Ryan Lessard | New Hampshire Public Radio

Ryan Lessard


Before becoming a reporter for NHPR, Ryan devoted many months interning with The Exchange team, helping to produce their daily talk show.  He graduated from the University of New Hampshire in Manchester with a major in Politics and Society and a minor in Communication Arts. While in school, he also interned for a DC-based think tank. His interests include science fiction and international relations. Ryan is a life-long Manchester resident.

Ways to Connect

FairPoint internet service is back up and running in New Hampshire and Maine after being down since late last night.

The cause and scope of the outage is still unknown, according to FairPoint’s Public Relations Manager Jeff Nevins.

“What we do know is that it’s intermittent for some. That some people can get on and have been able to access the internet…”

The DSL internet service was restored at about two o’clock today. FairPoint Communications services more than six hundred and thirty five thousand access lines in New Hampshire and Maine.

Governor John Lynch announced Tuesday he will nominate six people to the state’s circuit courts during the Governor and Council meeting that will take place Wednesday morning at ten in Manchester.

The Governor’s nominees include Paul Moore of Bedford, Mark Weaver of Greenland, Lawrence MacLeod of Lebanon, Jennifer Lemire of Stratham, Julie Introcaso of Manchester and Susan Carbon of Chichester. All were recommended by the Governor’s Judicial Selection Commission. Lynch spokesman, Colin Manning, says the Governor believes all the nominees are well-suited to serve the public.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is seeking more than 173,000 dollars in fines against 10 construction contractors who worked on building the Merrimack Premium Outlets.

The contractors came from six different states to work on the Merrimack Outlet construction. OSHA’s Concord Area Office conducted the investigation starting in January, according to New Hampshire area director Rosemarie Ohar.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

Earlier this week, at the London Olympics, the American team competed in the double canoe slalom. That’s when two men kneel inside a kayak and work together to navigate an obstacle course on whitewater rapids. If you watched this on NBC, you might have caught a glimpse of a pair of paddles made in New Hampshire.

In rustic Canaan, New Hampshire, Peter Mitchell is hard at work sanding a freshly carved double-bladed kayak paddle.

A former Manchester City Alderman and School Board member has pleaded guilty to simple assault after being charged with sexual assault against a woman on July twelfth. 

Russ Ouellette served on the Manchester School Board for eight years and on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for more than four years. That all ended last week when he resigned in the face of sexual assault charges. Ouellette was accused of assaulting a woman after leaving a billiards club in his pickup truck. He was arrested a second time for breaking the terms of his bail.

New Hampshire Speaker of the House Bill O’Brien says he would again seek to outlaw gay marriage in the state if he wins another term as Speaker.

New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien says the University of New Hampshire and its workers need to be more efficient. O’Brien, while speaking on NHPR’s the Exchange, defended lawmaker’s nearly fifty percent cut to higher ed funding, the largest in the nation. The Speaker also criticized UNH for increasing its tuition and, he says, not making the cuts necessary to become efficient.

 “Its union is seeking a 16 percent increase in its pay. Its workers are inefficient and unproductive. They don’t teach as many hours as they can.”

Silver Circle Movie via Flickr

Comic-Con in San Diego lured more than a hundred thousand visitors earlier this month so it’s no wonder that smaller Cons are popping up just about everywhere, not only because of comics’ continued bleed into pop culture through TV shows and blockbuster films, but because of the boost a Con can inject into a local economy, even Manchester, New Hampshire. Ryan Lessard brings us the story.

Check out Comic-Con International in San Diego (a slightly larger event than Granite-Con):

The US Attorney’s office says two fires at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard were caused by a civilian shipyard worker. The first fire caused massive damage to the USS Miami nuclear submarine.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jhi L. Scott

A civilian worker has admitted to starting a fire aboard the U.S.S. Miami nuclear submarine last May.  The fire caused $400 million in damage, and was followed by another suspicious dock fire.

Former New Hampshire Governor and current Mitt Romney surrogate John Sununu made national headlines, and began trending on Twitter, Tuesday when he made some controversial comments about President Obama.

Sununu’s comments came during a conference call with reporters.

“The men and women all over America who have worked hard to build these businesses, their businesses from the ground up, is how our economy became the envy of the world. It is the American way and I wish this president would learn how to be an American.”

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

As the campaign season gears up, celebrities and politicians making political stump speeches in the state will become increasingly commonplace. The latest of these was the host of the kids television series Bill Nye the Science Guy. He visited New Hampshire Monday, discussing his support for President Obama and calling for more investment in education.

Bill Nye educated a generation of kids in the nineties about science with his hundred episode TV series.

Wednesday, a House vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act has passed 244 to 185.

Both New Hampshire Congressmen voted to repeal the nation’s healthcare law.

