China selectmen decide to maintain inactive local police department

by Mary Grow

Much of the China selectmen’s June 21 business was following up on voters’ decisions at the June 8 town meeting. All but one selectboard vote was unanimous; two items were postponed.

Police services generated the longest discussion. Voters approved a $34,000 police budget for 2021-22, to fund a contract that would provide 10 extra hours a week of service from the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office (KSO), in addition to China’s share of county policing.

Selectmen agreed they should de-activate, but not eliminate, the China police department, which currently consists of five part-time officers, four with full-time jobs with other departments.

Town Manager Becky Hapgood explained that a China police officer will need to submit a report in January 2022; and if selectmen disbanded the local department and later wanted it back again, starting over would require paperwork.

She estimated the cost of maintaining the department on paper, with the men doing nothing but filing the required report, should be less than $1,000. Selectmen agreed having the local force remain an option while they tried the KSO arrangement was a good idea.

They voted unanimously for the additional deputy sheriffs’ work, 10 hours a week (on average) at $60 an hour, plus maintaining an inactive local department. Later, they re-appointed three local police officers, Jordan Gaudet from KSO and Michael Tracy and Jerry Haynes from the Oakland Police Department.

On a related issue, they signed the two-year dispatching contract with the State Police postponed from their previous meeting (see the June 17 issue of The Town Line, p. 3).

On June 8, voters approved the revised Tax Increment Financing (TIF) document, called the Second Amendment. Hapgood reported that town office staff are finishing paperwork to send it to the state for approval.

Selectmen authorized six disbursements from TIF funds, some made possible by the June 8 revisions, all within the budgeted amounts that were part of the approval, all recommended by the TIF Committee (see the June 17 issue of The Town Line, p. 9).

The appropriations are as follows: $37,500 for the China Region Lakes Alliance; $12,500 for the China Lake Association; $30,000 for the China Four Seasons Club; $10,000 for the China Broadband Committee to contract with its consultant; $30,000 for Maine Rivers for the Alewife Restoration Initiative (ARI); and $35,000 for the Thurston Park Committee.

Votes were unanimous except for the Broadband Committee appropriation, which Selectman Wayne Chadwick opposed. Hapgood said the consultants’ contract has been revised so that any expenditures over the $10,000 will need separate written approval. The selectmen’s vote included authorization for her to sign the contract.

In two other town meeting follow-ups, selectmen authorized Hapgood to sell the old grader by sealed bid – probably in July, she said. For the sale of the about 40-acre lot on the east side of Lakeview Drive, they approved her plan to solicit expressions of interest from real estate agents in town.

Agenda items postponed, on Hapgood’s recommendation, were discussion of FirstPark and an appointment to the Board of Appeals.

After voters rejected funding for FirstPark for 2021-22 (thereby returning it to the higher 2020-21 amount), selectmen agreed to investigate withdrawing from the Oakland business park. Hapgood said she has a copy of an attorney’s letter on the complexity of withdrawal, and advice from China town attorney Amanda Meader. She recommends waiting to see what the town of Rome does.

There are vacancies or pending vacancies on several town boards, Hapgood said. She plans to advertise all of them and therefore asked selectmen to postpone action until she presents a group of new nominees.

The manager reminded selectmen of their special end-of-year meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 30. The town office will close at noon June 30 so staff can complete paperwork.

The town office and transfer station will be closed Saturday, July 3, and Monday, July 5, for the Independence Day holiday. The next regular selectmen’s meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 6, instead of the usual Monday evening.

Give Us Your Best Shot! for Thursday, June 24, 2021

To submit a photo for this section, please visit our contact page or email us at!

SAY, WHAT? This blue jay seems to be listening as Michael Bilinsky, of China Village, snapped this shot.

FOUND SOMETHING: One of the chipmunks seems to have found something while the other stands guard. Pat Clark, of Palermo, submitted this photo.

PRETTY SETTING: Erin Sullivan, of China, photographed this field of lupines in front of an old barn.

