No bounds too challenging; his odds were poor at best

Seth Fowles, center, receiving the rite of baptism, from the Rev. Ron Morrell, right, of the China Baptist Church, assisted by Dwayne Bickford. (photo by Lily-Ann Bickford)

by Jeanne Marquis

The brilliant morning sun glistened off the water when the congregation gathered at the lake shore across the road after Sunday service on August 4. Seth Fowles was baptized by full immersion in China Lake by Pastor Ron Morrell and celebrated by the congregation of China Baptist Church. China Baptist Church has seen numerous baptisms since their founding in 1801; however, this baptism was more challenging because Seth Fowles requires a wheelchair.

In the Christian faith, baptism is a physical demonstration of a person’s belief in Jesus Christ and his or her commitment to join with other believers to live a life that follows the teachings of Jesus. This is why baptism meant so much to Seth Fowles, as his faith had grown, he wished to be complete in his faith. Although there were other options, such as the sprinkling or pouring water on his head, it was important to Seth to be baptized by immersion as he said was “to be baptized like everyone else.” This is in keeping the teachings of Jesus Christ, according to the Christian faith, that everyone is welcomed and encouraged to be baptized, belief being the only prerequisite.

The congregation of China Baptist Church gathers at China Lake for Seth Fowles’ Baptism (photo by Lily-Ann Bickford)

Seth Fowles’ journey in his faith started 20 years ago with a horrible accident on the morning of September 3, 1998. At the time he was an arborist on his way to work in his truck, Seth saw a dog in his path and swerved to avoid the dog. Despite wearing his seatbelt, Seth was ejected from the vehicle and he suffered life-threatening head injuries.

Seth endured extensive brain trauma and slipped into a coma lasting into the next year. His prognosis was not good. His parents, Andrea and Gerald Mason, knew they needed to stay strong for him and stay hopeful, but the odds were poor at best. Seth explained, “The doctors said there was a 99 percent chance I would not come through this. Sometime in March of 1999, I woke up. I thought I was just waking up from a nap. My survival was a divine miracle.”

Seth’s faith also awakened. Prior to the accident, he was not a religious person. As he convalesced through the years, he studied the Bible and grew spiritually. When Pastor Ron Morrell asked for requests to be baptized this summer, Seth expressed his desire to be baptized by immersion. Without hesitation, Pastor Ron Morrell felt Seth was ready and enlisted the help of four members to guide the wheelchair in and out of the lake: Dwayne Bickford, Bob Noonan, Dale Peabody and John Starkey.

Dwayne Bickford, a deacon of China Baptist Church, said, “When Pastor Ron brought it up and we talked about what it would take, I never doubted whether we could make it happen. When it came time, I felt so honored to be a small part of it. I know it meant a lot to Seth. I was moved by all the love and support shown by the whole congregation. The Lord blessed us all that day.”

Seth said, “It was a complete Baptism by water. I was helped into the water by four men from the church; these are my brothers. Even though water came to my chest, I trusted them entirely.”

Seth’s baptism captured the deeper meaning of this Christian sacrament. It is a public expression of faith and commitment to a community of other believers. Entering into the commitment of baptism does take an element of trust and knowledge that you will be supported by the emotional strength of others within your faith community. In the same way, Seth’s story supplies strength to those who have of the pleasure of knowing him.

You may be asking, ‘What happened to the dog who passed in front of Seth’s vehicle on that tragic morning?’ Seth remembers he regained consciousness briefly just after the accident. While Seth was experiencing extreme nausea at the side of the road, the dog came over to check on him. The dog had survived.

2019 Real Estate Tax Due Dates


Monday, September 30


(pay all up front or semi-annually)
Friday, September 27
Friday, March 27, 2020


Thursday, October 17


(pay all up front or quarterly)
Monday, September 23
Monday, November 25
Monday, February 24, 2020
Monday, April 27, 2020


(pay all up front or quarterly)
October 11
December 13
March 13, 2020
June 12, 2020


(pay all up front or biannually)
September 30 or
Half on Sept. 30
and half March 31, 2020

Central Church opens free coffee shop

Central Church, a multi-site church in Central Maine, is excited to announce the opening of Central Grounds. A grand opening celebration was held on July 30, at their China Campus (627 Route 3).

