VASSALBORO: School agrees to cooperate with selectmen on solar power

by Mary Grow

At their Dec. 17 meeting, Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer said, Vassalboro School Board members unanimously approved two motions to cooperate with the selectmen in developing solar power in town.

The selectmen, on recommendations from the Solar Array Committee, previously agreed to invite the school department to join them in creating a solar project and sharing the electricity it produces. Their list of possible sites included the Vassalboro Community School grounds (see The Town Line, Dec. 19).

The first motion on the school board agenda approved participating in the solar project, as authorized by town meeting vote and conditional on the school sharing cost savings.

The second approved leaving the VCS campus on the list of sites to be considered, with the school board to have final approval if the VCS land is selected.

Pfeiffer said the next step is for selectmen to choose an expert to study proposed sites and recommend the one or ones most suitable.

School board members also continued review of school policies and discussed contract negotiations with school employees.

The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14.

Rémy Pettengill earns Eagle Scout rank with Troop #479

Front row, from left to right, Cub Scout Bryson Pettengill, Scouts Cole Henderson, Kameron Rossignol, Tad Dow, Nathan Choate, Dylin Breton, Caleb Knock, and Cub Scout Isaac Audette. Second row, Leader Sean Boynton, Scouts Ayden Newell, Michael Boostedt, Eagle Scout Rémy Pettengill, Nevek Boostedt (Allowat), Scout Ben Lagasse, Sam Boynton, Nick Shelton, and Hunter Praul. Back row, Leader Lee Pettengill, Christian Hunter, Scout Cole Corson, Leader Ron Emery, Derek Rossignol, Scout Aiden Pettengill (Kichinet), Nick Choate, Leader Matt Bodine, Priscilla Adams, and Scoutmaster Scott Adams. (photo by Ronald Emery)

Friends, family members, elected officials and other scouts gathered together to honor Rémy Pettengill for earning his wings – the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. The Eagle is the highest rank that Scouting bestows in the advancement program. Eagle Scout Rémy Pettengill, his family, his Scout leaders, and other members of the community were recognized in this special presentation. The celebration of this event was held November 10, 2019, at the China Masonic Hall, for Eagle Scout Rémy Pettengill of Troop #479.

Assistant Scoutmaster Matt Bodine was asked to serve as moderator, and opened the ceremony welcoming all to Rémy’s Court of Honor.

The call to order to open the Eagle Court of Honor was by Chuck Mahaleris, Kennebec District Chairman.

Rémy and his family chose the Order of Arrow and invited other members of Troop #479 to take part in this celebration. Nivek Boostedt as Allowat and Aiden Pettengill as Kichkinet both arrived in Order of Arrow regalia. Kichinet gave credits to experts and leaders along the trail while Allowat received assurance that Rémy has been faithful in serving his troop and has met the qualifications by asking the Scoutmaster. Scoutmaster Scott Adams replies “Yes, he has.”

Allowat asked the new Eagle Scout to renew the Scout Oath. Kichkinet asked Rémy to pin a miniature Eagle’s mother pin on his mother, to present a Eagle father’s pin on his father. He also asked Rémy’s father to remove and replace the Troop 479 neckerchief with the Eagle Neckerchief. Rémy gave a mentor pin to his father for help on his Eagle project and to Nivek Boostedt for his guidance.

Allowat now called on the Scoutmaster, Scott Adams to give the Eagle charge to Rémy. Scott also presented him with Bronze Eagle palms and the Gold Eagle palms for 10 additional merit badges.

Ron Emery was asked to come forward to introduce distinguished guests. First Chuck Mahaleris, Kennebec Valley District Chairperson of the Eagle Board came forward for a special presentation from the Eagle Board. Brother Mark Rustin, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Mason in Maine offered his congratulations and presented Rémy with a new medallion designed especially for all Eagle Scouts in Maine. Senator Matthew Pouliot was pleased to come and present sentiments from the House and Senate. China Town Manager also presented a letter from the town for his efforts to earn the Eagle rank.

