Free invasive plant management plans available

Surveying several large, invasive autumn olive shrubs at the edge of a field, in Sidney.
Photo courtesy of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Farm and woodland owners and operators in five Maine counties may be eligible to receive a free invasive plant survey and management plan, prepared by a natural resource professional from the local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Staff of SWCDs serving Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Somerset, and Waldo counties are looking for landowners or operators who would like to learn more about the invasive plants on their farms and woodlands.

Invasive plants like Asiatic bittersweet vines, thorny multiflora rose shrubs, sprawling Japanese barberry, and others can create dense tangles in forests, wetlands, and fields, crowding out native plants and young trees. Along forest edges and hedgerows, thickets of invasive shrubs can reduce the area of productive fields. Some invasive plants create habitat for ticks, cause skin rashes, or are harmful if eaten by livestock.

Many farmers and woodland owners know that invasive plants are present but aren’t sure what to do about them. Others may not know how to recognize invasive plants. Having a site visit and survey from the local SWCD is a chance to talk with a natural resource professional, learn to identify harmful plants, and get guidance on how to manage them. Survey data also help scientists understand invasive plant distribution in Maine because data are contributed to the online mapping tool iMapInvasives (imapinvasives.org), the central repository for invasive plant data in Maine.

This service is free to farm and woodland owners or operators thanks to a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) administered by the Maine Natural Areas Program (maine.gov/dacf/mnap) in the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. The project is also funded in part by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund (maine.gov/ifw/mohf), in which proceeds from the sale of a dedicated instant lottery ticket are used to support outdoor recreation and natural resource conservation. Space is limited and landowners/operators must meet basic USDA – NRCS eligibility requirements. Site visits will be conducted during the growing season, but sign ups are open now.

Participating landowners and operators are encouraged to act on the management plans they receive by implementing invasive plant treatments. Treatment funding may be available by applying to the USDA NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program through the local USDA NRCS office (nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/me/contact/local/).

To learn more and sign up for a free survey and management plan, please contact the SWCD in the county where the farm or woodland is located:

Somerset County: Joe Dembeck at jdembecksc15@gmail.com or 207-474-8323 ext. 3.

Kennebec County: Dale Finseth at dale@kcswcd.org or 207-621.9000.

Knox and Lincoln Counties: Rebecca Jacobs at rebecca@knox-lincoln.org or 207-596-2040.

Waldo County: Aleta McKeage at aleta.waldosoilandwater@gmail.com or 207.218.5311.

Walk-a-thon becomes Exercise-a-thon at St. Michael School

Travis Mills, center, with students at St. Michael School, in Augusta. (contributed photo)

For five years, the St. Michael School and Travis Mills Foundation Walk-A-Thon has steadily grown into a heart-warming fundraiser that annually displays the importance placed on service and kindness at the Augusta school. Students walk laps around the block of the school, located on Sewall Street, raising money for the foundation and the school through pre-obtained pledges. The event also features an inspirational speech from Mills before the walking begins, and a barbecue lunch at its conclusion.

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent distance learning, changes were needed to ensure the event would flourish once again.

“Students will be challenged to perform designated exercises for four days, from Tuesday, May 19 through Friday, May 22,” said Kevin Cullen, principal at St. Michael. “Travis and I will kick off the Exercise-A-Thon on Tuesday morning with a Zoom call on Facebook Live at 9 a.m.”

The four-day challenge will have a different theme each day, both in exercise and attire, with the amount of exercise time increasing with the ages of the students:

Tuesday: jumping jacks and star jacks while wearing St. Michael School colors.

Wednesday: sit-ups and dancing while wearing “crazy outfits.”

Thursday: students’ choice for exercise while wearing the uniform of their favorite team.

Friday: run/walk while in patriotic clothing.

“Each day, students are asked to take pictures or videos of themselves doing the exercises and post them on the St. Michael School Facebook page,” said Cullen. “The suggested donation for each video and picture is a minimum of $5. We are asking school families to share the videos with friends and family and support our students in raising money for this amazing cause. All donations will be split 50/50 between the school and the Travis Mills Foundation.”

