Waterville Creates announces plan to resume in-person programming

In response to Governor Mills’ Moving Maine Forward plan, Waterville Creates is thrilled to announce its plans to resume in-person programming at the Waterville Opera House, Railroad Square Cinema, and various outdoor venues. Waterville Creates’ reopening plan is gradual in its approach and will be guided by strict safety and public health practices and protocols, including social distancing, masking of all staff and patrons, and enhanced cleaning and air filtration systems.

“We are excited to return to our core mission of providing live, in-person arts experiences,” says Waterville Creates President + CEO Shannon Haines. “We also take our responsibility to protect our community very seriously, and we have developed safety standards and expectations for each of our venues that we will explicitly communicate and enforce in order to meet that responsibility.”

Based on the state’s guidelines, Waterville Creates plans to reopen the Waterville Opera House for rentals beginning June 1 to accommodate spring dance recitals. The maximum capacity of the Opera House with social distancing is less than 250, which is about 30% percent of the venue’s full capacity of 810 seats. “We are incredibly excited to open the Opera House doors and welcome performers back to the stage,” says Waterville Opera House Executive Director Tamsen Brooke Warner. “The health and safety of our patrons, staff, and performers is our top priority, so we will be asking everyone to work together to ensure a safe environment as we resume in-person programming.”

Railroad Square Cinema will open in July with the 24th annual Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) and will remain open with regular first run arthouse film programming after the festival concludes. MIFF, which will be held July 9-18, will also include screenings at the Waterville Opera House and the Skowhegan Drive-In. “While we were thrilled to be able to offer an in-person experience last year at the Drive-In, it was the first time in 23 years that we didn’t host the festival at Railroad Square Cinema,” says Maine Film Center Executive Director Mike Perreault, adding, “We cannot wait to welcome people back to the cinema, and MIFF24 is really the perfect way to do it.”

Plans for reopening Ticonic Gallery + Studios are still in development, in part due to very limited capacity with social distancing, but Waterville Creates anticipates reopening the gallery at the Hathaway Creative Center in the fall.

Waterville Creates will resume outdoor programming with Art in the Park, at the Downtown Waterville Farmers’ Market, from June through September. Art in the Park is a free artmaking programming designed to engage residents of all ages in fun, creative activities in a welcoming environment. Due to popular demand, Waterville Creates, in coordination with its community partners, plans to continue its Art Kits for All distribution program throughout the year. Preliminary plans are also underway to host the popular Waterville Rocks outdoor concert series, but this programming is dependent on the loosening of State restrictions.

Due to the pandemic, the Waterville Opera House rescheduled several concerts over the past year for dates in late summer and early fall 2021, including the Femmes of Rock on August 27, LeAnn Rimes on September 17, and the High Kings on September 30. Plans for these shows are dependent on further relaxation of social distancing requirements and other protocols. The Waterville Opera House will communicate any further event changes to patrons by website, email newsletter, and social media.

All venues will adhere to strict capacity limits based on state guidelines for percentage caps and social distancing requirements. Patrons will be required to wear masks at the venues while not eating or drinking and to participate in outdoor in-person programs. Waterville Creates staff will continue to follow the guidance of government and public health officials and adjust its reopening plans accordingly.

PHOTOS: Winslow youth baseball, softball gear up for season

Members of the Winslow Youth softball and baseball teams began practice on March 19. (photo by Missy Brown, Central Maine Photography staff)

From left to right, Adyson Lessard and Emma McCaslin practicing for the start of the season. (photo by Missy Brown, Central Maine Photography staff)

From left to right, baseball coordinator Jared Poulin, varsity baseball coach Isaiah Fleming and youth league president Beth LaFountain. (photo by Missy Brown, Central Maine Photography staff)

Madison drive-through sock hop big success

From left to right, Robin Turek, Auxiliary president, Sharon Ziacoma, Geraldine Jenks, Ann Cody, Nancy Misiaszek, Harriet Bryant, Holly Kinney, Irma Fluet and Grace Rollins. (contributed photo)

Members of The American Legion Auxiliary, Unit #39, of Madison, held a “Drive Thru Sock Hop” on February 27 to the beat of ‘50’s and ‘60’s music. With collection boxes, monetary donations and socks donated the day of the event, a total 1,289 pairs of socks were received. They well exceeded their goal of 100 pairs for the “100 Challenge” which is a challenge set forth by the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Maine president to help bring awareness of the American Legion Auxiliary’s 100th birthday. These socks will be distributed to homeless veterans, homeless shelters and others in need.

Big thank you to Reny’s and Family Dollar, of Madison, as well as Sun Rayz Tanning & Hair Salon, in Skowhegan, for displaying collection boxes ahead of the event. 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.

