Jason Robie: Make your bathroom shine

While living in a tiny cabin (300 square feet) over in Lincoln, my bathroom was literally in between the living room and bedroom. Needless to say, privacy was not on the menu when I had visitors. Convenient escapes out to the kitchen (or my truck) offered a little more of a buffer and made the space tolerable. For the price I was paying, it was worth the hassle. Today, I have four bathrooms to clean and I’m (sort of) lamenting those simpler times.
While a bathroom is not the most prominent room in the house, there’s no reason it can’t stand out (in a good way). We've all had small, large, cramped and expansive bathrooms in our lives. Today I'd like to explore a few of the ways you can make your bathroom shine. There are ways to make it flow better (no pun intended), stand out a bit and even be more welcoming and have that “wow” factor. These tips are great whether you are selling or not.
Long ago I shared a story about painting my kitchen bold shades of blue and yellow. It was a bright look to the room and helped liven up the place a bit. It also happened to be the central room on that floor acting as the axle for the two bedrooms, bathroom and living room. I painted it those colors because there were (are) my favorites, but thankfully the tenants didn’t mind it one bit.
You can get creative (and bold) in your bathroom with colors since the space is usually not all that overwhelming in size. You may not want to go crazy with multiple variations in one room, but you could paint three walls one color and leave the fourth for a highlight wall. Many times the creative, bold colors will make the room feel larger and can even take the focus off the smaller space. Mostly, the bathroom is a great sized room to do some testing and get creative. Let your creative juices flow and give it a shot. The worst that will happen is you'll have to re-paint.
Along those lines of painting a highlight wall is the creative (but limited) use of wallpaper. Filling the whole room with some pattern could be very overwhelming and might even cause seizures! But if you have a fairly mellow tone of paint, don't be afraid to spice it up with a top border of wallpaper or (again) even target a single wall. Much like with the painting exercise before, if you hate it you can easily strip it off and start again. The task won't be nearly as daunting if you had done a whole bedroom with that pattern.
Lastly for the walls is artwork. Obviously the standard beach scene is a safe bet, but don't be afraid to be bold here as well. There are plenty of great deals at the thrift store that would make a perfect addition to your bathroom. Not only can they be conversation starters, but they will draw your eye away from the other “toilet-y” things in the room and add some creativity and life.
Something we incorrectly tend to shy away from in the bathroom is furniture. I'm not saying you should throw a love seat next to the toilet, but you can add some pieces in here to help the layout. Remember when you're staging a room; smaller furniture makes the space feel larger. Follow the same tenet in the bathroom and add a small bookcase or even a small chair to the area. It will break up the room, provide an additional place to put “stuff” and help keep you organized if you don't have a sizable vanity.
In small spaces and in dark places (like New Hampshire in the winter), lighting is key. The bathroom is no exception here, and lighting should be thought out well and experimented with a bit. So often we are tied to the same old notion that a couple of vanity lights or even an overhead light/fan combo is all we need. While that may be true, toss out those old notions and get a bit more creative.
“I always like the presence of lighting other than the standard wall sconces and vanity lights so ever-present in most bathrooms,” notes Badger Realty agent Susan Solar. “A lamp on a shelf or bookcase or even a simple hanging light can bring so much more taste and design to this small but important room,” she continued.
Lastly, don't be afraid to replace your hardware and allow it to coordinate with the theme you have created with all your new additions. The sink and tub are pretty prominent pieces in the bathroom, and, if you've gotten creative with the rest of the room, don't stop there. The variety available today is simply mind-blowing and you'll be able to put the finishing touches on your awesome bathroom to complete the look.
Have fun with your bathroom and your kids will look forward to bathing and brushing their teeth more. OK, maybe not, but at least you'll love one more room in your home!

