Inflatable Fin Whale to Key Educational Marine Efforts for Marine Group

He’s “Ladder,” the inflatable fin whale, and the latest acquisition of the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Ladder the inflatable whale on display – Roger Wood photo

The real Ladder – Courtesy photo

The 65 foot inflatable model exhibits many of the real exterior and interior anatomical features of the real “Ladder,” the whale that the non-profit group has been studying since 1996 off the New Hampshire Coast.  Jen Kennedy, a marine biologist and executive director of the society, was at a public unveiling of the new inflatable, and I spoke to her before producing a short podcast, which follows.

You can listen to my interview with Jen Kennedy by clicking on the podcast arrow below or download link depending on your device.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The inflatable Ladder is available for indoor and outdoor programs at schools, libraries, scout meetings and other events.  The acquisition was funded by the Alex Shulman Environmental Fund, Community Fund for Environment and Berounsky Family Fund, both of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation;  Dorr Foundation; Donors to Blue Ocean Society’s Moosejaw x Crowdwise Challenge Spring 2014.  The website is www.blueoceansociety.org

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Maine to New Hampshire Bridge to cost over $138 million dollars

Cinabro Construction of Pittsfield Maine will be the prime contractor for a new bridge to be built between Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery Maine.  And, according to both states’ Departments of Transportation, construction on the new span could begin as early as this December.

Present Sarah Long Bridge between New Hampshire and Maine – Roger Wood Photo

The cost….$158.5 million dollars.  MaineDOT says that the bridge, sandwiched between the I95 bridge and the newly rebuilt Memorial Bridge on Route 1, serves as the second most significant bridge for the state, serving as a backup for traffic on I95.  New Hampshire DOT officials say that the construction price is tentative, and the actual finished cost could be higher.  I spoke to NH Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton about the project in a podcast you can hear by clicking on the arrow below or download link depending on your device.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The new bridge was designed with long open spans using eleven fewer piers than the existing bridge.

Sarah Long Bridge Approach from NH – Roger Wood photo

In addition, faster and fewer openings of the bridge due to its increased height for marine traffic means there is less disruption to the traveling public. There is a state of the art vessel collision system to reduce damage if ships strike the piers as well as a mechanical system driving the towers that reduces long term maintenance needs.

In early September, a $25 million TIGER Grant (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) was awarded to both states to fund the rail portion of the bridge that will serve as the key component to moving nuclear material out of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Construction of the new Sarah Mildred Long Bridge is slated for late 2014 with the new bridge expected to open to motorists in August of 2017.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Public Servant Inheritance Gets Controversial

He’s been in the State Senate, served for years on the Portsmouth, New Hampshire City Council, and, after a long hiatus, won the job of Assistant Mayor in his native city.  He’s also a lightning rod in a continuing controversy over an inheritance bequeathed to a police officer.

Portsmouth Police Department Headquarters

A short video introduction and podcast follow.

I interviewed Jim Splaine in front of City Hall, where he sits in Council Chambers, sometimes at meetings that last beyond midnight. You can listen by clicking the arrow below or the download link, depending on your device.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The 3 member Portsmouth Police Commission has taken a stand against a mediation of the dispute which would have given the officer, Sgt. Aaron Goodwin over $400 thousand dollars.

Portsmouth City Hall and Municipal offices

Originally, the deceased woman’s estate awarded the officer nearly $2 million dollars plus her house and car.  The issue will now go to probate court, where the outcome is uncertain.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

USS Submarine Albacore Honored by Visit from Charles Momsen Granddaughter

It was 1939 when the USS Squalus submarine sank off Portsmouth New Hampshire.  Many of the crew died when part of the vessel was flooded.

USS Squalus Memorial Plaque-Roger Wood Photo

But a newly invented diving bell, never tested, rescued 33 of them.  Charles Momsen, who also invented the Momsen Escape Lung, brought his newest invention, the diving rescue bell to the scene of the sinking.

Momsen Rescue diving bell replica – Roger Wood photo

And,  despite a snag at the end of the incident, saved many lives.  He also developed the “Teardrop” design for submarines, which increased their underwater speed.  One of the subs was the USS Albacore, which set a world speed record for diesel submarines and still figures in the design of modern nuclear underwater vessels.  Helen Momsen, his granddaughter was on hand for the annual Submarine History Day event at Albacore Park in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

 

John Maier, Executive Director of the Portsmouth Submarine Memorial Association, oversees the operation of the sub, now on dry land, along with its adjacent education center and gift shop.

