FOR YOUR HEALTH: Help Kids See Their Way To A Good Education

Children do better in school when any vision problems are attended to.

(NAPSI)—If any of the approximately 74 million schoolchildren in the U.S. is someone you care about, here’s something you may want to look into: According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), visual health can have a great influence on students’ academic performance. Visual disorders, the NIH says, are one of the best predictors of educational success.

A Look Into The Eye

  The eye is literally an extension of the brain. It is estimated that more than 60% of the brain has some duties associated with vision input, the American Optometric Association points out. Because of this, any condition that hampers vision or the processing of vision may result in learning problems. When diagnosed and treated early, however, most individuals have a better chance of learning efficiently.
That’s one reason the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends children between the ages of 3 and 5 get vision screening to reveal problems that may lead to blindness without early treatment.
So, many students, teachers, and parents may be glad to learn about an improved way to test children’s vision.

Seeing Vision Problems Clearly

A handheld, portable device called the Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener by Baxter has been designed to help quickly and easily detect the risk factors of amblyopia and other vision issues in children as young as six months, all done from a non-invasive, three-foot distance. A bright touchscreen displays instant results, indicating whether measurements are in range or a complete eye exam is recommended.
The machine objectively measures refractive errors and alignment between the eyes, which helps identify six risk factors of amblyopia. Select photo screening devices can examine both eyes at once and can take only a few seconds to perform the screening.
Results are easy to interpret and can be shared with family and other eye care specialists. It can easily be used in pediatric offices, schools and community vision screenings. The American Academy of Pediatrics and American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus recommend the use of photo screening instruments in young children.

The Effectiveness of Photo Screening

A study performed by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University found that photo screening correctly identified more students in need of a comprehensive eye exam than an ordinary screening could. The study also showed that instrument-based screening is time efficient and can be performed in a quarter of the time of visual acuity screening.

One Family’s Story

The Malpass family, based in Washington State, includes two active boys, Miles, 12, and Parker, 8, who love to play all sorts of sports and are avid readers. When Miles complained that he could not see well out of his right eye, their parents had both boys looked at with a Spot Vision Screener. It was discovered that each boy’s eyes were slightly different sizes, causing a refractive error in the bad eye. The brain prefers to use the dominant eye, which made the vision worse in the non-dominant eye. An ordinary eye chart test at school had failed to catch the problem. Fortunately, it was correctable and both boys now wear glasses and see well at school and on the playing fields and ski slopes.

Learn More

To read stories about the importance of vision screening, visit For more information on the Spot Vision Screener, doctors and patients can visit

THE BEST VIEW: “Good vibrations”

by Norma Best Boucher

We ran down the roadway to the Old Orchard Beach Ball Park. We were a little late because of the traffic, but that didn’t make any difference. His golden voice filled the air, and each perfect note sent a shiver through me.

That was the first and the last time I was to hear Roy Orbison, live. An hour of songs such as Oh, Pretty Woman and Crying was only the beginning. The next two hours were filled with Surfin’ USA, California Girls, and the Good Vibrations of the Beach Boys. This was definitely the best birthday present I’d ever received, and I was going to enjoy every note of it.

The outfield was mobbed with students of the ’60s. The crowd moved in time with the music producing a wave of bodies and minds, with dreamy-eyed adults reliving a memory and the children holding their hands and sitting on their shoulders, creating a memory.

Woodstock – Eat your heart out!

I wanted to move up closer to the stage, but my husband was convinced we’d never make it. He stayed behind while I pushed my way through the crowd with a plastered smile on my face and an “Excuse me” every two or three feet. To say I’m not easily deterred is an understatement.

Twice in the ’60s, while still a college student, I took five hours to push through a crowd of 100,000 screaming college students in the infield of Kentucky Downs and managed to see the favorites, Kauai King and Proud Clarion, race through the finish line to win the Kentucky Derby. I hadn’t even placed a bet. I would do no less for the Beach Boys.

