Possible school reorganization topic at meeting in Vassalboro

by Mary Grow

The possibility of another school reorganization that will affect Vassalboro was again a major topic of discussion at the Sept. 19 school board meeting.

Years ago Vassalboro was a separate school entity. Then it became part of School Union #52 with China and Winslow. School Union #52 dissolved after a state-wide reorganization under 2007 legislation; Vassalboro, Winslow and Waterville became AOS (Alternative Organizational Structure) #92, with headquarters in Waterville, while China joined the Oakland-based Messalonskee group in RSU (Regional School Unit) #18.

At the Vassalboro board’s August and September meetings, Superintendent Eric Haley explained that Governor Paul LePage wants to create School Management and Leadership Centers (SMLCs) that would take over business management for significant numbers of schools. The new centers would assume responsibility for such services as payroll, accounts receivable, transportation coordination and professional development.

To encourage schools to create the consolidated centers, Haley said, the governor’s budget cuts state reimbursement to central offices like AOS #92’s, planning to reduce it annually until in 2021 members of RSUs and AOSs pay the entire administrative cost with local funds.

Between the August and September Vassalboro meetings, Haley and other AOS #92 officials went to a conference on SMLCs sponsored by the Maine School Management Association and the Portland-based law firm Drummond Woodsum.

Haley told the Vassalboro board that most attendees went to the conference eager to compete to set up as SMLCs. They left saying “no way,” primarily because the conference sponsors advised caution and waiting to see what happens.

“It was just amazing how everyone flipped on this,” Haley commented.

He pointed out that so far there is no detailed plan for SMLCs. He doubts any school group will be able to create an SMLC by the current July 1, 2018, deadline. Any organizational change would require a plan that gained approval from the state Department of Education and from local voters, Haley said.

As in August, board members tried with limited success to foresee what effect potential changes could have on the quality of education in Vassalboro and the cost to taxpayers.

For example, Haley said state officials see the SMLC heads more as business executives than as educators. Schools like Vassalboro would need their own superintendent, either one person doubling as principal and superintendent or a part-time superintendent in addition to the principal.

Vassalboro Community School Principal Dianna Gram doubts one person could be both principal and superintendent. There’s too much for the principal to do daily in the school for him or her to have other responsibilities, in her opinion.

Another issue is what, if anything, SMLCs would do to correct what Haley and Finance Director Paula Pooler see as too many burdens on central office staff. Haley said that they often cannot meet all the requests from three municipalities as fast as local officials would like; an SMLC office would presumably serve 10 or more municipalities.

The reorganization issue will continue to appear on Vassalboro School Board agendas.

In other business Sept. 19, board members unanimously approved a list of appointments that included Jasmine Estes as a first-grade teacher, Katie Esancy and Melissa LeHay as educational technicians and James Pinkham as a bus driver.

The next Vassalboro School Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, Oct. 17.

Vassalboro Selectmen deal with variety of topics

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen dealt with a miscellany of business at their Sept. 21 meeting, most of it presented by Town Manager Mary Sabins.

Sabins reported on various upcoming events, including tentative plans for FAVOR (Friends Advocating for Vassalboro Older Residents) to provide help with drafty windows through a nonprofit organization called Window Dressers.

Sabins said the Rockland-based program helps local residents learn how to measure windows and make inserts to stop drafts and save heat. The inserts are sold to homeowners able to pay for them; Window Dressers’ website lists prices varying with window size and materials. Subsidies are likely to be available for low-income residents, Sabins said.

FAVOR committee members plan to discuss the idea at their next meeting, scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2, in the town office. Interested residents and potential volunteers are welcome to attend.

Vassalboro’s website says town residents are invited to participate in a household hazardous waste drop-off Saturday, Oct. 21, in Winslow. Interested people should call Transfer Station Manager George Hamar at 923-3051 for information and to register. (ep)

Two events are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 28, one for cat and dog owners and one for people needing safe disposal for private documents.

Windsor Veterinary Clinic will hold a low-cost rabies clinic from noon to 1 p.m. at the North Vassalboro fire station on Route 32. Cats and dogs can get rabies shots for $15. Dog licenses will be available for people whose dogs are not yet licensed for 2017; the cost is $6 for dogs who have been spayed or neutered and $11 for those who have not.

