VETERANS CORNER: Covid-19 presents hurdles for veterans seeking VA assistance

Veterans Administration facility at Togus. (Internet photo)

by Gary Kennedy

Here we are closing in on the Fall season. Some are receiving this with great enthusiasm but others are not. Fall, for many is a thing of beauty and some are sighting in their bows and guns. The older veterans are starting to lean toward the beauty as they reach the fall of their lives. The younger vets still lean toward the action of the hunt. Time is so elusive. One day nothing can harm us, then father time plays his eternal game leading to closure. We become weak with time as the frailty sets in. We begin to worry where we go, what we do and how and where we do it. A couple of days ago a young driver almost ran me off the road. I said, “Oh, I would like to get my hands on him.” The truth retrospect of the matter is I was thinking through a previous time zone. (retrospect). That young man would have made mince meat out of me. We live in that never ending bubble which like hamsters take us round and round. I think it’s referred to as, “the second childhood.” We sometimes think through the eyes of time gone by.

We veterans have a mixed bag to carry. We were trained to be good God-fearing adults by our parents and with that came a code of ethics and morals. Of course, I am referring to the average everyday family. Then some of us answered the call of the duty to the country we so dearly love, (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard). With this call, we all underwent a new training with a slightly different code. We had to undergo a different training by a different relative, Uncle Sam. This training taught us a code that was necessary but not so nice and had different rules from those mom and dad.

So, of course, ultimately this left in its wake a group of confused men and women. Resulting from this we have many dismembered mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, who still have some of their parent’s teachings and some of what their country imparted in them. Sounds confusing doesn’t it. Well, for many of these veterans, it is. Most will never figure it out.

So, the fact of the matter is you have to adjust and live with it. Some live with it in real time and are fairly successful with the instilled conflict yet others live with an internal contentious summation of what life has dealt out; and who and what they should have been some call this nervous disorder, or PTSD. In any case it is a very heavy burden for the human psyche. For some the burdens are too great and they choose to leave this world by their own hand. Others, the fortunate ones, have close support groups, family, friends, clergy and other support venues such as the Veterans Administration.

Now we have a roadblock that has been placed in front of us called Covid-19. So, where am I going with this? A few of the veteran support groups are still in place but one of the most important is not, the V.A. Since the pandemic arrived the VA has for the most part shutdown. Emergent situations can be seen through emergency. Also in all fairness there are some doctors that have elected to do face to face. So don’t get lost in despair. If you need to talk to your Primary Care Physician call 207-623-8411 and push “0” when you get the recording. You will get a live person and just ask to be connected with your doctor. Another person will answer but your doctor will eventually get back to you. You can have a phone conference. If more is required then you will be allowed to go to Community Health Care. (Doctor of your Choice) this is a recent option set up by the federal government. Also, my website is I am always there to help my fellow vets. It’s also a free service.

I really don’t want to hear the despair in your voices. Stop watching the news and go to happy programming. Trust me it is much better for you. The Covid-19 and violence in our streets are causing very bad things to happen in the minds of our children and our vets. It breaks my heart to hear, “I didn’t get this way for a country like this.” That’s a heart breaker as the wheelchair roles by.

I have recently written a letter to the president about ways to help, COLA is one of them. I have also contacted Senator Collins’ office. When the election is over let’s pray things will improve. This will be the time your voice will be heard. Make sure your feelings are shown and your concerns are heard.

If you need a better understanding about what is going on in our country, there are several great new books out there. The one I am finishing now is by Pete Hegseth, a retired Army Major, young, and has a wife and family. You’d never know it but he graduated from Harvard and Princeton as well. This book is for the advanced reader but it’s well worth the research. Barnes and Noble has this and can direct you to other books. I have read several already. The cost of the book is $28. Books are expensive these days.

In my next article I will explain some problems we are having with outside health care. In the meantime, take care of yourself and use the tools available to you; myself and this media source are just a couple as I have explained.