Poof Tardiff: The Great Paper Mill

 By Poof Tardiff
Hello fellow Berlinites. One of the single greatest developments that was ever accomplished on the Berlin-Gorham line was the construction of the Cascade Mill, considered at one time to be the largest paper mill in the world. It is now today’s Gorham Paper and Tissue plant.
First of all, where did the name Cascade originate? It came from the beautiful falls on the east side of the river, called the Alpine Cascades. These falls are seen by many people today (2017) as they can access this spot by snowmobile or four-wheelers on the trip down the old B&M railroad bed and even picnic there.
With the completion of the mill, the small town known as Cascade Flats and Cascade Hill were developed and became known as the Italian section of the Berlin-Gorham communities. I found a great article that was printed on Dec. 31, 1903, when this great mill was nearing completion, and would like to share it with my readers.
This is the story of the immense operations in the development by the Berlin Mills Company along the Androscoggin River between Berlin and Gorham and what it meant to the “Paper City.” I hope that my followers and the paper makers who work at this mill today enjoy this short narrative.
The work of constructing the new development below the city had been going on for nearly a year and a half by December of 1903, and so steadily had the men been working at this undertaking that the large and roomy brick buildings seemed to have sprung into existence almost as if by magic.
Since the first day that this work was started, the matter had not been called to the public’s attention, except when an occasional Italian laborer, who basically built this mill, amused himself by picking a stick of dynamite and was hastened into the other world. Also, when the shanties, where Cascade Flats got its start, caught on fire and the fire department was called out. This gave the area a thorough cleaning up, thus making news for the citizens of the Berlin and Gorham communities about the huge undertaking that was going on.
Many parties had been conveyed here by the new trolleys or teams at various times and the people had some idea of the progress, though a few weeks neglect in these visits revealed marvelous changes. Early in the spring of 1903, only piles of dirt and rock were to be seen. Then, by midsummer the tall chimney (which still stands today), was started and almost equaled in rapid growth the famous beanstalk of Mother Goose.
Next, the steel skeletons were stretched in space and as if by supernatural means; these were quickly enveloped in brick and were nearly completed structures, where but a short year ago there was only debris.
Though the location of the mill was mainly in the town of Gorham, Berlin felt some proprietorship for having so long had in her territory, the main mills of this company and because of its nearness to the “Paper City.” The dividing line between these two towns runs just north of the large dam, and, except for the grinding mill, the buildings were all in Gorham.
As was frequently published, the Berlin Mills Company had control of this water privilege (just across from today’s Vintage Junky) for a long time and in 1901 decided to develop it. The surveys were made in the summer of this year mentioned, but the real work was not begun until September of 1902, when workmen began to clear up the site, which was then covered with a mongrel growth of bushes and stunted trees.
This work was kept up during the winter months, and some excavation was started early in the spring of 1903. As soon as the season was well underway, a large number of laborers, mostly of Italian decent, as could be conveniently handled, was put to work and little time was wasted since.
The highway that used to follow quite closely to the bank of the river had changed its course and its former site was obliterated and occupied by the new building of the paper mill. A new road was literary dug from the rocks which constituted the side of a hill and made a broad, smooth, pass on the west side of the new electric railroad. It now made one of the prettiest drives in the neighborhood of the city.
The whole valley above the mills was cleared up as much of the smaller growth of the company’s land, and the rough aspect had in a measure been removed. Within a year, a new railroad had sprung into existence, extending from the mills of the company above the city, along the east bank of the river and parallel to the line of the Boston and Maine, which crossed at a little distance above the new mill by means of an underpass. A steel bridge was put across the river to accommodate the new railroad, and from this point it extended to the new yard tracks running along the western side of the Androscoggin.
This work had been no average undertaking, as one familiar with the route knew. Rugged hills had been leveled and trestles built to span gulches, but the line was soon put into active operation. Also, a spur line was built by the Grand Trunk, extending from a point opposite the Cascade Park Casino, adjoining the tracks of the company at the northern end of their yard. Thus, ready communication with either the Grand Trunk or the Boston and Maine was secured. We still cross this spur line on the BG Road in Cascade.
The new plant was divided into three sections, which were located at the three separate water privileges. The first of these proceeding down the river is what was called “Upper Dam,” the second was the main plant at the Cascades proper, and the third was the electric light plant, which was being built just north of the Boston and Maine trestle just above Gorham village.
The first of these, the Upper Dam, was situated a short distance below the International Paper Company's lower mill and consisted of a concrete dam 25 feet high. This generated 5,000 horse power, and it was used to operate the wood grinding mill. This product was carried to the second plant by gravity. The dam was nearing completion and was finished in February of 1904. The building, which contained the machinery, was in the hands of the masons by December 1903 and finished in early January 1904. The dam still operates today.
I will continue with the great construction of the Cascade Mill and its development in my next story.
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10 19 17 Poof Cascade Mill 1904Cascade Mill 1904
10 19 17 Poof Cascade Mill Site 1902Cascade Mill Site 1902
10 19 17 Poof Alpine CascadesAlpine Cascades
10 19 17 Poof Shanties 1903Shanties 1903

Once Upon a Berlin Time: Up The River

By Poof Tardiff

Hello fellow Berlinites. As I write my stories about Berlin’s past, I try hard to imagine what it looked like and what took place in this busy industrial city and beyond over 100 years ago. I also try to imagine what it took to keep this city operating and all the work that was done upstream back then to deliver the products via the Androscoggin River.

