China neighborhood donates to school

In an effort to enrich and support their local community, the Greater Neck Road Neighborhood Association recently donated to the China Middle School’s new shower facilities in the athletic locker room. Funds and various personal hygiene items were collected and presented to School Nurse Bonnie Newcombe, left, by Marie Michaud, who is one of the board members of this tax exempt community building group. (Contributed photo)

South China’s Fieldstone Quickstop under new ownership

The Fieldstone Quickstop in South China. (photo from Google streetview)

Maritime Energy buys convenience store from long-time owner Thad Barber

by Eric W. Austin

The Fieldstone Quickstop in South China, at the intersection of Routes 32 and 3, located at 190 Route 3, has recently been sold to Maritime Energy.

Thadius Barber, a resident of China for all but four of his 48 years, purchased the establishment from Mike Rocque in 2004. It was just the right time for a sale, he explained in an email.

“I owned [and] operated the store for almost 17 years. [I’m] mostly going to miss our amazing customers and the best employee family I could ask for,” said Barber. “Thank you, town of China. Thanks to my wife, Darlene, and my four amazing children.”

What’s next for Barber? “Gonna lay low for a while or until life gets back to normal,” he said. “I will describe it as a temporary retirement.”

The new owners, Maritime Energy, with the main office headquartered in Rockland, is a local Maine company with five offices and 12 other convenience store locations across Midcoast Maine. “We generally try to have stores in the same area as our energy offices,” explained Charon Curtis, Vice President of store operations for the company, in a phone interview. One of their energy offices is a short distance east from the Fieldstone Quickstop, on Route 3.

Curtis said they are not planning big changes for the location. Gasoline sold at the pumps will still be branded Sunoco, and they will continue to sell Amsoil products. The Dunkin’s coffee counter will also remain. The Subway sandwich shop, which closed in December of 2020, will not return, but Maritime plans to offer their own selection of pizza and sandwiches.

“We have our own Lighthouse Delis,” said Curtis, “and Terry Haskell, the store manager there, is a very good chef and she is putting her finesse on our sandwiches. We did not keep the Subway franchise, but we’re basically doing all that Subway offered and more.”

Knox-Lincoln spring plant sale catalog and online ordering are here

Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District’s 2021 Spring Plant Sale Catalog is now available in print and online! Plants are available for pre-order only, either online or by mail through Monday, April 12. This year we are offering safe scheduled curbside pick-up of your order on Saturday, May 8 at Union Fairgrounds. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, there will be no cash & carry items and no public sale this year. Quantities are limited so order early – and often – for the best selection!

This annual spring fundraiser provides more than 180 varieties to choose from: bareroot fruit trees and berries for the home orchard and garden; native conifers, deciduous trees, shrubs and vines for conservation, wildlife, and landscape enhancement; and native, organic, Maine-grown perennials and herbs in 1-gallon pots for pollinators. The plant list includes new varieties in all categories as well as tried and true favorites. As always, the print catalog offers descriptions of the plants and cultural requirements to aid in choosing the right plant for the right place. Plant care fact sheets and additional information, including plant images, may be found in our newly updated online store and website.

Don’t wait – visit www.knox-lincoln.org/spring-plant-sale to download a catalog or to shop online; call 596-2040 or email julie@knox-lincoln.org to receive a catalog by USPS – and, think spring!

Drive thru sock hop in Madison

Madison American Legion Auxiliary is sponsoring a Drive Thru Sock Hop, at Madison American Legion at the back entrance facing Reny’s, on Saturday, February 27, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Donate new socks for homeless veterans, homeless shelters and others in need. Men’s, women’s, teenagers, children – warm socks and every day socks.

Members of the auxiliary will be outside waiting for donations with ‘50-’60s music.
If you can’t make the Sock Hop, there are drop off boxes at Reny’s and Family Dollar, in Madison, as well as at Sun Rayz Tanning & Hair Salon, at 171 Waterville Road, in Skowhegan.

If you are unable to get to the drop off locations or the Sock Hop, monetary donations are accepted and they will purchase the socks. Make checks payable to Madison American Legion Auxiliary, earmark Sock Hop, and mail to Madison ALA, P.O. Box 325, Madison, ME 04950. For more information, contact Harriet at 635-2051.