Stay faithful and strong. God be with you and yours.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: 12 things to always remember

by Debbie Walker

I believe I found this material on Facebook, a social website, and I really wanted to share it. I don’t know who the original author is but I liked the thought behind this. And, of course, I had to add a few of my own thoughts. Any thoughts or comments you have I would be glad to hear from you.

1. The past cannot be changed. If we were able to change the past, we would lose some of the lessons we needed. What we don’t think of is in our quest to redo the past we would also lose some of the things you weren’t considering.

2. Opinions don’t define your reality. I will listen to anyone’s opinion, if I agree then it is part of my reality already. If I don’t agree I just ignore it. We all make mistakes. From those mistakes we learn. These are what makes our realities.

3. Everyone’s journey is different. No one is in the exact same spot in their journey. Everyone’s journey is different, that’s what makes us who we are, makes us all special. We might be the same age, in the same income bracket and may even have similar goals in life. Fortunately, the way we accomplish it is what makes our journey different.

4. Things always get better with time. Most injuries get better with time, most illnesses get better with time, grief and losses get better with time. Usually even our children get better with time!

5. Judgments are a confession of character. You will only know the character of a person through three things. (a) When you live with that person. (b) When you do business/partnership/employer/employees/ or friends with that person. (c)Any reason to spend a lot of time together. Character says a lot about a person, and that character is being judged, often, before you meet someone.

6. Over thinking will lead to sadness. Overthinking is focused on the past, specially the bad things that have happened or unfortunate situations that a person wishes had gone differently. Sadly, it is not just something you can’t shake off. The sadness or depression usually requires a little help, not just wishing.

7. Happiness is found within. According to my dictionary, True Happiness is enjoying your own company and living in peace and harmony with your body, mind, and soul. It’s for being truly happy you neither need other people nor materialistic things. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. I think we look for other people to make us happy rather than doing it for yourself. Such as: My husband doesn’t have a clue what I would love for Christmas. My suggestion is to purchase a couple of your most wanted items, buy them and put them in his hands to wrap. I doubt he will be unhappy and you will get what you wanted without disappointment.

8. Positive thoughts create positive things. Explains itself.

9. Smiles are contagious. I believe in smiling, especially when I have eye contact with anyone, strangers, and all.

10. Kindness is free.

11. You only fail if you quit. Or…If you don’t try at all.

12. What goes around, comes around. A person’s actions or behavior will eventually have consequences for their behavior.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Poet Constance Hunting & Out of print recordings on YouTube

Constance Hunting

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Poet Constance Hunting

Poet Constance Hunting (1925-2006) taught English literature and creative writing at the University of Maine’s Orono campus from 1968 until her death. She originally trained to be a classical pianist but left that to focus on her writing. She also established Puckerbrush Press, edited the Puckerbrush Review, which published and promoted good work by many writers from Maine and elsewhere, and wrote over a dozen volumes of her own poems.

She commented on why Maine was important to her in a quote drawn from the 1989 anthology of Maine literature, Maine Speaks, which was edited by herself and several other members of the Maine Literature Project:

“Maine is important to me as a writer; its atmosphere seems to allow the freedom to try things, to explore possibilities. If one thing doesn’t succeed, try another!….I also like to go to our woodlot and help get ready for that long Maine winter. Maine makes us believe in weather. And that in turn makes us believe in Maine.”

Her poem New England nailed a maximum of substance with a minimum of words:

are the sheep of these
and fog
is the wool of these

For what it’s worth, the poet herself left out a period at the end of the poem.

Out of print recordings available on YouTube

Richard Strauss

Youtube has been beneficial in making available long out of print recordings for free listening on the computer speakers. I wish to mention two very good classical 78 sets.

A. The brilliant German composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949) conducted a very good 1927 set of Mozart’s 40th Symphony, a work that I consider the toughest of his 41 symphonies to conduct well and, until hearing Strauss’s performance, I felt that Sir Thomas Beecham’s 1937 Columbia recording was the only one that truly breathed. I have heard other recordings that are good, just not great. Strauss’s achieved that level of brilliance and beauty ten years before Beecham did.