Rémy’s Eagle project resulted from volunteering with Central Lodge #45, China’s Masonic Lodge, to push disabled veterans down to their Sunday Mass at the Togus VA. While there, he found out that some veterans are not provided with basic hygiene necessities. As a result, Rémy made 54 hygiene care packages for the veterans at the Togus VA. These packages all consisted of a handmade zippered bag. He solicited donations of a variety of items for the bags such as toothbrushes, toothpastes, eyeglass microfiber cloths, tissues, combs, nail clippers, and electric shavers. Rémy and his volunteers went around to the Cabin in the Woods housing development at Togus handing out the packages to the veterans and their families who live there. The group also attended and took part in the Sunday Services at Togus, and wheeled down some of the wheelchair-bound veterans to the service. The group visited with the veterans and thanked them for their service. All of the extra bags and hygiene products were donated to the Togus VA Volunteer Services to disperse as needed.

Rémy is the son of Lee and Danielle Pettengill, of South China, and is an eighth grader at China Middle School.

Erskine Renaissance Awards presented for December 2019

Seniors of the Trimester, front row, from left to right, Julia Basham and Summer Hotham. Back row, Lucy Allen, Jacob Sutter, Ben Reed and Dominic Smith. (contributed photo)

On Friday, December 13, Erskine Academy students and staff attended a Renaissance Assembly to honor their peers with Renaissance Awards.

Left, Faculty of the Trimester, Jennifer Tibbetts, left, and Eileen McNeff. (contributed photo)

Recognition Awards were presented to the following students: Jack Allen, Lily Bray, Nathan Million, Sydni Plummer, Hanna Spitzer, Benjamin Lavoie, Alyssha Gil, and Eleena Lee.

In addition to Recognition Awards, Senior of the Trimester Awards were also presented to six members of the senior class: Lucy Allen, daughter of Patrick and Shirley Allen, of Windsor; Julia Basham, daughter of Tim and Catherine Basham, of China; Dominic Smith, son of Katrina and Dan Jackson, of Whitefield; Ben Reed, son of Kevin and Jennifer Reed, of Vassalboro; Summer Hotham, daughter of Charles and Heide Hotham, of Palmero; and Jacob Sutter, son of Richard and Jenny Sutter, of Palermo. Seniors of the Trimester are recognized as individuals who have gone above and beyond in all aspects of their high school careers.

In appreciation of their dedication and service to Erskine Academy, Faculty of the Trimester awards were also presented to Jennifer Tibbetts, mathematics instructor; and Eileen McNeff, business office bookkeeper.

Vassalboro selectmen OK request to allow fishway construction

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen had a variety of ideas on their Dec. 12 agenda, and their reactions were similarly varied.

They unanimously approved a request from Maine Rivers (leading the Alewife Restoration Project [ARI]), represented by Matt Streeter, to sign an access and construction license agreement allowing construction of a fishway at the town-owned China Lake Outlet Dam in East Vassalboro.

Streeter said the work will be on the east bank of Outlet Stream below the dam. The Cates family has allowed access over their property.

Streeter met with representatives of several engineering firms and asked for bids on the work by Jan. 21. He expects to have a near-final design for selectmen’s review in March and a final design by the end of April to submit to the state agencies whose approval is needed.

Resident Michael Poulin asked selectmen to amend Vassalboro’s Tax Increment Financing (TF) program to allow additional uses for TIF funds. Selectmen turned the request into a unanimous decision to hire the Central Maine Growth Council to advise on amendments to the TIF that would provide wider benefits.

The TIF fund is financed by taxes paid on the gas pipeline running through Vassalboro. In recent years most available TIF funds have gone to the Vassalboro Sanitary District’s sewer extension project and ARI.

Selectmen voted unanimously to table – effectively deny – a request from resident Arthur Kingdon to endorse a proposed resolution supporting LD 1431, a Resolve to Support Municipal Recycling Programs by requiring producers of packaging to share costs of recycling it. Selectmen appreciated Kingdon’s involvement in the effort but Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus believes it would add to Maine’s reputation as a state unfriendly to business.

Turning to solar power, Selectman John Melrose reported the town’s Solar Array Committee recommends four possible sites for solar panels: behind the North Vassalboro fire station, the Vassalboro Community School grounds, the Vassalboro Sanitary District site in East Vassalboro and the town office lot west and north of the building.

