Bikers flock to Flo's for free trim, shave or boot shine

LACONIA — For those who are cruising up Lakeside Avenue at Weirs Beach this Motorcycle Week, a manicure, boot shine, goatee trim or a clean shave may be something that sounds appealing.

And now, for the first time in the 92-years of the Laconia rally, and thanks to rally sponsor Progressive Insurance, it can happen and it can happen for free.

"Progressive provides excellent customer service and this is just and extension of that," said Matt Mondek who is one of Progressive's ambassadors.

Patrick Jansen, the official spokesman for Flo's Chop Shop — "Flo" being the bright, red-lipsticked saleswoman with the dark up do in Progressive Insurance commercials and ads — said Progressive wants people to know that it is the number one insurer for motorcycles since it started insuring them in 1964.

He said many times bike insurance is more like protecting a treasured piece of artistry when one considers all of the work and special attention owner/enthusiasts put into them.

"Its all about customer service and Flo's Chop Shop is customer service at its best," he said.

To show how they care, Jansen, who is the owner of Sin Central — a hot-rod and Harley Davidson shop in Atlanta, Ga. — said he was recruited by Progressive for Flo's at because of his reputation for excellence in restoring motorcycles and hot rods.

He said Sin Central is also known for donating a considerable amount of money annual to help Atlanta's children and Progressive wanted a company that was community-minded as well as professional.

"This is about beards, bikers and boots," he said, noting Progressing recruited some of the best in the business for Motorcycle Week.

Jansen said Progressive has brought to Laconia 10 brand ambassadors — eight women and two men — three barbers and three shoe shiners.

The shoe shiners are from Shinola Shoe Shine of Chicago and, according to their Facebook page, bring their services to Progressive for shows all over the world.

The professional barbers are from SHED Barbers in Austin, Texas. Michael Regino said they were approached by Progressive for Flo's Chop Shop in Laconia and were thrilled to be invited. He said his barber shop in South Austin takes barbering back to 100 years ago when there were hot towels, straight razors and all of the barbering traditions. A customer at SHED Barbers can also get a free beer or whiskey while waiting.

"I would return to New Hampshire in a heart beat," said Regino, noting he is staying on the lake and the water is so clear he can see the bottom.

Jansen said he had been riding for years and has been to the Laconia Rally a number of times. He said he stays in a friend's house on Lake Winnipesaukee and just loves coming to Laconia.

"From Atlanta, this is a big change in scenery," he said.

Jansen said Flo's Chop Shop plans on becoming regulars at Motorcycle Week in Laconia.

"Everyone here is so welcoming, Charlie (St. Clair) and Jen (Anderson) are just the best," Jansen said, referring to officials of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. "We'll be back, definitely."

Insurance executive survives small-plane crash

LACONIA — A local man was flown by helicopter to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center yesterday morning after crashing an airplane on his property about 500 feet southwest of his private, grass airstrip.

Police officials confirmed the pilot is 80-year-old Tom Volpe who lives at the property on Hadley Road, just north of South Down Shores/Long Bay gated communities.

Firefighters said it took them about 25 minutes to stabilize Volpe and extricate him from the aircraft. He was taken by ambulance to the former Laconia State School property, where he was transferred to a DHART Helicopter. Volpe suffered face, head and possible chest injuries and Fire Chief Ken Erickson said that responding EMTs and paramedics were able to stabilize him before putting him on the helicopter.

Volpe suffered a punctured lung, multiple facial injuries and an back injury.

Neighbor and friend Bill Kratochvil said he has flown a few times with Volpe and that he owns two planes — a bi-plane and a white Piper Tri-Pacer. Though kept at a distance by the relatives of the property owner, it appears the plane that crashed was the Piper Tri-Pacer.

"He is into flying a lot," said Kratochvil, noting Volpe served on the Laconia Airport Authority at some point in the past.

Volpe's son Stewart, died after a plane crash in the same area on April 15, 2000. He succumbed to his injuries 10 days later.

Volpe has long been president of Melcher & Prescott Insurance Agency in Laconia. He has been a principal owner there since he and the late Edward Miller bought the company in 1959. 

NTSB is investigating the crash.


CUTLINE: (SUBMITTED PHOTO) Laconia emergency crews remove a local man from his plane after it crashed on his own property just after 8:30 a.m. on Hadley Road.


According to the 2000 NTSB crash report, Stewart Volpe's plane took off headed south, climbed to 50-100 feet or "just over the tree-line" and began circling to the right. The plane completed 360-degree turn and was 10- to 15-feet nose high when the nose dropped. The plane's owner told investigators that he heard the engine running during the turn was couldn't recall if the engine was running during the drop. NTSB investigators determined there was something wrong with the fuel as it was "green in color, cloudy and resembled muddy water."