Another English conductor Sir Adrian Boult told of Strauss coming to London in 1914 to guest conduct a program featuring three of his own works and the Mozart 40th. He had four hours of rehearsal time with the orchestra, devoted one hour to his own works, and rehearsed the 25-minute Mozart for the other three hours.

B. I have written previously here on other recordings of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique Symphony. One very notable 1936 Columbia 78 set was conducted by Philippe Gaubert (1879-1941) and distinguished for its balance of gripping power, delectably understated poetry and dance-like elegance. The Paris Conser­vatory Orchestra was very responsive to his leadership.

Become a member: An open letter to our readers

The Town Line Board of Directors, from left to right, Joann Austin, president, Dan L’Heureux, Neil Farrington, Eric Austin, and Emily Cates, treasurer.

Dear readers and supporters of The Town Line:

For the past 33 years, The Town Line has pledged a mission statement to “create a vibrant rural community connecting our towns, organizations and individuals through communication, education and public dialogue.” It’s all part of The Town Line’s mission to be a positive force in our community and bring together the rural towns of central Maine by promoting better understanding of our surroundings.

Unfortunately, the last two decades have not been good for the nation’s newspapers. Nearly 1,800 local newspapers have closed their doors since 2014, according to a study done by the University of North Carolina. The hardest hit are community papers like The Town Line that concentrate exclusively on local issues.

The reason so many newspapers across the country have gone out of business in recent years is simple – it’s all about the advertising. In the past, the revenue from advertising has gone to pay the writers and reporters investigating local stories – and to pay for the cost of printing and distributing the paper each week. That is how The Town Line has remained a free paper for all of its 33-year history.

However, things have changed. With the advent of the internet in the 1990s, advertising is no longer controlled by publications, but by social networking websites and search engines. As the internet has grown and gained more influence in our daily lives, the advertising power of the internet has grown as well. Over the years, the revenue from advertising that used to support local newspapers has shifted to global search engines and huge social networking websites instead. This change in who benefits from advertising has been a death blow to many local papers.

According to a 2018 study published in the Oxford Journal of Communication, communities without a local source of news become more partisan, divided and politically fractured. You’ve seen it happen on the national level. It’s a growing problem around the country. Part of the problem for this is the loss of local publications like ours.

The Town Line also differs from other media companies because we are a nonprofit organization. Most of our writers are volunteers. Our editor and staff are paid sub-standard wages. And we don’t push any political agenda. We serve as a voice for our diverse community but take no editorial side in any issue. We concentrate solely on local stories of interest to the rural towns of central Maine. However, we can no longer survive on advertising dollars alone. We need the support of the community more than ever. That is why we are writing to you today.

What can you do to help? For as little as $25 a year, you’ll become a member of The Town Line newspaper and receive our mailings and updates. You can talk to local business about the importance of advertising in The Town Line, to not only support the paper, but to show their support of community, instead of giant corporations like Facebook and Google.

The Town Line is a nonprofit community newspaper and we’re a dying breed. The world would be a worse place without us. In these days of mass media and internet mega-companies, we need your help to continue our mission to bring the residents of central Maine together through “communication, education and public dialogue.”

Won’t you join us and become a member today? (Click here to become a member.)



The Town Line Board of Directors:
Joann Austin, president; Eric Austin, secretary; Emily Cates, treasurer; Neil Farrington, Dan L’Heureux, Steve Ball and Jeanne Marquis.

Donate securely online here or mail your check to:

The Town Line newspaper
PO Box 89

South China, ME 04358


Article updated on 01/21/2021

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Fires were common in 19th century

Mog’sTrough hand tub fire apparatus.

by Mary Grow

Readers might remember that this historical series started at the end of March in reaction to the pandemic, to divert readers’ minds and fill a page in the newspaper. What plan there was at the time included stories about disasters, not only plague and pestilence but fires, floods, wars and other cheerful topics. Given California’s situation, this week seemed appropriate for a story on fires in some of our Kennebec Valley towns.

