Skowhegan to sponsor photo contest

Photo: Skowhegan Chamber of Commerce Facebook page

With the holidays upon us, the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce would like to celebrate by giving away two prizes valued at $50 each. Two ways to win, see below for more.

Enter the Holiday Photo Contest for a chance to win, now until December 22.

To Enter:

Upload a photo of you shopping in Skowhegan area stores to their holiday Facebook Page. You can post more than just one local store, for each post the more likes you may get, the more chances you have to win.

Please include the contestant’s name(s) and where they are. This will also serve as permission to use the photo in the future as needed.

Ways to win

First way: Have your friends and family vote on your photo, the more likes the more chances you have to win.

Second way: Write an inspirational story of why you shop local and your experience at the shop you are at.

Deadline: Saturday, December 22, 2018, by midnight. Winner will be announced Monday, December 24, on the Skowhegan Area Chamber Facebook page.

Unusual tree

An unusual Christmas Tree has been put up at Freddie’s Service Center, Rte. 32, in East Vassalboro. (Contributed photo)

Bill Pullen, owner of Freddie’s Service Center, Rte. 32, in East Vassalboro, built this Christmas tree from old tire rims, a steering wheel, alternator, plug wires, chains, tools, etc., and, of course, a fan for the tree top. Do you have an unusual Christmas tree? Send it to us at

Where’s the gun?

A similar statue in Winslow with the gun in hand (left), and the statue in Vassalboro missing the gun (right). (Photos by Isabelle Markley)

Where’s the gun on the Civil War statue in Vassalboro?

The white granite statue dedicated to the memory of soldiers from Vassalboro who lost their lives in the Civil War, 1861-1865, stands in Monument Park on Route 32, between the China Lake boat landing and the old Vassalboro School, now a town museum.

The soldier’s hands are seen gripping the muzzle, but the stock end of the gun from the statue’s belt to the ground where it should be resting at his feet is missing. Compare the Vassalboro statue to a similar model in Winslow’s park at Halifax and Monument streets to see where the rifle would have been. If you have any information please contact The Town Line (

Palermo scouts meet military medal of honor recipient

Pictured from left to right are Scoutmaster Roy Lucier, scouts Nickolas Christiansen, Parker Potter, RJ Nelson, Timmy Christiansen, Wyatt Bray, Kaleb Brown, Atilio Delgado, Bo Johnson, Assistant Scoutmaster Barbara Files-Lucier, and Logen Bolduc. Ssgt. Ryan Pitts stands in back. (Contributed photo)

On November 8, Palermo Boy Scout Troop #222 met Medal of Honor recipient, Ssgt. Ryan Pitts, at the University of Southern Maine campus, in Portland. Ssgt. Pitts lectured on the role of leadership.

Caitlyn Denico joins Army National Guard

Caitlyn Denico, 18, of Vassalboro (Contributed photo)

Caitlyn Denico, 18, of Vassalboro, recently enlisted in the Army National Guard. The senior, honor student, at Erskine Academy, in South China, will be attending basic military training in Missouri, and follow that with advance individual training, in Mississippi, specializing in construction, with a concentration in masonry. Caitlyn is the daughter of Rick and Cindy Denico, of Vassalboro.

Obituaries, Week of November 29, 2018


SOUTH CHINA – Holly D. Johnson, 68, passed away Thursday, November 1. 2018, at the Lahey Clinic Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts, following a long illness. She was born in Montpellier, Vermont, on December 18, 1949, the daughter of the late Homer and Bernice Waterman.

Holly graduated from Sharon High School and was a member of the South China Community Church.

She had been employed by the US Postal Service for over 25 years and had also been an Ed Tech in the Belfast School system for many years.

Holly was a Girl Scout leader, a member of Bell Choir, Chorus and Sunday School teacher at the First Church in Belfast, a member of the Central Maine Art Society, Colby College Art Museum, Central Maine Garden Club and South China Community Choir.

