Covers towns roughly within 50 miles of Augusta.

AARP accepting community challenge grant applications

AARP Maine invites local eligible non-profit organizations and governments across the country to apply for the 2024 AARP Community Challenge grant program, now through Wednesday, March 6, at 5 p.m. Eastern. AARP Community Challenge grants fund quick-action projects that help communities become more livable by improving public places, transportation, housing, digital connections, and more. Now in its eighth year, the program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which supports the efforts of cities, towns, neighborhoods and rural areas to become great places to live for all residents, especially those age 50 and older.

The AARP Community Challenge accepts applications across three different grant opportunities. All projects must be consistent with AARP’s mission to serve the needs of people 50 and older along with other eligibility criteria.

Capacity-building microgrants are paired with additional resources, such as one-on-one coaching, webinars, cohort learning opportunities and more for improving walkability, bikeability and implementing safe, accessible home modifications.

Demonstration grants focus on improving digital connections to prepare and respond to disasters; reconnecting communities divided by infrastructure; and housing choice design competitions.

Flagship grants support projects that improve public places; transportation; housing; diversity, equity and inclusion; civic engagement; community health and economic empowerment; and new this year community resilience; and digital connections.

“AARP is committed to meeting the needs of a rapidly aging population in communities across the country,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer.

The Community Challenge is open to eligible nonprofit organizations and government entities. Other types of organizations are considered on a case-by-case basis. Grants can range from several hundred dollars for small, short-term activities to tens of thousands for larger projects.

The application deadline is 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. All projects must be completed by December 15, 2024. To submit an application and view past grantees, visit www.AARP.org/CommunityChallenge.

Husson University announces fall honors (2023)

Husson University, in Bangor, has announced the academic achievements of students recently named to the president’s list, dean’s list and honors list for the Fall 2023 semester of the 2023-2024 academic year.

Feed Abdulmohsin, of Augusta, President’s List; Malak Alkattea, of Augusta, President’s List; Kaylea Batchelder, of Fairfield, President’s List; Alyssa Bell, of Sidney, President’s List; Samantha Bell of Sidney, Dean’s List; Hope Bouchard, of Clinton, Dean’s List; Evan Bourget, of Winslow, Dean’s List; Leanna Breard, of Norridgewock, Dean’s List; Elizabeth Campbell, of Waterville, President’s List; Ashley Cates, of Embden, Dean’s List; Bradley Condon, of Sidney, President’s List; Luke Desmond, of Vassalboro, President’s List; Emma Doiron of Augusta, Honors; Alexis Dostie, of Sidney, President’s List; Emily Dunbar, of Canaan, Dean’s List; Dayton Dutil, of Winslow, President’s List; Sierra Gagno,n of Sidney, Honors; Izaak Gajowski, of Winslow, President’s List; Rylie Genest, of Sidney, President’s List; Joshua Gordon, of Winslow, President’s List; Jaden Grazulis of Waterville, President’s List; Megan Grenier, of Sidney, President’s List; Cooper Grondin, of Vassalboro, Dean’s List; Trent Gunst, of Skowhegan, Dean’s List; Joseph Hamelin, of Waterville, President’s List; Madison Hanley, of Waterville, Honors; Gunnar Hendsbee of Fairfield, Honors; Avery Henningsen, of Palermo, President’s List; Abbigail Hreben, of Oakland, President’s List; Megan Huesers, of Winslow, President’s List; Jazmin Johnson, of Clinton, President’s List; Brooklyn Kelly, of Winslow, President’s List; Chantelle Lacroix of Solon, Honors; Jordan Lambert, of Sidney, President’s List; Jennifer Leach, of Anson, Honors; Timothy Lessa, of Winslow, Honors; Madeline Levesque; of Augusta, Dean’s List; Jasmine Liberty, of Waterville, Honors; Chiara Mahoney, of Whitefield, President’s List; Ryan Martin, of Winslow, President’s List; Savannah Millay, of Chelsea, Honors; Casey Mills, of Augusta, Honors; Gage Moody, of Windsor, Dean’s List; Lauryn Noyes, of Skowhegan, Dean’s List; Richard Orgill, of Clinton, Honors; Cameron Osborne, of Augusta, Dean’s List; Natasha Parker, of Anson, President’s List; Trevar Pease, of Canaan, Dean’s List; Kayla Peaslee, of South China, President’s List; Ryan Pelletier, of Augusta, President’s List; Jessica Pomerleau, of Augusta, Honors; Kaden Porter, of Palermo, President’s List; Rylee Poulin, of Oakland, Dean’s List; Joey Ramsdell, of Skowhegan, President’s List; Karlie Ramsdell, of Winslow, President’s List; Mitchel Reynolds, of South China, Dean’s List; Roxanne Sasse, of Windsor, President’s List; Jackson Stafford, of Winslow, Dean’s List; Kara Stelly, of Augusta, Honors; Riley Sullivan, of Windsor, President’s List; Logan Tardif, of Waterville, President’s List; Alexis Trask of Winslow, Honors; James Van Doren-Wilson, of Vassalboro, Honors; Gino Villavicencio, of Waterville, President’s List; MaryJo Wadsworth, of Washington, President’s List; Jude Wallace, of Augusta, President’s List; Payson Washburn, of Skowhegan, Dean’s List; Skye Welch, of North Anson, Honors; Caroline Westhoff of Sidney, Honors; and Avery Willett, of Waterville, President’s List

