Letters to the Editor, Week of January 11, 2018

The China Bicentennial

To the editor:

Let’s start with the year [we had] without a summer, 1816. Imagine a town that bases its whole existence on farming or selling goods to the farmer. Without summer it’s impossible to raise food and grain for your family and farm animals. Families came together and survived.

In the summer of 1817 word was passed around that Maine would become the 23rd state with the Missouri Compromise. A non-slave state with towns incorporated by the Massachusetts Legislators. A delegation from the north end of Harlem traveled to Boston to get incorporated as China.

On February 5, 1818, an agreement was made but when ratified by the town in June the southern portion did not agree with their northern neighbors. They remained the town of Harlem for another four years. Was it because of a strong religious difference (Baptist in the north, Quaker in the south) or a strong community bonded by a bad year for planting in 1816?

Our bicentennial this year will look at what life was like in 1818. Living with wood heat, no electricity, canning, drying meats and fruits, making your clothes and making soap to hand wash them. Taking care of your neighbors just as you care for your livestock. It was a time of survival, but it also produced generations who lived and prospered in China.

For them, we must celebrate 200 years as the Town of China. Please join me.

Neil Farrington
China bicentennial coordinator

China Police Log for November/December 2017

China Police Log

(provided by Detective Sergeant Tracey Frost of the Oakland Police Department)


November 2: 2 – 5 p.m., checking camp roads and side roads on the east side of China Lake.
November 4: 9:30 a.m. – 2.30 p.m., checking camp roads and side roads on the west side of China Lake.
November 5: 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., checking the remainder of roads in town
November 9:

6 p.m., traffic stop Lakeview Drive, warning issued for speed.
6:35 p.m., traffic stop Lakeview Dr., warning issued for speed.
7 p.m., business check.
7:20 p.m., assist Kennebec Sheriff’s Office with a business alarm on Jones Road.
7:30 p.m., business check.
7:50 p.m., car – deer accident on Waterville Road.
8:15 p.m., car – deer accident on Waterville Road.
8:30 p.m., transport home driver whose car was damaged.
8:55 p.m., assist motorist on Rte. 3

November 10:

10:55 a.m., assist motorist on Neck Rd.
11:19 a.m., property check at Thurston Park.
11:35 a.m., debris in roadway on Parmenter Hill Road.
11:49 a.m., assist China Fire Dept.
12:15 p.m., assist other agency on Rte. 3.

November 18:

1:23 p.m., traffic stop on Windsor Road. Summons for no insurance.
1:50 p.m., business check.
2:15 p.m., business check.
2:30 p.m., business check.
2:45 p.m., business check.
3 p.m., radar detail on Rte. 3.
3:30 p.m., residence check.

November 25:

11:10 .m., debris in roadway on Lakeview Dr.
11:30 a.m., debris in roadway on Lakeview Drive.
12:10 p.m., assist motorist on Vassalboro Road.
12:27 p.m., traffic stop on Windsor Road, warnning for speed.
12:42 p.m., traffic stop on Windsor Road, warning for speed.
12:51 p.m., traffic stop at Hannaford parking lot, summons for no insurance, warning for inspection.
1:15 p.m., property check at South China boat landing.
1:40 p.m., business check on Lakeview Drive.
2:02 p.m., traffic stop on Waterville Road, warning for inspection sticker.


December 1:

11:15 a.m., traffic stop on Windsor Road, warning for speed.
11:25 a.m., assist other agency on traffic stop on Windsor Road.
12:05 p.m., traffic stop onLakeview Dr., warning for speed.
12:23 p.m., business alarm, Causeway Drive building checked.
12:46 p.m., traffic stop on Rte. 3, summons for no insurance.
1:15 p.m., traffic stop PVRR, warning for no inspection, summons for no license.
1:20 p.m., intoxicated subject at Circle K, transported to Winslow.
1:35 p.m., property check on Causeway Drive.
1:55 p.m., business check on Vassalboro Dr.

December 9:

5 p.m., business check on Rte. 3.
5:17 p.m., business check on Rte. 3.
5:55 p.m., residence check on Village Road.
6:35 p.m., assist motorist on Vassalboro Road.
7:10 p.m., traffic stop, ATV on snowmobile trail, referred to game wardens.
7:30 p.m., property check at South China boat landing.

