Howe defends position in legal controversy with town

Ralph Howe, one of the four candidates for a one-year term as selectman, is involved in a legal controversy with the town, which will come before the Board of Appeals at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2. Board of Appeals meetings are open to the public. Howe is appealing rulings by Codes Officer Paul Mitnick that he has expanded his business, Bio Renewable Fuels Corp (BRF), without planning board approval and is therefore in violation of town ordinances. Through his lawyer, Howe claimed at the Oct. 2 selectmen’s meeting that he has not expanded the business, and since previous Codes Officer Scott Pierz approved what he is doing, he does not need a permit now. In the appeals board filing, Howe’s attorney, Kristin Collins, of Preti-Flaherty, writes that BRF has had wastewater treatment lagoons and storage tanks on the property at 168 Weeks Mills Road since 2012.

BRF was not required to get a commercial permit to start operations and, Collins writes, received a 2012 building permit to add 4,400 square feet to an existing building and a 2015 building permit for a 25-by-40-foot water treatment building “without being required to obtain approval of a new or expanded commercial use.”

Collins writes that BRF has a state waste discharge license that “covers the entire property and all of BRF’s wastewater disposal and treatment activities at the property.”

CHINA: Eight candidates seek three seats on selectboard; two running for planning board

by Mary Grow

Two dozen China voters took advantage of a chance to meet and question candidates for local office at an Oct. 22 forum sponsored by the China Village Library.

Attending were all eight candidates for three seats on the board of selectmen and one of the two candidates for planning board District 1.

Candidates for two three-year terms as selectmen are:

  • Incumbent Irene Belanger, retired real estate agent, Ingraham Road resident who has lived in China since 1969 and has been on town committees and boards almost since she arrived, including the planning board and board of selectmen;
  • Incumbent Ronald Breton, Lakeview Drive, an Augusta native and China resident for 32 years, retired since 2008 after a career as a federal employee including 34 years in the Department of Veterans Affairs at Togus, also a former planning board member;
  • Frederick Glidden, China native, retired from the Merchant Marine, who said he is running for selectman because his family told him to “stop bitchin’ and start doing something”; and
  • Former Selectman Robert MacFarland, Alder Park Road resident and self-employed contractor.
    Candidates to serve the final year of retiring board member Joann Austin’s term are: • Wayne Chadwick, Palermo native who’s lived in China more than 30 years, self-employed excavation contractor;
  • Randall Downer, 19-year Neck Road resident, New York native, computing manager for Colby College who hopes if elected to emulate Austin’s qualities: “respectful, polite and a good listener”;
  • Ralph Howe, owner of Bio Renewable Fuels on Dirigo Road, who has spent his whole life in China except for six years in the army; and
  • Donna Mills-Stevens, owner with her husband of Stevens Dairy Farm on Pleasant View Ridge Road since 1995, assistant vice-president of Bar Harbor Bank and Trust with 20 years’ experience in banking.

Steven Hadsell and Kevin Michaud seek the District 1 Planning Board position from which James Wilkens is retiring. Hadsell was not at the forum.

  • Michaud, a Maple Ridge Road resident since 2003, has spent more than 30 years in education and is now director of the Waldo County Technical Center in Waldo.

Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux moderated the hour-and-a-half hour presentation and discussion, which repeatedly came back to two themes: China’s future should include more small businesses to meet local needs and to add to the tax base; and selectmen are not all-powerful, but are instruments of the voters’ will, so voters should educate themselves about town affairs, attend more meetings and express their views. Belanger endorsed small businesses, and pointed out that larger ones whose owners were respectful of neighborhood and town needs and wishes could also fit in – for example, the once-opposed Hannaford supermarket.

Breton recommended businesses, affordable housing, a health care clinic, children’s programs and maybe a youth center.

Glidden listed small machine shops or a meat market as examples of businesses that might be welcome.

MacFarland thinks China’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) money should be used to promote small businesses. He would like to see local businesses provide the services for which residents now travel to Waterville and Augusta.

Chadwick supports both more housing and small business, but pointed out few small business owners can afford to provide the benefits that will attract young workers. Downer would like to see diverse residential development as a contributor to the tax base.

Howe said China’s reputation for being anti-business should be corrected. He believes TIF money and grants should be used to attract investors for projects like senior citizens’ housing near Hannaford, and that TIF funds should be used in ways that encourage repayment, not for projects like the causeway bridge. He called for an end to the Not in My Back Yard (NIMBY) attitude. Mills-Stevens thinks China should take more opportunities to seek state and federal grants, an area in which she has expertise. She proposed more local business and entertainment, like parks and a community center. The town-owned former subdivision near the north end of Lakeview Drive might be a good site for such improvements, she suggested.

