Students at St. John Catholic school in Winslow recently participated in a Fire Prevention Program with the Winslow Fire Department. Students in grades kindergarten through grade five took part in a Fire Prevention poster contest. Each winner was given a ride to school on a firetruck.
The Rev. Kim Shrader was installed as Settled Pastor at Winslow Congregational Church on Sunday, October 14.
The church is noted for its passionate commitment to extending Christ’s welcome to everyone seeking a loving family, no matter their church background, political beliefs, race, sexual orientation, or family structure.
Formerly of Washington State and Colorado, Rev. Shrader also serves as pastor of Benton Falls Congregational Church, and is a meteorologist and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farmer, in Vassalboro, where her Pastor’s Produce farm supports a sustainable future.
Halloween is coming, and if you haven’t found the perfect pumpkin there is still time to stop at a roadside farm stand or pick your own site and cross the orange gourd from the shopping list. There are pumpkins small enough to be carried by a young child or so large that it may take more than one person to load it into the car. Some pumpkins are giants requiring a fork lift to move them. The giants are often seen at summer agricultural fairs where growers compete for blue ribbons and the title of largest official Maine pumpkin. Check the Maine Pumpkin Growers Organization’s website for the weight and the grower of each season’s top pumpkin. The site is also a resource for seeds and information on how to grow giant pumpkins. Currently the 2017 title is held by a 1,756 pound pumpkin grown by Elroy Morgan, from Charleston.
During the 2018 Windsor Fair’s giant pumpkin/squash weigh in, South China resident Carrie McGrath placed fifth in the adult pumpkin class with a white pumpkin weighing 57 pounds. It was grown from seeds given to her by friends. McGrath and her husband James, own the McGrath Farms on Lakeview drive, in China, where they grow strawberries and pumpkins. “I just threw the seeds at the edge of the garden. I didn’t do anything special except to cut off the smaller pumpkins leaving only the big one on the vine,” she said during a phone interview. Her 37-pound entry won first place in the Jack O’ Lantern division. Also winning ribbons in the adult division at this year’s Windsor Fair were pumpkins weighing 931 pounds grown by Richard Powell, of Nobleboro; 363 pounds grown by Quincy Perry, of Damariscotta; 130 pounds grown by Cody Wood, of Jefferson, and 63.5 pounds grown by Bette Barajas, of Windsor.
For a pick-your-own adventure go to the Haunted Pumpkin Trail on the Garland Road, in Winslow. Drive past the Albion Road cut off and continue until you come to a lawn filled with pumpkins of all sizes. The trail begins behind a tent-covered pumpkin display, leads downhill through trees decorated with ghosts and witches and ends in an open field. Pick your pumpkin; stop at the hay bale “take your photo here” spot; carry the pumpkin back through the woods to the tent at the trail’s start and find the price by placing your pick against a row of white paper plates showing sizes and prices. “The trail is free and open during daylight hours,” said farm owner Fred Nassar, the trail’s designer. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years. It’s a place where families can come for an adventure close to home.”
Test your sense of direction by walking through the corn maze ($3 per person or $10 per family) at the Lemieux Apple Farm, on the Priest Hill Road, in Vassalboro. The level dirt path between rows of towering corn stalks leads in circles with several escape exits along the way. Stop for a photo in front of the gigantic hay bale bear and then take a tractor pulled wagon ride into the orchards to pick your own apples. End the adventure with pumpkin and apple doughnuts from the farm stand inside the barn.
Sample fresh pressed cider and apple cider doughnut holes in the barn at the Apple Farm, on Back Road, in Fairfield. Then visit the processing room behind the barn to watch some of Maine’s oldest apple varieties – McIntosh, Northern Spy, Golden Russet, Pearmain, Winter Banana – being blended and bottled for a cider taste that is distinctive to this farm. On the weekends take a horse drawn wagon ride, through the orchards. Borrow an apple picker (a metal basket on a long pole) from the barn and head into the orchard to pick your own apples. Or try your aim at the “apple sling shot” to see if you can hit the pumpkin target at the end of the shooting range.
And if you just want to buy a pumpkin, check out the side of the road stands on Route 32, in Vassalboro; Ben and Molly’s Spooky Pumpkin Patch, on the Hansen Road, in South China; Bailey’s Orchard (pumpkins and over 50 varieties of apples in the barn), on the Hunt’s Meadow Road, in Whitefield; or County Fair Farms (wagon rides through the apple orchards on the weekends), on Route 32, in Jefferson. There is still time to find the perfect pumpkin for decorating the front steps, carving into Jack O’ Lanterns or baking into a homemade pumpkin pie.
Winslow area families put their lives and fortunes on the line connecting to the Underground Railroad
Maine’s connection to the famous Underground Railroad that helped free runaway slaves in the mid-1800s does not begin and end with Harriet Beecher Stowe. Indeed, people from Kittery to Ft. Fairfield, including Waterville-Winslow, Augusta, China and Vassalboro, conspired to break the law — the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 — forming a network of “safe houses,” hiding slaves from slave hunters and scurrying them to Canada. If caught, these Underground Railroad “conductors” faced fines and jail.
At the Winslow Public Library at 6 p.m. on Oct. 18, author Mark Alan Leslie will weave the tale of the brave families who housed and fed slaves in hidden rooms, attics and elsewhere en route to the next secret “way station” on the “railroad.”