They were older, and so was I, but their timeless music took me back to an era when the words “age” and “worry” were not in my vocabulary. After a few songs, I, too, was dreamy-eyed. Then the loudness of the music hurt my ears and stomach, and soon I was singing, dancing, and waving my arms with wild abandon.

Oh – youth!

My husband, usually the dancer of us two, sat in a bleacher seat with his feet up and just enjoyed. I could see him in the distance, smiling, reliving a time only he could know. A five-year-old boy, standing on a seat a short distance away from him, gyrated to the music. Totally self-absorbed, my husband and the boy neither knew nor cared that the other existed.

Sometimes, when I’m alone in my car, I play my CDs, and Roy Orbison and the Beach Boys take me back to that concert and to the ’60s when age and worry didn’t exist and when music and life could be described with “I like it…It has a good beat.”


Lyndon B. Johnson

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Lyndon B. Johnson

The 36th President Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973) was, for good and bad, one formidable leader during his five years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

During October/November 1960, I vividly remember the two individuals and their running mates in the battle for the White House – Repub­licans Richard Nixon (1913-1994) and Massachusetts Senator/UN Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. (1902-1985) versus Kennedy and Johnson. Every East Vassalboro school day in Susan Brondmo’s fourth grade classroom, I was bringing clippings of political cartoons from the Waterville Morning Sentinel for the morning current news show and tell; I may have monopolized the board on the wall with my offerings.

Anyways, the Cates tribe had been Republicans for decades, so I never shirked my loyalism.

Meanwhile, Uncle Charlie Rodis, who had married into the family the previous July, grew up in a Greek-American family of Democrats, in Portland; for reasons known only to God, he had never discussed politics and encountered stone cold silence at the Thanksgiving dinner when expressing jubilation about the new president.

To my little boy’s sensibilities, Nixon, despite his uncouth five o’clock shadow, and the pleasantly smiling, consummate gentleman Lodge epitomized true honesty and integrity while seemingly forthright but not quite trustworthy, Kennedy struck me the wrong way; Johnson came off as a smiling gross pig. Thus, I concluded that adults would use common sense and vote Republican.

Nixon won by a very narrow lead, so we thought; within 24 hours, Chicago Mayor Richard Daly’s Cook County machine swung the victory to Kennedy.

On November 22, 1963, aboard Air Force One, Johnson was sworn in as president with grief-stricken widow Jackie Kennedy at his side and he exuded the finest nobility and serious demeanor in his photo. I now trusted him.

Buildings of books, magazines and other documents chronicle Johnson’s legacy. He did sincerely wage war on poverty with his Great Society and shepherded the 1965 Civil Rights Bill.

Johnson also escalated and prolonged the horribly bloody Vietnam War , a conflict that still divides people very sadly (I am personally pleading the Fifth on whether it was worth it).

A very worthy reading experience is The Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson by Princeton professor and historian Eric Goldman (1916-1989) who served from 1963 to 1966 as a special advisor to the president.

At first their working relationship was congenial, although Goldman was never part of the inner circle. Only later when the controversies increasingly swirling around Johnson and a lack of understanding by Goldman as to what was expected of him ended his work at the White House. The book was published in 1969.

Also worth dipping into is the multi-volume, still unfinished biography of Johnson by Robert Caro.

VETERANS CORNER: Good news: building finally under way; bad news: beloved employee retires

by Gary Kennedy

Well, another week has passed and with it brings both good and bad news. For those of you who frequent the VA. The building we have all been waiting for these past few years is finally under way, or so it seems. Pipes have been layed and footings have been poured. We get to see many hard hats during the day. However, the very large sign which use to adorn the site has never been put back (Community Living Center). For me that’s unfinished business. It makes me a little nervous as it could mean there is no commitment toward completion in the near future. There is always hope. We need the building along with the purpose for which it was intended. Admin keeps bringing up money. As I understand it, it was paid for years ago.