A Christmas tradition

As a result of the devastating storm that swept through central Maine on December 18, 2023, which knocked out power and internet service, the following story could not be published at that time. Here is the annual Christmas tradition from an area family:

by Janet Cole

One mid-1980s Christmas we got our youngsters a Commodore 64. Wanting them to socialize with our dinner guests, this gift wasn’t put under the tree until everyone had left (and our kids had fallen asleep.)

The next morning, our three rush into our bedroom announcing a “mystery gift” under the tree. It was received with such delight that it became our tradition.

One gift, for the whole family, appears under the tree on December 26. It’s been as simple as a board game and as elaborate as a ping pong set with ribbons leading to a ping pong table in the basement.

Happy Holidays…however you celebrate!

Honor Maine Teachers – nominations open for Maine Teacher of the Year

The Teacher of the Year journey starts with your nomination. Nominate someone from your town, county, or region today at mainetoy.org/nominate.

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) and Educate Maine announced that nominations are now open for the 2024 County Teachers of the Year and 2025 State Teacher of the Year. Maine’s County and State Teachers of the Year serve as advocates for teachers, students, and public education in Maine.

“Maine is home to amazing teachers who educate, inspire, innovate, nurture, and go above and beyond each and every day for their students, schools, and communities,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin.

Nominations can be made through a form on the Maine Teacher of the Year Website now through 5:00 pm on January 31, 2021. Nominations will be accepted from students, parents, caregivers, community members, school administrators, colleagues, college faculty members, and associations/organizations (self-nominations, and nominations from family members are not accepted).

Requirements:

Hold the appropriate professional certification for their teaching position;

Be a certified, in good standing, PK-12 teacher in a state-accredited public school, including a career and technical education and adult education center, a public charter school, or a publicly supported secondary school (a private school that enrolls 60 percent or more publicly funded students, sometimes referred to as “town academies”);

Be actively teaching students at least fifty percent of the workday at the time of nomination and during their year of recognition.
Maintain their teaching position and remain in the county for which they are selected throughout the year of recognition.

Have a minimum of five years of teaching – three of which are in Maine.

Beyond serving as advocates for education, Maine’s County and State Teachers serve as advisors to the Maine DOE and state-level education stakeholders across Maine. Additionally, County and State Teachers of the Year join a cohort of teacher leaders who actively work together for the betterment of education in Maine. They also receive ongoing professional learning and participate in many state and county leadership opportunities.

The 2024 County Teachers of the Year will be announced in May. The 2025 Maine Teacher of the Year will be selected from the 16 county honorees. Through a selection process designed by educators, the field will be narrowed to semi-finalists and then state finalists before the Maine Teacher of the Year is announced by Maine’s Education Commissioner at a school assembly in the fall. Each year, State and County Teachers of the Year are honored at the annual Teacher of the Year Gala also held in the fall.

