CHINA NEWS: Board holds preliminary talks on health insurance

by Mary Grow

CHINA — China selectmen spent the first hour of their April 3 meeting talking about town employees’ health insurance, with several employees and other residents listening and asking questions. No decision was made; board members emphasized the discussion was preliminary.

Susan Smith, of the Maine Municipal Employees Health Trust (MMEHT), summarized various plans her group offers, working with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and an administrator called Group Dynamic of Falmouth.

Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux invited Smith in response to a request from selectmen to look into saving money on health insurance. Smith explained the concept of health reimbursement accounts, which allow a town to offer a lower-cost plan and repay employees for increased out-of-pocket expenses.

She offered a variety of different plans, and many of the questions opened up still other options. Employees and selectmen needed time to review the choices. Smith is likely to be invited back for a discussion with employees and perhaps another public meeting with selectmen.

After Smith left, board member Jeffrey LaVerdiere asked about talking with representatives of insurance companies other than Anthem, and former Selectman Robert MacFarland asked if town officials had looked into self-insuring.

In other business April 3, L’Heureux said China is looking for one budget committee member and additional members for the China for a Lifetime Committee. The latter is exploring ways to make China more welcoming for people of all ages, including services to help older residents stay in their homes.

Selectman Ronald Breton reported on the significant increase in the draft RSU (Regional School Unit) #18 budget for 2017-18. (ep)

China Village resident Margo Allen attempted to clear up what she saw as conflicting information given at the March 25 town business meeting, when a voter asked whether the appropriation for the causeway project at the head of China Lake included replacing the bridge. One selectman promptly said no; two others said yes. The disagreement continued, with modifications, at the selectmen’s meeting; it appears that the $750,000 voters approved could include the bridge, perhaps with supplemental funds or adjustments to other parts of the project.

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, April 17. The Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee, the group tasked with developing further plans for the causeway project and other TIF expenditures approved March 25, is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 10.


Springtime Vidalia onions now on sale in Palermo

PALERMO: Sweet, crisp Vidalia onions, fresh from the fields of Georgia, will be coming to the Palermo Community Center on May 5. These large beauties come in 25 pound boxes for only $27. Go in with your neighbors and relatives, and you can get four boxes for only $100! They keep in a well-ventilated cool place for up to six months, especially if they are not allowed to touch one another.

Orders must be placed by April 28. To order, e-mail or call Connie at 993-2294, and be sure to leave your phone number. You will be called as soon as the boxes are unloaded in the late afternoon of May 5. You may pick up the onions during the weekend, as well. Payment is accepted at the time of the order, or in cash at the time of pickup. Checks may be mailed to the Living Communities Foundation, P.O. Box 151, Palermo, ME 04354.

Your support of the Living Communities Foundation is highly appreciated. Proceeds from the sale will go toward roof repairs of the Community Center, the Community Garden, and the Palermo Food Pantry. Stay tuned for upcoming spring and summer events at the Community Center.

PALERMO NEWS: Maine’s Champion Trees topic of Palermo talk

PALERMO — Maine’s Champion Trees will be the focus of Duane Prugh’s talk at 2 p.m., Saturday, April 8, at the Palermo Community Library, 2789 Route 3. The free event is co-sponsored by the library and the Palermo Historical Society.

Prugh will speak about the most magnificent of trees in Maine, including two national champions, the largest of a particular species in the United States. Maine, the most heavily forested in the nation, has more than 160 different types of trees, many of which have been standing for more than a century.

For more information, contact Palermo Historical Society at 873-4143,, or Palermo Library at 993-6088,,


Gladiolus auction set for April 8

SOUTH CHINA — The Maine Gladiolus Society’s annual spring bulb auction will take place on Saturday, April 8, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., at the South China Community Church, on Old Route 3, South China.

A free lasagna lunch will be served, with donations welcome.

For more details, call Elisabeth Cates at (207) 923-3412.


