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Unplugged play is a hot commodity at The Imaginarium

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — If there was any question about Debbie Dow's move into a much larger space, it didn't take long for an answer. Since opening on March 1 at its new location, 40 Meredith Center Road, the Imaginarium has already come close to its maximum occupancy of 50 children and their parents.

Dow started the Imaginarium three years ago in a basement unit of the Harbor Square plaza in Moultonborough. A mother of young children, she was inspired to open a business that offers a counterpoint to Funspot, the only other indoor place in the region where parents can take their kids to blow off some steam. Where Funspot is filled with arcade games, Dow wanted her business to provide nothing but unplugged, mindful, imaginative play – no batteries or power cords required.

The concept was a hit with other like-minded parents. Her space in Moultonborough was small, and she started having to turn people away because she was filled to capacity. So, when the Lakeland School's K-8 space became available, she approached the building owners and asked if she could rent it. The building on Meredith Center Road has about three times the space of her previous location, as well as lots of natural light.

"We outgrew our space, and the opportunity to have an outside playground, plenty of space. It's obviously a huge opportunity to grow," she said.

The Imaginarium, which features three rooms full of low-tech toys and a place for eating lunches, offers open play sessions from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Dow, with the help of a part-time employee, also has cooking and art classes, a children's choir, music lessons and will rent the space for birthday parties.

Dow finds that her greatest challenge in growing the business has been finding the balance between operating her business and staying home for her own children's benefit. She finds it hard to say "no" to a new idea for her business, especially when she sees the kind of response she's received since opening in her new location.

"I have three kids of my own, I could see how technology was warping their brains. I wanted a place for families to get together," she said. "I've always wanted to do this, having a response like this is really exciting."

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What happened to the Lakeland School?

The kindergarten through eighth grade of the Lakeland School didn't open this year. Karen Tardif, director of the Lakeland School preschool program, which continues to operate at the site, said that one of the teachers of the upper school was poised to purchase the private school and operate it for the 2016-2017 school year, when personal circumstances suddenly arose which prevented her from doing so.

The Lakeland School, which tailors a curriculum for each student, had about 35 students in its upper grades last year. Tardif said she was trying to figure out how she could keep the school operating, when Dow approached her about renting the space.

"It seemed like her goals and our goals fit together so nicely, we decided to go ahead with the rental," said Tardif.

 

Imaginarium for Business DS

Debbie Dow, owner of the Imaginarium, plays veterinarian with Hunter Stanley, of Belmont, and Claire Marshall of Gilford. The Imaginarium, which was opened three years ago in Moultonborough, moved to Meredith this month. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Tree care industry group honors two Belknap Landscape staffers

 

 

GILFORD — Clark Gareau and Ossian Batchelder, employees of Belknap Landscape, have been awarded the Tree Care Industry Association's 2016 Safety Standout Awards. These awards are given to employees and teams who do their jobs remarkably and consistently well, especially in regard to safety protocols.

For over 30 years, the association has been recognizing companies, their employees and crews for actions in the safety arena. "I'm honored to receive this award but I like to think of our tree crew as a team. We take on a lot of risk in this job and I've always felt that by making each crew member feel like more than just an employee, we build relationships that are focused on watching out for each other's safety," said Clark, a certified arborist.

"We're incredibly proud of Clark and Ossian for being recognized by the TCIA for their dedication to safety. With our accreditation, we're monitored on a yearly basis for safety and these two practice it daily. I can't say enough about of the level of detail to which our crews follow to ensure their safety and the safety of others," said Belknap Landscape owner Hayden McLaughlin.

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US Cellular names new manager for NH stores

 

 

TILTON — Frank Bartalone III has been named area sales manager for U.S. Cellular.

In his new position Bartalone will oversee the sales time in five U.S, Cellular stores in New Hampshire, including Tilton.

Bartalone joined U.S. Cellular in 2009 as a retail wireless consultant in the Chicago area.

03 17 US Cellular Bartalone

Frank Bartalone III

 

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MetroCast to be healthcare career expo presenting sponsor

 

LACONIA — MetroCast Business Services will be the presenting sponsor for the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce's upcoming Healthcare Career Expo.

The Healthcare Career Expo, one of the Chamber's workforce development initiatives, will take place on Tuesday, May, 23, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Woodside Building, Taylor Community in Laconia.

The event is being organized in collaboration with the 200x2020 school-to-work partners, including the Lakes Region Chamber, Belknap EDC and the school-to-work coordinators throughout the Lakes Region.

"Jobs in the healthcare industry are expected to rise 28 percent by 2020," said Karmen Gifford, Lakes Region Chamber president. "This event is an opportunity to highlight the many healthcare organizations and career opportunities here in our community. Health Science is just one of the many educational programs offered at the Huot Technical Center which feeds into the Health Science programs of study at Lakes Region Community College. With so many current healthcare jobs available now and projected in the future, this event was designed to spotlight our local healthcare service businesses to students K-Post Grad and to the public."

Healthcare service organizations which would like to participate in the eventr, should call the Lakes Region Chamber at 603-524-5531. Prospective participants can reserve your table on-line at LakesRegionChamber.org. Teachers or others who work in education and would like more information on attending, can also call the Chamber office. The Chamber may be able to assist in arranging bus transportation.

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Local agent lauded as 'Achiever of the Year'

Corina with Plane

Corina Cisneros

 

BELMONT — Lakes Region real estate agent Corina Cisneros was recognized on both the company-wide and national levels for her high achievement in 2016 by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty. Based on her gross commission income, she was ranked as a Verani Realty Achiever of the Year and also earned Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices' President's Circle award, which recognizes agents that have achieved a minimum of $185,000 in GCI.

Cisneros says that the latest market analytics show New Hampshire is back to a balanced market.

"Every year since 2012 we have seen an increase in the median home price in New Hampshire, and I expect it to reach the 2005 level by the end of this summer," said Cisneros, citing monthly statistics from the New Hampshire Board of REALTORS. "During the same period we have seen not only a higher number of closings year after year, but more striking is that we are at the same low levels of inventory we saw in 2005. This all translates to a very healthy market for both buyers and sellers."

Originally from Venezuela, Cisneros is fluent in both Spanish and English. She is a Certified International Property Specialist and a Certified Staging Professional. Servicing the Lakes Region, her specialties include fine homes, new construction, waterfront homes and investment properties. She is also ranked as a premier agent through Zillow and Trulia, and has achieved numerous 5-star ratings from her customers and clients.

"Verani Realty has achieved a most beautiful thing - the brilliant balance of a professionally managed and successful firm with the feel of a family business that cares for all its members and clients. This is just one reason I love working at Verani," she added.

Outside of real estate, Cisneros has been a private pilot for 25 years and enjoys flying across New Hampshire and the Northeast. She finds a natural connection between her work as a real estate professional and taking flight.

"Prior to departure I confirm fuel on board, check weather, prepare a flight plan, account for aircraft weight and balance and choose an alternate destination. Before take-off, I follow my checklist items and I am sure to be trained and prepared for inflight emergencies - to keep calm - and fly the plane to a safe landing. Helping my clients buy or sell property is similar to what I do when planning a cross country flight in my Piper Archer. I am constantly studying the market and alert to new trends. Before releasing a home on the market I outline a comprehensive marketing plan. My structured process allows for a smooth landing for my clients almost every time even if we encounter turbulence along the way. This is why I've been so successful in such a short period of time. Training, discipline, focus and a lot of hard work!"

To contact Cisneros or to learn more about local neighborhoods, marketplaces and the intricacies of buying and selling, or beginning a real estate career call 603-527-1111, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit verani.com.

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