Business news and notes

Hinsdale, N.H., receives assistance grant

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. >> The town of Hinsdale was one of four New Hampshire towns to receive a grant from Plan NH's Municipal Technical Assistance Grant Program. The three other towns are Boscawen, Franconia and Peterborough.

Hinsdale's grant will be used to remove regulatory barriers to provide more options for its residents for places to live, employment opportunities and transportation choices.

"Choices in places to live are increasingly important," said Robin LeBlanc, executive director of Plan NH. "As we get older, most of us want to stay in our towns but in a smaller place. Young people, for the most part, do not have the means or even sometimes the desire to own a traditional house. And in just a few years, here in New Hampshire, 30 percent of us will be over age 60. Seventy-five to 80 percent of households across the country will have no children. All that, coupled with rising cognitive, visual and mobility challenges of older adults, financial challenges across the board, and a huge shift to all ages wanting to live in neighborhoods where they can walk to just about anywhere they want or need, means thinking differently about what is and is not allowed in our communities, and how we can proactively accommodate the changing needs of the people who want their town to always be home."

LeBlanc noted these efforts are not just about building "affordable housing' or "senior housing" developments," and include thinking about location, size and style, and how many people can live in each unit.

"There is often a disconnect between what is needed or wanted, and what is available and/or allowed by regulations. Providing choices would have a huge impact on the health and vitality of any town or neighborhood.

For more information, go to To learn more about trends and ideas and stories that are supporting healthy and vibrant communities, go to

Local business raises $1,000 in six hours on Kickstarter.

BRATTLEBORO >> It takes 12 hours, 2,000 stitches to make the world's best mitten, according to local entrepreneur, Tamara Stenn. And so far, six hours to start paying for them. Stenn, the founder of KUSIKUY Fair Trade, hand knit, alpaca fashion (, is using Kickstarter to launch her new 2016 product line. Her goal is to raise $20,000 in the next 60 days to cover production and marketing costs. It looks like she is on track.

Since its start in 2009, Kickstarter, an online crowdfunding site, has raised over $2.4 billion for 107,885 projects supported by 11 million people worldwide. The average donation is about $79 and the average campaign raises about $23,000.

"I chose kickstarter," explained Stenn, "because it supports the story, creativity, innovation and brings together communities of interesting people." Stenn, an adjunct professor of Sustainable Development at the SIT Graduate Institute and visiting professor of Social Entrepreneurship at UMass has been teaching students the necessary skills for them to realize their own businesses for the past two years.

"Last year I had a UMass student raise $20,000 for his sock company, Feat Socks, before he even graduated college," explained Stenn, "that really opened my eyes to the potential kickstarter has for new businesses."

Stenn worked with New York designer, Caroline Priebe, this winter to create the new look for KUSIKUY and traveled to Bolivia to meet with the 200-plus knitters she has known for 18 years. Together, they made this look into a reality. She shot the images and video footage for the kickstarter campaign and today's social media demands and worked with local cable channel, BCTV, to edit the material into a compelling videos.

Stenn founded KUSIKUY in 1996, while a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia. She brought the business to the US when she arrived in Brattleboro to study at the School for International Training in 2000. Besides kickstarter, Stenn is supporting the launch with a public event to be held at her Marlboro, Vermont residence August 12th and through social media outreach via her website

For ongoing information join the KUSIKUY newsletter here:

Cross Insurance acquires Bardwell, Bowlby & Karam

Pittsfield, Mass. >> Cross Insurance, a subsidiary of Cross Financial Corp., and one of the largest independent insurance providers in New England, expands its presence in western Massachusetts, New York and southern Vermont with the purchase of Pittsfield-based independent insurance agency Bardwell, Bowlby & Karam, which has been servicing the Berkshires and beyond for 100 years.

A large regional property and casualty retail insurance agency serving over 7000 individuals and families, and over 1500 commercial clients, Bardwell, Bowlby & Karam provides a wide range of insurance services to both commercial and personal clientele, with an additional focus on financial services and risk management.

Under terms of the acquisition, Bardwell, Bowlby & Karam will continue under the same leadership and staff, and join forces with Cross Surety, Inc., to offer bonding services for its clients. Michelle Orlando will oversee the combined insurance and bonding operation as President. Ed Chagnon will continue to run the commercial insurance operations, and Ed O'Brien continues managing the personal lines insurance operations.

"By combining our talent and resources, we can offer our clients the full spectrum of insurance, risk management and bonding services," said Michelle Orlando, President of Cross Surety. "BBK will retain its local identity and service, while having access to large agency resources. We are pleased to welcome the Bardwell, Bowlby & Karam clientele to the Cross Insurance organization."

"I'm excited and proud to be part of the Cross family of agencies. They share the same family values, integrity, and customer service that's important to BBK," said Edward Chagnon, CIC, principal of Bardwell, Bowlby & Karam. "This affiliation will enable us to provide a broader range of products and services that will ultimately be in the best interest of our clients, and that was my partners and my number one goal"

Positive Geek moving to Latchis

BRATTLEBORO >> Positive Geek is moving from Harmony place to the Latchis building on Flat Street, beginning Aug. 1. The store will fill the spot vacated following the closing of Monsters and Heroes at the end of May.

James Maynard, owner of Positive Geek, will be closely allying his company with the Latchis Theater and Hotel, in an effort to provide a highly-interactive movie experience for theater goes and tourists to Brattleboro. Each company will closely support the other as science-fiction and fantasy movies are released.

"Positive Geek is a fun, exciting addition to the Latchis family. The possibilities for connecting what they do with what we do at the Latchis Theatre & Hotel are limitless, and we're eager to explore them together," said Jon Potter, executive director of the Latchis Corporation.

