Mountain Top receives $350k in tax credits from the CDFA

By Alec Kerr

CONWAY — Mountain Top Music recently received $350,000 through the Community Development Finance Authority's tax credit program. This pushed the music center over the million dollar mark in its fundraising efforts for the Majestic Theatre/Bolduc Block renovation project.

"Receiving an award like this really is a stamp of confidence from the state government that your organization has gone through all of its paces," Mountain Top Executive Director George Wiese said.

The process began by sending a letter of intent to CDFA who then told Mountain Top to go forward with an application. Dave Mason, chairman of Mountain Top's capital campaign, believes that 60 organizations sent in letters, 39 of which were told to apply for the tax credit program. The CDFA then awarded $5.325 million in tax credits to 17 non-profits throughout New Hampshire.

"This is a project that the state is saying, with relative certainty, will succeed and will create economic improvement in the area, it will bring jobs to the area, both directly and indirectly," Wiese said.

The award means that Mountain Top holds tax credits that it can sell to businesses in the community. This allows local businesses the opportunity to see their tax money stay local.

"Part of the (CDFA) application process was asking what types of indirect jobs this project could create," Wiese said. "If you have more entertainment downtown, you might see more options for eating downtown, you might see a cinema museum come up, all sorts of things that could happen with a project like this as an outgrowth."

The application process also included reaching out to businesses and asking them to write letters saying that if the tax credits were available these businesses would consider buying them. Business that expressed interest included Cooper Cargill and Chant, White Mountain Oil, Zeb's, Glass Graphics, Leone McDonnell & Roberts, M&M Insurance, Milford Flooring, Northway Bank and the Bank of New Hampshire.

"Receiving the award really made us feel good about the plans we've drawn up. We're confident having now been scrutinized that we're on the right track," Wiese said.

Mountain Top purchased Bolduc Block, which includes the Majestic Theatre, in April 2015 with the intention of using the building for classroom space; restoring the theater, which was gutted by a fire in 2005; and repairing the store fronts for commercial rental. The project, which is projected to start construction on July 1, 2017, would also include a new back entrance to the building and making the upstairs handicap accessible.

"If we manage to sell all that's awarded to us in a relatively expedient amount of time, there's the possibility that tax credits that are remaining unsold from other organizations or credits that became available could be tossed our way as well," Wiese said.

With the CDFA award, Mountain Top has reached $1.1 million of the projected $2.8 million budget.

"It is fairly significant that we've gotten to a little over a million dollars and are certainly now within striking distance of the halfway mark because many of the granting organizations where we've applied for grants and so forth it is like the chicken and the egg. They are reluctant until you are over the 50 percent mark," Mason said.

Wiese referred to the initial fundraising that Mountain Top has done as the "quiet period" with a focus mostly on one-on-one meetings with potential donors. With the halfway point in sight, there can now be a shift to more public fundraising.

The first such event will be the inaugural Majestic Gala Concert, featuring the Ukrainian pianist Natalia Shevchuk and Argentine Tango dancers Fernanda Ghi and Guillermo Merl, on Sunday, Nov. 6, in the Grand Ballroom at the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods.

"Volunteer Dick Devellian is organizing the gala, and Dick is hoping to sell 400 tickets at $100 a ticket," Wiese said. "We have already collected several thousand dollars in sponsorship for that event, so all the money from tickets will go directly to the campaign."

Moving forward, Mountain Top is developing a new website (, which, for the time being, is sparse but does offer a history of the Bolduc Block as well as information on how to donate.

"When we first took on the building, there was a ton of enthusiasm and the part that made us nervous was turning that enthusiasm into the dollars that it would take to realize the vision of the project, so it has been really nice to see," Wiese said.

For more information and reservations for the gala, visit or call (603) 447-4737.

Celebration of Life: Joan Ayer Casarotto

Joan Ayer Casarotto, 85, of Tamworth, NH, passed on Sept. 13, 2015, at her home.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, June 18, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Tamworth Town House at 27 Cleveland Hill Road in Tamworth.

Lord Funeral Home is handling the arrangements. If you wish to express condolences or leave a fond memory, please visit

The Snowvillage Inn showcasing artists Joyce Desmarais, Laura Thompson


EATON — The Snowvillage Inn will be displaying the work of local artists Joyce Desmarais and Laura Thompson at the inn through May 31.

"We are delighted to have Joyce and Laura return to display their art here at the Inn," said Jen Kovach, owner/innkeeper at the Snowvillage Inn. "Each artist has a desire to share what they create with paint. Their work promises to stimulate the sense of sight and to explore each artist's individual aesthetic."

Desmarais, a watercolor artist, is a juried artist and board member of the Mount Washington Valley Arts Association. Her art is exhibited in the association's gallery as well as The Met Coffee House in North Conway. During 2014, she organized, and was one of four artists presenting work at The Snowvillage Inn and at The Darby Field Inn in Albany.

Thomson, an oil painter, is a juried member of the arts association. Her work can often be seen in the Chamber Gallery or the Met. She now works at Gerardo Ruiz's studio, where materials and advice are freely available. Freedom Village Store has many paintings and prints on display and her cards are in many places around the MW Valley.

In 2015, she exhibited work at Memorial Hospital, Ellis River/Group 8 Gallery, Darby Field Inn, Inn at Crystal Lake, The Gibson Center, M&D Productions and several local libraries. Thomson's paintings are in private collections across the country and can be viewed on her website (

The Snowvillage Inn is located at 136 Stewart Road (off Brownfield Road), a mile up from Crystal Lake in Eaton Center.

For more information about the Snowvillage Inn, visit or call (603) 447-2818.


Bob Marley returns to the Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center

FRYEBURG — Maine's own Bob Marley is coming back to the Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center at 18 Bradley St. in Fryeburg, Maine, on Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m.

From getting his own special on Comedy Central to appearing on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (to name a few),  Marley has become one of the most sought after comedians in the country.

Tickets are $23. All proceeds will benefit the Fryeburg Academy Class of 2016 Project Graduation. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at (207) 935-9232.

Conway Public Library 'goes to seed'

CONWAY — Last Thursday, March 31, the Conway Public Library seeded its Youth Garden Project for a second year.

Herbalist/educator Carol Felice from the Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm helped the kids get their hands dirty right away preparing the soil and planting seeds for the new garden. Assisting her were members of the Smith family, including Angel, Misty, Brayden and Nirvana.

Tara McKenzie, head of youth services at the library, created the garden last year in the company of many partners and hopes to continue some of those partnerships this year with agencies such as 4-H and the Mountain Garden Club.

"It was such a fruitful garden last year, and I look forward to another one this year," said McKenzie.

"The young people of the area built the raised beds, squared them out, planted and tended the gardens last year with help from the UNH Co-operative Extension," she said.

"When harvest time came, it was so exciting to see all the vegetables and flowers and herbs. We had tons and tons of cherry tomatoes."

This year’s garden includes some cooking and slicing tomatoes, along with other vegetables and the addition of jalapenos.

More herbs also have been added.

The Youth Garden Project meets every Thursday starting after Memorial Day from 4-5 pm. Club activities include a garden activity or craft, and then work in the gardens.

The library is hoping to get a good group going this summer to enjoy gardening with them.

"I hope to do more cooking with fresh herbs and vegetables this year," McKenzie added.

Stop by the Conway Public Library, 15 Greenwood Ave. in Conway for more information or just to see the progress in the garden beds. You can also call McKenzie at (603) 447-5552 to find out about this and other youth programs.