Boston has Duck Boats; China has a Duct Tape Boat

by Andrew Eppig

Although I am a Baltimore native, Maine’s mosquitos have dined on my blood since I was born, and the cove of Fire Road 51 has always been my donation center. Those pesky insects have infected me with the “itch” for doing things out-of-the-ordinary, usually with others doubting my success, and thus was the theme while building this boat.

Andrew Eppig

Andrew Eppig gives the thumbs up as his duct tape boat floats in China Lake. Photo courtesy of Andrew Eppig.

While Maine is home to concrete canoe and cardboard boat building competitions, and many have seen Mythbusters use truck loads of duct tape to create many things including a two-passenger boat, it seems my scaled down, one-person creation brought much skepticism from everyone around me. To my surprise, I received the likes of “you won’t last 20 seconds,” and “it will sink as soon as you get in,” as if I was building a five-foot long lead weight. This made my “itch” flare to a rash, and I began my build.

I started by laying out two aluminum tubes from an adult-sized crutch, with a few other shorter tubes to create a frame. A thick aluminum strip from the button panel of a flat screen TV, combined with a piece of steel all-thread became the keel. I then added various sized plastic panels to create the basic hull shape, and attached two Macintosh G5 desktop computer side panels for floor boards.

It took the next three days to get it all taped together with multiple layers for rigidity and a good water-tight seal.

I then turned to mounting the “FisherPrice” style kids boat motor to it. I taped a small two-prong coat hook to the shaft of the motor, allowing it to hang from the boat, while still being able to steer.

Andrew Eppig

Andrew Eppig during the construction phase of the duct tape boat. Photo courtesy of Andrew Eppig.

After six days and multiple trips to the Rte.3 Family Dollar Store, Hussey’s General Store, and the Augusta Walmart, for the 17 rolls of duct tape, a coat hook, and a small wood paddle, I was ready and eager to finally scratch my “itch,” and put the boat into the water.

The next morning I slowly lowered my creation into a calm clear China Lake, as the rash of criticisms and doubts echoed in my head, almost making me believe that it would indeed just sink to the bottom. However, as I released my grasp, it floated. I put the motor on, it floated. Then, slowly and carefully, I stepped off the dock, gradually allowing the boat to take my weight. It floated!

My success was then truly measured as I was off to the China town office, where, after some explaining, a very nice lady was eager to help me get it legally registered, and even came out to the parking lot to take pictures with me holding the boat!

Although it will certainly never make it to the Head of the Lake for ice cream, if you happen to be on the lake near the narrows, you may just see my “Lucky Duct” floating by!  Andrew is the grandson of Irma W. Simon, of China.

China residents have seven days to comment on proposed ordinance changes

by Mary Grow

People who did not attend the China Planning Board’s July 26 public hearing on proposed ordinance changes have seven days to submit written comments if they want to, Chairman Frank Soares said.

Soares said board members will consider public comments as they prepare a final draft of the ordinance.  Current plans are that the final draft will be the subject of another public hearing to explain – but not amend – it before it is submitted to voters on Nov. 5.

In addition to board members, the board secretary and Codes Officer Paul Mitnik, 10 people attended the hearing: four selectmen; two newspaper people, representing the Central Maine newspapers and The Town Line; a non-resident needing a community meeting for her graduate work; Harry Fraser, a summer resident primarily interested in ordinance provisions about seasonal conversions; Noah Whitt, a year-round resident concerned about lighted signs; and China Lake Association president and former codes officer Scott Pierz.

The half-hour-long hearing was preceded by Mitnik’s presentation summarizing some of the major proposed changes.  Most involve adopting the state Department of Environmental Protection’s 2015 guidelines, either in place of or in addition to current language.

Pierz commented in detail on some of the proposed changes.  Many he believes will be beneficial, making enforcement easier and not damaging the environment.  In some cases, he pointed out, there appear to be inconsistencies or lack of clarity.

Whitt objects to the proposed provision that would allow digital signs to remain lighted from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., even if business hours are shorter.  He argued that signs should go dark when the business closes for the day, as a courtesy to neighbors.

Under the ordinance, businesses open 24 hours a day would be allowed lighted signs at all times.

