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Articles written by Maria Karagianis


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  • Business Profile

    Maria Karagianis|Feb 7, 2024

    Lyndsey Cumberland, the owner of Farmers Insurance in Niwot's Cottonwood Square, purchased the Farmers Insurance agency from Leigh Suskin in October of 2022. The new owner of Farmers has been licensed as an agent since 2009. Cumberland was born in Minnesota and moved with her mom to Colorado in 2002. After graduating at the top of her class from high school "on the Western Slope," Cumberland said she had many adventures and interesting careers, including selling insurance and serving as a region...

  • Familiar Face - Sunshine at Classic Looks Salon

    Maria Karagianis|Dec 13, 2023

    Her name is simply Sunshine – and she totally exudes it. Sunshine provides manicures, pedicures and facials at Classic Looks in Niwot and is this week's Familiar Face. The owner of Classic Looks, Sheri Sutton, met and hired Sunshine in 2005, when Sunshine first moved to Colorado, and they have been together ever since. "Classic Looks is like my second family," Sunshine explained one recent day, sitting in the salon in Cottonwood Square. "I just love, love this place," she added with a smile....

  • Business Profile Farow

    Maria Karagianis|Dec 13, 2023

    The beginning of the Covid lock-down in 2020 was probably not the best time to consider opening a new restaurant in Niwot, but Lisa Balcom and her husband, Patrick Balcom, did so, and they are thriving since opening Farow in 2021 with 17 employees and a gourmet farm-to-table menu. And although finding experienced cooks has been tough, she said, "I love it here. It's beautiful. Definitely better than the Northeast." "What we've learned," she said, "is just keep going. Never give up. A situation...

  • Left Hand Laurel: Murray Avila, Tomas Dabove and Zach Rojo

    Maria Karagianis|Oct 18, 2023

    Three enterprising and compassionate high school students from the St. Vrain Valley School District are this week's Left Hand Laurel recipients for their creative – and highly successful efforts – to raise money for Ukrainian relief. They are Murray Avila, Tomas Dabove and Zach Rojo. In February 2022, Dabove, a sophomore in high school at the time, started obsessing about the terrible news of Russia bombing Ukraine with thousands of innocent people – adults and children – being killed. S...

  • Nick Mastronardi and 1914 House

    Maria Karagianis|Oct 18, 2023

    Building a culture of respect among his employees, to say nothing of rehabilitating an historic building in Niwot and turning it into a terrific restaurant – 1914 House – are just a few of the many accomplishments of Nick Mastronardi. A former Wall Street trader for Goldman Sachs in Manhattan, Mastronardi moved west to Colorado, and seven years ago, created a fascinating new life in Niwot. "I snowboard now," he said. "I love spending time with my wife and four children and five...

  • Familiar Face - Michael Brennan

    Maria Karagianis|Aug 30, 2023

    Talk about an interesting life. Michael Brennan has done it all – from being a "ski bum" and working in a sawmill in Telluride, to living in London during the Beatles era, to having assisted as a Yale-educated physician's assistant at 7,500 open heart surgeries at the biggest medical facility in Maine for 25 years. He is now a Niwot Familiar Face as a bartender for the past two years at The Wheel House. This is a story you couldn't make up. "Pure luck," he said of his fascinating life. "It...

  • Left Hand Laurel Michelle Law

    Maria Karagianis|Aug 23, 2023

    Niwot resident Michelle Law, who was born in Illinois, raised in Ohio and moved to Colorado in 1997, is this week's Left Hand Laurel for her work as the Scout Leader and Advancement Chair of Troop 161-G, a scout troop established in 2021 when the organization simply became known as "Scouts." "The biggest thing I see," said Law, who has been involved with scouts from the time she was a little girl, "is you start as an 11-year-old fifth-grader and mature into a competent young adult." Law...

  • Left Hand Laurel Alison Steele

    Maria Karagianis|Jun 28, 2023

    Busy is certainly one way to describe Alison Steele, this week's recipient of the Left Hand Laurel award. The mother of a 16-month-old little girl named Elizabeth, who often comes to work with her mother, Alison, 42, is also co-owner, with her father and brother, of the Niwot Market. Alison Steele runs the grocery department doing all the ordering, stocking the shelves, working with distributors, unloading the trucks and "doing all the financials," as she puts it. The market at Cottonwood...

