Covers towns roughly within 50 miles of Augusta.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Governors with Kennebec ties

by Mary Grow

Since 1820, 71 people have held the office of Governor of Maine. Four of them served non-consecutive terms and get counted twice, so Janet Mills is the 75th governor. The next two articles in this historical series will provide information on governors who were born in or near, or made their careers in or near, one of the central Kennebec Valley towns with which the series began. As might be expected, many of these men had connections with Augusta, which has been the state capital since 1827. This article and the next will not include Governor Mills, who is proudly the first governor from Franklin County.

Enoch Lincoln

Enoch Lincoln, Maine’s sixth governor and the first to die in office, was also the first with a connection to the central Kennebec area, after Augusta became the capital. He was born in Massachusetts, graduated from Harvard, Class of 1807, and practiced law in Salem, Massachusetts, and after 1819 in Paris, Maine.

Lincoln was elected to Congress in November 1818, apparently before he moved to his district, and re-elected repeatedly through the fall of 1825, serving before and after Maine gained statehood. Elected Maine’s governor in September 1826, he was twice re-elected, serving from Jan. 3, 1827, until he died in office Oct. 8, 1829, aged only 40. He is credited with helping get the capital relocated from Portland to Augusta; one source says he was a speaker at the ceremony marking the laying of the cornerstone for the State House. Wikipedia says he is buried in a mausoleum in Augusta’s Capitol Park; a Maine encyclopedia on the web says his remains were moved to a monument honoring him that was built in 1842, and have since mysteriously disappeared.

(Capitol Park, the rectangular area in front of the State house, was established in 1827, when the citizens of Augusta donated its approximately 20 acres to the state. Wikipedia describes its development and landscaping, including the monument to Governor Lincoln. During the Civil War, trees were cut and lawns wrecked when the park became a military encampment and parade ground.

(After the war, Wikipedia says, the area was farmed before being reconverted to a park in 1878. In the 1920s it was redesigned to its present condition by the Olmsted Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmstead Brothers’ other Maine projects included Portland’s Deering Oaks and Eastern Promenade and the road system for Acadia National Park.)

Richard Hampton Vose, 14th Maine governor, was an Augusta native and a Bowdoin graduate, Class of 1822. After six years in Massachusetts, he opened an Augusta law practice. His political career included four years in the Maine House and two in the Maine Senate. He was one of the shortest-term governors; as president of the state Senate, he served as interim governor Jan. 12 and 13, 1841, after Governor John Fairfield resigned to take a United States Senate seat and before Edward Kent was inaugurated for his second (non-consecutive) term. Vose was a prominent member of the Kennebec Bar until he died in January 1864.

Anson Peaslee Morrill

Anson Peaslee Morrill, the 24th governor of Maine, served from Jan. 3, 1855, to Jan. 2, 1856. He was born in Belgrade, where his father ran a combined sawmill, gristmill and carding mill. He later ran stores in Madison and Mount Vernon, then took over a failing woolen mill in Readfield and made it a success. Joining the new Republican party because he was opposed to slavery, he was elected Maine’s first Republican Governor in September 1854.

Later president and then vice-president of Maine Central Railroad, he retired and in 1879 moved to Augusta, where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1880, when Morrill was 77, friends persuaded him to run for the state legislature; he served one term. He died in 1887 and is buried in Augusta’s Forest Grove Cemetery.

Samuel Wells, the 25th governor (Jan. 2, 1856 – Jan. 8, 1857) has a limited and, from available sources, partly disputable, connection to the central Kennebec Valley. Born in New Hampshire on August 15, 1801, he studied law (when and where unspecified) and, according to an on-line Maine encyclopedia, practiced in Waterville from 1816 (when he was 15 years old?) until he moved to Hallowell in 1835 and thence to Portland in 1844. He served as an Associate Justice of the Maine Supreme Court from 1847 until he resigned to run successfully for the governorship in 1855. His bid for a second term failed, and he moved to Boston where he died in 1868.

Joseph Hartwell Williams was a Maine Senate President who served as governor #27 from Feb. 25, 1857, to Jan. 6, 1858, finishing Hannibal Hamlin’s term after the latter resigned to return to his seat in the United States Senate. Williams was an Augusta native, son of attorney Reuel Williams; he graduated from Harvard, Class of 1830, attended Dane Law School (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and in 1837 joined his father’s law firm.

First a Democrat, he joined the Republican party because it was anti-slavery. He refused the Republican nomination for governor in the fall of 1857 because he disagreed with the party’s strong support of prohibition (although, an on-line biography says, he was “always a temperate man”). He served later as a state legislator, first a Republican and then an Independent, and in 1877 accepted the Democratic nomination for governor (and lost).

Lot Myrick Morrill, #28, Anson Morrill’s younger brother, was another Democrat who turned Republican over the slavery issue. Born in Belgrade, he attended Waterville College (now Colby College), studied law in Readfield, passed his bar examination in 1839 and set up practice in Belgrade and Augusta. He served in the Maine House of Representatives and the Maine Senate before being governor for three terms, from Jan. 6, 1858, to Jan, 2, 1861.

When the national Republican convention nominated Hannibal Hamlin as Abraham Lincoln’s vice-president for the election of 1860, Morrill succeeded Hamlin in the United States Senate, serving from 1861 until 1876, when he became President Ulysses Grant’s fourth Secretary of the Treasury. He retired within a year. President Rutherford Hayes then made him Collector of Customs in Portland, a position he held until he died on Jan. 10, 1883. He is buried in Forest Grove Cemetery, in Augusta, and his brick house on Winthrop Street, where his widow lived until 1918, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Samuel Cony

Samuel Cony, an Augusta native, was Maine’s 31st governor. Educated partly at China Academy, in China Village, he graduated from Brown University, Class of 1829, and practiced law (and entered politics) in Old Town. Elected state treasurer in 1850, he moved back to Augusta, became the city’s mayor in 1854 and served as governor for three one-year terms, from Jan. 6, 1864, to Jan. 2, 1867. His brick house on Stone Street, in Augusta, called the Governor Samuel Cony House or the William Payson Viles House, was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

(William Payson Viles was a 20th-century member of a family long active in logging in Maine. After his death in 1986, his widow, Elsie Pike Viles, created the Elsie and William Viles Foundation, a philanthropic organization that lists four main goals on its website: to preserve open spaces and conserve forest lands; to protect and care for animals; to support children and education; and to promote and preserve Maine history and culture.)

Selden Connor, Maine’s 35th governor, was born in Fairfield, educated in Massachusetts and Vermont and served in Vermont and then Maine regiments in the Civil War, rising to a Brigadier General of Volunteers. He worked for the Internal Revenue Service from 1868 to 1875, when he successfully ran for governor on the Republican ticket. Inaugurated Jan. 5, 1876, he was twice re-elected.

