Area competitors in recent karate showcase

Students from Huard’s Martial Arts collected funds for the Battle of Maine, to benefit Help Save Children’s Lives Project. Together, these young martial artists raised close to $5,000 to help support the Children’s Miracle Network.

Photo by Angela Poulin, Central Maine Photography staff

The 37th annual Huard’s Battle of Maine Martial Arts Championships were held on March 25 at Thomas College, in Waterville. Over 350 competitors from all over New England and Canada, and lots of specttors, enjoyed a full day of martial arts demonstrations, competition and friendship. The battle has raised over $75,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network and that total keeps rising each year. At left, Huard’s Sport Karate Demo team performances Mikey Stewart, left, of Fairfield, and Landon Nunn, of Skowhegan, show some Bo staff during the opening Battle of Maine Demo.

Photo by Tawni Lively, Central Maine Photography staff

Helped raise funds at Battle of Maine

Carlie Brook, left, of Freedom, was among the group that raised funds for the  Children’s Miracle Network Foundation. Pictured with Carlie is Caitlin Brooke, foundation specialist at Eastern Maine Health Services. Photo courtesy of Mark Huard

Learn about new trails in Unity

UNITY —  The 47-mile Hills-to-Sea Trail is complete with an expected opening this spring. Join Buck O’Herin and Tom Mullin of the Waldo County Trails Coalition on Wednesday, April 12 to learn about this new footpath from Unity to Belfast.  Find out about the history and building of this inspiring project and how you can get involved to support this community resource.

The talk is part of the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust’s monthly speaker series, “Restoring Connections to Place,” featuring a wide variety of conservation topics of interest to Maine. The programs are free and open to the public at 6:30 p.m., the second Wednesday of every month at the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust office, 93 Main St., Unity.

Other speakers in the monthly “Restoring Connections to Place” speaker series:

Wednesday, May 10. Ecologist Aleta McKeage, of Belfast, will present on invasive plants, one of the primary threats to environmental health that we face today. Invasive plants take over natural areas, crowding out native species and changing wildlife habitats.

On Wednesday, June 14, Lessons from Avian Haven Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center: A Citizen’s Guide to Helping the Birds of Maine. Laura Suomi-Lecker, education and outreach coordinator, will discuss common reasons why birds are admitted to Avian Haven Wild Bird REhabilitation Center, in Freedom, and what citizens can do to help our local birds.

FMI: 948-3766.

Kaitlynn Pelletier participates in choir tour

Kaitlynn Pelletier, of Waterville, will tour Pennsylvania and New York with Lebanon Valley College’s Concert Choir. Pelletier, a graduate of Messalonskee High School, in Oakland, is pursuing a bachelor of science and bachelor of arts in music education and music.

The 81st annual tour will run from Sunday, March 26 through Saturday, April 1, and will conclude with a performance in Frederic K. Miller Chapel on the college’s campus, in Annville, Pennsylvania. Students will perform vocal selections that related to this year’s theme of “From Hardship to Harmony” under the direction of Dr. Matthew Erpelding. All proceeds collected during the tour support a charity of each host church’s choice.

Abigail King earns student-athlete recognition from the NFHCA

Abigail King, of Benton, was one of 11 Worcester Polytechnic Institute, student-athletes to be recognized by the NFHCA for their work in the classroom, in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Abby King returned to the list of National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Scholar of Distinction honor while 10 others were also named to the National Academic Squad and the team earned its 13th consecutive National Academic Team Award.

All three awards are based on GPA during the fall semester of the current academic year.

PALERMO NEWS: “Merchants of Doubt” exposed on Friday

PALERMO — On Friday, March 31, the Palermo Community Center will host another monthly potluck Dinner-and-a-Movie event, starting at 6 p.m. This one comes from the director of Food, Inc. Merchants of Doubt takes audiences on a satirically comedic , yet illuminating, ride into the heart of the conjuring world of spin doctors. Filmmaker Robert Kenner reveals a secretive group of highly-charismatic, silver-tongued pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities – yet have the aim of spreading maximum confusion about well-studied public threats from toxic chemicals and pharmaceuticals to climate change.

