SCORES & OUTDOORS: Are the lights of the fireflies destined to be extinguished?

The firefly

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

I remember as a youngster growing up in a family of Canadian heritage, how we used to make annual pilgrimages to the land of our ancestors in Canada. My dad was born in Canada, and came to the United States at the age of three years, with his adopted parents.

So, every summer, usually in June, he and our mother would pack us four boys into the family Buick and venture into different parts of Canada, from the Gaspé, to L’Abitibi (Norandeau and Rouen), where our biological grandfather had a farm, to Sherbrooke and Montreal.

Our most frequent visits were to Lac Megantic, in the province of Québec, where our dad’s half-brother and family lived. There were many nights when the family would gather.

One particular night, when I was probably nine or ten years old, we went to visit some family who had a place on the lake. Back in those days – mid- to late ‘50s – children were “seen and not heard.” So, while the adults gathered inside for long conversations, and playing cards, us children would be sent outside to find something to do.

On that evening, I remember the lake being as calm as a piece of glass, and the moon shining brightly. But, what didn’t dawn on me then, but has greater meaning now, was the nearby field aglow with thousands of fireflies. We moved into the field in an attempt to capture some of the fireflies in jars to illuminate the area. It was fun, adventurous, and “gave us something to do.”

I now look back at that evening and think to myself, “what ever happened to all the fireflies?” We used to see some at our camp in Vassalboro, but I don’t think I have seen one in many, many years.

Where have they gone?

Actually, the phenomenon is worldwide.

In recent years, all around the world, the lights of fireflies are going out. The dazzling beetles are disappearing from long-established habitats. Often it is not clear why, but it seems likely that light pollution and the destruction of habitats are contributing factors. Biologists are scrambling to understand what is happening to fireflies so we can save them before their lights fade permanently.

In America, fireflies with flashing lights are known as lightning bugs. In Europe they are known as glow worms. All these terms are misleading. They are not flies. They are not bugs. They are not worms. They are beetles.

There are approximately 2,000 species of fireflies.

However, fireflies are in trouble. In 2019, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation published a report on North American fireflies, warning that “populations appear to be in decline.” It was co-authored by Sara Lewis, professor of evolutionary and behavioral ecology at Tufts University, in Medford, Massachusetts, and author of a book on fireflies, Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies.

The extent of the decrease is unclear because most firefly populations have not been tracked. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), only created its Firefly Specialist Group in 2018. Fireflies are difficult to study: they are hard to find when not glowing.

“The best data we have is from the UK,” says Lewis. Citizen scientists have tracked the UK’s one firefly, the common glow-worm, Lampyris noctiluca, since the 1970s. For most species there are only anecdotes, but they all tell the same story, and biologists who study wild fireflies are convinced.

Recently, Lewis and her colleagues published the first systematic review of threats to fireflies in the journal BioScience. They surveyed 49 firefly experts from around the world, asking them to rank 11 potential threats in order of importance. According to the experts, the biggest threats to fireflies are habitat loss, pesticides and light pollution.

While some animals adapt to life in human environments such as cities, many fireflies need particular habitats, so are vulnerable if those habitats are destroyed.

The congregating fireflies of south-east Asia are an example. The males have flashing lights with which they attract females. They gather at night in a mangrove tree, and flash – whereupon the females fly in and choose mates. In some species the males synchronize their flashes, creating spectacular displays that tourists love.

The second biggest threat, according to the survey, is light pollution. This takes many forms, from bright and direct streetlights to the diffuse “skyglow” that means the sky is never truly dark. Most biodiversity studies have largely neglected light pollution, says Lewis. “But for fireflies it’s front and center.”

The light can make them lose track of the time or their position. The fireflies may struggle to recognize important objects, such as their snail prey. In species where one sex is attracted to the glow of the other, artificial lights may disrupt mating. Finally, really bright lights may dazzle or even blind the fireflies.

Many fireflies display late at night, when it would naturally be very dark. “If there’s a lot of background illumination from streetlights or even skyglow, then their signals are going to be less visible,” says Lewis. These nocturnal species are most vulnerable to light pollution.

Fireflies’ eyes are particularly sensitive to certain kinds of artificial light, says Alan Stewart, of the University of Sussex. His team studied the eyes of British common glow-worms, in which males are attracted to glowing females. The males’ eyes were tuned to the females’ green light, but when blue light was added, the males struggled to find the females. This means new LED streetlights, which are longer-lasting and thus environmentally beneficial, are likely to disrupt the fireflies more than old-fashioned sodium streetlights, due to their blueish light.

The third major threat is pesticides. This never occurs to most people, says Lewis, because they see fireflies only as displaying adults. “People don’t really think about the life cycle,” she says. Most of a firefly’s life is spent as a larva, on or under the ground, or underwater. There, they are exposed to pesticides. Firefly larvae are especially at risk because they are predators, normally hunting small snails, each of which may contain a dose of pesticide. “If people were aware of that, I think they would be a lot more hesitant to spray pesticides on their lawn,” says Lewis.

Beyond these external factors, there are also risks tied to fireflies’ lifestyles. In a 2019 paper published in Biodiversity and Conservation, Lewis and her colleagues highlighted “numerous risk factors.” For instance, adults often cannot fly far – and in some species may not fly at all – so they struggle to move if their habitat is threatened. Many species also have specialised diets, so can starve if their food supply is lost.