Mills, a retired United States Army Staff Sergeant of the 82nd Airborne, is one of only five quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was wounded by an improvised explosive device during his third tour in Afghanistan in 2012. During his recovery, Mills discovered a passion for inspiring fellow wounded servicemen and women. He founded the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization, formed to benefit and assist wounded and injured veterans and their families. He has traveled around the country as a motivational speaker, inspiring thousands to overcome life’s challenges and defy odds. In 2015, his book, Tough as They Come, was published.

“We will have so much fun this week exercising our bodies and showing support for our veterans,” said Cullen. “I’m so grateful that everyone was enthusiastic to find a way to continue the fundraiser during the pandemic.”

To donate to the Exercise-A-Thon, visit https://stmichaelmaine.weshareonline.org/ws/opportunities/TravisMillsExercise-a-Thon.

Waterville farmers market open every Thursday…rain or shine!

The Waterville Farmers Market is now open every Thursday, from 2 – 6 p.m., at the Head of Falls, off Front Street. You must order ahead.

Contact your farmer to order your goods ahead of time. Here is a list of all members – and whether and how they handle ordering ahead for pickup at market. For more info about each market member, visit the market members page at the market’s website.

To order ahead for pickup at market, order from each market member who you want to buy from. Since the farmers’ market is a group of individual producers, they each have their own way of going about placing a pre-order with them. Most of them are pretty easy and straightforward, and many even allow you to pay online via a credit/debit card, paypal, etc. Here is a list of all of the members and whether and how they handle ordering ahead for pickup at market. For more info about each market member, visit the market members page at the market’s website. It is noted below which members are attending market now.

Apple Farm, 207-453-7656, email mainecider@gmail.com.

Burke Hill Farm, 207-460-6215, burkehillfarm@gmail.com We are not at market until harvest time, but we deliver frozen organic Maine wild blueberries all year long. If you would like a delivery, contact me by phone, email, Facebook, or telepathy.

Cornerstone Farm, cell: 207-416-2676, email: HanneTierney@gmail.com.

Eagle View, 207-660-5179, email frednas@gmail.com.

Good Bread, cell 207-368-4788, email info@good-bread.com. Attending market now.

Heald Farm, 948-2111, email penobscotrider@yahoo.com.

The Highlands, 207-938-2710, email thehighlands55@gmail.com. Check out our FaceBook page, The Highlands & Gracie’s Food Truck, for a current list of available meats, prepared meals, etc. Attending market now.

Hridaya Hermitage, see Sat Manav Yoga Ashram.

Humble Forge, 207-877-5963, email roger@humbleforgeblacksmithing.com.

Junction Garden, https://JunctionGardenME.square.site, 207-518-8661, email JunctionGardenLLC@gmail.com. Attending market now.

Kennebec Cheesery, 207-480-0431, email kennebeccheesery@gmail.com.

LOMAH, https://lomahfarmstead.com/store/, 207-924-0954, email lomah207@gmail.com.

Marr Pond Farm. Pre-orders (and a great new website!) coming soon.

Marr Pond Farm will be attending market in late May with greens, storage crops, and seedlings. Check our Facebook, Instagram, and website for the most up-to-date info. Traditional ‘Pick-up CSA’ shares available at market this year, limited availability – sign up here. Market Shares can be used for pre-order sales, email to sign up, 207-717-3571, email info@marrpondfarm.com.

Sat Manav Yoga Ashram, 207-485-1228, Sunyatashyam3@gmail.com.

Snakeroot Organic Far. Early Seedlings Order Form for 2020, Warm Weather Seedling Order Form for 2020. Online Organic Produce Store for delivery to Orono or Waterville Farmers’ Markets or pickup at the farm. CSA members, please check what’s available at the above online store, then email us your order directly and tell us your preferred pickup location (Orono, Waterville, or our farm). Attending market now.

Stone Fox Creamery, 207-323-2850, email stonefoxfarmcreamery@gmail.com.

Winterberry Farm, https://winterberryfarm.square.site/. Attending market now.

Wise Acre Farm, https://wiseacresfarm.square.site/.

Worcester’s Wild Blueberries, https://wildblueberryproducts.com/shop/.

Please be aware that the information booth will only be processing EBT/SNAP cards.

The first half hour of market is dedicated to seniors and immunocompromised folks.

Vendors will be taking cash, check and most of them will be processing their own credit/debit.

The moose is loose!

Katie Esancy, of Vassalboro, sent in this photo of a moose crossing the pavement on the Hannaford Hill Road, in Vassalboro.

