Publication Year

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Research at PSU to help forecast winter weather

January 21st, 2015 by Lynn

    PLYMOUTH — Ever get nervous about driving in winter weather? Wonder if those dark clouds overhead will bring flurries or perhaps something worse, like freezing rain? It’s a common concern, and a legitimate public safety issue–New Hampshire citizens need accurate forecasts, particularly when winter weather leads to hazardous road conditions.

    A new experiment underway on the campus of Plymouth State University may help forecasting winter storms and hazardous driving conditions. According to PSU Associate Professor of Meteorology Sam Miller, the Snow Level Radar (SLR) experiment is a joint effort between Plymouth State’s meteorology program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a US federal agency that studies the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere.

    “We often hear forecasters use the phrase, ‘wintry mix,’ which means it’s going to be rain, snow, sleet or a combination of those things. The problem is, over a distance of just a few miles there could be freezing rain, which can be very dangerous, or ice pellets, which are annoying but don’t create the same massive hazard to traffic that freezing rain creates,” Miller said.

    For the next two years, the trailer-mounted SLR unit will be parked adjacent to Grafton Hall, a student residential facility on the PSU campus. The unit consists of two upright cylinders containing radar and a computer system that collects the radar data. Miller says the unit sends out a low-power microwave signal to determine what’s happening in the sky.

    “The radar pulse goes up vertically, bounces off whatever precipitation happens to be falling, and then goes back to the unit and into a receiver box. The receiver feeds the information into a computer which then identifies how far the pulse went and what it bounced off of, whether it was liquid precipitation, if it was frozen, like snow, or if was it something that was melting,” noted Miller. “The SLR determines where melting occurs because snow falls from colder air into warmer air. The instrument detects the level in the atmosphere where the frozen precipitation melts and changes into rain,” noted Miller.

    “It’s a state-of-the-art instrument that provides a different way to look at the atmosphere,” said Paul Johnston, a systems engineer at NOAA. “There are precipitation problems on the East Coast and with units like the SLR, we’re starting to learn how to address those issues.”

    Brendon Hoch, an Information Technologist with PSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science and Chemistry, said the data could eventually lead to specific forecasts for a variety of people, such as motorists, ski area snowmakers and public safety officials.

    “We hope to be able to determine whether we’re going to get a light, fluffy powdery snow or a wet heavy snow, and how much will accumulate,” he said. “Light snow will accumulate much deeper in depth, and that can affect plow operations for state highways.”

    Michael Wessler, a junior meteorology major from Plymouth, added the SLR has been used almost exclusively on the West Coast. That PSU is now hosting the experiment is a boon to students who will be able to interact with this cutting-edge technology and equipment.

    “It’s getting into an area of forecasting and meteorology that isn’t clearly defined or entirely understood,” Wessler said. “It’s exciting because we’re analyzing newer data and using new technology in a location that hasn’t been studied before.”

    Hoch said the only cost to PSU for the SLR installation is a modest amount of electricity; he also asserts there is enormous value for the University both educationally and scientifically.

    “It’s win-win. NOAA has a new location in which to test their instrument and PSU’s students and faculty benefit from access to this important data,” Hoch said.

    The science of meteorology and weather forecasting has evolved dramatically over the past 30 years, primarily due to satellite and computer technology. Miller believes there is much more to learn and that’s what PSU hopes to accomplish with the SLR project.

    “We’re taking theory and using it to improve what operational meteorologists do,” said Miller. “The reason we all do this is, ultimately, to make better weather forecasts.”

    Karl Drerup Art Gallery and Exhibition Program at Plymouth State University, exhibition by teaching artist Emile Birch

    January 21st, 2015 by Lynn

      The Karl Drerup Art Gallery and Exhibition Program at Plymouth State University will present an exhibition by teaching artist Emile Birch, running from Monday, February 2 through Thursday, March 5, in the gallery at the Draper and Maynard Building on North Main Street in Plymouth. A gallery reception is scheduled for Tuesday, February 3 from 4-6 p.m.

