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New Hampshire

Wild Churches Bring Religion Outside

Jul 12, 2019
James Napoli

It’s Sunday morning. The Reverend Stephen Blackmer is ringing two large handbells. He’s calling his congregation back from silent meditation. 

They gather to pray around the altar. It’s a small wooden table set on a sunny knoll beneath three white pine trees. On top of the table sits communion bread wrapped in foil, wine in a Nalgene bottle, and offerings of clover, mushrooms, and berries gathered from the surrounding forest. This is Church of the Woods.

For years, an elderly resident of Hanover, N.H., fed one particular female black bear. The old man's food offer of choice? Birdseed and maple-glazed doughnuts from a diner down the street.

Then the man died, and the bear started venturing out farther in search of more delicious treats.

She had become comfortable around humans, and people in town grew to love her — a lumbering, strong but gentle animal that would come right up to your door. She's named Mink, after a local natural area called Mink Brook.

New Hampshire is poised to become the 21st state to abolish the death penalty.

The state Senate voted 17-6 Thursday to end capital punishment, adding its voice to the state House which voted for repeal last month by a vote of 279-88. The bill changes the penalty for capital murder to a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

James Napoli

It’s late July in a tiny venue, in a small town, in Vermont. This is an odd space. The walls are lined with strange artifacts and curiosities, including a canning jar that holds Elvis’ gallstones. Or so the label says. It’s the type of place where outcasts and misfits feel right at home. Tonight’s performer is no exception. It’s Kelsie Hogue, a.k.a. Sir Babygirl. She’s wearing a backwards bubblegum pink ball cap and shiny silk robe. She cradles the mic close to her mouth. Her lips are painted cornflower blue—the same as her eye shadow.

This isn’t the type of performer you might expect to see in rural New England. But Hogue’s been here for the past year since she moved back in with her parents.

A decade after Sig Sauer inked a deal to sell up to $306 million worth of pistols to Colombia's National Police, company CEO Ron Cohen is facing jail time in Germany for making the sale.

German prosecutors accuse Cohen of colluding with Sig Sauer's sister company in Germany to violate that country's export rules. Under German law, companies are prohibited from exporting firearms or other weapons to countries in conflict. That includes Colombia, which is slowly emerging from a half-century of armed conflict.

High ranking members of the Colombian National Police found themselves in Exeter, N.H., in the spring of 2009. They were there to visit arms maker Sig Sauer, which had just secured a contract worth up to $306 million to provide Colombian law enforcement with nearly 100,000 pistols. 

Right now, a group of hydroelectric dams on the Connecticut River are undergoing a once-in-a-generation process – a federal relicensing. NHPR’s Annie Ropeik went to the dams and talked with people who live, work and play nearby about what they hope might change.  

Details of a criminal investigation into three professors at Dartmouth College remain unclear. The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office announced the investigation Tuesday after learning from Dartmouth that there had been allegations of sexual misconduct by the professors. The college had announced its own internal investigations last week, but didn't offer details of any allegations.

A fact-finding hearing by President Trump's commission looking into voter fraud exposed self-inflicted rifts among its members during the panel's second meeting Tuesday in Manchester, N.H.

Days earlier, the panel's Republican co-chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, wrote a column in Breitbart News claiming that there was proof of enough voter fraud in New Hampshire last November to possibly have influenced the outcome of a Senate race.

Over a year ago, residents near Merrimack, New Hampshire learned their drinking water had been contaminated by emissions from a plastics plant owned by the multinational company, Saint-Gobain.  

More than a year later, some residents in Merrimack say state and federal officials haven’t done enough to protect them from the contamination. Now, a few are taking things into their own hands, going door to door.

Nine months ago, Joyce Chance left a refugee camp in Uganda where she had spent the last eleven years. Chance, who was born in Congo, boarded a plane with her two kids, and came to the United States.

A refugee resettlement agency in Concord, New Hampshire picked them up at the airport, and moved them into a one-room apartment.

Next month, a mix of Syrian and Iraqi refugees will begin arriving in Rutland, Vermont. They’ll be the first of 100 that will be resettled there over the next year. Though there's been loud opposition to the plan in the aging, blue-collar city of 16,000, proponents remain optimistic — and many have been volunteering long hours to ensure the plan succeeds.