Fires were common in the 19th and early 20th centuries, especially mill fires, according to local histories. Specific causes are seldom given. In the days before organized fire-fighting companies, municipal or volunteer, consequences were often severe.

The 200th anniversary history of Fairfield has a chapter titled “Disasters,” with fires a major topic. By the 1830s, the town had multiple mills on the west shore of the Kennebec River behind the present Main Street, by the dam across the river and on Mill Island at the east end of the dam. Three major mill fires occurred before the end of the century.

The first was on Oct. 10, 1853. Three adjoining sawmills in 366 feet of building burned, with several smaller enterprises, including a factory that made curtain-sticks and another, where the fire started, that made pails. Henry Newhall’s saw and grist mill survived.

The town fire department was organized in May 1856. From then on Fairfield, unlike some nearby towns, had increasingly sophisticated equipment and trained people to fight fires.

In 1860 some shops burned. The compilers of the bicentennial history considered the fire noteworthy because it was the last time firefighters used the “Mog’s Trough hand-tub fire apparatus” the town bought some 30 years earlier.

Online photos of the Mog’s Trough show a long shallow tub slung on four large wheels, with overhead piping and other machinery. One photo is dated 1821; another is of a hand-tub that once belonged to the Waterville, Maine, fire department.

In 1861 and again in 1873 the wooden trestle that carried the railroad tracks over the Kennebec between Fairfield and Benton burned.

On July 21, 1882, the second major mill fire took three sawmills, two planing mills, four other businesses and several houses. The weather was dry, the wind was blowing, and for a time it looked as though the entire downtown would go up in flames. The chroniclers say it was in response to this disaster that the town bought an Amoskeag steam fire engine, paying about $4,000 for it.

Amoskeag fire apparatus in Fairfield.

The Amoskeag was invented in the 1850s by a New Hampshire man named Nehemiah S. Bean; it and its rivals soon replaced the hand-tubs. The Fairfield history, published in 1988, says the Amoskeag was still at the Fairfield fire station; a collection of historic photographs found on line under the Fairfield Fire Department shows a steam fire engine in the late 1940s.

On Aug. 21, 1883, some of the wooden stores on Fairfield’s Main Street burned down. The history-writers speculate that this fire led to construction of brick replacements.

On Aug. 21, 1895, the third mill fire started in one mill’s boiler room. The dramatic account in the history describes dry wooden buildings with drifts of bark and stacks of finished lumber, oil-soaked lower floors, a hot day with the mill workers dismissed at noon to attend a big racing event at Fairfield’s trotting park on the west edge of town. Once the flames were spotted, town firefighters were supplemented by mill workers and ordinary citizens who fought the fire or loaded wagons with lumber to save it. Waterville sent a steam pumper and a fire crew; Somerset Mills at Shawmut sent teams and men. The mills burned to the ground anyway, and this time were not rebuilt.

In April 1911, a large sawmill built in Shawmut in 1908 burned. The owners opened a replacement mill on the site in November 1911; it burned within a week.

On Sept. 21, 1907, Lawrence High School opened on High Street, across from the Memorial Park. On Feb. 15, 1925, its interior was destroyed by fire. The brick building was rebuilt; it reopened the next spring and served until supplanted by the new high school on School Street on Sept. 7, 1960. It is now a primary school.

On Jan. 8, 1956, a grocery store with apartments above it at the corner of Main Street and Lawrence Avenue burned.

On March 14, 1966, the last mill building on Mill Island, owned by American Woolen Company, burned.

China is another Kennebec Valley town with a fire-filled history: each of its four villages has suffered at least one major fire.

The 1872 South China fire began around midnight April 24, in Wyman’s store on Main Street. It burned 22 buildings, including Theodore Jackson’s blacksmith shop (and his carriage manufactory on the second floor with a large second-story outdoor platform for new carriages to sit while their paint dried); two other blacksmiths’ shops; a tavern; a hotel; several stores, one of which housed the village post office; and several houses. Most of the giant elms that shaded Main Street were killed.