December 12:

1 a.m., report of criminal mischief on Neck Road, investigated.
10:30 a.m., report of trespass by motor vehicle on Neck Road, investigated.

December 16: funeral detail.

December 22:

6:37, traffic stop on Rte. 3, inspection violation, warning issued.
6:55 a.m., traffic stop on Rte. 3, inspection violation, warning issued.
7:10 a.m., radar detail at Erskine Academy school zone.
10 a.m., delivered holiday assistance package on Hanson Road.
10:20 a.m., delivered holiday assistance package on 50 Fire Road.
10:40 a.m., delivered holiday assistance package on Deer Hill Road.
11:30 a.m., delivered holiday assistance package on Demerchant Road.
12:30 p.m., delivered holiday assistance package on Tobey Drive.
12:45 p.m., delivered holiday assistance package on Parmenter Hill Road.
1:10 p.m., delivered holiday assistance package on Shuman Road.
2:15 p.m., delivered holiday assistance package on Albion Road.

December 26:

9:15 a.m., traffic stop on Alder Park Road, warning for speed.
11:20 a.m., business check on Lakeview Drive.
11:55 a.m., business check on Windsor Road.
12:20 p.m., business check on Windsor Road.
1 p.m., radar detail on Rte. 3.
1:45 p.m., business check on Vassalboro Road.
2 p.m., assist motorist out of gas on Lakeview Drive.

December 30:

11:10 a.m., traffic stop on Lakeview Drive, warning for speed.
11:38 a.m., business check on Lakeview Drive.
1210 p.m., business check on Windsor Road.
12:30 p.m., business check on Vassalboro Road.
1:40 p.m., business check on Vassalboro Road.
2:20 p.m., residence check on Neck Road.
3 p.m., residence check on Old Waterville Road.

CHINA: Short agenda leads to variety of discussions

by Mary Grow

China selectmen turned a short agenda into a variety of discussion topics at their between-holidays meeting on Dec. 27.

Called primarily to pay biweekly bills, the meeting included updates on the road crew’s work in the Christmas storm and on the new Neck Road fire pond; proposals to record selectmen’s meetings and to change the meeting time; ways to find a successor to Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux, who is retiring at the end of June; and plans to look into increased police service.

L’Heureux said the town road crew put in more than 50 hours during the Christmas storm, with satisfactory results. The new plow truck, which cost $77,000 plus trade-in, was in service, he said.

Board member Jeffrey LaVerdiere asked about progress on the fire pond, for which voters appropriated up to $8,500 in November. L’Heureux said the state Department of Environmental Protection approved the project, and digging to enlarge the existing pond started.

He doubts it will be possible to build a parking area for fire trucks to load water until spring. Also, he said, the town needs to get land and water easements from the two landowners involved.

Selectman Donna Mills-Stevens asked for further clarification from the state DEP on an old unresolved issue of alleged dumping on nearby land. The letter approving the fire pond does not appear to address the question, she said.

Mills-Stevens was the board member who proposed recording meetings. Board Chairman Robert MacFarland asked L’Heureux to look into the idea. Based on experience with written records, the manager doubted many residents would ask to hear recordings if they were made.

L’Heureux intends to present the draft 2018-19 budget at the board’s Jan. 8 meeting – he is still waiting for a small number of requests to arrive, he said. To allow time to begin budget review, board members agreed to start the Jan. 8 meeting at 6 p.m. They then discussed whether to change the meeting time permanently. Mills-Stevens said people tell her the meetings start and end too late; Irene Belanger said starting before 7 p.m. would not leave much time for working people who wanted to attend to eat supper first. No decision was made.

LaVerdiere told the board he knows an area resident with experience running offshore drilling rigs who might be interested in the manager’s position. His comment sparked discussion of ways to advertise the position. After the meeting, L’Heureux asked the Maine Municipal Association, of which China is a member, what assistance its staff can provide.

MacFarland reported that he and L’Heureux plan to meet with Oakland Police Chief Michael Tracy and Sergeant Tracey Frost, two of the Oakland officers who serve China, to talk about possibly increasing hours of coverage.

The China Board of Appeals is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4, to hear two administrative appeals from Bio Renewable Fuels Corp. on Dirigo Road. On Saturday, Jan. 6, the Four Seasons Club sponsors a rabies clinic from 11 a.m. to noon. More information on these and other meetings and events is available on the town website.

