Sheepscot boat inspections begin

Sheepscot boat inspections begin

The Sheepscot Lake Association, in Palermo, has kicked off courtesy boat inspections for the 2016 summer season. From left to right, Sam Falla, Alli Callahan and Jon Boynton, will conduct the inspections which are free and voluntary to all boaters. Invasive plants are found in lakes all around mid coast Maine and the objective of the Courtesy Boat Inspections is not only to watch for particles of plants on boats and trailers but to keep the need for self-inspection in the forefront of every boater’s routine when launching and pulling their boat. Contributed photo

Wacky winter threatens our lakes

by Ursula Burke

Other than ice fishermen, most lake lovers in mid-coast Maine cheered at the short, relatively mild winter of 2016.  On Sheepscot Pond in Palermo, the ice was on the lake from mid-January to mid-March, the shortest time since records started being kept by local people in the late 1800’s.  So why the headline portending trouble?  Can’t we just enjoy what nature has given us without worrying?

Here, in simple terms, is why what we can’t see can spell big trouble.  When winter ice melts early the upper layer of lake water has a longer period of time to warm up before the fall cool down starts.  A hot summer adds to this situation.  Colder lake water lies in a separate layer at the bottom and doesn’t mix with the warm top layer until fall.  It can become oxygen starved affecting the aquatic creatures living in the depths.   The eventual lack of oxygen releases natural elements into the water, the most damaging being phosphates.   These stimulate the growth of algae and can cause algae blooms and cloudy, greenish water.  This seems to happen suddenly, but in actuality is part of the cycle of actions that started when the ice melted early.

The Sheepscot Lake Association (SLA) runs a number of water quality testing programs including the most recently added Dissolved Oxygen measurements which plumb the water in the deepest part of the lake on a regular basis starting in early June.  The SLA does inform the community of the results.

Individual property owners can do something to help protect the health of the lake.  The SLA has launched LakeSmart, a program under the auspices of the Maine Lakes Society, which offers free assessments of waterfront properties and prepares a report with comments and suggestions for land owner action to decrease lake pollution.  The biggest external threat to lakes is storm water run-off which erodes the land carrying soil, pollutants, phosphates, etc. into the water.    Anyone interested in becoming LakeSmart can contact Ursula Burke at 781-561-5541 or via email

SOLON & BEYOND, Week of June 30, 2016

Solon and Beyond


by Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
390 South Solon Rd.,
Solon, Maine 04979


Good morning, dear friends. Don’t worry, be happy!

The East Madison Historical Association  will be having a yard sale on Saturday, July 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Happyknits, LLC, will be celebrating its second birthday on Friday, July 1, and continuing the celebration on Saturday, July 2, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

This year’s reunion day of Solon Alumni is on July 16 at the Solon Elementary School. 9:30 a.m., starts registration and coffee hour with the business hour starting at 10:30 a.m. The auction will follow the business hour. Please remember your auction item. Last year we made $628 on the auction. Then Murry Bubar sent a check to match the auction funds so we ended up with $1,256. Thank you Murry. Dianne Oliver Poulin was the auctioneer.

Lunch will begin at 1:00 p.m.,  and will be catered by the Solon 4-H Club.

The class of 1966 will celebrate its 50th reunion. Members are Linda Baiko Lomastro, Terry Cahill, Glenda Foss Atmandi, Alden Mayhew, Richard Poulin, Mark Rogers, Ellery Witham and Gary Withers. So class of 1966, we would like to see you here.