Committee members suggested asking the school board to join the town in developing solar power; the school board had the item on its Dec. 17 agenda. The Vassalboro Sanitary District is also to be invited to participate.

In other business Dec. 12, selectmen unanimously approved a BYOB event at St. Bridget Center on Jan. 11.

They listed several examples of cooperative community events. Titus commended Raymond Breton and Donald Breton for their work preparing for the annual Christmas tree lighting. Melrose reported the Trails Committee is working with a rejuvenated snowmobile club. Titus added that the Vassalboro Business Association is working with multiple other town groups including the library, the Masons and the Recreation Committee.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening, Jan. 9.

Common Ground Round 12: Win a $10 Gift Certificate


DEADLINE: Friday, January 10, 2020

Identify the people in these three photos, and tell us what they have in common. You could win a $10 gift certificate to Retail Therapy boutique, 11 KMD Plaza, Kennedy Memorial Dr., Waterville, next to the Dairy Queen!* Email your answer to or through our Contact page with subject line “COMMON GROUND.”

Please include your name and address with your answer, so we can mail your prize if you are the winner!

You may also mail your answer to The Town Line, PO Box 89, South China, ME 04358. (To be eligible for the drawing, you must email or snail mail your answer to us.)

* Should there be more than one correct answer, a random drawing will be held to determine the winner.

Previous winner: B.J. Bradstreet, of Palermo

Left to right, Angus King, James Longley, Paul LePage. All former Maine governors.



SCORES & OUTDOORS: Would you really want a hippopotamus for Christmas?

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

Roland has taken an early vacation. This is reprinted from the December 24, 2015, issue.

When 10-year-old Gayla Peevey sang her 1953 Christmas song, I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, did she really know what she was wishing for?

When the song was released nationally, it shot to the top of the charts and the Oklahoma City zoo acquired a baby hippo named Matilda. Legend has it the song was recorded as a fundraiser to bring the zoo a hippo. But, in a 2007 radio interview in Detroit, Peevey clarified that the song was not originally recorded as a fundraiser. Instead, a local promoter picked up on the popularity of the song and Peevey’s local roots, and launched a campaign to present her with an actual hippopotamus on Christmas.

The campaign succeeded, and she was presented with an actual hippopotamus, which she donated to the city zoo. It lived for nearly 50 years.

That brings us to the point. Had she decided to keep it, it wouldn’t have exactly been a house pet.

She would have had to put in a gigantic pool because the hippos spend most of their day wallowing in the water to keep their body temperature down and to keep their skin from drying out. With the exception of eating, most of hippopotamuses’ lives occur in the water.

Which brings us to another problem. Hippos leave the water at dusk and travel inland, sometimes up to five miles to graze on short grass, their main source of food. That probably wouldn’t have gone over too well with the neighbors and their lawns. Hippos can consume upwards of 150 pounds of grass each night.

The hippopotamus would probably have had problems living in an urban setting. They are among the largest living mammals, only elephants, rhinoceroses and some whales are heavier. They are also one of the most aggressive creatures in the world, and is often regarded as one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. So, you’d probably want to have it on a leash.

But, that probably wouldn’t do any good. An adult male can weigh between 3,300 and 4,000 pounds, with older males reaching 7,100 to 9,900 pounds, and would have no problems breaking a tether. Although a female hippo stops growing at around 25 years of age, the males appear to continue to grow throughout their lives.

And, if it got loose, don’t try to outrun it. Despite their bulk, hippopotamuses can run faster than a human on land. Estimates have put their running speed from 18 to 25 miles per hour. The upside? It can only maintain that speed for a few hundred yards. (Actually, that’s all it would need to run you down).

Peevey’s local public works department may have frowned on her having a hippo. Because of their size and their habit of taking the same paths to feed, hippos can have a significant impact on the land they walk across, both by keeping the land clear of vegetation and depressing the ground. But worse, over prolonged periods, hippos could divert the paths of streams and storm run off.

