China voters approve all warrant items but one

by Mary Grow

China voters approved all but one of the 43 articles in the warrant for their March 24 annual town business meeting.

Art. 41 was defeated on a written vote of 38 in favor to 48 opposed. The article asked authorization to spend $100 to buy the Branch Mills Union Church and up to another $80,000 from donations, grants and if applicable China’s Tax Increment Finance (TIF) fund to maintain the historic building. The proposal came from Selectman and Bicentennial Coordinator Neil Farrington, who stressed the importance of preserving tangible pieces of China’s past. He also urged treating China’s four villages equally, pointing out that the town is financing causeway improvements near China Village and the one-room schoolhouse in Weeks Mills and has installed sidewalks in South China.

Hugh Krajewski, one of the church directors, said Branch Mills residents support preserving the church as a multi-purpose secular community center and consider tearing down the building “not a viable option.” The town would have a better chance of getting preservation grants than would the church directors, he said.

Click the picture above to download the China Town Report for 2018 in pdf format.

Budget committee member Wayne Chadwick said preservation should be done by the China Historical Society or another private entity, not by taxpayers. He pointed out that in the Palermo half of Branch Mills Village are a newer church and a Grange Hall that could serve as community centers.

Former Selectman Ronald Breton said the TIF Committee had not been consulted on the possible use of TIF money. He added that “a selectman” – he declined to say which one – told him repairs and maintenance would be likely to cost $200,000 rather than the $80,000 in the warrant article.

Another historic preservation proposal, the request for up to $20,000 to install water and a septic system at the Weeks Mills schoolhouse, also generated debate, but was approved, not unanimously, by a show of hands. Farrington said the work would make the building usable as a community center for Weeks Mills or, now that it has internet, as a virtual school.

Chadwick opposed this expenditure, too, questioning the need for local centers now that transportation is easy, citing the shortage of land for a septic system and for parking and asking whether the additions would fit the building’s historic character.

Farrington said parking could be at the church across the road and that a neighbor is willing to share part of his land. Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux added that the Weeks Mills Water Company has agreed to extend a line to the building, and that when it was a school it had running water and a “primitive waste system.”

The other request approved only after debate was for a new precrusher-compactor for demolition and debris at the transfer station (Art. 17). The equipment would cost more than $56,000; Chadwick and others questioned whether it was a good investment.

Members of the Transfer Station Committee, which endorsed the proposal, said the new equipment would be used mostly to crush bulky items like sofas and mattresses so that each load shipped out for landfilling would have more in it. Since the town pays by the load, increasing the tonnage in each load from about six to about 10 tons would save money.

The new compactor would also save wear and tear on the loader that transfer station staff now use as an improvised crusher, would save staff time and would be safer, Paul Lucas and Linda O’Connor said. It would be a back-up for busy days or if the main compactor had a problem. Since the current hopper dates from around 1990, Farrington called a back-up a good idea.

There was disagreement over how long it would take the equipment to pay for itself, with opponents claiming up to 17 years and supporters saying if quantities of debris continue to increase and hauling costs rise the payback could be five or six years.

Art. 17 also included a little more than $24,000 for a new forklift. Transfer Station Committee Chairman Frank Soares said the one now in use needs $3,000 worth of repairs and would still be of doubtful reliability.

Another new proposal that voters approved was to spend up to $22,000 to update China’s comprehensive plan, with the understanding most of the money would be used to hire a consultant. Residents interested in serving on a committee to oversee the project are invited to contact the town office.

The business meeting began with election of Richard Thompson as moderator for, he said, about the 13th year. Voters heard brief presentations from state Senate candidates John Glowa, of China, and Matthew Pouliot, of Augusta; state House candidates Dawn Castner and incumbent Timothy Theriault, both of China; and gubernatorial candidate Mary Mayhew, of China.

During a scheduled break in business, Selectman Irene Belanger asked for audience appreciation of China’s firefighters, rescue unit members and police officers and announced Spirit of America awards for volunteerism to one individual and one group.

