Vassalboro: Action postponed on marijuana application

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Planning Board members postponed action on Leo Barnett’s application for a new building on Old Meadow Road, off Riverside Drive, in which tenants will grow marijuana for medical purposes, because the application he submitted at their Nov. 1 meeting was not complete.

Barnett said he plans a building about 28-by-140 feet just east of his subdivision on the same road. The map he submitted showed the subdivision and the remaining lot where the building is planned, but it was not specific enough about the location and size of the building and access driveway, proposed lighting or landscaping to let board members make a decision on the project.

Board Chairman Virginia Brackett told Barnett the map submitted with a commercial application “becomes the largest piece of the record for the town showing what’s supposed to be where.” Therefore, she said, an accurate map is essential.

In addition, board members could not tell whether the area that would be developed, including roadways, would exceed 5,000 square feet. If it did, the project would be a major rather than a minor development, with somewhat different requirements under town ordinances.

Barnett said he will have a better map prepared for the board’s Dec. 6 meeting.

Five neighbors from Riverside Drive, Lewis Road and Holman Day Road attended the Nov. 1 meeting to voice concerns about the project, questioning its suitability in a residential area.

Barnett said licensed caregivers running the business will rent the new building from him and live close by in an existing building. He said he owns a similar property in Farmingdale and there have been no problems with his tenants or with neighbors.

Vassalboro: Board denies appeal

by Mary Grow

Acting on the town attorney’s advice, the Vassalboro Board of Appeals refused on procedural grounds to hear Jonathan Blumberg’s appeal of a permit granted to Bernard Welch for his South Stanley Hill Road property.
Codes Enforcement Officer Richard Dolby had granted Welch building and plumbing permits needed for a food-processing and storage building on the site of a burned-down chicken house on the property. Blumberg filed an appeal of the decision with the codes officer, but he did not supply the “appropriate appeal fee” of $100 required by the town ordinance, instead, he said, putting the money in an escrow account. Vassalboro’s ordinance does not allow for an escrow account, acting Board of Appeals Chairman John Reuthe said. Town Attorney Alton Stevens advised the board to find that without the fee, the appeal was not filed in the timely manner required by the ordinance, and to refuse to address the merits of the appeal.

The four board members present at its Oct. 27 meeting unanimously did so. Reuthe cut off Blumberg’s protests by adjourning the meeting.

“Mad Scientist” at Clinton Elementary School


Clinton Elementary students recently participated in a special assembly conducted by the Mad Science Group, of South Portland. This assembly was sponsored by the Clinton Lions Club and was a reward for meeting their positive behavior goals for the month of October. The school is implementing a positive behavior support program this year in which students earn “BARK” points for behavior that is accountable, respectful, kind and safe. The goal as a school for the month was 1,900 points and the students went above and beyond, achieving 2,264. Pictured, from left to right, the Mad Scientist, Aaliyah Eastland, Layla Gagnon, Skylah Reid, Cooper Beaulieu and Jake Begin.

Contributed photo

Students hold Saluting Our Veterans day at Messalonskee Middle School

Veteran Tina Richard, right, of Clinton,  with keynote speaker U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

Veteran Tina Richard, right, of Clinton, with keynote speaker U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

On November 4, students at Messalonskee Middle School held Saluting Our Veterans Day tribute. The ceremony began with a light breakfast, and the veterans chatting with the students. The veterans then moved to the auditorium accompanied arm-in-arm by a student under a canope of American flags. The Messalonskee High School band played America the Beautiful march, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. A slide show was then presented of the students’ interviews at the Cole Lane Transportation Museum, in Bangor, and many poems were read about what freedom meant to the students. U.S. Senator Susan Collins was the keynote speaker. Collins stressed the fact that veterans possess two distinguishing qualities of integrity and humbleness. VFW Post #1285 announced the winner of the Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest, which was followed by a moment of silence and the playing of Taps. The veterans were then escorted from the auditorium at the end of the ceremony with much appreciation and thanks from the students.

Students form a canopy of American flags as military veterans are escorted into the auditorium by students

Students form a canopy of American flags as military veterans are escorted into the auditorium by students

Text and photos courtesy of Tina Richard

The Town Line’s 1,000th Issue!

The founders of The Town Line

The founders of The Town Line, Gary and Trish Newcomb.

The first issue of The Town Line was published on March 15, 1989.

The brain child of Gary and Trish Newcomb, the news-paper’s goal was to bring neighbors and their respective towns closer together through better communications.

Area towns and their residents had gone through some turbulent times during the mid-’80s when much animosity had grown to epidemic proportions. Gary and Trish figured that if people really knew what their neighbors were doing, they would better understand each other.

