TECH TALK: Life & Death of the Microchip

Examples of early vacuum tubes. (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


by Eric Austin
Computer Technical Advisor

The pace of technological advancement has a speed limit and we’re about to slam right into it.

The first electronic, programmable, digital computer was designed in 1944 by British telephone engineer Tommy Flowers, while working in London at the Post Office Research Station. Named the Colossus, it was built as part of the Allies’ wartime code-breaking efforts.

The Colossus didn’t get its name from being easy to carry around. Computers communicate using binary code, with each 0 or 1 represented by a switch that is either open or closed, on or off. In 1944, before the invention of the silicon chip that powers most computers today, this was accomplished using vacuum-tube technology. A vacuum tube is a small, vacuum-sealed, glass chamber which serves as a switch to control the flow of electrons through it. Looking much like a complicated light-bulb, vacuum tubes were difficult to manufacture, bulky and highly fragile.

Engineers were immediately presented with a major problem. The more switches a computer has, the faster it is and the larger the calculations it can handle. But each switch is an individual glass tube, and each must be wired to every other switch on the switchboard. This means that a computer with 2,400 switches, like the Colossus, would need 2,400 individual wires connecting each switch to every other, or a total of almost six million wires. As additional switches are added, the complexity of the connections between components increases exponentially.

This became known as the ‘tyranny of numbers’ problem, and because of it, for the first two decades after the Colossus was introduced, it looked as though computer technology would forever be out of reach of the average consumer.

Then two engineers, working separately in California and Texas, discovered a solution. In 1959, Jack Kilby, working at Texas Instruments, submitted his design for an integrated circuit to the US patent office. A few months later, Robert Noyce, founder of the influential Fairchild Semiconductor research center in Palo Alto, California, submitted his own patent. Although they each approached the problem differently, it was the combination of their ideas that resulted in the microchip we’re familiar with today.

The advantages of this new idea, to print microscopic transistors on a wafer of semi-conducting silicon, were immediately obvious. It was cheap, could be mass produced, and most importantly, it’s performance was scalable: as our miniaturization technology improved, we were able to pack more transistors (switches) onto the same chip of silicon. A chip with a higher number of transistors resulted in a more powerful computer, which allowed us to further refine our fabrication process. This self-fed cycle of progress is what has fueled our technological advancements for the last 60 years.

Gordon Moore, who, along with Robert Noyce, later founded the microchip company Intel, was the first to understand this predictable escalation in computer speed and performance. In a paper he published in 1965, Moore observed that the number of components we could print on an integrated circuit was doubling every year. Ten years later the pace had slowed somewhat and he revised his estimate to doubling every two years. Nicknamed “Moore’s Law,” it’s a prediction that has remained relatively accurate ever since.

This is why every new iphone is faster, smaller, and more powerful than the one from the year before. In 1944, the Colossus was built with 2,400 binary vacuum tubes. Today the chip in your smart phone possesses something in the neighborhood of seven billion transistors. That’s the power of the exponential growth we’ve experienced for more than half a century.

But this trend of rapid progress is about to come to an end. In order to squeeze seven billion components onto a tiny wafer of silicone, we’ve had to make everything really small. Like, incomprehensibly small. Components are only a few nanometers wide, with less than a dozen nanometers between them. For some comparison, a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick. We are designing components so small that they will soon be only a few atoms across. At that point electrons begin to bleed from one transistor into another, because of a quantum effect called ‘quantum tunneling,’ and a switch that can’t be reliably turned off is no switch at all.

Experts differ on how soon the average consumer will begin to feel the effects of this limitation, but most predict we have less than a decade to find a solution or the technological progress we’ve been experiencing will grind to a stop.

What technology is likely to replace the silicon chip? That is exactly the question companies like IBM, Intel, and even NASA are racing to answer.

IBM is working on a project that aims to replace silicon transistors with ones made of carbon nanotubes. The change in materials would allow manufacturers to reduce the space between transistors from 14 nanometers to just three, allowing us to cram even more transistors onto a single chip before running into the electron-bleed effect we are hitting with silicon.

Another idea with enormous potential, the quantum computer, was first proposed back in 1968, but has only recently become a reality. Whereas the binary nature of our current digital technology only allows for a switch to be in two distinct positions, on or off, the status of switches in a quantum computer are determined by the superpositional states of a quantum particle, which, because of the weirdness of quantum mechanics, can be in the positions of on, off or both – simultaneously! The information contained in one quantum switch is called a ‘qubit,’ as opposed to the binary ‘bit’ of today’s digital computers.

