Have you seen the signs?

If you drive through Vassalboro proper or on the Dunham, Oak Grove or Bog roads, you may see a sign with the Vassalboro Historical Society logo advertising an Audio Tour stop, with a name, stop number, a QR code (like a barcode only square), and a phone number.Vassalboro Historical Society

If you call the phone number and at the prompt enter the stop number, you will hear a short description of the history of the stop. Using the QR scanner on a smart phone will link to the same site, but in a different way. The first of at least seven stops have been entered. Can you find them all?

Using OnCell technology which “is the leading digital storytelling platform for cultural destinations and other interesting places,” the historical society joins the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Denver Botanic Gardens, and the National Park Service in providing a technology-based way to reach out.

It is hoped this is a first step in connecting the technology savvy with the wonderfully rich history of Vassalboro. For more information about how you can be a part of the Vassalboro Historical Society, call the museum at 207-923-3505 or by e-mail at vhspresident@hotmail.com.

CRLA Youth Corps installs rock ramp on White House Road bridge

Submitted by Frank Richards,
President, Webber Pond Association

Since approximately 2010, the China Region Lakes Alliance, the Three Mile Pond Association, and the Maine Department of Marine Resources have been slowly improving fish passage on Seaward Mills Stream, which connects Three Mile and Webber ponds.

This year the Youth Conservation Corps installed a rock ramp at the old cement culvert on the White House Road to help sea-run alewives, navigate the “lip,” when they return from the ocean to spawn in May. However, it will help all species move in and out of the pond, particularly trout in the spring and bass during the summer.

White House Road bridge before

Before the ramp was installed.

The lip on the old cement culvert is over a foot deep, which is enough to totally stop fish passage at low flows. Rock ramps are one of the simplest and cheapest methods to fix a problem like that.

White House Road bridge after

After rock ramp was installed.

It took a morning to dump the rocks and arrange them as a ramp. Bigger rocks were carefully placed to establish current breaks, which will provide an easier entrance into the culvert for fish headed upstream to Three Mile Pond.

I’d like to encourage trout anglers to give this spot a try in late April and early May. Those breaks should provide an interesting fish holding area, when the water is higher. Access to the site is easy.

Next spring will bring a re-evaluation. Almost surely, adjustments will be needed. That’s the beauty of a small scale project. You can make continuous low cost improvements, until you get what you want.

Many people and organization worked on this. The Three Mile Pond Association provided the rocks, the Youth Conservation Corps provided the labor, China Region Lakes Alliance provided the permitting and the Department of Marine Resources provided the design.

Youth Conservation Corps and Department of Marine Resources

The combined crew (Youth Conservation Corps and Department of Marine Resources), taken a little after the work was finished. Please note future biologist John Gray in the center of the photo.
Photos courtesy of Frank Richards, President of Webber Pond Association.

Three area students named to the University of Vermont dean’s list

The following local students have been named to the dean’s list for the spring 2016 semester at the University of Vermont, in Burlington, Vermont:

Delaney Curran, of Skowhegan. Curran is a biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Kaitlyn Sutter, of Palermo. Sutter is a professional nursing major in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
Emily Higgins, of Waterville). Higgins is an athletic training education major in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of August 18, 2016

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

WALLS, do we hear what is said or do we interpret a statement as we think it is intended?   WALLS, this 86-years-young was
taught to listen and learn.  Yes, faithful readers who are younger than I am are expected to step into a time-machine and interpret what is said.  Well, my time-machine has a lot more information or actions than our faithful readers who are taken back only 10 or 20 or even 40 or 50 years.  Is this the USA that I grew up in?  Is my USA the one that younger folks wish for or do youngers consider those in my time-machine too old?

Delbert Corson took me back to 1936 and a few years later when he called to say he enjoyed WALLS.  Yes, our time machine took us back to our childhood when kids played hide and seek in the neighborhood or, get this, faithful readers,  ‘chums’ and us playing baseball in Mr. Devall’s cow-pasture, where Skowhegan’s Armory Building now stands.  Yup, I think the cowflaps were our bases!  That pasture on North School Street also was our sledding spot.  Why not?  Mémère Zelie just had to look out the living room window to assure our well-being and the phone number for all the neighborhood had been memorized, just in case a parent was needed.  Ah, Delly (his name to us kids), thanks for the reawakening of memories.

