CHINA: No progress on Neck Road Fire Pond

Neck Road fire pond.

by Mary Grow

China selectmen had a short meeting with no major decisions March 19, their last before voters act on their proposed budget for 2018-19 and related items at the March 24 town business meeting.

Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux reported no progress on the fire pond on Neck Road because landowner Tom Michaud is out of state. At their earlier March meeting, board members approved a draft memorandum of agreement for Michaud’s review. Board members voted unanimously March 19 to spend no more money on the pond until they have a satisfactory plan in place.

On another ongoing issue, they directed the manager to ask the state Department of Transportation to conduct a speed study on the causeway at the head of China Lake’s east basin, where the town plans to spend Tax Increment Finance funds to replace the existing bridge and enhance recreational use of the area.

Board Chairman Robert MacFarland said the legal speed limit is 45 miles an hour, in spite of a 25 mile an hour sign on one end of Causeway Street (which runs from Main Street in China Village to Lakeview Drive). Resident Paul Lucas suggested selectmen invite non-resident taxpayers to a meeting in the summer to give them information on where their tax money goes, let them ask questions and help them feel part of the community. Selectmen liked the idea; discussion will be continued at a future meeting.

The annual town business meeting begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 24 (if there is a quorum of 120 registered voters) at China Primary School, off Lakeview Drive behind China Middle School.

Copies of the 2016-17 town report, which includes the 43-article warrant for the meeting, are available at the town office and on the town web site. The warrant is also available on website at

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting will fall on Monday, April 2.

Maine Maple Sunday on tap March 25

Raider Sugarhouse

The 35th Maine Maple Sunday will take place on Sunday, March 25. Sugarhouses throughout Maine will provide tours, free samples and demonstrations on the process of transforming maple sap into maple syrup. Locally, Raider’s Sugarhouse, located at 148 Bog Road, in China, will have an open house from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. A family operation, they are in their fourth year of producing quality maple syrup. Dress warm and wear boots as the sugarhouse is located about 500 feet from the main road via a tote road and is accessible only on foot. Restrooms are available. FMI: 968-2005.

CHINA: Central Church to open in May in old Fairpoint building

Central Church (previously known as Kennebec Community Church) will be opening its doors on May 6, in the old Fairpoint Building, on Rte. 3, in South China.

The church is all about three things. Loving Jesus, loving others, and helping others love Jesus. The services are fun to go to. Most people, when they think of a church service, think of a lot of old songs played on an organ and a lecture from someone exceptionally boring.

Hannah Gow, creative director at the church, says, “Our services are alive. You come in and listen and sing along with our band worshiping our Lord and Savior.”

And then the congregation get to hear from their dynamic speaker and lead pastor Dan Coleman. “I promise, he’s funny and not boring to listen to,” said Gow. “He’s very clear and says what needs to be said. We don’t shy away from the truth here but we make sure how we communicate is easy to understand.”

They are not a church only reserved for a Sunday morning experience. “We love our community,” explained Gow, “and are constantly putting on events to show the community we are there for them. Some of these events include a free soccer camp, an Easter Egg Hunt event, a halloween Trunk or Treat event, and more!”

The Easter Egg Hunt event in China will take place on Saturday, March 24.

“I have never felt so connected to my community until I came and got plugged into this church,” said Gow. “It’s as if the church becomes a hub for the community. A safe place for people to connect but more importantly grow in their faith.”

And that’s what they want to bring to China. Something that is alive and a place that the community can come together.

China planners hear application on camp for teens

by Mary Grow

China Planning Board members are scheduled to review one application at their March 27 meeting.

Wesley and Susan Horton have applied to use a building at 24 Pond Hill Road, at the north end of Three Mile Pond, as a leadership development camp for teenagers. The building was formerly a company retreat, according to the planning board agenda; the property is partly in shoreland and resource protection districts.

After discussion of the Hortons’ application board members intend to return to consideration of potential amendments to local ordinances.

The Planning Board meets at 6:30 p.m. March 27, in the town office meeting room.

Thank you for found dog


Lori Benson, of China, thanks all the kind and wonderful people in the town of China who helped look for her missing dog, Tucker. Your kindness is appreciated! He has been found and is doing well.

China Police log for January 2018

The China Police Log is provided to The Town Line by Detective Sergeant Tracey Frost of the Oakland Police Department

MONDAY, January 8:

7 a.m., bad check followup.
5:40 p.m., DHHS complaint

TUESDAY, January 9:

7 a.m., School zone detail, Lakeview Drive.
7:32 a.m., traffic stop, Lakeview Drive. Warning for school zone speed.
7:44 a.m., traffic stop, Lakeview Drive. Warning for school zone speed. Summons for Insurance.

