Vassalboro selectmen set tax rate for 2020-21 at 14.35 mils

by Mary Grow

Newly-elected Vassalboro Selectman Barbara Redmond got an introduction to almost everything the board does at her first meeting on July 23. She participated in the on-going discussions of paying bills and overseeing town departments; in the annual ritual of setting the tax rate; and in the once-in-a-lifetime planning of a 250th anniversary celebration.

Selectmen unanimously set the 2020-21 tax rate at 14.35 mils, or $14.35 for each $1,000 of valuation. By town meeting vote, the first quarterly payment is due at the town office by the close of business Monday, Sept. 28. Town Manager Mary Sabins expects tax bills will be mailed out by the week of Aug. 10.

The 2019-2020 rate was 15.6 ($15.60 for each $1,000 of valuation), Sabins said. However, the lower rate will not necessarily mean residents get a lower tax bill for 2020-21, because, Sabins said, the assessor has increased all valuations by 11 percent, as required to bring local valuations closer to the state’s.

Sabins reported on two staff changes, one done and one pending.

Adam Daoust of Vassalboro has been hired as the new assistant at the transfer station, starting July 28. And the town is advertising for a successor to Deputy Clerk Debbie Johnston-Nixon, who is retiring from the town office staff effective Aug. 21.

The town is also advertising the old police cruiser, a 2007 Impala, for sale, Sabins said.

Selectmen had a memo from Engineer Al Hodsdon, of A. E. Hodsdon Engineers, in Waterville, on tentative plans for a transfer station redesign. They decided to invite Hodsdon for a discussion at their Aug. 20 meeting.

Board members reviewed Sabins’ draft bid specifications for a new metal roof on the snack shack at the ballfields and approved with one change.

The recreation committee oversees the ballfields and snack shack. Sabins said the committee plans to show a movie, to a drive-in audience, as a fund-raiser. The date is to be determined.

Public Works Director Eugene Field got selectmen’s approval to have Bog Road repaved this year instead of Lombard Dam Road, which he will add to the summer 2021 schedule. Preparatory culvert work on Lombard Dam Road has been delayed, he said. The Bog Road work will be 0.8 miles longer, but paving bids were low enough so the budget won’t be exceeded.

Selectman John Melrose, newly-elected board chairman, pointed out that Bog Road is closer to other 2020 paving work, an advantage. Having traveled the road, he agreed it could use resurfacing.

Sabins reported on an email from Scott Pierz, of China, President of the China Lake Association, proposing consideration of China assuming management of the China Lake outlet dam in East Vassalboro. China selectmen heard Pierz’s suggestion that China buy the dam at their July 20 meeting (see The Town Line, July 23, p. 3).

Melrose’s reaction was, “Leave it be for now,” and board member Rob Browne added, “See what happens.” Sabins said there is no rush; any decision to sell town property would need voter ratification, presumably at the spring 2021 town meeting.

Melrose has been heading planning for the 250th anniversary of Vassalboro’s incorporation as a town on Apr. 26, 1771, including superintending improvements at the park in East Vassalboro. Selectmen briefly discussed setting up an anniversary committee and suggested two residents they thought might be willing to head it.

Residents who are interested in the committee or have ideas for the celebration – as Browne pointed out, “This is a tough time to plan mass gatherings” – should get in touch with town office staff.

Selectmen left two other matters for a future meeting, either Aug. 20 or Sept. 3: public hearings on planned disbursements of previously-promised additional Tax Increment Finance (TIF) funds to the Alewife Restoration Initiative (ARI) and the Vassalboro Sanitary District (VSD); and a presentation by the town’s auditor on the most recent completed audit, for fiscal year 2018-2019.

INside the OUTside: Pandemic weighing you down? Take a hike!

Kathleen Cassidy at the foot of the trail, and above, Moxie Falls. (photo by Dan Cassidy)

by Dan Cassidy

With all the turmoil going on in not only our country, but throughout the world that has affected our lives, I try to keep my mind occupied with more positive things. What I tell my wife when she asks me “what do you plan to do today?” … I respond by saying, “I’m going to putter!”

One of my daughters has been home for several weeks from the west coast so we have spent many great days at beaches, riding bikes and doing other family things.

We decided one morning to take a trip up to Moxie Falls. She had never been, so off we went. It’s a pretty ride up Route 201 taking us through Skowhegan, Madison, Bingham, Moscow, Carratunk and meandering along the Kennebec River to The Forks. It’s about a two-and-a-half hour drive from the Central Maine area.

