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Bills would regulate drones to ensure privacy
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire could join more than a dozen other states in limiting government and public use of drones to protect citizens' privacy.
The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hold hearings Thursday on a pair of bills to regulate drones.
New Hampshire was among 43 states last year to introduce bills and resolutions concerning the unmanned aircraft. But the proposal that would have prohibited drones from snapping pictures of people's houses couldn't make it through the House.
This year, Republican state Reps. Neal Kurk and Joe Duarte have sponsored bills to require police to get a warrant if they want to use evidence obtained by using drones as surveillance.
The military and some law enforcement agencies already use the devices, but the Federal Aviation Administration doesn't allow commercial use of drones. By last month, 545 drones had FAA authorization to fly in domestic airspace, but Kurk does not think any had been licensed in New Hampshire.
The New Hampshire police chiefs association opposes the bills, arguing the technology could save lives. The New Hampshire chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union supports protecting privacy rights, but says First Amendment rights to free speech also must be preserved.
Congress has given the FAA until September 2015 to integrate the private and commercial use of drones into U.S. airspace. The FAA retains jurisdiction over the safe and efficient use of airspace, but state and local governments have the power to restrict the use of drones operated by the government or a university.
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NH chief injured while attempting drug arrest
MASON, N.H. (AP) -- The police chief of a small New Hampshire town that borders Massachusetts was attacked while attempting to arrest a drug suspect.
Mason police chief Barry Hutchins was struck several times by 38-year-old Russell Monbleu of Fitchburg, Mass. Friday night as the chief was attempting to arrest him on charges of possession of crack cocaine.
WMUR-TV reports (http://bit.ly/MfeA4A ) that Monbleu ran from Brookline Road into the woods and was not apprehended.
The driver of the car -- 34-year-old Danielle Dickstein of Amherst-- was arrested and charged with possession of crack cocaine and possession of marijuana, police said.
Police are seeking a warrant for Monbleu's arrest.
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NH celebrates 9th annual Wine Week
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The New Hampshire Liquor Commission's ninth annual Wine Week is featuring wine personalities and bottle-signings and tastings -- culminating with an Easter Seals fundraising event featuring nearly 1,800 wines.
Wine Week is being held from Monday, Jan. 27, through Thursday, Jan. 30.
On Wednesday, there will be two "Cellar Notes" events, one held in Manchester at the Puritan Backroom Event & Conference Center and another in Portsmouth at the Portsmouth Harbor Events and Conference Center. They will feature four elite wine personalities for an educational tasting and reception.
The 11th Easter Seals Winter Wine Spectacular, the largest wine tasting event in northern New England, takes place Thursday at the Radisson Hotel Manchester from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
"Wine Week taps into New Hampshire, and the region's love of wine," said Joseph Mollica, chairman of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission. "With more than $273 million in wine sales last fiscal year, which marks a 7.3 percent increase from the previous year, New Hampshire is a significant player in the wine world. Our status draws the industry's premier wine producers, who travel great distances each January to interact with our customers."
For more information on Wine Week events and to purchase tickets, visit www.NHWineWeek.com.
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NH bill would permit offenders to drive to work
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire lawmakers are slated to debate a bill that would provide a limited license to eligible first-time drunk driving offenders.
The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police is against the proposal -- which would allow first-time offenders to drive to work and doctors' appointments -- saying it would be difficult to enforce.
Foster's Daily Democrat reports (http://bit.ly/KXV371 ) that the bill would require applicants to pay a $50 fee to petition for their ability to drive to work and would require applicants to equip their cars with ignition devices that would bar them from driving if they were legally intoxicated.
The bill comes before the House of Representatives Wednesday.
Law enforcement officials say there is no way to verify whether offenders take side trips to other locations.
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NH man killed after car leaves road, hits tree
MERRIMACK, N.H. (AP) -- Authorities say a 36-year-old man is dead after he lost control of his car and struck a tree in Merrimack.
Merrimack police say the man was driving south on Baboosic Lake Road near Bambi Trail in a 1999 Audi A6 when he left the roadway and the driver's side of the car struck the tree. Police say it is believed speed was a factor in the accident.
The man was transported to Southern New Hampshire Regional Medical Center and pronounced dead on arrival. His name wasn't released, pending notification of his family.
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Police: 2 Laconia, NH, fires suspicious
LACONIA, N.H. (AP) -- Police are investigating two suspicious fires in the New Hampshire city of Laconia.
Police say while responding to a car fire early Saturday morning they also discovered a fire outside of a residence.
Firefighters quickly put out the fire, which caused only minor damage to the building's exterior.
Authorities say the car fire caused extensive damage to the back of the vehicle.
Anyone with information about the fires or who may have witnessed anything suspicious is asked to call Laconia Police at 524-5252. Anonymous tips can be called in to Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717.
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NH police chief assaulted during stop
MASON, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire police are looking for a man suspected of assaulting a police chief during a traffic stop in Mason.
The police department says Chief Hutchens was trying to arrest 38-year-old Russell N. Monbleau of Fitchburg, Mass. on Friday night when Monbleau struck him several times and threw a metal chair at him knocking him to the ground.
Monbleau then ran into the woods. Police searched the area with dogs but were unable to find him.
Police arrested the driver of the car, 34-year-old Danielle Dickstein of Amherst on charges of possession of crack cocaine and marijuana.
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CDC says NH scores well overall on prevention
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire has scored well overall in 10 areas of prevention, such as food safety and reporting infections, but it has room for improvement, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A report rates the states on each of the categories with the top rating of green, followed by yellow or a red mark.
The state got green ratings for food safety, preventing health care-associated infections, HIV testing laws and data reporting.