The good news is, now we are starting to understand what is happening to fireflies. Some practices, such as the harvesting of fireflies, simply need to stop. Japan has achieved this. In the early 1900s, firefly shops collected the insects, packed them into bags and sent them by bicycle courier to big cities where they were released for people to enjoy. “That put a huge dent in firefly populations,” says Lewis. In the 1920s a young man named Kiichiro Minami figured out how to rear fireflies in captivity, with no scientific training. Minami started releasing the fireflies back into rivers, restoring the population. This is still happening. “Schoolchildren raise fireflies in class and release them into rivers,” says Lewis. While Japan’s fireflies have not been restored to their former numbers, they are a conservation success story.

Beyond that, Lewis identifies three actions that should help every firefly species. First, she says, “if there’s a place with firefly biodiversity or abundance, try to preserve that habitat.” Not all of us can do that, but one thing anyone who lives near fireflies can do is reduce light pollution. “Turn off your lights during firefly season, or just turn off your lights in general. Have motion-detector lights that only come on when you need them.” And reduce the use of pesticides.

People can also help by reporting firefly sightings. Anyone in North America can do so by joining the organization Firefly Watch, which has been running since 2010.

With care, many of us may one day have fireflies sparkling in our backyards again. It is so sad that our children and grandchildren have never seen a firefly, and may never. By doing what you can to help save fireflies, it will give you something to do.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

Which pitcher holds MLB’s record for the most career no-hitters?

Answer can be found here.

Roland’s Trivia Question for Thursday, February 27, 2020

Trivia QuestionsWhich pitcher holds MLB’s record for the most career no-hitters?

Answer:

Nolan Ryan, with 7.

OBITUARIES for Thursday, Februrary 27, 2020

PETER J. DYER

FAIRFIELD – Peter Joseph Dyer, 63, of Fairfield, passed away unexpectedly at his home, on Tuesday, February 4, 2020. Peter was born on August 19, 1956, in Fairfield, son of Frederick and Madeline (Tobey) Dyer.

Peter never married and never had any children, except for all the nephews and nieces and grandnephews and grandnieces who loved and looked up to him as “Uncle Pete,” who always doted on all of them as his own.

He worked at Huhtamaki, in Fairfield, for over 20 years. Prior to Pete working at the mill he was a construction worker for 20 years at Bill Mushero Foundation Company, in Fairfield. No matter where Pete worked, he always had the reputation of being the hardest, most dedicated worker on his crew. Anyone who knew him loved him for his work ethic, quiet and pleasant demeanor, and his unwavering devotion to his family. For decades Peter looked after his grandmother, mother and father, assisting them in any way that was needed. He was truly a dedicated grandson, son, brother, uncle, friend and caretaker to all.

Peter was a Lawrence High School graduate, class of 1975, in Fairfield, and a devoted “Bulldogs” fan, especially when watching his brothers, nieces and nephews play for all Lawrence sports, especially football. As one of his nephews stated, “He loved watching the “DOGS” on a Friday night, he could give you a play by play of a football game 30 years ago and remembered them all. He loved outdoor activities and was proficient at kayaking and cross-country skiing, which he enjoyed doing with various family members. He also spent many hours snowshoeing and mountain biking. Peter was very well rounded in many different areas, a music and movie lover as well as an avid reader on many different subjects. To family members Peter possessed many of the admirable qualities of his late grandfather, Robert Tobey, quiet yet forthright, hardworking, intelligent, lover of the outdoors, and family commitment, he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Peter was predeceased by his mother, Madeline Dyer.

He is survived by his father, Fred Dyer; sisters Jane Moffitt and husband Edward, of Stockton Spring, and Nancy Simpson and husband Robert, of Fairfield; brothers Robert Dyer and wife Susanne, of Benton, and Ronald Dyer, of Fairfield; nieces, Sarah Moffit, of Stockton Springs, and Aimee Moffitt-Mercer, of Belfast, Jennifer Simpson, of Fairfield, Tori Dyer, of Bangor; nephews, Caleb Moffitt and partner Roberto Forleo, of Portland; Kevin Dyer and wife Tammy, of Clinton, Kelly Dyer and wife Tanya, of Fairfield, Kasey Dyer and wife Jenny, of Sidney, Tobey R. Simpson and wife Bodhi, of Benton; grandnephews, Cody Grenier, Ryan Pelletier, Dustin Simpson-Bragg, Davin Bolduc, Tobey J. Simpson, Kayden Dyer, Gage Ward; grandnieces, Kayla Duprey, Alli Tully, Giselle, and Gracelyn Dyer, Haylee and Lillyanne Dyer; grandnephews, Kaden Dyer, Gracelyn Dyer, Willow Simpson.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made payable to, Lawrence High School, 9 School Street, Fairfield, ME. 04937 to create a Peter J. Dyer Memorial Athletic Scholarship Fund.

A celebration of Peter’s life will be held on February 29, 2020, from 1 – 3 p.m., at Governor’s, 376 Main St, Waterville, ME. A light lunch will be provided.

Arrangements under the care and direction of Dan & Scott’s Cremation & Funeral Service, Skowhegan.

PETER ANDERSON

FAIRFIELD – Peter Anderson, 79, passed away Tuesday, February 11, 2020, at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, in Bangor. He was born April 5, 1940, in Waterville, the son of Lars and Agnes W. (Senkeiwez) Anderson.

