Balsams issued three demolition permits


By Edith Tucker
The Berlin Sun

DIXVILLE — The state Fire Marshal’s office issued three permits on Tuesday to allow the demolition of three buildings that are part of The Balsams Resort: Dix House, Wind Whistle House, and Tillotson House.

Each permit states that the applicant — Dixville Capital LLC of Bethel, Maine — is responsible for obtaining any needed environmental, hazardous material or other permits and approvals, before the demolition work is begun.

Dixville Capital has not put forward any estimated timeline for when demolition will begin. All three permits become invalid, however, unless the work authorized has begun within 180 days of issuance on Oct. 10, 2017.

The extent of the demolition work planned at the Dix House, described by Steve Barba — longtime former senior partner of The Balsams Corporation — as “the heart of the Grand Hotel,” only became public earlier this week.

But plans to knock down the other two smaller buildings have been known for some time.

The Wind Whistle House, used long ago to house the children of guests and their nannies, more recently housed a summer day camp for guests’ children.

The Tillotson House, tucked discretely behind thick shrubbery, was the private personal residence of resort owner Neil Tillotson and his wife Louise. That site is now designated for use as a take-off and landing spot for a proposed gondola to what is planned as greatly enlarged ski terrain on the south side of Route 26.

Dixville Capital has named TMS of Portsmouth as its resort architects, including drawing up plans for a new Dix House.

“TMS is highly regarded — and they have a lot of experience with historic properties — including the Bridges House in East Concord, the official state governor’s residence,” explained resort spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne of Montagne Communications. “We are very confident TMS will develop plans that will faithfully reconstruct the historical and architectural elements of the current Dix House. In reality, the reconstruction plan is no different than the renovation plan, in terms of what the building will look like when we are done. The only difference is we’ll be using all new materials that will add strength, durability and energy efficiency to the building. It will look just like the Dix House does now, with its iconic white clapboard and red roof. The exterior will look just as it does now — with the possible exception of needing to bring things up to current code, such as some of the outside railings,” he said.

“On the inside, major architectural elements such as the grand staircase, fireplaces and detailed columns will all be faithfully replicated,” Tranchemontagne continued. “The window and door styles will remain the same, although they will be much more energy efficient than the current ones."

“We had always anticipated that portions of the Dix House would need to be removed and replaced as part of the renovation, including elements of the foundation, the entire roof and the Dix-Hampshire Connector,” he said. “When we began to realize that it wasn’t feasible to renovate the existing structure, we worked collaboratively with the N.H. Department of Historic Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the most appropriate way to proceed. Their input has been incorporated into the amended memorandum of agreement. An important part of our agreement calls for our team to remove any remaining historical items and safely preserve them, as we have done with Ballot Room artifacts. We will also place signage in the Dix House that tells its story, honors its legacy, and makes clear that guests are in a newly constructed replica of the original Dix. We will also include this information on our website, as per the agreement.”

“The Dix House’s architectural integrity and historical character will be preserved while incorporating modern building materials to increase energy efficiency, structural integrity and improve the guest experience,” concluded Tranchemontagne. “For example, we will sound proof walls around each unit.”

The state fire marshal’s office is involved because the Coos County Commissioners, who act as the select board in each of the unincorporated places, such as Dixville, requested that it accept this delegated responsibility. The three-man board acted at the request of the planning board for the unincorporated places, relieving it and the county administrator from this time-consuming responsibility.


This Saturday is the 14th annual RiverFire

BERLIN — The month of October brings autumn foliage, crisp McIntosh apples, the World Series, and RiverFire. For the 14th year in a row, RiverFire boosts a full schedule of activities topped by the lighting of the bonfires on the Androscoggin River and the hundreds of glowing jack-o-lanterns on the pedestrian bridge.

The Halloween-themed celebration takes place this Saturday, Oct. 14, at Service Credit Union Heritage Park and the weather forecast promises a typical fall day.

Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Paula Kinney said it has been a very successful year of activities for the organization with record level crowds for the Jericho Mountain ATV Festival, WingZilla and Camp RZR. She said she anticipates a spectacular RiverFire this year.

“We had a great year of events and we’re going to knock this one out of the park,” she said.

One of the favorite events is the Zombie ATV Poker Run with contestants encouraged to dress and decorate their vehicles to fit the Zombie theme. New this year, the poker run will start and end at the park, with registration from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The last zombie must leave the park by 11 a.m. and all have to be back by 2:30 p.m. Kinney said the run is designed with enough stops to allow individuals to participate by car, truck, motorcycle, and pedal bike as well as ATV. Prizes will be awarded for first, second, and third place hands plus one for the worst hand. There will also be a prize for best use of theme. The fee is $15 per hand with extra cards $3 each. Proceeds go back to RiverFire and future Zombie Poker Runs.

“We have some great prizes donated by local businesses,” said Kinney.

The main celebration gets underway at 2 p.m. at the Service Credit Union Heritage Park and events runs through 9 p.m. with food and fun for everyone. Admission to the park is free.

