Alex McOwen

News Intern

Alex McOwen is NHPR’s All Things Considered intern. She got her start in public radio as an intern for NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! in Chicago. She is a graduate of McGill University where she studied anthropology and communications and worked as a producer for the school’s student television station.  


In a press conference Wednesday, April 1, state officials reported they are monitoring a handful of long-term care facilities in New Hampshire for clusters of COVID-19. Around the country, long-term care facilities have been some of the hardest hit by this virus due to communal living and high populations of people over the age of 65 with chronic medical conditions.

Dan Tuohy | NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu issued a stay at home order on Thursday, March 26, for New Hampshire residents, in effect until May 4th.  He ordered all non-essential businesses to close, starting at midnight Friday, March 27. The moves are part of the state's broader efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus in New Hampshire.

This page will be updated as we learn more about the governor's order.

Below are answers to some common questions about the new guidelines and what they mean for people in the state.

With the increased stress, confinement, and economic uncertainty that has come with COVID-19, child abuse experts are concerned abuse at home may increase and go unreported. Moira O'Neill is the director of New Hampshire's Office of the Child Advocate. She says that with schools closed, many children have lost their safety net, and that we all should be thinking about that.

O'Neill spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello about her concerns, and about what the public can do to help. 

Editor’s note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Lawmakers in Washington are moving forward on a $2 trillion coronavirus bill, the largest stimulus package in U.S. history. The bill would provide direct payments to taxpayers, loans to small businesses and create a $500 billion corporate bailout fund.

Senator Maggie Hassan spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello about the bill, and about whether she thinks New Hampshire is ready for a shelter-in-place order.

Editor’s note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Wikimedia Commons

Over the weekend, Gov. Chris Sununu ordered all public schools in New Hampshire to close for three weeks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This order did not, however, include the state’s child care and day care facilities, many of which are still open. 

Peter Biello/NHPR

At the start of this month, Ashland resident Amanda Whitworth began her tenure as New Hampshire’s newest Artist Laureate. She’s the first dancer to hold the title. Whitworth is the director of dance at Plymouth State University, and the co-founder of the New Hampshire Dance Alliance.

She spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello earlier today about what she plans to do in her time as laureate.

Editor’s note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Peter Biello/NHPR

In the basement of St. Anne - St. Augustin church in Manchester, class is in session. About two dozen people - mostly immigrants to New Hampshire - gather around tables to learn English as a second language.

Twenty-eight year old Mariam Soulama came to the United States from Burkina Faso about five years ago speaking French, and not knowing much about life in the U.S.

“I learn everything here,” she says. “Father also help us to learn and have everything here to write, to read. Yeah, I like that.”

Monadnock Underground

The second issue of the literary journal Monadnock Underground is set to release next week. The collection brings together more than a dozen pieces of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, mostly by local writers.

The launch party for the newest volume will take place at the Peterborough Public Library on Friday, March 6.

Kevin Krieger

After winning the “Best Comedy” award at last year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival in Australia, New Hampshire native Gemma Soldati and comedy partner Amrita Dhaliwal are now taking their two-woman clown show, The Living Room, on the road. The show, which they describe as “a comedy about death, devised in grief,” will be touring major cities across the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Emily Corwin/NHPR

The Capuchin friars at the St. Anne-St. Augustin church in Manchester have announced they will be leaving the parish in mid-July.

The Rev. Sam Fuller says the parish has lost five pastors and associate pastors due to illness and other personal reasons since 2017. This staffing shortage is, in part, what drove their decision to leave.

St. Anne-St. Augustin is known for serving Manchester's refugee and immigrant populations, offering special services in Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, and Swahili, in addition to English.

Alex McOwen/NHPR

State officials say their investigation into an off-campus shooting near New England College in Henniker is focused on individuals from out of town and out of state.

The incident occurred in the early hours of Sunday, Feb. 9, at an off-campus party at 4 Bridge Street in Henniker, after a verbal altercation took place between some of the party’s attendees.

Merrimack Country Attorney Robin Davis says the firearm was first shown, and later discharged two times within the apartment, resulting in injuries to three individuals.

Rick Ganley / NHPR

We’re just days away from the New Hampshire primary, and candidates are making their final campaign stops here in the Granite State.

For voters who still haven’t decided who they’ll support on Tuesday, this is their last chance to see the candidates in person. So with days to go, what’s on their minds? 

Alex McOwen/NHPR

After seeing many of his peers at Dartmouth College struggle with their mental health during his freshman year, Sanat Mohapatra decided he had to do something about it.

That’s how Unmasked, a social media application focused on anonymous peer-to-peer support, was born.

Mohapatra, now a senior at Dartmouth, recently spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello to tell him more about his new app.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New Hampshire legislators are starting work on a dozen marijuana bills filed for the 2020 session, including allowing patients enrolled in the state's therapeutic cannabis program to grow their own medical marijuana. 

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard a handful of bills Wednesday that propose expanding qualifying conditions — adding autism, for example — and addressing access and affordability.

Sarah Gibson/NHPR

In their effort to woo voters before next month’s primary, Democratic Presidential candidates have come out with an array of policy plans, including ones to revitalize the rural United States. NHPR’s Sarah Gibson has been looking at what these plans might mean for rural New Hampshire and talking to voters about their concerns.

Andy Schafermeyer / N.H. Fish and Game

Saturday is Free Fishing Day in New Hampshire, the day when residents and non-residents alike can fish any inland water in the state without a fishing license, free of charge.

