Local scout troop conducts food drive

Local Scout Troop 479 collected over $480 in canned and dry food, and over $450 in cash donations over the Friday and Saturday before Easter.


Madison Bodine, right, reconnected with his former kindergarten teacher Ann Austin, during the food drive he helped spearhead for the China Food Pantry.

Boy Scout Troop #479, of China, did some good this past Good Friday and collected food and donations to support the local China Food Pantry.

Led by Scoutmaster Scott Adams, with committee member Priscilla Adams, Assistant Scoutmasters Matt and Madison Bodine, and scouts Nick Shelton, Tucker Leonard and Misha Littlefield, the team prepared ahead of time by creating a fundraising flyer and posting a notice for volunteers on the troop’s Facebook page. Then early Friday morning the good Samaritans set out on their mission of Easter love.

They worked tirelessly all day Friday and most of Saturday, collecting over $580 in food and $451 in cash donations!

“It was very rewarding to support the China community in this way,” said Madison Bodine, “and it was nice to reconnect with Mrs. Austin, my former kindergarten teacher.”

Ann Austin, who has run the food pantry for more than 25 years with her late husband, Lee, was blown away by the generosity.

“Such a pleasant surprise!” she said. “There’s a lot of need this time of year for something most of us take for granted. Madison and his scout troop have changed a lot of lives this Easter season!”

The China Community Food Pantry is located at 1320 Lakeview Drive in China Village, and is open Friday and Saturday, noon – 1 p.m. For more information, or to donate, please call 968-2421, or email Ann Austin at lee.ljaustin@gmail.com.

Squaring off in Skowhegan

Winslow youth wrestler Owen Vigue, 6, left, gets ready to compete with Madison youth wrestler Lacie Madore, at a recent tournament in Skowhegan.

Winslow youth wrestler Owen Vigue, 6, left, gets ready to compete with Madison youth wrestler Lacie Madore, at a recent tournament in Skowhegan.

Photo by Kevin Giguere, Central Maine Photography staff

Winners at Battle of Maine

Huard’s Sport Karate team members, from left to right, Tyler Bard, of Fairfield, Tyler Martin, of Winslow, and Haeden Landry, of Vassalboro, all captured first place titles at the Battle of Maine Martial Arts Championships on March 25.

Huard’s Sport Karate team members, from left to right, Tyler Bard, of Fairfield, Tyler Martin, of Winslow, and Haeden Landry, of Vassalboro, all captured first place titles at  the Battle of Maine Martial Arts Championships on March 25.

Photo by Mark Huard

Palermo Consolidated School honor roll

High honors: Cody Devaney. General honors: Lily Bray, Wyatt Bray, Nickolas Christiansen, Timmy Christiansen, Eric Cochran, Jacob Devaney, Jessica Giguere, Grady Hotham, Hallee Huff, Rachel Huntoon, Bo Johnson, Moira MacDowell, Richard Mahoney, Adalyn Mann, Holden McKenney, Sophia Pilotte, Kaden Porter, Karen Potter, Lilly Potter, Riley Reitchel, Kinsey Stevens, Paige Sutter, Aidan Tirrell, Jackson Tirrell, Lily Vinci, Savannah Weymouth and Sam York.

Erskine seeks host families for international students

CHINA – The administrators of Erskine Academy, in China, invite those interested in hosting an international student in their home for the 2017-18 school year to an informational session to be held on Thursday, May 11, at 6 p.m., in the Erskine Academy Library. The program needs host families from the Erskine Academy service area of China, Vassalboro, Windsor, Augusta, Whitefield and Palermo. Attendees will learn more about the international student program, the host family experience, monthly compensation, and how to become a home stay placement for next school year. All are welcome to attend. For more information, please contact Assistant Headmaster John Clark at jclark@erskine247.com.

Vassalboro News: Public hearing planned for revised sanitary district charter

by Mary Grow

VASSALBORO — At the April 6th Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting, selectmen and Sanitary District trustees discussed the revised sanitary district charter that town voters will be asked to approve or reject at the June 5th town meeting.

Selectmen scheduled a public hearing on the document for Thursday evening, May 4. Town Manager Mary Sabins suggested a hearing on proposed revisions to Vassalboro’s shoreland ordinance the same evening if the date is acceptable to the Planning Board.

Raymond Breton, chairman of the sanitary district board, said the current charter dates from 1972. The trustees had an attorney prepare the revision to bring the charter up to current standards.
Selectmen had questions about whether the revised charter matches actual practice. In other business April 6, board Chairman Lauchlin Titus congratulated public works employee James “J.J.” Wentworth on receiving a Road Scholar award for participation in state training sessions.