You’d also have to modify your will and make arrangements for its care. Their lifespan is typically 40 to 50 years, and could possibly outlive you. While some have been known to live longer. Bertie the Hippo, who resides at the Denver Zoo, is currently the oldest living hippo in captivity at age 58 years. Donna the Hippo, had been the oldest living hippo in captivity, but died on Aug. 3, 2012, at the Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, Indiana. The oldest recorded lifespan was Tanga, who lived in Munich, Germany, and died in 1995 at the age of 61. But there are conflicting reports on Donna. Some say she was 61 years old, while others claim she was 62, which would have made her the longest living hippo in captivity in history. Until recently, Blackie, who resided at the Cleveland Zoo, was the longest living, at age 59, but died on January 13, 2014.

So, if you really want a hippopotamus for Christmas, you’d better do your homework.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

Tom Brady has won six Super Bowls, (2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016, 2018), name the two NFL quarterbacks to have won four.

Answer can be found here.

Roland’s Trivia Question for Thursday, December 19, 2019

Tom Brady has won six Super Bowls, (2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016, 2018), name the two NFL quarterbacks to have won four.


Terry Bradshaw, of the Pittsburgh Steelers, (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979) and Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers, (1982, 1985, 1989, 1990).

I’M JUST CURIOUS: From the Book of Answers & Others

by Debbie Walker

Yes, I found another book and read some things I wanted to share. The name of the book is The Book of Answers by Barbara Berliner and another. I got a kick out of the title so of course I had to have it.

Now you may very well know what the answers to some of these are and the worst to happen will be you’ll know how naive I am.


How accurate are groundhogs at predicting weather? Sixty years of recording of groundhogs have only been 28 percent accurate. Possibly you or your grandfather did a better job of predicting!

Did you know James Bond (1908-1964) was an agent himself during World War II ?

Do you remember the lucky charm, the rabbit’s foot? (Wasn’t too lucky for him.)

The rabbit is born with eyes open, suggesting wisdom. It spends most of it’s life underground, suggesting a connection to a mysterious underground, and it is prolific (did you ever raise rabbits?) suggesting wealth and prosperity.

Yes, there really was a Mother Goose, a New England widow who married Isaac Goose, adopting a family of 10 and later she had six children. In 1719 she wrote Mother Goose’s Melodies for children.

Okay, now since we are days away from Christmas and the New Year, I have a few questions and answers about traditions for the holidays. (When I was a kid my mom got really frustrated with me and said, “Do you always have to ask so many questions?”) The answer ‘til this very day is “Yes, Mom.”

Traditions create a bond in families, a connection to other family members, the people participating in the present and members who long since passed. You very likely have not actually met some of the creators of your own family traditions.

All this year as we explored the ‘crazy holidays,’ we would have to include these as different families ‘traditions,’ in fact you may have adopted some of those holidays for your friends and families.

And we start the Christmas traditions:

December 24 was observed as Adam and Eve Day. We are talking about 1561 and the forerunner of the forbidden fruit tree was replaced by the modern Christmas tree.

The “12 Days of Christmas” would net you 364 gifts.

The best one to me was: Did you know Santa has a brother? His name is Bells Nichols and he visits homes on New Year’s Eve after the children are asleep and will fill empty plates set out for him with cookies and cakes.

Have a wonderful holiday and Merry Christmas!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Handel’s Messiah, Frank De Vol and The Irishman

Martin Scorsese (Credit: Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Handel’s Messiah

Donald Neuen conducting the Eastman Chorale and Philharmonia, Word, SPCN 7-01-892910, three lps, recorded 1984 at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

Donald Neuen

Handel’s Messiah has been recorded numerous times with choirs and orchestras ranging from huge to very small. I have a number of these sets and found at least something good in each of them, because, like so many other masterpieces, it is infinitely and inexhaustibly rich in its musical and spiritual content.

Donald Neuen, still living in his early 80s, worked with the great choirmaster Robert Shaw, taught at Eastman School of Music and UCLA, and led choral groups and workshops all over the country.

For this recording, Neuen took the unusual step of rotating eight different soloists for various arias instead of the usual quartet of soprano, contralto, tenor and bass. This approach gave an extra freshness to this performance with different singers on various numbers. The bass Thomas Paul’s Thus Saith The Lord was quite the nice dynamic contrast to baritone James Courtney’s The Trumpet Shall Sound.