Vassalboro pastor to retire

Pastor Gary Hubley (right)

After serving the Vassalboro United Methodist Church for 11 years and serving in the ministry for over 50 years, Pastor F. Gary Hubley and his wife Judy, of Randolph, retired June 30, 2021. Pastor Hubley was honored at a luncheon following services on Sunday, June 13. He and Judy will be sorely missed.

Pastor Hubley served the Vassalboro church with distinction. He will be well known for his wit and his thoughtfulness. He always kept in contact with members of his congregation both in their time of need and in their time of joyfulness. He truly cared for his church and the people within this community. He and his wife, Judy, always took part in whatever the church sponsored such as public suppers, bake sales, craft fairs, coffee fellowships, children’s programs, Bible studies, etc. They served as an example of how we too should serve. We thank them for their service.

The congregation wishes them both a happy and healthy retirement with time and ability to enjoy a little fishing, something both of them enjoy.

Pastor Karen Merrill, of West Gardiner, will lead the Vassalboro United Methodist Church as of July 1, 2021. She and her husband have connections to this community and the community is looking forward to her leadership and guidance.

Jean Poulin, Vassalboro’s bookkeeper for 15 years, to retire on July 2

Jean Poulin

by Mary Grow

Jean Poulin estimates more than $94,000,000 have passed through her ledgers since she became the Town of Vassalboro’s bookkeeper on Sept. 11, 2006 – a position from which she is about to retire.

The money came to the town from local tax payments, excise taxes, state revenue sharing, income from investments, occasional state or federal grants and miscellaneous other sources.

It went out, every two weeks (plus a state payment the odd week), to pay town employees’ salaries and to cover other town expenditures, from thousands of dollars to support the school department to a few dollars for some essential item for the town office, the public works department or the transfer station.

Vassalboro selectmen meet every two weeks, and every meeting includes approval of two warrants, the payroll warrant and the accounts payable warrant. (Warrant, in this context, is the list of checks; it is not the same as a town meeting warrant, which is the list of articles to be voted on.)

Poulin explained that for payroll, employees turn in time sheets; Town Manager Mary Sabins double-checks them; Poulin prints checks or does a direct deposit, as appropriate. Payroll amounts are quite consistent from week to week, she said, except when the public works drivers put in overtime for plowing snow and at the end of the fiscal year, when longevity bonuses are added for qualified employees.

For the accounts payable warrant, Poulin gets bills by mail, email and hand delivery, from town department heads and from venders. Department heads include an explanation of the expenditure and information on which line in the budget it should be drawn against.

Again, Sabins reviews the list that will go to the selectboard; Poulin prepares the checks; and selectmen review and approve both warrants.

The Maine Motor Vehicle Department wants its share of registration fees every week, Poulin said. She prepares a separate warrant for the department and notifies selectmen when it is ready for the required single signature. Usually, she said, a selectboard member stops at the town office promptly.

Poulin’s daily duties include a sweep and deposits. The sweep involves transferring money newly received, over the counter or on-line (tax payments or vehicle registrations, for example), out of Vassalboro’s checking account, which earns no interest. She then deposits it in the interest-earning money market account.

Sweeps work both ways, Poulin said: when it’s time to pay bills, she transfers enough from the money market to cover the checks she needs to write.

There is more paperwork – daily reports on tax collections, vehicle registrations and other topics, quarterly reports to the federal government and the state government, reviews with the firm through which the town invests, reviews with the auditor.

Another part of her job is assisting patrons at the counter in the town office while another employee is out sick or on lunch break.

Poulin is a Vassalboro native and Cony High School, in Augusta, graduate. After earning an associate’s degree in business and accounting from the former Kennebec Valley Technical College, in Fairfield, Poulin worked at Sebasticook Valley Hospital, in Pittsfield, before getting married, moving to Florida for a while and then returning to central Maine.

Poulin jokes that she got her Vassalboro job through a fair – but not a job fair. At Windsor Fair in 2006, she ran into a long-time Vassalboro friend, Michael Vashon, who was then town manager.

