Local Crews Race the Weather to Button Up Building 

Work crews hustled through the fall to complete major structural renovations on the historic Parker J. Noyes building in Lancaster. 

Upstarrs framing 1633“We are really so grateful for how hard everyone has worked and how the Garland Mill team has coordinated all the moving pieces,” said Julie Renaud Evans, program director for the Northern Forest Center, which owns the building.  

The Center purchased the 11,000-square-foot building on Main Street in 2018 as part of its Community Investment work. The renovation will create retail space on the first floor and apartments on the second and third floors, supporting Lancaster’s role as an economic hub for the North Country. The building is listed on the NH State Register of Historic Places. 

“Like most renovation projects, we found some surprises,” said Evans. “We discovered some old fire damage in the rafters and determined we needed a full foundation under the back end of the building.” 

Excavating 1629The date of the fire is unknown, but it charred beams on the second floor. HEB Engineers prescribed reinforcements to eliminate any possible problems in the future, and Garland Mill and Canton Construction quickly put the reinforcements in place. 

The other big surprise was that the rubble foundation at the east end of the building could not be stabilized enough to be used. With fall temperatures dropping quickly, Garland Mill, which is managing the project for the Center, raced to pull together designer Stuart Anderson of Alba Architects, HEB Engineers, excavator Dave Chessman of Lancaster, and concrete contractor Bob Barnes to plan and construct the new foundation.  

Mink Brook HanoverNH MimAdkinsPhoto from TPLThe Center is managing public engagement and outreach for the Mink Brook Community Forest project in Hanover, N.H., which will protect 250 acres containing the headwaters of Mink Brook, mature forests and a scenic hay field.

Project partners include residents of Hanover, the Trust for Public Land and the Hanover Conservancy.

Community participation was very strong, even though much of the process had to be on screen rather than in person. Center staff facilitated three public meetings on Zoom hosted by the Hanover Conservation Commission, with each one attended by 30 to 45 people. Ninety people toured the property — 10 at a time to maintain social distancing — and 147 people participated in an online survey about the project.

isp speedometerCommunity broadband planning often starts with two seemingly simple questions: Where do we have service, and how fast is it? 

To help answer these questions, the Center and the Maine West initiative are partnering with the Maine Broadband Coalition to implement a new crowdsourcing effort to map actual internet speeds across the state.

Launched statewide in November, following approval this summer of a $15 million bond to support statewide broadband expansion, the Getting up to Speed initiative will help local, regional, and state leaders develop projects and steer investments to the places that need it most.

Campaign aims to increase use of renewable wood fuel, some of which is delivered in bulk by delivery truck.The regional wood heat marketing consortium has chosen marketing firm Matter to expand the scope of the Feel Good Heat campaign. The campaign will invest $400,000 in a 2-year effort to build public support for a broad range of wood heating options and increase use of Northern Forest wood pellets and chips in lieu of imported fossil fuels.