Holly was a remarkable woman, a gifted artist, and lover of nature who will be missed by many.

She was predeceased by her second husband, Marc Johnson.

Holly is survived by a son, Curt R. Eynon and his wife Melanie, of Belfast; a daughter, Sherry Murphy and her husband Stanley, of Brooks; her companion David Wright, of Brighton Plantation; a brother, Charles Waterman, of Montpellier, Vermont; five sisters: Bernice Coulter, of Palermo, Leslie Glover, of Waldoboro, Sharon Waterman, of Marshfield, Massachusetts, Stacey Williams, of Lincoln and Lois Cross, of Belmont; three grandchildren: Kimberly Eynon, Nicholas Murphy and Jace Murphy; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Arrangements were under the care of Plummer Funeral Home, 16 Pleasant Street, Augusta.

Condolences, photos and memories may be shared at

The family requests that donations in Holly’s memory be made to: Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers, 93 Silver Street, Waterville ME 04901.


Robert Elwin Steele, 74, passed away at Togus Veterans Hospital, in the Togus Springs Hospice Care Unit, on Monday, November 12, 2018. Born December 16, 1943, in a Portland hospital, he was the youngest son of Ralph and Vera (Goding) Steele, and was brought up in Brooksville. He grew up singing hymns in the Methodist Church and graduating from Blue Hill High School, in 1961.

He joined the Air Force in 1962 and served until 1965. He then attended the University of Maine in Orono sporadically for the next three or four years.

In 1973 he had, along with Paul Zendzian, a Bangor lawyer, submitted a proposal to bring the WIC Program to Penobscot and Piscataquis counties. Much to their surprise they were awarded the funding from the USDA.

He started Robert Steele Productions in 1976. There he managed bluegrass entertainers such as The Kennebec Valley Boys. He had a lifelong appreciation of music of all kinds, but particularly bluegrass music.

He began Steele Publications in the late 1990s, and assisted several Maine authors in publishing their works, mostly Maine histories. He was a talented writer, and wrote several feature travel articles for local newspapers, including the Portland Press Herald and the Bangor Daily News, as well as for several weekly papers.

Robert loved to travel, not only to visit various countries but to live in them and to enjoy their people and experience their cultures. He traveled to Ireland, England, Scotland and throughout Europe, spending several months in each country. He spent time in the Balkans, and resided for many years in India. He was very proud of his Scottish ancestry, and spent much of his time studying his family roots and heritage.

He was an airplane pilot who loved the freedom in the sky.

Robert had a lifelong love of the railroad, and rode the last CP train from Brownville Junction to Montreal. He had an abiding interest in passenger rail, and had a dream of bringing trains back to Maine. In 2011 he formed The Golden Eagle Railroad, and spent his time talking with town officials from the coast of Maine to New Hampshire to bring interest in the railroad to municipalities.

He is survived by a brother, Ronald, and several nieces and nephews.

Robert was one of a kind. He lived his life on his terms. He had deep roots in Maine, and especially loved the coastal area around Blue Hill. He was opinionated, and never hesitated to share it with anyone. He had an absolutely beautiful singing voice, was well-read in many subjects, had a raucous and quirky sense of humor, and loved a good story, a good home-cooked meal and a good cup of tea.

There will be a private service at a later date.

Donations may be made in his memory to the charity of your choice.


AUGUSTA – Christopher L. Hallee, 36, passed away on Wednesday, November 14, 2018. He was born to Lisa Arbour and Greg Hallee on February 27, 1982, in Waterville.

Despite the heroic efforts of the Maine Medical Cardiac Intensive Care team, Chris succumbed to the devastating effects of an overdose of an unknown mixture of opiates. Chris’s death was sudden and tragic; it was also avoidable. At the time of his death, Chris was seeking treatment for his addiction, but was unable to find a rehab bed in Maine. He died as his family was trying to find one for him in another state.