Speaking of ‘memories.’  Have you faithful readers visited the East Madison Historical Museum?  It’s worth the trip, you know.
There is so much memorabilia in that little building next to the East Madison Fire Station and, now, a surprise awaits when the new building that is being built is completed.  Just in case you are taking a ride up the East Madison Road on the first and third Thursdays of the month, stop by and reawake your memories of the area or learn something new.  The time?  1 – 4 p.m., the museum is open .  You may meet old friends Gary Malbon or Alfred Jackson as they drive nails for the new building or local historian Eric Lahti, who is now president.  The next monthly meeting of the EMHA is August 18, at 7 p.m.  Never to be forgotten are Marleen Brooks and the others who meet and create magnificently beautiful patchwork quilts.   The six East Madison Quilters presented the latest quilts that they made for veterans.  Yes, there were tears and applauses-a-plenty on the last day of the annual recent East Madison Days as each veteran was awarded a very special and beautifully designed quilt.  WALLS say ‘Thanks, Ladies, for your hard work and dedication.” And we are sure happy to have Merrit Burpee as a member.  Merrit grew up in East Madison and knows the rules that Lake Wesserunsett folks must follow to maintain its beauty.  Yes, we must be grateful that East Madison is ‘home.’

Answers to history exam at China Community Days

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Albion Neighborhood News, Week of August 18, 2016

by Mary Lee Rounds

The end of the Summer Reading Program will be celebrated with a story, music, ice cream party at the library on Tuesday, August 23, at 2 p.m.

Special guest will be Deanna Sawtelle playing the guitar.

Children have been reading and logging the books they have read.      The Albion Public Library has received  a copy of Hussey Road Neighborhood: Albion Corner & Environs 1850-1950.  This has been compiled and composed by former Albion resident, Alice McKiel Hyerstay.

This is a very complete study of the Hussey Road neighborhood, the people and properties, over a period of 100 years.

At the request of Mrs. Hyerstay, the material may not be removed from the library.  Pages may, however, be copied.

I think you will enjoy it!  Look for it in the MAINE collection.

A reminder for those who order books through Amazon.com.  Please type Amazon Smile Program in the search bar when you open Amazon, then select Albion Public Library as your choice (or choose any worthy charity).  Whenever you start from Amazon Smile, the library will receive a donation at no cost to you.

The library is truly grateful for the support given annually by the town and its generous friends.

Thank you to whomever mowed the lawn at the prior Maxine Jones house. Many people expressed concern over how “seedy” the place was beginning to look.  It may seem like a small thing, but people notice.

We finally have rain, a little late for many gardens, and Fall is on its way.  Children in some other states  have already started school.

Please,  those of you who pass against the lines, especially on the Albion to Benton Road,  remember, soon the children will be standing out waiting for the buses.  If you don’t care about yourself being in the wrong lane with oncoming traffic, think of the children.  They are out there early many days.

Give us your Best Shot! – Week of August 18, 2016

tufted titmouse

GROWING UP: This immature tufted titmouse was captured by Jayne Winters, of South China.

 

bluejay

IS IT OK TO EAT?: Michael Bilinsky, of China Village, photographed this bluejay at a feeding station.

 

eagles

WAITING FOR A MEAL: Betty Dunton, snapped these two eagles along the Rail Trail, as they scout the Kennebec River.

Track and field action

Photos by Mark Huard, owner Central Maine Photography

Logan Tardif

Logan Tardif, 11, of Waterville, competing in the USATF summer youth program through the parks and rec department. He was a double medalist earning two bronze medals.

 

Eric Boot

Eric Booth, of Winslow, competing in the 100 meter hurdles at the state championships, in Augusta.

Porcupines are everywhere

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

While traveling into Waterville over the past weekend, I saw no less than five porcupines, either laying dead by the side of the road or splattered over the travel lane. Like everyone else, I have seen dead animals on the highways, but nothing like the carnage I witnessed this past weekend.

Porcupines, because they are primarily nocturnal, are vulnerable to collisions with automobiles. Their dark coloring make them more difficult to see after dark.

Porcupines, Erethizon dorsatum, are the third largest rodent, behind the capybara and beaver. They can grow to be 25-36 inches long, and weigh between 12 – 35 pounds. They are rounded, large and slow-afoot.

Porcupine

Porcupine

Their range includes most of Canada and western United States south to Mexico. In the east, they can be found in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and New England.

Porcupines are not social creatures. They prefer to spend their time by themselves. However, two of the porcupines I saw were probably mother and child – one was much larger than the other. Porcupines mate in late summer and early fall. Unlike most polygymous mammals, the young are cared for by the female.

