EVENTS: Harvest season at the Ecology Center in Unity

We are fueled by what we eat and at the Ecology Learning Center, we eat well!

Grounded in Maine’s landscapes, we oriented our first 4-year cohort with trips across the state. Engaged in learning, we involve students in preparing and serving all meals. Focused on interdisciplinary learning, we tackle the complicated reality of our food system from all angles.

The High School

The high school’s theme for the fall trimester is Food Systems, meaning that all classes are exploring the interdisciplinary complexities of where and how our food gets to people.

Students help prepare their own meals daily and the ingredients have come from local partners, such as Unity’s Farm Drop, Ararat Farm, and Overland Farm.

Looking back to the school year beginnings, we also wanted to share from our first Orientation Trips!

The new ninth graders hiked the Hills to Sea Trail to the MOFGA Fairgrounds for a night of camping.

The 10th grade traveled to Temple to stay with the Maine Local Living School, fully immersed in their harvest and meal preparation.

Juniors traveled down to Port Clyde and Tenants Harbor for a Sea Kayaking adventure.

The first class of Seniors embarked upon a sailing and hiking trip around Penobscot Bay.

Bridge Program

Opening Day for the 2022-2023 Bridge Program is September 29. We have 12 families this year and a new Program Coordinator, Esther Williamson.

One of the three legs of the Ecology Learning Center, the Bridge Program holds the same mission and dedication of rooting students in place and honoring the food that sustains them.

Community Programming & Events

Applefest: Friday, September 30

Each year they host a fall celebration with a contradance, music, field games, costume contest, and much more. Stop by between noon and 2 p.m., at the Field of Dreams, for fall fun!

Stone Soup Supper: Friday, October 21, 4:30 – 7 p.m.

Tickets on sale only through October 10, buy yours now at the Ecology Learning Center, in Unity, Marsh River Cooperative, in Brooks, The Green Store, in Belfast, or Meridians, in Fairfield. Adults tickets $15+ and children tickets $10+ on sale now.

Fiber Arts Circle: Weekly on Tuesdays, 4 – 6 p.m., at the Unity Public Library

Join them with your craft to work alongside others! Bring something you are working on or are hoping to learn. See details here.
Woodworking Workshop: Saturday, November 20, 10am

Join their woodworking teacher and experienced woodworker, Doug Lakin, for a carving workshop and take home your own spoon. Workshop will be capped at 12 participants, so sign up now! $5 entrance fee for supplies and $20 suggested donation for instruction. Cash or check accepted. Please RSVP.

Broader Community News & Events

Unity Public Library continues to host fun and informational events – follow their Facebook Page for more information!

Buy their student-designed T-shirts, at the Green Store, in Belfast.

Check their website and Facebook Page as more events are added. They will be starting up more as we enter warmer weather!

Want to host a workshop? Planning an event and looking for a partner? Have a skill you want to share? Email community@ecologylearningcenter.org.

Slasons observe 66th anniversary

Frank D. and Diane E. Slason, of Somerville, recently celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. A small celebration was held at the Heritage Rehab & Nursing Center, in Winthrop, where Mrs. Slason is a resident.

EVENTS: 2nd Annual Veteran Christmas Stockings

On Memorial Day, members of American Legion Post #126, in Vassalboro, went to each veteran monument and bridge on Oak Grove Road, placed a wreath and played taps. Pictured, from left to right, James Kilbride, Kevin Labrie, Robert Whitehouse and Donald Breton. (photo courtesy of Rachel Kilbride)

Members of Vassalboro American Legion Post #126 plan to donate 200 Christmas stockings to veterans at Togus, in Augusta. Sew for a Cause made and donated 200 Christmas stockings for this project. The stockings will be filled with personal care products and snacks. Anyone wishing to donate personal care items, snacks or monetary gifts can contact James Kilbride, adjutant for American Legion Post #126, at 616-3148.

Empower your financial future with a Credit Union

New Dimensions Federal Credit Union in Waterville, Maine.

On October 20, 2022, New Dimensions FCU will join over 56,000 credit unions worldwide to celebrate International Credit Union (ICU) Day®. The theme of ICU Day 2022 is “Empower Your Financial Future with a Credit Union.”