Obituaries, Week of April 6, 2017


BENTON – Alice Alexander, 92 passed away on Monday, March 20, 2017, at Oak Grove Nursing Home, in Waterville. She was born May 14, 1924, in Freedom, the daughter of William and Elsie (Harrison) Tyler.

She enjoyed cooking, sewing, and crocheting, also her fishing, camping and snowmobiling trip with friends. Many trip to Florida with Bev, Danny and family. She also loved her Sunday Family rides.

Alice was a member of the Benton Falls Congregational Church, She worked on many church suppers and was a Sunday School teacher. After her family was grown, she worked at Lipman Hatchery, in Winslow.

She is survived by daughters Mary Shibles and husband Richard, of Benton, Beverly Witham, of Bonita Springs Florida, Hazel Eames husband Fred, of Winslow; son Richard Alexander and wife Julie, of Benton; sister Ella Dooley, of Bangor; cousin Irvin Tyler; sister-in-law Helen Alexander. eight grandchildren, 19 great- grandchildren; nine great-great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews. She also leaves behind her roommate Peggy, and a daily visitor Charlie Qumiby.

She was predeceased by her parents, husband LeBaron Alexander of 43 years, sisters son-in-law Dan Witham, brothers-in-law Walter Gogan, Rod Dooley, Lawrence, Arthur and Clayton Alexander, sisters-in-law Nellie and Florence Alexander.

Memorial donation may be made to Benton Falls Congregational Church, c/o Dawnella Sheehan, 274 Bellsqueeze Road, Benton, Me 04901.

Arrangements under the direction and care of Dan & Scott’s Cremation & Funeral Service, 445 Waterville Road, Skowhegan, Maine 04976.


OAKLAND – Byron M. Dodge, 79, passed away Sunday, March 19, 2017, at Inland Hospital, in Waterville. He was born August 29, 1937, in St. Albans, the son of John A. and Florence E. (Harris) Dodge.

He was educated in the schools of St. Albans. He worked at the Cascade Woolen Mill, in Oakland, for several years. He was a veteran who proudly served his country in the US Air Force until his honorable discharge. On September 9, 1978, he married the former Carol Jean Cullen, in Clinton. He loved western movies, especially John Wayne.

A graveside service will be held Friday, May 5, 2017 at 12:00 noon at the Maine Veteran’s Cemetery, Mt. Vernon Road, Augusta.

Memorial donations may be made to MaineGeneral HomeCare & Hospice, 10 Webb Street, Waterville, ME 04901, or St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, Tennessee 38105.

Arrangements under the direction and care of Dan & Scott’s Cremation & Funeral Service, 445 Waterville Road, Skowhegan, ME 04976.


WINSLOW – Michael J. Craig, 59, passed away at his home, in Winslow, Sunday, March 25, 2107. He was born February 24, 1958, in Quantico, Virginia, the son of Clayton C. and Inez E. (Goodno) Craig.

He was educated in the schools of Winslow and graduated from Lawrence High School, in Fairfield, class of 1976. On October 30, 1976, he married Deborah L. Gilbert, at St John the Baptist Church, in Winslow. He was a veteran who proudly serviced his country in the US Marine Corps as a utility chief during the Gulf War until his honorable discharge. After serving his country, he became a furniture/cabinet woodworker and was employed by Thomas Mosers Cabinet Makers from 1998-2015 and Hodgkins Yachts from 2015 to 2016. He enjoyed hiking, biking, fishing, reading history, woodworking, apollgetics and systematic theology. He attended Blessed Hope Advent Christian Church, in Waterville

He is survived by his wife, Deborah L. (Gilbert) Craig, of Winslow; two sons, James Craig and wife Melissa, of Panama City, Florida, Steven Craig, of Marianna, Florida; daughter, Melissa O’Rourke and husband Joshua, of Fairfield; grandchildren, Samantha and Anna Craig, of Panama, Florida, Sophie and Owen Craig, of Marianna, Florida, Chloe ad Caleb O’Rourke, of Fairfield; brother, Clifford Craig, of Buckley, Washington; sister, Valarie Craig, of Beverly, Massachusetts; brother-in-law, Paul Gilbert and wife Kim, of Merrimack, New Hampshire; sister-in-law, Donna Roland and husband David, of Newerk, Ohio; step-mother, Sandy Craig, of N. Fort Myers, Florida; mother-in-law, Ellen Gilbert, of Winslow.

