Solar power tops action at town meeting

by Mary Grow

Guided by veteran moderator Richard Thompson, 81 registered voters, according to Town Clerk Cathy Coyne, took less than two hours to approve the first 63 articles of their June 3 and June 11 town meeting warrant as presented. The meeting is now in recess until 8 a.m. Tuesday, June 11, when polls open in the town office for written-ballot action on the final three articles.

The longest discussion during the open meeting was over the selectmen’s request for authority to enter into an agreement to have solar power installed. Selectman John Melrose explained that by approving the article, voters authorized selectmen to go through with an idea they have discussed for several years. In answer to voters’ questions, Melrose said:

  • Any solar installation would be on town-owned land, with the lawn at the town garage a possibility but not necessarily the final choice.
  • According to the plan considered in the past, there would be no upfront cost to the town; money would be taken from savings in the electric bill until the project was paid off, probably in around six years.
  • The warrant article required any solar array to provide power for Vassalboro’s two fire stations, the town office and the Historical Society building (formerly the East Vassalboro School) at a minimum; Vassalboro Community School, the transfer station or other town buildings are not necessarily excluded.
  • Solar-generated power would feed into Central Maine Power Company’s system and be credited to Vassalboro; there would not be new lines from the solar array to town buildings.
    Other new proposals approved with little or no discussion included:
  • Seeking grants and using supplemental town funds to install a generator at Vassalboro Community School, so it could be used as an emergency shelter.
  • Using up to $1,000 in tax money plus grants and donations to improve Soldiers Memorial Park, in East Vassalboro, with a plan to rededicate it during the town’s 250th anniversary observance in 2020. The statue of a soldier in the park is missing its rifle; Town Manager Mary Sabins appealed to anyone who knows where it is to contact the town office.
  • Acquiring the lot on which the Riverside Fire Station stands from the Riverside Hose Company, to whom it was given many years ago conditional on use for a fire station.
  • Allowing selectmen to approve modifications to the China Lake Outlet Dam, which the town owns, as part of the Alewife Restoration Project (ARI). Resident and Department of Marine Resources employee Nate Gray estimated the planned fishway at the dam would cost somewhere around $370,000. Sabins explained that the vote does not mean the town pays $370,000; ARI is funded through grants and donations, including annual donations from the town. Voters approved $47,500 for ARI for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Voters authorized buying a new plow truck and a new police cruiser. During discussion of the cruiser, speeding problems on town roads and Police Chief Mark Brown’s duties, one resident expressed the hope that people driving to and from the Criminal Justice Academy would slow down.

Routine articles funding the various town departments were passed with little or no discussion. The transfer station request led former Selectboard member Elizabeth “Libby” Mitchell to ask whether local recycling would return.

Current Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus replied, “Libby, when I joined you as a selectperson, I didn’t know how much I’d learn about trash. Now I can talk trash with the best of ‘em.”

Titus went on to the explain that all Vassalboro trash, “to our dismay” is landfilled until the Coastal Resources plant in Hampden opens, probably in July. Once the plant is fully operational, Coastal Resources “will do our recycling for us,” he said.

Voters re-elected Donald Breton, William Browne, Philip Landry and Peggy Shafer to the budget committee and chose Christopher French to succeed Richard Phippen.

Dianna Gram plaque

Former Vassalboro Community School Principal Dianna Gram, who retired at the end of the 2017-18 school year, was recognized for her 24 years of service. School Board Chairman Kevin Levasseur and member Jolene Clark Gamage announced a tree has been planted in the school’s front yard with a plaque honoring the principal who, Gamage said, “always was a champion of the kids.”

Gram, completely surprised, said when she was bidden to attend the town meeting, she feared she had somehow messed up the budget. Her Vassalboro job wasn’t a job, she said – “It was coming here every day as part of the VCS family.”

When the town meeting continues June 11, voters will re-approve or reject the $7.7 million school budget approved June 3; decide whether to continue the second school budget vote (called the budget validation referendum) for another three years; and elect municipal officers. Selectman Robert Browne and school board members Jessica Clark and Levasseur are unopposed for re-election.

Taxes, assessments dominate selectmen’s meeting

by Mary Grow

Taxes were the last, but not the least, item discussed at the June 10 China selectmen’s meeting.

