Friday, May 25, 2018

Business Spotlight on Animal Emergency and Specialty Care by Michelle Libby play an important role in the lives of their humans. When something happens to them, finding somewhere to take them to be treated is an important decision. Animal Emergency and Specialty Care at 739 Warren Avenue in Portland is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to treat sick or injured dogs and cats with love and compassion.

Under the direction of Dr. Marta Agrodnia, D.V.M., DACVS, Animal Emergency and Specialty Care provides critical care for animals in the greater Portland area and all over New England.

“I feel like it’s a bit of a calling. My husband says, it’s the way I support my addiction to animals. To me they’re all puppies and kittens,” she said.

There are 10 doctors, a board-certified radiologist and many licensed technicians who help with surgeries and procedures day and night. Even at 3 a.m., there are at least three people at the clinic because as Agrodnia put it, “you can’t plan your emergencies.”

There is no general practice at Animal Emergency and Specialty Care. General practitioners at other clinics refer their patients to the practice.

“I’ve been involved in the vet world for over 30 years. I’ve seen the progression of care. I want to be the surgeon who’s there before, during and after to help the owner,” she said.
Dr. Marta Agrodnia, D.V.M., DACVS,
Emergency care can be found all day and night for when a cat eats a lily plant, or a dog tries to make friends with a porcupine.

“We’re there. It’s nice to know you don’t have to travel far,” Agrodnia said. “We can provide the same care as big hospitals, except that people don’t have to go to Boston.” Agrodnia has worked in city hospitals in Chicago, New York, Boston and Michigan.

Veterinary doctors attend the same training courses as human doctors, but then continue on for another four years to become a veterinarian, and four additional years to become specialized in a certain field. Agrodnia specialized in surgery. She is part of the five percent of all vets that specialize in something. She does orthopedic surgeries, soft tissue work and neurologic surgeries. She has repaired ruptured disks that are a frequent occurrence in dogs. The prognosis for dogs is excellent. “Even dogs that are paralyzed have a chance to walk again,” Agrodnia said. She wants to help the clients have a good quality of life with comfort and function.

The animals who come to the hospital are there for a variety of issues including fractures, joint surgery, arthroscopy, hip replacement and crucial ligament disease.

They use the most up to date equipment to provide the comprehensive information to the doctor. With digital radiography, multi-slide CT scans, dogs and cats can have the best care to get back into their lives. The practice uses endoscopy to find and remove foreign objects, and arthroscopy to access items.

“Our emphasis is on excellent surgery, and animal and client care,” said Agrodnia. “They really need to know you care before and after surgery.”

The staff has a high level of expertise between the emergency doctors and specialty staff. “You don’t have to travel to get excellent care,” she said. “Most of our doctors have advanced training and intern experience. We don’t do mediocrity.”

The clinic almost exclusively works with cats and dogs but will sometimes treat “pocket pets” like rabbits, guinea pigs and rats.

Animal Emergency and Specialty Care also works with another business that specializes in internal medicine care for animals with acute conditions such as kidney failure, liver disease or diabetes. 
“We are always striving to get better with what we do from animal care and safety, to treatments and consultations,” Agrodnia said. “I want [owners] to be happy, but I want Fluffy to feel well. I’m very maternal toward them.”

At home, Agrodnia has a brood including two horses, two dogs, two cats, two rats and four non- furred children. “We have our own little ark going on,” she laughed.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, visit, call 207-878-3121 or visit them on Facebook.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Business Spotlight on 3D Landscape Design by Michelle Libby

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With 28 years of experience, Steve Ziegler, owner of 3D Landscape Design, can design a plan to make a home, business or park come alive with plants, trees, shrubs and night lighting perfect for the climate of the project. Ziegler’s talents and skills also include irrigation design planning to meet the specific needs and wishes of his clients. With his motto and mission being, “a friend in your back yard,” Ziegler, enjoys working one-on-one with a client to achieve the perfect look for any project.
“My true love for landscaping is creating a style to fit the neighborhood and location,” Ziegler said.

He has worked at the coast, in the woods, at the lake or on islands.

Ziegler developed an interest in landscape when he delivered newspapers in Presque Isle, at the age of ten.

“I was very organized. I helped my newspaper customers in the summer by helping with mowing, gardening and in the winter, shoveling,” Ziegler said. He admits that he’s done a lot of jobs, some with national figures, and was in the Army in Vietnam, but each time he stepped away, he returned to his passion for landscapes and design.

Ziegler spent a lot of time watching DIY shows on landscape design and eventually got to know Gary Alan of “The Designers Landscape” very well.

