Garand joins local BHBT team

Sally Garand

Sally Garand has joined Bar Harbor Bank & Trust as Vice President, Community Banking Relationship Manager, working from the Bank’s office at 386 Route 3, in South China. Serving the Midcoast region from Rockland to Topsham, Sally builds relationships with local small business owners to help them be successful. She listens to their goals and responds quickly to their needs with suitable financial solutions.

Sally comes to Bar Harbor Bank & Trust with over 30 years of commercial lending experience having worked most recently as a Commercial Loan Officer at Finance Authority of Maine. She holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Maine, Orono. Sally is a graduate of Leadership Maine Psi Class. In the community she serves on the School Board at St. Michael School and is also a board member of the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Sally and her husband, Rick, live in Manchester, have two children in college, and enjoy spending weekends at their family home on the shore in Trenton.

Selectmen, fire chiefs engage in heated debate over town funding

China Village Volunteer Fire Department. (Internet photo)

by Mary Grow

China selectmen and fire chiefs went another round in their months-long disagreement at the May 13 selectmen’s meeting, with considerable shouting, many contradictions, some assigning of blame and eventually a partial clarification of positions, but no resolution.

Town meeting voters annually approve money for the fire departments for operations and, in recent years, stipends for volunteer firefighters. Payment of stipends to volunteers in nonprofit organizations is regulated by state and federal laws and rules. Firefighters and selectmen have argued since last fall over their respective roles in overseeing town funds, especially stipends, though at times the argument has seemed to cover all monies the departments have from any source for any purpose.

According to the discussions, stipend money has not been disbursed according to law in the past. Dennis Heath, China’s town manager for almost a year, wants it done legally.

Palermo attorney Matt Evans came to the May 13 meeting as the firefighters’ spokesman – not their lawyer, he emphasized, or he would have worn a suit and tie. He began by asking why the firefighters were not listed as a business item rather than under reports.

Town Clerk Becky Hapgood, filling in for Heath, said she had been told to list the firefighters under reports.

Evans said he was not going to report. Instead, he asked whether the board of selectmen intended to give the three fire departments the money town meeting voters approved for them on April 6.

Board Chairman Robert MacFarland answered yes, both operational funds and money for stipends, subject to state and federal regulations – and the fight was on, because the fire chiefs believe they can obey state and federal regulations without help from selectmen.

Evans’ next question, never specifically answered, was what documentation the fire departments need to provide along with their annual requests for town funds. He asked further, what are the state and federal guidelines and who interprets them?

“You’re making up nonsensical stuff and then you’re going to enforce it on them,” Evans charged.

Evans’ presence did not prevent chiefs Bill Van Wickler (Weeks Mills), Tim Theriault (China Village) and Dick Morse (South China) from speaking for themselves.

Their position is that they are entitled to oversee their own expenditures, and the selectmen do not need to review every transaction. Van Wickler said he had found and shared as an example the guidelines formula selectmen and firefighters agreed to some months ago, and “it’s our responsibility to use the formula.

“We have all the tools we need to do this right. Trust us,” he said.

Morse agreed: the departments, not the selectmen, are responsible for obeying the law. The selectmen’s responsibility is to hand over the money town voters approved.

Selectmen’s position is that because the money in question is the taxpayers’, their responsibility is to make sure it is spent appropriately.

Board member Ronald Breton summarized toward the end of the discussion: distribution of town funds “belongs to the board” and the town manager tells the selectmen what’s legal.

Theriault, who is a state representative as well as a local fire chief, said part of the problem is that the legislature “does a bad job of making laws.” Concerning volunteers’ stipends, legislators made a law that state officials refuse to enforce.

In a two-hour conversation with the head of the Department of Labor, he learned that administration of volunteer firefighters’ stipends is ignored, because state regulators value volunteers and won’t do something that might deter them from volunteering. Breton reminded Theriault that Town Manager and Town Treasurer Heath “sees it differently, as the guy who signs the checks.”

“So maybe we need somebody with a little more common sense,” Theriault replied, touching off a short discussion of the influence of the military where Heath worked and Oklahoma where he got his governmental experience.

Van Wickler raised a side issue: selectmen have faulted firefighters for not reporting at selectmen’s meetings, but, Van Wickler asked, why should non-employees join town employees in reporting every other week?

Board Chairman Robert MacFarland retorted, “Then why do you take town money?”