He graduated from Lawrence High School, in Fairfield, in 1958. On September 2, 1966, he married Anna Stewart at the Fairfield Methodist Church. He was employed at John Julia Farm for 30 years and at Local #327 Union for over 20 years. He was a very private man. He enjoyed farming and going to cattle auctions, riding and going out for breakfast with his wife, Anna. He loved dealing cattle and raising pigs.

Peter is survived by his wife of 53 years, Anna (Stewart) Anderson, of Fairfield; son Peter Anderson II and wife Faith, of Fairfield; two grandsons, Devin Bowman, of Winslow, and Colby Anderson, of Fairfield; one brother, Charles Anderson and wife Linda, of Benton; two sisters, Mary Murray and husband Jim, of Auburn, and Annie Delaware, of Gardiner; nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by a sister, Betty Mitchel.

A Celebration of Life was held on Saturday, February 22, 2020, at the Fairfield Community Center in Fairfield.

In lieu of flowers, friends wishing may make donations in Peter’s memory to Humane Society Waterville Area, 100 Webb Road, Waterville, Maine 04901

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

WILLIAM R. THIBODEAU

SKOWHEGAN – William R. Thibodeau 86, of Skowhegan, passed away Tuesday, February 13, 2020. He was born in Skowhegan on November 24, 1933, to the late Herbert and Ina Burlock Thibodeau Sr.

He wore many hats as a husband, father and grandfather. He was an avid outdoorsman. He loved fishing, hunting, riding his ATV and being with his family. He worked for years in local shoe shops, Norwock Shoe Co., and Dexter Shoe Co. He drove for Shibley Fuel Co., before retiring from Skowhegan School district.

He was predeceased by his parents, a son James B. Thibodeau, brother Herbert A. Thibodeau Jr., and sister Mabel LaPierre.

Survived by his wife of 61 years, Dorothy Gaudreau Thibodeau; daughter Susan Henry husband Bruce; grandchildren Christopher Henry and wife Brandy, Jennifer Henry pand artner Brian Aubry; and great-grandchildren Kalie McGlashing, Hunter Smith, Connor Henry and Haidyn Smith.

At Williams request there will be funeral or visitation hours. Interment at the convenience of family.

JOYCE L. RICKER

WATERVILLE – Joyce L. (Gentry) Ricker, 79, passed away Monday, February 17, 2020, at Cedar Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, in Skowhegan, where she had been a resident for the past two weeks. She was born May 20, 1940, in Pensacola, Florida, the daughter of Hubert and Lucille (Meeks) Gentry.

She attended schools in Pensacola and was employed for many years as a mail courier.

Joyce is survived by daughter Donna King and husband Edward, of Nantucket, Massachusetts; brothers, Hubert Gentry, of Pensacola, Florida, Raymond Gentry and wife Ursula, of Navarre, Florida, Albert Gentry and wife Marsha, of Pensacola, Florida; step-daughter Karen Woodard, of Dexter; granddaughters Mandy Perkins and husband Ryan, of Madison, Carrie Campbell and partner Laurie Brophy, of Waterville, Samantha Metcalf and husband Kyle, Jessica Jacobs and husband Marshall, of Sangerville; two grandsons, Nathan Ricker, of Portland, Oregon, Dustin Trottier and wife Raven, of Brewer; other grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by her companion of 40 years, Joseph Bishop; son Michael A. Ricker; brothers, John and David Gentry.

A Celebration of Life will be held at the convenience of the family.

In lieu of flowers, friends wishing may make donations in Joyce’s memory to Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758516, Topeka, Kansas 66675-8516.

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

WILLIAM J. MASSE

SKOWHEGAN – William J. Masse, 57, passed away Tuesday, December 25, 2019, at Androscoggin Hospice House, in Auburn. He was born December 17, 1962, in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the son of Elliot and Ruth (Strong) Cresoe.

He was employed for many years as a carpenter in construction.

William is survived by his parents, Elliott and Ruth (Strong) Cresoe, of Skowhegan; son, Chad Masse of Salem, Massachusetts; two brothers, Robert Masse, of Marblehead, Massachusetts, Brian Cresoe, of Skowhegan; and sister, Sheila Strong, of Skowhegan.

A Celebration of Life will be held at the convenience of the family.

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

JAN F. BISHOP

AUGUSTA – Jan F. “Ralph” Bishop, of Waterville, passed away peacefully on Saturday, February 8, 2020, at the Maine Veterans Hospital, in Augusta.

“Ralph,” as everyone knew him by, was born in Waterville on October 8, 1945, to Frank and Hortense (Giroux) Bishop, who have predeceased him.

He attended Waterville schools, graduated from Waterville High School, class of 1965. He also attended Thomas College, in Waterville, for three years where he earned his business degree.

Ralph served his country by enlisting in the Army during the Vietnam War and served for four years. After his discharge, Ralph worked for Ware Butler Lumber Co., in Waterville, for a number of years, and also worked for Elite Cab Company, in Waterville.

Ralph loved people and was quick to make friends. He would remember the date you met and on your birthday there would always be a card from him. He also enjoyed reminiscing about the good ‘ole days. He could tell a story like nobody else. He was an avid fan of the Fiddler Convention and attended it every year since its beginning, and had the T-shirts to prove it.