Milton E. Dowe described the Branch Mills fire of June 26, 1908, in his 1954 “History Town of Palermo Incorporated 1804.” It started about 11 a.m., on a pleasant spring day when most men were working in the fields, in the Dinsmore mill in the middle of the village. Sparks spread the fire eastward along the north side of the main street; it turned and came west along the south side.

Hastily assembled residents tried to fight the fire at the mill and to rescue goods from the other buildings. Possessions piled on lawns or in the street burned as the fire reversed. By 2 p.m., Dowe wrote, the wooden bridge across the West Branch of the Sheespcot River and 26 buildings, including a general store, a meat store and a large hotel, were destroyed. Other sources put the number of buildings lost at 16 or 50.

In his later book, “Palermo Maine Things That I Remember in 1996,” Dowe adds two details. Thomas Dinsmore, he wrote, saved his house from the fire by sitting on its roof with a bucket of water and a dipper to douse falling sparks. And the damage to the base of the Old Settlers’ Monument dates from the fire: someone put a rescued mattress there and the mattress burned.

After the fire, people used an alternate route downstream to ford the river until a metal bridge was built. The post office and some of the businesses reopened in scattered buildings on the outskirts of the former town center. Rebuilding began with Elon Kitchen’s new store near the stream, west of the present Grange Hall.

Dowe mentions three other fires that took commercial buildings: around 1885 a blacksmith and a carpenter lost their shops; in April 1916 two stores and a house burned; and on Oct. 1, 1933, Elon Kitchen’s building, by then Cain and Nelson’s store, burned down.

Weeks Mills had two significant fires in the first decade of the 20th century. The first, in September 1901, burned the village’s hotel and two stores. Another fire on May 26, 1904, burned five buildings on the south side of Main Street, including the partly-rebuilt hotel, and two stores at the top of the north side of the street. Another store downhill from the burned ones and mills along the stream escaped.

The hotel in Weeks Mills was rebuilt yet again and operated intermittently as a hotel through the first half of the 20th century, serving traveling salesmen and sometimes Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington railroad crews stranded by winter storms.

On the outskirts of the village a factory canning corn and, in season, apples ran from early in the 20th century until 1931. In 1918 part of the factory burned. The owners invited area residents to help themselves to cans of corn, which were fed to animals and people.

Near the canning factory a former potato house became a general store after World War I. This building also burned, probably in 1932.

China Village’s commercial district in the 19th and 20th centuries was at the north end of Neck Road and the south end Main Street. Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history mentions several 19th-century fires, none as comprehensive as the other three villages suffered.

In the 20th century, a building that had started life as a cheese factory in 1874, been moved to Main Street and converted to a G.A.R. hall around 1899 and later become a garage burned in 1923. A larger fire started in the Jones and Coombs bean-cleaning plant in August 1961 and destroyed the plant and the Fenlason store next door.

Three of China’s four villages have their own volunteer fire departments. Branch Mills depends on the Palermo department, whose fire house is located in the village. South China’s department was organized in the spring of 1934, China Village’s in the spring of 1943 and Weeks Mills’ in the spring of 1949.

In the fall of 1947 many wildfires burned thousands of acres in Maine, destroying or significantly damaging nine towns, the so-called Millionaires’ Row on Mount Desert Island, the Jackson Laboratory and more than 1,000 houses and seasonal homes.

One of the fires was on Church Road in Sidney, which runs west off West River Road and, according to the current Google map, dead-ends east of Interstate 95. Alice Hammond wrote in her history of Sidney that fighting it took a long time, because the town lacked equipment and organization. As a result, some Middle Road residents began talking about the need for a volunteer fire department.

Two years later, on Oct. 14, 1949, a resident named Otis Bacon saw smoke as he drove past a house. He alerted the homeowners and neighbors, but there was still no organized fire-fighting effort, and three families lost their homes.

