Tucker Leonard earns Eagle Scout rank

Eagle Scout Tucker Leonard stands with the completed project behind the Palermo Grammar School.
Photo courtesy of Ron Emery

On October 8, 2017, Tucker Leonard completed his Eagle Project at the Palermo Grammar School. As a member of China Boy Scout Troop #479, Tucker’s project was to select a space on the trails in back of the school to clear an area for an outdoor class. He selected the area after meeting a teacher from the school, marked the trees to cut. Trees were cut and the firewood was carried out to donate while the brush was dragged into the woods. The location of the tables were selected and raked. The many pieces of the tables were carried into the selected locations across the rough trail. The five tables were then built and placed on pads. Thanks to all the Scouts, leaders and parents that came early in the morning to work in a light rain under his leadership. The school, students, town residents and parents should be very pleased with the results, according to Ron Emery, advancement chairman for Troop #479.

Palermo & Montville: Voters weigh-in on state referendum questions

The unofficial results of the November 7 state referendum questions for both the Town of Palermo and the Town of Montville, as reported by town clerk Sandi Devaney.

Statewide Referendum Election Results

Town of Palermo

Question #1:

Yes – 56
No – 299

Question #2:

Yes – 163
No – 190

Question #3:

Yes – 255
No – 128

Question #4:

Yes – 203
No – 142

Town of Montville

Question #1:

Yes – 26
No – 221

Question #2:

Yes – 160
No – 89

Question #3:

Yes – 166
No – 73

Question #4:

Yes – 147
No – 86

Memories of the Mill at Palermo Historical meeting

The Palermo Historical Society will show a short documentary “Memories of the Mill” on Tuesday, October 24, at 7 p.m., at the Worthing House, 54 No. Palermo Road in Palermo. There will be a brief business meeting at 6:30 pm.

Dinsmore Grain Company Mill

The Dinsmore Grain Company Mill was a historic early 20th-century mill building on Branch Mills Road in China. Built in 1914 on the site with nearly 100 years of industrial use.

The Dinsmore Mill was located just west of the village center of Palermo, across the town line in China. It sat astride the West Branch Sheepscot River, which drains Branch Pond to the north and was impounded by the dam located beneath the mill structure. The mill was a 2-1/2 story frame structure, rectangular in shape, covered by a gabled roof and wooden shingle siding. A three-story tower rose near the center of the southern (street-facing) facade; it was also capped by a gabled roof. The ground floor of the building housed the main works, which included a water-driven turbine and the milling equipment. A conveyor belt provided access to the upper floor, which was historically used for the storage of grain.

The first documented mill at this site was in operation in 1817 but was destroyed by a fire in 1908. Rebuilt in 1914 and at first just a grist mill, it was expanded in 1935 to also function as a sawmill and operated until 1960.

Structural instability due to the building’s deteriorated condition made repair work difficult and potentially dangerous and the mill was razed in the summer of 2017.

The presentation is free and open to the public. For additional information, please contact Noreen Golden at 207-873-4134.

PALERMO: Our little piece of the world: Sheepscot Pond


by Pamela McKenney, Palermo resident

A bill has been proposed by a Maine representative to open the fishway at the outlet of Sheepscot Pond and to grant management of the fishway to the Department of Marine Resources. I have lived on the river since 1989 near the bridge on Route Three. Being a water person, I know the river and the lake and have a perspective to share regarding the controversy as well as the names of representatives you should contact if you share my concerns.

Living by the water, every season has its treasures. In the winter, I have a frozen, silver-white path that leads up river and around the bends to the lake. Whether walking, skiing, or snowmobiling, this access to the woods and the sky and the air out on the water is a pleasure that is difficult to express. After ice out, a new trove of pleasures opens up. I boat often, and I love to swim—even taught swimming lessons at the Fish and Game Club for several years—so I understand the unique resource of Palermo’s lake and what it has to offer its inhabitants—human and otherwise. I also fish the Sheepscot, each season; when the flag is up, I still run to the holes; or when reeling in a keeper at the mouth of the river, feel my heart beat faster, hoping. This wealth of experience enjoyed by me and many others may be attributed to careful lake management. Could it be better? Yes, but it could be much, much worse, as we may soon see— if LD 922 passes in January.

