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Professor's book details Native American history in Monadnock Region
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For the past 15 years or so, Robert Goodby has been delivering public lectures statewide on local Native American history, in partnership with the nonprofit New Hampshire Humanities.

“And I’ve had a great time doing that,” said Goodby, an archaeology professor at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge. “It’s a very different way of communicating about archaeology. It’s much more enjoyable.”

Now, Goodby, 59, of Dublin, has used these lectures, and his 22 years of local archaeological research with his Franklin Pierce students, as the foundation for his new book, “A Deep Presence: 13,000 Years of Native American History.” Though Goodby has written a variety of academic articles for scholarly journals over the years, the book — which he wrote on a sabbatical from Franklin Pierce last year — is his first.

“The book, really, it’s not a typical academic book,” Goodby said. “I did not write this book so it could be read by a handful of my colleagues in archaeology. I wrote it for a broader audience than that.”

Specifically, he said he hopes the book helps Monadnock Region residents gain a deeper understanding of local history, especially that Native Americans have inhabited the area continuously for the past 13,000 years.

“But if there was sort of a central point to the book, a central mission, it’s been that Native American history has been either neglected or deliberately ignored over the last 200 years,” he said. “And this book, I think especially for non-Native people, will help roll some of that back. And that, I think, is an important thing.”

The 125-page book centers on four archaeological sites in the Monadnock Region where Goodby and his students have worked. These locations include the Swanzey Fish Dam, a large stone structure in the Ashuelot River built 4,000 years ago; a knoll overlooking Nubanusit Brook in Peterborough, which Native people began visiting almost 6,000 years ago; and Wantastiquet Mountain in Hinsdale, where Goodby and his team uncovered thousands of artifacts and the remains of timber rattlesnakes.

In one of the final chapters, Goodby also details what he has called “the best, most significant, most interesting site I’ve worked on” — an area near what’s known as Tenant Swamp in West Keene, close to where Keene Middle School currently stands. Goodby conducted an archaeological consultation on the land for the school district in late 2009, before construction began and ended up discovering the oldest evidence of life in New England.

“That’s definitely the standout among all of these,” he said. “It’s an extraordinary site. So I wanted to finish with that, even though the title of the chapter is, ‘Where it All Began,’ because, let’s put it this way, there is no older dated archaeological site in New England. It’s as close as we have come to seeing the very first people to have come into this area. And so it’s a really special look, and the site was remarkably intact, and we learned a tremendous amount from it.”

Throughout the book, Goodby writes about the Keene Middle School site, and his other work, with a mix of first-person storytelling and archaeological research.

“I’m sort of telling two stories that run in parallel with each other,” he said. “The first is the story of the Native people in the Monadnock Region and some of what their history is. And then the second story is me working as an archaeologist. And those two stories weave back and forth, connect with each other.”

“A Deep Presence” is published by Portsmouth-based Peter E. Randall Publisher, in partnership with the Historical Society of Cheshire County in Keene and the Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock. Book publishers today often want authors to come with some financial backing for their projects, Goodby said, which led him to reach out to the historical society and Harris Center.

“And they supported it because it really fits with their mission,” he said. “Both of those organizations are really grounded in this area and both of them work for a broad public audience. And so this fit right in.”

Jeremy Wilson, executive director of the Harris Center, said the book is accessible, making it easy to learn about the history of the land in the Monadnock Region.

“We’re all about understanding the natural history of this region, and Native American presence in this region is a huge part of what leads to the natural history we see today,” Wilson said. “... And it’s so fun to read about places in the Monadnock Region that we all have been, and then start thinking about the deep history of these places.”

The Historical Society of Cheshire County at 246 Main St. will host a book launch at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 11, Indigenous People’s Day in Keene. Goodby’s partners will talk about their involvement in the project, and Goodby will lead a discussion on the topic before signing copies of the book, which is available for $28 from both the historical society and Harris Center.

The free event on Oct. 11 is already nearly full, Goodby said, though organizers are working on a way to stream the proceedings so people can watch from home. Additionally, the Monadnock Center for History and Culture at 19 Grove St. in Peterborough will host a similar event outdoors, allowing for a larger crowd, Saturday, Oct. 16, at 11 a.m.