      The sculptures in this body of work explore the spiritual nature of living trees, and their transformation when cut and felled. Then the tree is no longer revered for its fruit, beauty or symbolism, but is reborn as wood, a material that provides innumerable opportunities to sustain the human body and soul. Birch seeks to express this transcendence of trees from their organically formed circular trunks to the geometry of the mill, which cuts them into square beams. For him they are a manifestation of the circle signifying the spirit and square symbolizing material in union as mandala of life’s continuum.

      The construction of a cradling architecture in each maquette, the sculptor’s small preliminary model or sketch, is designed to remind one of scaffolding. Scaffolding in this case to balance the felled tree from its inevitable fall, and in doing so, to capture in time the point of transition from tree to wood. The painted wall reliefs in this series are intended to express an illuminated vision of the memorial sculptures and the pantheon of deities that are associated with forests.

      Birch says, “The veneration of trees is an ancient and ongoing human endeavor. Throughout history, the sacred tree has personified our understanding of life, death, knowledge and liberty. This colorful and kinetic exhibit is filled with ancient and new symbolism integrated into mesmerizing designs.”

      Businesses and communities throughout New Hampshire have commissioned Birch’s public artworks. The Eternal Shield, a bronze sculpture, was commissioned by the New Hampshire Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Committee and is the first sculpture in more than 100 years to be sited on the State House grounds in Concord. Pollyanna, another bronze sculpture, is a landmark in the town of Littleton.

      Birch has completed many residencies in schools, hospitals, state and private mental health institutions, prisons and youth detention facilities throughout New England. He is one of the original artists on the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts’ “Arts in Education Roster,” and is known by teachers across the state as an expert collaborator, evolving visual art experiences that are specifically tailored for each school, addressing their physical spaces, their students’ needs and abilities, and the school and community goals.

      Educational programming for area schools and professional development workshops for artists and educators are available for this exhibit. Visit for information.


      Granite State Challenge Returns Feb. 7

      January 18th, 2015 by Lynn

        16 New Hampshire high school teams will compete. It’s the show’s 31st season.

        In the wake of competitive play-off matches, Goffstown High School and Kennett High School emerged victorious to join the 2015 season of Granite State Challenge. Sixteen New Hampshire high school teams will compete in the 31st season of Granite State Challenge, New Hampshire Public Television’s high school quiz competition which premieres February 7th at 6 PM on NHPTV PRIME.

        In November, 54 high schools competed at Plymouth State University for the chance to play in this season of Granite State Challenge. The bracket consists of the top-scoring 14 teams, and the winners of the play-off matches between Goffstown High School and Mascoma High School, and Kennett High School and Stevens High School. The final 16 teams competing this season are:

        • Academy for Science and Design, Nashua
        • Bishop Guertin High School, Nashua
        • Bow High School, Bow
        • Concord High School, Concord
        • Dover High School, Dover
        • Goffstown High School, Goffstown
        • Hanover High School, Hanover
        • Kennett High School, North Conway
        • John Stark Regional High School, Weare
        • Kingswood Regional High School, Wolfeboro
        • Manchester Central High School, Manchester
        • Merrimack High School, Merrimack
        • Nashua High School South, Nashua
        • Pinkerton Academy, Derry
        • Portsmouth Christian Academy, Dover
        • Plymouth Regional High School, Plymouth

        It takes a winning combination of quick thinking, teamwork, and smarts as New Hampshire’s top high school academic teams play Granite State Challenge. The game emphasizes quick recall of math, science, social studies, language arts and fine arts facts – along with questions about current events, entertainment, sports, and New England. Host Jim Jeannotte poses the Challenge questions to the teams; co-host Lori Warriner gets the behind-the-scenes story from each team.

        Look for exciting angles to games this season, including an online quiz where individuals can take the Challenge and play against each other in real time. Also, for a third year, there will be a Granite State vs. Bay State “Governor’s Cup” match between the winners of the Granite State Super Challenge and the WGBH Boston High School Quiz Show.