She recognized L’Heureux’s retirement after 22 -1/2 years as China’s town manager and said he deserves the Spirit of America award for all the extra time he has put in. The audience gave him standing applause. The other Spirit of America recipients were those overseeing and organizing programs in the China school forest behind China Primary School: Tim Basham, Elaine Philbrook and Robin Tobey, all of China, and Claire Heffernan, school health coordinator for Regional School Unit (RSU) #18.

Obituaries, Week of March 29, 2018


WINSLOW––Patricia “Pat” Reny, 91, passed away at home on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

She was the wife of the late Raymond J. Reny who passed away on December 7, 2017. Together they raised six children, all of whom they were very proud.

Patricia started her working career at C. F. Hathaway Shirt Factory, in Waterville, as a stitcher for many years, then worked at the chicken hatchery and sold many veggies at “Pat’s Wayside Garden”.

Patricia celebrated her family in the way only mothers know how, through their love of food and gathering. She shared her spirit of cooking with everyone she loved, and although few have mastered her recipes, they will be remembered by many. And what fun would a family gathering be, without a deck of cards (seven and up only!), and pairing-up for a game of Charlie.

Pat was spritely at the table and could outwit us all. Even in her last days she continued to enjoy crossword puzzles with her family by her side; the Morning Sentinel jumble rarely left undone. The joy, caring and patience she shared with her family will be missed.

Patricia is survived by her son Edward Reny and wife Beth; five daughters: Elizabeth Heavener and husband William, Paula Young and husband Terry, Carolyn LeClair and husband Jerome, Rebecca Theriault and husband Gregory, Lisa LaChance and husband Frank; and many grandchildren: Lance, Jeanine, Lonnie, Deanna, Deidre, Jennifer, Jason, Julie, Hanna, Timothy, Renee, Matthew, Chris and Cody; along with 22 great-grandchildren. Patricia was one of seven children of Patrick and Ludivine LaChance.

She is survived by her brother Arthur LaChance and wife Gerry, sisters Dorothy Reny and Jacqueline Plourde and husband Arthur.
She was predeceased by her brothers Edmond and Larry LaChance and Cleo Fortin. A special thanks to sister-in-law Muriel Grenier, the only surviving sibling of her husband Raymond Reny.

An online guestbook may be signed and condolences expressed at

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: St. John Regional Catholic School, 15 S. Garand Street, Winslow, Maine 04901, or one of your choice.


WATERVILLE––Geraldine B. Ouellette passed away on Saturday, March 17, 2018, at Woodlands Assisted Living, in Waterville. Gerry was born in Skowhegan, November 16, 1930, the daughter of John and Imelda Miller.

Educated in Skowhegan schools, Geraldine worked at Norwalk Shoe Co., in Skowhegan, until she married her husband, Fredrick Ouellette. They moved to Madison and lived there until his death in 1997. Gerry moved back to Skowhegan and lived there until she moved to Woodlands Assisted Living, in Waterville.

Gerry was the oldest of five sisters who were commonly referred to as the “Golden Girls” for the close love and relationship they shared. With no surviving Children of her own, Gerry loved and doted on her many nieces and nephews. Her favorite days were spending time with family, enjoying sing-alongs, cookouts and many rides around Maine. Gerry was a devout Catholic enjoying 50 years as a member of the Daughters of Isabella.

Gerry was predeceased by her husband Fred; her child Jeffrey; her brother Jack Miller, and sisters Mary Wilcox and Patricia Schinzel.

She is survived by her sisters Eleanor Bouchard, of Skowhegan, and Kathleen Potelle, of Fairfield; and many nieces and nephews.


VASSALBORO––Ardath E. (Farnham) Wood, 75, died Sunday, March 18, 2018, at her home, following a long illness. She was born in Boothbay Harbor, on November 8, 1942, the daughter of the late Isaac A. and Eleanor J. (Chase) Farnham.

Mrs. Wood was a 1961 high school graduate of Boothbay Region High School. In March 2000, she retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs at Togus with over 29 years of service. Some of her favorite hobbies included gardening, knitting, reading, baking and traveling.

