Vassalboro school heads ask for more early release days

Vassalboro Community School (contributed photo)

by Mary Grow

The liveliest discussion at the Nov. 16 Vassalboro School Board meeting was over the administration’s request for additional early release days, when students are sent home for the afternoon so teachers can work together.

Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer and Assistant Principal Greg Hughes explained that teachers at Vassalboro Community School (VCS), dealing with Covid-related changes and requirements in addition to their pre-Covid responsibilities, need more group time. They use it to plan dealing with issues like curriculum adjustments and implementing new Department of Education directives; to share information on common problems and useful techniques; and to provide mutual support.

The 2021-22 calendar approved in 2020 included three early release days. One has been used; the other two are scheduled in January and May 2022, Pfeiffer said.

He and Hughes recommended two early release days each month, starting in December 2021.

School board members reacted immediately: sending kids home that often will be really hard on parents.

Audience members, mostly parents, replied promptly: we can take care of our kids, give teachers the time they need.

Some suggested changing proposed dates from Wednesdays – chosen to break up the week, Pfeiffer said – to Fridays, when some people might find it easier to leave work early, if teachers were okay with Fridays.

Using a whole day, instead of an afternoon, wouldn’t be possible, Pfeiffer said, because the state requires 175 “seat days” a year, and half-days count as seat days.

School board members unanimously approved two early release days a month beginning in December, with dates to be considered again at the Dec. 21 board meeting.

As at previous meetings this fall, several of the dozen audience members had questions about pandemic-related procedures. Answers from Pfeiffer, school nurse MaryAnn Fortin or both, included:

  • There are no plans to host a vaccination clinic at VCS, because parents have enough other options.
  • There have been positive results from some of the pool testing, and yes, classmates outside a pool in which at least one student tested positive do need to be quarantined.

One parent expressed support for the testing, masking and distancing measures being taken to prioritize health and safety at VCS and thanked board members, administrators, staff and students for their efforts to make it possible for students to stay in school.

Board and audience members heard presentations from three staff members, School Counselor Meg Swanson, Social Worker Tabitha Sagner and new Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG) Master Specialist Delaney Wood.

Swanson’s and Sagner’s main jobs are to assist students with social, emotional, behavioral and other non-academic difficulties that can affect their academic performance. Both spoke – but did not complain – about how much more difficult Covid has made this type of work, not just at VCS but state-wide and probably nation-wide.

More students experience stress, anxiety and uncertainty. Many express their insecurity through disruptive behavior in the classroom. More than the usual number need extra counseling, in small groups or individually.

Teachers, too, are stressed and overwhelmed. A shortage of staff makes their situation more difficult. The staff shortage is not just in schools, Swanson added; the outside agencies on which teachers have relied are also short-staffed and putting would-be clients on waiting lists.

Swanson sees no quick fix for the interrelated problems. Despite ongoing efforts to adapt and despite increased federal funding for multiple aspects of education, she expects the impact on “student response, learning and behavior” will last “at least a decade.”

Wood’s presentation on JMG was more upbeat. A graduate of Winslow High School and Wesleyan University, she is in her first year of full-time teaching, following Victor Esposito, “Mr. E,” who retired at the end of last year.

JMG’s website says it is a nonprofit corporation that partners with Maine schools, from middle school through college or university, to give students “the guidance, skills and opportunities they need to succeed in their careers.”

The emphasis is on hands-on, adventure-based learning, Wood said – for example, the garden Mr. E started. Students told her they would like to go on local field trips, like a visit to the fire station. To raise money for use of a bus, they plan a wreath sale, Wood said.

In other business Nov. 16, Assistant Principal Hughes said he was pleased by the number of parents who came to VCS for parent-teacher conferences. He thanked the PTO for the refreshments members supplied.

Hughes said the homework club has started and the drama club and explorers club are scheduled to start in December. With construction work nearly finished, classroom rearrangements are under way.

Construction work was responsible for the unplanned early dismissal on Nov. 3, Superintendent Pfeiffer said. A workman accidentally cut a cable, activating the fire alarm system, and no one could make it turn off.

Finance Director Paula Pooler reported the budget is still on track, including the school lunch budget that has lost money in past years. She again reminded parents to fill out the application form for free lunch, even though it is free anyway, so that VCS can get the state subsidies to which it is entitled.

A link to the form is on the front page of the school’s website,

The next regular Vassalboro School Board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21.

Vassalboro select board looks at issues that could turn into 2022-23 budget requests

by Mary Grow

At their Nov. 18 meeting, Vassalboro select board members agreed on a variety of issues that are likely to turn into 2022-23 budget requests and recommendations.

Town Manager Mary Sabins had organized and categorized the goals they discussed at an October special meeting (see The Town Line, Nov. 4, p. 9). Board members set as priorities:

  • Reinvigorating the town recreation program, perhaps by asking voters to approve adding a town office staff member whose responsibilities would include acting as recreation director.
  • Recreating a version of the capital improvement plan developed in the past, to provide a tentative schedule of upcoming major expenditures. (Fire Chief Walker Thompson assured Board Chairman Robert Browne he does not foresee an immediate need for a new fire truck.)
  • Improving town planning – they even mentioned “the z word,” zoning, which was not popular with Vassalboro residents – so they won’t need to rely on one-at-a-time ordinances to prevent unwelcome effects of development.

A specific development topic was the proliferation of solar arrays in town, currently reviewed by the planning board under the town’s Site Review Ordinance. Select Board members Chris French and Barbara Redmond thought an ordinance specific to solar projects would be valuable. Sabins suggested reviving Vassalboro’s Solar Committee.