Bring a dish to share with friends and neighbors, or a donation to the Food Pantry. The event is free and open to all. The Community Center is just off Turner Ridge Rd., across from the ball field. For more information, please contact Connie at 993-2294.

Local students achieve dean’s list at UMF

The following area students have achieved dean’s list status at the University of Maine at Farmington, in Farmington:

Chelsea: Kassidy Frost and Tricia Tzikas; Fairfield: Katlyn Champagne, Holden Cookson, Katie LeBlanc, Hannah Tompkins and Lauren Wadleigh. Freedom: Christina Hall; Jefferson: Allison Fortin and Bridget Humphrey; Liberty: David Mallow; Madison: Alexis Lanctot and Rebekah Powell; Oakland: Mara Balboni, Natalie Corrigan, Tyler Creasy, Harley Davis, Derek Guerette and Christopher Knight; Palermo: Nicole Glidden; Sidney: Spencer DeWitt, Chelsey Oliver and Shawna Oliver; South China: Tyler Belanger, Marissa Chamberlain, Gage Currie, Simon Rollins and Rebecca-Ann Severy; Unity: Donna Chason; Vassalboro: Brianna Benevento, Nathan Bowring, Sean Cabaniss, Benjamin Cloutier, Alicia Stafford and Abbe Waceken; Washington: Olivia Vanner; Waterville: Molly Brown, Avery Isbell, Christa Jordan, Mattie Lajoie, Jacob Montgomery, Kara Patenaude, Sarah Ringer, Lydia Roy and Jinni-Mae Workman; Whitefield: Jordan Bailey, Katherine Newcombe and Emily Russell; Windsor: Victoria Condon; Winslow: Morgan Clark, Kayla Davis, Megan Denis, Mariah Greatorex, Sara Jackson, Stephanie Michaud and Christina Taylor.

Understanding the importance of town meeting

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY

by H David Cotta
China resident and former state legislator

In just a short couple of days the town of China will be conducting the China town meeting. This meeting is held each year and at times I wonder if the citizens of China fully appreciate the form of government that the town meeting represents.

The town meeting form of government is the most democratic form of governance. Some not familiar with this form of governance and may believe that the town manager is the executive of the town of China and the town is governed by the select board, but neither is true. The governing body in China is the town meeting where the citizens cast a vote to direct the actions of the select board. At the start of the meeting the citizens in attendance elect a moderator who must conduct the meeting according to Roberts Rules of Order. Proposals, which are referred to as Articles, are presented for the people to approve or disapprove. The articles can also be amended.

I guess the best way to describe the town meeting form or governance is the people hold all the power to govern. The select board can only do what the people authorize the board to do (of course, the people can not direct the board to take illegal actions). It is at the town meeting where the people, by their vote, guide the course of their town and the actions of their elected town officials. The town manager is hired by the select board and works for the select board within statutory guidelines the town meeting is the most direct and equal form of governance. This form of governing is only as good as the level of participation by the citizenry, and there in lays the proverbial “fly in the ointment.”

Apathy is a stern heartless master and can only survive by inaction of the good people of our town. We all have our lives to lead and life has a habit of getting in the way of what we planned or intended to do.

Several (30+/-) years ago the level of participation at the town meeting had declined to the point that the people established a quorum which was a percentage of the number of voters who voted in the last gubernatorial election which must be present to open the meeting and conduct business. The quorum for this upcoming meeting is 126 voters which when you think, represents 126 of over 2000 voters who voted in China during 2014.

So what happens when there is minimal turnout at the town meeting? Each vote on the floor of the meeting represents many who did not attend the meeting. The citizens that chose not to attend will have no voice in the process, so the town governance will be by a small minority. Additionally, the result of low voter participation could take a couple of forms.

First, the direction given to the select board (municipal officials) may not be representative of the town as a whole. Second, would be to consolidate power which can be a matter streamlining the conduct of business but at the cost of the checks and balances that we as citizens are afforded. Granting an expanded range of powers to the administrators is not good governance. Some indicators of the “Flying by the seat of your pants” are reflected by comments by the auditor clearly stated in the 2015 report – (China 11-10-15) addressing the lack of internal controls. Further, the select board meetings are not recorded which can and has lead to a discussion of what was stated in a motion during previous meeting. Clarity, transparency and accountability is lost.