“I have vision for how a place should work. I talk to the customers, find out their favorite color, plants, and look for low maintenance and drought tolerant designs,” he said. He had designed for people in Bar Harbor, 18 different states and even did a large project in Jamaica. He was featured in “Flower and Garden Magazine.”

“I can’t look at a home or business without landscaping it,” he said.

He is the only designer in Maine who does this type of landscape design, he said. He can use a CAD system, but “this just takes you there,” he said of his methods.

With technology, Ziegler can show a customer the finished project down to the details of day or night, or different seasons. They will know what the design will look like for their home using photos that Ziegler takes. He can change the color of the house, add shutters or boulders without the expense of doing the project only to discover that it was completely wrong. 

He likes to present plans with year-round color. “Evergreens, shrubs and trees are added so they don’t have to see a barren landscape in winter,” he said. He has no limitations. He adds in stones, fences or water features and can easily remove them if a customer wishes to see something different. He prefers to work with circles and curves and doesn’t use a lot of straight lines in his designs.

The clients receive plans and pictures, and in the portfolios, they also receive information on the various plans that were used in the design, how to care for them and their Latin names.
“They get educated and interested in their design,” Ziegler said.

The 3D Landscape Design plans are great for developing curb appeal when selling a house or when looking for more outside living area. He can add hardscape into designs like patios and pergolas. He works with builders to complete a home’s exterior while the interior is being perfected.

“You don’t think about the landscaping when you build a house. We get it all done before you move in,” he said. The plans give a client an idea of what the landscaping will look like at maturity.

“I can be very specific to the needs of the customer,” he said. He can work with any company a client chooses. In the Windham, Raymond area he has companies he works with on a regular basis. The contractors get the pictures of the project so they know exactly how things should look when they are complete.

This is the perfect time to make a plan with 3D Landscape Design and get plants in the ground.
“I’m a good listener, which creates the best outcome for customers. I can help couples come together to make decisions,” he said.

Design fees start at $300. Ziegler offers free consultations.

For more information, find 3D Landscapes Design on Facebook, call 894-2127 or email

Friday, May 11, 2018

Business Spotlight: Bavarian Chocolate Haus by Michelle Libby almost a year, Bridgtonites and other nearby Maine towns have known a little secret about a place to get authentic German chocolate and the best caramels and toffee in the region. What once was only available in North Conway, New Hampshire, is available at 2 Cottage Street, behind the Firefly Boutique in Bridgton.

Bavarian Chocolate Haus is owned by Scott Ferrari and his spouse, who bought the North Conway based store in October 2008 from the first owner, who had started the candy shop in 1991. The building stands out with its unique style based on houses in the Bavarian region of Germany.
“[The name came from] the combination of the style of the building, the German chocolate recipe and the surrounding area in North Conway,” Ferrari said.

The original owner was a chocolatier and he created a list of recipes and passed them on to Ferrari, who agreed to keep the quality of the candy by using many of the original recipes.
“Your fudge, caramel and toffee can make you or break you,” Ferrari said. “There’s a lot of work to that, using quality control and strict standard practices to make it right.”

Bavarian Chocolate Haus still makes its homemade fudge in copper kettles. The traditional method and the recipe, using heavy cream, sugar and milk, make the fudge unique and creamy. There are at least 10 different flavors.

“We have over 100 different candies,” Ferrari said. Each of them is made in either the North Conway store or the Bridgton shop. However, both stores carry the full compliment of candies. Ferrari, as well as truffle-makers David and Lorraine, make more than 20,000 pounds of candy each year.

They make golden-vanilla caramels in plain chocolate or with Maine sea salt. They make their own almond toffee, called buttercrunch, with dark or milk chocolate. They make turtles with pecans or cashews. There are unique hand-dipped fruits like apricots, pineapples, orange peels and ginger. Try the nut clusters with a choice of almonds, cashews, hazelnuts or pecans. There are also pistachio, apricot and almond barks.

The most popular candies are the almond toffee buttercrunch. The second favorite is the caramels and third, the turtles. There are so many more delights to discover in the store. Try a cinnamon spice patty or a peanut butter cup. There are 15 different flavored truffles; some are spiked with alcohol like Bailey’s Irish Crème, Amaretto, or go without the alcohol and try a Maine sea salt or a Maine Blueberry Habanero truffle.

“I’ve always been a chocaholic. I had thought about [opening a shop], but didn’t expect to do this,” Ferrari said. After 30 years in the medical field, he was ready to make the life change from Massachusetts to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and now into Maine.