Sabins presented again her request that board members approve a wage study to see how town employees’ pay compares to other towns’ pay scales. The $3,800 cost is included in the current year’s administration budget, she said. Board members approved.

Resident Thomas Richards urged select board members to do something about the Cushnoc Road bridge, which is state-owned, weight-limited to 20 tons and, Road Foreman Eugene Field said, likely to be increasingly restricted and ultimately closed.

Richards said it is already closed to most fire trucks and all but the smallest town plow truck, requiring detours. “What’s a person’s life worth?” when emergency vehicles are delayed, Richards demanded.

And, he asked, “How is Bill Green [of WH Green & Sons, Inc., a construction company at 180 Cushnoc Road, south of the bridge] gonna get his cranes out?” The turn north on Riverside Drive (Route 202) from the south end of Cushnoc Road is awkward for a large vehicle.

The town could take over the bridge and replace it, people suggested. Field and board members estimated a new bridge would cost at least a million dollars, more money than Browne is willing to consider borrowing.

Members of the Vassalboro Conservation Commission presented a plan for creating a new park on town-owned land along Route 32 and Outlet Stream, north of East Vassalboro village. Holly Weidner explained that in the first two years, they hope to provide a small parking area, a path to the stream, picnic tables and a seasonal porta potty.

The project would include landscaping and plantings. Commission members envision mowing the area twice a year and putting up signs.

Select board members expressed approval and said they will include a funding request for the park – they estimated $2,000 – in their suggested 2022-23 budget.

Former board member John Melrose sent an email from the Trails Committee asking if the current board members wanted the committee to develop draft rules for use of the Town Forest and Red Brook trails. They said yes.

Melrose also asked for $250 to make Vassalboro a municipal member of the Kennebec Land Trust. The answer was again yes.

In other business, select board members:

  • Appointed Marianne Stevens, currently the alternate member of the planning board, as a full member to succeed Sally Butler, who resigned; and appointed Paul Mitnik as planning board alternate, effective in January when he plans to hand over codes enforcement duties to Ryan Page.
  • Gave preliminary approval to Sabins’ proposed budget preparation time-line in advance of the 2022 annual town meeting, which is currently scheduled for Monday evening, June 6, 2022, with municipal elections Tuesday, June 14.
  • Scheduled their next meeting for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9.
  • Scheduled their second December meeting for 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 22, so that the town office can close at 4 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 23, instead of the usual 6:30 p.m. Thursday closing. Over Browne’s mild objection, they did not extend staff members’ hours on Dec. 22 to make up for shorter Thursday hours.

MY POINT OF VIEW: Thanksgiving is only a word depicting a spot in time

by Gary Kennedy

The views of the author in this column are not necessarily those of The Town Line newspaper, its staff and board of directors.

In doing my research for a thanksgiving article I started with Huff Post and its contributor Randy S. Woodley. The article was Thanksgiving Myth. Although those of us who have given history an honest look know that the fairy tale, Thanksgiving, isn’t realistic or even close to the truth. I find that some things need to be known in their reality/entirety but some things of which we don’t agree, only need to be described in their proper place and time and in a manner that will not destroy the intent of family. Sometimes truth needs to be given in proportions over time with the advent of maturity.

We know world history was never pristine and much of its foundation is shameful. However, I firmly believe that history has its place in our reality and holidays have another. Sometimes throwing the truth in its entirety destroys the band aid that we give to the wound. We place the band aid so the wound will heal the already very obvious wounded. I believe we tend to live in the past where the truth maintains its origin a little too much. The past is what it is. For me, it’s a precursor of now and a second chance on getting it right.

The first people are not here to answer to their interplay in historical reality and I nor my parents or children shouldn’t have to pay a price for historical evolution. As of late I have found myself searching history because of dirty politics. Who did it, why and what is their history. You can only go back to known time. Other than that we are dealing with innuendo and supposition. We all know the truth, as we see it, time teaches us that.

If we adhere to biblical teaching we only have good intention which became violated by human corruption. Was that the intent of our creator? I don’t think so. I believe that the first broken heart was his. We are talking about a big, all forgiving, beautiful and merciful heart. There has been no other heart like it. I am of the opinion that he has applied thousands of band aids over time. Only he holds the cure in his hands and he has a plan. He has a time and place in which this problem will be revisited and once and for all healed. Have no fear, irrespective of who you are or what you believe he holds the solution.

What I would like to instill in your hearts at this time is nothing more than a band aid. The band aid is laced with lidocaine and antibiotic. The lidocaine will ease the pain and the antibiotic will help with the infection. Guilt is both painful and infectious. That is why we temper the injury with love, forgiveness and understanding. If we truly know that there are very few, if any, good, fair and honest beginnings to the origins of all the parts of this world. If you think about what you know about world history, through all of time, you will grow to realize there is no such thing as a peaceful beginning. Every country and all their extensions began with might, not love. Someone gave up their world in order to form yours. Since the beginning of time through many guises the earth and its people have changed as has its physical appearance. The configuration of borders and even the character and beliefs of people have changed.