Ralph had a passion for animals and the outdoors. There was always a full bowl of cat food on his back porch to feed any strays that might be passing by. But Ralph’s biggest passion was camping and fishing. His best times were those of setting around the campfire at Pierce Pond with his best buddies, Barney, Tim, Charlie the dog, Brian, Allen, Greg H. and Frank. When this summer rolls around, there will be a huge void without Ralph’s uncanny humor and ever helping hands. He will be missed by so many, especially his special friend, Sheila.

Ralph will have a military honor service at the Veterans Cemetery, 163 Mt. Vernon Rd. in Augusta on March 2, at noon.

A celebration of life will be held this summer at Piere Pond Fishing Camps, in Bingham.

It was his wish that instead of flowers, please make a donation in his name to the Humane Society Waterville Area, 100 Webb Rd., Waterville, or plant a tree in his memory.

GUY M. CHAPLIN

CHELSEA – Guy M. Chaplin Jr., 89, of McLaughlin Circle, died Monday, February 10, 2020, at MaineGeneral Medical Center, Thayer Campus, in Waterville. He was born in Lexington, Massachusetts, on October 22, 1930, the son of Guy M. Chaplin, Sr. and Dorothy (Trembley) Chaplin.

Mr. Chaplin served honorably in the U.S. Navy.

Prior to his retirement, he was a firefighter for the city of Augusta for 25 years.

He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers and three sisters.

He is survived by his wife, Evelyn T. (Soucy) Chaplin, of Chelsea; one daughter, Julie A. Dana, of Monmouth, one son, Jeffrey Chaplin, of Hallowell; six grandchildren, Jacob Dana, Kaitlyn Paulette, Nicole Chaplin, Renee Chaplin, Tara Dana and Julie Ann Dana; eight great-grandchildren, Anthony Paulette, Abigail Dana, Owen Flanagan, Alexandra Flanagan, Bailee Roes, Nicholaus Roes, Eli Chaplin and Nora Chaplin; several nieces and nephews.

At his request, there will be no public visiting hours.

A graveside committal service will be held at a later date in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Manchester.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Plummer Funeral Home, 16 Pleasant St., Augusta, ME.

Condolences, stories and photos may be shared at www.plummerfh.com.

CARLTON R. HAYDEN

MADISON – Carlton R. Hayden, 89, passed away on Tuesday, February 11, 2020, at his home, in Madison. He was born in Cornville, the son of Richard and Marion (Demo) Hayden.

He attended Madison schools where he graduated from Madison High School in 1949. From there, he went to work for Norwock Shoe, in Skowhegan, for 43 years until the factory closed. He worked very briefly for Solon Manufacturing and New Balance Shoe as a machinist technician.

Carlton was a farmer and man of many talents. He raised Hereford cattle for many years and liked to “fix” things. He was also instrumental in establishing the Childrens’ Barnyard, at the Skowhegan Fair Grounds, which he ran for 20 years. He and his wife,Thresa, had a real passion for hunting and fishing together. They did this as often as they could throughout their lifetime.

He is survived by his wife, Thresa, of Madison and his six children, Winnie, of Canaan, Becky and husband Steve, of Kensington, New Hampshire, Zane, of Madison, Cherry, of Cornville, Valerie and husband Butch, of Madison and Carla, of Salem, New Hampshire; 12 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, as well as two sisters, Pauline Coro and Arlene Johnson.

A memorial service and celebration of life was held on February 22, at the Carrabassett Masonic Hall, in Canaan.

In lieu of flowers, friends wishing may make a donation in Carlton’s memory to a charity of their choice.

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

NICHOLAS A. BLASCHKE

VASSALBORO – Nicholas Alan Blaschke, 26, of Vassalboro, passed away at home in a tragic house fire on Thursday, February 13, 2020. Nicholas was born on May 19, 1993, in Waterville. He was the last baby born at Seton Hospital, in Waterville.

Nicholas is the son of Kathleen Cote, of Vassalboro, and Mark and Mary Blaschke, of Sidney. He graduated from Winslow High School, class of 2012, and attended a local day program for adults with special needs. He adored the staff there. He was a child on the inside and loved his movies and books, stuffed animals and toys. His favorites were Thomas the Tank Engine, My Little Pony, The Loud House, and of course, as he was getting older, he started liking Family Guy and American Dad.

Nicholas was also an uncle to 10 children. He loved playing with them, as he was more their age on the inside than his physical age. He was a “forever boy.” A sweet, innocent soul, Nicholas was attached to his mom at the hip. Their favorite times together included their Friday or Saturday dates – going to dinner and then to Barnes and Noble or Bullmoose for books or movies or both. They enjoyed watching Disney movies and cooking shows on Food Network. His favorites were the Kid’s Baking shows and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. He even wore his sunglasses like Guy Fieri.

His mom will miss his huge bear hugs from behind, his sweet kisses on her cheek, and the playful way he would ‘swipe’ her arm when she annoyed him. You knew you were in a special place with Nicholas if he made any physical contact with you. If you got a back rub or a jab on the arm, you were IN!

His dad will cherish all the fun and joyous memories whether it was watching him kiss the fish we caught before we threw them back, making him laugh by doing impressions of his favorite Disney characters, making up silly stories at bedtime or just hanging out to watch a movie or take a ride. Just being with him was always a blessing.

