Covers towns roughly within 50 miles of Augusta.
EVENTS: Reps. to provide update to Lincoln County Dems/0 Comments/in Central ME, Community, Events, Politics/by Website Editor
The Lincoln County Democratic Committee (LCDC) will hold its next meeting at 6:30 p.m., on Thursday, March 23, via Zoom. The agenda will feature State Sen. Cameron Reny (SD #13) and State Rep. Lydia Crafts (HD #46), who will provide updates on their priority bills and how people can get involved in helping to pass the legislation.
All Lincoln County Democrats and unenrolled progressives are welcome to attend LCDC meetings.
Pre-registration is required for non-voting members to receive Zoom log on and/or phone in details. Register at https://lincolncountydemocrats.com/meet before noon the day of the meeting to ensure access.
Legislative Report as of Friday, March 10, 2023/0 Comments/in Central ME, Politics/by Website Editor
Legislative bills submitted by area senators & representatives as of Friday, March 10, 2023.
L.D. 1013, H.P. 649
An Act to Provide Training, Professional Development and Wellness Supports for Child Protective Services Workers. (Presented by Representative MADIGAN of Waterville)
L.D. 1015, H.P. 651
Resolve, Establishing the Commission to Study the Foreclosure Process. (Presented by Representative DUCHARME of Madison)
L.D. 1021, H.P. 657
An Act to Enhance Awareness of Laboratory Testing of Ticks for Lyme Disease. (Presented by Representative SMITH of Palermo)
L.D. 1031, H.P. 667
Resolve, to Improve Access to Child Care by Expanding Eligibility for the Child Care Subsidy Program. (Presented by Representative LaROCHELLE of Augusta)
L.D. 1034, H.P. 670
An Act to Require That Service of a Temporary Protection Order Be Attempted Within 48 Hours from the Issuance of the Order. (Presented by Representative SMITH of Palermo)
L.D. 1038, H.P. 674
An Act to Reinstate Plurality Voting by Repealing the Ranked-choice Voting Laws. (Presented by Representative POLEWARCZYK of Wiscasset)
L.D. 1039, H.P. 675
An Act to Provide Restitution for Victims of Shoplifting for Time Spent Dealing with the Offense. (Presented by Representative POLEWARCZYK of Wiscasset)
L.D. 1057, S.P. 426
An Act to Promote Consumer Protections in the Residential Building Sector by Requiring Contractors and Subcontractors to Supply Evidence of Insurance. (Presented by Senator CURRY of Waldo)
L.D. 1058, S.P. 427
An Act to Advance Greenhouse Gas Removal as an Economic Development Strategy in Maine. (Presented by Senator CURRY of Waldo)
L.D. 1066, S.P. 435
An Act to Allow a Restaurant to Serve a Bottle of Wine to the Person Who Brought the Bottle. (Presented by Senator POULIOT of Kennebec
L.D. 1079, S.P. 448
An Act Regarding Visitation Rights of Grandparents. (Presented by Senator POULIOT of Kennebec)
L.D. 1080, S.P. 449
An Act to Require the Termination of Private Mortgage Insurance. (Presented by Senator POULIOT of Kennebec)
L.D. 1081, S.P. 450
An Act to Impose a Fee on Commercial Water Withdrawn from Lakes and Ponds to Fund Conservation Efforts and Prohibit a Fee on the Sale of Water Withdrawn from a Lake or Pond. (Presented by Senator POULIOT of Kennebec)
L.D. 1087, H.P. 682
An Act to Remove Restrictions in the Provisions of Law Relating to No-knock Warrants. (Presented by Representative CYRWAY of Albion)
L.D. 1088, H.P. 683
An Act to Update the Gambling Laws to Allow Once-annual Casino Nights for Charitable Purposes or Registered Political Committees. (Presented by Representative RUDNICKI of Fairfield)
L.D. 1097, H.P. 692
An Act to Replace Participation Thresholds in Municipal Referenda with Lower Approval Thresholds. (Presented by Representative BRIDGEO of Augusta)
L.D. 1106, H.P. 702
An Act to Improve the Transition to Adult Services for Children with Intellectual Disabilities. (Presented by Representative POIRIER of Skowhegan)
L.D. 1109, H.P. 705
RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Create Consistent Election Dates for Citizen-initiated Referenda in Even-numbered Election Years. (Presented by Representative BRADSTREET of Vassalboro)
L.D. 1120, S.P. 454
Resolve, to Install a Suicide Barrier on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. (EMERGENCY) (Presented by Senator CURRY of Waldo)
L.D. 1126, S.P. 463
Resolve, to Increase Community Action Grants. (Presented by Senator RENY of Lincoln)
L.D. 1127, S.P. 464
Resolve, Directing the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to Create a Process for Real-time Confirmation of Live Bait Retailer’s Licenses by Electronic Means. (Presented by Senator RENY of Lincoln)
(Copies of the Bills may be obtained from the Document Room, First Floor, State House, Augusta, Maine 04333-0002 – Ph: 207-287-1408. Bill text, bill status and roll call information are available on the Internet at http://legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/search.asp. The Weekly Legislative Report is also available on the Internet at the House home page at http://legislature.maine.gov/house/house/ under the “Documents” tab.).
Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Plagues/0 Comments/in Augusta, Central ME, Fairfield, Local History, Up and Down the Kennebec Valley/by Mary Grow
by Mary Grow
Note: “The first article in this Kennebec Valley series appeared in the March 26, 2020, issue of The Town Line. Having completed a three-year run, your writer intends to take a few weeks off.”
Since this historical series started in the spring of 2020 as a way to distract writer and readers from the Covid-19 pandemic, part of the plan has always been a survey of past local disease outbreaks.
Someone at the Maine State Museum had the same idea. The museum has a one-page document uploaded in 2020 and headed Maine’s Historic Pandemics.
(The difference between an epidemic and a pandemic is that an epidemic is localized to a country or region; a pandemic affects multiple countries or the whole world. Since this article is focused on the State of Maine, your writer reserves the right to use “epidemic” even when the disease described sickened people outside Maine.)
The museum website lists five diseases, three too recent to qualify for your writer’s attention in this article:
- Smallpox was at its height from 1600 to 1800; the worst epidemics had a 30 percent death rate; and it was especially severe among Native Americans (who, unlike Europeans, had no previous exposure to give them a chance to develop immunity).
- Cholera was most frequent in Maine between about 1830 and 1850, with seven separate outbreaks, the museum’s chart says. The death rate is put at 50 to 60 percent.
- Tuberculosis became epidemic from 1900 to 1950, with a 25 percent death rate. One of Maine’s three tuberculosis sanatoriums was in Fairfield – see the Sept. 22, 2022, issue of The Town Line.
- Maine’s polio epidemic ran from 1900 to 1960, mainly affecting children. The death rate is listed at 5 to 15 percent; many who survived were paralyzed or lamed for life.
- Influenza is listed as a pandemic in 1918 and 1919, when the disease spread world-wide. The death rate was 2 percent.
Some Maine local historians frequently mentioned epidemics; others ignored them. Diseases most often noted were smallpox, scarlet fever and diphtheria.
In a 1995 paper for Maine History (reprinted on line in the University of Maine’s invaluable Digital Commons series), John D. Blaisdell called smallpox “one of the most frightening of all diseases.” Often fatal, especially to children, the virus left survivors with permanent scars; the Maine State Museum website says it also caused blindness.
A National Park Service (NPS) website discusses the development of inoculation, the practice of deliberately sharing smallpox by transferring pus from an infected person to a healthy one. Doctors discovered that the person being inoculated would usually have a mild case and would seldom develop the disease again.
The website uses colonial Boston as an example. In a 1721 smallpox outbreak, Puritan minister Cotton Mather heard about inoculation from his African slave, Onesimus, and talked Dr. Zabdiel Boylston into trying it.
The website calls this trial inoculation “incredibly controversial.” People got so angry that someone bombed Mather’s house. Many feared the health consequences, and clergymen insisted that smallpox was “God’s punishment for sin” and therefore inoculation “interfered with God’s will.”