While dabbling in 1903, I found a great article written by a man named Sumner F. Claflin, called “Up the River.” I would like to share some of this article with my readers who have traveled north of Berlin and seen the remnants of the old logging that was done in the Androscoggin Valley.

Back in the very early 1900s, few of the citizens of Berlin had ever been beyond the line of blue hills that skirted the valley of the endless Androscoggin River to the north. The little French, Norwegian, Irish and other Americans that saw great teams with four, six and even eight horses rattling out of Berlin Mills northward in early winter, loaded with big, raw bone, young, giants of the axe or tons of supplies for the winter camp, of course, had a fantastic idea of what a woodsman’s life must have been like.

The thing that interested these people most, was the coming of the river men in the spring, when the Androscoggin River was swollen by the slow melting snows of the forest and the roar thereof in the wild gorges of its channel through the midst of the “Paper City” sounding in their ears night and day. When these men came, the citizens flocked to the rocky shores and watched with fascination that dangerous job of putting the millions of feet of lumber through the falls in Berlin.

Scarcely a spring would pass that the Berlin Falls did not claim a victim. The work was fascinating to these brave spirits because it was perilous and the young Americans mentioned, dreamed of nothing grander than the wild, real life of the woods and the river. Of course, many of them revised their ideas later in life and settled down to the humdrum life of a barber’s assistant, a clerk or a tender in one of the great paper mills or sawmills here whose wheels were turned by the river.

This writer went up the river about 40 miles above Berlin back in June of 1903, and was in Lincoln and the Magalloway Plantations where some of the loggers spent their winters. He said this was as far as permanent population extended back then and there was one stretch of six miles along with another stretch of 13 miles on the road without any inhabitants at all except the loggers in winter.

Beyond Wilson Mills, the guide boards, which were placed one mile apart, stated that it was 55 more miles to the “Chain of Ponds,” which was the headwaters for the Androscoggin River watershed. This was an area where much logging took place and all of the logs were sent down through the series of lakes and eventually to the Androscoggin River onward to Berlin and beyond.

There was nothing but forest on the far side, but one knew that Parmacheenee, Richardson and the Rangeley Lakes were in that beyond. The Aziscohos Falls before the dam and the “Camp in the Meadows” conjured up dreams of frontier spirit. When the bold fishermen, who came in large numbers, were questioned about Middle Dam or Upper Dam and Umbagog, and how long they had been coming here, they didn’t know as they had come just yesterday.

They came from far and near, but if they met in these wilds, loggers in the winter or fishermen in the summer they became neighbors at once. They told stories and cracked jokes around a blazing campfire or, more likely, the smoking smudge (many flies). If they told a story, the “motto” was to tell a good one and if they couldn’t, they were tenderfoots.

Mr. Claflin penetrated the valleys that had many brooks and streams along with innumerable ponds and lake-lets where the coy trout, the swift pickerel, horned pout and eels, all of which were good eating, were also plentiful.

It was with a feeling of genuine pleasure that Mr. Claflin had met up with Mr. Howard Dyer, who had two strong horses and a wagon fitted to carry a boat, near Mollidgewok Falls in the Thirteen Mile Woods. Dyer was headed southbound and so was Claflin. He liked company and so did Claflin. It was especially good because Dyer advises that Claflin only had “shanks mare” (his own legs).

Mentioned in the article was the Dummer Ferry, which use to operate just below Thirteen Mile Woods and Bay View Hill going from East Dummer to Dummer. Also mentioned, was Sessions Pond, near Seven Islands, and the great fishing in this area. Another great spot back then was a place called Governor Jordan’s Pond, known today as Millsfield Pond. The one-time New Hampshire Governor loved fishing this pretty spot and I would venture a bet that the fishing in this pond was pretty good back then.

Claflin also spoke of a brook, so smooth that only in two places was it necessary to put a boat over the rapids. He also said it was at least seven miles long. There was said to be no better fishing along the river than at the mouth of this brook. I can think of only two brooks on the east side of the Androscoggin in the Thirteen Mile Woods that would provide enough room to travel by boat. That was either Mollidgewok Brook or Bog Brook.

Stories about catching 10 to 15 pound baskets of speckled beauties and three baskets in three hours were mentioned. Mr. Dyer said that he caught nine pounds in a few minutes at one time. I don’t think there were any limits or even wardens back then.

The writer also talked about the great fishing to be had at the Diamond streams and ponds that were up the Magalloway. A clear stream that came down from the mighty natural gateway in the mountains known as Dixville Notch also yielded many a string of trout. These streams were also used in the springtime to send the thousands of cords of wood to the Androscoggin River and onward to Berlin’s mills.

