Sarah Gibson for NHPR


The city of Berlin has struggled for years with cuts in state funding to its schools. But this spring, there was hope that the Democrat-controlled legislature would send more aid to Berlin and other poor cities and towns. Governor Sununu’s veto of that budget in June means Berlin is now in limbo, even as students head back to school. 

Officials say a Massachusetts man was killed when his all-terrain vehicle crashed in Jericho State Park in Berlin, New Hampshire.

Officials say the ATV operated by 56-year-old William Vannett, of Middleboro, Massachusetts, skidded off the Holt's Revenge Trail and dropped over an embankment early Friday evening.

He died at the scene.

Vannett was described as an experienced ATV operator who was wearing a helmet and eye protection at the time of the crash.

The crash remains under investigation.



During our reporting, some conversations don't make the final cut because they don't quite fit the subject at hand – but it's often the meandering moment and quiet stories that bring a place to life. Here's a few too good not to share: we're calling them "Tiny Stories from the North Country."

North Country: The Big Nansen

Jul 11, 2019
Rachel Cohen

The dream of waking "the sleeping giant." 


 This audio postcard is part of Word of Mouth's series on the North Country. 


Is the North Country moving towards an ATV-based economy? And if it is, what does that mean for residents who aren't sold on the idea? 

Justine Paradis

Is the North Country ready, willing, and able to shift from a timber-based economy to a tourism-based economy?

Cori Princell / NHPR

The biomass power plant in Berlin is getting half a million dollars from the state to build a waste heat recovery system that will soon power a new greenhouse.

The Burgess Biopower plant burns woodchips to make steam, which turns turbines and generates electricity.

Credit mikecogh via Flickr Creative Commons

A former prison chaplain pleaded guilty on Tuesday in federal court to charges he smuggled drugs and other contraband to inmates.

Joseph Buenviaje served as chaplain at the federal prison in Berlin from 2015 until November of last year, when he was arrested after being found in possession of hundreds of strips of Suboxone.

Courtesy of Endeavor Audio

One of the top podcasts on the charts right now imagines the U.S. in a massive blackout - no electricity, no cell phone service, and a potential conspiracy. It's called Blackout, a fictional story that’s set in Berlin, New Hampshire.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

The city of Berlin has been making some tough decisions lately. As state aid for education declines, Berlin is struggling to keep its schools open. And it’s not alone. Some towns have brought lawsuits against the state, claiming it isn’t covering enough education costs. 

Sarah Gibson for NHPR


Corinne Cascadden, the Superintendent of Schools in Berlin, is stepping down this June. Cascadden served for over 20 years as an elementary school principal and for 10 years as superintendent.

She was an often outspoken critic of lawmakers in Concord over the issue of state education aid, which pays for much of Berlin's school budget.

This aid is declining annually, which Cascadden blames for the district's recent decision to close Brown Elementary, its last stand-alone elementary school.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

On cold days, Berlin City manager Jim Wheeler can stand on the steps of city hall and see plumes of steam billowing from the wood chip burning plant Burgess BioPower.

The plant sits on the former site of the city’s pulp mill factory on the Androscoggin River.

“One of the things about biomass plants is that they make a lot of steam, and that's energy that goes to the sky,” Wheeler says.

Now, Wheeler wants to harness the heat that makes this steam for a snowmelt system.

courtesy of Federal Bureau of Prisons

As we enter the 20th day of the federal shutdown, government employees across New Hampshire are continuing to go without pay.

The federal correctional institution in Berlin is one of the largest employers in the city. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with corrections officer Jesse Carter about how the shutdown is affecting him and other staff at the prison.

(Editor's note: this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)

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.

A prison chaplain in Berlin is facing federal charges after prosecutors say he smuggled contraband into a federal correctional facility.

Joseph Buenviaji, 53, appeared in federal court in Concord on Thursday, where he faces bribery and contraband charges. 

Peter Higbee / Nansen Ski Club

People driving through downtown Berlin, New Hampshire on Friday might hit an unusual "toll,” and a reminder that winter is coming.

Along Route 16, near Veteran's Memorial Park, Nansen Ski Club volunteers will stand on one side of the road behind traffic barricades, banner unfurled, and buckets open for some change or a dollar.

Photo by Cheryl Senter, courtesy of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation

In all of Northern New Hampshire, there are two people working on behalf of New Hampshire Legal Assistance to provide legal help to those in need. One of them is retiring this week.