On Oct. 28 from 8 a.m. to noon, China will host a shredding on site program at the China Public Works garage, on Alder Park Road. Vassalboro selectmen agreed by consensus to pay the requested $100 to let Vassalboro residents participate.

In other business Sept. 21, selectmen held a very short unattended public hearing on amendments to the General Assistance Ordinance appendices and afterward approved the changes.

After Sabins explained new software and training needed to do the bookkeeping required by the town’s auditors, selectmen voted unanimously to authorize the expenditures. Sabins estimated the software will cost $1,500, plus $600 annual maintenance and about $800 for training.

She said two auditors had spent the week reviewing town records. The final report will not be available until school figures, audited by a different company, are available. Selectmen authorized Codes Officer Richard Dolby to institute legal action against the owner of a medical marijuana operation close to Vassalboro Community School. Sabins said Dolby reported the owner has not cooperated with his attempts to determine whether the facility conforms to state requirements.

Selectmen approved an application from a catering service to serve liquor at an Oct. 14 event in North Vassalboro.

Sabins reported the Vassalboro Historical Society declined the town’s offer to sell the former East Vassalboro School to the society for $1. Society officials prefer to continue to lease the building. Sabins will draft a revised lease to clarify maintenance responsibilities.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening, Oct. 5.

Phil Haines, Vassalboro selectman succumbs to illness at 72 years old

Phil Haines
1945 – 2017

VASSALBORO – Dr. Philip “Phil” Wills Haines, 72, passed away Saturday, September 23, 2017, at MaineGeneral Medical Center, in Augusta. He was born July 19, 1945, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the son of Bernard S. and Elizabeth S. (Matlack) Haines.

Phil grew up in Maple Shade, New Jersey, attended Moorestown Friends School (New Jersey) and graduated from Westtown School (Westtown, Pennsylvania) in 1963. Phil then graduated from Union College with a bachelor of science degree in 1967, and earned a master’s degree in chemistry from Purdue University in 1969. Later, in 1982, Phil earned a Doctorate of Public Health from the University of North Carolina.

While working in a chemistry lab at Yale University, Phil met Susan Pitcher, and they married in New Haven in 1970. Phil and Sue moved together to Vassalboro in 1972, buying the home on Bog Road where they raised a family, tended a large vegetable garden, and enjoyed the woods on foot and on crosscountry skis.

Phil was a kind, caring, dedicated leader in the workplace who strove to ensure that his colleagues and associates received the support and recognition they deserved. He worked tirelessly in support of public health across Maine. He was employed by the Maine Bureau of Health in 1972 as a chemist in the Laboratory of Public Health, then promoted to assistant director after earning his doctorate degree, and eventually to Director of the Laboratory of Public Health. He was later promoted to Deputy Director of the Bureau of Public Health and served as acting director for the bureau for periods of time. Dr. Dora Mills, director of the Bureau of Health and a colleague of Phil’s for a number of years remarked that “Dr. Haines was an authentic, thoughtful leader who was dedicated to ensuring everyone received the support they needed to succeed. He worked tirelessly for public health in Maine, including these last few months to protect public health nursing. He also was gifted with a wonderful and contagious smile and laughter that cheered everyone around him.”

Throughout his life, Phil was devoted to both family and community. He energetically supported community and town functions, serving in numerous capacities throughout his life in Maine including: 16 years on the Vassalboro Board of Selectmen, many years on the budget committee and sanitation district trustees; more than 30 years as fireman and as treasurer of the Vassalboro Fire Department; treasurer of the Vassalboro Friends Meeting, Webber Pond Association and Tilton Lane Association; and ten years on Delta Ambulance Board of Directors (including time as President).

Another of Phil’s passions was enjoyment of the outdoors with loved ones. This began with childhood trips to Maine, hiking, canoeing and sailing. Later, Phil and Sue enjoyed introducing these activities to their children, exploring the forest behind their home as well as woods, streams, and mountains across Maine and elsewhere. Particular highlights included numerous trips paddling down the Allagash River, hiking up Mt. Katahdin, camping at Acadia National Park, and sailing on Webber Pond and Penobscot Bay.

