'Glamping' comes to Gorham

By Edith Tucker
The Berlin Daily Sun

GORHAM — Jason and Kara Hunter prepared for the New Year on Dec. 10, 2016, by buying the 28-acre Sunset Valley Girl Scout Camp at 34 Jimtown Road, next to the 755-acre Moose Brook State Park.
The couple, who in 1995 bought a house in Berlin, renamed the place Hub North, had it surveyed by Burke York of York Land Services, and successfully went before the city's planning board for site plan review  to change its use to commercial.

“We’ve described what we’re planning here — six acres for development as a unique accommodation and gathering and event space and 20 acres in current use.

An existing pavilion with a working fireplace and marvelous view of the Howker Ridge, Mount Madison and Mount Adams that is located on a large relatively flat space will become a multi-functional space, including a kitchen, where groups of 25 or 30 people can gather for a meal or party under a roof, Jason explained.

They have already done work on an existing two-story building with what will be a first floor of shared spaces, plus some private bedroom space. Kara and Jason have brightened it up with paint and refurbished two multi-stall bathrooms.

A tenant remains on the second-floor in space into which Jason and Kara will some day likely move to become resident managers.

A spacious shared kitchen and very large living-dining room are also available as shared spaces in this large well-maintained building.

These facilities will provide support for guests who rent some good-sized tents and yurts on wood platforms — glamorous camping or “glamping” equipment that will feature king- and queen-sized beds with high-count linens. These will likely be available for short-term rentals and a “soft” opening some time in June.

“We’re thinking in terms of a five-year build-out with lots of opportunity to get feedback,” Jason said.
Up to 10 yurts, high-end tents or other unique small outdoor bedrooms can be “sprinkled” around the edge of the six-acre open field, surrounded by woods that will provide “a private feel,” Kara noted.

Campfire rings remain in place.

Both entrepreneurs noted that this is a big undertaking that they expect will evolve as they learn what their customers — outdoor enthusiasts who hike, mountain bike, canoe and kayak, backcountry ski, snowshoe and flyfish — most want.

“We think there is also a demand for some rental meeting spaces where businesses or organizations hold meetings and arrange for a simple catering service with coffee and muffins or quiche,” Kara added.

A former barn will eventually be converted to a large short-term family rental space that could accommodate three generations of vacationers.

Hub North’s skiing, hiking and mountain biking trails link up with the extensive trail system located in Moose Brook State Park. Moose Brook runs through the park and, after passing through a shallow warming pool, feeds a swimming area with cool, clear mountain water.

Perkins Brook runs along the edge of the Hunters’ property.

“We envision Hub North providing a comfortable park-like retreat for outdoor enthusiasts,” Jason said.

“We have WiFi and cellphone service and the appropriate facilities so customers can contract with local caterers or restaurants for special meals or events.

The infrastructure is good; Sunset Valley, for example, already had two septic systems in place.

“We stayed at places like this in New Zealand — called backpackers’ hostels — when we came back from the Antarctic,” Kara explained.

The couple went down to the ice intermittently from 2000 to 2011.

Jason and Kara plan to continue to run Simple Structure, their very successful carpentry and construction business.

Hub North can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and details are also on Facebook.

City honors its volunteers

By Barbara Tetreault

BERLIN — John Frechette puts in more than 30 hours a week as the director of the Marie Rivier Food Pantry. As maintenance man for St. Kieran Center for the Arts, Norman Gagne keeps the building and grounds in great shape. The Coos County Botanical Garden Club beautifies the city with its planting of flowers at the Laura Lee Viger Botanical Gardens. All three are recipients of the 2017 Berlin Volunteer Award for their contributions as volunteers to the city.

Mayor Paul Grenier announced the recipients in a ceremony Monday night at city hall. Noting it is his eighth volunteer award presentation, Grenier said he looks forward to the event held every year during National Volunteer Month.

“It is very special,” he said. “It shows a lot of people who care deeply about the welfare of the city of Berlin.”

Frechette was nominated for his volunteer work with the food pantry. In her nomination letter, Lucille Lavoie said Frechette donates over 30 hours a week to the pantry.

“He addresses the needs of the poor and hungry of the community: he is always available, day, night or weekends,” she wrote.

In her letter of support, Mary Jane Pepin called Frechette a “caring, king, generous man.” Norman Gagne has volunteered his time as maintenance man for the St. Kieran Center for the Arts since July 2013.