Valentine’s Day is a day of caring for people we care about in all the ways of love

by Gary Kennedy

Valentine’s Day or St. Valentine’s Day is referenced as the feast of St. Valentine and is celebrated on February 14. This is a day set aside for the acknowledgement of love and affection. But it wasn’t always that way.

Saint Valentine, of Rome, was a third century Roman Saint known for courtly love and is also the patron saint of epilepsy. How these two events, disease and courtly love, became paired I haven’t a clue. However, St. Valentine began in C.226 at Terni, Italia, Roman Empire. St. Valentine the man had a short life, approximately 42 years but was a bishop and a martyr of the Catholic Church.

St. Valentine was credited with many miracles. Bits and pieces of his life were archived in the church and catacombs of San Valentino, in Rome, which was a site of importance all through the middle ages. Eventually these artifacts were transferred to the church of Santa Prassede, during the pontificate of Nicholas IV. His skull is on display with a crown of flowers at Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Other relics were taken to Dublin, Ireland, where they remain to this day. This location is still very popular for those seeking romance. Actually, there were two St. Valentines, St. Valentine of Rome and St. Valentine of Terni. A history can be made for both men and both reached Martyrdom. Unfortunately, the church of the time, and for some time after, used the two martyrs’ in different ways which made the two the most confusing of the saints.

In any case we aren’t searching for the religion here but the symbolic romantic notion. Love birds were said to pair at this time, mating for life. If you want to have fun and romance on this Valentine’s Day don’t be researching the saints that have to do with love.

Every day of the year has at least one saint and some have even been removed to make room for others. I will give you one example only and that probably won’t play into your Valentine. St. Perpetua died on March 7 but this date was later assigned to St. Thomas Aquinas. I mention this one as some devoted Catholics are familiar with St. Aquinas. The earliest feast and celebration days were for those Martyrs venerated as having shown for Christ the greatest form of love in accordance with the teaching. “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.”

That was the kind of love initially intended to describe the foundation for this holiday. Emperor Claudius II executed two men both named Valentine on February 14, but in different years, of the third century A.D.. Their martyrdom was established by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day. The holiday of Lupercalia and Valentine’s Day somehow got mixed up and really put the true meaning to shame. Lupercalia involved the killing of a goat and a dog and removing their hides to be used as whips. Women would be lined up and naked men would whip them with these hides. The men were naked and after the ritual would pair up with one of the women. This was a very sick holiday but such was the history. As religion evolved so did holidays, that had some connection.

Now St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated with displays of love such as delicious confections, jewelry, foods and romantic cards displaying words of love and affection. It has turned out to be a day of caring and thankfulness for people we care about in all the ways of love, affection and appreciation.

Conservation district offers backyard composting equipment

All composting supplies and rain barrels are available for pre-order only. Get one of each and be ready to conserve precious water and make compost to improve garden soil.

Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD), in cooperation with Maine Resource and Recovery Association, is again offering local residents the opportunity to improve soil and conserve water right in their own backyards at deep discount prices! It’s easy with the tried-and-true 80-gallon Earth Machine backyard composter and the 55-gallon Systern rain barrel. Both are made of recycled materials, designed to fit into any landscape, and are offered at wholesale prices. The Earth Machine composter has an “in at the top/out at the bottom” design and a 10-year warranty. The Systern rain barrel fits under a downspout to take advantage of roof run-off for garden watering and has built-in mosquito mesh and overflow capability.

They also are offering a 3-foot x 4-foot trap wire bin made by Brooks Trap Mill in Thomaston that has a three-quarter cubic yard capacity. This larger bin, made of coated lobster trap wire, is perfect for yard debris and has the seal of approval from some of Maine’s top composting experts.

To make it even easier to convert kitchen scraps into soil, they also have accessories: a 2-gallon Sure Close kitchen scrap pail with vented, locking lid that keeps odors in and flies out; Wingdigger compost aerator and turner to mix compost layers and decrease compaction without straining your back; and the REOtemp compost thermometer with a 20-inch stem to monitor interior temperatures and turn anyone into a serious composting enthusiast! Prices for all items are well below suggested retail.

Ordering deadline is Monday, April 12, 2021. Either order online at https://www.knox-lincoln.org/backyard-sale/ or download an order form on our website and send with check. Scheduled pickups for composting items will be in early June at the District office located at 893 West Street (Rt 90), Rockport.