Vashon was looking for a bookkeeper and invited Poulin to submit a resume. Within a few days, he hired her.

She’s enjoyed her job, she said, both the work and especially her colleagues over the years. She likes figures for their definiteness. “If it’s not right, you’ll find it,” she said.

She has one big plan for retirement, though: “Not to get up every morning and drive to Vassalboro.” Instead, she intends to use unscheduled time to enjoy her grandchildren and her flower garden, and she and her husband plan a few relaxing days on the coast.

Poulin’s last day in the Vassalboro town office will be July 2. Her successor will be Melanie Anderson, most recently Benton town clerk. Poulin said she and Anderson plan to work together for a few days as June winds down.

China Lake Association; Protecting the Lake and Land Owners: Nonprofit Spotlight

Some of the attendees at the Invasive Plant 101 workshop, held in China on August 24, were, from left to right, Sonny Pierce, of Rangeley Lake Heritage Trust, Peter Caldwell and Marie Michaud, China Lake Association, and Spencer Harriman, of Lake Stewards of Maine. (contributed photo)

by Steve Ball

“The quality of China Lake has improved noticeably over the past five years. I can remember algae so thick on the surface that when I ran my boat I would leave a wake of algae behind me.”

Larry Sikora, China Lake property owner

Imagine the impact a polluted lake would have on the town of China and its residents. There was a day, in the late 1980s, when there was justifiable concern with the cleanliness of the lake. Many China residents likely remember the algae blooms resulting in low fish counts, few lake birds, limited lakeside wildlife, and sparse or distorted shore plant life. All these are indications that the health of the lake is failing.

The results of this condition can be devastating for a community like China and its surrounding towns that rely so heavily on its lake for its drinking water and attracting tourism and recreation, and, thus, growing economic activity.

In mid-1990s the University of Maine conducted an extended study of the connection between the health of Maine’s lakes, as measured in nutrient and cleanliness levels, and local economic growth. In the 1996 study, “Water Quality Affects Property Prices: A Case Study of Selected Maine Lakes,” the authors found what many lake residents have known for years, there is direct link between healthy waters and good economic viability. Everything from the direct economic impact resulting from lake usage, to the price of lakeside homes and camps and the town’s tax revenue generated from waterfront properties is either positively or negatively impacted by the cleanliness of the local lake. China Lake was one of the 34 lakes in Maine included in the study.

The other reality of addressing the health of lake waters is that remediating, or cleaning up a problem like algae bloom, or an overheated lake is far more expensive than preventing the problem.

It is for these reasons that the China Lake Association was formed in 1987. Their mission is simple: Through education, fund raising and other proper activities, to guard the waters of China Lake against pollution, to preserve the environmental health of the China Lake watershed and to protect and enhance the beauty of the Lake and its adjacent area.

The CLA has made a difference in this community through active and persistent action to help keep China Lake the clean, fresh lake that people in this community and our visitors have grown to expect. But that work needs people committed to rolling up their sleeves and doing everything from replanting lakeside vegetation to help minimize the effects of erosion and runoff, to managing the Boat Inspection Program, to studying the ways the lake is polluted and finding solutions, to educating youth and adults about the importance of having a clean and healthy lake.

Several people since the organization’s founding have helped to make this organization effective. Scott Pierz, the current president of the CLA is not only an avid champion for China Lake, he has become a student of what it takes to steward a healthy lake in Maine. Pierz, the former Codes Enforcement Officer for China, knows the area well and appreciates the impact China Lake has on nearly every household in the community.

A revegetation project China Lake Association supports working with fifth grade students in both Vassalboro and China schools. This project is organized by Matt Streeter from the Alewife Restoration Project. Nate Gray, from the Department of Marine Resources, is always present and Anita Smith, of China, presents the information on native plants. (contributed photo)

Of all the things CLA is involved in, the education aspect is one that seems to appeal to Pierz’s talents. He believes that if we can educate our middle schoolers about the value of keeping a clean and healthy lake our future is bright. The CLA has taught classes on loons, how a lake becomes polluted, and they’ve hosted a poster contest. In Pierz’s mind, “We are building a youth of informed citizens” who will know what it means to have a clean lake and, more specifically, what it means to the town of China to have a clean lake.