The 5k Run/Walk, hosted by Coos County Family Health Services, also takes place at 2 p.m., with runners leaving the park on Route 16, crossing the 12th Street Bridge, proceeding north to cemeteries, and then back to the park. Proceeds from the race benefit Response to Sexual and Domestic Violence. Hand crafted awards will be given to the top male and female finishers as well as awards to the top finishers in the various age categories. There will also be a team competition this year. People can register on-line at Last year the race drew over 200 runners and walkers.

Special for kids is a Bouncy House Village sponsored by Chapman Recycling and Nordic Construction. The purchase of an $8 bracelet allows unlimited bouncing until 6 p.m. The Berlin High boys soccer team will be running the village and all proceeds will go to support the team.

The Little Hooves Traveling Petting Zoo returns with plenty of animals for kids (and adults) and will be open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Hayrides get underway at 3 p.m. with antique tractors pulling loads of kids and parents throughout the day. The hayride leaves from the parking lot, heads north over the 12th Street Bridge and making a return loop to the park. The fee is $4 per person. The rides continue until 8 p.m.

The RE/MAX hot air balloon will be located at Horne Field and rides are scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., weather permitting. The fee is $5 with all proceeds donated to the Berlin Main Street Program.

Judging for the Granite United Way’s Scarecrow Contest will take place at 1 p.m. Residents and families are encouraged to use “Live United” T-shirts in their scarecrow designs and the winner of the contest will receive a Kindle Fire.

“This is a great opportunity to have some fun and add to the excitement of RiverFire,” said Laura Boucher, Granite United Way’s Northern NH Area Manager.

T-shirts and scarecrow contest registration sheets can be picked up the week prior to RiverFire from Laura Boucher at the Service Credit Union Heritage Park, or at the Granite United Way Office, 961 Main Street Berlin. All scarecrows must be delivered and registered by 1 p.m. on Saturday to The winner will receive a Kindle Fire.

For more information contact Laura Boucher at (603) 752-3343.

The children’s Halloween costume parade lines up at 5 p.m. at the Brown School and proceeds down Main Street to the Heritage Park where the “Not So Scary Halloween Party” will get underway at 5:30 p.m. Sponsored and hosted by Service Credit Union, the party has expanded to a second building in the logging camp with games, prizes, and candy for the kids.

D.J. Graphyz will get the musical entertainment underway at 5 p.m. with a mix of country, classic dance tunes, and some top 40 hits using the new stage at the park. He will warm that crowd up for hometown favorite band Duke, which is back together and returning to RiverFire where it has been a favorite performer. Duke will take the stage at 6 p.m. and play until closing.

The highlight of the celebration is always the lighting of the hundreds of carved pumpkins on the bridge and the lighting of the bonfires in the river. Both occur at dusk, creating a dynamic scene with the fires and lit jack-o-lanterns contrasting with the dark night.

Food is a staple of RiverFire with local vendors offering everything from hamburgers and hot dogs to Chinese food and fried dough. No party would be complete without a cold beverage and the N.H. Distributors will be staff its popular beer tent from 2 p.m. until closing.

With parking limited at the park, Tri-County Transit will be providing public shuttle rides to RiverFire. The transit will run a public shuttle between the Service Credit Union Heritage Park and either the parking lot at the N.H. District Courthouse at 650 Main St. or the Northeast Credit Union parking lot on Main Street from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. The cost is $2 to ride all evening.

City streets are open to ATVs and Kinney noted that the recent rain has improved trail conditions. She said riders should make their way to the park for the festivities.

Kinney expressed her thanks to the many volunteers, businesses, and chamber members who make RiverFire possible. She also thanked the sponsors of the event including lead sponsor Service Credit Union and event sponsors Northeast Credit Union, Northway Bank, AutoNorth Superstore, Great North Woods Container, Capone Iron, Nations EMS Institute, and Chapman Recycling.


For additional information, call (603) 752-6060, or go to or


Milan Community Forest celebration on Oct. 12

MILAN — The Town of Milan and the Milan Community Forest Committee invite the public for a celebration of the Milan Community Forest in collaboration with the The Northern Forest Center and the Trust for Public Land on Thursday, Oct. 12, from 1 p.m. to  3 p.m. at the end of French Hill Road in Milan.

The community forest was established to conserve opportunities for the citizens of Milan to enjoy outdoor recreation and to benefit from long-term economic values for the town. The community forest also provides opportunities for educational programs through the local school with a sustained and varied outdoor environment.

The Milan Village School fifth and sixth grade classes will be at the celebration to provide guided tours to the trail they have constructed on the community forest.

There will be light refreshments.

More information contact Mike Galuszka (603) 723-9246 or Al Cayouette (603) 723-5979

New program brings teacher candidates to North Country

By Michael McCord

In a North Country region that finds it challenging to attract qualified teachers, the University of New Hampshire has launched a program to do exactly that. And Holly Munce couldn’t be happier.

