Health Care, Hep C Top N.H. Stories
FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2013 file photo, local and state police with FBI agents set up a road block questioning drivers on the road where 15-year-old Abigail Hernandez, who went missing, would have walked home from school in North Conway, N.H. The missing teen who vanished on her way home from school is one of the top stories from New Hampshire of the year. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
Concord — The year in New Hampshire news included high-profile crimes and court battles, the death of prominent figures, legislative fights over Medicaid and gambling and the persistent whisper of politics, both presidential and local.
Here, then, in no particular order is a list of the top stories of 2013 in New Hampshire:
∎ David Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty to stealing painkillers and infecting dozens of patients in multiple states with hepatitis C through tainted syringes. When he was sentenced in December to 39 years in prison, he said: “I don’t blame the families for hating me. I hate myself.”
∎ For a generation of people in the North Country, Ray Burton was the only executive councilor they had ever known. A tireless advocate for the vast region, Burton announced in October that his kidney cancer had returned and he would not seek re-election to the job he had held almost nonstop for nearly four decades. Burton died Nov. 12 at 74.
∎ A man upset over custody arrangements killed his 9-year-old son, then himself Aug. 11 during a supervised visit to the Manchester branch of the YWCA. Muni Savyon sent an email earlier that day to his neighbors saying there was nothing they could do to stop him.
∎ Compared with many other states, New Hampshire got off to a late start with Affordable Care Act marketing and consumer outreach because Republicans initially blocked the state Insurance Department from accepting federal money, prompting the New Hampshire Health Plan to apply for the money instead. Criticism of the health overhaul began to hit elected state officials.
∎ In November, New Hampshire’s top court upheld the sentence of the state’s only death row inmate, moving the convicted cop killer closer to becoming the first person executed in New Hampshire since 1939. Michael Addison was convicted of gunning down Michael Briggs in 2006 as the 35-year-old Manchester police officer was attempting to arrest him on a string of armed robbery charges.
∎ The presidential election is still a long way off but that didn’t keep potential 2016 campaigners from visiting the state with the nation’s first primary. Former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown made several forays to help out Republicans and keep his name in the news. U.S. Rep. Pete King of New York also dipped his Republican toe in the water. And plenty of names surfaced for the 2014 midterm congressional elections.
∎ State lawmakers debated whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program to enroll 49,000 more people in the federal health care system for the poor. The Democrat-led House passed a plan to expand coverage, but Senate Republicans killed it along with one offered by Senate Democrats. They also killed their own plan.
∎ Former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop died in February at 96 at home in Hanover. His nomination in 1981 was stridently opposed by women’s groups and liberal politicians, who complained President Ronald Reagan selected Koop only because of his conservative views, especially his staunch opposition to abortion.
∎ The state legislature also balked at a proposal to site a casino in the state, leaving new regulations to a special panel. The House killed a casino bill that passed the Senate with strong backing from Hassan. That bill would have allowed the construction of one casino with 5,000 slot machines and 150 table games.
∎ On Oct. 9, then-14-year-old Abigail Hernandez left Kennett High School in Conway and headed for home, sending a slew of texts to a friend along the way. Police say she never made it home and has not been seen since. On Nov. 6, her mother received a letter that police later verified came from Abigail, who turned 15 shortly after she vanished.
∎ Debate continued over the planned Northern Pass project, a $1.4 billion project to carry 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydroelectric power, enough to serve 1.2 million homes, from Hydro-Quebec into New England. Opponents say the transmission towers would damage the environment, lower property values and hurt tourism. Supporters argued the cleaner power would reduce carbon emissions and said the project would bring jobs to the hard-hit North Country.
∎ In April, a jury in New Hampshire ordered Exxon Mobil to pay $236 million in damages after finding the oil giant liable in a long-running lawsuit over groundwater contamination by the gasoline additive MTBE. Lasting nearly four months, it was the longest state trial and largest jury award in New Hampshire history. The payout has been held up in appeals.
∎ Weather made news in 2013, too. A strong storm in early February dumped about 2 feet of wind-whipped snow in some places, prompting a state of emergency to be declared.