Yes, we know the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock as taught to our young ones. We explain in little detail how corn was grown and fish were used for fertilizer. We teach that the Indians taught us much and helped us through some harsh winters. We certainly neglect the parts about our cruelty towards them eventually and how we grew in numbers and carried out materialistic values as we expanded our material gains and used those very friends who saved our lives in our beginnings in America. Yes, it is very sad to forget what the cost of progress is and has been throughout time. We tend to lean now toward the good things. We talk of our friendship, learning, trade and growth. We cherish such things as the great celebratory feasts of turkey, deer, fish, vegetables, and pumpkin pie, most of which was supplied by those very American Indians whose land America really belonged too. Stories of John Smith and Pocahontas are still told to our children. We talk about all the fun and beautiful things but forget the true reality of the celebration. The big picture here is the hands of time and the evolution of peoples. To this very day we tend to find the need to grow separately not collectively. Time has shown us we only tell the good stories to justify the outcome. We always want a happy ending. So, we just make up one in order to conceal the truth. This year several writers have decided to tell at least half truths and write closer to the truth. I’d like to think that we are starting to realize that even though the truth may not always be full of happiness at least it will begin to lead us down the path to unification.

Thanksgiving is only a word depicting a spot in time which people gather together to celebrate the good with merriment. Thursday, November 25, is the day we celebrate the Thanksgiving that we know. It’s always on the fourth Thursday of November. There are other countries that celebrate this same holiday and for most of us the true meaning is being thankful for our annual harvest. These foods have pretty much remained the same over time. It’s a time for family and friends to join together with music and games. It is a very happy day for most. Although the first part of my Thanksgiving dissertation was serious, sad, and informative, the evolution has evolved to a happier scenario. However, I believe we should never forget and learn from the factual parts of this holiday.

The first Thanksgiving event was celebrated in October 1621. It lasted for three days with 53 pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians. It was Abraham Lincoln in 1863 who proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a national holiday on the last Friday of November, thanking God for the harvest. So fortunately for us through art work and some writings we know some of our history both good and bad. So I guess from here it depends on how we move forward with what we know and continue to learn.

For me and mine, Thanksgiving begins and ends with the one who makes all things possible. We know the road has had many pot holes and mud puddles but it has also had some wondrous straight aways. Where we take it from here is up to you and me, and what we teach our children. Never hide the truth but always let it be your guide. We still have many hills to climb but with love in your heart the path will be so much more achievable. We have come a long way when you consider the past. We’re not perfect yet but we have grown closer. We will always need that November Turkey day. God bless you and your family and always try to help those you know who need it. Please give a special prayer to those who are enslaved by the wicked. Always remember, “It’s not what you take with you, it’s what you leave behind.”

SCORES & OUTDOORS – The Thanksgiving turkey: wild vs. domesticated

Wild turkey (left), Domesticated turkey (right)

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

Thanksgiving is here again, and is the unofficial kick off point for the holiday season. Turkeys are the main fare at the dinner table on that day. So what do we know about the wild gobbler?

The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is an upland ground bird native to North America. Although native to North America, the turkey probably got its name from the domesticated variety being imported to Britain in ships coming from the Levant via Spain. The British at the time, therefore, associated the wild turkey with the country Turkey and the name prevails.

Wild turkeys prefer hardwood and mixed conifer-hardwood forests with scattered openings such as pastures, fields, orchards and seasonal marshes. They seemingly can adapt to virtually any dense native plant community as long as coverage and openings are widely available.

Despite their weight, wild turkeys, unlike their domesticated counterparts, are agile, fast fliers. In ideal habitat of open woodland or wooded grasslands, they may fly beneath the canopy top and find perches. They usually fly close to the ground for no more than a quarter mile.

Wild turkeys have very good eyesight, but their vision is very poor at night. They will not see a predator until it is too late. At twilight most turkeys will head for the trees and roost well off the ground; it is safer to sleep here in numbers than to risk being victim to predators who hunt by night. Because wild turkeys don’t migrate, in snowier parts of the species’s habitat like the Northeast, it is very important for this bird to learn to select large conifer trees where they can fly onto the branches and shelter from blizzards.

Wild turkeys are omnivorous, foraging on the ground or climbing shrubs and small trees to feed. They prefer eating acorns, nuts and other hard mast of various trees, including hazel, chestnut, hickory, and pinyon pine as well as various seeds, berries such as juniper and bearberry, roots and insects. Turkeys also occasionally consume amphibians and small reptiles such as lizards and small snakes.

Turkey populations can reach large numbers in small areas because of their ability to forage for different types of food. Early morning and late afternoon are the desired times for eating.

Males are polygamous, mating with as many hens as they can. Male wild turkeys display for females by puffing out their feathers, spreading out their tails and dragging their wings. This behavior is most commonly referred to as strutting.

Predators of eggs and nestlings include raccoons, striped skunks, groundhogs, and other rodents. Avian predators of poults include raptors such as bald eagles, barred owl, and Harris’s hawks, and even the smallish Cooper’s hawk and broad-winged hawk.

Predators of both adults and poults include coyotes, gray wolves, bobcats, cougars, Canadian lynx, golden eagles and possibly American black bears

Occasionally, if cornered, adult turkeys may try to fight off predators, and large male toms can be especially aggressive in self-defense. When fighting off predators, turkeys may kick with their legs, using the spurs on their back of the legs as a weapon, bite with their beak and ram with their relatively large bodies and may be able to deter predators up to the size of mid-sized mammals. Occasionally, turkeys may behave aggressively towards humans, especially in areas where natural habitats are scarce. They also have been seen to chase off humans as well. However, attacks can usually be deterred and minor injuries can be avoided by giving turkeys a respectful amount of space and keeping outdoor spaces clean and undisturbed. Male toms occasionally will attack parked cars and reflective surfaces thinking they see another turkey and must defend their territory. Usually a car engine and moving the car is enough to scare it off.