Nicholas is survived by his parents; his brother and sister-in-law, Mark and Brianne Blaschke, of Winslow, and niece Cara who he always let play with his toys; his grandparents, Ronald and Anna Rancourt, of Zephyrhills, Florida; his great-aunt Mary Lou Gaulin, of Waterville; his step-brother and sister-in-law, Adam and Kendra Osborne, of Glenburn, and nephews and nieces Chase, Dahlia, Elijah, and Sylvia; his stepsister and brother-in-law, Ariel and Tim Lavarnway, of Oakland, and nephews Noah, William, and Jude; his step-sister and husband Lauryn and Warren Joslyn, of Grovetown, Georgia, and nephew Elijah; step-sister and fiancé, Emily Cote and Ben Misner, of Augusta, and nephew Elliott; his stepfather Jeffrey Cote of Sidney; and special grandstepparents, Donald and Lorraine Cote of Sidney, and grandstepmother, Patricia Jordan, of Sidney; aunts and uncles and cousins, Pete Rancourt, of Winslow, and cousin Will Withee, Rick and Jen Rancourt, all of Vassalboro and cousins Oliva Clark and Mariah Clark, Tim Rancourt, all of Winslow, Tom and Danielle Rancourt, of Middletown, Connecticut; and cousins, Jessica Rancourt and TJ Rancourt, Rick and Ruth Blaschke, all of Clinton, and cousins Amanda Blaschke and Sage Blaschke, Lyn and Joe Rowden, all of Fairfield, and cousins Aaron Rowden, Emily and Josh Fournier, and Christian Rowden, all of Fairfield, Gary and Teri Blaschke, of Standish, and cousin Annalise, Mary and Gary Freeman of Palm City, Florida, and cousin Cathy Freeman

Nicholas was predeceased by his grandparents, Fred and Evelyn Blaschke, his nephew Nathan Alan Blaschke, and his cousin Dakota Blaschke

A celebration of life for Nicholas was held at Faith Evangelical Free Church, on Saturday, February 22, 2020.

NORMAN L. RICHARDSON JR.

CLINTON – Norman L. Richardson Jr. passed away on Tuesday, February 18, 2020, at the Maine Medical Center, in Portland, from complications of a stem cell transplant for T-C prolymphocytic leukemia. He was born in Waterville on February 25, 1943, the son of Norman L. and Elizabeth (Ames) Richardson Sr.

He graduated from Good Will-Hinckley School, in Hinckley, in 1960.

He served in the U.S. Army, stationed in Germany, from 1964 to 1966. He was honorably discharged at the rank of Specialist 5 within the intelligence field (E-5). Norman received good conduct and expert rifleman medals while serving.

Norman married Corrine Hayden on July 20, 1968, at the Methodist Church, in Skowhegan.

He enjoyed hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and camping. Norman completed many long-distance trips across the country and into Canada with his wife and family in everything from a pop-up camper to finally a Class A motorhome. He especially loved the western U.S., specifically Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana.

Norman worked at the Norridgewock Shoe Shop from 1960 to 1964. After coming back from the service, he worked for a few years at Kennebec Rental and also as a salesperson for MetLife Insurance Company. Never truly feeling comfortable with a tie or a desk job, in 1973 Norman went to work for the State of Maine Department of Transportation. He was hired as a seasonal employee, and plowed snow until he was hired full time. Norman continued to be promoted due to his strong work ethic and understanding of his job. He became a crew leader, then foreman, and then district supervisor of his division. When he retired, he was the division superintendent…a position that now requires a college civil engineering degree. After 33 years of working with his “second family,” Norman retired in 2006.

Norman was a scout leader with the Clinton Boy Scouts for many years, taking the troop on field trips and camping trips while his sons were active in the scouts. He was also a member of the Waterville Beagle Club, the United Bikers of Maine, the American Legion Post #186, and the Maine Wheels Motorhome Association for many years.

Norman was a very friendly person, and always wanted to smile and laugh. If he teased a person, it meant he truly cared and would do anything for them. All of his family and friends knew that they could count on him day or night, regardless of the time of day or the size of the request. Family was the most important thing to him. He cut and split his own firewood, and also a large portion of his sister’s and sisters-in law. Their husbands had passed, yet he continued to look after them. His grandchildren meant the world to him, and spoiled them without restriction.

He was predeceased by his father, Norman L. Richardson Sr., his mother, Elizabeth Richardson Greene; stepfather, James E. Greene; and his brother, Richard W. Richardson.

Norman is survived by his wife of 51 years, Corrine; his sons, Norman L. Richardson III and Brian A. Richardson; sister, Harriet Perkins and sister-in-law, Judy Richardson who he viewed as his own sister; and grandchildren, Kaitlyn and Liam.

A celebration of life for Norman will be held on March 1, 2020, noon to 4 p.m., at the Skowhegan Sportsman’s Club, 850 River Road, in Skowhegan.

A graveside burial will be conducted in the spring at Fairview Cemetery, in Canaan.

An online guestbook may be signed and memories shared at www.familyfirstfuneralhomes.com.

Arrangements are by Lawry Brothers Funeral and Cremation Care, 107 Main St., Fairfield.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Dama Farber Cancer Institute, 450 Brookline Dr., 8th floor, Boston, Massachusetts, 02215, or New England Cancer Specialist, 100 Campus Dr., Suite 108, Scarborough Maine 04074.

WALTER S. HACIK

WATERVILLE – Walter S. Hacik, 89, passed away on Monday, February 17, 2020, at Woodlands Senior Living Center, Waterville. Walter was born on Sep­tember 22, 1930, the son of John and Anna Hacik.