The bottom line: tax bills sent out late this summer will show increases in valuation and an increase in the rate, neither dramatically large. Tax Assessor William Van Tuinen is still working on local values and the legislature has not decided state funding to municipalities, so final figures are not available yet.

Van Tuinen explained that local valuations, made by paid assessors like him, need to be within 10 percent of state valuations made by state officials. If a town falls below an average of 90 percent, the state imposes penalties in the form of limits on homestead and veterans’ exemptions.

Both valuations are based on sales; the state uses two-year-old figures, Van Tuinen used last year’s. Both valuations exclude the extreme sales – the family who was lucky enough to get an astronomical sum for their property and the family who sold among themselves for a token amount.

China’s valuations are low enough to need adjusting, Van Tuinen said. He recommended reversing a 2012 reduction (in response to the economic crisis that started in 2008, about the time of China’s last full revaluation). Doing so would increase building values by 10 percent town-wide and rural land values by 15 percent, leaving shoreland land values as they are, he said.

An alternative would be to increase building values by five percent and rural land values by 7.5 percent, with a second increase in two or three years if the economy continues to expand. Either one, Van Tuinen said, would enable him to say China met state standards.

Neither proposed change would increase the total amount raised by taxation. Either change would redistribute it – to the detriment of local people compared to non-resident shorefront owners, resident Wayne Chadwick pointed out.

Town Manager Dennis Heath said the current mil rate is 15.8, or $15.80 in taxes for each $1,000 of valuation. Based on the incomplete information available as of June 10, he estimated Van Tuinen’s full adjustment would lower the rate slightly to 15.7 mils. Half the adjustment would raise the rate to about 16.4 mils. Leaving valuations as they are would mean a rate of around 17.1 mils.

After about 45 minutes’ discussion, selectmen voted unanimously to raise building valuations by 5 percent and rural land values by 7.5 percent, with the understanding that depending on the market, they might need another increase fairly soon.

In other actions June 10:

  • Returning to the equipment bids left unfinished at their May 28 meeting, selectmen unanimously voted to have Chadwick supply an excavator, dump truck and bulldozer as needed for road work over the summer. Public Works Manager Shawn Reed encouraged them to plan to buy an excavator; owning one would save money over rentals and give the town crew more flexibility in planning work, he said.
  • Selectmen unanimously awarded the 2019 paving bid to Hopkins Paving of Herman, for $268,608.
  • After a short discussion in executive session, they unanimously hired William Butler, of Jefferson, as codes enforcement officer and licensed plumbing inspector, intending him to work with and then succeed Paul Mitnik.
  • They unanimously appointed Ralph Howe as District Three representative on the planning board.

They tabled Heath’s request for approval to spend $13,338 for a lighted sign for notices at the transfer station, similar to the one at the town office. Selectman Irene Belanger recommended seeking the Transfer Station Committee’s opinion.

If selectmen stay on their regular schedule, their next meeting should be Monday evening, July 8.

Retired principal honored at Vassalboro town meeting

Kevin Levasseur, chairman of the Vassalboro School Board, left, Jolene Gamage, right, and retired Vassalboro Community School principal Dianna Gram, center. (Contributed photo)

Kevin Levasseur, chairman of the Vassalboro School Board, and Jolene Gamage, a board member, present a recognition to retired Vassalboro Community School principal Dianna Gram for her 24 years of service to the school. The plaque was placed at the base of a tree commissioned and planted on the front lawn near the flagpole.

How The Town Line nurtures a healthy community

The Town Line office in South China, ME.

Emily Catesby Emily Cates, board member and author of Garden Works

As Springtime wraps its fragrant, humming breeze around me as I’m out in the garden, I often think a lot about how my efforts and activities will sustain myself, my family, and my community throughout the year and beyond. Every seed planted, every shovelful of dirt, each load of compost is significant towards this goal.

It can be a whole lot of work, but with the help from family, friends, and neighbors, the jobs become less grueling and oftentimes pleasant as we work together side by side.

When I’m not busy in my garden, I enjoy writing about gardening and serving on the board of directors for The Town Line. Being a board member has given me a close up view of the inner workings of our community — and how our reader-supported, free, nonprofit, weekly newspaper informs and enhances our community.

Just as I am amazed at a garden that thrives in adversity, I am impressed with what The Town Line has been able to achieve and contribute for over 30 years on such small amounts of money, and despite the current economic reality facing newspapers because of falling advertising revenues.

