GARDEN WORKS: Making the best of a thaw + great tips for the die-hard greenthumb in winter

Frozen soil is no fun to work, but if there’s just a thin layer of frost, it can be done without unceremoniously slamming the soil with a pick ax.


by Emily Cates

Freeze and thaw, freeze and thaw. Such is the character of the ground this time of year. While the thought of gardening is iffy at best (without season extenders, that is), a determined gardener can still work in the dirt if the opportunity presents itself between freezes. Outrageous? Perhaps, though there are times when it is necessary to work up until the very last moment. Let’s explore the possibilities so we can make the best of these moments.

In this article, we’ll look at hand tilling, mulching, and a few potential candidates for planting. Frozen soil is no fun to work, but if there’s just a thin layer of frost, it can be done without unceremoniously slamming the soil with a pick ax. Afternoon is the best time to attempt. Forget using a rototiller though – it’s not good for the soil structure when the ground is in such a condition. By digging small beds or plots by hand with a digging fork, the possibility of last-minute plantings may be achieved. (And, wait! Don’t overlook the stragglers patiently waiting for your attention. Think dandelion coffee, mallow tea, sweet carrots, and more!) Your back and shoulders will resent this, but your garlic will appreciate it.

While the soil is in an exposed state, let’s plant and/or mulch it right away. Mulching frozen soil will hold in the cold, so we’ll try to do this at the warmest point possible in the afternoon. The cast of characters available for mulching can include straw, shredded aged leaves, pine needles, old sawdust, plain newsprint, untreated cardboard, old rugs, or blankets… you get the drift.

What in the world would anyone in their right mind be planting at such a time of year? Well, it’s a great time for working with dormant trees, shrubs, vines, bulbs, and perennials. These can be dug up, divided, potted up, moved, and/or planted. (Case in point: A friend was disappointed that she did not get a chance to plant her garlic on time, but when there was a December thaw, she seized the moment. Come harvest time the next summer, she dug up some beautiful garlic!) A huge advantage of late fall planting of trees and shrubs is that you only have to keep the soil around them moist up until the ground freezes, and then that’s it! So, water generously at planting time, and that might be all that is needed if the ground freezes soon afterward.

Speaking of planting, think about houseplants for a moment. Do they need fresh soil and bigger pots? Well, go ahead, then, and have at it. Happy, healthy houseplants = happy, healthy homeowner.

If these ideas don’t scratch that itch on your green thumbs, I don’t know what will! Ah, now, on to the seed catalogs that just arrived….

Guitar concert benefit foundation

Colby Charette, Cassidy’s brother, performed at the fundraiser. Contributed photo

The 16th Annual Warming Up for Christmas benefit Guitar Concert honoring Cassidy Charette brought more than 600 people to the Williamson Auditorium, in Fairfield, on December 2 and raised over $12,300 for the ShineOnCass Foundation. Orchestrated by Steve Fotter, a local musician and guitar instructor from Benton, and his wife Linda, the three-hour concert featured 80 of his students and local talent performing rock, blues, jazz and folk Christmas music. Fotter said it was the largest fundraiser in his concert’s history, which in total has raised well over $100,000 for local charitable organizations.

Fotter said, “We have tremendous talent here and the concert has become a special tradition to start the holiday season. We continue to be grateful and humbled by the people who support us.”

Cassidy Charette was killed October 11, 2014, as the result of a tragic hayride accident. Cassidy was a Messalonskee High School top scholar and athlete, and a life-long community volunteer and youth advocate. In the past three years, her friends, family and the greater Oakland community have started multiple programs and services to honor her. This is the second year the concert has benefitted the ShineOnCass Foundation, which was created by the Charette family to educate, inspire and empower youth to continue Cassidy’s passion for caring for others through volunteer charitable activities.

As part of the benefit concert, the ShineOnCass Foundation organized a collection of gifts for the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers’ Christmas Program, which provides boxes filled with warm clothing and toys for 1,700 less-fortunate children in Maine. Over 200 hundred gifts, including books, pajamas, hats, mittens and toys were collected at the concert and by Messalonskee High School students, who delivered them to the program’s headquarters in Waterville. The Foundation will also gift proceeds from the concert to help purchase items needed to fill all the boxes before Christmas.

“This is how we Shine Cassidy’s Light, by giving back to our community,” said Monica Charette, Cassidy’s mother. “We know of no better way to honor Cass than to continue to support things that she was passionate about—especially programs that involve helping children.”

TECH TALK: Net Neutrality goes nuclear


by Eric Austin
Computer Technical Advisor

Do you like your cable TV service? I hope so, because your internet service is about to get a whole lot more like it.

On Thursday last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), headed up by Trump appointee and former Verizon employee Ajit Pai, voted 3-2, along party lines, to repeal Obama-era rules that prevented internet providers from favoring some internet traffic over others.