Moxie Falls. (photo by Dan Cassidy)

On the way, we passed through Bingham and from there the road begins to wind as we passed close to the Kennebec River, with sharp curves. Along the way, we passed by steep rock/ledge walls where some people have erected bird houses with numbers on them, all homemade and beautiful.

It’s a very picturesque ride to The Forks and what we noticed was the lack of traffic, with the exception of several tractor trailers heading in both directions, but a lack of Québec vehicles as the borders are still closed.

We took a right hand turn at The Forks and traveled about a mile-and-a-half to the entrance of Moxie Falls parking lot.

The walk is about a mile each way on a dirt path, shaded by overhead trees, making it very nice as the heat of the sun was getting quite hot.

Be prepared for your hike. You should wear sneakers, hiking boots, shorts and a light jacket in case of rain. I wouldn’t recommend flip-flops as there are rocks, roots of trees and other obstacles along the route. Bug spray is a good idea to carry.

We noticed several families, walking along the way and the mile trek took us right to the rushing waters of the falls. We spent about a half hour looking around the different look-out spots.

The hike back was about the same, as there was little elevation going in both directions. The best part was the shade from the hot sun. The trail meanders through the woods with wooden stairs and platforms to get a better view of the falls.

The falls area is one of the highest waterfalls in Maine, reaching vertical drop of about 90 feet. Caution here, as it’s best not to go off trail as the terrain gets very steep and rocky and the water is flowing at a very high speed.

While there is no overnight camping, there are several camping and lodging facilities in The Forks area. There are also several rafting outfitters and restaurants in the area.

Our choice for lunch was right after the bridge at The Forks at the Hawk’s Nest Lodge and restaurant. It has a picturesque outside seating and a great view of the Dead River across the road.

Enjoy your trek and be safe.

Vassalboro Capitol Hill Challenge team places third in nation

The Vassalboro Community School Capitol Hill Challenge stock market game team that finished third in the nation, and was the number one Middle School entry, clockwise from top left, JMG advisor Victor Esposito, Noah Bechard, Brady Desmond and Sofia Derosby. Most of the competiton was done online and through virtual meetings. (contributed photo)

Submitted by Victor Esposito
from SIFMA website

SIFMA and the SIFMA Foundation has announced the top 10 programs in the country for the 17th Annual Capitol Hill Challenge™ national financial education program, generously supported by the Charles Schwab Foundation, and announce the 10 teams who rose to the top of this rigorous investment competition.

Student teams representing public schools in every U.S. congressional district were invited to show their investing prowess by managing high-performing, diversified portfolios. Remarkably, in spite of school disruptions this Spring, there were 2,300 teams, with 8,400 students and their teachers who persevered to finish the challenge, demonstrating incredible commitment and achieving impressive results. Dynamic market conditions made for an exciting competition.

The Vassalboro Community School team, under the guidance of JMG master specialist Victor Esposito, finished third in the nation, and were the number one middle school.

According to Esposito, it was their first attempt at the National CHC Stock Market game.

“Congratulations to all the participants of this year’s Capitol Hill Challenge,” said Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr., SIFMA president and CEO. “For more than a decade, the SIFMA Foundation’s Capitol Hill Challenge and Stock Market Game have helped students from around the country become financially capable,” said Ken E. Bentsen, Jr., SIFMA President & CEO. “Our industry is committed to helping students learn the importance of saving and investing, while also providing them a solid foundation to achieve their future financial goals. SIFMA commends the Members of Congress who have visited their local schools virtually and engaged with students on financial education.”

This 14-week challenge organizes teams of public middle and high school students by congressional district and state and teaches the importance of saving and investing, while simultaneously promoting a better understanding of our government. Teams invest a hypothetical $100,000 in listed stocks, bonds, and mutual funds and learn the value of the capital markets as they work together to diversify across asset classes and maximize the return of their portfolios.

Since, the Capitol Hill Challenge began in 2004, the program has reached more than 125,000 students through more than 5,000 matches of U.S. representatives and senators with schools. Public middle and high school students from all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, participated in this year’s challenge.

Esposito lauded the local students for their dedication, “I wanted to just add that these kids did an amazing job considering a good part of it was online. They stayed focused and made some big moves and great choices.”

“Now more than ever, we need to inform and prepare young people for their financial lives,” said Melanie Mortimer, President of the SIFMA Foundation. “Through public-private collaborations like the Capitol Hill Challenge, the SIFMA Foundation, every US Member of Congress, and Charles Schwab are delivering financial capability to public schools nationwide. Together we are ensuring young people across America experience the capital markets and gain insights that lead to long-term success,” added Ms. Mortimer.

