Woodburn files legislation to investigate Russian interference

CONCORD — North Country Sen. Jeff Woodburn (D-Whitefield) is sponsoring legislation to respond to Russian interference in the state’s democratic process. The legislation seeks to form a bipartisan commission to evaluate and recommend potential actions that New Hampshire can take in response to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy, both here in the Granite State and our great country as a whole. The uncontested conclusion by the U.S. intelligence community of Russian interference in our elections requires a response at the local, state and federal levels,” said Woodburn, prime sponsor of LSR 932.

He said the legislation he is proposing allows the state to look at how it can best respond to this unprecedented attack on democracy and how any response will affect our state.

Among the possible responses, the bipartisan commission will look at whether to suspend or stop Russian-made liquor purchases by the N.H. Liquor Commission and whether the state Retirement System should divest Russian-based assets.

“Foreign interference in our elections not only undermines our constitutional democracy, but our independence and sovereignty. This is not a partisan issue. That’s why I have invited all senators and the bipartisan leadership of the New Hampshire House to co-sponsor this legislation," Woodburn said. "When our freedoms are threatened, Granite Staters expect us to respond, and I am proud to bring forward legislation to do so.”

Selectmen approve new location for Bikes-Not-Bombs shelter

By Kirstan Knowlton

GORHAM — The board of selectmen approved an amended plan for the original location of the proposed Bikes Not Bombs drop-off shelter. The new location will be less visible and will require the previously poured concrete slab to be moved.

Moving about 200 yards to the left of the original location, the shelter, which will be a drop-off point and warehouse for bicycles until they can be sent to developing countries, will sit in the back corner of the parking lot next to Gorham Public Library making it less visible to nearby residents.

According to the Bikes Not Bombs website, the organization “Provides community-based education and assists development projects with recycled bicycles, related technologies and technical assistance, as concrete alternatives to the militarism, over-consumption and inequality that breed war and environmental destruction. Their organization is part of a worldwide movement for peace and responsible stewardship of the earth.”

Throughout the year, anyone can drop off bikes of any condition to the collection site to be used in the development project, which provides hands-on, community-based education.

Local residents recently expressed concerns that at its original planned location, the collection facility would have an overflow of used bicycles and would look unsightly.

The concrete slab, estimated to weigh roughly 28,000 pounds would be moved in the spring once the ground is thawed. Specifics on how the slab will be moved and who will move it have not yet been worked out.

Matt Saladino, a guidance councilor at Gorham High School was on hand at the meeting with high school senior Bronson Leclerc to finalize their plan, and to answer any questions.

Resident Steve Roy was still concerned about the monitoring and maintenance of the collection site, but Saladino reassured him that the school would take care of it, citing a strong community service group among the students.

All three board members approved the new location.


Request for funding water fountain

In other news, Nicole Eastman of the CARE Committee, a group of student’s parents, approached the town requesting funding for a new water fountain in the gymnasium at the Ed Fenn Elementary School.

In her presentation, Eastman explained that the committee was looking to install a water fountain similar to one that was put in down by Libby’s Pool. The fountain would cost roughly $1,800 to install, with water and electric access already available.

The committee felt the fountain upgrade was needed, because the current fountain does not meet the needs of the students. Since other fountains in the school no longer work, students have been using the faucets in the restrooms to refill their water bottles.

Eastman questioned if the recreation department might be willing to help cover some of the costs for the new fountain, citing the department's use of the gymnasium and the benefit to their participants.

The school and the town recreation department have an agreement under which the school covers a portion of the costs to maintain town recreation fields, which it regularly uses for sports practice and games.

Jeffrey Stewart, director of the parks and recreation department, was not at the meeting, but had already submitted a letter to the town manager about his decision on making a donation. Stewart who did not support the use of funds from the recreation department for the project said that it was not necessary to replace the fountain at this time, because it did not have an impact on health or safety.

When asked about the school’s plan to replace the fountain, she said that it has been on the list of projects to be worked on by the school, but each year it has been cut from the budget.

Eastman, who did not have a specific number in mind when she first approached the board, said that the committee would be very happy with any donation that they received. She explained that the committee was expecting to raise about $1,000, and would need to come up with roughly $800 more, and offered a figure of $500.

Selectmen Grace LaPierre suggested that if the school could donate $400, they would match that amount from the town Recreation Revolving Fund to raise the remainder of the funds.

Eastman thanked the board for their donation, and said that she would let them know if the committee needed anything else.

Nansen Milan Winter Festival and Moose Brook Fat Bike Race carry on winter recreation tradition

By Barbara Tetreault

ANDROSCOGGIN VALLEY — Generations here have celebrated winter as a time to get outside and enjoy the snow, and that tradition carries on with two major events coming up next weekend.

Nansen Ski Club marks its 145th anniversary with its annual Nansen Milan Winter Festival, featuring such time honored events as Nordic skiing, skating, snowshoeing and sled dog rides. The three-day festival, running Jan. 20-22, marks its seventh year.