At their Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (QuAIL) in Silicon Valley, NASA, in partnership with Google Research and a coalition of 105 colleges and universities, has built the D-Wave 2X, a second-generation, 1,097-qubit quantum computer. Although it’s difficult to do a direct qubit-to-bit comparison because they are so fundamentally different, Google Research has released some data on its performance. They timed how long it takes the D-Wave 2X to do certain high-level calculations and compared the timings with those of a modern, silicon-based computer doing the same calculations. According to their published results, the D-Wave 2X is 100 million times faster than the computer on which you are currently reading this.

Whatever technology eventually replaces the silicon chip, it will be orders of magnitude better, faster and more powerful than what we have today, and it will have an unimaginable impact on the fields of computing, space exploration and artificial intelligence – not to mention the ways in which it will transform our ordinary, everyday lives.

Welcome to the beginning of the computer age, all over again.

Obituaries, Week of November 23, 2017


WHITEFIELD­­––Armand Gene Thompson, 70, of Whitefield, known as “Pop,” “Pepe,” and “Phil” to his family and friends, passed away on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, following a brief and courageous battle with cancer. He was born on July 30, 1947, in Clinton, Massachusetts, to Lucille and Armand Houle.

He spent 40 years growing up, working, and raising a family in Massachusetts. When he was 12, he became the proud big brother to his sister Debbie.

Phil joined the Army in 1967 and went to Korea, where he worked in a dental clinic and nurtured a lifelong passion for teeth and the medical field. When he returned stateside, he worked in a book bindery, and later Fort Devens.

In 1972, he met the love of his life and best friend, Darlene. In 1974, they married and raised two boys. They moved to Whitefield in 1987 to be nearer to family. Phil worked at Togus V.A. for 30 years.

Phil enjoyed working in his yard, building flower gardens, listening to records, hosting dinner parties, creating art, and spending time with his family.

Most of all, he was a deeply spiritual man.

Phil was predeceased by his parents, Lucille and Armand Houle; and his stepfather, Robert Thompson.

He is survived by his wife, Darlene; his sons, Jesse and Silas and their wives Junko and Jenny; his grandchildren, Donovan and Theodore; his sister Deborah Matthews and her husband David; his niece and nephew, Desiree and David; as well as many members of his extended family.

Memorial donations may be made at the Kingdom Hall, 8 Cross Hill Road, Augusta.


FAIRFIELD––Elizabeth E. Fisher, 74, passed away on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, at her home, in Fairfield. She was born on October 15, 1943, in Waterville, the daughter of Elwood and Evelyn Folsom.

Elizabeth worked at a chicken plant, a shoe shop and the Cascade Woolen Mill, in Oakland.

She loved to crochet and go shopping. Some of Elizabeth’s other hobbies included putting together the family tree, spending time with her granddaughter and scrapbooking. Elizabeth made several family scrapbooks. She also enjoyed watching Hallmark Christmas movies, as Christmas was her favorite holiday. Elizabeth prayed daily.

Elizabeth is survived by her husband, William Fisher, of Fairfield; her three children, Scott Fisher, of Waterville, William Kelly and Amanda Kelley, of Fairfield; granddaughter Adrianna Fisher, of Waterville; sister Diane Mushero, of Fairfield and many more family members.

An online guestbook may be signed and memories shared at


WINDSOR––John Wesley Witham, 40, of Windsor, passed away unexpectedly in his sleep on Saturday, November 4, 2017. He was born February 11, 1977, in Boothbay, to Belinda Howes Trundy and George Witham.

John grew up in New Harbor. He enjoyed spending time with his family and friends, going to the local car races, sailing, and fishing. In his spare time he liked to read. He had many different jobs in his life–he loved working at the Seagull Restaurant in New Harbor and loved to cook.

John was predeceased by his mother, Belinda Howes Trundy and father George Witham.

John is survived by step-father, Don Howes; wife, Michelle Witham; sons, Wesley Witham and Cole Witham, from a previous relationship; son John Witham Jr. and his two children; sister, Deride Albert; brothers, Timothy Pendergast and Virgil Cray; brothers-in-law; sisters-in-law; aunts; uncles; nieces; nephews; and cousins.

