Belmont Middle School invests in Makerspace with Meredith Village Savings' grant


BELMONT — Belmont Middle School has opened a new Makerspace designed for students, teachers and mentors to meet, create, invent and learn. This was made possible by the $6,000 grant the school received from the Meredith Village Savings Bank fund in 2017.

The Makerspace offers 3-D printers, a 3-D scanner, software programs, electronic kits, craft materials and sewing machines that help students keep pace with the growing need for technical knowledge.

Rick Wyman, president of Meredith Village Savings Bank, recently visited the school’s Makerspace open house, where students were eager to demonstrate current and completed projects while giving tours of the dedicated area.

“It’s our honor and privilege to invest in the students of Belmont Middle School,” said Wyman. “The Makerspace combines manufacturing equipment, community and education for the purpose of enabling the Belmont school district to design, and create manufactured works that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. This ensures everyone has equal access to design, engineering, fabrication and education.”

The Belmont Middle School Makerspace is managed by middle school teachers Karen Gingrich and Joe Wernig. “We’re incredibly grateful to MVSB for investing in our Makerspace,” said Gingrich. “We’re now better able to provide engaging activities and materials that excite our students. The Makerspace gives them the opportunity to extend their education by making it personal.”

“Students are able to work on projects that interest them,” added Wernig. “They participate in ‘how-to’ sessions, then spend their scheduled time working on independent projects. Thanks to the generous support of MVSB, we’re able to offer materials that speak to all types of preferences from engineering to innovation to art.”

The Makerspace is located in a dedicated area within the school’s STEM room, where students have access during scheduled in-school and after-school sessions. Students also took part in painting the room, investing their time in creating a workspace that suits them best. “It’s really wonderful to see the spark of curiosity get ignited in these students. We’re better able to encourage hands-on learning, which was made possible by MVSB’s belief in our mission and our students,” said Wernig.


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Back row, far left and right, Karen Gingrich, teacher, and Rick Wyman, president of Meredith Village Savings Bank, stand with students participants at the open house of Belmont Middle School's Makerspace which was made possible by a grant from Meredith Village Savings. (Courtesy photo)

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Ask Score - How to the find the right accountant for your small business

SCORE logo

Your business success depends on many factors. Managing your money well and understanding your finances are two of the most critical. Unless you are an accountant by trade, it’s likely you’ll need some outside guidance and insight as you start and grow your company.

Getting help from an accountant can benefit your business in a number of ways:

• An accountant can inform you of legitimate ways to reduce your tax liability.
• An accountant can ensure you’re aware of reporting requirements and deadlines. (If you’re not in compliance, you might have to pay fines.)
• An accountant can assist you in filing your taxes (saving you time and sparing you headaches).
• An accountant can provide suggestions that might help you run your business more profitably.

Just as when you contract any other type of professional to help you move your business forward, you should be choosy when selecting an accountant.

According to Jim Lewis, SCORE mentor and former chairman of SCORE’s Fort Worth Chapter, “Your first step should be to build a short list of accountants that you would consider ‘partnering’ with, because that’s exactly what you are doing by hiring a business accountant.”

Lewis suggests your list only include accountants and accounting firms that meet the following criteria:

• They have experience in your line of business.
• They reside in your state and/or city.
• They come highly recommended by someone or some source that you trust.
• They are large enough to handle your business requirements in a timely manner, BUT not too large to get to know you and your business on a personal level.
• They do tax work as well as weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly reporting, according to acceptable accounting practices.

“From this short list, you should set up interview meetings with each. For the interviews, you should develop a list of items you wish to judge each candidate by,” explains Lewis. “Also apply a simple grading scheme to give candidates a score of 1-3 or 1-5 for each criterion. Include ‘price for service’ among the judging criteria, but don’t make it the number one factor when deciding on which accountant to hire. After all interviews are completed and all grading is reviewed, your top choices should be apparent.”

If you need help creating your list of potential accountants or you would like to volunteer helping others in the business community, contact SCORE Lakes Region by calling 603-273-6956 or preferably visit

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Lakes Region Chamber honors award winners at annual meeting


MEREDITH — A capacity crowd of more than 240 people filled the dining room at Church Landing as the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting, with the theme “All Hands on Deck.”

The meeting served to introduce new board members as well as presenting the annual Golden Trowel, Golden Hammer, and Environmental awards.

The organization now represents 24 Lakes Region towns and cities with more than 500 businesses, and the awards reflected that large geographical area, ranging from Moultonborough to Loudon.