Back then, it was almost certain that if Berlin wanted to retain its share of the local trade that was coming from Colebrook through Errol and on to Maine, they would have to hurry up and run the much-talked-about railroad into this section. Such a railroad would follow the Androscoggin River practically all of the way from this city and there would be no heavy grades to overcome. One great handicap in getting into the upper settlements was a tremendous elevation known as Errol Hill.

As we all know, the railroad never left Berlin and headed up the east side of the Androscoggin River. The Blanchard Twitchell logging railroad went into Success and to Grafton, Maine, but that was it except for other logging railroads. What a great country this must have been to see in those years and how interesting it must have been to watch those great river men risking their lives working on the logs. And how about the great hunting and fishing to be had “Up the River” in these early days.

Questions or comments, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, join the many fans of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on facebook and guess at the previously posted mystery pictures.

10 10 17 Poof Logging camp dinnerLogging camp dinner


10 10 17 Poof Millsfield PondMillsfield Pond

10 10 17 Poof Governor JordonGovernor Jordon


10 10 17 Poof Logpiles at sawmill 1913 1Log piles at sawmill 1913

Executive Councilor Kenney discusses Ten Year Highway Improvement Plan

On Aug. 23, the Department of Transportation presented the Ten-Year Highway Improvement Plan to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation (GACIT). The GACIT committee is made up of five N.H. Executive Councilors and the Department of Transportation Commissioner.

The executive council initially set up 19 public hearings which has now grown to 24 hearings. In District 1 public hearings have taken place in: Errol, Berlin, Conway, Lebanon, Littleton, Plymouth, Laconia and a joint meeting in Rochester. The only remaining public hearing left in District 1 is in Claremont on October 23. Each councilor is responsible to preside over each hearing within their district.

The hearings are an opportunity for the executive councilors, and the DOT to obtain public comment on transportation needs in the region, and specific feedback on the draft 2019-2028 Ten-Year Highway Improvement Plan.

Throughout the GACIT public hearings, Peter Stamnas, Director of Project Development, has been making a comprehensive presentation on the Ten Year Highway Improvement Plan to include: GACIT Process Overview, current state of infrastructure, 10-year highway improvement plan funding synopsis, unfunded needs and supplement information review. After each presentation, the regional planning commissions have provided their input and regional philosophy on projects.

The Ten-Year Highway Improvement Plan was developed back in the 1980s and it is mandated by State law. The process provides communities, DOT and GACIT direction as to what the state’s priorities are relative to transportation projects. The process repeats itself every two years and as one cycle ends, the next cycle begins.

Following the public hearings this month, the Ddepartment will prepare a revised draft 10-year highway improvement plan for GACIT to adopt. Once adopted by GACIT, the plan will be forwarded to the governor in December for his review and comments and he will forward it to the Legislature in January of 2018. The Legislature will hold additional hearings and enact the plan into law by June 2018.

Some general observations during this process is that theDOT has more projects than there is funding. The 2019 to 2028 funding (state and federal) is on average $252 million per year, down from the current amount of 270m per year.

The Red List bridges have trended upward over the past seven years, the SB 367 has added funding for I-93, State Aid Bridges and TIFIA loan pledge for paving & bridge work.

Debt service for I-93 is $2 million per year and increases to $23.4 million per year from 2026 to 2034. Transit funding totals $324 million for an average of $32 million per year with funding primarily coming from the Federal Transit Administration.

The overall strategy of the Ten-Year Highway Plan will focus on: pavement preservation and maintenance, red-listed bridges and preservation, dedicate SB 367 funds for TIFIA loan pledged to rural roads and bridges, completion of I-93 and funding for Exit 4A and heightened financial constraint to increase levels of accountability, predictability and ability to deliver.

Written comments regarding this current Draft Ten Highway Improvement Plan may be submitted through November 6th to NHDOT. The address is NHDOT, 7 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03302. Attention: Bill Watson. https://www.nh.gov/dot.

Joseph D. Kenney

Executive Councilor District 1


Lawmakers hear truths and tales about electricity

If you testify before Congress you do so under oath, but no such obligation accrues to those who address hearings of the New Hampshire General Court. Still, every so often, the sonorous ring of truth echoes through the State House in Concord.

So it was a few weeks ago, when Donna Gamache, lobbyist for Eversource New Hampshire — the company also known as PSNH — sat at the witness table in Room 103 and spoke with members of the S.B. 125 Study Committee. The brainchild of its chairman, Sen. Kevin Avard of Nashua, the the study committee seeks to get to the bottom of a question persistently asked by legislators: Why are New Hampshire’s electric rates so danged high?