Michaud called for making the town more business-friendly, suggested trying to get more use out of the China Conference Center buildings on Neck Road and proposed “small manufacturing where appropriate.” Retiring Planning Board Chairman Wilkens asked all the candidates whether, when quality of life and location of a new business conflicted, their priority would be quality of life or business. He got four different answers:

Glidden, Mills-Stevens, Downer and Michaud would all choose quality of life, with Downer adding “under the rule of law.” Howe replied that a “business was a greater public benefit than a handful of negatively impacted neighbors.”

Breton said firmly, “Both” and did not expand his answer.

Belanger, MacFarland and Chadwick said each decision would have to be made on a case-by-case basis.

Asked more specifically about zoning as a means to separate residential and business areas, only Downer and Michaud were willing to consider it, with the understanding that it would be complicated to define and implement if voters approved it.

Discussion of business development led to a discussion of China’s comprehensive plan. The 2008 plan needs to be updated in 2018, Belanger said.

To objections that the 2008 plan was never implemented, Belanger and Breton said selectmen and an Implementation Committee proposed several measures and voters consistently rejected them.

Chadwick and Howe said the plan is too long and contains too much that is irrelevant to China. Belanger replied most of the irrelevant material is required by the state – and, she said, towns without a state-approved plan are disadvantaged when they apply for state grants.

Proposals for encouraging participation and educating voters included several candidates’ recommendation that the town collect email addresses, perhaps at the polls, and send email notices of selectboard, planning board and other meetings. Use of social media was also recommended.

A suggestion of notices in the Central Maine newspapers was countered by Howe’s suggestion that the money they would cost be used instead to subsidize mail delivery of The Town Line, which Breton said selectmen made the town paper some years ago when it was mailed weekly.

Howe thought coffee and donuts would be an inexpensive way to make residents feel more welcome at board meetings, and MacFarland, less seriously, proposed “a keg of beer.”

Glidden and Chadwick were pessimistic about getting people routinely involved. People are too busy to come to a meeting unless an issue affects them, Glidden said. Downer suggested that before each town meeting, warrant articles and explanatory material be posted on the website, so voters would arrive informed and meetings might be shorter.

Chadwick, Howe and MacFarland all called in their opening statements for “common sense in spending” taxpayers’ money. Former Selectman MacFarland thinks board members do use common sense and do a good job of carrying out voters’ policies; Chadwick and Howe see room for improvement.

Glidden and Mills-Stevens also had reservations. Mills-Stevens said selectmen listen to residents but don’t always follow through and Glidden cited examples of their acting against voters’ will, for example by installing cameras at the transfer station.

China voters will decide among the candidates at the polls on Nov. 7. There are also state questions, three local referendum questions and a school bond issue on the ballots. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the former portable classroom behind the town office on Lakeview Drive. Absentee ballots are available through Thursday, Nov. 2, at the town office.

Obituaries, Week of October 26, 2017


COOPERS MILLS––Mary Lorette MacMillan, 99, died on Sunday, October 1, 2017, at Country Manor Nursing Home, in Coopers Mills. She was born in Waterville on September 28, 1918, the daughter of Adelard and Clara (Pooler) Labbe.

She was educated in local schools and was a graduate of Thomas College, in Waterville.

She was employed for many years as manager at Knowles and Dressel, in Skowhegan, and was a 13-year member of the Rebekah’s Society.

Mary was predeceased by her husband, Reginald MacMillan Sr.; her stepson, Reginald MacMillan Jr.; and her sister, Cecile Betit.

Mary is survived by her nephew, Richard Grenier, of Winslow; her niece, RaeJean Beane, of Moscow; her daughter-in-law, Ernestine MacMillan, of Skowhegan; two granddaughters, Carol Pavone, of Farmingdale, and Judy Clark, of Skowhegan; three great-grandchildren, Ashley and Gretchen Clark and Monica Kittredge; and nine great-great-grandchildren.


OAKLAND––Nick E. Harvey, 45, died suddenly Monday, October 2, 2017. Nick was born June 24, 1972, in Hawaiian Gardens, California.

He graduated from Silver Creek High School in 1990. Immediately following his graduation he enlisted in the United States Navy where he served for nearly 17 years. Nick was a veteran of Desert Storm. His time in the Navy eventually lead him to the state of Maine where he started his own business, Harvey Construction. In recent years he found much enjoyment in his new career as a truck driver.