He was predeceased by his parents, Clayton and Inez Craig and father-in-law, Carl Gilbert.

Memorial donations may be made to MaineGeneral Hospice, PO Box 828, Waterville, ME 04901.

Arrangements under the direction and care of Dan & Scott’s Cremation & Funeral Service, 445 Waterville Road, Skowhegan, Maine 04976.


WHITEFIELD––Stanley Tibbetts, 83, of Whitefield, died Wednesday, March 22, 2017, at Country Manor Nursing Home, in Coopers Mills, following a period of declining health. Stanley was born on March 13, 1934, in Whitefield, the son of Charles and Gladys Tibbetts.

He attended local schools and after graduating from Erskine Academy in 1952, Stanley worked on, and later owned and operated, the family farm for over 60 years.

Stanley enjoyed horse-pulling, bowling, listening to country music, and having family visit him on the farm. Stanley enjoyed the rhythm of nature and was a great student of the cycle of life on the farm. He was occasionally superstitious, but always patriotic.

Stanley was predeceased by his parents; brothers Donald and Harry Tibbetts; sister Dorothy Hardy; nephews Terrence and Daniel Tibbetts, and Patrick Comer.

He is survived by his sisters, Louise Comer, of Rapid City, South Dakota; Mary Page, of Winslow; and Clara Mayo, of Windsor; as well as many nieces and nephews.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Whitefield Historical Society.


JEFFERSON––Robert David Tompkins, 90, of Jefferson, died of heart failure Tuesday, March 28, 2017, at Miles Memorial Hospital, in Damariscotta. He was born on July 27, 1926, son of Herbert Ross and Helen Florence Tompkins, of Hawthorne, New Jersey.

After graduating from Bogota, New Jersey High School in 1943, he enlisted in the U. S. Navy, trained as a radar technician, and served aboard the USS Rogers (DD876). He enrolled at Case Institute of Technology upon discharge from the Navy, and received the degree of BSEE in 1950.

He joined the staff of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., as an electrical engineer in the radar division. There he met his wife-to-be, Martha G. Bond, daughter of Willis and Ruth Bond, of Jefferson. They were married in 1952. With the exception of a two-year sojourn in Chile where he was the electrical engineer in an open pit iron mine in El Tofo, Bob remained at NRL until his retirement in 1980. While at NRL, he authored many papers on radar techniques, components and systems. In 1976 he was assigned as a radar expert to support the United States delegation to the World Administrative Radio Conference held in Geneva in 1979. He was head of the engineering support group to the delegation.

While residing in Washington, Bob was active in community affairs. He was the president of the parents group at the Academy of Notre Dame, was a member of the St. Francis Xavier Parish Council, he helped organize a parents group for the St. Francis Parish school, and served on the Consumer Utility Board (a public interest group concerned with DC utility rates) where he was chairman of the technical committee.

Community involvement continued after his retirement to Maine. He was moderator of the Jefferson town meeting for five years, served as dispatcher and treasurer for the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department, was chairman of the town planning board, volunteered as an attendant at the Jefferson Public Library, and was also treasurer of the Bond Burying Ground Association. In addition, he was a member of the St. Denis Parish Council and served for four years as a parish bookkeeper, a member of the Jefferson Historical Society and the Jefferson Public Library.