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Cheshire County to join state in national opioid settlement
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Cheshire County plans to join New Hampshire in a $21 billion national opioid settlement with three major drug companies after the state announced its own intention to join Tuesday night and invited dozens of municipalities to follow suit.

Keene is mulling the matter over, according to the city attorney.

“This settlement agreement is the result of years of hard work and dedication by attorneys at the N.H. Department of Justice and throughout the nation,” N.H. Attorney General John Formella said in a news release announcing the state’s plans to join the settlement.

Nationally, drug makers and distributors have faced litigation accusing them of using deceptive marketing practices to push prescription opioid use for chronic pain, despite knowing the medications are highly addictive.

The resulting increase in opioid availability, followed by the use of heroin by those who first became addicted to prescription drugs, led directly to the nationwide spike in drug-overdose deaths.

New Hampshire has been one of the hardest hit states during the opioid epidemic, with more than 3,600 drug-related deaths reported by officials since 2011.

Three drug companies — McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and Amerisource Bergen — are involved in the pending settlement, according to the news release Tuesday night.

The settlement would require the distributors to pay up to $21 billion over 18 years, with about $115 million over that time frame dedicated to New Hampshire. Most of the funds would be used for the remediation and abatement of the opioid epidemic’s impact, according to the release.

Additionally, the distributors would be required to provide oversight of opioid marketing, sale and distribution, and also implement additional safeguards to prevent prescription opioid abuse.

Formella sent letters to the 28 Granite State counties and communities that had filed their own opioid lawsuits, including Keene and Cheshire County, to see if they want to join the settlement. They have until January to decide, according to the letter.

Cheshire County had not yet received the letter as of Wednesday afternoon but is prepared to join once it does, according to County Administrator Chris Coates.

“We’ve already submitted everything we’re supposed to submit,” he said.

Keene City Attorney Thomas Mullins said the city has not yet reviewed the settlement’s details, which is why it hasn’t yet decided whether to join.

In April 2018, Keene sued about a dozen pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors. City officials estimated in Keene’s initial filing in U.S. District Court in Concord that the opioid crisis costs the city hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in municipal services.

This litigation was almost immediately consolidated into a national multi-tort lawsuit, according to Mullins, which allows one group of attorneys to represent all those affected.

All New Hampshire counties, including Cheshire, joined in on the national lawsuit that same year, Coates said.

If the national settlement is finalized, the release says it would resolve all other opioid litigation against the three companies that would be part of the agreement.

And if more communities join in on the national settlement, it will “maximize the amount paid to the State,” according to the release.

Sentinel staff writer Caleb Symons contributed to this report.

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City employee charges mayoral candidate with stalking
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A Keene city employee has filed a stalking petition against a mayoral candidate she alleges repeatedly went to her office over several days and later showed up at her home and refused to leave.

According to the petition, filed Sept. 13 in 8th Circuit Court District Division in Keene, Mark J. Zuchowski, 66, encountered the employee at city hall on Aug. 31. After a series of interactions that culminated with Zuchowski’s being confronted by Keene police outside her house, she requested protective orders barring him from several actions, including contacting her and being on her property.

The stalking petition is a civil action and Zuchowski — who contends the whole thing was a misunderstanding — has not been charged with a crime. The woman was granted a temporary order of protection against Zuchowski on Sept. 13, and a court hearing on the matter is set for Oct. 6.

Zuchowksi, a Hadley, Mass., native who has lived in Keene for about six years, is one of three candidates running for mayor in Tuesday’s municipal primary election. The others are incumbent George Hansel and Aria DiMezzo, and one of the three will be eliminated from the ballot during voting next week.

In a pending criminal case, DiMezzo is facing multiple charges stemming from what federal prosecutors describe as an unlicensed scheme to sell cryptocurrency.

Keene City Manager Elizabeth Dragon declined to discuss the specifics of the incident involving Zuchowski and the city employee, but said the city is always looking for ways to create safer workspaces. Describing the importance of staff’s safety and well-being, she said, “We continually review safety protocols and make temporary and/or permanent adjustments when necessary.”

