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Globe New Hampshire’s year in review: 2023

The Globe New Hampshire team rounds up their most impactful stories of the year.

Introducing Globe New Hampshire
The Globe has always covered news in New Hampshire. Now, we’re bringing you more. (Produced by Anush Elbakyan/Globe Staff, Produced by Chaney Carlson-Bullock)

When we launched Globe New Hampshire in late March, we set out to find the stories that were going untold, hold powerful people and institutions accountable, and put breaking news into context. Here are some of our team’s most-impactful stories.

Strafford County officials said the office of Sheriff Mark Brave was on the verge of a mass resignation in August 2023 as he repeatedly refused to take a leave of absence as he faced criminal allegations of theft and deception.Steven Porter/Globe Staff

The dishonest sheriff

Once we learned just how extensively Strafford County Sheriff Mark A. Brave had been accused of lying about his spending on personal travel and trysts, Globe New Hampshire reporter Steven Porter knew he needed to do some digging to figure out what else Brave may have lied about.

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He snagged a printout of Brave’s LinkedIn profile just before he took it offline and launched a detailed review of the claims he had made to voters about his work history and education, ultimately revealing Brave had falsely claimed to hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He also overstated his work experience in law enforcement.

Porter kept pushing for more information and successfully petitioned the county to release a copy of an internal investigation that had led officials to conclude Brave had been dishonest with them about his whereabouts when his wife was arrested for drunken driving.

Brave, a Democrat, has since resigned. He was indicted on eight felony counts of theft by deception and perjury, and he maintains his innocence.

Opponents of Senate Bill 272, a parental bill of rights measure that has alarmed advocates for LGBTQ young people, rally outside the State House in Concord, N.H., on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, to denounce the bill.Steven Porter

The anti-trans backlash

Some GOP lawmakers in Concord have demonstrated a desire to push back against society’s rising acceptance of transgender people, particularly those who dare to exist in spaces or media visible to children.

Some pushed unsuccessfully for a state law to require public schools to segregate multi-stall bathrooms and locker rooms by sex, not gender identity. (Remember when the Milford school board ordered students to quit using urinals? That was all wrapped up in the anti-trans backlash.)

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Porter also wrote a few stories about a variety of “parental rights” proposals, some of which would have required teachers to out transgender kids to their parents. The most viable version of that bill was narrowly defeated in May, relieving LGBTQ rights advocates. (Senate Republicans claimed Democrats had “undermined the very fabric of our society.”)

And don’t forget about the battle over freedom of expression in a Concord elementary school, or state representative who’s accused of defaming two drag queens. His fact-deficient assertions were criticized by fellow Republicans. Porter wrote about how he’s claiming absolute legislative immunity.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu at the Merrimack Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8641. Jim Davis for The Boston Globe

The politically ambitious

As far as politics coverage in New Hampshire is concerned, some of the most interesting stories from 2023 have everything to do with 2024, including our first-in-nation presidential primary and the wide-open race for governor.

Porter wrote about the “what ifs” before we knew whether Governor Chris Sununu would jump into the presidential race. (He took a pass.) Porter was there in Dover when Sununu announced he wouldn’t seek another term as governor either, and worked with Globe colleagues to cover his high-profile endorsement.

Between the red-hot contest for the GOP presidential primary and the calendar impasse between state and national Democrats, there has been no shortage of rewarding stories to cover. We look forward to bringing you all the political news you need in New Hampshire in 2024 and beyond

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Veronica "Ronnie" Dane rests in bed at her home in Stratham, NH on May 17, 2023. Ronnie, who suffers from Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) explained, “my body can’t make more energy when I’ve used it. I’ll overdo it and I’ll be in bed for a week. Right now I feel sick but I don’t know if its because I had a busy week.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

ME/CFS and long COVID

Globe New Hampshire reporter Amanda Gokee spent weeks reporting this story on ME/CFS, a chronic disease that’s little understood and has often been overlooked by medical institutions. The women suffering with the disease told her how their experiences fits in the history of medical misogyny: women are impacted by the disease at much higher rates than men and have often been disbelieved or dismissed by doctors telling them their symptoms are psychological.

It was devastating to learn how the disease transformed their lives – how the physical activity some of them loved became a source of their pain as a result of the condition, how they were unable to spend time with loved ones because it would trigger outbreaks that could leave them bedbound for days or even months at a time.

But there was also a lot of hope in their advocacy work, especially at a time when there’s considerable interest in addressing long COVID, which can be diagnosed as ME/CFS in severe cases.

Morgan Hill, owner Mount Cabot Maple in Lancaster, N.H., walks through the sugarbush where sap is harvested. Mount Cabot Maple saw a 62 percent drop in production after Forest Tent Caterpillar infestations in 2016 and 2017. Paul Hayes for the Boston Globe

A future in farming

This profile of a queer maple farmer who is figuring out how to make a thriving agriculture business brought Gokee to a beautiful mountainside sugarbush in the North Country. Morgan Hill is a Lancaster native whose business is both about creating queer community and making delicious maple syrup. In an aging state, we wanted to give readers a look at a young person forging a future in farming, which Hill calls “the good life.”

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This was also a compelling environmental story: Hill’s farm had been hit by a tent caterpillar infestation in both 2016 and 2017, decreasing syrup production by 60 percent. That event was especially devastating to maple farmers because it was paired with a drought that left trees especially vulnerable.

Officials in Somersworth, N.H., told Jacqui Pierce she had to mow her lawn. She refused because she wants to help the bees. She thinks the city should change the ordinance requiring residents to keep lawns less than 10 inches. Many others in the state agree that pollinators need the habitat.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Going beyond “no-mow”

As a reporter, it always feels like a success to see a story that resonates with readers, and that’s part of why Gokee enjoyed reporting on a Somersworth resident who rejected a city ordinance requiring her to mow her lawn. Jacqui Pierce wanted to keep her grass long to help pollinators, but faced the threat of a fine from the city for doing so.

That shows how not all New Hampshire communities have embraced the no-mow movement, encouraging residents to grow out their grass. But highly manicured lawns can be an environmental disaster, requiring lots of chemicals, water, and labor to maintain. And they’re far from native to New Hampshire, but rather were imported from Europe where they originated with the serfs and lords. Here, they’ve become a symbol of social standing that some are ready to be rid of.

Gokee became so intrigued by pollinator gardens that she wrote a guide to creating a pollinator meadow, which she ended up using in her own (tiny) yard.

The Globe New Hampshire team is looking forward to more good stories in the new year. As always, we would love to hear from you about what’s happening in your community and the kinds of stories you’d like to read. You can find Amanda Gokee and Steven Porter on X, formerly known as Twitter, or send ideas to the team here.

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Thank you for reading.


Steven Porter can be reached at steven.porter@globe.com. Follow him @reporterporter. Amanda Gokee can be reached at amanda.gokee@globe.com. Follow her @amanda_gokee.