The Golden Trowel Award recognizes businesses for outstanding renovations and rehabilitations, and this year’s awards went to:

  • The Center Harbor Inn is a renovated seasonal motel that has been converted to a lakeside lodge by Steele Hill Resorts.
  • Outdoor New England transformed a vacant storefront in Franklin into a sports merchandise store focusing on whitewater kayaking and rafting.
  • Studio 73 in Franklin transformed a 1920s house into a hair salon.
  • Kettlehead Brewery converted a former food market into Tilton’s first brewery pub.
  • CATCH Light & Power Mill is a converted Franklin manufacturing building that has been converted in workforce housing.

The Golden Hammer Award recognizes new construction, and this year’s winners are:

  • Tanger Outlets in Tilton built a new, 6,000-square-foot building that houses Five Guys Burgers & Fries and an expanded Starbucks drive-through.
  • Clearchoice MD Urgent Care opened in Alton, providing urgent care and occupational health services.
  • North East Motor Sports Museum opened in a 10,000-square-foot facility on the grounds of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
  • Emerson Aviation built a new, 12,000-square-foot hangar capable of housing jets.

The Environmental Award went to two recipients:

  • The city of Laconia won for two projects it completed in 2017: A $4.3 million project on Lakes Avenue at Weirs Beach, with underground electricity, new streetlights and resurfaced roadway; and creation of a “pocket park” at the intersection known as Busy Corner.
  • The WOW (Winnipesaukee-Opechee-Winnisquam) Trail opened Phase 2 of its multi-use pathway, connecting with Belmont’s Winnisquam Scenic Trail.

The annual meeting also saw the installation of a new board and slate of officers.

Serving on the board of directors are Cecile Chase of Bank of New Hampshire; Lori Contraros of T-Bones/Cactus Jack’s; Darcy Peary of LRGHealthcare; Christopher Dickinson of Meredith Village Savings Bank; Larissa Baia of Lakes Region Community College; Melody Daddio of Steele Hill Resorts; Dirk Nadon of Lakes Media; Adam Hirshan and The Laconia Daily Sun; and Grace McNamara of Lakes Region Public Access Television.

Elected officers are: Chairman Bob Fitzpatrick of Vista Foods, First Vice Chair Ted Fodero of Meredith Insurance Agency; Second Vice Chair Sue Gaudette of Gunstock Mountain Resort; Treasurer Penny Raby of Malone, Dirubbo & Company; and Secretary Kathy Morin of Laconia Refrigeration.

Also serving on the board of directors are Allen Voivod, Epiphanies, Inc.; Donna Keeley, Eversource; Kamal Gosine, MB Tractor & Equipment; Michael Bednaz, WaLa Marketing; Patrick Clausen, Proctor’s Lakehouse Cottages; Ellen Hurst, Beck & Bellucci; and Julie Westcott, Aavid, a division of Boyd Corporation.

Chamber President Karmen Gifford said, “It is so important today in business to be connected, and the chamber continually creates opportunities to connect, be it business-to-business or business-to-consumer.”

The Chamber aims to create and promote a more engaged community and thriving economy for the businesses in the Lakes Region, she said.

For more information, including an online business directory and a list of community events, visit, Facebook, or Twitter, or call 603-524-5531.


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Incoming Board Chair Bob Fitzpatrick of Vista Foods, left, joins keynote speaker Gov. Chris Sununu, outgoing Board Chair Jay Bolduc of T-Bones/Cactus Jack’s and Chamber President Karmen Gifford at Church Landing, where the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting on Thursday.


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Winners of the Golden Hammer, Golden Trowel and Environmental Awards for projects completed in 2017 gather at Church Landing in Meredith during the annual meeting of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. (Courtesy Photo)


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Annie's Cafe holding open house today at new location


LACONIA — Passersby on Gilford Avenue may have noticed a new neighbor in the old “Georgio’s” building: Annie’s Cafe and Catering. In December, Annie’s Cafe and Catering relocated from its eight-year Union Avenue location to 138 Gilford Ave. in order to accommodate the growing business needs and better serve the daily influx of cafe and catering customers.

Customers new and old are invited to attend Annie’s Winter Warmer, a grand opening gathering taking place today from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the new location with food, beverages, and fun.

“We had catering dishes stacked high on counters, and a daily line out the door,” laughed Lisa Delampan, catering and operations manager of the Cafe, as she explained the decision to relocate, “and my ‘desk’ consisted of a corner cafe table which we often had to clear so customers could sit!”

It was at this point that, along with owner Annie Bridgeman, Delampan knew it was time to search for a larger home for the business.