For more information or to request an order form by mail, contact Knox-Lincoln SWCD at 596-2040 or julie@knox-lincoln.org.

Area students give to those in need

Donated items from students at St. Michael School, in Augusta.

Part of the mission of Maine Catholic schools is to accentuate the importance of service with the hope of building a lifelong commitment and appreciation in each student to give back to those in need. Last week, that lesson was on full display at schools across Maine during Maine Catholic Schools Week as students designed and completed many service projects to help local organizations

St. Michael School, Augusta

The students at St. Michael School collected hundreds of school supplies for refugee children in Maine that are served by Catholic Charities Maine’s Refugee and Immigration Services (RIS). Each grade was assigned different items to donate like crayons, books, toys, construction paper, chalk, erasers, water bottles, calculators, binders, pencil cases, folders, and markers.

“In completing the service projects, the students are learning service to others while demonstrating the values and faith they are getting in a Catholic education,” said Kevin Cullen. “To see the children so excited to give back is beautiful. They did a fantastic job, as always. I’m very proud of them.”

Mount Merici Academy, Waterville

The academy hosted a donation drive to help those in need at the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter by collecting tissues, toilet paper, razors, shaving cream, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, soap, and socks. The items were used to assemble personal care kits for shelter residents.

Augusta educator named Maine Catholic schools teacher of the year

From left to right, St. Michael School Principal Kevin Cullen, Diocese of Portland Bishop Robert Deeley, Maine Catholic Schools Teacher of the Year Jennifer Hoffman. (photo courtesy of Diocese of Portland)

“In January of 2019, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer for the second time. This would require a major surgery and brutal treatments which would last at least two years,” said Kevin Cullen, principal of St. Michael School, in Augusta. “Someone needed to step up, and for us at St. Michael School, it was Jennifer Hoffman.”

English teacher, vice principal, and advisor are just a few of the many titles that Jennifer Hoffman successfully holds at St. Michael School, earning her the respect and reverence of the students, teachers, families, and staff.

On Friday, February 5, she added another: 2021 Maine Catholic Schools Teacher of the Year.

Bishop Robert Deeley, along with Marianne Pelletier, the superintendent of Maine Catholic Schools, and Fr. John Skehan, pastor of St. Michael Parish, in Augusta, presented the award to Mrs. Hoffman during a surprise assembly that included a tribute video featuring the glowing and loving remarks of her students.

“She cares about all of her students, and I love being in her class,” said one boy student.

“She is always willing to help us, and she is always happy,” added a girl student.

Moments later, the students rose to offer a standing ovation to Mrs. Hoffman as she was called to the front of the assembly held in the socially distanced school gym.

“I had no idea what was happening. I can’t believe it,” she said. “Wow!”

Bishop Deeley presented her with two special plaques marking the occasion, one for the school and one for Mrs. Hoffman that, fittingly, featured an apple for the teacher.

“In addition, Mrs. Hoffman receives $500 for her classroom, and $500 for herself,” said Pelletier, as Mrs. Hoffman was given bouquets of flowers by Cullen and her husband, who was in attendance along with her sister and son, Noah.

Maine Catholic Schools Teacher of the Year Jennifer Hoffman, left, receives the award from Bishop Robert Deeley at a recent assembly held at St. Michael School, in Augusta. (photo courtesy of Maine Diocese of Portland)

“You are outstanding at what you do,” added the bishop. “I’m so grateful for Mrs. Hoffman and all of our Catholic school teachers.”

Credit is something that Mrs. Hoffman is never quick to accept, the ‘downside’ of being one of the most humble and kind people to ever grace the halls in the nearly 130-year history of Catholic education in Augusta.

Which brings us back to Kevin Cullen, who, during the course of cancer treatments, was put on bed rest for almost four months, forcing him to miss graduation, enrollment efforts, report card creation, and tours for prospective families.

“In Catholic schools, we don’t have someone to step in because we do not have money for that,” said Cullen. “This was going to require our best full-time teacher to also be the full-time principal.”

Mrs. Hoffman maintained her full schedule of teaching junior high classes while assuming the additional duties of overseeing the entire school. She did it, to no surprise, with empathy and aplomb.