  • Left Hand Laurel : Gene Hayworth and Keith Waters

    Maria Karagianis|May 31, 2023

    Gene Hayworth and Keith Waters are awarded the Left Hand Valley Courier's Left Hand Laurel for bringing the Niwot Jazz Festival back to life and for putting in the time and energy to organize Niwot's Oktoberfest. "We're really lucky to have the support of the Local Improvement District (LID) and the Niwot Cultural Arts Association (NCAA)," Waters said regarding Oktoberfest. The event will be held this year on Sept. 30, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Cottonwood Square. "There will be beer and food...

  • Left Hand Laurel: Kristin Alger

    Maria Karagianis|Apr 5, 2023

    A Colorado native, this month's Left Hand Laurel recipient, Kristin Alger, grew up following her parents' advice to "always be a volunteer." Now a half century later, this long-time employee of the international medical device firm, Medtronic, volunteers more than ever, and is an inspiration to her many friends and neighbors in Niwot. A familiar face in Niwot – "Everyone knows my dog," she says, "he's a friendly and gregarious mutt named Maxwell," Alger was born in Green Mountain near Red...

  • Business Profile: Sheri Sutton's Classic Looks

    Maria Karagianis|Mar 1, 2023

    "You treat people the way you want to be treated," says Sheri Sutton, owner of Classic Looks salon in Cottonwood Square for the past 33 years. "I love the small town feel here in Niwot, and this business is my safe area. I'm comfortable here." Taking an hour break from her work cutting and styling hair and running her business, Sutton offered tea seated in the middle of the small salon, where she employs a smiling Vietnamese–born manicurist appropriately named Sunshine, her son Chris Sutton,...

  • Left Hand Laurel - Virginia Dutkin

    Maria Karagianis|Jan 11, 2023

    From her birth in Queens, New York, then to Korea where her parents were from, then to the United States and then college at Colgate University in up-state New York, to a highly successful career in finance in New York City and then to Hong Kong for 10 years, Niwot resident Virginia Dutkin is no stranger to change, excitement, adaptability, success and adventure. She is also this month's Left Hand Laurel for her generosity and leadership in creating the Left Hand Giving Circle, a group of local...

  • Left Hand Laurel - Niwot Community Connection: Founders Pat Murphy, Dawn Server and Eve Lempriere

    Maria Karagianis|Dec 14, 2022

    It's morning – the second Thursday in December – and about 50 Niwotians who are over 55 are drinking coffee, eating snacks, listening to two local musicians play their tunes, socializing and – later, playing trivia, at the Left Hand Grange. We're at the monthly meeting of the Niwot Community Connection. It really seems like a great way to connect as well as to build local community. Besides the monthly meet-ups – often with a guest speaker – at the Grange Hall, the group has organized...

  • Recovery Cafe offers healing

    Maria Karagianis|Nov 2, 2022

    Virginia Dutkin of Niwot and Dale Sherrod of Longmont are both modest – and kind. Highly successful professionals in their previous lives in high finance and medicine, respectively, they spoke recently in a church basement in Longmont about an upcoming concert to benefit the Recovery Cafe. The organization, which launched just four years ago in Seattle, now has 49 sites in the U.S. and Canada, including the one in Longmont in the basement of the Central Longmont Presbyterian Church, at 402 Kim...

  • Left Hand Laurel: Derek Curd

    Maria Karagianis|Oct 19, 2022

    This month's Left Hand Laurel is Derek Curd, a mentor for students at Up-A-Creek Robotics. Curd, a hardware engineer, relocated from the Bay area 18 years ago with his family. Curd is adored by his students on the St. Vrain Valley School District robotics team which, this past April, became the first Colorado team to win the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition World Championship. Violet Oliver, a Niwot High School junior and member of the...

