Whiskey Barrel navigates tumultuous first year

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The mechanical bull at the Whiskey Barrel in Laconia has been busier on some nights than others, but owner Matt Menengas said it provides a way for the club to distinguish itself from other bars. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)



LACONIA — It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for Matt Menengas, owner of the Whiskey Barrel music club on Main Street. February marked the club’s first year of operation, and it was a year during which there were times that he didn’t know if he would make it to his first anniversary.

But make it he did, and he enters his second year of operation with plans to expand, while continuing to try and shed false impressions about the entertainment venue.

“We made it through the first year, which is good,” Menengas said. He opened the business on Feb. 4, 2017, as a partnership. But the business relationship soon dissolved, and Menegas found himself the sole owner and with a financial mess to clean up.

While he expected that the Whiskey Barrel would, like most other entertainment businesses in the Lakes Region, carry itself on the strength of summer crowds, he found just the opposite to be true. His first summer of operation was slow – so slow that he feared that the club would have to close its doors. His worst-attended show came during the summer, and for a band that had nationwide name recognition.

But, then, as the weather started to turn colder, he saw more crowds starting to turn out for shows. As the weather is starting to turn a bit milder, Menengas is hoping to carry the momentum of the winter into his second year of operation.

“We have quite a few big shows coming up,” he said. Colt Ford, who played in Laconia last year, is returning on Thursday, The Cadillac Three is stopping to play in April, and Menegas is diversifying the entertainment on his stage by mixing in rock acts, wrestling and comedians – such as Gilbert Gottfried, who will perform on May 13.

“I’m trying to bring some life to downtown,” he said.

Meanwhile, he’s also battling the perception that the Whiskey Barrel is just a new name for the same type of establishment as the Funky Monkey, which previously occupied the same space.

“It’s a completely different clientele than what was in here before, a completely different atmosphere. Everyone says that they like the music, the atmosphere better, and it’s not just country music here. We have all sorts of cover bands, rock, comedy,” he said.

Menengas has plans to start serving food, though he cautions that the offerings will be basic bar fare, and he is thinking about ways to utilize a large basement space underneath the venue.

“We are always looking to expand. I’m not saying that the basement is going to open anytime soon, but we are definitely thinking about expanding down.”

He knows that he can draw people from Concord and central New Hampshire with the right headliner. What he’d like is to get those people to think about the Whiskey Barrel regardless of who’s going to be taking the stage.

“I feel that we’ve done really well with the music aspect of it, now we want to expand into other avenues to keep people happy.”

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GZA GeoEnvironmental acquires Emery & Garrett Groundwater Investigations

MEREDITH — GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. a leading multi-disciplinary firm providing geotechnical, environmental, ecological, water, and construction management services, has announced the acquisition of Emery & Garrett Groundwater Investigations, LLC, a New Hampshire-based firm focused on groundwater exploration, development, management, and protection. The acquisition of EGGI strengthens GZA’s position as a premier provider of water-related services.

Serving the State of New Hampshire and the eastern United States for the past 28 years, EGGI has been recognized regionally and nationally, including by the Environmental Protection Agency, the U. S. Geological Survey, and the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers, for providing technical leadership in the field of groundwater exploration, development, and protection. EGGI will operate as a division of GZA and will maintain its current leadership as well as its office in Meredith.

The EGGI team will continue to provide consulting services to municipal utilities, public water authorities, hospitals, universities, Fortune 500 companies, developers, counties, and state and federal agencies, with additional services now available to these clients as a result of GZA’s comprehensive practice areas.

“The EGGI team is one of the most respected and sought-after groundwater experts in the Eastern United States, and this acquisition enables GZA to expand our water services and client base,” said Bill Hadge, CEO of GZA. “As demand for sustainable groundwater resources continues to increase, the ability to identify and develop previously undiscovered groundwater supplies will become ever more important. One of the most significant indicators of the quality of professional service that EGGI delivers is that every client the firm has provided professional services for since its 1989 founding has continued to use EGGI for additional and follow-up groundwater investigation initiatives.’’

James M. Emery, President and CEO of EGGI, said: “Joining GZA will empower EGGI to scale up our reach and impact, while continuing to deliver to all our clients the level of service and the innovative solutions they’ve come to expect from EGGI. Everyone at EGGI is excited to join the dynamic, growing, and industry-leading team at GZA.”

EGGI was most recently a wholly owned subsidiary of NextWater, LLC.

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So You Want a Tiny House?

By Chuck Braxton, Roche Realty Group Inc.

Many people are choosing to downsize the space they live in. The typical American home has over 2,000 square feet of living area, whereas as a tiny house has between 100 and about 400 square feet of living space. Some people come to the conclusion that they want to downsize, but have to have a “small house” of 400 to 1,000 square feet to meet their needs. This discussion applies to “small” as well as “tiny” houses. In this article the term “tiny house” encompasses any dwelling under 1,000 sq. ft.

