Sarah Gibson | New Hampshire Public Radio

Sarah Gibson

Reporter, Education & Demographics

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on New Hampshire's demographics and education.

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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..."

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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.  

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Some town and city clerks in New Hampshire are expecting big voter turnouts today because of the higher-than-average numbers of absentee ballots they've received.

They say the numbers are above what they usually see for midterm elections, and a bit below what they see during presidential elections, which is usually between 60 to 70 percent.

In Manchester, City Clerk Matthew Normand says absentee ballot numbers are the highest for a midterm in at least 35 years, if not ever.

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The Temple Israel synagogue in Manchester gathered people on Sunday for a discussion on how the U.S. treats refugees and immigrants. The event had been planned for over a year, but it took on new meaning in light of the massacre last weekend at a Pittsburgh synagogue.


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Some big-name supporters joined Congressional District 1 candidates Chris Pappas and Eddie Edwards on their final full day of campaigning. 

Former New Hampshire Governor John Lynch joined Democrat Chris Pappas on campaign stops at diners.

Lynch, a Democrat who served four terms in Concord, said voters want politicians to work across the aisle – and Pappas will do that.

Volunteers from both parties are working to get high school and college-age voters to the polls on Tuesday.

High schools tend to host voter registration drives in the spring, when more seniors have turned eighteen, but some schools are making sure eligible high schoolers are ready to vote tomorrow.

Prescott Herzog, sophomore at Stevens High School in Claremont and president of High School Democrats of America, says his group of high school Democrats is working to ensure all 18-year olds at the school, regardless of their politics, head to the polls.

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A synagogue in Manchester is hosting an event this Sunday to discuss how the U.S. treats refugees.

The gathering, titled "Understanding the History of and Morality of U.S. Refugee Policy," will be held at Temple Israel and will feature an expert on refugee policy, a civil rights lawyer, and a Congolese immigrant who now lives in Manchester.  

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November 1st is the first day of open enrollment for people who buy health insurance offered through the Affordable Care Act.

People have until December 15 to select a plan from Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim or Ambetter that meets standards of the Obamacare program. 

Last year, about 50,000 people in New Hampshire participated in the program.

Some lawmakers and health advocates worry this number will decline because of confusion about the ACA and an increase in other insurance options.

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After more than a year of negotiations, Manchester's firefighters have a new contract.

 The Board of Mayor and Aldermen ratified the contract on Tuesday. Mayor Joyce Craig described the deal as being sustainable for the life of the contract while still falling within the city's tax cap.

It offers a 1.5 percent cost of living (COLA) increase in 2018 and a 2 percent COLA in 2019 and 2020.

  

Despite overall support, about a third of firefighters in the union voted against the contract.

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The New England office of the EPA has awarded grants to Keene State College and the Nashua Regional Planning Commission for projects that aim to reduce kids' exposure to toxins.

Keene State College will use the $25,000 for a project that trains citizen scientists to monitor and reduce air pollution from wood smoke, which exacerbates childhood asthma.

 

A group of New Hampshire lawmakers has issued their recommendations for repurposing the Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC), the state’s juvenile detention facility in Manchester.

The committee convened in response to a juvenile justice bill passed this summer to address underutilization of the facility, which currently houses around 30 juveniles whom the court deems to be delinquent and violent.

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The city of Manchester is reinventing itself. Some think its best hope lies in the high-tech industry based in the booming Millyard. But for others, old-school, neighborhood relationships are still the way to move Manchester forward.

Nowhere are these opposing visions more on display than the race between Republican Ted Gatsas and Democrat Gray Chynoweth for the District 4 seat on the Executive Council.

Congressional 1st District candidates Eddie Edwards and Chris Pappas met last night at a debate in Manchester hosted by WMUR-TV

Despite toeing their party lines, the two candidates both said they were ready to work across the aisle and bring New Hampshire ideals to a broken system in Washington.

Some highlights of the debate include:

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The University of New Hampshire is expanding its free tuition program.

The program, called Granite Guarantee, offers free tuition to New Hampshire students whose family income makes them eligible for federal pell grants.

Granite Guarantee has been in place at UNH for two years; 800 freshmen have used it so far.

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New Hampshire is weeks away from having a 36-bed drug treatment center for youth.

The Youth Substance Use Disorder Treatment Center, or SUD, is in a renovated wing of the Sununu Youth Services Center, a youth detention center in Manchester. 

With cinder block walls and small bedrooms, the wing has retained an institutional look, but it is entirely separate from the secure detention center, with a separate entrance, parking lot, a space for yoga and meditation, and outdoor fields.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

1st Congressional District candidates Eddie Edwards and Chris Pappas met on Wednesday morning at a debate hosted by the Manchester Chamber of Commerce debate.

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