Memories and condolences may be shared at


WHITEFIELD––Donald Wilson Trussell Jr., 72, of Whitefield, passed away Monday, November 6, 2017, at the Augusta Rehab Center, Augusta. He was born February 3, 1945, a son of the late Donald Sr., and Emily L(Emerson) Trussell.

He graduated from Gardiner Area High School, class of 1964.

He was a Connecticut resident from 1967 to 1998 when he returned to Maine. He was a retired mechanic and an avid drag racer for many years. He enjoyed fishing and hunting, and restoring a 1950 International Harvester truck. Donnie was a member of Gassah Guys Racing Club, and a tech guy at Winterport Dragway for many years.

Donnie is survived by daughters, Dawn Donnelly and husband Michael, of Durham, Connecticut, and Vicki Bird and husband Michael, of Deland, Florida; grandchildren, Marisa Doyon, Lauren Donnelly, and Zachary Bird; siblings, Joan Marston, of Gardiner, Nancy Jewett and husband Curtis, of Pittston, Louise Yeaton and husband Francis, of Richmond, Stephen Trussell and wife Debbie, Brian Trussell and wife Lucille, and Wayne Trussell and wife Kathy, all of Pittston; several nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles.


FAIRFIELD––Donald LaCroix, 83, passed away Tuesday, November 7, 2017, at MaineGeneral Hospital, in Augusta, following an illness. Donald was born on July 1, 1935, in Waterville, to Cyril and Yvonne LaCroix.

Donald attended St. Francis de Sales Catholic school and shortly after graduation he joined the U.S. Air Force. He was very proud of the time he spent in the Air Force.

He married Edna Thompson on August 22, 1959, and they shared many happy moments. They lived in Fairfield where Don was a member of the Fairfield Grover-Hinckley American Legion. Don loved his work as a mechanic and worked at Woodbury Motors, Firestone Garage, and at Al’s Sunoco. He did have to take an early retirement due to health issues.

Don was predeceased by his parents; a brother Larry, from Waterville, a twin brother Ronald, from Texas, a sister Rene Whittish, from Waterville, and his wife Edna.

Don is survived by his daughter Evelyn Knights, of Fairfield, and his son Kevin and his wife Janet, and their three daughters Tamika, Kaitlin, and Chantelle LaCroix, all from Solon; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Don was very proud of his three granddaughters and loved spending time with them.

He enjoyed putting puzzles together, family outings and family BBQ’s, just to name a few things.


OAKLAND––Roland Gerald Paquet, 78, passed away on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, at Mount St. Joseph Residence and Rehabilitation, in Waterville. Roland was born February 17, 1939, in Bath, to Zenon Michel Paquet and Alice Antoinette Croteau Paquet.

He had patiently endured many physical hardships and challenges over the past six years, and in the process continued to touch many lived for good.

He attended St. John Catholic School, in Winslow, graduated from high school in Brunswick, and served in the Army National Guard for nine years.

He worked in the grocery business and for Bath iron Works, and later managed the delicatessens for what is now the Hannaford chain of supermarkets. He retired from Kraft General Foods, now Kraft/Heinz, after being a top sales representative and merchandiser for that company for many years. He made many strong friendships along the way, and was well-liked everywhere he went.

Roland was a member of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and his wife, Kelly, also served an 18-month mission for the church in Minnesota and Canada­­––the Canada Winnipeg Mission.

Roland was quick to see the humor in any situation, or even to create it. He saw every stranger as a potential friend and it was easy for him to talk with anyone. Roland taught money management skills at no cost to anyone who asked. He was wise, creative, and practical, and many skills. He was handy, and willing to tackle building or fixing almost anything, and put his skills to work many times to help others or to beautify his family’s home. He enjoyed any chance to play games with friends, eat good food, take rides to the coast, go to the movies, to the country fairs, and to visit friends and family, and even to visit people he had just met. He often went with the missionaries in the area to teach and help other people. He enjoyed learning and reading from the scriptures,k and loved to share what he knew to be true.

Roland was predeceased by his granddaughter, Meghan Passey.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 27 years, Kelly Maureen Abbott Paquet; his sister, Diane Kachmar and her husband Jack; his brother, Robert Paquet and his wife Cyndi; Roland’s children, Louis Paquet, James Paquet, Julie Passey, Dona Guertler, Kristin Jones, Holly Adams, Amy Paquet, and Alaina Hastings, and their spouses and children; and his stepchildren, Kristi Morgan Whiting, Kevin Morgan, Cameron Morgan, and Colin Morgan, and their spouses and children.