USS Albacore at Portsmouth, NH – Roger Wood photo

I was on hand in 1985, when the submarine was brought up the Piscataqua River, and floated in, to eventually land at its present location.  I spoke to Maier about that occasion and the Albacore Museum in this podcast below.  You can listen to the interview by clicking on the arrow, or the download link below, depending on your device.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Albacore is open for public tours for a modest admission charge.  Their phone number for information is 603-436-3680.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Charging Station for Electric Vehicles Unveiled at Large Employer

Charging stations for all-electric vehicles are on the upswing, with a second one unveiled in New Hampshire.  Green Alliance Founder and Executive Director Sarah Brown is one of the partners in this latest venture.  You can listen to my interview with Lauren Collins of Public Service Company of New Hampshire after the short video introduction with Sarah Brown.

The first, at the downtown parking garage is provided by a local car dealer, Port City Nissan. Now, a number of groups has combined to make available a second charger at one of the city’s largest employers, Redhook Brewing Company at Pease International Airport  Redhook is partnering with the state’s largest utility, Public Service of New Hampshire, to provide the free public charging station. Lauren Collins represented the company, and I spoke to her in the following podcast.  You can listen by click on the arrow or, depending on your device, a download tab.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

PSNH presented a $3,000 check to the brewery to help offset the cost of the charging station.

PSNH prseenting $3,000 check to help establish new charging station – Courtesy Photo

Also involved in the initiative is the Green Alliance, committed to energy conservation and improvements in the air and water quality of the Seacoast Region of the State.  According to a news release, The Green Alliance is offering complimentary Green Cards to the first 10 electric car owners who charge-up at the new Redhook station.

 

Green Alliance membership affords its community discounts at more than 100 local green-certified businesses including Redhook, where members enjoy 10 percent off food and drink at Redhook Brewery’s Cataqua pub.

Alden Tinsley at Redhook Brewery charging station – Courtesy Photo

Noting the prominence electric vehicles have in New Hampshire’s 10-year energy strategy, Watson Collins, EV Project Manager for PSNH parent company Northeast Utilities said, “We’re excited to be a part of the growing EV market in New Hampshire. The information we gain from having these charging stations in place will be an important tool in guiding the evolution of electric vehicles in the state.”

In addition to Redhook, PSNH has also partnered with four other locations including Antioch University New England in Keene, the City of Nashua’s Elm Street parking garage, and two other sites to be announced soon. All five of these EV charging stations are available, free of charge, to the public. Basic information about their use will be collected and shared with those interested in installing charging stations in the future.  More from my podcast at  the listen arrow above or download link below depending on device.


 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

New City Councilor Faces a Variety of Issues During Her First Term

In her first run for the Portsmouth, New Hampshire City Council, Stefany Shaheen placed high above some veterans, and a very respectable third behind two other seasoned politicians.  I interviewed her about her first year in the Council.  Here is a short video introduction.

Here is my complete interview podcast with Councilor Shaheen

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

First term Portsmouth City Councilor Stefany Shaheen – Courtesy photo

The contest for nine seats is generally seen as a positive one, with very little negative campaigning in what in the past has been described as a “Beauty Contest.”  There were over 20 candidates vying for the chairs this past year, with each outlining their views on the city, as it is now and as they would like to see it grow in the future.  Most of the incumbents were re-elected, with only a handful of votes often separating the winners from the losers.  The most vote-gatherer becomes mayor, wielding the gavel and generally steering the meetings.  He or she is often tasked to attend public events, including ribbon-cutting and community meetings throughout the year.  I spoke to Stefany about her decision to seek an office that is often thankless and poorly paid.

Stefany Shaeen upper left with family – Courtesy Photlo

She also talks about her future plans.  you can hear my interview by clicking on the podcast listen arrow above or download link below.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

A personal message to my friends of this site and others

 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

For many years, I have been covering news for radio, print and websites. Now, I must share with my friends a personal issue. And I want to make sure that this missive is not intended to generate sympathy, self-promotion or any other benefit to me personally. Several months ago, I was diagnosed with poly-neuropathy. In layman’s terms, it is a condition whereby the brain sends signals to nerves throughout the body that damages them, and often muscles in the body. For me, it has created pain, often from head to feet. I have consulted doctors, specialists, gone through testing and been prescribed medications. Most of them have had no effect. However, this in no way has caused me to give up producing news and features. I will concede that it has slowed me down. I’m not the only one with this condition. Millions have various forms of neuropathy, varying from mild irritations to major life-style disruptions. I have read of people who struggle with it through full time jobs just to make ends meet. Others have had to cut back to part time, while still others have become completely disabled and unable to work. Experts I have talked to have said that it is incurable, and that a solution could take years. Again, I do not want comments expressing sympathy, but I do invite people to look at Facebook sites that include Support for Neuropathy and Our Neuropathy Friends. The comments from people may help you understand that what a person looks like outside may not reflect what she or he feels like inside. I am fortunate to have a family that understands the limitations of the condition, an employer that is flexible in scheduling my work, and friends present and past that provide moral support and, yes, prayer. Please feel free to share this post with others, and continue to expect my participation in covering the people and events of the day. Thank you, and God bless.