THURSDAY, January 11:

10 a.m., Field training.
11:15 a.m., fraud complaint Rte. 3, investigated.
11:30 a.m., traffic stop, Lakeview Drive warning for speed.

MONDAY, January 15:

10 a.m., business check, Lakeview Dr.
10:30 a.m., business check, Vassalboro Rd.
11:30 a.m., traffic stop, Lakeview Dr., warning for speed.
11:44 a.m., traffic stop, Lakeview Dr., warning for expired registration.
11:51 a.m., checked with ice fishermen, Causeway Rd.
12:12 p.m., business check, Rte. 3.
12:18 p.m., business check, Rte. 3
12:22 p.m., business check, Rte. 3
12:30 p.m., traffic stop, Rte. 3, warning for inspection.
12:45 p.m., business check, Windsor Rd.
12:50 p.m., traffic stop, Windsor Rd., warning for speed.
1 p.m., traffic complaint, Rte. 3, by Tobey’s, negative contact.
1:33 p.m., traffic stop, Alder Park Rd., summons for inspection violation.
1:45 p.m., traffic stop, Alder Park Rd., warning for speed.

SUNDAY, January 21:

9:32 a.m., property check, South China boat landing.
9:40 a.m., business check, Vassalboro Rd.
9:50 a.m., business check, Vassalboro Rd.
10 a.m., stationary radar, Rte. 3.
10:15 a.m., property check, Primary School.
10:40 a.m., property check, Middle School.
11:09 a.m., traffic stop, Main St., warning for speed.
11:26 a.m., business check, Lakeview Dr.
11:40 a.m., business check, Lakeview Dr.

MONDAY, January 22:

11:30 a.m., attempted burglary, Village Rd.

SUNDAY, January 28:

4 p.m., suspicious vehicle, Alder Park Rd.

China selectmen re-discuss Neck Road fire pond

The Neck Road Fire Pond, in China. Photo by Roland D. Hallee

by Mary Grow

After an executive session that lasted more than an hour, China selectmen spent most of the rest of their March 7 meeting re-discussing the fire pond on Neck Road.

The executive session was called to consult with counsel and on a personnel issue. No action was taken afterward.

The fire pond was proposed by China Village Fire Chief Tim Theriault and endorsed by landowner Tom Michaud to give firefighters a source of water close to the end of Neck Road. After voters in November approved $8,500 for the project, an existing pond was enlarged, with the original plan amended to limit the work to Michaud’s land.

The almost-completed work was criticized sharply in late 2017 and early 2018. Selectmen and others said the steep sides, which made it impossible for a person or animal who fell in to get out, were dangerous; they were also unstable and would erode, perhaps threatening the shoulder of Neck Road.

Board members discussed fencing, redesign and other possible fixes.

They had also failed to get a written agreement with Michaud, leaving the town’s right to be on his property and any liability issues that might arise in doubt. The result was that at the March 7 meeting selectmen described the project as “out of whack” (Jeffrey LaVerdiere) and “somewhat of a real fiasco” (Chairman Robert MacFarland) as they discussed a draft memorandum of understanding with Michaud.

The non-final draft they asked Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux to forward to Michaud proposes that the town and Michaud agree on a sale, lease or easement giving the town the right to build and maintain the pond, if voters approve and if voters appropriate more money for additional costs. The additional costs are estimated at a minimum of around $25,000, not including paying a general contractor to oversee future work, as suggested by Selectman Donna Mills-Stevens.

The warrant for the March 24 town business meeting does not include any article related to the fire pond.

The warrant does include, with the annual appropriations for the fire departments and China Rescue, a request that voters authorize lump sum payments to the fire departments, as allowed under a new state law sponsored by Rep. Theriault.

L’Heureux said if voters approve, each department’s treasurer should be bonded. China Village department treasurer Dale Worster told selectmen he had submitted his bonding application; board members asked the manager to remind the other two departments.

L’Heureux asked selectmen’s permission to buy a new copier with money from the current year’s budget. They asked him to look into leasing instead of buying and postponed action until they have comparative prices.

China’s town report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017, was available at the meeting. Selectman Irene Belanger praised the committee reports, which she said should save time at the March 24 business meeting by answering many of residents’ questions. Budget committee member Wayne Chadwick objected that the town report includes too few details, especially on expenditures.

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 19, with the Broadband Committee scheduled to meet simultaneously. Recently, however, China selectmen have repeatedly changed their announced meeting time, usually moving it earlier.

The board of appeals meeting postponed from March 8 due to snow is rescheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, March 22. Ralph Howe, owner of Bio Renewable Fuels on Dirigo Road, has asked board members to reconsider their Feb. 15 dismissal, on procedural grounds, of his earlier appeals of actions by Codes Officer Paul Mitnik.

