Dozens of people attend China selectmen candidates forum

Candidates for China’s vacant selectmen’s seat are, from left to right, Christopher Hahn, Janet Preston and Kevin Rhoades. (photo courtesy of Sandra Isaac)

by Mary Grow

All three candidates in China’s March 3 special election for selectman, and an audience of more than three dozen people, turned out for the Feb. 23 candidates’ forum at the Albert Church Brown Memorial Library in China Village.

The candidates, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Christopher Hahn, a specialty contractor who does skylights and is, since 2009, the owner of Three Level Farm (the former French farm), on Vassalboro Road, and therefore a farmer and maker of goat cheese. He serves on the China for a Lifetime Committee and talked about plans, not yet near implementation, to make it easier for people to continue to live in China as they age.
  • Janet Preston, Neck Road resident for 30 years, former school committee member and still school volunteer, former member of the Lake Access Committee and still active in the China Lake Association.
  • Kevin Rhoades, who cheerfully called himself “the dump guy” because he works at the transfer station, a China native who previously worked in construction. If elected a selectman, he said, he will recuse himself from any decisions that might affect his position as a town employee.

All three candidates plan to do their best to serve townspeople, and all three realize that the Selectboard cannot please all the people all the time. Hahn sees becoming a selectman as an extension of his committee service. Preston promised “thoughtful, informed decisions,” called for compromise and more than once declined to commit herself on an issue until she had more facts. Rhoades said he likes politics, likes people and likes a fight.

A major topic, referred to more than once, was whether China’s tax rate is too high and if it is, what to do about it.

Rhoades’ preferred solution is to expand the tax base by encouraging more construction in town. To do so he recommends loosening China’s land use and construction standards where they are stricter than state requirements.

Asked later if he was concerned about the tax increase in the proposed 2020-21 budget, he said no. “We’ve been behind,” and if residents want services they have to pay taxes.

Preston thinks taxes should be considered in relation to the services provided – higher taxes should provide more or better town services. She lives in a lakefront house and therefore pays comparatively high property taxes, but she does not think her taxes are excessive, especially because, in her opinion, China has an excellent school system.

Hahn expressed hope for “a realistic budget balancing taxes and needs.”

Law enforcement is a service that residents will be asked to vote on expanding at the April 4 town business meeting. The warrant includes the annual budget for part-time local police coverage to supplement county and state coverage, and two additional proposals: hiring one full-time policeman in addition to existing coverage, or contracting with the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department.

Rhoades thinks China does not need a full-time policeman. Hahn leaned toward the same opinion but wanted more information; and Preston declined to commit herself without more information.

A question to Hahn about the China for a Lifetime Committee revealed a difference of opinion among the candidates. Hahn said nothing is likely to happen for years, and town resources would be welcome if voters so decide. Preston remembered prior discussions of building a retirement community, an idea she supports. Rhoades said making life safe and convenient for older people is an individual responsibility, to be entrusted to family members and neighbors, not to government.

Rhoades also disagrees over whether the town should provide public lake access. He says no; the other two say yes.

Several audience members wanted to argue about the multi-month dispute between town officials – specifically, the town manager and selectmen – and volunteer fire departments. No candidate was asked specifically which side he or she was on, and none volunteered the information.

Nor did any disagree with what seem to be three principles involved: town officials are obliged to do what voters direct them to do; town officials are obliged not to do anything that is or is alleged to be illegal; when these two obligations conflict, town officials have the primary responsibility to sort out the situation, including deciding when to seek new direction from voters.

This topic will also be on the April 4 meeting warrant. Selectmen have deleted $40,000 that was previously considered money for stipends – or recruitment and retention, as the firefighters call the account – from the fire and rescue appropriation. They have added $40,000 to the community support organizations’ budget for the fire departments and rescue to use as they please, subject to reporting requirements the town treasurer says are required by law.

Both those articles are written so that voters cannot increase the total amount. None of the three candidates approved of this “capping” expenditure articles.