Positive Geek opened in September 2015, selling action figures, cosplay and costume accessories, science toys, and games. Since that time, the retail outlet branched out to vintage clothing, electronics, and used books with science and science-fiction themes.

Monsters and Heroes, the comic book and gaming store which previously occupied the spot at 12 Flat St., hosted regular gaming sessions. Just a day after that store closed, Positive Geek took over the game times, providing children and adults with a smoothless transition to the new location.

"Teaming up with the Latchis will greatly improve the environment downtown, providing kids of all ages with a safe, fun environment to play games, attend events, and shop for memorabilia from their favorite movies. I look forward to playing a part in making Brattleboro a brighter, safer, more enjoyable place to live in, as well as to visit," Maynard said.

The Star Trek Summer Fest, planned for July 21-24 at the new Positive Geek location, will provide shoppers with a sneak preview of the new store. Events will include a cosplay and costume party, Star Trek-themed gaming, contests, prizes, and more. The event, sponsored by Positive Geek and the Latchis Theater, will be free and open to the public of all ages.

The Richards Group expands Keene, N.H., branch

KEENE, N.H. >> The Richards Group is recently introduced Mike Yarosevich, who has been hired to advise businesses regarding their commercial insurance and risk management needs.

"We are pleased to have Mike as a part of The Richards Group's commercial insurance team in New Hampshire. Mike brings tremendous skill and talent to our organization and we know he will be a great addition to our Keene office," said Pete Richards, VP of Risk Management.

Yarosevich has been a Keene resident since 2001. His community involvement includes the Keene YMCA, Grace Community Church, Bretwood Golf Course and he is also an Ambassador for the Keene Chamber of Commerce.

"I'm excited to join The Richards Group" said Yarosevich. "The firm has an excellent reputation as a member of the community and I look forward to making use of their extensive markets, technology and expertise here in the greater Keene area."

For more information, visit Yarosevich can be reached at 603-352-2535 or

Free fuel contest at Sunoco

BELLOWS FALLS >> The Free Fuel 5000 promotion is coming to Vermont. Sunoco representatives will be in cities and towns throughout the state rewarding drivers displaying a Sunoco decal on their vehicle. Free Fuel 5000 Instant Winners will receive a $10 Sunoco gas card and be automatically entered into the Free Fuel 5000 grand prize drawing for a chance to win $5,000 in free Sunoco fuel. Grand prize winners will be announced in the fall.

Through July 12, they will be at Sunoco stations in Ascutney, Bellows Falls and Windsor.

Foard Panel, Inc. receives 2016 Building Excellence Awards

WEST CHESTERFIELD, N.H. >> Foard Panel, Inc. was recognized at the 14th Annual Structural Insulated Panel Association (SIPA) Building Excellence Awards ceremony on April 5 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The firm earned the first-place award in the Single Family Homes (under 3,000-square-foot) category. Projects were scored on four criteria including how the use of structural insulated panels (SIPs) resulted in quantifiable energy efficiency; design and structural engineering innovation; creative use of SIP construction; and overall environmental sustainability.

SIPs are panels consisting of an insulating foam core sandwiched between two structural facings, typically oriented strand board (OSB). Manufactured under factory controlled conditions, SIPs can be fabricated to fit nearly any building design, including retrofit projects. The result is a building system that is extremely strong, energy efficient and cost effective. Additionally, the factory precut panels improved the speed and accuracy of installation.

Foard Panel received the national accolade for the Twin Mountain Home project, a 2,204-square-foot home located in Carroll, N.H., built by Garland Mill Timberframe.

The homeowners were looking for maximum energy efficiency, strength and optimal aesthetics so they selected SIPs and timber frame construction to build thier net-zero energy home. Now augmented with on-site soloar energy production, the Twin Mountain Home scores an enviable HERS Score of 1. (The HERS Score is the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home's energy performance.)

Not only that, it took Foard Panel only one week to install the wall and roof SIPs, and since this home was built in the winter months, this speedy construction method went far in helping the overall project stay on time and on budget.

For more case studies or to learn more about SIPs, please visit To learn more about Foard Panel, Inc., visit or call Jim Leroy at 603-493-4035.

Fegley's launch Windham Property Management

BRATTLEBORO >> Tom and Sally Fegley announced the launching of a new property management business serving Windham County today. Windham Property Management, Inc. (WPMI) offers easy one-stop shopping for a full range of property management services.

"We know of no other property management company in the area with such a comprehensive range of services," said Tom Fegley, "Other managers offer bits and pieces, but not a full range."

WPMI will handle both residential and commercial properties. On the residential front it will serve both single family and multi-unit building owners.

WPMI will rent vacancies and handle tenant care. It will perform both short-term and long-term caretaking as well as house checking. WPMI will assume maintenance and cleaning tasks. It will perform Essential Maintenance Practices (EMP) inspections for lead paint. Working with a host of cooperating local contractors, WPMI will oversee painting, landscaping, snow removal and sanding, plumbing and electrical repairs, and construction coordination.

"What really sets us apart," said Fegley, "is that we will also take on special projects. If you want to arrive to your Vermont retreat for the weekend to find flowers and a full refrigerator, we will do that. If you want the peace of mind knowing someone will look after your house while you go south for the winter, we will do that too."

Between them, Tom and Sally Fegley bring over 20 years of property management experience to support their endeavor. In addition, Sally is a licensed real estate salesperson working for Better Homes and Gardens — The Masiello Group brokerage firm in Brattleboro. She is also a designated Real Property Administrator with BOMI (Building Owners and Managers Institute).

Windham Property Managemet, Inc. is fully insured.

For more information, visit


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