Damaged Navy Submarine Decommissioned

by Roger Wood.

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It was May 23rd. 2012 when a Portsmouth Naval Shipyard employee purposely set a fire aboard the U.S.S. Miami.  The $900 million dollar Los Angeles Class submarine was there for an overhaul at the time.

USS Miami – Image from Wikipedia.org

Ultimately, Casey Fury was convicted of setting the blaze, which caused over $400 million dollars damage to the submarine.  He’s serving a lengthy prison term, but the submarine will have to be scrapped, or recycled, in the Navy’s terminology.  After extensive deliberation, the Navy decommissioned the 1990 commissioned nuclear powered submarine in a one hour ceremony at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine.

Miami decommissioning ceremony at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard – Roger Wood photo

I was there and covered the ceremony.  You can hear more by clicking on the listen arrow above or download link below.

 

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Tuskegee Airman Shares His Career with a Large Group

by Roger Wood

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If it wasn’t for the public outreach of people like James Sheppard, the contributions of the 322nd Fighter Group and 477th Bombardment Group may never have gotten the attention they so richly deserve.  Known popularly as the Tuskegee Airman, they were African Americans who served in World War II, assuming crucial roles in the war against Germany and Italy.

Signed poster of the Tuskegee Airman

Sheppard now lives in Maine, but was born in New York, and graduated from a Technical school as a mechanic.  After working for a time in a doll factory, he passed the postal exam and became a mail carrier.  But it was in the Army and the Army Air Corps that launched Sheppard’s long career in the air and on the ground.  He trained for his army career in Alabama at Tuskegee Air Field.  He survived the war and went on to a career with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Left to Right, Bob Sheppard with his Dad, James, a member of the Tuskegee Airman during World War II – Roger Wood photo

Now approaching his 90th birthday, he still holds a pilot’s license, and is a member of a dwindling number of the distinguished group that served in the war.  He recently spoke in Portsmouth, New Hampshire to a large group at the African American Cultural Center.  You can hear highlights of his comments by clicking on the listen arrow above or the download link below.

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Help for Small Businesses on the Way?

by Roger Wood

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Back in 2008, New Hampshire Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter introduced legislation to double the tax deduction for new small businesses.  The Act, which passed Congress was called the Small Business Start-Up Support Act.  But the expanded deduction, from $5,000 to $10,000 has been allowed to expire.

NH Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter tours Makerspace with co-founder Ross Beane – Roger Wood photo

So she has introduced the RENEW Business Act, which she says would permanently extend the deduction to the higher level.  Her case is bolstered by research from the Kauffmann Foundation, which reported that between 1977 and 2005, firms in their first year of existence created at average of 3 million jobs per year. She has recently toured a small business in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and talked about her new legislation.  You can hear my report on her tour and her bill by clicking on the listen arrow above or download link below.

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Opponents Call for a Nuclear Plant Shutdown

by Roger Wood

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One of the nation’s newest nuclear power plants, Seabrook Station, has long been the subject of criticism, both for its cost, and concerns for the safety of residents in the New England Region.  Now, in the middle of a re-licensing application, the issue of Alkali Silica formations in some of the plant’s foundations has triggered a call for an immediate shutdown of the plant.

Control Room Training simulator at Seabrook Nuclear Plant – Roger Wood photo

Two Massachusetts State Representatives, along with the anti-nuclear “No More Fukishimas” group, spoke up at a recent public hearing held in Hampton, New Hampshire.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board held the session to allow public comment on the process.  What the panel heard was a distress call from opponents who want to see the plant shut down because of the cracks they believe that form when water comes into contact with the cement.  It’s known as ASR, or Alkali Silica Reaction.  I spoke to Bruce Skud of the No more Fukishimas group, and you can hear my report by clicking on the listen arrow above or download link below.

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New Memorial Bridge Garners National Awards

by Roger Wood

The new Memorial Bridge between Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery , Maine has already been recognized twice for its design, innovations, and construction, once by a national magazine and again by the Design-Build Institute of America.  A short video clip of the bridge construction follows this story.  I spoke to Bill Boynton of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation about the honors.

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Roads and Bridges Magazine has cited the Memorial Bridge as one of the “Top 10 Bridges of 2013” in North America based upon project challenges, impact to the region, and scope of the work.

Memorial Bridge – NDOT courtesy photo

 

The magazine wrote in its November issue, “A gussetless steel-truss bridge may sound like pie in the sky, but the first of its kind will soon be completed joining Portsmouth, N.H., and Kittery, Maine.  As notable for its schedule as for its lack of gussets, the new Memorial Bridge is being designed and constructed in just 18 months, including the time to demolish the old bridge.  Other innovations include a metalized zinc coating, using a consistent profile of three spans and cold blending of steel.”

