Seacoast | New Hampshire Public Radio

Seacoast

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

Several New Hampshire towns will vote this week on whether to require residents to wear face masks in public. The votes come as New Hampshire remains the only state in the region without a statewide mask mandate.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

In the pandemic summer of 2020, even New Hampshire town meetings have had to get flexible.

A time for backyard barbecues and trips to the beach must make way for taxes and town business. In a corkscrew twist of the calendar, Stratham is holding its town meeting — a rite of spring since it was incorporated in the 18th century — on the second Saturday of July.

Courtesy of Juliana Good

Activists are planning a Black Lives Matter protest in Portsmouth on Friday that will be accessible to disabled people. 

Deborah Opramolla and Juliana Good are the two organizers of the event. Deborah Opramolla is co-chair of the New Hampshire chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign and Juliana Good is a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire. They joined NHPR’s All Things Considered host Peter Biello to discuss the protest, scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. outside the North Church.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Near-drought conditions in southern New Hampshire are straining vegetable farmers in the midst of planting season, after more than a month without substantial rainfall.

The state expects to soon declare a drought in the southern tier and lower Lakes Region, after an abnormally dry spring and a winter without much snow to recharge streams and groundwater.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Piping plovers have settled in at New Hampshire beaches and volunteers are needed to help babysit the delicate birds.

Brandan Clifford, with the New Hampshire Fish and Wildlife Service, says that COVID-19 restrictions allowed the endangered birds to nest freely on the beaches. Now that people are back, the state needs volunteers to watch and protect the nest areas both day and night.

Chris Nash / NHDES

The state is temporarily banning shellfish harvesting in coastal Atlantic waters because of a severe bloom of potentially toxic algae.

The ban applies to mussels, clams and oysters in near-shore and offshore waters. It does not apply to lobsters, or to inland areas, such as Great Bay and Little Bay.

The advisory also does not indicate a threat to swimmer or surfers, who were allowed back onto the Seacoast beaches as of Monday.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

After more than two months of roped off parking and patrolled sand, New Hampshire’s beaches reopened on Monday.

Huge swaths of the shoreline remained empty, though, likely due to a combination of chilly morning weather and the large number of restrictions that remain in place, including limited parking capacity, in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest on COVID-19 and efforts to reopen New Hampshire. 

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Portsmouth Fire Chief Todd Germain says someone set fire to Portsmouth Middle School early Saturday morning.

The call came in around 3:15 a.m.

Sprinklers suppressed the fire until firefighters arrived and extinguished the flames around the main entrance foyer.

Preliminary damage estimates exceed $100,000.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is assisting Portsmouth police and fire officials with the investigation.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Eversource has notified the state that it plans to power up its new Seacoast transmission line at the end of this month, on May 29.

The Seacoast Reliability Project runs about 13 miles between Madbury and Portsmouth, with a mile buried underwater beneath Little Bay, between Durham and Newington.

Eversource proposed the project in 2015 as part of its response to a call for more reliable infrastructure from the regional grid operator, ISO-New England. The utility says the line will help carry electric load and back up other transmission lines in the area.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

When New Hampshire reopens parts of its economy in the next couple of weeks, the public beaches on the Seacoast will stay closed. It's sparked debate in seaside towns like Rye over what restrictions are warranted.


Dan Tuohy/NHPR

Though the building is closed to the public, staff at the Portsmouth Public Library are continuing to collect public documents and newspaper articles to add to their archive – including those on COVID-19.

Now, the library wants to include the personal side of the pandemic in their collection.

They’re asking Seacoast residents to chronicle their pandemic experience through an online community diary.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The Star Island resort on the Isles of Shoals will not open this summer, for the first time in decades.

The seasonal facility off the coast near Portsmouth is only accessible by boat. It typically hosts thousands of people each summer for conferences, retreats and more.

This year, that will change due to fears about the spread of coronavirus.

Kim Reed / UNH

State officials are using federal money to look at how rising seas will threaten major highways and connecting routes on the Seacoast.

The project, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will build a "vulnerability assessment" for the I-95, Route 1 and Route 1A corridors, and local connector roads, including Routes 101 and 286.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

The owner of the Teatotaller café in Somersworth is taking on Facebook at the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

The colorful coffee shop, a self-styled “queer hipster oasis,” routinely hosts everything from teen drag shows to presidential campaign stops.

NOAA Fisheries

New Hampshire is drafting plans for how its lobster fishery will help meet new federal goals for protecting endangered North Atlantic right whales.

Seacoast lobstermen weighed in on the proposal at a meeting Thursday night in Portsmouth with the state Department of Fish and Game.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The Air Force says it will study whether people stationed at Pease Air Base in recent decades got cancer at unusually high rates.