The city employee — who declined to comment on this matter and who The Sentinel is not identifying due to the nature of her allegations — said in her petition that Zuchowski returned to her office a couple of days after encountering her on Aug. 31, on Sept. 2 or 3, and asked questions about city business, and she provided him information. She wrote that Zuchowski then began to tell her about his late mother, which she “was weirded out by.”

He returned Sept. 7, she said in the petition, and told her “things aren’t always what they appear to be.” According to the petition, he then began to shake a bottle of seltzer water he’d brought, causing it to fizz.

“This put me on high alert and [I] asked what was in the bottle,” she wrote, “he advised it was only seltzer. He then proceeded to tell me about a young lady he watches ... that has a young child and he watches her. This really was not normal behavior.”

Zuchowski said in a Sept. 12 email to city staff that he can see this young woman’s place of business from his home and keeps an eye out to make sure she gets inside safely and turns the lights on when she is opening in the early morning while it’s still dark out.

On the morning of Sept. 8, the city employee said in her petition, she received an email from Zuchowski with “Good Morning — Thank you — Date-Brimfield” written in the subject line.

In the email, which The Sentinel reviewed as part of the petition filing, Zuchowski asks her to take a day off from work and invites her to an antiques show and flea market in Massachusetts.

Zuchowski acknowledges he made the request, but said he had no romantic intentions and invited her to the show to discuss things related to his campaign.

The petition says Zuchowski sent another email to the woman’s office on Sept. 9, but her statement does not elaborate on the contents of the email. She said she was off that day.

Then, in the late afternoon on Sept. 10, Zuchowski drove to the woman’s home, parking in her driveway in a manner that would prevent anyone else from using it, she wrote in the petition. She said she called several city staff members and asked her husband to come home right away.

She wrote that she then called Keene police, just before 6 p.m. During this time, the petition says, Zuchowski remained in front of the house and began taking photos of the property and ringing the doorbell.

Zuchowski told The Sentinel he’d looked up the woman’s address online and had come to her house because he wasn’t sure if she’d seen his invite to the antiques show. He said he took the photos because he thought he’d been there when apartment hunting several years earlier.

The employee wrote that her husband told Zuchowski to leave but he didn’t, and when informed the police were en route, Zuchowski said he would wait for them.

According to the dispatch report from the incident, at least three members of the Keene Police Department responded to the scene. The call came in at 5:56 p.m., and a trespass notice was issued at 6:32 p.m.

After the order was issued, Zuchowski was asked five times to leave the property and still refused to do so, saying he wanted to talk to the woman, she wrote. But Keene police officers told him he could not speak to her and he had to leave, she said.

Zuchowski said he recalls the incident differently and was there to see if she’d received his invitation. In a Sept. 12 email he sent to some of her coworkers, he called the no-trespass order an “insult.”

He said he was trying to leave her a note as well as a small pumpkin as a gift. The note, photos of which he included in his email, expresses admiration for her, compliments her appearance and says his antiques-show offer still stood.

Executive Council meeting canceled over safety concerns

Citing concerns about the safety of state employees in the room, the Executive Council abruptly canceled its meeting Wednesday in the face of a loud, angry crowd determined to stop the state from accepting $27 million in federal vaccine aid. State police escorted state employees to their cars.

At least two protesters shouted to councilors several times, “We know where you live.”

Gov. Chris Sununu and some councilors never emerged from a back room before Councilor David Wheeler announced the meeting was canceled nearly 45 minutes after it was to start. “State employees are fearful of their safety and have left the meeting,” Wheeler said. “We need the state employees to be able to answer questions on the agenda, and they are part of this meeting. Therefore, this meeting is canceled.”

Achieving their goal, the crowd cheered. “They should be afraid,” one man yelled. “They should be afraid.”

This is the second time this month state officials have canceled a meeting due to a mob protesting the COVID-19 vaccine, the new federal vaccine mandate, or both. The state Department of Health and Human Services postponed a public hearing on rule changes to the vaccine registry in early September. And at a rally two weeks ago, some of the same protesters turned against Republican lawmakers, accusing them of doing too little to stop a federal mandate.

