Police conduct 11th annual Cops Care for Kids program Fairfield’s finest trade stetsons for Santa hats

by Mark Huard

The Cops Care For Kids Program was created in 2006 by Detective Kingston Paul who started shopping all year for small stuffed animals, coloring books and crayons which he would deliver to struggling families within Fairfield. After several years, then Chief John Emery found out that the program was being funded solely by Detective Paul and challenged all officers to donate $5 per week to the program. He himself donated $10 weekly and now the program raises about $1,300 per year. Once the officers started donating, the list was increased to include as many Fairfield children as possible and has risen to as many as 250 children.

Front, dispatcher Jeanne Kempers. Front row, from left to right, Officer Casey Dugas, Sgt. Matt Wilcox, Officers Jacob Boudreau and Patrick Mank. Back, Officer Shanna Blodgett, Sgt. Matthew Bard, Chief Tom Gould, Officer Blake Wilder and Captain Paul St. Amand. Photo by Tawni Lively, Central Maine Photography staff

This year, members of the Fairfield Police delivered to about 90 households and they gave presents to around 200 children. They were able to get names of families and children in need with the help of the Fairfield Primary and Benton Elementary School staff. The schools handed out slips to Fairfield children and collect them for the officers. Fairfield officers then go to local stores and start shopping for gifts. This year, around 600 gifts were wrapped by about 15 people in the basement of the Fairfield Town Office. They were packaged with a small stuffed animal and a business card which was printed in memory of Kingston Paul who passed away earlier this fall. Some of Kingston’s family members attended the wrapping session as well as family and friends of the department’s officers and town office staff (who helped with wrapping most of the fall). Kingston retired as a captain in 2015 after serving 20 years with the town of Fairfield, and after his passing, we learned that he donated $20,000 to the program to ensure its existence long into the future.

Fairfield Police received gifts from many sources including local citizens, the VFW and the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, although the officers are most proud of the fact that they donate the lions share of expenses for the program. Chief Tom Gould said, “It’s hard to put into words the emotions involved in the delivery process because it creates a unique connection between our department and the children who live in town. We’re just as excited to see them as they are to see us.”
Fairfield Police thank Skowhegan Printing for getting their 2016 program cards printed the same day they were needed. Also thank you to the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office for patrolling the town and covering calls while all of their cruisers were busy making deliveries.

Thank you Village Market and the Fairfield Family Dollar Store for their continued support to the program.

Area News: Central Maine Squares donate to children’s home

Again this year the Central Maine Square (CMS) Dance Club was able to collect almost $1,000 in toys and clothing for the Home For Little Wanderers of Waterville. Each year the home puts on a drive for children across the area for the holidays. And as in the past the Central Maine Squares was eager and very willing to come to their aid.

Central Maine Squares dancers, from left to right, Colleen Howes, Claude Francke and Becky Potter are pictured with just a few of the gifts they collected. Contributed photo

Beginning with two club workshops in November and a dance on December 4, they were able to make this donation. The club thanks all who were able to donate, both club members and visiting dancers, and some of the spectators who came to the dance just for this purpose.

The Central Maine Square Dance Club invite any interested people to their new beginner lessons starting on Tuesday, January 3, and Tuesday, January 10, 2017. These will be free nights for anyone new to square dancing. All are welcome, no age requirements, and space is limited. Lessons start at 6:30 p.m., at the Waterville Junior High School on Route 104 (West River Road), in Waterville. To pre-register or for more info call Bob at 447-0094 or Cindy at 631-8816.

China News: Planning board directed to review Varneys’ request

by Mary Grow

The China Board of Appeals has unanimously directed the planning board to redo its review of Parris and Catherine Varney’s application for commercial use of their Neck Road barn.

After the planning board rejected the application on October 25, on the ground that the Varneys failed to prove they could meet one of the 15 criteria for a commercial project in China’s ordinance, the Varneys filed an administrative appeal.

