Dakota Bragg named a Presidential Scholar at Clarkson University

Dakota Bragg, of Anson, a senior majoring in civil engineering, was named a Presidential Scholar for the spring 2020 semester at Clarkson University, in Potsdam, New York.

Presidential Scholars must achieve a minimum 3.80 grade-point average and carry at least 14 credit hours.

giveIT getIT offers electronics recycling service

Community Electronics Recycling update from give IT get IT (formerly SKILLS recycling and eWaste Alternatives) – has announced that all Maine businesses, schools and households are welcome to participate in this service:

They’ve opened their front drop off shed seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., on a free, self-serve basis for televisions, desktop printers, monitors and set-top boxes such as cable or satellite boxes, network gear, VCRs, game consoles. Please, no other materials are accepted in the drop off/self-serve area at this time.

If you have stereo equipment, computers, mobile devices, batteries, anything they might be able to reuse, contains personal data (and other types of electronics not listed above), they can accept those in the main facility on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Just call 872-2615 when you arrive at the facility and a staff member will assist you.

They ask that visitors please respect these limitations by only dropping off acceptable materials in the appropriately marked containers, or on the proper day/time for that item. They want to encourage proper management of these environmentally-unfriendly materials, but can only continue to offer this community service if everyone does their part.

Please call (207) 872-2615 if you need more information and like/share the efforts on www.facebook.com/giveitgetitusa or google places and tell others about this free and convenient resource.

AARP OUTREACH: Primary balloting – Be safe, vote from home

by Japhet Els

I followed my mother up the town hall steps, into the large meeting room wondering why this didn’t feel like “just another errand.” I was at the age where everything was “up” – everyone was taller, countertops might as well have been rooflines, ceilings were skies of sorts, and the floor was comfortably close at all times. As we entered the hall, I recall organizing the world by all the different lower body apparel jostling about – jeans, khakis, skirts, leggings, and a few brave souls in shorts. Perhaps we all have that distant memory of grabbing the wrong pair of legs in a crowd and looking up in terror at an unfamiliar face. Being four years old has many benefits but height is not one of them.

We waited in line among our fellow neighbors until a woman who wore her gray hair in a tight bun, whose glasses dangled dangerously close to the end of her nose, ushered us to an open booth. My mother led me inside. I suddenly felt like something special was about to unfold. It was as though we were entering confession only there was no priest on the other side. She pulled a large lever from left to right in front of her and suddenly a curtain pulled shut directly behind us. Ta-dah! We were ready to punch our ballot for the 1984 general election. To my four-year old brain it wasn’t just special, it was magic.

I vote on my own now but it still feels like magic even at the worst of times. I’ve learned how important this duty is within a strong, engaged, community. But it’s not easy to feel inspired these days. Often elections have boring issues, terrible candidates, and zero motivating factors. But, as my grandfather reminded me once, “the boring ones are the most important ones,” so we can’t afford to ignore them. Indeed, the act of voting is not about how inspired you may feel. Instead, it’s about how much inspiration you can bring to Election Day.

Going to the polls isn’t in the cards for me on July 14. That’s our next primary election here in Maine where we’ll decide on congressional candidates, important local issues, and ballot measures that I hope Mainers won’t ignore. Even if you’re not affiliated with either party, you have a ballot, and community, that needs your voice. Instead of going to the polls on July 14 I’ll be casting my ballot from home, absentee. Why? Well, I guess I’d rather be cautious and wise today than risk being a fool tomorrow. We aren’t any less free filling our ballots out at home. We aren’t any less patriotic mailing them into our town clerks. Indeed, I’d argue we’re even freer, more patriotic, by carrying out our duty safely and securely from home during a questionable public health moment.

There are many unknowns in this strange new world we’re all adjusting to. I don’t feel I can address all of them and perhaps you feel the same. So, I end up taking it one day at a time. When it comes to July 14 and carrying out our duty as Maine citizens, it’s not a hard choice: Vote safe. Vote from home. Getting your absentee ballot is simple. Call your town clerk or the Secretary of State’s office and request your absentee ballot today so you’ll have it securely in your mailbox around June 15 with plenty of time to fill it out and mail it back in. We’re asking more and more Mainers who don’t feel the need to take the risk of voting in person to “Vote safe, vote from home.”

Will I miss piling into my local elementary school gym to vote alongside my friends and neighbors? Sure. But do I want to put others, myself, or the volunteers handing out ballots, at risk? Not really. Especially if voting absentee is an easy and established option.

I hope you’ll join me, and thousands of other Mainers on July 14 in voting absentee. We can carry out our duty wisely from home. It won’t take away from the magic built into an American tradition but it will help stamp out this pandemic, and that’s something we all can get behind no matter your age (or height).

If you’d like to request your absentee ballot you can go to https://bit.ly/ME_AbsenteeRequest and fill out the request form on the Secretary of State’s website. Or, simply call your Town Clerk’s office and request an absentee ballot directly.

Japhet Els is Outreach Director for AARP Maine.