To learn more about the Auxiliary’s mission or to volunteer, donate or join, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org or http://www.mainelegionpost39.org/. Or contact: Robin Turek, President – American Legion Auxiliary Tardiff-Belanger Unit #39, PO Box 325, Madison, ME – robinturek@gmail.com – 696-8289.

Andrew Clark presented with Spirit of America Award at Albion town meeting

Albion Fire Chief Andrew Clark, left, accepts the Spirit of America Award from the town’s selectboard chairman Beverly Bradstreet during the Albion town meeting. (photo courtesy of Beverly Bradstreet)

The town of Albion presented its 2021 Spirit of America Award to Fire Chief Andrew Clark, by Board of Selectmen Chairman Beverly Bradstreet, at the annual town meeting, held on March 22.

Andy has been the Fire Chief of the Albion Fire Department since 2012 and a member of the department for over 20 years. Due to Andy’s diligence, the department has received over $1 million in grants in the last 20 years, receiving $410,000 in 2020 alone.

He has done this along with working full time as a fire fighter and EMT in the Scarborough Fire Department and in his “spare time” he has also earned a bachelor’s degree in fire science and a master’s degree in public administration.

Along with efficiently running and improving the Albion Fire Department, he has been instrumental in helping to make improvements in the Albion Town Office and Besse Building. Andy’s dedication to the town came across again in 2020 when Andy refused to take his stipend as fire chief and a stipend as a firefighter. He did this because he wanted to use that money in the fire department budget so he would not have to ask for an increase from Albion tax payers for his budget during a year of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Albion selectmen and town office staff thank Andy for his dedication to the Albion Fire Department and for his service to the town of Albion as this is what the “Spirit of America Award” is all about.

Watershed Based Management plan in the works for North Pond, part 1

Submitted by Jodie Mosher-Towle

The North Pond Association (NPA) recently hired Jennifer Jespersen, owner of Ecological Instincts (EcoInstincts), to prepare a grant on the association’s behalf to help fund a Watershed Based Management Plan (WBMP). The WBMP is a requirement for impaired lakes to be eligible for state/federal section 319 grant funding. The good news is that Maine DEP issues a competitive grant process each spring to fund one to two WBMPs statewide, and North Pond is eligible for these funds because it is on the Watch List and expected to be listed as impaired next spring.

The request for applications (RFA) was released on March 10th and required a 25 percent match which the NPA is providing. Local support from project partners will be needed to undertake this effort, and volunteers will be needed to serve on the Steering Committee. We will learn a lot about our lake and watershed as a result of this work with the goal of restoring water quality.

In 2016/2017 the NPA hired the same company to do the first ever watershed shoreline survey on North Pond where each property was numbered and deemed low, medium or high impact depending on the level of buffering or lack thereof on each property. A band of volunteers walked the perimeter of the lake and gathered information from shorefront property owners who opted to allow their shore fronts to be photographed. Based on months of data collection, EcoInstincts created North Pond’s Watershed-Based Protection Plan, which can be found on their website: www.northpondmaine.org.

Property owners whose shorelines were at medium or high levels were sent a notification in the mail sharing the findings and information on how they could make improvements for the sake of the lake. It is believed stormwater runoff into lakes is a major cause of nutrient overloading which in turn causes algal blooms. (More about making improvements to your shoreline in Part 2 next month.)

Following the severe algal blooms in North Pond in 2018 and 2020, the DEP added North Pond to their internal “Watch List.” The watch list is created for lakes that are on the cusp of being listed as impaired due to changes in water quality and/or experiencing nuisance algal blooms. As stated before, North Pond is expected to be added to the impaired lakes list in the Spring of 2022. Impaired lakes are lakes that are not meeting state/federal water quality standards due to nonpoint source pollution.

This opens the door for federal and state funding opportunities to help fund a Watershed-Based Management Plan (WBMP). The WBMP takes the planning effort to a new level which will help us to better understand the causes of the recent algal blooms. The plan development process will include a scientific assessment of the watershed (watershed modeling, water quality sampling, water quality analysis), to better define how much phosphorus is getting to the lake and what management measures are needed to prevent future algal blooms, improve water quality and get the lake back in balance.

EcoInstincts is developing this plan and is in the process of gathering all of the data necessary to complete it. The NPA must come up with a percentage of matching funds, monetary and in-kind, to help fund the WBMP. Once this is successfully written and accepted by the DEP, the NPA is eligible for 319 grant funding which would cover ongoing water quality data collection by volunteers of the NPA and Dr. Danielle Wain, of 7 Lakes Alliance, Dr. Whitney King and Colby College students, as well as members of the NPA’s Science Committee.

Since the 2016 survey, the NPA and 7 Lakes Alliance were awarded state and federal funding through two 319 grants and began addressing problems identified during the watershed survey. There are erosion control improvement projects happening this summer in Rome, Mercer and Smithfield, the towns around North Pond.