Vassalboro Selectmen plan ahead; set holiday schedule, and town meeting date for June 4

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen spent most of their Dec. 14 meeting planning ahead, including proposing multiple events in which town voters will – or should – take part.

One of the longer discussions was over the Christmas holiday schedule. State employees have been given holiday time from Friday, Dec. 22, through Tuesday, Dec. 26, and some municipalities follow the state schedule.

For Vassalboro, selectmen eventually agreed on what they consider fair treatment for town office and transfer station staff. The town office will be open until noon Friday, Dec. 22, and closed through Monday, Dec. 25. The transfer station will be open as usual Saturday, Dec. 23; on Sunday, Dec. 24, it will close at noon. Both facilities will open as usual Tuesday, Dec. 26, the transfer station at 6:30 a.m. and the town office at 8 a.m., and will be open all day.

Town Manager Mary Sabins presented a draft schedule of 2018 selectmen’s and budget committee meetings leading up to the annual town meeting. In 2018 the open town meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, June 4, with local elections and any other written-ballot items to be decided Tuesday, June 12.

As requested by selectmen, Sabins had a cost estimate for mailing a postcard reminder of the town meeting to each voter: about $1,000. Considering the expense is not in the current year’s budget, and doubting the cards would influence many voters, selectmen agreed by consensus not to do a mailing.

Also on the Dec. 14 agenda was the selectmen’s schedule of their own meetings. They agreed not to meet Thursday, Dec. 28, and to schedule their normal 2018 meetings, beginning Thursday, Jan. 11, at 6:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.

Not included in Sabins’ draft 2018 schedule are two other major items, one definite and one possible.

Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) #92 officials asked Vassalboro officials to hold a Tuesday, March 13, referendum on dissolving the AOS. Sabins had a ballot question prepared by the AOS’s attorney. She said polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the vote; she believes state law now requires that absentee ballots be available 60 days before the vote, instead of 45 days.

Selectmen were reluctant to schedule the referendum without a request from and discussion with the Vassalboro School Board, but given the absentee ballot timeline went ahead. Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus commented that either the school board or the selectmen should hold a public informational session before the vote.

Vassalboro voters might have an amended ordinance and a new ordinance to approve or reject either June 4 or June 12. If the planning board and selectmen agree to present one or both, public hearings will be required.

Codes Officer Richard Dolby gave selectmen drafts of the ordinances at the Dec. 14 meeting, an amended Building Permit Ordinance and a suggested new Tiny House Ordinance.

Dolby and planning board members have discussed the need to update the Building Permit Ordinance. Major changes are additions of references to relevant sections of the International Building Code, the International Existing Building Code and the International Residential Code. The codes are in a stack of books more than six inches high; Dolby showed selectmen a more reasonably sized summary that he said covers most local situations.

Dolby got a draft Tiny House Ordinance at a recent conference. Tiny houses, defined in the draft he has as residential buildings with less than 400 square feet of floor area, excluding lofts, are becoming more common, he said, and do not necessarily fit under building codes designed for larger residences.

Dolby also discussed with selectmen two ongoing land use violations, and board members mentioned other properties in town that appear not to conform to local regulations. Since the town attorney has not had time to address the violations, Dolby said he intended to find out procedures for beginning court action under his authority as Codes Officer. Selectmen did not object.

In other business Dec. 14, Sabins and Titus reported complaints and queries from residents visited by assessors asking to inspect their properties, part of Vassalboro’s routine quarterly reviews. Sabins said in addition to the sign on the vehicle door, assessing agents carry an identifying letter from her. Anyone uneasy about admitting them can ask them to return at another time, for example when more family members will be at home, or can refuse admission and let the assessors estimate the value of the property.

Board members approved Sabins’ draft request for bids for a new contract for solid waste hauling, with one addition. Sabins has a list of waste haulers who will be invited to bid; bids are due at the town office by noon Monday, Jan. 22.

Cemetery Committee member Jody Kundreskas asked selectmen to waive the town procurement requirement that says any purchase of goods or services over $2,500 needs to be bid out, in order to spend $3,500 plus expenses for an expert from New York State to do five days’ worth of stone repairs in Cross Hill Cemetery. Selectmen unanimously approved the waiver and asked for a more specific figure before they decide on the actual expenditure, which Sabins said would come from the Cross Hill Cemetery account.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11.

