Local youth waiting for Big Brothers and Big Sisters

Nine-year-old Briannah is patiently waiting for the news that she has a Big Sister. She’s anxious to talk with her new friend about her interest in geology, maybe find unique rocks together in the Skowhegan community where she lives, and is especially excited to share her love for animals. Her mom, a single parent, hopes a one-to-one relationship with a female role model will give her daughter self-confidence, raise her aspirations and set her on the path to success.

Briannah is among 25 youth facing adversity in Kennebec and Somerset counties currently waiting to be matched with positive, adult role models to serve as community-based mentors through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine. According to Gwendolyn Hudson, BBBSMM executive director, about 60 percent of those waiting are young boys.

“It is not uncommon that women tend to volunteer to mentor more often than their male counterparts,” Hudson said, citing national BBBS of America statistics, but said the agency hopes to change that trend by finding caring, compassionate males in the community ready to share a little bit of their time to help change the life of a child.

BBBSMM recently started a “Waiting Wednesday” social media post on their Facebook and Instagram platforms, highlighting youth waiting to be match with community mentors.

Big Brother Richard Behr and his Little Brother, Jaxen, have been meeting every week for more than four years. Jaxen, now a teenager, was nine years old when they first met, and unsure what it would be like to have a Big Brother. His mother said he had intense anxiety in new situations and as a working parent with other young children at home, she recognized he wasn’t getting the one-on-one time with her that he used to. He was interested in outdoor activities, but didn’t have anyone to go with him. She said she hoped having a mentor would help Jaxen increase his confidence and give him the motivation to try new things.

Today, the match between Richard and Jaxen has brought them together to hike, snowshoe, fish and take on fun building projects together.

Adults interested in learning more about becoming a community-based mentor should contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine by calling 207-370-1674 or emailing reneeigo@bbbsmidmaine.org. For more information about how you can change the life of a child through volunteering or supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine, visit bbbsmidmaine.org.

Square dancers hold summer outing

Pictured above are Cindy Fairfield and Bob Brown, of Newport, in back are Larry and Kathleen Hillman, of Fairfield, and Margaret and Bruce Carter, of Ellsworth. Contributed photo

Pictured here are just a few of the Central Maine Square Dance Club members who attended this year’s club picnic. It was held on Sunday, July 29, at the summer cottage of Gary and Myra Chaloult, in Smithfield. The weather was very cooperative and the water was nice and cool, perfect for the day. The food was outstanding as was the opportunity to meet so many of friends off the dance floor. The Central Maine Square Dance Club meets every Tuesday night from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Waterville Jr. High school on the West River Road (Rte. 104), in Watervillle. A brand new season has started with new beginners classes. Call Bob at 447-0094 or Cindy at 631-8816 for more details .

This group also traveled to Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, for this year’s 10th anniversary festival which took place from Friday, August 24 – 26. That weekend saw almost 400 dancers attending to dance various levels of squares and also included round dancing. Those attending came from 17 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces of Canada. It’s always nice to see friends whom we haven’t seen in quite a while and also meet many newer friends.

Spectrum to raise residential video service rates

Charter Communications (locally known as Spectrum), continues to enhance their services, offer more of the best entertainment choices and deliver the best value. “We are committed to offering our customers with products and services we are sure they will enjoy, said Shelley Winchenbach, director of government affairs, in a letter to municipal officers. “Containing costs and efficiently managing our operations are critical to providing customers with the best value possible. Like every business, Charter faces rising costs that require occasional price adjustments. ”

As a result, customers will be notified of the following price adjustments through a bill message on or after October 1, 2018. Effective on or after November 1, 2018, pricing will be adjusted for residential video service:

  • Broadcast TV Surcharge from $8.85 to $9.95;
  • Spectrum Receiver from $6.99 to $7.50;
  • Digital Adapters from $4.99 to $5.99;
  • Latino View from $7.99 to $8.99.

“We remain committed to providing an excellent experience for our customers, in your community and in each of the communities we serve,” continued Winchenbach. If you have any questions about this change, you may contact Winchenbach at 207-620-3319 or via email at shelley.winchenbach@charter.com.

Mobile home replacement initiative now ongoing

The Maine State Housing Authority has implemented a Mobile Home Replacement Initiative, effective June 15, 2018. The program provides the combination of an amortizing, interest bearing Maine Housing Mortgage Loan and a $30,000 Maine Housing grant. The initiative is designed to assist income eligible Maine residents seeking to replace their pre-1976 mobile home with a new Energy Star certified manufactured home on the same site.

The borrowers must execute a deferred, forgivable note and mortgage to ensure compliance with the 15-year occupancy requirement.

Those eligible for this new limited-time opportunity are applicants who own and occupy a pre-1976 mobile home, defined as being built before June 15, 1976, and must qualify for a MaineHousing First Home or Salute ME mortgage in a first-lien position. The first-time home buyers requirement is waived.

The optional $30,000 grant requires a 15-year occupancy compliance period. All the funds can be applied to dismantle and remove the existing mobile home unit and install, on the original site, a new Energy Star certified manufactured home. Funds can be used to pay off an existing mortage loan, to pay for borrower closing costs, to pay for outstanding assessments, and site development costs.

