Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce announces Joseph B. Ezhaya scholarship award winner

Olivia Varney

Olivia Varney, of Pittsfield, was selected as the scholarship recipient from a field of applicants.

Varney graduated this spring from the Maine Central Institute High School, in Pittsfield, class of 2024.

Varney was inducted into the National Honor Society and Honor Society for Visual & Performing Arts, as being involved with the student council and Key Club. Outside of her school activities, she has devoted time to a variety of service organizations, including the Paul E. Bertrand Community Pool house revitalization project, Coats Disease, Husky Throw Down, and the Town of Pittsfield Recreation Department.

Varney plans to continue her post-secondary education at Husson University, in Bangor, pursuing a degree in nursing.

Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce’s Ezhaya Memorial Scholarship Committee convenes annually to award the prize to a local graduating senior with an exemplary record of citizenship and community service. Applicants are required to submit an essay on their community involvement, and finalists are interviewed by the Ezhaya Memorial Scholarship Committee.

“We are very pleased to award the 16th annual Ezhaya Scholarship to Olivia Varney,” said Kimberly Lindlof, president and CEO of Mid-Maine Chamber and coordinator of the scholarship. “The committee chose Olivia from an impressive group of accomplished applicants, because her dedication to service and leadership truly reflect Joe Ezhaya’s spirit and generosity.”

The scholarship is awarded by Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce in memory of Joseph Ezhaya, a dedicated community volunteer, and successful candidates share his interest in citizenship and involvement. Recipients must be graduating from a high school in mid-Maine and attending post-secondary school in New England. Awardees receive a $750 scholarship after successfully completing one semester with a grade point average of 2.0 or higher. This amount will be awarded for up to four years, for a total of $3,000.

EVENTS: “No Spring Chickens” & prizes at Democratic lobster bake

New Harbor watercolorist Peggy Farrell’s Chickadee in Bean Boots will be one of many raffle prizes at the annual LCDC Family Fun Day Lobster Bake. (contributed photo)

“No Spring Chickens” – Two chicks with guitars, dynamic vocals, and lush harmonies” – will provide music during the Lincoln County Democratic Committee (LCDC) Family Fun Day Lobster Bake on Sunday, Aug. 4, in Waldoboro.

Linda (Blaze) Picceri and Michelle Tanguay, of Waldoboro, make up No Spring Chickens. From heartfelt originals to high energy covers, these two have entertained throughout New England for longer than they care to remember. Recently relocated to midcoast Maine, they are looking forward to connecting with new audiences.

The event will also feature three separate raffle opportunities through which guests can support LCDC.

Raffle tickets to win a “Treat for Two” dinner at the historic Turner Barn, on North Haven Island, will be available. The winning ticket will provide a pair of lucky guests with a boat ride to and from the island, complimentary cocktails, and a five-course, locavore family-style meal. Past winners have raved about every aspect of the evening.

Tricky Tray Raffle opportunities will also be available with prizes as varied as an original watercolor by New Harbor artist Peggy Farrell, a gift box of honey products from Barter’s Island Bees, French wines sourced by Walpole’s Chemins des Vins, a signed copy of Heather Cox Richardson’s Democracy Awakening, and other prize opportunities.

Mike Pander will be roving the site selling 50/50 tickets, always a favorite.

The Family Fun Day Lobster Bake is open to the public. The afternoon begins with a social hour followed by dinner at 1 p.m. Short speeches by candidates, representatives in government and special guests follow.

Online reservations can be made at https://lincolncountydemocrats.com/lobster by Wednesday, July 31. For those who would like to provide additional support for the event, host committee sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information, contact Bates at 207-644-8776.

The LCDC uses the money it raises through this and other fundraising initiatives to support its local efforts in Lincoln County.

Scholarships available for young musicians

The Kennebec Performing Arts Company encourages the participation of young musicians in its groups. Student members entering grades 9-12 are eligible to apply for the $500 scholarship for tuition to a summer camp or music program of their choice.

Victoria Hahn is the daughter of Ken and Kamala Hahn, of Fairfield. She has just completed her freshman year at the Ecology Learning Center, in Unity. Victoria began playing violin at age four, continuing for nine years. Two years ago, she began playing French horn, which is now her exclusive focus. She studies under Brittany Genness and has participated in various ensembles, including Mid-Maine Youth Orchestra, KPAC, Kennebec Valley Music Educators Association Honors Band, and Maine All-State Band. Victoria has attended the summer Bay Chamber Envision Program, and Maine Summer Youth Music Camp at the University of Southern Maine, where she will return this summer using her KPAC scholarship.

Victoria is a member of the KPAC Wind Ensemble, joining two years ago to have the opportunity to play challenging music.

“I really enjoy the community because everyone is extremely friendly and supportive of me as a musician. People often talk about how difficult the French horn is, but honestly, that is one of the reasons I like it. It is challenging and annoyingly finicky.”