You know how the cable company always puts the one channel you really want in a higher tier, forcing you to pay for the more expensive package even though you don’t like any of the other channels?

That’s right. Nickel-and-diming is coming to an internet service near you!

What does this really mean for you? I’m so glad you asked, but I’m afraid my answer will not make you happy.

It means that huge telecommunication companies like Comcast and TimeWarner now have the power to determine which internet services you have access to.

If you have a niche interest you pursue on the internet, you’re likely to be affected. Those websites with smaller audiences will have their bandwidth throttled unless you, the consumer, begin paying your Internet Service Provider (ISP) an extra fee.

That means you, Miniature Train Collector! That means you, Bass Fisherman! That means you, Foot-Fetish Fanatic!

It means pay-to-play is coming to the internet. When ISPs are allowed to favor some traffic over others, the Almighty Dollar will determine the winners and losers.

It means smaller newspapers like The Town Line, already suffering in a climate of falling ad revenue and competition from mega-sites like Buzzfeed and Facebook, will be forced to struggle even harder to find an audience.

Remember when chain super-stores like WalMart and Lowe’s forced out all the mom and pop stores? Remember when Starbucks and Subway took over Main Street?

That’s about to happen to the internet.

This move puts more control in the hands of mega-corporations – and in the hands of the men who own them. Do you want to choose your ISP based on where you fall on the political divide? What if Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, bought Fairpoint or Spectrum? Which viewpoints do you think he would be likely to favor? Which websites would see their traffic throttled? What about George Soros, the billionaire liberal activist? No matter which side of the political divide you come down on, this is bad news for America.

In 2005, a little website called YouTube launched. It was competing against an internet mega-giant called Google Video. Two years later Google bought the website for $1.65 billion. Today, YouTube is one of the most popular websites on the internet.

That won’t happen in the future. Under the new rules, Google can simply use its greater capital to bribe ISPs to squash competitor traffic. YouTube would have died on the vine. In fact, that’s exactly what’s likely to happen to YouTube’s competitors now. Oh, the irony!

Twitter, YouTube, Facebook — none of these sites would be successes today without the level-playing field the internet has enjoyed during its first two decades of life.

So this is now the future of the internet. The barrier to innovation and success just became greater for the little guy. Is that really what the web needs?

These are dangerous days we live in, with freedom and democracy apparently assailed from all sides. The internet has been a beacon of hope in these troubled times, giving voice to the voiceless and leveling the playing field in a game that increasingly favors the powerful.

This decision by the FCC under Trump is a huge boon to the power of mega-corporations, telecommunications companies, and established monopolies, but it’s a flaming arrow to the heart of everyday, average Americans and future entrepreneurs. America will be the poorer because of it.

If there’s anything left of the revolutionary spirit that founded America, it lives on in the rebellious noise of the World Wide Web. Let’s not squash it in favor of giving more money and control to big corporations. America has had enough of that. Leave the internet alone!

Eric Austin is a writer and technical consultant living in China, Maine. He writes about technical and community issues and can be contacted at

Further reading:

Obituaries, Week of December 21, 2017


WATERVILLE – Joan Bouchard, 71, passed away December 1, 2017 at her home in Waterville. She was born November 25, 1946 in St Francis, the daughter of Alphonse and Mary (Hutchison) Bouchard.

She was educated in the schools of Waterville and graduated from Waterville Senior High School, class of 1965, and later, was employed there as the registrar. Joan also worked for HealthReach. She enjoyed reading, attending grandchildren’s sporting and extra-curricular activities, and playing cards.

Joan is survived by her daughter, Nicole Veilleux and husband Bill, of Waterville; three grandsons, Ryan Veilleux and partner Kendra Johnson, of Waterville, Devyn Veilleux, of Waterville, and Travis Veilleux and wife Stephanie, of Unity; granddaughter, Jayde Couturier and husband Garret, of
Winslow; siblings, Anita White, Vivian Fotter and husband Robert, Dick Bouchard and wife Mary, Jeanette DeBlois, George Bouchard, Patricia Murphy and husband David, Theresa Bouchard; sister-in-law, Maxine Bouchard; aunts, Marie Hutchison and Dolores Hutchison; special niece, Trina Nickerson and husband Frank; special nephew, Ken Deschaine; many other nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. She was predeceased by her parents; brothers, Ben and wife Faye, Reggie, John and wife Marie; twin sister, Jo Bouchard; brother-in-law, George White; sister-in-law, Donna Bouchard.

A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, January 20, 2018 from 1 to 3 p.m., at the Fairfield Community Center, Water Street, Fairfield.

Memorial donations may be made to MaineGeneral Health, Office of Philanthropy, PO Box 828, Waterville,ME 04903-0828, to benefit Hospice.

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


SOUTH CHINA – Donald F. Frost, 85, of South China, and Lakeland, Florida, passed away suddenly December 5, 2017, at a Florida hospital. Donald was born June 29, 1932 to Austin and Mabel (Hecker) Frost, the youngest of their three sons.

