Sara Willa Ernst

News Fellow

Sara is NHPR's Couch Fellow for Innovation, working in the newsroom and on NHPR's Creative Production Unit.

NHPR is Sara's fourth public radio newsroom. She previously interned at NPR, Nashville Public Radio and WBUR Boston. She graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Sara Ernst / NHPR

New Hampshire has just 29 charter schools, which is fewer than most states. Over the next five years, the state wants to nearly double the amount of charter schools with the help of new federal funding. 

In August, the New Hampshire Department of Education was awarded $46 million over five years to create 20 new charter schools, seven replications of “high-quality” charter schools and five expansions.

Sara Ernst / NHPR

Nashua is replacing two buses powered by diesel engines with electric hybrid vehicles. 

The company that developed the hybrids, BAE Systems, say they will avoid burning 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel and reduce carbon emissions by 50 tons a year. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The town of Merrimack is requesting the Department of Environmental Services to temporarily shut down operations at Saint-Gobain Plastics. 

State regulators have held the factory responsible for addressing widespread PFAS chemical contamination in nearby water wells.

NHPR Photo

  St. Paul’s School in Concord will remove the names of two former rectors – Bill Oates and Bill Matthews – from buildings on the school’s campus.

The decision came after conversations within the school's community, about whether former school leaders involved with mishandling reports of sexual abuse should continue to be honored. 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled that a short-term rental property owned by a Portsmouth couple cannot operate in a residential zone. 

The couple was renting out the house next door, which they also owned, on platforms like Airbnb, VRBO and Homeaway, and advertising that it could fit up to nine people.

  The Portsmouth Police Commission has voted unanimously against the use of body cameras. Police officials said Tuesday that body cameras would not be of value in a city with a low rate of citizen complaints.

 

Over the past nine months, the Body & Car Camera subcommittee, which is made of citizen volunteers, conducted research and compiled a report on the issue.

Sara Ernst / NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu signed a compromise two-year state budget into law on Thursday in front of a group of students and teachers at Franklin High School.

 

Wikimedia Commons

Census officials are working with local partners in New Hampshire to get the word out about the 2020 Census. The city of Rochester held an event on Tuesday at Great Bay Community College Advanced Technology campus and invited community leaders to share ideas on how to increase participation in 2020. 

Census Day is April 1st, 2020. The first address canvassing operation has already begun in mid-August and will continue until mid-October in all 10 counties in New Hampshire. 

Sara Ernst / NHPR

Municipal leaders shared information about their recycling practices, and the challenges, at a meeting of the Recycling and Solid Waste Management Committee this week. This group of four lawmakers is tasked with providing recommendations to state officials by Nov. 1st.  

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

More than 10 years since the 2008 recession, the North Country's economy is still considered to be in a transitional phase, according to a 10-year study by UNH's Carsey School of Public Policy published on Wednesday. 

In this report, researchers measured regional changes in demographics and public perception of environmental, social and economic issues in Coös County and neighboring counties. 

Sara Ernst / NHPR

  Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig is demanding the state open more treatment and support options across New Hampshire for those suffering from opioid addiction and other substance abuse disorders.

Craig and other Manchester officials said Friday they’re overwhelmed by the high numbers of people coming to their city from other communities to find help. They also expressed frustration with the governor's office.

Sara Ernst / NHPR

Residents in the Squam Lake area are working to improve Internet service in Sandwich. The Sandwich Broadband Advisory Committee held a listening session Friday, in which attendees expressed frustration with what they say is slow and unreliable service in town. 

Richard Knox, one of the committee members, says Sandwich’s low population is one of the main reasons why Internet companies are reluctant to invest in broadband infrastructure. 

Sara Ernst / NHPR

Religious leaders met with Senator Maggie Hassan, an FBI agent, and state officials Tuesday to discuss efforts to protect places of worship from terrorist attacks. 

 

This event comes after seven New Hampshire synagogues and churches were awarded federal grants earlier this month to bolster their security against domestic and foreign terrorists. 

 

 

 

Sara Willa Ernst / NHPR

Marc Burrell, an Airbnb host in Laconia, describes his listing as a ‘no-frills room.’ It’s a spare bedroom in his house, which is a few blocks from downtown and a stone’s throw from Lake Winnisquam. And the room has been nearly booked solid all summer. 


Sara Ernst

A Superior Court judge heard testimony Thursday in the case of a Nashua man accused of threatening a transgender woman.  The case is being pursued by the Civil Rights Unit at the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office.