People, like me, have been accused of “having our hackles up” and needing a little time to get over our “hysteria.” These comments convey a disregard for those who enjoy or live by the lake and have expressed concern about the proposed changes. l am quite familiar with the birds and species of fish, reptiles, amphibians and other wildlife that depend on the watershed. I know that if I pull a perch or pickerel out of the lake in winter or see a snapping turtle lay eggs in a sandy embankment in spring, then I’ll be swimming with those creatures in the summer. People who live by and recreate on or in a Maine lake, accept and respect that other living beings exist near or in the water, as do my children and now grandchildren who know the gift of life on water.

Every summer we salt the leg of a swimmer to get a leech to detach. From my kayak I have watched with horrified fascination as a snake, on the bank of the river, slowly consumed a frog. Out off the point of Bear Island, years ago, I investigated a line, tied to a float, and pulled up a trap that was teeming with American eel. I quickly dropped the trap and paddled away knowing that regardless of how far or how fast I move my boat, the eel, the snake, snapping turtles and leeches will be there. This is life on the lake. My protestations over this bill is not about an hysterical fear of sea lamprey. The idea of swimming with a lamprey does not appeal to me but I wish it no harm. I now know more about these creatures than I ever expected, and I have learned that denying lamprey access to Sheepscot Pond will not harm them, nor will denial harm the alewife, but opening access may do a great deal of harm to other lake inhabitants.

Humans will find a way to live with “the good, the bad, and the ugly” that inhabit the lake, but will the species of fish on which the lamprey feed withstand the parasitic interaction? Of specific concern is the lake trout (togue) and other game fish. Back in the late seventies, early eighties, when I fished the Sheepscot with friends, I remember the scars on the fish we caught left by the lamprey. I remember the comments of the real fishermen who said the lamprey did not leave the lake as they should in late summer. They stayed and fed on the game fish. Low water levels changed the habits of these sea creatures, making them landlocked. The sea lamprey overpopulation became such a problem that the Department Inland Fisheries and Wildlife blocked the fishway at the dam from May to June to prevent anadromous species, such as, alewife, American eel, and sea lamprey, from migrating into the lake.

Since alewife feed on zooplankton which contribute to algae blooms (alewife do not eat the algae) many are excited about their reintroduction, hoping for improved water quality for struggling Maine lakes, but overabundance of alewife (as has been experienced recently in Webber Pond) can degrade water quality and cause other complications. According to the Illinois Department of Conservation’s 1993 Biodiversity Report the presence of alewife could “restructure a lake’s food web, leaving less food for native species” like white perch and smelts, thus “limiting their availability to larger predators” such as lake trout and salmon. A.L. Houde, et al in the Journal of Great Lakes Research, reports that “consumption of alewife which contain high levels of thiaminase,” reduces absorption of thiamin in predators such as salmonids (like salmon, trout, whitefish) and can cause “reduced body condition, swim performance, and other potential impacts.” What will happen when thousands of alewife make their way into the Fish Cultural Station at the outlet? Imagine the challenges of mitigation and the need to prevent contamination. Who would test the delicate balance of a lake environment?

When I ask why would we take control of an inland lake from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which has managed it for 50 plus years, and give it to the Department of Marine Resources? The one answer I get is: “to return anadromous fish to their origins.” That is the politically correct answer. I see it as a special interest group lobbying to benefit their “special interest” without completely considering the impact on this individual lake. We all tend to see what we want to see and maybe those who support the bill see that they are attempting to take the watershed back to the way it may have been before the dam existed and before the Fish Cultural Station (hatchery) existed and before the lake was peppered with homes that reap tens of thousands of dollars in tax revenue which pays for those departments and the salaries of representatives that now want to restore the watershed even though the existing water quality of Sheepscot Pond is currently good. A vicious circle.

But the dam does exist, as does the hatchery and the homes. This is a complicated issue made more complicated by those who lobby representatives to create bills for monetary gain—in this case those that would harvest the alewife which will flourish with access to Branch Pond, China Lake, Webber Pond, Long Pond, and now—if the bill passes—Sheepscot Pond. It is no secret that the representative who proposed the bill is the president of the alewife association but is it a conflict of interest? He represents coastal communities which will benefit from an abundance of alewife for bait. Let’s hope the representatives of Palermo and neighboring towns will consider our “little piece of the world,” as well as the interests of a currently healthy lake.

Sheepscot Pond is not just any lake to me, what does that make me guilty of? Guilty of caring about the changes that others would haphazardly impose. And when I am accused of focusing on my “little piece of the world” and not seeing the “big world” I won’t apologize for that. If more of us paid attention to the little things—the things right in front of us that we can actually do something about, then maybe those little actions should be taken. The health and wealth of our lake may change irrevocably with the scribble of a pen or removal of a barrier. Change can be good, but too often it is wrought for the benefit of specialized interests and we fail to consider the little pieces of the big world.