Isla Granholm is the daughter of Sven and Elise Granholm, of Topsham. A home-schooled student, Isla will be starting her senior year this fall. She has been singing all her life and became a member of the KPAC chorus in September 2023. She credits directors Chuck Milazzo and Jason Giacomazzo, accompanist Christina Misner Rao, and the alto section for their guidance and encouragement.

“The chance to sing together with people who have the same deep love and passion for music is such a wonderful thing, and some of the best moments of my life have been when we finally get the harmony right and our voices just soar together.”

Since 2020, Isla has studied piano under Linda Craig, performing her first recital in April 2024 at an advanced level. She will use the KPAC scholarship to attend the Csehy Summer School of Music, in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, for two weeks this summer, where she will major in piano and participate in chamber choir and handbell ensembles.

AARP Awards Grants to two central Maine towns

AARP has announced 14 organizations throughout Maine will receive 2024 Community Challenge grants – part of AARP’s largest investment in communities to date with $3.8 million awarded among 343 organizations nationwide. Grantees will implement quick-action projects that help communities become more livable by improving public places; transportation; housing; digital connections; and more, with an emphasis on the needs of adults ages 50 and older.

Included in the recipients are the towns of Vassalboro and Skowhegan.

Town of Vassalboro – Raised garden beds with benches will be added outside Vassalboro’s municipal office. The new community garden will serve as an outdoor classroom and gathering space and will allow residents to grow healthy food.

Town of Skowhegan – This project will install directional signage and replace a deteriorated chain-link fence flanking an access trail, keeping walkers safely away from a steep river embankment. The town will also clear overgrown brush, plant flowers and install benches to create a pocket park.

This year, AARP awarded three different grant opportunities, including flagship grants, capacity-building microgrants for improving walkability, bikeability and accessible home modifications, and demonstration grants that focus on equitable engagement to reconnect communities, housing choice design competitions and improving digital connections to endure disasters.

The grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which supports the efforts of cities, towns, neighborhoods and rural areas to become great places to live for people of all ages, with an emphasis on people ages 50 and older.

Since 2017, AARP Maine has awarded 71 grants and $472,438 through the program to nonprofit organizations and government entities across the state.

AARP Community Challenge grant projects will be funded in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. True to the program’s quick-action nature, projects must be completed by December 15, 2024.

Mya Williams senior class president at Lawrence High School, in Fairfield

Photo by Ramey Stevens, Central Maine Photography

Mya Williams, Lawrence High School, in Fairfield, class president, graduated top 10 in her class. Mya has had a dream of being a teacher since she was little. Mya will be attending University of Maine at Farmington for education, and plans to come back to MSAD #49 to be a teacher and give back to the community that inspired her. She is an inspiration to the youth of our community, and helps to coach PAL youth in soccer. Mya is also the assistant director for the Summer PAL Program.

Nonagenarian writes book, shares at reading in Palermo

Ninety-year-old Jeannette Scates reads from her book, There Wasn’t Always Peace in the Valley. (photo by Andy Pottle)

by Mary Grow

Nonagenarian Jeannette Scates signs one of her recently published books. (photo by Andy Pottle)

Guest speaker Jeannette Wood Scates shared excerpts from her recent memoir, There Wasn’t Always Peace in the Valley, with an appreciative audience at the Palermo Library’s 22nd annual board meeting, held July 14 at the library.

The valley is Hostile Valley in eastern Palermo, where Scates and her three older siblings grew up in the house their father built around 1930. The book’s cover photo shows the Wood children: Allen, Jeannette on the lap of older sister Rachel and oldest brother Harry, with their dog, Teddy.

Asked how Hostile Valley got its name, Scates referred to a poem quoted in the book written by her “Grammie Wood,” more formally Theresa Alice Bickford Wood, when she was a columnist using the byline Molly Malone for the Kennebec Journal, in Augusta. The last two lines read:

Every Valley man has a kindly heart
And a gol durned Hostile tongue.

The book is a collection of stories and memories, from which Scates read selections, to applause, smiles and chuckles. She started with the one she called her daughter’s favorite, titled “Worldwide Travelers.”

This story tells how the travelers started with take-out from “an eatery place called ‘Mama’s Kitchen,'” where they stocked up on molasses cookies with sugar on top and soda crackers with butter and mustard. They agreed on who would drive first, and on a destination – often Boston, perhaps as far as New York, where they admired the Stone Lady in the harbor.

The story ends: “We all piled out of the old, abandoned, junk car in the backyard – AND WE WERE HOME AGAIN!” Below is a photo of a rusty two-door station wagon, glassless, with ragged fenders, amid hood-high weeds.

Illustrations throughout show family members, neighbors and other memorable figures, including the rooster who used to chase Rachel and one of Harry’s Herefords, with Harry and Rachel. Asked about the pictures, Scates said many were taken with her Brownie Hawkeye camera that Rachel gave her for her 16th birthday.