At our little meeting this week the issue came up again about the gym and swimming pool. I don’t think this administration will outlive the anger and despair this issue has brought about. It seems to me like most politics today there are two answers to that which is needed and those are the wrong one and the not so wrong one. The letter is usually sweetly frosted to make it easier to digest. Still, it is what it is. This week’s answer to the problem was complicated. Instead of an electrical problem it was a piping problem. However, VA will pay all veterans who would like to use the gym and pool to go to the YMCA. Sounds like fixing the pool and giving the gym back would be the least expensive way and the most honorable.

The cost of the pool was also brought up. It costs the same for 100 as it does for one. Physical Therapy should be encouraged to use the pool for purposes of pain and strength building, not used as a budget item to be axed. Much good could be gained if encouraged instead of discouraged. When I left the pool it was closed for lack of life guards. I spoke with the university life guard and he said he liked the work but not the pay.

The gym was there many times more than the current administration. It’s all about our being the best not the cheapest. Our vets won’t be sharing a pool with the Elderly Ladies League nor would they be able to tolerate all the children running around. I have tried it. We have veterans that are not only physically challenged but many are emotionally challenged as well. The gym at the VA was a great place for our vets both socially as well as therapeutically. Non-veterans just don’t get it. Perhaps the upcoming election will bring about some changes. For me it’s disgraceful to rent out “our” gym. It was built for veterans years ago and its purpose should remain. Perhaps the administrative office will eventually realize the need and the why of all of this.

Some more bad news is our beloved Rhonda Baker, in Release of Information, has decided enough was enough and after 28 years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude has been compelled to join the ranks of the retired. We all love her. She was the most tireless and fearless proponent of veterans rights. I have had the pleasure of calling her, friend. When it came to searching for veterans needing information she would take the time to get the job done. Sometimes she would bark out a few questionable words and expressions that would rock the boat but she stood by her guns and veterans rights. We all hope she has a wonderful retirement. We won’t forget her and I know she will never forget the vets.

There are still many doors locked which are not necessary, the door to the Pharmacy and the main door to Veterans’ Services. Covid has allowed the boss to be relentless with stupid and ridiculous policies. Everyone knows and sees it except the powers that be. They have a plan and covid has been a tool. Pray that the new strain of virus doesn’t arrive.

It is looking like the veterans are looking at a Cost of Living Increase of only 3 percent. We’ll have to wait and see what Social Security publishes but from where I sit it looks like somewhere between 3 and 3.5 percent. A veteran rated at 100 percent could see an increase between $111 – $130 per month. That is not too bad if you are at 100 percent with one dependent. However, those with lesser percentage might not even come near inflation. We’ll know in October.

In my last issue I forgot to mention the great addition we’ve been fortunate to bring on board, and that is Dr. Carl Robinson. His specialty is Neurology, and from personal experience, I must say he is very thorough and great at what he does. Neurology is not my favorite place to go but it helps when you get to meet a great doctor working at VA who can help you on the path to wellness. We all hope he decides to remain here at Togus and share his God given skills.

In my narration lies the truth. You be the judge. That’s all for this week. You know how to reach me if you have a need or want to contribute. God Bless and have a safe and productive week.

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

SCORES & OUTDOORS: More reports of mountain lion sightings in Maine

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

Every so often I get emails from people who have read my columns and contribute their own experiences. This one involved the sighting of a Mountain Lion. Now, let us not forget that depending on with whom you speak, mountain lions either do, or, do not exist in Maine.

Here is the email I received recently. It came from Brian and Colby Prescott, of Windham:

“Was reading an article you wrote about mountain lions in Maine from a couple years back and thought I’d relay a sighting from the other day, September 1, 2023.

“My son and I were camping at the Bemis Stream Prospect Camp location just north of Byron off Route 17. It’s right where Bemis Road crosses Bemis Stream.

“We were at the first camp site that’s down lower than the road. The brook was high and the water was fairly loud. We were huddling around the Coleman burner to warm up at about 6:30 in the evening, and my son tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up towards the road and sure enough, a mountain lion walked by. It was unmistakable. The size was approximately 150 lbs. It had giant paws and the tail was absolutely enormous. Thick, and it curved down to almost the ground. We were able to view the large cat for only five seconds or so, so unfortunately, no picture. The color was a sandy brown. Needless to say, I was in shock for several seconds. We waited for 20 minutes in the truck before settling into the tent for the night!