The mission of Central Grounds goes beyond providing a space for people to come and enjoy free coffee – It’s about bringing people together and building a community without barriers of money or socioeconomic status. Central Church’s Lead Pastor Dan Coleman says, “Coffee has been a part of our story from day one. We recognize the power of invitation and we have seen lives change over a cup of coffee at both of our campuses.” Everyone belongs at Central Grounds.

Coleman adds, “As someone who calls China home, I recognize this as a need in our community. Our staff and volunteers at Central Church are humbled to be able to provide the space for these meaningful relationships to form.”

The coffee brewing at Central Grounds also comes with a deeper purpose. The coffee shop will serve HOPE Coffee. HOPE Coffee works with local churches in Honduras and Mexico to support clean water, building and repair projects with the goal to demonstrate the love of Jesus to those in need in a very real way.

Central Church is a multi-site church with a mission to Love Jesus, Love Others, and Help Others Love Jesus. With more than 1,000 people attending weekend services, they are one of the fastest growing churches in Central Maine and are known for a commitment to bringing Jesus into their communities through family-focused programming and outreach events. Their five identical services are Saturdays (Augusta Campus) at 6 p.m., and Sundays (China & Augusta Campuses) at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Streaming of weekend services are also available online:

China TIF members get preview of potential requests

by Mary Grow

China Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee members got a preview of potential requests for TIF funds for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. After additional presentations, committee members will make funding recommendations to the selectmen, who will in turn submit requests they approve to voters at the spring 2020 town business meeting.

Scott Pierz, president of the China Lake Association and the China Region Lakes Alliance, summarized both groups’ major projects, including the LakeSmart program that helps shorefront property owners add buffers to limit run-off into the lake; the Youth Conservation Corps, whose members do the physical work of creating run-off controls; and the new CLGRRP (China Lake Gravel Road Rehabilitation Program), intended to repair fire roads around the lake, starting with three identified in a Kennebec Water District survey as contributing the most run-off into the lake.

Initial CLGRRP work has been put out to bid, Pierz said, with bids due this fall. The outcome of the bid process will be significant in calculating funds needed.

Pierz said volunteer Marie Michaud would like to reduce the time she spends on LakeSmart activities. Marie Michaud’s husband Tom Michaud, a TIF Committee member, said his wife would continue to assist, but does not want the full-time job the project has become.

The lakes groups are considering contracting with a program manager, Pierz said. Much of the preliminary work – locating sites and agreeing with landowners, developing plans – can be done in the fall so the work can start the next spring.

Briefer presentations came from:

  • Elaine Philbrook, discussing plans for a small building in the school forest behind China Primary School. She envisions electricity and a heat pump, porta-potties rather than a septic system – enough to provide shelter during year-round nature activities for schoolchildren and adults.
  • Tod Detre, speaking for the Broadband Committee, describing plans to work with Hussey Communications to provide wireless broadband service to all China households, including those now excluded because they are low along the lake or among hills away from towers. A tentative plan calls for doubling the number of towers, from three to six, at a cost somewhere around $800,000. Town Manager and Treasurer Dennis Heath talked of asking town meeting voters to spend the money immediately from town assets and repay it from TIF funds at $80,000 a year, once the TIF program is enlarged to cover broadband as recent legislation allows.
  • Tom Rumpf, president of the China Four Seasons Club, with plans to request another TIF allocation for continued work on snowmobile and four-wheeler trails on the east side of China Lake.

The other major action at the Aug. 26 meeting was unanimous endorsement of the Revolving Loan Committee’s recommendation to approve a loan to Buckshot Power Sports. This action also goes to the selectmen with a recommendation that they forward it to the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, which helps with loan management.

Revolving Loan Committee Chairman Amy Gartley said there are no other loan applications pending.

The causeway project at the head of China Lake’s east basin was not discussed. Heath said the state Department of Environmental Protection is reviewing needed applications for further work.

The next TIF Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, Sept. 23.

Erskine freshman wins Union Fair talent show

Emma Tyler (contributed photo)

Emma Tyler, a freshman at Erskine Academy, recently competed and won first place for her age division at the Union Fair Talent Show. Singing Jesus, Take the Wheel, by Carrie Underwood, to advance in the preliminary round, she then competed with Jealous, by Labrinth, and Your Song, by Elton John, to capture first place and the $500 cash prize Tuesday night, August 20.

