Palermo Community Center celebrates 20 years

Submitted by Connie Bellet

It’s not too often that a small, “kitchen table” foundation manages to make it to age 20, much less serve a broad area encompassing four counties. Moreover, the original founders, the late John Potter, Ted Bigos, Jim Osier, Dennis Sturgis, and Herb Flint, had different ideas about which community needs the Palermo Community Foundation would address. For a brief time, it was the Palermo Community Health Center and later housed Palermo Online, a community internet provider run by Mike and Sheila McCarty. Feelers were put out to house a library, but the building proved inadequate for the weight of that many books.

The bounty of the community garden in full bloom. Photo by Connie Bellet

The bounty of the community garden in full bloom.
Photo by Connie Bellet

Nonetheless, the original idea of providing a community meeting space for social bonding, education, art, and music was written into the bylaws and continues today. To date, the foundation, which is now known as the Living Communities Foundation, has never accepted any tax money and is totally supported by the people it serves. All of the people who help make up the board of directors and “staff” are volunteers. That situation is also unique, considering how much work it takes to manage and maintain a building constructed of donated materials and built largely by very talented volunteers. This is why there are no “business hours,” as such. The Community Center, which is located on Turner Ridge Road across from the ball field, is open by appointment (call Connie at 993-2294 or e-mail or for various meetings and events.


Volunteers Peter Nerber Jr., right, and Marina Grant, sorting vegetables for the food pantry. Below, members of the Great ThunderChicken Drum. The drum meets every Tuesday evening from 7 - 9 p.m. and is open to all. Photo by Connie Bellet

Volunteers Peter Nerber Jr., right, and Marina Grant, sorting vegetables for the food pantry. Below, members of the Great ThunderChicken Drum. The drum meets every Tuesday evening from 7 – 9 p.m. and is open to all.
Photo by Connie Bellet

For the last five years, the Community Center has hosted the Palermo Food Pantry every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to noon. For nine years, the center has sponsored a potluck dinner-and-a-movie on the last Friday of the month. This month’s feature is “Cracking Your Genetic Code ” on October 28. The Great ThunderChicken Drum meets on Tuesdays from 7 to 9 p.m., for a rousing, yet soothing, practice session and welcomes newcomers. On October 26 at 6 p.m., Jock Robie will join the Waldo Organic Growers to harvest worm castings and maintain worm bins. The Community Center has also been used for classes in biblical scripture and American sign language, as well as for weddings, Thanksgiving dinners, musical concerts, and computer classes. The foundation gave away some 300 refurbished computers to disabled seniors and students, and sponsored four Palermo World’s Fairs, with exotic foods and entertainment from many cultures. There is also a large community garden with 32 raised beds that helps to supply the food pantry.

All told, there are many reasons to help support the Living Communities Foundation. The building does need a new roof, and any amount would be received with great appreciation. Donations may be sent to LCF, care of Connie Bellet, P.O. Box 151, Palermo ME 04354. Food may be dropped off on Tuesday mornings before 10:30 a.m. Many thanks go to Joel and Annalisa Miller of Wild Miller Farm, to Good Shepherd Food Bank and to Hannafords for their support.

Phil White Hawk, Cindy Keller, Tom Thornton III, and Laura Sullivan. Standing, Mike Dunn and Judy Thornton

Front row, from left to right, Phil White Hawk, Cindy Keller, Tom Thornton III, and Laura Sullivan. Standing, Mike Dunn and Judy Thornton. Absent from photo is Connie Bellet.

Kennebec Historical Society to hear Lincoln Paine on Kennebec History

In this talk, maritime historian Lincoln Paine will use the history of the Kennebec River as a lens through which to examine Maine and American history since the pre-Columbian period. Examining the different ways that people have approached the Kennebec over time provides us with a new way of reading and understanding the history of the United States and its people. Abenaki culture was deeply informed by the way that people related to the Kennebec, which also helped shape patterns of exploration and settlement by early European settlers and the subsequent commercial and industrial development of the late colonial and post-independence period.