In a three-way election in 1878, incumbent Connor got 44.8 percent of the vote; Greenback/Labor candidate John Smith got 34.5 percent; and Democrat Dr. Alonzo Garcelon got 22.4 percent. Lack of a majority turned the choice over to the Maine legislature, whose members picked Garcelon (who served one term; his rival the next year, Daniel Davis, got only 49.7 percent of the vote, but the legislature chose him, and Garcelon returned to his medical practice.) Connor left office on Jan. 9, 1879. He died in Augusta on July 9, 1917 (one source gives a September date), and is buried in Forest Grove Cemetery.

Edwin Chick Burleigh, Maine’s 42nd governor, was born in Linneus and raised in Aroostook County and Bangor. He moved to Augusta in 1876 and held a succession of offices, including assistant clerk to the House of Representatives and state treasurer. Elected governor in the fall of 1888, he served two terms, Jan. 2, 1889, to Jan. 4, 1893. Later he represented Maine in the U. S. House of Representatives and the U. S. Senate, dying in Augusta in the middle of his Senate term, June 16, 1916. Like many of his predecessors, he is buried in Forest Grove Cemetery.

John Fremont Hill

John Fremont Hill, the 45th governor, was a native of Eliot who earned a medical degree in 1877 from what Wikipedia calls the Medical School of Maine (Bowdoin College) but practiced for only a year before moving to Augusta where he and his father-in-law, P. O. Vickery, established what became a national publishing company, Vickery and Hill. Hill served in both houses of the state legislature before being elected governor for two terms (Jan. 2, 1901 – Jan. 4, 1905)

(P. O. Vickery started publishing Vickery’s Fireside Visitor, a monthly magazine aimed at providing light fiction to middle-class readers, in 1874. Like his son-in-law, he was a politician – state representative from, and then mayor of, Augusta in the late 1870s and early 1880s – until Vickery and Hill became so successful its management took all his time and led to his son-in-law becoming his partner. The Fireside Visitor was followed by similar magazines named Happy Hours, Hearth and Home and Good Stories.

No on-line reference says what Vickery’s initials stood for. Even his Nov. 19, 1902, obituary in the Boston Globe calls him P. O. The Globe describes him as “the millionaire publisher, state senator and father-in-law of Gov. Hill.” His funeral in Augusta was well-attended, and two former Maine governors were honorary pall-bearers.)

Frederick William Plaisted, Maine’s 48th governor, was another Augusta publisher. Born in Bangor, he was the son of the 38th governor, Harris Plaisted, and in Augusta took over The New Age newspaper from his father and was editor and publisher from 1889 (or 1898, the year his father died; sources disagree) to 1914. He was inaugurated as governor on Jan. 1, 1913 and defeated when he ran for a second term.

(The New Age seems to have been established in 1867 and for at least part of its life to have been a weekly published on Fridays. Harris Plaisted, governor from 1881 to 1883, became editor and publisher in 1884, an interregnum in his career as a Bangor lawyer. The New Age advertisement in an 1899 National Newspaper Directory and Gazetteer found on line describes it as the only Democratic newspaper in the area [Maine governors were mostly Republican from the 1850s to the 1950s; the two Democratic Plaisteds were exceptions]. It claims to be more than 30 years old and to have 5,000 subscribers. The Kennebec Journal and Vickery and Hill’s four newspapers advertised in the same issue of the directory.)

Main sources

Websites, miscellaneous

New Dimensions FCU moves into new space

Ryan Poulin, center, CEO of New Dimensions FCU, prepares to cut the ribbon at a special ceremony commemorating the opening of the credit union’s new Waterville location. (contributed photo)

Ryan Poulin, CEO of New Dimensions FCU, prepares to cut the ribbon at a special ceremony commemorating the opening of the credit union’s new Waterville location. On June 23, representatives from the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, Central Maine Growth Council, City of Waterville, and Bowman Construction joined New Dimensions FCU’s Board of Directors and employees at a ribbon cutting ceremony at its beautiful, new location on Silver Street in Waterville. The credit union opened its new branch at 94 Silver Street, on June 29. All services at the 61 Grove Street location will be discontinued.

Dreaming of a Christmas of good health and world peace

Photo by Central Maine Photography

by Mark Huard

Merry Christmas in July! A message from the North Pole to the joyful people of Kringleville, Maine USA! We cherish our visits with the welcoming folks in the booming City of Waterville. There is tremendous continued growth in your beautiful city. Castonguay Square is the heartbeat of your downtown and we are honored to be at your square during the holidays.

Santa is always watching you grow and to see if you have been naughty or nice. Mrs. Claus was tickled to learn about how much you have all grown from reading your letters aloud to Santa that you sent during your time at home through the COVID-19 pandemic. Santa and Mrs. Claus encourage all of you to continue to grow and learn. Whether you are learning how to play an instrument, taking voice lessons, building extreme Lego structures, following instructions, or following a recipe, maybe you’re trying to be a better listener, we are proud of you. Keep learning, keep listening and keep trying. All we ask is that you try your best. You have been brave…Continue to be brave! You have been strong through all of the changes that this year has brought to the world. Always remember to be part of solutions, rather than adding to problems. Be good…Be nice…Be kind…Be respectful of all others!

People of all ages from around the globe visit the cabin. There are Christmas lovers from Poland, Hawaii, China, Korea, Virginia, Arkansas, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Seattle, the Philippines and all over Maine and New England. We love that you all continue to be part of the Kringleville story season after season and keep the tradition in such a wonderful city. We understand that there could potentially be travel limitations this upcoming 2020 season. Santa and Mrs. Claus are staying connected with the Children’s Discovery Museum to ensure that Christmas will go on for Kringleville followers. Though there might be alternative ways to connect with Santa, we are working to ensure that all can connect with Santa even if the conversation of sharing your Christmas wishes with Santa is a remote visit this season.

Year after year, Kringleville has more visitors at the Kringleville Christmas cabin to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The Kringleville “reach” of “followers” grew during the 2019 season from hundreds to thousands: 3,284 to be exact. There was a growth of 275% of our connection with Kringleville followers this past season and an increase of 1850% in engagements while Santa and Mrs. Claus were in town. Since this past Kringleville season, followers have remained engaged with Kringleville via the Kringleville Facebook page. During COVID-19, an additional 64 Christmas spirited folks joined Kringleville’s fabulous followers bringing the total to 3,348.

Kringleville continues with the support of The Children’s Discovery Museum led by Executive Director, Amarinda Keys. Thank you again to the generous 2019 Kringleville sponsors: The Children’s Discovery Museum, Central Maine Chevy, Selah Tea Café, Day’s Jewelers and Bangor Savings Bank. Additional supporters are GHM Insurance, Marden’s, the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, Central Maine Photography, Fabian Oil, U.S. Cellular, Pine Tree Cellular, REZ Life Church, Waterville High School Key Club and others who share in the Kringleville Christmas spirit.

Santa and Mrs. Claus would like to recognize and especially thank volunteer Scott McAdoo for his commitment to the love of Christmas at Kringleville. We thank Central Maine Photography’s head elf Cinnamon. We celebrate Cinnamon for her 11-year Kringleville loyalty.