He was very patriotic and loved spending time and volunteering with his friends from the Oakland Legion Post#51. Nick was very passionate about the Navy and met many friends throughout his years of service.

Many of Nick’s favorite activities included playing darts and pool. He loved using his hands to build and fix things like his new truck and doing renovations in his home. Nick was a kind hearted man, always lending a hand when he could.

He was predeceased by his sister, Carrie Harvey; and his grandfather, Francis Carter.

He is survived by his mother, Anna Harvey; his sister, Lisa Harvey; his wife, Neecko Harvey; his son, Erik Harvey; his daughters, Samantha and Victoria Harvey; his step-daughters, Abbyjoi Dungan and Willow Blanchette; his grandchildren, Finn Aresnault and Caius Frankel.


ALBION––Catherine M. Marden, 92, passed away on Thursday, October 12, 2017. Catherine was born in Portland to Wilbur and Eva Moses.

After high school, she attended and graduated with honors from the nursing program at the University of Maine in Orono. She met Mickey Marden at the University of Maine; they married December 19, 1948.

While Mickey built the family business, she selflessly raised their five children, tended gardens, canned vegetables, and was a solid and steadying presence in the family. Countless mittens, sweaters and hats were knit, many a chocolate birthday cake was devoured, Thanksgiving and Christmas tables were laden with delights from Mama’s kitchen.

Books, more books and Scrabble games were a joy to Mama.

After child-raising years and assisting Mickey as he built the business, winters were enjoyed in Englewood, Florida. She loved the beaches, shells she collected, southern plants, walks on nature trails near the condominium, and art lessons.

After Mickey’s death in 2002, she continued to enjoy Florida winters.

Wild flowers, fleecy clouds, ferns, fall leaves, birds, books, knitting, painting and family genealogy were enjoyed. She was private, independent, contented, and frugal.

Close proximity blessed her Hutchins and Willey great-grandchildren who will fondly remember her. They delighted her with mischievous ways, bunches of wild flowers, bird feathers, laughter, insects and rocks.

Her last months were spent at Lakewood, in Waterville.

She was predeceased by her parents; two sisters; her husband Mickey; and first-born Nancy.

Catherine is survived by daughter Martha and husband Brent Hutchins; sons, David and wife Sigrid, John and wife Jane, and Ham and wife Lois; along with 10 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; and her brother-in-law John Crumpton, who blessed her with faithful visits.

An online guestbook may be signed and memories shared at:

Memorial donations may be made to Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, or Albion Lions Club, Christmas Project, c/o Mr. and Mrs. Vite Vitale, P.O. Box 25, Albion ME 04910.


VASSALBORO––Maralyn W. Mitchell died on Saturday, October 13, 2017. Born in Madison, on June 27, 1941, to the late Garth W. and Mary M. Collins, she was the second among seven children: Jacquelyn Steward, Elayne Charron, John Collins, Garth Colling Jr., Roxanne Cannon, and Rhonda Stewart.

In 1958 she married “the boy next door,” Bradford Mitchell, and over the past 59 (plus) years they built a family, including their six children and spouses: Scott Mitchell, Linda and Mike Dickey, Catherine and Ikuo Seki, Stephen and Cheryl Mitchell, Robin and Clint Walker, and Jennifer and Corey Hight. She enjoyed working with her hands––from sewing quilts for her grandchildren and teaching her children to knit, to creating flower arrangements and baking delicious wedding cakes. She cultivated beautiful flower gardens, and her melodic alto voice blessed many as she sang––with family, in church choirs, and with the King’s Men Gospel Quartet.

Maralyn’s love for her Saviour, Jesus Christ, was the motivation for everything she did. She taught the gospel at the Sunday School, Children’s Church, VBS, Good News Club, homeschool co-op, and Christian School. She imparted patience and grace to all who knew her.

Her legacy continues with 14 grandchildren and their spouses: Luke and Shelly Mitchell, Jacob and Shannon Mitchell, Joshua and Kristina Mitchell, Amanda and Matthew Smith, Zachary and Natasha Dickey, Hannah and Geoffrey Winkler, Ryan and Jenacy Mitchell, Rachael Mitchell, Dennis and Emily Walker, Margo and Eric Hardy, Anna and Jessie Champagne, emily McKenney, Joshua McKenney, and Jackson Hight; and 15 great-grandchildren; also Maralyn will be missed by many nieces and nephews; Brad’s brother and his wife Rodney and Dottie Mitchell.

Memorial donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 15829, Arlington, VA 22215.