Please take a moment to imagine our community without The Town Line. In my mind, it looks a bit like an abandoned, untended lot. Things would go on, but not to their vibrant potential.

If you, as a reader, value The Town Line, appreciate being informed, enjoy the articles and stories, and have in some way been touched by them, then our newspaper is important to you!

Please consider making a contribution and becoming a member. Not only will you personally benefit from The Town Line continuing as a part of a vibrant community, our whole community will continue to benefit.

Donate to become a member here.

China’s Lydia Gilman takes home a Young Stars of Maine award

Lydia Gilman

Lydia Gilman, 16, and a junior at Erskine Academy, in South China, was one of only six students selected as $1,000 cash prize winners for the 2019 Young Stars of Maine competition, sponsored by the Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School, in Rockport.

Lydia, accompanied on the piano by Chiharu Naruse, performed two vocal pieces: L’Ultima Notte (in the style of Josh Groban) and If I Ain’t Got You in the style of Alicia Keys, for a panel of three highly-esteemed judges on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Lydia was chosen by the judges as this year’s Young Stars of Maine winner of the Nathan Corning Jazz Prize Award. The performance of all prize winners of the Young Stars of Maine will be held on Sunday, June 23, at 4 p.m., at the Rockport Opera House and is free and open to the public.

Lydia Gilman is the daughter of Lance and April Gilman, and granddaughter of Judi Gilman, all of China

SOLON & BEYOND: Alice Heald presented with cane as Solon’s oldest citizen

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

On May 22, 2019, Alice Heald was honored with the presentation of the Boston Post Cane as she is the oldest resident of Solon. Also present were her son David Heald, daughter Betty Price, grandsons William Price, Charles Price with wife Amy and great-grandchildren Seth and Leah Price, Lief and Marilyn Bull. Presenting the award were Elaine Aloes and Sarah Davis.

Alice Heald was born on December 1, 1922, daughter of Isaac and Arra Davis with siblings Harrison Davis, Arlene Meader, Richard Davis Beverly Shaughnessy, and Isaac “Bunky Davis, Jr. Alice lived in Solon all her life. She helped with the chores on the Isaac Davis farm across from the present Solon Elementary School for many years. Alice attended Solon schools and graduated in 1940. She attended Skowhegan Commercial School graduating in 1942. She worked at Depositor’s Trust Bank for four years, 1942-1946.

On July 11, 1946, she married the love of her life Roger A. Heald. They were married for almost 56 years until Roger passed away in 2002. After discharging from the Navy, Roger and Alice purchased a farm on what is now known as the Meader Road, in Solon, working on it from 1946 to 1958. The main part of their house still exists on the Meader Road. In the fall of 1958, Roger, Alice, David and Betty moved to the house on North Main Street where she presently resides.

Alice also worked with her husband at the D & B Store which was on the corner of Pleasant and Maine streets in Solon beside the Solon Hotel for about five years. Alice was secretary-treasurer of the Solon Village Cemetery for several years. In 1984 Roger and Alice bought the building where the Solon Post Office is, selling it a few years ago. She has been involved in the Solon High School reunion in which she still participates.

Alice spent most of her life as a homemaker taking care of her family. She has done many crafts throughout her lifetime being a member of the Solon Extension for over 50 years. She enjoys cooking to this very day.

Alice enjoys spending time with family and friends over her 96-plus years with many anniversaries and get-togethers.

I also wanted to add that Alice was a member of the Solon Chapter of the Chowder Eating, Beer Drinking, Marching and Singing Society, and we have walked miles, and miles together over the years. She is a dear friend! ( I checked with Alice as to whether she would mind if I added that information, and she had a good laugh remembering. ( Just wanted all of you to know there was never any beer drinking on our early morning walks!)

The Waugh family received a letter of sympathy from the George Washington University after the death of Carolyn Waugh. It states: Dear family members: We have learned of your loss and would like to express our deepest sympathy to you and your family. As a tribute to Carolyn’s relationship to the George Washington University, we have arranged to dedicate a book in the Gelman Library’s permanent collection in her memory. Library staff will select a book compatible with Carolyn’s field of study at GW and a memorial bookplate will be created. They will contact you with the book’s title, author, and call number after the bookplate has been created. Those who study at GW in the years to come will find they share a common legacy with Carolyn.