China Board to review Varney application, hold public hearing

by Mary Grow

At their Dec. 12 meeting, China Planning Board members heard pieces of two applications that will be before them again in January 2018 and later.

One they have already reviewed at length, Parris and Catherine Varney’s controversial application to use their barn at 701 Neck Road for weddings and other private, community and public events.

The second was a preliminary presentation on the proposed Dollar General store at the intersection of Route 3 and Windsor Road. Board members had numerous questions and suggestions for project representative Chris Nadeau, who said he plans to bring in a formal application in the spring of 2018.

Given the long history of reviews of the Varney project, which involved the town planning board and board of appeals and Kennebec County Superior Court, board members decided last month they need to rehear the application from the beginning. On Dec. 12, they voted unanimously that the application is complete and heard a short presentation from attorney Matt Evans, of Palermo, representing the Varneys.

Half a dozen interested residents were in the audience, and Board Chairman Tom Miragliuolo said he and the rest of the board had received numerous emails – 10 or 12, member Toni Wall estimated – supporting the application, some arriving just before the meeting.

The board therefore voted unanimously to hold a public hearing to consider public concerns and answer questions. They scheduled it for Tuesday evening, Jan. 16, a week later than their usual second-Tuesday meeting.

Nadeau said the Dollar General store will be a 7,500-square-foot building, the smallest the chain builds. The lot on which it is to sit, currently site of a house Miragliuolo said is 173 years old, is a little under an acre, barely meeting China’s minimum lot size requirement of 40,000 square feet.

The plan includes about 30 parking spaces. The entrance will be off Windsor Road, as far as possible from Route 3. Nadeau said the state Department of Transportation requires the driveway be 125 feet from the intersection, but might approve a waiver if the distance were only a little short.

Planning board members commented that drivers turning right off Route 3 are often traveling fast, creating possible problems with traffic, especially delivery trucks, turning into the store lot.

Nadeau said Dollar General stores are usually open seven days a week from 7 or 8 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. Hours vary with location and customer demand, he said.

Board members queried plans for screening the property, lighting, the well and septic system and planned dumpsters. Miragliuolo suggested Nadeau talk with neighbors about their preferences for things like screening and lighting.

The board chairman asked Nadeau if there would be extensive blasting during construction. Nadeau said test borings will locate ledge, if there is any.

Nadeau plans to submit a formal application early in 2018. Assuming approval, the tentative schedule calls for construction in the summer and a store opening in the fall. The only other permit-related item on the Dec. 12 agenda was final approval of the application for Kennebec Community Church to run a satellite church in the former Fairpoint building on Route 3. After re-reviewing the findings of fact justifying the vote that the proposal meets all China ordinance criteria, board members unanimously approved the permit.

Board members were also unanimous in agreeing not to hold a Dec. 26 meeting. The Jan. 16 hearing will be their next meeting.

China TIF committee agrees on two motions

by Mary Grow

China’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee members agreed unanimously on two motions at their Dec. 4 meeting, including, conditionally, a recommendation to town selectmen. The recommendation to selectmen is to ask voters to appropriate $20,000 in TIF funds for the China LakeSmart program, after they clarify allowable uses of TIF money, specifically whether it can be used to pay salaries.

China Lake Association President Scott Pierz asked for the assistance for LakeSmart. The program, headed by Marie Michaud, works with lakefront landowners to install buffers and other erosion control measures to protect China Lake water quality.Normally, Pierz said, the China Lake Association provides shrubs and other materials for projects; the China Region Lakes Alliance (CRLA) pays the salaries of the Youth Conservation Corps members who do the work. However, increases in the Maine minimum wage left CRLA short of money last summer, and the minimum wage is due to go up again in 2018.

TIF Committee members agreed that good water quality is a contribution to China’s economic development, so LakeSmart’s goal qualifies for TIF money. The remaining question is whether TIF funding, if approved by selectmen and town voters, would have to be restricted to materials only.

The second issue was the previously-discussed Susan Bailey property at the head of China Lake’s east basin. Committee members instructed Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux to find out whether the low area on the east side of Lakeview Drive can be filled in to create a parking area.