As their advisor, Esposito said, “I am super proud of their accomplishment, and I also thank their parents, who truly helped by keeping them on track, and a special thank you to Rob Picard, one of my parents who gave us a great boost at the start and kept following up throughout the game.”

The competition uses the SIFMA Foundation’s curriculum-based Stock Market Game program, which features a high-tech, online investment simulation of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and ESG investments, to give students a better understanding of capital markets, global economic trends and fiscal policy. It is proven to advance students’ performance on math and economic tests and improves students’ and teachers’ personal financial behavior.

2020 Capitol Hill Challenge: Top 10 schools and their representative:

Ravenna High School, OH, Rob Portman.
Springbrook High School, MD, Jamie Raskin.
Vassalboro Community School, ME, Chellie Pingree.
Mat-Su Career & Tech Ed High School, AK, Dan Sullivan.
Burbank High School, CA, Adam Schiff.
Saline High School, MI, Debbie Dingell.
West Orange Stark High School, TX, Brian Babin.
Cosby High School, TN, Phil Roe.
Sunnyvale Middle School, TX, Lance Gooden.
Lubbock-Cooper High School, TX, Jodey Arrington.

To learn more about the program, visit the SIFMA Foundation’s website at:

FISHY PHOTO: Big ol’ yellow perch

Tyler White, son of Nathan and Alison White, caught a big ol’ yellow perch while fishing at the head of China Lake with his dad and grandfather.

LEGAL NOTICES for Thursday, July 23, 2020


Nomination papers will be available at the Fairfield Town Office, 19 Lawrence Avenue, beginning on Monday July 27, 2020. The Town of Fairfield has the following seats available for the November 3, 2020 Election:

  • Town Council – One seat for a 3-year term.
  • MSAD#49 Board of Directors – One seat for a 2.5-year term.
  • Kennebec Water District Trustee – One seat for a 3-year term.

Public supper in Freedom

A public supper will be held at the Freedom Congregational Church on Saturday, August 1, from 4:30 – 6 p.m., at the church hall. These will be takeout dinners only. There will be some optional seating available following Covid-19 guidelines. All proceeds will benefit church projects.

Elvis fundraiser in Vassalboro

American Legion Post #5, in Waterville, will be holding an Elvis Concert fundraiser, on Sunday, July 26, from 2 – 4 p.m., at the St. Bridget Center, 864 Main St., in North Vassalboro. For tickets, call Craig Bailey at 313-8865, or Pearley Lachance at 873-0358. Advance tickets are $15, and they will be $20 at the door. It is recommended that you bring your own lawn chairs. (The  event  is  being  held  outside.)

I’M JUST CURIOUS: The mess of moving

The chaos of moving. (photo by Debbie Walker)

by Debbie Walker

Have you seen those shows on TV about the “Little Houses” and the people are “scaling down” to fit into them? Keep that picture in your mind. It’s not real, it can’t be real! And some of them with children! No way!

Oh all right. Maybe it’s possible if, and that’s a BIG IF, no one in the tiny house has any hobbies or interests and only owns two sets of clothing for each person.

Most of you know I moved back to Florida, last year. I got rid of a lot of my things in that move, only took what would fit in a minivan and my car.

I was moving into one room of my minimalist daughter’s home. It is the home of a minimalist (doesn’t like clutter) plus my room (hoarder). Half of my things were in my bedroom and the other half in a storage trailer they have.

Yes, I am moving again. It has been my goal to live in a trailer/camper when I retired. A few weeks ago I got my 26-foot fifth wheel camper. If you are not familiar with a fifth wheel, in this one the bedroom is basically over the bed of a pickup when it is being towed. So 8 feet of the 26-foot length is over the bed of the truck. The bedroom gives me about two feet on each side of the bed. I am referring to it as my loft bedroom because there are four steps going up. And you can’t stand up in there unless you are maybe five feet tall or under, otherwise like for me, you are bending over! It’s okay, I don’t spend much time up there anyway. The rest of it, kitchen, living room and bathroom, are quite comfortable. That is, will be comfortable once I get my things organized and weed out some that I probably don’t truly need. (That will be at the least, the third time I have cleaned out what I really don’t need.)

In this move, because I lived with my daughter, I am not rushed to get out. I have been able to move a few boxes at a time, thank goodness, because there would be no place to stack the boxes. If you can see clearly in the picture, under that pile of “stuff” is actually my sofa! I will try to put all that away tonight and go get some more to work on for tomorrow night.