Donald grew up on “the farm” on the Old Eastport Road, in Perry. The family had a dairy farm and grew much of their own food – this contributed to his dedication to hard work, enjoyment of gardening, and the importance of love of family.

Donald attended grammar school at Warren Hall, known locally as The Brick School, in Perry. After graduating from Shead Memorial High School, in Eastport, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1953. He served as an Artillery Radar Operator (SP-3) stationed in Korea. Donald liked to share that the day he arrived in Korea was the same day the Korean Peace Treaty was signed. Donald was honorably discharged in 1955. He was a member of the Ronco-Goodall American Legion Post #126, in Vassalboro. After returning home and the birth of his son, Dolph W. Frost, he began his career as a lineman for The New England Telephone Company. He retired in 1992.

In 1975, Donald found and married the former Shirley A. (Lee) Hopkins. With the marriage came the addition of three step- children; Brenda, Deborah, and Jeffrey. Donald and Shirley took over her father’s greenhouse which they continued for years, until they discovered an enjoyment of RVing and traveling and became real Snowbirds – wintering in the southern states. They enjoyed and were very active in square-dancing, not only enjoying the dance but the costumes as well. After Shirley’s passing, Donald continued to winter in Lakeland, Florida.

Donald was predeceased by his wife Shirley Frost; his parents Austin and Mabel Frost; his son Dolph Frost; his in-laws Thomas and Thelma Lee; his brother Herbert S. Frost; his nephew Austin Frost; his two sisters-in-law Elizabeth Frost and Catherine Frost; his great-nephew Nathan Frost; his son-in-law Edward Moody; and numerous other friends and family.

Surviving are his brother, Kenneth Frost, of North Vassalboro; his daughters, Brenda French and her husband Tony, of South China; Deborah Moody, of Augusta; his son, Jeffrey Hopkins and his wife Rebecca, of Vassalboro; granddaughter Jaimie Spaulding and her husband Jesse, of Groton, Massachusetts; grandsons Nicholas French of South China; Alex Hopkins and his partner Katie Gerow, of Waterville; and Michael Moody, of Augusta; his great-grandson Jack Jeffrey Hopkins, of Waterville; and a number of nieces and nephews.

A private service will be held at a later date at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 163 Mount Vernon Road, Augusta, Maine.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, P O Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis TN 38148-0142.


WINSLOW––Gloria M. Gilbert, 85, of Winslow, passed away at her home early Monday morning, December 4, 2017, following a long battle with cancer.

She was born in Waterville, the youngest daughter of arthur and Eldora Brillard, graduated from Winslow High School with honors, and worked at J.C. Penney for many years.

She was preceded in death by her husband Bernard; and her siblings, Eugene Brillard, Lucille Morrissette, and Beatrice Paradis.

Gloria is survived by her three children, Gail Oviatt, of Durham, North Carolina, Gary Gilbert, of Winslow, and Gwen Yueh, of Durham, North Carolina; as well as her son-in-law Alan Yueh; and four grandchildren Asher, Hannah, Joshua, and Caleb.

Memorial donations may be made to, to support metastatic breast cancer research.


EAST VASSALBORO –– Elizabeth Burt Shanesy Kiralis, 93, died Wednesday, December 6, 2017, following a long period of declining health. Born on March 3, 1924, and raised in Evanston, Illinois, she was the third child of Ralph D. Shanesy and Hazel Sue Markley.

Betts graduated from Evanston Township High School and, having developed a great fondness for the Northeast through childhood summers in Vermont’s Lamoille River Valley, decided to go college at St. Lawrence University, in Canton, New York. She was an outstanding student in chemistry and Latin. During World War II she met her husband-to-be, Karl Kiralis, when his officer-training group came to St. Lawrence.

Betts lived for almost two decades as a faculty wife, editing and typing her English professor husband, dissertation, entertaining his colleagues, and raising their three children. When they divorced in 1965, she and the children moved to East Vassalboro and bought a charming Greek Revival house, where she lived for the rest of her life.

The people of Vassalboro welcomed Betts and the ethos of small-town Central Maine made her feel very much at home. She did countless hours of volunteer work for the Vassalboro Library, and helped and drove elderly neighbors until she herself had to stop driving. Betts worked first as a secretary at Colby College, in Waterville, then became an administrator once the college was willing to hire women for those positions. Betts became happiest upon her retirement from Colby at 62, when she could do more volunteer work and had ample time to ride her beloved bicycle,

Encouraged by her son, Jeff, Betts began serious cycling in middle age. Soon she was riding long distances, the circuit of China Lake being one of her favorite rides, and for many years she commuted to and from Colby on her bicycle whenever the weather permitted. She had two knee replacements so that she could continue to cycle well into her 80’s.

