New England in Brief

Wednesday January 30, 2013

Woman fatally stabbed at N.H. hotel, Vt. man in custody

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Authorities say a 70-year-old California woman was stabbed to death in a random attack in a New Hampshire hotel lobby by another guest.

Catherine "Kitty" Houghton, of Novato, Calif., had traveled to New Hampshire for board meetings at the White Mountain School in Bethlehem. She graduated from there in 1960.

Prosecutors say she was in the lobby of the Hampton Inn in nearby Littleton on Monday evening when a 37-year-old Vermont man stabbed her in the neck and torso. She died at a hospital.

Rodney Hill, of West Danville, Vt., was arraigned Tuesday on second-degree murder charges and was being held without bond. He is due in court Feb. 5.

Authorities don’t know a motive and say the stabbing appeared to be random.

Houghton was a trustee at the White Mountain School and a retired business counselor with the U.S. Commerce Department, often working under the auspices of the U.S. Foreign Service.

N.H. flu deaths increase to 35, including 1st child

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- State health officials say the number of flu-related deaths in New Hampshire has increased to 35 -- and the first child death among them.

The department says the total is highest number of flu-related deaths in a single season the state has recorded since 1997.

The department says the child who died was under 5 years old. No further information was available on the death.

The state saw a total of 19 deaths reported in 2012.

N.H. bill would seek more control over campfires

NEWTON, N.H. (AP) -- A bill that seeks to put some limitations on campfires in New Hampshire is generating some heat.

The original bill would have prohibited all outdoor fires less than 300 feet from a neighboring residence. It also would have prevented any smoke from an outdoor fire from crossing a property line.

After some negative reviews, state Sen. John Reagan of Deerfield, the bill’s sponsor, said he is amending the bill to say a health officer may order a fire to be put out if it’s creating a health issue.

Some people are skeptical even about the amended version.

Hampstead health officer Kristopher Emerson said health officials would need to know what level of smoke is the threshold.

N.H. ‘Blue Book’ to be offered online

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- For the first time, New Hampshire’s blue book, the popular reference guide to government and politics, is available online.

Those who buy the print publication will be able to subscribe to it as an online, searchable database, as well.

The Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire last year bought Northeast Information, publisher of the Handbook of New Hampshire Elected Officials.

This year’s blue book, which is being prepared for publication, includes biographical information and photos of elected officials, selected roll call votes, lobbyists, the state Constitution, and other facts.

Maine college, game department doing study on black bears

UNITY, Maine (AP) -- Unity College is undertaking a study with the state game department of black bear in Maine.

The central Maine college says the multi-year study will involve both faculty and students and include the trapping, tracking, and in at least one case, attachment of a video camera to a Maine black bear.

Unity Associate Professor George Matula says state biologists have been studying Maine black bears since 1975. He says one purpose of the new study is to collect data in an area that is different than where the state is collecting.

Trapping of bears will begin in May around Dixmont, Troy, and Benton areas. GPS-satellite collars will be placed on up five adult female bears with one of the collars equipped with a video camera.

Mass. officials hit the road to sell tax package

BOSTON (AP) -- Top officials from Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration are fanning out across the state to sell the public on his package of tax hikes and increased spending on education and transportation.

On Tuesday morning Secretary of Administration and Finance Glen Shor is scheduled to speak at the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce Annual Legislative Breakfast in Dracut.

The next day Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki is set give a keynote address on the importance of infrastructure investments at a South Shore Chamber of Commerce lunch in Randolph.

Other events are scheduled for New Bedford, Westborough, Worcester and Marlborough.

Patrick is trying to build support for his plan to increase the income tax but lower the sales tax as lawmakers begin crafting their own state budget proposals.

Newtown parents urge better enforcement of Conn. gun laws

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Some parents of the young victims of the Newtown elementary school shooting are calling for better enforcement of Connecticut’s gun laws and questioning why civilians would need semiautomatic, military-style weapons.

Mark Mattioli appeared Monday before a legislative subcommittee reviewing gun laws in the wake of the Dec. 14 massacre, which left 20 first-grade students and six educators dead. Mattioli’s son, James, was among the children killed.

Mattioli says he believes in "simple, few gun laws" and that there are "more than enough on the books."

But he said they’re not being properly enforced.

Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, told the subcommittee that he grew up with guns as a child and doesn’t believe they should be banned. But he wants stricter regulations.

He questioned why anyone needs assault-style weapons and large capacity magazines, urging gun rights advocates in the packed room to put themselves in his position. A handful of people shouted back to him about their Second Amendment rights.

Heslin says there’s no need for the weapons in homes or on the streets.

Hundreds turned out to testify at the hearing. A line stretched outside as the public waited to pass through a metal detector at the Legislative Office Building entrance.


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