Boylston, undeterred, took the experiment seriously and followed up. He found that the 1721 outbreak killed 14 percent of the people who accidentally caught it from others, versus only two percent of those who were deliberately inoculated.
People slowly accepted inoculation, including George Washington, who promoted it regularly during the Revolutionary War to keep his army healthy enough to fight. In 1777, he ordered soldiers inoculated, “the first medical mandate in American history,” the NPS website says.
Inoculation was succeeded by vaccination, a process using a weakened or altered version of the pathogen against which immunity is desired (an on-line site says today the terms inoculation and vaccination are used synonymously). Blaisdell wrote that the earliest smallpox vaccine was developed in Great Britain by Edward Jenner in 1798; the idea came to Boston in 1799 and was “quickly accepted by the American medical community.”
The earliest local reference to smallpox your writer found was in James North’s history of Augusta. He mentioned an October 1792 outbreak among Hallowell residents; “Mr. Sweet and two of his children died with it,” he wrote.
In 1816, Vassalboro historian Alma Pierce Robbins said in her chapter on schools, there was enough fear of a smallpox outbreak that, she quoted (from town records), “a sum was voted to insure the Inhabitants against small pox.”
The earliest disease outbreak Wiggin mentioned in her Albion history was in 1819.
Smallpox was spreading among townspeople, and there was agreement on what to do about it, so voters created a committee to “use every effort to prevent the further spread of small pox.”
Wiggin added that there was no further information on the committee’s success or failure in town records, and neither she nor Robbins gave any hint as to the method(s) used. Wiggin wrote that she found records of another outbreak years later.
Also in 1819, Blaisdell referenced a Penobscot Valley outbreak, starting in Belfast and moving up the river. He said that Hampden doctor Allen Rogers used vaccination as one method of fighting it.
Blaisdell noted another outbreak in early 1840 in Winterport and Bangor.
Linwood Lowden wrote in his history of Windsor that an 1864 town meeting warrant asked for money to compensate Patrick Lynch “for damage received on account of being fenced up [quarantined] for the public safety in the case of small pox.” On May 14, 1864, voters approved paying Lynch’s doctor’s bill.
Lowden found a record of a smallpox vaccination – probably not the first one in town, he wrote – on Thursday, Nov. 12, 1885, when a Dr. Libby, from Pittston, vaccinated Orren Choate.
Another 19th-century method of controlling smallpox, diphtheria and other contagious diseases was fumigating the premises with a gas like chlorine, cyanide or formaldehyde, Lowden wrote.
Cholera, an intestinal disease characterized by severe diarrhea, is caused by a bacterium that is usually transmitted through contaminated water or food. The disease is often fatal unless it is promptly diagnosed and treated.
The major way to prevent cholera is adequate sanitation. It is now uncommon in developed countries, but epidemics still occur in parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Cholera vaccines are available and are recommended for residents of and travelers to areas where the disease is common.
Your writer found no records of cholera in the Kennebec Valley, but it could well have killed residents here, because it has been documented elsewhere in Maine. An on-line site, citing an April 2020 article in the Bangor Daily News, mentions outbreaks in Bangor in 1832 and in 1849, and one in Lewiston in 1854 that caused 200 deaths.
The article says the cause of the 1832 Bangor outbreak was a trunk of clothing that had belonged to a sailor who died of cholera in Europe. When his belongings were sent home and shared among family members and friends, the disease was shared, too.
The history article in the Dec. 1, 2022, issue of The Town Line mentioned an 1883 case of scarlet fever in East Machias that was attributed to contaminated clothing brought from an infected area.
Closer to home, Martha Ballard’s diary recorded scarlet fever in Hallowell in the summer of 1787. Entries in June, July and August describe patients with “the rash” or “canker rash” (an old name for “a form of scarlet fever characterized by an ulcerated or putrid sore throat,” according to the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary).
Captain Henry Sewall’s son Billy died June 18, a week after Ballard was first called to see him because he was “sick with the rash.” By the end of July Rev. Isaac Foster had it and was unable to preach. (Last week’s history article summarized relations between Sewall and Foster.)