Although the original mission statement for The Town Line can’t be found, its general meaning is how the newspaper got its name. Gary and Trish believed that if everyone was more open in their communications, they could all become better neighbors, and asked people to take their discussions, differences and ideas, and meet at “the town line.”

Preparing that first issue was a monumental task. First there was equipment to purchase, acquaint themselves with computers and their programs, find a printer, and then arrange a distribution system.

Once the first issue hit the streets, Gary said, “How will be ever put out another issue?” He thought he had used up all possible material in that first issue. Well, miracles happen, and now, 21 years later, The Town Line newspaper celebrates the publication of its 1,000th issue.

 the early days

In the early days, the staff of The Town Line included, seated, from left to right, Trish Newcomb, Gary Newcomb, Lea Davis and Susan Walter. Back, Susan Boody, Fred Davis and Susan Cottle.

Gary and Trish nurtured the newspaper for the first nine years, until, thinking they had taken the paper as far as they could, put it up for sale in 1997. The final issue under the guidance of the Newcombs came on December 20, 1997.

The original staff consisted of three people. The first issue denotes the Newcombs as both publishers and editors. Trish was advertising director and Gary took care of the graphic designs. Julie Dermott was administrative assistant.

As time passed, and the newspaper grew, additional staff members were needed to accomplish the work. On May 16, 1990, Susan Cottle became the first editor other than the Newcombs. She would continue in that capacity until the end of 1991. Joe Lupsha and Fred Davis each served as assistant editor during this period.

On January 6, 1992, Lea Davis was named the second editor in the paper’s brief history. Lea would continue as editor and eventually as managing editor until May 14, 2004, the longest tenured editor in the history of the paper.

During her time, the paper went through a series of set-backs due to changes in ownership. After the Newcombs closed the paper at the end of 1997 for a lack of a buyer, Dennis Keller came on the scene and purchased the assets. The paper reopened its doors on January 31, 1998.

The staff under the regime of Dennis Keller

The staff under the regime of Dennis Keller included, seated, from left to right, Sandy Keller, Roland Hallee, Lea Davis and Martha Holzwarth. Back, Natalie Lyon, Nancy Heath, Ed Heath, Paulie Heath, Mike Heath, Dennis Keller and Miriam Keller.

The paper would continue on its normal path until July 3, 1998, when it became a bi-weekly (once every two weeks) due to economic hardships. Keller would eventually close the doors on October 10, 1998.

That’s when the paper’s future took an unexpected turn for the better. A small group of former staff and some interested community members worked through the winter of 1999, formed a new plan and incorporated the publication as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Spearheaded by Joann Austin, Faith Ames, the late John Robie, staff members Lea Davis, Sandy Keller and Roland Hallee, all of whom donated their time, the groundwork was ready to continue towards re-opening the paper.

On March 6, 1999, The Town Line re-emerged as the voice of these small central Maine towns. Through great community support, both from businesses and small grants from the towns, The Town Line firmly planted itself back on the path to recovery.

The Town Line is now a non-profit organization with a board of directors as overseers. Forever striving to improve the quality of its offerings, The Town Line is constantly seeking new, tax deductible, member-ships to the organization. Similar to public radio and television, The Town Line accepts memberships and monetary contributions.

The current members of the board of directors are Joann Austin, Lee Austin, Neil Farrington, Margie Roy, Gladys Hewett and Sam Birch. Others to have served on the board in the past have included the late Joe Pinette, Walter Wilson, Mike Mara, Faith Ames, Dick Kelley and Joe Suga, among others.

the staff, board of directors and interest-ed community members

This photo, taken in January 2004, was the staff, board of directors and interest-ed community members at the time. Seated, from left to right, Joann Austin, Carleen Cote, Neil Farrington, Lea Davis, Claire Breton and Marilyn Boyle. Standing, Faith Ames, Dick Kelley, Joe Pinette, Lee Austin, Gladys Hewett, Walter Wilson, Kareno Stansbury, Aileen Wescott, Carl Mercier and Roland Hallee.

On June 1, 2004, Susan Varney became the third editor in the newspaper’s history. She would continue in that position until February 2005, when upon her departure, Roland Hallee became the fourth editor of The Town Line. He continues today as the managing editor and is now the longest tenured staff member of The Town Line, having begun his career in May 1993 – a span of 16 years. With 45 years of newspaper work, and editor of two other newspapers in Pittsfield and Skowhegan, he has used his experience to guide The Town Line through some dark days.

Over the 21 years, The Town Line has occupied five different locations. The original site was at the old fire station, next to the old post office off Rte. 3, now occupied by Whitt’s Garments.

From that location, they moved in January 1994 to a building on Rte. 3, across from the new South China Post Office. They would remain there only a short period of time before relocating in June 1995, to the 202 Plaza on Rte. 202.