She was predeceased by her husband, Daniel W. Wood; a step-son, Karl E. Larrabee; and a step-daughter, Barbara Mitchell.

Mrs. Wood is survived by two sons, Mark L. Larrabee, of Phoenix, Arizona, and Timothy K. Larrabee, of Vassalboro; two daughters, Denise E. Jones, of Vassalboro, and Mista E. Tessio, of Hope; her brother, William A. Farnham, of Somerville; a step-son, James Larrabee, of South China; a step-daughter, Carol McIntyre, of Medway; five grandchildren: Krystle, Benjamin, Alisha, Kayla and Elisabeth; two great-grandchildren, Abby and Hannah; as well as several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Condolences, photos and stories may be shared at:

Those who desire may make donations in Ardath’s memory to: Kennebec Valley Humane Society, 10 Pet Haven Lane, Augusta, Maine 04330.


ALBION––Phyllis Arlene “Young” Lee passed away on Sunday, March 18, 2018, at Inland Hospital, following a brief illness.Phyllis was born on October 6, 1921, and lived a very long life of 96 years.

She lost her son Charlton at the age of 18 which left a huge hole in her heart.

Phyllis loved working with her hands, crocheting beautiful quilts, needle point, quilting very colorful pot holders, and stained glass was another of her many projects and talents. She loved the outdoors, gardening, perch fishing, fiddle heading and most of all berry picking. She was a great cook; many blueberry muffins and pies were made to be shared with her family and friends at Meadow by the Brook.

Phyllis was a member of the Washburn Brann Ward Post.

She was predeceased by her parents Enoch and Eunise Young; her first husband Leon Brann; son Carleton Brann; her second husband Ellis Lee; her brothers Maurice, Basil, Donald, Stanley, Warren and Waldo; and sisters Alberta and Imogne.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made on her behalf to any charitable organization.


WINSLOW––Anette E. Lovejoy, 70, of Winslow, passed away unexpectedly Monday, March 19, 2018, at Inland Hospital, Waterville. She was born in Waterville on July 7, 1947, the daughter of Basil and Maxine (Palmer) Rines.

Anette was a cake decorator and retired from the bakery of Sam’s Club, in Augusta. She enjoyed going out with her daughter Joyce for paint night, spending time with her daughter Becky at the pool, and being with her daughter Janet who lived with her and spent every day in their garage dayroom. She also enjoyed her time with her grandson, Devin, who would spend time cooking dinner for her and her grandson Justin, who was there to fix any of her mechanical needs from car to lawn mower.

Anette is survived by her husband Ted, of Winslow; three daughters, Janet Rogers, of Winslow, and her children Nichole and Matthew, Becky Ouellette and husband Steven, of Oakland and their children Myriah, Devin and Cody, Joyce Castonguay and husband Darrell, of Winslow, and their children Danielle and Justin; one sister Jo An Hogan and husband Eddy, of Salem, New Hampshire; four step-sons, Todd, Mark, Danny and Jay Lovejoy; and several great-grandchildren.

An online guestbook may be signed and condolences expressed at


STEVEN W. DAVIS JR., 35, of Waldoboro, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, February 27, 2018, at his home. Locally, he is survived by a daughter, Jenna May Davis, and Steven’s former wife, Melody M. Davis, of Washington.

ARMAND LACROIX, 72, of Augusta, passed away on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, at the Comfort Care Unit at MaineGeneral Rehabilitation and Long Term Care at Glenridge, Augusta. Locally, he is survived by sisters Theresa Smith, Lorraine Ladd and husband Donald, all of Augusta, and Jeannette Gay, of Weeks Mills.

STEVEN W. CHICOINE, 65, of Portland, passed away on Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Portland. Locally, he is survived by his former wife, Alice Chicoine, of Windsor.

LUCILLE McDONALD, 81, of Embden, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, March 15, 2018, at Eastern Maine Medical Center, in Bangor. Locally, she is survived by her children, Randy and Linda Cates, of Bingham, Robert McDonald, of Bingham, Lisa and Peter Foss, of Embden, and Dwayne McDonald, of Oakland.


