Let’s talk local Skowhegan history

Skowhegan History House Museum & Research Center is hosting a new program series at the History House, “Let’s Talk Local History.” Local residents are invited to share interesting stories, experiences, and artifacts with museum staff in small, informal discussions! The roundtable discussions are designed to be both educational and entertaining. The purpose of the discussions is to enrich our understanding of this area’s history as we talk about life in earlier times and to engage older citizens. Please join us from 2 – 4 p.m. at the Skowhegan History House Museum & Research Center on Thursdays: June 8, July 6, August 24, and September 21. This program is free.

History House Museum expanding volunteer team in Skowhegan

Submitted by Melvin Burnham

A Volunteer Open House at the Skowhegan History House Museum & Research Center, 66 Elm Street, Skowhegan, has been scheduled for Wednesday, May 24, 3 – 4:30 p.m. History House veteran volunteers and folks from the Skowhegan area who would like to learn more about the Volunteer Program are invited to attend.

History House volunteers consistently make a positive impact on the museum and its patrons. They play an active role in preserving and promoting collections dating back through the late 1700s and therefore contribute greatly to our community. Volunteers learn about early Skowhegan and the citizens of the time. They make new friends, utilize existing skills and learn new ones.

Volunteers assist with visitors and tours, design and create displays, assist with clerical work, answer the phone, or conduct research. Others maintain and clean the museum, teach small groups of children about local history and historic preservation and others work directly with artifact preservation and cataloging. Some volunteers like to dedicate their time to working in the Heirloom Gardens, assisting in preparing for major projects or events, or assisting with tasks pertaining to society membership, preparing materials for distribution or mailings, creating presentations, etc.

Museum staff strives to match a volunteer’s skills and interests to meaningful and necessary tasks. We utilize the skills that talented folks bring with them and we offer training to those who wish to learn new skills.

Volunteers of all ages are encouraged to attend the Open House. We welcome volunteers of all ages including high school students who would like to explore museum science or complete community involvement requirements. Come see what we have to offer and share your talents and interests with us. More information pertaining to the program can be found at skowheganhistoryhouse.org or by contacting Kay Marsh, volunteer coordinator, 465-7458, grammy.kay.cee@gmail.com.

Over 100 local Special Olympians set for games in Skowhegan on May 5

Special Olympics Maine Area events are underway across the state. Local Special Olympics programs have been or are soon to be participating in area track and field events at the local levels as they prepare for the state Summer Games. The Special Olympics Maine state summer games will take place June 9 – 11 at the University of Maine at Orono this year. Over 1,500 Special Olympic Maine athletes, both children and adults, are expected to compete at this year’s event.

Prior to the state games, athletes must participate in local games to get times, distances, and ability levels which will help put them into appropriate divisions at the state level competition. The Somerset County Area Spring Games have been a longstanding tradition that our athletes look forward to each year. Each year, we have over 100 athletes registered to compete in our track and field events with over 50 volunteers in support of them. We thank all the local volunteers and coaches who have pulled together in support of our efforts. A special thanks to Skowhegan Area High School for letting us use their space. The opening ceremonies are accompanied by the SAHS Band. SAHS’ track and field coaches and athletes and SAHS Jobs for Maine Graduates student volunteers provide guidance throughout the day, ensuring proper tracking of times and distances. The Lion’s Club provides the almost 200 lunches hot off the grill. Several local emergency responders are available to aid and safety for all attendees.

Special Olympics Maine is a year-round sports training and competition program for children and adults who have intellectual disabilities. In Maine, they serve over 4,000 athletes.

For more information about the Somerset County Area Spring Games, please contact Maxine Briggs-Buzzell, Somerset & Upper Kennebec County Area manager at 207-293-4577 or Kim Garland, Somerset Area Spring Games coordinator at 207-566-5766.

For more information on Special Olympics Maine please visit www.somaine.org or call 207-879-0489 or find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SpecialOlympicsMaine.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of March 2, 2017

Katie Ouilette Walls
by Katie Ouilette

Y’know, WALLS, I must have a touch of Spring Fever, cause all of a sudden I’ve been thinking about the song: “People…People Who Need People are the Luckiest People in the World.” O.K., we’ll talk about people, as this just may be thank you week and our lucky people are those who gave much of their lives and talents to Skowhegan and vicinity.

First, with wars still raging in our Middle East and some of our military there and to those who fought in our wars and their relatives, we must say ‘thanks.” We will soon celebrate Abner Coburn Day and we all know that Abner Coburn was born in nearby

Canaan, but built the ‘decrepit’ mansion on our Skowhegan Main Street Hill. Yes, our Governor Coburn sat with our President Abraham Lincoln, as he delivered The Gettysburg Address, since we of Skowhegan and Maine had men fighting in our Civil War. Yes, People needed those soldiers.