OAKLAND––Dana V. Gallagher, 80, died Saturday, October 14, 2017, at Bedside Manor, in Oakland. He was born December 29, 1936, in Waterville, the son of Beecher and Dorothy (Brann) Gallagher.

Dana graduated from Williams High School in 1955.

He ended his employment for many dedicated years at the Chinet Company, formerly Keyes Fibre, in Waterville. The highlights of his life were his wife, Muriel, of 37 years and family. He enjoyed spending time in Eustis where he helped build the family camp with his Dad, where he enjoyed hunting fishing and many vacations with family and friends. He loved working outdoors cutting wood and doing the upkeep of his and his children’s properties.

Dana was predeceased by his parents; his wife; and his in-laws.

Dana is survived by three children, daughter Brenda Gallagher Thomas, of Sidney; son Clayton Gallagher and his wife April, and son Dean Gallagher and his wile Melinda, all of Oakland; seven grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

An online guestbook may be signed at

Memorial donations may be made to Bedside Manor, P.O. Box 603, Oakland ME 04963 or, The Alzheimer Association.


WINDSOR––Carolyn Cole “Kelly” Lane, 73, of Windsor, passed away unexpectedly at her home on Saturday, October 14, 2017. She was born on October 19, 1942, in Gardiner, the daughter of Max and Alberta Pushard Cole.

Kelly received her diploma from Cony High School, in Augusta. She was employed for many years at the former Carlton Woolen Mills, in Winthrop. Kelly enjoyed baking homemade breads, canning relishes, knitting socks and mittens, gardening, and watching sports. Her kitchen was always open and there was always something to snack on.

Kelly was predeceased by her husband of 50 years, Robert L. Lane Sr.

She is survived by her four children, Kevin and his wife Diane, of West Gardiner, Robert Jr. and his wife Beth, of Chelsea, Kim Belanger and her husband Tom, of Belgrade, and Elizabeth Cumber and her husband Jay, of Fayette; four step-children, Norman, of Falmouth, Massachusetts, Roy and his wife Meg, of Belgrade, Andy and his wife Judy, of Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania, and Linda Veilleux and her husband Gary, of Augusta; her sister and two brothers, Shirley Taylor, of Belleview, Florida, Bernard Cole, of Augusta, and Stanley Cole, of Fayette; 19 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.


WINSLOW––Leonel E. Libby, 83, passed away Saturday, October 14, 2017, at Mount Saint Joseph nursing home in Waterville, following a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Leonel was born on May 21, 1934, in Winslow, a son of Alphonse and Roseanna (Paradis) Labbe.

He graduated from Winslow High School, class of 1954.

Leonel had been employed at Levine’s Clothing Store, in Waterville, for 45 years, retiring in April 1996. He was a member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, in Winslow. He was a chartered member of the Winslow Jaycees, the Lions Club and the Waterville Elks Club #905.

He enjoyed bowling and playing cards, especially cribbage, pool and making puzzles. He was a big fan (die Hard) of the Giants, the Patriots and the Red Sox. He enjoyed his grandchildren and loved family gatherings.

He was predeceased by four sisters, Ida May Hallee, Jeffrine Bouchard, Cecile Patrie, Lorette Roy; six brothers, Ovide Libby, Laurier Libby, Raymond Libby, Fernand Libby, Emile Libby and Victor Labbe.

Leonel is survived by his wife of 61 years, Donna (morn) Libby, of Winslow; his two daughters, Melissa Routhier and her husband James, of Vassalboro, Celeste Dechaine and her husband Bruce, of Winslow; his son Mark Libby and wife Lynn, of Vassalboro; his grandchildren, Jason Rodrique and his partner Adam Smith, Nicole Hawkins and her husband James, Ryan Deschaine and his wife Alison, Stephanie Marcoux and husband Bradley, Brett Libby; his step-grandchildren, Jamie Routhier, Jessica Routhier, Danielle Dechaine, Cassandra Dechaine; great-grandson Cooper Routhier Starkey; great-granddaughter Aria Marcoux; many nieces and nephews; one brother Robert Libby, of Enfield, Connecticut; and sister-in-law Carmen Audet Libby, of Farmington, Connecticut.

Please visit to view a video collage of Leonel’s life and to share condolences, memories and tributes with his family.

Donations may be made in his memory to: Alzheimer’s Association, Maine Chapter, 383 US Route One, Suite 2C, Scarborough ME 04074.