“My son and I looked for tracks early the next morning, but only found bear tracks with five claws. We got pictures of the paw print, but pretty sure it was just a bear.

“I met a neighbor from Mooslookmeguntic Lake walking his dog and immediately mentioned the sighting, although I knew the chances of it being nearby were very slim. He was very interested and said he would look for signs of the cat. Meanwhile, we drove over to Devil’s Den to explore that area.

“This person walked by our camp site later in the morning and mentioned he found some scat and was hoping to get it tested to see if it was from a mountain lion. I unfortunately did not think to get his name or number at the time. Needless to say, my son and I were super excited to have experienced the sighting. I never in my 16 years of camping in that area ever experienced anything like that!”

So, are there Mountain Lions in Maine? Maybe, Maybe Not . . .

Mountain lions, also called cougars, catamounts or pumas, are large felines that are native to the Americas. They once roamed from coast to coast in the United States, but today they are mostly found in the western states.

There have been occasional sightings of Maine mountain lions over the years, but it is uncertain whether there is a breeding population in the state.

So, are there mountain lions in Maine? One thing is for sure: if there are any cougars in the state, state wildlife experts contend they are most likely solitary animals that are just passing through.

On the other hand, credible witnesses with lots of outdoor experience insist on the presence of mountain lions in Maine. So, unfortunately, there is no easy definitive answer, yet. Officially, according to state wildlife experts, there are no mountain lions in Maine. However, there has been at least one official sighting and one Class 2 confirmation of mountain lions in Maine.

Mountain lions were classified as extinct in the 1920s and 1930s across the eastern states. In Maine, the last official mountain lion was shot by a hunter in 1938.

I have researched this subject many times and keep coming up with the same conclusion. Credible eyewitnesses vs. the state biologists: Which do you want to believe? There are photographs out there, but mostly are pooh-poohed by state “experts”. “Inconclusive photos”, hoaxes or staged. Those are the answers you will get from state officials.

I for one, believe there are mountain lions in Maine because, even though I have never actually sighted one, have seen their tracks in snow and mud. Unmistakable, feline prints, approximately four inches across, or as big as my hand. That is not a house cat, and too large to be bobcat or lynx.

But, unofficially, the jury is still out.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

Which NFL team went 0-16 in 2008?

Detroit Lions.

Give Us Your Best Shot! for Thursday, September 21, 2023

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

BULKING UP: James Poulin, of South China, snapped this Fritillary butterfly on a zinnia.

READY FOR TAKEOFF: Tina Richard, of Clinton, photographed this immature eagle on take off.

FULL BLOOM: Barbara Lawe, of Fairfield, captured this hydrangea in her flower garden, in full bloom.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Health Tips for Adults

Consuming healthy foods, beverages, and snacks, and getting regular physical activity may help you reach and maintain a healthy body weight. Making suitable lifestyle choices may also help men and women prevent some health problems.

Setting healthy eating and physical activity goals may help you improve your health.

Here’s a quick overview of some ways to eat better and be more active.

Choose whole grains more often. Try whole-wheat breads and pastas, oatmeal, or brown rice.

Select a mix of colorful vegetables. Vegetables of different colors provide a variety of nutrients. Try collards, kale, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.

At restaurants, eat only half of your meal and take the rest home.

Walk in parks, around a track, or in your neighborhood with your family or friends.

Make getting physical activity a priority.

Try to do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like biking or brisk walking.

If your time is limited, work in small amounts of activity throughout your day.

Learn more ways to move more and eat better—for yourself and your family!

Healthy Weight

If it is tough to manage your weight, you are certainly not alone in today’s world. In fact, more than 39 percent of American adults have obesity. Excess weight may lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, and other chronic health problems. Setting goals to improve your health may help you lower the chances of developing weight-related health problems.
How can you tell if you are at a healthy weight?