Both the performance and recording make this one of the better Messiahs and it can be recommended, along with ones conducted by Eugene Ormandy, Sir Thomas Beecham, William Christie, Harry Christopher, Neuen’s colleague Robert Shaw and several others. It is also available through various internet outlets and tracks can be auditioned on youtube.

Frank De Vol

and the Rainbow Strings

The Old Sweet Songs of Christmas; Columbia CL 1543, lp, recorded 1960.

Frank De Vol

Frank De Vol (1911-1999) was not only an arranger/conductor for Capitol, Columbia and other record labels, but also appeared in films and on TV as an actor. Fans of Martin Mull’s very funny short-lived late ‘70s series, America 2-Night, might remember De Vol as the poker-faced bandleader Happy Kyne.

The album contains 26 famous Christmas carols and popular songs in sweet string arrangements bordering on the syrupy and best taken in small doses.

The Irishman

The new Martin Scorsese film, The Irishman, is 210 minutes of swiftly moving drama starring Robert De Niro as a ‘house painter’ (pseudonym for hitman) for mobster businessmen, Joe Pesci, as one of the bosses and Al Pacino as Teamsters leader, Jimmy Hoffa. Each of the three gentlemen delivers the kind of performance in which every glance and movement of the character he plays communicates. And every other detail of this brilliant and, of course, violent movie repays close study.

FOR YOUR HEALTH – Four Books For All Tastes: Romance, Domestic Humor, Wild West Whodunit, In Praise Of Gratitude

(NAPSI)—“The Tutor” by Marilee Albert.

Alice wants to be close to her boyfriend in Paris, so off she goes—to Rome. Her other goals? To make art and find a muse. Instead, she finds herself a muse to various men: a TV-host dwarf, lonely banker, alcoholic playboy, aging prince, and the disillusioned Oscar-winning film director, Frank Colucci.

Although at opposite poles of life with little in common—the bright but broke Alice is just getting started and has few prospects, and the married-with-kids Oscar-winner Frank bored and disillusioned—the two form a bond.

Will this be an older, powerful man using his position to seduce a confused young woman, or something else entirely? And will Alice ever find her way?

From Rare Bird Books. Purchase at

“As Long As It’s Perfect” by Lisa Tognola

To Janie Margolis, “assistant contractor” sounds like the ideal job for a mom whose role raising kids has become routine-but her perfect plan starts to unravel when she and her husband find themselves arguing about everything. Then the economy collapses, and it’s hard to surmount the reality ahead: They are about to sink their savings into rebuilding a new house they can’t afford while trying to sell the one they own. Will Janie find herself homeless before she finds herself a home?

From crushes on contractors to frenzied shopping expeditions to a con artist kitchen designer and workers who fight like schoolgirls, Janie navigates the pitfalls of building all while struggling to stay out of debt and keep her marriage going.

From She Writes Press. To purchase:

“Killing Pat Garrett” by David G. Thomas

Pat Garrett, the Wild West’s most famous lawman, the man who killed Billy the Kid, was himself killed on a barren stretch of road near Las Cruces, NM. Who killed him? Was it murder? Was it self-defense?

“Killing Pat Garrett” is a different kind of whodunit, not put together from the imagination of a fiction writer. It is a meticulously researched work that considers all sides and presents all evidence in remarkable detail, drawing on new, previously undiscovered information.

This is a ride through the life of a famous Wild West figure, brought to life in actual conversation and documentation.

From Doc45 Publishing. Purchase at

“Best of No Small Thing: A Mindful Approach to Gratitude” by Deborah Hawkins

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

The author, using Eckhart Tolle’s words as inspiration, has put together a collection of her 50 favorite blog posts, with the hope that they will allow gratitude and mindfulness to elevate the way you see the world and yourself.

Observing events and people in her life to identify the good already present became a regular, almost automatic habit. These moments needed to be charged with emotion in order to have the greatest impact, and she started wrapping stories around them. A companion guide book is also available.

Purchase at

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