Needless to say, packing a camper for a vacation is a far cry from packing to live in one. My biggest problem is clothes and books. I am going to have to get creative to put those things in order. I also have to figure what to do with things like my computer, printer, my sewing machine and my craft supplies. Are you getting a picture in mind? Nana Dee says we may have to do some creative construction and build up a second story. Now that would be a sight!

I am just curious what your craziest move was? I am waiting to hear. Contact me at Have a great week!


George Szell

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

George Szell

YouTube has made available an hour long September 1968, interview with the great former conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell (1897-1970), who raised that Midwestern group of 100 or more players from an already good level to world class during the 24 years of his leadership from 1946 to his death, due to a combination of heart attack and bone cancer, on July 30, 1970. Back when Time magazine still covered classical music in depth, it devoted a page to Szell’s passing and another to that of Sir John Barbirolli who died the day before Szell. (Interestingly, during the 1930s, Szell had a girlfriend who abandoned him to marry Barbirolli.)

During the course of the interview, originally broadcasted on the BBC with Decca/London record producer, John Culshaw, Szell talks about his childhood as a prodigy on the piano and his concert tours between his home in Vienna, Austria, and London, England. When he was 11 years old. His most vivid memory was shopping in London’s department stores which had far greater numbers of items for sale than those in Vienna. Although he could easily have made a successful career as a pianist, he decided he was too lazy to put in the required hours of daily practicing and would become drawn to conducting. During his youth, he also composed a sizable number of works but decided his own music would never equal that of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.

When he was 13, he studied for a while with German composer Max Reger (1873-1916) whose own music is tough listening at first but well worth additional hearings. Reger was also very obese and could eat more food than 5 people at a dinner party — a factor that, combined with his alcoholism, may have led to his early death from a heart attack.

Szell remembered Reger playing piano music with astounding delicacy and beauty. He also remembered him flinging around four letter words and asking young Szell to go in the hallway while he told dirty jokes to the older students.

At 19, Szell started working with composer/conductor Richard Strauss (1864-1949) at the Dresden Opera House. He told of two tendencies whenever Strauss conducted, whether it was the latter’s own music such as Salome or Don Juan, or Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. He would give a performance that was out of this world or be totally bored, looking at his watch with one hand and conducting with the other.

When Szell was negotiating with the Cleveland Orchestra board for his working terms as music director, he demanded autonomy with the hiring and firing of players and longer working seasons. Interviewer Culshaw, who had already been a friend of several years standing, jokingly commented of working with the conductor for the first time in a recording session in 1948 and of Szell’s reputation as a holy terror. Szell laughed in commenting that it was partially exaggerated. However, he did concede that players in Cleveland who were thinking they were set for life experienced a rude awakening when he demanded high standards because a conductor can’t have the nicest personality and build a world class orchestra at the same time.

Many Szell recordings and broadcasts can be heard via internet sources such as YouTube and Spotify. For beginning collectors, I would recommend the 1964 Mahler 4th Symphony, a recording of which I have worn out at least two copies, and the late ‘60s Brahms 2 Piano Concertos with Rudolf Serkin, both available inexpensively on compact disc.

Peaches are coming!

You need a break from the monotony. The Living Communities Foundation is bringing in big, drippingly-sweet peaches from northern New Jersey starting on July 31, with one or two more deliveries in August. The schedule isn’t set in stone yet, as details are still crystallizing. However, the first order has to be turned in and paid by July 24, so time is of the essence. The good news is that the price has not gone up! It’s still $37 for a 37 to 40-pound box or $23 for a half box. If you get together with friends and neighbors and order four or more boxes, you get a $2 discount per full box!

To order, email Connie Bellet at and mention your daytime phone number for confirmation, and a call when the peaches arrive. Or you can call her at 993-2294 and leave a message with your name, phone, and preference of which Friday you can best pick up your peaches. Checks may be made out to LCF and sent to P.O. Box 151, Palermo, ME 04354. The peaches will arrive at the Palermo Community Center, on Veterans Way and Turner Ridge Rd., across from the ball field. You’ll see the electric sign. Our volunteers will place your boxes in your vehicle. To maintain social distance, please stay in your car. As the delivery dates are firmed up, you’ll get further emails. Thank you for your support!!!

Proceeds from this sale will go toward maintaining the Community Center, repairing the roof, and paying ongoing bills. The COVID pandemic has put a big dent in our normal fundraising, so your support is greatly appreciated!