Phil is survived by his wife of 47 years, Susan (Pitcher) Haines, of Vassalboro; two sons, Josh Haines and wife Heather, of Acton, Massachusetts, and Seth Haines, of Boulder, Colorado; grandsons, Henry and William Haines, of Acton, Massachusetts.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 30, 2017 from 1 – 2 p.m., at the Vassalboro Community School, under the care of the Vassalboro Friends Meeting. A reception will follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the American Lung Association of Maine, 122 State Street, Augusta, Maine 04330-5689 or the Kennebec Land Trust, PO Box 261, Winthrop, ME 04364.

Vassalboro recognized for supreme annual town report

The municipalities of Caribou, Vassalboro, Mount Desert, Carrabassett Valley and Cranberry Isles were recognized for producing the highest-quality Annual Reports, during recent judging held at Maine Municipal Association.

MMA’s Annual Report Competition, which has been held for 50 years, recognizes municipalities for producing reports for their citizens that have excellent content, are well organized and visually appealing. More than 240 municipalities entered reports this year.

Judges for MMA rate the reports in five population categories: 5,000 and over; 2,500 to 4,999; 1,000 to 2,499; 500 to 999; and, under 500. Awards are named Supreme (first place), Superior (second place) and Excellence (third place) in each category.

Winning municipalities were notified by letter earlier this month. They will be recognized and the reports will be displayed at MMA’s Annual Convention, Oct. 4-5 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Winners by population category were:

  • 5,000 and over: Caribou, Supreme; Freeport, Superior; South Portland, Excellence.
  • 2,500 to 4,999: Vassalboro, Supreme; Mapleton, Castle Hill & Chapman, Superior; Rockport, Excellence.
  • 1,000 to 2,499: Mount Desert, Supreme; Hope and Newcastle (tie), Superior; Easton and Owls Head (tie), Excellence.
  • 500 to 999: Carrabassett Valley, Supreme; Alna, Superior; Southport, Excellence.

Know the signs of peripheral artery disease

For Your Health

(NAPSI)—Many people dis-miss leg pain as a normal sign of aging. But for 8.5 million Americans, the cause of their pain can be a life- or limb-threatening condition called peripheral artery disease (PAD). Everyone, especially those at highest risk, should know the signs of PAD and know how to prevent and treat it. With new drugs on the horizon, health plan coverage for exercise therapy, improvements in procedures to treat advanced disease, and new treatment guidelines for health care providers, there are now more tools than ever to combat this disease. Unfortunately, the disease often goes undetected and untreated although it’s more common than atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

What is PAD?

PAD happens when fatty deposits build up in arteries in the legs and feet. The condition is often undiagnosed, yet ignoring the signs of PAD is dangerous. Not only does it increase your risk for heart attack and stroke, these blockages can restrict circulation to the legs and feet. Left untreated, PAD can end in amputation. Cigarette smokers have the highest risk—so high, in fact, that PAD screening should be routine in smokers. People with diabetes and those with cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pres-sure, obesity or physical inactivity are also at risk.

What can I do about it?

Simple measures can catch PAD before it’s too late. You can manage or reverse it with proper care. If you have risk factors, take your socks off at the doctor’s office. Your socks and shoes cover up many of the signs of this crippling disease:

  • Leg Pain: The most common symptom of peripheral artery disease in the legs is painful muscle cramping in the hips, thighs or calves when walking, climbing stairs or exercising. The pain often goes away after a few minutes of resting. This type of pain is called intermittent claudication. Thanks to a recent ruling, it’s easier for people to keep PAD from getting worse. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services now covers supervised exercise therapy for people with intermittent claudication. You may be eligible for up to 36 sessions during a 12-week period with an optional second round of treatment. Ask your doctor if this therapy is available to you.
  • Skin problems or discoloration on your legs and feet: Be aware of redness or other color changes in the skin on your legs and feet. Temperature changes may also be noticeable—your feet will feel cooler than other parts of your leg.
  • Leg or foot wounds that are slow to heal: If cuts or other wounds on your feet or toes aren’t improving after a couple of weeks, you should ask about PAD.
  • Poor nail growth: Slow-growing or thickened toenails can be a sign of reduced blood flow to the legs and feet.