At the beginning of the 20th century the range and numbers of wild turkeys had plummeted due to hunting and loss of habitat. When Europeans arrived in the New World, they were found from Canada to Mexico in the millions. Europeans and their successors knew nothing about the life cycle of the bird and ecology, itself, as a science would come too late, not even in its infancy, until the end of the 19th century whereas heavy hunting began in the 17th century. Deforestation destroyed trees turkeys need to roost in.

Game managers estimate that the entire population of wild turkeys in the United States was as low as 30,000 by the late 1930s. By the 1940s, it was almost totally extirpated from Canada and had become localized in pockets in the United States. In the northeast they were restricted to the Appalachians, only as far north as central Pennsylvania. Early attempts used hand reared birds, a practice that failed miserably as the birds were unable to survive.

Wild turkeys were once native to Maine but were extirpated in the early 1800s from overhunting and the clearing of forests along the coast. But in 1978, wild turkey were successfully reintroduced in Maine by state biologists – and the birds have thrived since.

But not everybody is so enthusiastic about the state’s success in reintroducing wild turkeys, which began back in the 1970s in York County. In fact, plenty of Mainers think we have far too many turkeys on the landscape and blame the birds for a variety of ills.

In some parts of the state, there are a lot of turkeys. And though the state deals with few calls about nuisance turkeys, there are places where efforts to limit the number of birds might make sense.

However, these big birds get a bum rap and are blamed for a variety of problems. If you see a flock of turkeys in a blueberry field at noontime, you might blame the birds for eating all the berries. But there are deer, bear, moose, foxes and other critters in that blueberry field at night, doing damage.

Do we have too many turkeys?

It all depends on whether the birds are eating your crops, or foiling your attempts to hunt them.

Had it been up to Benjamin Franklin, the turkey we carve for Thanksgiving dinner might have been our national bird. After the bald eagle won the honor instead, Franklin wrote to his daughter that the turkey was “more respectable” than the eagle, which he thought was “of bad moral character,” calling them lazy, opportunistic predators.

Franklin expressed admiration for the feisty way barnyard turkeys defended their territory, a trait he liked in Americans, too. It’s not clear, however, whether Franklin knew much about wild turkeys, which ran and hid from intruders instead of defending their turf. Indeed, some Apache Indians thought turkeys were so cowardly that they wouldn’t eat them or wear their feathers for fear of contracting the spirit of cowardice.

So Franklin probably wasn’t thinking about the wild turkey when he considered possible symbols of American courage. But the domestic or barnyard turkey he admired did have its origins in America’s wild turkey population.

Aztec Indian tribes had long domesticated wild turkeys for food. Early Spanish explorers discovered these domesticated turkeys and took a few of them back to Europe, where the birds were bred into yet another variety of domestic turkey.

Those European turkeys came to North America with English colonists and were used for food. They are the birds Franklin seems to have preferred over the native bald eagle for our national symbol.

So, even though the bald eagle is the official bird of the United States, much to the chagrin of Benjamin Franklin, it must be pointed out that on Thanksgiving day, the wild turkey is the national “bird of the day,” even though most of us actually consume domesticated turkeys.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

The Buffalo Bills appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-1993. Have there ever been teams to appear in three in a row?

Answer can be found here.

Roland’s Trivia Question for Thursday, November 25, 2021

Trivia QuestionsThe Buffalo Bills appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-1993. Have there ever been teams to appear in three in a row?


Twice. The Miami Dolphins, 1972-1974, and the New England Patriots, 2017-2019.

EVENTS: Gibbs art to feature Rachael Richmond

4 Tinkers by Rachael Richmond.

The Gibbs Library, in Washington, has just had the pleasure of hanging a lovely watercolor show. Sea creatures and other animals…and one landscape. A must-see for all ages. The artist is Rachael Richmond, from Jefferson, and the show will run through November and December.

Rachael Richmond is a Maine-based watercolor artist. Her work is primarily representations of animals—lots of fish, shellfish, birds, and farm animals, with an occasional landscape or boat. Rachael does some commissions as well—again, mostly of animals. She wants her art to generate the viewers’ memories of things or places they have seen.

Rachael attended the University of Southern Maine, in Gorham, where she studied art education (where, ironically, painting was her least favorite art form). She gets her inspiration from places she spends time at—including her hometown of Caribou, in Aroostook County, her farm in Jefferson, and her parents’ home in Little Deer Isle, on the coast of Maine. In addition to painting, Rachael is a full-time teacher in Jefferson.

To see more of her artwork, you can visit her Facebook page, Watercolor Fish, at Gibbs Library is located at 40 Old Union Rd., Washington, ME 04574. (207) 845-2663

SOLON & BEYOND: News from Solon Elementary School

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull
Solon, Maine 04979

We were not able to hold our outdoor Fall Open House because at the time half of our students and some staff members were quarantining. Please check out our open house webpage created by our new Title I ed tech Samantha Taylor. You can see our classrooms and read about each teacher’s goals for 2021-22 school year. You can find the webpage at We hope to have a big outdoor open house in the spring.

Parents and teachers have been busy meeting for fall conferences during October and November. Together they have set goals for each student for the school year. Thank you for participating in this process. Your involvement in your child’s education means so much.

Our school board has instituted a mask mandate through the holidays to be reassessed at their January 5 meeting as a way to curb the spread of COVID in our schools and reduce the number of students and staff who have to quarantine. Keeping students healthy and safe is our top priority. This year students have the whole week of Thanksgiving off as vacation time. I hope that even though we all have to follow COVID safety protocols, you will be able to enjoy time with family and friends over the holiday week. And Christmas is right around the corner!