OAKLAND––O’Neil Earl Carpenter, 88, died at home on Friday, November 10, 2017.

O’Neil was the eldest son of the late Arthur and Violette (Lachance) Carpenter. Neil, as he was known to family and friends, was born October 20, 1929, in Waterville, the week of the great stock market crash. This historic event shaped his hard working character and strong fiscal accountability. Yet he never hesitated to support his church, favorite children’s charities and family when needed.

Neil attended local area schools and was a member of St. Joseph’s class of 1945. He enlisted in the Army and served in Europe during World War II.

In his early years he worked for his father’s construction business, A. J. Carpenter & Sons, building many area homes. After leaving his father’s business he worked for more than 45 years for Logan & Sons, a Portland-based painting contractor. Logan & Sons was a generational family owned and operated company. Neil was their generational family employee.

Over the years he worked alongside his brothers, all of his sons, grandsons, nephews, even his second wife. It was a regular family affair.

Neil was not big in stature but was large in life. He was known for his charming personality, storytelling, and sense of humor. In his earlier years, he enjoyed getting together with his family to listen to his sister Marlene sing or going out to “Uncle Don’s camp,” having a few beers and playing horseshoes. He enjoyed his son Timmy’s singing and playing guitar and discussing all things sports with his youngest son Jason, especially watching the Patriots play and enjoying a shot of cognac. The collection of old wheat pennies, change in old bottles and the endless supply of silver or gold dollars was handed out to all kinds at Christmas.

Neil was predeceased by his parents; brothers, Donald and Raymond; his sons Robert, William Timothy and Jason O’Neil; and his first wife, Lillian (White).

He is survived by his daughters, Jacqueline Sweigart and husband Chuck, Violet White-Carpenter, of Oakland, and Jodi Jones and husband Will, of Vassalboro; sons, James O’Neil, of Waterville, Peter Boudreau and wife Jennifer, of Oakland, David Boudreau and his wife Jessica; exwife Judith Westman, of Lewiston; brothers, Arthur (Biz), of Fairfield, Alfred and Danny, of Waterville; sisters, Marlene Wincapaw, of Clinton, and Diana Nadeau and husband Ronald, of Oakland; ten grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

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


SOMERVILLE––Andrew LeRoy Hisler Sr., 85, passed away at Maine Medical Center, Portland, on Thursday, November 16, 2017. Andy was born December 4, 1931, in Somerville, to parents Randolph and Eleanor Falconi Hisler.

He proudly served in the Army in the Korean War. As a young man he was gainfully employed by Lipmans Poultry, Hillcrest Poultry, Tank & Culvert, Lee Brothers Construction, and retired from BM Clarks.

Andy loved his family, riding on his tractor, and doing various odd jobs. He always enjoyed visiting with family and friends, going out to eat with his wife Joyce, and exploring the back roads of Maine. In his later years, he enjoyed camping in Jackman.

Andy was predeceased by his parents; wife Marilyn Hawes; second wife of 40 years Arlene (Tina) Light Hisler; two brothers, Stanley Hisler and Leon Routh; two sister, Beatrice Routh and Mary Cobb; a step-son, Melvin Light, and son-in-law, Dana Chase.

Andy is survived by his wife, Joyce, of 24 years; his children, Marilyn Crochere and husband Joey, of Chelsea, Joan Patrick and husband Mark, of Ohio, Randolph Hisler and wife, Colleen, of China, Andrew Hisler and wife Janice, of Somerville, Leon Hisler and companion Paula, of Somerville, and Bernice Chase and companion, Al, of East Winthrop; his step-children, Travis Deblois and wife Berdina, of Winthrop, Pete DeBlois and companion Wendy, of Winthrop, Patsy Hatch, of Dixfield, Gene Hatch, of Winthrop, Dorothy St. Hilalire and husband Kevin, of Winthrop; six grandchildren; 12 step-grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

There will be a graveside service on Saturday, November 25, 2017, at Sand Hill Cemetery in Somerville at 1 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to Kennebec Valley Humane Society, 20 Pet Haven Lane, Augusta ME 04330.


ODWAY SIMMONS, 79, of Nobleboro, passed away on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Locally, he is survived by a sister, Cathreine Rolerson, of Jefferson.