Sununu issued a statement following Wheeler’s announcement. “I will not put members of the Executive Council or state agencies in harm’s way,” it said. “State Police had to escort state employees to their cars after unacceptable, unruly behavior. This meeting is being postponed until our state employees can go before the council in a safe and orderly manner. The items on today’s agenda will be brought up at a later date.”

At a press conference later Wednesday, Sununu characterized the situation a bit differently, saying there were only one or two protesters who “crossed the line.” (While four people were the loudest Wednesday, dozens in the crowd chanted with them, calling for the meeting to be shut down.)

“There were just a few individuals there that were getting very aggressive and had a very open threats, and that’s just not going to be tolerated,” Sununu said. He emphasized several times the importance of keeping governmental proceedings open and public officials accessible while allowing residents to voice objections safely.

Referring to Executive Council meetings, which are open to the public but do include a public comment period, Sununu said, “It’s an amazing opportunity for people to really be part of the process, but it’s always understood that it’s done respectfully.” He added: “You might win the vote, you might lose the vote, but you always have to respect that process, and today was clearly something that diverged very aggressively from that. It’s just not going to be tolerated.”

Sununu said the council will revisit the contracts at its next meeting “in a location that we can ensure safety and security.” He declined to be more specific.

Democratic Councilor Cinde Warmington also issued a statement saying she will not be intimidated by the “un-American conduct” of the protesters, and she called on “every Granite Stater who believes in democracy” to speak out.

“I am shocked that this insurrectionist behavior has come to New Hampshire,” she said. “It is not only disruptive, it is dangerous. Today’s meeting of the Governor and Executive Council was canceled because a far-right fringe mob put the safety of our dedicated state employees at risk. The actions of these extremists, guided by conspiracy theories and misinformation, not only disrupted state government but was an assault on our democracy.”

The other four councilors could not be immediately reached.

Monday afternoon, House Speaker Sherman Packard, a Londonderry Republican, issued a statement condemning the protesters’ actions.

“Our Constitution guarantees the right to free speech, but disruption of government meetings, and threats to government officials, is absolutely unacceptable,” he said. “The events we witnessed today were disgraceful and contrary to civil public discourse. Gov. Sununu and the Executive Council members did the right thing by putting people’s safety first.”

Reopen NH, an organized group against the vaccine, mandates, and masks, called on supporters to protest outside the meeting, held at the Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College. Following the meeting, the group posted in its online group: “Executive Council meeting update: The state employees, whose input was apparently needed in terms of comment on the contracts, orchestrated a walk out. Meeting canceled. Next steps coming soon.”

Later in the day, the group issued a statement criticizing the protesters who disrupted the meeting. “Unfortunately, a handful of individuals not connected to our organization led some of the protesters inside the meeting room and disrupted councilors as they attempted to attend to the people’s business,” the statement said. “Despite efforts to direct public discourse by way of letters, emails, and peaceful demonstrations outside the building, these agitators were able to feed off people’s raw emotion and misdirect them.”

Reopen NH, however, was also behind the protest that grew so loud and unruly in early September that it prompted the Department of Health and Human Services to cancel its public hearing on rule changes to vaccine registry.

At issue were two contracts that would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to accept $27 million in federal aid to create 13 new temporary positions aimed at increasing the state’s vaccination rate. The council voted, 4-1, to table the contracts at its last meeting, citing a need for more information. Three days later, the state Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee, which also must approve the contracts, did the same. At that meeting, Rep. Ken Weyler, a Kingston Republican and the committee chairman, voiced disproven claims that the vaccine is ineffective and that most people hospitalized with COVID-19 have been vaccinated.

Anticipating a crowd at Wednesday’s meeting, the state arranged to have state and local police, as well as campus security. They largely did not engage with the protesters, try to quiet them, or ask them to leave. But they watched closely from inside and outside the meeting.

Opponents voiced the same arguments and unproven claims they’ve voiced for several months, alleging the vaccine and masks are harmful.

This story originally appeared in the N.H. Bulletin.