Upon its reopening as a nonprofit in 1999, they were located in the lower level at Jonesbrook Crossing. They would remain at that site until November 2008, when they moved to their present location, upstairs in the same building in the space formerly occupied by Fernald Family Chiropractic. All of the locations were in South China.

Through the years, others were instrumental in the success of the paper. Susan Boody, Adam Hansen, Troy Henderson, Carl Mercier, Paul Basham and Diane Bickford have all served as advertising directors. Advertising salesmen over the years have included Ken Nawfel, Betsy Murphy, Martha Holzwarth, Aileen Wescott, Marlene Myers and Bill Zinck among others. Office managers have included Heide Hotham, Sandy Keller, Sylvia Martin, Marilyn Boyle and Angela Brunette. Claire Breton has been business manager since 2000. Prior to that, business managers have included Ed Heath, Natalie Lyon and Adam Hansen. Others to con-tribute as graphic artists have been Fran Vitolo, Susan Walter, Dirk Rose, Roland Hallee and Kareno Stansbury. Lyn Rowden presently serves as copy editor and senior staff writer.

Intertwined with all of these people is an endless list of regular contributors and volunteers.

May 21, 2009, marks the 1,000th issue published by The Town Line, a feat that, in 1989, seemed way out of reach to its founders.

The Newcombs now reside in Granville, Ohio, where they are nearby to their daughter Becky and son-in-law Dan Homan, and grandchild.

2016 Voting Locations


Tuesday, November 8

Besse Building
20 Main St.
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Town Office
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Former portable classroom
behind town office
7 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Fairfield Community Center
Water Street
7:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Town Office
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Skowhegan Municipal Bldg.
Water Street
7 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Town Office
72 Sand Hill Rd.
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Town Office – Rte. 32
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

American Legion Building
College Avenue
7 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Town Hall Building
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

VFW Building
Veterans Drive
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

I’m Just Curious: Customer service

by Debbie Walker

Customer service is just one of my interests. I’ve even attended a few seminars over the years. I love that stuff.
Many times I have been on either side of that counter. I’ve had all kinds of experiences, some good, some not so good.

One thing I do know is the basics of customer service are quite uncomplicated. Most everyone wants to be acknowledged. It’s really very easy. You simply have eye contact with the customer and either tell them you will be right with them or you signal them with your index finger held up, most people understand that as “Just a minute.” I can’t tell you how much grief that can save in customer service by just giving that little attention.

Twice in the past week I have stood at a service counter for several minutes each. Clerks were on the phone and assisting other people. One was “chatting” with a co-worker. “Chatting” when a customer is being ignored is a big no-no. The clerks all ignored the fact that I was standing there. That little bit of eye contact and a smile acknowledging that I was there would have made a big difference in how I was feeling.

Oh yeah, and customer service is anyone who is being paid for their services rather by the hour, by commission or maybe by the treatment. It includes clerks in a store or even doctors. It’s all customer service. It’s because of these people waiting that you even have a position.

It’s really too bad that all offices and stores don’t do some training on customer service. What little bit it would cost them; they wouldn’t even notice, however, their customers/clients would notice.

One evening in a grocery store a little old lady in line just ahead of me asked the clerk to read her something on a label. That extremely rude clerk started ranting off to that woman about how she wasn’t hired to baby-sit people or read to them. I read it to her myself. As she left the cashier started running her mouth about “these old people.” With every word out of her mouth I was seeing a darker shade of red. I know she wanted my agreement, however, what she got was “I hope if you make it to her age all you find for assistance is someone like yourself.” After I finished checking out I had a chat with the store manager.

Having worked on front line registers and a variety of other customer service positions I know there are people who will try your patience. Stores and offices would be wise to do some of this training. If the company doesn’t offer it, train yourself, there are books. It will help you live longer.

We’re all in a hurry these days. Sometimes we forget we are not the only ones in this hurry-up life. It would be nice if we could all slow down a bit and be more compassionate towards others.

Sometimes folks start out on schedule but wind up waiting until noon for their appointment scheduled at 10 a.m.

That’s just rude. If you have that type of situation talk with whomever does the scheduling and ask them what time you could schedule your next appointment to avoid a two-hour wait. If we don’t speak up these types of things will continue to happen. Don’t be nasty, just communicate. If everyone did this maybe we would see a change.

Okay, so I’m sure you get the idea. There are good and not so good on both sides of the counter. It really only takes common sense and courtesy to make everyone calmer. It has to start somewhere, let it start with each of us.

I’m just curious how far a little common sense and courtesy can take us into a Merry Christmas. It is getting closer!!!

Please contact me at sub: Customer service.

Skirmish set for November 6

On Sunday, November 6, the Maine Skirmish Grappling Tournament returns to Winslow High School, in Winslow.

