New England briefs

Deadline Wednesday to vote in Vermont primary

Vermonters have until Wednesday to register to vote in the March 1 presidential primary on Town Meeting Day.

Residents may register at their town clerk's offices, by mail or online.

To register online, go to the Secretary of State's office website at .

The deadline to apply is by 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

Voters who can't make it to polls may request an absentee ballot by contacting their town or city clerks or online at . The last day to do that is next Monday, Feb. 29.

Secretary of State Jim Condos says his office is expecting a large voter turnout in the presidential primary in which Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

Record number of ballots cast in New Hampshire primary

The New Hampshire secretary of state's office confirms that a record number of ballots were cast in the state's presidential primary earlier this month.

A total of 542,459 people voted in the Feb. 9 primary, topping the record set in 2008 by close to 13,000 votes. This year, there were 287,683 Republican votes — far surpassing the 2008 tally — while the Democratic total — 254,776 — fell short of the 2008 number.

Independent voters, officially known as "undeclared," can vote in either primary, and new voters can register at the polls on election day. The secretary of state's office said Monday it is still compiling the number of registered voters, so calculating the turnout percentage isn't yet possible.

Campaign volunteer says fake email is protected speech

A former campaign volunteer for a New Hampshire House candidate says a bogus email he sent announcing another candidate was dropping out of the race is protected free speech.

Carl Gibson, 28, recently filed a motion to dismiss charges he suppressed voter turnout and falsified a document.

Gibson is accused of sending a hoax email from Yvonne Dean-Bailey to newspapers in May saying she was dropping out of the race for an open seat. Dean-Bailey eventually beat her Democratic challenger in the May 19 election. Gibson previously volunteered for her opponent, but was booted from the campaign.

Gibson previously told the newspaper he "probably had one too many beers" before sending the email.

A hearing on the motion is set for Thursday.

Tourism official: Backup plan needed if Balsams doesn't open

Those pinning their hopes for an economic boost on an effort to redevelop the Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch should have a backup plan, according to a regional tourism official.

Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association Executive Director Gloria Bruce said it would be fantastic if the Balsams re-opened in Dixville Notch, but the community should be working on an alternative economic driver if it doesn't.

"Should the Balsams not open, how then does the community move forward?" she told a North Country economic summit in Colebrook on Sunday.

The Balsams — where the nation's first presidential primary ballots are traditionally cast — closed in 2010, taking away hundreds of jobs in the strapped North Country. Maine ski resort developer Les Otten plans to expand the resort's ski area, renovate existing buildings and build a 400-room hotel, conference center, spa and retreat. If the $320 million project gets the necessary approval, construction would start this year and be finished by 2024.

The project took another step forward last month when the attorney general's office allowed for the amending of conservation restrictions in four towns, mostly for the ski area expansion.

Bruce said she would encourage North Country residents and officials to develop two strategies, one that assumes the resort project fails and one that assumes it succeeds. In the latter event, officials should figure out how to make sure locals have the best chance for jobs, particularly those with high pay, she said.

The economic summit was organized by local businesses, regional leaders and the UNH Cooperative Extension. Those attending considered issues ranging from the workforce and regional identity to attracting more visitors and business from Canada.

Aviation photos wanted for online contest

Wanted: Aviation-related photos for an online contest.

The Granite State Airport Management Association is launching the free contest on March 1 as part of an exhibit.

The contest will allow collegiate, amateur, and professional photographers to submit photos via Facebook. The purpose of the exhibit is to show the diversity of New Hampshire aviation through the eyes and lenses of pilots, operators and aviation enthusiasts. Creativity is encouraged.

Winning photos will be printed and displayed in an exhibit that will be hosted by Daniel Webster College, the Sheppard-McAuliffe Discovery Center, NHTI, and the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire.

New Hampshire's airports range from grass strips to 11,000-foot runways. They provide more than 9,000 jobs.

– The Associated Press


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