Sixty-two  alumni and guests attended last year. The class of ’65 celebrated  their 50th with four members, Ann French Jackson, David Heald, Robert Meader and George Dube. Brenda Padham was elected as the new treasurer. Kaitlyn LaCroix received a check from the scholarship fund $1,100. Deaths reported were Harold Tewskbury, class of 1942, Freda Chase Merry, 1945, Beverly Thompson Carter, 1947, Dassie Andrews Jackson ,1947, Jean Hilton Dickey, 1949, Joyce Bubar Dillon, 1953, Paul Savage, 1957, Anne Withers Burkhart, 1959, William Tolman, 1961, Walter Jones, 1969, Mark Myers, 1973, from Carrabec and Herbert Hayden. (The above is the letter sent out to alumni from Linda French, secretary)

In my continuing efforts of getting what I want to save out of my house on Ferry Street, I keep coming across old Dirigo year books. I have quite a few, and will take them to the reunion for anyone who might want one. The oldest is 1954 and had only two graduates, Patricia McCarty and Joseph V. Dore. In this year book there was a column written by Malon P. Whipple, 1903 entitled “A Look at the Future.” Very heartwarming and inspiring. On that same page is this, 1904-1954 written by Ivan M. Dyer, “On this, the 50th anniversary of the Solon High School graduating class of 1904, may I, the only surviving member of that class, have the honor of congratulating the class of 1954 in having reached one of the most important milestones in the making of American citizens. May you go on to greater accomplishments and may each and every one of you always be proud to say, ” I am an American.”

Was given the choice of writing two columns this week or taking a vacation next week, decided I should listen to those who care about me, and say, “You should slow down!” My column won’t be in the July 7 paper.

And, my heartfelt love goes out to all of you who say you love this column, it reminds me that my goal to bring love and sometimes humor, to all that read it each week, is working!

Percy’s memoir: “You have to color outside the lines once in a while if you want to make your life a masterpiece. (words by Albert Enstein.)

Poster contest winners announced

The China Lake Association sponsored its fifth annual poster contest for the fifth and sixth graders at China Middle School. They learned about alewives. Until the Dams in Vassalboro were built about 100 years ago, the alewives could naturally swim up the rivers to China Lake and stay for the summer months. In the fall, they swim out of the lake taking with them the phosphorous that fosters algae blooms, to return to the ocean. Alewives were a very important fish for our lake’s balance of nature.

In May, the students went by bus to see the alewives swim up the Webber Pond fish ladder. Nate Gray, a biologist from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Frank Richards, president of the Webber Pond Association, were there to teach the students and answer their questions. After learning about alewives, they were given poster paper to illustrate a theme about alewives. Some of the topics were:  Alewives life cycle, advantages to have alewives in China Lake, alewives migration from the ocean to the lake or how dams are preventing them from coming into China Lake and what we are doing to fix that barrier.  They were free to draw a picture, do poetry, write a slogan or write a story on the poster paper. Completed posters were judged according to the student’s imagination and presentation.

Winner for the fifth grade were: first prize, Lauren Tyler, second prizes went to Maddie Pacholski and Alexis Rancourt, third prizes went to Alivia Gower, Angel Bonilla, Cuden Clark and Reiana Gonzalez.

Winners for the sixth grade were: first prize to Cameron Speck, second prize Madison Lully, third prizes went to Julia Barber,  Emily Clark, Alonzo Michaud, Jacob William Fisher, Mackenzie Roderick and Cailee Elsasser.

Monetary awards will be presented at the China Lake Association’s annual meeting at the China Primary School 9 a.m., Saturday, July 23.

Albion Neighborhood News – Week of June 30, 2016

by Mary Lee Rounds

Albion 2016 Field Day events  July 28-July 30.

July 28, 2016 will be a fun filled search for a Queen or Princess of the Field Day. Girls age 7-12  (need minimum of five contestants); or girls 7-9 for Princess and 10-12 for Queen. Dressy casual clothes,( please no gowns) must have a minimum of three contestants in each category  Must be  Albion residents or attend Albion Elementary School.  Please remember this is not a beauty contest but is based on stage presence, public speaking and talent. There will be prizes.  More information can be obtained from Sue Stevens at 649-4293 or stevens129@  Deadline for participants to sign up is July 4.

Field Day begins with the Albion Lion’s Club Fun Run at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, behind the elementary school.  One mile walk or run; Free T-shirts to all who register before July 10. Trophies  for male and female K-8. First place for male and female – overall. Ribbons to all participants.  Entry fee is $8 per runner. Checks made out to the Albion Lion’s Club need to be sent to Cindy Drake, 116 Crosby Rd., Albion, ME 04910. Please arrive early. Registration forms  can be obtained from Cindy at 437-2445.