He graduated from North Plainfield High School, New Jersey, in 1949.

Walter was drafted into the Army in 1951; he was discharged in 1953; after two years of serving his country. During Walter’s time in the service, he was stationed in Germany.

He was self-employed for most of his early career. He was an architect and builder before he decided to move to Maine from New Jersey to own and operate a chicken farm in Freedom. He later moved to Troy, where he got his broker’s license and sold real estate.

Walter lived with his wife, Lois, for 53 years until she passed in 2018. Walter had a twin brother that passed away several years prior to his wife’s passing.

Walter is survived by his brother, Robert and his sister, Anna.

A memorial service will be held on March 28, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 36 Cool St., Waterville, ME, 04901.

An online guestbook may be signed and memories shared at www.familyfirstfuneralhomes.com.

Arrangements are by Lawry Brothers Funeral and Cremation Care, 107 Main St., Fairfield, Maine.

BARBARA L. COOK

WATERVILLE – Barbara L. Cook, 86, of Waterville, passed away at home on Sunday, February 16, 2020. She was born in Parsonsfield on January 14, 1934, the daughter of James Edwin Moore and Lillian Mae (Thurston) Moore.

She attended schools in Kezar Falls.

After Barbara married, she moved to the Waterville area and worked at C. F. Hathaway Shirt Company, in Waterville, for a while, and then for years she would help her friend, Eva Harb at The Majestic Restaurant, in Waterville. This is where she met a lot of her lifelong friends in the area. Before her health started failing, she and Howard were members of Shawmut Chapel and would enjoy going to bible studies weekly.

Barbara’s first love and her whole life was about her dog, Mia. Mia brought her absolute joy and happiness. Barbara enjoyed camping, boating and fishing for many years with her long-time companion and love of her life, Howard. She was very experienced at sewing, crocheting and knitting and made some beautiful gowns, pant suits, sweaters, hats and blankets over the years.

She also enjoyed gardening and canning when she was younger. She also enjoyed doing ceramics and made many gifts over the years for family and friends that will be cherished even more now. Barbara loved to shop for anything and everything; she and her friend Gale went out together almost every day for one thing or another. Anyone who knew Barbara knew she loved to talk, she especially loved talking to her niece Pat twice a week on the phone and they would talk for hours. Barbara was not able to have children of her own, but she always loved her nieces and nephews like they were her own. Family was very important to Barbara; she always boasted about how well all her nieces and nephews were doing.

Barbara was predeceased by her parents, James Edwin Moore and Lillian Mae (Thurston) Moore; her three brothers, Wilson, Maurice and Elmont “Eddie” Moore; her husband, Earl Cook; and her long-time companion, Howard Hann.

She is survived by her stepchildren, Danny Hann, of Fairfield, Wanda Shibles and her husband, Adam, of Benton ,and Judy Maheu and her husband, Lynn, of Waterville; her nieces, Marla Poulin and her companion Craig Hathaway, of Oakland, and Pat Aspinall, of Florida, and her family; her nephew, Richard Moore and his wife, Sandy, of Rangeley, and family; many, many grandstepchildren; and lots of great-nieces and great-nephews.

A funeral service was held on Friday, February 21, with Pastor Steve Donahue officiating.

An online guestbook may be signed, and memories shared at www.familyfirstfuneralhomes.com.

Arrangements are by Lawry Brothers Funeral & Cremation Care, 107 Main St., Fairfield.

MAYO A. COOKSON SR.

ALBION – Mayo Cookson, Sr., 81, of Albion, passed away on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, at the MaineGeneral Alfond Center for Health, in Augusta. He was the youngest of the nine children of Silas Lynlie Cookson and Lizzie Mae (Dow) Cookson. Mayo lived all his life in Albion, a dairy farmer for most of his years.

He was a 1957 graduate of Besse High School, in Albion. Like most farmers, he could fix anything himself with those big hands, from tractors and farm equipment to the construction of the homes in which he and his four children reside. He also worked for Scott Paper Company, in Winslow.

After retiring from farming with the National Farmers’ Organization, he continued as a field man with farming organizations such as NFO and Dairy Farmers of America for several years.

He was a lifelong member of the Odd Fellows, Albion’s IOOF #149.

He was predeceased by his wife, Edith (Overlock), in 2007.

Mayo is survived by his children, all of Albion: Mayo Jr. and his wife, April; Jeffrey Sr. and his wife, Becky; Mellissa Murray and her husband Jay; and Forrest and his wife, Joan; as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren; his sister, Faye (Cookson) Pottle.

A celebration of life will be held at the Albion Christian Church, on Saturday, March 14, 2020, at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the East Benton Christian Church, 500 East Benton Rd., East Benton, Maine 04901; or to the Albion IOOF, Lodge #149, 22 Main St., Albion, ME 04910.

Oak Grove School Foundation offers grants

The Oak Grove School Foundation is accepting applications for grants to support the education and cultural needs of students and non profit organizations in the greater central Maine area.

Recipients must be educational, charitable or religious organizations that are tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue service code.

Grant requests should be received by April 3rd, 2020. Funding decisions will be made in May and shortly after the funds will be distributed in July. Recent grants have ranged $500-$5000. The OGSF has also provided seed money for initiatives that last up to three years.

