Nomination papers available Nov. 25 for vacant China selectboard seat

Nomination papers to fill the vacant selectboard seat in China, that was created with the resignation of selectman Jeff LaVerdiere, will be available on Monday, November 25, 2019, at the China Town Office. According to Town Manager Dennis Heath, “the selectboard will decide at their meeting that evening if the special election will be March 3, 2020, or an earlier date.” By making the nomination papers available on Monday, “we accommodate either scenario,” Heath added.

The selectboard seat became vacant when LaVerdiere abruptly walked out of a selectboard meeting on October 15, and announced his resignation (The Town Line, October 24, 2019). His formal resignation was accepted by the board by a 3-1 margin, with retiring board chairman Bob MacFarland the only desenting vote (The Town Line, October 31, 2019).

Buy an extra turkey for the China Food Pantry

You can help assure that all families in China will enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving. This coming weekend, November 21 – 22, Thanksgiving dinner boxes will be passed out. Drop off your extra turkey on the pantry’s front porch at 1320 Lakeview Drive.

CHINA: Breton elected new selectboard chairman

by Mary Grow

The temporarily four-member China selectboard elected a new chairman to succeed Robert MacFarland, who retired as of the Nov. 5 elections, but otherwise spent their Nov. 12 meeting getting reports and information rather than making decisions.

Town Clerk Becky Hapgood assisted the board because Town Manager Dennis Heath was out of town for a family emergency. Hapgood conducted a written-ballot election for board chairman.

When the first result was a 2-2 tie between Irene Belanger and Ronald Breton, Hapgood distributed ballots again. Breton was elected on a 3-1 vote. Belanger was re-elected board secretary.

Breton said Heath is exploring options for filling the fifth seat on the board, left empty when Jeffrey LaVerdiere resigned at the Oct. 15 meeting (see The Town Line, Oct. 24).

Breton and new board member Wayne Chadwick shared two concerns. Both want the fifth board member elected as soon as possible, so that, Chadwick said, they would not go into budget season with an even number of votes. But neither wanted the next board member elected by a bare quorum of voters, and both feared a special election might not generate a large turn-out.

The next scheduled state-wide election with which a local vote might be coupled is the Tuesday, March 3, political primary newly created by the legislature.

Some of the information presented Nov. 12:

  • TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Committee member Tom Michaud reported that improvements are completed on two fire roads, with the work partly funded from China’s TIF program.
  • Hapgood said the new traffic pattern for the Nov. 5 election appeared to have been successful; officials intend to use it again in November 2020, when a heavy voter turn-out is expected, and, she said, perhaps for future Halloween trunk ‘r treat events at the town office.
  • Speaking for public works head Shawn Reed, who was on the road as China got its first minor snowfall of the season, Hapgood said the sandbox at the transfer station is ready for residents who need small amounts of sand for walkways and driveways. The maximum to be taken per visit is two five-gallon buckets.

The selectmen’s meeting ended with a moment of silence in memory of China Rescue Unit Chief David Herard. The next regular meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25.

CHINA: Privacy becomes issue at RFID public hearing

by Mary Grow

If the small placard hanging from your rearview mirror records that you were at the China transfer station at, for example, 1:11 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13, and lists your name, is your privacy invaded?

That was the major debate at the Transfer Station Committee’s Nov. 13 informational meeting on the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) system that China officials will introduce as the year ends.

The system requires a vehicle coming into the transfer station to have a numbered placard, most conveniently hanging from the rearview mirror. Sample placards passed around at the meeting are three and a half inches square. Town officials intend to have them available by mid-December.

The goal of the current sticker system, or the RFID system, or a more costly and inconvenient manned entrance building, is to make sure only China residents, or others authorized, use China’s facility. The placards come in two colors, orange for China residents and blue for Palermo residents, who share the facility under a two-town agreement.

