Arts & Entertainment

Kirstan Knowlton: Mother’s Day

Mothers are often called the unsung heroes, and there is good reason why. Each and everyday they give it their all, from sun up to sun down, and sometimes even the hours in between.
As many of you know, I’ve been blessed to have many wonderful women role models in my life. From the mother who raised me, my biological mother, to my friend’s mothers who treated me like their own, I’ve been fortunate to know them all. But there’s one woman who I haven’t mentioned: My future mother-in-law, Kris Davis.
It’s no secret that at first I was a little leery of her, but that’s because I had only encountered her when it came to paying things like my water bill and car registration, and we all know that’s no fun.
Even though we quickly warmed up to one another, I’ll never forget what she said to me when I first started dating her daughter. She warned me not to break her heart, or else. "Yes ma’am," I thought to myself.
This woman means business.
But it didn’t take long for Kris and I to become friends, and then family. She instantly welcomed my son into her life, and routinely likes to show off photos of him to her co-worker. GiGi, as we affectionately call her, has become an important part of our lives.
When Jamie and I started planning our wedding, we couldn’t think of a better to person to marry us than her mother. We were thrilled when she gladly accepted our invitation, and she quickly went to work getting her license.
It will certainly be a special moment for all us when we finally get to say “I Do.”
Over the past two years that I’ve gotten to know Kris, I’ve noticed a few things about her. She’s incredibly loving and patient, but takes no grief from anyone.
She’s taught me to be confident and self-assured, and serves as a wonderful role model of how to balance love for others and love for self.
So thank you, Kris. Thank you for welcoming me into your family, for accepting my son as your own, and for your wonderful example of what it means to be strong woman.
This weekend, take a moment to thank the women in your lives who have helped shaped you into the person you are today. All too often we forget to acknowledge others for their contributions, but trust me they really need to hear it.
As always, I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend. Last weekend’s weather ended up being better than I thought, so maybe this weekend will be the same!
Kirstan Knowlton writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Her inspiration comes from events and people in the community who continue to work hard to make the North Country one of the best places to live. You can contact Kirstan by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Phoebe Backler: Finding a sense of place

When my husband, Dave, and I first moved to Milan, our ideas about community were largely based on our experience working for Outward Bound in Ely, Minn. Our Outward Bound community was an enclave of young idealists who hungered for adventure and a better world. It was easy for us to connect with people who shared our values and interests and we formed deep friendships. In truth, though, it had not provided us with a road map to for how to build a sense of belonging in our new place.
After moving to Milan, to our happy surprise, the region offered countless opportunities for connection. Attending school and community events incrementally built familiarity.
Loving mothers commiserated and offered support to each other over story hour at the local library. An international dinner club provides sustenance in its offerings of delicious food and conversation. Perhaps the most reliable way I bond with my neighbors is swinging a hammer or wielding a paintbrush, shoulder-to-shoulder with them. Over the last year, I witnessed this bonding as I worked with the Nansen Ski Club.
Ten years ago the club was forced to move locations when the land it had leased for decades was sold. Nansen's champions, in fear of losing the club's title of the longest continually operating ski club in the U.S., scrambled to find a new home. They settled on the Milan Hill State Park, and, with the help of resourceful park employees, built a world class 14-kilometer groomed cross-country ski trail system.
In the spring of 2016, the club began building a timber-frame warming hut, and over six short months, volunteers ages 2 to 70, including three generations of our family, spent well over 1,200 hours staining, hammering, heaving and stacking and then stood back in awe of a beautiful building complete with solar panels and a metal roof.
At an event celebrating the achievement, Nansen's treasurer reported that the club had raised $46,000 through donations and grants and that local businesses had donated over $37,000 in materials and labor toward completing the project. Amidst this activity, Nansen's membership grew by over 50 percent. While these numbers are impressive, the greatest value can be found in the sense of camaraderie created by working together with a common, shared purpose.
It is hard to describe the sensation of watching families mingle in the completed warming hut, sipping soup and cocoa, the kids outdoors hucking snowballs and crafting snow creatures. I think it is a feeling of true belonging, a feeling essential to human vitality and happiness — it's what a plant must feel like when the sun is shining and the soil is just right and the bees are abuzz.
There has been much talk recently of how to attract young people to settle in the North Country. If our experience is any guide, we need to get them involved — hand them a hammer and a paint brush!
Newcomers will count themselves lucky to have found their way here, and those who grew up in the region, happy to have returned.
Phoebe Backler is a resident of Milan and on the board of directors for the Nansen Ski Club. This article was originally posted to Coos Networks.

 NansenMembers and volunteers come together to celebrate the opening of the Nansen Ski Club warming hut. (COURTESY PHOTO)




Pray the Rosary at Veterans Memorial Park

BERLIN — Join a Public Square, Rosary Rally on Saturday, May 13, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Fatima apparition to the three shepherd children.

Pray the Rosary at The Veterans Memorial Park on Glen Avenue, Berlin, located across from The Berlin Marketplace, from 12 noon to 2 p.m.

The public is invited in offering reparation for the sins and offense committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to fervently pray for the conversion of the United States by asking God to save America through the Rosary of His Most Holy Mother.

Anyone can join. Bring your rosary, your friends and a chair if necessary.

For more information, contact Priscilla Bergeron at (603) 466-2159.

Expanded hockey display at the Moffett House Museum

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Cutline: Ben Napert, manager of the Berlin High School hockey team in 1967 looks over old newspaper clippings from when their team made it to the championship. (KIRSTAN KNOWLTON PHOTO)

BERLIN — This year marks the 60th anniversary of the 1957 New England Championship for Notre Dame High School as well as the 50th anniversary of the 1967 National Championship for the Berlin Maroons and the New England Championship for Berlin High. To recognize this outstanding achievement there will be an expanded hockey display at the Moffett House Museum and Genealogy Center.

This exhibit features championship jackets, photo albums and clippings, championship plaques, player uniforms and more. It will run until fall, so bring your summertime visitors! There is no admission charged to either the museum or to the special display. Donations are gratefully accepted to maintain both.

The Moffett House Museum and Genealogy Center is located at 119 High St. in Berlin and is open year-round, Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m. or by appointment. Call (603) 752-4590 for more information or to make an appointment.

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William Ogmundson, pianist returns to St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts

BERLIN — Pianists William Ogmundson will be performing at St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts on Friday, May 12, at 7 p.m. Ogmundson is in the process of developing his show, but is likely to include selections by Scott Joplin, Gotschalk and Gershwin. 

Ogmundson is an Emmy-nominated composer, and according to a release submitted by the art center, he is generally acknowledged to be one of the finest pianists in New England. He has built a career around piano performance and is best known for his interpretations of ragtime music while also making a name for himself as a composer and lyricist.

Ogmundson began performing at age 5, and went on to win numerous piano competitions throughout his school years. During this time period, he was the featured pianist for the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra on four separate occasions. In addition to regular performances in New Hampshire and the surrounding states, he has performed at venues throughout Europe, including the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, where he was honored to have been the organist for a Sunday morning mass.

With sponsorship from Bryant Funeral Homes, tickets for this performance are $12 for adults and $10 for children under 18. Tickets are available online, at the door on the evening of the concert or at the art center’s office at 155 Emery St., Berlin.

For more information about this event, to purchase a membership or loyalty card or to make a donation to the annual or capital improvement funds, contact the arts center at (603) 752-1028; visit the website, or the Facebook page at

William Ogmundson Photo 05.17.15Pianists William Ogmundson will be performing at St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts on Friday, May 12, at 7 p.m. (COURTESY PHOTO)