In addition to education and the Boat Inspection Program, the CLA has been actively involved in the China Lake Alewife Restoration Initiative, ARI. Knowing the value of a natural alewife population on cleansing fresh waters, the CLA has been a part of a program to restore passage for 950,000 alewives migrating from the Sebasticook River to China Lake. With the goal to remove obsolete dams that had obstructed the passage of alewives and construct fishways where necessary, the ARI has successfully restored an alewife population to China Lake. The results to the lake’s waters have been remarkable; noticeably cleaner water, higher bird counts and more lake plant life. The fish count is harder to determine, but some attest the fishing has been better.

Another undertaking started by the CLA has been the Gravel Road Rehabilitation Program. This was the brainchild of Pierz who saw that runoff from some gravel roads surrounding the lake was bringing damaging pollutants into the water. The project involves getting an engineering plan and then bringing together the manpower to assist with either diverting the runoff, or planting buffer plants, or re-grading of the roads; whatever it takes to prevent damaging runoff from entering the lake.

In addition, the CLA assists the state of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection in running the Lake Smart Program for China Lake property owners. Lake Smart, an education and reward program, provides assistance to lakefront homeowners to better manage landscapes in ways that protect water quality. Through the program property owners can receive a technical inspection with a proposed improvement plan by a DEP certified Soil and Water Conservation Engineer that can ultimately be enacted through CLA help and volunteer labor.

All of these programs and initiatives have two goals in mind; improve the quality of China Lake’s water and build a sustainable system to assure its quality in years to come. It is this relentless commitment to finding and carrying out ways to keep China Lake clean and healthy that has come to define the China Lake Association. The community may not see everything they do, and some residents may not remember what it was like when the lake was suffering from damaging algae blooms, but everyone should appreciate there is a nonprofit working in the community for the benefit of every citizen.

The Town Line will continue with a series on local nonprofit groups and their work in their respective communities. To include your group, contact The Town Line at

FOR YOUR HEALTH: 3 Safe Senior Exercise Options For Summer

Now’s the time to kickstart your summer exercise routine. Pair up with a friend for extra fun and motivation.

(NAPS)—Sunshine and warm weather have many people thinking about new workout options. If you’re ready to kickstart your fitness routine—but want to do so safely—consider these three simple tips:

1. Check in with your gym about its COVID-safe offerings. Many Americans who have been avoiding public places this past year are now looking to expand their horizons, including going back to a gym. Growing numbers of gyms now offer outdoor workout spaces that include many of the weight training and aerobics equipment choices you previously enjoyed indoors—treadmills, stair climbers, weight machines, free weights—and even outdoor classes. Outdoors or indoors, many gyms continue to maintain at least six feet between each workout station, require masks within the space, and provide free hand sanitizer, clean equipment assurances and other COVID-safe protocols. Give your gym a call or visit the location to find out what specific COVID-safe guidelines are in place there, so you can determine whether you’re ready to resume your gym routine.

2. Increase your outdoor exercise routine. After being cooped up for months, getting outside can work wonders for your physical health and emotional well-being. Take yourself to a park to explore a new walking or hiking path. There are several apps that can locate hiking trails near you. Challenge a friend to a regular game of tennis, pickleball or bocce ball. Or dust off your bicycles and enjoy the freedom of feeling the wind in your faces. Establishing a fun exercise routine with a friend can motivate you to keep it up and help lift your spirits. Older adults reported increased feelings of isolation last year. Exercising with a friend can help you shake off the loneliness blues.
Being outdoors offers the added benefit of providing you with a dose of vitamin D. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and to enhance bone health and immune system function. Regularly spending time outdoors is the most natural way to get the recommended 10 to 30 minutes of sun exposure several times a week. Just don’t forget to put on sunscreen.

