Eagle Scout project in South China

Aiden Pettengill’s Eagle Project was at the new location for the South China Library. His project was to design and build a reading outdoor station. His final design included clearing a space under a large tree, having two benches built, two large flower beds surrounded by two layers of round rocks. He had many donated flowers and bulbs to plant. Thanks to all the Scouts and Leaders that came this morning to work under his leadership. The library, Scout leaders, town residents and parents should be very pleased with the results.

Photo courtesy of Ron Emery, Troop #479

South China Library aided from exhibit of late Howard Comfort II

Some of the paintings in the gallery.

Martha Comfort, David Kesel, and Laura Coffin, descendants of Howard Comfort II.

Photos & text courtesy of Geoff Hargadon

A barn in South China was the setting for an artist’s retrospective on August 12. The late Howard Comfort II, scholar, cricketeer, painter, and a part of the South China community for decades, was the subject of an exhibition of his paintings. Over 30 paintings, many from South China and elsewhere in Maine, were borrowed from a number of families as far away as Charlotte and Seattle. Nearly 100 visitors enjoyed refreshments as they passed through the gallery on that Saturday evening, including several of Comfort’s descendants.

Comfort lived to the age of 89, and spent many summers with family and friends in South China. His father was a colleague of Rufus Jones while at Haverford College, and it is believed Jones was influential in what has become a five-generation legacy in the town. There were many paintings buildings in South China on view, including Spearon’s General Store and the South China Inn, two buildings that no longer exist.

The exhibit doubled as a fundraiser for the South China Library and its plans to move to Jones Road. Over $2,500 was raised from attendees, with help from a matching grant offered for the occasion.

“We were very pleased with the turnout, to meet new friends, and to see old acquaintances. I am particularly glad we could share this beautiful body of work with the community that could probably appreciate it the most,” said Geoff Hargadon, organizer of the event. “We have long admired Howard Comfort’s work and was excited to be able to see so much of it in one place. But this has also encouraged me to investigate other opportunities in the future that could connect us with South China’s history through the eyes of others.”

Residents visit the gallery.

Grace Kilian named to president’s list at Bob Jones University

Grace Kilian, a senior special education major, of South China, was among approximately 500 Bob Jones University students named to the spring 2017 president’s list, in Greenville, South Carolina.

The president’s list recognizes students who earn a 3.75 or higher grade point average for the semester.

Gladiolus auction set for April 8

SOUTH CHINA — The Maine Gladiolus Society’s annual spring bulb auction will take place on Saturday, April 8, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., at the South China Community Church, on Old Route 3, South China.

A free lasagna lunch will be served, with donations welcome.

For more details, call Elisabeth Cates at (207) 923-3412.

 

Hannaford Helps bag program to benefit South China Library

South China Public Library has been chosen for the Hannaford Helps reusable bag program. Visit the China Hannaford any time in March, purchase the “Good Karma” bag, and South China Public Library will receive $1 from the proceeds. This program is designed to support local nonprofits like South China Public Library. Funds raised will benefit the children’s summer reading program. To learn more about South China Public Library, call 445-2956 or visit www.southchinalibrary.org.

“Grace is a gift from God” – Grace Academy is a gift from Norm Elvin

by Lisa Durant
Academic Program Director

The staff and students at the new Grace Academy Homeschooling and Learning Center, located in the old Norm’s Chicken and Seafood restaurant on Rte. 3, in South China. Contributed photo

Grace Academy is holding an Open House in recognition of a very generous donation of building and property from local philanthropist, Norm Elvin, in honor of his parents Leslie and Betty Elvin.

For years, Norm Elvin has been making news as a man who selflessly gives of his time, talent, and treasure to those in need. Since the early 1980s Norm has served on over a dozen boards of directors, raised millions of dollars for charity, has run several successful businesses, most recently and locally Norm’s Chicken and Seafood and The China Dine-ah. He has donated much of his own personal wealth to many worthy causes, including the new MaineGeneral Hospital, The United Way, HealthReach Hospice, Augusta YMCA, and Cony High School, in Augusta.

Grace Academy, in South China, is blessed to be among Norm’s most recent benevolent acts.