  • Business Profile: WISE BUYS ANTIQUES

    Maria Karagianis|Sep 21, 2022

    Tim and Carrie Wise Founding members of the Niwot Business Association, Tim and Carrie Wise, owners of Wise Buys Antiques on 2nd Avenue in Niwot, have been involved for the past 40 years in just about every improvement to the community – from chairing the Local Improvement District to helping to build the Children's Park, to bringing a caboose and building a band-stand at Whistlestop Park. "We're having fun," said Carrie. An exuberant woman with a glowing smile, she grew up in California's...

  • Left Hand Laurel - Leigh Suskin

    Maria Karagianis|Aug 24, 2022

    Born in Kansas, educated at an Ivy League college in Massachusetts and having worked as a management consultant for 20 years at the Watergate Building in Washington, D.C., Leigh Suskin – owner of Farmers Insurance Agency in Cottonwood Square – is truly a Renaissance woman. Whether serving root beer floats at Niwot's "National Night Out" celebrating first responders, or studying for her Ph.D. in East/West psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, or raising...

  • Left Hand Laurel - Karen Quinn

    Maria Karagianis|Jun 29, 2022

    Karen Quinn is kind. She is also modest, so she probably will not like being described in this way. A passionate gardener, talented photographer and deeply spiritual long-time resident of Niwot, Quinn also, by giving of herself and her talents, recently raised $1,600 for Ukrainians. We are sitting outside on a recent warm and sunny day on her patio, overlooking colorful gardens, alive with lupines and peonies and iris. Quinn is sharing her story over cups of tea and tasty homemade pumpkin...

  • Left Hand Laurel - Tom Wilke

    Maria Karagianis|Jun 1, 2022

    Tom Wilke Up-a-Creek-Robotics "A robot is a machine that can perform tasks," explains Tom Wilke, taking a sip of his drink outside at lunch in Niwot's Cottonwood Square. "A self-driving Tesla, for example, is a robot." Wilke is a retired mechanical engineer and adjunct professor at CU Boulder, who is also a mountain climber and author and chairman of the board of Boulder Meals on Wheels. But what we're talking about this particular day is a huge victory he shared as a mentor to...

  • Left Hand Laurel: Kathy Trauner

    Maria Karagianis|May 11, 2022

    Born in the Bronx and having traveled the world, Kathy Trauner, now a long-time Colorado resident, turned a great idea into reality last year for Niwot residents feeling trapped by Covid. The owner of Fly Away Home gift and art shop in Cottonwood Square, Trauner inaugurated "Around the World Day," a creative event which will return here May 14. Inspired by the wish to bring international experiences to Niwot residents when travel was restricted, the event invites all businesses on 2nd Avenue...

  • Familiar Face - Dawn Dunlap

    Maria Karagianis|Apr 20, 2022
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    "I like stuff I can learn from," said Dawn Dunlap, a waitress at the Garden Gate Cafe who has been working at her job in Niwot for the past eight years. Before that, she had been a waitress in Lyons but she lost that job when the town flooded in 2013. "I love it here," she said, with a bright smile. "People in Niwot are so kind." We were sitting at an outside cafe table one recent afternoon, shortly after her 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. work-day had ended. She didn't look fatigued in the least. Talking abo...

  • Left Hand Laurel--Bert Steele

    Maria Karagianis|Mar 9, 2022

    As the Niwot Market approaches its 20th anniversary this month, its owner Bert Steele admits, "I still work more than I have to." Yet it's apparent he loves his work, which he's been doing since the age of eight. That's when Steele first started bagging groceries at his parents' grocery store in Fort Collins. A modest, self-deprecating man, involved in many community activities from helping to organize a pancake breakfast for Niwot's 4th of July celebration, to sponsoring Friday antique car...

  • Left Hand Laurel - Judy Seaborn

    Maria Karagianis|Feb 9, 2022

    Turning fear into hope was a gift long-time Niwot resident Judy Seaborn drew from her experience of the Marshall fire. For her efforts to assist fire victims and her commitment to provide food to those in need, Seaborn is the recipient of the February Left Hand Laurel. Co-owner with Curtis Jones of Botanical Interests, a large Colorado seed and garden company whose goal for the past 27 years has been "to inspire and educate the gardener in you" by supplying garden centers nationally and home...

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