KVCOG hires new environmental planner and inaugural membership coodinator

Left, Gabe Gauvin, KVCOG Environmental Planner, and right, Kate Raymond KVCOG Membership Coordinator.

The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments (KVCOG) is excited to announce that Gabe Gauvin and Kathryn (Kate) Raymond have joined the team!

“My passion for sustainability and waste stream management comes from my time researching the environmental and economic impact of rural Maine recreation events,” said Gabe. “I am eager to utilize my knowledge of sustainable solutions to help KVCOG’s many communities in this significant way.”

Gabe’s background as an educator on environmental, health and economic issues in Maine, and his work in operating Single Sort Recycling programs is what has drawn him to KVCOG. Gabe holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine at Farmington in Outdoor Recreation & Business with a concentration in Environmental Sustainability.

“I am honored to serve KVCOG in such an important role and excited to be returning to my roots in the Kennebec Valley. Together with the KVCOG team, I look forward to working with our many member communities to enhance the region and the lives of those who live here in significant and meaningful ways,” said Kate.

Kate comes to KVCOG with more than ten years of professional non-profit, membership development, and public sector experience. Most recently, Kate has served Maine Historical Society in Portland, ME, as their Donor Relations Manager. She has also served as Membership Program Manager at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA, as Interim Office Manager at Old Fort Western in Augusta, ME, and has years of experience working for the Maine State Parks System and the Maine Public Utilities Commission. Kate holds an M.A. from the University of New Hampshire, and B.A. from the University of Maine.

“I am thrilled to have Gabe and Kate join the KVCOG team. They both bring with them a wealth of expertise and experience and their work will enhance the region and the lives of those who live here in significant and meaningful ways” said Laura Cyr, Executive Director, KVCOG.

China selectmen adopt two new policies; transfer tags, meeting decorum

by Mary Grow

China selectmen adopted two new policies at their Jan. 6 meeting.

The one-page RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) policy for the transfer station, recommended by the Transfer Station Committee with input from town office staff, deals with the new transfer station entrance requirement that will be effective Feb. 1.

The five-page Select Board Policy, prepared by board Chairman Ronald Breton and, he said, edited by Town Manager Dennis Heath, governs conduct of selectmen’s meetings, including how members of the public are to address the board.

RFID tags are available at the town office; as of Jan. 6, Town Clerk Rebecca Hapgood said 318 had been issued. The three-inch-square tags are carried in a transfer station user’s vehicle (hanging from the rearview mirror is recommended). They trigger a scanner when the vehicle comes into the facility; if the scanner is not triggered, transfer station staff can check to make sure the driver is a China or Palermo resident (Palermo shares China’s transfer station by contract) or otherwise entitled to use the facility.

The policy allocates one free tag to each China and Palermo residence or business. Unlike stickers that had to be renewed annually, tags do not expire. Additional tags are available for $10 if needed, with the $10 refunded when the tag is returned. Selectmen suggested families with several vehicles could buy extra tags; or, Hapgood said, a tenant could get a $10 tag to use while living in either town and get the $10 refunded when he or she moved away.

In response to concerns about privacy raised during earlier discussions of the RFID system, the policy says the only information collected at the transfer station will be the tag number, town, date and time. According to the earlier discussion, information linking a tag to a person will be kept in a separate file that is not a public record.

Three candidates vie for selectmen’s seat

China Town Clerk Rebecca Hapgood said three candidates submitted nomination papers for the vacant seat on the Board of Selectmen: Christopher Hahn, Janet Preston and Kevin Rhoades. A special election is scheduled for Tuesday, March 3, in conjunction with the new state presidential primary.

The Select Board Policy specifies meeting dates and times; describes public notice and record-keeping procedures; describes the agenda and by whom and how items are put on it; and sets a maximum 9:30 p.m. adjournment unless the board changes it.

A person wishing to address the board during the public comment section of the meeting must have signed in and must be recognized by the chair at the appropriate time in deliberations. Speakers are limited to three minutes and may speak only once on a topic; topics are limited to agenda items; no other audience member may join the conversation unless the board chairman approves.

The policy adds that, “After a meeting is adjourned, no member of the public shall be permitted to address the select board or staff.”

People with issues they would like to have an opportunity to discuss more fully may request to be on an agenda. Oral or written requests must be submitted at least 10 days before the meeting, to allow time for research if needed. The board chairman determines which requests to grant.