Sugg participates in TREK program

On August 19, Rusty Sugg, of Palermo, along with over 250 first-year University of Vermont students, were led by 80 upper class peers as they began their UVM experience as part of the UVM TREK program, a unique, seven-day first year enrichment program sponsored by the University’s Department of Student Life.

Sugg participated in Rock Climbing TREK. A part of the Wilderness TREK program which provides students the opportunity to build lasting friendships, initiate self-discovery, and explore the people and landscapes that are Vermont. Rock Climbing TREK provides incoming students an opportunity to learn the basics of rock climbing — from safety, equipment, belay techniques, climbing techniques and top roped anchor system while visit legendary rock climbing sites throughout Vermont and the Adirondacks.

History of Kenway topic at Palermo Library

Kenneth G. Priest II will present the History of Kenway Corporation on Thursday, October 5, at 6:30 p.m., at the Palermo Community Library, at 2789 Route 3, Palermo. The event is co-sponsored by the Palermo Historical Society and the Palermo Community Library.

After serving in the Air Force in World War II, Kenneth G. Priest founded Kenway Boats in his garage, building wooden run-abouts of his own design. Located at the junction of the South Liberty and Banton roads, in Palermo,  Kenway provided employment to many local resi-dents to work in the boat-building shop.  Kenway became a valued and respected business in Palermo and the surrounding areas.

The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, please contact www.palermohistorical.org or Palermo Library at 993- 6088, www.palermo.lib.me.us.

Sheepscot Dam: State need not take action until studies complete


by Joseph Burke
Sheepscot Pond, Palermo, resident

As a 30-year seasonal resident on Sheepscot Pond, in Palermo, I write to voice my strong opposition to Maine state bill LD922, introduced by state representative and president of the Alewife Harvesters Association, Jeffrey Pierce. This bill orders the opening of the fishway at the Sheepscot dam to allow the entrance of alewife herrings, American eels and parasitic sea lamprey eels. This fishway, installed by the state many years ago has been closed each May and June during the spawning season to prevent damage being done to the lake’s indigenous population of salmon and togue by the lamprey eels which attach to and drain much of the life out of these fish.

The alewives present a possible contamination of the brown trout fingerlings in Palermo’s Fish Cultural Station just downstream from Sheepscot Pond, one of only eight fish hatcheries/rearing stations in all of Maine’s 6,000 lakes and ponds.

Moreover, the state’s representatives with whom we have met admit that the opening of the fishway year round could result in lowered water levels during dry years causing lake front properties to lose much of the use of their shoreline, especially their docks and other aids to boating, fishing and swimming.

For 30 years my wife and I, our children and nine grandchildren, not to mention the loons, the fish, the beaver and our nesting population of bald eagles, not to mention the other people of Palermo and surrounding towns through their participation in boating, the Fish & Game Club and organized fishing derbies have marveled at this balanced, clear, healthy living entity called Sheepscot Pond. Please, let’s keep it that way!

Simply put, no further action should be taken by the state until longitudinal studies in both environmental and engineering areas have been mounted, and Bill LD922 must be taken off the table completely, now!

Palermo Library book sale planned

The Palermo Community Library is having a huge Book Sale on Saturday, September 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The sale will continue through September during open hours: Monday 10 a.m. – noon, Tuesday 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., Wednesday 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., Thursday 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The Palermo Community Library is located at 2789 Route 3, Palermo. For more information please call 207-993-6088, email: palermo@palermo.lib.me.us, or visit www.palermo.lib.me.us.

Palermo residents invited to discuss Sheepscot dam

The working group formed by Rep. Stan Zeigler, following the August 7 public meeting to evaluate the current legislation to open the dam (LD922) to allow migration of alewives and sea lamprey into Sheepscot Lake, will be meeting to view the dam and then hold a working session on Tuesday, September 19, at 4 p.m., at the fish rearing station to view the dam followed by a working session at the Palermo Town Office. This is open to the public. All are encouraged to attend and follow the working session. There will be an opportunity to ask questions for all residents and attendees. Please attend and voice your concerns!

Fishy Photo: Striper Beauty

Roger Files, 13, of Palermo, caught this 19-pound, 33-inch striped bass during a July 31 vacation at Cape Cod, in Massachusetts.