All of us at the North Pole, appreciate the generosity of Central Maine Chevy being Kringleville’s major sponsor. If you or your business would like to contribute to the success of this timeless Waterville tradition, please contact Amarinda Keys at The Children’s Discovery Museum at (207) 622-2209 or email to ask how you too can be a part of the magic of Christmas at Kringleville for the 2020 season.

We are half-way to Christmas! Happy Christmas in July everyone! Where there’s a will there’s a way and our will here in the North Pole is unstoppable. Santa wants everyone to keep in mind that Christmas isn’t something you should have in your heart only once a year. The spirit of Christmas should live in your heart year-round. So, take Santa’s advice and be kind to all others! Mrs. Claus sends COVID-FREE hugs from our North Pole home to your home. Wishing you a summer full of joy and happiness!

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Kennebec Proprietors


Plymouth Company map.

by Mary Grow

This series has repeatedly mentioned the Kennebec Proprietors. It is now time to backtrack to the 18th century, to find out who they were and why they are mentioned in almost every history of the State of Maine and in most local histories of Kennebec Valley towns and cities.

The initial group, the Plymouth Colony, was chartered in 1606 by King James I of England. The king gave it and its companion London Company, whose first settlers came to Virginia, control of most of eastern North America.

In a series of grants and sales in following years, the land went successively to the new Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts; to the Council for New England (1620-1635, a London-based joint stock company headed by Ferdinando Gorges, with a royal charter to promote American settlement) and to the Boston-based New Plymouth Company.

The Council for New England set up other land companies, including the Pejepscot Company, which was given a claim on the lower Kennebec and extended it upriver to Swan Island and Richmond, overlapping with the Kennebec Proprietors’ claim on the southwest.

On the east, the Waldo Patent, named for Bostonian Samuel Waldo, also overlapped in what is now Palermo and the surrounding area. According to one on-line source, the land was a gift to Waldo from Massachusetts for his help in deterring a 1729 attempt by King George II to establish a crown colony that would have been exempt from Massachusetts’ jurisdiction. Another source says the Surveyor of the King’s Woods (the person responsible for marking and protecting trees large enough to make masts for British Royal Navy ships) made a nuisance of himself, Waldo persuaded his British superiors to fire him and the appreciative heirs of a 1630 Waldo Patent rewarded Waldo with acreage.

Kennebec Proprietors map in 1771.

The Plymouth grant extended up the Kennebec from Merrymeeting Bay to the falls at Norridgewock, already known as a Native and French settlement, and for 15 miles on each side of the river. Since the river’s windings were not well documented and the surrounding land not well known to Europeans, there was considerable uncertainty about the size (supposedly about 1.5 million acres) and shape of the grant.

The New Plymouth Company, with a gradually changing membership as newcomers bought or inherited shares, did little. In the fall of 1661, four Boston merchants bought the land rights for 400 pounds sterling. The beavers, basis for earlier fur trading, were by then in decline; the Bostonians’ plan was to use the timber resources, including as a basis for building ships, and in the future to encourage agriculture. They, too, failed to accomplish significant development.

Upriver settlement was discouraged by a series of wars with the Natives from the 1670s to 1763, including the four-war series beginning in 1688 that Americans call the French and Indian Wars. Maine Natives had support from the French, who had settled along the St. Lawrence River and disputed the British claims in northeastern North America.

The 1763 Treaty of Paris between the European rivals ceded Canada to the British and promoted settlement in Maine. (Many historians add that it contributed to Britain’s loss of the American colonies, because removal of the French threat made colonial leaders believe they no longer needed British military protection).

In the 1740s, a man named Samuel Goodwin, who had inherited half of a third of a quarter of a Plymouth Colony share, became interested in development along the Kennebec. After much searching, he found the original charter, which had been missing for decades, and in 1749 he and other heirs brought the New Plymouth Company back into business, beginning with a Sept. 21 organizational meeting in Boston.

In 1753, the Massachusetts General Court re-awarded the grant to “The Proprietors of Kennebeck Purchase from the late Colony of New Plymouth.” The name is shortened by historians to Kennebec Proprietors, Kennebec Company or Kennebec Purchase Company (sometimes Kennebeck) or Plymouth Colony or Plymouth Company, used interchangeably in discussing the period from 1753 to 1818, when the company disbanded.

Because settlement was slow to expand upriver to Norridgewock, the western boundary of the Kennebec Patent was not a big source of contention. The downriver line was intermittently challenged, especially by the Pejepscot Proprietors, leading to legal proceedings in America and in London.

In 1757, the boundary question was referred to a panel of lawyers. They confirmed the upriver boundary and defined the downriver end of the Kennebec patent on the east side of the river as the present northern boundary of Woolwich. The western boundary was defined as Lake Cobbaseconte (now Cobbosseecontee).

The Kennebec Proprietors brought settlement to much of the central Kennebec River area. Surveyors laid out lots along both sides of the river for miles, defining the 15-mile boundaries. The population had increased so much that Lincoln County was separated from York County in June 1760. By 1775, when the American Revolution began, Hallowell (including Augusta), Vassalboro (including Sidney) and Winslow (including Waterville) were incorporated as towns.

The Kennebec Proprietors reserved some lots in each new town for themselves. Some they gave away to encourage settlement, some they sold. A typical lot contained 100 acres; typical deed requirements included building a house of specified size and clearing a specified number of acres within a specified number of years. A settler or his heirs might be required to stay on the land for a specified term – two, three or seven years, sometimes longer. Often deeds included an obligation to help lay out roads, or provide for a church and minister, or both.

A complication was that some of the land the Kennebec Proprietors claimed, surveyed and gave away or sold was already occupied by Europeans. Some had bought their holdings from Natives. Some had deeds from other Europeans. Some had moved onto and improved a vacant tract and claimed squatters’ rights.

Native deeds had been a source of misunderstandings for years. When a Native chief “sold” part of his tribal land, he believed he was giving the European “buyer” the right to share the land equally with tribal members; and the right was valid only for the lifetime of each party. The European believed he acquired the exclusive right to live on and change the land forever, and to sell or will it to someone else.

The history of Windsor offers an example of transactions between European claimants with no involvement with the Kennebec Proprietors. As described in Linwood H. Lowden’s history of the town, in 1797 Ebenezer Grover and associates hired Josiah Jones to survey about 6,000 acres on the west side of the West Branch of the Sheepscot River in southern Windsor. They ended up with 33 Oak Hill lots, some individually owned and some held in common.

These lots were occupied or bought by families who became southern Windsor’s first settlers. Lowden points out that Grover had no legal right to survey or sell the land; indeed, he says, many of Grover’s deeds warned purchasers that Grover and his associates would not help them if the Kennebec Proprietors challenged their titles.

Jones did other, smaller surveys elsewhere in town, and Isaac Davis surveyed at least once, in northern Windsor.