Unity College receives grant

 

photo: Unity College

Joel Crabtree
Associate Director of Media Relations

As the Unity College Wood Turtle Project approaches its five-year mark, Dr. Matthew Chatfield, Unity College Assistant Professor of Conservation Biology, his students, and Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Cheryl Frederick can rest assured their research to help protect the species will continue well into the future, thanks to generous grants from five organizations.

Students at Unity College.

The Dorr Foundation, The William P. Wharton Trust, the Davis Conservation Foundation, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, and the Wildlife Division of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which has also served as a partner in the research, are supporting the project this year through grants totaling nearly $47,000.

“It is truly humbling and an honor to receive these grants and to know that these organizations are taking note of the important work that Dr. Chatfield and his students are conducting at Unity College,” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “I, myself, have been impressed by the research our students have conducted in the Wood Turtle Project ”

The wood turtle has seen widespread decline through much of its range, and is listed as a species of special concern, vulnerable, threatened or endangered in 14 of the 17 states and provinces in which it inhabits. In Maine, the species is currently listed as a species of special concern.

Students with the project capture, mark, release, and recapture wood turtles using radio-telemetry to map and monitor their movement within their habitat. Each turtle found is tracked with a number, using the same system as the state of Maine because all of the gathered data is shared and used by The Wildlife Division of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

At least once a week, in fall and spring, students put on their waders and search for tagged and untagged turtles to collect that data.

Unity College has also recently taken a wounded wood turtle into its Animal Room, where students can learn how to care for the species, observe its behaviors, develop forms of stimulus and enrichment, and prepare educational presentations about it.

“My collaborators and I are grateful to the granting organizations for their support of the Wood Turtle Project and their interest in conservation, research and education,” said Dr. Chatfield. “Funds awarded through these recent grants are a huge step forward for the project as we will be able to continue foundational work we’ve initiated over the past few years and expand in new and exciting directions. Perhaps most importantly, however, we’re able to provide authentic research experiences to students interested in conservation, wildlife biology, and the protection of endangered species.”

Maine-Japan printmaking exchange celebrates 5 years

Image Credit: Michiko Kusakabe, Grape Hunting, 2019, Woodblock print

Common Street Arts, in Waterville, will host a collection of prints by artists from Maine and Aomori, Japan, beginning May 18 through July 18, at the Hathaway Creative Center, in downtown Waterville. The traveling exhibition is part of MAPS (Maine-Aomori Printmaking Society), a cultural exchange program sharing art and artists between Maine and Aomori. The MAPS initiative is celebrating five years of collaborative exhibitions and artist exchanges. MAPS will be on view virtually through Common Street Arts’ social media channels including Facebook and Instagram. Common Street Arts will provide associated virtual programming through its Afterschool Art Club Facebook series and provide additional video content to share the exhibition with viewers. There will also be opportunities to purchase prints through the Maine Aomori Printmaking Society.

Since 2015, curators Jeff Badger and Jiro Ono have coordinated the exchange of ten prints each year from artists in Maine and Aomori. The prints have been exhibited in Maine and Japan and now the collection numbers over a hundred works. The prints exchanged in 2019-2020 will be exhibited at Common Street Arts in Waterville from May 18 through July 18. The same collection was shown at the Aomori Arts Pavilion in Japan during the Citizen Culture Days in October 2019. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with MAPS and look forward to showcasing this beautiful collection of prints. It’s a wonderful partnership and we are so pleased to be able to serve as a virtual venue,” says Patricia King, Vice President of Waterville Creates.

The official relationship between Maine and Aomori has been in place for over 20 years, but the fascinating connection between the two states goes back to the wreck of a ship from Bath off the Japanese coast in 1889, resulting in a daring rescue of American sailors by Japanese villagers. In addition to MAPS, Friends of Aomori – the all-volunteer non-profit that supports the partnership – also supports high-school exchange programs, educational workshops and events, and economic development opportunities. “The MAPS print collection has grown into a beautiful representation of the diversity and excellence in printmaking that can be found in both Maine and Aomori. Our goal is to exhibit this dynamic and growing collection all over the State of Maine. We are proud to partner with Common Street Arts to share the work with the people of Waterville and neighboring communities,” says Badger.
h MAPS is presented by Friends of Aomori and made possible by the generous support of the Rines-Thomspon fund of the Maine Community Foundation and Ocean House Gallery and Frame.