If you have a property you think may qualify for erosion control improvements, you are able to price match or give your time, and you live in Rome, Mercer or Smithfield, call 7 Lakes Alliance at 495-6039 and ask for Charlie Baeder.

Once the required nine elements for the Watershed Based Management Plan are collected and satisfied, then analysis of the data will occur. The NPA is working with the specialist in this field who has helped many lakes in Maine and around the world, Dr. Ken Wagner. Then, and only then, can any type of water quality remediation be considered for North Pond. The North Pond Association membership and all shorefront property owners will be asked to donate 2 percent of their camp’s tax assessed values to help raise the expected amount of over $1 million dollars to have any remediation executed as soon as possible. Fundraising for any remediation will begin once a plan is established.

The North Pond Association welcomes any and all to join them as members at www.northpondmaine.org where you will see “DONATE” on the upper right hand side of your screen. You may also find more information about the North Pond Association on their Facebook page.

2021 Ice Out winner!

The Town Line’s official ice out judge has ruled that ice went out of China Lake on March 30.

Therefore, Tricia Rumney, of China Village, has been declared the winner of the $25 gift certificate to North Country Harley-Davidson, on Rte. 3, in Augusta.

Waterville Rotary club wraps up successful grant program for food insecurity

In keeping with one of its goals, Waterville Rotary Club board voted recently to take $15,000 out of its reserves to offer grants addressing food insecurity in the greater Waterville area.

The Community Services Committee, chaired by KVCAP’s Michele Prince, was charged with developing grant criteria, an application and scoring process for the committee members to fairly evaluate the applications. The maximum possible allotment was $3,000 per application, and the request needed to be submitted by a 501c3.

Due to the demonstrated need in the area, the committee decided to contribute the total of its cups and fines donations for two months to this effort as well, allowing for a total contribution in grants of $15,534.

Eight applications were accepted, with the following list of recipients recommended by the committee, and ratified by the Rotary board:

  • Central Maine Gleaners:  Community Fridge Program with fridge located in Waterville and food available to all. Amount awarded: $1,950.
  • Waterville Area Essentials Closet & Starfish Village/First Congregational Church: Essentials Closet offers essential items to anyone in need in the greater Waterville area. Starfish Village helps homeless families and individuals with needs not met by other services. Amount awarded: $2,850.
  • Palmyra Baptist Worship Food Bank/Soup Kitchen: Purchase of commercial stove to continue food provision to multiple community residents. Amount awarded: $1,000.
  • Oakland Food Pantry: Serves residents of Oakland. No person in need of food turned away. Amount awarded: $1,384.
  • Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter: Offers bed nights and essential items to vulnerable and low-wealth Mainers in need of shelter. Amount awarded: $2,000.
  • Interfaith Resource Fund: Meets emergency needs of residents of Waterville and Winslow for housing, food, and other essentials. Amount awarded: $2,000.
  • Boys & Girls Club of Greater Waterville: Provisions of all day care, meals, snacks and weekend meal backpacks for area youth throughout Kennebec County. Amount awarded: $2,850.
  • Northern Light Health: Provision of food and essential items through Women’s Health. Planning expansion of services. Amount awarded: $1,500.

For more information about Waterville Rotary and its programs, visit the website at http://www.watervillerotary.com.

PHOTO: Waiting for the change

Central Maine Youth Hockey player Jamie Laliberty, 9, of Water­ville, waits for the next line change during the last game of the season against the Gladiators on March 20. (photo by Sarah Fredette, Central Maine Photography staff)

Augusta Cub Scouts learn about police forensics

Maine State Police Detective Hugh Landry was the guest at Augusta Cub Scout Pack #684, and showed the Cub Scouts how to get fingerprinted and spoke with them about forensics. (photos courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)

Maine State Police Detective Hugh Landry and Augusta Cub Scout Pack #684. (photos courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)

Town of Vassalboro 250th Anniversary Commemoration

Vassalboro Historical Society

The town of Vassalboro will begin the celebration of the town’s 250th anniversary on Monday, April 26, 10:30 a.m., at the Monument Park re-dedication. The schedule follows:

Opening Ceremony

  • American Legion Post 126 Chaplain prayer – James Kilbride;
  • Perspectives on 1771, Patsy Crockett, President, Kennebec Historical Society;
  • Monument Park, historical focal point, Jan Clowes, President, Vassalboro Historical Society;
  • The names on the monument, Lauchlin Titus, Vassalboro civic leader;
  • Recognition of Monument Park restoration work, John Melrose, Vassalboro Select Board Chairman.

Monument Park and the Vassalboro Historical Society, is located on Route 32, East Vassalboro. There will be a 100 person open air Covid limit. Masks are required.