From his parents, Norm learned early on the meaning of a hard days’ work. As a youth, he could be found delivering papers, mowing lawns, and shoveling driveways. He learned the virtues of hospitality, honesty and perseverance. He took the example from his father regarding frugality, discipline, the value of money, and a spirit of volunteerism. Never indulged as a child, Norm was purposefully “handed nothing” by his parents; instead they encouraged him to work for it. This developed a strong work ethic.

Norm Elvin, whose donation of the former restaurant building on Rte. 3, in South China, to house Grace Academy Homeschooling and Learning Center, will be honored at a reception on March 10.

In Norm’s own words, his parents were “firm, they were consistent, and did that with a lot of love.”

Fast-forward 30 or 40 years and this paper delivery boy-turned-president of G & E Roofing, in Augusta, has been delivering hopes and dreams to the people of Central Maine for the past three decades by giving all he has to help others.

Norm readily admits that he is ‘blessed’ to be able to lend a hand, or dollars, when the need arises. When Norm began doing some fundraising with The United Way, he realized he had the ability to help others in a bigger way. Possessing a certain amount of civic pride, Norm had a desire to build up the community. He recalls that his parents kept their home neat and clean, and always kept the grass trimmed. “You didn’t want your house looking shabby,” he says, “not because someone would say something about you, but because you had enough pride that you wanted the whole neighborhood to look good.”

Norm Elvin has given another gift that will benefit “the whole neighborhood”, that is, the whole community of China and surrounding towns.

Michelle Bourque reflected on the ripple effect that happens with a gift like this. “It’s almost immeasurable. We are fully aware of the responsibility that has been given to us. We take seriously the Scripture verse “from those who have been given much, much will be asked.” Having a building of our own makes it so much easier to continue doing charitable works.” [Grace programs have contributed to the well-being of individuals in nursing homes, adults and children in homeless shelters, and a handful of local needy families.] “And we won’t stop there,” Bourque said. “Norm, and philanthropists like him, are an inspiration to us all. We are looking to not only assist our member families, but to reach out and serve all kinds of learners in our community, not exclusively home educators. We are currently working on a community tutoring program.”

The main area at the new Grace Academy home in South China. Contributed photo

Meanwhile, the ripples continue. Many others have reached out to help support Grace Academy. Community members have generously provided construction, furniture, and educational materials, as well as conducting classes in reading, writing, math, history, science, Latin, and more.

Bourque stated, “I am humbled to say that this is the largest philanthropic commitment I have ever heard of being received by a homeschooling group. We are proud to be able to call Norm our friend and beloved benefactor and we thank him from the bottom of our hearts.”

Since its inception Grace Academy has served over 115 children and conducted over 40 classes, workshops and parent-teacher trainings. Norm’s gift has allowed Grace Academy’s homeschooling families, some of whom travel from as far as Bath, Auburn, Pittsfield and Troy, to gather many of their resources in one place, creating a library of over 5,000 titles and counting. It has provided a location for families who are considering the homeschooling option to visit for advice and guidance.

“We are extremely grateful to Mr. Elvin for his extraordinary gift in support of Grace Academy,” said Bourque, executive director of Grace Academy. “He has an unending desire to do good. He has a belief in the power of education to shape today’s youth into tomorrow’s leaders, and that is heartwarming. This gift will enable Grace to plant itself firmly in our community as a resource for all families who currently homeschool or are considering the homeschool option. With this gift we can bring programs and resources to families who endeavor to educate their children at home.”

Bourque added, “After years of schlepping whiteboards, books and other materials from borrowed buildings to church halls and local libraries, it is an extreme relief to have a place to call home.”

“We have a vision which includes being part of the larger educational community in Central Maine. Having our own facility will not only help to make us a physical presence here, it will allow us to do more.”

They hope everyone will join them for a look at this beautiful community space, enjoy light refreshments and honor the philanthropy of Norm Elvin. Grace Academy is located at 363 Route 3, in South China,. Students and Staff will provide tours and answer questions. Open house runs from 7 – 9 p.m., on Friday, March 10, 2017. If you wish to join in thanking Norm, please feel free to send a note to thankyounorm@ gmail. com. These notes will be presented to Norm at the reception.

Kilian named to president’s list

Grace Kilian, a senior special education major of South China, was among approximately 490 Bob Jones University students named to the fall 2016 President’s List, in Greenville, South Carolina.

 

China News: Police report: traffic on Main St. too fast

by Mary Grow

China Village residents told selectmen last summer that traffic on Main Street and Causeway Road is too fast. Technology has backed them up.