Selectman Joann Austin was also concerned about sign requirements.  Fraser supported the state’s standards for converting a property from seasonal to year-round use.  Selectman Ronald Breton, seconded by Pierz, asked planning board members to add amended wording for conditional use criteria, an ordinance section previous planning boards have worked on.

Soares asked those who spoke to submit the gist of their remarks in writing for the board’s review.

The draft amendments are available on the town’s website, and there should be paper copies left over from the hearing.

The next China Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, Aug. 9, at the town office.

China Lake Association meeting focuses on alewives, LakeSmart progress

The 2016 annual China Lake Association meeting, held on July 23, was another great meeting, attended by over 70 people.  What a fantastic turnout….

Frank Rich­ards, of Vassalboro, was the guest speaker.  Frank is a retiree who has served as the president of the Webber Pond Association

Frank Richards

Webber Pond Association president Frank Richards gives presentation on alewive restoration at China Lake Association annual meeting.

since 2001, and he has dedicated many years toward the improvement of water quality on Webber Pond.  He is a steadfast supporter of the Alewife Restoration Initiative (ARI), and has written two books: A Guide to Wilderness Canoe Fishing and An Introduction to Ice Fishing.  Frank spoke to the assembly and provided a general education on lake water quality, with specifics on Webber Pond and the introduction of alewives and improved water quality experienced by that water body.  He eloquently energized the attendees and gave encouragement about the potential positive effects of the introduction of alewives into China Lake through the Alewife Restoration Initiative (ARI).  Both Nate Gray (Maine Department of Marine Resources) and Landis Hudson (Maine Rivers) also spoke on behalf of the ARI and answered questions raised by the audience.

Marie Michaud reported on the winners of the annual poster contest; prizes were awarded.  Elaine Philbrook, the newest China Lake Association board of directors member, assisted her in the presentation of awards.

Bob O’Connor Scott Pierz

Bob O’Connor, left, was presented with a gold watch by China Lake Association President Scott Pierz for his 25 years of volunteer service to the organization.

Bob O’Connor gave his annual loon count, reporting that the loon counters observed 38 adult loons and three chicks this year.  On behalf of the association, Bob was awarded with a gold watch for over 25 years of service, involvement, and dedication as the longest-standing association member and loon count coordinator.

Maggie Shannon, Maine Lakes Society’s LakeSmart director, spoke on the benefits of LakeSmart and presented a video on the LakeSmart Program.  She also recognized and applauded our local LakeSmart program coordinator Marie Michaud for Marie’s high-energy and commitment to LakeSmart.  Marie and her LakeSmart team have had a successful summer, and she reported on specific LakeSmart awards (including Ray and Joanne Kelsey’s recent award seen in The Town Line’s edition of July 21, 2016).  For a peek at the Maine Lakes Society’s great video please go to this link:

Also, Jim Hart, president of the China Region Lakes Alliance (CRLA), spoke about the CRLA’s Courtesy Boat Inspection and Youth Conservation Programs operating here in China and in the region.

Thanks go to all those who contributed to the annual newsletter, including Nate Gray (Maine Department of Marine Resources), Landis Hudson (Maine Rivers), Jennifer Irving (Sebasticook Regional Land Trust), Marie Michaud and Maggie Shannon (LakeSmart), Jim Hart (China Region Lakes Alliance), Matt Zetterman (Kennebec Water District), Bob O’Connor (Loon Count Coordinator), and especially Frank Richards (Webber Pond Association).  Appreciation also goes to Tim Axelson for his financial report and to Jamie Pitney for conducting the election of directors and the association’s officers.  Special thanks to Tom Michaud for all his help along the way….

China Lake Association

Approximately 70 lake association members attended the China Lake Association annual meeting on June 23.
Photos courtesy of Scott Pierz

The China Lake Association will continue to advocate for the Alewife Restoration Initiative; promote environmental education in our school system; and seek an increase to the association’s membership through awareness and involvement of the community and our constituents.  For additional info go to our website ( and check out our Facebook by typing: China Lake Association Facebook into your favorite browser.

Finally thanks also to the board of directors, RSU #18 for the venue at the China Primary School, the Green Bean Cafe for refreshments, the town of China for its support, along with all who attended and our general membership.