Both policies were approved unanimously. During discussion of the meeting policy, the other three board members – Irene Belanger, Wayne Chadwick and Donna Mills-Stevens – expressed concern that residents might be discouraged from addressing the board by the limits on time and topics. All four selectmen agreed that they can amend the policy if it does not work as intended.

Hapgood said the policies will be added to the Town of China website.

In other business Jan. 6, Selectman Irene Belanger announced that the Thurston Park Committee welcomes volunteers to help with spring work in the park. Later, she and Four Seasons Club President Tom Rumpf discussed access to the park by club-maintained trails, with Mills-Stevens, who owns land nearby, joining the conversation. Rumpf said so far, abutters have refused permission to connect park trails to existing outside trails.

The Thurston Park Committee is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, in the former portable classroom behind the town office. Interested residents are welcome at all committee meetings.

Rumpf was at the selectmen’s meeting to report on the club’s request for TIF (Tax Increment Financing) funds for the next fiscal year. Proposed TIF expenditures will be part of the 2020-2021 budget discussions that begin this month.

Selectmen were scheduled to get the town manager’s draft of the budget at a special meeting Jan. 7. Their next regular meeting will be Tuesday evening, Jan. 21, since Jan. 20 is the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

Unity College new degree programs to focus on animal health, climate change

Online undergraduate programs offer students job-ready skills in growing markets

This fall, Unity College Distance Education launched two new undergraduate degree programs, which were created and designed to meet the growing interest of students and demand in the job market. The new programs, Animal Health and Behavior and Environmental Science and Climate Change, fit nicely into Unity College’s mission and offer students a wide range of careers after completing their degree online.

“These two programs are tailored to meet the needs of our students, giving them the job-ready skills they’ll need to be successful in either their careers or graduate programs,” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “These two programs in particular are giving place-bound students – those who can’t uproot their lives and attend our Flagship campus – an opportunity to turn their passions into careers. From our Environmental Science and Climate Change program, graduates can pursue careers in solar and wind energy, geographic information system science, or in policy-making and advising. Our Animal Health and Behavior degree will give them the foundation to either work in animal shelters, wildlife preserves, and rehabilitation centers, or they can choose to pursue the pre-veterinarian track and ultimately become veterinarians.”

“These programs were chosen and designed specifically for working adults or those seeking a meaningful career change to either complete or earn their bachelor’s degree,” said Dr. Erika Latty, Chief Learning Officer at Unity College. “There is high job market demand in these two fields, and our programs deliver a content-rich, high quality learning experience while providing for greater access and improved earning potential among students.”

Over the next 10 years, the projected growth for jobs like environmental compliance specialists, environmental technicians, environmental engineers, and energy engineers ranges from 6 to 12 percent, while the need for solar installers is projected to more than double.

“Solar and wind energy installation is a fast-growing field,” said Dr. Amy Arnett, Vice President of Unity College Distance Education. “This program is going to set students up with a very solid science background, which they can then apply to some really great job opportunities in renewable energy.”

Jobs for Animal Health and Behavior, including veterinary assistants and technicians, zoologists, caretakers, trainers, and veterinarians are projected to grow between 7 percent and 24 percent.

“Animal Health and Behavior is our answer to what many students have asked for. People want to work with animals,” said Dr. Arnett. “What we’ve created is a program that helps people understand animal science from both a physiological and behavioral perspective.”

For more on these new undergraduate programs from Unity College Distance Education, visit online.unity.edu.

McKenney tapped as 75th anniversary season Bomazeen camp director

Julie McKenney, Camp Bomazeen director

Camp Bomazeen, home of Scout camping in central Maine for the past 75 years, will be led by Julie McKenney this summer following an announcement by Pine Tree Council in December.

McKenney, who lives in Belgrade five minutes from Camp Bomazeen, has served the camp in various capacities over the past seven seasons including as resident camp Shooting Sports Director, resident camp Program Director, and Program and then Camp Director for Cub Scouting programs such as Day Camp and Fun Pack Weekends.

The decision was made shortly before Christmas. Felicia Cates, of Mount Vernon, professional staff adviser to Camp Bomazeen, made the announcement. “Julie is full of energy and excitement with the passion, experience and knowledge to deliver a safe and exciting Scouting program at Bomazeen in 2020,” Cates said.