BARBARA A. WILSON, 70, of Farmingdale, formerly of Whitefield, passed away on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, at Captain Lewis Residence, in Farmingdale. She attended school in Jefferson and also attended Erskine Academy, in South China. She worked at Digital, SCI, in Augusta, and Whitefield Superette. Locally, she is survived by a son, Warner Wilson and wife Becky, of Jefferson.

Coming of Age in Waldo County

Palermo Community Center (Photo by Connie Bellet)

As part of the Evolving Communities Presentation Series, the Palermo Community Center will present guest speaker Patricia Oh on Friday, March 30, following a potluck dinner at 6 p.m.

Patricia Oh, LMSW, is a liveable communities consultant with AARP Maine. She works with communities that want to adopt policies, make infrastructure changes, create social and recreational opportunities, and develop services to encourage everyone–from toddlers to centenarians–to be fully engaged in the community while enjoying good health and well-being. As part of her association with age-friendly communities in Maine, Ms. Oh works with a number of people who have formed a group called Aging Well in Waldo County, with the purpose of creating much more liveable, attractive towns that are easier to navigate without great dependence on private transportation. Waldo County is the first county that has joined the Liveable Communities Initiative.

Accessibility is an issue that is certain to arise during this discussion, as is isolation of many of our homebound and disabled citizens who do not drive. Bring your ideas, questions, and a dish to share! This round table of neighbors is sure to get you out of hibernation. The driveway off Turner Ridge Road is marked by a lit sign, and is right across from the ball field.

For more information, please call Connie Bellet at 993-2294, or e-mail

Erskine Academy announces school calendar change

Parents and students should be advised of a change to Erskine Academy’s school calendar due to excessive storm days. Friday, April 13, will now 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.

Tyler receives MPA principal’s award at Erskine

Caleb Tyler

Erskine Academy Headmaster Michael McQuarrie is pleased to announce that Caleb Tyler of Palermo, a senior at Erskine, has been selected to receive the 2018 Principal’s Award. The award, sponsored by the Maine Principal’s Asso­ciation, is given in recognition of a high school senior’s academic excellence, outstanding school citizenship, and leadership.

Tyler is a consistent high-honors student in a highly competitive academic program with numerous Advanced Placement and Concurrent Enrollment classes with nearby colleges. He received formal commendation from his teachers for excellence and outstanding achievement in the sciences, mathematics, and social studies, and he is a standout athlete in both soccer and lacrosse.

“Caleb is esteemed by his teachers and peers, earning and enjoying universal acceptance in the school community. He is an exemplary student and fine ambassador of Erskine Academy and young people in general, and he personifies the school’s core values of scholarship, leadership, stewardship, and relationships,” noted Headmaster McQuarrie when making the award.

Tyler, McQuarrie, and other award winners and their principals will attend an Honors Luncheon at the Spectacular Event Center in Bangor on Saturday, April 7, 2018, at 12:30 p.m.

The Honors Luncheon recognizes these outstanding students with the presentation of an individual plaque and the awarding of five $1,000 scholarships in the names of Horace O. McGowan and Richard W. Tyler; both were former Maine principals and executive directors of the Association. Additionally, five $1,000 scholarships will be presented through the efforts of the MPA Scholarship Golf Tournament.

The Principal’s Award is presented in more than 100 Maine public and private high schools by member principals of the MPA, the professional association that represents Maine’s school administrators.

Vassalboro department heads submit requests to budget committee


by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Transfer Station George Hamar would like a new “can,” a 40-cubic-yard bin to hold rubbish.

Police Chief Mark Brown wants to replace his cruiser with almost 90,000 miles on it while it has trade-in value and before it starts “nickel and diming the town” for repairs.

Fire Chief Eric Rowe wants a metal roof on the Riverside Fire Station, and he’d like town voters to allocate $3,300 to hire annual hose and ladder testing done, instead of asking volunteer firefighters to spend six or seven week-nights on the tedious but vital jobs.