In closing I would encourage all citizens of China to attend the town meeting. Please provide your officials the insight and guidance of the citizenry. If you have questions do not hesitate to ask because your select board and others are there to answer questions. I hope I will see you there. Thank you.

Speaking for China Lake: the lake’s perspective

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY

by Scott Pierz
President, China Lake Association

At the China Lake Association (CLA) mid-winter meeting held February 16, 2017, CLA board members voiced concern over the town’s placement of several warrant articles at the upcoming open March town meeting. These particular warrant articles are designed to seek approval of a series of proposed revisions to the China Land Development Code and its Land Use Ordinance. These proposed changes were just defeated less than six months ago at the November 2016 election. Some CLA board members believe the proposed changes “severely relax” the local Shoreland Zoning Ordinance and diminish the town of China’s Home Rule Authority on several issues that have been in-place for decades.

Included in our meeting’s discussion was why the selectmen would deviate from the town’s long-standing tradition of placing ordinance revisions before the voters at an annual November (or June) ballot election where the voter-turnout is significantly higher than the open March town meeting. The open March town meeting is customarily a discussion for approval of financial appropriations to operate the town’s budget, and most people will not recall a time when the open March town meeting sought approval of ordinance “changes” at this forum over the last 25 years. These proposed changes came as “recommendations” from the planning board, but it is still the selectmen’s warrant and the selectmen can move forward with their warrant articles as proposed, it is their prerogative. But it is unprecedented, and it seems to many that this circumvents tradition, relying on an extremely limited number of quorum voters (126 by number) rather than the numbers of voters who turn out in a November (or June) ballot election vote (often more than 1,000). Also, the articles appear at the tail end of the warrant and people know that the crowd thins out to even less than the quorum requirement as most of our open March town meetings go on for hours.

This could mean that it is likely that even less people will have voting power on the warrant at that time, substantially less than the number of people who defeated the same proposed changes at that November 2016 election. Of course, someone could move to advance the articles to an earlier portion of the meeting so that at least a majority of the voters present can decide on these important changes. The town’s strategy to gain approval for these proposed changes leaves many folks wondering why this avenue was taken if not to “push through” the proposed ordinance changes without much resistance (if any at all). If true, this is just very disappointing given that the changes are complicated, and probably not too many voters at the open March town meeting will have a thorough knowledge of or completely understand the nature of the changes and their ramifications on China Lake and its water quality.

By way of example, here’s one of the comments from a CLA board member: “The Town (and others) have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to improve water quality in China Lake by reducing the phosphorus loading to the lake. The proposed amendments will increase the phosphorus loading and thus will undo work that has already been accomplished and will make future efforts both more expensive and difficult. The town is voting to spend 3/4 million to improve access to the lake; along with that should be a commitment to improve water quality, not degrade it. As a lake that does not comply with water quality standards, the town which derives substantial economic benefit from [China] lake should not be allowed to pass ordinances that allow more phosphorus into the lake to mirror DEP’s relaxed shoreland zoning guidelines.”

The comment is directed at the town and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and a set of “relaxed guidelines” the DEP is proposing for local communities to consider. Please know that these are “proposed” guidelines, and towns can always chose a stronger set of rules and regulations to manage their shoreland zoning codes. Over the last few decades the town of China has had a set of shoreland zoning standards stronger than any community in the region, and one reason for these stricter standards being in-place for so long is to protect our environment, and especially China Lake.

A close examination of the proposed changes shows a serious digression from the current shoreland zoning regulations that have been in place for decades, so much so that they represent a potential negative impact to the water quality of China Lake.