Theriault reminded him that the town is responsible for providing fire protection. Town officials’ options are to create a municipal fire department, contract with another town or contract with some other party, like local volunteer firefighters’ organizations.

After three-quarters of an hour’s discussion, selectmen turned to other business, including hearing employees’ reports:

  • The town assessor is inspecting properties; he drives a white vehicle with an identifying sign.
  • Town police have been dealing with speeding complaints and will continue to do so.
  • Eleven beavers have been trapped and relocated so far and the culverts they had blocked have been or are being cleared.
  • The codes enforcement officer is available Tuesdays and Thursdays and by appointment Wednesdays and Fridays. Asked about the recently hired assistant codes officer, MacFarland replied he “didn’t work out.”

By unanimous votes, the board:

  • Approved a liquor license renewal for the China Dine-ah;
  • Accepted a petition to lower the speed limit on Village Street in South China to 35 miles an hour, a request that will be forwarded to the state transportation department; and
  • Approved police Sergeant Tracey Frost’s plan to buy three new portable radios to match those used by Kennebec County.

Since the next regular selectmen’s meeting would fall on the Memorial Day holiday, Hapgood said it is rescheduled, probably to Tuesday evening, May 28.

CHINA: Comprehensive plan meeting at Erskine

(photo credit: Erskine Academy)

The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, in conjunction with the town of China, will be conducting a Comprehensive Plan public input session on Saturday, May 18, at Erskine Academy cafeteria, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The workshop, titled China’s 2040 Vision, will cover major topics to include water quality of China Lake and Three Mile Pond, housing, land use development and developing a 10-year vision.

Comprehensive Planning Committee spokesman Irene Belanger stated: “The purpose of the workshop is to get a wide variety of opinions and viewpoints about what is special about China and needs to be preserved, and what needs to change and improve in the years ahead. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend. The more citizens participation, the better the vision will be.”

Following some good work from the China for a Lifetime Committee, this is a key step in the updating of the comprehensive plan for the town of China. Belanger continued, “Come talk with your neighbors and help us shape the future for China.”

All China resident are invited and encouraged to attend.

China food pantry receives donation

Melissa Goude, left, and Krystina Foote with daughter Paisley, present a check for $228.89 to the China Community Food Pantry from the Trademark Federal Credit Union. (Photo courtesy of Ann Austin)

Selectmen sign proclamation for Municipal Clerks Week

Vassalboro selectmen have signed a proclamation marking the week of May 5 through May 11 as Municipal Clerks Week, recognizing the work of town clerks and their deputies.

2019 is the 50th anniversary of the annual observance, according to the proclamation. The proclamation describes the office of clerk as “the oldest among public servants,” existing world-wide as a “vital part of local government.” Clerks are recognized as a neutral professional link between citizens and their government, local, state and national, and as “the information center on functions of local government and community.”

Superintendent satisfied with China schools condition

photo source: JMG.org

by Mary Grow

RSU (Regional School Unit) #18 Superintendent Carl Gartley is satisfied with conditions in China schools and the RSU as a whole.

Gartley talked about the proposed 2019-2020 budget at the next-to-last in a series of explanatory meetings in China on April 30. Voters from the five RSU towns (Belgrade, China, Oakland, Rome and Sidney) will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at the Performing Arts Center at Messalonskee High School to vote on the budget. A budget validation referendum will be held June 11 in each town.

Twenty-two people attended the China meeting. Gartley said only half a dozen of them are not connected with town government, China schools or the RSU.

The superintendent projects an RSU budget increase of 2.86%, a little more than $1 million, to more than $38.655 million. Of that amount, $28.8 million covers salaries and benefits, according to Gartley’s figures.

Because of the formula governing how each member town pays its share of the total, Gartley said China’s assessment will go up about 5 percent. That does not mean a 5 percent tax increase, he emphasized, since the town’s tax rate also depends on how much the state contributes to education next year and how much China’s valuation changes.

When an audience member mentioned the legally required 55 percent state contribution to education, people laughed. The state has evaded the obligation ever since voters approved it by referendum in 2003.

Gartley presented charts showing that:

  • Compared to 11 other area towns and RSUs, RSU #18’s per-pupil spending is fifth from the lowest, and below the state average.
  • In reading, as measured by standard test scores (which Gartley pointed out are only one way to assess progress, but are easy to compare), RSU #18 students rank next to the top in the area, and at the state average. • In math, by the same measure, RSU #18 scores are third from the top and above the state average.

