Business news and notes: Unity Homes hosts open house on Sept. 10

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WALPOLE, N.H. >> Unity Homes will be hosting an open house on Saturday, Sept. 10, from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. at its contemporary style three-bedroom, two-bath model show home, at 101 Wentworth Road.

Originally built to be the feature attraction of the 2015 GreenBuild Trade Show in Washington, D.C., the home was erected, completely finished and fully furnished inside the Washington Convention Center in less than three days. After hosting more than 1,200 visitors during the show, the house was disassembled, trucked back to Walpole, and reassembled on a permanent foundation.

The benefits of a Unity Home are largely the result of Unity's unique construction system. Unity builds homes in which comfort can easily be maintained, summer or winter, with a minimal amount of energy. In fact, with the addition of a modest solar array, Unity's LEED-certifiable show home will produce as much energy as it consumes. Indoor air quality is maintained through air-tight construction, and a ventilation system that delivers a constant supply of fresh air throughout the home. The materials that make up the home are carefully considered, with sustainability, health and durability given a high priority. The LED lights are flexible and efficient, and an innovative power management system provides real-time feedback about energy usage.

Visitors to Unity's show home often comment on how peaceful and quiet the home feels, thanks to the thick walls filled with dense insulation, and the triple-glazed windows. The open floor plan, high ceilings and broad expanse of windows create an overall impression that is bright, airy and spacious.

The open house is an opportunity to tour the home and to talk with Unity team members about the building process and the advantages of living in a comfortable, healthy Unity Home.

Vermont wines make a mark in competitions

SHELBURNE >> Vermont wines have crossed a threshold this summer, making their mark not only in cold climate wine competitions, but in contests featuring more traditional and better known varieties.

Notable achievements overall for Vermont wines are telling with Shelburne Vineyard taking top honors for their cold hardy hybrid grape wines in both the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition and the Eastern States (Big E) as well.

Sample the wines of Shelburne Vineyard and North Branch Vineyard at the 9th annual Vermont Wine and Harvest Festival on Sept. 17 at the Mount Snow Resort in West Dover.

Visit www.thevermontfestival.com for tickets and details.

Vermont has established itself as a leader in the cultivation and vinification of cold climate varieties. In 2016 Vermont Wines at the International Cold Climate Competition earned six of the 17 total awarded Double Gold Medals with two each for Shelburne Vineyard, Lincoln Peak Vineyard and North Branch Vineyard. Lincoln Peak earned the title Winery of the Year in the same competition.

In competitions featuring more traditional varieties such Cabernet and Chardonnay, this year's recognition of the Shelburne Vineyard's Single Barrel Marquette at the Atlantic States Competition is perhaps the first time a Marquette signature red grape has earned a top award in a broader wine competition, earning a Best of Class designation and a Gold Medal. In 2014 Shelburne Vineyard's cold hardy white, La Crescent, earned Best in Category at the same competition.

This month, Shelburne Vineyard's Whimsey Meadow Rosé was singled out as the Best Rosé at the International Cold Climate Wine Competition, the second consecutive year the Rosé earned that honor. Both the Whimsey Meadow Rosé and Shelburne's LaCrescent earned Double Gold Medals. These awards followed Shelburne's recognition earlier this summer for La Crescent, Harvest Widow's Revenge and Single Barrel Marquette at the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition and for Shelburne's Duet Ice Wine at the Eastern States Exposition, where both Duet and LaCrescent earned Gold Medals.

The significance of these awards is telling. According to the Minnesota Grape Growers Association and the University of Minnesota, which developed many of the varieties currently grown in Vermont, it was only in the 1970s that grape-growing for wine production became viable in regions like Vermont where winter temperatures often hover at zero degrees F and can descend into the -20s or lower. This major development was the result of earlier work by a Minnesota dairy farmer named Elmer Swenson, who spent much of his life cross-pollinating native mid-western grapes with European wine grapes in an effort to find a tastier grape than those native to his midwestern farm. The University eventually continued Swenson's work and carries on that effort today, producing new grape varieties that are now finding broader recognition in the wine world and a home in Vermont. After this unusually hot and dry summer of 2016, hopes are high that the grapes Vermont producers will harvest in the coming weeks will result in another banner vintage for Vermont wineries.

