Business Notes for July 29, 2018

Valley News Business Writer
Saturday, July 28, 2018

ThetfordFor residents in East Thetford who have waited for the arrival of high-speed internet service, it’s an event as momentous as driving the golden spike that linked the first transcontinental railroad.

ECFiber, after much delay, finally was able last week to string its fiber-optic cable across Interstate 91 at the intersection with Route 113, bringing high-speed internet service to about 100 people who had already signed up for the service but couldn’t get it until the lines crossed the highway.

The delay in reaching East Thetford was the result of a variety of factors, from the wait for utility companies to ready their poles to accept ECFiber’s attachments to getting approval from the state’s transportation agency to string lines across the interstate.

“In many cases the drops (in East Thetford) have even been done and we’re just waiting to be able to connect to the hub in Thetford, which we should be able to do now,” said Carole Monroe, chief executive of ECFiber.

With the link to East Thetford established, ECFiber is now set in the coming weeks to raise another $8.5 million through the sale of public revenue bonds to fund the nonprofit’s ongoing construction.

The money will be used to build out ECFiber’s fiber-optic network in Braintree, Brookfield, Granville, Hancock, Rochester and Stockbridge and to build 30 miles of network in Woodstock as well as to do prep work on next year’s construction phase.

ECFiber now has more than 2,700 subscribers over 565 cable miles and is adding about 25 customers per week, said Stan Williams, chief financial officer of ValleyNet, the nonprofit entity which is building the network and operates the fiber optic on behalf of ECFiber.

ECFiber has to date raised nearly $24 million through the sale of revenue bonds and expects to have deployed 750 miles of network by the end of the year on its way to ultimately reaching 7,000 customers over 1,400 miles of network, according to Williams.

To get there, ECFiber is planning additional bond sales in 2019 and 2020 that will bring the total in public debt it has raised to about $50 million, per Williams.

110 Grill Plans West Lebanon Location

West Lebanon has Four Aces Diner, Five Guys and Ninety-Nine Restaurant & Pub.

Get ready to add a few more digits to the menu: 110 Grill has laid out its plan to open a 142-seat restaurant and bar in the former Verizon store space in Upper Valley Plaza.

The Massachusetts-based chain, which began with a single location in 2015 in Chelmsford, Mass., now has 14 locations in the Bay State and New Hampshire.

110 Grill, which describes itself as “modern American cuisine, in a trendy casual atmosphere,” has filed a building permit application with the Lebanon planning department to fit out a 5,168-square-foot restaurant and bar with an outdoor patio facing Route 12A.

Estimated cost of the project is $900,000, according to the plans.

110 Grill, which has previously said it hopes to be open by this fall, is one of three tenants, along with PetSmart and HomeGoods stores, to occupy WS Development’s $1.9-million renovation of the former Shaw’s supermarket building in Upper Valley Plaza.

PetSmart opened on July 7 and HomeGoods is in the process of hiring employees for the store: four positions, including a store manager and assistant store manager, are currently posted on the jobs website Indeed.com.

There is still no information available yet on who will be occupying the third space in the building.

Kleen’s Laundromat Closed for Repairs

The Kleen laundromat on Mechanic Street in Lebanon is currently closed, leading some people who use the facility to wonder if the city’s infrastructure project, which has created a nightmare for drivers along the heavily-trafficked thoroughfare, has claimed a second victim.

Steve’s Pet Shoppe on Mechanic Street last month announced that it was moving to the location occupied by Lebanon Brew Shop on Hanover Street because all the construction on Mechanic Street to install new stormwater lines and sewer pipes has led to a falloff in business.

But the closing of the Kleen outlet is temporary, co-owner Ned Hazard said in an email in response to an inquiry about the status of laundromat.

“We are doing some work on the laundromat (fixing plumbing issue) which should be done shortly and we will reopen the store once it is set,” Hazard said.

Kleen closed its Pleasant Street coin laundry, one of two locations in Claremont, last year, citing ongoing vandalism problems. The company continues to operate a laundromat and dry cleaning pickup in the Kmart Plaza in West Lebanon, which has seen an uptick in customers as a result of the disruption on Mechanic Street.

Kleen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in 2016. The company emerged from bankruptcy in January.

News items of interest to the local business community are published in the Business & Money section of the Sunday Valley News. Submissions may be sent by email to: biznotes@vnews.com (high-resolution photographs may be attached in .jpg format). Items are edited for clarity and space.