On March 21, 1950, Hammond wrote, Bacon called a meeting at the schoolhouse on Pond Road to start a neighborhood volunteer fire department. Twenty-one residents organized themselves as the Lakeshore Volunteer Fire Department, raised money, accept a donated lot, cut trees and sawed lumber to build a firehouse.

Meanwhile, residents of other parts of town mobilized to get a warrant article for the March 6, 1950, town meeting requesting $300 for each of three volunteer fire departments, covering Pond Road, Middle Road (the Center Sidney department) and River Road (the West River Road department).

In addition to large fires, our towns have suffered hundreds of individual house fires, costing residents their irreplaceable heirlooms and other possessions, their sense of security and in worst cases the lives of their pets or family members. Esther Bernhardt’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter have immortalized one of these fires in the “Anthology of Vassalboro Tales” Esther and Vicki Schad published in 2017.

Kimberly Bernhardt was the sixth generation to live in the Bernhardt farmhouse on Priest Hill Road; her daughter, Bethany Karen Bernhardt, was the seventh. Bethany wrote that a week before Christmas in 2006 a fire started in the kitchen and the smoke made the building uninhabitable.

It was a dreadful experience, Bethany wrote, but the consequences were heartening. Bernhardt family members in two neighboring houses came to help, of course; and so did dozens of other Vassalboro residents, some friends and some who barely knew the family. They brought food and other necessities; they helped clean up debris and tear down the ruined building; they supervised as a new house went up.

Bethany’s essay is titled, Home Is Where the Heart Is.

Main sources

Bernhardt, Esther, and Vicki Schad, compilers/editors Anthology of Vassalboro Tales (2017)
Dowe, Milton E., History Town of Palermo Incorporated 1884 (1954)
Dowe, Milton E., Palermo Maine Things That I Remember in 1996 (1997)
Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988)
Grow, Mary M., China Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions (1984)
Hammond, Alice, History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 (1992)

Websites, miscellaneous

Golf Fore Kids Sake set for Belgrade Lakes and Rockport

Photo courtesy of BBBSMM

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine (BBBSMM) invites local businesses, organizations and individuals to sign up to Golf Fore Kids’ Sake at two of Maine’s top golf courses, located in Belgrade Lakes and in Rockport, to support local youth mentoring. Teams are comprised of four golfers and registration includes course challenges and lunch. Funds raised will go directly toward BBBSMM community and school-based mentoring programs throughout eastern, central and coastal Maine.

BBBSMM Executive Director Gwendolyn Hudson said Golf Fore Kids’ Sake is among the agency’s largest fundraisers and is critical this year to help offset a substantial financial shortfall due to cancelled fundraising events affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“We are expecting a loss of $150,000 in funding this year due to rescheduled and canceled events. Funding is especially critical at this time to continue to support our most vulnerable children, our Littles, when they need their mentors the most,” Hudson said. “Whether you golf, sponsor, donate or volunteer, participating in Golf Fore Kids’ Sake this year will help keep kids connected.”

Both Golf Fore Kids’ Sake tournaments will feature pre-scheduled tee-times and lunch on the course to allow social distancing. The first tournament, Kennebec Valley Golf Fore Kids’ Sake, presented by Kennebec Savings Bank, will be held Friday, Sept. 4 at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club in Belgrade Lakes, Maine. Teams are accepted first-come, first-served. Sponsorship opportunities are available. To register or sponsor, contact Mae at 207.592.4616 or email

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine’s Midcoast 2020 Golf Fore Kids’ Sake tournament, presented by Machias Savings Bank, will be held Friday, Sept. 25, at Samoset Resort Golf Club in Rockport, Maine. This is also a pre-registered tee-time event. Sponsorships are available. To register or sponsor the Samoset event, contact Sophie at 207.236.2227 ext. 102 or email

Businesses can support Golf Fore Kids’ Sake by becoming sponsors, donating prizes, registering teams to participate or by donating auction items. Event volunteers are also welcome.  For more information, visit or call 207.236.2227. END

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine creates and supports one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth in Androscoggin, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Penobscot, Somerset, and Waldo Counties. By partnering with parents, volunteers and organizations, children in Big Brothers Big Sisters programs have higher aspirations, greater confidence, better relationships, avoid risky behaviors and achieve educational success. To enroll a child, become a Big, donate, or learn more about volunteering, call 207.236.BBBS (2227).