After living in Maine for a few years, he developed an interest in local history. The fruits of his interest were a history of the Bond Burying Ground followed by a 50th anniversary history of the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department. His historical work culminated in a series of four papers on gores, grants and boundaries in northern Lincoln County at the turn of the nineteenth century. They dealt with the Lincoln Academy land grant, Jefferson’s boundary at the time of its charter, the mystery of Waldoboro’s northern boundary and the creation discovery, and establishing the boundaries of Hibbert’s Gore.

Bob is survived by his wife of 65 years, the former Martha Bond; two daughters, Ann Liburt, of Jefferson, and Marilyn Tompkins, of Jackman, three sons, Steven Tompkins, of Glenn Dale, Maryland, Andrew Tompkins, of Leesburg, Virginia, and Richard Tompkins, of Plano, Texas; seven grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.

To extend online condolences, please visit


SIDNEY––Gerald “Jerry” Pomerleau, 71, of Sidney,died on Monday, March 27, 2017, in Augusta, of complications of a stroke. He was born on February 15, 1946, in Waterville, the son of Lafayette and Lucille (Caron) Pomerleau.

He graduated from Waterville High School, class of 1965, and entered the US Navy shortly after graduating.

Jerry worked as manager of Cinema Center in Waterville, was the owner of Pine Acres Restaurant in Oakland, and as a self-employed contractor. During time off he enjoyed fishing, hunting and woodworking.

Jerry is survived by his wife of 41 years, Paula (MacDonald) Pomerleau, of Sidney; daughters Kelly Neill and her husband David and their children Justin and Eliza, of Debary, Florida, and Lisa Klein and her husband Bob and their children Robert and Delsin, of Oakland; sister Nancy Turmelle and her husband Joe, of Springvale; brother Alan Caron and his wife Kristina Egan, of Freeport; several cousins, nieces, and nephews.

A celebration of Jerry’s life will be held on Sunday afternoon April 9, from 2-5 p.m. at his home, 3649 Middle Road, Sidney. A committal service will be held on Monday April 10, at 10 a.m. at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 289 Civic Center Drive, Augusta. Please visit to share condolences, memories and tributes with his family.

Memorial donations may be made to American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, PO Box 417005, Boston MA 02241-7005.


FAIRFIELD––Gwendolyn E. Scott, 81, of Fairfield, passed away on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, at home, following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Gwen was born in Washburn on November 2, 1935, the daughter of Earl and Florence Doody.

She married Norman A. Scott in 1953. They were fortunate enough to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in 2013 and were the celebrated guests to many friends and family.

Before her ill health Gwen was able to bless many family members and friends with gifts that she had handcrafted. Her beautiful quilts and afghans will be forever cherished.

Gwen was predeceased by her parents; brother-in-law Don Adams, of Winslow; and twin daughters who died at birth.

She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Norman; five children, Steven and wife Cynthia, of Waterville, Daniel, of Albion, David, Doreen, and Penny, all of Fairfield; sister Nancy Adams, of Winslow, and her children Andrew and Donna; eight grandchildren, Chris, Brian, Kevin, Bradley, Rose, Bobby, Heather, and Roy; and eight great-grandchildren.

An online guestbook may be signed and memories shared at

Memorial donations may be made to: Fairfield Church of the Nazarene, PO Box 146, Fairfield ME 04937.


JOYCE M. FRYE, 67, of Augusta, passed away on Sunday, March 12, 2017. Locally, she is survived by a daughter, Stacey L. Soucy and fiancé Edmond J. Boudreaux, of Augusta, and a brother, Stephen Clifford and wife Michelle, of Washington.

MAYNARD A. TIBBETTS, 65, of Newport, passed away on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Newport. Locally, he is survived by his mother, Ethel Tibbetts, of Unity, and sister Rinny Turner and husband Dennis, of Oakland.

STEPHANIE A. PERRY, 60, of Augusta, passed away on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, at home. Locally, she is survived by a sibling Cookie Kelley, of Windsor.