Of course, the most recognizable feature of porcupines are their quills. A porcupine may have as many as 30,000 quills. They are hairs with barbed tips on the ends. Quills are solid at the top and base and hollow for most of the shaft. They have quills all over their bodies except on their stomachs. The longest quills are on the rump and the shortest on the cheeks. Porcupines use the quills only for defense. When a predator approaches, the porcupine will turn its back, raise the quills and lash out at the threat with its tail. If the porcupine hits the animal with its quills, they will become embedded in the animal. Its body heat will cause the barbs to expand, and become more deeply embedded. If the animal is hit in a vital place it may die. Porcupines are not aggressive animals, and will only attack if it feels threatened. If all warnings fail, a porcupine will erect its quills, and release a nasty scent.

Porcupine quills have recently inspired a new type of hypodermic needle. Due to backward-facing barbs on the qills when used as needles they are particularly good at two things – penetrating the skin and remaining in place.

Porcupine quills

Porcupine quills

Porcupines are herbivores and eat leaves, twigs, and green plants like skunk cabbage and clover. They also eat apples. Years ago, while driving through North Vassalboro on Rte. 32, I observed a porcupine staggering down the road on the center line. It looked like it was drunk. And it was. I had been an unusually hot and dry summer (sound familiar?), and apples were prematurely falling from trees, fermenting on the ground in the heat. According to Maine Game Wardens, it was a problem they were having that year, even with deer. As everyone knows, fermenting fruit produces alcohol.

Other foods consumed are raspberry stems, grasses, flowering herbs. They also have a tremendous craving for salt. They will chew on wooden handles of human tools, other human-made wood structures and areas of collected roadside salt runoff. That is what makes them susceptible to collisions with cars. They prefer to eat after dark because of the changes in plant chemistry at night.

As mentioned before, porcupines are solitary animals, although they may den with other porcupines in the winter. They do not hibernate but may stay in their dens during bad weather. Porcupines are excellent swimmers because their hollow quills make them extremely buoyant. They are also excellent tree climbers. They are also very vocal, especially during the mating season when their calls may vary to include moans, grunts, coughs, wails, whines, shrieks and tooth clicking.

Porcupines are relatively long-lived. The longest living porcupine has been recorded at 27 years.

But, even with their potentially lethal defense mechanism, they can fall prey to fishers and mountain lions. Fishers will attack repeatedly from the front, avoiding the dangerous tail quills, until they are able to flip the porcupine on its back, attacking the unprotected belly. Mountain lions on the other hand make no attempt to avoid the quills of the porcupines, instead they attack at will and deal with the consequences.

Libertarian party mascot

Libertarian party mascot

Other interesting facts relating to porcupines is that in 2006, Kevin Breen created a political mascot, a porcupine similar to the animals that represent the two major political parties in the U.S.; the Democrats’ donkey and the Republican elephant. The porcupine image is often used to represent the Libertarian party.

Porcupines were once revered by Native American cultures throughout the continent as a food source, for the quills as decoration, and legendary status. Today, they are mostly considered as a pest. Bounties, large poisoning efforts and unregulated killings have only recently been discontinued.

I’m Just Curious: My little sister

by Debbie Walker

I will get to the subject involving my little sister after a while but first:

It’s kind of strange how some areas of the country can be in desperate need of water because of fires or dry crops. Then in the same country we have areas that are being severely flooded. Let’s see, then we have areas where tornadoes are the activity of some days and nights. I guess our cross to bear is our snow and ice.

So……. we live in Maine. In my vehicle I have a first aid kit, small shovel, a blanket, a window smasher, seat belt cutter and various other handy gadgets. Also if there is a blizzard predicted I stay home because I can!  However, before moving to Florida I had plenty of snow and since I have been back these past two years.

Now I will get down to my real subject: MY LITTLE SISTER

Lyn lives in Arizona, in Phoenix, to be exact. Last week two days in a row Phoenix experienced flash floods. The first day Lyn was driving home in the mess. Her home, thankfully, was still a bit higher and dry. However, her trip from office to home was no treat, quite an experience from what I understand.

My answer to this situation is to put life jackets in her car and her husband’s vehicle. Not in a trunk but inside with them! Useless in the trunk! Do you know what she told me? Remember now, she is the youngest sister! She told me NO! She said NO! Her reasoning is flash floods hadn’t happened for 20 years! NO but you had two in two days!

It’ll be interesting when she gets the life jackets in the mail! Hey, maybe I’ll order her a little two persons and dog and cat inflatable boat. I do know that it sounds kind of crazy to be talking about this in a desert state. They would have to do some practicing with the boat to make sure they could avoid the long needle cactus, don’t want holes in boat.

Oh nuts, I forgot they do have sand storms out there too. Guess I will have to work on that.

I found a couple of these sayings and want to pass them on:

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull strong.

One thing I want to remember in volunteering in the school is “words that soak into your ears are whispered….not yelled.

This one is cool and would appear to be common sense, “do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.”