VASSALBORO – Kathleen “Katie” A. Dunn, 56, passed away Tuesday, October 17, 2017, at her home, in Vassalboro. She was born the oldest of five children in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Her family moved around in her younger years, which played a large part in shaping her world view. She spent two years in France where she learned the language, marveled at the museums, and attended a French high school. She also spent a large part of her childhood in Vermont, where she developed a fondness for New England. This appreciation inspired her to attend Colby College, in Waterville, where she in turn fell in love with Central Maine.

In the mid-’80s, Katie met her best friend and life partner, Ron, and they traveled together through Georgia and Florida planting trees, eventually traversing the country to settle in Northern California. Their daughter Eileen was born and shortly after, Katie and Ron realized how much they missed Maine, so they then moved back to Central Maine where they had their son Tyler. After working as a chef and server at The Last Unicorn, Katie pursued her passion for literature and education and started her career as a teacher while also pursuing multiple graduate degrees. After four years teaching at Williams Junior High, in Oakland, she landed at Waterville Senior High School, where she taught English for 19 years. Katie was passionately invested in the community at WSHS, with her years on the School Leadership Team, and as the advisor of both the school newspaper and the school’s Gay/Straight Alliance.

Katie spent decades traveling and experiencing nature in some of the most beautiful places, for which she had an enduring admiration; from her second home in Carrabassett Valley to Costa Rica, Utah, Colorado, the National Park system and beyond, she skied, paddled, biked, and hiked her way around the world. She loved education, and was committed to the growth and well-being of each of her students. She will be lovingly remembered by the many souls whose lives she touched throughout the years, but especially by her husband Ron, her daughter Eileen, and her son Tyler.

Memorial donations may be made to Maine Family Planning, Hardy Girls Healthy Women, or the Mid Maine Homeless Shelter, and/or are encouraged to think of her next time they see a beautiful flower or tree.

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


FAIRFIELD – Herman J. Willette, 76, died on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, at Inland Hospital, in Waterville, following a long illness. He was born August 13, 1941, in Waterville, the son of Eugene and Odile (Levesque) Willette.

After being educated in Waterville schools, he started working at the Lambert Farm. After working on the farm and trucking wood chip all over the state to chicken farmers, he began roofing and worked for Altas Roofing. Then he worked as a foreman at Drew’s Roofing Company until they closed. He continued working for Local #1284, helping to build what is now SAPPI, in Hinckley. He began his own family roofing business, and with the help of a few employees, continued to help Project Local Homes until a second heart attack prohibited him from working any longer.

Herman loved hunting and fishing, going to camp where he enjoyed to BBQ, playing horseshoes, and spending time with family. He and Joanne put together extravagant Christmas Eve parties for family and friends. He loved a good joke and was quick to laugh. Lake St. George State Park held a lot of great memories for him.

He is survived by three sons, Richard Willette, of Fairfield, Jamie Willette and wife Laurie, of Windham, Jimi Willette, of Portland; three sisters, Linda Fortin and husband Richard, of Oakland, Angela Buker, of Clinton, and Cindy Gandee and husband Wesley, of Fort Worth, Texas; brother, Roger Willette and wife Jennifer, of Windham, Connecticut; sisters and brothers-in-law, Frances and Lionel “Butchie” Marcoux, of Sidney, Alfred “Sonny” Vigue, of Waterville; four grandsons, Phillip Willette, of Waterville, Jason Willette, of Gorham, Justin Willette, of Gray, and Michael Willette, of Windham; five great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his wife Joanne Willette; parents, Eugene and Odlie Willette; sisters, Phyllis Munster, Joyce Beaudoin, Gloria Vigue; brothers, Eugene, James and Stanley.

Memorial donations may be made to the American Red Cross, PO Box 37839, Boone, IA 50037-0839

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


WINDSOR––Michael R. Wescott, of Windsor, 56, passed away on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, following a brief battle with cancer. He was born Iain Danville, Virginia, on September 23, 1961.

He attended Erskine Academy, in South China, later obtaining his GED. Besides being self-employed, doing many different types of work, he had been employed by J. C. Stone.

He was predeceased by his father, Robert Michael Wescott.

He is survived by his mother, Nanette (Crane) Wescott; his sons, Jason Wescott, of Austin, Texas, Joshua Wescott, of Windsor; his partner Cheryl Young, of Windsor; his brother Richard Wescott and his partner Ivana Wilson, of Windsor; his sister Marcia (Wescott) Luszczki and her husband Carl, of Manchester; and one grandson Ellis Wescott, of Austin, Texas.

Three candidates vie for vacant selectman’s seat in Vassalboro

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro voters will choose among three candidates to serve on the Board of Selectmen until June 2018, finishing the late Philip Haines’ term. The candidates are Larisa (Reese) Batchelder, Lewis (Lew) Devoe and John Melrose.

