Todd Bookman

Reporter

Todd started at NHPR in 2009 as an intern, and in 2011, took over the health beat. He spent two years at WHYY in Philadelphia covering health and science, before returning to NHPR in 2016 as a general assignment reporter with a focus on business and economics. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

Ways to Connect

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sskennel/4526014600/">SSkennel</a> / Flickr

After a lifetime of health challenges, the last thing Katrina wanted to hear was that she’d contracted Hepatitis C. 

“I was devastated,” says the 41-year old, whose last name is being withheld at her request.

She also suffers from diabetes and kidney failure, and believes she got Hep C about five years ago, possibly from sharing razors with a female roommate.

Because Hep C can live in the body for decades without producing symptoms, it’s sometimes called the silent killer.

Produced with Emma Ruddock

Todd Bookman/NHPR

After last Tuesday’s storms in southwestern New Hampshire, White Brook Road in Gilsum is no longer a road.

Toben Hansen / Flickr/Creative Commons

The House and Senate reached agreement today on a medical marijuana bill

This final version would allow patients with a doctor’s prescription to possess up to six ounces of marijuana. Medicinal use would only be granted to people with debilitating conditions or terminal diseases.

Senator James Forsythe, a Republican from Strafford, believes the bill is designed to ensure public safety.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

As a farmer in Bhutan, Laxmi Narayan Mishre provided food and stability for his family.

But when ethnic tensions flared in the small Himalayan country, his land was seized.

With his wife and ten children, Mishre would spend the next two decades living in a cramped refugee camp in neighboring Nepal. Rumors swirled about a possible resettlement to America, and what life would be like here.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

This weekend, the Canterbury Shaker Village opens its doors for the season.

It’s 600 acres of stillness, of restored buildings and manicured fields. But there’s one thing missing.

“Visitors come here expecting to see Shakers,” says Funi Burdick, Executive Director of the Village.

Xiabo Song, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Charles Wheelan’s unconventional advice for graduates got us talking about the twists and turns of our own post-graduate lives. The path life takes, as we know, zigs as often as it zags…so Virginia Prescott asked a few colleagues to record what they wish they’d been told on that expectant day.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Students from Bedford High School packed a Senate hearing to show their support for the International Baccalaureate program.

Bedford was the first school in the State to adopt IB, which supporters compare to rigorous Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

In March, the New Hampshire House overwhelmingly backed a measure that would effectively prohibit schools from using the controversial curriculum.

A fishing license in New Hampshire goes for $35. That money helps fund the State’s six fish hatcheries, where the vast majority of trout that anglers reel in are raised. 

Before Facebook and MySpace transformed how we interact virtually, there was another kind of Internet — a 1980s network, where users connected via phone lines and communicated through simple lines of text.

And while that may sound outdated, that version of the Internet is still very much alive.

'A Lot More Elegant'

Pat McNameeking, a college student in Concord, N.H., is one champion of this throwback social network known as SDF, or Super Dimensional Fortress.

Less than twenty-four hours after one of the bloodiest episodes in New Hampshire Law Enforcement history, a new class of police cadets graduated from the academy.

Friends and family of New Hampshire’s newest law enforcement agents filled the room to see the 157th police academy class receive their certificates.

But the mood in Concord was bittersweet as Governor John Lynch addressed the crowd.

New Hampshire lawmakers have reached agreement on a Congressional redistricting plan. With two incumbent Republicans in Congress, both wanted to keep their districts as GOP-leaning as possible.

Under the final plan, six towns will switch districts. Sanborton, Tilton and Campton move east from District 2 to District 1; while Deerfield, Northwood and Center Harbor will shift west to District 2.

After 18 months of federal and state review, Northeast Utilities has completed a $5-billion purchase of Boston-based NStar. The deal makes PSNH’s parent company the largest utility in New England.

During a conference call, CEO Tom May said the acquisition would help his company pursue the Northern Pass project.

"The new NU will, because of the financial strength of the combined companies, actually have credit rating upgrades, which should make it a lot easier to finance this project," said May.

Lawmakers hear testimony about school building aid

The State may be getting close to ending a school building aid moratorium.

Both the House and Senate have approved measures to restructure how aid is distributed. That’s good news for both schools districts and taxpayers.

“We need a change that will be both affordable for the State, as well as provide the necessary assistance to communities to keep their schools in good condition,” says Ed Murdough with the Department of Education.

Both bills call for the State to rank projects. Unsafe, overcrowded schools would get priority.

After sailing through the Senate, a bill that would have created a ‘Sexual Offender Management Board’ hit a wall in the House today.

The bill calls for the creation of a 19-member board that would evaluate policies toward sex offenders.

Advocate Chris Dornin told the House Criminal Justice Committee that laws are often rushed through after a high-profile child murder or molestation.

The most recent State budget slashed funding for legal services for the poor. Last week, the House passed a bill that would put even more aid at risk.

The legislation would change how something called IOLTA works.

IOLTA stands for ‘Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts’.

When a client hands money over to a lawyer for a short period of time, say, while a real estate deal is being closed, the lawyer puts the money into a pooled account. That account earns interest.

Mead in New Hampshire

Mar 29, 2012
Photo by Todd Bookman for NHPR

Starting a small business is always a challenge.  Starting a meadery? Yeah, that’s not easy either. Just ask Michael Fairbrother

“I talk to people about mead, and they go, ‘What kind of meat do you make?’ I’m like, ‘No, I don’t make meat. I make mead.’ And they don’t understand what that is.”