While the Kennebec has often been viewed in terms of its importance to navigation – both for shuttling goods and people between the hinterland and the sea, as well as for shipbuilding – it has also been a source of industrial power, a conveyor belt for the lumber industry, a source of harvested ice, and latterly a showcase for environmental restoration. In this respect, the many uses of the Kennebec offer a periodization of history that affords us a more nuanced appreciation of how Maine and the United States developed.

Lincoln Paine is a maritime historian, author, editor, and curator whose books include the award-winning The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World (2013), Down East: A Maritime History of Maine (2000), and Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia (1997).

The Kennebec Historical Society October Presentation is free to the public (donations gladly accepted) and will take place on Wednesday, October 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the Augusta City Center, located at 16 Cony Street in Augusta.

Colby-Sawyer welcomes new students to campus

Colby-Sawyer College, in New London, New Hampshire, welcomed 297 new students to campus, including first-year students, transfers and the college’s first cohort of graduate students set to earn a master’s of science in nursing.

Tiara Meng, of Athens, a member of the class of 2020 pursuing a B.S. in biology.

Haley Carver, of Sidney, a member of the class of 2020 pursuing a B.S. in nursing.

Group holds celebrity dinner to benefit crisis center

The Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center hosted its 17th annual Celebrity Dinner on September 17. The event was attended by more than 250 community members and raised over $53,600, an event record. One hundred percent of the proceeds from this event will assist the SAC&SC in providing services to individuals impacted by sexual violence. A fully-staffed and highly-trained Sexual Assault Support line available 24 hours a day, support groups, advocacy, school-based prevention education and Children’s Advocacy Center are all provided free of charge to the Kennebec and Somerset counties’ communities.

The Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center is in its 29th year of providing services. Thanks to donors, supporters and community partners, SAC&SC added a multi-disciplinary program to provide services to the youngest victims of sexual violence. The Children’s Advocacy Center has served over 1,080 children to date.

The Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center’s mission is to lessen the trauma-related suffering of sexual assault and promote healing by guiding those affected by sexual violence toward survival through support, advocacy, education and community collaboration.page8pict1

Above, celebrity waiters, front row, left to right, Wes Huckey, Jay Hanson, Karen Kearney, Dr. Pamela Boivin, Maeghan Maloney, Donnie Whitten, Julie Buffington, Kris McCabe, Joy McKenna, Shon Theriault, Adrienne Bennett and Kevin Ostowski. Back, Mike Gilbert, Ryan Reardon, Randall Keaten, Jason Madore, Ross Cunningham, Jennifer Seekins, Tina Chapman, Jennifer Day, William Harwood, Sarah Fuller, Michelle Galego, Russ Murley, Hannah Longley and Kristen Murray-James.

Below, the staff, left to right, Deanna Walker, Sean Landry, Kathleen Paradis, Susan MacMaster Beaulieu, Jenna McCarty Mayhew, Samantha Marquis, Kathleen Auclair, Sara Bangs and Donna Strickler.


Selectmen take no action on potential senior services

by Mary Grow

China selectmen continued to talk about potential services for senior citizens at their Oct. 3 meeting, while agreeing they could take no action until they see whether voters support their Nov. 8 request for $3,800 to fund a survey of senior residents’ needs. Board members Joann Austin and Neil Farrington reported briefly on a Maine Council on Aging conference they attended, sparking a discussion of possible senior housing or medical amenities China might develop.

Austin doubts a town as small as China would appeal to a commercial developer of elderly housing. However, she said, a representative of Volunteers of America, an organization that has two assisted living facilities in northern Massachusetts (but according to its website, none in Maine, New Hampshire or Vermont) expressed interest in talking with China selectmen and looking at the Fairpoint building on Route 3. Farrington has suggested the Fairpoint building could house a medical center, a day care for children and the elderly or both.

China officials are also discussing with Vassalboro officials provision of bus transportation for residents of both towns.

In other business Oct. 3, board members appointed two Palermo representatives, Cheryl York and Dwain McKenney, to the Transfer Station Committee. Palermo will begin using China’s transfer station in January 2017.

Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee has already spent “a few thousand” dollars of the up-to-$50,000 authorized at the March town meeting on planning and engineering costs associated with planned recreational development at the head of China Lake’s east basin.

He asked for and got from the selectmen approval to approve continued spending as engineer Mark McCluskey of A. E. Hodson organizes a meeting with state Department of Environ­mental Protection staff to discuss issues involved in applying for a permit for the work.

China voters are asked to express their views on this issue on Nov. 8, too. One ballot question asks voters to approve an expenditure of up to $12,000 to acquire a parcel of land for parking, as part of the plan; and proposed amendments to the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance include a change that would clear the way for the proposed fishing platforms over China Lake. Representatives of the State Police and Kennebec County Sheriff’s department attended the meeting to suggest additional ways to deal with mischief and nuisances on China’s back roads.

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting is the evening of Oct. 17. It will be held at China Middle School and will be preceded by a 6 p.m. public hearing on the Nov. 8 local ballot questions.

Planners approve indoor licensed marijuana growing facility

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Planning Board members unanimously approved the town’s second locally-licensed indoor marijuana-growing facility at their Oct. 4 meeting.

Applicant Mike Kelley represented half a dozen licensed caregivers who intend to grow marijuana in the former craft shop on Route 3, on property more recently the site of the MacKenzie Landscaping satellite business.

Kelley plans no changes to the exterior of the building. There will be no retail traffic; only licensed caregivers are allowed inside the growing area, he said. Primary access will be from Whitehoue Road rather than from busier Route 3.

Kelley said someone will be on the property at all times for security. The odor control plan involves fans and filters, which will not create significant noise outside the building.

Neighbors had been notified, as required by town ordinance. None attended the Oct. 4 meeting.
Planning Board members found the project meets all Vassalboro ordinance requirements.

Codes Officer Richard Dolby said there have been no complaints about Vassalboro’s other town-licensed marijuana-growing business on Cushnoc Road.

Selectmen appoint new police chief

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen have appointed Mark Brown of Vassalboro to succeed Richard Phippen as town police chief.

At the selectmen’s Oct. 6 meeting, board members Lauchlin Titus and Robert Browne accepted Town Manager Mary Sabins’ recommendation to hire Brown. Titus said board Chairman Philip Haines, who was unable to attend the meeting, had interviewed Brown.

Sabins said Brown will be deputy chief for two or three weeks, until his certification is renewed. Phippen announced his planned retirement in August.

In other business, Sabins read a letter from planning board alternate member Paul Breton resigning his position, effective immediately. Residents interested in serving on the planning board are invited to contact the town office.

The alternate member participates in planning oard discussions, but votes only when a full member is absent. In the past, if a full member resigned or retired the alternate was usually offered his or her seat.

Selectmen reviewed Sabins’ draft of a three-page survey on transportation needs and approved distributing it at the polls on Nov. 8. Residents will be asked to take the survey home to fill out, rather than spending extra time in the town office Nov.

The board approved a consent agreement with resident Bernard Welch resolving Welch’s violations of town ordinance, in return for payment of a fine and reimbursement for town legal fees.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20.

Waterville Art Society honors founders

At an opening reception, Thursday, October 6, Waterville Area Art Society founders Patricia Binette, Fairfield, and Pauline Turner, a 40-year resident of China, were honored for their many years of teaching and inspiring other artists and for their continued dedication to the Art Society.

The 30th Anniversary Art Show, on view through October 28 at the Winslow Public Library, features work from the four founders including Marilyn Dwelley, of Florida, formerly of China, and the late Peggy Stowers. Forty-four members and former members are represented in the 90 pieces of art. An impressive range of styles and media are found in the exhibit, including pieces sent from as far away as Florida and Alabama.

Patricia Binette and Pauline Turner

Patricia Binette, left, and Pauline Turner stand in front of a display of their work at an opening reception honoring them at the 30th anniversary of the Waterville Area Art Society they co-founded with Marilyn Dwelley and the late Peggy Stowers. Contributed photo

Society president Amy Cyrway, co-owner of the Framemakers, in Waterville, gave a brief history of the organization and told the 50 to 60 people present about the four founders and their impact on arts in the Greater Waterville Area and beyond.