City of Portsmouth

The Seacoast Rail Trail is moving forward with the goal to create a biking and walking trail that would connect eight communities from Portsmouth to Seabrook. The New Hampshire Executive Council approved a proposal for $5 million in federal funds to purchase 9.6 miles of abandoned railroad on Wednesday. 

The Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the plan, already owns the southern section of the corridor. The total trail is expected to be 17 miles.

NH Fish and Game

The Atlantic coastline and Hampton Seabrook Harbor reopened for shellfish harvesting on Friday. These waters have been closed for the past two months due to high levels of a toxin caused by a phenomenon called red tide.

 

Surf clams are still under a harvesting ban. Toxin levels of red tide are still too high for this type of shellfish, according to New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

 

Courtesy Chris Goldberg via Flickr/Creative Commons.

State environmental officials are asking New Hampshire residents to report sightings of Oak Wilt, a fungus that can dehydrate and kill oak trees. This notice comes after outbreaks of the disease in New York that could possibly spread to other areas in the Northeast. 

Mic Wernej via Flickr CC

A new law enacted on Monday approved The New Hampshire College Graduate Retention Incentive Partnership, a program designed to encourage recent college graduates to stay in the state after they receive their degrees. 

 

According to a survey of nearly 1,500 UNH graduates in the Class of 2018, nearly half had decided to leave New Hampshire after college for work.

Sara Ernst / NHPR

At Weirs Beach in Laconia, a sign in big block letters reads “Warning... Swim at your own risk.” More than halfway through the summer, beach-goers are swimming in the bay, while the lifeguard stand remains empty.

Sara Ernst / NHPR

Child welfare advocates marched in front of the State House on Saturday to point out what they called flaws in New Hampshire’s Division for Children, Youth and Families. The event was hosted by New Road Project, a non-profit aiming to reform the state’s child protection system. 

KRISTIAN BJORNARD; FLICKR cc

  

New Hampshire is forming a new committee to study recycling streams and solid waste management. The legislature is taking on this issue as some communities have struggled to keep their recycling programs going.

The committee will have three representatives from the House and one from the Senate. Members of the committee will study the issue and propose legislation based on their findings.

ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing / Flickr/CC

A new report from the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority says the affordable housing market has gotten even tighter this year. The survey polled owners and managers of more than 23,000 market rate rentals across the state, earlier this year. 

The results revealed that rent prices are rising and less housing is available.

  • The median rental price for a two bedroom unit increased 4% since 2018
  • The statewide vacancy rate decreased from 2% to less than 1%.

 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill Thursday to protect children from discrimination in New Hampshire public schools.

 

The new anti-discrimination law offers equal protection to all students regardless of age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, color, marital status, familial status, disability, religion or national origin.

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded grants to support bringing more local food into school cafeterias in New Hampshire.

The 2019 Farm to School grants will go to the North Country Farmers’ Cooperative and the Nashua School District.

New Hampshire received two out of 126 grants across 42 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Over $9 million in federal funding was awarded. 

Sara Ernst / NHPR

Senator Maggie Hassan visited Strafford County on Monday to learn how officials there dealt with a June cyberattack. Hassan, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, says she's looking for ways federal legislation can help local governments deal with cybercrime. 

Echoing the input she heard from local officials, Hassan said there needs to be a structure in place to help large and small organizations collaborate in combating cybercrime.

Ruin Raider via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/8uzPPU

New research from the University of New Hampshire recommends that the state should invest in thicker asphalt roads. The state's roads are likely to see more damage due to rising temperatures and sea levels.

When asphalt is exposed to hotter springs and summers, it's more likely to crack under the weight of vehicles and create rougher surfaces. Damaged roads can lead to reduced fuel efficiency, more safety hazards and more traffic due to construction and road closures.

Sara Ernst / NHPR

The sale of St. Joseph’s Church in Laconia has been called off, after prospective buyers withdrew from the deal. 

The Diocese of Manchester, the Catholic Church in New Hampshire, announced a new plan to preserve the church Monday. The plan is to divide the campus into three parcels: the John W. Busiel House, the old Holy Trinity School and St. Joseph’s church. The Diocese will then keep the church and sell the other two buildings. 

  


Credit Pasja1000 via Pixabay / https://pixabay.com/images/id-3336451/Edit | Remove

  

Sean Hurley for NHPR

The seven bikers killed in a June car crash will be memorialized in a motorcycle ride from Laconia to Randolph on Saturday. 

 

More than 1,000 motorcyclists from all over New England are estimated to participate in the ride and pay their respects to what bikers are dubbing “the Fallen 7.”

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