Many have called this vote symbolic. Charlie Bass says this new vote was triggered by the Supreme Court decision to uphold the law. But, he says, he considers it a kickoff to congressional races for re-election.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

A group of about twenty five demonstrators, organized by the AFL-CIO, petitioned Congressman Frank Guinta’s office to support the anti-outsourcing legislation known as the Bring Jobs Home Act.

Two-year-old Ben Bertini of Derry is reported to be recovering after suffering severe burns on 27 percent of  his body and a puncture wound to the arm when a stack of consumer fireworks suddenly ignited at his grandparents' Pelham home. He was put into a medically induced coma immediately following the accident last week. Monday, doctors removed the inhaler and he has been speaking. He is currently receiving skin grafts at the Shriners Hospital in Boston. Eight adults and five children were injured in the blast and subsequent fire.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR News

Old furniture from a closed elementary school in Concord is on its way to the Caribbean.

When the Conant/Rumford school closed for good last month, the building was still full of old teacher desks, tables, chairs, bookshelves, cabinets and more.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

For some New Hampshire residents, the Fourth of July means it’s time for fireworks in the backyard. The state has long been one of the few states in the region to allow this practice.  But this year it's causing new safety concerns because more dangerous types of fireworks are now on sale.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

The State Library in Concord has completed renovations in its second floor Map Room and, this summer the public will find an exhibit there called “Shaping our Heritage: Celebrating Traditional Arts Apprenticeships in New Hampshire.”

The first thing you notice when you walk into the State Library’s map room is the natural light.  It pours in from the white laminate skylights of the arched coffered ceiling.  Every item on display, lining the perimeter walls and the center installations, is accompanied by photographs of the artists always in pairs.

The Manchester School Board has voted to save 40 more teacher and staff positions.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

One of the state’s largest public unions, the State Employees Association, endorsed democratic gubernatorial candidate Jackie Cilley on Monday.

SEA President Diana Lacey cites Cilley’s refusal to take the state pledge against new broad-based taxes and her commitment to collaborative leadership as the most significant factors in the union’s decision.

“It wasn’t just the pledge. It’s the manner in which we anticipate Jackie will lead.”

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

The Manchester Board of Alderman has approved a school budget that will save at least 54 teacher jobs.  The city’s Board of Alderman voted Tuesday night to pass the budget with about $2 million more than the mayor’s proposed school budget of $150 million dollars.  The extra money will save at least 54 of the 161 teachers and staff members slated for layoffs by July 1. 

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

A group of parents in Manchester are calling for the state to provide more money for their school district.  The newly formed Citizens for Manchester Schools held a rally in downtown Manchester  Tuesday night. 

The organization’s president, Jim O’Connell says the city’s schools are underfunded. He says the money needed to fund an adequate education is relatively small.

Speaking at a business awards ceremony in Manchester Friday, First District Congressman Frank Guinta emphasized the role that small businesses play in creating jobs and keeping what he called a diverse economy thriving. Guinta argued that over 30 pieces of jobs-related legislation were passed in the house with bipartisan support and criticized the media for not highlighting this more.  The congressman also stressed the role the federal budget can plan play in fostering a stronger national economy.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

Addressing small business owners in Manchester Monday, Senator Kelly Ayotte said she hopes Congress will take action to avoid the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that will take effect in January.

“Please know that I am going to do everything that I can to make sure that as we get to this fiscal cliff, I’m hoping we do it… unlike we don’t do anything in Washington, we wait ‘til the last minute, I think we should be working on this issue now.”

Flanked by his beautiful wife and daughters, Governor Jon Huntsman emphatically confirmed that, despite coming in third with 17 percent of the vote, he had achieved his goal of exceeding expectations. Apparently this was the momentum the campaign needed in order to continue fighting. He started his speech by saying, "Third place is a ticket to ride," and "South Carolina, here we come!" 

At one point in the speech, after Huntsman said "I believe in America," a lone supporter shouted "And we believe in Jon Huntsman!" which triggered an energetic cheer.

Politics on Tap

Jan 10, 2012
Ryan Lessard for NHPR

Huntsman supporters are making full use of the bar in the Black Brimmer and it looks like a predominantly young crowd. Huntsman is holding a comfortable third place position with 17 percent of the vote with nearly half of the precincts reporting. 

Ryan Lessard for NHPR

A group of Huntsman supporters have broken into spontaneous chanting. They are holding up the new red signs yelling "Country First". 

Reporter Dan Gorenstein working his way through the scrum of reporters and supporters at the Black Brimmer in Manchester. 

(Ryan Lessard for NHPR)

The ominous Huntsman signs with their signature black background and big red "H" in vogue font are conspicuously absent this primary night. Instead, new posters with traditional red or blue colors are spread around the crowded Huntsman headquarters in downtown Manchester sporting the new slogan "Country First". The tagline is a reference to the way he has repeatedly defended himself for his service as Ambassador to China under the Obama administration, something his opponents hope to paint as tantamount to working for the enemy.