And now for Percy’s memoir: Entitled, When Blue Skies Are Gray:

Help me to think of springtime flowers, The exuberance in the message they convey – The dogwood bloom, violet’s perfume – Whenever blue skies are gray. Help me remember the summertime with the peaceful serenity of each day Gentle rains, so warm, butterflies that swarm – Whenever blue skies are gray. Let me recall a loved one’s smile and the joy that it brings my way – Just to know they care and are always there – Whenever blue skies are gray. May I ever be mindful of God’s great love and the blessings He sends, I pray; He surely will renew hope in me and you – Although today’s skies are gray! (words by Mary S. Chevalier.)

From what I hear, everyone is very sick of the gray skies, hope these words will help!

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Unusual names of U.S. cities

by Debbie Walker

Being from Maine we are accustomed to some hard to pronounce names of towns, rivers, etc., due to the Native American historical names as are many other states residents. Yesterday we came across some other ‘uncommon’ names. What follows are ones I found last night on the internet:

The name that started my search is the little town of Two Egg, Florida. It has about 1,100 two-person households. Two Egg had a store where folks would come and trade farm products for other foods such as “two eggs worth of sugar” could make the difference of surviving or not.

The history is on the computer as will be the others you will see here.

How about Soda Springs, Idaho? The name comes from having many carbonated springs in the area. Just imagine, you get to go to the creek to get your soda fix for the day! Wonder if Pepsi or Coke ever investigated this.

Cut and Shoot, Texas – The name refers to a confrontation that took place in 1912 and almost came to violence.

Hooker, Oklahoma, was named for the man, a ranch foreman named John “Hooker” Threlkeld. Some residents like to say, “It is a location, not a vocation.”

Screamer, Alabama. One version of the name is they could have been referring to the sounds of the wood’s animals at night.

No Name, Colorado. It was meant to be a temporary solution but became a thing of pride. It’s population of about 200 people opted to keep the name. It is located near No Name tunnels, No Name Creek and the No Name hiking trail.

Corner Ketch, Delaware. It appears to have been named for a local rough and tumble bar. The drinkers were so quarrelsome that the residents would warn strangers, “They’ll ketch ye at the corner.”

Slickpoo, Idaho. It barely qualifies as a town but was once a bustling village. It was gifted to the folks by landowner Josiah Slickpoo.

Bugtussle, Kentucky. This one surprised me. I had heard of it but thought it was just someone’s funny idea of a name. Maybe it really was but there is a story. They say years ago when someone brought in workers for the harvest they would sleep in the barn – on hay that was infested with Doodlebugs. It is said the workers stayed so long that the bugs grew big enough to “tussle” for the prime napping spots.

Maine even has a spot in the long list of funny names. Burnt Porcupine is the name of a sister island to Bald Porcupine, Long Porcupine and Sheep Porcupine. They are near Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

Hell, Michigan. I had a client (my real estate years) once who came from there! Some rude woman didn’t want us on ‘HER’ road, (it wasn’t hers). She hollered to tell us something about “When Hell Freezes Over.” He quietly told me that ‘Hell, does indeed freeze over but this is the wrong time of the year.’

I am just curious if you will search out some of the funny and bizarre names, there are many more. If you want to share a story with me or have comments just send them to Thanks for reading!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Sir John Barbirolli conducting the Halle Orchestra

Edvard Grieg

Peter Catesby Peter Cates


Peer Gynt Suite No. 1; Symphonic Dances; Two Elegiac Melodies
Sir John Barbirolli conducting the Halle Orchestra; Mercury MG 50164, LP, recorded August 9, 1957.

Peer Gynt 5-act play

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) forged a musical style that was compounded of his life experiences amidst the beauties of the Norwegian landscape; health issues and one major loss; and the tunes and folk songs he heard and made part of his very soul. The fjords, mountains, lakes, meadows were distilled in the justly famed A Minor Piano Concerto, not on this record, and the three works that are contained here.

When he was 17 years old, in 1860, he came down with both pleurisy and tuberculosis but survived them, left in frail health for the remainder of his life. He married his first cousin, Nina Hagerup (1845-1935), in 1867, and they had a baby girl in 1868, only to lose her at one year old because of meningitis.