The property includes two separate parcels, about six acres of mostly wetland where people using the boat landing now park and 30 or more acres across Lakeview Drive, bounded by Lakeview Drive and Pleasant View Ridge Road.

Committee members want the small parcel as a key part of their plan to expand access at the head of the lake. The project is starting with a new causeway bridge, planned to include wide walkways from which people can fish.The two parcels are part of the same mortgage. L’Heureux said the attorney who was asked if they could be separated has not yet given an opinion. Joann Austin said separation, if allowed, would cost another $2,000 or so, requiring new surveys and valuations of each parcel. Some committee members favor paying up to $120,000 for both lots.

Frank Soares sent a letter to the Dec. 4 meeting stressing the larger lot’s value for overflow boat landing parking plus parking for those using the snowmobile trail that crosses the lot; protecting the east shore of the swamp, called the muldoon, north of the causeway; and giving the town the rest of the land “to develop, sell or trade for other uses.”

H. David Cotta opposed the purchase, pointing out the limited developable areas on the larger lot. Several other committee members questioned whether state or local environmental regulations would allow filling the low area to create the desired parking. Irene Belanger said the dip was created when the road was raised and is a drainage area for the road. At one point the complex discussion led committee member Dale Worster to propose looking elsewhere for lake access instead of trying to expand use of “the little corner” dictated by the existing boat ramp.

Ultimately, Tom Michaud made a motion asking L’Heureux to provide written proof the town can fill in the low area to make a parking lot if voters agree to buy the property. Otherwise, he said, there is no point in further discussion. The motion was unanimously approved. In other business, Austin provided very preliminary information on her proposed elderly housing project on Route 3, on land adjoining the former Fairpoint building (where the China Planning Board is close to approving a satellite Kennebec Community Church). As plans develop, she said, she intends to talk with China for a Lifetime Committee members; she is likely to seek TIF assistance eventually. Worster commented that her project sounded more useful than boat parking.

The next TIF Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, Jan. 15, 2018.

CHINA: Committee recommends new forklift, pre-crusher compactor for transfer station

by Mary Grow

China selectmen spent their Dec. 11 meeting looking ahead, including considering a Transfer Station Committee recommendation to buy equipment.

Committee members recommended replacing the forklift and adding a new pre-crusher compactor in the 2018-19 fiscal year. Selectmen later discussed buying a new forklift immediately; the old one is rickety enough to create safety concerns, several board members said.

Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said he authorized immediate repairs to make sure the machine is safe to use.

Bob Kurek, Palermo’s representative on the Transfer Station Committee, said the pre-crusher would compact demolition and debris to make hauling it away more efficient. Currently, he said, transfer station staff spend a lot of time tamping down debris with the front-end loader, and still get an average of only 6.6 tons per load. The pre-compactor should increase the average load to at least 10 tons, saving almost $3,300 a year in hauling fees.

At that rate, Kurek said, the $53,000 machine (plus an estimate $3,000 installation cost) would pay for itself in about 17 years. The model he suggests has a 25-year life span.

The pre-crusher could also serve as a back-up disposal box when the transfer station is unusually busy.

A new forklift would cost a little more than $24,000 or around $26,000, depending on the chosen machine, with trade-in, Kurek said. A good used one would be only about $6,000 cheaper.

If selectmen were to buy a new one in the current fiscal year, part of the payment could come from the transfer station reserve fund into which Palermo’s annual fee for sharing the facility is deposited.

Selectmen intend to revisit the issue in January 2018.

In other business Dec. 11, Regional School Unit (RSU) #18 Superintendent Carl Gartley attended to repeat in person his prior written invitations to selectmen and other interested town officials to tour China’s two schools. No date was set.

Gartley said the RSU is applying again for state funds to enlarge China Primary School so that China Middle School could be closed. There are 84 applications for major construction being submitted, he said; the state typically funds about a dozen in a 10-year period.

Meanwhile, more than $2 million of the $14 million bond issue RSU voters approved in November will be spend on China schools, Gartley said.

Selectmen accepted board member Neil Farrington’s offer to serve as coordinator for China’s 2018 bicentennial celebration, a post Farrington has been filling informally for more than a year in the absence of any other interested person.

Farrington proposed selectmen enter into discussions with trustees of the Branch Mills Union Church about the town taking responsibility for maintenance of the 1857 building.

