Albion book group to hold first meeting; library receives shipment of new books

“Let’s Talk About It,” a book group sponsored by the Maine Humanities Council, will have its first meeting on Wednesday, February 14, at 6 p.m. If you are interested in joining, they still have a few openings.

Albion Public Library

The library has several new additions to the book shelves.

In the children’s area we have:

My Journey to the Stars, by Scott Kelly;
They All Saw a Cat, by Brendan Wenzel.
Earmuffs for Everyone (How Chester Greenwood became known as the Inventor of Earmuffs), by Meghan McCarthy.

For the Adults:

We Band of Angels (The story of the American women trapped on Bataan), by Elizabeth Norman
Quakeland (On the Road to America’s next devastating earthquake), by Kathryn Miles.
Tom Clancy’s Duty & Honor (a Jack Ryan, Jr. novel), by Grant Blackwook.
Like Melvin, by Jonathan Yars (Jonathan Yars is a pen name for Albion’s own Kyle Keenan)

AUDIO: Destiny of the Republic (a tale of Madness, Medicine and the murder of a President).

WATERVILLE: Raymond James welcomes Cheryl Flewelling

Cheryl Flewelling

David V. Smith, Branch Manager of Raymond James, welcomes Cheryl W. Flewelling as Financial Advisor. Flewelling joins the firm with 25 years of industry experience. Cheryl focuses on developing personal relationships with clients to help them define and achieve their goals, while minimizing the risks that they take.

Prior to joining Raymond James, Cheryl worked with LPL Financial, but likes to say that she ‘grew up’ at A.G. Edwards. Her time there engrained in her the client-first mentality, and she believes that by providing trusted advice and exceptional service, her clients will be successful.

“The addition of Flewelling to our Waterville office is incredibly exciting, and reunites us from our days at A.G. Edwards. She brings not only talent and expertise, but a commitment to ‘ethics and doing the right thing,’” says Dave Smith. “I know our clients are going to love her.”

Raymond James Financial, Inc. (NYSE: RJF) is a leading diversified financial services company providing private client group, capital markets, asset management, banking and other services to individuals, corporations and municipalities. The company has approximately 7,300 financial advisors in 3,000 locations throughout the United States, Canada and overseas. Total client assets are $681 billion. Public since 1983, the firm is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol RJF. Additional information is available at

New pastor to be welcomed in Weeks Mills

Weeks Mills Baptist Church

The Weeks Mills Baptist Church has appointed Nathan Bell as the new interim pastor. A meet and greet brunch is planned for Sunday, February 18, to welcome Mr. Bell and his wife Elizabeth, who reside in Unity.

The morning church service begins at 9:30 a.m. The church body extends an invitation to everyone to attend the service and the meet and greet brunch that will immediately follow the service.

Oak Grove School Foundation offers grants in 2018

The Oak Grove School Foundation is accepting applications for grants to support the education and cultural needs of students and non profit organizations in the greater Central Maine area.

Recipients must be educational, charitable or religious organizations that are tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) Of the Internal Revenue Service code.

Grant requests should be received by April 6, 2018. Funding decisions will be made in May and shortly after the funds will be distributed in July. Recent grants have ranged $500-$5,000. The OGSF has also provided seed money for initiatives that last up to three years.

Groups interested in obtaining application forms and guidelines should contact Joann Clark Austin, Oak Grove School Foundation, P.O. Box 150 South China, ME 04358-0150 or Susan Briggs at or visit

Fun day scheduled in China for February

The China Winter Family Fun Day is scheduled for Saturday, February 17, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., at the China Lake Camp and Conference Center. Admission, and all activities and food are free.

There will be a groomed sliding hill (sleds not provided), and a cardboard sled race. You build your own sled with cardboard and duct tape. There will be prizes for the race winners.

Heywood Kennel Sled Dog Adventures will have sled rides. Lunch will be provided by Big G’s Restaurant, of Winslow. Hot chocolate and s’mores will be provided.

The day is being sponsored by Mid-Maine Dental Care, of Winslow, and Bar Harbor Bank and Trust.

China selectmen prepare warrant for budget committee review

by Mary Grow

China selectmen spent much of their Feb. 5 meeting putting the warrant for the March 24 town business meeting in absolutely final form, in preparation for review by the budget committee the evening of Feb. 6. The last few changes they approved included renumbering the articles, because one number was omitted as drafts changed; deleting an unnecessary reference in the funding article for the LakeSmart program; and increasing the amount they recommended for the China Village library from $100 to $4,500, matching the recommendation for the South China library.