Two of China’s five local police officers, all of whom are also Oakland policemen, reported to China selectmen on Dec. 12 about police activities since August. Traffic control is one of the major issues they deal with. In his written report, Sergeant Tracey Frost said they used grant money to buy a Blackcat radar system which they deployed inconspicuously on Main Street, Dirigo Road and Jones Road, three places where residents complained of speeders.

An attached report from Sergeant Jerry Haynes, who analyzed the radar reports, said that Jones Road and Dirigo Road have some fast traffic, but not enough to warrant a major enforcement effort. On Main Street, however, almost 21 percent of drivers exceeded the enforcement limit of 35 miles an hour, which is 10 miles above the posted speed limit.
Main Street, Frost wrote, “has the highest level of traffic violations we have ever recorded.”

He recommended that patrols continue and that in the spring selectmen consider other traffic-calming measures. “The concerns of local residents are certainly justified,” he added.

Besides the 25 mile an hour limit on Main Street and intersecting Causeway Road, additional signs warn drivers to watch out for a blind pedestrian, children playing and pets.

Frost’s report listed other activities in which the five officers have engaged this fall, and offered residents his personal email address to which to send law-enforcement concerns: chinamainepolice@gmail.com. In other business at the Dec. 12 meeting, selectmen accepted the resignation of Fred Montgomery as an alternate member of the planning board. Tom Michaud said Neck Road residents had asked him to apply for the seat; selectmen decided to follow their usual procedure of advertising the vacancy. They are also looking for more members for the ad hoc committee on China for a Lifetime, which will investigate ways to make the town more user-friendly, especially but not exclusively for senior citizens. The committee currently consists of Michaud, Selectmen Joann Austin and Irene Belanger, Sandra Kostron, Helen Roy and Toni Wall.

Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux reported that acquisition of the Wachusetts property on Lakeview Drive, given to the town and accepted by voters on Nov. 8, is complete. He is still working toward acquiring the two properties voters agreed to buy, one adjoining the town office and the other at the head of China Lake.

Selectmen considered proposing local measures to prepare for the state-wide legalization of recreational marijuana. They decided the March town meeting will be an appropriate time for any action they choose to recommend.

Other area town officials are exploring ordinances to ban recreational marijuana or to establish a moratorium to give them time to create appropriate local regulations.

Board Chairman Neil Farrington reported that he and Selectman Ron Breton met with Palermo selectmen to work out final details of Palermo residents’ use of China’s transfer station, scheduled to begin with the new year.

Farrington also issued a reminder that the new transfer station days are now in effect: the facility is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, and no longer open on Wednesday.

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting has been rescheduled from Monday evening, Dec. 26, to 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 29, in the town office meeting room.

Bar Harbor Bank and Trust completes 28th annual community food drive

Bar Harbor Bank & Trust concluded its 28th annual “Food for Good” community food drive on November 18. More than 4,850 food items and over $3,370 were collected for and delivered to local food pantries prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. “On behalf of the Bank, I would like to thank everyone who gave a gift of healthy food to our neighbors in need by donating to the food drive,” said Margie Gray at Bar Harbor Bank & Trust.

These gifts helped fill Thanksgiving food baskets and stock the shelves of local food pantries for the winter months ahead. One of the five local grocery stores that participated was Tobey’s Grocery, in South China. For each “share” of one of the Bank’s “Food for Good” Facebook posts they donated one dollar to a local food pantry. “Thanks to all our Facebook fans, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust will be contributing an additional $370 to local food pantries,” said Gray. Each of Bar Harbor Bank & Trust’s 14 branches also collected donations for the Food Drive and delivered them to their local food pantry for distribution. Among the food pantries were Loaves and Fishes and the China Community Food Pantry.

“On behalf of all Bar Harbor Bank & Trust employees, our gratitude goes out to everyone who donated so generously to our “Food for Good” community food drive,” said Gray. “Thank you for helping neighbors in need by providing them with good, healthy food.”

BHBT to hold open house at So. China branch

Bar Harbor Bank & Trust invites customers, friends and neighbors to their holiday open house events, held between Thanksgiving and Christmas at most branch locations. Please join these local community celebrations as our guest, held on the following dates from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., to welcome the holiday season and enjoy refreshments.

An open house will be held at the South China branch, located on Rte. 3 next to the South China Post Office, on Friday, December 9.