The town, unlike a religious unit, can apply for historic preservation grants, he said. In addition to preserving a historic building, his proposal would even out support for China’s four villages, now that South China has gotten sidewalks and help with the library relocation, Weeks Mills has had its schoolhouse repaired and China Village has the causeway project funded with Tax Increment Financing (TIF) money.

By consensus, the rest of the board approved a professional inspection of the church.

In the other end of town, board member Donna Mills-Stevens said the planned fire pond on Neck Road needs approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection before work to enlarge the existing pond starts. Mills-Stevens had also found a report of waste dumped on one of the properties involved, with no evidence the state had closed out the issue.

According to the holiday schedule on the town web site, on Friday, Dec. 22, the transfer station will be open as usual and the town office will close at 2 p.m. On Saturday, Dec. 23, the town office will be closed and the transfer station will close at noon. Both will be closed Sunday, Dec. 24 and Monday, Dec. 25, as well as Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.

Selectmen agreed to close the town office Tuesday, Dec. 26, to conform to the state schedule. L’Heureux said the transfer station will be open half a day, 7 a.m. to noon, on Dec. 26, to avoid a big rush at the end of the holiday week.

Because the next regular China selectmen’s meeting would have been Christmas Day, board members rescheduled it to 8 a.m. Wednesday, Dec, 27.

CHINA: Planners revert to old method for reviewing conditional use applications

by Mary Grow

China Planning Board members agreed at their Nov. 28 meeting to return to their previous procedure for reviewing conditional use applications and went on to apply it. Until about a year ago, board members would usually review such applications, which are for new or expanded commercial or other non-residential uses, at one meeting and make a decision at the following meeting. That procedure gave neighbors a chance to comment and board members time to consider the comments and develop reasons for their decisions.

China’s ordinance lists 15 criteria an application must meet, dealing with effects on the environment and nearby properties. The ordinance and several court rulings require planning boards to prepare written findings of fact to substantiate their decisions on each criterion.

Recently the board has made numerous decisions in a single meeting, in the interest of avoiding delay for applicants. It has not been clear who should prepare the written findings of fact or how detailed they should be.

Members present at the Nov. 28 meeting agreed to return to the two-meeting process, with the codes officer to prepare the findings of fact after board members make decisions on the 15 criteria at the first meeting. The application before the board was from Kennebec Community Church, in Augusta, to use the former Fairpoint building on Route 3 as a satellite church. Joann Austin, who owns land on three sides of the church lot, was present and offered comments.

Pastor Dan Coleman and church member Rick Bergeron, who will be supervising renovations, said they plan few changes outside the building. Access from Route 3, parking, lighting, the well and septic system and most of the parking will not be affected. Additional handicapped parking spaces are to be designated.

The two major issues board members discussed were the septic system or systems and the plan to clear trees and vegetation between the building and Route 3 to increase visibility.

Codes Officer Paul Mitnik said the property has two septic systems; he added the capacities together to make sure the systems will accommodate the maximum number of people who could be in the building. Plans submitted showed only one system, and Bergeron was not aware of another. The issue is to be investigated.

The vegetated area toward Route 3 is at least partly a designated buffer required by China’s Phosphorus Control Ordinance, leading to multiple questions about how much clearing could be allowed and how church officials plan to maintain the buffer. Board members asked Mitnik to clarify the size of the buffer and location of retention ponds, and added a condition to the proposed permit saying any clearing would need the codes officer’s approval.

A majority of planning board members found the application met all 15 criteria. If requested information is supplied, final approval could be granted at the next board meeting, scheduled for Tuesday evening, Dec. 12.

Mitnik said there might be two commercial items on the Dec. 12 agenda, if applicants are ready: Parris and Catherine Varney’s re-application to use their barn on Neck Road for parties, and a preliminary discussion or new application for a Dollar General store on a small lot on the southwest corner of the intersection of Route 3 and Windsor Road.

The Planning Board has scheduled a site visit to the Varney property for 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Like board meetings, site visits are open to the public, but those present should not expect board members to answer questions individually, and no decisions are to be made.

The Varneys applied initially in 2016. After several planning board meetings attended by neighbors opposed to the project, a board of appeals hearing and a court refusal to consider the merits, Planning board members intend to rehear the application from the beginning, as advised by town attorney Alton Stevens.