 

RFW – 2014

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Could Lower Electricity Rates Be on the Horizon?

You may not notice it on your electricity bill, but one energy company, Public Service Company of New Hampshire is poised at least right now to reduce their power generating rate.  Listen to the podcast below or download depending on your device.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The largest electricity supplier for New Hampshire, could be reducing rates slightly, based on the current conditions.  At the very least, PSNH is predicting a stable energy charge this winter statewide in the areas they service. The company has just filed a forecast with the regulating Public Utilities Commission that predicts up to a 3 per cent decrease in rates starting January 1st.

Schiller coal and wood fired power plant in Portsmouth, NH -Courtesy Photo

Conditions could change depending on the weather and electricity demand, according to PSNH spokesman Martin Murray.  One of the factor that could actually result in an increase is the company’s need to recover the cost of scrubbers to curb pollutants at the firm’s Merrimack Power Plant.  He says that even if a large number of customers switch back from independent supplier back to PSNH, it could force the company to purchase power at higher rates.  In my interview, he also talks about ways to save money by using some conservation measures.  You can listen to my interview with him on the podcast arrow above or download link below.

There is also a short video featuring Murray on the company’s initiative to “Fire Up and Beat the Cold.”  You can watch the video below.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

9/11 Observance a solemn occasion

The date was September 11th 2001. On a crystal clear morning, employees and others filled the offices of the twin World Trade Center towers in New York. But at 8:46 a.m. that morning, the first of two terrorist controlled passenger aircraft crashed into the first tower. Minutes later, it became clear that it was no accident. Ultimately, some 2800 people lost their lives in that one incident. Another plane struck the Pentagon, damaging it and killing more Americans. On the anniversary of the terrorism act, many communities across the nation memorialized those who both died in the act or were part of the attempted rescue of the victims. One such ceremony took place in front of the Portsmouth NH Police station. It was presided over by Chief Stephen Dubois. I spoke to him after the brief ceremony.

Listen to interview with police chief Stephen Dubois

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

It was a tragic day for all Americans.  At 8:46 a.m. on a clear and sunny September morning, the first of two passenger planes rammed into the World Trade Center in New York, leading to the collapse of the two towers and the deaths of nearly three thousand people.  Since then, the buildings have been reconstructed, but the memory of the terrorism remains.  Many communities around the nation have held remembrances to mark the tragedy.

Portsmouth Police Chief Stephen Dubois at 9/11 ceremony – Roger Wood photo

One such commemoration took place in front of the police station in Portsmouth, New Hampshire,  Police Chief Stephen Dubois led a brief ceremony attended by over 100 people.  You can listen to a podcast report by clicking on the listen arrow above or the download link below.  There is also a video you can view below on the ceremony.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Aging Interstate Bridge Gets Federal Funding

It’s been there for 70 years, but the Sarah Long Bridge connecting Maine and new Hampshire is in dire need of repair.  More on my podcast on the arrow below.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

Sarah Long Middle Bridge between Maine and New Hampshire – Roger Wood photo

It already has weight limits posted for heavy vehicles, and Jersey Barriers erected to prevent vehicles from colliding with rusting side rails.  Members of the Maine and New Hampshire Congressional delegations agree that the bridge is in immediate need of replacement to “to insure public safety and continuation of interstate commerce.  The bridge also serves as a vital link for supplying the nearby Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery Maine.  Together the two states applied for funding under the so-alled TIGER grant program.  That stands for Transportation Investment Generation Economic Recovery.  The bridge was visited by Federal Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox.  Since then the delegation has lobbied for the replacement through letters, hearings, and meetings with the U.S. Department of Transportation officials.

Sarah Long Bridge showing Jersey Barriers – Roger Wood Photo

I spoke to Ted Talbot of the Maine DOT about the federal funds and the logistics of replacing the aging structure.  You can listen to my report by clicking on the podcast listen arrow above or download link below, depending on your operating system.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off