        Granite State Challenge is generously funded by lead sponsor Unitil, a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers in New England; additional funding is provided by NEA New Hampshire, Heinemann, DF Richard, Markem-Imaje, Measured Progress, and the NHHEAF Network.

        “Congratulations to the 16 teams that made it through the grueling qualifying rounds to win a prestigious place on Granite State Challenge this season,” said Carol Valianti, Unitil’s VP communications and public affairs. “Unitil is proud to support New Hampshire’s academic superstars and we can’t wait to follow the teams on their exciting journey to the SuperChallenge.”

        The 31st season of Granite State Challenge premieres February 7th at 6 PM, with multiple airdates on NHPTV PRIME and NHPTV EXPLORE. All games can be watched online at, on YouTube or iTunes. Online GSC quizzes help keep students and audiences involved in the game.

        Submitted text and courtesy graphic.

        Emile Birch Exhibit at Karl Drerup Art Gallery at PSU

        January 16th, 2015 by Lynn

          Local galleries offer comfortable culture

          BY KAREN A. JAMROG


          It seems counterintuitive, but sometimes the best treasure is hidden in plain sight. Consider, for example, the galleries and museums that dot the Granite State landscape like dabs of color in a Monet painting. While the year is still young, why not resolve to get more culture in your life by taking in some local art displays?

          You can begin by visiting the Karl Drerup Art Gallery at Plymouth State University, where through most of February you can see an exhibit of Canaan-based sculptor Emile Birch’s “Memorials,” a symbolic series that explores the veneration and spirituality of trees, and the transformation of trees that are cut down. Birch frequently serves as an artist-in-residence at New Hampshire schools and is the creator of public sculptures commissioned by businesses and communities throughout the state.

          “It’s going to be such a stunning exhibit,” says Cynthia Robinson, Karl Drerup Art Gallery director. “It’s going to have a strong visual impact as you walk in,” Robinson says, “a real visual feast” with bursts of color and sculptures that move and sway.

          Never been to an art show? Small, local galleries hold special appeal to art newbies because of their comfortable, non-threatening nature. So don’t be shy. “Some people feel that they don’t ‘know’ art, but they do,” Birch says. “Everybody does. We all have a reaction to all kinds of art.”

          You can meet Birch at a reception at the Karl Drerup Art Gallery on February 3, and see the exhibit until it closes on March 5. For directions and gallery hours, visit the Karl Drerup Art Gallery website.

          Climb Every Mountain–ETC’s ‘Sound of Music’ draws cast from 25 Granite State towns

          January 14th, 2015 by Lynn

            By ROXANNE RUBELL
            Special to the Union Leader

            Think about it: Is there a music teacher anywhere who hasn’t introduced students to classics from the “Sound of Music,” from the title track to “Edelweiss,” “My Favorite Things,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and “Do-Re-Mi?”

            The original stage production of the “Sound of Music” musical opened in London in 1959. And, with its subsequent adaptation to a film musical in 1965, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer brought the story of the von Trapp family, accompanied by engaging music, into mainstream consciousness.

            Community Effort

            The 103-member intergenerational cast from the Educational Theatre Collaborative (ETC) at Plymouth State University adds its production to the legions who have paid tribute to this theater standard. The show opens Wednesday, Jan. 21, and runs through Sunday, Jan. 25, in the Silver Center for the Art’s Hanaway Theatre on campus.

            by John Anderson, On the Spot Photography

            For 21 years, the ETC has been reaching out to both the college and community in efforts to make the arts more accessible. It was founded in the fall of 1994 by PSU Professor of Education Trish Lindberg and PSU Professor of Music Dan Perkins, and drew support from the university, Plymouth Elementary School and Friends of the ARTS.


            In addition to the title track, the score of the classic
            musical “Sound of Music” includes “Edelweiss,”
            “My Favorite Things,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and

            “We create an opportunity for the university and the community to come together to create magic,” said Lindberg, who recentlyadded a New England Emmy Award to her vast number of contributions and achievements in the arts.