Mid-Maine Chamber leads the way during downtown reconstruction

Waterville Works is a construction update and comprehensive marketing plan for downtown Waterville, developed by Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce with input and involvement from downtown business owners and geared to provide continued growth and vitality during the coming months. Downtown partners will include the City of Waterville, Waterville Public Library, Small Business Waterville and Waterville Creates! – each sharing coordinated messaging to reinforce a thriving downtown.

This program is being introduced as construction work began on April 20 on water main installation, beginning at the intersection of Main, Front and Spring Streets then heading north on Main Street past the new Lockwood Hotel. Once it reaches Common Street, it will relocate to the northern part of Main Street downtown where Main and College Avenue intersect and then head south. Throughout the project there will always be one lane of traffic open on Main Street. Kennebec Water District is responsible for the new water project and has contracted with Ranger Contracting, of Fairfield, to replace the water mains.

One of the goals of Waterville Works is to keep downtown businesses informed so they may communicate to employees and customers regarding changing traffic patterns, minimizing disruptions to productivity and business. Secondly, the Chamber wants to engage the entire business community and consumers in efforts to bolster sales, assure continuation of foot traffic, build excitement over cross-promotion capabilities, and offer valid solutions to parking and other concerns for the duration of the project.

When Waterville Works, everyone wins. Mid-Maine Chamber has some exciting and positive ways to assure residents and visitors that the city will remain very much open for business, and open to success. Plans include communications of construction timelines, coordination of marketing programs and constructive dialogue among the various organizations involved in the promotion of Waterville.

Specific traffic-building promotions may include creation of frequent-buyer cards, cross-promotion among businesses, scavenger hunts, a display window contest and more. Mid-Maine Chamber will develop the framework for this plan working with Mix 107.9 and Townsquare Media, along with the Morning Sentinel and The Town Line newspaper, – in addition to utilizing various social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. With anticipated involvement from downtown businesses this plan can assure that Waterville Works, for everyone.

To provide input or ideas, please reach out to Chamber CEO Kimberly Lindlof – kimberly@midmainechamber.com, or call 873-3315.

Fairfield launches new funding round for facade improvement

 

Looking south down Main St., in Fairfield. (Internet photo)

Plan also includes Marketing Assistance Program

After the successful Spring 2019 launch of Fairfield’s Facade Improvement & Marketing Assistance Program (FIMAP) to enhance the economic vitality and character of the town’s commercial districts, the grant program enters the 2020 grant cycle with new funding available for Fairfield-based businesses and entrepreneurs. Operated by the Fairfield Economic and Community Development Committee (FECDC), FIMAP allocates financial incentives for the renovation, restoration, and preservation of privately-owned business exteriors within the Town of Fairfield, as well as for marketing assistance to stimulate commerce.

Grants will reimburse up to 50 percent of the cost of facade improvement and marketing projects. In its inaugural year, FIMAP awarded grants to Belanger’s Drive-In, IBEW 1253, Meridians Kitchen & Bar, and Sunset Flowerland & Greenhouse. These awarded projects have significantly contributed to Fairfield’s aesthetics and commerce, and the Town intends to continue to leverage its historical and commercial assets with FIMAP’s second grant cycle.

“The sustained growth in facade improvement programs and place-based economic strategies are driving forces behind vibrant municipalities, incentivizing diversification, and creating sustainable local markets in the 21st century,” states Garvan D. Donegan, director of planning and economic development at Central Maine Growth Council (CMGC). “Particularly important within a COVID-19 context, the continued investment in the Town of Fairfield and its downtown is having a tangible impact on quality of place, which attracts investment, residents, and visitors, making FIMAP an important opportunity to realize the full potential of Fairfield’s commercial properties. These new layers of investment will assist in sustaining and propelling the town’s growth forward more quickly, with visible impact.”

The competitive application process offers two project tracks: facade improvement and marketing assistance. Within the façade improvement track, high-priority projects include, but are not limited to: preservation and restoration of original and/or historical facades; removal of “modern”, non-historic alterations or additions to original facades; repair or replacement of windows, doors, and trim; and the addition of signage or awnings. Within the marketing assistance track, eligible projects include, but are not limited to, branding, digital and/or print advertisement, and signage. Applicants must also provide a long-term marketing strategy.