The article that will be renumbered 34 asks voters to appropriate up to $20,000 for the LakeSmart program, which helps lakefront property owners on China Lake control run-off to protect water quality. As drafted, the article included a clause requiring Selectboard approval for spending any of the money “to advance an interest in real property.” LakeSmart spokeswoman Linda O’Connor said the program has no intention of acquiring any such interest; the clause was removed.

In what will be Art. 26, selectmen initially recommended voters give $4,500 to the South China Library and $100 to the Albert Church Brown Memorial Library in China Village, run by the China Library Association. Their rationale was that the China Village library had less need of money, because the association has an endowment fund that totaled more than $450,000 before the recent stock market declines.

Association President Tom Parent explained that a maximum of four percent, $20,000 to $22,000, is withdrawn annually so that the fund will keep the library running in perpetuity. The library’s annual operating budget is around $32,000, Parent said. The difference is made up by donations, numerous fund-raising projects and the town stipend.

Challenged by board Chairman Robert MacFarland for keeping the funds in the comparatively volatile stock market, Parent pointed out that the interest earned on a savings account or bond fund would not begin to cover annual expenses.

Selectmen voted unanimously to increase the recommended appropriation. They did not accept Parent’s second request, that they rewrite the article so that it would allow voters to choose the amount to give each library, below, at or above the recommended amounts.

The library funding article and a few others in the March 24 warrant are closed or capped: the recommended funding amount appears in the body of the article. Most of the rest of China’s expenditure articles begin with “To see what sum” and have amounts as recommendations by the selectmen and budget committee added below the articles; they are called open articles.

Town meeting rules say that when an article is closed, voters can approve the amount as stated or a smaller amount, but not a larger amount. When an article is open, voters can appropriate whatever they see fit.

Parent argued that open articles are more democratic. MacFarland said having all open articles makes it possible for special-interest groups to increase funding beyond selectmen’s intentions, unbalancing town finances.

China’s annual town business meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, March 24, at China Primary School.

In other business Feb. 5, selectmen voted unanimously to begin the process of seeking a successor to Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux, who plans to retire in June. They rejected O’Connor’s suggestion that they add four residents, one from each area of town, to a selection committee, saying that interviewing and hiring the town manager is the selectmen’s job.

They accepted Thomas Michaud’s resignation as at-large (elected from anywhere in town) planning board member and agreed to advertise the vacant seat.

The selectmen’s meeting was preceded by a bicentennial celebration in the former portable classroom, at which Bicentennial Coordinator Neil Farrington and about three dozen residents of all ages discussed China’s history, and a fireworks display that audience members agreed was one of the best in China in years. The occasion was the 200th anniversary, to the day, of the creation of the Town of China from parts of Harlem (the southern part of present-day China), Albion (then Fairfax) and Winslow.

Letters to the editor, Week of February 8, 2018

Thanks to volunteers

To the editor:

The China Food Pantry exists because of volunteers. Every week four drivers travel to collect fresh items to be distributed on Friday and Saturday. These items are then sorted and prepared both mornings so as to offer good quality shopping. Because of the generosity of three Hannaford stores, Friehoffers Bread Outlet, in Fairfield, Bagelmania, Little Debbie’s, and food donations from community people, we have a wonderful selection of nutritious products for families feeling the “crunch” of winter costs. Kind locals plow the snow and sand the front driveway as their contribution to making China a safer community for all. Money donations arrive regularly from individuals, businesses, churches and local organizations making it possible to buy staple items and put gas in the pantry truck. Our thanks to everyone who has a part in making China a wonderful place to live.

Ann Austin
China Community Food Pantry

Please support benefit fishing derby

To the editor:

There is an ice fishing derby this weekend, organized by the Vassalboro Business Association. Proceeds are to benefit “Save the Mill,” which is a great cause. Tickets are available at The Olde Mill Store, Maine Savings FCU, and the Vassalboro Town Office. I’d like to encourage people to support the derby and Save the Mill, by buying a few tickets, even if they don’t enjoy ice fishing. I’d like to encourage people to contribute directly to Save the Mill. There is an account at the Maine Savings Federal Credit Union, in North Vassalboro. I have been there. They will accept a check payable to “Save the Mill.”

There was also an article in The Town Line in the February 1, 2018, issue describing the derby and where to buy tickets, and an article about Save the Mill.