The new units must be Energy Star certified manufactured homes which are permanently connected to water, sewer, electric and other utilities. The home must be anchored to a permanent foundation in accordance with provisions set forth by the Maine Manufactured Housing Board with the wheels, axles, towing hitch and tongue removed. The land on which the home is located can be owned by the applicants, private leased land or in an approved park.

Under the new initiative, borrowers must be credit qualified for a Home Mortgage Program payable loan.

Income qualifications are: in Kennebec, Somerset, Knox and Lincoln counties, $54,480 for 1-2 persons, and $62,640 for three persons or more.

A sample transaction would be $65,000 for a new Energy Star home, $35,000 project costs, to include site preparation, slab, utility hook-ups, removal of the existing home, paying off an existing mortgage and closing costs, for a total of $100,000. Subtracting the credit for the grant brings the mortgage total to $70,000, which, with 4.5 percent interest (APR of 5.11 percent), would equal a monthly payment of $354.68. Costs will vary by case, with interest rates subject to change. The payments are based on a 30-year term.

For more information, visit www.mainehousing.org or www.MaineHousing.org/HomeLoan; or telephone 207-626-4663 or 800-452-4668.

Jigsaw puzzles topic at Kennebec Historical Society

Jigsaw puzzles originated in Europe in the mid-1700’s in the form of “dissected maps” to teach geography to young children. American production began around 1815 for children’s puzzles, and almost one hundred years later for puzzles that would interest adults. During the early 1930’s there was a year-long craze for jigsaw puzzles. Large and small companies, including many in Maine, worked at that time to satisfy the huge demand for hand-cut wooden puzzles.

After World War II, die-cut cardboard puzzles replaced the more expensive wooden ones. Today only a handful of companies continue to make hand-cut wooden puzzles, one example being Elms Puzzles, of Harrison. Anne Williams, the presenter, will cover the earliest puzzles and some nineteenth century examples. Her discussion of post-1900 puzzles will focus on Maine puzzle makers.

The Kennebec Historical Society’s June Presentation is co-sponsored by the Maine State Library and free to the public (donations gladly accepted). The presentation will take place on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. at the Maine State Library located at 230 State Street in Augusta.

Julia candidate for Senate District #15 seat

Kellie Julia

Last year at this time Kellie Julia never thought she would be running for the State Senate Seat in our district, she was deeply mourning the death of her son who passed away in February 2017. But now a year later she is working hard to hopefully win the June 12 primary vote for the Democratic party and then on to the general election in November. Kellie has always been a hardworker, a survivor and strives to be a role model for her daughter and other young people.

Kellie has never been involved with politics before and when asked why she thinks that she would be a good representative of the people of Oakland, China, Sidney, Vassalboro and Augusta, her answer is, “Because I believe the people in our communities need someone who will really listen to them and be their voice in Augusta. I will work hard to make a difference and a much needed change for all of us.”

Kellie’s background is in education and behavioral health. She worked for Child Development Services and in local schools for the past 15 years. Kellie feels that there are funds available within the state’s budget that could be better appropriated to education, mental health services and for senior needs so that her constituents’ taxes do not need to be raised even more than they already have been to fund them. Kellie feels that in the past few years it seems like money just keeps getting taken away from programs that are important to our families in Maine, and she is ready to fight to get those back.

Kellie and her husband Dawson have owned a few small businesses over the years. Their current business is East Coast CBDs, in Unity, and she knows how hard it is to keep a small business operating. She plans on drafting bills that will help small businesses flourish in Maine and hopefully lead to more young people deciding to settle down here. In a state whose median age is 48 she feels we need to start being proactive with ideas to keep our young adults from wanting to leave our beautiful state due to lack of being able to make a sustainable living.

Kellie feels that green energy resources are not only important for the conservation and health of our environment in Maine but are also a way to lower our everyday bills. She is committed to helping all of the residents of our state who would like opportunities to have access to these resources and also tax breaks and incentives for those that utilize them.

Kellie has lived in Maine her entire life. She is proud of her Franco-American heritage. (Her maiden name was Allain.) She resides in China with her husband, daughter Kyli and several furry family members. Please find her information on her webpage and on Facebook at Kellie Julia for State Senate District #15.

Square dancers engage in workshops

Included in the picture are couples from New Sharon (Friendship Square Dance Club, of Farmington), Newport and Fairfield (Central Maine Square Dance Club, of Waterville), Monmouth (Squire Town Squares, of Winthrop), Oxford (Swinging Bears Square Dance Club, of South Paris), Richmond and Ellsworth. (Contributed photo)

Local square dancers were able to participate in two separate weekends of square dancing in the month of March. The weekend of March 2 – 3, saw the dancers heading to South Burlington, Vermont, for the annual Maple Sugar Dance Festival. There were many workshops for the various levels of square dancing along with different workshops for Round Dancing. They had a hall for class/mainstream, plus, A-1, A-2, and C, with round dancing in the plus hall. There were approximately 200 dancers in attendance.