What’s more, my thoughts have turned back to the days when Skowhegan’s Water Street and Madison Avenue had a great variety of stores where people who worked in our spinning and woolen mills could leave their work for lunch hour and, yes, walk down Water Street to window shop or stop in and buy whatever was needed at home. Yes, we had Stern’s and Crane’s department stores, or five-and-dimes McClellan’s, Grants, Woolworth’s or even Cora Cayouette’s Corsetry which was next to Skowhegan’s Famous Bonnet Shop. On Madison Avenue and Water Street there were grocery stores, meat and fish markets, furniture stores, gift shops, restaurants, soda fountains and, lest we forget, the Maine Liquor Store, drug stores and music stores. Don’t forget the many offices that were located on the second floors of our famous downtown buildings.

Here’s a bit of an aside from the Waterville Morning Sentinel’s Amy Calder, who wrote this week of the snowstorm of 1968-69 and who urged me to write of my experiences during that storm. Well, will suffice for now in saying that Skowhegan’s first radio station (WSKW) was located above the William Philbrick Office and that storm happened to be on the first day for my broadcast! Well, we all know that ‘the show must go on,” and I got there through the drifts!

At a Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours, at Russakoff Jewelers, a few weeks ago, WALLS promised to write a history of Skowhegan Downtown, but at another time. I will say that Skowhegan’s downtown had a lot of barber shops as the men didn’t have long hair and beard in those days!

While writing this, WALLS, you certainly will thank the Alfond Foundation and other local manufacturers for their workers having made the products that enabled giving our area young people assistance with college tuition, with the hope they will stay in this area and develop the foresight to develop products needed and become CEO’s for the manufacture of same. Yes, WALLS, you know full well that “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,” and, WALLS, you also know that this is the best place to live, “Maine, the Way Life Should Be.”

Getting the upper hand

Skowhegan’s Aiden Clark gets positioning over Colby Nadeau, of Benton, during the Winslow Raider Rumble Youth Tournament.

Photo by Mark Huard, owner Central Maine Photography

Students named to the University of Vermont dean’s list

The following students have been named to the dean’s list at the University of Vermont, in Burlington Vermont:

Devin Beckim and Melissa Petersen, both of Augusta; Kayla Christopher, of Oakland; and Delaney Curran, of Skowhegan.

Kennebec Behavioral Health cited

CARF International announced that Kennebec Behavioral Health has been accredited for a period of three years for all of its programs and services including the agency’s newest service – Behavioral Health Homes. The latest accreditation is the fifth consecutive Three-Year Accreditation that the international accrediting body, CARF, has awarded to Kennebec Behavioral Health.

This accreditation decision represents the highest level of accreditation that can be awarded to an organization and shows the organization’s substantial conformance to the CARF standards. An organization receiving a Three-Year Accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer review process. It has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit its commitment to offering programs and services that are measurable, accountable, and of the highest quality.

CARF is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process that centers on enhancing the lives of the persons served.

“We are extremely pleased with our survey results,” said Thomas J. McAdam, chief executive officer of Kennebec Behavioral Health. “It is an indication of our commitment to excellence in all areas of KBH, including care delivery, operations and finance.”

Kennebec Behavioral Health is a non-profit health-care organization that has provided mental health and substance abuse services and supports in central Maine since 1960. KBH operates clinics in Waterville, Skowhegan, Winthrop and Augusta and has three vocational clubhouses located in Waterville, Augusta and Lewiston. For more information, or to schedule an appointment for any KBH service, call 1-888-322-2136. Information can also be found at www.kbhmaine.org.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of December 15, 2016

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Faithful readers, are you the ones who planned so many events for our calendar? I thought WALLS would know better, but maybe all the events that everyone has attended during the last week had to have a lot of busy minds and, yes, we’ve said yes!

Right now, we’re having our first real snowstorm, so we are guaranteed a white Christmas, so our dreams of that Bing Crosby song can definitely come true. What’s more, as Lew went out to start the snow removal ordeal, he ordered one of his favorites, a salmon pie with egg sauce. Hmm, I wonder how many of today’s cooks make such today.
O.K., I’ll make that pie and top it with egg sauce, but, first, WALLS, you will make sure I order all those magazines for our great-grandkids. Yes, and our Reese Paine was absolutely beautiful at her Top Hat dance recital. The Opera House at Skowhegan’s Municipal Building was full of proud parents, ‘Grands and Greats.’

WALLS, you sure do want me to tell you about great-granddaughter Sydney’s taking pictures of everyone who attended the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours at Andy and Donna Russakoff’s wonderful jewelry store, on Water Street, in Skowhegan. That was held on December 15, but Andy and Donna did much reminiscing during the evening. There was a framed photo of Founder Sussman Russakoff for all to see and that brought reminiscences of the whole Russakoff family. Oh, what happy days have been shared with so many over the 100 years of the business!

Yes, Jason Gayne told us at the SACC annual meeting that the Chamber was going to be involved with all the communities that have been members. Danielle and Kevin Dubois attended BAH and, surely, Sydney pointed the camera at her mom, Danielle, and others who have taken up the challenges with Jason and are new chamber directors.

Yup, WALLS has been thinking backward! Katie took all who urged her to write a history of downtown Skowhegan very seriously. In fact, at 86 years ‘young,’ she was surprised at how much she remembered about the Skow early-days, so she hopes all requests were serious.