By the time Gamache got to testify, the legislators had already heard from her counterparts at the state’s two other investor-owned electric utilities, Unitil and Liberty. They offered data from their trade association, the Edison Electric Institute, to the effect that overall New Hampshire’s electric rates are only slightly above the national average and are actually below the average for the six New England states.

Gamache then got the floor to talk about the cost of high-voltage transmission in particular. It’s a timely topic in light of the ongoing quest of PSNH’s sibling company Northern Pass to gain approval from the Site Evaluation Committee for its 192-mile transmission project.

But before Gamache could get too down into the weeds of federally regulated transmission charges, she fielded a question from study committee member Michael Vose, a state representative from Epping who frequently sponsors energy-related bills.

Vose asked, based on having just heard that New Hampshire’s electric rates are actually not out of line,“what’s driving the perception in the business community that are rates are astronomically high?”

According to Gamache, the answer is that unlike residential customers, business consumers of electricity tend to focus not just on current rates (which, after all, can fluctuate markedly because wholesale energy prices are market-based) but also on projections of future price trends.

And, Gamache told the lawmakers, “ISO New England has been warning us of what’s coming.”

Stop and breathe that in for a second. Eversource did not claim the perception is reality, even though it is a persistent theme from, for example, the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire. Nor did Eversource accept any responsibility.

Instead, Eversource blamed the nonprofit organization that runs New England’s electric grid. Though investor-owned utilities remain the owners of New England’s bulk power transmission system, the federally regulated ISO New England is responsible for operating the system. ISO New England also oversees the markets by which power trades at the wholesale level in all six states.

So when ISO New England talks, people listen.

What they hear is an organization whose leadership has mastered the art of dog-whistle rhetoric. In other words, they use code words and stories that are calculated to make people think the grid is about to fail and electricity prices are about to soar, when the data they actually disgorge tells an entirely different story.

A year ago, ISO New England CEO Gordon van Welie declared at St. Anselm’s College that the region’s electricity grid was in a “precarious” state. According to van Welie, as coal generators and nuclear plants have retired, the region is now reliant on natural gas generation for more than half its power, which creates an urgent need for more natural gas pipeline capacity to serve the region.

That’s the warning Gamache was referencing. So, when three executives from ISO New England addressed the S.B. 125 study committee on September 19, the crowd was all ears.

Lawmakers put the question directly to Stephen Rourke, ISO New England’s vice president for system planning. Exactly how dire is the situation? How close is New England to a failure of the bulk power transmission system on a cold winter’s day in which every natural gas heating furnace in the six states is turned up and every natural gas generator in New England is trying to suck fuel from the same pipeline network as the furnaces?

Should you be seeking a graduate degree in obfuscatory rhetoric , Rourke’s answer is worthy of detailed study.

“It’s a tough question,” Rourke began. He conceded that “when you stare at the pie chart” things look okay — by which he presumably meant that New England has adequate reserve generation capacity so that even on the coldest days of the winter the system is unlikely to fail.

But, Roarke added, “what’s really hard is when you’re the operator at the desk [in the ISO New England control room], it’s zero, the wind is blowing at 25 miles per hour and every gas generator in the region is on. In that moment the pie chart doesn’t really matter ... You’re hoping that the 55-year-old oil generator doesn’t fail. ... We’re getting 20 to 30 percent of our energy from old oil plants, but the phone keeps ringing. That’s where maybe our nerves get on edge more than others.”

So, let’s recap the bidding. When asked what accounts for the perception among commercial and industrial residential customers that electricity rates are too high, the state’s biggest electric utility blamed ISO New England and its forecast of future power shortages. And when ISO New England was asked about those deficiencies it offered up an anecdote about how stressful it is to work in the ISO New England control room.

Electricity in New England is perennially more expensive than it is in most other places, which tend to be closer to coal mines, natural gas wells and giant hydroelectric dams built by the federal government as part of the New Deal. Meantime, according to one of those ISO New England charts Rourke was mentioning, New England is using 12,000 gigawatt-hours less electricity a year thanks to energy efficiency — a figure that will more than double by 2026.

The study committee we really need is the one that asks: How can we get more of that?

Power to the People is NH Consumer Advocate D. Maurice Kreis’ column about what happens long before you turn on the lights. Kreis and his staff of four represent the interests of residential utility customers before the NH Public Utilities Commission and elsewhere. InDepthNH.org co-publishes Power to the People with Manchester Ink Link.