Rescue Director Dan Mayotte thinks his volunteers deserve a $5 reimbursement for each call to help cover fuel costs. In 2017, he said, rescue responded to 342 calls, 52 more than in 2016; there are six volunteers on the roster and two more people completing training who, he hopes, will join.

Public Works Director Eugene Field recommends replacing one of his trucks, using arguments similar to Chief Brown’s about trade-in value and future repair costs. He’d also like a new generator and a power washer at the town garage.

Town Manager Mary Sabins says if Vassalboro Community School is to become the town’s emergency shelter, a big generator will be needed there, too. Even if the town could get a federal emergency grant to cover some of the cost, a local match would be required.

These wish list items, how much road repaving should and can be done annually, and similar municipal expenditure issues took up the budget committee’s March 20 meeting. No recommendations were made, because the committee, the selectmen and Sabins still need to see the proposed 2018-19 school budget to get a complete view of future needs.

The March 13 decision to dissolve Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) #92 and let Vassalboro hire its own part-time superintendent and contract for other central office services is expected to save money in the administration section of the school budget next year. However, administration is a small part of the whole budget.

The schedule distributed at the March 20 meeting calls for the budget committee to review the proposed school budget at a 7 p.m. meeting Thursday, March 29, at Vassalboro Community School (following a special school board meeting to discuss the budget, according to Sabins). Future budget committee meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, at the school for continued school budget discussion and Thursday, April 12, at 7 p.m. at the town office to make recommendations on the town meeting warrant (the list of items voters will be asked to accept, amend or reject).

Selectmen have scheduled a special meeting for 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, for their annual review of Sabins’ job performance. The meeting will be entirely in executive session (not open to the public), as state law allows.

The next regular selectmen’s meetings are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19, to review the warrant and Thursday, May 3, to sign it so it can go to the printer the next day.

Vassalboro voters will make final spending decisions at the annual town meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 4, at Vassalboro Community School. Local elections and any other written-ballot measured will be decided Tuesday, June 12, with polls open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the town office.

During discussion of paving work March 20, Selectman Lauchlin Titus said the state’s planned rebuilding of Route 32 through East and North Vassalboro has been postponed to the 2020 construction season, so that the Vassalboro Sanitary District can get its new lines laid along the road before the road is widened and repaved. The sewer work connecting Vassalboro to Winslow is scheduled for 2019, he said.

The many roles of RSU #18’s SROs

by Mandi Favreau

Tracey “Frosty” Frost, SRO for RSU18

When students arrive at Messalonskee High School, the first face they often see is that of Detective Tracey Frost.  “Frosty” as the kids call him, is a reassuring presence, rather than an intimidating one. He has a booming “good-morning,” a witty comment for each kid, and can call most of them by name.

At Messalonskee Middle School, Sergeant Adam Sirois starts his day in a similar manner, greeting students with a smile and a quiet “hello,” complimenting their hat, asking about their weekend. “He is always chatting with the kids, either one on one or in small groups,” said head Administrative Assistant Tracey Foster.

For both of these men, their day is spent wearing many hats.  A school resource officer (SRO) is part counselor, part teacher, part enforcer, and part defender.  There’s no such thing as a typical day in the life of an SRO; they simply play too many roles in the school setting. “I try to fulfill whatever need is present,” said Detective Frost. “I’ve investigated threats, searched students for weapons, taught young men how to tie ties, investigated DHHS issues and sexual assaults, assisted in drug investigations, delivered death notifications, assisted with suicidal students, handled traffic complaints, stood by for custody disputes, taught classes in Civics, Health and Criminal Justice, recovered lost property and investigated sexting complaints.  Every once in a while, I get to sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee.”

Police Chief Mike Tracy

The student resource officer program in RSU #18 started in January of 1999 with now Police Chief Mike Tracy as the district’s first SRO. The SROs are always Oakland Police Officers but are also deputized as Kennebec County Sheriffs in order to be able to cover all the schools in the district as needed. “The schools and the police department have always had a very strong relationship, even before the start of the program,” said Chief Tracy. He added that while the job has changed with the times, the basics have stayed the same.  ”We work together with the safety of the students in mind.”