The main ground for the planning board decision, as reported to the Varneys in Codes Officer Paul Mitnik’s letter formally denying the application, was that the Varneys failed to meet the fifth criterion on the list. It requires applicants to prove projects will not disturb neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of their properties “as a result of noise, vibrations, fumes, odor, dust, glare or other cause.”

The Varneys want to rent the barn out for weddings and similar celebrations, with music that they said would be entirely in the building.

Neighbors have argued that noise, traffic, headlights, consumption of alcohol, loss of privacy and other aspects of the project would be disturbing.

The Board of Appeals, Chairman Spencer Aitel said as he opened the Dec. 15 hearing, was not rehearing the application, but reviewing the planning board’s action to determine whether its decision had been reached correctly under the town ordinance. Matt Evans, the Varneys’ attorney, argued that the planning board failed to follow proper procedure in four respects, making its decision invalid.

First, he said, the planning board did not present the written findings of fact or conclusions of law required to support its decisions on each of the 15 criteria.

Second, planning board member Jim Wilkens’ participation tainted the procedure, since Wilkens is a neighbor of the Varneys, and his wife and son testified against the application. (Wilkens participated in discussion, but not voting, in initial planning board reviews of the application and removed himself physically from the board on Oct. 25.)

Third, Evans said, the Varneys presented a sound study that showed noise from music in the barn, with the doors closed, would be barely louder than normal background noise at the boundaries of their property, and the planning board heard no evidence to rebut the study.

Fourth, Evans thinks China’s ordinance lacks objective standards for deciding whether requirements are met, and therefore “appears to be arbitrary and capricious” and of doubtful validity under state law.

Testimony and discussion at the board of appeals focused on Evans’ first point and specifically on the noise issue. Neck Road resident John Deasy claimed that after the noise study was presented at the Oct. 11 public hearing on the Varneys’ application, neighbors were not given a chance to question or rebut it. The planning board record provides limited information on the qualifications of the sound engineer who did the study.

Board of Appeals member Virginia Davis said the record the board of appeals received did not clearly indicate whether the planning board allowed written testimony to be submitted for a specified time after the public hearing, as is common procedure. She believes interested parties should have been allowed to comment on testimony received at the hearing.

Davis was more concerned about the lack of written findings of fact, especially but not exclusively in relation to the fifth criterion. Written findings are required by local ordinance and state law, she said.

Her motion that the application be sent back to the planning board to make the required findings related to noise and the rest of the fifth criterion was unanimously approved. Davis added a request that planning board members do the same for the other 14 criteria, so that the board of appeals will not have to meet again.

Vassalboro News: Special town meeting planned for Jan. 9

by Mary Grow

If 125 registered voters attend, Vassalboro will hold a special town meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, at Vassalboro Community School, to act on a two questions.

The first proposes an ordinance that would ban recreational marijuana facilities in town. The second, included in the event that the first is defeated, proposes a moratorium on such facilities.

The first document voters are asked to consider is titled “Ordinance Prohibiting Retail Marijuana Establishments and Retail Marijuana Social Clubs in the Town of Vassalboro.” Using the same definitions as in the law approved by state voters on Nov. 8, the ordinance prohibits activities allowed under the law: “retail marijuana stores, retail marijuana cultivation facilities, retail marijuana products manufacturing facilities, and retail marijuana testing facilities, and retail marijuana social clubs.”

If approved, the ordinance would not affect activities conducted under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act.

If voters do not approve the prohibition, they have a second choice: a much longer “Town of Vassalboro Moratorium Ordinance on Retail Marijuana Establishments and Retail Marijuana Stores and Retail Marijuana Social Clubs.” The moratorium would remain in effect for 180 days and could be extended. The purpose would be to give town officials time to update local ordinances to protect residents from health and safety risks the ordinance alleges are posed by recreational marijuana activities. The law voters approved Nov. 8 allows municipal legislative bodies to regulate and to prohibit marijuana facilities.

In order to hold a special town meeting in Vassalboro, a quorum of 125 registered voters must be present.