Betts was an accomplished pianist and started playing duets with a friend in East Vassalboro. That evolved into a two-piano eight-hand group that endures to this day. Betts loved to read, and was passionate about good grammar and careful usage. People enjoyed her well-informed, lively, and quirky conversation along with her sunny disposition and empathetic personality. She also enjoyed comedy, concerts, knitting, gardening, and being out doors in any form.

Betts was predeceased by her brother, Jim; sister, Suzanne Fisher; cousin, Betty Wheeler; son, Chop (Karl Jr.); and grandson, Ezra Shipman.

She is survived by her daughter, Susan Kiralis, and her husband David Shipman, of China; son, Jeff Kiralis, of Thetford, Vermont; grandchildren, Johanna Shipman, of Brooklyn, New York, Susan Kiralis Vernon and Elizabeth Kiralis, both of North Vassalboro; and Karl Kiralis, of Belize; great-grandchildren, Jacob, Timothy, and Leela; cousin, Ruth Wheeler, of Evanston, Illinois; a niece and four nephews.


WINSLOW –– Raymond “Tune” Reny, 95, passed away at home on Thursday, December 7, 2017.

He was a hardworking farmer all his life––as a boy working the family farm on the Augusta Road until his last years on Maillet Street.

His love of gardening and building things was evident to all who knew him.

He was generous to a fault, giving most of what he grew to anyone who asked or needed a helping hand and always built something for the St. John School silent auction at the Christmas Fair, as well as all he could do for the nuns at the Blessed Sacrament Fair.

Raymond started her working career on the family farm, then went into the Navy froom 1945-1946. During his time in the Navy, he was stationed in the Pacific Theater during World War II as a Seabee.

Upon returning home from the Navy, he Married Pat in 1947.

Ray worked several jobs in the Winslow area, besides the farm, until he landed the job at Maine Central Railroad. After many years of selling vegetables, mowing lawns and being a jack-of-all-trades to all who knew him, Raymond retired from the railroad in 1983 and decided to try out the snowbird thing.

With his brother, Joe, in Florida, Ray started going south in the winter and continued his warm winters in the south with Pat for 20 years, until the spring of 2003: they had had enough and wanted to move back to Winslow, which they did and settled on 3 Maillet Street, close to St John Church, a fact very important to Raymond.

Raymond is survived by his wife of 70 years, Patricia; his son, Edward Reny, and wife Beth; five daughters: Elizabeth Heavener and husband William, Paula Young and husband Terryl, Carolyn LeClair and husband Jerome, Rebecca Theriault and husband Gregory, and Lisa Lachance and husband Frank; and many grandchildren: Lance, Jeanine, Lonnie, Deanna, Deidre, Jennifer, Jason, Julie, Hanna, Timothy, Renee, Matthew, Chris and Cody; and his sister, Muriel Grenier.

He was predeceased by his brothers, Leonard, Fern, Roland, Gerard, and Norman Reny; and sisters, Theresa Ferran, Cecile Lemieux, Antoinette Caron and Marjorie Couture.

Memorial donations can be made to St. John Regional Catholic School, 15 S. Garand Street, Winslow ME 04901, or one of your choice.


FAIRFIELD –– Douglas P. Matthieu passed away at his home on Thursday, December 7, 2017, following a 35-year battle with cancer. He was born in Waterville, on May 31, 1946, the son of Gerald and Louise (Proulx) Matthieu.

He spent his early life in Madison, where he graduated from Madison High School in

Doug had an incredible work ethic, established early while working with his father at their family-owned Western Auto Store in downtown Madison. While he worked numerous jobs throughout his life and in between his illnesses, he spent the last part of his working career at Keyes Fibre Company and Huhtamaki as a security supervisor.

Doug had so many loves, talents, and hobbies. He was an avid hunter and fisherman, and enjoyed sharing a canoe, sitting in an ice shack, or trudging through the bogs with his son and many friends––especially since he often came away with the biggest fish and the most humorous story. He was an excellent high school athlete and he used his talents to become a well-loved coach in Fairfield’s PAL football league, sharing his love and knowledge of the game and lining many neighborhood mantels with championship trophies. During this time, he also shaped his son’s love for the game, helping to carve him into a record-breaking high school and college running back––something that gave him such immense pride and joy.

Doug could master a grill like no other and brought his family together for the best chicken BBQs and holidays, often entertaining his grandchildren with hilarious songs, bird whistles, and his quick wit. In most recent years, he enjoyed summers in Newport on the pond, kicking up the camp dust with his friends and his family, and feeding the hummingbirds while sitting on the deck with the love of his life, Alma, and third in command, his little dachshund, Sophie.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Alma; daughter Stacie and her former husband Tim; son Kirk and daughter-in-law Cathy; and his six grandchildren: Madison, Miller, Jackson, Reese, Gavin, and Clay; brother Arthur Matthieu; brothers-in-law Kenny and Russel, and his nieces and nephews.

An online guestbook may be signed and memories shared at

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the charity of your choice in Doug’s name.