In January 1802 the Kennebec Proprietors asked the Massachusetts General Court to appoint commissioners to deal with the people they saw as illegal squatters. The Proprietors also had their own survey done, laid out their version of lots (usually, Lowden says, smaller than the originals) and offered to sell them to the settlers.

A political and legal dispute followed, during which some of the settlers paid again for their land and the Proprietors evicted others for non-payment. The Proprietors were unpopular, to say the least; their local representatives and their surveyors, being available, were threatened and had their property destroyed.

The culminating event of the “Malta War,” as it is often called (Windsor was named Malta from March 1809 to March 1821), came on Sept. 8, 1808. Surveyor Isaac Davis, hired by a settler to determine lot lines so the settler could pay the Proprietors, was heading a crew on Windsor Neck that included a resident named Paul Chadwick. Other residents, armed and disguised as Natives, intercepted the party and shot Chadwick, who died three days later.

Nine local men were arrested and sent to the county jail in Augusta. Disturbance continued as rumors spread of a planned attack on the jail to rescue them. On Oct. 3 a mob gathered on the east bank of the Kennebec; in response, authorities called out the militia and placed cannons to defend the bridge if necessary.

The accused were all acquitted in November 1809, an outcome historian Lowden thinks was the best choice to ease tension. He also suggests the men were after Chadwick specifically, because he had opposed the surveys and then hired on to help Davis; and he speculates they did not intend murder.

In neighboring Palermo, the Proprietors’ demands led inhabitants to petition the Massachusetts General Court for help. Legislators set up a commission early in 1802 that assigned three local men to value properties, subject to approval by the Proprietors’ agent, and assigned three surveyors to fix settlers’ boundaries. Local historian Millard Howard lists more than 60 families who bought their homesteads, mostly 100 acres, for prices ranging from $25 to $155.

Although the larger Sheepscot Great Pond area, including present-day Palermo and Windsor, hosted groups most actively and violently opposed to the Kennebec Proprietors’ effort to claim land they thought was rightfully theirs, other parts of the valley were affected.

In Vassalboro, for example, historian Alma Pierce Robbins writes that the presence of squatters who built cabins and cleared farmland before Nathan Winslow’s 1761 survey for the Proprietors started a century of legal disputes over land ownership. Additionally, she says, in Vassalboro and elsewhere the British Crown’s claim to any tree large enough to become a ship’s mast bred resentment, since landowners (legal or otherwise) were not compensated for the timber.

(Dean Marriner recounts the later history of one lot in Dr. John McKechnie’s 1770 survey of the Waterville-Winslow area. A century later, he says, a lot owner claimed his boundary, as shown on the McKechnie survey, was wrong. He and his neighbor disputed it for more than two decades; he went to court six times, allegedly spending over $15,000 on legal fees, and lost every time.)

The Kennebec Valley settlers’ problems with the Proprietors on whose property they lived ended after 1813. A Massachusetts Commission recommended and the General Court approved an agreement giving the settlers their disputed holdings and giving the Proprietors Saboomook Township as compensation. (Saboomook Township has no web listings. It might be Seboomook, the unorganized township north of Moosehead Lake that hosted one of Maine’s four German prisoner of war camps from 1944 to 1946.)

Main sources

Hammond, Alice History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 1992
Howard, Millard An Introduction to the Early History of Palermo, Maine Second edition, December 2015
Kershaw, Gordon E. The Kennebeck Proprietors 1749-1775 1975
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed. Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 1892
Lowden, Linwood H. good Land & fine Contrey but Poor roads a history of Windsor, Maine 1993
Marriner, Ernest Kennebec Yesterdays 1954
Williamson, William D. The History of the State of Maine from its First Discovery, A.D. 1602, to the Separation, A.D. 1620, Inclusive Vol. II 1832
Websites, miscellaneous.

LETTERS: It shouldn’t take a pandemic to underscore need for high speed internet

by Pat Pinto
AARP Maine, Volunteer State President

It shouldn’t take a pandemic to underscore the importance of high-speed internet in our state. Rural Maine’s struggle with connectivity has been going on for years, but with COVID-19, the true consequences of slow or no internet can no longer be ignored.

During the last few months, residents throughout Maine have voiced their frustration. Paul Armstrong’s small business in Palermo is floundering because the internet service in his area is practically non-existent. Ray Smith of Windham, an occupational therapist for children with developmental and physical challenges, now counsels his young clients by video chat due to COVID-19. He describes many of the sessions as “disastrous” because some of his clients have such poor internet service. A retired teacher from Lewiston, Joyce Bucciantini, laments the learning divide between those students who have high speed internet and those who do not.
No matter where we live in Maine, and no matter our age, every Maine household should have access to high-speed internet.

The Maine Broadband Coalition, of which AARP Maine is a member, estimates that 85,000 households in our state have no access to high-speed internet. For many, this means they have little or no connection to family, friends, and critical services such as tele-medicine and counseling. For some, lack of high-speed internet creates barriers to doing business and creating jobs. Still others, particularly older Mainers, miss out on opportunities to offset loneliness, depression and isolation.

This is the time to take action, and I urge all Mainers to vote in the Maine State Primary and Special Referendum Election on July 14th, and to vote YES on Question 1. Question 1 is a ballot referendum providing $15,000,000 in funding for high-speed internet expansion to underserved and unserved areas. This will particularly impact rural areas of Maine that currently lack the infrastructure for high-speed internet. Of great significance is the fact that the $15M bond will be matched by $30 million in federal and other funds to triple the impact.

This is an opportunity not to be missed. Maine is a rural state with a far-flung population. If Maine invests now, we can help Mainers, particularly in rural areas, who don’t have access to reliable, high-speed internet service. It is essential for Mainers of all ages to be able to stay connected to friends and family, but it is equally important for them to be able to access their caregivers, doctors, and other health professionals. High-speed internet is a smart investment that will help businesses grow and help students gain access to education even when they are at home.

Access to high-speed internet is extremely important to daily life in Maine, and not just during the coronavirus pandemic. Support of this referendum will put Maine on the right track. I urge you to vote Yes on 1 on July 14.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide suspends service through 2020

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, the nation’s largest free, volunteer-based tax preparation and assistance service, has announced that State of Maine AARP Foundation Tax-Aide sites will not re-open in 2020.

In mid-March, due to COVID-19, the national AARP Foundation Tax-Aide office suspended tax preparation at all tax preparation locations throughout the country. Shortly thereafter, also because of COVID-19, the IRS extended the tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15.

With the extended deadline, Tax-Aide volunteers in Maine worked together to try to find a way to safely reopen at least some of its tax preparation sites. However, with COVID-19 complications posing a risk to both older taxpayer clients and Tax-Aide volunteers, it has been decided that AARP Tax-Aide sites in Maine will not reopen in 2020.

The program will return in 2021, having had time to make all the modifications deemed necessary to ensure as much as possible the health and safety of both taxpayers and volunteers.

