Albion Lions seek gifts

The Albion Lions Club is actively seeking gifts from the community in support of its 26th annual Christmas Giving Tree project. To date this year we have identified need from 19 families with 51 children. Our Christmas Giving trees with attached ornaments have been placed at the Corner Store, the Town Office, the Post Office lobby, Yeaton’s, Amulets Country Market, and the Central Maine Pharmacy, all in Albion.

Albion Lions are asking for your help make Christmas more joyous this year by selecting an ornament from a tree in one of these locations. Each ornament will provide a school age child or pre-schooler with essential items of clothing, footwear, hygiene items, or a toy.

After you take an ornament and purchase the gift, please return it with the ornament attached, to the place where you picked it up before December 18. Monetary contributions may be selected from the tree or checks may be made out to the Albion Lions and sent P.O. Box 25, Albion, ME 04910.

If you have questions or need clarifications, please call Cindy Drake at 437-2445.

Vassalboro: Attendees leave with informational pamphlets

by Mary Grow

People attending the Nov. 7 East Vassalboro meeting on removal of the Masse dam left with three handouts.
One is titled “Public Participation in the Licensing Process” and explains how and when area residents can follow and take part in the application review.

The handout directs people seeking maximum involvement to file a written request to become what DEP calls an “interested person” and receive application-related material. Interested persons may inspect and copy all non-confidential information in the DEP file on the application and will get notices of meetings and hearings.

Interested persons and others may submit written comments on an application being reviewed. There is also an opportunity to request a public hearing on an application, if the request is submitted within 20 days after DEP accepts the application as complete and meets other requirements.

The handout offers two sources for additional information: DEP Director of Procedures and Enforcement, 287-7688; and on-line links provided at http://www.maine.gov.dep.

The second handout is a three-and-a-half page summary of ARI’s work as of July 2016.

The third is a one-page project summary explaining that the activity for which the DEP permit is requested will require using an excavator to remove the concrete dam and sluiceway, leaving the dam buttress and the part of the dam north of the sluiceway in place. Work is planned for July, August and September; no year is specified, but Landis Hudson of Maine Rivers said in an email that the goal is 2017.

Vassalboro: Dam groups hold public hearing on project

by Mary Grow

The groups applying for a state permit to remove the Masse dam in East Vassalboro held a Nov. 7 public hearing to explain the project and how area residents can get involved.

The presentation by Landis Hudson, of Maine Rivers, drew about two dozen people from Vassalboro and China to participate in a wide-ranging discussion. Most of the East Vassalboro residents who spoke remained unconvinced of the value of the project. Maine Rivers, the China Region Lakes Alliance and others have created ARI, the Alewife Restoration Initiative. ARI’s goal is to clear China Lake’s Outlet Stream of obstacles to fish passage so that migratory alewives can get from the Atlantic Ocean via the Kennebec and Sebasticook rivers into the lake.

One step is the proposed removal of the dam in East Vassalboro. The project requires a Natural Resources Protection Act permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Hudson said the meeting was a state requirement as an early step in the application to remove the dam.

Hudson’s presentation focused on expected environmental impacts, the topic most questioned during the discussion. Proponents foresee a more natural ecosystem that will provide better habitat for native species of fish, animals, birds, insects and plants, and the probable improvement of water quality in China Lake through the alewife introduction.

Dams and other man-made barriers fragment formerly interconnected habitats and tend to benefit non-native and warm-water species, Hudson said. Reconnecting streams is Maine Rivers’ main focus; other ARI members are more concerned with alewife migration.

In August and September the Masse dam was opened to lower the water level in the upstream impoundment and part of the former mill was taken down. Hudson said complete removal of the dam would not change the upstream water level much more.

According to earlier discussions, the mill was in danger of collapse, endangering East Vassalboro Water Company pipes under the stream as well as people trespassing on mill property.

Hudson said mill owner Don Robbins made a presentation on the historic mill to the Vassalboro Historical Society.

Jan Clowes of the society said the group did not understand the urgency of his situation and hoped the society would not “drop the ball” should a similar problem arise in the future.

A related concern was that lower water above the water company’s pipes would expose them to freezing. The pipes have been relocated, Hudson said.

Charlie Hartman, Clowes and other East Vassalboro residents argued Nov. 7 that they have lost a pond that was a significant recreational and community center, that trees and perhaps buildings are endangered by the changed shoreline configuration and that there is not enough water in the stream for all the good things predicted.

Project Manager Matt Streeter said the application process includes a hydrogeologist’s study of the impact of lower water on buildings and retaining walls. Conclusions from the study will be submitted to DEP.