Transfer station Manager Tim Grotton expects the RFID system to be more useful than stickers. When an RFID tag rides past the sensor, a light flashes. If a vehicle comes in and there is no light, he and his staff are cued to speak with the driver.

Currently China’s RFID system has only one sensor recording entrances and departures. Town officials intend to seek future grants for more sensors to see how often different areas – trash hopper, recycling building, compost pile, brush pile – are visited.

The system records the owner’s name and the date and time the vehicle entered the transfer station. According to the handout at the meeting, “Encryption prevents other RFID readers from accessing owner information.”

Resident Todd Tolhurst, supported by at least one other man among the 10 attendees, argued that recording names is an unnecessary violation of privacy. He urged Transfer Station Committee members to change the system so the placard is not linked to a name.

Although in theory only town employees would have access to RFID reports, Tolhurst believes they would be public records that anyone could request. He suggested an avid environmentalist might use them to shame people who don’t recycle.

Reminded by Sikora and committee member Mark Davis that much more personal information is available on many town and state websites, Tolhurst replied, “I can’t think of any others that track my movements.”

Tolhurst raised the related question of how long information is kept. Committee members said at least a year, for annual reports to the state, and perhaps longer.

The debate ended with committee member Bob Kurik, from Palermo, proposing the committee look into using only the numbers on the tags, instead of either names or license plates. Sikora added the committee will review the encryption system.

Tolhurst also questioned the cost of the RFID system. Sikora said a $10,500 Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) grant that paid for the tags, software and training was supplemented by a small amount from the transfer station reserve fund. Davis added that hooking up the reader cost nothing: transfer station staffer Kevin Rhoades did the job using a recycled satellite dish.

The handout on RFID distributed at the meeting explained that:

  • The DEP helped fund the system because it is intended to provide information to help Maine achieve its 50 percent recycling goal.
  • Tracking users will help town officials “adjust staffing, hours of operation, and plan for future physical changes like traffic patterns or capital improvements.”
  • Tags are issued from the town office based on proof of residence. One tag is free; there is a $10 fee for a replacement tag if the original is lost, refunded when the tag is returned to the town office (presumably because the resident moved out of town).
  • Tags do not need to be renewed annually like the stickers.

Erskine Leos raise money for Camp Sunshine

Erskine Leos outside of Camp Sunshine, from left to right, Advisor Roxanne Malley, Ashley Clavette, Chiara Mahoney, Abby Blair, Xavian Marable, Andrew Robinson, Ricky Win, Autumn Boody, Acadia Senkbeil, Hannah Spitzer, and Sierra LeCroix.

Erskine Leos have held several fundraisers this year to raise money for Camp Sunshine. In August, along with the Whitefield Lions, the Leos coordinated a Lions vs. Leos bowling tournament and in October they held a Crusin’ event during homecoming. Last week, they presented Camp Sunshine with a $2,000 check from their efforts. Lions have been supporting Camp Sunshine for 25 years.

Theresa Plaisted presented with Boston Post Cane in 2019

China Town Manager Dennis Heath, left, presents the Boston Post Cane and a certificate to Theresa Plaisted, of China. (Photo courtesy of the China Town Office)

China Town Manager Dennis Heath, left, presented the Boston Post Cane and a certificate to Theresa Plaisted, of China, on October 21, 2019.

The cane is retained at the Town Office and the recipient keeps a certificate of the presentation. Theresa was born at Augusta on December 19, 1923, and has lived her entire life in China. She attended grammar school at the old school across from the Albert Church Brown Library and graduated from Erskine Academy in 1941. She worked at the Hathaway Mill, in Waterville, for 16 years.

For many years Theresa watched school-aged children who still call her “Aunt Theresa.” She was married to Leon Plaisted for 49 years. At 96, Theresa is still very active and has been wintering in Florida every year since 1999 with her sister Pauline “Polly” Tobey, who turned 93 recently. Theresa’s grandmother, Etta Ward, also held the Boston Post Cane from late 1971 until her passing at age 107 years, 10 months and 2 days on October 23, 1973.