“I love food and I love to cook,” he added. “What I love about this business is when I worked in the operating room, I was helping people but reached a point where it was time to help others in a different way. I love making people happy with chocolate. People come in happy and leave even happier. They become a kid in a candy store.”

Ferrari and his team are always creating a new truffle flavor or other confection including our newest fudge flavors chocolate coconut and our Mount Washington Medley Fudge. This is a vanilla based fudge, and mixed into it are maraschino cherries, pecans and rum soaked raisins.  They also created a version of needhams from a family recipe gifted to them from a Maine native.

The secret to their success has been the loyal following who say that they can tell the difference from other chocolate shops and big store candy.

The demand for good chocolate was so loud from Maine, that Ferrari and his spouse decided to move into the lakes region. The Bavarian Chocolate Haus is a regular feature at the Fryeburg Fair and the shop in Bridgton has been busy. “More folks from Maine insisted we open a shop in Maine. They said, ‘We don’t have anything like this in the Sebago Lake part of Maine,’” Ferrari said. They decided on Bridgton because of its revitalization and transformation. They want to be a part of that.
Bavarian Chocolate Haus chocolate can also be found at local businesses, bed and breakfasts and hotels in Maine and New Hampshire. There is also an online store, where products can be shipped all over the country. The website is presently going through a major redesign to make getting chocolate even easier.

“We make it easy for people to get a hold of our candy,” Ferrari said.

For more information or to order candy online, visit, email or call the stores at 603-356-2663 in North Conway or 207-647-2400 in Bridgton. Find them on Facebook.

“We look forward to seeing you in our shops,” Ferrari said.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Business spotlight on Jonathan Priest, MetLife by Michelle Libby
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Insurance is one of those things that no one wants to pay for but having it when it’s needed is so important. Jonathan Priest works with MetLife to custom build insurance packages for singles and families regardless of where they are in the game of life. 
“Anytime you’re making a change is a good time to review insurance,” Priest said. Getting a new car, getting married, divorced, having a baby are all great reasons to reassess or learn about insurance.
Priest has been working in the banking and insurance industry since he graduated from college with a degree in education. The education degree has served him well in his career because he is able to discuss the client’s needs in an understandable way. 

“Every MetLife policy is comprehensive,” Priest said. “Life insurance is never cheaper than right now. Ninety nine times out of 100, the rate is less expensive than you think.” 

MetLife offers many things that other companies don’t, Priest said. Like when a client has an accident with a rental car, the rental agency will sometimes charge the driver for loss of use time. MetLife covers that charge, where many other insurance companies will not. If an all-wheel drive car needs new tires and rims, MetLife will replace all four tires, not just the two needing repairs. 

When it comes to home insurance, MetLife doesn’t have capped insurance, Priest said. If a house is insured for $500,000, but it will cost $750,000 to rebuild it, they will provide the bigger amount. “No one else does that,” he said. 

When he meets with clients, he asks a lot of questions to find out what they need, be it homeowners, auto, disability, life, event or pet insurance. Priest can broker out to many agencies to find the best policies for his clients’ needs. 

Insurance can be reasonably priced. Pet insurance, for example, can run an owner about $15 to $20 per month. When a pet needs an expensive surgery, the insurance can be a great thing to fall back on.
Priest has been able to find savings for many clients. One man, with good credit and insurance history, was able to cut his yearly payment in half, Priest said. 

Priest has life insurance policies that don’t look at marijuana use. “We are very competitive,” he said.
He fits the product to the client. “Not everyone needs an umbrella policy,” he said. “I feel it is my job to educate.” The face to face contact with Priest allows him to make a personal connection with his clients. When something happens, the clients call him. 

“If you have a claim, do you want someone who doesn’t care or that you’ve never met?” he asked. “I want to make sure you’re getting the coverage you need.” The claim center for MetLife is in Rhode Island and Priest makes sure to follow up if there is a claim made. “Many things don’t count against you,” he said. Other companies will assess a surcharge for five years after a claim. 

Priest started with MetLife in March and hasn’t looked back. With 13 years of experience in the insurance game, he knows a good company when he sees it. 

Priest likes to work with first time home buyers because they are like a blank slate. They need coverage and need to be educated about which coverage is right for them. He also likes to work with people who know the value of insurance. He also works with business insurance, which has different requirements. 

“I was one who wasn’t scared of getting into the commercial side of things,” he said.
Priest’s office is at 57 Tandberg Trail, just above Spectrum. He offers free consultations, reviews and quotes. “If I can’t help you, I’ll tell you.”  

He enjoys face to face meetings, so getting in touch with him is best done by phone or email. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call directly at 671-9467, call the office at 893-8184 or email