The art society holds two-member shows once a year and is co-sponsor of an annual juried art show that draws entrants from across Maine.

China Village postmaster retires after 32-year career

by Mary Grow
Priscilla Adams

Priscilla Adams, China Village postmaster, has retired following a 32-year career with the U.S. Postal Service. Contributed photo

Priscilla Adams ended her 32-year career with the United States Postal Service Sept. 30. Her last day as China Village Postmaster was followed Oct. 1 by a retirement party organized by her husband Scott that gave another 100 or so friends and relatives a chance to wish her happiness.

Retirement is bittersweet, Adams said. She looks forward to time for herself, to work in her garden and to take day trips, starting with the Fryeburg Fair Oct. 3. She expects to watch more of her grandsons’ basketball games in southern Maine – and, she said happily, “If it’s a blizzard out and I don’t feel like coming home, I don’t have to.”

On the other hand, she’ll miss the people who enlivened her days behind the post office counter, miss the long talks and listening to people’s stories and problems.

Adams was appointed China Village Postmaster on February 1, 1997. Before that, she worked as PMR (Postmaster Relief, postal-speak for substitute) and sometimes Officer in Charge at other area post offices.

The worst part of her career, she said, has been going through so many changes, which have been difficult for employees and sometimes for customers, like the introduction in 2001 of the E911 system that changed the name and the box numbers in what’s now the China Village post office.
Adams has seen the switch from a manual typewriter to a computer, from a fan scale to an electric scale, from stamps that had to be licked to self-adhesive stamps, from any stamps at all to a postage meter.

She’s watched the price of stamps, box rentals and other services go up – and this February had the rare opportunity to see them go down a bit, for the first time, she believes, since the 1940s.
Two or three years ago, when the Postal Service cut back hours in many post offices, including China Village, there was a rumor that the China Village office would be eliminated when Adams retired.

Just a rumor, Adams is quite sure – the office is valuable not only to its 225 boxholders and other China residents, but to people from surrounding towns where post office window hours are shorter or less convenient.

Adams’ duties, official and unofficial, have included distributing mail and selling stamps, keeping the building clean, collecting lost items, putting up posters for lost pets and helping start people’s cars.

“It’s been a great working experience,” she summarized. “I like helping out people. There’ve been good times and bad times, ups and downs, but I’ve had a lot of fun.”

Becky Tesseo, who also works part-time at the post office in South China, has taken over the China Village office until a new postmaster can be found. Tesseo doesn’t know how long she’ll be in the north end of town – maybe a month, she said.

As Priscilla Adams’ retirement party wound down Oct. 1 in the China Baptist Church Vestry Fellowship Hall, people began assembling in the adjacent church for the funeral of Eleanor Foster, Postmaster from 1956 until 1982, when she retired and Joyce Whitney was appointed. Foster died Sept. 19 at the age of 96.

Foster and her husband Bill lived next door to the post office while Foster worked there and for many years afterwards. Adams said for the first few months of her tenure, they had a standing joke: she would ask Foster, “Do you want to be my PMR?”

Foster would pretend to consider for a moment before replying, “No thanks.”

KCS & WCD district supervisor election upcoming

Persons wanting to run for the office of District Supervisor for the Kennebec County Soil and Water Conservation District should contact the District office at 21 Enterprise Dr. Suite #1, Augusta, ME telephone (207) 622-7847 x3, to obtain nominating papers. Nomination papers require 25 valid signatures in order to become a candidate.

Nomination papers must be received at the District office no later than November 3, 2016. This year we have one full three-year term of office up for election.

Any person who desires to run for the office of District Supervisor must be a resident who is living on lands lying within the boundaries of the Kennebec County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The actual election is scheduled for November 25, 2016. Ballots for the election will be mailed to anyone requesting one. Registered voters wishing to vote in the election of District Supervisor must contact the District in order to receive a ballot. All registered voters residing within the Kennebec County Soil and Water Conservation District boundaries are eligible to vote. All completed ballots must be received by the afternoon of November 25, at 4 p.m.