ICU Day highlights the many ways that credit unions across the world help members improve their financial health and well-being. On October 20, NDFCU will give away a variety of NDFCU swag and “Empowerball” tickets in appreciation of their members. Members who visit will receive their “Empowerball” ticket, which will enter them into a drawing to win a $50 VISA gift card. New Dimensions FCU will announce five winning ticket numbers on their Facebook live the following day (October 21) between 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Those five winners will be notified via telephone on Friday as well. Tickets are FREE and will be available at all three branch locations (lobby or drive-thru). Please note that each location will have a limited number of tickets available.

New Dimensions FCU invites members and nonmembers to visit on October 20 at their Waterville, Winslow, or Skowhegan branches and celebrate this day. They will be sharing event highlights on social media using #ICUDay.

EVENTS: AYCC to host Cornhole Cornucopia benefitting the Unified Champions Club

Alfond Youth & Community Center will host a fundraiser for The Unified Champions Club on Friday, October 14, at Purnell-Wrigley Field, in Waterville. Unified Champions Club serves adults with disabilities by providing them with sporting and recreational activities, events, and clubs in a fully inclusive community-based format. This will be Unified’s third-annual cornhole tournament fundraiser.

The tournament is sponsored by The Maine Masonic Charitable Foundation and The Sukeforth Family Foundation. The round-robin style tournament, run by Wicked Cornhole, guarantees each team at least four games in either a competitive or social bracket. There will be cash prizes and raffles, as well as the Proper Pig food truck.

Many additional sponsors from last year are also returning this year, including Central Maine Motors Auto Group, MaineGeneral Health, One River CPAs, and the Waterville and Fairfield Masons.

“After high school, there aren’t many sporting or recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities,” said Unified Champions Club coordinator Alex Carey. “Through the generous support of our sponsors and community members at events like the Cornhole Cornucopia, we are able provide inclusive and engaging opportunities for everyone.”

To register a team for the fundraiser, please visit the Alfond Youth & Community Center website. Tournament information and registration will be found under the special events tab. Unified Cornhole Cornucopia Tournament alfond-youth-center.

Monument Trail at Thurston Park improved by Eagle service project

A photo of the Scouts, leaders, family and friends at the monument that worked on the trail, from left to right, front row, Jennefier Boynton, Scout Samuel Boynton (in front of the stone), Leader Sean Boynton. Second row, Leader Mike Choate, Scouts Nick Choate, Nathan Choate, Brady Newell, Kameron Rossignol, Leader Derek Rossignol, Scouts Bryson Pettingill, Isaac Audette, Kaiden Kelley, Leader Kern Kelley. Third row, Leader Scott Adams, Ross and Genevieve Hall, Scoutmaster Christian Hunter, Leaders Lee and Danielle Pettengill.

by Chuck Mahaleris

Samuel Boynton, from Boy Scout Troop #479, recently completed his Eagle Service Project. The goal was to recover a poorly kept trail in Thurston Park, in China. Thurston Park is nearly 400 acres of forest with streams and waterfalls, diverse wildlife, and cultural and historical landmarks with 5.2 miles of trails in the northeast corner of the town of China.

The trail’s name is the Monument Trail and his project included clearing the trail, removing a large fallen oak tree, and painting new (red) blazes to make the trail safer and more accessible for the public. The Monument Trail (0.24 mile long) is a ridge top trail that provides access to an 1838 monument stone marking the China-Albion-Palermo town borders. This also marks the boundary between Kennebec and Waldo Counties.

Family, friends and other Scouts helped Samuel to complete his project on August 6, 2022. China residents as well as others will benefit as they will be able to locate the monument. Stop by Thurston Park and take a look at this worthy Eagle project and view the historical monument.

Photos courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris

The monument trail is well marked with a red blaze on trees to keep hikers from getting off the trail.

The three town monument stone: C – for China – the back side has 1838 and P for Palermo – the left side has A for Albion.

Central Maine scouts attend camporee in Cobscook/Moosehorn

Christopher Bernier, Camp Director of the Camporee, leading the opening ceremonies, at Cobscook, for the camporee. (photo courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)

by Chuck Mahaleris

Scouts from all over Maine – with the largest contingent from Kennebec Valley District – garbed as brave knights, powerful wizards, elven maidens and stealthy rogues descended upon Cobscook Bay State Park, in Edmunds, for the 60th anniversary Cobscook/Moosehorn International Camporee on the weekend of September 16-18.

