Contest winner

Lucia, 9 years old, of Skowhegan (photo courtesy of Mark Huard)

Somerset Public Health held its third annual Dear Future Me contest and Lucia, 9 years old, of Skowhegan, took first place. She created a video and spoke as though she was talking to her younger self explaining how living a life free of drugs, alcohol and bad influences allowed her to reach all of her goals and lead a life of success and positivity. She received a New Balance gift certificate, Pittsfield Community Movie Theater gift certificates, and a gift certificate to Pop on Over Cafe, in Pittsfield.

Sheepscot courtesy boat inspectors

The 2020 Courtesy Boat Inspectors are now working weekend shifts at the boat launch at Sheepscot Lake, in Palermo. They are encouraging boaters to check their vessels for invasive plants before entering the lake.

Riley Reitchel, left, will be a junior at Erksine Academy, in South China, in the fall. She is a high honor student and a premier soccer player. Jacob Sutter, a 2020 graduate of Erksine Academy, will be attending Thomas College in the fall to study business. (Contributed photo)

Group holds fundraisers to help purchase 230 Main St.

Courtesy of: The Ecology Learning Center

There will be a fundraising event to help the Ecology Learning Center secure a home at 230 Main Street, in Unity.

On Sunday, August 2, there will be a Moonrise Yoga Adventure and Sail, from 5 – 9 p.m., at Belfast Harbor. You can register at

Donations will be accepted. If they reach 250 donors, it’s a triple match. Items may include musical instruments (piano, fiddles, guitars, etc.), books (nonfiction, fiction, classics). Contact

The Ecology Learning Center practices Zero Waste. They are a grassroots, nonprofit organization with no glossy brochures, and no marketing agent. All donations go to the capital campaign.

They need your help to purchase 230 Main St., in Unity.

KV Connect finds new way to help nonprofits

KV Connect traditionally hosts Waterville Green Drinks the second Tuesday of each month to raise money for local nonprofits while networking with other young professionals in the area. Since COVID-19 swept in, events have had to be canceled, but community needs continue to grow. KV Connect decided to pool its resources to continue to support the community.

“Our goal this year was to raise $2,020 during 2020 to help our local nonprofits. However, we needed to get creative due to COVID because we had to cancel our in-person fundraisers. We also have had to cancel our twice-weekly volunteer opportunity delivering food to the soup kitchen. We wanted to find a new way to engage members in the community and still have an impact,” said Samantha Burdick, president of the KV Connect Steering Committee.

KV Connect’s Community Service and Outreach Committee decided to take things virtual, by trying its first-ever digital fundraiser using Facebook. KV Connect launched the digital fundraiser on July 13 with hopes to raise $500 in five days. “Our goal was to raise $500 in five days to help United Way’s Community First Fund. We know that this fund helps so many non-profits in our region that have been impacted by COVID and our support would go where it is needed most,” said Courtney Squire, chairman of the Community Service and Outreach Committee.

The group was able to exceed its goal. By week’s end, a total of $740 had been raised for the Community First Fund with giving by 19 donors on Facebook. The money will be used to fund programs or projects that address needs in the region. Since March, over $55,000 has been awarded to local nonprofit organizations to help confront food insecurity and provide essential needs to families and children. “We strive to be a community partner, and help young professionals become involved in their community. We are blown away by the support of our members and look forward to continuing to support the community through our volunteer and fundraising efforts,” said Burdick. Those looking to get involved with KV Connect should contact Courtney at the Mid-Maine Chamber (

KV Connect is a networking group for professionals in the greater Waterville area. Its mission is to connect young people not only to each other but to the many resources the community has to offer. It seeks to positively impact the community through economic, social, political, and community service initiatives.

United Way of Mid-Maine serves communities throughout Somerset, northern Kennebec, and western Waldo Counties. United Way of Mid-Maine is a community partner that works with local non-profit organizations to ensure the community has access to critical service in the focus areas of Strengthening Children, Youth, and Families, Promoting Independence, and Meeting Immediate Needs.

The United Way Community First Fund is accessible year-round to nonprofit organizations to provide extra funding for programs or projects that address a need in the community, or aid in the continuation of an organization’s mission.