China selectmen act on town manager resignation; summer work

by Mary Grow

In addition to acting on Town Manager Dennis Heath’s letter of resignation (see The Town Line, May 28), China selectmen used their May 26 virtual meeting to review bids received for summer work and award those they decided were necessary.

Heath had divided the bids into topics, as follows: materials, such as sand and gravel (one bidder); mowing, subdivided into cemeteries, ballfields and town properties (four bidders); and paving, subdivided into two categories, a per-ton price for asphalt and a price for chip seal (six bidders).

For materials, selectmen consulted Public Works Manager Shawn Reed, who said some of the bidder’s prices were “pretty decent” but others above current market prices. Board members voted unanimously to reject the bid and in future not to ask for materials bids, but let Reed shop.

For mowing, selectmen rejected bids from one out-of-town contractor, with appreciation for his interest, and awarded all three mowing jobs to low China bidder Colby Rumpf, doing business as Rumpf’s Backyard Services.

They awarded the contract for asphalt paving to Pike Industries, next to lowest bidder, recommended by Heath and endorsed by Selectman and contractor Wayne Chadwick.

Selectmen awarded the chip seal contract to All States. Heath said the process will be used on part of South Road, outside Weeks Mills village. Chip seal, he explained, lays a protective coating over a paved road that should make the paving last longer.

Reed said using chip seal has been discussed for two or three years, as he began hearing that other towns had tried it with good results. It needs to be applied on a very smooth road, he said, and China has lacked suitable roads.

Heath assured selectmen chip seal is not the same as the fog sealant that the state highway department tried in Rome in the fall of 2019, which was said to have made the road slippery and caused accidents.

The only other decision selectmen made May 26, besides the usual bill-paying, was to approve installation of a holding tank to replace a malfunctioning cesspool at a Fire Road 49 property. Codes Officer Bill Butler said he had approved; state approval is also needed.

The next China selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 8. As of May 26, Heath and selectmen plan an open meeting in the town office meeting room.

Country Manor to host parade

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pg/CountryManorNursingHome

The Country Manor, in Coopers Mills, will be hosting a “Parade of Families” on Saturday, June 13, 2020, at 10:30 a.m.. A rain date has been set for June 20. Family members will be assembling at the Sheepscott Health Center and Lions Club, on Main Street. The parade will be led by a fire truck starting at the assembly location progressing down Main Street to Country Manor and then return to the assembly location where members may make another trip to see their loved ones.

Unity College offers innovative program called hybrid learning

With hybrid learning, students can choose when and where to live and learn. (photos courtesy of Unity College)

by Joel Crabtree

In the fight against COVID-19, many college students across America were forced to pivot away from the traditional, four-year residential model to remote learning for the remainder of the spring semester. For most students, this was a disruption not only in their education, but in their extracurricular and social lives, leaving them with more questions than answers.

What if the delivery model for a college education wasn’t so rigid, and had built-in pathways so that students could transition from face-to-face learning to well-designed online, remote, or hybrid learning immediately without losing a step in their education?

Unity College believes a college education should be all these things. Unity College: Hybrid Learning takes a major stride in supporting flexibility, affordability and accessibility for students while providing everything our students have come to expect from a Unity College education, and students can enroll in fall 2020 or any one of eight entry terms.

As he watched higher education evolve — it became clear to Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury that even more learners are now seeking a curriculum with that built-in flexibility.

This demand is heightened by unexpected events such as COVID-19, but it is also triggered by any number of economic or life changes that students may face. Because Unity College already invested in the infrastructure for quality online education five years ago and adopted nonstandard terms when Distance Education was launched, the systems are in place to offer Hybrid Learning.

“I’ve heard a lot of peers within our industry talk about returning to normal come this fall or next spring, but COVID-19 has made many of us question what ‘normal’ will look like when the dust settles, and those questioning the future include faculty, staff, and most certainly students,” said President Khoury. “While many students remain interested in the College’s traditional four-year residential programs or its exclusively online curriculum, the pandemic has inspired many students to look for a more fluid college experience, one that combines multiple modalities, schedules, and pedagogies.”

Hybrid Learning will give students the option to complete their degree through a mix of online, remote, onsite, and on-campus courses. With Unity College: Hybrid Learning, there is no set entry term, meaning students can apply year-round with eight entry terms and have the flexibility to accelerate or stop-out each term as their needs change.

Hybrid Learning will become the College’s fourth Sustainable Education Business Unit (SEBU), joining Flagship, Distance Education, and Sustainable Ventures. In this new SEBU, students can follow a curriculum that closely resembles a traditional four-year model if they so choose, or they can create their own path through eight five-week terms, with tuition differentiated based on the modality — $550 per credit hour for face-to-face courses, and $470 per credit hour for online courses. Students who take one three-credit course per term are considered full-time and are eligible for financial aid. With this flexible structure, housing and dining plan options will likewise be modular, tailored to the student’s needs.