ANNE M. SIMMONS, 78, of Augusta, passed away on Monday, October 16, 2017, at Alfond CVenter for Health, in Augusta, following a brief illness. Locally, she is survived by a daughter, Dawn Teed and husband David, of Vassalboro.

SUSAN M. LEEMAN, 94, of Freedom, passed away on Thursday, October 26, 2017, at Oak Grove Center, in Waterville. She graduated from Walker High School, in Liberty, class of 1941. Locally, she is survived by her daughter Beverlee J. Tibbetts, of Jefferson, and son and his wife Gary and Sharon Leeman, of Palermo; six grandchildren; several great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; her brother-in-law, Bruce Leeman, of Palermo, sister-in-law Esther Mathieson, of Montville, and a large number of nieces and nephews.

RAYMOND ROBITAILLE JR., 55, of Skowhegan, passed away on Wednesday, November 1, 2017, at MaineGeneral Medical Center, following a long and courageous battle with cancer. Locally, he is survived by a daughter,Amber Sellers, of Oakland, and siblings Billy Bragg, of Fairfield, Stacy Bragg, of Waterville, and Liza Holt, of Unity.

FLORIENCE P. KENNEDY, 93, of Farmington, passed away on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, at her home. Locally, she is survived by a brother, William Bell,of Benton.

Erskine Academy announces school calendar changes

Parents and students should be advised of several changes to Erskine Academy’s school calendar due to excessive storm days. First trimester will now end on Wednesday, November 29, and second trimester will begin on Thursday, November 30. Friday, December 22, is now scheduled as an Early Release day with dismissal at 11:30 a.m. Lastly, Thursday, March 15, will now be a full day of school and Friday, March 16, will be an Early Release day with dismissal at 11:30 a.m. Any additional school cancellations will be reviewed to determine if further make up days will be required.

Erskine Class of 2020 announces ‘Parents Night Out’ Fundraiser

The Erskine Academy class of 2020 is hosting a Parents Night, Saturday, December 2, from 4 – 8:30 p.m. Students, advisors, and parent volunteers will be on hand to offer activities for children ages 4 and up and dinner will be provided. Parents may drop off their children in the Erskine gym lobby and costs are $20 for the first child and $10 for siblings. Please contact advisor Jen Tibbetts at with any questions.

Vassalboro: Bad idea becomes good idea to school board members

by Mary Grow

The regional service centers that were a bad idea two months ago are now a good idea, Vassalboro School Board members learned at their Nov. 14 meeting.

In September, past and future AOS (Alternative Organizational Structure) #92 Superintendent Eric Haley told board members superintendents had been advised not to rush into the new state-sponsored organizations, then called School Management and Leadership Centers, because state plans were so indefinite.

In November, AOS #92 Finance Director Paula Pooler said the centers appear desirable.

She told Vassalboro board members the regional centers would be potential revenue centers. A school employee is allowed to head a service center, she said.

By April 15, potential service center personnel are supposed to have drafted interlocal agreements, documents similar to the agreement that created AOS #92. The agreements would specify a minimum of two services a center would offer; AOS #92 provides more than two services to the current member towns (Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow), creating the potential for more income as a service center.

If Waterville were to become a service center, Pooler said, the AOS would have to dissolve. In Vassalboro, dissolution would require a town vote, which Pooler said could be scheduled in February or March 2018. Under a service center arrangement, participating school units would have their own school boards and superintendents. The AOS board would become a regional board with representatives from member towns. Pooler said a facilitator has been hired with a state grant to advise and assist.

Vassalboro board Chairman Kevin Levasseur said after hearing the revised service center plan, “Paula and I looked at each other and said, ‘Where’s the downside?’ ”

In other business, board members agreed by consensus that Vassalboro Community School will be in session Friday, Dec. 22. The calendar change could not be formally approved because it was not noticed in advance on the November agenda, but Principal Dianna Gram said she needed to notify parents before the next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday evening, Dec. 19.

Haley, who retired at the end of October with the understanding the AOS board will rehire him after the state-required 30 days of unemployment, attended the Nov. 14 meeting and the executive-session discussion of salaries that followed.

VASSALBORO: Selectmen OK talks with potential subdivision buyer

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen are close to getting rid of a tax-acquired subdivision they tried unsuccessfully to sell earlier, after the town foreclosed on the property early in 2014. Joe Presti attended the Nov. 16 selectmen’s meeting to talk about buying 12 subdivision lots on Ilona Drive, off Crowell Hill Road. Presti already owns a house on another of the subdivision lots.