The First Quarter Honor Roll : All A’s ­ – Maxxwell Caplin, Lydia Dixon, Hunter Ingersoll, Hunter Poulior, and Spencer Rogers. All A’s & B’s – Keirra Brooks, Kabella Chretien, Ehren Hill, Allyssa Hutchins, Landen Jacobs, Olive MacDonald, Kira Medwick, Ryan Medwick , Martin Plourde, Emma Pooler, Dylan Priest, Wilder Taylor Braelin Vaughn, Ally Williams, and Madison Wyman.

Solon Students Win District Awards : Solon Elementary School is proud to have three award winners in the 2020-21 school year. Each year one student in third grade, one in fourth grade, and one in fifth grade, win an award for scoring the highest in the district on the Maine Educational Assessment in reading or math. A science award is usually given to a fifth grader, but since the test was new last year and just given as a field test, the next winner in science will be for 2021-22.

Award winners each received a certificate and a check for $50, and their names are displayed on a plaque in the lobby at Carrabec Community School. The monetary prizes for this program are donated by Mr. & Mrs. Chet Hickox and the three elementary school PTO’s.

Halloween Fun: On October 29, we held a Halloween Parade, and students enjoyed treats donated by families at a Halloween buffet. Thanks to the Solon Fire Department for providing a fire truck to escort us around town. Halloween Dime Raffle winners were Ellie Smith, Anthony Sandoval and Hunter Pouliot.

We want to recognize our top sellers in the fundraiser. Kindergartner Paul Yocum sold 37 items for a total of $426. Fifth grader Spenser Rogers sold 30 items for a total of $464. Great job, Paul and Spencer.

Solon HOLDS WALKING SCHOOL BUS ACTIVITY: On October 20, we held a Walking School Bus activity as part of our wellness action plan. Students and staff met at the Solon Thrift Shop and walked to school. Once they arrived , they enjoyed a breakfast prepared by our cook Mrs. Lawrence. We are planning a second Walking School Bus activity on December 1. NOTES FROM THE NURSE. School-BASED DENTAL CLINIC: We will soon offer this program, which accepts all insurances and offers services for students who do not have a regular dentist and would like to receive dental care. They do oral exams, oral hygiene instructions, dental cleanings fluoride treatments, sealants on molars and premolars and temporary fillings. The second dental program offers oral exams and fluoride treatment. This is free to all children in grades K-6. Please send in your permission forms to participate in any of these programs.

COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Students ages 19 Vaccine Clinic. Students ages 5 and up December 21, 2021. Immunizations. It is important to have your child up to date on higher on his /her immunizations before November 29, 2021. After this date, if your child’s immunizations are not up to date, he/she will be excluded from attending school until these immunizing are up to date.

Will finish the rest of this news next week, but now it’s time for Percy’s memoir entitled, “My Earnest Prayer: Today, I pray for others, Lord, Who seem less blessed than I. That in your love and mercy, You’ll heed their desperate cry. For those depressed and lonely, Please be their constant guide… And show them they are not alone, For You are by their side! For those in pain of body… Dear Lord, Please make them whole, And those who doubt….increase their faith, Reveal their glorious soul! Feed those who live in hunger, House those who have no home, And free this world from hatred; Show us we all are one Dear Lord, thank you for listening, And answering this prayer, This world seems much less frightening, Just knowing that you care.”

OBITUARIES for Thursday, November 25, 2021


OAKLAND – Ruth Marie (Lawrence) Buker, 95, of Oakland, passed away on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, following a lengthy battle with peripheral vascular disease. Ruth was born on July 28 1926, the daughter of Mabel (Crockett) and Earl Lawrence Sr.

When asked where she grew up, she would proudly say, “I was born and brought right up in Fairfield.” She was one of 12 children and she cherished her relationships with all her siblings and their families. When she was 10 years old, Ruth contracted Polio and was completely paralyzed for some time. With therapy, she eventually regained the use of her legs and her right arm, but had only limited mobility in her left arm for the remainder of her life. This never stopped her from doing anything she wanted to do, though. She adapted to make things work for her, so much that most people didn’t even know she ever had polio.

Ruth attended Fairfield schools and married her late husband, Harold Buker, also of Fairfield, on September 2, 1944. Although they were never able to have any biological children of their own, she would babysit many of her nieces and nephews throughout the years. She had a unique way with children and knew the art of reverse psychology before it was even a thing. Everyone loved “Aunt Ruthy”.

She was like a mother to many, but especially to her great niece, Shannon, who she influenced and raised. From the time of her birth to the time of her death, Ruth nourished those around her with her unconditional love and music.

Music was a big part of her life, both while growing up and into her married life. She sang and played guitar alongside her husband throughout their almost 65 years of marriage. That was what she missed the most when Harold passed away ­– their beautiful music. They wrote many songs together and played in several bands that performed locally when they lived in Connecticut and Maine.

After the passing of her husband in 2009, she moved from Winslow to Oakland with her niece, Shannon, and family. She loved spending time with her grandchildren and was proud of their every achievement. She also began to attend church regularly with her brother, Billy. The day she was baptized eight years ago was one of the happiest moments of her life. Even though she lived the words daily, she did not feel complete until she was properly baptized.

Ruth was predeceased by her husband Harold, her parents, her sisters, Iva Carter, Alma Mower, Priscilla Wing, and Olive Chapman, and her brothers, Norman Lawrence, Floyd Lawrence, Colby Lawrence and Melvin Lawrence.