While the national media has, naturally, been focusing on the role that school resource officers may play during an incident of school violence, that is only one of the many situations where these officers may be called on to protect students. According to Superintendent Carl Gartley, having armed SROs has been key in keeping students safe in a variety of situations that could have become much more difficult without their intervention.

Their presence is also extremely reassuring to the school community.  “Students and parents appreciate having Detective Frost in our building as he is a great resource for them to reach out to when they have specific issues that they need help with,” said MHS Principal Paula Callan. She also added that he is the school’s “go-to person” for delivering food baskets and gifts to families over the holidays, and behind the scenes, he is in charge of running drills and updating staff on security protocol.

Frost acknowledges that though his role at the high-school is primarily that of protector and investigator, he feels he is most effective as a mentor.   “I try to position myself to be approachable,” said Frost.  “When a student wants to talk about what’s going on at home, or online, I want them to feel comfortable coming to see me with the assurance that I will do my best to help.” He added that he believes that this is the best defense against potential school violence. “Students feel comfortable texting, emailing or talking to me. I am usually successful at getting information that a problem exists before it becomes a fight or something worse.”

Forging relationships with the students they work with is key for SROs to be effective. For Sirois, it’s also his favorite part of the job. Many of the students he works with frequently need more “positive interaction with adult authority figures,” and providing that can have a huge impact.  “Adam builds great relationships with students and has many discussions with them on topics around bullying, being safe online, avoiding legal issues and other topics,” said MMS Principal Mark Hatch.

Detective Tracey Frost congratulating graduates

The job also has its fair share of challenges. For Frost, the biggest one is the heartache of knowing that 90 percent of the students he interacts with in his official role grew up in poverty with little to no positive parenting; this makes reaching them difficult.  “I deal with the same 20 students over and over again,” said Frost. “Sometimes this is very challenging and, quite frankly, tiring.” He agrees with Sirois that being able to make a difference with those kids is the greatest reward. “Every once in a while, I get a victory where a student who is going down a hard road gets in trouble and I am able to turn that kid’s life around.”

Safety in our schools has always been a priority in RSU #18 and will continue to be so. “Unfortunately, just living in rural Maine is no longer enough to say we are safe,” said Superintendent Carl Gartley.  “In today’s world, we need to have our building secure, we need to have buzz-in systems and cameras in our schools.” He added that the schools and town are working together to explore a variety of additional improvements that can be made to our security protocol, from the possibility of additional resource officers to modifications in the physical structures of some of the buildings.

Both Detective Frost and Sergeant Sirois feel that there is a lot to be said for the current state of security in the district, despite some architectural challenges in the older schools. “Our crisis plans are state of the art and are updated regularly,” said Frost. “We have more SROs than any other district in the area. Our management team takes security seriously. We have a substantial number of cameras. We work well with surrounding police and fire departments.” He added that there is a balance to be had between ensuring safety and turning our schools into prisons. “We want to remain a welcoming environment, not a detention facility.  It’s a balance that everyone is struggling with.”

This article first appeared on the RSU18 website.

Making China a place to last a lifetime

by Eric W. Austin

Pssst! I know a bit about my fellow China residents. I know, for example, that 96 percent of you want to stay in China as you age. In fact, on the whole, most of you think China is a pretty great place to live. There is high confidence in our emergency services, with 93 percent of you happy with the Volunteer Fire Department, 89 percent satisfied with ambulance and rescue services, and 87 percent pleased with the response from law enforcement.

Now, how do I know this? I didn’t go around and ask everyone in town. Thankfully, I didn’t have to. There’s a committee dedicated to doing just that. It’s called the China for a Lifetime Committee (CFAL). Members were appointed by the China Board of Selectmen back in April 2017, with the first committee meeting in May. The committee is headed up by Chairman Christopher Hahn, owner of 3 Level Farm, a 145-acre, diversified organic farm in China.

You might remember a survey sent out by the committee last October. The four-page questionnaire was mailed to every seventh household in China and distributed in the October 18 edition of The Town Line. Copies were also available from the town office and the transfer station between October 18 and November 30.