I’d like to encourage members of the Webber Pond Association to contribute to Save the Mill and maybe indicate that you are affiliated with WPA.

Frank Richards
President, Webber Pond Association

Give Us Your Best Shot! week of February 8, 2018

BLINKSY’S BLUE JAYS: Michael Bilinsky captured these Blue Jays in China Village.


CARDINAL BEAUTY: Michael Bilinsky’s camera also caught a great shot of this beautiful female cardinal.


REPRINT: This cicada was photographed by Jayne Winters, of China. A photo previously printed did not reproduce properly. It was a technical error.

Have you taken a photo that highlights our local beauty? Visit our Contact page or email it to us at!

Branch Mills Dam project update

The Branch Mills Dam before the mill was razed. Photo from Krisweb

by Bob Van Riper

Branch Mills Dam is one of three major barrier removal projects in the Sheepscot River corridor being undertaken by the Midcoast Conservancy, the Atlantic Salmon Federation and other conservation partners. The primary intent of these projects is the restoration of fish passage for a variety of sea-run fish species to the river. Branch Mills Dam is the only project sited on the West Branch of the river.

An example of an Alaskan steeppass fishway installed below the bridge on Souadabscook Stream in Hampden, Maine. (Photo source: Atlantic Salmon Federation)

Goals for the project are to update the structural condition of the dam to safe standards, install a Steeppass fishway, create a hand-carry boat launch for public access, develop and install security and safety structures and landscape the site.

The Branch Mill structure was removed in July 2017 in advance of a purchase and sale agreement between the owner Branch Mills Flour and Grain and the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF). In late July, ASF met with the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) to assess the structural condition of the dam without the presence of the mill structure, which had formerly rested on the spillway of the dam. No engineering plans for the original construction or subsequent repairs are known to exist. Consensus resulting from the review determined the need for an engineering evaluation of the condition of the dam, along with design details for any required repair of the structure. In addition MEMA indicated that an update of the Emergency Action Plan for the dam was necessary and MDEP said that the existing operation plan was insufficient and needed to be rewritten. Additionally, prior evaluations by MEMA indicated that the deep gates were inoperable due to partial collapse of the mill structure.

In August, the owner of the dam demonstrated that all three deep gates in the structure were operational.

This photo shows the old abandoned mill that sat on top of the dam at the outlet of Branch Pond at the headwaters of the West Branch Sheepscot River. This dam has no fish passage facilities. The mill has since been demolished.
Photos courtesy China Town Office

ASF acquired the dam and adjacent property in September 2017. Removal of the mill building, which had formerly served as access for and housed the hoisting system for the deep gates, left the mechanism exposed. ASF attempted to retain a building contractor to build a housing structure and an access walkway for the gate mechanism. For large contractors, the job was too small to be of interest, smaller contractors lacked sufficient insurance to comply with OSHA regulations. ASF then searched for a temporary means of access. Currently, ASF is working on using prefabricated metal staging planks with railings for access to the gates until construction of the project begins and permanent structures are built.

In October, ASF wrote an Operational Plan for the dam based on the current water level and outflow requirements stated in the MDEP Water Level Order for Branch Pond. The organization also developed an Emergency Action Plan in coordination with MEMA. Both plans were accepted by the respective agencies in mid-November. The Emergency Action Plan was subsequently revised and resubmitted in January 2018 after comments offered by several responders.

In November 2017, an MOU was developed and signed between ASF and the Branch Pond Association (BPA) initiating a partnership in the operation of the dam. Also in November, a Request for Proposals for engineering services was advertised. An on-site meeting was held in early December with prospective consultants to describe aspects of the work and answer any questions in regards to the proposed scope of work. As a result, ASF retained the services of Kleinschmidt Associates, of Pittsfield, in January 2018 to provide a design for a Steep pass fishway, an evaluation of the dam, provide design for correcting structural deficiencies, designing a hand-carry boat launch, design and installation of access and cover structures and other site improvements. Kleinschmidt will commence its efforts beginning with a kick off meeting in February 2018.

Bob Van Riper is with the Midcoast Conservancy of the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

The state of disrepair of the old Branch Pond Mill. Photos courtesy China Town Office

China Bicentennial Celebration on Monday, February 5 at 5 p.m.

2018 China Bicentennial FIREWORKS

Monday, February 5

Portable building at the Town Office complex

Cake, coffee and cocoa served at 5 p.m.

Fireworks at 6 p.m.

(Park at the China Town Office)