WINDSOR––Alice M. York, 66, died Sunday, December 10, 2017, in Augusta, following a courageous battle with cancer. Alice was born in Rockland on April 9, 1951.

She enjoyed crocheting, crafts, reading, and especially spending time with her family.

She was predeceased by her husband, Ellsworth York; and her parents, Harry Roscoe and Eva Shaw.

She is survived by her daughter, Althea Snowman and her husband Arthur, of Windsor; her stepson, Ellsworth Hanscom, of Windsor; grandchildren, Jeremy Snowman, of Windsor, and Sarah Snowman and partner Lake Bellavance, of Yarmouth; brother, Tim Roscoe and wife Tammy, of Augusta; and a niece, Linda Moon and husband Larry, of Guilford.

It was Alice’s wish that memorial donations be made to the Maine Cancer Foundation.


WINSLOW –– Stephen P. St. Peter, 64, died Sunday, December 10, 2017, at his residence. He was born in Waterville the son of Robert and Constance (Duperry) St. Peter.

He was educated in local schools and was a graduate of Waterville High School. He was employed for many years as a mill laborer at Huhtamaki, in Waterville.

He enjoyed playing golf with friends and was given the nickname “Stoke.” He loved watching his grandsons play sports.

He was predeceased by a brother in infancy, Danny St. Peter.

He is survived by his two sons, Chris St. Peter and wife Jennifer, of Vancouver, Washington, and Scott St. Peter, of Bangor; two daughters, Holly St. Peter, of Winslow, and Megan Oliver, of Benton; two brothers, Richard St. Peter and David St. Peter; and ll grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

Memorial donations may be made to the Waterville Area Humane Society, 100 Webb Road, Waterville ME 04901.


WINSLOW––Laurie Ann Vigue, 62, of Winslow passed away unexpectedly while at work on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, in Augusta. She was born on May 22, 1955, in Orange, Texas, the oldest of four children of Donald and Jeannine (LaPointe) Breton.

She attended St. John Catholic School, Winslow public schools and graduated from Winslow High School, class of 1973. She the went to UMO where she majored in English, minored in French and received her teacher’s certificate, all in three years and with straight A’s.

Laurie was an English teacher in Searsport and then in Winslow before she became office manager at C.H. Vigue & Sons. She worked at Scott Paper Co., in Winslow, and most recently as finance manager at Maine MEP (Manufacturing Extension Partnership).

In 1979 Laurie married Richard Vigue and demonstrated her gourmet cooking skills, love of the outdoors, birds, big cats, boating, the ocean and Acadia National Park. As a young girl she especially loved being at camp on Patte Pond, learning about nature with her grandmother. She also had fond memories of the family camp on China Lake.

Laurie will be remembered for many wonderful things, most notably her smile which helped to convey her loving, caring nature as a devoted and dedicated person to all who knew her. Add intelligence, resourcefulness, compassion and passion to the mix and she was a woman who will be greatly missed.

She is survived by her husband of 38 years, Richard Vigue, of Winslow; her mother and father, of Winslow; her brother John Breton and wife Peggy, of Freedom, New Hampshire, and their daughters Melissa Coates and Samantha Breton; sister Nancy Wood and husband John, of Hollywood, South Carolina, and their son John William; brother Joey Breton, of Cape Elizabeth; two musketeers, Linda Smith and Carol Paradis; as well as a large extended family and circle of friends.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, December 27, 2017, at 11 a.m. at St John the Baptist Catholic Church, 26 Monument St., Winslow.

Please visit to share condolences, memories and tributes with her family.


UNITY––Lloyd (Buddy) Earl Burt, 85, passed away on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, at the Maine Veterans Home, in Bangor. Buddy was born on April 29, 1932, in Burnham, where he resided most of his life.

He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, stationed in Germany.

Buddy worked for several companies throughout his life, including the Hartland Tannery and Vic Firth, in Newport. Lloyd was a longtime member of the Church of Christ, in Newport.

Buddy was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He enjoyed hunting and walking to Patterson’s store every morning for the newspaper.

Lloyd was happiest when reading the newspaper and watching NASCAR, the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots and Boston Celtics games.

He was predeceased by his parents Earl and Delia (Lester) Burt; sister Etta (Burt) Kelleher and brother Raymond Burt.

Lloyd is survived by his wife Elaine (Braley) Burt; sister Dorothy Vaughan; sons, Daniel Burt and wife Coreen and Randy Burt; daughter Kathy Burt and her fiance Lucas Murdock; 10 grandchildren: Cory and his fiance Becca Libby, Kyle, Jared, Zachary, Julia, Emma, Kendra and Jacqueline Burt, Joshua Dravo and Grace Cunningham; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.