Groups interested in obtaining application forms and guidelines should contact Joann Clark Austin, Oak Grove School Foundation, PO Box 150 South China, ME 04358-0150 or Susan Briggs at briggsusan@gmail.com.

Please see this website: https://sites.google.com/site/ogsfoundationorg/

Tyler Dostie receives academic honors from Nichols College

Tyler Dostie, a Nichols College student, in Dudley, Massachusetts, from Vassalboro, achieved dean’s list status for the fall 2019 semester at Nichols College, which ended in December.

“Foundations of Investing” coming to Winslow Public Library

Sasha Fitzpatrick

“Foundations of Investing,” presented by local financial advisor Sasha Fitzpatrick, is coming to Winslow Public Library, 136 Halifax Street, on Wednesday, March 4, starting at 5:30 p.m. Ms. Fitzpatrick’s 30-minute overview presentation will clearly explain the basics of sound investing, and how developing an investment strategy can help you grow your money, so you can better finance your retirement, your children’s education, and more.

Illuminating today’s most popular investment options—including stocks, bonds, and packaged investments—Sasha will clearly explain each type of investment, and the potential benefits of each for those seeking to grow their money. She also will explain key investment terms and the importance of asset allocation.

Sasha’s 30-minute presentation will be followed by a Q & A session, in which attendees can receive specific answers to their questions. The event is free and nothing will be sold.

Now a financial advisor with Edward Jones® Investments located at 22 Common Street, in Waterville, Sasha Fitzpatrick previously was a language arts and math teacher at Winslow Junior High School, in Winslow.

The Vassalboro Ministry Association fundraiser set

The Vassalboro Ministry Association fundraiser flyer. Click for full page display.

The Vassalboro Ministry Association (VMA) has been helping with fuel assistance for Vassalboro residents in need Since 2005.

The Vassalboro Ministry Association Fuel Fund provides heating oil assistance for low income, disabled community members, and families with children experiencing financial hardship. Funds are raised through donations. An annual spaghetti supper is held in February at the Vassalboro United Methodist Church. Other fundraisers such as bake sales and an annual talent show is held throughout the year.

Heating assistance through the state can take months to obtain so it is especially important for neighbors to help neighbors through the chill of winter.

The spaghetti dinner fundraiser will be held February 29, from 4:30 – 6 p.m., at the Vassalboro Methodist Church. They will have a 50/50 raffle and special home-made pies donated by community members.

Donations are appreciated and may be sent to: V.M.A. Fuel Fund, P.O. Box 302, North Vassalboro, ME 04962, telephone (207) 616-9558.

Four Seasons Club fishing derby revived

The China Four Seasons Club (CFSC) and The China Village Volunteer Fire Department (CVVFD) are pleased to announce the first China Lake Ice Fishing Derby to be held on Sunday March 1.

It has been over 18 years since the town of China held an ice fishing derby. The derby, a town favorite, was previously organized by volunteers in China Village.

The China Four Seasons Club has become more active and wanted to bring back this local event. After talks with the China Village Volunteer Fire Department. It was decided that this year China will once again have an ice fishing derby.

The event is open to all legal waters in Maine but both clubs hope participants come join everyone on the local lakes. Tickets are on sale at many local stores, bait dealers, and available through members of both the China Four Season Club and the CVVFD. Entry tickets also serve as raffle tickets to win door prizes from local vendors. Ticket sales will end at noon on the day of the derby.

Food will be available for purchase from inside the China Village Fire Department along with coffee and hot cocoa to get help people get warm and enjoy fellowship.

Fish weigh in will be held at the Fire Department at 4 p.m. Many were very excited to hear of the return of this popular event and there are already plans to expand on it for next year. Families are encouraged to attend this great outdoor activity. The CFSC will also be giving sleigh rides behind their groomer.

This event is a great way for the community to come out and enjoy the frozen lakes, outdoor weather and celebrate winter. Please see the Facebook posts from the fire department and CFSC for more information, or contact a local member from either organization.

VASSALBORO: Policing in small towns facing changes; Sheriffs to take on increased responsibilities

by Mary Grow

The Feb. 20 Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting began with a discussion with Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason, who said that Vassalboro and other small towns in Kennebec, Franklin and Hancock counties are facing changes in law enforcement assistance.

Currently, personnel from the state police and the county sheriff’s offices take turns on rural patrol in towns that have no or limited local policing. Mason said the state police are pulling back on this coverage to focus on their many specialized units, like evidence collection and cybercrime.

Therefore the sheriff’s department will have increased responsibility and will need more personnel and more funds, from the state and from local towns whose taxpayers support the county budget. Mason described his plans to make the change without reducing coverage or burning out deputies.

He emphasized that in Kennebec County the transition is friendly. He and his state police counterparts communicate well, he said, and he appreciates the assistance from the specialized state police units.

Fire chief Eric Rowe retires; Audience shows appreciation for service

Vassalboro Fire Chief Eric Rowe has retired, after what his colleagues said has been more than 40 years with the volunteer fire department and more than 30 years as chief.

At their Feb. 20 meeting, selectmen, on department members’ recommendation, unanimously appointed Walker Thompson the new chief and Robert Williams assistant chief.

Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus said gently he wished someone had told him, so he could have had a chance to thank Rowe.

Don Breton replied that Rowe didn’t want any ceremony. But, he said, the department plans one, and selectmen will be notified.

The audience applauded.

The selectmen’s meeting ended after a review of the board’s 2020-21 proposed budget, in preparation for a March 5 meeting with the budget committee.