Munce is part of the first five-student cohort in the Teacher Residency for Rural Education, a federally-funded grant initiative that prepares elementary and secondary mathematics and science teachers to teach in rural, high-need schools in northern New Hampshire. Munce has just begun the first classroom phase of a 15-month graduate level program.

“This is an amazing opportunity,” said Munce who already works as a Title I math and reading instructor in the Berlin School District. Among the many critical aspects of the program — such as a stipend support and tuition reduction — Munce said the fact that UNH is coming to the North Country is huge.

“So much that happens up here gets swept up under the rug and is unknown to the rest of the state,” said Munce, a 40-year-old mother of two. “UNH is a renowned school and the fact they see a need and are coming to us is really important.”

Tom Schram, the director of education preparation at UNH, explained the program in New Hampshire was an outgrowth of lengthy discussions and outreach to school districts from Laconia to the North Country.

“These are high need areas and it’s wonderful that we can partner with schools in these areas to help them prepare, recruit and support teachers,” Schram said.

In addition to a master of science degree in education and an endorsement for New Hampshire teacher certification upon completion of the program, Schram explained, the TRRE approach is distinguished by the following: an integrated curriculum centered on STEM content and pedagogy; clinical strength through a full-year residency; and a focus on knowing families and communities.

The program also focuses on high leverage practices that promote student achievement, provide opportunities to learn how to work with all students and connect teaching to the resources of rural communities through community-based internships.

“We are recruiting prospective teachers,” said Emilie Reagan, a UNH assistant professor of education and, along with Schram is one of the three co-heads of the TRRE Leadership team. The program was approved in October of 2016 and the school immediately put out the word to seek candidates. The students took part in a summer institute of classes and got acquainted with the region before becoming embedded within the community and the school where their residency will take place and the master teacher who will oversee them.

“The initial cohort has four students already from the region and one from the Somersworth area who is moving there,” Reagan said.

After the initial burst of quickly putting the program in place, the goal moving forward is to attract candidates who have an undergraduate background in mathematics or science, a passion for lifelong learning, and commitment to rural New Hampshire communities. The program is not designed for current teachers or those who have had teacher certification.

But TRRE is uniquely designed to integrate candidates into their communities. The goals include building rural community assets by placing candidates an out-of-school placement with a community-based agency or organization. They are also encouraged to learn about the interests and commitments of the rural communities while integrating in- and out-of-school resources and learning opportunities.

The program is welcome news for teacher-starved schools. “We need highly qualified candidates in North Country schools,” said Marion Anastasia, the superintendent of the White Mountains Regional School District which includes the towns of Jefferson, Lancaster and Whitefield.

“Staff retention is problematic. We often hire young, new teachers from southern New England who are not accustomed to rural New Hampshire. By having the resident teachers work in schools for an entire year, they can easily transition into our schools knowing what to expect. More importantly, the TRRE program attracts teachers to our schools and affords them the opportunity to learn in schools using a constructivist approach to learning theory.”

Anastasia’s district will host two of the students at Lancaster Elementary School and White Mountains Regional High School.

The TRRE program will focus on creating educators for the following five need areas: Elementary Education (grades K-6); Elementary Education with Middle School Mathematics (K-8); Elementary Education with Middle School Science (K-8); Secondary Mathematics (7-12); and Secondary Science (7-12).

The program is funded through 2021 and Reagan said the hope is to have as many as 60 residencies by the end. One of the requirements of the program is a commitment to teaching in a rural high-need New Hampshire school for at least three years following completion of the TRRE program.

For Munce, who grew up in rural Massachusetts, the TRRE program allows her to pursue and expand her passions. “I love teaching and working with kids and have coached sports for years. I’ve always had the desire to teach and we love this region,” said Munce who will have her one-year of residency at Hillside Elementary School in Berlin. “My kids are now 12 and 11 and it’s time for a venture of this type for me. One of the great parts of the program is after you finish there is two years of continued outreach and support.”

Munce and her fellow students will also receive a living wage stipend of $28,000 for their one-year of residency, a 50 percent tuition reduction, and a laptop.

“We see this partnership with UNH as a win-win to retain quality candidates,” said Berlin school superintendent Corinne Cascadden. “This gives our master teachers a chance to share their craft while keeping up with best practices. We are an excellent school district but people don’t know about the strong work ethic or commitment to our students in a challenging environment. Our staffs go the extra mile.”

Cascadden’s district will host three of the students and believes they will likely have jobs if they want to stay in Berlin. The full-year residency component of the program could be pivotal in training and keeping quality candidates.

“We are excited to help develop and form strong teacher leadership and expose them to a multitude of issues. This will give them a very well-rounded view to deal with not only classroom but behavioral issues,” she said. “We’re starting to get fewer applicants for professional positions. We understand the location can appear challenging but once they get in to look at this area and live in it, they can begin to love it.”

Find out more about the Teacher Residency for Rural education program here.