She is survived by her neice, Shannon (Buker) Bizier, and her husband Jeremiah, of Oakland; her grandchildren, Martina and D. Cash Bizier, of Oakland; her sister Rebecca Clifford, of Shawmut; her brother William Lawrence and his wife Elaine, of Benton, and her brother Earl Lawrence and his wife Carol, of Benton; many nieces and nephews.

Per Ruth’s request, there will be no services other than a graveside service at the Maine Veterans Cemetery, on the Mt. Vernon Road, in Augusta, on Monday, November 29, at 1 p.m.

As a longtime lover of all animals, her wish was to have donations made in her name to the Humane Society Waterville Area, 100 Webb Rd., Waterville, ME 04901, in lieu of flowers.


CHARLESTON, South Carolina – Todd Morrissette, 55, passed away Saturday, November 6, 2021. He was born to Harold and Anita (Audet) Morrissette on February 20, 1966, in Waterville.

Todd’s early education was in Oakland, and he graduated from Presque Isle High School.

After graduating, Todd married his high school sweetheart, Shelly Clark. He served six years in the U.S. Coast Guard. Todd and Shelly returned to Maine and raised their two children, Ryan and Kayle, in Sanford.

Todd’s growing interest in Web creation as a hobby grew, so he put his skills to good use and developed a Web design business, AfterFive By Design.

Todd moved to Charleston, South Carolina, a short time ago.

Todd loved spending time with his family and looked forward to the annual family reunion in Old Orchard Beach.

Todd is survived by his two children, Ryan Morrissette and Kayle Corey; his mother, Anita Morrissette; his brothers, Harold Morrissette Jr., Troy Morrissette and Robert Morrissette; and sister, Jill Robinson; his first wife, Shelly; and his former wife, Melissa, and her son Nick; grandchildren Conor Day and Eliot Morrissette; many nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life was held at the VFW in Old Orchard Beach, on November 21.


OAKLAND – John A. Bickford Sr., 83, passed away peacefully at his home on Sunday, November 7, 2021. John was born in Oakland, on August 24, 1938, the son of Harry and Velma (Thomas) Bickford, the tenth of 13 children.

He attended Oakland schools and served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1956 to 1958. John married the former Jane Knowles on September 3, 1956. He was a carpenter most of his life, working all over the state of Maine, as well as building his own home, which he lived in for the past 50 years. He was also a bus driver for RSU #18 and later worked as a service technician for Maine X-Ray.

John, along with his wife Jane, spent over 30 summers as “seasonals” at Happy Horseshoe Campground, in Lexington, where they enjoyed the company of many friends and family.

He is survived by his wife Jane; sons John Jr, Jimmie and Jerry and his wife Angela; brothers Garey and Lawrence (Christine); sisters Thelma O’Neal, Leatrice (Roger) Grevois and Charlene (Paul) Houle; brother-in-law Robert Knowles; grandson Eric Bickford; as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.

John was predeceased by a son Jeffrey, his parents, brothers Blynn, Thomas, Kenneth and an infant brother, sisters Berlene, Annie and Lenora.

Per his wishes, there will be no services at this time. A graveside ceremony will be planned for the spring of 2022.

Arrangements under the direction and care of Dan & Scott’s Cremation & Funeral Service, 445 Waterville Road, Skowhegan, Maine 04976.


WINSLOW – Kenneth R. Bernard, 83, of Winslow, passed away on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, in Augusta. Ken was born in Waterville on August 3, 1938, the son of George and Hilda (Clapprood) Bernard, of Oakland.

He attended school at Williams High School, in Oakland, graduating in 1956. After high school, Ken joined the U.S. Navy, serving a combined total of 23 years of active duty and reserve time and attaining the rank of RMC (E-7). After he was discharged, Ken went to work for an electrical contractor for nine years, having then signed on with New England Telephone; retiring in 1994.

He met the love of his life in the summer of 1962, the former Dorothy M. Braley, of Bangor, and they soon married and enjoyed 59 years together. In 1963 they welcomed a son, Kevin G. Bernard.

Ken was predeceased by his wife, Dorothy in 2021; his son, Kevin in 1986; his parents; and his sister-in-law, Glenna Bernard.

He is survived by his brother, Robert H. Bernard, of Gorham; and sister-in-law, Ernestine; his brother-in-law, David Cole, of Bangor; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Ken was an active member of the Blessed Hope Church, in Waterville. A celebration of his life will be held at the Blessed Hope Church, at 1 p.m., on Friday, December 3.

Arrangements are in the care of Lawry Brothers Funeral and Cremation Care, Fairfield, where memories and condolences may be shared with the family at

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Blessed Hope Church, P. O. Box 473, Waterville, ME 04901


WINSLOW – Richard Woodbury Fitzherbert, 79, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, November 11, 2021. He was born on December 17, 1941, in Hartford, Connecticut.

Dick had many fond memories of his early childhood living with his family and grandmother on the farm in Fort Fairfield.

The family moved to Winslow where Dick attended Winslow schools and graduated in 1959. In high school, he was involved in band, football and baseball. He enjoyed endless hours practicing pitching with his dad catching. His love for the sports continued, and he was an avid Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots fan.

Dick attended Colby College, in Waterville. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served from 1961 to 1965. After that, he attended Boston University and graduated from Northeastern University, in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1971 with a degree in finance. He worked for the state of Maine in various positions until he retired in 2001.

Dick enjoyed hunting, fishing, and spending time with family and friends at his camp in Chase Stream Township.

He lived for 40 years on Messalonskee Lake, in Sidney, and thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the lake and feeding the birds.

He recently moved to Goudreau’s Retirement Home, in Winslow, and felt at home with the wonderful staff and residents there. He enjoyed playing cribbage and conversations with his new extended family.

