Christmas trees available for harvest from national forest

Vermonters can get a Christmas tree for $5, if they want to harvest it themselves from national forest land.

U.S. Forest Service officials in Vermont say the $5 Christmas tree removal permit must be purchased from Forest Service offices in Rutland, Middlebury, Manchester Center, or Rochester. Maps of Forest Service land are available at those sites.

Fourth graders may also get a free Christmas tree voucher through the Every Kid in a Park Initiative online at .

Christmas trees may not be cut in active timber sales, wilderness areas, campgrounds, picnic areas, or within 25 feet of any Forest Service town, or state maintained road.

Trees over 20 feet tall are off limits and the stump left after a tree has been cut should be six inches or less above ground.

Northern New England states have low teen birth rates

U.S. Census figures show Maine's teen birth rate dropped by nearly half what it were a decade ago, and the state now ranks with New Hampshire and Vermont among the 10 states with the lowest teen birth rates in the country.


Maine's rate of 1.2 births per 100 women for ages 15-19 is nearly half of what it was a decade ago, when there were 2.1 births per 100 women in that age group. That rate ranks Maine as having the sixth lowest teen birthrate in the country, according to census data released earlier this week.

New Hampshire ranks first as having the lowest teen birthrate of .9 percent. Vermont ranks fourth with a teen birth rate of 1.1 percent.

Nationally, the birth rate for women ages 15 to 50 declined in the past decade from 4.9 births per 100 women to 4.7 births per 100 women.

For the first time, the annual U.S. Census American Community Survey released Thursday compares averages from two five-year periods — 2005-09 and 2010-14 — offering a detailed look at how America has changed over the 10-year span.

While the teen birth rate continued its steady decline in Maine, the survey shows unmarried Maine women accounted for 37.2 percent of all births, up from 30.8 percent in 2005.

Jennifer Thibodeau, a spokeswoman for Augusta-based Maine Family Planning, said educational efforts in schools have been effective in promoting. She said the curriculum goes beyond informing teens about sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy by also teaching teens about how to communicate with each other about consent, birth control and whether to have sex.

Thibodeau said improved access to birth control and more effective birth control methods also are helping to cut rates.

Police training council weighs options amid $700K shortfall

The New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council teaches officers how to make tough decisions, but is now facing one itself.

The council — which trains and certifies all law enforcement officers in the state at no charge— is facing a budget shortfall.

The council is funded almost exclusively by a percentage of traffic and court fines, but that revenue dropped dramatically — from $3.8 million in 2006 to $2.8 million this year, according to council figures.

The organization this year has cut staff, closed two satellite offices and cut back on regional video conference classes in anticipation of a $700,000 shortfall over the next two years.

"The council is going to have to make a decision," said Police Standards and Training Council Director Donald Vittum. "If the revenue isn't there, how are we going to have the financial stability to run the institution?"

The council certifies new law enforcement officers through a 16-week full-time, basic training academy. Recruits live at the Concord campus Monday through Friday.

Suggestions for cutting costs have included charging tuition and having recruits commute daily rather than reside at the academy. Police chiefs at an emergency meeting this fall rejected both concepts.

"When you start saying, `You can only send people to training if you can afford it,' and you start to put that kind of pressure on small towns, they might take shortcuts or not be able to get the training for their officers," said Tilton police Chief Robert Cormier, who heads the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police. "Now they are going to start to have problems."

Whitefield Rep. John Tholl is proposing a bill to direct a larger percentage of penalties to the council, by paring back the portion that goes to the Judicial Branch's information technology fund.

White Mountain National Forest seeks seasonal workers

The White Mountain National Forest is looking for seasonal workers for a variety jobs that last from May through September.

Forest officials will begin hiring their 2016 seasonal workforce this month. Employees will be hired for a variety of positions in Gorham, Conway and Campton — including trail workers, backcountry rangers, recreation staff and visitor information services workers.

Resumes and job applications can be submitted through .

In January and February, forest officials also will post openings for construction workers, archaeologists, plant technicians and fire technicians.

Police: Man dies after being trapped under van being towed

Police in New Hampshire say a man died of injuries he sustained after becoming trapped under a van that was being towed.

Newmarket police said that first responders were called to the scene Thursday afternoon on a report that a man was trapped under a vehicle.

Fire officials say the man was unresponsive when rescue personnel arrived. They say the man was extricated and transported to Portsmouth Regional Hospital, where he died of his injuries.

Newmarket police say the incident remains under investigation. Officials have not identified the man.

2 New Hampshire officers train people for mass shootings

Two police officers from a relatively small New Hampshire town have trained thousands of civilians across the country on how to respond to situations involving mass violence.

Jaffrey officers Joseph Hileman and Terry Choate will hold seminars in Manchester next month.

They started Blue-U Defense three years ago to teach people how to react and defend themselves during mass shootings like the one in San Bernardino, California, Wednesday that left 14 dead.

They say escape if that's an option, but be prepared to fight if it's not. They say weapons could include a fire extinguisher, a stapler or coffee mug. Hiliman and Choate say success hinges on "making good decisions in fractions of a second."

"You have to be mentally prepared to win this," Hileman said.

Choate agrees.

"Every one of these major incidents that have happened, I guarantee you all those people thought the same thing: It's not going to happen to me," Choate said.

Blue-U Defense is holding seminars in Manchester on Jan. 12 and Jan. 19. Cost is $100 per person.

Laconia police are also offer training for active-shooter situations. The next class will be held Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Anyone interested in attending that class can call Laconia police at 524-5257 for more information.

Information on the Manchester seminars is available at .

– The Associated Press