Sarah Gibson | New Hampshire Public Radio

Sarah Gibson

Reporter

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on New Hampshire's southern tier.

Sarah came to New Hampshire from New York City, where she was a producer at WNYC. A graduate of Columbia Journalism School, her stories have appeared on WBAI, Alaska Public Media, and in The Village Voice. Prior to journalism, Sarah worked with non-profits in North Carolina and studied History at Brown University. She grew up in rural Vermont.

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A former principal in Manchester has filed a wrongful termination and whistleblower lawsuit against the Manchester School District SAU 37. 

Sarah Lynch alleges she was wrongfully fired from Webster Elementary School in October and is seeking compensatory damages from the District and its superintendent, Dr. Bolgen Vargas, and assistant superintendent, Amy Allen.

Sarah Gibson / New Hampshire Public Radio

New Hampshire continues to rank among the hardest-hit states in the opioid crisis. Gov. Chris Sununu and state health officials are now investing heavily in a new system they say will significantly improve care for those struggling with addiction. This so-called "hub and spoke" plan kicks off at the start of the new year. Now, with that launch date just weeks away, NHPR’s Britta Greene and Sarah Gibson having been reporting on how the effort is taking shape. 

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

Police departments throughout the U.S. are struggling with recruitment and retention, and New Hampshire is no different.

 

national survey this year by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence found that police vacancies were the top most difficult positions to fill for jurisdictions.

 

Currently, New Hampshire police departments are trying to fill an estimated 40 vacancies. 

Courtesy of N.H. DOE

The New Hampshire Department of Education is partnering with the New Hampshire National Guard's Counter Drug Task Force to improve substance use prevention and intervention for students.

On Dec. 6th, the N.H. DOE and the National Guard signed a 9-year Memorandum of Understanding outlining the partnership.

This is the country's first such agreement between the two groups.

Appleswitch via Flickr Creative Commons

Salem Police Chief Paul Donovan is resigning after an internal audit revealed widespread problems in the department.

The audit found the department mishandled investigations, failed to follow through with citizen complaints, and was inconsistent in timekeeping and pay.

Salem placed Donovan on leave for two days in August over disagreements with Town Manager Chris Dillon, but he had returned to his post despite ongoing disputes with the town.

Flicker CC / https://flic.kr/p/drsrm8

 

The town of Milford is considering leasing 120 acres of town property to a Manchester-based solar energy company.

 

The company, Granite Apollo, has signed a letter of intent to build a solar farm on the Brox property, a former industrial site near Route 101 that used to produce gravel.

 

A group convened by the Governor to study whether schools should start after Labor Day says that despite concerns from educators, establishing a uniform school start date in September is feasible and would boost the state's economy.

(Scroll down to read the commission's full report)

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The town of Salem has hired a “civilian administrator” to oversee ongoing improvements at the Salem Police Department after an audit identified significant problems there.

Brian Patullo, a former Chief of the Andover Police, has taken the new role of civilian administrator, which Town Manager Chris Dillon says will last “until most issues are addressed.”

Manchester School District

The Manchester School Board is considering clarifying its policies to prevent board members from using the school district listserv to contact students.

This comes after a controversy with school board member Richard Girard, who used the listserv to email a student who wrote an editorial for her high-school newspaper in support of the Manchester teachers’ union.

Girard is the chair of the contract negotiation team, which has been at an impasse with the teachers’ union since June.

Dan Tuohy for NHPR

Most of New Hampshire’s riverside mills and factories have closed. But they’ve left their mark - and in some cases, a lot of toxic waste.

For decades, Nashua has struggled with what to do with waste from the Mohawk Tannery, a factory that produced leather for sixty years. Now, the city is considering a private-public partnership to clean it up, but the details are still up for debate.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig got an early holiday present on Monday from a group of Webster Elementary School English language learners.

The students presented a book they've been preparing for the last few months in their immersive all-day ESL class.

The book opens with the words "We are Manchester Proud" and a photo of the students, who moved here within the last year from countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.

After that, there are pages of photos of their new city, Manchester, that the students took themselves on walking tours.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

 

Two students from Hillside Elementary School in Berlin are petitioning the state to restore funding to Berlin's schools.

In the past few years, the loss of school stabilization aid to property-poor towns has left a hole in Berlin's annual school budget of over $200,000.

Flickr, Courtesy of christopdesoto

 

The Conway Police Department is asking for funding to arm its officers with Taser guns.

 

Many police departments in New Hampshire already use Taser guns, which pause a suspect by stunning them with an electric shock.

 

Edward Wagner, Conway's Chief of Police, says changes in policing and conversations with Axon, the company selling the Tasers, have convinced him it's time for a change.

 

Appleswitch via Flickr Creative Commons

 

The New Hampshire Attorney General's office and the Manchester Police Department are investigating police officers' use of force during a recent arrest.

Early Sunday morning, officers tasered two people and arrested four after a fight broke out at Bonfire, a downtown Manchester bar.

Flickr

 

Two stores in Massachusetts began selling recreational marijuana today, but police are reminding people in New Hampshire to be careful.

State law says someone can be arrested if they have more than three quarters of an ounce of marijuana and charged with a felony if they have over an ounce with intent to distribute.

NHPR File Photo

 

A commission of criminal justice experts convened by lawmakers has issued its recommendations for how New Hampshire should implement bail reform.