Fat tire biking racing is the newest twist on winter recreation and the Moose Brook Fat Bike Race on Sunday, Jan. 22, draws bikers from all over New England. In its fourth year, registration for the annual event, sponsored by the Coos Cycling Club, fills up with a day or two.

Nansen Club spokeswoman Phoebe Backler said the club has gained a new head of steam with its expanding trail system, new warming hut and growing pool of volunteers.

“The seventh annual Nansen Milan Winter Festival will be the best yet, with a great array of winter fun from ski races and broomball to bonfires and crafts,” she predicted.

Venture to Milan for a weekend of winter fun, kicking off at 6:30 p.m. on Friday with the Milan Village School PTO’s Burning of the Greens bonfire, ice skating and cocoa at the Milan ice rink.

On Saturday, the Milan Village School will host a mid-winter market with local crafts and delicious foods from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Kids will have a grand time at the bounce house, doing art projects, enjoying fun outdoor games with the Appalachian Mountain Club and hearing stories read by local authors. Local jazz musician Bruce Kimball will play music during the market. Craft and 50/50 raffles will be held to support the Nansen Ski Club.

At the Milan Ice Rink, the Winter Classic Broomball Tournament will run from 9 a.m. throughout the day. The public can watch the fast-paced action and cheer on their favorite team.

Also on Saturday, festival goers are invited to visit to the newly enclosed Nansen Ski Club Warming Hut from noon to 4 p.m. for cocoa and a free ski or snowshoe. At 2:30 p.m., the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce will join the club in an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The public will have an opportunity to “meet a musher” and learn about the sport of sled dog racing at the Mahoosuc Inn. Bailey Vitello of Northern Exposure Outfitters will be there with his dogs to explain the gear and tell stories about long-distance sled-dog racing at 10:30 a.m. Dog sled tours will be offered at $10 per person (kids under 3 are free) from 11 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. Visitors can also peruse the mushing gear at Northern Exposure Outfitter’s Retail Shop inside the Mahoosuc Inn throughout the day.

On Sunday, Jan. 22, the focus shifts to Milan Hill State Park and cross-country ski racing. The Nansen Ski Club will host a variety of ski races for all ages, with registration running from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the warming hut. The 14-kilometer men’s and women’s classic ski race will have a mass start at 10 a.m. The 5K fun race will start at 11 a.m., followed at noon by a 1K kids race.

Race registration for adults (18 and older): $20 pre-registration or $25 at the race. Children (17 and younger): $10 pre-registration or $15 at the race.

For more Festival information and online race registration visit the Nansen Ski Club website www.skinansen.com.

Fat bike riding has been described as one of the fast growing winter sports, and residents will have an opportunity to see riders compete in the fourth annual Moose Brook Fat Bike Race at Moose Brook State Park in Gorham on Sunday, Jan. 22.

For the uninitiated, fat bike or fat tire bike riding is off-road biking using oversized tires designed to be used at low pressure to allow riding on snow, sand and mud. The fat bikes allow bikers to pursue their favorite sport year around.

Coos Cycling Club spokesman Jeremiah Macrae said his organization sets a 100 biker cap for the race, which it reached within two days. Held at Moose Brook State Park, Macrae said the local fat bike race was the first such race in New Hampshire. The 5-mile loop is buffed to perfection by local fat bike fiends and offers some of the best single track riding to be found anywhere.

“It’s very popular,” he said, noting that it attracts bikers from all New England.

This year, Macrae said the club made a major effort to get more female racers signed up and succeeded with 24 scheduled to compete.

There is a 20-mile race, which will kick off at 9:45 a.m., followed at 10 a.m. with the start of the 10-mile race. Winners in each category receive handmade trophies.

Macrae said the race is good for the local economy, noting that many of the participants stay overnight in local lodging places and eat in area restaurants.

All of the profits from the race go to build and maintain the bike trail system at the park and to educate youth to the sport. The club maintains 20 miles of mountain biking trails in the Gorham area. It also works to advocate for the sport. The club will be working with Gorham school officials on Friday, Jan. 20, and helping introduce a group of middle school students to the trails.

For information about the Moose Brook Fat Bike Race, visit the event’s Facebook page or go to cooscyclingclub.wordpress.com.

Concord police seeking suspect for illegally using Berlin identity

BERLIN — Concord police are seeking the public’s help in identifying a suspect accused of illegally obtaining a credit card using the identity of a Berlin resident and charging up $1,482 in merchandise.

In a release issued Thursday afternoon, Concord police said the suspect is accused of illegally establishing a credit card and immediately using it to purchase merchandise at the Walmart in Concord on Dec. 9.

The victim reported the fraudulent activity to Berlin police. Concord police department obtained video surveillance from the store security and is asking helping in identifying the suspect in the photograph.

Anyone who has information about the incident is asked to call the Concord Regional Crimeline at (603) 226-3100, or submit information online to the website at concordregionalcrimeline.com, or Txt TIP234 and their message to CRIMES (274637).

Crimeline awards cash to anyone whose information leads to the arrest and indictment of criminals. All tips remain anonymous.