When Batchelder ran unsuccessfully for the selectboard in June, she was 38 years old, a resident of Main Street, in East Vassalboro, since December 2015. She listed her occupation as co-owner of Cozy Barn Antiques and mentioned her education in political science.

Her goal in running for selectman, she said, was “to open communication between the community and the board of selectman. I want to have an open mind when listening to the community and only make decisions after they have been heard, not before.”

She added, “I want to be sure that our small town government is free of cliques that can hinder good choices and cause favoritism. My aim is to vote according to the law and the people of Vassalboro of whom I would represent.”

Devoe, 69, is a Gray Road resident who has lived in Vassalboro for 38 years. He is a veteran, and is retired after 34 years as first a Maine Facilities Manager for New Balance factories, warehouses and retail stores and then a Maintenance Process Manager for Scott Paper Company.

He has been a state-licensed master electrician for 44 years and has experience in planning, project management, security, loss prevention, safety and environmental issues. He and his wife Deb have three grown sons.

Devoe listed three goals he would pursue if elected selectman: understand and oversee budgets using his business skills, like experience with utility costs; increase publicity for meetings and agendas; and coach town employees on ways to reduce energy costs.

Melrose, 66, lives on the Bog Road and has been a Vassalboro resident for 41 years. He recently retired from the Eaton Peabody Consulting Group, after a 44-year career working with municipalities that included seven years with the Maine Municipal Association, 20 years running his own company, Maine Tomorrow, and eight years as Governor King’s Commissioner of Transportation. Governor LePage has appointed him chairman of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which is in charge of the Amtrak Downeaster.

Melrose thinks Vassalboro benefits from good leadership on the board of selectmen and the school board. He believes town officials and residents can “creatively solve problems through consensus” while keeping the tax rate low and providing good services. If elected, he plans to use his experience to “constructively build on these strengths of our community.”

Vassalboro polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 7 at the town office. Absentee ballots are available at the office during office hours until Nov. 2.

Vassalboro Junkyard/hobbyist permits granted by selectmen

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen approved nine annual renewals of junkyard and auto hobbyist permits, after receiving no comments at a short Oct. 19 hearing that was part of their regular meeting.

Auto graveyard/junkyard permits went to James Cogley, Ron’s Parts Inc. on Main Street (Route 32); Dale Clement, Bondo’s Garage on Taber Hill Road; Bill Pullen, Freddie’s Service Center on South Stanley Hill Road; Stanley Garnett, Garnett’s Motors on North Belfast Ave (Route 3); Olin Charette, Weeks Mills Garage on Riverside Drive (Route 201); and Voit Ritch, Autowerke on Route 3.

Auto hobbyist permits were approved for Keith Lemieux on Priest Hill Road, James Jurdak on Baker Road and Robert Dore on Church Hill Road.

Most of the other business on Oct. 19 consisted of authorizing expenditures for other town bodies.

Steve Polley received approval to buy a shipping container for storage of recreation equipment, using money from the Recreation Committee’s donation fund.

Polley presented price quotes ranging from $3,700 to more than $4,000. Town Manager Mary Sabins said he needed the selectmen to waive the requirement in the town purchasing policy that any purchase over $2,500 be bid out.

Selectmen agreed getting the quotes met the spirit of the policy and unanimously authorized Polley to go ahead.

Polley commended Road Commissioner Eugene Field for “a great job” grading the parking lot at the recreation fields.

Selectmen also authorized the Vassalboro Volunteer Fire Department to use $2,800 from sale of an old fire truck to buy a new base radio. Voters at the June town meeting authorized selectmen to approve spending the money on equipment for the department’s new truck; selectmen figured fire department members know their priorities.

In other business, board members reviewed Sabins’ draft revised lease with the Vassalboro Historical Society for continued use of the former East Vassalboro schoolhouse and approved forwarding it to society officials.

Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus reported on a Vassalboro Sanitary District meeting earlier in the week at which officials presented plans for connecting Vassalboro’s sewer system with Winslow and Waterville. He said they told affected residents who will be asked for easements to allow minor work on their land and who will be able – but unless septic systems are failing, not required – to hook into the expanded system.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting will be Thursday evening, Nov. 2. The board currently has two members; on Nov. 7, Vassalboro voters will choose one of three candidates – Larisa Batchelder, Lewis Devoe and John Melrose – to finish the final year of the late Philip Haines’ term on the board.