            The diverse cast in ETC’s production of The Sound of Music hails from over 25 towns in the Plymouth region.

            About 120 actors showed up to audition, with six of them cast as the von Trapp children, plus additional chorus members as well as 34 singers from the Austrian Festival Chorus, which will perform in the show and in a pre-performance program.

            “It is so gratifying to work with a large intergenerational cast and to see the connections that are made in the process and the great fun that people have when they are immersed in the creative process,” Lindberg said.

            Twelve-year-old Plymouth resident Grace Mumford plays the part of Luisa. She gives ETC credit for giving her the acting bug at the age of 7 when she was in the company’s production of “Peter Pan.”

            “I actually didn’t have that much experience in theater, besides doing gymnastics (dance) and being in the school chorus,” Mumford said.

            “But once I started to act, I absolutely loved it and decided to continue with my career,” she said. “I had my eyes on (the role of) Luisa for a while. I loved her attitude and how she was the trickster of the kids. She seemed like she had a lot of fun while she was a child, and I wanted to try to replicate that myself.”

            This is exactly the kind of response that ETC, which won the Moss Hart Trophy in 2013, aspires to — and not just for a select few.

            “We like to think that what we do brings the community together through the magic of theater and leaves a stamp on everyone’s heart in the process,” she said.

            “This year, ETC will be initiating the “Imagine A Way Award” to honor the many contributions of PSU President Sara Jayne Steen and her husband Joseph Bourque for their many contributions to the Plymouth region.

            What: The Sound of Music

            When: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

            Where: Silver Center for the Arts, 17 High St., Plymouth

            Tickets: $29 adults, $24 seniors and youth. Group rates available.

            Info: 603-535-2787,

            PSU alumni group brings holiday cheer to homeless veteran families

            January 7th, 2015 by Lynn

              For the second year in a row, a group of alumni brothers of Phi Beta Upsilon, a fraternal organization founded at Plymouth State College (now University) in 1971 by veterans returning from the Vietnam War, made the holidays brighter for veterans in need.

              The brothers decided to “adopt” the families who reside at one of Harbor Homes’ transitional veteran housing facilities, BAE Independence Hall in Manchester, named for the funding received from BAE Systems.

              Independence Hall is a place for veteran families to live together as a family unit as they work toward becoming self-sufficient, independent, and productive members of their community.

              Andrew McDonnell, president of the alumni organization, contacted Jean Melvin, program manager at Independence Hall, to make plans for this celebration.

              Melvin compiled a “wish list” for the children residing there, and the members of the alumni group went out and bought gifts for them.

              The day of the party, the group provided a buffet lunch. After Santa arrived, he handed out gifts to the children.

              McDonnell said, “We are thrilled to do this. Our group had a wonderful time as well, and we find it a very rewarding experience!”

              The Harbor Homes facility houses 26 veteran families, each in their own apartment. The housing, along with case management and supportive services, allows veteran families to move forward with their lives with a sense of dignity.

              For more information, visit or call 882-3616, extension 1242.

              Plymouth State University awarded for encouraging community service projects

              January 6th, 2015 by Lynn

                PLYMOUTH — For the eighth year in a row, Plymouth State University has been named one of the nation’s top schools for encouraging community service among its students.

                PSU was chosen for the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and was the only school in New Hampshire chosen for three Honor Rolls: Community Service, Education and Economic Opportunity.

                The list annually highlights the role colleges and universities play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement. Plymouth State President Sara Jayne Steen noted PSU’s recurrent appearance on the list is a testament to the institution’s devotion to one of its core values.

                “Our students live the Plymouth State motto, Ut prosim (That I may serve),” Steen said. “They both give and receive enormous benefit from this good work which is part of our responsibility to the state as a public institution.”

                The Corporation for National and Community Service chose 766 colleges and universities for the Honor Roll based on a series of factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service. The program is administered through the federal Learn and Serve America program, which supports and encourages service learning throughout the United States.

