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home : news : regional October 13, 2015

New Hampshire News Briefs

Judicial branch to offer e-filing in 2 courts

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The New Hampshire Judicial Branch will begin pilot programs this week to push small claims courts toward going paperless.

Officials say small claims courts in Concord and Plymouth will switch to electronic filing and processing on Wednesday. The goal is to have all 32 small claims courts statewide go paperless by the end of the year, and judicial spokeswoman Carole Alfano said the project is on target.

Small claims are filed in cases involving damages or debts of $7,500 or less, though that sum will increase to $10,000 next year. Judicial officials say more than 13,000 new small claims actions were filed in 2013 and nearly 9,000 were reopened.

The project has been in the works for 2-1/2 years and is part of the larger New Hampshire e-Court project.

Edwin Kelly, administrative judge of the circuit court system, says the project will save money, reduce paper and speed up processing time.

"We are committed to make small claims more accessible and transparent," he said. "By going online, we can meet the public's needs where they are, whether that means sitting at home late at night filing a claim electronically or going to their local courthouse or library during regular business hours to access a computer terminal."

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Police seek help finding speeding motorcyclists

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- State police are seeking the public's help in finding a group of motorcyclists clocked at speeds of more than 120 mph in Manchester.

Police say a trooper noticed several motorcycles speeding on Interstate 293 around 10 p.m. Saturday. After they took Exit 13, the trooper clocked the motorcycles at varying speeds between 122 and 132 mph. The trooper followed them as they continued through the Manchester airport area before they separated.

One of the motorcycles was stopped near the Mall of New Hampshire. Twenty-one-year-old Kyle Goff of Pembroke was charged with reckless driving and hindering apprehension. It's unknown whether he has a lawyer, and a phone listing for him was unavailable.

Police are asking anyone with additional information to call Troop B at 603-666-3333.

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No booze for DC folks? New Hampshire may fix law


Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire is assuring residents of the nation's capital that they can purchase alcohol in the state despite a law that suggests otherwise. But cigarettes? Maybe not.

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission recently told retailers they should accept Washington, D.C., driver's licenses when determining a buyer's age, even though state law does not explicitly include them and instead refers to licenses from "another state" or Canada.

The issue came up this month when a Concord store clerk refused to sell alcohol to a 25-year-old Washington, D.C., man. The incident, first reported by the Concord Monitor, prompted Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern to approach the commission.

"New Hampshire depends more on tourism, liquor sales and democracy than probably any other state, so anything that threatens the combination of those certainly raises red flags for me," he said. "Even if it's only been a few instances, I think it's a bad message to send."

Tourism is New Hampshire's second-largest industry, and the state rakes in money from out-of-staters lured by its tax-free booze. It also prides itself on having the nation's largest state Legislature and its first-in-the-nation presidential primary, which gives lesser-known candidates a fair shot and attracts political visitors from around the country.

Van Ostern said he believes new legislation likely is needed to permanently fix the problem. As it stands, the commission's clarification doesn't take into account residents of U.S. territories, he noted.

"I have no doubt this was an oversight, and I do think a fair reading of legislative intent would be to allow all those IDs, but I don't think we should be putting it on individual store clerks to be trying to decide what legislators meant 20 years ago when they passed a law," he said.

It's unclear how many other laws might unintentionally snub Washington residents, but at least one regarding cigarettes and other tobacco products includes the same language as the alcohol law.

Other laws, however, specifically mention Washington. For example, one law prohibits gun ownership for those convicted of various crimes in New Hampshire, "any other state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or any territory of possession of the United States."

State Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, said he would be willing to sponsor a bill in the next legislative session to address the law's language.

"It looks like we need to do something like that," he said. "As a member of the joint committee on legislative and administrative rules, I know that we're very careful to make sure that whatever an agency does is actually authorized in statute."

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Man jumps out of canoe just before powerboat crash

ALTON, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire authorities say charges are likely against the operator of a powerboat that crashed into a canoe on Lake Winnipesaukee.

State police say an Idaho man had to jump into the water to avoid being hit by the powerboat that crashed into his canoe Friday in Alton.