In the Marines, Dan Crim learned how to strap an air-tight respirator over his mouth and nose to protect himself from a biological threat. He was glad to never have to use one in a combat zone during his five deployments overseas.

Now a retired Marine, Crim wears a respirator whenever he sets foot in the house he bought but no longer lives in.

 

 Several hiker-generated petitions have started in opposition to plans to build a hotel near the summit of Mount Washington, the Northeast's highest peak.

Yesterday, a new report was released with suggestions for how Seacoast communities should prepare for the effects of climate change. The document could influence town planning and development in the region for years.

The report came from the Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission, which was created by the legislature back in 2013. It had 37-members representing Seacoast towns, state agencies, and private-sector interests.

Sheryl Rich-Kern / NHPR

The 2016 election has been a source of significant stress for many Americans across the political spectrum. 

Following their first debate Monday, Hillary Clinton has a 7-point lead over Donald Trump in New Hampshire according to a poll released Friday by WBUR.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

In the last couple years, millions of people across the country have learned their drinking water contains high levels of the contaminants known as perfluorochemicals. These are used to make non-stick products like Teflon and pizza boxes. 

Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin is not be eligible to be on the ballot in New Hampshire for the November election, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

The former CIA operative announced his campaign bid this week, saying he wants to give voters unhappy with the two major party candidates another option this November.

But Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan says McMullin didn’t file his declaration of intent paperwork in June, a required step toward getting on the ballot for the fall election.

Calling Donald Trump’s latest controversial comment the last straw, former U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire is urging Republican leaders to strip Trump of the presidential nomination and replace him with someone "of sound mind."

Speaking to MSNBC, Humphrey said Trump’s suggestion at a rally Tuesday that gun owners could take action to stop Hillary Clinton from appointing U.S. Supreme Court judges went too far.

While they say there’s much more work to do, advocates and law enforcement officials alike say have some reason to be optimistic about the future of police-community relations in New Hampshire.

“The community as a whole is discussing things a lot more,” Portsmouth Police Chief David Mara said on Tuesday’s episode of The Exchange, which focused on the relationship between law enforcement and minorities. “People are talking a lot more.”

Manchester will join Nashua in having automated trash pick-up as early as next spring. After a lengthy debate Tuesday evening, the Board of Mayor and Alderman approved the pilot program, by a vote of 7-to-6, for the northwestern and eastern parts of the city.

The region's ongoing drought has forced state officials to restrict or ban outdoor water use in 54 New Hampshire towns and cities.

The state's drought management team has classified the North Country and the White Mountains as “abnormally dry,” while four counties in the southern tier are suffering severe drought conditions. 

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen  says it's time for Bernie Sanders supporters to unite behind presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.

"We can't afford to have people sitting on the sidelines complaining," Shaheen said, speaking to NHPR's Morning Edition from Philadelphia.

To say that Pam Livengood made an impression on Hillary Clinton’s campaign might be an understatement.

The Keene resident first met Clinton last year, on the candidate’s first campaign visit to New Hampshire. At the time, she spoke up about how her family’s been affected by the state’s substance abuse crisis – she took over guardianship of her grandson a few years ago because of issues stemming from her daughter's drug addiction.

New Hampshire’s Republican delegation is in Cleveland for day two of the party’s national convention.

NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers is reporting from Cleveland this week. He spoke with Morning Edition's Rick Ganley about what they delegation is up to, and how they feel about what's transpired so far.

New Hampshire Republican delegate Gordon Humphrey had some sharp words Monday to describe the way his party is managing its convention.

The former U.S. Senator was among a group of so-called Never Trump delegates trying to force a roll call vote on the proposed convention rules, leading to a chaotic scene on the first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The effort by Humphrey and others was ultimately shut down after the roll call was rejected following a series of voice votes.

Speaking to MSNBC afterward, Humphrey criticized the process.

Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president Tuesday.

Courtesy of Tom Gray

A sailor from New England who was killed during the attacks on Pearl Harbor will finally get a proper burial.

Methodists from churches all over New England met last week at the New England Methodist Conference in Manchester. At that conference, they passed a resolution that attempts to make the broader church more inclusive for LGBTQIA people. It’s a decision that may have deeper resonance now after the attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando last week. Beth DiCocco is spokesperson for the New England Conference and she joined NHPR’s Peter Biello to discuss this resolution.

What is the Methodist Church's position on homosexuality?

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