Monroes awarded LakeSmart status

Susan Monroe proudly holds her LakeSmart sign. (contributed photo)

Susan and Scott Monroe have owned their home and summered on China Lake for 14 years. They recently have moved permanently to this well-maintained home on the east side of China Lake. They love being on the lake. Susan calls it her piece of heaven. With a little help from the Youth Conservation Corp, Susan and Scott received the LakeSmart award and have two signs to post on their property.

There are many properties that have a steep slope at their lake front. Keeping vegetation on the slope like woody shrubs and tall trees and ground cover is lake friendly and protective for the lake. In many cases, the Youth Conservation Corp can assist property owners to strengthen this area.

If you are interested in having a free LakeSmart visit by a volunteer for ideas and information, and would like the YCC to assist with adding a better buffer for you, Contact China Lake Smart at or call Marie Michaud at 207-242-2040. If you think your property is ready for the LakeSmart Award, contact us too!

Invasive Plants 101 workshop, held in China, well attended

Some of the attendees at the Invasive Plant 101 workshop, held in China on August 24, were, from left to right, Sonny Pierce, of Rangeley Lake Heritage Trust, Peter Caldwell and Marie Michaud, China Lake Association, and Spencer Harriman, of Lake Stewards of Maine. (contributed photo)

by Elaine Philbrook

Friend or Foe?

That was the question on participants’ minds who attended the Invasive Plant 101 Workshop, at China Town Office, on August 20.  The workshop was hosted by the China Lake Association and the Kennebec Water Districts. Participants included members of the China Lake Association, the Kennebec Water District, Echo Lake Association, Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, the Boothbay Region Water District, folks from the town of Palermo, and year-round and summer residents of China Lake.

The six-hour workshop was presented in four parts:

  • Overview of invasive species issues in Maine and the Nation;
  • Plant identification fundamentals;
  • Plant identification hands-on exercise with live aquatic plants;
  • Conducting a screening survey, employing tools and techniques.

Illustrations for 11 of Maine’s most unwanted invasive aquatic plants.

The overview included information on the negative impact invasive aquatic plants can have, and have had, on ecosystems, economics, recreation, property values, and human health in and around lake communities.  A few facts shared about Maine lakes and their economic development are as follows: 640,000 residents recreate on Maine lakes, visitors spend $2.3 billion annually, generating and sustaining $3.5 billion in economic activities, $1.8 billion in annual income from Maine residents and over 50,000 jobs.  These figures are from a 2005 study by T. Allen, Center for Tourism Research and Analysis, Maine Congress of Lakes Association.

The town of China benefits through the taxes generated from lake property owners, both year-round and seasonal.  China residents and others enjoy the natural beauty and recreational activities the lake provides. These same activities and pleasures are shared by people visiting for a day or vacationing for a longer period of time.  If China Lake or Three Mile Pond where to become infested by an invasive plant these recreational activities would be jeopardized.  The cost on the community can be phenomenal, from the loss of tax revenue to the expense of plant removal.  Early detection of an invasive aquatic plant will insure that the activities and financial benefits that we all enjoy from experiencing our lakes will continue uninterrupted.

One of the working groups at the Invasive Plants Workshop 101.

The second and third parts of the workshop were about the 11 aquatic invasive plants, their native look-a-likes, and what to do if you find a suspicious plant.  If you think you have found an invasive plant you should mark the sport where you found it, take a photo or obtain a sample of the plant, and contact your local identification representative on invasive plants (Elaine Philbrook) to help with identification (or follow the directions on the Lake Stewards of Maine web site: A word of caution, when gathering a sample of a suspicious plant, be careful to gather all the fragments of the plant.  Invasive plants are able to propagate from very small plant fragments.

The final part of the workshop covered how to conduct a lake screening survey and use helpful tools. A screening survey consists of people who have had training to identify invasive aquatic plants.  Participants choose or are assigned an area on the lake to watch for suspicious plants.  Once a year they report their findings to the lead supervisor.  A survey can take place anytime during the year you can get out on the water. The best time to do a survey is between mid-July to early fall because plants are in bloom.

To become a “screener” you need to be trained.  Trainings can be a six-hour Invasive Plant 101 workshop, or three-hour Invasive Plant Paddle; both are offered by the Lake Stewards of Maine. A third option is an Invasive Plant Paddle offered by a trained local resident.