Chris’ drug addiction may have ended his life, but it did not define it. Chris was a kind and generous soul who loved people. He was happiest when he made others happy. He collected friends the way other people collect things. His smile lit up a room and his heart was as big as the world. He touched many lives on his journey through life.

Chris spent most of his childhood in Augusta where he attended St. Mary’s School and Cony High School. More recently he was a student at Kennebec Valley Community College. He worked as a cook and waiter in many restaurants in central and southern Maine. He created “Maine Music Movement,” an online resource with which he shared the music he loved with others. He dreamed of becoming a concert producer and recorder to bring more live music to Maine.

Chris was predeceased by his paternal grandparents, Richard and Constance Hallee; maternal grandfather, Donald Nelson; and aunt, Terri Starrett.

Chris is survived by his father, Greg Hallee, of Vassalboro; his mother, Lisa Arbour, stepfather, Denny Arbour; sisters, Chelsea and Julie Arbour, all of Augusta; maternal grandmother, Beverly Rideout, of Waterville; special aunt, Lisa Hallee, who was like a second mother to Chris, and her husband, Eric Sharpe, of Oakland; other aunts and uncles, Bridget and John Campbell, of Winslow, Tim and Lauren Hallee, of Fairfield, Steve Hallee, of Norridgewock, Rebecca and Peter Sherwood, of Oakland, Judi and Jim Moore, of Wyoming, Stephanie and Wes Swonger, of Arizona, Richard and Lori Nelson, of China, Dede and Paul Dickey, of Fairfield, Scott Bryant, of Augusta; and many cousins.

In lieu of flowers, Chris’ family requests that donations be sent to: Operation Hope c/o Waterville Police Department, 10 Colby Street, Waterville, ME 04901.

If Chris’ life or untimely death has touched your heart, please help his family honor his memory by making drug treatment in Maine a top priority with the facilities and resources needed to address what has become an epidemic in our state. We hope that other families will not suffer as ours has and the world doesn’t lose another beautiful soul to this dreadful disease.


WINSLOW – Peter Frank Bastow, 82, passed away Saturday, November 17, 2018, at his home, in Winslow, following a brief illness. He was born in Oakland on August 26, 1936, the son of Frank Jr. and Susan (Strong) Bastow.

He attended Oakland schools and graduated from Williams High School in 1954. Following graduation, Peter attended Maine Central Institute, in Pittsfield, Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, and the University of Maine at Orono, where he graduated in 1959. He soon began his educational career in York as a teacher and coach.

On June 24, 1961, Peter married the former Janice Lancaster, of Brunswick, and moved to East Lyme, Connecticut, before returning to York where Peter and Jan’s children, Judy and Peter, Jr. were born.

In 1968, Peter became guidance director at Gorham High School, and the family moved to Cumberland Center in 1969, where they resided for 34 years. After his teaching career, he held a few sales positions in the Portland area, retiring in 1999. Beginning in 2003, Peter and Jan spent their summers at the family camp on Salmon Lake, in Oakland, and their winters in Spring Hill, Florida. Then in 2013, they became year round residents in Winslow where they met and became good friends with many neighbors.

Peter was involved in many organizations and served for over six years in the United States Air Force and was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant in 1972.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Janice; daughter, Judith Lafond and husband Russell, of Bellingham, Massachusetts; son, Peter Bastow, Jr. and husband John Raymond-Bastow, of Skowhegan; brother, Richard Bastow and wife Nancy, of Auburn; sister-in-law, Joan Bouchard and husband Henry, of Brunswick; brother-in-law, Richard Lancaster, of Brunswick; grandsons Joshua, Troy, and Sean Lafond, of Bellingham, Massachusetts; and several cousins, nephews, and nieces.