Successful proposals will generate significant economic and community development impact. “Understanding the increased need to deploy capital into businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the FECDC Advisory Committee will prioritize projects which strongly contribute to the revitalization of our business community, to the restoration of our historic resources, and to job creation and retention,” explains Michelle Flewelling, Town Manager of Fairfield. “The continued focus of this grant program will be to develop new partnerships, retain and expand existing operations, make Fairfield’s neighborhoods more inviting so that we encourage new businesses, residents, and visitors, and create direct economic benefits for the community as a whole.”

Eligible projects may apply for $3,000 to $25,000 in funding; FIMAP is funded by Fairfield Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues. Interested applicants may access a FIMAP application at http://www.fairfieldme.com/town/pages/business-resources or by contacting CMGC at 207-680-7300 or gdonegan@centralmaine.org.

About Fairfield’s Economic and Community Development Advisory Committee:

The Economic and Community Development Advisory Committee is a “citizens” committee with open membership to all Fairfield residents, business owners, and educators who have a vested interest in community development. Meetings are open to the public, and the committee typically meets monthly at the Fairfield Community Center; go to Fairfield’s online calendar of events for a meeting schedule.

2020 Memorial Day parade canceled; other activities still planned

The Memorial Day parade, in Madison, sponsored by Tardiff-Belanger American Legion Post #39, scheduled for Monday, May 25, has been canceled due to the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the following Memorial Day services will be held for participants only:

9 a.m., at Starks Town Office.

9:30 a.m., approximately, at Anson Town Office, followed by scattering of flowers off the bridge,

10 a.m., approximately, at Madison Library.

10:30 a.m., approximately, at the US/Canadian Monument, at Forest Hills Cemetery.

11 a.m., approximately, at East Madison, Joseph Quirion Monument (last service).

If you want to attend, please park and stay in your vehicle. For more information, call Bob at 399-6422.

Donations sought for Windsor’s Bob Brann following surgery

Bob Brann at work in his workshop. (contributed photo)

Receives heart pump implant following years of battling heart disease

Submitted by Kristen Ballantyne, Organizer

When you think of people who have made a difference in our community, Bob Brann is someone who always comes to mind. He has been an active member of the Windsor Historical Society for many years and the driving force behind the structural and historical preservation of many beautiful buildings and landmarks that we all marvel at the Windsor Fair Grounds year after year, these include but are not limited to: The old Somerville School building, the Cole house, the blacksmith shop, the ice house, the museum building and most recently, the rebuild of a 100-foot post and beam building to house a 100-year-old saw mill from Albion. Not to mention, this saw mill was then intricately reassembled into working condition for all to experience firsthand!

Bob’s personal investment in our community has left a lasting impression on us all. He has helped both young and old recognize the value in understanding and commemorating our community’s history by bringing it back to life piece by piece. It is through his dedication and fine craftsmanship, that we can fully experience the story of where we have been, where we are going and how we can all get there together.

As many of you know, Bob has been experiencing congestive heart failure over the last few years which has had a tremendous impact on him and everyone who loves him. Regardless, he has continued to press forward with projects with the help of his faithful crew. His relentless commitment to the community has often got the better of him and resulted in many emergency trips to Portland. Finally, after a long battle, Bob recently underwent surgery for a heart pump implant so his heart can properly pump blood throughout this body. While he is back home and starting to feel better, Bob has a long road ahead especially in consideration of this pandemic. There is a high risk of infection and clotting, so he must be very careful to take care of himself and this new life-saving device. Getting back to his old lifestyle is not something he will be able to do, as even a simple cut from shaving could be deadly. Even just carrying the device has been a task, as it weighs 15 pounds, altogether. There are medical shirts that have compartments built in to them for the ease of transportation, but are very expensive ($80). Meanwhile, the trips to Portland for follow up appointments continue, taking a financial toll on him and his family.

Let’s all come together and give back to someone who has invested so much of his own time, labor and money into our community over the years. While Bob would never ask for help, we feel that it is long overdue! Please consider donating to help Bob with the financial burden of years of hospital bills, travel to Portland for check-ups and other special needs such as medical shirts. Thank you in advance for your kindness and support!

The GoFundMe page for Bob can be found here.