If you are interested in becoming part of the screening survey team contact Elaine Philbrook at   The goal of the China Lake Association is to have enough trained people available to develop a screening survey team that will continuously monitor the China Lake.

Erskine Bus Schedule – Fall 2019

(photo credit: Erskine Academy)

Chelsea Run:​ ​Sheila Westcott Bus #2 (Chelsea/Whitefield/Windsor)

1. Leave Erskine – 6:10
2. At Legion Park Rd. – 6:20
3. Barton Rd./Jones Rd. – 6:28
4. Route 105/Route 32 – 6:30
5. Route 32/Route 17 (Rideout’s) -6:38
6. Chelsea School – 6:45
7. Hunts Meadow Rd. – 6:55
8. Hunts Meadow Rd./Cooper Rd. 7:00
9. Hunts Meadow Rd./Route 126 – 7:05
10. Route 126/Vigue Rd. – 7:10
11. Route 17/Route 32 (Rideout’s) – 7:20
12. Route 32 to Erskine – 7:30

Whitefield Run: ​ Mark Johnson Bus #6 (Whitefield/Windsor)

1. Leave Peaslee’s – 6:15
2. Route 17 Country Corners Store – 6:17
3. Route 17/Route 32 (Rideouts) – 6:22
4. Maxcy Mills Rd. – 6:26
5. Griffin Rd. – 6:28
6. Vigue Rd. – 6:35
7. Townhouse Rd. – 6:37
8. Heath Rd. – 6:46
9. Hilton Rd. – 6:52
10. Route 218 Sennott Rd. – 6:59
11. Route 218 Cookson Ln. – 7:01
12. Cooper Rd. -7:03
13. Wingood Rd. – 7:05
14. Cooper Rd. – 7:09
15. Windsor Rd. – 7:12
16. Route 105 – 7:20
17. Route 32 – 7:22
18. Route 32 Crosby Rd. – 7:23
19. Route 32 Elm Ln. – 7:24
20. Route 32 Choate Rd. – 7:25
21. Route 32 to Erskine – 7:30

Jefferson Run:​ Mike Lamontagne Bus #3 (Jefferson)

1. Route 32/Route 215 6:22
2. Route 32 North Mountain Rd. – 6:24
3. Jefferson Fire Station – 6:29
4. Route 32/Orffs Corner Rd. – 6:34
5. Goose Hill Rd./Hodgkins Hill Rd. – 6:38
6. Goose Hill Rd./Washington Rd. – 6:42
7. Valley Rd. – 6:43
8. Valley Rd./Route 17 – 6:48
9. Route 17/Route 32 – 6:54
10. Route 32/Route 215 N. Clary Rd. – 6:56
11. Route 215 N. Clary Rd./Route 126 – 7:00
12. Route 126/Route 218 Mills Rd. – 7:03
13. Route 218 Mills Rd./Route 17 – 7:07
14. Route 17/Route 32 Rideout’s – 7:12
15. Route 32 to Erskine – 7:21

Palermo Run:​ Wayne Lacey Bus #5 (Palermo/Somerville/Windsor)

1. Leave Tobey’s – 6:15
2. Route 3/Branch Mills Rd. – 6:17
3. Branch Mills Rd./North Palermo Rd. – 6:20
4. North Palermo Rd./Level Hill rd. – 6:26
5. Level Hill Rd./Boots & Saddle Rd. – 6:36
6. Route 3 – 6:37
7. Route 3/Turner Ridge Rd. – 6:40
8. Turner Ridge Rd./Route 105 – 6:49
9. Route 105/Turn Around Somerville School – 6:53
10. Route 105 Dodge Rd. – 6:58
11. Route 105/Route 32 – 7:03
12. Route 32/Choate Rd. – 7:07
13. Choate Rd./South Rd. & Windsor Neck Rd. – 7:10
14. South Rd./Weeks Mills Rd. – 7:15
15. Weeks Mills R./Kidder Rd. – 7:17
16. Kidder Rd./To Erskine – 7:20

China selectmen approve eight questions for November 5, 2019 ballot

by Mary Grow

At their Aug. 19 meeting, China selectmen approved an eight-question ballot to present to voters on Nov. 5. They also voted non-unanimously to buy the excavator for the public works department that they have discussed since June.