The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. on the Hussey Road and will proceed down Main Street. The field behind the Besse Building and beside the fire station will have its activities following the parade at approximately 11 a.m.

Activities will consist of: a cash raffle, chicken barbecue, hot dogs, fries ,an auction, beano, white elephant tables and whoopie pies, children’s games. There will be a white elephant table and the Lion’s Club auction.

Come see what else there is this year. If you have items for the auction and need a pick up of the items; call Hilton Drake 437 -2445, Leonard Dow 437-4151 or Gail Drake 437-4461;100 percent proceeds to charity.

No air conditioners, dehumidifiers, appliances, tires, propane tanks, TVs, computer monitors, paint, etc.  If you can not get rid of it, neither can we!  The auction begins at 11:30 a.m.

The Albion Highway department is doing a good job and should be commended for their work.  The East Benton Road is much better than it had been and I understand other roads have also had some repairs done.  Thumbs up!

There will be no column from me the week of July 4. I hope you all have a great day celebrating the independence of this country.

School budget winding down for FY ‘15-’16

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro school officials, like town officials, are winding up the 2015-16 fiscal year and preparing for 2016-17, a process AOS (Alternative Organizational Structure) #92 Facilities Director Shelley Phillips described to the school board as “like two worlds colliding.”

Phillips’ tasks for Vassalboro Community School, she reported at the June 21 school board meeting, include getting the new equipment shed built, the diesel fuel tank repaired (a job that requires state permits) and roof repairs planned.

Finance Director Paula Pooler said the year is ending about as anticipated.  With more bills, but no big ones, expected before the fiscal year ends June 30, she said the books ought to balance without dipping into the $78,000 allocated from the undesignated fund balance.  However, she does not expect a surplus at the end of the year to add to the balance.

The undesignated balance now stands at more than $198,000, Pooler said, with $132,000 allocated for the 2016-17 budget if necessary.  She commented that the figure is small, considering the total budget voters approved at the Vassalboro town meeting is almost $7.4 million.

Assistant Superintendent Peter Thiboutot reported on the new teacher evaluation plan that had just won preliminary state approval, conditional on school board endorsement.  The system has been three years in development, he said; it is based on the Marzano model, which he called “a leading teacher effectiveness training model.”

The school board unanimously approved.  New board member Elizabeth Mitchell commended the plan as based on stakeholder involvement, rather than dictated from the top down.

On Superintendent Eric Haley’s and Principal Dianna Gram’s recommendations, board members approved hiring three new teachers: Crystal Uleau for second grade, Traci Norwood for fifth grade and Jill Ouellette (who did her student teaching in Vassalboro, Gram said) for seventh and eighth grade social studies.

They accepted with regret the resignation of Educational Technician II Judith Whitley.      They unanimously authorized Haley to issue contracts to new staff in July and August, since the board is not scheduled to meet again until Aug. 16.   Without the authorization, Haley said, he might lose a good teacher to another school system while waiting for the board meeting.

Selectmen rehash past issues at meeting

by Mary Grow

China selectmen discussed multiple issues during their three-hour meeting June 27, most of them rehashing past events.

The major new topic was the Snow Pond Arts Academy (SPAA), a charter school opening in September at the New England Music Camp in Sidney.

Dean of Students David Holinger said the school presents a free alternative to the high schools currently available to China students.  It will provide a traditional high school education plus a focus on dance, music (instrumental and vocal) and theater (dramatic and musical).
Holinger said SPAA is the eighth charter school in Maine and the first based on the performing arts.  Students in grades nine through eleven will begin in September; school officials will apply to add grade twelve for the following year.

Buses will be provided within a 15-mile radius of the campus, and the school is seeking host families for students who live too far away to go home every night. Two China eighth-graders have already enrolled at SPAA, Holinger said.