                PSU students enrolled in the Doctor of Education degree program teamed with The Bridge House, a 20-plus bed homeless shelter in Plymouth to raise money for an energy efficient chest freezer and provided monthly community meals. PSU students are engaged in projects supporting many of the Whole Village’s activities on behalf of children and families.

                Bienvenue New Hampshire is a University-tourism industry collaboration in which PSU undergraduate students translated the Pemi Valley Chamber of Commerce brochure into French as one of numerous projects enhancing northern NH business owners’ interactions with French-Canadian tourists.

                For Food on the Border, PSU undergraduate students researched “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing the local food movement in the context of several regional initiatives of Northern Vermont, Northern New Hampshire and southern Quebec’s local food systems.”

                “PSU continues to engage students in various projects and topics, many of which are relevant to their field of study,” said Linda Corriveau, ’11G, PSU’s Community Service Coordinator. “At the same time, faculty, staff and students are continuing to strengthen the community with their dedication and contributions.”

                Plymouth State students donate hundreds of thousands of hours on projects, such as mentoring area youth, staffing blood drives, maintaining hiking trails and leading environmental projects.

                December 28th, 2014 by Lynn

                  Published December 28, 2014 | Associated Press

                  CONCORD, N.H. – Happy to be back in New Hampshire, the state’s new head of travel and tourism also wants to return to school, in a sense, by working with colleges and universities to attract more students.

                  Victoria Cimino took over as director of the Division of Travel and Tourism Development this month after eight years away from the state, where she previously held a variety of tourism and marketing jobs, including spokeswoman for the division she now leads. One of her long-term goals is to partner with the education community to highlight why New Hampshire is both an attractive place to visit and to earn a degree.

                  “Students who choose New Hampshire as the place where they would like to go to college have parents who would like to visit them, and so how can we work closely with the state’s colleges and universities to promote New Hampshire as an educational destination — not just a beautiful, inspiring place to visit, but also where you have some of the nation’s best colleges and universities,” she said.

                  Such efforts would be aimed not just at American students but also those in other countries, Cimino said. And that would dovetail nicely with another of her goals: continuing the state’s efforts to attract foreign tourists.

                  While most of the division’s activities are focused on a core audience of tourists who live within a day’s drive of New Hampshire, it also has increased its efforts in overseas markets. Brand USA, a global marketing effort to promote the U.S. as a travel destination, was established through legislation that U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen co-sponsored in 2010 and which recently reauthorized. New Hampshire officials say it is just starting to pay off.

                  Tourism is New Hampshire’s second largest industry, behind manufacturing, and accounts for more than 60,000 jobs statewide. About 34 million visitors spent $4.6 billion in the state during fiscal year 2013, according to the latest data from the Institute for New Hampshire Studies at Plymouth State University. It estimates that 11 percent of that spending was the result of the tourism division’s promotional activities and that every dollar spent by the division brought in $77 in spending by travelers.

                  The biggest tourism-related boost to the state budget comes in the form of the rooms and meals tax. The state expects to collect $265 million in rooms and meals taxes this fiscal year, up from $260 million in 2014 and $248 million in fiscal year 2013. Cimino said her main goal is to ensure that number continues to rise, in part by providing support to businesses and including them in cooperative marketing efforts.

                  “The varied experiences that New Hampshire has within this compact state is so unique to not only the state but the region,” she said. “We have the best that New England has to offer, all within a drivable state.”

                  Born in Ohio, Cimino moved to Bedford as a teenager and most recently lived in New York. She said she looks forward to getting reacquainted with her favorite New Hampshire destinations, including downtown Keene, the White Mountains and the Seacoast.

                  “I love the ocean. When you’re a girl from Akron, Ohio, you don’t take the ocean for granted,” she said. “I’ve never taken the scenic beauty of New Hampshire for granted.”