CRITTER CHATTER: The tall (tail) of two foxes at Duck Pond Wildlife Care Center

Three foxes, two males and a female, back, peer out of their pen before attempting their escape.

by Jayne Winters

I love chatting with Donald Cote at the Duck Pond Wildlife Center. He always has a story (or two or three) to share and I never know what little critters I’ll find harbored in his living room and the area that used to be strictly for his late wife Carleen’s doll collection.

My July visit left me almost speechless, which doesn’t happen very often! I’m always expecting to see a couple chipmunks or squirrels recuperating in their respective cages, and as spring has turned into summer, various kennels with young raccoons and porcupines. However, on this particular day his living space was filled with kennels and carriers, many stacked upon each other. He had no less than 25 raccoons, four baby skunks, six porcupines, a young fisher, and several chippies and squirrels. I didn’t even count the outside enclosure inhabitants, but foxes at various ages certainly outnumber any other species.

Don told me at our first meeting that foxes and fawns are his favorite critters; I enjoy listening to him reminisce and last month he told me about a recent incident involving three fox kits. Young foxes are kept in a 4 x 4 x 8 pen and this particular litter had a female which was a little larger than her siblings. She was enticed into a carrier at mealtime to eat separately so the other two would get their share, but at one of the feedings, a young male scooted into the carrier first, followed by his larger sister. In an attempt to get the male out, Don tipped the carrier and the kit accidentally hit the latch on the pen, giving him the opportunity to run free with his female partner in crime right behind him. She left the area immediately, but the male hung around the enclosure. Don spent hours trying to coax him back into the pen, using a flexible wire, a 100-foot extension cord and rope in his efforts to pull the latch/door closed if he was to enter, but the kit was wary and wouldn’t get closer than 12-15 feet from Don. Unsuccessful at recapturing him, Don finally went to bed at 3:30 a.m.

The next morning at feeding time, Don and the little male fox played cat-and-mouse between the evergreen trees shading the enclosure. “No matter how tame you think they are, once they get the taste of freedom, it’s a different story,” he explained. Finally, that evening, Don put the remaining third litter mate into the kennel and placed it at the end of the pen where the little male could see her and the dinner dishes. Sure enough, he cautiously entered the pen, Don pulled the cord, and set the latch! The morale of the story: latches can open and need to be checked, secured and repaired on a regular basis. Don called this story, “You win some, you lose some.” Although he successfully recaptured the male, the larger female maintained her freedom and was never seen again. There are never any guarantees for survival when an animal is released, but Don felt that her chances were good as she had learned how to hunt and scavenge for dead mice which he had tucked into the pen’s hay or hidden in small logs, to acclimate the foxes from dependence on the feeding dishes to a more natural seek and hunt process. And what’s happened to the little male? The escape artist got out of the pen two more times, taking advantage of that split second when Don’s hands were carrying food dishes and that small space between his feet offered an opportunity to explore. He’s been recaptured both times (the last time with a Havahart type trap) and now awaits summer release into the wild.

Donald Cote operates the Duck Pond Wildlife Care Center on Rte. 3 in Vassalboro. It is a non-profit federal and state permitted rehab facility which is supported by his own resources and outside donations. Mailing address: 1787 North Belfast Ave., Vassalboro ME 04989 TEL: (207) 445-4326. EMAIL CORRECTION:

Youth football in Waterville

Coach Matt Vaughan and team member Dylan Devlin practicing during a recent Waterville Youth Football Clinc. (photo by Missy Brown, Central Maine Photography staff)

Waterville Youth Football Player Isaac Chase, practicing with Coach Matt Perry during a recent clinic. The season begins next month. (photo by Missy Brown, Central Maine Photography staff)

SCORES & OUTDOORS: It’s time for the katydids


Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

Last week, a friend of mine texted me with the photo of a cricket-like bug for identification. Before I could get back to him, he ID’d it as a katydid. A few days later, I saw one hanging on the screen door at camp. It had been a while since I had seen one.

