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Thread: Whats up in the North Country

  1. #1
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    Whats up in the North Country

    I haven't done an update of lately on things going on in the north country in general. Obviously a few high profile projects are still in the news

    Cog Hotel on Washington - there is separate thread on this one, the best summary is more to follow on what will be a controversial project

    Auto Road Hotel - This project has had a far lower profile from the Cog proposal, it got delayed last year but is on track for spring construction. Its three story structure located where the former Great Glen building was located. This one will have a sprinkler system and built to fire code.

    Balsams - pretty quiet these days, Plenty of local contractors and folks who have to work outside the area thought they had a busy construction season to look forward to in 2016 ended up disappointed. I expect if they do start any work next summer it will be challenge to find labor. As it appears to be closely tied to NP, I expect that little will happen until NP get SEC approval late in 2017.

    Northern Pass - Pretty quiet in the north country, all the activity is in Concord. There have been comments by various groups that they are unable to find legal counsel as all the lawyers in the state are tied in with the hearings in one way or another. A VFTT member commented that he thought that NP was doing right of way work already in the Lancaster area. That would be highly unusual since the environmental permits have not yet been issued but perhaps there is just aggressive maintenance of existing rights of ways?

    Berlin Biomass - Its pretty well become a fixture in Berlin, many of the expected downsides to the operation don't seem to have come up in public. With the loss of significant pulp production and decline in biomass power plants in the region along with a cheap Canadian dollar, the entire wood harvesting market in the region is sputtering or shut down. Since the Berlin plant has a long term power contract they have access to plenty of cheap wood so the expected heavy harvesting in the area hasn't materialized. There is big cloud on the horizon as Eversource is divesting all their power plants and the long term power contract with Berlin could be lumped in with the deal. A third party appraiser had calculated that the power contract was a 100 million dollar subsidy for the life of the contract. It hasn't been publicized on how this will be handled. Ultimately the rate payer has traditionally been stuck with the bill like it did with the overrun at Seabrook nuclear power plant many years ago.

    Berlin Federal Prison - Unless someone knows its there, there has been little impact on the area. The facility is short of staff and therefore is only running a partial capacity with a couple of units shut down. The additional jobs with federal benefits have helped out the local health care system.

    Even though the former Issacson's Steel facility is vacant along RT 110, another specialty steel fabricator has moved into town and rapidly expanding

    Groveton Projects - Groveton NH was ground zero for the loss of the paper industry in NH having lost two papermills in a short period. There hasn't been much going on in the area with about the only activity are a couple of convenience stores. The community took a chance and spent some up front money along with private money to rehab the old Wausau Papermill and there is now a new employer who moved in and is expanding http://www.berlindailysun.com/newsx/...al-fabriator#/. The firm had an operation in St Johnsbury VT and they couldn't find employees, they advertised in Coos county and had far more applications than they could handle initially.

    Some employers are starting to figure out that certain trades people prefer to live up in the woods and are already visiting frequently on weekends to ride their ATVs, some have bought houses in the area for weekend use and its easy to convince them to get a job where they like to go on weekends. Houses are cheap compared to anywhere else in the state so some folks look at it as nice way to make a new start.

    ATV use is skyrocketing but there are growing pains. The dealer immediately adjacent to the ATV park just shut down and the expected boom development along RT 110 is not yet happening, although there is a lot of activity. There is large new campground being built just outside the park and reportedly getting a campsite inside the park at the lake is difficult all season as there is so much demand. Residents of some local towns are starting to complain of ATV use on town roads but nothing has come of it.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 12-22-2016 at 09:08 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Vermonster's Avatar
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    Many thanks for your updates. As someone who is only part-time north of the notches (and thus will always be from Away), I appreciate the perspective.

    One other item of news that folks may be interested in is that some additional cell phone coverage recently came on line in the North Country. I've personally experienced new coverage in Errol and Pittsburg. I'm told there is also some additional coverage in Milan and Groveton. At present the service is Verizon only and a bit tricky to access for voice calls. You need to have a modern phone that does HD voice and turn that feature on (select LTE for voice, not just data). In Errol the coverage is about 1 mile either side of Cote's in town. In Pittsburg the coverage is on RT 3 from the post office south for a few miles (not as far as Clarksville).

    They say 12 more towers will come on line in the second phase. I won't hold my breath.

  3. #3
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    A different new project for Berlin

    http://www.berlindailysun.com/newsx/...is-ready-to-go

    There currently is very large tomato greenhouse complex in Madison Maine, Backyard Farms, that has been quite successful.

    Given the proposed location I don't think anyone will really be able to see it except via Google Earth.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 05-18-2017 at 08:20 PM.

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    Senior Member CaptCaper's Avatar
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    Thank God for Snowmobiler's and ATV folks.... and there will always be someone complaining about something... with no real foundation.... I hate motorcyles..the ones with the loud pipes,etc. and some of the characters they bring... I would hate to live in Laconia..personally. If they don't like ATV's I say move... I did...ended up hating Cape Cod ..even thou I'm a Dive Master PADI Diver and Master Captain.. left that crazy place... people complaining about Boat ramps,parking,etc. They lived in Boston area..move to the Cape and start complaing right off about everything.. same goes for here.. have many new Boston neighbors come here and start right in complaining about everything..from dirt roads to no deli's... I say go back...

  5. #5
    Senior Member Jazzbo's Avatar
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    Tomato farm sounds promising. I've seen tomatoes on the shelf in Roche Brothers in eastern MA produce department must come from similar operation in Vermont. They aim to compete in quality. Price is competitive. People like to eat salad with tomatoes all year round and winter tomatoes are awful.
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  6. #6
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    The Backyard Farms product from Maine is distributed in a lot of new England. They definitely aren't backyard tomatoes but generally better than the tomatoes shipped up from Florida and California. The big positive to me is since its a closed environment, no need for pesticides.

    The developer of the Berlin project has been shopping this concept around New England for several years. It looks like he finally has a home for it. NH passed special tax abatements a few years ago that only apply to the north country, a portion of the property taxes are waived in an decreasing percentage over a five year period.

    There are several new businesses that have moved into the region that I may or may not have posted about. These tend to be smaller businesses attracted by the available work force, recreational amenities and low cost of living due to cheap housing. They don't tend to get as much PR as the larger projects but are slowly rebuilding the local economy albeit very slowly. The trade off is that the remaining retail businesses on Main street in Berlin aren't surviving the internet economy and are slowly closing as the owners decide to retire.

  7. #7
    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptCaper View Post
    Thank God for Snowmobiler's and ATV folks.... and there will always be someone complaining about something... with no real foundation.... I hate motorcyles..the ones with the loud pipes,etc. and some of the characters they bring... I would hate to live in Laconia..personally. If they don't like ATV's I say move... I did...ended up hating Cape Cod ..even thou I'm a Dive Master PADI Diver and Master Captain.. left that crazy place... people complaining about Boat ramps,parking,etc. They lived in Boston area..move to the Cape and start complaing right off about everything.. same goes for here.. have many new Boston neighbors come here and start right in complaining about everything..from dirt roads to no deli's... I say go back...
    Gotta hate people who just complain - unless they do it ironically.
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