Right after the travelers’ tale is the story of Scates’ father’s 40th birthday gift to her mother. She explains that her mother had no sled, nor snowshoes, nor skates, and so was left out of the children’s winter play.

Her father somehow found the money to buy his wife a pair of skates “with silver runners” and a pair of warm stockings. He gave one skate or one stocking to each of the four children to present simultaneously.

One of Scates’ father’s jobs was driving a snowplow for the town. The book shows the “Cleartrac Tractor with a Sargent Snowplow and wings” that the town bought in 1939 and “Daddy” drove.

Themes running through the book include an appreciation of the natural world and its changes, an appreciation of family and friends and an overriding optimism. Scates does not pretend life was easy. Everyone, children included, worked hard; money was scarce; her father died when she was eight years old; and after a long, happy marriage she is a widow.

Yet she wrote in the next-to-last essay in the book, “I have been through some hard times, but I can say that the biggest part of my journey has been so rewarding and special!” In addition to generations of family and friends, she credits the Lord “who has walked beside me most of my life, and when the times got hard, He carried me as He had promised He would do.”

Asked if there would be another book, Scates was hesitant. Asked about plans for her 90th birthday, which she was to celebrate July 16, she and her son, Rudy Scates, gave vague replies. Audience members sang Happy Birthday to her, and library personnel had prepared a special birthday treat.

EVENTS: Photo contest and exhibition planned in Washington

In celebration of the natural beauty of Washington, the Washington Lakes and Watershed Association (WLWA) is sponsoring its Fourth Annual Photo Contest and Exhibition.
You are invited to explore and submit photos of the  natural aspect of Washington waters or watershed and taken between July 1, 2023 and July 1, 2024. Entry deadline: July 22.
Photos will be on  the exhibition at the Corner Gallery, 302 Liberty Rd,. Washington, August 4 – 9, and at the WLWA Annual Meeting, August 10, Medomak Family Camp.
Awards for winners and second place in each of four divisions plus a People’s Choice Award for the photo with the greatest number of votes.
For full information re the rules, entry forms, and last years entries, go to www.washingtonlakesassociation.org.

AARP Maine seeks Andrus Award nominations

AARP Maine is seeking nominations for its 2024 AARP Andrus Award for Community Service, which honors individuals 50 and over who share their experience, talent, and skills to enrich the lives of others in their community. The annual award is named after AARP’s founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, who founded AARP in 1958 at the age of 73.

“AARP Maine is excited to shine a light on Mainers 50+ who are using what they’ve learned to make a difference in the lives of those around them,” says Noël Bonam, AARP Maine State Director. “AARP has long valued the spirit of volunteerism and the important contributions AARP volunteers make to their communities and neighbors.”

The screening of nominees will be performed by a panel of AARP staff and volunteers. The panel will review a range of criteria including each nominee’s positive impact on their community and the lives of individuals aged 50 and over.

AARP Andrus Award for Community Service nominees must meet eligibility requirements including:

• Nominees must be 50 or older, but do not need to be an AARP member or a volunteer with AARP;
• The achievements, accomplishments or service on which nominations are based must have been performed on a volunteer basis, without pay;
• The achievements, accomplishments or service on which the nominations are based must reflect AARP’s vision and mission;
• Couples or partners who perform service together are eligible; however, teams are not;
• The recipient must live in the awarding state; and
• This is not a posthumous award.

The AARP Maine Andrus Award for Community Service is an annual awards program developed to honor individuals whose service is a unique and valuable contribution to society. Last year, Falmouth resident Phil Chin was the recipient of the award.

For more information about AARP and our work in Maine, please visit their website at www.aarp.org/me and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @aarpmaine.

EVENTS: China Historical Society going back to school

Members of the China Historical Society (2023). (photo by Roberta Barnes)

photo source: JMG.org

by Bob Bennett

The China Historical Society will be hosting a remembrance and tour of the 75-year-old China (Middle) School following the annual meeting on Thursday, July 18. It is intended these activities will begin in the gym of the building, on Lakeview Drive, at about 6 p.m. Head Custodian Tim Roddy has offered to be the tour guide and though there is some on-going work, he is confident there will be plenty of access. The memories of the attendees will be voiced in the gym and it is hoped that many students, teachers and other China residents of all ages will be on hand to share their experiences. From previous messages and postings, it appears this event is generating quite a bit of interest and enthusiasm, and the CHS is looking forward to a fun and reflective evening; please put it on your calendar!

PHOTO: July 4 boat parade on Sheepscot Lake attracts over three dozen entries

(contributed photo)

The Annual July 4th Sheepscot Lake Association boat parade was a great success, with 42 boats and a jet ski participating. The Grand Marshall this year was Eileen Kirby, longtime resident and founding member of the lake association.