She works for RSU #18 at the James H Bean School, in Sidney, as an Ed-Tech 2 in the Learning Lab. “I’ve been with this school for three years now. Before I was at Williams Elementary for four years in the same role.”

“I wanted to be the director to continue the amazing traditions at our camp for wonderful volunteers and for our adventurous campers so they will have a place to continue their Scouting journey. I have built some great relationships with these Scouts and Scouters and love to see them grow.”

She has a deep wealth of Scouting and outdoor experience. “As a kid I did a lot of camping with my family back in Wyoming and so I learned a lot of great skills that I enjoy teaching to others,” McKenney said. “My stepfather was a park ranger for the State of Maine for many years and his love of camping rekindled my interest as a teenager and then when my first son came along I thought ‘here we go, we have got to go camping.’”

When her eldest son, Max, joined Cub Scouting, Julie joined with him. “I was a transitional Wolf Den Leader with Pack #654 when the leader was deployed in 2007. Then Cubmaster for Pack #453 in 2010.” When her son moved to Boy Scouts, Julie found opportunities to help there as well. She was an assistant Scoutmaster for Troop #453 and is currently the committee chairman for Pack #454 and Webelos Den Leader for Pack #1776 which is the all-girl Cub Scout Pack, in Sidney, where her daughter Elisha is a Webelos Scout.

McKenney has been successful both in her Scouting life and outside as well. She received the District Award of Merit and the Silver Beaver which are pinnacle awards in Scouting recognizing volunteer Scout leaders. She also was received the Spirit of America Award in 2014 for her community efforts, in Belgrade.

Now that she has been hired, McKinney will hire senior staff such as a program director, area directors, a cook, health officer and then junior staff. Next McKenney and several other members of camp staff will attend a week-long training program to prepare them to safely and effectively operate a Scout camp in compliance with state and federal laws and in accordance with Scouting requirements.

McKenney’s enthusiasm for Camp Bomazeen is evident. “I think the kids who join Scouting – both boys and girls – and attend camp have more of a full experience of Scouting. I think it gives them a chance to practice their skills. It gives them a chance to meet new people and make you friends. We all grow a little when we’re not always with people we know and Camp Bomazeen helps Scouts to become more independent and make choices and live with the outcomes.”

Fairfield Police Department holds another successful toy drive

From left to right, Sgt. Matthew Wilcox, Officer Dakota Willhoite, Sgt. Patrick Mank, Officer Nolan Allen, Officer Jarrett Hill, Officer Shanna Blodgett, Chief Thomas Gould, Ret. Officer William Beaulieu, Officer Timothy MacArthur, Officer Matthew Bard, Officer Casey Dugas and The Grinch. Photo by Tawni Lively, Central Maine Photography

13th annual Cops for Kids program delivers toys to children at Christmas

This is the 13th year that the officers of the Fairfield Police Department have put on their Santa hats and gotten into their “sleighs” to spread Christmas cheer to the boys and girls of Fairfield. The officers prepare for this program all year long, making sure they check their lists once, twice and again once more. Pulling into a driveway and seeing the kids in a window with excited faces and huge smiles warms our hearts and reminds us what Christmas is truly all about. They all look forward to this one night, all year long.

Give Us Your Best Shot! for Thursday, January 9, 2020

To submit a photo for this section, please visit our contact page or email us at townline@fairpoint.net!

FALL VISITOR: Jayne Winters, of China, photographed this hermit thrush last summer at her feeder.

PICTURESQUE FOLIAGE: Pat Clark, of Palermo snapped this beaufiul fall scenery at Wyman Lake.

WELL FED: This male cardinal, captured by Michael Bilinsky, of China Village, looks as if it hasn’t missed many meals.

JMG’s Giving Tree receives gift

Dakota Hoffman, left, and Kevin Pelletier with all gifts. (contributed photo)

JMG’s annual Giving Tree at China Schools received a generous gift from the Dunkin’ on Western Ave in Augusta. Kelsey Morin, a China Middle School parent and manager at Dunkin organized the efforts. Kelsey added, “Each year my team and I give up all our tips for a week and ask customers to donate change to help us get Christmas presents for people in need. We set a goal of $600 and came out at $606. All of the money was spent on gifts for China Schools Giving Tree.”

Giving Tree gifts with Kelsey Morin, manager at Dunkin’