The Maine Teacher of the Year program is committed to a nomination and selection process that ensures people of all backgrounds are represented. Educate Maine and the Maine Department of Education champion that commitment by encouraging the nomination of educators from all culturally diverse experiences and backgrounds.

For more information about the Maine Teacher of the Year program, visit the Maine Teacher of the Year website. Help us promote the Teacher of the Year Program by using the promotional materials on our website! Our goal is to expand and diversify our nomination pool!

The Good Trail: Tall Nancy is coming tomorrow

by Lisa Lichterfeld

“Tall Nancy is coming tomorrow.” Selwyn gives one of his world weary sighs, signaling resignation, since his default stance towards visitors is generally averse. This gets me going with a quick retort. “You are incredibly lucky that tall Nancy chooses to come here and spend time with you.” Selwyn is equally quick to make eye contact and state “You’re right. Tall Nancy is an angel.”

When I took a seasonal farm position at Johnny’s Seeds, some of my friends – fellow parents of young athletes who are part of the Unified Champion Club – asked how they could be supportive. I was concerned about leaving my husband home alone for that length of time. Selwyn is physically frail and has growing memory loss and confusion. He had become increasingly dependent, needing support for many daily life activities. Nancy offered to come one day a week and stay for four hours. She developed her own routine into which she incorporated sweeping and cleaning the kitchen, bringing in the recycling barrel from the road, making and eating lunch with Selwyn, and rubbing Selwyn’s feet. Now everyone reading this understands why the term “angel” can be applied to Nancy. The tall part is because – well, she is tall, and that is how Selwyn distinguishes her from the other Nancys in our circle of friends.

Three weeks after I started working at the farm, I quit. It just wasn’t working out. Making sure the needs of my husband and my daughter were being met through coordinating daily support from my friends and family became too stressful. And Selwyn had deteriorated further due to his anxiety with all of the arrangements.

Tall Nancy said “Can I still come over on Tuesdays?” And so we established a pattern and a growing friendship and camaraderie as Nancy volunteered her time so that I could take a physical and mental breather from the demands of home life.

One day as Nancy was leaving our home I said “you are our hero Nancy”. That afternoon Nancy was walking the trail in Benton with her son Jonathan and his direct support person Kevin.

Chet started working at New Balance 23 years ago, right out of high school. New Balance, as a workplace, encourages its employees to embrace a culture of giving. This aligns with Chet’s own values and temperament. “I’m not going to drive by someone on the road with a flat tire, and not stop.” He hopes that this ethos continues to live on in his sons Christian 21, and Trenton 11.

On the first of July, Chet was driving around looking for a local ball game to watch. It was his first day of vacation. He sat on the bleachers at the Wrigley field, in Waterville, and watched a not so typical game.

All the batters hit the ball – either from multiple pitches or a T. Every hit, catch and run was cheered by the spectators. There was a great deal of elation, and rarely any sense of defeat. Chet was watching the Unified Champion Club. In the UCC team, some players are more skilled and they are able to play more competitively with one another. Others are beginners, or less skilled, and even the most competitive in the field will stop, wait, fumble the ball, and otherwise take steps to make sure that person makes it to first base.

While eating ice cream and observing this unusual ball game, Chet couldn’t help overhearing a conversation taking place a few rows down on the bleachers. Our very own tall Nancy was telling her other mom friends about her dream to have a swing built at her home that was large enough for her six-foot three-inch, 30-year-old son Jonathan. Jonathan is largely non-verbal, and does not participate in team sports, but comes to many of our team events. At the ball field he usually spends his time on the swings. He so loves to swing that he will endure the discomfort of having the too small swings (designed for children) cut into his hips, leaving open areas that have to heal.

This conversation percolated in Chet’s mind, and he decided that he wanted to build that swing. He talked to his friend and co-worker Maggie and she immediately wanted to finance the project. “Word got around and pretty soon everybody was saying ‘I want to help’.”

Now it was up to Chet to find the woman with the son who needed a swing. He went back to the ball field for the next two weeks on the same day at the same time, only to be disappointed. Determined to find them, he called the AYCC, spoke to Patrick Guerette and was informed that the one time that he had watched our game was on an alternate night due to bad weather. The next week he would finally be able to find us on the correct evening.