Authorities say the operator, a 74-year-old man from Massachusetts, was going about 30 mph when his 20-foot Centurian hit the canoe. Fifty-year-old Robert Cavallaro of Driggs, Idaho, suffered minor injuries.

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4 hospitals honored by National Rural Health group

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Four New Hampshire hospitals have been honored by the National Rural Health Association.

They are Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro, Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth, The Memorial Hospital in North Conway and Cottage Hospital in Haverhill. The first three were named top "critical access" hospitals and the last was recognized for "best practice in quality."

The rankings are determined through data analysis. The determining factors for the top 20 critical access hospitals were based on 10 indices of strength, including competitive strength, competitive intensity, market size and growth, population risk, cost, charge, quality, outcomes, patient perspectives, and financial stability.

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NH town makes annual 'Top 10' list

LEBANON, N.H. (AP) -- The small New Hampshire city of Lebanon has been named a "Top 10 Small Town" by a website that looks at small- and mid-sized communities.

Editors at looked at cities with populations under 20,000, then examined statistics such as cost of living, health care spending, racial and socioeconomic diversity, crime, and other categories. They also looked at visitors' comments and what residents liked about living there.

Lebanon was No. 3 on the annual list, behind Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Northfield, Minnesota.

The editors said Lebanon offers "a bucolic escape" with concerts, farmers markets at Colburn Park, live performances at the Lebanon Opera House and several area festivals. In the winter, it offers activities such as cross-country skiing, sledding and downhill skiing at 15 resorts in the area. said Lebanon has experienced substantial income growth in recent years, offering families excellent schools, wholesome activities, top-notch health care and affordable housing.

"Throughout the U.S., we're seeing a resurgence of emphasis on downtowns in cities of all sizes," says Editor Matt Carmichael. "It's nice to see in the big cities, certainly, but it's especially great to see these smaller towns not just holding their own, but also thriving."

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No ticket for Shrek over loud musical, chief says

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) -- A musical being performed in a New Hampshire park has drawn some noise complaints, but the deputy police chief says he's "not giving Shrek a ticket."

"Shrek the Musical" is enjoying a summer run in the seacoast city of Portsmouth, but some neighbors want the volume turned down.

City police and City Councilor Esther Kennedy say they've been getting complaints about noise from the shows. But Deputy Police Chief Corey MacDonald tells the Portsmouth Herald and its Seacoast Online website ( ) he has no plans to ticket the green ogre.

Kennedy says she'd like to outfit police officers with decibel meters so they can get an objective reading of how loud sounds are.

MacDonald says police are waiting for more direction from the community before engaging in any crackdown.

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World War II-era museum recognized

WOLFEBORO, N.H. (AP) -- The U.S. Senate has passed a resolution from Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen commemorating the 20th anniversary of a New Hampshire museum recognized for its World War II -era memorabilia.

The Wright Museum of World War II History is in Wolfeboro.

The museum was founded by David Wright and opened in 1994. It is believed to be the only museum in the United States that exclusively focuses on the contributions and legacy of World War II-era Americans.

"For over two decades, the Wright Museum has dedicated itself to preserving a significant period in our nation's history and sharing the story of America's Greatest Generation, and we're pleased the Senate has officially recognized the museum's contributions," the senators said in a statement.

"New Hampshire is fortunate to be home to this unique educational institution, and we know that the Wright Museum will continue to educate and inspire visitors from across the country and around the globe for generations to come," they added.

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Deadline extended for tech startup contest

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- Aspiring entrepreneurs in New Hampshire have a bit more time to enter a competition that will provide $100,000 in financing.

The deadline to apply for the 2014 TechOut competition has been extended to Aug. 1, and organizers are waiving the $100 entry fee.

The competition, open to startups that have been in business for fewer than three years, is organized by the New Hampshire High Tech Council and Alpha Loft.

Previous winners of the top include Ultracell Insulation, which has patented a way to produce insulation from recycled cardboard, and miEdge, which provides an insurance prospecting tool for employee benefits.

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