China TIF members get prelim preview of causeway project

by Mary Grow

At their Nov. 4 meeting, China TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Committee members got a preview of the proposed new design for the second phase of the causeway project, which will extend the bridge replacement work at the head of China Lake’s east basin.

Committee members also endorsed two requests for TIF funds that will be submitted to selectmen and, with their approval, to voters at the spring 2020 town business meeting.

Mark McCluskey, the engineer from A. E. Hodsdon, of Waterville, who works with the town, explained that because the bridge is higher than the culvert it replaced (to make room for kayakers to go under the road), the steeper shore needs erosion protection.

His design calls for stone retaining walls, riprap or both along the shore north and west of the bridge and on the south (lake) side between the bridge and the boat landing. Fishing platforms will still be included.

The north side of the bridge will have an ATV trail, the south side a sidewalk. The sidewalk surface material remains to be determined. There will be marked pedestrian crosswalks east and west of the bridge.

The current – and controversial – metal guardrails will be totally removed, McCluskey said, and wooden ones installed where needed.

In addition to streetlights provided by Central Maine Power Company, McCluskey proposes recessed light fixtures under the guardrail along the sidewalk.

The gravel parking area on the north side of the road opposite the boat landing is not slated for change, Town Manager Dennis Heath said.

McCluskey hopes to have a final plan before the end of the year. At least two state departments, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Environmental Protection, need to review and approve, he said. An Inland Fisheries spokesman told him work cannot start before July 1, 2020, to avoid disrupting nesting birds in the wetland north of the project area.

Heath proposed rearranging TIF money to add funds to the Causeway Project. He said that under TIF rules, moving money from one project to another requires a local public hearing and state approval. Later in the week, he reported that state officials recommended seeking voters’ approval for such changes, as China officials did in 2017.

As a related project, the state boat landing is to be rebuilt; it will be longer and have concrete on the lake bottom at the end of the ramp, where boat propellers currently create a hollow and a sandbank. Heath said the state will pay 50 percent of the cost of the boat landing work.

TIF Committee members would like to complete the causeway project in 2020, but are not sure there will be enough time. They expect the causeway will be closed part of the summer; perhaps, they said, one-lane traffic would sometimes be possible.

The two TIF funding requests endorsed at the Nov. 4 meeting, both by unanimous votes, were:

  • For the Broadband Committee, $15,000 in the current fiscal year for a consultant to do a town-wide survey of broadband access. Heath said the Federal Communications Commission incorrectly believes 98 percent of China residents have broadband, a figure so high it makes the town ineligible for grants to expand access.
  • For the China Lake Association, $57,500 for three projects: continuing LakeSmart shoreline run-off controls, contracting with a LakeSmart director to relieve volunteer Marie Michaud and continuing the Gravel Road Rehabilitation Project (GRRP) started this year.

The next TIF Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, Dec. 2.

Mourners pay tribute to local community anchor

David Herard, China rescue chief.

David Herard remembered as dedicated firefighter, family man and marine

by Ron Maxwell

This space is not large enough for the story of David Herard. During his remembrance at the China Dine-ah, I talked with daughters, sons-in-law, family, friends and colleagues and was given a glimpse into the life of a man who made his life’s work looking after people, both those he knew and those he had never met. His dedicated care of the town of China, his country and his family shone through every conversation I had, as did his obvious love of duty and honor for their own sake.

David in his youth.

David was a straight shooter and you always knew just where you stood with him. David looked like a “grumpy old Marine” (a phrase used with love by one of his mentees that I talked with) but had a heart of gold behind that exterior. David hated being praised and avoided accolades. I can’t help but feel that if he were reading this he would not enjoy it, but as it is true I will tell the story.