GEORGE H. LITTLEFIELD, 94, of Brooks, passed away on Monday, March 20, 2017, following a long decline in his health. Locally, he is survived by a daughter Regina Oliver and husband Herbert, of Waterville.

LOUIS A RANCOURT, of Oldsmar, Florida, passed away on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Locally, he is survived by children Josephine Rancourt, of Waterville, and Eric Rancourt and wife Natasha, of Winslow; sister Rachel Vince, of Waterville.

JOAN E. SMALL, 72, of Palmyra, passed away on Monday, March 27, 2017, at her residence. Locally, she is survived by a daughter, Holly Murdock and husband George, of Unity; sister Geraldine LaChance and husband Arthur, of Benton.

E. ADELINE BEACH, 85, of Readfield, passed away on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Locally, she is survived by a son, Howard Beach and wife Cindy, of Vassalboro.

JAMES R. COTE, 94, of Waterville, passed away on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, following an afternoon of watching a Red Sox game with his daughter. Locally, he is survived by his wife, Rita, of Waterville; son Michael Cote and wife Linda, of Waterville, and daughter Patricia Jacques and husband David, of Sidney.

EDITH P. HOLMSTROM, 96, of Waterville, passed away on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Locally, she is survived by a son, Don Holmstrom and wife Jane, of Winslow; grandchildren Britt Salisbury and husband Roger, of Benton, Lisen Chesley and husband Harvey, of Clinton, and Kyle Holmstrom, of Pittsfield; great-grandchildren, Ja,e Higgins and fiancée Kori Paige Ellis, of Waterville, Danielle Chesley, of Clinton, Alex Chesley and Heather Freeman, of Smithfield, and Emma and Kaysa Salisbury, of Benton; great-great-grandson, Deven Young, of Fairfield.

RICHARD E. FREEMAN SR., 91, of Augusta, passed away on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, at the Maine Veterans Home, in Augusta. Locally, he is survived by son Richard E. Freeman Jr. and partner Martha Seligman, of South China.

ROBERT W. ROUILLARD, 83, of Augusta, passed away on Thursday, March 30, 2017, at the VA Hospital, at Togus, following a long illness. Locally, he is survived by a stepsons, Richard Fournier and wife Leanne, of Windsor, and Ronald Rouillard, of Augusta; and brother Ronald Rouillard, of Augusta.

China school’s forest April vacation family events

CHINA — Join the staff at the China School’s Forest for fun activities for all ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult. All sessions start at the China Primary School Bus Circle. If programs are canceled due to the weather, it will be posted on the China School Forest- China, Maine facebook page or you can call 968-2255 to ask.

Children enjoying a day in the China School Forest. Contributed photo

These programs are free, but donations are appreciated to help us provide future programs and activities.

Wednesday, April 19: Signs of Spring Nature Walk 9:30 – 11 a.m. Look for signs of spring, make a journey stick and play a nature game. This will be rain or shine. Dress for wet, muddy trails.

Thursday, April 20: Night Hike 7 – 8:30 p.m. They will walk the trails of the forest, listen to night sounds and explore the night sky. Please bring a flashlight and dress warmly. Binoculars will help when looking at the moon, if visible. This program will be rain or shine. If it is raining, we will take a night hike and explore the pond.
Friday, April 21; Animal Skins, Skulls, Tracks and Scat 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. Explore many of Maine’s mammals and talk about how they survive in the wild.

Saturday, April 22: Fairy Houses & Toad Homes 9:30 – 11 a.m. They will read a Fairy House story, gather natural materials and build fairy houses and toad homes in the school forest.
On Saturday, families may bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the forest. Picnic tables are available at the Primary School Pavilion or throughout the forest.

Saturday, April 22: Pond Explorers 12:30 – 2 p.m. They will use dip nets to collect pond critters and talk about water habitats. Come dressed to possibly get wet.