Among other things, it recommends that the courts keep track of whether defendants commit new offenses while out on bail; that the state pay bail commissioner fees if the defendant is indigent; that victims generally not be required to testify at a bail hearing; and that the state adopt a text messaging system to remind defendants about their court date.

A Conval Regional High School student allegedly involved in a school shooting threat last week is being held without bond in a Manchester jail.

According to police, Anthony Wheeler of Antrim posted a picture on Snapchat last week of another Conval student dressed up like one of the Columbine school shooters and holding guns.

A caption read: "Don’t go to school on Wednesday."

Police have not revealed whether the guns in the photo were real, but all district schools were closed on Wednesday as a result.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

New Hampshire stores that sell e-cigarettes are reacting to the Food and Drug Administration’s sweeping proposals to limit teen vaping.

The crackdown comes after a national report revealed a nearly 80 percent increase in the number of high-schoolers who vape.

Police in Manchester, Pelham, Nashua, and Concord are joining forces on Saturday to host a "Youth Forum for New Americans."

The event is the first time the police have organized this kind of event for young people, specifically targetting immigrants and refugees.

John Marasco is an Administrative Major with the New Hampshire State Police. He says the afternoon is meant to build relationships between the police and new Americans, particularly those who have had bad experiences with law enforcement in the past.

File photo

Police are investigating the death of a woman last weekend in a Manchester jail. 

 

Deatrah Reilly, 32, was found dead in her jail cell on Saturday after an apparent suicide.

Her mother, Lorri Moore, says Reilly struggled with drug addiction and depression.

She was arrested on outstanding warrants, including for drug possession. 

 

"She was in Valley Street Jail," says Moore. "Everyone told me leave her there - it will help her, it will save her life."

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Manchester is continuing to develop a plan for improving its schools. The initiative, called Manchester Proud, was started by the local business community this summer.

On Tuesday, members of the coalition gave an update to the school board about their efforts to gather input and develop an action plan.

Since September, they have knocked on the doors of over 2,000 residents to survey them about local schools.

Emily Corwin for NHPR

A commission convened by lawmakers will issue recommendations on Wednesday for how New Hampshire courts should treat defendants before trial.

The group - made up of lawmakers, police, and legal professionals - began meeting after the passage of a bail reform bill this summer.

That bill - SB 556 - eliminated cash bail for most defendants.

It also called for a commission that would develop a new system for judges to set bail and keep a defendant in jail when necessary.

File Photo, NHPR

Southern New Hampshire University is partnering with Walgreens to expand higher education for veterans.

SNHU and Walgreens will work together to help up to 5,000 U.S. veterans who work at Walgreens earn discounted masters or bachelor's degrees from the school.

Sodanie Chea via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/MLjxV

The government benefits program for women and children, known as WIC, is getting an upgrade in New Hampshire.

WIC provides benefits to about 12,000 low-income New Hampshire residents to help cover the cost of healthy groceries. Until recently, mothers using WIC redeemed their benefits with a paper voucher, but by the end of 2018 all participants in the state will redeem their benefits with a WIC debit card.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

A job fair catering to "experienced workers" over the age of 50 brought nearly 700 job seekers to Manchester on Friday.

The fair, organized by the AARP, the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs, and the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security, is the first of its kind to target baby boomers in the state.

This is the fastest growing demographic of potential workers in New Hampshire.

Lonn Sattler, a Navy vet from Barrington, lost his job last year after working for 36 years in veteran benefits.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

New Hampshire has new Codes of Ethics and Conduct for educators.

The Department of Education says the codes revolve around "four core principles" established by legislation in 2017: "Responsibility to students, responsibility to education profession and educational professionals, responsibility to the school community, and ethical use of technology."

FILE

Democrats flipped the New Hampshire Legislature and Executive Council in this week's elections. But they also took control of two lower-profile offices for County Attorney.

County attorneys oversee law enforcement and set criminal justice priorities in each county.

Only two county attorney races were close - and in both, Democrats beat out Republican incumbents with a promise of criminal justice reform.

In Merrimack County, public defender Robin Davis won after she was nominated as a write-in Democratic candidate during the primaries.

NHPR File Photo

Next year, Republican Governor Chris Sununu will be working with a Democratic majority in the legislature and on the Executive Council. 

The last time the five-member council was majority Democrat was in 2014.

The Council reviews the Governor's hiring decisions and approves state contracts.

Historically, it has been seen as non-partisan, but in recent years it has become more political - with fights over Planned Parenthood, light rail, and staffing appointments.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Officials at the New Hampshire Department of Education say an employee who was under investigation remains at his job and that "appropriate and available disciplinary actions have been taken."

Over the summer, Anthony Schinella, the Department's Director of Communications, made comments on Facebook criticizing a gathering of state business leaders focused on diversity.

He wrote: "We don't want or need NH to become any kind of cesspool..."

File

All schools in the Con-Val Regional School District were closed today because of an online threat of school violence. 

At 6 this morning, Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders received a call from Peterborough police that they were investigating reports of a school shooting threat posted on social media. 

School buses already en route to school turned back and delivered students home. 

The superintendent told the Monadnock Ledger Transcript that police interviewed three Con-Val High School students believed to be involved in posting the threat.  

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