The Community First Fund provides funding for programs or projects that are: Combating food insecurity, such as a food bank or meal program, providing access to basic essential needs like toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, baby essentials, providing family and child enrichment, such as book or arts programs, providing community relief for disasters such as flood or ice storms, and providing community support for a crisis such as COVID-19.

Waterville Creates! awarded grant for art kits for all program

Photo: Waterville Creates!

Waterville Creates!, a nonprofit supporting and promoting high-quality, accessible arts and cultural programs and institutions in Waterville, is the recipient of a $2,500 United Way of Mid-Maine Community First Fund Award for the collaborative Art Kits for All pandemic response program – an effort to help keep our community’s families engaged and entertained during this public health crisis by providing free art supplies and instructions for art projects that can be created at home.

“We’re utterly thrilled. This funding will make a huge difference to many local families who rely on our art programs, events, and scholarships to live a fulfilling and balanced life,” says Waterville Creates! President and CEO Shannon Haines. “Closing our doors during the COVID-19 pandemic was heartbreaking to us. Art Kits for All is an innovative, collaborative program designed to get art supplies into the hands of families and fulfill our mission to support and promote high-quality, accessible art experiences albeit in a completely reimagined way.”

The United Way of Mid-Maine’s Community First Fund supports community betterment and crisis recovery efforts, providing extra funding to local non-profit organizations by funding programs or projects that address a need in the community, or aid in the continuation of an organizations mission.

“We are honored to support Waterville Creates! and their effort to connect families with art resources,” says Bethany Drouin, Resource Development Director of the United Way of Mid-Maine. “The Art Kits for All program will provide value to the lives of families throughout our communities.”

A network of local nonprofits powers the Art Kits for All program, generously providing volunteers and supplies to keep this popular relief program engaging and informative. Representatives from the Colby College Museum of Art, the Kennebec Montessori School, Waterville Public Schools, and the Family Violence Project gather weekly to plan future Art Kit themes relevant to the community, obtain supplies, develop instructional materials, and pack the Kits.

Art Kits for All are distributed for free at the George J. Mitchell School and Downtown Waterville Farmers’ Market. The Art Kits are assembled at the Common Street Arts’ Studio, currently closed to the public. Masks and gloves are worn during kit assembly, and all art materials are disinfected to remove any risk of contamination. The kits are prepared and sealed a week prior to the distribution date to further minimize any transmission risk. Future Kit themes include activities inspired by the art of Bernard Langlais and Hew Locke on display at the Colby College Museum of Art, a Plein Air watercolor painting Kit, and a Pastels Kit. Past kits activities have included creating zoetropes, kite-making, and clay sculpting.

Community donations in support of this ongoing effort are requested; donors can sponsor one Art Kit for just $10, and all gifts are tax deductible. To donate, visit:

Local businesses adapted creatively in Covid

Travis and Lindsay Hill

by Jeanne Marquis

Maine Made Marketplace, an online store featuring Maine’s artwork and hand crafted products, grew out of necessity when, due to the pandemic, regional arts shows were cancelled. It was the brainchild of Travis and Lindsay Hill, who are leathersmiths of Hashtag Leatherworks.

In the Spring of 2020, the Hills saw art shows being cancelled or postponed one by one and knew how important these seasonal shows are to the income of Maine’s artisans. It had been a longtime concept of Travis to make a collective of artists available in one place, as he is a digital marketer in his career. This year, necessity brought this concept into reality.

Travis and his wife, Lindsay, moved quickly — both optimistically believe in the adage that ‘when one door closes another opens.’ They also knew that craftspeople would need an outlet this year to replace the income from the shows that oftentimes is their sole income supporting both their families and their craft. They reached out to artists as early as the third week in March.

By April 2, their LLC was active and the website went live shortly afterwards. Word-of-mouth grew in the community of Maine artists and craftspeople. They were soon receiving requests for submissions, so to keep the quality high and the product categories evenly stocked standards comparable to a typical art show were established. Maine Made Marketplace was open May 1 in time for Mother’s Day gifts and to send Maine-made artwork to family members who may not be able to travel to Maine this summer.

Maine Made Marketplace is also open for curbside pick up for online purchases on They would like locals to pass this information to summer residents who may be looking for an alternative to the art shows this year.

Mike Crommett orders at Back’s Dairy Bar drive-thru in South China. contributed photo

Back’s Dairy Bar, 390 Route 3, South China, has been a summer icon in South China since 1989. However, this spring it was clear that this summer was going to be different. As they were opening in the beginning of the season, the owners learned of the new retail protocols: keeping customers 6 feet apart and the recommendation for masks. They opened for a few weeks, and learned quickly how difficult it would be to encourage customers to adhere to the new procedures. They voluntarily closed not wanting to be part of the problem. During Back’s brief closure, the owners worked with a contractor and brainstormed an ideal solution: a drive-through window.

This may seem like a simple fix, but it was more complicated than just adding a window. It meant re-configuring how they operated inside the building with a realignment of equipment and additional staff. The owners drove around the parking lot to plot out the ideal traffic flow for customers. This planning paid off making their reopening a success and a smooth transition to their drive-through operation.

Full Fork Farm adapted early on to the retail challenges of Covid by establishing a self-service, roadside farmstand. The farmstand features modern conveniences of refrigeration, freezer space and the digital capability to swipe your credit card.

Customers are able to safely purchase farm fresh produce from Full Fork and other local sources. Their intention, according to their website, is to make the stand as close to a one-stop shop as possible. In addition to the fruits and veggies grown on their own land, they offer maple syrup, meat, bread, artisan flours, milk, cheese and eggs from regional producers.

Adaptation and sustainability come naturally to Full Fork farm as they practice full circle farming. They preserve the nutrients of the soil with organic techniques and protect the quality of future crops through seed stewardship, saving the seeds from the very best plants. To them nutrition is full circle — healthy soil means more nutritious produce. In keeping with their philosophy of sustainability, it makes sense that Full Fork was able to quickly adapt to the new needs of their local customers. Their farmstand is located at 154 Dutton Road, in China.

Vassalboro Capitol Hill Challenge team places third in nation

The Vassalboro Community School Capitol Hill Challenge stock market game team that finished third in the nation, and was the number one Middle School entry, clockwise from top left, JMG advisor Victor Esposito, Noah Bechard, Brady Desmond and Sofia Derosby. Most of the competiton was done online and through virtual meetings. (contributed photo)

Submitted by Victor Esposito
from SIFMA website

SIFMA and the SIFMA Foundation has announced the top 10 programs in the country for the 17th Annual Capitol Hill Challenge™ national financial education program, generously supported by the Charles Schwab Foundation, and announce the 10 teams who rose to the top of this rigorous investment competition.

Student teams representing public schools in every U.S. congressional district were invited to show their investing prowess by managing high-performing, diversified portfolios. Remarkably, in spite of school disruptions this Spring, there were 2,300 teams, with 8,400 students and their teachers who persevered to finish the challenge, demonstrating incredible commitment and achieving impressive results. Dynamic market conditions made for an exciting competition.

The Vassalboro Community School team, under the guidance of JMG master specialist Victor Esposito, finished third in the nation, and were the number one middle school.

According to Esposito, it was their first attempt at the National CHC Stock Market game.

“Congratulations to all the participants of this year’s Capitol Hill Challenge,” said Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr., SIFMA president and CEO. “For more than a decade, the SIFMA Foundation’s Capitol Hill Challenge and Stock Market Game have helped students from around the country become financially capable,” said Ken E. Bentsen, Jr., SIFMA President & CEO. “Our industry is committed to helping students learn the importance of saving and investing, while also providing them a solid foundation to achieve their future financial goals. SIFMA commends the Members of Congress who have visited their local schools virtually and engaged with students on financial education.”

This 14-week challenge organizes teams of public middle and high school students by congressional district and state and teaches the importance of saving and investing, while simultaneously promoting a better understanding of our government. Teams invest a hypothetical $100,000 in listed stocks, bonds, and mutual funds and learn the value of the capital markets as they work together to diversify across asset classes and maximize the return of their portfolios.

Since, the Capitol Hill Challenge began in 2004, the program has reached more than 125,000 students through more than 5,000 matches of U.S. representatives and senators with schools. Public middle and high school students from all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, participated in this year’s challenge.

Esposito lauded the local students for their dedication, “I wanted to just add that these kids did an amazing job considering a good part of it was online. They stayed focused and made some big moves and great choices.”

“Now more than ever, we need to inform and prepare young people for their financial lives,” said Melanie Mortimer, President of the SIFMA Foundation. “Through public-private collaborations like the Capitol Hill Challenge, the SIFMA Foundation, every US Member of Congress, and Charles Schwab are delivering financial capability to public schools nationwide. Together we are ensuring young people across America experience the capital markets and gain insights that lead to long-term success,” added Ms. Mortimer.

As their advisor, Esposito said, “I am super proud of their accomplishment, and I also thank their parents, who truly helped by keeping them on track, and a special thank you to Rob Picard, one of my parents who gave us a great boost at the start and kept following up throughout the game.”

The competition uses the SIFMA Foundation’s curriculum-based Stock Market Game program, which features a high-tech, online investment simulation of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and ESG investments, to give students a better understanding of capital markets, global economic trends and fiscal policy. It is proven to advance students’ performance on math and economic tests and improves students’ and teachers’ personal financial behavior.

2020 Capitol Hill Challenge: Top 10 schools and their representative:

Ravenna High School, OH, Rob Portman.
Springbrook High School, MD, Jamie Raskin.
Vassalboro Community School, ME, Chellie Pingree.
Mat-Su Career & Tech Ed High School, AK, Dan Sullivan.
Burbank High School, CA, Adam Schiff.
Saline High School, MI, Debbie Dingell.
West Orange Stark High School, TX, Brian Babin.
Cosby High School, TN, Phil Roe.
Sunnyvale Middle School, TX, Lance Gooden.
Lubbock-Cooper High School, TX, Jodey Arrington.

To learn more about the program, visit the SIFMA Foundation’s website at:

Elvis fundraiser in Vassalboro

American Legion Post #5, in Waterville, will be holding an Elvis Concert fundraiser, on Sunday, July 26, from 2 – 4 p.m., at the St. Bridget Center, 864 Main St., in North Vassalboro. For tickets, call Craig Bailey at 313-8865, or Pearley Lachance at 873-0358. Advance tickets are $15, and they will be $20 at the door. It is recommended that you bring your own lawn chairs. (The  event  is  being  held  outside.)

Peaches are coming!

You need a break from the monotony. The Living Communities Foundation is bringing in big, drippingly-sweet peaches from northern New Jersey starting on July 31, with one or two more deliveries in August. The schedule isn’t set in stone yet, as details are still crystallizing. However, the first order has to be turned in and paid by July 24, so time is of the essence. The good news is that the price has not gone up! It’s still $37 for a 37 to 40-pound box or $23 for a half box. If you get together with friends and neighbors and order four or more boxes, you get a $2 discount per full box!

To order, email Connie Bellet at and mention your daytime phone number for confirmation, and a call when the peaches arrive. Or you can call her at 993-2294 and leave a message with your name, phone, and preference of which Friday you can best pick up your peaches. Checks may be made out to LCF and sent to P.O. Box 151, Palermo, ME 04354. The peaches will arrive at the Palermo Community Center, on Veterans Way and Turner Ridge Rd., across from the ball field. You’ll see the electric sign. Our volunteers will place your boxes in your vehicle. To maintain social distance, please stay in your car. As the delivery dates are firmed up, you’ll get further emails. Thank you for your support!!!

Proceeds from this sale will go toward maintaining the Community Center, repairing the roof, and paying ongoing bills. The COVID pandemic has put a big dent in our normal fundraising, so your support is greatly appreciated!

Ward rejoins Kennebec Federal Savings

Joshua Ward

Joshua Ward, who offers more than 20 years of banking and mortgage experience and who previously served as Branch Operations Manager at Kennebec Federal Savings, has rejoined the bank as a Loan Officer. In that capacity, he will assist customers with refinances, purchase mortgages, and home equity loans.

In addition to being KFS’ new loan officer, Ward is a Notary Public and a Dedimus Justice, a lifetime appointment he received from the Governor of Maine. Raised a “military brat,” he has lived in eight states and visited 22, but lives in the Waterville area because he likes Maine best.