Here are some of the downsides to the proposed changes the voters are being asked to consider:

  • The elimination of volume in determining expansion for shoreland principal structures (causing structures to increase their impervious surfaces and creating more storm water runoff and phosphorus into the lake). The town’s current practice requires the review of both footprint and volume thresholds (along with detailed record keeping the town has maintained for the last 25 years). This would be a significant reversal in policy and would allow shoreland properties that have already maxed out their expansion limits based on volume to continue to expand using only the footprint of a residential building(s) on a property.
  • The allowance to combine the footprint of existing non-conforming shoreland accessory structures with existing principal residential structures. This would allow even more expansion of a principal residential structure. In some cases this could be in very close proximity to the lake (again, more expansion, more runoff, and more non-point source pollution into China Lake without any plan to mitigate phosphorus from entering the lake);
  • A revision to the current timber harvesting standards that have been in-place for decades and have been integral to the local enforcement that the town has maintained over the years. It is vital that timber harvesting activities have a local steward since sound timber harvesting practices are essential to immediately prevent water quality impacts from timber harvesting activities in China Lake’s watershed;
  • The relaxation of seasonal conversion standards, allowing more year-round conversions, more activity in shoreland districts, more impact on local services, and with the potential of restricting property owners to only occupy their properties during certain months of the year.  Questions include: What is the rationale for this proposed change? How many properties would be affected?
  • The allowance of additional exemptions to the clearing and vegetation removal standards, thereby reducing areas required to be buffered. Vegetative buffering is essential to water quality as the CLA is promoting through its LakeSmart Program; and
  • A new proposed change that was not on the November 2016 ballot concerns the conditional use requirements reviewed by the planning board for commercial development. The proposed change seem to remove the planning board’s responsibility to make “findings of fact” as it reviews each criteria for conditional use applicants. If this is the case this may not be quite legal as Superior Court cases have rested upon the mandate that the findings-of-fact are critical to the review of a development proposal. The court’s position has respect to the rights of the abutters to know and understand the ramifications of development proposals in their neighborhood and the potential impact on their “peaceful use and enjoyment” of their personal homesteads and local environment.

There’s no “sugar coating” the proposed changes; overall the proposed changes do not seem to be in the best interest for China Lake’s water quality. The China Lake Association’s Mission is to protect China Lake. It is not enough to say that the DEP provided these “relaxed guideline changes” to the towns and so the town of China should (or must) adopt such drastic changes. As citizens we would leave behind our town’s well-maintained existing rules and regulations, along with our long-standing Home Rule Authority that has existed for decades.

As president of the China Lake Association it is an obligation to represent my constituency and inform the public on these matters. Although represented here are the thoughts of many of those present at our mid-winter meeting, they may not represent everyone’s opinion. As for me, I can only speak for myself. It may be that the proposed changes are adopted by the minimal number of voters who turn out at the open March town meeting, but this could represent a big step backwards. I will only repeat what I was quoted as saying in The Town Line newspaper last year: “I can’t tell anyone how to vote, I just know I’m voting “NO.”

Scott A. Pierz, President
China Lake Association

Dustin Crawford receives MPA principal’s award

Dustin Crawford, son of Marlene Crawford, of Anson, and William Crawford, of Hartland, a senior at Carrabec High School, has been selected to receive the 2017 Principal’s Award, according to Principal Timothy Richards. 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 Mr. Richards, Mr. Crawford excels in many areas at Carrabec High School. As a top ten student he stands out with his enthusiasm for learning and his positive attitude. He is hard-working, kind and humble, all of which will ensure his future success.

Academically, Dustin has challenged himself throughout his high school years by taking Advanced Placement courses and Honors classes, with holding a GPA of 97.72. His eagerness and enthusiasm make him a leader in our school.

Dustin shines strongly in sports at Carrabec as he applies that same enthusiasm and passion into three sports, soccer, basketball and baseball, being captain in all three. Fast, strong, focused and intense, Dustin has been an MVC All Star in all three sports. He is a supportive team player, he holds and shows respect for all his teammates and coaches.

Crawford not only thrives in the academic and sports worlds, but is also a member of the student council for his class, National Honor Society, JMG, member of the Captains Club and was December’s Student of the Month. Dustin also officiates youth basketball games.

Dustin will attend an awards luncheon on April 1, where he will receive his award and be eligible to be selected for one of five scholarships.