In 2010, Fairbrother opened Moonlight Meadery in Londonderry, NH.

He’s more than happy to explain that mead is a wine made from honey, not grapes. And like traditional wine, you can’t rush it.

Gambling in New Hampshire ran up against a stacked deck in the Statehouse today. 

The House has voted to kill a bill that would have brought four casinos and 14,000 video slot machines to the state. The bill would have used gambling revenue to reduce business taxes.

Supporters urged quick action to offset the recent approval of three casinos in Massachusetts.

"Since Massachusetts passed its own expanded gaming bill, doing nothing is no longer an option," says Representative David Campbell, a Democrat from Nashua.

The House rejected that plan by 40 votes. 

jphilipg via Flickr Creative Commons

You can add transportation to the long list of issues hitting a roadblock in Washington. Funding for New Hampshire’s I-93 expansion may get stuck in the beltway traffic jam.

Rethinking Frankenstein

Mar 26, 2012

 Mary Shelley’s gothic novel, Frankenstein has long been read as a cautionary tale about the limits of technology, and a warning against scientific hubris. The monster is a man-made creation run amok, seeking revenge on the scientist that harnessed electricity and brought him to life…a horror recreated many times on film.

Along party lines, the New Hampshire Senate today passed a second, more restrictive voter ID measure. Earlier this month, a bill requiring voters to show valid photo identification or sign an affidavit was approved with the backing of Town Clerks and the Secretary of State.

This new Republican-backed legislation would require those seeking to vote in New Hampshire to also register their vehicles in the State and apply for a New Hampshire driver’s license.

Marcia Blackman outside the Statehouse

The House is expected to vote this afternoon on a measure that would repeal the State’s 2009 law that legalized same-sex marriage. 

There is a decidedly quiet mood outside the Statehouse today, as both opponents and supporters of gay marriage await an anticipated vote on a repeal.  The Republican-sponsored measure attempts to re-define marriage as between a man and a woman. The bill would allow for civil unions.

Statehouse observers expect a close vote, in part because of a strong libertarian streak that runs through many House Republicans.

Photo by 'Images of Money' via Flickr Creative Commons

New data from the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority paints a mixed picture of the State’s housing market. 

288 New Hampshire homes slipped into foreclosure in January. That’s a 22-percent decrease from the prior month, but still well above pre-recession levels.

“It is not a case of 'bam', we wake up one morning and the foreclosure issue is gone,” said Jane Law with NH Housing. She said the market is showing signs of a slow recovery. 

Photo by John Lam via Flickr Creative Commons

"Mesh networks" are set up the way the original internet was envisioned to work – users hosting and transmitting as individuals, rather than using centralized networks. Back then, users also communicated differently with each other – on platforms with funky names like IRC and NNTP. Those systems live on today.

A select few are choosing to bypass Facebook and go old-school, with an online forum that lacks pop-up ads and animated banners, where there’s no double-clicking, no need for a mouse, and no graphics…

In case you forgot what a New England winter is supposed to be like, Mother Nature decided to drop in with a reminder. Snow impacts everything from checkbooks to yardwork in New Hampshire, but has gone missing for most of this winter. 

While I was busy shoveling my car out, a neighbor of mine was tackling a completely different winter chore.

Recovering alcoholics can usually pinpoint their rock-bottom. For Michael Hagar, it was the night of July 28, 2009. That evening, he met up with some friends to drink behind the Hannaford’s supermarket in Keene. 

“And that is where the whole incident took off from,” said Hagar.

Behind the grocery story, Hagar believes he drank about 18 beers. Then someone jumped him, hitting him in the face with a log. His pants and wallet were stolen. Gushing blood and enraged, he staggered into the store's parking lot.

The New Hampshire House has passed a bill giving lawmakers final say on collective bargaining agreements with the State. The legislation is just the latest effort by Republicans in Concord to rein in the costs of public employee contracts.

"This gives the legislature the ability to look at an entire contract and say whether it is fair, and whether we should fund it," says Republican Neil Kurk of Weare.

Flickr Creative Commons/Just Some Dust

A bill requiring New Hampshire students to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance passed a house committee today.

"Standing is a sign of national patriotism," says Republican Representative Lawrence Kappler.

Current law permits students to remain seated, as long as they are silent and respectful. The constitutionality of the bill is in question, however. Representative Gary Richardson believes that requiring someone to stand is clearly an issue of free speech. 

The New Hampshire House today voted to eliminate the Chancellor’s Office within the University System. The bill calls for many of the responsibilities of the Office to be shifted to the Board of Trustees and to school presidents. Created in 1974, the Chancellor’s duties include government relations, purchasing and audits.

50 Yard Line Seats, for the Homeless?

Feb 2, 2012
Photo by Ammar Abd Rabbo via Flickr Creative Commons

If you don’t like the thought of taxpayer money financing sports stadiums, you’ll like this story out of Florida. An obscure law passed 23-years ago says that professional sports facilities built with the help of government funds must serve as homeless shelters on the nights when no events are taking place. Florida lawmakers are now attempting to use this statute to recoup huge sums of money. Is this a Hail Mary?  

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