Local & Regional Briefs for Monday, April 7

N.H. House Panel Holding Hearing on New Casino Plan

Concord — The House’s tax writing committee is holding a hearing Thursday on a new Senate plan to legalize casino gambling in New Hampshire.

It would legalize two casinos sharing a total of 5,000 video slot machines and 240 table games. The House killed a bill a month ago that would have legalized one casino licensed to have 5,000 video slot machines.

The latest bill includes $25 million in revenue sharing with communities. House gambling supporters had talked of adding that to the House bill had it survived. Gambling supporters say it is a way to share money with communities. Opponents argue the money is a false promise since future legislatures can end the aid if they choose.

The Fort Restaurant Fire Cause Under Investigation

Lebanon — The investigation into the cause of a fire at The Fort restaurant Saturday night is continuing, an official said Sunday.

No one was injured in the fire that broke out in the restaurant’s storage room around 9:30 p.m., and the 24-hour restaurant and truck stop was back up and running within hours.

The Jiffy Mart gas station, which houses The Fort at its Heater Road location near Interstate 89, also resumed operations Saturday night. Lebanon Fire Department Inspector Jon Paul, who was at the scene Sunday, said officials were still finishing up the investigation. There was no word yet on the cause, he said.

The inside of the storage room was charred and there was a hole in the standing seam roof where firefighter had vented the flames. Employees Saturday night said the storage room holds the restaurant’s compressor. Pink insulation material, charred from flames, sat on the asphalt outside.

On Sunday morning, as a steady stream of customers enjoyed their breakfasts, waitress Jillian Rice said that the only other items lost to the fire appeared to be boxes of holiday decorations.

Rice, who has worked at The Fort for 10 years, said word of the blaze spread quickly through social media, phone calls and texting on Saturday night, with some accounts becoming exaggerated.

“I heard that it burned down to the ground and we’re out of a job,” she said, laughing. “Everybody was like, ‘We’re going to miss The Fort, R.I.P.’ ... I made a little post like, ‘we’re still here.’ ”

Vermont to Issue Fewer Moose Hunting Permits

Montpelier — Vermont will be issuing 20 percent fewer moose hunting permits for the regular season this fall, based on estimated population densities and moose management goals. Hunters can now apply online for a permit for the Oct. 18-Oct. 23 season. Printed applications will be available in early May from Vermont license agents. The deadline to apply is June 10.

The state will be issuing 285 permits for the Oct. 18-Oct. 23 season. Another 50 permits will be issued for the Oct. 1-7 archery moose season. The lottery applications cost $10 for Vermont residents and $25 for out-of-staters. Hunters can also bid on five moose hunting permits in an auction, which will be announced at a later date.

New Hampshire Senators Address State’s Heroin Woes

Manchester — New Hampshire’s U.S. senators are working with law enforcement leaders and public health officials to address the state’s heroin epidemic.

The state has seen the number of deaths from heroin overdose go from zero in 1993 to 67 deaths last year. Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who met Friday with law enforcement officials and drug abuse treatment providers in Salem, says fighting the epidemic will require a multifaceted approach. She is pushing for greater investment in local law enforcement, prescription drug monitoring, education and treatment. Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a former attorney general, is holding a roundtable discussion on April 23 in Manchester.

— Staff and Wire reports