Plans advancing for Berlin Community Market

By Barbara Tetreault

BERLIN — Plans are advancing for a Berlin Community Market to continue the tradition of a farmers market in the city.

Meeting regularly, a committee has decided to establish a market to replace the Local Works Farmers Market that WREN decided to move to the Gorham Town Common this year.

The Berlin Community Market will be held on Tuesdays, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., beginning July 11. The location will move from Pleasant Street to lower Main Street to create a downtown experience. Vendors complained that the Pleasant Street location lacked shade and was hot. The new location, with vendors set up in several downtown parks, and the later market time, should eliminate that issue.

Traffic will be closed on the lower half of Main Street but will continue on the upper section for businesses there that need access.

The committee is seeking vendors, producers and artists to participate in the market, which is being sponsored by the Berlin Main Street Program.

Organizers Kathy Trumbull and Sylvia Poulin stressed the market is not competing with the Gorham one and they hope vendors will consider participating in both markets.

The Local Works Farmers Market will run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays on the Gorham Town Common. The first market there starts June 8 and they will run through Oct. 19.

Trumbull said the two markets are on different days of the week so people can take advantage of both or people can opt to attend one of the other, depending on their schedule, and where they live or work.

“We believe that having two markets will raise the awareness overall of farmers markets,” she said. “For Berlin, it was also a community social event with frequent pop-up meetings, conversations, and hugs from missed friends. We want to maintain that for Berlin, too,” Trumbull said.

For more information on the Berlin Community Market go to their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BerlinCommunityMarket/?fref=nf.

Health consortium takes over treatment-facility operations


By Edith Tucker
The Berlin Daily Sun

LITTLETON — The North Country Health Consortium has started the process of taking over the operations of Friendship House, a residential treatment facility in Bethlehem, and the alcohol and other drug prevention, treatment and recovery services that are now under the umbrella of Tri-County Community Action Program, headquartered in Berlin.
Over the next several months, Friendship House, outpatient services, peer recovery support services and the impaired driver care management program will be integrated into North Country Health Consortium’s Substance Use Disorder Program, which is part of its Substance Misuse Prevention-Continuum of Care Program.
This transition “is an amazing opportunity for the consortium and the region we serve,” explained North Country Health Consortium CEO Nancy Frank. “We will work closely with our board members and partners from health and human service organizations that can help move Friendship House toward a medical model and to integrate services in a way that has not been possible in the past.”
Tri-County Community Action Program CEO Robert Boschen said it was over a year-and-a-half ago, in October of 2015, that it became apparent that Tri-County CAP could not keep offering the treatment needed by operating Friendship House in its current condition. “We had a great team but needed a new facility to operate in,” he explained. As planning for a new building progressed and funding lined up, it became apparent that Tri-County CAP was not the agency where this new venture should be housed, Boschen continued.
“The model for substance abuse disorder treatment has evolved into a medical model, which would be better served if directed by North Country Health Consortium,” he explained. "While details and final timing still need to be worked out, the intention is that the program will retain all the current staff and services," Boschen said.
North Country Health Consortium’s Board of Directors has, however, already formally voted to take on Tri-County CAP's drug and alcohol services.
AHEAD (Affordable Housing Education and Development) will build a new Friendship House on the property after acquiring it from Tri-County CAP. AHEAD will maintain ownership and then lease the facility to North Country Health Consortium.
Boschen praised federal and state elected and other government officials, including District 1 Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, as well as individuals at the N.H. Housing Authority, N.H. Community Development Authority, U.S. Rural Development and the Northern Borders Regional Commission for their efforts. “This project would not ever have progressed to this point without them,” Boschen said.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Sen. Maggie Hassan both pointed out at a joint press conference on Monday, May 8, at the Riverbend Community Mental Health headquarters in Concord that Friendship House is the state’s most northern facility in which opioid treatment is now taking place. Both agreed that treatment dollars are needed to address the often-chronic nature of drug addiction, as well as funds to put up a new building in Bethlehem. Hassan added, “During my visit in early April, I was very moved by the personal stories of those in treatment.”
On May 11, two New York Times’ reporters, Yamiche Alcindor and Sam Hodgson, wrote about Friendship House in their story, “Meet the People Facing Trump’s Budget Cuts.” Under the subhead, “A Drug Treatment Program at Risk,” they pointed out: “In northern New Hampshire, along the Ammonoosuc River, people struggling with addiction work toward recovery in a six-decade-old cottage that is not up to code. Friendship House, the only residential drug treatment center within 65 miles, is relying on money from the Community Development Block Grant program to complete a new building by October 2018 that meets code requirements so that the center can continue to provide services.
“Kristy Letendre, the center’s director, said Friendship House has already been awarded an initial $500,000 in funds from the grant program to help construct the new building and add a detox center. But the group needs another $500,000 to complete construction and get the building licensed.
“’This is immediately affecting us,’” Letendre said. “’When you are looking at someone who is struggling with substance abuse, it’s life or death for them.’”
District 1 Sen. Jeff Woodburn of Whitefield praised all three non-profits that have been working together in the state’s northern three counties. "This is important progress for people that desperately need substance abuse services in the North Country,” Woodburn said. “The Friendship House project has been a long, arduous process that is nearing the finish line. This operational change should tighten the connection between health and substance misuse.”

