Central Maine Motors Auto Group recognized for rural revitalization, receives 2022 Governor’s Award

From left to right, Jeff Leclerc, general manager at CM Toyota, Shad West, general manager at CM Chevy-Buick, Central Maine Motors Auto Group owner Chris Gaunce, Maine Governor Janet Mills, and Scott Pinnette, general manager at CM Chrysler. (contributed photo))

Dealership presented with award at the Maine State House on Dec. 12

Family-owned Central Maine Motors Auto Group was recognized by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development on Monday for its contributions throughout Waterville and the surrounding municipalities. Central Maine Motors owns and operates three locations: Central Maine Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram FIAT®, Central Maine Chevy Buick, and Central Maine Toyota.

“Central Maine Motors prides itself on providing great customer service through its three dealerships in Waterville. Giving back to our community and taking care of people remains a priority for us,” states Central Maine Motors President and Owner Chris Gaunce. “Looking forward, our business will continue to prioritize community betterment and celebrate all of the good that our region and state have to offer.”

Awarded to Maine businesses in four categories (Heritage Industry, Rural Revitalization, Innovation, and Climate Leader), the 2022 Governor’s Award for Business Excellence was recently presented to Central Maine Motors Auto Group by Governor Mills and Maine Department of Economic and Business Development Commissioner Heather Johnson. Central Maine Motors Auto Group was recognized in the Rural Revitalization category, recognizing contributions to the revitalization and growth of Maine’s rural regions, joining fellow awardees Atlantic Sea Farms (Heritage Industry), MedRhythms (Innovation), and Dirigo Solar (Climate Leader). In addition to the Governor’s Award for Business Excellence, Chris Gaunce has been named Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce’s 2008 Rising Star, was selected as the Chamber’s 2016 Businessperson of the Year, and was honored by Junior Achievement of Maine as a Maine Business Hall of Fame North laureate in 2022.

“The Gaunce’s and Central Maine Motors Auto Group have continued to contribute to Waterville’s rapidly growing business landscape, accompanied with their passion for supporting downtown revitalization, entrepreneurship, workforce development, and philanthropy”, elaborates Central Maine Growth Council Director of Planning, Innovation, and Economic Development Garvan Donegan. “As past board chairman of Central Maine Growth Council, Chris’ leadership and drive for celebrating the region through countless community and economic development initiatives have allowed new businesses to thrive, giving students on-site work experience all while retaining and upskilling a dedicated workforce.”

Since 1991, the Governor’s Award for Business Excellence has recognized Maine businesses with a high level of commitment to their community, employees, and customers. Past recipients have included Acme Monaco, Ware-Butler Building Supply, Luke’s Lobster, and Bigelow Brewing Company. Central Maine Motors’ steadfast leadership and its demonstrated care for employees reflect the company’s 87 years of providing unmatched customer and community service. To learn more about Central Maine Motors Auto Group, please visit https://www.cmautogroup.com/

EVENTS: Craft fair to benefit Shakespeare group

Emily and Josh Fournier, of Recycled Shakespeare Company, stroll the Riverwalk, in Waterville, on William Shakespeare’s 456th birthday on April 23, 2020. (photo by Lyn Rowden)

A Craft Fair with white elephant, Luck of the Draw, bake sale and hot lunch. will be held on Saturday, December 17, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the South Parish Congregational Church, 9 Bridge St., in Augusta, to benefit Recycled Shakespeare Company and the South Parish Congregational Church. Accessible to all, free to shop.

Northern Light pharmacy expands

Northern Light Pharmacy has announced the opening of a new location on December 6, in Waterville, at the Penny Hill Plaza Park, located at 295 Kennedy Memorial Drive. The new storefront will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Some great features this location will offer include:

• Free local delivery
• Drive thru pick up service
• Storefront stocked with durable medical equipment including items like canes, walkers, wheelchairs, braces, and bathroom safety devices.
• Partnering with Northern Light Inland Hospital to offer their Meds to Beds program (bedside delivery to inpatients).