“Norman knows this building better than anyone could imagine. He often jokes about “coming with the building,” said Center Executive Director Monique Lavertu.

She said Gagne helps the center make a great and lasting impression on visitors. In a letter of support, Lucien Blais said Gagne always greets everyone with a smile that “will make your day.”

The Laura Lee Viger Botanical Gardens are stunning and a popular spot for residents. The work of planting, watering and weeding the gardens is done by the Coos Country Botanical Garden Club. In his nomination letter, Will O’Brien said, “The garden club works hard to support Berlin’s beautification and to connect our community with plants and flowers.” He added that the club works closely with Northern Human Services, matching people with disabilities up with working or volunteering in the gardens.

An inscribed leaf plaque was presented to each recipient and their names will be permanently displayed on the city’s Volunteer Tree just outside the auditorium in city hall. Frechette was unable to make the ceremony and Grenier said his plaque will be presented later.

Each recipient received a standing ovation from the council and city officials gathered for the ceremony.

“It’s incredible the work you do,” Grenier said, as the recipients gathered for a group photo.

Demers Reaches Plea Agreement in inspection case

By Martha Creegan

Allen Demers of Gorham, service manager for Berlin City Ford, initially pleaded not guilty to Class B misdemeanor charges of improperly conducting New Hampshire safety inspections. But at his trial in district court in Berlin on Wednesday, he changed his plea to guilty on four counts in exchange for having eight charges dropped.
Represented by Attorney Robert Sandiford, Demers is the last of four Berlin City Auto Group employees to reach an agreement with N.H. State Police on charges of criminal solicitation and computer crimes. The cases with three other employees were resolved in January.
The charges are the result of a six-month investigation that began with a routine audit of the dealership’s safety inspection records. The investigation found that employees who were not authorized by the Department of Motor Vehicles to conduct safety inspections were doing so using the log-in information of their supervisors.
During the routine audit a red flag went up when the state inspectors identified an inspection sticker that was issued by a mechanic who was not licensed to access the state’s safety system. That employee had used the passcode of another employee who was licensed to have access to the state’s On Board Diagnostics and Safety Testing system. The licensed employee was not on site at the time the sticker was issued. The investigation uncovered nearly 1,000 similar offenses where the DMV-licensed inspector was not on site by cross checking employee time cards with the inspection list maintained by the NHOST system.
Demers pled guilty to two charges of criminal solicitation, one for tampering with public records and one for committing unsworn falsification. He was fined $620 for each charge which were both suspended on the condition he maintains good behavior for nine months. Demers pled guilty to a third charge of criminal solicitation for committing counterfeit, unauthorized, or forged inspection stickers and was ordered to pay a fine of $310. He also pled guilty to a computer crime for allowing unauthorized access to the state safety inspection system and was ordered to pay an additional fine of $310.

TCCAP head will step in January 2018

By Barbara Tetreault

BERLIN — Tri-County Community Action Program CEO Robert Boschen has announced he will retire as head of the non-profit agency next January.

In his resignation letter, Boschen said he gave his Jan. 5, 2018, retirement date careful thought given the needs of TCCAP. He said he wanted to provide adequate lead time to pick a successor and would be willing to aid in that search.

Referring to the financial issues that put the agency under the control of a court-appointed trustee and required special legislation appropriating just over $1 million, Boschen said he feels Tri-County CAP is on a path that will continue to improve its programmatic and financial health.

“I now believe the agency has obtained a point where it can take the next step in moving back to the goal of becoming a strong stable human services agency that has learned from its past, but is no longer imprisoned by it,” he wrote.

Boschen was hired in June 2014 as chief financial officer for the agency and the following year became chief operating officer. A year ago, he took over as CEO, replacing Michael Coughlin, who left to take over the reins at Crotched Mountain Foundation in Greenfield.

Boschen called it an honor to have worked at Tri-County CAP and said he was proud of what the agency accomplished as a team. He said there is an exceptionally dedicated board of directors and manager leading an equally dedicated group of employees.

“I am convinced that Tri-County CAP will continue to be a strong force in Northern New Hampshire’s fight against poverty,” he said.

Boschen came to Tri-County CAP with over 28 years of experience in finance and business and is a certified management accountant. His experience included all aspects of financial management, in settings as diverse as municipal and state government, insurance and hospitals and manufacturing. He served as finance director for the town of Falmouth, Maine.

Tri-County Community Action Program is a multi-purpose social service and advocacy agency that annually serves more than 27,000 citizens in the three northern counties.