CHINA: Historic preservation, infrastructure needs top town meeting warrant

by Mary Grow

China voters will have an unusual number of specific decisions to make at their annual town business meeting, scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, March 24, at China Primary School (off Lakeview Drive behind China Middle School).

A quorum of 120 registered voters is required to open the meeting.

Most of the new issues involve historic preservation and local infrastructure needs. With 2018 the 200th anniversary of the incorporation of the Town of China, Selectman and Bicentennial Coordinator Neil Farrington and others organized a Feb. 5 celebration, have plans for more activities in the summer and are trying to arouse interest in preserving tangible reminders of China’s history.

The town has already lost at least one historic church and one Masonic Hall; most of its one- and two-room schoolhouses and the two buildings that housed China Academy, one after the other; the tracks and most of the buildings associated with the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington narrow-gauge railway; and recently the Dinsmore mill in Branch Mills. The once-active China Historical Society has not met regularly for years.

At the March 24 meeting, voters will be asked to hear a report from Farrington and to appropriate funds for his work, for continued maintenance of the old town house and Weeks Mills schoolhouse and for two specific projects: installing water and septic systems in the Weeks Mills schoolhouse to make it useable for community purposes, and buying the Branch Mills Union Church. The schoolhouse project (Art. 25) is expected to cost up to $20,000. The price for the church is $100; the belief is that town ownership will make it easier to get grants and donations – Art. 41 asks that up to $80,000 be authorized – to preserve the building.

The proposed infrastructure projects are the purchase of a precrusher/compactor and a new forklift for the transfer station, at a maximum cost of $80,613 (Art. 17) and two specific road projects, repaving the north end of Dirigo Road and replacing a large culvert under Bog Road, at an expected cost of up to $200,000 (Art. 19).

Voters are also asked to appropriate up to $20,000 in Tax Increment Finance (TIF) funds for the LakeSmart program, which helps lakefront landowners control run-off (Art. 34), and to appropriate up to $22,000 from TIF funds, if applicable, or Unassigned Fund Balance (surplus) to update China’s comprehensive plan (Art. 43).

Selectmen and budget committee members recommend approval of all proposed expenditures, not always unanimously. Budget committee member Wayne Chadwick dissented on requests for up to $50,000 in TIF funds for administrative work (Art. 6); the transfer station purchases in Art. 17, joined in dissent by Tom Rumpf; and the schoolhouse waste and septic systems in Art. 25. Chadwick also opposed the $4,500 request from the Albert Church Brown Memorial Library, but endorsed the article (Art. 26) because it includes the same amount for the South China Library.

The budget committee splintered on the proposal to buy the Branch Mills church: Chairman Robert Batteese, Valerie Baker and Secretary Jean Conway voted to recommend it, Chadwick and Rumpf voted not to and Tim Basham and Kevin Maroon abstained.

The March 24 decisions do not include the 2018-19 school budget, which will be voted on later in the year.

Download the China Town Warrant from the Town Office website or click here!


Opiates in Central Maine: The Problem of Pain

The number of Mainers who died of a drug overdose rose to 418 in 2017, driven by a 27 percent increase in deaths due to illegal fentanyl, while heroin related deaths decreased slightly, according to Maine Attorney General Janet Mills. (In the graphic, one needle equals 10 deaths in Maine.)

by Eric W. Austin

Her name? It’s not important. She lives right here in China and could easily be your next-door neighbor or relative. You’ve probably passed her going into the post office or exchanged neighborly smiles down at Hannaford. Maybe she goes to your church.

In her early 60s, with long, graying hair pulled back in an untidy ponytail, she looks a bit like a country librarian. She orders only tea, and I can tell she’s a little nervous by how tightly she holds her cup.

She has reason to be hesitant. It’s the same reason she prefers to remain anonymous. There’s a social stigma associated with drug addiction that means it’s mostly discussed in dark corners, with hushed voices. But it’s an issue that has touched many of the families in our community, and we can’t solve a problem we don’t discuss. That’s why she’s here with me now: hoping her story might bring greater awareness to a problem that is hammering our communities, destroying families, and taking lives.

Her son is addicted to heroin. Like many stories of addiction, this one began from a place of pain. For her son, that pain came in the form of social isolation and untreated depression. He was just a young kid, trying to fit in, and it began innocently enough, with teenage drinking. Under the influence, his anxiety and social awkwardness melted away and he felt, well, normal – like everybody else for once: finally able to shed his burden of perpetual anxiety and fear, and connect to those around him in a way that felt normal again. He began to hang around with other kids that also used drugs and alcohol as a way to ease their pain, social alienation, or to escape from a difficult world.

Inevitably, in the midst of this opioid epidemic, a friend eventually suggested he try heroin. From there, it didn’t take long for addiction to take hold of his life. The insidious nature of opiates makes them addictive on both a psychological and physical level after only a short time.