The event, organized by Christopher Bernier, of Winslow, and his staff, saw more than 100 Scouts and leaders competing in such themed events as Shield Decorating, Pennant Competition, Axe throwing, Catapult, “‘Tis Merely a Flesh Wound” (First Aid), Tug-o-War, Archery, mounted obstacle course to rescue the Princess, and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch (Shot put throw to destroy the evil stuffed rabbit).

Bernier said, “The Cobscook camporee has been in the works for a year and could not have happened without all of the staff who came together to pull it off. The weather cooperated and everyone had a blast.” Some traveled three hours or more to attend the highly-anticipated program that has become the longest, continuously-run annual Scouting event in the nation.

Declan Noyes, of West Gardiner, is a Cub Scout in Gardiner Pack #672. He said that his favorite part of the weekend was the Scavenger Hunt where each troop scoured the woods and the edge of Cobscook Bay looking for magic items of tremendous power or weapons to help them in their battles against evil. “I also liked looking out at the ocean,” he said.

Daniel Deprez, of Gorham, recently joined Troop #73 and this was one of his first Scouting events. “There was a lot of fun stuff to do,” Daniel said. “I’m having fun.” He dressed as a brave knight for the weekend’s challenges.

Isa Russell, of Randolph, is a member of Troop #2019. “I think dressing up in costume and being in character is my favorite part,” said the maiden of Scouting.

Other activities included cooking challenges and costume competitions.

Connor Files earns Eagle Scout rank

Eagle Scout Connor Files at the Skowhegan Federated Church.

by Chuck Mahaleris

Skowhegan has one new Eagle Scout after Connor Files received Scouting’s highest rank during a ceremony at the Skowhegan Federated Church, on Sunday, September 25.

Connor pinning the Eagle Scout Mother’s Pin on his mom Margaux Files after she had pinned the Eagle Scout medal on her son’s uniform.

“My Eagle Scout project,” Connor said, “included mapping trails in the Coburn Woods and installing an informational kiosk for the Somerset Woods Trustees.” Connor, son of Darren and Margaux Files, of Skowhegan, is 16 years old and attends Skowhegan Area High School.

State Senator Brad Farrin, of Norridgewock, was one of the 70-plus who attended the ceremony and praised Eagle Scout Files for his “excellence in skills development, leadership, personal growth, and community service” while presenting him with U.S. flag that had flown over the State of Maine Capitol Building, along with a legislative sentiment.

Connor loves to be outdoors. Besides Scouting, he enjoys downhill skiing, mountain biking, hunting and fishing. “Connor is an extremely hard worker,” said his father and former Scout Master Darren Files. “He is always eager to help. His mother and I never have to ask him to do something twice. He makes parenting easy. Sometimes teens find it difficult to balance everything they do. Connor does a great job finding the balance between work, Scouts, soccer, skiing while also maintaining high honors in school. We couldn’t be prouder.”

Eagle Scout Gage Morgan provided the Eagle Scout Charge to Connor and reminded him, “The foremost responsibility of an Eagle Scout is to live with honor. To an Eagle Scout, honor is the foundation of all character.”

Rev. Mark Tanner provided the invocation and benediction and praised Connor not only for his Scouting work but also for the care and nurturing way he interacts with both the younger scouts in the troop as well as his own brother, Nolan.

Connor said, “Scouting is a great opportunity not only to get kids out into the wilderness but also teach them fantastic life skills that will take you far in life.”

Photos courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris

Brothers Nolan and Connor Files show off some of Connor’s Pinewood Derby cars.

EVENTS: Vassalboro community supper returns to the grange

Holly Weidner, far right, demonstrates how to make DIY cleaning products at the Vassalboro Grange, in June 2022. (contributed photo)

by Gillian Lalime

For many years grangers in Vassalboro celebrated fall’s bounty with a harvest supper featuring food items such as a pig roast, international foods, homemade bread, and seasonal pies. Since the start of 2020 in-person programming has been limited and in some cases, completely ceased. This October the East Vassalboro grange once again opens its doors and will host a Fall harvest supper. The menu will use all locally sourced ingredients, from wheat and apples to dairy, vegetables and meat all grown or raised on nearby farms.

