Police dog discovers gun in snowbank – and fires it

Police say a dog searching for a gun in a snowbank accidentally pulled the trigger with its paw, firing the weapon.

No humans — or dogs — were hurt.

The episode started at about 2 a.m. Sunday when an officer on patrol heard three gunshots. When the officer went to investigate, he saw a vehicle speed away.

When the car pulled over, police saw a man leap out and bury something in the snow.

Ivan, a dog handled by the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, was called to the scene to find whatever was buried in the snow. Police say he started digging furiously and fired the gun.

Three men were arrested and police determined the gun had been stolen in Manchester, N.H., in October.


Harvard chooses Winfrey to speak at commencement

Talk show host and media entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey has been selected as one of the principal speakers at Harvard University’s commencement.

Winfrey, who has used her success to promote education, civic engagement and charitable works, will be the principal speaker at the afternoon exercises at Harvard’s 362nd commencement on May 30.

Harvard President Drew Faust said in a statement Monday that Winfrey’s journey from her grandmother’s Mississippi farm to one of the world’s most admired women “is one of the great American success stories.”

Through her private foundation, Winfrey has awarded hundreds of grants to organizations that support education and the empowerment of women, children and families worldwide.

Afternoon exercises serve as the annual meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association.


BU suspends frat over death of student after a party

Boston University has suspended a fraternity after an engineering student from New Hampshire was found unconscious at a party and died.

Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore said Monday that BU officials learned from the national Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity that its local chapter was being suspended because of reports of underage drinking at the off-campus Friday night party.

Elmore said he didn’t have details about the event, apparently a “meet-and-greet” attended by about four dozen people.

Nineteen-year-old Anthony Barksdale II, who graduated from high school in Amherst, N.H., was found unconscious just after midnight and pronounced dead at a hospital about three hours later.

Authorities haven’t determined the cause of his death. The Suffolk District Attorney’s office said an autopsy found no signs of physical violence and toxicology tests are pending.


Layoffs starting at BAE, including 200 in state

About 200 layoffs announced by defense contractor BAE Systems in January have started taking effect in New Hampshire.

The jobs are among about 300 being cut by the company. BAE said it was a necessary response to changing staffing requirements and the overall climate for its industry.

About 4,600 employees work at the plant in Nashua. BAE also operates sites in Hudson, Merrimack and Lexington, Mass.

Other reductions in the 11,000-employee work force were taking place in Wayne, N.J.; Greenlawn and Endicott, N.Y.; Manassas, Va.; and Austin, Texas.

A company spokeswoman said Monday the losses are not related to last week’s sequestration.


Maple sugaring season likely to surpass 2012’s

Maple farmers in New Hampshire say this season is looking better than last year’s so far.

Weather conditions have been favorable. Robyn Pearl, publicist for the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association, said it’s been an average start to the season. Temperatures are cooperating.

“We are very optimistic about a nice, long maple season this year,” said Brad Presby, owner of Presby’s Maple Farm in Bethlehem and promotions director for the maple association.

“We’ve had good snow coverage for much of the winter, which results in a later start of maple flow and a longer duration of the yield. Last year, most maple producers were down by about 50 percent.”

Pearl said the state produced about 90,000 gallons of syrup last year, fewer than in 2011, when the state’s producers made 125,000 gallons.

Last year, mild weather contributed to lower-than-anticipated syrup production.

The association hosts an open sugarhouse weekend March 23-24.

Gov. Maggie Hassan was tapping a tree at Tucker Mountain Maple in Andover on Monday to signal the ceremonial start of New Hampshire’s maple sugaring season.