The Feb. 23 discussion began and ended with the topic of communication, specifically how selectmen and other town officials can keep residents better informed of planned actions and collect input. To inform everyone of every significant action is impossible, the candidates agreed. They and audience members recommended the Town of China website; the town Facebook page that Hahn said the China for a Lifetime Committee started; watching selectmen’s meetings on line; The Town Line newspaper; the Tuesday school notices, which Preston said most parents read; notices at the transfer station (“We do that,” Rhoades interjected) and the post offices; and more frequent direct mailings, Hahn’s suggestion that others pointed out would be expensive.

China’s local voting March 3 will be in the former portable classroom behind the town office, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. As during last November’s election, the driveway from Lakeview Drive will be blocked; access will be from Alder Park Road.

Whichever of the three candidates is elected will serve only until November 2020, finishing Jeffrey LaVerdiere’s unexpired term. All three indicated they are likely to run again in November, whatever the outcome March 3.

China/Vassalboro fifth graders help with revegetation program

Students at VCS helping with the revegetation project at the Masse Dam Site.

Fifth grade students from China Middle School and Vassalboro Community School are continuing the work started two years ago by fellow students helping with the revegetation project at the Masse Dam site, in Vassalboro. They are learning the connections between alewives, native plants and the restoration of Maine waterways back to their original state. The restoration of Maine waterways, also known as the Alewife Restoration Initiative, will allow river herring, an anadromous fish, to return to freshwater to spawn.

The site of Masse Dam, which was removed in 2018. (photo by Eric Austin)

Matt Streeter, from Maine Rivers, shared what has happened and is happening as dams are being removed allowing alewives and blueback herring to return to China Lake and Outlet Stream. Nate Gray from the Maine Department of Marine Resources provided information on alewives as a keystone species and what that means to our local environment. Anita Smith, a Maine Master naturalist, clarified the difference between native and invasive plants and why we need to focus our restoration efforts with native species.

This year’s seed collection were ones that would do well in wet to medium wet soils. Some of the seeds planted were Swamp Milkweed, Swamp Smart Weed, New England Asters, Wild Bergamot, Black-eyed Susan and Golden Alexander. Next fall students will go to the Masse Dam site to plant their young plants along the outlet stream. There is also a plan for the fifth graders to visit the site this spring. In the spring they will learn more about the history of the site, identify critters from the stream to determine if the stream is healthy or not, as well as plant shrubs along the stream’s edge.

Seeds for this project were provided by the China Lake Association.

Article and photos submitted by Elaine Philbrook of the China Lake association.

Students at CMS helping with the revegetation project at the Masse Dam Site.

China’s Anita Smith cited by statewide group

From left to right, is Olivia Grist, executive director of the Maine Environmental Education Association, Anita Smith, and Linda Woodard, of from the Maine Audubon Society. (contributed photo)

Anita Smith, of China, was recently presented the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Maine Environmental Educators Association at the Maine Audubon headquarters located at Gilsland Farm, in Falmouth. This award recognizes Mrs. Smith’s many years of service promoting the benefits and rewards of being outside in nature. She has worked all over the state with schools, teachers, children, families, colleges and anyone curious about the wonders that can be found in nature.

Anita Smith is best known locally for her years of teaching in the China schools and her on-going work with the China School Forest, an “outdoor classroom” with trails and learning stations owned by the Town of China.

Along with her work in China, she is a facilitator and board member of Maine’s Project Learning Tree (PLT). Maine PLT uses the forest and trees as “windows” into the complex natural world. As a facilitator, Smith has presented a number of workshops to teachers throughout the state using the Project Learning Tree’s preK-12 curriculum materials. Helping educators make the connections to move a classroom from inside four walls to outside into the real world.

She is a trained Maine Master Naturalist. Her training increased her knowledge of the natural world so she could better help others understand the inner workings of nature. She currently is a mentor to this year’s participants in the Maine Master Naturalist program. This training enables participants to volunteer as teachers of natural history and encourage the stewardship of Maine’s natural environment.

Smith is a true believer of the importance of connecting not only children with the natural world but everyone. Knowing that as we become more knowledgeable of the inner workings of our natural world we become better stewards of the Earth and can make decision based on our experiences.

