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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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..."

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.  

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.


Allegra Boverman for NHPR

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.

www.massfiretrucks.com

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:

jimmywayne / Flickr Creative Commons

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.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Governor Sununu unveiled a $24 million plan on Tuesday to tackle New Hampshire's nursing shortage.

The Governor says he expects a major surplus in state funds this year and that the majority of it should go to expanding college nursing programs.

FILE

Federal prosecutors in Hillsborough County have begun to toughen penalties for fentanyl traffickers as part of a nationwide program called  "Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Surge pilot program during a stop in Concord this summer.

NHPR

All 24 seats in the New Hampshire Senate are on the ballot this year. Republicans currently hold a four seat majority there, but Democrats hope a strong showing at the polls could give them control of the chamber, for the first time in nearly a decade. 

This week, we're checking in on a handful of swing seats in the Senate, places where the outcome on Election Day will be critical to the balance of power in the State House next year.

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Students from across the state convened at Manchester Community College over the weekend for the state's first Youth Forum on Race and Racism.

The gathering, organized by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, was meant to help students develop plans for addressing issues of race and racism at their schools.

A $100,000 grant is available for a New Hampshire school seeking to increase its energy efficiency.

The money comes from the U.S. Department of Energy and is flagged for state energy projects. This is the first time New Hampshire has made the funds available to schools.

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On Saturday, Laconia Middle School became a training ground for police, firefighters, and EMS personnel from across Belknap County.

The Laconia Police Department organized the training to test local emergency response in case of an active shooter. Police departments across the state conduct these regularly, but trainings at schools have ramped up in the last several years, in part due to funding from the Department of Homeland Security.

Scroll through the slideshow above to see photos from the training.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

 

The Laconia Police Department is conducting an active shooter exercise Saturday at Laconia Middle School.

New Hampshire police run these exercises regularly, but this one is meant to train officers from departments throughout Belknap County.

Police Chief Matthew Canfield says, when incidents occur in a rural state, it's critical to coordinate multiple departments.

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As Election Day approaches, the race between 1st Congressional District candidates Chris Pappas and Eddie Edwards is heating up. 

The candidates met at a packed AARP forum on Thursday to discuss Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, prescription drug prices, and paid family leave. 

They had starkly different takes on how to support seniors, with Democrat Chris Pappas saying he would "protect and strengthen" government programs, and Republican Eddie Edwards advocating for the free market over government control. 

Courtesy of USCIS

Forty New Hampshire residents became official U.S. citizens on Thursday.

They took the oath of allegiance at a naturalization ceremony in Manchester organized by the U.S Citizen and Immigration Services.

The new citizens came originally from 24 different countries, from Somalia to Nepal to Canada.

They now live in 18 different towns across New Hampshire.

SPSOA UNION/Flickr/CC

 

 

The Manchester Police Department has been ordered to develop a better policy on granting police paid days off.

 

Major Joyce Craig ordered an internal audit into the practice of so-called "chief days" this summer. Those are paid days off for police personnel that do not count toward vacation time.

 

The audit found that 466 "chief days" had been awarded since 2009, but it did not reveal the amount of money it cost the city.

 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  Eddie Edwards, the Republican nominee in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District, picked up a big endorsement Monday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed Edwards, who's running against Democrat Chris Pappas for the open seat this year.

Ryan said in a statement that Edwards will be "a voice for common-sense policies, smaller and more efficient government, and ideas that expand economic opportunity throughout the Granite State."

Johannes Thiel via Flickr cc

 

A group convened by Governor Sununu to study whether schools should start after Labor Day is meeting for the first time on Tuesday.

In August, the Governor issued a "Save our Summers" executive order calling for a commission to study the impacts of a later start date.

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The Goldman Sachs Foundation is launching a program at Manchester Community College to train small business owners.

Ten Thousand Small Businesses, offers a 10-week intensive course and certificate to entrepreneurs, free of cost. 

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