This week in Concord history

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Dec. 11, 1979: Public Service Co. of New Hampshire will be insolvent by mid-January unless it gets an emergency 5.5 percent rate increase, its chief counsel, Martin Gross, tells the state Public Utilities Commission. The company, Gross says, has severe cash problems both long and short term.
 
Dec. 11, 1999: Two Catholic priests whose recent marriages disqualify them from clerical service in the Roman Catholic Church become Episcopal priests in a liturgy at St. Paul’s Church in Concord. The service marks one of the first such clerical conversions in the state’s religious history.
 
Dec. 11, 2000: An early-morning fire at the Royal Garden Apartments in Concord leaves 37 people homeless. The community will respond with offers of clothing, shelter, even Christmas gifts for the kids.
 
Dec. 12, 2000: About 100 Concord residents voice concerns about a retail development proposed for the city’s South End. For two hours, the crowd fires off questions about traffic, the demolition of old buildings and the impact on the neighborhood’s quality of life. In coming months, the proposal will be revised and then rejected by the city planning board.
 
Dec. 13, 1999: A move by the Clinton administration to permanently restrict new logging roads on federally owned forests, including the White Mountains, gets an icy reception at two hearings in Concord. Loggers, off-road vehicle enthusiasts and environmentalists all join in the criticism, fearing a reduction in local decision-making power.
 
Dec. 14, 1955: A train conductor uncoupling an engine from the freight train in Concord gets his foot caught between the rail and guard rail and is then run over by the train and crushed to death, the Coos Republican reports. 
 
Dec. 14, 1989: In a special session, the Legislature approves Northeast Utilities’ takeover of Public Service Co. of New Hampshire. The deal entails rate increases of 5.5 percent per year for seven years.
 
Dec. 14, 1999: For the first time in more than a decade, the Concord teachers union authorizes its leadership to call for a strike vote if a settlement on a new three-year contract is not reached within the week.
 
Dec. 15, 1836: The Legislature votes to accept an $892,115 grant from Washington – but only after chiding the federal government for “degrading the states and reducing them to servile dependence.” The money will be divvied up among the towns.
 
Dec. 15, 1987: Just before noontime, Gary Hart and his wife, Lee, stroll onto the State House Plaza, where the media horde waits. After having dropped out in May because of highly publicized womanizing, Hart announces that he is back in the Democratic race for president. “I have the power of ideas,” he says, “and I can govern this country.”
 
Dec. 16, 1965: A new state report shows public libraries in New Hampshire spend an average of $2.32 per resident. Concord tops the list at $4.06 per resident. Book readership is also up statewide, to 6.71 books per resident per year.
 
Dec. 17, 1808: Three years after a state prison is proposed in Concord, the Legislature authorizes a committee of three to accept bids for building one. It will be nearly four years before the prison opens on North State Street at Tremont Street. It will be a three-story, 36-cell structure surrounded by granite walls three feet thick and 14 feet high. The cost: $37,000.
 
Dec. 17, 1828: Ralph Waldo Emerson, who is under serious consideration for the job of assistant pastor to the Second Church in Boston (the Mathers’ church), visits Concord. He and Ellen Tucker, whom he met the previous Christmas, become engaged to marry. He is 25, she 17.
 
Dec. 17, 1951: The temperature in Concord falls to 22 below zero, making this the coldest December day of the 20th century.
 
Dec. 17, 1992: Gov. Judd Gregg orders a pagan symbol removed from the State House lawn. The young man who erected it goes to court, where Steven McAuliffe, in his first major decision as a federal judge, overrules Gregg’s order.

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