But he did not have to wait that long. Running on the river trail in Benton, he saw one of the people who he remembered from the game. It was Kevin, one of the partners in the UCC.

Once you have seen Kevin, you will remember him. Noticeably short with a very long, full, dark beard, Kevin is one of the most approachable people I know. Always up for a bit of fun, and frequently a bit of mischief. Chet stopped his run and began rapidly explaining how he recognized Kevin, and how much he wanted to build a swing for “that woman and her son”.

At some point, tall Nancy who was patiently watching this conversation unfold, leaned towards Kevin and whispered “well, shall we tell him?”.

And that is how Chet met Nancy and Jonathan.

Money was pooled from all of those involved with the major portion coming from Maggie.

When the materials were purchased, Dan from Hammond Lumber contributed funds to the project as well. Justin, Jimmy, and Chet built the swing with Chet’s son Trenton and Justin’s son Nick, assisting. Chet’s wife Renee beautified the landscape around the swing, planting flowers that continued to bloom right through the summer.

It all happened in a single day when Jonathan was out with Kevin and his partner Jill. Jonathan doesn’t like having people in his home and can sometimes become quite upset. But upon returning to the house at the end of the day, the smile and immediate adoption of the swing could not be mistaken for anything less than Joy. No matter how many people stood by and watched!

On the same day that I called Nancy “our hero”, she met Chet on the trail. As though synchronized by a writer’s pen, the trail of good deeds made itself visible. The service Nancy so graciously gave to us, and the very tangible and large swing that brought joy to Jonathan (and some respite for Nancy), seemed to be linked. At least in Nancy’s mind. Because the next time she came over, she said “You see, I better keep coming, because good things are happening!”

Love to my good friends Nancy Moore, Jonathan Tingley, Kevin Taft and Jill Currier. And love to those helpers I have not met – Chet, Renee and Trenton Hanscom, Maggie Diagle, Justin and Nick Cote, Jimmy Lucas, and Dan Doray.

The Unified Champion Club is a non-profit that operates out of the AYCC providing sporting events and memberships to adults with special needs and their partners. It brings people together whose destiny it is to assist one another in celebrating our beautiful lives. All donations towards this endeavor are welcome.

Lisa Lichterfeld is also the author of the book “My Name is Kwayah” written from the perspective of her daughter with Down Syndrome, and available on Amazon.

Maine among highest COPD rates in the country

American Lung Association releases new data and steps healthcare and public health professionals can take to help improve the lives of people living with COPD

The American Lung Association in Maine released the COPD State Briefs, which include data about prevention, diagnosis, health outcomes and treatment of the disease for all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The briefs also highlight the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) across the U.S., highlighting the states with the highest COPD rates and opportunities to improve the burden of the disease. Maine is one of 11 states with the highest COPD prevalence rate.

COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is a long-term lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. There is currently no cure for COPD, but the disease is treatable. Nationally, approximately 5 percent of adults or 12.5 million Americans are living with COPD. In Maine, 99,861 of adults have been diagnosed with COPD, with a prevalence rate is 9 percent.

Annual cost of COPD treatment is $154 million, there are 92,66, and 888 people die each year from COPD.

“Unfortunately, here in Maine, our residents face a higher burden of COPD, but together we can work to help prevent the disease and support people living with the disease to live longer and more active lives,” said Lance Boucher, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association. “The new COPD state briefs also examine key indicators for COPD in Maine, such as air quality, tobacco use, education, income level and vaccination rate, which can help us determine where to focus our prevention efforts and help those most impacted by the disease.”

Maine is one of ten states that have the highest COPD rates and highest burden in the country – Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia. State prevalence rates range from 3.7% in Hawaii to 13.6% in West Virginia.

The goal of the COPD State Briefs is to raise awareness for COPD and empower public health and healthcare professionals to take actionable steps to prevent the onset of illness, reduce health inequities, set goals for earlier diagnosis and ensure clinical guidelines are used to manage and treat COPD. For Maine, the Lung Association recommends the following actions to reduce the burden of COPD:

– Use a validated COPD screening tool for people who may be at risk of COPD or reporting symptoms.
– Confirm a COPD diagnosis using spirometry, especially in primary care.
– Use evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation services.
– Promote recommended vaccinations.
– Recommend pulmonary rehabilitation, COPD education and a COPD Action Plan.