Early in August, Ballard was back and forth among several households with sick children, some she explicitly said had scarlet fever and others so ill they must have had it too. All the McMaster children caught it, and William McMaster died; Ballard sat up all night with him before his death, and wrote of her sympathy for his pregnant mother.
On Aug. 7, Ballard started at Mrs. Howard’s where her son James was “very low”; went to see Mrs. Williams, who was “very unwell”; to Joseph Foster’s to check on the children there; and to her back field to gather some “cold water root” that she took to Polly Kenyday for a gargle, “which gave her great ease.” When she got home, she found her husband with a very sore throat; he too benefited from the cold water root and “went to bed comfortably.”
The 1899 Windsor Board of Health report, cited in Lowden’s town history, recorded eight scarlet fever cases.
Local historians mentioned two diphtheria epidemics in the second half of the 19th century.
During the 1862-63 school year, according to a town report Wiggin cited, 17 students in Albion schools died of diphtheria – she found no record of infant or adult deaths. (That was a sad winter, she pointed out; it was during the Civil War, from which, according to one report she found, only 55 of the 100 Albion men who enlisted returned.)
The 1988 history of Fairfield mentioned a diphtheria epidemic in 1886.
Lowden listed repeated outbreaks of typhoid fever in Windsor. He wrote that it killed four residents in 1850 and “three young men” in 1877; and the 1899 Board of Health report recorded two more cases.
Biographical sketch of Fairfield’s Dr. Frank J. Robinson
The context for the mention of the Fairfield diphtheria epidemic was a biographical sketch of Dr. Frank J. Robinson (Jan. 23, 1850 – February 1942).
A native of St. Albans (about 30 miles north of Fairfield), Robinson taught school before enrolling in Maine Medical School (later Bowdoin College) in January 1874 and graduating from Long Island College of Medicine in 1875 (the writers of the Fairfield bicentennial history do not explain how he did this; they do say he took numerous post-graduate courses).
Robinson practiced in Fairfield for 65 years, in an office in the Wilson block on Main Street until 1936 and thereafter from his 71 High Street home. The Wilson Block was evidently a medical center; the Dec. 16, 1902, issue of the Fairfield Journal, found on the Fairfield Historical Society’s website, reported that “Dr. Austin Thomas, who has come here from Thomaston, is not as has been reported, associated with Dr. I. P. Tash but has leased the offices in the Wilson block, formerly occupied by Dr. Goodspeed.”
Robinson treated people in Benton, Clinton and as far away as Norridgewock, according to the history.
He was still active at a public commemoration of his 89th birthday, the occasion on which the history says he remembered the diphtheria outbreak that infected 44 Fairfield residents.
The Fairfield historians added that he was again honored on his 92nd birthday, the month before his death, recognized as “one of the oldest practicing physicians in Maine, if not in the country.”
Fairfield Historical Society Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
Lowden, Linwood H. good Land & fine Contrey but Poor roads a history of Windsor, Maine (1993).
Nash, Charles Elventon, The History of Augusta (1904).
North, James W., The History of Augusta (1870).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).
Wiggin, Ruby Crosby, Albion on the Narrow Gauge (1964).
SKILLS, Inc. announces two new programs: community membership and career planning/0 Comments/in Central ME, Community/by Website Editor
SKILLS, Inc. has expanded its Community-based Services offerings to include Community Membership and its Employment Services line to include Career Planning. These two new services will help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism explore their talents and interests, become actively involved in the community, and reach their full potential. SKILLS is now accepting referrals for both programs.
Community Membership services provide support for people to go out into their chosen community with the goal of becoming part of the community rather than living among it. People supported learn about volunteer and job opportunities, organizations they may want to join, classes they may want to take, or places where they would like to spend more time. Support is provided one-on-one or one-on-two so that the experience can truly be tailored to an individual’s interests and skills. SKILLS employees are certified Direct Support Professionals and have completed additional training on building relationships and community inclusion in order to offer the Community Membership service.
Career Planning helps people with the exploratory phases of job seeking such as visiting businesses and learning about skills required for different jobs. The Career Planning program operates on a flexible schedule and lasts 60 hours over a six-month timeframe. It culminates with a written Career Plan that includes a person’s skills, interests, and other factors that lead to success and which assist in finding a meaningful job. SKILLS’ Career Planning Program graduates are assisted with application completion and submission to Vocational Rehabilitation and in learning about potential work incentives.