An online guestbook may be signed at

King named to NEWMAC All Sportsmanship team

Abby King, of Fairfield, a student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Worcester, Massachusetts, was one of seven fall WPI student-athletes to earn a spot on their respective sports All-Sportsmanship team. King was a field hockey selection. Now in its second year, the NEWMAC All-Sportsmanship team is intended to recognize one student-athlete from each team.

Vassalboro Selectmen plan ahead; set holiday schedule, and town meeting date for June 4

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen spent most of their Dec. 14 meeting planning ahead, including proposing multiple events in which town voters will – or should – take part.

One of the longer discussions was over the Christmas holiday schedule. State employees have been given holiday time from Friday, Dec. 22, through Tuesday, Dec. 26, and some municipalities follow the state schedule.

For Vassalboro, selectmen eventually agreed on what they consider fair treatment for town office and transfer station staff. The town office will be open until noon Friday, Dec. 22, and closed through Monday, Dec. 25. The transfer station will be open as usual Saturday, Dec. 23; on Sunday, Dec. 24, it will close at noon. Both facilities will open as usual Tuesday, Dec. 26, the transfer station at 6:30 a.m. and the town office at 8 a.m., and will be open all day.

Town Manager Mary Sabins presented a draft schedule of 2018 selectmen’s and budget committee meetings leading up to the annual town meeting. In 2018 the open town meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, June 4, with local elections and any other written-ballot items to be decided Tuesday, June 12.

As requested by selectmen, Sabins had a cost estimate for mailing a postcard reminder of the town meeting to each voter: about $1,000. Considering the expense is not in the current year’s budget, and doubting the cards would influence many voters, selectmen agreed by consensus not to do a mailing.

Also on the Dec. 14 agenda was the selectmen’s schedule of their own meetings. They agreed not to meet Thursday, Dec. 28, and to schedule their normal 2018 meetings, beginning Thursday, Jan. 11, at 6:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.

Not included in Sabins’ draft 2018 schedule are two other major items, one definite and one possible.

Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) #92 officials asked Vassalboro officials to hold a Tuesday, March 13, referendum on dissolving the AOS. Sabins had a ballot question prepared by the AOS’s attorney. She said polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the vote; she believes state law now requires that absentee ballots be available 60 days before the vote, instead of 45 days.

Selectmen were reluctant to schedule the referendum without a request from and discussion with the Vassalboro School Board, but given the absentee ballot timeline went ahead. Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus commented that either the school board or the selectmen should hold a public informational session before the vote.

Vassalboro voters might have an amended ordinance and a new ordinance to approve or reject either June 4 or June 12. If the planning board and selectmen agree to present one or both, public hearings will be required.

Codes Officer Richard Dolby gave selectmen drafts of the ordinances at the Dec. 14 meeting, an amended Building Permit Ordinance and a suggested new Tiny House Ordinance.

Dolby and planning board members have discussed the need to update the Building Permit Ordinance. Major changes are additions of references to relevant sections of the International Building Code, the International Existing Building Code and the International Residential Code. The codes are in a stack of books more than six inches high; Dolby showed selectmen a more reasonably sized summary that he said covers most local situations.

Dolby got a draft Tiny House Ordinance at a recent conference. Tiny houses, defined in the draft he has as residential buildings with less than 400 square feet of floor area, excluding lofts, are becoming more common, he said, and do not necessarily fit under building codes designed for larger residences.

Dolby also discussed with selectmen two ongoing land use violations, and board members mentioned other properties in town that appear not to conform to local regulations. Since the town attorney has not had time to address the violations, Dolby said he intended to find out procedures for beginning court action under his authority as Codes Officer. Selectmen did not object.

In other business Dec. 14, Sabins and Titus reported complaints and queries from residents visited by assessors asking to inspect their properties, part of Vassalboro’s routine quarterly reviews. Sabins said in addition to the sign on the vehicle door, assessing agents carry an identifying letter from her. Anyone uneasy about admitting them can ask them to return at another time, for example when more family members will be at home, or can refuse admission and let the assessors estimate the value of the property.

Board members approved Sabins’ draft request for bids for a new contract for solid waste hauling, with one addition. Sabins has a list of waste haulers who will be invited to bid; bids are due at the town office by noon Monday, Jan. 22.

Cemetery Committee member Jody Kundreskas asked selectmen to waive the town procurement requirement that says any purchase of goods or services over $2,500 needs to be bid out, in order to spend $3,500 plus expenses for an expert from New York State to do five days’ worth of stone repairs in Cross Hill Cemetery. Selectmen unanimously approved the waiver and asked for a more specific figure before they decide on the actual expenditure, which Sabins said would come from the Cross Hill Cemetery account.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11.

China Board to review Varney application, hold public hearing

by Mary Grow

At their Dec. 12 meeting, China Planning Board members heard pieces of two applications that will be before them again in January 2018 and later.

One they have already reviewed at length, Parris and Catherine Varney’s controversial application to use their barn at 701 Neck Road for weddings and other private, community and public events.