In the meantime, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers online options to assist taxpayers affected by the suspension of in-person services:

  • A self-prep option, providing taxpayers with free access to software so they can prepare taxes on they own, is available at
  • If taxpayers have a computer and printer and would like help completing their own taxes, they can request the assistance of a volunteer to coach them through the process via phone or computer screen-sharing. Taxpayers should visit org/forms/tax-prep-assistance-request.html to submit a request.

Although the ‘deadline’ for filing tax returns is usually April 15, taxpayers actually have up to three years to file their federal and state tax returns. As long as there is a refund or no tax due, there are no penalties for filing anytime within the three year period. The failure to file and failure to pay penalties are applied only when a return is filed late and money is owed.

Congratulations to area graduates — Class of 2020

Carrabec High School

Emily Avery, Hunter Avery, Cassidy Ayotte, Anthony Berube, Isaac Boucher, Annika Carey, Ashley Cates, Summer Cole, Jacob Copeland, Caitlin Crawford, Shay Cyrway, Caroline Decker, Dominic Falk, Olivia Fortier, Joshua Foss, Paige Giroux, Olivia Gonio, Ricky Gordon, Ariel Guinn, Olivia Hassell, David Houle, Cheyanne Howard, Madison Jaros, Lemuel Kimball, Dylan Leach, Riley Maheu, Scott Mason, Mabel Mouland, Mary-Jenna Oliver, Colby Paquette, Kira Parent, Roy Pierce, Jasmyne Pray, Elijah Quimby, Abby Richardson, Damon Rogers, Cheyenne Sirois, Jayme Stafford, Sydney Steward, Cheyeanne Stubbs, Brandi Thibodeau, Ebony Walls, Dalton Way, Skye Welch, Jesiah Wilcox-Quimby, and Cameron Wooster.

Cony High School

Alimira Abdullah, Zina Ahmad, Nada Al Hoshan, Mohammad Al Jendi, Peter Allen, Hadeel Alsaleh, Abdulmajeed Al-Tameemi, Dakota Andow, Marian Arthur, Ashleigh Audet, Alexander Audette, David Barley, Sebastian Barron, Federico Barzasi, Hannah Beeckel, Gage Bernstein, Katherine Boston, Jordan Brooke, Jillian Brown, Logan Butler, Gabriella Campbell, Kaaleb Carey, Tyler Carr, Alexis Carter, Haylee Casey, Salemn Chapman, Paige Coaty-Neff, Sarah Cook-Wheeler, Riley Coombe, Jillian Coull, Joshua Crocker, Kaylee Cushing, Calvin Dacus, Jasmine Daly, Dakota Dearborn, Kody Demerchant, Isaiah Dodge, Anthony Donnarumma, Emily Douglas, Molly Dutil, Thomas Farris-Chason, Chloe Fleck, Jasmine French, Evan Galego, Jada Genest, Ian Gervais, Isaac Gichel-Curtis, Leighton Gidney, Ian Gifford, Crystal Gilber, Elsie Gin, Ashton Glockler, Kiara Gonzalez-Rodriguez, Megan Greaton, Cecilia Guadalupi, Jessica Guerrette, Mouaoeih Halwah, Ian Harden, Linda Hodgkins, Wyeth Houle, Emily Houston, Justin Huntley, Nathaniel Ieng, Timothy Johnson, Stephen Labbe, Benjamin LaPierre, Sophia LaPointe, Adrian Larrabee, Ryan Lathe, Faith Leathers-Pouliot, Cameran Letendre, Aaron Lettre, Carly Lettre, Emma Levesque, Meredith Lewis, Willow Longeree, Caleb MacFarland, Roger Mackbach, Joshua Martin, Iain McCollett, Lucas McCormick, Simon McCormick, Caleb McDougal, Courtney McFarland, Audrey McLaughlin, Samantha Melland, Abigail Merrill, Kameron Michaud, Gerald Moody, Caroline Mosca, Josephine Nutakki, Collin Osborne, Ayanna Osman, Renee Ouellette, Micayla Paquette, Marissa Parker, Abigail Pelletier, Nhasino Phan, Jillian Pion, Storm Plummer, Myles Quirion, Shakeera Radel, Ashleigh Redmond, Miranda Reichard, Mickayla Rheimer, Madison Riggs, Nathan Rivera Ayala, Jordan Robertson, Alexander Robinson, Natalie Rohman, Hannah Rouleau, Rebecca Smart, Aidan Smith, Karittha Sopasiri, Nathan Surette, Christopher Taylor, Devon Thomas, Kaley Trask, Mallory Turgeon, James Van Doren-Wilson, Sabrinna Vawter, Atlantis Veilleux, Jessy Veilleux, Linelys Velazquez, Arianna Vinal, Yasmine Wadleigh, Isaac Wallace, Proscha Ware, Nicholas Waterhouse, Haley Weston, Julie White, Sophia Whitney, Zachary Whitney, Joshua Wroten, Ayden Wyman and Devin Young.

Erskine Academy

Pedro Albarracin Nunez- Mera, Lucy Allen, Lucas Anderson, Jay Austin II, Alec Baker, Julia Basham, Derek Beaulieu, James Berto, Adam Bonenfant, Faith Bonnell, Zyashia Borrero, Ashlee Bossie, Yanic Boulet, Haley Breton, Alexander Buzzell, Kole-Tai Carlezon, Jacob Cater, David Chubbuck Jr, Bridget Connolly, Abigail Cordts, Samantha Couture, Summer Curran, Colby Cyr, Norah Davidson, Sean Decker, Dominic Denico, Lily DeRaps, Joshua Donahue II, Joshua Duggan, Michael Dusoe Jr, Dominick Dyer, Jacob Elsemore, Vincent Emery, Nathan Evans, Cheyann Field, Jasmine Fletcher, Jada Fredette, Mitchell Gamage, Alyssha Gil, Annika Gil, Lydia Gilman, Ella Giroux, Boe Glidden, Bryce Goff, Joshua Gower, Clara Grady, Tori Grasse, Ian Gundberg, Alyssa Hale, Emma Harvey, Nicholas Hayden, Jesse Hayes, Gage Henderson, Brayden Hill, Summer Hotham, Nicholas Howard, Julianna Hubbard, Ashley Huntley, Emily Jacques, Sarah Jarosz, Ricker Jean, Cameron Johnson, Colby Johnson, Kyle Jones, Luke Jordan, Zaria Kelly, Marisa Klemanski, Tristan Klemanski, Riley Kunesh, Brandon LaChance, Benjamin Lagasse, Benjamin Lavoie, Cole Leclerc, Eleena Lee, William Leeman, Desiree Leighton, Madison Leonard, Gabriel Lewis, Stephanie Libby, Jordan Linscott, Colby Loden, Sydney Lord, Brandon Loveland, Shawn Manning, William Mayberry II, Haymanot Maynard, Reece McGlew, Marissa McGraw, Lexigrace Melanson, Kaytie Millay, Grady Miller, Jakob Mills, Jamara Moore, Adalaide Morris, Krysta Morris, Nathaniel Mosher, Alecia Paradis, Joseph Peaslee Jr, Shelley Peaslee, Isaak Peavey, Chloe Peebles, Chandler Peele, Lyndsie Pelotte, Matthew Picher, Jareth Pierpont, Jasmine Plugge, Hunter Praul, Dalton Pushard, Miina Raag-Schmidt, Benjamin Reed, Hailei-Ann Reny, Jennifer Reny, Mitchel Reynolds, Andrew Robinson, Dominic Rodrigue, Michael Rogers, Katelyn Rollins, Alyssa Savage, Shawn Seigars, Serena Sepulvado, Santasia Sevigny, Nicholas Shelton, Danielle Shorey, Taylor Shute, Ryan Sidelinger, Alissa Sleeper, Kayla Sleeper, Dominic Smith, Samuel Smith, Lily Solorzano, Makenzi Strout, Matthew Stultz, James Sugden, Jacob Sutter, Audrey Swan, Nicole Taylor, Kobe Thomas, Courtney Tibbetts, Brandon Tibbs, Katelyn Tibbs, Kaitlyn Tims, Ashleigh Treannie, Hailee Turner, Cameron Tyler, Tanner Watson, Andrew Weymouth, Curtis Weymouth, Kayleigh Winam, Richard Winn, Wesley Wood and Amber Wysocki.