Berlin River Drivers suspend operations

By Barbara Tetreault
BERLIN — There is no joy in Hockeytown USA after the Berlin River Drivers Thursday night announced the team is suspending operations.
The team just completed its second season and attendance had grown as the team made it to the championship finals in the Federal Hockey League.
River Drivers' General Manager Mark Dorval could not be reached for comment Friday but a release issued by the league announced the news.
Hockey fever in the Androscoggin Valley had taken root as the team grew more successful, and the release noted momentum was building. The River Drivers were attracting 400 to 500 fans to its games, and the number grew as the team reached the playoffs. The team hosted various promotions, and players frequently participated in community events to build support. The team had begun to gather statewide attention as its games became known for fast-paced, hard-hitting hockey.
The River Drivers also attracted a loyal and enthusiastic fan base. The community embraced the players, who bowled with Special Olympians, played basketball with the Berlin High Unified team, helped to raise money for cancer, and skated with kids after games. The River Drivers’ fans gained a reputation as the league’s most dedicated and enthusiastic.
“But in the end, ticket sales, concessions sales and a greater amount of sponsors needed prevents the necessary blood flow from keeping the big heart of the River Drivers from ticking on,” the release said.
The release said the annual budget for a team is estimated at a minimum of $400,000, with overhead expenses such as housing, insurance, payroll and travel. The league also voted to expand to include a team, the Carolina Thunderbirds, from Winston-Salem, N.C. With the other teams in Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Michigan and Ontario, the league said travel from Berlin would be “atrocious.”
With changes in infrastructure, an increase in projected expenses, and demands from the league, the release said an early-season drive to sell 1,000 season passes didn’t come close to the mark.
Reaction to the news Friday was sad as many took to social media to lament the loss of the team and the revival of Berlin as once again, “Hockeytown USA.”

White Mountains Community College holds 50th commencement exercises

By Barbara Tetreault

BERLIN — Speakers at White Mountains Community College’s 50th commencement exercises Friday shared stories of the different paths they took to obtain their degrees.
Just under 200 students received degrees and certificates in a ceremony held outdoors in a large tent on the grounds of the Berlin campus.
Student Senate Vice President Bryen-Aimee Godin said when she first started nursing classes at Berlin, she commuted 100 miles each way from her home in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, while caring for a 3-year-old daughter. She would drop her daughter off at the college’s day-care center at 6:30 a.m.
“A two-hour commute with a potty-training 3-year-old is a struggle all in its own,” Godin said.
Later she was able to stay in Littleton a few nights with a friend, which reduced the commute time.
“I know how hard these years have been. I know many of you had days where you thought you wouldn’t make it, or you couldn’t keep going,” Godin said. “Still you overcame the obstacles, and your sacrifices are just starting to pay off,” she added.
Representing the Littleton Academic Center, Andrew Hauprich said he had never attended public school before White Mountains Community College. Growing up in New York, he said his mother attempted to home school his siblings and him but noted, "Seven kids and one teacher only works when they are all in the same grade.”
Hauprich said he spent most of his time playing music and performing plays in his basement until his grandfather gave him a nudge and he took and passed his GED. Moving to Littleton, he could walk or bike to the Littleton Academic Center.
Hauprich said he had his ups and downs as a college student, but he “learned new ideas, found new passions, and made new friends” and gained confidence.
He plans to enroll in Plymouth State University with the goal of becoming an English teacher.
Commencement speaker Scott Whitaker urged the graduates to look for unexpected opportunities that surface along the way.
“It is always easy to see the opportunities that are in front of you,” he said, adding that sometimes the most life-changing opportunities are ones you did not foresee.
Using his history as an example, Whitaker said after graduating from high school in the top of his class at Groveton High School, he enrolled in a four-year university with a scholarship. He planned to become a lawyer and enjoy a lucrative career. But the university was not what he expected and “I was not invited back.”
Instead he decided to enroll in what was then N.H. Technical College in Berlin, planning to stay for a semester and rehabilitate his college record. Four years later, he left with degrees in culinary arts and liberal arts. He went on to get his bachelor’s degree from Plymouth State University as well as juris doctor's degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Now an associate attorney with Waystack & Frizzell Trial Lawyers, Whitaker said his culinary degree is displayed “front and center” at his office. He took a chance doing something he loved, and Whitaker said his clients love to talk about cooking with him.
He has also spent almost 17 years in the National Guard, including deployments in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn and Operation Spartan.
Outgoing White Mountains Community College President Matt Wood bid a fond farewell to the college community. Wood said he had enjoyed his time at the college and will always remember the wonderful people he encountered here. Since he took over as president in 2015 after serving as interim for a year, Wood said the college has grown to almost record attendance. Present at the graduation was interim President Charles Lloyd.
The President’s Award, for the highest cumulative grade point average, went to Avery Miller, a culinary arts student from Berlin. The Service Excellence Award went to Jamie Rivard of the admissions office. The Faculty Teaching Excellence Award went to Sarah Baillargeon, director of the school of nursing.