A total of 291 China residents completed the survey and the results were collated and shown to the committee in January. The survey was developed, distributed, and analyzed by the committee with technical assistance from Patricia Oh, of Bowdoin, a consultant with the Tri-State Learning Collaborative on Aging.

I asked Hahn about the committee’s motivations for sending out the survey. “What we’re trying to do is learn, from all of the citizens of China, what types of services, facilities and systems will enhance their lives and make them want to live a lifetime in China,” he told me. “For a single senior citizen, it will be one thing. For a 20-year-old, just joining the workforce, it will likely be something else. We hope to connect the dots through better systems of communication and networking.”

That sentiment was certainly front and center at the committee’s meeting last month, where they discussed the survey results and set priorities on what to tackle first. The number one issue that kept cropping up was ‘Better Communication.’

Part of the survey centered on social activities in China. Although 70 percent of respondents were satisfied with the activities available in China, the top reason given by those that weren’t was a lack of information. In other words, people want to be involved, but are not aware of what there is to be involved in.

Similarly, many people were unaware that places like the South China Community Church or local Masonic Lodges had programs open to the public. Did you know the China Conference Center has a gymnasium that is available for public use by the residents of China? Did you know China has an emergency shelter with its own water, septic and generator for electricity? I sure didn’t.

A much more difficult question is how to go about improving communication by making information more available and easier to find. A number of ideas were offered by committee members and mentioned by respondents in their comments on the survey. Among them was the suggestion of expanding the Tuesday Notice, an announcement that currently focuses on school news and events. Another was to create a ‘Friends of China’ Facebook group, where activities could be announced. The most promising idea was to expand The Town Line’s online ‘Calendar of Events’ page into an exhaustive, and searchable, community calendar.

According to the CFAL survey, 77 percent of you already turn to The Town Line for information about local activities. I asked Roland Hallee, managing editor of The Town Line, what he thought about the idea of hosting a community calendar. “I think it’s a terrific idea,” he told me. “The Town Line has been the voice of China and the surrounding communities for the past 30 years. Now that we’re online, it only makes sense that becomes the online portal for information about what is going on in the town. We have been discussing ways to improve our Calendar of Events page and will help the CFAL committee achieve its goals in any way we can.”

Respondents to the survey were also looking for more activities for their age group. Only 39 percent of those surveyed thought there were enough programs for youth and children and many were looking for additional activities for kids that do not participate in sports. Adults also expressed an interest in more activities, with wellness programs, outdoor recreation, lifelong learning and socialization opportunities topping the list. However, it is unclear whether there is an actual lack of opportunities or just insufficient information about those already available.

China residents are generally generous folks, with 38 percent of respondents saying they volunteer on town committees or for local charity organizations. Some respondents expressed a desire to volunteer but did not know what needs there were in the community. To that end, The Town Line will be adding a special “Volunteering” section to our classifieds page. All listings will be free. If you run a community organization and you need volunteers, or if you are a citizen and want to give your time to a worthy cause, send The Town Line an email with the subject “Volunteer Classifieds” and we will list you in the new Volunteering section of the weekly classifieds for free! (This service will be available for all towns where The Town Line is distributed, not just China.)

The CFAL survey identified some needs and areas for improvement in our community as well. Nearly 40 percent of those who responded admitted they were having difficulties financially, and 15 percent said they sometimes did not have enough food to eat. Surprisingly, only 3 percent have used the services of the China Food Pantry. (Local food pantries with operational hours can be found at

About 12 percent of those surveyed said their homes are not warm enough during winter months. And while only 3 percent stated their homes were missing smoke detectors, 24 percent did not have carbon monoxide detectors and 16 percent did not have a working fire extinguisher. This subject is of special importance to the CFAL Committee, and they are looking for a way to make sure all China homes are at least equipped with smoke detectors. The Volunteer Fire Department used to give them out but had to stop for liability reasons. The committee is currently looking for a way to get around this problem of liability.