“We know that having access to medications and other medical equipment is an important part of patient care,” says Matt Marston, vice president and chief pharmacy officer of Northern Light Health. “We look forward to offering a variety of pharmacy services to the greater Waterville area.

Join them on Thursday, December 15 from 5 to 7 p.m., at the open house with a chance to win a grill, giveaways for kids, and the opportunity to talk to experts about vaccines you might need.

Volunteer coordinators needed for Big Brothers/Big Sisters

Volunteer coordinators lead a group activity with high school Bigs and their Littles at a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine school-based mentoring program at Williams Elementary School, in Oakland. (contributed photo)

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine (BBBSMM) is looking for adult volunteers to serve as coordinators at eight of its school-based mentoring programs. Coordinators are adults (18 years or older) from the community who can dedicate 1½ hours, one day each week from October through May (except school vacation weeks) to supervise Big/Little match meetings of high school mentors and elementary school Littles.

School-based programs have 1-2 coordinators who attend each week to oversee and supervise match meetings to ensure child safety and support Bigs and Littles.  School-based coordinators are interviewed, screened and trained, and receive ongoing support and training from BBBS professional staff throughout the year. Continuing education credits are provided.

Successful coordinators are responsible, dedicated, enjoy working with and coaching youth of all ages and backgrounds, have great listening skills, are willing to learn, have patience, flexibility and love helping kids reach their greatest potential. Coordinators arrive early to greet the matches, help set up and clean up, organize meeting supplies and snacks, facilitate group activities, and provide support to both Bigs and Littles.

BBBS of Mid-Maine has immediate need for school-based coordinators for the 2022-2023 school year:

Kennebec/Somerset Programs

Silvio J. Gilbert Elementary School (Augusta): Mondays or Thursdays 3 – 4 p.m.

Williams Elementary School (Oakland): Wednesdays 2:45-3:45 p.m.

To learn more about becoming a volunteer school-based coordinator, please contact Haley Stearns, School-Based Manager, at (207) 236-BBBS (2227) ext. 103 or email haley@bbbsmidmaine.org.

EVENTS: Community Blue Christmas ceremony shines a light on winter solstice

by Monica Charette

The ShineOnCass Foundation will host its Second Annual Blue Christmas Ceremony for grieving families and friends, and those who support them, Wednesday, December 21, at 6 p.m., on the Winter Solstice – the longest and darkest night of the year. Light the Night will feature music, speakers, along with a reading of submitted names of loved ones’ lost and the lighting of memorial blue candles.

Blue Christmas ceremonies are held around the world in acknowledgement that the holiday season can be difficult for many who are grieving.

“This time of year can be so challenging when celebrations of peace and joy contrast sharply with the sadness and loneliness that come with loss,” said Monica Charette, founder and executive director of the ShineOnCass Foundation. “Our hope is to bring people together, both those who are grieving, and people who support them, to offer a comforting space where everyone feels less alone.”

In addition to the blue light ceremony, the evening will also feature music by local musician Will Pherson and the return of award-winning country recording artist Joan Kennedy, who will perform “Candle in the Window.”

Charette said the idea to host a community Blue Christmas Ceremony came from a gathering organized by her friends after the passing of her 17-year-old daughter Cassidy Charette, eight years ago. Cass, for whom the ShineOnCass Foundation was created to honor, was a Messalonskee High School student and longtime community volunteer, who died in a tragic hayride accident on October 11, 2014.

“It was comforting when people came together to support our family, acknowledge our grief, and stand beside us during a very dark and lonely time,” Charette said. “We want to continue to share that experience with others in our community.”

Anyone in the community can participate by sharing their loved ones’ names being remembered, and receiving a blue candle to light at the ceremony. People are also welcome to attend in silent remembrance and offer support to others. To complete the online form, visit Light the Night: Blue Christmas on the Foundation’s website www.shineoncass.org. Deadline to submit is Monday, December 19. In case of inclement weather, Blue Christmas will be held one day later, on December 22. For more information, email shineoncass@gmail.com or call 207-314-6996.