Schoolhack solutions expands staff with two new key positions

BRISTOL >> SchoolHack Solutions recently announced the addition of Marvin Kendrick and Liam Corocoran to its team of education professionals working to bring SchoolHack's personalized learning platform — LiFT — to schools in Vermont and across the country.

"We are continuing to build our team as demand for our platform grows and interest in personalized learning takes hold across the country," said David Lipkin, CEO of SchoolHack Solutions. "Both Liam and Marvin bring specific areas of expertise that are integral to our mission of helping schools transform educational learning."

Kendrick comes to SchoolHack Solutions with 12 years of technical and user support management experience at Green River of Brattleboro — SchoolHack's development and technology partner. With his experience as a key contact for web-based software clients, Kendrick will work with schools to assist in their integration of the LiFT platform into classrooms and support technical aspects of the user experience. Kendrick's expertise with back-end data, database management and custom data reporting will also allow the company to provide important feedback to LiFT clients based on specific customer needs.

"Marvin's experience and highly regarded reputation in the ed tech industry is exactly what we were looking for in someone to manage our client support services department. He brings with him all the necessary skills to provide a seamless transition and ongoing support to our customers," said Lipkin.

Also new to the SchoolHack team is Liam Corcoran who is the lead on the company's community development and student support services.

"We were sure that Liam would be a great fit for our company because I knew him as a student in my personalized learning program at Mt. Abraham High School," said Josie Jordan, SchoolHack co-founder and President. "His passion for giving students voice in their education and his experience as a personlized learner provide us with important insight into the needs of learners throughout each step of the student experience."

Corcoran studied social entrepreneurship at Champlain College and developed his own platform for personal and communal empowerment. Corcoran is joining SchoolHack's growing team and will assist in implementing the LiFT platform, helping the student voice be heard and connecting schools, learners and the outside community with one another.

SchoolHack Solutions is a Vermont-based company building software to provide authentic personalized learning for all students. Founded by educators, SchoolHack works with students, districts, teachers, and organizations to create a learning environment where all learning, both in and out of the classroom, counts towards personal and academic success. For more information, contact Kevin Hytten, kevin@schoolhack.io or visit www.schoolhack.io.

Clark-Mortenson Insurance included In IIABA's Best Practices Study

BRATTLEBORO >> For the seventh consecutive year, Clark-Mortenson Insurance is part of an elite group of independent insurance agencies around the United States participating in the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America "Best Practices" Study Group.

Each year since 1993, IIABA and Reagan Consulting, an Atlanta-based management consulting firm, join forces to study the country's leading agencies in six revenue categories. The agencies comprising the study groups are selected every third year through a comprehensive nomination and qualifying process and awarded a "Best Practices Agency" designation. The selected "Best Practices" agencies retain their status during the three-year cycle by submitting extensive financial and operational data for review each year.

"We consider this to be one of the insurance industry's most prestigious accomplishments and we are honored to have been recognized," said Thomas Minkler, Clark-Mortenson President. "We've built our organization based on the actions and abilities of our people and continually strive for superior client service and financial excellence. That's what sets Clark-Mortenson apart."

More than 1,800 independent agencies throughout the U.S. were nominated to take part in the annual study, but only 254 agencies qualified for the honor. To be chosen, the agency had to be among the top-performing agencies in one of six revenue categories. Clark-Mortenson was the only insurance agency in New Hampshire to be named as a Best Practices Agency.

The Best Practices Study was initiated by IIABA in 1993 as the foundation for efforts to improve agency performance. The annual survey and study of leading independent insurance agencies documents the business practices of the highest performing agencies and urges others to adopt similar practices.

For further information, contact Tom Minkler, President of Clark-Mortenson at 603-352-2121.


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