Another goal of the committee has been to look at the services available to our senior residents. According to the 2016 U.S. Census data, 12 percent of our population is over the age of 65, with another 9 percent reaching retirement age within the next five years. That’s a pretty sizable portion of our population, but currently, there is no senior housing facility located in China. Our older citizens are often forced to move out of town, to Waterville or Skowhegan, and away from family and friends when no longer able to live on their own.

Joann Austin, member of the CFAL committee and retired selectman, is particularly passionate on this subject. “Our older population in China is growing,” she said about the initiative. “They are an important part of this town and we need a local facility so they can stay here and continue to contribute to the community as they grow older.”

The China for a Lifetime Committee’s work is only just begun, but with the completion of the survey they’ve taken a major step toward their goal: to make China a town where you’d want to spend a lifetime.

Based on the survey results and community feedback, the CFAL committee plans to release an action plan sometime in the late Spring of 2018. The official assessment and analysis of the survey results can be found at the town office or on their website.

Are you interested in making a difference in China? The China for a Lifetime Committee’s meetings are held at the town office and open to the public – and community participation is encouraged! The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 17, at 6:30 p.m.

(Please click here to download the China for a Lifetime committee’s official assessment for the 2017 survey.) 

Eric Austin lives in China and writes about technology and community issues. He can be reached by email at

CORRECTION: The South China Community Church was incorrectly referred to as the South China Baptist Church. We apologize for the error.


Easter egg hunt rescheduled

The late Cassidy Charette with one of her little friends from Hart to Hart Farm, in Albion. Contributed photo

Due to extended winter weather, the March 25 ShineOnCass Easter Egg Hunt at Hart-to-Hart Farm & Educational Center has been rescheduled to an exciting new spring celebration! The community is invited to help welcome the farm’s new baby animals at the first ShineOnCass Animal Baby Shower & Egg Hunt Sunday, April 22, from 2 to 4 pm at 16 Duck Pond Road, in Albion.

Please bring a pet item to the “Baby Shower” to donate to the Humane Society Waterville Area in honor and memory of Cassidy Charette, who was a shelter volunteer. Children are asked to bring their own basket to collect hidden eggs on the farm. Egg Hunt begins at 2:30 p.m. for ages 0-6, followed by ages 7-12. Come meet the new baby calves, goats and welcome bunnies, sheep, and other farm animals at the petting area. The event also includes farm games, crafts, face painting and a visit by the Easter Bunny. All are encouraged to wear boots and warm clothing to the event.

You can find the original story here: Hart-to-Hart to host Easter egg hunt for charity


CHINA: No progress on Neck Road Fire Pond

Neck Road fire pond.

by Mary Grow

China selectmen had a short meeting with no major decisions March 19, their last before voters act on their proposed budget for 2018-19 and related items at the March 24 town business meeting.

Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux reported no progress on the fire pond on Neck Road because landowner Tom Michaud is out of state. At their earlier March meeting, board members approved a draft memorandum of agreement for Michaud’s review. Board members voted unanimously March 19 to spend no more money on the pond until they have a satisfactory plan in place.

On another ongoing issue, they directed the manager to ask the state Department of Transportation to conduct a speed study on the causeway at the head of China Lake’s east basin, where the town plans to spend Tax Increment Finance funds to replace the existing bridge and enhance recreational use of the area.

Board Chairman Robert MacFarland said the legal speed limit is 45 miles an hour, in spite of a 25 mile an hour sign on one end of Causeway Street (which runs from Main Street in China Village to Lakeview Drive). Resident Paul Lucas suggested selectmen invite non-resident taxpayers to a meeting in the summer to give them information on where their tax money goes, let them ask questions and help them feel part of the community. Selectmen liked the idea; discussion will be continued at a future meeting.

The annual town business meeting begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 24 (if there is a quorum of 120 registered voters) at China Primary School, off Lakeview Drive behind China Middle School.

Copies of the 2016-17 town report, which includes the 43-article warrant for the meeting, are available at the town office and on the town web site. The warrant is also available on website at

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting will fall on Monday, April 2.