Have a great summer and I hope to see you next year….

Submitted by Scott Pierz,  President China Lake Association

Dry conditions continue to plague central Maine lakes

by Roland D. Hallee

Dry conditions throughout the state have brought on low water levels in central Maine lakes.

Webber Pond, in Vassalboro, has experienced water levels twice as low as is normal for this time of year. The water remains four inches below the spillway at the dam off the Webber Pond Road, when normally, it is kept at two inches during summer months.

Similar conditions exist on China Lake, according to lake association president Scott Pierz. He deferred to Matt Zetterman, of the Kennebec Water District, which monitors water quality on China Lake and maintains the water levels based on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s lake level order. It is all part of KWD’s mission of improving water quality for China Lake.

Zetterman said that China Lake is experiencing a similar situation as Webber Pond.

“We started the year with a low amount of snowfall which led to a low volume of spring runoff,” he said. Continuing, Zetterman emphasized, “we had planned for it so we actually started the summer with a surplus of water in the lake.

“Fast forward to today, and we’re now an inch or so below our summer target, and without rain, the lake will continue to drop.”

Zetterman went on to point out the lake experienced a similar situation last summer and ended up six inches below the target by Labor Day.

Zetterman concluded with, “As much as rain ruins plans for the summer time, we desperately could use the rain to help build up the lake level.”

State official: not enough accidents at Rte. 3 intersection to warrant major expenditures

by Mary Grow

China selectmen spent more time on items not on their July 25 agenda than on agenda items.

The major non-agenda topic was discussion with David Allen of the state Department of Transportation and two sets of concerned residents about perceived dangerous areas in China, the intersection of Alder Park and Dirigo roads with Route 3, in the southern part of town, and Main Street and Causeway Road in China Village.  The most hotly disputed item on the agenda was the Transfer Station Committee’s recommendation on relocating the swap shop.

The major agenda item not discussed was proposed November ballot questions, although selectmen did decide to present to voters one question listed on the agenda. In preparation for the China meeting, Allen had a state report showing only four collisions in three years, 2013 through 2015, at the controversial Route 3 intersection – not enough, he said, to justify major expenditures.  The number of accidents has declined since changes several years ago, he said.

Area residents said sight distance is not adequate, especially with Route 3 drivers exceeding the 55-mile-an-hour speed limit.  Allen agreed the majority of drivers probably do 60 mph or more through the area.  The speed sign before the intersection is advisory, not legally binding, he said.

After discussing alternatives, selectmen agreed to have Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux request more conspicuous warning lights.  Allen said the request would go into the department’s pool of projects; he said it might take three years to get to it.

He agreed to add to the stop signs on Dirigo and Alder Park roads a sign saying Route 3 traffic does not stop, something that could be done this year.

Speed is also a major issue for China Village residents, who repeated their arguments from July 11 that drivers routinely ignore the 25-mile-an-hour limits on Main Street and Causeway Road and the stop sign at the end of Neck Road, endangering children and other pedestrians.

They claimed the increased law enforcement promised after the July 11 meeting has been minimal.

Again, Allen said the area has had too few accidents to justify major state expenditures.  He and residents discussed traffic calming measures, like speed humps, and Allen promised to send L’Heureux a copy of the department’s traffic calming policy.

Although Allen said explicitly that safety and efficiency are his two main responsibilities, with safety first, several residents said unhappily they fear someone will have to get killed before anything effective is done.

When discussion returned to the perennial topic of solid waste disposal, selectmen had before them a transfer station committee recommendation to move the swap shop slightly farther from the waste hopper, providing more space on a new foundation and requiring additional paving.  L’Heureux estimated the cost at around $10,000, including wages for transfer station employees who would be asked to build the new building.

The plan was endorsed by board members Joann Austin and Irene Belanger, who have long promoted the swap shop as a way to increase recycling and help town residents.  It was opposed by board Chairman Robert MacFarland and members Ronald Breton and Neil Farrington.

MacFarland said it is not a budgeted project and he will not spend $10,000 on a non-budgeted item.  Breton asked where the money would come from, and was not satisfied with the answer “the transfer station budget.”