SKILLS is a nonprofit organization in Maine helping people with intellectual disabilities and other challenges achieve their goals. The organization has administrative offices in St. Albans and offers services in communities throughout central Maine. For more information, visit www.skillsinc.net.
Long Covid can kill you/0 Comments/in Central ME, Community/by Website Editor
The CDC has just provided guidance for certifying deaths from “long COVID”—the first official confirmation that the long-haul phase following the acute phase of COVID-19 can kill you.
The February 2023 addendum to the Vital Statistics report initially published in April 2020 now authorizes post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC), the technical term for long COVID, to be listed as a cause of death on death certificates.
The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was reported in January 2020, and the first death was in February 2020.
“It’s good that the CDC officially recognizes the seriousness of the chronic phase of COVID-19,” says board certified internist Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, who is a leading expert in treating patients with chronic fatigue and chronic pain conditions. His landmark research on effective treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) was published in the Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (8:2,2001). “The CDC has observed close similarities between long COVID and CFS and, in fact, Dr. Fauci has characterized long COVID as being post-viral Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.”
“As with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, people with long COVID present a wide range of seemingly unrelated symptoms including exhaustion, dizziness, breathlessness, headaches, sleep problems, sluggish thinking, and many other problems. Sadly, as with CFS, patients are too often dismissed by their physicians and underserved by a medical system that hasn’t yet found adequate solutions to the growing problem,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. “This suggests a systemic public health emergency.”
A study published in the journal PLOS One in November 2022 revealed that 95 percent of patients with long COVID faced stigma from their lingering illness and the inability to return to work and resume normal living.
The Government Accountability Office estimates that long COVID has potentially affected up to 23 million Americans, pushing an estimated 1 million out of work. Their chronic suffering and the stigma that often accompanies it may feel like a fate worse than death.
“Stigma in medicine is nothing new,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. “We must remove the stigma and shame that so many with chronic illnesses are subjected to. Just because doctors don’t know all the answers and tests often fail to home in on a satisfactory diagnosis, it doesn’t mean that the disease isn’t real, or that it’s a psychological aberration. That attitude represents the wholesale failure of our medical system.”
Maine DEP has announced new grant awards for municipal stream crossings/0 Comments/in Central ME, News/by Website Editor
Maine DEP’s Municipal Stream Crossing Grant Program provides grants that match local funding for the upgrade of culverts at stream crossings on municipal roads. Projects funded through this program will benefit public infrastructure and safety by replacing failing culverts that are at risk of complete washout or collapse; reduce flooding and increase resiliency with the installation or larger, higher capacity and longer-lived crossings, benefit fish and wildlife by opening and reconnecting stream habitat fragmented by undersized and impassable culverts, and represent a cost-effective and efficient investment based on planning, detail, and local matching funds committed to the project.
Funding for this round of grants includes $3 million from the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, with additional awards being made from previously-returned grant funds. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) received 45 applications to review with a total over $6.5 million dollars in funding requests. Thirty-two stream crossing projects funded this round will result in new or improved upstream fish passage to 60 miles of stream habitat, and result in less flooding and improved resilience of local transportation infrastructure.
Maine DEP is pleased to announce funds for the following projects in the central Maine area:
Fairfield, Green Road, $150,000; Mercer, Pond Road, $150,000; Whitefield, South Hunts Meadow Road, $146,000.
New Dimensions FCU awarded grant for ending hunger campaign/0 Comments/in Central ME, Waterville/by Website Editor
Elan, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, continuing the commitment to partners and their communities, has selected 25 new credit union partners to designate a charity in their community to receive a $15,000 donation on the credit union’s behalf, as part of the 2023 Elan Charitable Giving Program. The program has now donated over $1 million since it began in 2022.
“Over the last year we’ve heard and seen firsthand how our charitable giving program is making an impact,” said John Owens, Elan Credit Card General Manager, “These nonprofits are doing incredible work for community members and it’s an honor for us to be able to support them.”