Scott Decker, Inland Fisheries Program Supervisor at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, says Free Fishing Day is a great way for people to try out the sport of ice fishing.

He advises people going out this weekend to check ice depths, as last weekend's warm temperatures have created variable conditions across the state.

Dartmouth College

Today, Dartmouth Professor Jennifer Sargent takes over as the chairwoman of New Hampshire’s Adult Parole Board. Her appointment comes nine months after a major audit of the board that found significant shortcomings, including the absence of standardized rules, insufficient technology, and understaffing.

NHPR’s Peter Biello spoke with Sargent earlier today to discuss the progress the board has made since the 2019 audit, and to find out what work is still to be done.

(Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)

Ron Sher; PREP King Tide Photo Contest

Two years after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island nation is still recovering.

Thomas O’Donovan, Director of the Water Division for New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services, was a first responder during Hurricane Maria. He says, there are lessons that coastal New Hampshire can learn from Puerto Rico as we deal with our own climate threats like higher tides, extreme storms, and rising sea levels here at home. 

Youth Services Center

A class action lawsuit filed Saturday alleges decades of abuse at New Hampshire's state-run youth detention center, known as the Sununu Youth Services Center.

The suit comes six months after two former counselors were charged with repeatedly raping a teenage boy at the Manchester center in the late 1990s.

(Scroll down for full interview with attorney Rus Rilee)

Rus Rilee, the attorney representing the 36 alleged victims, says more victims have come forward since the suit was filed over the weekend. 

Alex McOwen/NHPR

As of the New Year, New Hampshire residents now have three gender options for state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards.  

In addition to “Male” and “Female,” Granite Staters are now able to choose “Other” as well, which will be marked with an “X” and signify a non-binary gender identity, meaning neither male nor female.  

This afternoon, a group of non-binary advocates from around the state gathered at the Concord DMV to officially change the gender marker on their licenses to the newly-enacted “X” option. 

@CollegeCon2020 on Twitter /

College students from around the country are in Manchester this week as part of College Convention 2020, and they're hearing pitches from several presidential candidates. The event is hosted by New England College.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The monks of Saint Anselm College appeared in court this morning for the first hearing in their lawsuit against the college's board of trustees over the question of who has ultimate authority to amend the school's bylaws.

Click here for NHPR's previous coverage of this story

Director of Charitable Trusts, Tom Donovan, has been granted a motion to intervene in this case. He says in addition to the court proceedings, outside mediation would also make sense.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen called last night's US air strike that killed Iran's top general Qassem Soleimani a "significant escalation."

She said the US needs a strategic plan in place that prepares for any potential response from Iran, and that the plan needs to be clear.

“Mixed messages lead to the potential for miscalculations that can lead to further escalation and war,” she says. “That is not what we want to see here."

The day after Christmas is one of the busiest days of the year for Goodwill donations.

After unwrapping presents on Christmas, many Granite Staters will spend time today cleaning out their closets. Trendy Stanchfiel of Goodwill Northern New England, they will gladly accept any gently used clothing, shoes, electronics, or household wares.

"It also helps keep things out of the trash stream," she says, "It is about giving things the ultimate amount of life that they can have."

Shoshanna via Flickr Creative Commons /

With the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays overlapping this year, the past few days have been very busy ones for New Hampshire's interfaith families.

Hemera Collection

AAA is predicting a record-breaking number of cars on the road in New England this holiday season.

Pat Moody at AAA Northern New England says they're expecting just under 5 million travelers in New England alone, a 3 percent increase from last year.

These are the highest projected numbers in nearly 20 years, since AAA began tracking holiday travel.

Moody says roads are busier this year because holiday cheer is at an all-time high due to low unemployment levels and improvements in disposable income and net worth.

Ravi Shah via Flickr Creative Commons /

With Christmas nearly here and Hanukkah already underway, New Hampshire shoppers are rushing to the stores to get their last-minute gifts.

(Editor's note: Click the play buttons to listen to these last-minute shoppers in their own words)

Shopper Sheila Bartlet from Gilmanton says she's going to be more prepared next year:

Other shoppers, like Claire Fisher from Concord, don't mind the last-minute rush:

Shoppers Victor and Janet Morrin from Newmarket say they've made last minute shopping a holiday tradition: 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The threat of climate change can be stressful for anyone, but for the climate scientists who study it day in and day out, that constant stress can take a toll on mental health.

Dr. Susanne Moser is a human geographer who specializes in psychological responses to climate change. She is a researcher out of Antioch University New England in Keene, and she recently co-authored a new paper titled "The Emotional Toll of Climate Change on Science Professionals."

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Last week the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to approve two articles of impeachment against President Trump: one for abuse of power, the other for obstruction of Congress.

New Hampshire Congressman Chris Pappas, a Democrat representing the 1st Congressional District, announced Sunday that he will vote for both articles of impeachment. 

Speaking on NHPR's The Exchange earlier today, Pappas said he takes his oath of office seriously, and wanted to take plenty of time to get acclimated with the details of this case before making his decision. 

Saint Anselm College

In 1889, the Bishop of Manchester invited a group of Benedictine monks to form a college. That college is now known as St. Anselm. From the start, those monks were empowered by the school’s charter to govern the school.

One of the monks fulfilling that role today is Abbot Mark Cooper. Like most of the Benedictines, the 70-year-old Cooper has taken a “vow of stability” to live and work on campus, where he’s been for the last 50 years.