Farrington proposed instead of a new building using the electronics building near the office for the swap shop, claiming it is almost empty.  He said he had not presented the idea to the transfer station committee, of which he and Belanger are members.  None of the committee’s non-selectman members were present.

After the motion to approve the committee recommendation was defeated 2-3, Belanger walked out of the meeting in frustration.

The list of possible November ballot questions on the July 25 agenda included asking voters about use of the Town of Palermo’s annual $18,000 contribution for sharing China’s transfer station; buying land owned by the Ortega family behind the town office; buying land owned by Susan Bailey at the head of China Lake, on the north side of Causeway Road; and pending planning board recommendations on China’s sign ordinance, seasonal dwellings requirements, shoreland zoning amendments and possible “causeway initiative items.”

Selectmen voted 3-0-1, with Belanger absent and Austin abstaining, to recommend to voters that Palermo’s contribution go into a transfer station capital reserve fund.

In other business July 25:

•  L’Heureux and selectmen reported they bought the portable classroom beside China Primary School from Regional School Unit #18 for $1.  L’Heureux said in an email July 26 that since board members have not decided where to use it, they have not sought cost estimates for a foundation, well or other related expenditures.

• Board members had two new bids on replacement handicapped access ramps at the old town house and the former portable classroom behind it, the lower $17,975 from L. N. Violette Company, of Fairfield.  Again there was discussion of where the money would come from, with neither the old town house appropriation nor the selectmen’s contingency fund considered acceptable.  On another 3-0-1 vote, selectmen authorized L’Heureux to ask if the company would replace one ramp for no more than $9,000, from an undetermined source.

• Board members appointed Amy Gartley to the Tax Increment Financing Committee and Kristina To to the Thurston Park Committee.  With two candidates for one open seat on the recreation committee, they postponed a decision.

• They approved a pawnbroker’s license for Craig Taylor to open Wildwood Pawn Inc.

• Assessor William Van Tuinen talked with the board about the effect of the increased homestead exemption on 2016 taxes, state law regarding abatements and his plans for better collection of personal property taxes.  Selectmen supported the last item by consensus.

• Selectman Farrington, who is organizing China’s 2018 bicentennial celebration of the incorporation of the town, said David Thurlow has donated to the town the copyright for the bicentennial history published during the 1975 commemoration of the first settlements around what is now China Lake.  Selectmen voted to send Thurlow a letter of appreciation.

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting will be Monday evening, Aug. 8.

Poster contest winners announced

winners of the 2016 China Lake Association’s annual poster contest

The winners of the 2016 China Lake Association’s annual poster contest were announced at the membership meeting on July 23. They are, from left to right, Lauren Tyler, Alexis Rancourt, Reiana Gonzalez, Madison Lully, Emily Clark, Alonzo Michaud and Cameron Speck.
Photo courtesy of Scott Pierz

Talking trash at the China Transfer Station

by Irene Belanger
China Transfer Station Co-Coordinator

We are excited about the Maine Department of Environmental Protection providing approvals to the Fiberight/Municipal Review Committee proposal to build a municipal solid waste processing facility in Hampden. Post 2018, China will be sending municipal solid waste to that plant. Organics will be a significant ingredient in processing at that plant. Those of you who like to compost are encouraged to continue doing more locally, either at home or at the China transfer station.

Please, please secure your trash loads on the way to the China transfer station. It is a State law that loads are to be secure and also a law not to litter roadsides. We have received complaints of full bags of trash having fallen off a truck and smaller items being blown around and not anyone returning to pick up the messes. Those who toss beverage containers and fast food packaging and napkins out the window are encouraged to re-think their habits and not use the roadsides as trash receptacles. Please be considerate and dispose of your trash in the proper place. Thank you!

We continue to work on making more efficient changes at the China transfer station, focusing on reducing, reusing and the recycling of more items, thus saving tax dollars. Please consider bringing clean items to our “free for taking” or “good stuff” area at the transfer station. If any of you would like to volunteer to help in the free for taking area, please call Irene at 445-2349, we need your help keeping things cleaned and arranged in good order.

We are now involved with the “Paint Care” initiative that provides residents with another disposal option for paints. Please see the transfer station attendants for instructions on how we will accept paint products. Some paints may be reusable, let us know.