David and his childhood best friend played Cowboys and Indians as kids growing up in Waterville, and both volunteered for tours in Vietnam where they served our country well. David’s commitment showed in his volunteering for a second tour in his difficult job of being a tunnel rat, a mission that required entering small tunnels to underground networks that were filled with enemy combatants and booby traps. I read online that the tunnel rats were the unsung heroes of the Vietnam War and thinking about the process sheds light on David’s determination to serve others even when the job was difficult. It was in those tunnels, during his second tour, that a mortar nearly killed David. He saw a brilliantly lit place and a river and heard the voices of people on the other side. But a hand on his shoulder told him he had more to do and then he woke hearing the medic who was pounding on his chest (and saving his life), ordering “Marine, you do not have permission to die yet!”

The love David’s family showed in their eyes as stories were told of how he looked after them. A daughter said, that if they had had problems, they never worried long. David made sure of it. He provided for them, while he was quietly patching his own clothes. He gave everything even if it left him with no time, no matter what. He was content to look after everyone else without recognition. It was this love that I saw when I first met David, when my youngest son Peter and I came to adopt two kittens a year ago. His love was plain to me, in the way he looked at his daughter and granddaughter, it was clear that he was looking out for them and after them.

It was to this daughter his last words were “You are my anchor,” and then she told me “But he was mine.” It was to this granddaughter his last words were “You’re a pretty girl and I love you.” He was good with his grandchildren and had big expectations for them to be well-rounded and respectable. I am sure he said farewell to his whole family the same way as the quoted words above: using direct, carefully chosen words of love as one last way to care for them.

But it wasn’t just his own family he looked after, he extended that service to his town. He started public service with the Weeks Mills fire department, but transitioned to their safety officer (leading trainings and supporting crews) and then became an EMT for the town of China area.

David Herard’s service jacket. (photo by Ron Maxwell)

David was an EMT for about 10 years, starting with his training when he was in his 60s and culminated in his being elected rescue chief. Anecdotal reports from his colleagues range from 95 – 100 percent response to rescue calls, with one volunteer telling me how he looked at the call sheets and regularly the number 901 (the chief’s number, David’s number) appeared, documenting David’s presence at a scene. He had a good head on his shoulders, a calm demeanor, and a way that reached the people he was helping that gave them a peace and a confidence in his care. He was dependable, always the first to go, going all the time, always there and willing to help. He also mentored newer members to his work by walking them through their calls and advising them.

More than once, as I talked to the people he loved, I found myself hoping that I would be seen by my family and community as he was by his. These people who shared with me their love of David Herard understood and respected him in the way that I have always hoped I would be understood and remembered. I am a better man because I heard his story and have his example to follow. His service to them was quiet and constant and dependable and he didn’t want recognition for his work. They all saw and loved him for it. This work ethic, this love for family and his community, and this selfless dedication are to be commended and emulated. His is an example that is heroic. Thank you for your service, David.

An interment will take place on Friday, November 15, at 10 a.m., at the Wall, at the Veterans Cemetery, on Civic Center Dr. (Rte. 27), just off I-95 Belgrade Exit,. All who plan to attend should arrive by 9:45 a.m. There will be fire department and sheriff’s department escort.

Welcome home: A Vietnam experience

Clinton Hayward with his dog, Joy, at his home in South China on Three Mile Pond. (Photo by Eric Austin)

by Eric W. Austin

“The war was so unpopular, you couldn’t go anywhere in public in uniform,” says Vietnam veteran Clinton Hayward. “You would be berated, assaulted, threatened. It was frightening.”

We’re sitting in the living room of his home in South China, looking out over Three Mile Pond. He pauses a moment, leans forward and says, “To be honest about it, I hadn’t talked about my military experience with anybody at all until about a year ago.”

In 1966, after a duty tour in Vietnam of more than 12 months, Hayward, just 24 years old, returned to the United States. It wasn’t the welcome he expected.

“I flew into Boston,” he remembers, “and I had to take a bus to Calais to get home. I was still in uniform. I went into the bus station in Boston to get a bus to go to Calais, and everybody was swearing at me and cursing at me. It was the most humiliating” – he pauses, doesn’t finish. “And I had just come from a war zone the day before, thinking I had accomplished something important, that I had done something good.