Katydids are a family of insects related to grasshoppers and crickets. They’re also called bush crickets or long-horned grasshoppers in some regions. There are more than 6,000 types of katydids, and they’re found on every continent except for Antarctica. The vast majority of katydid species live in the tropical regions of the world. For example, the Amazon basin rain forest is home to over 2,000 species of katydids. However, katydids are found in the cool, dry temperate regions, as well, with about 255 species in North America.

Most types of katydids are green and have markings to help them blend in with leaves and other foliage. Like crickets and grasshoppers, they have long back legs to help them jump. They can rub their front wings together to make a loud ka-ty-did song that gives them their name. Some katydid songs, however, are at too high a frequency for human ears to hear.

Katydids are usually considered gentle insects that aren’t harmful to humans. Some people consider them garden pests; however, they usually don’t cause serious damage to your plants or vegetables. The Common Garden Katydid is a quite common backyard buddy and garden visitor.

Many people even keep them as pets. In rare cases, larger types of katydid may pinch or bite if they feel threatened. Their bite is unlikely to break your skin and likely won’t be any more painful than a mosquito bite. You’re very unlikely to get bitten unless you’re handling them with your bare hands. It’s extremely unlikely that the bite will need medical attention. You can wash the area with soap and water and apply a cold compress if you have pain or swelling.

Katydids primarily eat leaves and grass. Along with crickets and grasshoppers, they may be attracted to the plants in your garden or any tall grass on your property. Katydids are nocturnal and are also attracted to bright lights at night.

One type of katydid found widely across North America, the broad-winged katydid, likes to eat the leaves of citrus trees and may be a pest for people with orchards.

You may not know much about katydids, probably because they are masters of camouflage. Their green colouring and leaf-like shape helps them blend into leafy surroundings, and they are most active at night. They may be tough to spot, but may be a lot more common than you think.

Katydids don’t have ears on their heads, but instead they have an ear called a ‘tympanum’ on each front leg, just below the knee. Up close, this looks like a hole in their leg.

The lifespan of a katydid is about a year, with full adulthood usually developing very late. Females most typically lay their eggs at the end of summer beneath the soil or in plant stem holes. The eggs are typically oval and laid in rows on the host plant.

When katydids go to rest during the day, they enter a diurnal roosting posture to maximize their cryptic qualities. This position fools predators into thinking the katydid is either dead or just a leaf on the plant. By flicking their wings open when disturbed, they use the coloration to fool predators into thinking the spots are eyes. This, in combination with their coloration mimicking leaves, allows them to blend in with their surroundings, but also makes predators unsure which side is the front and which side is the back.

They have polygamous relationships. The first male to mate is guaranteed an extremely high confidence of paternity when a second male couples at the termination of female sexual refractoriness. The nutrients that the offspring ultimately receive will increase their fitness.

The polygamous relationships of the katydids lead to high levels of male-male competition. Male competition is caused by the decreased availability of males able to supply nutrients to the females. Females produce more eggs on a high-quality diet; thus, the female looks for healthier males with a more nutrition. Females use the sound created by the male to judge his fitness. The louder and more fluent the trill, the higher the fitness of the male.

When you think about it, there is a lot that goes on in the world of what we consider “just a bug.”

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

What New England Patriots running back holds the franchise record for the best single season yards per carry average: Corey Dillon, Danny Woodhead or James White?

Answer can be found here.

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

Trivia QuestionsWhat New England Patriots running back holds the franchise record for the best single season yards per carry average: Corey Dillon, Danny Woodhead or James White?


In 2010 Danny Woodhead rushed for 551 yards for a 5.68 yards per carry average.