 

The Memorial Bridge project has also received the “2013 Gold Award for Highway/Infrastructure,” a New England Region Project Award from Design-Build Institute of America that recognizes outstanding design-build projects completed within the region. The project team honored at a December 11 awards ceremony in Framingham, Massachusetts included the New Hampshire and Maine Departments of Transportation, Archer Western Contractors, and HNTB Corp.  A short video I took during construction is below.

 

 

 

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Wood burning power plant celebrates seventh anniversary.

by Roger Wood

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Seven years ago, Public Service Company of New Hampshire decided that burning wood products would be and economical alternative to the expensive coal and oil fossil fuels.  So, the utility converted one of its six electricity producing boilers to wood chips and other low-grade wood products.

Wood fired plant fueling cycle chart – Roger Wood photo

After seven years of operation, PSNH is dubbing the changeover a success, and is celebrating its so-called “Northern Wood Power biomas unit at Schiller Station in Portsmouth.  Company officials recently led a discussion of the plant conversion and a tour of the facility for participants in a sustainable energy forum held in the city.

Schiller Station plant manager Dick Desmonds – Roger Wood photo

You can learn more about the project by clicking on the listen arrow above or download link below.

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New Air National Guard Squadron Building Dedicated

by Roger Wood

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The 157th Air Refueling Squadron at Pease Air National Guard Base has a long history of service to the military.  The group provides support for aircraft worldwide, and has played a large part in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The citizen soldiers who serve in the Guard are highly trained to operate and maintain the current fleet of KC135R refueling tankers stationed there.  I had a chance to observe a refueling mission, and the opportunity to report on the ribbon cutting of the new ten million dollars operations building at the New Hampshire base.

New Operations building for the Pease Air National Guard Base – Roger Wood photo

A short video clip of the ribbon cutting is available below.  You can also listen to a special report on the ceremony commemorating the building’s opening by clicking on the listen arrow above or download link below.

 

NH Senator Jeanne Shaheen at ribbon cutting ceremony -
Roger Wood photo

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Memorial Park Dedicated on Veterans Day

by Roger Wood

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My dad served in the U.S. Army during World War II.  Serving in the Pacific Theater, he survived to raise a family.  Many were not so fortunate.  They paid the ultimate price without knowing what the outcome would be.  The same is true in so many conflicts in which  American soldiers, men and women  have risked their lives to defend the flag.  They deserve much more than a day set aside to honor their sacrifices.  One group of dedicated citizens in the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, organized to build a very public memorial in their honor.

Portsmouth Memorial Park Granite Monument – Roger Wood photo

With a generous donation from an area couple, the Portsmouth Memorial Park has been completed, adjacent to the newly reconstructed Memorial Bridge connecting New Hampshire and Maine.  The original 1923 built bridge was constructed to honor those who fought in World War I.

Memorial Park Marker

Memorial Park honors veterans of all wars and calls to duty.  On Veterans Day, 2013, a large crowd gathered around the newly built granite memorial and brick-way to celebrate its completion.  I was there, and you can hear my report by clicking on the listen arrow above or download link below.

Roger E. Wood memorial brick – Roger F. Wood photo

 

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Nuclear Power’s Big Economic Impact

by Roger Wood

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Nuclear energy has been much maligned by environmentalists, who have cited accidents at Chernobyl in Russia, Fukishima in Japan, and Three Mile Island in the United States.  But nuclear power plants have also created jobs, and demands for products and services that they depend on to operate.  A new study, produced by the Washington based Nuclear Energy Institute, singles out one nuclear plant, in New Hampshire, that indicates up to a billion dollars was generated into the economies of that state and neighboring Massachusetts in 2011.

Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant chemistry supervisor Dianne Brandon, pointing, with New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan in the control room simulator training room – Roger Wood photo

That study was released at the Seabrook plant recently, and I attended an event recognizing the impact on the region’s economy.  You can hear my report by clicking on the listen arrow above or download link below.

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Shipyard Workers Rail Against Forced Furloughs

by Roger Wood

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The partial government shutdown is over, at least for the time being.  That means a return to work for millions of federal government workers nationwide.  At one of the public shipyards, some two thousand civilian workers spent days or weeks at home because of the continued wrangling in Congress.  And a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire showed that they weren’t taking the layoffs laying down.

Portsmouth Navy Yard Workers protesting furloughs – Roger Wood photo

Some three dozen workers joined national and local labor leaders to vent their frustration at Congress for the unpaid days off from work.  Prescott Park is across the Piscataqua River from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.  I attended a rally where union leaders and workers made it clear that they aren’t happy.

Paul O’Connor local union leader at shipyard rally – Roger Wood photo

You can listen to my report by clicking on the listen arrow above or download link below.

 

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