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Business Notes: Windsor Contractor Joins Build for Treehouse Masters TV Show

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 10/20/2018 11:14:56 PM
Modified: 10/20/2018 11:14:58 PM

Windsor — Contractor Richard Nelson has pretty much seen it all in his 34 years as a contractor: lakeside cabin remodels, new home builds, kitchen renovations, bathroom rebuilds, weatherization and custom cabinetry.

Now he can add “luxury treehouse bed and breakfast” to his gallery of projects.

Nelson, owner of Peachtree Builders in Windsor, was brought aboard by primary contractor I (Heart) Construction in Bellows Falls to help build the A-frame Treehouse Village Inn in Newfane, Vt.

Peachtree dispatched two employees, lead carpenter Grahame Payton and carpenter’s apprentice Dakota Adams, to join other Vermont contractors on the two week project that was filmed for an episode of Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters program (the episode, which aired on the cable network on Oct. 12, is still available to watch online).

The 600-square-foot treehouse designed by the home renovation reality show’s leading man, Pete Nelson (no relation to Richard Nelson), includes a spiral staircase to the sleeping loft and a wraparound deck along with heat, running water, electricity and a waterfall that pours into a pond below.

Operated by Mike and Ginger Gammel, the treehouse is on the grounds of their five-bedroom B & B in Newfane. Ginger Gammel’s son, Steven Bowler, is a former producer of the Treehouse Masters series. Overnight rates in the treehouse start at $115, according to the B & B’s website.

Richard Nelson said he doesn’t expect treehouses to become the next trend in Vermont housing, but he said every carpenter dreams of one day getting to build one.

“Everybody gets excited about treehouses,” he said. “They bring out the kid in us.”

Enfield Bar and Grill Closes Its Doors

56 Main Street Bar & Grill, which opened in 2016 and has been a favorite pub and tavern serving homestyle meals that had drawn patrons from all over the Upper Valley, closed out its brief run on Saturday night with a DJ-spinning Halloween dance party.

“It was a personal decision. Being a restaurateur is a lifestyle and very demanding,” owner Marjon Licks said. “It’s a challenging career on many different levels.”

Licks, who also has been working a day job as a recruiter at Technical Needs in Lebanon before setting off to work six nights a week at 56 Main Street, said that “staffing was a huge issue” and “the biggest roadblock” in being able to continue the business.

“It’s so hard to staff a restaurant right now,” Licks said. “Everyone will say the same thing.”

In the past couple months, numerous restaurants and eateries have closed in the Upper Valley, including Stella’s Italian Kitchen & Market in Lyme and Ramunto’s Pizza in the Miracle Mile Plaza in Lebanon. Also recently closed after brief runs were 2 Guys Pizza — formerly Hartford Pizza — on Route 5 in Hartford and the farm-to-table restaurant Wild Roots in Royalton.

“The business is very successful,” Licks said of 56 Main, which was initially opened with her former husband, Michael Licks, before she became sole owner. “There is some interest here in potentially reopening it, but I can’t say for sure.”

Licks said she was worried that the ongoing challenge in finding good cooks would eventually affect the quality of the food — all the pizza dough was always made from scratch, she noted, and reviews on Yelp have customers raving about the potato skins and onion rings.

“Right now we have an excellent reputation, and I just decided to close it before it became an issue,” she said.

An indication of just how popular 56 Main Street was reflected in the Facebook post announcing the tavern’s closing: Licks said it was viewed by “just under” 7,000 Facebook users.

“Hopefully it can reopen,” Licks said. “So I can be a patron here.”

Croydon’s Coniston General StoreUp for Sale

Roxanne Turner grew up in Croydon and during high school worked at the ice cream window of the Coniston General Store in town.

After graduating from high school and detours working in day care and waiting tables, Turner returned to the store — this time as the owner, buying the store from Fred Bocko in 2005.

Turner, with baking assistance from her mother, Norma Menard, has since steadily run the Coniston General Store, which serves as a morning meeting spot and Croydon news hub for residents and commuters along Route 10 between Newport and Exit 13 on Interstate 91 in Grantham.

Now Turner is ready to turn the business over to someone else. She has put up a “for sale” out front of the store and is looking for a new owner willing to take over the more-than-100-year-old business.

“It’s time to do something new,” Turner said on the phone last week, taking a break from the morning rush. “My kids are grown now, and I want to try something else.”

Small-town general stores throughout the Upper Valley have been facing increased competition from convenience store chains and Dollar General. The Cornish General Store, which had reopened 19 months ago after being closed for three years, shuttered for the second time last month. The owner of Tracy’s Midway Station in Sharon currently is seeking a buyer for his store. A new owner took over the Teago General Store in South Pomfret in January and the Brownsville General Store, which closed in 2017, is soon to reopen as the Brownsville Butcher & Pantry, centered around providing local food and forgoing the general store staples of gas, cigarettes and sandwiches.

“I’m hoping someone will keep it like it is but add some new things to keep it rolling,” Turner said. “There’s been a store here since the 1800s.”

But if the next owner wants to sell gas, she or he will have a sizable capital expense. Turner stopped selling unbranded gas and took out the underground tanks when the state required upgrades. She said new tanks would have cost more than $100,000 to install.

Turner said a general store owner must be “a friendly and outgoing person who will work with customers to bring things that they really want.”

That was not a problem for Turner, she said, describing herself as a “people person” who has had “great fun” seeing her customers every day.

“Except for the paperwork,” she added. “That’s never fun.”

Couch Family FoundationSupports Planned Parenthood

The Couch Family Foundation has given a $50,000 grant to Planned Parenthood of New England to provide and protect access to sexual and reproductive health care, PPNE announced.

The funding will support access to family planning and preventive services for low-income patients at PPNE’s two Upper Valley health centers in Claremont and White River Junction. The grant will also support community organizing and public education work to protect and expand access to sexual and reproductive health care and achieve broader public health goals in New Hampshire, including reducing unintended pregnancy.

PPNE serves more than 3,000 patients annually in the Upper Valley and over 43,000 patients across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The Couch Family Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2001 by Hypertherm cofounder Richard Couch and his wife, Barbara Couch, supports programs for children and families “to learn and thrive so that they develop healthy, fulfilling lives,” according to the organization.

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: (high-resolution photographs may be attached in .jpg format). Items are edited for clarity and space.

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