Congratulations to Anita Smith on her 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Maine Environmental Educators Association recognizing her commitment to provide positive experiences for our community and giving us with a sense of wonder of our natural surroundings.

Common Ground Round 14: Win a $10 Gift Certificate

DEADLINE: Friday, March 13, 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: Peggy Beck, So. China

Left to right, Buck Taylor (Newly O’Brien), Dennis Weaver (Chester Goode), Ken Curtis (Festus Haggen). All three were deputies of Marshal Matt Dillon in TV’s Gunsmoke.


Polling places and times for March 3, 2020 primary


Chelsea Elementary School, 566 Togus Rd.
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.


Portable Building China Town Office
7 a.m. – 8 p.m.


Fairfield Community Ctr., Water Street
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.


Municipal Building, 26 Weston Ave.
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.


Palermo Town Office
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.


Sidney Town Office, 2986 Middle Road
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.


Somerville Town Office
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.


The Elm (former American Legion), College Ave.
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.


Windsor Town Hall (upstairs)
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.


MacCrillis-Rousseau VFW, 177 Veteran Dr.
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

To be included in next week’s issue, contact The Town Line at

Taylor Ferguson graduates from the University of New Hampshire

Taylor Ferguson, of Sidney, graduated from the University of New Hampshire, in Durham, New Hampshire, in December 2019. She earned a MS in Occupational Therapy.

Students who received the honor Summa Cum Laude graduated with a GPA of 3.85-4.0: Students who received the honor of Magna Cum Laude graduated with a GPA of 3.65-3.84; and students who received the honor of Cum Laude graduated with a GPA of 3.50-3.64.

Winslow resident to have principal role in the Dean College theatre production, La Bete

Joshua Veilleux, of Winslow, will play Elomire in the Dean College production of La Bete, beginning Thursday, February 20 through Sunday, February 23, 2020, in Franklin, Massachusetts.

“La Bete,” translates as “the beast” or “the fool” in French, and this comedy — inspired by French playwright Moliere — centers on the dueling temperaments within a court theatre troupe and its royal patrons. Set in 17th century France, our story is told in rhymed iambic pentameter and presents the overbearing actor and manager Elomire pitted against the wild and irreverent street performer Valere. Winner of a Drama Desk Award and the 1992 Olivier Award for best comedy of the year, La Bete was a critical and commercial success in London’s West End and has been a popular choice of theatre groups for years. Described as a “rocky ride”, this inventive and remarkably funny play makes it seem as if Moliere had returned to the present day.

The Dean College production will take place in the Main Stage in the Campus Center at Dean College, 109 West Central St.,at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For more information, visit

Opioid Crisis Response: A plan of compassion, connection and communities

Gordon Smith, the executive director of the Maine Opioid Crisis Response task force. Photo by Jeanne Marquis.

by Jeani Marquis

The Maine Opioid Response Strategic Action Plan has five focus areas – Leadership, Prevention, Overdose Rescue, Treatment and Recovery – all leading to one goal. That goal is to reduce the negative health and economic impacts of substance-use disorder (SUD) and opioid-use disorder (OUD) on individuals, families and communities in Maine. The action plan reflects the understanding that substance abuse impacts the rural areas of the state as much as the urban.

“This is a chronic disease,” explains Gordon Smith, the executive director of the Maine Opioid Crisis Response task force, “we need to break down the stigma to stop shaming people for using drugs, encourage them, love them and wrap our arms around them and get them into recovery.”

The first of the five focus areas of the action plan provides strong state level Leadership using evidence-based and community-focused actions in response to Maine’s opioid crisis. State leadership means breaking down the silos between existing agencies to eliminate duplication and focus resources where they are needed. The Opioid Response, Prevention and Recovery Cabinet is comprised of representatives from Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Law enforcement agencies, other related state departments, an affected family member, person in recovery and the state’s Attorney General. Under their leadership, efforts will be made to increase the public understanding and reduce the stigma of substance and opioid use disorder.