Glowa announces run for state Senate seat

John Glow (image credit: ballotpedia)

John M. Glowa, Sr., a 31-year resident of China, has filed to run as a Maine Clean Election candidate for the District #15 Senate seat which includes Augusta, Sidney, Oakland, Vassalboro and China. Glowa retired from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in 2016 after more than 29 years of state service and ran in 2016 for the District #79 seat in the Maine House of Representatives.

“One of Maine’s biggest problems is our poorly functioning state government. We need to identify what is broken and fix it. Our system of checks and balances between the branches of government is virtually non-existent. Our legislature passes laws and establishes programs with little or no accountability for how those laws and programs are administered. We need an effective system of auditing all government programs and for holding our government accountable. The legislature and the governor overturn citizen’s initiatives and defy the will of the people by holding public monies hostage. We can no longer afford just window dressing when it comes to writing and passing legislation. Unless we identify and fix what is broken with the system, we will never have a government that is truly representative of the people and it will continue to be run largely by and for the special interests.

“We need a government that promotes opportunities for our young people and is capable of solving a myriad of problems including, but not limited to education, mental health, substance abuse, the environment, the economy, the needs of our growing elderly population, gun safety and taxes. We cannot afford a government that is inefficient, ineffective and wasteful. Maine doesn’t need career politicians.

“We need qualified, capable people in government who know what is wrong, how to fix it and who have the political courage to do so.

“Having served the people of Maine for some three decades, like thousands of State employees, I have been subject to the political whims of numerous legislatures and governors. We must recognize our employees’ hard work and dedication to public service. We must stop treating them as second-class citizens. We must encourage them to speak up for what is right, not punish them or prevent them from doing so. We must attract and retain the best and brightest because our government is only as good as the people in it.”

Glowa is a lifelong sportsman, environmentalist, and animal and wildlife advocate. He has attempted for more than a two decades to reform Maine’s broken system of fish and wildlife management. He is a strong advocate for Maine’s environment and ecosystem and for educating the public about the ecological and economic importance of restoring Maine’s natural predator/prey relationships including wolves. He is also a strong advocate for Maine’s economy and, in particular, its wildlife watching industry which generates $1.3 billion in annual economic activity, supports nearly 18,000 jobs, pays nearly $500 million in annual salaries and wages, and generates nearly $200 million in annual tax revenue.


COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Endangered – Clean Water Act

Image Credit: chinalakeassociation.org


by Lynne O’Connor
China resident

As a local China Lake Smart volunteer, I have seen the improvements citizens, volunteers, and organizations are bringing to our lakes, streams, and waterways.

However, on the federal level, two impending federal actions threaten Maine lakes and all streams, rivers, estuaries and marine environments to which they drain. The issues are radical cuts to Clean Water Act funding and repeal of the Clean Water Rule protecting wetlands and the headwater streams which provide the last remaining habitat for Eastern brook trout and feed all downstream waters. I urge you to ensure these vital protections for the integrity, health and benefits of Maine waters remain secure in 2018 and beyond.

The natural waters of Maine are our (as citizens of Maine) high value assets which generate over $3.5B in economic activity, are a joy to fishermen and all who enjoy the beauty and activities they provide, fuel 52,000 jobs, power local and property tax bases, and provide drinking water to 1/3 of our citizens each year. Currently, 53 of our 2,314 great ponds are impaired and bloom annually, more than 490 are ‘at risk from development,’ and 172 are High Priority Lake Watersheds (MEDEP). The only public funds available in Maine to prevent decline of Maine waters (lakes, streams, wells, all natural waters), and which restore impaired lakes, come from EPA’s Clean Water Act “Nonpoint Source (319)” Funds. Since 2008, seven lakes and one stream have been brought back from impairment by the 319 Program. Last year alone, fifteen 319 projects kept 500 tons of sediment, 550 pounds of phosphorus and 1,000 pounds of nitrogen out of Maine lakes and streams. Federal grants require in-state match, doubling their impact: $1,830,000 in 2015. Please see more info on this and the Clean Water Rule at http://mainelakessociety.org/advocacy/

What can you and I do? Call, Maine Senate: 1-800-423-6900, write, email, post, your concerns, and request our senators, Susan Collins and Angus King, vote against these changes in the Clean Water Act funding, and the repeal of the Clean Water Rule.