Finally, we are very pleased to be working with Palermo residents and Palermo town officials to allow Palermo residents the full use the China transfer station facilities.

Reducing, reusing and recycling saves tax dollars. The transfer station budget this year is less than it was ten years ago, thanks to your efforts…thank you!

China North Minor A champions

China North Minor A baseball team

The China North Minor A baseball team recently won the league championship with an undefeated season. Front, left to right, Parker Bellows, Dylin Breton, Ryan Tyler, Tristan Anderson, Duncan Bailey, Parker Studholme, Hayden Chase, Keenan Clark, Kyle Burrill and Ayden Michaud. Back, coaches Chad Bailey, Kirk Studholme and Adam Chase.
Photo courtesy of Katie Bailey

Lack of rain affecting local lake levels


One six-inch plank on one side of the control gates at the dam is open to minimize water runoff. Photo courtesy of Frank Richards

With very little rain in May, June and so far in July, folks residing on Webber Pond have been wondering about the low water level on the pond.

Webber Pond Association President Frank Richards commented, “My own dock is barely useable.”

Richards went on to explain, “the pool is four inches below the spillway [at the dam]. Normal would be two inches.


A ruler indicates Webber Pond’s water level is four inches below the spillway. That is twice as much as normal for this time of year.

“The lake is being drained by one six-inch plank on one side of the control gates. We are trying to keep at least a drizzle going into the outlet stream.”

He also noted that the inlet at Seaward Mills Stream is “dewatered.”

Attempts to contact China Lake Association President Scott Pierz for comments on that lake were unsuccessful.

Two committees disagree on park logging plan

by Mary Grow

At their June 27 meeting, China selectmen directed the Thurston Park Committee II and the Forestry Committee to work together and report back.

Two Forestry Committee members and eight Thurston Park II Committee members talked for two hours July 12 without making much progress.

Tim Basham and Elaine Philbrook said they and Anita Smith, who was unable to attend the joint meeting, consider themselves co-chairs of the forestry committee, which also includes Leslie French and Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux.

Basham wants to use part of the park that the 2007 park plan designates for managed forestry as a logging and teaching area where local young people starting out as foresters would gain experience and get mentioned in the town report.  His goal is to increase the supply of young commercial foresters.

His main target would be youngsters who are committed enough to have bought a skidder or other equipment and to have insurance, but who lack experience.  He suggested they be authorized to draw up and carry out their own forestry plans, and implied that income from harvesting would be theirs, referring for example, to the possibility of earning enough to pay for forestry courses.

Philbrook was noncommittal, though she did say that in her years teaching in China – she just retired – she knows of only one student who went into a forestry career.

Thurston Park Committee II members said repeatedly the park should be managed as much as possible to benefit everyone in town, not just for a few people starting careers; and any income from timber harvesting is required to be reinvested in the park or, if voters direct, another town project. Cutting should be bid out, and the bids awarded and work done with assistance from and supervision by a licensed forester, they said.

Basham reported “acres” of white pine flooded by beaver dams on the west side of the park, which is not designated for logging, and recommended cutting it while it has value.  Thurston Park II Committee members Judy Stone and Christian Wilkens cited the value of dead trees for wildlife habitat; fellow committee member Philip DeMaynadier said park management seeks to achieve many goals, including recreation, aesthetics, wildlife habitat and water quality, not just making money by selling stumpage, especially on the west side.

Reviewing June 27 recommendations from district forester Morton Moesswilde, Stone concluded the committee had met them, with the exception of establishing a relationship with a forester who would help plan and carry out timber harvesting and related activities.

Committee members agreed they wanted to talk with more than one forester.  They scheduled a park tour with one candidate for July 26, and talked about others with whom to seek to make arrangements.

The Thurston Park II Committee succeeded the Thurston Park Committee to oversee implementation of the 2007 management plan for the 400-acre parcel in northeastern China.  Under the chairmanship of recently-resigned committee member Bill Seekins, the committee has developed recreational trails and a picnic area and preserved historic areas inside the park boundary.

Committee member Steve Nelson, who lives in Albion adjacent to the park, said hooliganism and littering have diminished as recreational use of the park has increased.  The next meeting of the Thurston Park II Committee is scheduled for Tuesday evening, Aug. 9.