3. Augment your workout with home exercise classes. National guidelines recommend that you get at least 150 minutes per week of exercise. To make sure you’re meeting that, augment your workout routine with home exercise classes that you can view on your laptop, phone or other devices. For best results, mix things up. Incorporate cardio exercise classes with strength training videos that use resistance bands or free weights. If you want to improve balance or flexibility, try a yoga or tai chi class. Popular options such as the Silver&Fit® Healthy Aging and Exercise program offer a wide range of free online classes specially designed for older adults. Classes premiere daily on Facebook Live from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time, 6 days a week. You can join the scheduled classes at to enjoy engaging live with other online viewers. Or you can view the replays on YouTube at a time that’s convenient to you. You’ll find them at:

Now can be your time to get back into a fitness routine—or start a new one. Find workout options that you love and that motivate you to stick with them. Then make the most of the season. As always, before you start any new exercise routine, talk to your doctor to discuss your goals and what types of exercise might be safest for you.

LETTERS: In-person learning still the best way

To the editor:

In response to a recent comment in The Town Line regarding the need for “educational renovation,” I’ll submit the following comments: While there is no question that remote, on line learning has been vital during the COVID pandemic, it is not the perfect or ideal form of teaching or gaining knowledge. As a retired teacher whose classroom presence extended from 1974-2012 – 38 years – my experience covered a lot of changes.

I agree that technology continues to affect our lives and society and that change is inevitable. But, having worked with thousands of students during my career, I saw and dealt with a multitude of learning styles, skills and desires. Young people in our present world face multiple issues. These can include a lack of parental presence, support or compassion, bullying, uncertainty about the future in terms of finances or career goals, or simply frustration with that world they will be entering and spending their life in.

Many kids also question their own abilities and whether or not they have the skills or abilities they’ll need to succeed in life. While remote learning may be suitable for and benefit some students, just as many others still need the in-person interaction and support that the traditional classroom provides. A passionate, committed teacher whose focus is helping all students to learn, regardless of the positives and negatives in their lives, in a way that promotes direct, face-to-face communication and interaction, is the key to a beneficial and useful education experience.

Bob Bennett
South China

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Baby’s day

by Debbie Walker

My family just enjoyed celebrating a very important first birthday this past weekend. It was held in my daughter’s backyard.

If you came you would see the kitchen was still busy prepping food like peanut- butter and jelly sandwiches shaped like a star fish and chicken salad sandwich shaped like a clam shell (crescent roll). The punch was ocean color.

The birthday cake is the lower part of a mermaid made with cupcakes (great idea, less mess). This next one was a new one on me, there was another small cake, and I am told this is a Smash Cake. Smash?

Finally, the family feels safe enough to introduce their baby girl to her family. From the last few months of the mother’s pregnancy until long after birth they have been pretty much isolated. The party was planned for May 1. But because of several members of the family coming down with COVID, it was postponed to June 5.

I know a lot of people have experienced suffering in various forms because of this horrid virus. My granddaughter told me she had felt robbed. She was robbed of a lot or special memories before the birth. There were so many things she feels she missed with this being her only pregnancy.

When it got closer to her due date her mom didn’t even visit anymore, so even her mom lost out on some of the experiences that could have been. She had been involved in quite a few births since she is a wonderful coach and yet she couldn’t even coach her own daughter. After 28 hours the baby was delivered Caesarian. After all that there were more weeks of isolation. Anyway, you get the idea.

Oh yeah… A smash cake is for the baby. They put her in her high chair with just a diaper on and planted her hand right on top of the cake and smash. She got the idea of the whole thing. She ate a couple bites and then it was all fun. Hopefully, I can add the picture.

Of course, I did a little exploring about first birthdays and come out of it with this: “It’s not about the baby. It’s about the two people and their family that surround those people that helped the baby grow happy and healthy. The baby recognizes the people gathered around. They can feel the positive energy to know this is a good thing.”