On Nov. 5, China voters will be asked to elect a moderator for the day (Art. 1); choose members of the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board and Budget Committee and a representative to the Regional School Unit #18 board (Art. 2); approve or reject five questions related to operation of medical marijuana facilities in town (Arts. 3-7); and decide whether they want to continue current town office hours, including 8 to 11 a.m. Saturdays, or move three hours to Thursday, so the office would be closed Saturdays and open until 7 p.m. Thursdays (Art. 8).

Signed nomination papers for the local offices are due at the town office by the close of business Friday, Sept. 6.

The medical marijuana questions, which Town Manager Dennis Heath said were drafted with advice from the Maine Municipal Association, ask voters to act separately on retail facilities, registered dispensaries, testing facilities and manufacturing facilities. Each, if approved, would need to meet state requirements.

Art. 7 asks voters to approve a 1,000-foot separation between any property with a medical marijuana facility and any property with a pre-existing school.

Voter approval of any or all of articles three through six would meet the state “opt in” requirement and allow the planning board to review applications, using state standards until planning board members had time to develop a local ordinance and voters approved it.

Action on the Nov. 5 questions would have no effect on China’s current ordinance banning recreational marijuana clubs and related non-medical activities, Heath said.

The planning board is scheduled to hear a revised application from Clifford Glinko, a Fairfield resident who wants to open a medical marijuana facility on Route 3 in South China, at the Aug. 27 planning board meeting.

The question about town office hours was proposed by Robert MacFarland, chairman of the selectboard, after board members received complaints about their July 8 decision to eliminate Saturday hours beginning Nov. 1.

The July 8 decision revised hours to keep the office open until 5:30 Tuesdays and Thursdays; Heath later changed the plan to continue closing at 4 p.m. except 7 p.m. Thursdays. Action was based on a survey asking residents why they used Saturday hours. Heath said the goal of considering closing on Saturdays was “to improve efficiency.”

Selectmen Jeffrey LaVerdiere and Donna Mills-Stevens said the survey confused people, who did not realize their answers might lead to ending Saturday hours. Ronald Breton thinks there were too few responses to be significant.

“We’re here to serve the public,” LaVerdiere said. He and Mills-Stevens agreed Saturdays are usually busy enough so they have to wait for service.

Board members voted unanimously to add to the Nov. 5 ballot an eighth question asking voters whether they want to continue Saturday morning town office hours or to have the office open until 7 p.m. Thursdays.

A public hearing on the local ballot questions will be held before the Nov. 5 vote.

The decision to buy an excavator for the town followed Mills-Stevens’ negotiation of an $8,250 price reduction from the already-lowered price Public Works Manager Shawn Reed had reached and yet another long discussion. The price approved on a 4-1 vote, with LaVerdiere opposed, is $164,600, including a trailer, a three-year extended warranty and on-site training as needed for a year.

The Aug. 19 discussion focused on pay-back time, which involved trying to calculate how much owning an excavator will save over leasing one as needed. Selectmen and audience members argued over estimated past costs versus estimated future costs of operation, maintenance, insurance and other factors.

Board and audience members talked about using the excavator for more than road work, rather than letting it sit idle. Suggestions included possible uses at the transfer station and for work in Thurston Park, the town-owned recreational area in northeastern China.

Belanger and Breton pointed out the value of having an excavator available for emergencies. LaVerdiere remained unconvinced the investment was in taxpayers’ interest.

Money will be taken from three capital reserve funds, including $16,000 from the transfer station reserve in anticipation of the excavator being useful there.

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting will be Tuesday evening, Sept. 3, to avoid the Monday Labor Day holiday. Before then, selectmen are scheduled to hold a special meeting Wednesday evening, Aug. 28, to set the 2019-2020 tax rate, Heath said.

The calendar on the town website lists a budget committee meeting Thursday evening, Aug. 29.

Over the holiday weekend, the town office and transfer station will be closed Saturday, Aug. 31, and the town office will be closed Monday, Sept. 2.

China police officer recognized for service following resignation

Presenting Frost, right, with the certificate is China selectboard chairman Bob McFarland. (photo courtesy of Dennis Heath, China Town Manager)

China selectmen presented retiring town policeman Tracey Frost a certificate of appreciation at their Aug. 19 meeting. “Tracey is the one responsible for building the China police department,” Town Manager Dennis Heath said.

Frost, whose day job is with the Oakland department, said he will still be in China every few weeks as one of the two school resource officers for Regional School Unit #18.