In lieu of flowers, friends wishing may make donations to First Congregational Church 7 Eustis Parkway, Waterville, Maine 04901

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


HELEN B. FURROW, 97, of Sidney, passed away on Monday, October 8, 2018. Locally, she is survived by grandchildren Dan Parsons and wife Bonnie of Unity Plantation, Ronnie Furrow and partner Lisa Keay, of South China, Wendy Furrow Cross and husband Peter, of Sidney, and Theresa Parsons, of Unity.

CECIL R. PORTER, 86, formerly of Brooks, passed away on Tuesday, October 16, 2018, at a Waterville hospital. Locally, he is survived by his children Vicki Rogers and husband Scott, of Unity, and Eric Pofrter and wife Jan, of Oakland.

AVERILL P. McDONALD, 95, of Randolph, passed away on Wednesday, October 24, 2018, at Avita, of Brunswick. Locally, she is survived by a niece, Marj Morisette, of Vassalboro.

MICHA P. TAYLOR, 41, formerly of China Village, passed away on Wednesday, October 24, 2018, in Auburn. A celebrationof life will be held on Sat., November 17, at 11 a.m., at the China Baptist Church, in China Village.

HARRY W. DIXON JR., 95, of Skowhegan, passed away on Sunday, October 28, 2018, at the Cedar Ridge Nursing Home, in Skowhegan. Locally, he is survived by a daughter-in-law, Gwyn Dixon, of Whitefield.

DOROTHY M. PRESTON, 87, of Damariscotta, passed away on Monday, October 29, 2018, in Damariscotta. Locally, she is survived by her son David and his wife Janet, of China.

CORRINE B. BREAULT, 90, of Madison, passed away on Wednesday, October 31, 2018, at Redington-Fairview General Hospital, in Skowhegan. Locally, she is survived by a nephew, Earl Blanchard and wife Kathy, of Windsor.

ANN G. WISWELL, 89, of Waterville, passed away on Sunday, November 4, 2018, at her residence. Locally, she is survived by
her daughter, Nancy Pfeiffer and her husband Alan, of China.

ELSIE L. DORITY, 94, of Waterville, passed away on Monday, November 5, 2018, at Lakewood Continuing Care Center, in Waterville. Locally, she is survived by her son, Elbridge H. Snow Jr., of Somerville, daughter Joyce Stevens and husband Eugene, and son-in-law Dr. David R. Wood, all of Oakland.

SHIRLEY M. DUDLEY, 72, of Waterville, passed away on Wednesday, November 7, 2018, following a long illness. Locally, she is survived by a daughters Carol Ann Manson and husband Kip, of Oakland, and Tammy Loder and husband Jay, of Clinton, and son Ronnie Dudley and partner Norma Allen, of Vassalboro.

SHERINE A. HUGHGILL, 55, of Madison, passed away on Monday, November 12, 2018, at Eastern Maine Medical Center, in Bangor. Locally, she is survived by a brother, Glenn C. Hughgill, of Albion.

DERENE A. POOLER, 81, of Waterville, passed away on Tuesday, November 13, 2018, at MaineGeneral Medical Center. Locally, she is survived by her children, Kim Marois and husband Ronald, of China, Scott Pooler and wife Laurie, of Vassalboro, and Todd Pooler, of Augusta.

STEPHEN C. TAYLOR, 44, of Eddington, passed away on Monday, November 19, 2018, at Eastern Maine Medidcal Center, in Bangor, following a life-long battle with uncontrollable Grand Mal seizures. Locally, he is survived by his mother, Pauline Bell and step-father Eugene Bell, of Oakland.

Jefferson food pantry announces December openings

On November 14 the Jefferson Area Community Food Pantry supplied food to 56 families, representing 125 family members. The largest attendance to date. In addition to fresh produce from Twin Villages Food Bank Farm and Good Shepherd Food Bank, non perishables, fresh eggs, bread, pumpkin pies, turkeys, plus additional assorted meats were available.