Proof that it really isn’t for the one-year- old baby, in the back yard there was a huge waterslide. The kids and the adults had a great time on that thing. The little bitty kids had a little pool and a little slide of their own. All had a great time.

Every family has their story to tell about this time frame. Right now, I wouldn’t want anyone to think I am trying to make light of anyone’s situation. What I am finding is by listening I am learning.

I’m just curious about what you are hearing. For any questions or comments reach me at . Thank you for reading and have a great week!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Soundtracks and singers

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Against All Odds

Soundtrack- composed by Michel Colombier; Atlantic 80152-1-E, stereo LP, recorded 1984.

Rachel Ward

Jeff Bridges

I have never seen this Jeff Bridges/ Rachel Ward thriller but, having read the Wiki synopsis, am now curious. The soundtrack itself is a first class mishmash of instrumentals underscoring the action and individual tracks by Peter Gabriel, Stevie Nicks, Big Country, Mike Rutherford, Kid Creole and the Coconuts and, last but not least, the sublime Phil Collins hit, Take a Look at Me Now. The instrumentals by Colombier and Larry Carlton are powerful and soaringly eloquent. Recommended listening.

Bennie Moten

Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Jazz- X- EVAA-3004, ep 45 reissue, early ‘50s from Victor shellac 78s recorded December 13 and 14, 1926, in Chicago.

Bennie Moten

Bennie Moten (1894-1935), led an outstanding Kansas dance band that was, ar­gua­bly, the most popular one in that burg for much of the 1920s and early ‘30s until Moten’s tragic 1935 early death from a botched tonsillectomy. The four numbers on this 45 – Kansas City Shuffle; Yazoo Blues, Midnight Blues, and Missouri Wabble – make for compelling listening. Every note is alive, every texture well articulated and the variety of sounds coming from my speakers, ranging from the spunky banjo picking of Sam Tall to the brass shadings of cornettists Ed Lewis and Lamar Wright; trombonist Thamon Hayes; and Abe Bolar on tuba, etc., gives this record its status as a classic.

Ella Fitzgerald

with Nelson Riddle’s arrangements and conducting; Ella Swings Brightly with Nelson; Verve V6-4054, 12-inch stereo vinyl LP, recorded 1962.

Ella Fitagerald

The words Swings Brightly do not hint at the supremely splendid, vibrant excitement of this album. As far as I am concerned, Ella Fitzgerald sings renditions of the 12 songs contained here that have been rarely surpassed by anyone for power, beauty, elegance and all the other grossly overused synonyms for musical pleasure; and Nelson Riddle’s arrangements are those of once in a lifetime. Simply try Duke Ellington’s I’m Gonna Go Fishing, which I shared on my fb home page from YouTube, where it can be easily heard !

Pelican Brief

starring Julia Roberts, etc.; directed by Alan J. Pakula; Warner Brothers, 1993, 141 minutes.

Julia Roberts

Two Supreme Court justices of radically different ideologies are murdered on the same day. Thus no common thread is found to launch any type of investigation, until a Louisiana law student, Darby Shaw (played by Ms. Rob­erts), shows a brief to her professor who passes it along to a friend at the Justice Department.

All hell breaks loose for her – her car explodes, killing her professor inside who was borrowing it; she is pursued by killers from out of nowhere and doesn’t know who to trust. It’s 141 minutes of cat and mouse paranoia adding up to a most entertaining film. The late Hume Cronym does a captivating turn as one of the two murdered judges.

POETRY CORNER: Love Never Dies

Love Never Dies

by Marilou Suchar

The daffodils have nodded
And the tulips have gone by
The grass grows tall
But most of all
Our love will never die.

Forget-me-nots have fallen
And violets are gone, too
The seeds are sown
And the birds have flown
But our love will never die.

The colored leaves have faded
Many all turned brown
The frost has come
And the snow has won
But our love will never die.