The second was a preliminary presentation on the proposed Dollar General store at the intersection of Route 3 and Windsor Road. Board members had numerous questions and suggestions for project representative Chris Nadeau, who said he plans to bring in a formal application in the spring of 2018.

Given the long history of reviews of the Varney project, which involved the town planning board and board of appeals and Kennebec County Superior Court, board members decided last month they need to rehear the application from the beginning. On Dec. 12, they voted unanimously that the application is complete and heard a short presentation from attorney Matt Evans, of Palermo, representing the Varneys.

Half a dozen interested residents were in the audience, and Board Chairman Tom Miragliuolo said he and the rest of the board had received numerous emails – 10 or 12, member Toni Wall estimated – supporting the application, some arriving just before the meeting.

The board therefore voted unanimously to hold a public hearing to consider public concerns and answer questions. They scheduled it for Tuesday evening, Jan. 16, a week later than their usual second-Tuesday meeting.

Nadeau said the Dollar General store will be a 7,500-square-foot building, the smallest the chain builds. The lot on which it is to sit, currently site of a house Miragliuolo said is 173 years old, is a little under an acre, barely meeting China’s minimum lot size requirement of 40,000 square feet.

The plan includes about 30 parking spaces. The entrance will be off Windsor Road, as far as possible from Route 3. Nadeau said the state Department of Transportation requires the driveway be 125 feet from the intersection, but might approve a waiver if the distance were only a little short.

Planning board members commented that drivers turning right off Route 3 are often traveling fast, creating possible problems with traffic, especially delivery trucks, turning into the store lot.

Nadeau said Dollar General stores are usually open seven days a week from 7 or 8 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. Hours vary with location and customer demand, he said.

Board members queried plans for screening the property, lighting, the well and septic system and planned dumpsters. Miragliuolo suggested Nadeau talk with neighbors about their preferences for things like screening and lighting.

The board chairman asked Nadeau if there would be extensive blasting during construction. Nadeau said test borings will locate ledge, if there is any.

Nadeau plans to submit a formal application early in 2018. Assuming approval, the tentative schedule calls for construction in the summer and a store opening in the fall. The only other permit-related item on the Dec. 12 agenda was final approval of the application for Kennebec Community Church to run a satellite church in the former Fairpoint building on Route 3. After re-reviewing the findings of fact justifying the vote that the proposal meets all China ordinance criteria, board members unanimously approved the permit.

Board members were also unanimous in agreeing not to hold a Dec. 26 meeting. The Jan. 16 hearing will be their next meeting.

Save the Mill fundraiser reaches preliminary goal

The Olde Mill Place in North Vassalboro

More needs to be done to achieve $250,000 estimate for repairs to the roof damaged in October storm

Vassalboro’s “SAVE THE MILL” Campaign and Ray Breton thank all of who were involved in hard work and donations towards repair of the roof of the Olde Mill in downtown North Vassalboro! The $7,000 mark has been reached, and they still have a long way to go!

As many of you know, The Olde Mill, in downtown North Vassalboro, sustained significant roof damage as a result of the storm of October 28 – 29, 2017. The estimate for repairs is $250,000.

The mill is owned by Raymond J. Breton. Ray shares the mill with the town.

Vassalboro Days events are held there. Halloween at the Olde Mill is an annual event.

The Community Christmas Tree and lighting ceremony are held there.

The mill houses 2,000 rubber ducks and then hosts the Double Dam Ducky Derby.

The mill serves as storage for the 100 flags that fly along Maine Street each summer.

The Vassalboro Fishing Derby is held there, as are many of theVassalboro Business Association’s Scholarship Fundraisers.
Baseball and softball training occurs upstairs all winter long.

The Girl Scout’s Annual Cookies Storage and Distribution is all at the mill.

There is a clothing closet for the local food pantry to store clothing for those in need.

These and many other community events are hosted by Ray at the mill for no charge.

Ray has created a picnic park, a brookside gazebo, and a swimming hole with life vests, canoes, a float, and slide for the town to use for free. He has created a children’s playground on the property as well as several areas for playing basketball.

Ray’s properties are noted for their psychic richness. He leads many tours through his buildings and donates those proceeds to the Vassalboro Food Pantry.

Downtown North Vassalboro has undergone a huge and beautiful transformation in the last eight years because of Ray.

Now he needs our help. There is no insurance on the mill. Ray and his friends and crew work very diligently to maintain the building, but this storm was too much. In order to save the mill, the roof will need to be repaired or else ice and rain will ruin the mill structure. Right now, after many hours of patching, the roof is rigged with tarps and tar to hopefully keep as much of the weather out as possible. But by spring, real repairs need to happen.

Many have donated anonymously at the Vassalboro branch of Maine Savings Federal Credit Union to the “Save The Mill” account. They should know their gifts are truly appreciated.