“Some called slavery ‘the absolute power of one person over another — the vilest human behavior and institution,’” said Leslie. “Others called it ‘essential to our economy and prosperity’ and even ‘a humane institution which provided food, shelter and family’ to the African race.”
“Slavery was the one issue that has been able to tear America apart, and that included Mainers,” he added.
And slavery remains in the news. The Treasury Department plans to add Harriet Tubman, a heroine of the Underground Railroad, to the $20 bill. Also, the Brunswick home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, a National Historic Landmark since 1962, was placed on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The former parlor room, where it is believed she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is open to the public as “Harriet’s Writing Room.”
Publisher’s Weekly hailed Leslie’s novel, True North: Tice’s Story, about a slave’s escape over the Underground Railroad through Maine, naming it a Featured Book for 2016. The Midwest Book Review cited Leslie’s “genuine flair for compelling, entertaining, and deftly crafted storytelling.”
And AFA Journal called Leslie “a seasoned wordsmith” whose contemporary novels are “in the class with John Grisham.”
A longtime journalist whose career started as a reporter for the then-Waterville Sentinel, Leslie first burst on the literary scene in 2008 with his novel Midnight Rider for the Morning Star, based on the life of Francis Asbury, America’s first circuit-riding preacher.
Since then, in addition to True North he has written The Crossing about the Ku Klux Klan in Maine in the 1920s and three contemporary thrillers: Chasing the Music about the hunt for King David’s music of the Psalms, The Three Sixes about Islamic terror cells in America, and the just-released The Last Aliyah about the Jewish escape from America when the United Nations bans Jewish emigration to Israel.
A book signing will follow Leslie’s presentation.
On Saturday, September 29, the Winslow Fire Department hosted their second annual open house showcasing the equipment and the people behind the scenes who keep their community safer. The day included representation from Winslow Fire Department, Winslow Police Department, Maine Forest Rangers, Delta Ambulance, Winslow Firefighters Association, Winslow Public Library and Miss Teen Winslow International 2018.
Spokesman Firefighter Scott Waldie explained, “Generally the public meets us in the worst possible circumstances. This event is a chance to see us in a good environment.”
The atmosphere was indeed positive with young children interacting with safety professionals and families enjoying the bake goods purchased from the Firefighters Association bake sale to fund scholarships. Booths were set up to promote local services and organizations to the public including the Winslow Public Library, Winslow’s Miss Teen International and the advocacy group for foster children Project Sparrow.
This community outreach event was an opportunity for the public, especially young children, to learn about fire prevention and how to escape from a fire. Children and their parents were shown a demonstration of how fast a firefighter can get into their protective gear. When asked why they give this demonstration, Firefighter Nathaniel White said, “It’s important to show kids that professional firefighters are not to be feared. They see I am a person beneath all this gear.”
Another teaching opportunity happens in the Winslow Fire Department Smoke Trailer, which travels to local schools on a regular basis for fire prevention presentations. The interior of the trailer is set up as an average house with a kitchen and living space. Visitors to the trailer are challenged to identify fire hazards which could be found in any home, even theirs. The trailer can also be filled with smoke to simulate the lack of visibility and demonstrate how to safely escape the situation. Firefighters with infrared glasses coach the children safely through the smoke-filled trailer.
The intent of the event was to heighten the public awareness of the public safety services in the Winslow area. That mission was accomplished. To get involved the rest of the year, the Winslow Fire Department offers the Raider Brigade for youth aged 14 through 17. Local adults are encouraged to inquire about employment opportunities in the public safety services.
The board president of Project Sparrow, Amy Moody received a $265 donation check from Mikayla Gurney, Winslow’s Miss Teen International 2018, as part of the activities at Winslow’s Public Safety Open House.
Helping children is Mikayla Gurney’s platform as her reign as Miss Teen. She feels Project Sparrow will put her donation to good use making foster children who are going into an unfamiliar situation more comfortable. Project Sparrow advocates for and supports at risk children being raised in Maine’s foster care systems.
Project Sparrow’s mission is to raise awareness of the needs of foster children and to fill in any gaps not filled by the agencies. There are nearly 2,000 children now in Maine’s foster homes. Many of these children had to leave unsuitable situations suddenly without extra clothing, diapers, toiletries and toys. With the help of donations, Project Sparrow provides these essentials.
“Maine’s children are in crisis. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of infants entering foster care due to the opiate crisis in our state,” explains Amy Moody. “Not everyone may feel they are called to be a foster parent, but there is always some way for everyone to help.”
The need is growing. To illustrate the number of foster children currently in Maine, Project Sparrow enlisted the JMG group from Winslow High School to set up the traveling display of nearly 2,000 blue pinwheels. Amy Moody said that it made a strong impression on the high schoolers that each one of pinwheels they inserted into the ground represented a foster child.
Project Sparrow’s next major project is their Christmas toy drive beginning mid-October. To get involved, look for information on the organization’s website project-sparrow.org or the Project Sparrow facebook page. What’s next for Miss Teen Mikayla Gurney? She’ll be working on the Project Sparrow Christmas toy drive as well because 2,000 foster children deserve a happy holiday.
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