More information on SPAA is available by calling 844-476-6976 or viewing

China selectmen spent more than an hour June 27 on forestry issues.  District Forester Morten Moesswilde, invited at Tim Basham’s suggestion, recommended an approach to town-owned land, especially Thurston Park: visit other towns’ forests to get ideas, develop long-term (20 to 50 years) goals and form a relationship with a licensed forester to help set and implement the goals.

Basham, a member of the town Forestry Committee, and several spokespeople for the Thurston Park Committee seemed to disagree over whether there are inter-committee disagreements that require a new plan.  Judy Stone and Philip DeMaynadier, Thurston Park Committee members, said the existing plan calls for developing roughly half the park for recreation and managing the other half for revenue-producing timber-cutting.

The second goal has been less emphasized recently, they said, because so much time and energy have gone into recreational development and because in 2007 forester Vite Vitale recommended delaying cutting for five to 10 years, due to heavy losses after the 1998 ice storm.

Robert MacFarland, chairman of the selectmen, closed the discussion by encouraging the two committees to work together and to report back to the selectmen.  Selectmen also revisited the issue of transfer station charges.  After another 20 minutes’ argument, they voted 3-2 to accept the Transfer Station Committee’s recommendation to leave the fee charged to local haulers who go over the scales at two cents a pound.   The fee increases approved May 2 for demolition and debris will still be implemented July 1.

Transfer Station Committee members have not yet made a recommendation on the other issue selectmen referred to them, where to relocate the swap shop to alleviate traffic congestion near the hopper.

Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said Palermo selectmen expect to know by the end of the month when they will stop using the Tri-County transfer station and begin sharing China’s.  China selectmen are invited to the Palermo selectmen’s next meeting, he said.

In other business, selectmen voted unanimously to ask voters in November to approve two purchases, a lot adjoining the town office lot and the portable classroom beside China Primary School.  They did not make a decision on whether to recommend buying the former Fairpoint building on Route 3.  They made five appointments: Adam Ellis as superintendent of cemeteries, Frank Soares as a member of the Tax Increment Financing Committee, Sheri Wilkens and Christian Wilkens as members of the Thurston Park Committee and Brian Plato as a member of the recreation committee.

Selectman Irene Belanger said she did not know the town had a superintendent of cemeteries.  L’Heureux said Ellis’s job will be to make sure people are buried in the right plots.

Selectmen unanimously rejected two bids to replace the handicapped access ramps to the old town house and the former portable classroom on the town office lot.  The lower bid was $19,000, a figure selectmen considered too high

They unanimously approved the manager’s plan to have the new access driveway from Alder Park Road to the town office parking lot paved.  L’Heureux expects the work to be done within a few days.

Following up on the June 13 discussion of making China more friendly to senior citizens, they voted unanimously to spend up to $500 for a demographic survey.

Items tentatively on the agenda for the selectmen’s July 11 meeting include a recommendation from the TIF committee on recreational development at the causeway at the head of China Lake, continued discussion of solid waste issues and draft ordinance amendments from the planning board dealing with shoreland zoning, seasonal conversions and signs.

Dance group chooses new officers

The Central Maine Square Dance Club of Waterville held its annual meeting on June 24. The evening started with a shortened square dance workshop and and the meeting starting around 7:45 p.m. An election of officers for the coming year took place and the following people were elected: Al Mather, of Palermo, president; Jeff Howes, of Pittsfield, vice presi-dent; Karen Cunningham, of Pittsfield, secretary; and Claude Francke and Diane Weinstein, both of Waterville, treasurers.

The fall workshops will begin for the club on September 13 and a new beginner class will start on September 20. As usual the club will allow two free lessons for beginners on the 20th and 27th.

Central Maine Square Dance Club of Waterville

The new officers of the Central Maine Square Dance Club are, from left to right, Claude Francke, Al Mather, Jeff Howes, Karen Cunningham, and Becky Potter. Contributed photo

China school third trimester honors


Dean’s list: Kathryn Bailey, Julia Basham, Alyssha Gil, Annika Gil and Richard Winn. High honors: Alec Baker, Derek Beaulieu, Norah Davidson, Lydia Gilman, Alyssa Hale, Ashley Huntley, Eleena Lee and Hunter Praul. Honors: Vincent Emery, Jada Fredette and Serena Sepulvado.