Even if you aren’t having symptoms, if you have risk factors, you should be screened regularly. Early detection and treatment are key. Speak to your doctor about any problems you’re having with your legs and feet.

Learn More

For more information about PAD management, visit the American Heart Association at www.heart.org/PAD.

Roger Williams University announces spring dean’s list

Select students have been named to the Spring 2017 dean’s list at Roger Williams University, in Bristol, Rhode Island. Full-time students who complete 12 or more credits per semester and earn a GPA of 3.4 or higher are placed on the Dean’s List that semester.

Area students include Jordan King, of Liberty, and Michael Oliveira, of Waterville.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, Week of September 21, 2017

Why was poster removed

To the editor:

I am writing with great disappointment that any individual would remove posters placed for a cause that could benefit many. Two weeks ago I placed posters for the 2017 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at public bulletin boards at the Palermo Town Office and Palermo Post Office. When I went to the Town Office Saturday, Sept. 16, they were both removed. I had not placed them over anything else nor had I taken down anything else, even if it was expired. The boards are public, especially on the post office property, and many non-Palermo events are frequently posted. The walk is a fund-raising activity held in support of Alzheimer’s disease research and these posters were appropriate for the sites. The local Walk is to be held on October 14, 2017, at Head of Falls, in Waterville, and my hope was to encourage participation. Although you may not have suffered the affects of Alzheimer’s personally, odds are that someone in your lifetime –family, friend, co-worker — will and it will touch you, too.

Pat Clark

Contact legislators with your opposition to the opening of Sheepscot dam to alewives and lampreys


by Gary Miller, Longtime Palermo visitor

I’ve been a long time visitor to Palermo, since the ‘70s. We liked Palermo, the people and Sheepscot pond so much that when I retired, we bought a camp on the shores of this beautiful body of water and have spent half our life here for the past 25 years.

Now, in the search of increased power, profits and campaign funds, the powers that be are ganging up on the town of Palermo, Sheepscot Fish & Game Club, the Lake Association, IF&W, who manage the fish nursery and the residents of Palermo and plan to open the lake’s dam to sea lam-prey and alewives. We’ve been down this road before and found nothing but misery; let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past just so those with financial interests can improve their lot at the expense of those who live here.

The stories are available and tell a tale of lamprey becoming “landlocked” and unable to get to the sea. They grow into adult-hood and attack our togue, bass and other sport fish, leaving them weakened and prone to disease. Alwives are not any better, they are toxic to togue, destroying vitamin B-12 and causing early death of the offspring. They also potentially carry PEN, a virus deadly to other fish which would be a disaster for the trout nursery at the foot of our dam and could spread that virus across the state hatchery/nursery system as fish are moved into place. By their sheer numbers, they can over-populate the IF&W nursery, crowding out the trout and requiring routine manual removal at great expense.

LD922, which mandates the opening the dam, without regard to these and other risks, will be brought forward in the next legislative session and all who love the beauty of what we now have need to write their state legislators and demand that nothing be done until the state is allowed to conduct environmental and engineering studies showing the true and complete impacts on our existing fish populations, IF&W operations, boating, swimming and property values. Politicians respond to numbers so we all need to write them and let them know how we all feel. Also, stay informed, watch the Palermo area organizations websites and attend the legislative committee meetings, in Augusta, where the decisions are made. Demand attention and follow up when it isn’t given, a way of life is at stake.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of September 21, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Oh, WALLS, surely you have wondered right along with me about those folks who have chosen to be in Florida-territory or in the Houston, Texas, area in recent weeks. Maybe we Mainers don’t have anyone in the Houston vicinity, but Florida and the Islands in the Caribbean have caused many of our faithful readers to suffer anxiety.

Well, our next-door neighbor who went to Jacksonville to help his son, Andrew, wife Jamie, and new baby son Madis throughout the preparations for the coming storm, is home and all are safe. Drew did tell us that some trees were victims of the hurricane, but he said they were lucky. Now, we hear of more hurricanes, so we’ll keep praying for everyone who has become a victim and who may be destined to have more destruction. Yes, donations of much needed objects for living through such destruction that has created hard times for folks will be needed for years. Sad. Yes, truly sad. We will definitely be asked to share as time goes by, for sure.