Citrus orders deadline nears

The deadline for ordering bright, tangy, and sweet citrus in time for Christmas is December 11. You can have it shipped anywhere in the lower 48 states for one low price. Just go to https://www.floridaindianrivergroves.com/ecommerce/1018996 and take a look at all the healthy goodness you can send!

Proceeds from this sale benefit the Living Communities Foundation, which hosts the Palermo Food Pantry, in the Palermo Community Center, as well as the Palermo Community Garden and the Great ThunderChicken Teaching Drum.

The Palermo Community Garden is also eligible for a Challenge Grant from SeedMoney.org. Last year they raised over $1,100 through this crowdfunding platform, and they hope to get somewhere near that this year, but they only have until December 15, so please share your resources with them so they can share fresh, organic food with neighbors! Please go to https://www.donate.seedmoney.org/7991/palermo-community-garden and know that your contribution helps to alleviate food insecurity right here in our area.

The Town Line to benefit from bag sales

Buy one of these reusable grocery bags in February, and the China Hannaford will donate $1 to The Town Line!

The Town Line, Inc., a weekly, reader-supported, nonprofit newspaper, has been selected again to receive $1 from every $2.50 reusable Community Bag sold during the month of January 2023 at Hannaford, 33 Hannaford Drive, in South China.

F.A. Peabody Insurance opens new central Maine branch

Christopher Anderson, President of F.A. Peabody Insurance (FAPCO,) is announcing the opening of the agency’s 11th branch office in Palermo. Palermo is centrally located in the tri-city community of Belfast, Augusta and Waterville.

With the addition of the Palermo branch, Christine Huntress joins the F.A. Peabody staff as a seasoned insurance professional with over 35 years of experience. She moved from York to Palermo in 2018 and has shown herself to be a valuable asset in expanding insurance services to the Central Maine community. By joining FAPCO, Christine will be in a better position to also increase the commercial insurance offering to the community.

“Christine brings extensive expertise in property casualty insurance to the F. A. Peabody Insurance Division. Her professionalism and friendly business style compliments our agency’s culture,” states Anderson. Christine says, “I’m very excited to join the F. A. Peabody team. Each client is unique with different insurance needs and I welcome every challenge.”

The F.A. Peabody Company was founded in 1927 in Houlton, and over its rich 95-year history has launched additional branch offices in Madawaska, Caribou, Presque Isle, Mars Hill, Sherman, Lincoln, Calais, Hampden, Westbrook, and now, Palermo.

Christine can be reached at (207)993-5002 or christine.huntress@fapeabody.com.

Somerville farm to hold Yule Goat fundraiser

Bacchus is one of the Yule Goats at Pumpkin Vine Family Farm, in Somerville. (photo courtesy of Pumpkin Vine Farm)

Pumpkin Vine Farm’s Yule Goat celebration, which aims to help spread the magic of Christmas from Scandinavia to India, is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, December 11, at the 217 Hewett Road farm, in Somerville.

In Scandinavian tradition, the Yule Goat brings presents to children at Christmas, accompanied by the Tomten, a farm gnome that looks after the well-being of the animals, according to a news release from farm owner Kelly Payson-Roopchand.

This year, the Yule Goat is raising funds for underprivileged schoolchildren in Varanasi, India.

People can attend the holiday event for free, then pass on the gift through a purchase of a special fundraising goat calendar and/or direct donation. The festivities start with a traditional Scandinavian story followed by handcrafts and hot chocolate by the fireside.

Those who attend are encouraged to wear winter clothes and boots so they can take a hike with Yule Goats dressed in their bells and blankets to decorate a tree for the wild birds.

After a visit to the barn, people can browse local crafts and farm-fresh treats at the farmers’ market. The market will include snacks, holiday gifts, and all the fixings for a holiday table.

For more information, visit pumpkinvinefamilyfarm.com, email info@pumpkinvinefamilyfarm.com or call 207-549-3096.

Annual scouting food drive (2022)

Scouts in Kennebec Valley District, which includes Somerset, Kennebec, Franklin, Lincoln and Knox Counties, are taking time during the holiday season to help other people through the annual Scouting for Food Drive. (photo courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)