Water flow from China Lake down Outlet Stream is regulated by a Board of Environmental Protection order specifying maximum and minimum flows at different seasons. The Outlet Dam is managed to meet the state requirements.

Discussion also covered the validity of the claim that alewives will improve lake water quality, a statement everyone agreed is so far unproven. Dam removal proponents think improvement is likely; opponents are skeptical.

Resident Bill Pullen queried the cost of the project, getting no answer. Streeter said arrangements with contractors are not part of the public record. He assured the audience that so far the cost is within $1,000 of the original budget.

In May, Vassalboro selectmen approved giving the China Region Lakes Alliance $150,000 in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds to support ARI’s work, $65,000 in the spring and $85,000 after the November tax payment.

China: Selectmen deal with local issues; Farrington chosen chairman

by Mary Grow

At their Nov. 14 meeting, China selectmen dealt with results of the Nov. 8 local election and with a petition organized by Neck Road resident Marie Michaud and others.

Neil Farrington was elected the new chairman of the Board of Selectmen; Irene Belanger was re-elected secretary. To applause from the audience, Farrington presented a certificate of appreciation to previous chairman Robert MacFarland, who was not re-elected Nov. 8.

Voters on Nov. 8 approved five local referendum questions that require action by selectmen, to wit:

  • Appropriating $12,000 from the town surplus account to buy a parcel of land adjoining the town office lot.
  • Authorizing acceptance of a piece of land on the east side of Lakeview Drive opposite the former Candlewood Camps as a gift from Wachusetts Properties, Inc.
  • Appropriating up to $3,800 from surplus for a community needs assessment focused on older residents’ needs.
  • Authorizing selectmen to give the recently acquired former portable classroom to the South China Library for $1 plus moving costs, with library officials to have 60 days to decide whether to take the building.
  • Appropriating up to $10,000 from the Development Program Fund to buy land at the head of China Lake’s east basin for improved parking for the boat landing. The Development Program Fund gets its money through the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Program funded by taxes paid on the expanded Central Maine Power Company line through China.

Selectmen voted unanimously to direct Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux to start implementing the decisions.
They made a decision of their own: beginning Monday, Dec. 12, the China transfer station will be open Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays (except on holidays), instead of Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. One of the two ordinances whose amendments voters rejected Nov. 8 would have made the same change; selectmen decided they have authority to do it.

Resident Sandra Kostron complimented transfer station staff for being helpful and for keeping the facility neat.

The petition, which Michaud said had 364 signatures, asked selectmen to declare a six-month moratorium on new commercial development to give time to reconstitute the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee “in order to establish Land Use Districts in accordance with the goals and provisions set forth and prescribed by the China Comprehensive Plan,” adopted in 2008.

The petition is a result of Parris and Catherine Varney’s still-unresolved application to use their barn on Neck Road for weddings and similar functions. Neighbors argue noise, traffic, lights and other features are inappropriate in a residential neighborhood; planning board members hearing the application said the town ordinance lacks the specificity – for example, decibel limits for noise – they need to make decisions.

Selectmen, L’Heureux and audience members talked about legal requirements for a moratorium, the history of the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee that has been inactive for several years and the difficulty of creating districts in a town where uses intermingle and where voters have traditionally opposed zoning.

Selectmen voted 4-1, with new board member Jeff LaVerdiere opposed, to revive the Implementation Committee for the specific purpose stated in the petition. Board members asked L’Heureux to see how many former members still want to serve; Michaud had a list of potential committee members. The manager proposed limiting the committee to 15 members.

Selectmen did not impose a development moratorium.

In other business Nov. 14:

  • Selectmen unanimously appointed Fred Montgomery alternate member of the planning board. The alternate member, chosen from anywhere in town, may participate in board discussions but votes only when one of the five regular members in absent.
  • James Wilkens volunteered to join the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee and was immediately appointed. The next committee meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21.
  • Selectmen disagreed over whether they should appoint a committee to work on senior citizens’ issues this month or after they see results of the survey voters authorized. They tentatively decided to appoint committee members at their Nov. 28 meeting. Interested residents should contact the town office.

Selectmen scheduled their annual visioning session, when they discuss broad objectives and general plans for the coming year, for 6 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 29, in the town office meeting room. The session is open to the public.