VASSALBORO NEWS: School budget does not look good for taxpayers

by Mary Grow

State and other non-tax revenues down, expenditures up – the initial proposal for the 2017-18 Vassalboro school budget does not look good for taxpayers.

At the first joint meeting of the school board and budget committee, AOS (Alternative Educational Structure) #92 Superintendent Eric Haley said he expects a slight improvement by the time the two committees meet again April 11; but he will not have final revenue figures until state legislators and the governor approve school funding in June.

Potential reductions in expenditures include a downward revision of the salaries and benefits line to allow for the replacement of two veteran teachers who are retiring in June with less experienced and lower-paid teachers; a reduction in expected tuition costs; and, with luck, a smaller increase in insurance premiums than projected.

The preliminary budget papers school board and budget committee members shared at their March 30 meeting showed an increase in expenditures of more than $196,000 and a decrease in non-tax revenue of almost $329,000. Without changes, the school department would need $525,522 from local property taxes for 2017-18, 16 percent more than in the current fiscal year. School Board Chairman Kevin Levasseur observed that every school district in Maine is taking a similar hit. Perhaps, he said, there will be pressure on the legislature to increase state funding.

Superintendent Haley said one provision in Governor Paul LePage’s school budget plan eliminates state support for superintendent’s offices, to encourage schools to join in regional service centers. AOS #92 is slated to lose its central office support, a loss of more than $100,000, Finance Director Paula Pooler said. Haley said by his definition the office is a service center administering the three separate Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow school systems, and should not be penalized.

Budget committee members did not go into details of the proposed budget. They met April 3 to develop questions to forward to the school department in advance of the next joint meeting, scheduled for Tuesday evening, April 11.

CHINA NEWS: Planners OK plan for animal feed and grain shop

by Mary Grow

CHINA — Starting their new meeting format, China Planning Board members spent the first half hour of their March 28 meeting discussing relevant results of the March 25 town business meeting before reviewing and approving the only application on their agenda. They unanimously granted James Brown and Decindra Parker a permit to open an animal feed and grain shop plus a flower shop with greenhouses, using the former Mainely Trains building at 360 Route 3 and its grounds.

Town meeting voters approved all but one of the proposed Land Development Code changes that had been rejected as a package in November 2016. They again refused to authorize changing the rules for enlarging non-conforming structures – those that fail to meet one or more ordinance requirements – in the shoreland zone.

Codes Enforcement Officer Paul Mitnik thought voters had two major problems with the proposed changes: they would have allowed enclosure of decks and patios without the work counting as an expansion, even though it could add living space and impervious surface from which water could run toward a lake or other water body; and they did not include any requirement to install vegetative buffers to catch run-off.

Neck Road resident Sheri Wilkens added another problem; the amendments would have allowed shoreland property owners to demolish or remove accessory structures (like sheds) and count the reduction in roof area toward enlargement of a main building. “I don’t feel too bad that it failed. I think we can do better,” Mitnik said. Board members Milton Dudley and Tom Miragliuolo agreed they were not unhappy with the vote.

Dudley suggested the board survey residents about the ordinance and possible changes before seeking another vote on amendments. Chairman James Wilkens agreed, saying the survey would help educate residents about the ordinance.

When board members turned to the application, they were careful to give their reasons for each vote, as required by the town ordinance.

Brown and Parker explained that they intend a three-part project: opening an animal feed and grain store in part of the existing building so farmers and others with animals need not travel so far for supplies; opening a flower shop in another part of the building; and adding at least two non-permanent greenhouses and a hay storage facility on the property.

The additional temporary buildings drew questions from Miragliuolo. The property is in a resource protection district; it is “grandfathered” and can be used and reused, but cannot be made more non-conforming than it already is.

Mitnik said the planning board approved a proposed reuse of the building two years ago that involved additional temporary structures. The April 2015 permit was issued to Frank Kent and Florence Donovan to use the west end of the building for a vegetable, flower and craft shop. The project included seasonal tents.

