Two events with worldwide implications were the choices for top local stories of 2003 by Telegraph editors, reporters and photographers.
Newspaper staff narrowly picked the demise of the Old Man of the Mountain over the appointment of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson as Episcopalian bishop of New Hampshire as the top story of the year.
Both stories overshadowed the ongoing saga of
Pennichuck Water Works, a pair of murders in August that led to the arrest of teenagers and Nashua’s ringing in its sesquicentennial.
When the Old Man fell in early May, it marked the end of an era that began with its “discovery” in 1805.
The rock formation, which graces the New Hampshire quarter, was believed to have been formed by geological processes that started about 10,000 years ago. The attraction in Franconia Notch was viewed by an estimated 600,000 tourists each year.
For decades, caretakers used turnbuckles, cables and grout to preserve the formation on the series of peaks that make up Cannon Mountain.
But the work only staved off the inevitable, and sometime in the night of May 2 or early morning of May 3, the old man slipped away.
Months later, a task force commissioned by the governor recommended the state create a memorial, but not attempt to reconstruct the Old Man.
Six months later, another era ended when Robinson, an openly gay man living with a same-sex partner, was consecrated as bishop of the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire.
Robinson, 56, burst into the headlines in early June, when he was selected by a majority of clergy and lay representatives from around the state to lead the state’s Episcopalians.
His election was criticized by a variety of Christians locally and worldwide, and his confirmation came only after he was cleared of last-minute allegations of misconduct.
The full impact of his confirmation, which took place amid some protest in November in Durham, is yet to be seen.
On a much more local level, the ongoing questions about the future of Pennichuck Water Works, which supplies water to Nashua and many surrounding communities, made big news throughout the year.
From the demise of a stock-for-stock deal in which water giant Philadelphia Suburban would have purchased the local utility for more than $100 million to the city’s attempt to acquire the company, the 150-year-old firm has been a flashpoint for controversy.
As the year comes to a close, talks of eminent domain, debate over power-sharing on a regional water board, an investigation of the city by the private National Association of Securities Dealers and lingering questions about a home purchase by the former company president continue to swirl.
On a darker note, a pair of summertime murders came in fourth in Telegraph voting.
On Aug. 8, Jeanne Dominico, a 43-year-old mother of two, was stabbed to death in her Nashua home. Her 16-year-old daughter, Nicole Kasinskas, and her daughter’s teenage boyfriend, William Sullivan Jr., were charged in connection with Dominico’s death.
Dominico was remembered by friends as a loving and devoted mother who worked ceaselessly to make ends meet.
“She was an angel here on Earth, and without question she’ll be one in heaven,” said a longtime friend.
Sullivan has pleaded not guilty to killing Dominico, and Kasinskas faces charges for allegedly acting as a lookout on the night of the crime.
Just three weeks later, Paul Herlihy, 51, of Milford, was found murdered in his home. His son, Douglas Herlihy, then 17, was arrested in Stoneham, Mass., shortly after the elder Herlihy was found dead.
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Douglas Herlihy had crashed and abandoned his father’s car and was apprehended after a foot chase, police said. Douglas Herlihy faces a variety of motor vehicle and drug charges; neither he nor anyone else has been charged in connection with Paul Herlihy’s death.
On a brighter note, Telegraph staffers chose Nashua’s yearlong celebration of its sesquicentennial as the No. 5 story of 2003.
The city’s festivities included new events and spruced-up versions of annual celebrations: a winter celebration gala, a 150th birthday cake at the annual Taste of Downtown, a spectacular sesquicentennial parade, a sesquicentennial ball, the city’s Festival of Nations and the Downtown Holiday Stroll.
The anniversary sparked plenty of looking back at the 150 years since Nashua reunited with Nashville after an 11-year split and became the city we know today. At the time of the split, Nashua had only been in existence for five years.
In keeping with Nashua politics, the particularly hard-fought 2003 mayoral campaign that pitted incumbent Bernie Streeter against Alderman-at-Large Steve Bolton and former mayor and double-write-in candidate Don Davidson came in sixth on The Telegraph list.
The campaign was in part a blame game, with Streeter and Davidson excoriating each other for the city’s fiscal situation. For all the sharp words and bitter struggle, the Nov. 4 election was less than divisive, with all nine city wards backing Streeter for another four years in office.
Another heart-rending death shook the city in the summer when 3-month-old Christopher Linde succumbed to injuries police say he sustained at the hands of his father.
Barry Linde, convicted of severely disabling another son by shaking him in the early 1990s, was charged with shaking Christopher, who died in July after three weeks in the hospital.
Barry Linde, a Nashua resident, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. At the time of Christopher’s death, Barry Linde was on parole for the 1991 assault.
In the town of Wilton, the Police Department underwent a complete transformation in 2003. Selectmen placed then-Chief Robert Maguire on administrative leave in March, and he resigned in May. The next month, Maguire was convicted of criminal threatening and marijuana charges and was later stripped of his certification of as a police officer.
Deputy Chief James Greene took over for Maguire, but resigned a short time later after an investigation revealed he had publicly shoved a sandwich into the face of Maguire’s former live-in girlfriend.
Richard Turgeon then took over as acting chief, but he, too, was decertified after revelations that he smoked marijuana surfaced in the course of the Maguire investigation.
But the department put the worst behind it: Brent Hautanen, an Antrim police sergeant, took over the department in the fall, just in time to host an open house at the town’s new police station.
Telegraph staffers chose the tale of Milford Middle School teacher Kevin Marquis as the area’s No. 9 story of 2003.
Marquis, 35, had been teaching at the school for 10 years when he was charged in May with having sex with one of his 14-year-old students. Marquis was later charged with having sex with another teenage student, and also with using a computer to attempt to seduce the girls.
The last of The Telegraph’s top 10 local stories of 2003 was the ongoing loss of manufacturing jobs in the region. Many of those jobs are seen to be moving overseas, where costs are much lower.
About one-fifth of manufacturing jobs in the state have disappeared over the last three years, continuing a long slide from the 1980s, bringing the current work force to about 81,300.
The sting is especially painful: The average manufacturing pay and benefits are about 15 percent higher than other jobs in the private sector.
Changing attitudes about manufacturing, along with government assistance, are seen as the keys to making manufacturing part of the future, and not just the region’s heritage. But for many out-of-work area residents, that is cold comfort.
Other stories that garnered mention among Telegraph voters were the death of former Gov. Hugh Gregg; the conviction of a former Merrimack priest for stealing from his parish; the release of documents by the Diocese of Manchester concerning priests’ abuse of children; and the glut of Democratic candidates descending on the region for the upcoming primary.
Alasdair Stewart can be reached at 594-6426 or email@example.com.
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This article appears in the Archive 2003 issue of New Hampshire Business Review