Presti offered $15,000 for the approximately nine-acre property, the figure selectmen set as the minimum when they offered it for sale by bid. Town Manager Mary Sabins said the sum would cover back taxes and town costs.

Selectmen unanimously authorized Sabins and Presti to work out details and report back.

Resident David Jenney gave selectmen a progress report on the Cross Hill Cemetery. Selectmen approved spending to repair broken stones.

Jenney also proposed additional publicity for the annual town meeting, specifically a postcard notification to each voter, and asked whether board members are satisfied with the town website that he maintains under Sabins’ direction.

Selectmen are content with the website; no one had suggestions for improving it. Newly re-elected board Chairman Lauchlin Titus doubted postcards would increase town meeting attendance, but asked Sabins to get a cost estimate for a mailing.

Sabins reported work has already started on implementing the Window Dressers program in Vassalboro. More than 30 residents have signed up, two volunteer measuring teams are at work and the community build, when the draft-stopping window inserts are constructed, is scheduled for Dec. 16 and 17, and if necessary Dec. 18 and 19, at the former mill in North Vassalboro.

Titus reported the recent windstorm damaged sections of the mill roof. Local fund-raisers will be held to help with repair costs, he said.

Selectmen authorized Sabins to talk with Vassalboro’s two waste haulers in preparation for the April 1, 2018, change from the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company facility to the new Fiberight plant (or a temporary substitute if the plant does not open on schedule). The manager said one of Vassalboro’s current hauling contracts expires in mid-January, the other two in mid-June.

The next regular selectmen’s meeting would be Thursday evening, Nov. 30, but the time conflicts with a workshop for elected officials all three board members plan to attend. They decided they will meet if necessary early in the afternoon of Nov. 30. Selectmen’s meetings are announced on the Vassalboro website.

CHINA: TIF members postpone action on six items

by Mary Grow

Members of China’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee postponed action on all six items on their Nov. 20 agenda. They scheduled another meeting for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4, hoping the chairman and three other absent members will be able to attend.

The seven members present Nov. 20 did not act on a subcommittee approval of proposed contracts with two engineering firms. Nor did they act on requests for TIF funds to buy land at the head of China Lake’s east basin and to supplement the LakeSmart program. A preliminary proposal for a building in the China School Forest was reviewed and will be followed up. The final two agenda items, involving internal committee matters, were postponed without discussion. The contract proposals are from Wright-Pierce Engineering, of Topsham, for engineering design and permitting services for the proposed new causeway bridge at the head of China Lake’s east basin and from A. E. Hodsdon of Waterville to provide engineering oversight on behalf of the town. Wright-Pierce’s proposed fee is $23,475; A. E. Hodson’s is $21,172.

After a short discussion of the town’s freedom to use data Wright-Pierce collects, an issue Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said he will clarify, L’Heureux moved on the proposal to use $120,000 to buy Susan Bailey’s land nearby.

The Bailey land consists of about six acres, mostly wetland, where people using the boat launch now leave their vehicles, and approximately 32 acres across Route 202. L’Heureux said the two lots are a single parcel with a mortgage.

Buying the smaller lot has long been on the TIF Committee’s agenda, to provide more parking at the head of the lake. The larger parcel, L’Heureux said, would provide parking for people using the snowmobile trail that crosses it as well as overflow parking for the boat landing, and might in the future become the site for a new China Village fire station.

Most of the committee members present were ready to recommend that selectmen present the proposed expenditure to voters. H. David Cotta was the most vocal dissenter. He pointed out that the 33-acre lot would need considerable fill along Route 202 to make the area usable, and the fill would probably require permits. He questioned the need for the purchase and suggested if someone else bought the Bailey land, the new owner might be willing to sell the town the six acres close to the lake.

Irene Belanger suggested that L’Heureux ask the mortgage-holder if the two parcels could be separated. Newly-appointed committee member Ronald Breton said the town values the entire property at $88,900 for tax purposes.

By consensus, action was postponed to Dec. 4. Meanwhile, L’Heureux will get in touch with the mortgage-holder.

China Lake Association President Scott Pierz asked committee members for $20,000 in TIF funds to assist China’s Youth Conservation Corps with run-off controls and other measures aimed at protecting China Lake’s water quality.