Heartfelt thanks go out to Nate Gray, Bill and Deb Johnson, Harriet Stamler, William and Betty Branch, AgMatters LLC, Dawn Cates, Tim and Debbie Giroux, Luc Beaulieu, Evan Shorey, Rocky Gravel, Margaret Dowdy, James Ashton, Jacquelyn Murphy, Frank Reynolds, Peter and Jackie Reny, Kaitlin Hosea, Robert Nixon, Judith Davidson, Kelsey Houston, James Breslin, Laura, William Whitman, Vassalboro Retired Teachers and Friends, Leonard Poulin, Lucille Roy, Richard Desmond, Juliette Akins, Carol Axtell, Chris and Amy French, the Watson Family, Kimberly Kimball and friends, and In Memory of Thelma Rancourt, and The Town Line newspaper.

Extra-special thanks also go out to the movers and shakers behind the scenes, including Don, Lisa, and Jessica Breton, Linda Ellis, Mike Vashon, Darrell Gagnon, Tiffany Luczko, Meridith Cain, Therese Burns Barnett, Victor Esposito, Stacy Thorndike, the Titus family, April Stitham-Woodbury, Johnny and Becky Goodrich, and Mr. and Mrs. Dan Rodrigue.

Vassalboro is a small town of 4,320 and so many are involved with this campaign. If we have accidently omitted your name, we are sorry. Your help is so important and needed.

We cannot forget the thousands of dollars of items donated for the raffles going on to benefit the work!

The fundraising continues! Please mark your calendar for the following events, all of which will benefit the mill:

  • Saturday, Dec. 30, from 6 p.m. on, the Taylor Road Band Benefit. Tickets are $15/person. It is a concert and potluck at the mill! Call Darrell Gagnon at 649-3626 for more information.
  • Sunday, January 21, from 4 – 6:30 p.m.. spaghetti supper and huge raffle at Vassalboro Community School. Supper Tickets are $5. Contact Meridith Cain at 458-2075
  • Sunday, February 11, from 10 a.m., the American Woolen Mill Urban Mountain Bike Fundraiser at the Mill. for more information.
  • Sunday, February 11, from 1 – 5 p.m., Vassalboro’s Annual Fishing Derby and Huge Raffle at the mill! Tickets are on sale now! Contact Linda Titus at 631-3303.
  • Saturday, April 7, from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., at the mill participate in Vassalboro’s First Indoor Yard Sale! Contact Stacy Thorndike at 446-2690 to reserve your space!
  • Saturday, April 21, from 6 to 11 p.m., a Public Paranormal Investigation by G.R.I.M. Tickets are $35 each and available from https://ghost-research-and-investigations-of-maine.ticketleap. com/save-the-mill-public-paranormal-investigation/

To keep up with all the fun-raising, please check out our “SAVE THE MILL” page on Facebook! Thank you.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Tackling Depression Can Lead To A Happier New Year


(NAPSI)—As cheerful and joyous as the New Year can be, it can also be a trigger for stress and depression for some people—but there is hope. There are many resources for people who feel wrung out ringing in the New Year.

For example, Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) can help. MFTs are licensed mental health professionals who work with individuals, couples (married or not), families of all types, and groups to cure or relieve mental, emotional and relational concerns of all kinds.

At New Year’s, or anytime, you don’t have to let depression get you down. Talking to a therapist can help.

How To Recognize Depression

To help you tell if you or someone you care about is suffering from depression, the experts at the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) offer these warning signs:

  • Feeling sad and/or irritable
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Inability to concentrate, remember things or make decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

How To Handle Depression

If these symptoms look familiar, here are some things to do right now:

  • Recognize depression early. Depression can happen to anyone. It’s not a character defect, a weakness or a shameful condition. It’s a serious disorder that no one is immune to.
  • Engage in your life. If you are depressed, you may feel like you don’t have an ounce of energy or motivation to tackle depression. Recovery, however, requires your active participation. Be willing to take the first step, even though it’s not easy.
  • Build your skills. Learn why you’re vulnerable to depression and specific ways to become more resilient by breaking unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior. Developing good coping and relationship skills can reduce both the frequency and severity of depression episodes.
  • Find the right therapist. Talking through one’s stressors and understanding the underlying causes is a proven way to effectively treat depression. Look for therapists with training and experience in treating depression, as well as someone who is warm, supportive and goal oriented. Use short telephone interviews to find a good fit with potential therapists. Ask about how they approach problems like yours.
  • Be optimistic. You have every reason to believe you can get better with effective treatment. While anti-depressants are not a cure, they can be very helpful to some people in managing depression. Whether or not you choose to use medicine to manage your symptoms, therapy can give you the long-term skills you need to live a productive, fulfilling life.

How To Learn More

For more information about how to find a therapist, visit

At New Year’s, or anytime, you don’t have to let depression get you down. Talking to a therapist can help.

Roland’s trivia question, Week of December 14, 2017

Name the original six teams of the NHL.


Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs.