Pine Tree Amendment citizens continue to advocate for protected rights

A multi-generational team of Mainers is campaigning for an amendment that would enshrine environmental rights in the Maine Constitution’s Declaration of Rights. The Pine Tree Amendment (PTA) is a proposed amendment to the Maine State Constitution that would secure the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment for all people in Maine, including future generations. This amendment would create a robust legal pathway for protecting Maine’s ecosystems.

On Friday, January 27, at a virtual lunch and learn event, Maine’s Environmental Priorities Coalition (EPC) announced the Pine Tree Amendment is again on their list of environmental priorities for this legislative session. The EPC is a partnership of 37 environmental, conservation, and public health organizations that “works together to identify important legislation and votes to determine their Common Agenda for each legislative session.” The EPC’s decision to include the Pine Tree Amendment among their legislative priorities for the second time suggests that this issue is important to Mainers and that the PTA has the capacity to make a significant impact in protecting Maine’s environment.

“The Pine Tree Amendment will encourage sustainable and forward-thinking development, industry, and business growth. It will also incentivize government officials to make decisions that will accomplish economic and business objectives while also protecting water, air, soils, food, forests, wetlands, climate, and other natural resources,” said Representative Maggie O’Neil, the House sponsor for the bill. “Our environment is critical to sustaining healthy, safe, and successful lives and economies, and Maine’s constitution should be reflective of that fact.”

In the 2022 legislative session, a bipartisan PTA bill (LD 489), with strong community-based grassroots support, and the endorsement of the Environmental Priorities Coalition and many Maine businesses, received strong support in the Senate but fell short of a two-thirds majority in the House. The Pine Tree Amendment will require a 2/3 majority vote in both chambers to be placed on the ballot in November as a statewide referendum.

“All people in Maine deserve the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment, and they deserve it now,” said Cole Cochrane, the Legislative Director for Maine Youth Action, a youth-led organization advocating for environmental justice in Maine. “This is truly the bare minimum in terms of what people in Maine should have for rights, and yet these rights are not stated or protected by Maine’s Constitution. The Pine Tree Amendment would change that, ensuring that these constitutionally protected rights are upheld by Maine state and local governments.”

Individuals and groups interested in learning more or assisting with the campaign can visit www.pinetreeamendment.org or contact pinetreeamendment@gmail.com.

Lindsay Hamilton is Carrabec’s Principal’s Award winner

Lindsay Hamilton

Lindsay Hamilton, daughter of Matthew and Marsha, of Clinton, a senior at Carrabec High School, in North Anson, has been selected to receive the 2023 Principal’s Award, according to Principal Peter Campbell. The award, sponsored by the Maine Principals Association, is given in recognition of a high school senior’s academic achievement, citizenship and leadership.

According to Campbell, Ms. Hamilton has distinguished herself in the classroom, on the basketball court, and as a leader in the school. She has a positive attitude, is hard-working, kind, and humble, all of which will ensure her future success.

Academically, Lindsay has challenged herself throughout her high school years. Her hard work and perseverance have made her one of the top students of the Class of 2023. Her eagerness and enthusiasm makes her a leader and a role model in our school.

Lindsay drives 45 minutes from Clinton every day to be part of the school community. Lindsay shines strong at Carrabec as she applies enthusiasm and passion into everything she does. Strong and focused, Lindsay has played an important role on Carrabec’s teams. She is a supportive team player, she holds and shows respect for all her teammates and coaches.

Ms. Hamilton not only thrives in the sports worlds, but is also an important member of Carrabec’s math team. Lindsay is also a member of the National Honor Society and was chosen as Student of the Month for her graduating class.

For all of these reasons, Mr. Campbell is proud to announce that Lindsay Hamilton is the Carrabec High School MPA Award recipient for 2023. Lindsay will attend an awards luncheon on April 1, 2023, where she will receive her award and be eligible to be selected for one of ten scholarships.

Madison Legion Auxiliary turkey pie sale nets $2,295

American Legion Auxiliary Tardiff-Belanger Unit #39, Madison, volunteers are hard at work preparing for the annual turkey pie fundraiser. (photo courtesy of Harriet Bryant)

Harriet Bryant, left, and Pam Daigle roll out the dough in preparation for the turkey pie sale.
(photo courtesy of Harriet Bryant)

The turkey pie sales were so popular last year, members of the American Legion Auxiliary Tardiff-Belanger Unit #39, Madison, decided to sell them again. Recently they made and sold turkey pies (162 to be exact) with the proceeds to benefit local food pantries. Reny’s of Madison donated 100 pie plates, Apple Tree Bakery gave discounted price for the pie boxes, along with members donating turkeys and many of the items needed such as flour, vegetables, shortening, etc., and their time making pies. After expenses, a total $2,295 was raised and was donated to five local food cupboards. This is another way the American Legion Auxiliary supports the community.

American Legion Auxiliary members have dedicated themselves for over a century to meeting the needs of our nation’s veterans, military, and their families both here and abroad. They volunteer millions of hours yearly, with a value of nearly $2 billion. As part of the world’s largest patriotic service organization, Auxiliary volunteers across the country also step up to honor veterans and military through annual scholarships and with Dirigo State programs, teaching high school juniors to be leaders grounded in patriotism and Americanism. To learn more about the Auxiliary’s mission or to volunteer, donate or join, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org or www.mainelegionpost39.org.

If you wish to join the Madison American Legion Auxiliary Unit #39 contact: Robin Turek, President – American Legion Auxiliary Tardiff-Belanger Unit #39, PO Box 325, Madison, ME – robinturek@gmail.com – 696-8289.

PHOTOS: Belgrade Central School students busy with projects

Publishing Party: Belgrade Central students in Mrs. Lachance’s fourth grade writing class recently invited parents and teachers into their classroom to share their realistic fiction stories. Student-authors started this writing unit by imagining stories that they wished existed in the world, developing believable characters, and plotting out a story arc. Then students drafted scenes that focused on using action, dialogue, and characters’ thoughts to bring their stories to life through the eyes of their readers. There were stories full of friendship, adventure, and beloved pets. These fourth grade authors were excited to share their publications with fans, and were impressed with the amazing turnout! Mrs. Lachance would like to thank all who came!

Scientific Writing: The second grade students at Belgrade Central School have been learning about how scientists write. The children learned that scientists ask a question about how the world works. Each child then came up with their own question involving force and motion. Next, students recorded a hypothesis for their question. They then learned to design an experiment to test their hypothesis and recorded their procedure. The second graders learned the importance of writing the details of each step, and also how to include drawings and labels to help other people recreate their experiment. After that, they conducted multiple trials and recorded their data. Finally, the results were analyzed and a conclusion was written. Learning about this new type of writing was challenging and fun! – Laura Dunbar, Second Grade Teacher

Spectrum ice fishing derby returns

Gene Letourneau

The Annual Gene & Lucille Letourneau Ice Fishing Derby will take place on Sunday, February 19, at the Muskie Community Center, 38 Gold Street, in Waterville. This mid-winter tradition for ice fishing enthusiasts and families is celebrating its 25th anniversary year! Established by Maine’s great outdoorsman and his wife, Gene and Lucille Letourneau, the ice fishing derby attracts people throughout the state to fish and compete for cash prizes.

Join in by fishing on any legal Maine pond or lake of your choice, then gather at the Muskie Community Center during the official weigh-in between 2 and 5 p.m. This multigenerational family event encourages ages 15 and under to compete in their own category. Cash prizes are awarded for first, second and third place for youth in ten fish categories and first and second place for adults in eight fish categories.

All are welcomed to attend and enjoy the fire pit, S’mores, hot cocoa, popcorn, cornhole, pool table, silent auction (from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and to purchase tasty food from Sheba’s Wicked Kitchen, of Oakland, at this outdoor/indoor event. Bring your young children to visit with Maine children’s author, Deborah Walder, and take home an autographed book (available for purchase; there will also be a couple of her signed books in the silent auction). Children’s arts and crafts and other activities will also be offered. At 3 p.m. join a chainsaw carving demonstration and visit with special guests Ryan, Ashley, Jedi and Dixie, from the Maine Cabin Masters, and Tom Welch, from Mainely Handrails. Two 25th anniversary specific items will also be available including a Fireside Camp Mug for purchase and a free anniversary cupcake provided by Cakes and Catering by Karen.

Ice Fishing Derby tickets can be purchased online and at several locations in Waterville and its surrounding areas including at the Muskie Community Center. Each ticket allows a fish entry and an entry into the door prize drawing for a Yeti Tundra Cooler and drink tumblers sponsored by Nale Law Offices. Tickets to enter a fish are sold only until noon the day of the event.

The Ice Fishing Derby is a fundraiser supporting the programs and services of Spectrum Generations including Meals on Wheels and other related services for older adults and adults with disabilities. To purchase tickets and review tournament rules please visit: https://www.spectrumgenerations.org/events/ice-fishing-derby. For more information contact Sandra MacDonald, Regional Center Director smacdonald@spectrumgenerations.org or call 207-873-4745.

Community response overwhelms the Bakos

by Connie Bellet

Ann and Peter Bako have given their time, energy, and resources to people of the greater community all their lives. Their tragic house fire of January 5th turned their lives upside down and prompted an avalanche of aid, which is desperately needed, but the couple feels a simple “Thank you” is not enough to express the depth of their gratitude. Sometimes it is harder to receive than give.

Much of the fundraising effort was captained by Mary Haskell and Cheryl Parkman, who headed up a team, which included the Palermo Grange, to put on a very successful benefit dinner at Erskine Academy. There is a long list of business donors who contributed gift cards that were raffled, including four for $100.00. Several tables full of other raffle items, including a Traeger Smoker and many homemade items helped to raise a hefty sum, and 50 pies and desserts were auctioned off. The 50/50 sum was returned in full to the Bakos by the winner, who prefers anonymity.

Other fundraising efforts are in progress on social media, and the Palermo Community Foundation has established a secure and tax-exempt donation portal, with 100 percent of the monies received going directly to the Bakos. Checks may be mailed to: Palermo Community Foundation, P.O. Box 151, Palermo, ME 04354. On the “notes” line, please write Bako 23.

Ann and Peter thank each and every donor personally, and as soon as they get a refrigerator, will cover it with the names of each donor, so they never forget the kindness of family, friends, neighbors, community members, and people who happened to see the story in the papers or online. The Bakos have moved into a trailer, which they are renting until they can rebuild on their property in South China. Several contractors have offered their services, as have a number of volunteers. Ann and Peter have promised quite the celebration when the new home is completed, and Ann has said that everyone who helped is invited.

Training virtual assistants to work from home in Maine

One-of-a-kind training program piloted by Kennebec Valley Community College

Kennebec Valley Community College has created and launched a one-of-a-kind training program for Virtual Assistants. An up-and-coming profession in the new world of remote work, virtual assistants support businesses and companies in marketing, administrative, and management tasks.

“Our goal is to train 45 virtual assistants here in Maine,” says Joe Musumeci, director of workforce training at Kennebec Valley Community College. “We hope to help fill hiring vacancies that many organizations are feeling, while also giving workers in rural areas a marketable skill and the ability to work remotely successfully.”

The training is part of the Remote Work for ME program through the Maine Community College System, which is also offering other occupational programs in jobs that can be done remotely. In addition to these occupational programs, Deputy Executive Director of Workforce Training and Remote Working Joshua Howe has created self-guided training around topics such as working in a remote environment and leading a team of remote workers.

“It’s anticipated that 30% of positions will continue to be remote even as we return to the office. Programs such as KVCC’s Virtual Assistant program allows Mainers access to good-paying jobs while balancing work and home more efficiently, and Maine employers get access to a much-needed workforce across Maine,” says Howe.

Through the Virtual Assistant Training program, trainees will receive a certificate in either project management or digital marketing. Trainees also gain experience in using a selection of modern web- based tools, communication techniques, and accessing business resources throughout Maine.

Each cohort of trainees is led through the 5-month training program by Monique Bouchard, who meets weekly with the group to provide support and expertise. Bouchard’s experiences as an entrepreneur, business mentor, and marketing communications consultant have given her an insider’s understanding of the skills needed to help support Maine’s business community.

“Programs like this are a triple win — providing opportunities for Mainers to learn and utilize needed, up-to-date skills that can not only support Maine’s startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem, and increase Maine’s overall economic potential,” says Bouchard.

Towards the end of the program, the virtual assistants will be tasked with completing a marketing or management project with a Maine-based business or start-up.

“We have opened an application to connect our virtual assistants to any local businesses with a project they would like completed,” says Musumeci. “We would love to help facilitate these connections and see it as a win-win for both the businesses and for the Mainers diving into work in this new field.”

Businesses and organizations can request help from a virtual assistant in KVCC’s training program at kvcc.me.edu/workforce.

Klondike derby held at Bomazeen

Troop #485 Scouts Derek Corson and Taylor Hayden, both of Skowhegan, show off the emergency shelter they put up while blindfolded. (photo by Mike Labbe)

by Chuck Mahaleris

Photo by Mike Labbe

The Klondike Derby drew Scouts from surrounding area towns and as far away as Boothbay Harbor and Gorham to the snowy fields and trails of Camp Bomazeen, in Belgrade, on Saturday, January 21. There were more than 100 Scouts and Cubs in attendance.