“I never wore a uniform after that in public,” he says. “It was just too stressful.”

Born in Vanceboro, Maine, a tiny town on the Canadian border, Hayward grew up in nearby Calais and joined the U.S. Air Force right out of high school.

On his father’s side, Hayward came from a deeply military family, so joining the U.S. military was a no-brainer – although he admits he enlisted over the objections of his mother, who had hoped to see her son enroll in college instead. The year was 1961.

Hayward would find his first test the following year when, in the fall of 1962, newly-elected President John F. Kennedy informed the American public of a Soviet plan to install nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba, leading to a tense 13-day standoff that brought the United States to the brink of nuclear war.

“We all thought it was going to be the Third World War – they were already preparing teams to deploy,” says Hayward. “It was a great relief when it was over, because we just thought it was a done deal: [Soviet President Nikita] Khrushchev was not going to back down, and John Kennedy certainly wasn’t going to back down – he was a man that you really didn’t want to mess with.”

Although the whole episode lasted less than two weeks, the standoff was intense, with U.S. military forces going to DEFCON 2 – the highest military alert ever given in the post-WWII era. Everyone prepared for all-out war against the Soviet Union. Hayward, just out of basic training, slept at his duty station with his fellow recruits, only taking short breaks to shower, grab some chow or a change of clothes.

Once the Cuban Missile Crisis had passed, Hayward settled into life on an American military base, first in Oklahoma, and then in Newfoundland and New Hampshire. He initially trained as a carpenter, although he later cross-trained in a number of specialties as he took night and evening classes in addition to his daily work on the base. Early on in his career he developed an aptitude for a particular skill called “packing and crating,” and it was this skill that he would be called on to employ in his first tour of duty in Vietnam.

It was now 1965, and the war in Vietnam was heating up. The U.S. Air Force sent Hayward to a naval and airbase being constructed at Cam Ranh Bay in western Vietnam, on the coast of the South China Sea. The location would become a significant strategic base for American forces. Given little more than 30-days’ notice, 23-year old Clinton Hayward left a new wife and a three month-old daughter with his parents and headed for Southeast Asia.

Accommodations at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, in 1966.

When Hayward arrived, the base was still under construction. “They had these giant inflatable buildings,” he recalls. “They had these big air compressors, and they would pump them up, and then if you’d lose power, they would just collapse on themselves.”

As Cam Ranh was a strategic air base, construction of runways was a top priority. “The runways at that time – most of them – weren’t even cement,” Hayward explains. Instead, they were formed of more than two million square feet of aluminum matting, manufactured in the U.S. and then shipped to Vietnam where they were snapped together like floor tiles.

“I would say that 75 percent of the sorties that were flying over North Vietnam were coming from Cam Ranh Bay,” Hayward says, “so [planes] were going off every few minutes and they were coming back every few minutes.”

Hayward worked out of a hangar on the edge of one of the runways. His job was to disassemble shot-up planes, “pack” those parts into “crates” and ship them back to the United States where they were repaired before being returned to Cam Ranh Bay and put to use once again.

“In order to do that kind of work,” says Hayward, “we had to work right on the flight line, so planes were coming and going right in front of the building where we worked.”

Coming and going…and crashing. Crashes were nearly a daily occurrence at Cam Ranh. “The ones that were coming back were usually shot up,” he says. “They were on fire, or crashing – trying to make a landing but the landing gear would be shot up, so there were aircraft crashes there almost every day.”

Hayward pauses, his eyes growing distant and for a moment I see that young man, only 23 years old, with a wife and young daughter back home in America, but with death a part of his daily experience in Vietnam. “Sometimes the pilots would be able to eject, and save themselves, but more often than not they would perish in those crashes,” he continues. “And I was seeing those crashes. That was pretty traumatic.”

Clinton Hayward, right, enjoying a beverage with Air Force squad mates at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, in 1965.