Lawrence High School

Ashley Allen, Mackenzie Allen, Raygen Alley, Colby Anderson, Alexis Armstrong, Riley Avery, Lindsay Bagley, Dakota Batchelder, Wyatt Belmont, Mathew Berry, Rilee Bessey, Brody Bickford, Nathan Bickford, Hannah Bilodeau, Hailey Bolduc, Tyler Bolduc, Alan Bourget, Colby Brann, Aaron Breton, Sydney Bridger, Eva Brisk, Lauren Buck, Brooke Butler, Ethan Caldwell, Kendra Campbell, Deleyni Carr, Madison Carrero, Journey Champagne, Abigail Charland, Alfred Cochrane, Ethan Cochrane, Samuel Coro, Evan Craig, Megan Curtis, Cody Dixon, Parker Doane, Dylan Donnell, Bryson Dostie, Dawson Drew, Victoria Dubay, Dylan Eldridge, Annabelle Emery, Abigail Fisher, Wyatt Fortin, Samantha Fuller, Victoria Fye, Kieara Garland, Skylah Grivois, Paige Hale, Tyler Hall, Harley Hamlin, Jacob Hamlin, Ricky Hamlion, Dylan Hardenburg, Alaina Haywood, Caitlin Hedman, Carson Jersey, Haley Hersey, Alaina Hood, Silvia Hoover, Sophia Hoover, Mackenzie Huard, Sumner Hubbard, Jeremiah Hunter, Kristin Jackson, Camron Jordan, Donovan Knapik, Miranda Lambert, Julie Lane, Kyle Languet, Storm Lavway, Nicholas Lawler, Allison Leary, Grace Leary, Tyler LeClair, Austin Leighton, Aubrey Levesque, Alexis Lewis, Erica Maillet, John Manzo, Cassandra Martin, Dylan Martin-Hachey, Joshua McFarland, Joseph McKinley, Kristin Morneau, Paul Morneau, Destiny Mulholland, Morgan Niles, Cassandra Noyes, Bailey Parlin, Jacob Patterson, Benjamin Pierce, Gabrielle Pierce, Isaac Plourde, Cheyenne Poulin, Benjamen Pressey, Brian Pressey, Kassey Pressey, Chase Quimby, Nathaniel Regalado, Brianna Rice, Mackenzie Roberts, Gain Robinson, Mary Robinson, Lydia Rogers, Hunter Roy, Michael Roy, Tucker Roy, Jacob Ryder, Emma Salisbury, Ranea Sapienza, Hailey Sargent, Colby Shorey, Isaish Shuman, Riley Sinclair, Breanna Sirois, Melaina Smith, Paul Southwick, Jayden Stephenson, Elsie Suttie, Jacob Suttie, David Thurlow, Abigail Towne, Lydia Townsend, Haley Trahan, Jacob Turlo, Cody Veilleux, Abbie Vigue, Kyle Walch, Amber Wescott, Savannah Weston, Liberty White, Emily Whitney, Haley Wilkie, Cassondra Wood and Gabriel York.

Madison Area Memorial High School

Chance Allen, Katrina Barney, Shelby Belanger, Graham Briggs, Nevaeh Burnham, Reid Campbell, Autumn Cates, Olivia Clough, Aaron Corson, Caleb Cowan, Isaiah Cyr, Stacy Depoala, Dawson Eanes, Emily Edgerly, Todd Edgerly, Caden Franzose, Aliya French, Dakota Hall, Glen Harrington IV, Chandra Holt, Lauria LeBlanc, Grace Linkletter, Carolyn McGray, Riley Merrill, Cianan Morris, Aidan O’Donnell, Izaiah Perkins, Lucy Perkins, Luke Perkins, Isabella Petrey, Roger Picard, Roland Picard, Evelyn Pisch, Skyelar Pollis, LeiLani Rexford, Abigail Spaulding, Jared Tozier, Mikayla Violet and Daxton Winchester and Kathryn Worthen.