The second of the five focused areas is prevention — working to deter our state’s youth from using addictive substances in the first place. The plan calls for preventive programs in our schools and not stopping there but also reaching out to community and youth organizations. Youth organizations play an important role in establishing self-esteem and decision-making skills needed to build resilient youth.

Community social services can identify and address adverse childhood experiences that can lead to future drug use if not addressed early in a child’s life. In some cases, prevention needs to begin before a child is born to a mother who is a substance abuser. In 2018, 904 children in Maine were born substance exposed. Maine is one of 10 states receiving a $5.3 million federal grant to help substance-exposed babies and their mothers to create more positive outcomes and lower future statistics. This grant funds the Maternal Opioid Misuse (MOM) Initiative at the maternity department at hospitals throughout Maine: Maine General Medical Center, Maine Health, Mid Coast-Parkview Hospital, Northern Light Health, Penobscot Community Health Care and Pines Health Services. Pregnant substance users are urged to seek care with MOM program early in their pregnancy.

The third focus of the Opioid Crisis Response Plan is Overdose Rescue. The primary motivation is to keep the substance users alive so they can get into treatment. The task force is distributing 35,000 doses of naloxone to law enforcement, emergency responders, recovery center, correctional facilities and overdose prevention programs. To support the distribution of naloxone, the task force is providing education on overdose prevention, how to identify an overdose and how to administer naloxone. The task force wants to encourage families who have a loved one who is struggling with opioid addiction to ask their physician how to obtain naloxone for their household and get training on its use.

The fourth focus is to ensure that treatment is local, immediate and affordable. The plan is to get users into Medicated-Assisted Treatment (MAT) as soon as possible after a crisis by supporting emergency rooms and county jails in adding MAT programs. Medicated-Assisted Treatment is the use of FDA-approved medications to ease cravings and withdrawals, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies. The task force is also working to increase MAT providers and shorten the long waits to entering treatment plans. Maine needs more prescribers who are qualified to treat addiction. Smith said, “We’ve almost doubled the number in a year. There is a lot more outpatient treatment out there, but it is still a patchwork. There’s so much to be done.” Smith went on to explain that Maine lacks adequate residential treatment for addiction. We only have two detox facilities in the state.

The last of the five focuses of the Opioid Response Action Plan is to support addicts in their Recovery and build recovery-ready communities. “Addiction is a disease of isolation; so, connecting people to back to a positive family, back to their friends, back to a recovery community is really important,” explains Smith. People in recovery need to be surrounded by positive people who know what they have been through and the struggles they face along the ups and downs of their recovery journey. That’s why the recovery coaches are vital as they are generally people in recovery who wish to help others who are beginning recovery. The plan increases the number of recovery coaches and funds additional recovery housing units and community-based recovery centers in key areas throughout the state.

When Smith was asked what the primary information was that he wanted the public to know if they have an addicted family member, he said he wants the public to call 211 to learn about addiction treatment resources. To see the Maine Opioid Response Strategic Action Plan in its entirety, visit The task force is now planning their second annual Opioid Crisis Response Summit to be held July 23rd in Bangor to be more accessible to rural and northern Maine. They are expecting an attendance of 1500, an increase over last year’s highly successful summit in Augusta.

Local students on dean’s list at Dean College for Fall 2019

Dean College, in Franklin, Massachusetts, has announced the local students that have earned a place on the dean’s list for the Fall 2019 semester. These students have demonstrated a serious commitment to their studies while at Dean College.

Zoe Derosby, of Waterville;
Cami Dubois, of Winslow;
Joshua Veilleux, of Winslow.

Founded in 1865, Dean College is a private, residential college located in Franklin Massachusetts, 45 minutes from Boston, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island. Dean College offers baccalaureate degrees, associate degree programs, as well as a robust schedule of part-time continuing and professional education credit and certificate programs throughout the calendar year.

Students named to Champlain College dean’s list for Fall 2019 Semester

The following students have been named to the Champlain College dean’s list, in Burlington, Vermont, for achieving a grade point average of 3.5 or higher in the Fall 2019 semester.

Jacob Buzzell, of Oakland, and Benjamin Voter, of Cornville.