Counterfeit goods charge made against MC Week vendor

LACONIA – On Thursday, local police, working with a manufacturer's representative, conducted a check of some Motorcycle Week vendors in the Weirs Beach area for counterfeit products.

At 11:05 a.m., police served arrest warrants for Piechun Lee-tu, 54 and Cheng Lee-tu, 54 of Westfield, Mass. for dealing in counterfeit goods.

Both were book and released on $100 cash and $1,000 personal recognizance bail each and are scheduled for an appearance in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division on August 13.

The types of items seized were sunglasses, hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts and patches. The approximate manufactures suggested retail price (MSRP) on the items totals $30,300.

CSA: a partnership between farmer & consumer

LACONIA — Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between the farmer and consumer that provides the first with the means to plant the seeds, raise the crops and harvest the bounty and the second with the opportunity to enjoy fresh food, locally grown, purchased directly from its producer.

The consumer partners with the farmer before the growing season begins by purchasing a share of the forthcoming harvest. The farmer applies the proceeds from these subscriptions to meeting the costs of sowing, growing and harvesting the crop and in return provides the subscriber with a constant supply of foodstuffs throughout the season. Traditionally farms primarily provided fruits and vegetables as they came into season, but now many offer eggs and meat — chicken, beef and pork — as well as products like maple syrup, honey, and jams.

Aaron Lichtenberg, a small grower at Winnipesaukee Woods Farm in Alton, described the business model as one of "shared risk and shared responsibility for producing the food we eat."

The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture lists half-a-dozen farms with CSA programs in Belknap County. Stretching from one end of the county to the other, he six, which all have websites with information about the pricing, terms and operation of their CSA programs, are: Surowiec Farm in Sanbornton, Picnic Rock Farms in Meredith, Beans & Greens Farmstand in Gilford, Still Seeking Farm in Gilmanton, Sticks & Stones Farm in Barnstead, and Winnipesaukee Woods Farm in Alton.

Most operate their CSA programs during the growing season between June and September or October, though Beans & Greens offers a winter program, assuring subscribers preference over the restaurant trade if supplies are short. Programs vary in price and structure.. Beans & Greens specifies a minimum account of $250 with a 10 percent bonus to those who subscribe by May 3. Some farms price shares for individuals, couples and families while some offer half and full shares for the season, with prices for the season ranging between approximately $300 and $550.

Likewise, different farms prescribe different arrangements for collecting the produce. Some package their customers' orders for collection on specific days. Others have pick-up locations, usually at a farmstand or farmer's markets. And still at others subscribers select their produce at the farm and the farmer debits their account.

Ward Bird of Picnic Rock Farm in Meredith said that the contribution of the some 60 subscribers is "very important to the operation of farm It helps to get the ball rolling early in the season." He said that he seeks to engage the subscribers in the life of the farm. "We strongly believe that teaching is a big part of this," he said, explaining that subscribers are told when to expect produce to ripen and to understand the effects of weather and even invited to share in chores like weeding and picking. "it's not a working thing," he remarked, "but a learning experience."

Michelle Descoteaux of Still Seeking Farm said that after three years the CSA accounts for about a quarter of total sales, but she and her husband Keith hope to expand it to represent all sales. "We like to pick fresh and give people what they want when they want it," she said, "not have produce wilting on a farmstand or in an outdoor market all day."

Barbara Comtois, who with her husband Guy, owns Sticks and Stones Farm, a hydroponic operation in Barnstead, said that subscriptions represent a large share of sales. She explained that by growing hydroponically they can produce on five acres what would require between 10 and 20 acres of soil with relatively little labor, while materials and equipment represent a correspondingly greater share of costs. Subscriptions, she said, defray a significant share those operating costs.

On the other hand Katie Surowiec of Surowiec Farm said that she has limited the CSA program to about 100 members, "It's all about what you can handle," she explained, "and I can manage about 100." She said the program has been very popular, with nine of 10 members renewing their subscriptions, and "very important in the spring when we really need the cash flow." However, she said that "we're not putting all our eggs in one basket" and the farmstand and two farmer's markets generate the majority of sales.

Lichtenberg observed that CSA represents a flexible business model that reduces the inherent risks of farming to small growers while providing consumers the opportunity to enjoy foods produced by their neighbors and served at the peak of their seasons. "We can learn to eat seasonally," he remarked, "like our grandparents did."