Your body mass index (BMI) can help you determine if you are at a healthy weight, overweight, or have obesity. BMI is a measure based on your weight in relation to your height. You can use an online tool to calculate your BMI NIH external link. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is in the healthy range. A person with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. Someone with a BMI of 30 or greater is considered to have obesity.

Another important measure is your waist size. Women with a waist size of more than 35 inches, and men with a waist size of more than 40 inches, may be more likely to develop health problems. Men are more likely than women to carry extra weight around their abdomen, or belly. Extra fat, especially in the abdomen, may put people at risk for certain health problems, even if they are not overweight.

THE BEST VIEW: Picking raspberries, with reptiles

by Norma Best Boucher

I have always loved raspberries. My earliest memory of the sweet seedy globules was on my aunt’s farm, in Bangor. In the summer my father and I visited his older sister’s family for a week filled with the softness of feather beds, the smell of sweet peas, the taste of fresh garden produce, and the succulence of ripe red raspberries.

I had been too young to go berry picking before that summer. Apparently, it was more work to watch me than to pick raspberries, but that year I became of age, four. With the index finger of my left hand gripping the handle of the small tin cup and with all the fingers of my right hand grasping my father’s fingers, I was off on an adventure into the Maine woods.

The year was 1951, so television hadn’t educated me. The only animals I knew were dogs that bit, cats that scratched, and an array of bugs that did God knows what. I was a typical city girl about to be introduced into the wild.

My father, my aunt, and I walked for what my short legs felt was forever but for what my imagination thought was a second. I was introduced to chipmunks, to birds, to wild flowers, to fallen trees, and to peace.

I never got the hang of berry picking that summer because I saw an unidentified bug on a bright red fruit and refused to touch any other berries. I did behave, though. As long as they filled my cup with juicy berries, I stood quietly and contentedly in one spot watching them and eating one red berry at a time.

In a short time, they exhausted the area and moved farther away. I stayed on my spot to avoid the scratchy bushes, but I never lost sight of my father. As soon as I had eaten that last berry in my cup, my father refilled it, each time promising me there were no bugs.

My aunt eventually moved much farther away, and I heard her voice fade into the distance.

Becoming more relaxed with my surroundings, I began to take in the sights – trees, birds, and new sounds. Quite at peace with the world, I reached into my cup for another berry. As I did, I looked down past the cup to the ground.

Just then a long, slender, green creature slithered across the top of my bright red canvas sneakers. I let out one long, loud, blood-curdling scream. In the distance I heard the sound of my aunt’s yell and an avalanche of gravel.

Of course, my father ran to me first, and after calming my tears, he explained that I had seen only a harmless snake. Even today the words “harmless” and “snake” are never used by me in the same sentence.

Back then I stuck out my pouted lips and begged to be carried. I decided then and there that my feet would never again touch the same ground as that “harmless snake.”

Carrying me, my father set off to find my aunt. We discovered her at the bottom of a gravel pit. Hearing my shriek, she had lost her footing and had slid feet first, stomach flat all the way down to the bottom.

After relating my episode with the reptile, they both laughed hysterically and did so for many years later with the memory. Only later in life did I fully grasp the humor of the situation.

I enjoy daily walks now but on the side of the road. Lately, I have seen red raspberries ripening. With no one watching, I walk into the brambles and pick a handful of berries. They are just as sweet as on that first day in the woods at my aunt’s farm. Each day I take a handful noticing that others are doing the same. Soon they will be gone and a cherished memory will fade with them.

On those daily walks I continue to look for the chipmunks, the birds, the wildflowers, the fallen trees, and the peace.

Oh, yes. I still look for the bugs on the raspberries…but never, never do I look down for that “harmless snake” in the grass.

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Musician: Carl Stevens; The Lotus Club

Carl Stevens

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Carl Stevens

Carl Stevens was the professional name of trumpeter Charles H. Sagle (1927-2015). A 1959 Mercury LP, Muted Memories, featured him with a group of four outstanding session players performing a dozen pop classics.