Messalonskee High School

Alyson Albert, Nicholas Alexander, Connor Alley, Ava Ardito, Austin Arsenault, Abigayle Barney, Jennessey B aylis, Madison Beaulieu, Austin Bedsaul, Sami Benayad, Brianne Benecke, Taylor Bernier, Lauren Bourque, Rebecca Bourque, Lydia Bradfield, Andrew Brann, Sydney Brenda, Alexa Brennan, Ethan Burton, Hannah Butler, Salvatore Caccamo, Kaiya Charles, Tucker Charles, Patrick Chisum, Sadie Colby, William Cole, Connor Collins, Emma Concaugh, Bradley Condon, Abitail Corbett, Anne Corbett, Breanna Corbin, Ainsley Corson, Shiela Corson, Hunter Cote, Cameron Croft, Emily Crowell, Hannah Cummins, Dylan Cunningham, Lydia D’Amico, Austin Damren, Zachary Davis, Cassidy Day, Hannah DelGiudice, Jordan Devine, Kristen Dexter, Emma Di-Girolamo, Zachary DiPietro, TaylorJefferey Doone, Cooper Doucette, Haley Dunn, Benjamin Edman, Cade Ennis, Connor Evans, Andrew Everett, Nicolas Fontaine, Lauren Fortin, Joseph Fougere, Brennan Francis, Alexis Furbush, Amelia Gallagher, Austin Garrett, Sydnie Gay, Sara Getchell, Molly Glueck, Joshua Goff, Martin Guarnieri, Juliana Gudaitis, Jayde Gurney, Gavin Haines, Danielle Hall, Benjamin Hellen, Shelby Hoffman, Toni Holz, Maxwell Hopper, Travis Hosea, Gage Hughes, Elizabeth Hume, Alexander Jackson, Madison Jewell, Maya Johnston, Lucas Jolin, Shane Kauppinen, Gregor Keimel, Christopher King, Kody King, Nathan Kinney, Dawson Kitchin, Konnor Koroski, Grace Kroeger, Tabitha Lake, Dominique Lamontagne, Chance Languet, Isabelle Languet Joshua Languet, Hanna Lavenson, Jimmy Lemlin, Jayden Lenfestey, Benoit Levesque, Daimian Lewis, Eve Lilly, Addison Littlefield, Sarah Lowell, Sydney Lucas, Caleb Luce, Isabella Luce, Katie Luce, Ashlynn Lund, Christopher Mairs, Jayden Martin, Alyssa Methieu, Samantha Matthews, Mackenzie Mayo, Connor McCurdy, Aislinn McDaniel, Leighara McDaniel, Garrett McKenna, Kassie McMullen, William McPherson, Meghan McQuillan, Dylan Mercier, Nathan Milne, Ella Nash, Andrew Needham, Mattea Ogden, Joselyn Ouellette, Makayla Ouellette, Alexandria Pearce, Kailey Pelletier, Nathan Perkins, Jacob Perry, Rosemary Peterson, Francis Petrillo, Alexnader Pierce, Adam Pooler, Melayna Porter, Nathalie Poulin, Rylee Poulin, Brian Powell, Brian Powell, Colby Prosser, Valerie Quirion, Alysan Rancourt, Joshua Raymond, Kyera Ripley, Kaylee Rocque, Sean Rodrigue, Elijah Ross, Dharani Singaram, Lindsey Sirois, Emily Smith, Hunter Smith, Makenzie Smith, Taylor Staples, Hart St. Clair, Damian Taylor, Victoria Terranova, Richard Thompson, Deklan Thurston, Chloe Tilley, Eliza Towle, Sydney Townsend, Casey Turner, Brandon Veilleux, Jade Veilleux, Maria Veilleux, Matthew Veilleux, Kaitlyn Vigue, Carter Violette, Isaac Violette, Makayla Violette, Mason Violette, Aran Walker, Keith Warman, Elizabeth Webb, Gabrielle Wener, William Wentworth, Rebekah White, Mary-Jane Williams, Kaley Wolman and Joshua Zinkovitch.

Waterville High School

Halah Al Subai­hawi, Devin Andreozzi, Trent Andreozzi, Emilee Arbo, Maryah Audet-Gagnon, Estaphanie Baez Vazquez, Jess Bazakas, Jacqueline Bean, Timara Bell, Kristen Bickford, Taylor Bielecki, Abigail Bloom, Hallee Brunette, Bryn Burrows, Elizabeth Campbell, Damien Carey, Amaryllis Charles, Katie Chase, Kevin Chen, Hope Cogswell, Jacob Cornforth, Logan Courtois, Remy Courtois, Mickayla Crowley, Maggie Didonato, Hannah Dillingham, Gavin Dorr, Duncan Doyon, Keegan Drake, Lauren Endicott, Jaimee Feugill, Sadie Garling, Daniel Gaunce, Chloe Geller, Trafton Gilbert, Ryan Gilman, Devin Goldsmith, Benjamin Combos, Emma Goodrich, Sierra Grant, Joseph Gray, Cierra Guarente, Jacob Gerrerro, Kylee Hamm, Madison Hanley, Alexis Hawkins, Shantylane Hubiak, Keona Jeror, Miranda Juliano, Madaya Kavis, Sadie Labbe, Ethan Ladd, Peter Lai, Michael LeClair, Jordan Lesiker, Dakota Libby, Jasmine Liberty, Emelaine Llanto, Hannah Lord, Olivia Lovendahl, Joseph Macarthur, Rebecca Maheu, Christopher Manigat, Madeleine Martin, Shane Martin, Isaac McCarthy, D’Nell McDonald, Maxwell McGadney, Zaharias Menoudarakos, Luquis Merrithew, Alana Monk, Mckayla Nelson, Flesha Paradis, Jelani Parker, Lauren Pinnette, Sophia Poole, Katlin Prat, Barry Preble, Nikkia-Lynn Pressey, Colby Quinlan, David Ramgren, Dasia Roberts, Corinne Rogers, Lily Roy, Kira Sencabaugh, Amanda Shirley, Anthony Singh, Jared Sioch, Keisha Small, Simon Smith, Isabella Sousa, Joey Stanton Jr., Alisha Stevens, Catherine Tracy, Brady Vicnaire, Natalia Von Leigh, Cole Welch, Wayne Williams, Alysia Wilson, Erin Winkley and Cairlyn Young.

Winslow High School

Haneen Ali, Carly Anderson, Alika Andrews, Kathryn Bailey, Lily Barkdull, Rylee Batey, Devin Bettencourt, Eric Booth, Sebastian Bouchard, Cameron Brockway, Brandon Campbell, Lydia Carey, Briell Carter, Gabriella Chambers, Garrett Choate, Jessey Cloutier, Silver Clukey, Abigail Cochran, Brooke Cochran, Brady Corson, Camden Dangler, Alexander Demers, Micah Dickson, Willa Dolley, Katie Doughty, Ronan Drummond, Hannah Dugal, Brennan Dunton, Summer Eyster, Cloe Fecteau, Sophie-ann Gerry, Isaiah Gidney, Christopher Girard, Isaiah Goldsmith, Hannah Goodine, Cameron Goodwin, Cody Green, Bryce Gunzinger, Dawsen Gurski, Aaron Harmon, Gabrielle Hatt, Wyatt Hood, Landon Hotham, Jacob Huesers, Ross Hughes, Sadie Irza, Cody Ivey, Savannah Joler, Caleb Joseph Lagasse, Kaelyn Lakey, Juliann Lapierre, Nicholas Lemieux, Felicia Lessard, Alexee Littlefield, Riley Loftus, James Mason, Ronnie Mason, Ethan Matthews, Caleb Mills, Christopher Mills, Brandon Moore, Haylee Moore, Madison Morin, Mariah Morrison, Shaylie Morrison, Gabriel Moumouris, Skylar Nye, Elena O’Hara, Wesley O’Neal, Chase Pelkey, Leah Pelotte, Christopher Phair, Madalyn Phillips, Justice Picard, Faith Pomerleau, Colby Pomeroy, Alexis Porter, Christopher Poulliot, Morgan Presby, Anthony Proulx, Ashley Quirion, Kristen Rancourt, Braden Rayborn, Miranda Raymond, Zachary Real, Jackson Reynolds, Jenna Rodrigue, Taylor Rodriguez, Cheyne Salvas, Nevaeh Schuchardt, Carrie Selwood, Mallory Sheridan, Grace Smith, Austin Soucy, Alison Stabins, Bryanna Stanley, Hannah Stevens, Katherine Stevens, Nicholas Sweeney, Kaleb Thomas, Sage Vance, Gage Vaughan, Austin Veilleux, Abigail Washburn, William Weiss, Caleb Welsh, Austin Williams and Abigail Wright.

