Testimony ends in long trial over MTBE contamination

Testimony has ended in the longest trial in New Hampshire’s history, and the jurors who’ve been together since Jan. 14 bolted not for the doors but for their cameras.

They wanted to mark the occasion with a group photograph.

The jurors will begin deliberating next week over whether Exxon Mobil Corp. should pay the state of New Hampshire hundreds of millions of dollars to monitor and treat private wells and public drinking supplies contaminated by the gasoline additive MTBE.

Clearly with advance permission from Superior Court Judge Peter Fauver, they returned to their usual seats in the jury box after handing cameras and iPads to lawyers from both sides who reveled in the role of paparazzi.

Final arguments in the case are scheduled for next week.


N.H. House votes to hike gas, diesel tax by 12 cents

New Hampshire’s House has voted to phase in a 12-cent hike in the gas and diesel tax to help fix deteriorating roads and bridges.

The House voted 206-158 Wednesday to send the proposed increase to the Senate, which instead has passed a bill legalizing a casino to raise money for highway projects.

New Hampshire has not raised its 18 cent tax in 22 years and supporters say more money is needed to finish expanding Interstate 93 from the Massachusetts border to Manchester and for other highway improvements. The bill calls for increasing the tax on gas over three years and on diesel over six years.


Bill that would designate official state colors rejected

Orange, red and yellow won’t be New Hampshire’s official colors this year.

The House voted 266-66 Wednesday to table a bill that makes the three colors the state’s official colors. A fourth-grade class at Freedom Elementary School lobbied for the bill to highlight New Hampshire’s colorful fall foliage.

The House vote is a parliamentary move that effectively kills the bill unless a supermajority of lawmakers acts to bring the bill back up before a legislative deadline Thursday.

Two years ago, the House killed a bill to make purple the state’s official color.

The House voted last month to pass a bill promoted by a group of Derry fourth-graders to make the white potato the official vegetable. The Senate next considers that bill.


Foul-mouthed cockatoo can continue spewing expletives

Warwick officials have dropped their case against the owner of a foul-mouthed cockatoo that hurled expletives at a neighbor.

Resident Lynn Taylor was fined $15 last year for violating the local noise ordinance after the neighbor complained about the bird’s profane rants. The neighbor lived with Taylor’s ex-husband.

Police tell WJAR-TV they recently dropped the case because of the cost of fighting Taylor’s appeal of the fine. Officials say it was in the city’s best interest not to use its resources to try to enforce a $15 citation.

Taylor appealed the fine to Providence Superior Court. Her lawyer says the noise ordinance is unconstitutional because it doesn’t specify what constitutes a violation.

The local law prohibits residents from letting their pets habitually howl, bark or make other noises.


Police charge 178 people with seat belt violations

A Rhode Island city has cited 178 people for seat belt violations in a single week as part of a national campaign to encourage motor vehicle safety.

The Warwick Police Department announced Wednesday that officers issued the citations for violating the state’s seat belt and child safety seats last week as part of the Click It or Ticket campaign.

Police say they also arrested 13 people for driving with suspended licenses and charged five with driving under the influence.

Police departments throughout the state and nation stepped up the enforcement of seat belt laws as part of the campaign.


—From news service reports