They include Cole Porter’s I Concent­rate on You, Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer’s Jeeper Creepers, Cy Coleman’s Witchcraft, Duke Ellington’s Satin Doll, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Younger than Springtime , etc. The accompanying musicians included Bobby Christian (1911-1991) on percussion, guitarist Frank D’Rone (1932-2013), John Frigo (1916-2007) on bass and pianist Dick Marx (1924-1997). For those who wish to explore further, each of the four have recorded albums under their own name for Mercury and other labels.

On the surface, the music here might sound like typical background music at a bar or restaurant but, if one listens closely, he/she would hear different shades of phrasing provided by an assortment of mutes and the sharing of solo spotlights among the five musicians.

My copy of the album is on Mercury’s budget priced Wing label whose various classical and pop reissues were found often in downtown Waterville’s long gone dime stores such as Center’s and McClellan’s for $1.47 when I shopped for records at the cheapest possible price. Nowadays, some of the recordings of all five musicians can be heard via YouTube, including the above album.

Lotos Club

The Lotos Club

The Lotos Club was founded in 1870 as a gentleman’s club for the promotion of literature, art, music and other cultural topics; still in operation in New York City, it would eventually honor women with membership.

A 1911 book, Speeches at the Lotos Club contains after dinner speeches from the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Andrew Carnegie, composer Richard Strauss and Mark Twain, and many long forgotten luminaries.

Current members include soprano Renee Fleming, cellist Yo Yo Ma and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

In a speech given January 11, 1908, Mark Twain reminisced about his very happy recent trip to England and then stated, “that you know you can’t understand an Englishman’s joke, and the Englishman can’t understand our jokes. The cause is very simple, it is for the reason that we are not familiar with the conditions that make the point of the English joke.”





FOR YOUR HEALTH: The benefits of that cup of coffee

Ah, coffee. Whether you’re cradling a travel mug on your way to work or dashing out after spin class to refuel with a skinny latte, it’s hard to imagine a day without it. The caffeine perks you up, and there’s something incredibly soothing about sipping a steaming cup of joe. But is drinking coffee good for you?
Good news: The case for coffee is stronger than ever. Study after study indicates you could be getting more from your favorite morning beverage than you thought: Coffee is chock full of substances that may help guard against conditions more common in women, including Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.
Caffeine is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about coffee. But coffee also contains antioxidants and other active substances that may reduce internal inflammation and protect against disease, say nutrition experts from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

What are the top health benefits of drinking coffee?

Your brew gives you benefits beyond an energy boost. Here are the top ways coffee can positively impact your health:

You could live longer.

Recent studies found that coffee drinkers are less likely to die from some of the leading causes of death in women: coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

Your body may process glucose (or sugar) better.

That’s the theory behind studies that found that people who drink more coffee are less likely to get type 2 diabetes.
You’re less likely to develop heart failure. Drinking one to two cups of coffee a day may help ward off heart failure, when a weakened heart has difficulty pumping enough blood to the body.
You are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. Caffeine is not only linked to a lower chance of developing Parkinson’s disease, but it may also help those with the condition better control their movements.

Your liver will thank you.

Both regular and decaf coffee seem to have a protective effect on your liver. Research shows that coffee drinkers are more likely to have liver enzyme levels within a healthy range than people who don’t drink coffee.

Your DNA will be stronger.

Dark roast coffee decreases breakage in DNA strands, which occur naturally but can lead to cancer or tumors if not repaired by your cells.

Your odds of getting colon cancer will go way down.

One in 23 women develop colon cancer. But researchers found that coffee drinkers — decaf or regular — were 26 percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer.

You may decrease your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

Almost two-thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease are women. But the caffeine in two cups of coffee may provide significant protection against developing the condition. In fact, researchers found that women age 65 and older who drank two to three cups of coffee a day were less likely to develop dementia in general.

You’re not as likely to suffer a stroke.

For women, drinking at least one cup of coffee a day is associated with lowered stroke risk, which is the fourth leading cause of death in women.