Gartley mentioned the social workers, nurses, special education staff and others who help RSU #18 tailor its school system to meet all students’ needs. The member schools offer large and varied extracurricular programs; all RSU students may use the “gorgeous” new athletic facility in Oakland.

  • “The money is being spent where it should be, [and] our kids are getting a great education,” Gartley summarized.

Manager shares info about proposed waterfront land buy

The property the Town of China is considering developing into an area for public lake access. (Photo courtesy of the China town office.)

by Mary Grow

China Town Manager Dennis Heath shared information about the proposed waterfront land purchase with TIF (Tax Increment Finance) Committee members at their May 6 meeting.

The local warrant for June 11 voting will include a request to appropriate $150,000, $125,000 from the lake access reserve fund and $25,000 from TIF funds, to buy about five acres between Lakeview Drive and the east shore of China Lake adjoining the Four Seasons Club property. The manager envisions a park with a swimming area and boat landing, well separated for safety, adjoining the Four Seasons beach.

Since selectmen approved the ballot question, Heath said, he has learned of a state program that would pay half the cost of acquiring the property. If China is eligible for state money, there would be no need to use TIF funds.

Using topographic maps, Heath made measurements of the slope between the road and lake. He figured the land descends 92 feet in the 824 feet from the road to the water.

The hill is tiered, he said, making room for two levels of parking. Heath intends to talk with Four Seasons Club President Tom Rumpf about sharing the club’s road to access the property, if voters approve the purchase.

If voters buy the land and TIF money is needed, Heath recommends expanding the TIF construction subcommittee that oversees the causeway project at the head of the lake, adding, for example, someone knowledgeable about possible effects on lake water quality.

TIF Committee Chairman Frank Soares said the committee has taken no position on the request for funds, awaiting voters’ action.

China selectmen have scheduled a public hearing on two local ballot questions, the land purchase and a request for engineering money to continue design work on an emergency services building or a community center, for 6:15 p.m. Monday. May 13.

TIF subcommittee member Tom Michaud reported briefly on the causeway project. Phase One, the new bridge, is almost done, he said, lacking only a final layer of paving and pedestrian guardrails on the bridge..

Michaud said two corrections are priorities; there is erosion around some of the rocks, and people have complained about the guardrail, which Michaud described as “unfriendly” because it makes it hard for fishermen to get near the water.

The second phase of the project involves shoreland work between the bridge and the boat landing. Currently, Michaud said, project engineers are seeking necessary permits. Committee member Amy Gartley led a discussion of the revolving loan program, intended to provide bridge loans to help small businesses in town start up or expand. H. David Cotta asked whether the town would be first or last to collect should there be multiple loans that were not repaid.

There was consensus the town, since it uses taxpayers’ money, should be at the head of the line. Heath and Gartley intend to seek advice from Town Attorney Amanda Meader and the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, which will manage the loans. Gartley hopes the loan program documents will be ready for TIF Committee approval at the next meeting, scheduled for Monday evening, June 3.

Mud season arrived on time; with a glimpse of summer

Michael Bilinsky, of China Village, photographed this sail boat on China Lake on one of the summer-like days the area experienced over the last week.

 

Eli Cates, sitting, with his younger brother Isaac, demonstrate what happens when you don’t buy your kids electronic devices. (Photo courtesy of Emily Cates)

Erskine Academy second trimester honor roll 2019

Grade 12

High Honors: Brenna Audet, Molly Babson, Gavin Blanchard, Madison Boynton, Jenna Butler, Joseph Clark, Cameron Falla, Madeline Geidel, Ashley Gillis, Sage Hapgood-Belanger, Samantha Heath, Eleanor Hodgkin, Kayla Hodgkins, Amber Rose Holmes, Andrew Jackson, Christopher Jamison, William Jones, Kyli Julia, Robert King, Morgaine Kmen, Olivia Kunesh, Caitlin Labbe, Noah Labbe, Milo Lani-Caputo, Rivers Malcolm, Tara Maltese, Joshua Peaslee, Jacob Praul, Seth Reed, Hannah Reid, Christina Roy, Jessie Sepulvado, Conor Skehan, Katherine Smith, Braden Soule, Briana Strout, Elizabeth Sugg, Willow Throckmorton-Hansford, Shay Tripp-Laliberty, Kassidy Wade, Hagen Wallace, Jacob Wright, Alana York and Peilin Yu.

