to those who died while homeless this year. (Concord MonitorSeacoast Online)
  • Manchester alone is home to hundreds of homeless teens. Get to know what life is like for them in this in-depth profile. (New Hampshire Magazine)
  • A 27-year-old who coaches the Seacoast United Pirates baseball team is poised to receive a potentially life-changing liver transplant from longtime friend and fellow (soccer) coach in Vermont. (Seacoast Online)
  • If you’re interested in reading some of the state’s emerging literary voices, you might check out a new collection of works published by students at Kennett High School — all proceeds go to a local charity to support cancer patients. (Conway Daily Sun)
  • Despite a contentious debate over its financial standing, new figures show that Carroll County’s 164-year-old farm appears to have turned a modest profit in recent years. (Conway Daily Sun)
  • A Newmarket woman who turned her life around after being convicted of heroin distribution, earning recognition as a runner and a local business owner, was one of 78 people formally pardoned by President Obama this week. (Seacoast Online)
  • A longtime journalist and “widely respected spokesman for the state’s north,” John Harrigan spent decades telling the stories of the Granite State — but a new profile offers readers a chance to get to know a little more about the man behind those bylines. (New Hampshire Magazine)
  • If your end-of-year playlists are feeling a little stale, you could try checking out some of these standout albums from local artists around the Seacoast. (SoundNH)


Reasons to Be Cheerful, No Matter How You Celebrate

Credit Courtesy the WWE/Sean Hurley for NHPR
Mick Foley as Mankind in 1999, and as Santa Claus in 2014

(Some of our favorite seasonal stories of the last week — mixed in with some old favorites that seemed worth revisiting — that will hopefully help even the biggest Grinches around the Granite State get into the holiday spirit.)

  • Deck the halls to the sounds of the "The Yule Log Old Time Radio Show," hosted by NHPR's Rick Ganley and Sean Hurley, featuring some of our favorite holiday stories through the years. (NHPR)

  • Relive this holiday classic for the ages: How WWE's "Mankind" found a new calling, at Santa's Village in Jefferson, as "Saint Mick." (NHPR

  • For kids with sensory disorders, a trip to sit on Santa's lap in the middle of a chaotic mall can be difficult. But in Merrimack, one "Sensitive Santa" offered a quieter alternative to this holiday ritual. (NHPR)

  • Perhaps you, too, have strong feelings about what song best captures this time of year. This post is for you. (Word of Mouth)

  • You know that “Creepy Santa” that pops up on the corner of Salmon and Elm in Manchester each year? You can now get his ominous likeness on a T-shirt, for charity. (Union Leader)

  • No “feats of strength” this time around, but one Concord pub still pulled out plenty of stops (complete with the ceremonial airing of grievances) for a festive Festivus. (Concord Monitor)

  • Heads up if you’re heading over the river and through the woods, so to speak, in the days ahead: You’ll be sharing the road with a record number (like, 4.5 million) of fellow travelers. (NewHampshire.com)

  • A holiday miracle! One woman’s plight to track down nearly $1,200 in gifts that disappeared from her truck ended up with a fortunate ending — thanks to a good samaritan who found the presents strewn along the side of the road. (Union Leader)

  • What does it take to track down a Christmas tree in the wild? In the White Mountain National Forest, it starts with a $5 permit… (Berlin Daily Sun)

  • Or, you could take a cue from these guys who decided to — instead — bring the decorations out to the trees. (NHPR)

  • One Madison third grader thought it was great that his class collected food for needy families for Thanksgiving — but, he wondered, why didn’t they do the same thing for Christmas? So he took it upon himself to rally his classmates around another round of giving back. (Conway Daily Sun)

  • In case you’re interested in recreating the “12 Days of Christmas” carol in real life, you can find at least a few of the festive fowls — “swans a swimming,” “geese a-laying” and more — around New Hampshire. You’re on your own when it comes to tracking down “lords a-leaping,” though… (NHPR’s Something Wild)

  • If you’re looking ahead to next weekend and still trying to figure out how to say good riddance to 2016, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from across the state. (New Hampshire Magazine)

  • And, finally: Don't miss this truly incredible video of New England politicians trying (with varying levels of success) to deliver their best renditions of "Jingle Bell Rock"... (NECN)


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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