With respect to the music of Grieg’s formative years, as with such titans as Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms and Mahler, the bottom line is the quality of sheer genius they and select other composers brought to their own creations. The Peer Gynt 1st Suite has four numbers – the ever-majestic Morning, the haunting tragic Asa’s Death which is my favorite, the rhythmic mystery of Anitra’s Dance and the nasty savagery of In the Hall of the Mountain King. Its endless listenability through piles of different recordings since the early 1900s, every one at least good, has sustained a position among the 10 most well known classical standards.

Sir John Barbirolli

His four Symphonic Dances are a vivacious series of what some have labeled “free fantasias;” the high spirits of countryside festivities – whether in Grieg’s Norway or the Bohemian world of Bedrich Smetana’s opera, The Bartered Bride, and Antonin Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances. The 2nd Dance has the solo oboe, and gently caressing harp and strings in one very well-sustained moment of lyricism that is unfortunately seldom heard.

Two Elegiac Melodies, for strings only, have the titles of Heart’s Wounds and The Last Spring, conveying the sadness and loss of irretrievable memories of happiness.

Sir John Barbirolli (1899-1970) lavished his complete soul on this music as he so often did with other composers. The Mercury record has the most vivid sense of immediacy to be heard on very few records from the 1950s. It too has been transferred to CD and streaming.



FOR YOUR HEALTH: Suspect Stroke? Call 911

(NAPSI)—A stroke can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time, so it’s important for everyone to learn and understand the signs and symptoms of stroke. The condition, also known as a “brain attack,” is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and affects more than 795,000 people each year.

Stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen to the brain is blocked by plaque (acute ischemic stroke) or ruptures and bleeds (hemorrhagic stroke). When it comes to treating stroke, every 10 minutes can save up to 20 million brain cells. That’s why it is crucial to recognize the signs of stroke and act with urgency. If you suspect stroke, call 911 immediately and seek medical attention.

Learn the signs to help make a difference

In more than 60 percent of stroke cases, someone other than the patient made the decision to seek immediate treatment. The signs of stroke can be subtle and hard to recognize, so educating yourself and others is key to noticing and responding quickly to the sudden onset of one or more of them. You might know the BE FAST signs of stroke but would you or your loved ones be able to identify all 10 signs and symptoms?

  1. Confusion
  2. Difficulty Understanding
  3. Dizziness
  4. Loss of Balance
  5. Numbness
  6. Severe Headache
  7. Trouble Speaking
  8. Trouble Walking
  9. Vision Changes
  10. Weakness

More than 6.5 million people in the United States are stroke survivors. If you experience a sudden onset of any of these symptoms or recognize the signs in someone else, don’t wait to seek help. It’s okay to overreact because when it comes to stroke, the right care—right away—has the potential to save lives.

Who’s at risk?

While certain risk factors of stroke, including age, race, gender or family history, are out of your control, there are many factors that you can manage to help reduce the chances of having a stroke.

Manageable risk factors of stroke include high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation (AFib), high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, poor circulation, lack of physical activity, and obesity. Choosing healthy lifestyle choices, not smoking or using tobacco products, limiting alcohol consumption and exercising regularly can help greatly reduce your stroke risk.

Educating yourself on the signs, symptoms and risk factors of stroke, and empowering others to do the same, can make all the difference for someone experiencing a stroke. Trust your instincts and take action. Your quick action can help improve treatment and recovery from stroke.

To learn more about stroke and how to recognize all 10 signs and symptoms, visit

BE FAST was developed by Intermountain Healthcare, as an adaptation of the FAST model implemented by the American Stroke Association. Reproduced with permission from Intermountain Healthcare. © 2011 Intermountain Healthcare. All rights reserved.

Celebrating high school graduation

Reagan C. Biediger

Reagan C. Biediger, granddaughter of James McGrath, of South China, and the daughter of Dwight and Eva Biediger (Mc­Grath), will graduate summa cum laude in the top six percent of her high school at Medina Valley High School, in Castro­ville, Texas. Reagan has studied piano privately for 10 years, was active in the high school band and color guard team, spending her senior year as a captain for the Medina Valley Color Guard, and studied martial arts at a local martial arts studio. Reagan will attend Texas A&M University, in College Station, Texas, in the fall as a visualization major through the college of architecture, joining her sister, Allison, who will be a senior at Texas A&M University this fall, who is majoring in biology and minoring in both bioinformatics and computer science.