The state-wide LakeSmart program, coordinated locally by Marie Michaud for the China Lake Association with assistance from the China Region Lakes Alliance and the Kennebec Water District, involves assessing shoreline properties and suggesting and implementing measures to limit run-off, usually by installation of buffer strips. Pierz said the Youth Conservation Corps does the work and the China Lake Association provides plants and other materials. Eight buffers were installed in 2016 and 21 in 2017, he said; more money would mean more buffers.

When Belanger proposed postponing action until additional committee members were present, Pierz offered to return Dec. 4. Former China teachers Elaine Philbrook and Anita Smith presented contractor Blane Casey’s plan for a building in the school forest, to be used as a program space, visitor center and almost-outdoor classroom. They were not yet asking for money, they said, especially since the building came with a price tag of almost $300,000.

The school forest is located behind China Primary School on town-owned land.

Committee members suggested possible sources of financial and technical assistance to reduce the project cost. They agreed the committee would get in touch with Philbrook and Smith again.

Girl Scouts give back for Thanksgiving

Girl Scout Troop #1651, in China, recently donated two Thanksgiving baskets to the China Town Office to be given to families in the China sarea. Contributed photo

Meeting to be held on proposed Ladd Dam and Box Mill fishways

Left photo, Ladd Dam, and Box Mill. Contributed photos

The Alewife Restoration Initiative and project partner US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will hold an informational meeting regarding plans to build fishways at Ladd Dam and Box Mill, in North Vassalboro. The goal of the fishways, in conjunction with projects at four other dams on Outlet Stream, is to allow alewives to migrate to China Lake to spawn. With the construction of fishways at Box Mill and Ladd (the first and second barriers to returning alewives), access will be established to the spawning habitat of the 40-acre Ladd Mill Pond. The eventual removal or construction of fish passage at the remaining dams on Outlet Stream will allow up to a million returning alewives to spawn in China Lake. A variety of other sea-run and resident species of fish and other organisms will also benefit from the improved connectivity of Outlet Stream and China Lake.

They welcome all to participate in this informational meeting, and to provide your feedback, ideas and comments. Your comments and suggestions can play a significant role on how this project develops. The meeting will take place on Wednesday, November 29, at 6 p.m., at the Grange Hall, in East Vassalboro. Following is a list of speakers and topics:

  • Landis Hudson and Matt Streeter, of Maine Rivers, will discuss how the Ladd and Box Mill projects will fit into the overall goals and schedule of the Alewife Restoration Initiative.
  • Nate Gray, of Maine Department of Marine Resources, will discuss how this project fits into Sebasticook River watershed and statewide efforts to restore alewives and improve connectivity for many other species.
  • Peter Abello and Ben Naumann, of NRCS, will discuss the planning and project implementation process, timeline and structure options.
  • Questions, feedback, ideas and comments are welcome from the public.

For more information, email or call Matt Streeter,, 207-337-2611.

For Your Health: What You Should Know About Vaccines

For Your Health

(NAPSI)—Sometimes, what you don’t know can hurt you. Consider this: Smallpox vaccines were used as far back as the Revolutionary War. This serious disease, which has killed more people than all the wars combined, has been wiped from the Earth by vaccines. It’s a shame that recently the safety of vaccines has been questioned. It’s time people focused on the facts.

Vaccines have long been one of the safest medical treatments. No credible study has proven otherwise. Just like other medicines, vaccines are approved by the FDA. By and large, the rewards of prevention are worth the small risk of any vaccine’s side effects.

Another fact is that vaccines for mature Americans can save lives. When seniors get pneumonia shots, they could lengthen their life expectancy by FOUR years. Flu shots will also protect seniors from a debilitating illness with life-threatening consequences. Vaccinations are generally affordable and they are SAFE.

What To Do

For your health’s sake, give vaccination a shot.

If you have questions about a vaccine, talk to your doctor. They can explain the safety of vaccines and their importance to your health. There are three easy steps you can take to get protected:

1. Find out which vaccines you need. You can go to the RetireSafe website,, and click on the vaccine icon on the left side of the home page. It will take you to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site that will ask you questions about you and your life. It will then give you a list of vaccines you may need.

2. Discuss the vaccines on the list with your doctor or health care professional.

3. Get the recommended vaccinations.

That’s it…that’s all you have to do to be healthier and possibly add years to your life.