Vassalboro Board members discuss dissolution of AOS #92

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro School Board members discussed two main topics at their Oct. 17 meeting, the potential dissolution of Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 92 (the school unit combining Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow) and Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) scores for Vassalboro Community School students. The first issue is full of uncertainties; the second pleased them.

AOS Superintendent Eric Haley shared estimated financial consequences if the AOS were to dissolve. Assuming existing funds were divided among the three member school boards in the same proportion as each municipality contributes to school funding, and further assuming Vassalboro were to contract with a remodeled AOS business office in Waterville, Haley projects Vassalboro would gain financially.

Business services, which could be done in-house or by contract with Waterville or some other center, could include payroll, accounts payable, and support for special education, curriculum, transportation, technology and maintenance. Were the AOS to dissolve and were Waterville to become a school business center, some of the AOS staff who currently perform these services might stay on – or might not.

State law proposes creation of regional service centers, known as SMLCs – School Management and Leadership Centers. At a conference earlier this fall, lawyers advised superintendents not to rush to create or join an SMLC, since state law has been known to change.

School board members discussed other assumptions and various leadership combinations. For example, the Vassalboro school might have one person who was both principal and superintendent, or a full-time principal plus a part-time superintendent, with the latter perhaps shared with another town. Any change, Haley said, will require preparation of a plan that is approved by the local school board(s), the state Department of Education and, in Vassalboro, a local referendum. Haley is thinking about a June 2018 referendum vote in Vassalboro, and is also thinking about preparing two 2018-19 budgets, one with and one without the AOS. One change at Vassalboro Community School is certain: Principal Dianna Gram is retiring at the end of the school year.

Gram shared with school board members charts illustrating Vassalboro students’ scores on the MEA tests taken by grades three through eight last spring. In general, scores compare well to neighboring schools’ scores and to state expectations, in both this year’s scores and improvement over last year.

The best score was earned by sixth-graders on the English Language Arts and literacy test: 70 percent scored at or above state expectations. Seventh-graders did almost as well on the same test, scoring 69 percent at or above expectations.

Fifth-graders had the lowest scores in both language and mathematics. Gram suggested possible explanations and plans for further investigation. She reminded board members that each year students move in and out, so there are different students in each grade.

The “state expectations” to which student performance is compared are described on the state Department of Education (DOE) website by phrases like “understanding of essential concepts” and “understanding of knowledge and skills needed to reach learning targets for achievement relative to” Maine standards.

In response to an inquiry, AOS Curriculum Coordinator Mary Boyle forwarded a 300-page DOE report describing how the standards were established by panels of educators following a protocol. The document is “eMPowerME ELA/Literacy and Mathematics Assessment Standard Setting Report,” prepared in August 2016.

School Board Chairman Kevin Levasseur congratulated students and staff on the good scores. Gram thanked board members for their support and Boyle for help with curriculum improvement.

In other business, school board members appointed Betty Bowen, of Vassalboro, as a bus driver and accepted the resignation of driver Eric Green, who was praised as “one of the best” by Assistant Principal Aaron McCullough.

The next Vassalboro School Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, Nov. 14, a week earlier than usual because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting canceled

The Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting scheduled for Thursday evening, Nov. 2, has been canceled due to lack of agenda items. The next regular selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16.

Eagle Scout project in South China

Aiden Pettengill’s Eagle Project was at the new location for the South China Library. His project was to design and build a reading outdoor station. His final design included clearing a space under a large tree, having two benches built, two large flower beds surrounded by two layers of round rocks. He had many donated flowers and bulbs to plant. Thanks to all the Scouts and Leaders that came this morning to work under his leadership. The library, Scout leaders, town residents and parents should be very pleased with the results.

Photo courtesy of Ron Emery, Troop #479

Local businesses team up to help veterans in need

Pictured, from left to right, Lance Gilman, president & CEO – IGT Retirement Solutions, Sharon Leighton, winner of the fundraiser vacation package, Penny Morris, owner of Penny’s Barbershop, in Augusta, Judi Gilman, owner of Sunset Pine Cottages, in China.
Contributed photo

For the past three years Penny’s Barbershop in Augusta has sponsored initiatives to help veterans in need. In those three years, Penny and her team have raised nearly $10,000 to help veterans. This year her goal is to raise at least $3,500. All of the money she raises goes either directly to veterans or to organizations that directly support veterans. The goal for this year, set at $3,500, is for a distinct purpose: $3,500 is the exact amount that is required to provide one fully-trained service dog to a veteran requiring such help or support. Both the service dog and training are fully covered for the veteran. Once an application is received, K9s On The Front Line (a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization out of Portland) will schedule the training for both the veteran selected and the service dog to complete a 16-week training program. Then the service dog will remain with the veteran after the training to help them.