Working directly on the pleasure centers of the brain, opiates replace the brain’s ability to regulate pain and fear. For those already burdened with conditions such as depression or social anxiety, opiates can seem like a wonder drug – at first. But repeated use actually makes those conditions worse by replacing the brain’s own ‘capacity-to-cope’ with a pharmacological alternative. Like muscles that atrophy if unused, an addict can find his condition even worse after drug use stops.

Opiates have a similar effect on physical pain. While they may reduce pain temporarily, opiates also lower the user’s pain threshold, so when the drug wears off the pain is often more acute than before. That is one reason opiates can so quickly become addicting and are so difficult to give up.

This mother, fighting for the life of her son, gazes at me with a pain of her own shining in her eyes. “It’s a mental health issue as much as an addiction issue,” she says.

I nod. I’ve talked to a lot of people about addiction over the last few months. The problem of dealing with pain seems to be at the heart of all their stories. Whether of mental anguish or physical discomfort, it all comes down to our attempts to manage pain. Addiction often seems to be the result of our efforts to treat the symptoms rather than the root cause.

The current opioid crisis is actually a direct result of our society’s attempts to deal with the problem of pain. In the 1990s there was a movement in the medical community to be more aware of the treatment of pain in patients. In 2001, the Joint Commission, a medical standards and accreditation group, issued a new standard requiring that pain be “assessed in all patients.” Pain became the “fifth vital sign,” and a greater emphasis was placed on its assessment and treatment.

This had a ripple effect across our society in multiple ways. The greater emphasis on the treatment of pain put pressure on doctors to do more to relieve it.

After a hospital stay, patients receive a survey from the Joint Commission inquiring about their pain level. Those answers help determine a hospital’s rating with the commission. This subtle pressure encouraged doctors to prescribe more pain medication and keep patients on it for longer (or at least until after they’d returned the pain assessment survey).

The change did not go unnoticed by pharmaceutical companies, who ramped up their marketing efforts and found new ways to incentivize doctors into prescribing opiates and consumers into asking for them. It didn’t help that the marketing was often deceptive and underplayed the addictive potential of those drugs.

The increased focus on pain resulted in more opiates being prescribed, which created a larger market of opiate users; and keeping patients on them for longer increased the chances of addiction. As the addictive danger of opiates gained greater awareness and doctors became more circumspect about prescribing them, patients cut off from their prescriptions turned to black-market heroin instead. In turn, this demand stimulated the black-market supply of heroin. As the market for heroin grew, suppliers stepped up their game with better quality and supply. This resulted in users of other drugs, like cocaine, turning to heroin instead.

All of this created a snowball effect which has led to our current addiction crisis and laid fertile ground for troubled kids to get caught up in it. And yet we’ve done little about the real issue at the heart of the problem: pain.

I look up at the lady sitting across from me. Neighbor, mother, and now addiction advocate. “I’m one of the lucky ones,” she tells me. “My son is still alive.”

Eric Austin lives in China and writes about community issues and technology. He can be reached by email at

See also Opiates in Central Maine: Not just a National Issue

China Scouts provide morning worship service on Boy Scout Sunday

On February 4, Boy Scout Sunday, the Boy Scouts from Troop #479, along with some of their leaders, provided the Morning Worship Service at the China Baptist Church. The Scouts, under the leadership of Scoutmaster Scott Adams, have taken part in Scout Sunday Worship service for the last 26 years. Very few Boy Scout troops in the Kennebec Valley District are provided this opportunity.

The Scouts from Troop #479 were invited to prepare some of the worship service by Rev. Ronald Morrell. Under Rev. Morrell’s direction and with assistance from the Troop Chaplain Aide, Scout Rémy Pettengill and committee member Ron Emery, the worship service gave each of the Scouts a chance to participate in the Sunday Morning Worship, as follows:

Call to Worship by Scout Aiden Pettengill;
Invocation by Galen Neal;
Responsive Reading – The Scout Law by Scout Alex Stewart;
Preparation for Prayer by Tucker Leonard;
Pastoral Prayer by Scout Nivek Boostedt;
Children’s Sermon – Who was Robert Baden-Powell? – by Leader Ron Emery;
The Scout Beatitudes by Scout Hunter Praul;
Prayer of Thanksgiving and Dedication by Scout Sam Boynton;
Reading “When You Walk Through the Woods” by Scout Rémy Pettengill;
Gifts of the People (Offering) by Scouts Rémy Pettengill, Roger Files, Ayden Newell, and Andrew Weymouth;
Benediction by Scout Michael Boostedt.

The 12th point of the Scout law, a Scout is Reverent, was exemplified by the Scouts.

A large congregation including boys and leaders in uniforms enjoyed the Sunday service. The China Baptist Church sponsors Boy Scout Troop #479.

Fellowship Hour was hosted by Troop #479 in the vestry.