The Skirmish is a one of kind event featuring top martial artists from all over New England. Beautiful, large, USA custom made gold, silver, and bronze medals will be awarded to top competitor’s at this year’s highly anticipated event.

The competition kicks off in the morning with kids Sumo, a tradition that’s always exciting and fun. Sumo will award nine grand champions all in separate age categories.

The grappling events start next, featuring Jiujitsu, judo, sambo, wrestling and submission fighting techniques throughout the day. You get to see some pretty awesome throws and takedowns at this combative tourney as well as masterful submissions like armlocks, and crafty foot locks too.

The evening will feature four championship title belt matches crowning the best of the best. The King of the Skirmish, an absolute free weight men’s fighting division will cap a great day of competitive martial arts action right her in central Maine.

The event is sponsored my Huard’s Martial Arts of Winslow. For more information please contact Huard’s Martial Arts at 873-0407.

Secrets for garlic growing success: Make your garden into a royal palace for this queen of herbs

by  Emily Cates

Attention garlic lovers, now until the freeze is the time when you should be planting. If you have as much affection for this beloved stinking rose as I do, then you’ll want to read on for some helpful advice including cultivar selection, obtaining planting stock, site preparation, planting, and post-planting care.

page12pict1First, though, let’s find out which cultivars we like. Garlic is usually divided into groups having stiff stalks (hardnecks) or soft, pliable stalks (softnecks). Within these groups are several subgroups of many named cultivars.

Generally, hardnecks- especially those in the Rocambole group (Spanish Roja, Phillips, Stewart’s)- are valued for their exquisite flavors. Softnecks, on the other hand, (Kettle River Giant, Red Toch) tend to excel in storage and make beautiful braids. In a search to obtain suitable cultivars for our gardens and tastes, look for those with desirable qualities such as cold hardiness, storage abilities, and culinary attributes. In my opinion, the most tried-and-true, beginner-friendly hardnecks that are easiest to grow and obtain planting stock for are the ones called German Extra Hardy, and Music. I would also recommend a softneck, known as Inchelium Red.

Where can we find planting stock? FEDCO and Johnny’s are local companies that carry the aforementioned cultivars. Once you get a garlic patch established, save your own bulbs and keep your own strain going year after year. It’s always a good idea to make sure our planting stock is from the best of the best if possible, and free of disease and mechanical injury. Garlic that was harvested too late will have split bulb wrappers, but should be just fine for planting stock (and possibly more affordable).

Where should we plant our garlic? It’s optimal to give garlic the highest place of honor in the garden: a plot with the very best soil and full sun. Give them the royal treatment! At the end of every September, dig and grub out the weeds in the beds, paying extra attention to extracting as many roots and rhizomes as possible. (I’ve found this to be most effective when done by hand – just think of it as a free gym membership…and good business for your chiropractor…) Then go through with a spading fork and turn the soil, adding compost and/or manure, and amendments such as azomite and clean wood ashes. Now it’s ready to plant!

Next, separate the individual cloves from the bulb and plant each clove about 9 inches apart, pointy-side up with the point an inch or two under soil level. They can be in single rows or staggered in beds. Labels and a map are crucial if more than one named garlic is planted. After planting, cover the planting with a nice, thick mulch of straw. Farm animal bedding works really well, too, especially if it’s from goats. Speaking of animals – if there’s no fence around the garden, it might be a good idea to lay down some welded-wire fencing on top of the mulch. The garlic will grow through this while being protected from scratching, digging, and chomping critters who like garlic as much as we do.

In the meantime, we’re done for now until Springtime. Whew, it was invigorating work – and worth it, too!

Smith to address KHS

This talk will focus on a new book, Maine Sporting Camps, written by George Smith and published by Down East Books, including a history of the camps. Maine once had over 300 sporting camps. Nearly all are only memories today. Yet, at the remaining camps, as Smith explains, “History meets hospitality at Maine sporting camps today.

George Smith

George Smith

While they were once rustic and remote, today’s camps offer more comfort and convenience, but it is still the wild Maine outside the cabin door that attracts many of us.” Smith will also talk about his book, A Life Lived Outdoors.
George A. Smith, of Mount Vernon, has done a lot of things in his life, from writing comprehensive plans for rural Maine towns to managing statewide referendum campaigns. He served as executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine for 18 years, growing the membership from 4,000 to 14,000 and making it one of the state’s most influential organization. For 13 years, George hosted, with his friend Harry Vanderweide, a unique television talk show called Wildfire.

The Kennebec Historical Society November Presentation is free to the public (donations gladly accepted) and will take place on Wednesday, November 16, at 6:30 p.m., at the Maine State Library, located at 230 State Street in Augusta.