Dirt biker rider injured in Millsfield crash

MILLSFIELD – A Pennsylvania man was injured Friday afternoon in dirt bike crash while riding his bike south on Grass Road.
Daniel Emr, 24, of Perkasie, Penn., was riding in a group of family and friends when he crashed shortly after noon. Members of his group attended to him while another called 911 for help.
Rescue personnel from the Milan Fire Department, Berlin EMS along with two NH Fish and Game conservation officers responded to the scene using both conventional vehicles and specially equipped off road emergency vehicles. GPS coordinates from the 911 call assisted rescue personnel in locating the crash scene as the riding party was unfamiliar with the area. Ultimately an ambulance was able to be driven directly to the scene and Emr was taken to Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin for further evaluation and treatment of injuries. Although the extent of Mr. Emr’s injuries are unknown, they are not believed to be life-threatening.
Emr was reported to be a very experienced rider who was wearing a helmet, eye protection and other protective gear at the time of the crash. Investigating authorities believe operator error was the chief factor in the crash.

Saturday feature: Ten things to do or visit while in the Androscoggin Valley

By Barbara Tetreault

Thousands are expected to travel to the Androscoggin Valley this weekend to take part in Camp RZR New England and enjoy the region’s hundreds of miles of riding trails and the foliage. We put together a list of 10 places to visit or things to do while in the area or on a return trip.

1. The Berlin and Coos County Historical Society’s Moffett House Museum and Genealogy Center at 119 High St., in Berlin. The museum contains over 2,500 historical objects, 1,612 photographs, and 3,413 historically related books, documents and 3,004 binders. Dr. Irving Moffett was an osteopath who practiced at that house from 1949 to 1993. His office and treatment center have been restored and are in the cellar. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m.

2. St. Anne Church at 58 Church Street in Berlin. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the church is one of the most beautiful in the state. Built in 1900, it is described as Victorian with Romanesque touches. The outside is brick with a long gabled slate roof covering the nave of the church. Two square towers, one on either side, grace the gable end façade. One has a pressed bell and the other has a statue of St. Anne. The interior has a vaulted roof decorated with carved wood and plaster ornaments. Stained glass windows are framed in wooden arches and there is an organ loft with a huge pipe organ. The church is not locked but is regularly used for services.

3. Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church on Petrograd Street in Berlin. The six golden onion domes dominated the Berlin skyline. The church last year celebrated its 100th anniversary. Its icons were some of the last ones to leave Russia before Czar Nicholas II was overthrown. The building is also on the National Register of Historic Places. Services are listed as 9 a.m. on Sundays.

4. The 1,737-foot fire tower at Milan Hill State Park Fire Tower provides sweeping views of southern Canada, the northern White Mountains, and the mountains of Maine. One of the state’s hidden gems, the park has four yurts available as well as six campsites. It is close to the paddling and hiking. The Nansen Ski Club has its trail system at the park providing prime Nordic skiing. The park is located off Route 110B in Milan.

5. Nansen Ski Jump. Located along Route 16 in Milan  the ski jump was constructed in 1936 by the city of Berlin and the National Youth Administration and was then the largest of its time. The ski jump has a 175.3-foot steel frame and is 260 feet in length with a descent angle of approximately 37.5 degrees. For almost 50 years it was the largest ski jump in the eastern United States and the foremost jump in the country. In 1938, the first Olympic trials were held at the Nansen Ski Jump. After falling into disrepair, an effort is now underway to restore the jump as a tourist attraction. Olympic jumper Sarah Hendrickson hopes to make a run off the historic jump this coming winter.

6. Alpine Cascades. These falls are on the Gorham-Berlin rail trail and can be viewed without even getting off your ATV. The falls were named by J. R. Hitchcock, proprietor of the Alpine House in Gorham. At one time there was a footbridge across the Androscoggin River and a resort there. The resort and suspension bridge are long gone but the falls remain.

7. Take a foliage hike in Moose Brook State Park in Gorham. An easy 1.5-mile trail passes through a mix of northern softwood and hardwood stands continuing to a bridge over Perkins Brook Gorge. The bridge was built on the ledge overlooking a small gorge where the water cascades over a series of moss covered rocks. The trail then goes through what once was a farm on its way back to the campground. Take time to look around the campground, which was once the site of a Civilian Conservation Corps encampment and remnants of the Roosevelt-era public work relief program exist throughout the park. The park also has a collection of mountain bike trails maintained by a local biking club. The 59-site campground is open for camping through Columbus Day weekend.

8. Go for a paddle or a whitewater raft trip on the Androscoggin River. The river is one of the Northeast’s great rivers and because the upper storage lakes maintain a minimum flow for power generation, there is always water for paddling. The river offers a variety of paddling choices from flat-water, quick water and Class 3 rapids. Several rafting companies do guided whitewater runs, and kayaks and canoes are easily rented. Sections of the river also provide excellent fishing and viewing of nesting eagles.

9. Gorham Historical Society & Railroad Museum. Built in 1907, the railroad station was saved from destruction and converted into the home of the Gorham Historical Society. The architecturally-unique building contains displays on area and railroad history. A 1911 Baldwin 0-6-0 steam locomotive is on display as is a 1949 Boston & Maine diesel locomotive, two 1929 boxcars, a 1924 boxcar, and a 1942 caboose. The museum is generally open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday but times can vary. Call (603) 466-5338 to verify the museum is open.