The 2023 Elan charitable giving credit union partners and selected beneficiaries includes New Dimensions Federal Credit Union (Maine Credit Union’s Campaign for Ending Hunger), in Waterville.
In 2023, Elan plans to organize in-person volunteer events. This will provide the opportunity for Elan team members to work alongside credit union partners in their communities.
To learn more about each organization, credit union, and the impact Elan is making in communities through its charitable giving initiative visit www.elancharitablegiving.com.
LETTERS: AARP wants to hear from you/0 Comments/in Central ME, Kennebec County, Letters to the Editor/by Website Editor
To the editor:
Do you ever get the feeling that no one’s really listening to you? Well, that’s about to change.
As we move into this new year of 2023, AARP Maine wants to hear what you have to say about things like housing, heating and health. These, and a host of other issues and ideas, which are of import to all Mainers age 50+, are the things which are important to us.
With that in mind, beginning the evening of Monday, February 20th, and continuing for the next six (6) weeks, AARP Maine volunteers and staff will be hosting a Virtual Listening Tour. Conducted over Zoom, our virtual session “stops” range from Maine’s Southern Coast to its Northern Tip. We invite you to visit our website to find when we will be visiting your area, and to register to participate.
As we collectively engage in clarifying the questions and concerns we face, and crafting creative solutions on behalf of ourselves and those we care about, we want to add your voice; and to do that we must first hear and listen to what you have to say.
Come join us; let’s talk, let’s listen.
Carl M. Toney, P.A.
Executive Council Volunteer
KVYSO a hidden gem in central Maine/0 Comments/in Central ME, Community, Kennebec County/by Eric W. Austin
by Eric W. Austin
“I think of it as a hidden gem in central Maine,” says board president Stephanie Taylor, about the Kennebec Valley Youth Symphony Orchestras (KVYSO), an independent nonprofit formed in 2018 as an outgrowth of the Pineland Suzuki School of music, in Manchester. The initiative was an effort to bring the string musicians of the Suzuki School together with local students of wind, brass and percussion instruments for a full orchestral experience.
Taylor, a professor of Computer Science, at Colby College, in Waterville, and mother to one former and one current student member of the orchestra, serves as both the president of the board and the group’s webmaster.
“I’m the president of the board,” she says, “which basically just means I’m an involved parent.”
The orchestra consists of two ensembles, the Kennebec Valley Youth Orchestra for intermediate students, and the Kennebec Valley Youth Symphony for advanced students. Middle school and high school students are encouraged to audition, with placement determined by skill level. KVYSO is especially looking for percussion, brass, and wind instrumentalists.
The group works hard to avoid conflicts with other activities in which the students may be involved, such as sports or other musical groups. They hold two ten-week seasons each year, culminating with a public concert. Their off-season is January and February, when the Mid-Maine Youth Orchestra is active, so that students can participate in both groups if they wish. Frequently, KVYSO schedules trips such as the one planned for New York City in April.
Tuition for participation in the Intermediate Orchestra is $100 per semester, and $165 per semester for the Advanced Orchestra. Financial aid is also available for parents who wish to apply.
The Kennebec Valley Youth Symphony Orchestras are currently holding auditions for their spring season, and holds rolling auditions throughout the year. Students can schedule an audition appointment by filling out the form on their website and emailing it to Betsy Kobayashi, Education Director, at email@example.com.
The orchestras are conducted by Jinwook Park, the orchestra conductor at Colby College, and Daniel Keller, who is co-conductor of the Mid-Maine Youth Orchestra and on staff at the Southern Maine String Camp. Keller is an inductee of both the Maine Music Education Association Hall of Fame and the National Music Hall of Fame for Music Educators. Of Jinwook Park, Taylor says, “He is incredible musically and the students absolutely love him. He’s a very nice guy that pushes them to do really amazing stuff.”
The Kennebec Valley Youth Orchestra’s next concert is scheduled for Friday, May 5, at 6:30 p.m., with the location to be determined. Watch The Town Line’s Calendar of Events for updates or visit the Schedule and Concert Information page on their website at kvyso.org.
Interesting linksHere are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)
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