The COPD State Briefs were created with support by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Learn more and view the COPD State Briefs at Lung.org/COPD-briefs.

Make an impact, shop locally for the holidays

by Luis Franco, senior loan specialist, Center for Rural Affairs

The holiday season is right around the corner and it comes with great news.

According to a Gallup survey, 74 percent of holiday shoppers said they expect to pay about the same amount or more on holiday gifts this year compared to last. Moreover, 23 percent of shoppers said they choose one retailer over another because they want to support small and local businesses in their community.

Small businesses are essential to rural America. When buying from local small businesses, you are supporting your community in more ways than one. The money you spend stays in the community, which supports other businesses, helps create jobs, drives economic growth, and contributes to the area’s overall well-being.

Also, consider the environmental impact of avoiding long-distance trips to purchase gifts, not to mention the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with local entrepreneurs.

Local businesses often prioritize providing a positive customer experience, as they rely on word-of-mouth referrals and repeat business to stay afloat. With greater attention to detail, a willingness to go above and beyond, and a focus on creating a welcoming and friendly environment, small businesses can make holiday shopping a breeze.

As you plan your gift-giving this holiday season, think about your community. Get out and explore the local shops, look for pop-up events such as craft shows and holiday markets, and read your local newspaper and scroll through social media as many entrepreneurs take to the platforms to advertise their goods.

The gifts you purchase this holiday season will not only make your friends and family feel loved, they will empower your community. Where you spend your money today could determine what your community looks like a year or even five years from now.

Small entrepreneurs and business owners have been working hard to prepare for the holiday season. Now, it’s time to do your part.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.

PHOTOS: First snowmen of the year

Left photo, Asher, Gideon and Joseph Alix with their Thanksgiving snowman from the first snowfall of the year. Right, Emma, 2, and Parker, 9, Robbins, of Skowhegan, show off their snowman. (photos by Central Maine Photography)

Sign up for The Remembrance Tree 2023

Help us decorate the tree and at the same time remember loved ones. For only $10 a ball, you can commemorate loved ones who have passed. Mail your donations and the names of your remembered love ones to:

The Town Line
PO Box 89
South China, ME 04358

(Or use our online donate option and then send us an email (townline@townline.org) with the names of your loved ones.)

Deadline is Friday, December 16, 2023. The completed tree will be published in the December 21 issue.

EVENTS: Recycled Shakespeare announces auditions

Recycled Shakespeare Company (RSC) will hold auditions for their upcoming play Richard III on Sunday, November 26, 5 to 7 p.m., at South Parish Congregational Church, in Augusta, and Monday, November 27, 5 to 7 p.m., at Fairfield House of Pizza, in Fairfield.

Auditions will consist of individual and group cold readings, but you may come with a memorized piece if you wish. If anyone would like to audition but cannot do so at these times, please call 314-4730 in advance to discuss alternatives. All parts will be offered by Friday, December 1. RSC also seeks people to do tech and stage work, costuming, props, and concessions. Please come to audition or call to join the crew. People of all skill levels and abilities are invited to participate with this grassroots community theater company.

The play will be performed in Fairfield, Waterville, and Augusta, February 23 through 25. Table Read will be 5:30 p.m., on Wednesday, December 21, at Fairfield House of Pizza. All actors are responsible for learning their lines before Blocking rehearsals begin on Saturday, January 6. Rehearsal schedule is basically Saturdays 1 to 5 p.m., in Augusta, and Wednesday 5:30 to 8 p.m., in Fairfield.

Richard III is the tragic story of a tyrant who rises to power through his cunning charm which does not stop at murder. “Plots are laid” as characters build alliances, break the bonds of friends and family, and strive to maintain the kingdom as England nears the end of the brutal War of the Roses. One of Shakespeare’s often performed plays, this production by RSC is reduced to 90 minutes with script editing by Becca Bradstreet and a directorial team of Lyn Rowden, Shana Page, and Murray Herard.

For more information contact 207-314-4730 or see, like and follow Recycled Shakespeare Company on Facebook.