Honors: Samantha Allen, Dominque Andrews, Alex Barney, Nina Boudreau, William Bourque, Justin Browne, Arthur Carey, Nicholas Cates, Shannon Cornett, ArizonaLee Crooker, Caitlyn Denico, Damien Doe, Keara Doughty, Travis Dow, Tiffany Doyle, Marshall Dugal, Dominic Durant, Samuel Falla, Courtney Gallagher, Phillip Gilbert, Regina Harmon, Alexis Haskell, Tristan Hawk, Russell Hoffman, Alicia Hotham, Peyton Houghton, Antonio Jacobs, Jack Jowett, Garrett Keezer, Dylan Keller, Paige Leary, Searra Lord, Maverick Lowery, Alexander Mahon, Mya Maxim, Desiree Mayo, Mireya Noa’Dos Santos, Myles Nored, Conner Paine, Dakota Peaslee, Zachary Plourde, Nicholas Rancourt, Saif Rifat, Cole Roberts, Austin Roderick, Hunter Rushing, Caleb Sacks, Anthony Sanborn, Seth Savage, Shaine Staples, Mercedes Tibbetts, Megan To, Jack Tobey, Caden Turcotte, Ashlyn Wing and Jiwei Jeff Ye.

Grade 11

High Honors: Lucy Allen, Jay Austin II, Alec Baker, Julia Basham, Derek Beaulieu, Haley Breton, Abigail Cordts, Lily DeRaps, Alyssha Gil, Annika Gil, Joshua Gower, Tori Grasse, Keimi Henry, Summer Hotham, Sarah Jarosz, Luke Jordan, Parker King, Benjamin Lavoie, Eleena Lee, Stephanie Libby, Jordan Linscott, Brandon Loveland, Reece McGlew, Adalaide Morris, Lyndsie Pelotte, Hunter Praul, Miina Raag-Schmidt, Benjamin Reed, Dominic Rodrigue, Alyssa Savage, Taylor Shute, Jacob Sutter, Brandon Tibbs, Cameron Tyler, Mary-Jane Williams and Richard Winn.

Honors: Adam Bonenfant, Faith Bonnell, Ashlee Bossie, Kole-Tai Carlezon, David Chubbuck Jr, Summer Curran, Colby Cyr, Devin Davis, Vincent Emery, Cheyann Field, Jada Fredette, Mitchell Gamage, Lydia Gilman, Boe Glidden, Bryce Goff, Alyssa Hale, Emma Harvey, Jesse Hayes, Gage Henderson, Nicholas Howard, Ashley Huntley, Emily Jacques, Cameron Johnson, Colby Johnson, Tristan Klemanski, Cole Leclerc, William Leeman, Madison Leonard, Lexigrace Melanson,Kaytie Millay, Jakob Mills, Jamara Moore, Krysta Morris, Nathaniel Mosher, Isaak Peavey, Matthew Picher, Mitchel Reynolds, Andrew Robinson, Katelyn Rollins, Shawn Seigars, Serena Sepulvado, Santasia Sevigny, Alissa Sleeper, Kayla Sleeper, Dominic Smith, Lily Solorzano, Alisha Stevens, MaKenzi Strout, Nicole Taylor, Katelyn Tibbs, Ashleigh Treannie and Matthew Veilleux.

Grade 10

High Honors: Philip Allen, Isabella Bishop, Abbygail Blair, Jane Blanchard, Samantha Box, Trevor Brockway, Eleanor Brown, Zoe Butler, Cody Devaney, Jacob Devaney, Abigail Dumas, Amelia Evans, Addison Gamage, Margaret Gamage, Avril Goodman, Patrick Hanley, Nathan Howell, Emma Hutchinson, Muzzammil Iqbal, Delaney Ireland, Bryan Joslyn Jr, Madyx Kennedy, Sierra LaCroix, Isabela Libby, Emily Lowther, Chiara Mahoney, Jonathan Martinez, Michael Nicholas III, Ian Oliphant, Brian Ouellette, Courtney Paine, Sydni Plummer, Harry Rabideau, Kristin Ray, Acadia Senkbeil, Hanna Spitzer, Emma White, Samuel York and Kelby Young.