This year, IGT Retirement Solutions, LLC, a retirement planning and Investment firm located in China, sponsored a one-week vacation at Sunset Pine Cottages, also on China Lake, to help in Penny’s fundraising efforts. This was one of many prizes people could buy raffle-tickets for to have a shot at the prize. Lance Gilman, President & CEO of IGT Retirement Solutions, is a veteran and was very glad to sponsor the one-week vacation at Sunset Pines to help raise money for the initiative.

This year’s winner of the vacation package was Sharon Leighton. Sharon was delighted to have won the vacation package and to support the efforts as well. “It’s been over ten years since I have had a vacation. This is great!” Sharon said. “I am also glad to have contributed to this worthy cause.”

The group has raised approximately $3,200 to date. They need about $300 more to meet their $3,500 goal, which will provide one fully-trained service dog to a veteran in need. If you would like to contribute to this noble effort, please contact Penny’s Barber Shop, located at 173 State Street, in Augusta, by calling 207-380-6224. You can also make a tax-deductible contribution by making a check payable to “K9s On The Front Line” and bringing it to Penny’s Barber Shop.

On Saturday, November 11 (Veterans Day) Penny will be offering free haircuts to any veteran. All proceeds from other haircuts completed on Veterans Day will be added to the amount donated to support this initiative.

The final proceeds for Penny’s fund raising efforts will be tallied and given to K9s On The Front Line on the Monday after Veterans day. The veteran selected to receive the service dog will be selected at that time. Please help however you can in this effort. If you are a veteran – thank you! If not, please be sure to reach out to thank one for their service to our country on Veterans Day.

China Selectmen make three decisions by vote

by Mary Grow

China selectmen made three decisions by vote, one by consensus and one by lack of objection at their Oct. 16 meeting.

They voted unanimously to appropriate up to $7,500 from their contingency fund to finish work on a new entrance to the basement of the old town house beside the town office. The final steps to make the entrance meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards include paving and a roof over the entrance.

Selectmen agreed earlier this year to rent the basement to The Town Line newspaper. Another decision was a 4-1 vote to appropriate up to $750 for China’s share of a shredding on-site program to be run Saturday, Oct. 28, from 8 a.m. to noon at the public works garage on Alder Park Road. Neighboring towns are contributing to the cost so their residents can also bring confidential documents to be safely destroyed. Jeffrey LaVerdiere voted against the appropriation, after asking why the town was paying for it and being told it was a service to residents.

The third vote, also unanimous, was to schedule the 2018 town business meeting for 9 a.m. Saturday, March 24, 2018. Board Chairman and Bicentennial Coordinator Neil Farrington asked for the decision so he can list the meeting in the planned bicentennial calendar.

The informal decision, in which retiring Selectman Joann Austin did not participate, was to accept Farrington’s suggestion to schedule a ceremony to recognize Austin’s many years of service on the board. Details will be forthcoming.

The even more informal decision was to ask Maine Municipal Association attorney Rebecca Seel to review town ordinances, looking for internal contradictions and other issues making enforcement difficult. Selectman Irene Belanger made the suggestion, after learning at an MMA meeting that some Maine judges find local ordinances hard to work with.

Selectman Ronald Breton said he accepted the idea as long as there was no charge. No selectman objected.

Belanger called attention to the Oct. 21 household hazardous waste collection day in Winslow. China residents should pre-register at the transfer station. Lists of eligible and ineligible materials are available at the transfer station and town office, on the town website and as an insert in The Town Line issue of Oct. 12, 2017.

She also reminded those present of the Monday, Oct. 23, presentation on the Regional School Unit (RSU) #18 bond issue that is on China’s Nov. 7 ballot. The presentation is at 6 p.m. at China Middle School. The annual Halloween trunk-or-treat celebration is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, at the town office, Belanger and former Selectman Robert MacFarland said.

Almost half the selectmen’s two-hour meeting was spent in another unsatisfactory discussion of the neighborhood dispute on Neck Road, where Parris and Catherine Varney continue to host parties in their barn despite neighbors’ contention that the Varneys need a permit. Selectmen told residents they do not intend to act until a Superior Court judge rules on an earlier aspect of the issue. The residents said the ruling is expected in November.

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting will be Monday evening, Oct. 30. It is tentatively scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than usual, if an insurance agent with whom LaVerdiere talked is available. LaVerdiere believes the town can save substantially on its health insurance without major impact on benefits by changing from the Maine Municipal Association plan in which employees are currently enrolled.