In between policing and budget, selectmen again talked about on-going projects.

They unanimously approved borrowing funds for a lease-purchase agreement on a new police vehicle.

Selectman John Melrose reported on potential bids for a solar array in town, or possibly two solar arrays, one at and for Vassalboro Community School and the other elsewhere.

Board members unanimously accepted an updated proposal from A. E. Hodsdon Engineers, of Waterville, to design potential changes at the transfer station, with the understanding action is likely to be postponed until voters weigh in on the expenditure at the June town meeting.

They continued discussion of the proposed new Gray Road culvert, including size and materials.

On Thursday, March 5, the selectmen are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m., half an hour earlier than usual, and the budget committee to meet at 7 p.m. Both meetings are at the town office, and both are open to interested members of the public.

Three needed expenses discovered; China selectmen review final, final warrant

by Mary Grow

China selectmen thought they approved the final warrant for the April 4 town business meeting at their Feb. 18 meeting (see The Town Line, Feb. 20).

Afterwards, Town Manager Dennis Heath discovered three needed expenditures that had been overlooked. The selectmen and budget committee therefore met Monday evening, Feb. 24, to approve the final, final warrant.

Both boards quickly accepted the revised figures, which added $35,500 to the amounts previously recommended. Heath explained that the figures were on the budget sheets selectmen and budget committee members reviewed, but the program that translates budget sheets into warrant articles overlooked them. Heath and town office staff spotted the omissions as they did one last warrant review.

The total municipal budget voters will approve or amend is well over $4.3 million, with the selectmen’s and budget committee’s recommended expenditures differing by a little over $2,000 and, Heath emphasizes, sources other than local taxation providing significant income.

At the Feb. 18 meeting, the other major action was approval of a new employment agreement with Heath, after a discussion in executive session. The vote to approve was 3-1, with Wayne Chadwick voting no.

Chadwick later explained he wanted more time to review the contract. He thinks it “has potential long lasting liability for the town,” and he would have liked to ask the town attorney questions about some of the clauses.

In other business Feb. 18, selectmen unanimously signed a new contract with town attorney Amanda Meader, retroactive to Jan. 1.

Heath said he used the new communications network to notify residents during a recent ice storm and during the Spectrum outage. The network has two capabilities, he said. Hyper-Reach sends messages to residents who have signed up, by the medium of their choice, all over town. Accu-Reach automatically calls people in a specific area affected by the emergency, both people who have signed up and people who have a landline with a listed number.

Selectman Donna Mills-Stevens said she has a landline but did not get any calls.

Residents who would like to sign up for emergency notifications should start by clicking on Emergency Preparedness on the left side of the town website and follow instructions under “Sign up for Emergency Alerts from the Town of China.” (Or click here to go directly to the sign-up.)

Selectmen’s seat at stake Tuesday

On Tuesday, March 3, in addition to the state primary elections and referendum vote, China holds a local election to fill the vacant seat on the Selectboard. Candidates are Christopher Hahn, Janet Preston and Kevin Rhoades. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the former portable classroom behind the town office.

The 2020 town business meeting begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 4, at China Middle School, with doors open for check-in at 8:30 a.m. A quorum of 118 registered voters must be present to open the meeting.

Revising earlier bookkeeping (see The Town Line, Feb. 6), Heath transferred expenditures for installing three-phase power at the transfer station from the contingency fund to the transfer station reserve fund. The result is that the $55,000 contingency fund, which voters authorized selectmen to spend for unanticipated expenses, has a balance of more than $46,000, instead of less than $4,000. Selectmen and budget committee members recommend voters approve the same amount for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The manager reported progress on two ongoing projects:

  • The state has donated 64 ten-foot planks to be used to upgrade the boat launch at the head of China Lake’s East basin, and the Tax Increment Financing construction subcommittee is preparing to solicit bids for work in the area.
  • The Broadband Committee continues to work on plans for a town-wide broadband survey.

At the Feb. 24 joint meeting with the budget committee, after swift agreement on the revised figures, selectmen spent another half hour discussing how the warrant articles should be written.

All but five ask, “To see what sum of money…,” so-called open articles that voters can approve, decrease or increase at the town meeting. Below each article the selectmen’s and budget committee’s recommendations are printed.

The other five – for town administration (Art. 3), fire and rescue services (Art. 9), social services (Art. 13), community support organizations (Art. 14) and Tax Increment Financing expenditures (Art. 19) – ask “To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate” a specified amount. These articles are called capped; voters can approve or reduce them, but they cannot increase the stated appropriation.

Chadwick wants the five capped articles rewritten as open articles. He emphasized that he does not want more money spent, but thinks voters should have the option.

“I hope they don’t vote to raise any of them. I’d encourage people to vote lower numbers. But they ought to have a choice; it’s their money,” Chadwick said.

Breton objected to making the changes, fearing the minority who attend town meetings would increase expenditures enough to raise taxes substantially.

Budget Committee Chairman Robert Batteese observed that for the last 25 years all but one article have been open. Last year, he said, voters added $13,000 to recommended amounts – “That didn’t break the budget.”

After a sometimes acrimonious discussion among selectboard members, Chadwick’s motion to uncap the five articles failed on a 1-1 vote, with Chadwick in favor, Breton opposed and Mills-Stevens and Irene Belanger abstaining.

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, March 2.