He was predeceased by his parents, William Woodbury Fitzherbert and Dorothy (Hockenhull) Fitzherbert, of Fort Fairfield, Maine, brother-in-law Nick Lanzilotta and nephew Troy Howard.

Dick is survived by his daughters, Deanna (Fitzherbert) Cuculic and Amy Dorothy Fitzherbert, Deanna’s two children, David and John and David‘s fiancée Carolann Kelien; his sister, Linda Howard and her husband Denis, of Belfast., their children Denis II and Tiffany; his sister, Joy Lanzilotta, of Augusta, and her sons William, Jeffrey and Scott; his uncle Mel Fitzherbert and wife Carol; and several cousins.

Interment will be next spring at Riverside cemetery in Fort Fairfield, Maine.


WATERVILLE – Michael A. Laskey, 71, of Waterville, passed away on Sunday, November 14, 2021, in Waterville. Michael was born on May 1, 1950, in Dorchester, Massachusetts, a son of Imogene “Anna” D. and Morris A. Laskey.

After his family moved to Maine, he attended Waterville schools, graduating from Waterville High School in 1969. He worked for Jordan Marsh from 1971 to 1975 and at California Paint, Boston, from 1978 to 1984. Michael loved weekend motorcycling trips, the outdoors and had a fishing boat called “The Minnow”, and he particularly loved going for rides in his beloved car, “Labamba”.

He also enjoyed watching the Boston Red Sox, Boston Bruins, old movies and going to car restoration shows. Michael was always up for a Sunday picnic at camp.

Michael is survived by his father, Morris Laskey; his brother, Kevin Laskey; and his nephew, Sean Laskey; as well as his very special adopted family, David McGowan, Bunny and Matt.

He was predeceased by his mom, Anna.

Please visit to offer your condolences and share fond memories with Michael’s loved ones.

A graveside service will be held on Tuesday November 23, at 11a.m., at Pine Grove Cemetery, in Waterville.

A service of Veilleux and Redington Funeral Home, 8 Elm St., Waterville, Maine 04901. (207) 872-7676.

Donations may be made in Michael’s memory to Humane Society Waterville Area,100 Webb Road, Waterville, Maine 04901.


ALBION – Robert Merle Foster, 88, of Albion, passed away suddenly on Saturday, November 13, 2021, at JFK Airport, in New York City. Bob and his wife Marion were traveling to Washington state to visit their grandson, Christopher Walsh.

Bob was born January 19, 1933, in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, the youngest of Ralph E. and Bessie (Carnahan) Foster’s five children.

He proudly served in the U.S. Army, returned to Pennsylvania and became a skilled carpenter. Bob moved to California in 1965. In 1969, he married Marion Dyer Sinclair, a widow with five children. Together they blended a family of ten. In 1974, they relocated to a farm in Albion. Bob continued to work for himself in carpentry and construction locally and often helped with projects at Benton Falls Church.

Bob was predeceased by his parents and siblings, his son Ralph Foster, daughter Jaylin Scott, grandson Forrest Smith, and son-in-law Edwin Walsh.

He is survived by his wife Marion, of Albion; sons Dan Sinclair (and Kay), of Albion; Robert Foster, of Las Vegas, Nevada; Jim Scott Sinclair, of Columbus, Ohio; Daryn Sinclair, of Waterville; Jeff Sinclair, of Benton; daughters Dawnilyn Walsh, of Benton, Tammy Third, of Guilford (and Barry), Vicki Smith, of Las Vegas, Nevada, and , foster child Ernie Buke of Albion.

Bob enjoyed time spent with his grandchildren, all 24 of them. He was a ‘McGyver’ grandpa, sharing jokes, games, skills, life lessons, and problem solving. More recently, 18 great-grandchildren were his pride and joy.

A memorial service will be held at Benton Falls Church, on December 28.

Contributions in his memory may be sent to the Belfry Fund at Benton Falls Church, c/o Dawnela Sheehan, at 275 Bellsqueeze Road, Benton, ME 04901.


WATERVILLE – Constance T. Bolduc, 96, of Waterville, passed away peacefully on Monday, November 15, 2021. She was born in Waterville on February 22, 1925, the daughter of the late Romeo and Valeda (Roy) Bolduc.

She graduated from Mount Merici Academy, in Waterville, in 1942. She married her husband of 48 years, Laurier “Pop” Bolduc, on October 18, 1947, and together they raised six children.

Connie was employed at Hollingsworth and Whitney Company, in Winslow, in the accounting department, at the Waterville Morning Sentinel as a correspondent, and at the Boston Avenue School, in Winslow, as a secretary for 18 years. She enthusiastically supported her children’s school and sports activities and was an active participant in the Winslow High School Dollars for Scholars program, and the Athletic Boosters Club. She was a member of the ladies auxiliary for the Bourque-Lannigan American Legion Post #5, in Waterville, and the MacCrillis-Rousseau VFW Post #8835, in Winslow.

Connie’s heart and joy was her family, both immediate and extended. From Saturday night card games with her siblings, their spouses, and her parents, to family celebrations with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, life for her was centered around family. In retirement, among other activities, she enjoyed knitting hats, mittens and scarves for her grand and great-grandchildren and using her tole painting talents to create holiday decorations for family and friends.

Connie was predeceased by her husband Laurier “Pop” Bolduc; brothers, Rev. Roger Bolduc, Gerard Bolduc, and Richard Bolduc; sisters, Virginia Poulin, and Geraldine Quirion; daughter-in-law, Sue Bolduc, and son-in-law, Richard Wallingford Jr.