On the weekend of March 16 – 18, they had the opportunity to attend the St. Patrick’s Day festival put on by the Sage Square Dance Club, of Brunswick. This event was held in Old Orchard Beach in an area called Ocean Park. With workshops Saturday morning and afternoon and a full dance Saturday night, it was a full day of dancing pleasure. Then on Sunday morning they got together for two more hours of fun dancing before leaving for home. They had almost 100 dancers gathered for this annual event.

Maine-ly Harmony elects officers

Left to right: LouAnn Mossler, Candace Pepin, Cathy Anderson and BJ Sylvester-Pellett. Janet Dunham and Barbara Combs are absent from photo. (Contributed photo)

Maine-ly Harmony women’s barbershop chorus recently installed its officers. Serving the chorus are president Cathy Anderson, of Jefferson; vice president BJ Sylvester-Pellett, of Winthrop; secretary Candace Pepin, of Augusta; treasurer Janet Dunham, of Belgrade; and members at large, Barbara Combs, of Topsham, and LouAnn Mossler, of South China. Directed by Kathy Greason of Brunswick, the chorus member welcome singers to their Wednesday 6:30 p.m. rehearsals at the Emmanuel Lutheran Episcopal Church, 209 Eastern Ave in Augusta. Anyone interested in visiting a rehearsal or scheduling the chorus to sing for their event should contact Nancie Hugenbruch at 293-4779 or email hugabook4@yahoo.com.

The tragic story of Father Rasle at Kennebec Historical Society

“Go and set the world on fire,” was St. Ignatius of Loyola’s famous call to the Jesuits to preach the gospel to the far corners of the world. Fr. Sebastian Rasle followed the call of his order’s founder and left France in 1689 to give his life to caring for the souls of native Americans. This he did for 30 years in a small mission village amidst the Abenaki people far up the Kennebec River. The village was called Narantsouack (i.e. Norridgewock.)

Death of Father Sebastian Rale of the Society of Jesus, an 1856 lithograph

But this peaceful mission was not to last. In those few decades, Fr. Rasle’s little village got caught in a blaze of controversy that ended in the mission being burned by a Massachusetts militia and its pastor being shot. Joseph Moreshead, a seminarian for the Roman Catholic diocese of Portland, will discuss the origins of this conflict between Fr. Rasle, the New England colonists, and the Abenaki people and how competing interests among the three parties led to such a tragic end.

Joseph Moreshead is a native of South Portland, and a current student at the Catholic University of America, studying to be a Catholic priest in Maine. A graduate of Cheverus High School and Fordham University, Moreshead was educated for eight years by Jesuits like Fr. Rasle. After extensive research on the Jesuit Relations, he led a pilgrimage to Fr. Rasle’s grave last August. He holds a bachelor of arts in philosophy and classical language.

The Kennebec Historical Society’s May Presentation is free to the public (donations gladly accepted) and will take place on Wednesday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m., at St. Mary’s Church located at 41 Western Avenue in Augusta.

Fun learning for local students at Russian sampler

On March 26, more than 100 students from local schools took a variety of Russia-centered classes at Colby College. The Kotlas-Waterville Area Sister City Connection and the Colby Russian Program have sponsored this day of learning about Russian culture for the past 25 years. This year’s students came from Erskine Academy, Mount Merici Academy, Messalonskee Middle School, Oak Hill Middle School, St. John School, and Waterville Junior High School.

The opening assembly featured a video presentation, which introduced students to the geography, history, government, and schools of Russia. Colby Russian Professor Elena Monastireva-Ansdell taught students their first few Russian words, which often had students laughing as they manipulated their tongues around these strange sounds. Almost all students had a chance to learn the
Cyrillic alphabet, practice some Russian conversational phrases and write their names in Russian in Russian language classes.

In February at their home schools, students pre-selected three classes. Some students chose Maine-related topics, such as the work and legacy of Samantha Smith, or the hard work of establishing of a Sister City relationship with the Waterville Area Sister City, Kotlas, Russia, at the height of the Cold War. Classes on kids’ favorite cartoons, Russian fairy tales and Russian schools give students the chance to learn about Russian life and culture and compare and contrast Russian culture with American culture.

This year we were fortunate to welcome a teacher and three high school students from Archangel, Russia, Portland’s Sister City. Teacher Inga Simonova, and students Valeria Potselueva, Liza Platova and Dasha Kozlova visited several classes and answered lots of questions about their families, friends and school curriculum.

Very popular classes had students working in the kitchen, whipping up a vegetable soup recipe or a cookie recipe. It was a treat for everyone when the cooks served their recipes to everyone at lunch time.

All the volunteer presenters and teachers from the Sister City Connection and the Colby Russian Program are firm believers in the educational value of introducing young American students to a culture so different from their own. Participating students reported that Easter Eggs are “awesome,” Russian schools are “amazingly” different from American schools and Russian Sampler is “fun learning.”

If your school might be interested in attending Russian Sampler in future years, please contact the Sister City Connection at www.kotlas.org, open the About The Connection page, use the Write To Us listing. They will answer your questions promptly.