The state was on a par with the United States as a whole for overall motor-vehicle-related death rate, the death rate among 15-20-year-olds, and the percentage of crashes related to alcohol consumption, but observed seat belt use in New Hampshire is much lower than the national average. The state also received three red scores on seat belt law, child passenger restraint law, and graduated driver licensing.
Teen pregnancy rates and the use of birth control by teens are much better than the national average, but the state received a red rating for not expanding Medicaid coverage to include family planning.
Smoking rates in New Hampshire are on a par with U.S. rates. The state, however, received a yellow score for cigarette excise tax, a red ranking for a comprehensive state smoke-free policy, and a red mark for tobacco control funding.
"As a whole, we are doing well in our prevention rates," said Dr. JosÃ© Montero, director of public health at the state Health Department's Division of Public Health Services. "I am proud of the employees at the DHHS and all of our partners and the excellent work they do every day under difficult circumstances to protect the people of New Hampshire. There is, however, room for improvement, and we will certainly be using this report to analyze where we can improve going forward."
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NH pond hockey tournaments getting underway
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- It's pond hockey season in New Hampshire, with the fourth annual 1883 Black Ice Pond Hockey tournament in Concord continuing through this weekend and the New England Pond Hockey Classic slated for next weekend on Lake Winnipesaukee.
There are no time clocks, no pads and no referees -- just fierce competition and free admission for spectators. Both tournaments are sold out and have teams on waiting lists.
The 1883 Black Ice Pond Hockey Championship -- played at White Park in Concord -- is named for the year the nation's first organized hockey game was played on a frozen pond at St. Paul's School.
The New England Pond Hockey Classic in Meredith kicks off next weekend.
In addition to lots of hockey, both tournaments feature music, special events and vendors. It is the fourth year for both tournaments.
The Concord tournament and others like it preserve the pared-down structure of the early days -- teams play 4-on-4 with no goalies, body checking and slap shots are not allowed and the goals are 6-foot-by-2-foot boxes with slots cut into them.
The New England Pond Hockey Classic has grown from 77 teams in 2010 to 200 today. The teams play on 20 rinks plowed clear on the surface of Lake Winnipesauke. On the eve of last year's tournament, temperatures were nearing 60 degrees. The long-range forecast this year for Meredith predicts temperatures will not top 30 degrees.
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$2.25M grant to help NH substance abuse screening
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation plans to use a $2.25 million grant to help with a new substance abuse screening program for young adults.
The Hilton Foundation grant will enable the Charitable Foundation, in partnership with selected nonprofit hospitals, primary care and community health practices, to expand use of the screening program to people between the ages 12 and 22 with the goal of stopping substance use before it starts.
The foundation aims to screen 10,000 young people for substance use issues by 2017.
The program "gives clinicians the tools and confidence to screen young people for drug or alcohol use in a matter of minutes," said Dr. Sharon Levy, director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children's Hospital.
Levy said the screening is typically used in adult medicine and in emergency rooms. "Now it's time to bring this to the primary care setting and reach teens and young adults before there's a problem or before a small problem grows into a big one. And for patients dealing with addiction, guide them into the appropriate treatment," she said.
The foundation will invite New Hampshire nonprofit hospitals, primary care providers and community health centers to apply for funding in February to implement the screening program.
The foundation says it is seeing promising signs of success with recent prevention investments, but notes that New Hampshire still ranks high among the states for its rate of underage drinking, young adult binge drinking and marijuana use by children ages 12 to 17.
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Groups honored in NH for veteran programs
GREENLAND, N.H. (AP) -- Two groups that help New Hampshire veterans are being honored with the annual Granite State Warriors Award.
The award, presented by the Military Officers Association of America, is given to residents or organizations that make significant contributions to the armed forces.
This year's recipients are Veterans Count, an Easter Seals program that helps service members with family and financial needs; and Christmas Can Cure, which provides selected veterans and their families with vacations to either Jackson, N.H., or Park City, Utah.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen will speak at the award ceremony Saturday in Greenland.
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NH House bill would allow electronic keno game
By NORMA LOVE
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire's House has stomped on efforts to legalize video slot machines over the years but is considering taking a baby step into the electronic gambling age Wednesday when a bill to legalize electronic keno comes up for a vote.
The bill would allow the Lottery Commission to install electronic keno games in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
"This would be the next, logical small step for the Lottery to do," said Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the Lottery Commission.
McIntyre estimates keno would raise $9 million annually if the game were offered at 250 sites. He said he gets frequent inquiries from bar owners who want to offer the game. Some of the revenue would come from New Hampshire residents staying home to play rather than driving across the border to Massachusetts.
McIntyre said 15 states offer keno, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York.
In keno, players select numbers for each game from a field of 80 numbers, mark a paper slip and hand it to the bartender with their money, said McIntyre. A computer randomly selects 20 winning numbers about every six minutes and flashes them on a screen in the bar or restaurant. Players can bet from $1 to $30. Players picking fewer numbers earn a higher payout if their choices are the winning numbers, McIntyre said. Unlike a video slot game, players are not sitting in front of a computer terminal, he said.
"It's a whole lot faster than current offerings, no question," McIntyre said.
The game would be offered from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. No one under age 18 could play.
Supporters say the money raised would go for education and provide support for research, prevention and treatment for problem gamblers.
They also argue keno is a different product than the video slot machines the House has consistently refused to legalize, most recently when it killed a Senate bill last year that would have allowed a casino to be licensed.
Opponents argue electronic gambling will damage New Hampshire's image.
Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, the frequent sponsor of casino legislation, criticized keno as "a foolish game" that would hurt the chance of passing his latest bill to legalize a casino. D'Allesandro said people mistakenly treat keno like it is enhanced bingo and not the gambling it is.
"What it does is hinder our opportunity to put something in place that creates jobs and provides economic development to our communities," said D'Allesandro, D-Manchester.