Sabins explained that the Road Scholar designation, granted by the state Department of Transportation, is the “highest achievement of public works employees,” equivalent to certification for a town clerk or a town manager. To earn Road Scholar status, a public works employee must attend ten workshop days, seven mandatory classes and three optional, sponsored by the department’s Local Roads Center.

Public Works Director Eugene Field attained his Road Scholar certification in the spring of 2014, Sabins said.

Selectmen awarded two bids. The cemetery mowing bid went to Scott’s Property Care, of Oakland, the company which did the work last year for the same price, $24,500, Sabins said. The 1984 fire truck was sold to David Saunders, of Orland, highest of seven bidders, for $4,125.25. Board members unanimously agreed that the transfer station will be closed Sunday, April 16, for Easter.

They approved and signed a letter asking the school board to take time to advertise future vacancies, instead of filling them immediately.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting will be Thursday evening, April 20. The budget committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday, April 13, and if necessary again on Tuesday, April 18, to make recommendations on proposed town meeting expenditures.

CHINA NEWS: TIF group asks who will supervise expenditures

by Mary Grow

CHINA — China TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Committee members spent their April 10 meeting discussing who should supervise expenditures approved at the March 25 town meeting and what additional projects the committee should consider.

Since the TIF Committee is an advisory body, members thought they should not implement programs. However, several said, the groups that do implement programs should keep the committee, and town selectmen, informed, especially if projects change.

The largest appropriation from TIF funds was up to $750,000 over three years for the causeway project at the head of China Lake. After a long discussion, committee members agreed the first step is an RFI (Request for Information) to selected engineering firms asking for proposed design and build plans. Committee members Frank Soares and Stephen Nichols will write the RFI. The revolving loan fund for businesses, for which voters authorized up to $25,000, should be the selectmen’s responsibility, committee members said. The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments is slated to administer the program, under town guidance.

The $20,000 appropriated for the Alewife Restoration Initiative and the $40,000 for Thurston Park should be spent by the respective groups heading the projects, ARI and the Thurston Park II Committee.

Soares, who is president of the Four Seasons Club, said a small part of the $50,000 previously appropriated to the club for trail work is being reallocated to rebuild the dock at the swimming beach off Lakeview Drive opposite the town office. Volunteer work took care of some of the planned trail expansion, he said, freeing up money to extend trail improvements and for the dock. Other potential TIF Committee projects include public access to China Lake, a community center, senior housing and expansion of access to broadband internet service. China’s Lake Access Committee has been inactive since voters rejected its proposal to buy the former Candlewood property. Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux mentioned two other properties that might be available in the future; Soares said the Four Seasons Club would consider leasing its beach to the town..

Committee member Dale Worster said he preferred to develop the public beach where it would be best for the town, not where property is available. His initial idea of buying a large parcel in South China village including the present boat landing was not supported. He now proposed seeking willing sellers of land at the north end of the lake, west of the causeway, either including or adjoining Church Park.

Committee member Robert MacFarland reminded the group that China owns a small parcel off Lakeview Drive, opposite the end of the road that used to connect Lakeview Drive and Hanson Road at the Bog Road intersection. He was authorized to look into clarifying the extent of the town’s property there.

Suggestions for a potential community center included the former Fairpoint building on Route 3 and the present China Middle School, if the school department is able to consolidate China’s elementary education in an enlarged China Primary School. Neither property is likely to be available soon. Senior housing would require transportation, committee member Amy Gartley suggested. Committee member and Selectman Irene Belanger said residents responding to a recent survey were not enthusiastic about taxpayer-funded transportation.

L’Heureux said the newly-formed Broadband Committee is looking into expansion of internet service. Worster recommended expansions feature buried cable, which he said is much easier to maintain than overhead cable.

The meeting ended after a moment of silence in memory of the late Albert Althenn.

Pastor Morrell honored for longtime Boy Scout commitment

China Baptist Church Senior Pastor Ron Morrell, left, the newest “Scout” in Kennebec Valley District, with China Troop #479 Scoutmaster Scott Adams. Contributed photo

China Baptist Church’s Senior Pastor Ronald E. Morrell Sr., was honored on March 25 for his outstanding support and long-standing commitment to the programs of the Boy Scouts of America. The Scouts invited Ron to preside over the invocation for their district awards banquet at the Waterville Elks, and then surprised the affable minister by making him an “Honorary Scout” because he lives his life following the the Scout Oath and Law in his daily practice already. The China Baptist Church is home to Boy Scout Troop #479 under the leadership of Scoutmaster Scott Adams.

The Waterville Elks were also honored by the Scouts for their organization’s steadfast commitment to support not only Scouting but other worthy community groups. Receiving the award for the fraternal order was Exalted Ruler Alanson P. White III.