“The first thing we look at when developing a SEBU is the audience, seeing who could benefit from this service, and how that audience differs from the other SEBUs,” added Dr. Khoury. “Each SEBU has a distinct focus and serves a different role within Unity College’s Enterprise Education model, working synergistically to fulfill the mission of Unity College. Unity College: Hybrid Learning is designed to be resilient to ever-changing internal and external uncertainties.”

Hybrid Learning will initially contain two distinct units: The School for Conservation Professions and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. For fall of 2020, the Hybrid Learning majors will include Conservation Law Enforcement, Captive Wildlife Care, Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, Environmental Science, and Environmental Studies. More programs are being developed and will be launched over the summer.

“With Unity College: Hybrid Learning, we’re going to emphasize skills and abilities that will really prepare students for their chosen careers, which makes these degree programs ideal for our launch,” added Dr. Erika Latty, Unity College’s Chief Learning Officer. “While Unity College: Hybrid Learning is its own distinct model for learning, students who enter into it can expect the same high quality education that our Flagship and Distance Education students experience, delivered by subject matter experts who are leaders in their fields.”

“One of the things that we always have to ask ourselves with every decision in higher education is the question of ‘what do students need?'” said Dr. Khoury. “We’re going to see a lot of schools offering unfunded scholarships, known industry-wide as discount rates, which have destabilized many schools. What we have done with Unity College: Hybrid Learning, is offer students an accredited, quality, private, non-profit education with true, published tuition rates. We’re going to forego the gimmicks that have mortgaged the future of higher education for decades, and instead blaze new trails, work hard on making it affordable, accessible, and flexible which has been a focus of Unity College since our inception. It’s exciting, but most importantly, it is going to help set a lot of students on the right course for their future.”

For more information on Unity College: Hybrid Learning, or to apply, visit unity.edu/hybrid-learning.

Joel Crabtree is Associate Director of Media Relations, Unity College – America’s Environmental College.

Two Maine outdoor recreation startups collaborate to get more Mainers outdoors

Hiking and camping gear rentals make it easier and less expensive to enjoy Maine’s outdoors. (contributed photo)

TreeFreeHeat founded by Thomas College senior Dylan Veilleux

Bioenergy startup TreeFreeHeat has signed its first distribution deal with Back40, a fellow Maine startup that operates an e-commerce site for outdoor gear rentals. Founded to make outdoor adventures as comfortable, convenient, and accessible as possible, Back40’s mission has become more powerful and urgent due to the social distancing restrictions recommended in response to COVID-19. Hiking and camping gear rentals make it easier and less expensive to enjoy Maine’s outdoors, and the new partnership gives consumers, whether seasoned recreators or first-time campers, easy access to TreeFreeHeat’s initial product offering, hemp stalk-based fire starters for campfires and cooking grills.

“This summer, outdoor adventures will be more popular than ever, and gear ownership shouldn’t be a barrier to enjoying Maine in a safe, healthy way,” explains Henry Gilbert, founder of Back40. “We are excited to supplement our gear rental options with TreeFreeHeat’s fire starters – it’s a great product that makes camping easier, and partnering with another Maine business is a no-brainer for us.”

The deal marks a major milestone for both startups, who are deeply interconnected within Maine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Both contestants in the Greenlight Maine pitch competition – Back40 in the flagship competition, TreeFreeHeat in the Collegiate Challenge – the two startups formalized their connection at Waterville’s Central Maine Tech Night and quickly identified their product synergies. For TreeFreeHeat, Back40 provides promotion and distribution to its target market, including campers, campgrounds, and employer wellness programs. For Back40, the bioenergy fire starters made of renewable hemp stalk waste reflect the brand’s commitment to environmental sustainability and innovation while fulfilling consumer demand.

“Partnerships have been essential to TreeFreeHeat’s growth, and Henry’s commitment to making adventuring easy makes Back40 an ideal partner. As soon as I learned about what he was building, I knew he’d be a perfect match,” explains Veilleux. “And now that I have improved my manufacturing processes, I’ve been able to build more partnerships throughout Maine because I can now keep up with the demand people have for making better fires easier.”

As an alternative to wood-based fire starters, TreeFreeHeat was founded in 2019 by Dylan Veilleux, a senior at Thomas College and Entrepreneur in Residence at Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space, in downtown Waterville. With a proven market and streamlined production system, Veilleux is now scaling the startup through distribution deals and participation in Waterville’s TopGun mentorship program.

“TreeFreeHeat’s growth is a testament to Dylan Veilleux’s tenacity and strategic use of the entrepreneurship resources in the Waterville area,” states Garvan Donegan, director of planning and economic development at Central Maine Growth Council. “His partnership with Back40 is a powerful combination that enhances Maine’s outdoor recreation brand.”

Gilbert and Veilleux look forward to contributing to Maine’s legacy tourism economy in the 2020 summer season by offering innovative solutions within convenience and sustainability. TreeFreeHeat’s fire starters will be available on Back40’s website, www.back40adventures.com.