WALLS, don’t forget that the Whittemore’s Real Estate sales people were treated to a positively wonderful gathering at the Heritage House on December 7. Yes, WALLS will tell you that some of those attending could reminisce about those days of

World War II beginning with Japan’s bombing [of Pearl Harbor] on December 7, but Van Ames thought of school days when, after school, he worked in sales at Henry’s Hardware and Chris Perkins, also an owner of Whittemore’s Real Estate shared his memories with Richard Parlin and others at one of the six tables of ‘the Whittemore Real Estate “family.”

WALLS, you know that we have shared so much with family and friends during the past week, but, surely, you are wise and will share more of your thoughts as “Tis the season to be jolly”……. Ho-Ho-Ho, Santa Clause is coming to our faithful readers.

Creativity flourishes at River Roads Gallery

by Maria Landry

When River Roads Artisans Gallery moved from North Avenue to its current location at 75 Water Street in Skowhegan, the 12 artists involved weren’t sure if they’d last six months downtown. Now, seven years later, the gallery is thriving with 27 members.

“The move down here for us was fabulous—as was the support from all the downtown store owners,” said Chris Sumberg, a former gallery member who oversees the management of River Roads.

What started as a typical one-owner store has been for the past seven years a co-op in which members pay a monthly fee to have their artwork sold in the gallery and work together to keep the business going.

“When we made the move downtown we decided to go as a co-op, and it’s been working wonderfully,” Sumberg said. “We pay the bills together, we volunteer our time to work in the store. It’s just been really easy.”

With 27 members, the gallery is replete with a variety of handmade artworks, including pottery, paintings, jewelry, woodwork, fabric arts, rock art, blown glass, stained glass, and more.page1pict7

“We could probably take a couple more artists, but we’re getting tighter and tighter,” Sumberg said, gesturing to the gallery. “We may expand into the back room. That’s an option.”

While some members hail from as far as Jackman and South Portland, most are local, crafting their wares in area towns including Skowhegan, Athens, Solon, Cornville, Oakland, Fairfield, Norridgewock, Mercer, and Canaan.

River Roads is open May through December, and there is usually at least one new artist every season.

“The reason we close for four months is that these artists need to create,” Sumberg said. River Roads’ members will soon be sharing their creativity at two upcoming events during the holiday season.

River Roads Window DisplayFourth Annual Great Art Giveaway , Saturday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

For Small Business Saturday, River Roads artisans donate an item (or two or three) to a prize table. Customers who make a minimum purchase on that day have the opportunity to draw a ticket for a chance to win a free piece of artwork of their choice from the prize table.

“It’s a very good chance they’ll get a prize,” Sumberg said. Free Gift Wrapping, Saturday, Dec. 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of November 17, 2016

by Katie Ouilette

WALLS, the party at “Tim” Emery’s house was to honor his dad, Harlan’s 90th birthday and it was truly a gathering in Harlan’s honor. Frankly, WALLS, I can’t name all the attendees, but surely Lew Ouilette, of East Madison, and Elene Higgins, of Hartland, Harlan’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law, were there. Unfortunately the Washington State sons could not be there to see all their grown cousins, but all Harlan’s friends, family, and ‘now grown up offspring’ (if nearby) were there.

Now, WALLS, that brings your telling about your usually writing the past, present and future in this column for family and faithful readers. Actually, you were about to tell about where this column got its name, when even Tim’s two dogs stole the show. Oh, how they loved seeing all the people! Yes, even the wonderfully happy dogs were grown!

O.K., WALLS. You knew that there were many years since you had seen the ‘young ones’ as little kids, but, as they all sat on the sofa, they were totally contented sitting with the guest of honor and listening to what he had to say. That was a really good feeling, right, WALLS? Those young adults, obviously, loved whatever wisdom-or-not Harlan had to share.

Speaking of the past. I had a very long conversation with Jim, whom I learned was great-uncle of my Skowhegan Junior High School principal, Lyndall Smith! Yes, we sure shared memories. There was much to share about feelings about young people today. Jim is a retired math teacher and taught last year at Skowhegan High School, but taught at

Dexter High School prior to his retirement after spending last year in Skowhegan.

Several people told me how much they look forward to you, WALLS. So, WALLS hope that such compliments will end up being present and future, too.

Yes, it was a superb celebration! Lew has raved about the food and has complimented every single person that organized the entire event. Every single offering was beautiful and delicious……as was the chocolate birthday cake!

Many thanks to every single person there, in fact…………old friends and friends we hadn’t met yet.

WALLS, before closing your thoughts for this week, please tell everyone about the pie sales that will be held before Thanksgiving Day. Hospice is having a pie sale at Redington-Fairview General Hospital on November 23.

Skowhegan Recreational Center will serve Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day. What’s more, if you shop at Redington-Fairview General Hospital auxiliary’s craft show, you may win a pie a month for three months in 2017. So you faithful readers have learned of what your future may bring in 2017!

Happy Thanksgiving to all from WALLS!