Central Maine homeschoolers present Shakespearean play

The Maxwell children, of China, in full costume, left to right, Andrew as Solinus, Ian as Antipholus of Syracuse, Abigail as Luciana and James as the Second Merchant. Photo courtesy of Eric Austin

by Eric W. Austin

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to catch the final showing of The Southern Maine Association of Shakespearean Homeschoolers (SMASH) production of The Comedy of Errors. After months of rehearsal (and surviving two blizzards!), and a previous weekend of public performances already under their belt, the cast hadn’t lost any of their enthusiasm for the material. Directed by Pastor Sam Richards, of Winthrop, it was truly amazing to see these kids, ages K-12, remember all their lines without a hitch!

Four members of the Maxwell family, of China, had significant roles. Ian Maxwell, the only 12th grader in the cast, shone in the lead role of Antipholus of Syracuse. His dramatic flair brought immediacy to the performance and his delivery of the slightly archaic Elizabethan lines was spot on. Ian will be attending Eastern University, in Pennsylvania.

Abigail Maxwell fit her part as blushing Luciana perfectly, as well as serving as apprentice director. Andrew Maxwell was imperious as Solinus, and James Maxwell showed his inner thug as the Second Merchant.

And who can forget Johnathan Batchelder, of Vassalboro, who tied the entire play together with his gravitas portrayal of Father Time?

Johnathan’s mother, Larisa, served as production manager.

For those who aren’t English majors, The Comedy of Errors is one of Shakespeare’s more farcical comedies, filled with puns, word play and mistaken identity (as well as Shakespearean staples like false accusations of infidelity, theft, madness, and demonic possession). Basically, it’s about two sets of twin brothers who are separated at birth. One set of twins later travels to the town where the first set lives, and soon everyone is confused, mistaking one set for the other as much iambician mayhem ensues.

More Mel Brooks than Richard III, it’s a complicated plot based almost entirely on the confusion of all involved, but the young thespians pulled it off with aplomb. Their spirited performances kept me entertained even when I was sharing the confusion of the story’s characters.

This year, the addition of microphones, for some of the younger actors, was a great improvement over last year, when I often struggled to hear the lines of the quieter cast members.

SMASH is a small theatre group comprised of homeschool families from the far reaches of central Maine and was founded by Sam Richards in 1993. DVDs of shows from the previous three years (Merchant of Venice, 2015; Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2016; and Comedy of Errors, 2017) are available for a small donation of $3 per DVD, or $7 for all three plus $1.50 shipping. Just email someshakespeareanhs@outlook.com or visit http://smashmaine.jimdo.com/ for more information.

Wildlife Park opening April 15

The Maine Wildlife Park, located on Route 26 in Gray, will open for the 2017 season on Saturday, April 15th at 9:30 am – just in time for the Patriots Day holiday on Monday, April 17th and school vacation week!

Park staff has been working diligently to remove enough snow for paths to be cleared, most wildlife exhibits to be open, and the parking lot and access road passable! The turtle ponds may still be frozen over and the nature trails may have too much snow on them to be passable, but visitors will be excited to see a new beaver in her pond in the furbearer exhibit!

A variety of new and returning weekend events are planned for the season, beginning Saturday May 6th with a ‘Creatures of the Night’ display, associated with the Park’s newest exhibit featuring nocturnal animals.

Further on through the season you can practice Archery and Laser Rifle target shooting, meet Game Wardens and Warden authors on Warden Service Day; experience Mr. Drew & his Animals too; learn about Portland’s famous International Cryptozoology Museum or enjoy a ‘night visit’ with Northern Stars Planetarium. The Bug Man, New England Mineral Association, Wildlife Encounters, Enchanted Forests and Honeybees will return and be featured as Saturday programs. Favorites like the annual Open House, Pow Wow, Chainsaw Artists, and Rick Charette will all be back as well. And Harvest-Fest will be expanded to 2 full weekend days in October. Plan to purchase your Family Season Pass now so you don’t miss any of the fun; and be sure to pick up an Event Calendar! Keep up with current photos, stories and events on Facebook too.

Many families cannot wait to visit their favorite animals after the long winter, but close to 30,000 followers have ‘kept in touch’ with our wildlife via Facebook over the winter, ‘liking’ and commenting on photos posted of our wildlife as they adapted to winter snow and cold. But everyone’s ready to see the moose, bears, lynx, cougar, eagles, owls, and more again in person!

For more information about any of these programs, please call the Maine Wildlife Park at 207-657-4977; or visit us online at www.mainewildlifepark.com, www.mefishwildlife.com or on Facebook!