Speaking of sharing. Yes, even here in Maine we have opportunities to help. In fact, WALLS, you know of the thrift shops that have become part of our landscape in recent years. I am reminded of my young years and my parents who brought me up to ‘pay for whatever I would buy, and we should buy only what we need and not what we want.

Actually, WALLS and faithful readers, we should all live by those words. We read of every-one’s raising dollars to help folks in need of things, and health and our public places. Our thanks for folks and their caring is much deserved.

While you are about it, WALLS, we have to thanks folks who, throughout the last weeks have taken animals to their homes. Kindness seems to have been awakened by so many and for so many reasons and we have been so fortunate to hear about it. Y’know, WALLS, last week you reminded folks to say ‘thank you’…so now it is you saying ‘thanks’ to our faithful readers who have been willing to share so much with so

SOLON & BEYOND, Week of September 21, 2017

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

Good morning, dear friends. Don’t worry, be happy!

The K-5 students at Solon Elementary School will visit Lakewood Theater on September 21st to attend their fall production of “The Untold Story of Johnny Appleseed and Jane Peach Pitt,” performed by the Lakewood Jesters. This is the 19th year that Lakewood has produced a show specially customized for elementary students.

The play lasts about an hour, and students get to interact with the performers during the show and meet them after the show. We are fortunate to have this historic theater so close to home. Parents are welcome to join them on this trip. Thanks to the PTO for funding the admission for the students.

As the new year begins, we hope to see all of our students set a goal to have a good rate of attendance. It is very important for students to be in school to gain the maximum benefit from their educational experience. Unless students are ill or there is a family emergency, they need to be in school. We ask that parents try to schedule routine doctor or dentist appointments after school hours as often as possible.

Punctuality is also a key to a successful school year. Our buses arrive between 7:20 and 7:40 in the morning. If you bring your child to school, please be sure that he or she arrives by 7:45 in order to be ready when teachers start their classes at 7:50. A student who arrives late misses important learning time.

There are several testing pro-grams scheduled for our students this fall. Students in grades K-1 will be given the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) assessment in September to help us identify students who might need extra help to enable them to reach bench-marks for their grade level in reading by the end of the year. They will be assessed again in January and in May.

All first grade students are given the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) to help us monitor their reading achievement and design pro-grams to increase their reading skills. We also give this test to new students and those who have received Title 1 services in the past.

All students in grades K-5 Took the Measures of Academic Progress from Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) last spring. This test will be given again in reading and math in the spring to assess student’s progress over the course of the school year. Kindergartners, third graders, and new students will take the test this fall, and teachers can choose to test their students in the fall and the winter if they choose to do so to monitor students’ progress.

In the spring, our students in grades 3-5 will participate in the Maine Educational Assessment (MEA), taking tests in reading, writing, and math. Fifth graders will also take a science test.

If you have any questions about any of these assessments, please contact Ms. Butler at 643-2491.

Stewart Public Library in North Anson hours are now Wednesday, 2 – 5 p.m., and Saturday, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m., or by appointment.

Lief and I took our paintings over to North New Portland one day last week to exhibit in their annual fair. I was really proud and impressed with the Solon Pine Tree 4-H Club exhibit, a lot of time and energy went into it. Was glad to see that the Solon Extension had a really nice exhibit also. All of the exhibits were excellent and the North New Portland Fair is still a wonderful family fair.

And now for Percy’s memoir entitled Masterworks: “In Autumn when the leaves turn brown And red and gold, they all fall down To paint a picture, oh so rare! I know that God is there… To mastermind His ebb and flow; To stage His wondrous Autumn show, To brush His skies with molten gold; I watch His art unfold.. No grander sight could I behold: These leaves of brown and red and gold. But Winter bodes its icy chills Upon the snow-clad hills. In time the land, a living scene, Comes bursting forth in savage green; And I con-front the seasons’ thieves That took my Autumn leaves. But soon a softness in the air! God paints a picture, oh so rare Of Autumn leaves that all tun brown And red and gold as they fall down. (words by Henry W. Gurley.)