“I loved seeing all the scouts active and enjoying themselves,” said Klondike Director Julie McKenney, of Belgrade. She and volunteers spent months preparing two separate outdoor programs – one for younger Cub Scouts and one for Scouts in troops. The Klondike Derby is a fun-filled activity patterned after the days of the Yukon Gold Rush. Patrols build sledges like the early prospectors used as they hunted for gold. The members of each patrol serve as a team of huskies to pull their patrol’s sledge around the course.

Each patrol visited a number of stations, each having an Alaskan/Yukon town name. At each town the patrol was confronted with a problem requiring Scout skills to solve. Depending on how well the patrol works out the problem, determine the number of Gold Nuggets they received at that station. The patrol with the most gold nuggets at the end of the day was the winner..” Damariscotta Troop #213’s Bear Patrol won the overall program with Gardiner Troop #672’s Shark Bait patrol coming in second overall and Gorham Troop #73’s Burrito Patrol coming in third.

The sledges carried things needed by the patrol for the program such as cooking equipment, two gallons of water, two tarps, first aid kit, etc. The Scouts competed in activities such as fire starting, blindfolded shelter building, compass work, hatchet throwing, rifle shooting, big foot walking, etc.

“Scouts were given ahead of time a list of the right clothing to wear for the event,” McKenney said. “The goal is to have fun while outdoors. No one has fun if they are not dressed right for snow.”

Scott St. Amand, of Gardiner, ran the program for the Cub Scouts. “It’s awesome to see families coming out during a time of year when it’s easy to want to stay in, meet new people and make new friendships,” St. Amand said. “For the Cub Scouts, the s’mores making station was universally their favorite.”

Allison Dorr, a member of Winslow Troop #433G, demonstrates how to start a fire on snow in the woods. (photo by Mike Labbe)

Samuel Boynton earns Eagle Scout status

Sam Boynton, left, smiles as his mother, Jennifer Boynton, pins the Eagle Scout medal on his chest. (photo by Chuck Mahaleris)

by Chuck Mahaleris

Samuel K. Boynton, a senior at Erskine Academy, in South China, was presented with the highest award in Scouting during a ceremony Sunday, February 5 at the China Baptist Church with family, friends and fellow Troop #479 Scouts on hand for the presentation.

Troop #479 Scoutmaster Christian Hunter said during the ceremony, “The pathway to Eagle can be described as a steep trail leading up to three peaks, the highest being that of Eagle Scout. Officially, the trail starts with the Tenderfoot rank and continues through Second and First Class ranks. Then, the mountain climbing begins. The path is marked with merit badges, leadership responsibilities, service projects, and the practice of Scouting skills and ideals. The first peak reached is that of Star Scout, the second is Life Scout, and, finally, Eagle Scout.” Sam’s climb to Eagle began when he joined Cub Scouting in 2011. By September of 2016, he had joined Scout Troop #479. He completed all requirements for Eagle Scout rank on September 19, 2022, when he passed his Eagle Scout Board of Review – exactly six years after earning his Scout rank.

Hunter, who is an Eagle Scout himself, said, “The foremost responsibility of an Eagle Scout is to live with honor. To an Eagle Scout, honor is the foundation of all character.” Later he added, “Eagle Scout is not a patch, an award or certificate to hang on the wall. It is a way to live your life.” Samuel Boynton pledged to, “always obey the Scout law and help other people.” He promised those in attendance that he would work to “make my country and my community a better place.”

Boynton’s Eagle Scout project saw improvements to the Monument Trail, at Thurston Park. Sean’s parents were participants in the ceremony. Jennifer Boynton, Sam’s mom, pinned the Eagle Scout medal on her son’s uniform and Sean Boynton, Sam’s dad, replaced his troop neckerchief with one only worn by Eagle Scouts. Sam also received a Bronze Eagle Palm for earning five merit badges beyond the 21 required for Eagle Scout. Sam then presented his parents with Eagle Scout pins in recognition of the assistance and guidance they had given him through his Scouting career.

Samuel Boynton received a Legislative Sentiment from State Representative Katrin Smith, of Palermo, who attended the ceremony. He also received praise from members of the Congressional Delegation. U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree wrote in her congratulatory note, “Your hard work truly exemplifies the Eagle Scout spirit.” U.S. Senator Angus King stated in his letter, “You have set an excellent example for the members of Troop #479, and I hope your fellow Scouts will follow in your footsteps.”

PHOTO: Windsor Fair president receives award

Tom, left, is pictured with his wife Karen. Contributed photo

Windsor Fair shares that their esteemed president, Tom Foster, has been presented the Catherine L. Damren Distinguished Service Award by the Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs this past weekend at their annual conference. It means so much to see this award go to someone so deserving. Tom, a farmer himself, has been an asset to the agricultural and fair communities of Maine most of his adult life.