Generous donations were received from several churches and community citizens and are greatly appreciated during this holiday season. If you would like to donate food, please call the number below. Monetary donations can be sent by check and made payable to St Giles Church, PO Box 34, Jefferson, ME 04348, with “JACFB” written in the memo area.

The December opening dates are two weeks in a row this year. Wednesday, December 12 and Wednesday December 19, 4 – 5:30 p.m., at St Giles Church, 72 Gardiner Road (Rt 126), Jefferson. For more information, call 315-1134.

Fiberight recycling plant set to go online in April

Construction on the new recycling facility from earlier this year. (photo from

by Eric W. Austin

For those towns waiting for the new Fiberight recycling facility in Hampden to come online, the end is nearly in sight. At an October 24 meeting with the Municipal Review Committee (MRC) Board of Directors, Fiberight CEO Craig Stuart-Paul presented a new construction schedule for the Material Recovery Facility that sees it opening in early April, nearly a year later than the original estimates.

“We’ve now issued a revised construction schedule that shows completion of construction by March 31,” said Stuart-Paul to the MRC Board in Brewer. “We’ve provided an on-boarding plan to the MRC which shows some amount of waste on a start-stop basis coming in by the end of January, probably single stream,” he explained. “Because our ramp-up plan is parallel to the construction, we’ll start our commissioning plan as certain parts of the site are handed over to us. Our hope, then, is in April to be able to accept waste on a continuous, ongoing basis.”

The $69 million project, first conceived of in July 2016, has faced numerous delays, most notably after last year’s windstorm which set construction back for months.

Irene Belanger, China selectman and member of the MRC Board of Directors, when asked about the likelihood that the new April date would be met, said, “I am very confident in the Fiberight/Coastal plant. The company has its financing all set and approved. There is a new construction company working 24 hours a day to catchup after several delays.”

Although the plant should be operating at full capacity by April 2019, Belanger added, “As with any big project like this, the startup could have some glitches that would need fine-tuning, so the first towns to send their items will be towns nearest the facility.”

Town likely to adopt new mailbox policy

by Mary Grow

CHINA — Mailbox owners, take heed: China selectmen are likely to approve a mailbox policy at their Dec. 10 meeting that says the town has no responsibility for mailboxes damaged by snowplows, even if the box is installed according to the recommendations in the policy.

Town Manager Dennis Heath emailed a copy of the proposed policy from the state Department of Transportation to board members before their Nov. 26 meeting, but since not everyone had time to read and consider it, a decision was postponed.

The policy includes suggestions for proper mailbox installation, a process that needs to meet postal service and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. It has two warnings, in addition to the statement that the owner is responsible if the box is damaged:

  • If a box is not installed according to highway department standards and a snowplow is damaged or a driver injured, the box owner might be held responsible; and
  • If a box is embedded in concrete or otherwise made immovable, it can be considered a Deadly Fixed Object. The owner can be asked to redo the installation; if the request is refused, the state transportation department can remove it and bill the owner for the cost.

In addition to the proposed mailbox policy, discussion at the Nov. 26 meeting covered a range of topics, including Regional School Unit (RSU) meetings, transfer station services and local policing.

Neil Farrington, one of China’s two representatives on the RSU #18 board of directors, encouraged selectmen to start attending RSU meetings to find out first-hand what the school department is doing and how its annual budget is determined. The next meeting is at 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 29, at Messalonskee Middle School. Heath and at least two selectmen indicated they plan to be there.

Heath said China will not participate in the annual household hazardous waste disposal program in Winslow for the next two years. This fall only eight residents signed up, making the cost per person too high.

Selectboard Chairman Robert MacFarland wants the sand bin at the transfer station from which residents are allowed to take up to two buckets of sand at a time more accessible. Transfer station employee Shawn Reed and others said if the bin is outside the gate, people take pick-up loads rather than bucket-loads.

Selectman Ronald Breton recommended bringing the issue to the Transfer Station Committee, scheduled to meet Nov. 27, before selectmen continue discussion.