Brown said the greenhouses will have floors of crushed stone with the stone extending beyond the walls to catch roof run-off.

The application was approved with one limit and two conditions, all of which Brown and Parker accepted. The limit is that the proposed additional temporary structures cannot total more than 2,500 square feet. The conditions are that Brown and Parker designate handicapped parking spaces – they said they plan to, probably one near each entrance – and that all fertilizer be stored inside a building.

Proposed maximum business hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with Mondays off. Brown and Parker plan to operate year-round and to add Christmas trees seasonally.

The next regular planning board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, April 11.

Autism awareness growing at Winslow Elementary School

Teachers and students in a classroom, from left to right, Melissa Hanley, Ashton Darrell, Joan Carney, Ava Tantoco, Donna Wilson, Samantha Lessard, Jessica Fortin, Melanie Wheat, Amaya Tantoco and Kelsey Steves. Photo by Tawni Lively, Central Maine Photography staff

by Mark Huard

Autism Awareness is growing at Winslow Elementary School. April is Autism Awareness Month and there are many activities planned.

Most people have heard about Autism by now, and many even know someone personally who lies somewhere on the Autism Spectrum. At Winslow Elementary School, the Autism program is spreading the word: Kids with Autism want to be included, just like you!

Autism is a social communication disorder that makes it difficult for a person to read social cues, interact, and express themselves. They may need to be taught how to make friends, or to read body language. It often affects the way they perceive the world, as well. The buzzing in fluorescent lights may drive them crazy. The sound of a fire drill may be unbearable. Looking into your eyes might be so distracting, they can’t listen to your words. On the other hand, you may know a person with Autism their entire life and never know they have a diagnosis! Every single person on the Autism Spectrum is unique!

Winslow Elementary School ed techs involved in the Autism program are, from back to front, Kelsey Steeves, Anne Rice, Katherine Leclair, Jessica Fortin, Joan Varney, Donna Wilson, Samantha Lessard and Melissa Hanley.
Photo by Tawni Lively, Central Maine Photography staff

At Winslow Elementary, they focus on individualizing the education of the students who are in our program. With their team of eight hard working ed techs and teachers, they work hard to make sure all of their students are getting the education they deserve, and that they have every opportunity to be included in the regular education environment. Sometimes this requires Assistive Technology such as an iPad for communication, or a visual schedule, or just some extra breaks included throughout their day. They have access to speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy if they need it.

“Working with kids with Autism is a wonderful experience, said Melissa Hanley, a teacher at Winslow Elementary School. “It teaches you to put yourself in another person’s shoes, and to look at the world at a different angle. Our students are so smart and they love to be a part of this school. We work with them to be as independent as they can be, and to handle the stress of everyday life in stride. I hope that through awareness and exposure, the world can accept the different needs of kids on the spectrum and help make the world more accessible”

If you would like to donate to the program, or would like to learn more, please consider coming to the community events: April 10, 4 – 7 p.m.: McPuzzle Night at McDonald’s, in Winslow.

Come enjoy a meal and play games with the WES Autism group, and 92.3 The Moose! Bring your bottles for the bottle drive! McDonald’s has generously offered to donate 20 percent of sales to the program!

April 13, 4 – 9 p.m.: Dining to Donate at Applebee’s, in Waterville.

Applebee’s is hosting a fun night of dining and will be donating 15 percent of all purchases! Have a nice family dinner knowing you’re helping out a great organization!

April 26, 4 – 9 p.m.: Sweet Frog frozen yogurt and sorbet, Waterville Commons.

Sweet Frog is donating 20 percent of proceeds to the program if you mention the fundraiser at the register! The group will be there with an information station, so bring your questions and they’ll be happy to chat with you!

Donations are also coming from Subway, and It’s a Good Pizza, both in Winslow.

If you have any questions, or would like to donate, contact Melissa Hanley at, or during the school day at (207)872-1967 X2107