If you embrace this idea, the key considerations for your project are what type of structure you want and where you intend to locate it. For “what” the choices are: park model mobile homes on wheels, tiny house kits on post-and-pier foundations, and stick-built structures on concrete foundations.

“Where” you want to build brings three concerns: building codes, zoning ordinances, and restrictive covenants.

Building codes--Building codes are defined at the state or federal level and may be adopted by towns as well. Towns may amend codes through language in their zoning ordinance to address local conditions.

Here in New Hampshire, there is a state code and the local level is the city or town. Most New Hampshire counties do not get involved with building codes. The exception is Coos County where the Coos County Planning Board addresses zoning for the unincorporated towns.

Towns that adopt the state building code may not have a code enforcement officer, relying instead on either the town fire chief or a state fire marshal to inspect dwellings to the code. Towns often require that the fire chief inspect any wood and fossil fuel burning installation such as stoves, fireplace inserts, water heaters, boilers and furnaces.

An important topic for tiny houses is anchoring—an issue underscored by recent severe hurricanes. Mobile homes require anchoring to certifiable standards in order to qualify for financing under federal programs. Lenders may require similar standards for tiny home kits on posts-and-piers.

Zoning ordinances--Outside of Coos County in the North Country, there are thirteen towns that do not have zoning (other than flood plain and telecommunication facilities) including:

  • Grafton County: Alexandria, Canaan, Ellsworth, Grafton, Haverhill, Orford, Rumney, Warren, Wentworth and Woodstock
  • Carroll County: Chatham and Tamworth
  • Sullivan County: Lempster

Cities and towns that adopt a zoning ordinance generally have a code enforcement officer. In rural towns this may be a part-time position. However, rural towns may not issue a Certificate of Occupancy which can create an issue for financing of the initial construction or resale.

Zoning ordinances may have requirements that affect various aspects of a tiny house project and this requires a deep dive into the town’s documents that you will often find on-line at the town’s website. If you are considering a tiny house, you should have your plans clearly defined BEFORE contacting a code enforcement officer with your questions.

The state regulates waste water disposal so regardless of whether a town has zoning or not, any dwelling that has running water inside that is not connected to public sewer must have a state-approved waste water disposal system. New installations of holding tanks (no return of water to the ground) are not authorized and outhouses, if allowed, are governed locally.

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Franklin Savings Bank honors three employees

FRANKLIN — Franklin Savings Bank has honored three employees with its 2017 Vision Award, a distinction presented each year to individuals who make a difference with their customers and co-workers by epitomizing the bank’s vision. This year’s recipients are Nancy Watson, Branch Manager; Taylor D’Italia, Marketing Specialist; and Douglas Morin, Facilities Manager. The awards were given at the bank’s annual Employee Recognition Night.

“I am honored to recognize Nancy, Taylor and Doug along with their peers as this year’s recipients of our annual Vision Award, remarked Ron Magoon, president and CEO. “They truly demonstrate their commitment to being the very best at what they do, each and every day. Their dedication has a meaningful impact on the success of the bank and the lives of our customers.”

Nancy Watson, branch manager of the bank’s Boscawen office, has been observed by her staff as someone who possesses a tremendous amount of compassion for her customers. She embodies what customer service is at FSB! Nancy truly does go above and beyond for her customers. For example, she will bake homemade edibles for her customers and staff to enjoy every Friday. Customers will often stop by the office just to indulge in the treats as well as chat with her and the staff. Under her leadership, she is also committed to her staff’s professional growth and development and takes the time to connect with each one on a personal level.

Next, Taylor D’Italia, marketing specialist, was praised for her can-do attitude, smile and upbeat demeanor. Even when she has a full plate, she always treats her co-workers like they are her absolute priority when soliciting her assistance on a project. Her willingness and enthusiasm towards accepting new responsibilities as well as tackling new challenges is very much appreciated by her peers throughout the organization.

Lastly, as the facilities manager for a growing bank, Doug Morin has a lot of responsibilities in his role. His position requires a lot of prioritizing as he has to coordinate the work for several locations, stretching from Bristol to Merrimack and over into Rochester. It’s not unusual to find him spending weekends and evenings completing tasks for the bank – all in an effort to minimize any impact to the staff and our customers. He’ll often arrive to work early each day to resolve maintenance issues before the offices open for the day and isn’t reluctant to stay late into the evening to meet a project deadline.

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Taylor D’Italia (left), Douglas Morin and Nancy Watson are this year’s recipients of a 2017 Vision Award from Franklin Savings Bank. They were presented with an award at the bank’s annual Employee Recognition Night. (Courtesy photo)

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Scotia Technology Participates in Gilford High School Career Week

LACONIA — Scotia Technology recently had the privilege of speaking to the Gilford High School Intro to Engineering and Business Management classes during career week. Scotia Technology, a member of the United Flexible family, looks forward to educating the youth of the community in aerospace opportunities here in the Lakes Region.

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