She is survived by her brother, Phillip Bolduc, of Huntington Beach, California; sisters. Adrian Cyr, of Waterville, Pauline Roderique and husband John, of Sturbridge, Massachusetts; daughters, Nancy Cohn, of Waterville, Elaine Wallingford, of Rockwood; sons, Thomas Bolduc and partner Mary, of South Bristol, James Bolduc and wife Cindy, of Fairbanks, Alaska, Guy Bolduc ,of New Gloucester, and Christopher Bolduc, of Islesboro; eleven grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

Family and friends are invited to attend funeral services to be held on Saturday, December 4, at 11 a.m., at Notre Dame Catholic Church, 112 Silver Street, Waterville, Maine.

Burial services will be held at a later date at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery, in Augusta.

Arrangements are entrusted to the care of Veilleux and Redington Funeral Home, please visit to view a video tribute and leave your condolences with Connie’s family.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations can be made to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22478, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73123.


BENTON – Virginia E. (Brann) Richards, “Ginny”, 79, passed away on Monday, November 15, 2021, at her home. She was born on March 23, 1942, in Waterville, to Arthur and Regina Brann.

Ginny and her twin sister, Fay, spent most of their time being raised and nurtured by their grandparents, Herbert, and Sarah Ayer (Ma and Pa.).

Ginny was in the last class to graduate from the old Lawrence High School, in Fairfield, in 1960, then went on to further her education in Westbrook and earned her degree in business administration in 1962.

When she returned to Fairfield, she worked in the business office at Keyes Fibre (now Huhtamaki), in Waterville. She later worked for the town of Benton in the office and was a member of the MSAD #49 school board.

She married Merton D. Richards in 1968, and together they raised their two boys, bought their dairy farm, Richards View Farm, and established Merton Richards Inc. She was an amazing woman who always wore her heart on her sleeve. She was a beautiful knitter, amazing cook, pure puzzle artist and lover of her animals.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 51 years, Merton D Richards; her mother, Regina Goodwin and stepfather, Carl Goodwin; her father, Arthur Brann; her aunt, Virginia Miles and uncle, Gil; her Ma and Pa that she cherished.

Ginny is survived by her children, Brian Richards and his wife Melissa, and Merton Richards Jr. and his wife, Meca; her sister, Fay Daigle; her grandchildren, Benjamin, Randall, Kaitlin, Maurisa, Payton, Braden, and Morgan; her great-grandchildren, Carson, Lydia, William, Jacoby, and Elliot; many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Her last few years she enjoyed spending time with her special dog, Penny, and her cat, Trouble, who always was entertaining by the trouble she could get into.

A celebration of Ginny’s life will be held on Friday, November 26, at Lawry Brothers Funeral Home, 107 Main Street, in Fairfield.

Spring burial will be at Falls Cemetery, in Benton.

Arrangements are in the care of the Lawry Brothers Funeral Home, 107 Main St., Fairfield, where condolences may be shared with the family on the obituary page of the website at

In lieu of flowers, donations in Ginny’s memory may be made to Humane Society Waterville Area, 100 Webb Road, Waterville, ME 04901.

Winslow resident earns award from Western Governors University

Bethanie Farr, of Winslow, has earned an Award of Excellence at Western Governors University College of Health Professions, in Jersey City, New Jersey. The award is given to students who perform at a superior level in their course work.

China Broadband Committee (CBC) continues exploring options for funding

by Mary Grow

At their Nov. 17 meeting, China Broadband Committee (CBC) members continued exploring options for funding better internet service for China residents, after voters said no to borrowing money through a town-issued bond.

At their Nov. 4 meeting, the main alternatives considered were seeking an arrangement with other towns or continuing to develop a China-only service (see The Town Line, Nov. 11, p. 3). As the meeting ended, Axiom Technologies President Mark Ouellette said he would look for possible sources of financing, government or private.

Private investors seem more likely, because, Ouellette and committee member Jamie Pitney agreed on Nov. 17, state and federal funds are aimed mainly at unserved populations. They could not find that improving slow or unreliable service qualified for government funding.

Only an estimated five percent of China residents get no internet service to their houses. The majority are served by Spectrum or Consolidated Communi­cations.

CBC members consider that neither company provides adequate service for contemporary needs. So far, neither has offered an upgrade that committee members have found acceptable.

Ouellette suggested a useful activity to begin as soon as possible: asking residents to check the speed of their internet systems and report results, to help evaluate current providers. Information on running tests and forwarding results will be publicized. Testing is as simple as finding the phrase “internet speed test” on the web and following the directions.

Ouellette has worked with other towns where private investment has made expanded internet possible through Axiom. The possibility of such an arrangement for China is “generally positive,” he said, but he had no specific plan to report.

Based on other towns’ experience, he advised trying to find investors in the Town of China, who will accept a low rate of return in order to benefit their neighbors.

Organizational possibilities were mentioned. Pitney cited an intertown nonprofit created to provide ambulance service. Ouellette knew of a four-town utility district.

Committee member Tod Detre suggested CBC members form a nonprofit organization and ask for money through one of the crowdfunding platforms on the web.

Ouellette and Piney intended to schedule an appointment with the acting head of the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), the state agency that promotes business development, to see if China qualifies for help there.

CBC Chairman Robert O’Connor and others planned to attend the Nov. 22 select board meeting, where O’Connor said board members were scheduled to hear a presentation from a wireless internet provider.

Pending information on FAME and the select board meeting, CBC members postponed scheduling their next meeting.