 This year’s supper is especially important since the Grange is in great need of replenishing their funds. Unable to run programming for two years, the financial reserves which go to maintaining building costs such as insurance, electricity, and water are at an all-time low. The Harvest Dinner is organized by a core group of grange members who will be harvesting, gleaning, processing, cooking, and baking foods for the next month.  The Vassalboro grange is using the event to re-ignite a programming based in agriculture, rural-living, and self-sufficiency, which goes along with their mission and values for fostering a vibrant rural community and economy in central Maine.

Historically the grange was a hub for multi-generational gathering and agricultural education in addition to a community center offering dances, workshops, and events like plays and local meals. Back in June there was a Strawberry Social with a talk given by longtime grange member Holly Weidner on how to make “zero waste” or plastic-free cleaning products such as laundry soap, dish detergent, and personal care body products. Attendees snacked on homemade biscuits topped with strawberries from Full Fork Farm and whipped cream from Two Loons Farm (both in China) while Holly demonstrated alternatives to purchasing soaps that normally come in plastic containers. Recipes for folks to do the same at home were handed out at the end.

Continuing in the spirit of knowledge sharing and hands-on community gathering, leading up to the Harvest Supper will be a day of making applesauce and sauerkraut made with fruit from Lemuix’s Orchard in Vassalboro and cabbages gleaned from local gardens and farms like Mistybrook in Albion.  There will be an afternoon of cider-pressing on the front lawn and a Saturday of folding savory dumplings.  All food prepped in these sessions will be served during the dinner on October 22nd, an occasion that celebrates the bounty we are surrounded by this time of year. Events are open to all ages and abilities!

For anyone interested in participating please see the Grange’s October Event Calendar below. All take place at the East Vassalboro Grange Hall: 357 Main Street E. Vassalboro, ME 04935. Anyone wanting to learn more about the grange, crush their apples into cider, and meet new neighbors are encouraged to come!

Sunday, October 2: 5 pm: Philosopher’s Table. Discussion topic: Land Ethic and the expansion of an ethical community to include parts of the ecosystem.

Thursday, October 6th: 2-6 pm: Sauerkraut & applesauce making. Please bring your own sharp knife, cutting board, and a large mixing bowl if you have these items!

Saturday, October 8th: 9 am – 5 pm: Dumpling making day. We especially need hands for this day, even if you can only come for a few hours.

Sunday, October 16: 2 pm: Grange monthly community event –– Cider pressing! Bring your apples and containers to fill with cider.

Saturday, October 22: 6 pm:  Harvest Dinner is served! Tickets are $20/person. Pre-ordering is required.

Saturday, October 29: 6:30-10 pm: Fifth Saturday Contra Dance with a potluck and pumpkin carving.

Dennis Keller is NAIFA-Maine J. Putnam Stevens award recipient

Dennis Keller, LUTCF

The J. Putnam Stevens Award is given to the person who has rendered outstanding service to their industry and community in the State of Maine. Dennis Keller, of Palermo, has been in the insurance industry with State Farm Insurance since 1985 and joined the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) shortly after that. He has mentored countless agents throughout the years, has achieved many awards and milestones with State Farm, is a 20-year veteran of the United States Air Force (retired). He is devoted to his family, church, community and office staff, all of whom have been recipients of his generosity as he graciously and often sacrificially shares his time, wisdom, resources and energy.

He has achieved many other awards and milestones with State Farm, including Chairman’s Circle, Honor Club (for 36 consecutive years), Mutual Fund Leader, and Zone Senior Vice-President Club.

Dennis is a member of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce, an ardent supporter of Special Olympics Maine, and a benefactor for the Fair Haven Camps, in Brooks. He recently spearheaded a fundraising campaign collecting over $10,000 to help the camp rebuild after a fire. Dennis is a perennial volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and as the oldest member on a recent build, was the first to volunteer on the roof.

Dennis and his wife, Miriam, reside in Palermo. They have two grown children, Misty, of Palermo, and Matthew, of Knoxville, Tennessee, and five grandchildren in Maine and Japan.

J. Putnam Stevens was born in Winthrop, Maine, on November 24, 1852. He was appointed General Agent of the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company on September 1, 1887. Throughout his more than 46 years of service, he was intensely loyal to his fellow associates, to the industry and to his company.

The J. Putnam Stevens Award is given to the person who has rendered outstanding service to their industry and community in the state of Maine. It is not intended to restrict the award only to agents and/or advisors, but rather to recognize those people, even outside the industry, who have advanced the cause of the life insurance profession.