Former service members have been calling for a study like this for more than a year.

Via Frank's Taxi's website

The owner and employees of a Rochester taxi company have been charged with defrauding the state's Medicaid program.

FILE

The cities of Rochester, Dover and Somersworth are considering a new way to provide temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness during the coldest parts of winter.

Rochester was the first of the Tri-Cities to adopt a new permit on the issue. It lets private properties become emergency shelters during cold weather for up to 48 hours, so long as the building that wants to house people meets fire protection requirements.

The town of Durham has been the target of angry messages from across the country after making some changes to its annual holiday celebration.

Officials say they hoped to make Saturday's event more inclusive and less Christmas-centric. But some locals say they wish the decision had been handled differently. 

Peter Biello/NHPR

Earlier this week, Thomas Starr took a walk along Route 108 in Durham, looking for a path to town landing, by the Oyster River. The path veers away from the bridge and drops down closer to the water.

"You see how the road dips down here? That's a concern, where that could flood," says Starr.

 

Starr is professor of graphic and information design at Northeastern University, and he thinks a lot about flooding, especially the kind attributed to climate change. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Unusually high king tides on parts of the Seacoast may cause flooding in the next few days.

The colloquial term refers to unusually high tides, over 10 feet on the Seacoast.  A series of those high tides are forecast through Wednesday. This can cause minor flooding on streets that border tidal areas, in towns like Hampton.

On Sunday, the beach town was also hit with rain and gusty winds. The tide inundated the back marsh of Hampton Beach, pushing some low-level flooding onto some streets.

Peter Biello | NHPR

The Department of Veterans Affairs has opened a new outpatient clinic for veterans in Somersworth, New Hampshire.

This new clinic doubles the space previously available and offers new space for mental health, women’s health, telemedicine, and specialty care. About 2700 veterans in the Seacoast area are now enrolled there.

At a dedication ceremony Friday, interim director of the Manchester VA Kevin Forrest said he'd like to add more specialty services.

Sara Plourde

Decades before the Salem witch trials, two women were accused of witchcraft in New Hampshire. Jane Walford and Eunice Cole stood trial in the same year, within just a few miles of each other, but their lives ended quite differently. The fates of these women might provide insight into what a historical witch actually was, and why some survived their trials while others did not. 

 

This is first episode of "The Real Witches of New Hampshire," a three-part series and collaboration between New Hampshire Public Radio and New Hampshire Humanities.

The Department of Education’s civil rights office will investigate an allegation of racism at a school in Hampton, stemming from complaints made by the parents of a young girl.

John and Julie Cochrane say their daughter Kora was bullied for her race at two different Hampton elementary schools, starting in between 2016.

Kora is black and her adoptive parents are white.

NHPR Staff

Neighbors of the Seabrook nuclear power plant called for more transparent, independent monitoring of the facility’s degrading concrete at a federal hearing Monday.

They spoke before a panel of administrative judges, who will spend the week weighing whether Seabrook’s owner, NextEra, has adequately studied the cracks forming in the plant’s concrete.

Rochester Kicks Off Census 2020 Efforts

Sep 17, 2019
Wikimedia Commons

Census officials are working with local partners in New Hampshire to get the word out about the 2020 Census. The city of Rochester held an event on Tuesday at Great Bay Community College Advanced Technology campus and invited community leaders to share ideas on how to increase participation in 2020. 

Census Day is April 1st, 2020. The first address canvassing operation has already begun in mid-August and will continue until mid-October in all 10 counties in New Hampshire. 

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

Seacoast towns are testing out a new state framework to help plan for rising seas, stronger storms and other coastal risks expected to increase with climate change.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New Hampshire state law now bans offshore drilling and exploration for oil and natural gas.

Gov. Chris Sununu signed the bill into law Tuesday at Ragged Neck State Park — with the Atlantic Ocean and Isles of Shoals as a backdrop. The measure breezed through the state Legislature earlier this year, during a time when President Trump was calling for expanding offshore drilling.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Editor's note: This is the second story in a two-part series. Click here to read part one

We heard yesterday about a family who left the Hampton school district this past spring, saying school officials mishandled their daughter's reports that she was bullied for being black. 

Hampton administrators say they didn't break any rules. But for the past couple years, they've been trying to improve their policies around diversity and equity. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Editor's note: This is the first story in a two-part series. Here is part two

The schools in Hampton are in the midst of debate over how to handle racism and prejudice. 

The issue came into focus earlier this year, when the white parents of a black third-grader said school officials had mishandled their reports of racist bullying. 

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