10. Go antiquing in the many antiques and collectibles shops. Berlin and Gorham are prime places to shop for antiques and collectibles with no fewer than six places that cater to collectors. You can find everything from furniture and books to glass and knick-knacks. If “repurposing” is your thing, then you have come to the right place. And check out the local thrift shops for bargains as well. The Berlin and Coos County Historical Society holds giant monthly flea markets at its historic Brown Company barn with one scheduled for Oct. 1.

Rainy start to Camp RZR fails to dampen enthusiasm

BERLIN — ATV enthusiasts were streaming into the region Friday as rain failed to dampen the excitement surrounding the region’s first national ATV event.

Camp RZR New England officially opened Friday at 9 a.m. and traffic in was steady all day.

“It’s raining out here and people don’t seem to mind,” said Polaris spokeswoman Donna Beadle, at mid-morning Friday.

Beadle said there was a line of people waiting to get registered when the gates first opened. Both she and Diana Nelson of the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce described the turnout as steady despite the rain.

The rain lead Camp RZR to close early Friday night, shutting down at 6 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.

Both Nelson and Beadle said they expect Saturday will be the big day as people head to Berlin after work on Friday.

“Tomorrow is the big day,” said Nelson.

The rain also forced Polaris to postpone the planned fireworks display scheduled for Friday night and move it to Saturday night. That will make for a double feature Saturday with the country music stars Big & Rich performing from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The fireworks will follow the show, meaning Camp RZR will literally end with a bang.

While the rain may have reduced the numbers that turned out on Friday, Nelson said those in attendance were excited. She noted the grudge races were running in the mud pit, and Polaris and its sponsors were giving away good prizes.

Beadle said one good result of the rain is it damped down the trails, which should help to keep the dust down the rest of the weekend.

Beadle called Jericho Mountain State Park a beautiful area and said she appreciates the way the region has welcomed the sport of ATVing.

“It’s really nice to see a city that embraces off-road riding like Berlin does,” she said.

Originally, organizers had predicted Camp RZR would draw as many as 10,000 enthusiasts. While the number is expected to be lower, Beadle said everyone was having a good time.

On tap for Saturday are grudge races in the mud pit, a Search for Sasquatch scavenger hunt, and the giant give-away of three RZR ATVs.

Crews from Polaris have been setting up the camp at the state park all week. A stage was constructed for the concert and ATVs and tents were transported to Jericho Park and set up. N.H. and Berlin Fire Berlin and code enforcement officials were on-site Thursday checking the tents and structures for safety.

Local merchants and businesses moved to take advantage of the festival. Some opened extra hours while others had sales or signs to lure visitors.

The chamber had worked to identify dry camping sites for those coming with RVs and had put together a list of 2,000 sites in the Berlin, Milan and Stark area. With parking for vehicles limited at the park, the chamber also mapped up parking lots and set up a shuttle bus to transport people to and from the camp.

Tickets for Camp RZR are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 17 and under. Proceeds from ticket sales go to the chamber.

Hard-Luck Groveton May Finally Get a Break: Manufacturing Jobs

By Chris Jensen

GROVETON — A Vermont manufacturer this week is moving a step closer to deciding whether to open a manufacturing facility in the former mill town.

Earlier this month NSA Industries LLC of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, said it was considering opening a new operation at the Chapman industrial park, the site of the former Wausau paper mill.

But first the company said it had to know whether it could find 40 workers.

And job fairs on Sept. 20 and 22 showed there are enough workers, said Wendy Hilliard, the human resources director for NSA Industries, LLC.

“We’re very, very pleased with the outcome,” Hilliard told InDepthNH.org.

The company got 166 applications on the 20th and 122 more on the 22nd, Hilliard said.

But NSA Industries, which does metal fabricating, machining and powder coating, isn’t ready to make a decision on whether to open in Groveton, Hilliard said.

“This decision to expand into the Groveton area is contingent on a number of factors,” she said. “The first is would there be a reliable and skilled workforce in the area and obviously that question has been answered.”

The second is finalizing a pending contract for the work that could be done in Groveton, CEO Jim Moroney has said. The company couldn’t sign that contact without knowing for sure it has the workers, he said.

Hilliard said if NSA does decide to open a facility in Groveton it would work through the applications and select people for a second interview.

She said that would provide “a chance to really get in-depth into what their experience is, what we are looking for, what position they are looking for and where they might be a fit with the company.”

The company says the Groveton jobs would range from welding and machinists to material handlers. And, working with the state of New Hampshire, the company will offer training.

If NSA Industries decides to locate in Groveton, it would be a landmark event for the North Country, where manufacturing jobs are thought to be on the verge of extinction.

It’s been almost a decade since the Wausau mill closed, putting about 300 people out of work.

And efforts by state and local officials and businessmen to bring businesses to Groveton have failed.

“We were always hoping things would turn around. Sometimes it looked a little bleak. But we always tried to keep our chin up,” Groveton select board chairman Jim Weagle said.

He says a significant improvement came with Bob Chapman of Milan taking over the former mill property. “We were glad when Bob took over and was the primary owner. He’s for the North Country.”

Weagle says he’s optimistic about NSA Industries coming to town and if that happens it might attract other companies if they see “it’s a viable place to do business.”

One of the applicants at the job fair was Scott Rice, who grew up in Groveton, saw the mill closed and was shocked at how quickly the town’s bustling economy crashed.

“I watched it decimate a town,” he said.

And he thought the chance of new manufacturing jobs coming to Groveton was “slim.”

But he said it’s a good sign that so many people showed up at the job fairs and hopes that will show NSA Industries that there is a good and reliable workforce.

“The workers are here,” he said. “When we had the mill there we had solid workers. People that were there for 40-some odd years. They know how to work.”