Dean’s list: Ian Oliphant and Courtney Paine. High honors: Nicholas Barber and Aiden Pettengill. Honors: Brooke Allen, Madyx Kennedy Jonathan Martinez, Eban Pierce and Brandon Way.


Dean’s list: Emily Clark, Colby Cunningham, Cailee Elsasser, Jacob Fisher, Samantha Golden, Piper Mann, Sarah Praul and Mackenzie Roderick. High honors: Julia Barber, Emma Jefferson, Lili Lefebvre, Wes McGlew and Rebecca Morton. Honors: Isaac Baker, Clarissa Beyor, Trace Harris, Kaden McIntyre and Hannah Torrey.


Dean’s list: Reiana Gonzalez, Elizabeth Hardy, Lily Matthews and Noah Rushing. High honors: Abigail Beyor, Kayla Peaslee, Gabriel Pelletier and Alexis Rancourt. Honors: Angel Bonilla, Aiden Clark, Breckon Davidson, Nicole DeMerchant, Lilly Fredette, Alivia Gower, Beck Jorgensen, Kaiden Kelley, Alexia Leigh, Brenden Levesque, Gwen Lockhart, Kolby Maxim, Ethan Ouellette, Madeline Pacholski, Samantha Reynolds, Kaden Soto, Sammantha Stafford, Sophie Steeves, Lauren Tyler and Colby Willey.

Former restaurant new site for Grace Academy

by Mary Grow

Thanks to Norman Elvin, Grace Academy has a permanent new home in the former Norm’s Restaurant at 363 Route 3.

Executive Director Michelle Bourque got a permit from the China Planning Board on June 16 to open the school in the building, which has a varied history of commercial uses.

Norm’s Seafood and Chicken restaurant

The former Norm’s Seafood and Chicken restaurant on Rte. 3 will become the new home for Grace Academy, thanks to Norm Elvin’s donation of the property to the school. Photo by Roland D. Hallee

Bourque said she plans to start full operation in the fall, although she might offer a summer athletic program.  The private academy operates mainly mornings, catering to home-schooling families. About 20 families and more than 70 students are involved, she said, with 15 to 25 students typi-cally present at one time.

She would like to add an after-school tutoring program – the booths that served restaurant cus-tomers will make suitable private spaces – and an evening driver education program.

Planning board members found the building, which was extensively rebuilt in 2012, septic sys-tem  water supply, parking areas and landscaping met all town requirements and unanimously approved the permit.

Elvin is founder and president of G & E Roofing, in Augusta. He also owned the China Dine-ah, and after selling it briefly operated the diner on Route 3.

Bourque said Elvin donated the building to the school, along with the restaurant equipment for the school to sell or use.  She praised his extensive fire safety system, which she said favorably impressed the state fire marshal who inspected the premises.

Once located in the old Farrington’s store, the academy has recently moved from one location to another while Bourque tried to find a building to buy or rent long-term.

The other item on the June 16 planning board agenda was a public hearing and final action on George and Pamela Jackson’s application to amend the Arrowhead Subdivision on Amelias Way, off Pleasant View Ridge Road, by dividing one lot into two.  No one attended the hearing; surveyor David Wendell presented test pit results for the new lot; Codes Officer Paul Mitnik said no other issues remained from the board’s May 24 discussion; and the application was approved unanimously.

The board has scheduled a public hearing on proposed shore-land zoning amendments for Tuesday evening, July 26. Mitnik said the proposed amendments are on the town’s web site, with explanations.

Changes are also under consideration to the sign ordinance and the conditional use criteria, but with only three board members present, discussion was postponed.

Mitnik added another possible ordinance change to a future agenda: selectmen, he said, are discussing a boardwalk and other improvements at the causeway at the head of China Lake’s east basin, where people launch boats and fish from the shore.  Mitnik doubts the legality of a board-walk so close to the water, but he suggested fishing platforms might be permissible if the local shoreland ordinance were amended.

The next regular Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, June 28.