Dona Larsen has served as a paralegal in the Berlin Office for over 35 years. A native Berliner, she’s witnessed changes in the region over the course of her career. Friday is her last day in the office.

This your last week in the office and as you wrap up your work. Are there any cases left on your desk? 

Berlin School District

The city of Berlin and its school district will host a forum Thursday that explains how the state funds public education.

They're calling it: "Save Our Schools: Save Education Funding Now."

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky and lawyer John Tobin have led three of these forums in other property-poor towns around the state.

The pair were lawyers in the original lawsuits against the state for adequate school funding more than two decades ago.

Mary McIntyre

For this week’s Radio Field Trip, we’re heading off the highway and onto the trails of the North Country.

Do you have a suggestion for an upcoming Radio Field Trip? Click here to submit your idea, or email us at

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Berlin is the latest city to join a massive lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies for their alleged role in the opioid crisis.

Lawyers representing Berlin filed a 284-page petition in federal court on Friday accusing a group of pharmaceutical companies of stoking the opioid crisis by misleading doctors and patients about the risks of addiction posed by drugs including OxyContin.


Two inmates at the federal prison in Berlin, New Hampshire, have been sentenced for punching, kicking, and stomping another inmate that was caught on videotape. 

Robert Garrova for NHPR

City and state officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony along the Androscoggin River in Berlin Friday to mark the completion of a $7 million infrastructure project.


The project includes road reconstruction, new sidewalk, landscaping, a new storm water collection system and other improvements.


Mayor Paul Grenier says he wants to see more visitors to Berlin and rehabbing this roughly three-mile stretch of Route 16 that winds through the heart of the city was key.  

Elmire Jolicoeur

There’s a story out there… a story you’ll find on dozens, maybe hundreds of websites, about the invention of the casserole:

“In 1866, Elmire Jolicoeur, a French Canadian immigrant, invented the precursor of the modern casserole in Berlin, New Hampshire.”

That’s from Wikipedia. If you don’t trust Wikipedia, you can also find this attribution in print, too.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A pre-planned outage at Berlin's wood-burning power plant ends Saturday night.

The 75-megawatt Burgess Biomass Plant has been down for routine maintenance since last weekend.

Plant manager David Walker says they've been doing this twice a year since 2016.

"Biomass plants will typically schedule this time of year, because of what they call the spring and the fall mud season, so the loggers aren't allowed to get into the woods, or if the roads are posted and whatnot,” he says.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

A group of residents in the town of Gorham is suing to shut down a popular ATV trailhead.

Neighbors of the trail say they are fed up with the dust, noise and fumes from the four-wheelers. In their court filing, they cite an escalating number of police complaints lodged in Gorham in recent years involving ATV and OHRV riders. 

Jamelah E./Flickr

Two Berlin businesses are cancelling an Election Day-related raffle after learning the drawing violates state law.

Scene Street, a consignment shop, and Tech Pro, a computer repair store, each planned to give anyone who entered wearing an “I Voted” sticker on Election Day a raffle ticket for various prizes.

The State Attorney General, however, ordered the businesses to cancel the promotions, citing a 1973 law that prohibits using items of value to encourage a vote.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Local economies don’t turn on a dime. When a factory town loses its factories, and workers lose their jobs, it can take decades for a community to get back on its feet.

That’s been the reality in places like Berlin and Gorham: two former paper mill towns in the North Country now trying to reinvent themselves.

Businesses, officials and residents are hoping that ATV tourism can provide a much-needed financial boost. 

Todd Bookman/NHPR

If you find yourself in downtown Berlin, New Hampshire, take a glance at the Androscoggin River. There, in the middle of the water, you’ll notice a long, straight line of small rocky islands poking through the surface.

Cori Princell

It's spring and farmers markets are opening around the state. In Berlin, a city that’s been through some tough economic changes, the summer farmers market has long been a bright spot of local food and community. But earlier this spring, it was looking like that farmers market might not be happening anymore.

Cori Princell / NHPR

A company in Quebec announced Friday it’s opening up new operations in Berlin. Deflex produces fiberglass parts for Volvo buses and waterslides. The family-owned company says they’ve been looking for a way to make their products in America for American clients, and that they’ve been talking with New Hampshire officials about the move for over a year.