Annie’s new space is approximately triple the size of the old space with 1,500 square feet, compared to the old location which had only 500 square feet. Additionally, the new location offers more customer parking, an expanded cafe area for a relaxed dining experience, a larger kitchen, plenty of storage for catering supplies, and the much needed office and creative space.

“We love our new location here on Gilford Avenue,” said Bridgeman. “We have several exciting happenings coming up including the Winter Warmer opening party, the release of an a la carte catering menu, and this spring, a gelato window! Customers are enjoying the convenience of the location, and we are excited about how much more we can offer here. We will keep bringing lots of fun and good cooking!”

One of the new offerings, the release of an a la carte catering menu will provides customers with more than 15 homemade, savory menu items that only require a 24-hour call-ahead notice. Menu items include lasagna, mac and cheese, chicken broccoli alfredo, butternut pesto lasagne, and chicken parmesan. Customers simply call the cafe 24-hours in advance and the order will be ready for pick-up the very next day.

“The new A La Carte Catering Menu will be released and published to our website,, by mid-February,” said Delampan. “We are very excited for this next chapter while staying true to our business model of serving creative, fresh, and delicious food to our customers every day.”


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Cormac Hogan reaches for a cup of hot chocolate from Annie Bridgeman, owner of Annie's Cafe and Catering, which is now operating in larger quarters on Gilford Avenue in Laconia. (Courtesy photo)


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Lisa Delampan, left, catering and operations manager of Annie's Cafe and Catering and owner Annie Bridgeman stand behind the counter of their new and larger location on Gilford Avenue. (Courtesy photo)

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Tariffs cast shadow on local solar industry


SANDWICH — A local electrical contractor said the tariffs on solar energy panels announced by President Donald Trump last week will hurt, rather than help, the domestic industry.

“The last three years have been the best years I’ve had in business,” said Kim Frase, owner of Frase Electric, based in Sandwich. Installation of photovoltaic systems, which convert sunlight into electricity, has grown in recent years to account for two-thirds of his overall business. He traces the growth of the industry back to the creation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which provided a 30 percent tax credit for solar installations.

Since then, the consistently falling costs of photovoltaic panels, combined with tax incentives, has propelled a solar boom, even in cloudy New England. Trump’s tariffs, said Frase, are likely going to be a wet blanket thrown on the hot market.

“It was a huge growing industry for eight years of Obama, now Trump’s starting to screw it up,” Frase said, noting that the growth of solar is thanks to both political parties, as the Energy Policy Act originated during the George W. Bush administration. As manufacturers refined their processes, the cost of panels plummeted. Frase said the cost of an installation fell from $9 per watt in 2009 to $2-3 per watt now.

A state tax rebate shaved another $1,000 off the cost of an installation in New Hampshire, and that rebate is likely to expire at the end of the month.

“I’ve got a bunch of things hitting me now,” said Frase.

An average residential installation costs $15,000 to $20,000, he said, and customers could realize energy savings that would exceed the cost of the project in as little as six years. The expiring state rebate will add another year to that payback period. The tariff will likely add 10 percent to the cost of an installation, extending the payback by another year.

Frase isn’t sure by how much, but he expects the changing circumstances will hurt his business.

“Between the tariff and almost the elimination of the state rebate, it’s going to be hard to say, will it be 10 percent, will it be 20 percent, will it be 30 percent?”

Frase Electric employs 11 people, part of the 260,000-strong workforce in solar energy in the United States, according to a census performed by the nonprofit Solar Foundation. The vast majority of those jobs are in installation; very few Americans are employed by solar panel manufacturers.

Most of the world’s solar panels are made in Asia. Frase uses LG panels, made in Korea, though he also uses American-made panels in some applications. Because there are few remaining American manufacturers, he expects that the tariffs will create a demand for domestic panels and cause their prices to rise as well.

“I think it’s going to affect cost of all solar panels,” said Frase. “The tariff is certainly going to hurt the industry, I don’t think it’s going to help the industry. We’re going to be going the wrong direction in renewable energy. Everyone’s trying to find ways to keep costs down, the industry has come a long way in 3-4 years, now (Trump) is going to slow it down? It’s good-paying jobs with good bonuses. I’m definitely thinking it’s going to hurt my business.”

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Solar power installations, such as this 7.2-kilowatt system, have grown to account for two-thirds of the business for Frase Electric. President Trump’s recently-announced tariffs could reverse some of the growth that the industry has experienced, Kim Frase fears. (Courtesy photo)


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