Traditional shopping day at Chelsea school

The Chelsea Elementary School annual holiday table was in full swing during the few days before school vacation. The annual tradition provides students with the opportunity to choose for their holiday shopping. Seventh and eighth grade students assisted the younger students.

Holiday activities dominate area elementary schools

Madison Quimby, left, and Nash Corson performed in the Benton Elementary Holiday Concert on December 15.

Trey Bard and Ryland Richards, performed with the percussion section.

Photos by Missy Brown, Central Maine Photography staff

Kennebec Behavioral Health cited

CARF International announced that Kennebec Behavioral Health has been accredited for a period of three years for all of its programs and services including the agency’s newest service – Behavioral Health Homes. The latest accreditation is the fifth consecutive Three-Year Accreditation that the international accrediting body, CARF, has awarded to Kennebec Behavioral Health.

This accreditation decision represents the highest level of accreditation that can be awarded to an organization and shows the organization’s substantial conformance to the CARF standards. An organization receiving a Three-Year Accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer review process. It has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit its commitment to offering programs and services that are measurable, accountable, and of the highest quality.

CARF is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process that centers on enhancing the lives of the persons served.

“We are extremely pleased with our survey results,” said Thomas J. McAdam, chief executive officer of Kennebec Behavioral Health. “It is an indication of our commitment to excellence in all areas of KBH, including care delivery, operations and finance.”

Kennebec Behavioral Health is a non-profit health-care organization that has provided mental health and substance abuse services and supports in central Maine since 1960. KBH operates clinics in Waterville, Skowhegan, Winthrop and Augusta and has three vocational clubhouses located in Waterville, Augusta and Lewiston. For more information, or to schedule an appointment for any KBH service, call 1-888-322-2136. Information can also be found at www.kbhmaine.org.

Hockey team helps food pantry


The Winslow High School varsity boys hockey team gathered on November 20 and participated in their annual food drive to help support the St. John Food Pantry. This has become an annual tradition for the team. Five crates of nonperishable foods and countless bags of bottles and cans were donated by local residents.

From left to right Colby Nadeau, Garrett Pooler, Dimitrios Bailis, Shawn Rooney, Thomas Tibbets, Ben Grenier, Kyle Gurney, Logan Denis, Cody Ivey, Austin Soucy, Jake Soucy and Nick West. Absent from photo are Tyler Martin and Jared Lambert.

Photo submitted by Mark Huard

Christmas vacation activities released for China School’s Forest

All programs will begin at the China Primary School bus circle. Programs will be outside. Come dressed for the weather.

All activities are free, but donations for future programming will be accepted. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

FMI, contact Anita Smith at chinaschoolsforest@gmail.com or message us on the China School’s Forest – China, Maine facebook page. In the event of snow, announcements will be made on the school forest facebook page or you may call 986-2255.

Thursday, Dec 29: New Moon Hike and Star Gazing Family Activity 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Come for a fun evening of star gazing, making night animal sounds, and maybe even a round of flashlight tag in the forest.

Friday, Dec 30: Bird Feeders 1 – 3 p.m. They will create a variety of bird feeders, popcorn garlands and other fun treats for our feathered friends and then hang them outside in the forest as we take a walk in the woods. On the walk, they will do some animal tracking if there is snow.

Saturday, Dec 31: Family Scavenger Hunt 1 – 3 p.m. Join them on a family scavenger hunt for various objects in the school forest. They will provide a list of items and a map of the forest. Families will search for the items and then join together at the CPS Pavilion for sharing discoveries and prizes.

Girl Scouts bake pies for dinner


The Arnold Trail Girl Scouts gathered on November 22 to  bake 188 pies for the Messalonskee High School Thanksgiving dinner.  The troop donated all the supplies to make the pies. Approximately 1,000 people attended the dinner. The following troops were represented: #1783 Belgrade, #2204 China, #9, #15 and #906 Oakland, #375, #376, #1523, #1776 and #1785 Sidney, #2044 Vassalboro, and #1254 and #1557 Waterville.

Contributed photo