Oakland and China police officer Tracey Frost reported November had been a more normal month, after a lot of calls in September and October. He and fellow officers are checking summer camps, if owners left a request and if the camps are accessible, and will check people’s homes on request when homeowners take a winter vacation.

The town manager said he is already working on China’s 2019-2020 municipal budget and hopes to have a draft ready by early January.

He reported that the new causeway bridge is open to traffic. He and Selectman Donna Mills-Stevens emphasized that the entire project is not done; phase two will extend the lakeside walkway.

After the regular meeting, selectmen reviewed Heath’s job performance for the first six months in executive session. The result was satisfactory, and they voted afterward on his compensation package.

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting is currently scheduled for Monday evening, Dec. 10.

Two gifts from the Hermitage: fruitcake and stillness

Sister Elizabeth Wagner of the Transfiguration Hermitage, in Windsor. (photo by Jeani Marquis)

by Jeani Marquis

Hidden from view on Windsor Neck Road behind a stand of tall pines is a monastic community named the Transfiguration Heritage. As you drive up past those pines, you get an immediate feeling of peace, perhaps it is because of the expansive idyllic view or perhaps it is the atmosphere established by women who have dedicated themselves to the contemplative life of the St. Benedict Order.

Contemplative lives do not mean they are not busy every season of the year, as this is a self-sustaining order. Their busiest season comes during Advent, their fruitcake season. This is when they put the finishing touches and gift box the fruitcakes they have expertly nurtured for most of the previous year.

These are traditional English fruitcakes handmade by centuries’ old methods, laden with fruits and nuts, aged for months while soaking thoroughly in brandy. These are not the fruitcakes you may have remembered that brought on jokes about doorstops or bricks. The brandied fruitcakes from the Transfiguration Hermitage are rich, moist and warmly mellow. A gift of this fruitcake is genuinely welcomed throughout New England by mail order. It is also available locally at the heritage gift shop as are six varieties of cookies, homemade jams, rum cakes, traditional stollen, a hot sauce and a French herb mixture they call Herbes des Landes.

St. Moira’s Retreat House

Guest room at the St. Moira’s Retreat House at the Transfiguration Hermitage. (Photo by Jeani Marquis)

When the sisters are not in the middle of fruitcake season, they are busy in their gardens or attending to visitors at St. Moira’s Retreat House. The inviting house offers four single rooms, a small conference room, a kitchenette for making breakfast and enjoying other meals prepared by the sisters. The weather-tight, passive solar house is fully handicap accessible and offers the seclusion visitors seek. Each room has peaceful views of the natural setting as inspiration for meditation, reflection and meaningful prayer.

Sister Elizabeth explains that people come to the retreat as a way to recharge themselves or perhaps they are in a point in their lives where one is faced with a major decision. The reasons why guests come are almost as varied as the visitors themselves. During their stay, guests have the supportive presence of a praying monastic community and are invited, but not required, to join the sisters in their daily prayer services.

A retreat offers the opportunity for a person to get away from their hectic lives and clear their minds of the everyday, anxious thoughts. Quieting one’s mind is not easy, even Sister Elizabeth admits she struggles. “Stillness is a gift,” she says.

In her book Seasons in My Garden, Meditations from a Hermitage, Elizabeth Wagner writes:

“God is greater than all that is, so is found in the stillness that is beyond feelings, beyond words, beyond concepts, or images or thoughts. Stillness is a contemplative posture, a waiting for God’s Word to be quietly received in the stillness of heart and mind and soul.”

Guests are welcome from all faiths to stay at St. Moira’s Retreat House and are only requested to leave a nominal fee of $50 per night. During the holiday season, the gift shop is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 205 Windsor Neck Road, Windsor, Maine.

Traditional English fruitcake soaked in brandy and other items from the Hermitage gift shop. (Photo by Jeani Marquis)