Something else sticks in his mind all these years later as well. “I grew up in a middle class family,” he tells me. “Not rich by any means – somewhat meager means, I guess – but I had never seen third world poverty [like that].”

His eyes take on a bit of that haunted look again. “These people in Vietnam – the natives – were such wonderful people, but they had nothing. And what little they did have, the war had destroyed.”

He remembers dinner time on the base. The military gave you plenty of food, he says, but it wasn’t very good food and many of the American soldiers did not eat everything on their plates. “After you ate, you would walk by a number of trash cans lined up outside the [mess] tent,” he recalls. “You would dump your food into those [cans], and there were dozens of small children lined up to dive into that food that you were dumping out of your tray into a trash can.”

The scene prompted the young Hayward to write an article about his experience and send it back home. He thinks it was published in the Bangor Daily News sometime in 1966. “That was the most striking image…it’s basically seared into my mind,” he says. “I still have – I wouldn’t say nightmares, but I still have dreams about going through that chow line and having kids fightin’ over the food I was dumping.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson (top left) and General William Westmoreland visit the troops at Cam Ranh Bay for Christmas in 1965.

One of the positive highlights of Hayward’s time in Vietnam was when President Lyndon B. Johnson flew into Cam Ranh Bay with entertainer Bob Hope and General William Westmoreland, the commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, during the Christmas of 1965.

Clinton Hayward finished up his service in Vietnam in October 1966. He likely would have stayed in the Air Force for life, but after only a few weeks at home, he was told he was being sent back to the war zone. “I had eight years in at that point,” he says. “I was prepared to be a lifer. I had just gotten back – 30 days, maybe? – and I was told I was going to be redeployed to Vietnam. It was the same month that my enlistment was up, so I just got out.”

Outside of his military experience, Hayward is most proud of his conservation work with the nonprofit organization Ducks Unlimited. “If it wasn’t for the work Ducks Unlimited does in North America,” he says, “there wouldn’t be any water fowl left.” Hayward has started Ducks Unlimited chapters all across Maine, including Calais, Machias, Waterville/Winslow, Farmington and in the Western Mountains region.

Although some of the time he spent in Vietnam was difficult, Hayward sees his military experience as immensely valuable and positive. “Going into the military was one of the most important things I ever did,” he tells me. “I am a strong advocate for military service, and I would encourage any young person, female or male, to do their part.”

Contact the author at ericwaustin@gmail.com.

Electronic tags to replace stickers at China transfer station

by Larry Sikora and Bob Kurek,
China Transfer Station Committee

The State of Maine Department of Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded a grant to the China Transfer Station for a Radio Frequency Identification System (RFID). The data from the RFID will help the Transfer Station monitor usage and traffic flows and will assist the state in moving towards its goal of recycling 50 percent of household waste.

The RFID tag will hang from your vehicle’s mirror and replace the current annually-renewed window sticker. A sensor will detect when and by whom the Transfer Station is being used. The technology is similar to the EZ-pass and can easily be moved between vehicles. Effective January 1, 2020, transfer station users will be required to use the new tag.

RFID tags will be issued by China or Palermo town offices. One free tag will be provided to each residence and there will be a charge of $10 to replace a lost or stolen tag. If residents want more than the one free tag, additional tags may be purchased for $10 which is refundable when the purchased tag is returned.

There are three differences between the RFID tag and the sticker currently used. The RFID tag does not have to be renewed annually. Secondly, the tag is not associated with a vehicle license number and therefore can be moved between vehicles. Lastly, the tag must be returned to the town when the property is sold. A $10 refund is given for those tags purchased. Non-return of the initial free tag will result in an assessed fee.

There will be two informational public meetings discussing the introduction of the RFID tag. They are November 13, at 7 p.m., at the China Town Office and November 21, at 6 p.m., at the Palermo Town Office. The November 13 meeting can be watched using the live-stream located at the town of China’s website.