Honors: Mara Adams, Brooke Allen, Nicholas Barber, Rylee Bellemare, Everett Blair, Christopher Bourdon, Hailey Brooks, Emma Burtt, Ethan Cates, Anthony Chessa, Adrianna Cook, Joleigh Crockett, Katelynn Dubriel, Jake Emond, Luciano Giampetruzzi, Cameron Gifford, Hailey Haskell, Avery Henningsen, Braydon Hinds, Paeshance-Rae Horan, Keith Knowles, Kaylah Kronillis, Haley Laird, Joanna Linscott, Colby Lloyd, Eva Malcolm, Hailey Mayo, Riley Mayo, Mikala McIntyre, Isaiah Michaud, Gavin Mills, Alicia Nelson, Tyler Ormonde, Olive Padgett, Isabella Parlin, Annaliese Patterson, Lexis Perry, Aiden Pettengill, Allison Roddy, Colby Rumpf, Hailey Sanborn, Paul Slimm, Alessandro Smith, Carly Spencer, Hunter St. Jarre, Aarick Staples, Ariel Stillman, Joshua Tobey, Jake Williams, Mollie Wilson and Dylan Wing.

Grade 9

High Honors: Isaac Baker, Jacob Bentley, Jack Blais, Lilian Bray, Evan Butler, Emily Clark, Tabitha Craig, Colby Cunningham, Isabella DeRose, Luke Desmond, Emma Fortin, Samantha Golden, Trace Harris, Isaac Hayden, Grace Hodgkin, Rachel Huntoon, Emma Jefferson, Grace Kelso, Taidhgin Kimball, Aidan Larrabee, David Martinez – Gosselin, Hayden McMurtry, Adam Ochs, Devon Polley, Lilly Potter, Sarah Praul, Mackenzie Roderick, Abbey Searles, Shawn Searles, Hannah Soule, Natalie Spearin and Lily Vinci.

Honors: Anastasia Ames, Griffin Anderson, Julia Barber, Alana Beggs, Joshua Bonsant, Wyatt Brann, Austin Campbellton, Nathaniel Collins, Hunter Colson, Liberty Crockett, Jasmine Crommett, Daniel Cseak, Caleb Cyr, Madison Devine, Tiana Dingwell, Kaden Doughty, Alexander Drolet, Abigail Dutton, Kelsie Fielder, Jacob Fisher, Chase Folsom, Jenna Gallant, Josette Gilman, Ciera Hamar, Larissa Haskell, Skye Havey, Hayden Hoague, Hannah Huff, Mallory Landry, Lili Lefebvre, Madison Lully, Isavel Lux Soc, Calvin Mason, Robert McCafferty, Wes McGlew, Christian Moon, Rebecca Morton, Brady O’Connor, Abigail Peaslee, Garrett Peebles, Kaden Plourde, Paige Reed, Riley Reitchel, Parker Reynolds, Kadince Rideout, Natasha Ryder-Lewis, Andrew Shaw, Hugo Smith, Hannah Strout – Gordon, Hannah Torrey, Brennen Wade, Samuel Worthley, Emily York and Hannah York.

China’s Dylan Presby given prestigious male sportsmanship award at Newbury College

Dylan Presby

China resident Dylan Presby has been presented with the prestigious male sportsmanship award at Newbury College, in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Dylan, who just completed his sophomore season at the liberal arts college, finished the season with a .301 batting average, good for second on the team, was tied for the team lead in runs scored with 21, second in hits, which included three doubles, two triples, one home run, and 14 runs batted in.

Dylan is only the third baseball player to achieve this honor.

In what was thought to be a rebuilding season coming off a 5-15 record in 2017, Newbury College won its first-ever Conference Championship and NCAA Tournament birth in 2018.

Unfortunately, Newbury College is one of the small liberal arts colleges that will be closing at the end of the current school year.

Dylan will be transferring to Lasell College, in Newton, Massachusetts, in the fall.

Dylan played his high school baseball at Erskine Academy, in South China. During his senior season, he batted .490, and went 4-2 as a pitcher with two saves. His regular position is second base, although he did fill in playing center field.

For his accomplishments at Erskine, Dylan was named the Kennebec Journal’s Baseball Player of the Year, an accolade that, it is believed, has never before been given to a China resident.

He will be taking some time off at home for the next couple of weeks before he starts his internship in the Cape Cod Baseball League, a prestigious Massa­chusetts league for developing college players.

Dylan is the son of David and Michelle Presby, of China.

See this related story: China baseball player working to crack lineup at Newbury College