“She has worked for Catholic schools in Augusta for more than 25 years, the last 13 at St. Michael, and she is the walking embodiment of what a Catholic school educator needs to be in the 21st century,” said Cullen. “She is kind, patient, rigorous, fair, and faithful. Jesus is part of every lesson she teaches.”

Her ability to reach students with her dynamic and uplifting presence is well known in the area thanks to proven success.

“Our students take the NWEA test, as do almost all Catholic schools in Maine, and for the past five years, our seventh and eighth graders as a group have tested in the 99th percentile in Language Arts,” said Cullen. “Mrs. Hoffman oversees our accreditation work, organizing the entire staff to put together the work required to become an NEASC accredited school. She was also the first teacher on our staff to dive head first into remote learning when COVID-19 became a verb and we had to modify everything we did.”

The ability to change with the times is admirable, but the humanity and faith that Mrs. Hoffman delivers day in and day out at St. Michael are timeless.

“Her students know that she cares about them, that she loves them as her own, and that she will do whatever it takes to help them surpass their own goals,” said Cullen. “She doesn’t push people up the hill. Mrs. Hoffman is first up the hill leading the way, and everyone chooses to follow.”

Mrs. Hoffman resides in Augusta with her husband, Clay, and her two sons, Noah and Joshua.

Winslow Food Pantry to benefit from Hannaford promotion

Hannaford “Fight Hunger” Reusable Shopping Bag. (image courtesy of Hannaford Bros. Company, LLC)

Looking for an easy, effective way to support a local food pantry during these difficult economic times? For the month of February, Winslow Community Cupboard food pantry will receive a $1 donation from each purchase of the $2.50 reusable “Fight Hunger” Shopping Bag at the Hannaford supermarket located at 190 Kennedy Memorial Drive, JFK Plaza, in Waterville.

Every dollar donated will go directly to assist food-insecure children, seniors, and other adults in Winslow, Waterville, Clinton, and Benton—more than 140 families in all, with demand steadily rising. According to Good Shepherd Food Bank and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 13.6 percent of Maine’s households are now food insecure, which is nearly 2 percent above the national average.

Those unable to purchase the Hannaford “Fight Hunger” Shopping Bag, or who wish to make a direct donation, may do so by mailing a check payable to “Winslow Community Cupboard” to: Winslow Community Cupboard / 12 Lithgow St. / Winslow, ME 04901. Credit card or PayPal donations are also greatly appreciated at this link: https://winslow ucc.org/winslow-community-cupboard/

Winslow Community Cupboard is a ministry of Winslow Con­grega­tional Church, 12 Lithgow Street, Win­slow, which has served the local community since 1828.

For more information, please contact Winslow Community Cupboard at WinslowCupboard@Gmail.com.

Mid-Maine Chamber to offer Takeout Challenge again

The Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce will once again be holding their Takeout Challenge Contest to help out restaurants, cafés and eateries at a time when they need us the most.

We all enjoyed eating outside on decks and patios, or frequenting our favorite places while the weather was nice. Now that the temperatures have cooled off, our restaurants and eateries are hurting – many have had to curtail hours, or staff to align with the amount of business coming through the doors. So, it is not as easy to find places to eat outside our homes.

If you can still get food at your favorite hangout and feel a comfort level to do so – by all means, help them keep on keeping on. But for those who may not be comfortable eating inside for the next few weeks and would rather be in the comfort of your own home, please consider ordering takeout to continue helping those who kept you fed in the past.

We all must eat, even during the pandemic – the chamber would simply like to reward you for doing so.

For the next eight weeks, you can enter to win a $25 Damon’s Beverage gift card simply by sending in your takeout receipts for food ordered at any of the Chamber member eateries. It’s easy to enter, and win – just scan, email, snap a photo, mail or drop off a copy of your receipt.

Emails and scans may be sent to cindy@midmainechamber.com. Entries may also be mailed or dropped at the Chamber office – 50 Elm St., Waterville. Be sure to include a contact number, in the event you are a winner. Weekly winners will be drawn at random each Wednesday and notified by phone or email.

Check for Chamber member restaurant/eateries take-out hours and website information here: www.midmainechamber.com/takeoutchallenge.

(This list will expand as the chamber receives additional information as to eateries offering takeout.)

Join the Takeout Challenge 2021 – and eat your heart out – while you show some love to our local businesses!