The history of the Kennebec Water District

Most information in this section is from the comprehensive history section of the Kennebec Water District’s website, which was last updated in 2006.

The Kennebec Water District (KWD) was incorporated on March 17, 1899, the first such quasi-municipal district in the country and the pattern for generations of future water, sanitary, sewer and school districts. It was the brainchild of a lawyer named Harvey Doane Eaton (Sept. 20, 1862 – Oct. 17, 1953). Such districts allow towns and cities to cooperatively supply services like clean water that none could afford to supply by itself.

A for-profit predecessor, the Maine Water Company, controlled KWD’s water supply, which came from Messalonskee Stream, until stream pollution caused a 1902 typhoid epidemic. KWD officials chose China Lake as the replacement water source in 1903 and promptly started building a pipeline from the lake.

In May 1905 China Lake water came to KWD customers. “Water purity is exceptional,” the website says. When another typhoid epidemic in 1910 cast doubt on China Lake water, KWD hired a Harvard professor who found the real culprit: milk.

Between 1909 and 1912, KWD spent about $57,000 to buy China Lake shoreland, saving the estimated $100,000 to $200,000 cost of building a filtration plant. From 1920, the district planted trees in the watershed as another water quality protection measure.

A state-of-the-art filtration plant, at the time the largest in Maine, came on line in August 1991. It was the result of two factors: China Lake’s deteriorating water quality beginning in the 1970s (making “China Lake syndrome” nationally recognized in water quality circles); and the 1986 federal Safe Drinking Water Act, setting standards untreated China Lake water could not meet.

KWD served customers in Waterville, Fairfield, Winslow and Benton from the beginning and added Oakland (by contract) and Vassalboro. The five member municipalities, but not Oakland, are represented on the district board of trustees.

From KWD’s creation in 1899 until 1920, Albert S. Hall served as superintendent. (He was not the Albert S. Hall for whom Waterville’s Albert S. Hall School is named, nor that Hall’s father; according to educator Hall’s obituary, he was born in 1935 and his father’s name was Clifton L. Hall.) KWD’s second superintendent, Alvin B. Thompson, served even longer, from 1920 until 1948.

Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) still on at new venue

In response to social distancing requirements and in the interest of public safety and health, the Maine Film Center (MFC) will present the 2020 Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) in a new, modified format. The 23rd annual MIFF will be held July 7–16 with in-person screenings held exclusively at the Skowhegan Drive-In Theater in Skowhe­gan, Maine. The twenty-third annual celebration of Ameri­can independent, international, and classic film will showcase nine feature films, comprised largely of World, North American, and East Coast premieres, as well as a program of Maine Shorts. Additional feature and short films will be made available for ticketed online streaming via the festival website,

“We’re elated to be able to host a terrific lineup of films this summer, in spite of the difficulties that movie theaters across the country have experienced over the past several months,” said Mike Perreault, Executive Director of MFC. “While the festival may not exhibit the same number of films as in past years, we’re confident that our 2020 MIFF program will reflect the world-class cinema that our patrons and community have come to appreciate. We’re especially grateful that our partners at the Skowhegan Drive-In have agreed to host MIFF23. This all-too-rare kind of venue will be a great place for audiences to have a unique experience and enjoy movies from a safe distance.”

“While we’d love to be able to share with our audiences all the incredible cinematic discoveries we’ve made in working on this year’s festival,” said Ken Eisen, MIFF programming director, “we are truly thrilled to be embarking on what we are sure will be an exciting, safe, and joyful version of MIFF appropriate to the current conditions.”

“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to work with Maine Film Center to maintain the continuity of the Maine International Film Festival in this moment of unprecedented challenge,” said Donald Brown, owner of the Skowhegan Drive In-Theatre. “The Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre is a unique cultural attraction from an earlier era [and] MIFF is a resource for all of Central Maine. Together this summer, they will illuminate the night!”

The complete festival lineup, including titles that will be available for streaming, will be announced in June. Passes for the Festival are available to pre-order at

Two Maine outdoor recreation startups collaborate to get more Mainers outdoors

Hiking and camping gear rentals make it easier and less expensive to enjoy Maine’s outdoors. (contributed photo)

TreeFreeHeat founded by Thomas College senior Dylan Veilleux

Bioenergy startup TreeFreeHeat has signed its first distribution deal with Back40, a fellow Maine startup that operates an e-commerce site for outdoor gear rentals. Founded to make outdoor adventures as comfortable, convenient, and accessible as possible, Back40’s mission has become more powerful and urgent due to the social distancing restrictions recommended in response to COVID-19. Hiking and camping gear rentals make it easier and less expensive to enjoy Maine’s outdoors, and the new partnership gives consumers, whether seasoned recreators or first-time campers, easy access to TreeFreeHeat’s initial product offering, hemp stalk-based fire starters for campfires and cooking grills.

“This summer, outdoor adventures will be more popular than ever, and gear ownership shouldn’t be a barrier to enjoying Maine in a safe, healthy way,” explains Henry Gilbert, founder of Back40. “We are excited to supplement our gear rental options with TreeFreeHeat’s fire starters – it’s a great product that makes camping easier, and partnering with another Maine business is a no-brainer for us.”

The deal marks a major milestone for both startups, who are deeply interconnected within Maine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Both contestants in the Greenlight Maine pitch competition – Back40 in the flagship competition, TreeFreeHeat in the Collegiate Challenge – the two startups formalized their connection at Waterville’s Central Maine Tech Night and quickly identified their product synergies. For TreeFreeHeat, Back40 provides promotion and distribution to its target market, including campers, campgrounds, and employer wellness programs. For Back40, the bioenergy fire starters made of renewable hemp stalk waste reflect the brand’s commitment to environmental sustainability and innovation while fulfilling consumer demand.

“Partnerships have been essential to TreeFreeHeat’s growth, and Henry’s commitment to making adventuring easy makes Back40 an ideal partner. As soon as I learned about what he was building, I knew he’d be a perfect match,” explains Veilleux. “And now that I have improved my manufacturing processes, I’ve been able to build more partnerships throughout Maine because I can now keep up with the demand people have for making better fires easier.”

As an alternative to wood-based fire starters, TreeFreeHeat was founded in 2019 by Dylan Veilleux, a senior at Thomas College and Entrepreneur in Residence at Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space, in downtown Waterville. With a proven market and streamlined production system, Veilleux is now scaling the startup through distribution deals and participation in Waterville’s TopGun mentorship program.

“TreeFreeHeat’s growth is a testament to Dylan Veilleux’s tenacity and strategic use of the entrepreneurship resources in the Waterville area,” states Garvan Donegan, director of planning and economic development at Central Maine Growth Council. “His partnership with Back40 is a powerful combination that enhances Maine’s outdoor recreation brand.”

Gilbert and Veilleux look forward to contributing to Maine’s legacy tourism economy in the 2020 summer season by offering innovative solutions within convenience and sustainability. TreeFreeHeat’s fire starters will be available on Back40’s website,