                  Schools seek streamlined distance learning process

                  December 25th, 2014 by Lynn

                    By HOLLY RAMER
                    Associated Press
                    Posted: Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014

                    CONCORD, N.H. Southern New Hampshire University has become one of the largest nonprofit providers of online degrees in the country, thanks in part to a staffer dedicated to seeking program approval from other states and to the half a million dollars a year it pays those states. So New Hampshire’s recent decision to join an effort to streamline that process came as welcome news to the university’s president.

                    The New England Board of Higher Education recently voted to make New Hampshire the first state in New England and the 18th nationally to join the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, which is designed to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by schools in other states. The agreement allows institutions accredited in their own states to operate in other participating states without seeking independent authorization.

                    “This would be a big deal for us,” said SNHU President Paul LeBlanc, whose school now faces a “crazy quilt” of state regulations that vary widely and often don’t seem very sensible.

                    “They were all really built to manage the idea of an outside institution coming into a state and building an on-the-ground presence. None of them really were designed in anticipation of a world of online education,” he said. “So I think everyone who is working in that space is relieved to see some sanity coming into the process.”

                    Based in Manchester, SNHU offers 200 online undergraduate and graduate programs across a variety of disciplines, including business, psychology, creative writing and nursing. It has about 60,000 students enrolled in the programs this year, LeBlanc said, and is seeking approval from more states to expand its reach.

                    The process is difficult, he said, because some states put up barriers to protect their institutions and keep out the competition. Others have seen the approval process as a way to generate more revenue and have increased their fees.

                    “It’s a wild mix of things,” he said. “The principle behind this is if you are an institution that has been through your own state’s approval process and own regional accreditor’s approval process, you are sort of a trusted agent and shouldn’t have to go through the approval process of every other state in which you might offer programs.”

                    While several of New Hampshire’s larger public and private schools declined to comment on the initiative, Edward MacKay of the New Hampshire Higher Education Commission said the state’s college and university presidents overwhelmingly support the idea. The next step, which starts in January, is for interested institutions to seek approval to participate.

                    Plymouth State University definitely will apply, said Julie Bernier, the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.

                    “We are very pleased that New Hampshire will be part of the SARA agreement. Ultimately it is the students that will benefit by having access to their choice of affordable programs regardless of their state of residence,” she said.

                    The reciprocity agreement is overseen by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements and is funded by a $3 million grant from Lumina Foundation and $200,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Eventually, fees paid by the institutions will pay for the initiative.

                    PSU students volunteer at youth center

                    December 22nd, 2014 by Lynn

                      PLYMOUTH — Mid-December is usually when college students are hard at work studying for exams and preparing for winter break, but a group of Plymouth State University marketing majors volunteered their time December 10 to decorate gingerbread houses with a group of Plymouth-area children.

                      More than a dozen members of the student organization Marketing Association of Plymouth State (MAPS) volunteered for the gingerbread project at the Pemi Youth Center, an after-school destination serving youth ages 10-17 of Plymouth and surrounding communities.

                      “Thanks to MAPS, youth participants enjoyed a magical afternoon decorating gingerbread houses,” said Jessica Dutille ’03, ’04G, the Center’s Executive Director. “We are sincerely grateful for all the incredible support that MAPS extends to the Pemi Youth Center.”

                      “The simple goal behind something like this is to make the kids happy, it’s all about them,” noted Justin Hurd, MAPS Chapter Co-President. “We love performing community service, it’s something that is built into the MAPS culture and we consider it a vital and rewarding aspect of chapter operations. We wanted to do more at the center and the idea to do gingerbread houses just popped up as something we thought would be a fun and interactive activity for the kids.”

                      “We value service because it’s embedded into the core of our organization’s existence,” said Jim Hundrieser ’90G, PSU’s Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. “To serve with distinction is a Plymouth State hallmark. Each year our students give more and more, enhancing our community and serving those in need. This project at the Pemi Youth Center is just one of many examples where PSU students make a meaningful difference to our greater community.”

                      MAPS is PSU’s student chapter of the American Marketing Association. The organization serves the campus and local community through fundraising and community service projects that also provide student members with real-world marketing, management, financial, and advertising experiences.

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