Local communities honor veterans with parade

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Waterville, above, and Winslow police departments honor guards participated in the Veterans Day parade in Waterville on November 11.
Photos by Mark Huard, owner Central Maine Photography

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Owen Corrigan earns rank of Eagle Scout

Owen Corrigan

Eagle Scout Owen Corrigan

Owen Michael-Zeno Corrigan, 16, son of Melissa and Zeno Corrigan, and brother of Natalie Corrigan, of Oakland, (formally of Sidney) has achieved Boy Scouts highest rank, that of Eagle Scout. He recently received his pin and award at the Eagle Scout Court of Honor that was held at the Snow Pond Center for the Arts, in Sidney, on Saturday, November 5. Corrigan is a member of Troop #401, Sidney.

Corrigan began his scouting journey in the Fall of 2006 as a Tiger cub with Pack #401, Sidney. In the spring of 2011, he earned the Arrow of Light and crossed-over into Troop #401. Corrigan has attended many camp outings with his troop as well as Summer Camp at Camp Roosevelt, in Eddington, and Camp Bomazeen, in Belgrade.

He has held a variety of leadership roles such as Quartermaster, Troop Guide, and Assistant Patrol Leader for the Moose Patrol. Currently, he is the Senior Patrol Leader for Troop #401. He has volunteered over 500 hours in the community. He served meals at the Bread of Life Soup Kitchen, in Augusta, and has helped out with the town of Oakland Oakfest to name a few. Corrigan has earned over 40 merit badges and has achieved the Mile Swim Award and the 50 Mile Canoe Trek Award.

For his Eagle Scout Project, Corrigan made eight garden benches for the James H. Bean School, in Sidney, where he attended school when he was a child. The benches are a meeting place for kids to go to, if they want someone to play with. The benches are also referred to as “Buddy Benches.” Under his direction, the benches were constructed with the help of a couple of his fellow Moose Patrol Scouts and some adults.

James H. Bean School

Garden benches at the James H. Bean School, in Sidney, Owen’s project.

Corrigan is also involved in the Venture Crew 401 and a member of the Order of the Arrow. In addition to scouting, Corrigan is a member of the Mid-Maine Dolphin Swim Team, is on the Messalonskee High School Golf, Swim and Track teams, member of the Messalonskee Key Club and recently inducted in the National Honor Society. He works part-time as a lifeguard at the KV YMCA, in Augusta, and during the summer is a Camp Counselor for Camp KV in Readfield. Owen is most known for his friendliness and willingness to help others.

Grants to help complete library elevator

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The Skowhegan Free Public Library has announced a matching grant to go towards the completion of the library’s elevator tower. An anonymous library patron will contribute $5,000 if five other donors will donate $1,000 each.

Contributed photo

Thomas named to the spring dean’s list at USC Upstate

Tristan Thomas, of Waterville, has been named to the Spring 2016 Dean’s List at the University of South Carolina Upstate, in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Free Thanksgiving dinner at South China Community Church

An anonymous friend has given a generous donation to the South China Community Church to purchase food for a Thanksgiving dinner. Church volunteers will prepare and serve the free home cooked meal of turkey and all the “fixins” for as many as 100 people at noon on Wednesday, November 23. Take-out dinners will be available by calling 445-4111 on that day.

All are welcome, and we especially invite those who are in need, alone or unable to cook for themselves. If you know of a needy family, please ask them to join us too. And, to those of you who have enjoyed our turkey pie suppers this year, we hope to see you so that we can thank you for your friendship and support with a free meal.

We look forward to seeing each of you for this special holiday meal.

The South China Community Church, a multi-denominational congregation, is located at 246 Village Street.

 

Palermo: Election returns from Nov. 8

Results of the 2016 general election from the town of Palermo are:

PRESIDENT

Hillary Clinton: 308
Jill Stein: 18
Gary Johnson: 60
Donald Trump: 467

REFERENDUM QUESTIONS

Question 1 (marijuana) Yes: 353 No: 510
Question 2 (tax for education) Yes: 377 No: 487
Question 3 (gun background checks) Yes: 258 No: 609
Question 4 (minimum wage) Yes: 392 No: 473
Question 5 (ranked choice voting) Yes: 380 No: 472
Question 6 (bond issue) Yes: 456 No: 399

CONGRESS – 2nd District

Emily Cain: 361
Bruce Poliquin: 491
State senator: District 11
Jonathan S. Fulford: 345
Michael D. Thibodeau: 512
Rep. to Legislature: District 96
R. Ryan Harmon: 544
Stanley Paige Zeigler Jr.: 292
County commissioner(District 3)
Amy Fowler: 750
Probate Judge
Susan W. Longley: 512
Susan C. Thiem: 284
Register of Probate
Sharon W. Peavey

Town of Palermo: 2016 Shoreland Zoning Ordinance

Yes: 410
No: 407
Total Ballots Cast: 890