Local students named to dean’s list at Cedarville University

Catherine Estes, of Sidney, and Josette Gilman, of China, were named to the spring 2023 dean’s list at Cedarville University, in Cedarville, Ohio.

Lydia Gilman achieves Spring 2023 dean’s list at Belmont University

Lydia Gilman

Lydia Gilman, of China, qualified for Belmont University’s spring 2023 dean’s list, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Lake Life Today: While planning for the future

FALL SCENE: Susan Thiem, of Texas, a summer resident on China Lake, took this photo prior to her departure this past fall.

submitted by Elaine Philbrick

Lake Life Today is a series of articles that we hope will inspire you to see how, by taking just a few steps, you can make a difference and help preserve the quality of water in our lakes for future generations.

These articles have been collected and organized by LakeSmart Director Elaine Philbrook, a member of China Region Lakes Alliance (aka “the Alliance”) serving China Lake, Webber Pond, Three Mile Pond, and Three-Cornered Pond. The Alliance would like to thank our partners at Maine Lakes and Lakes Environmental Association (LEA) for information to support this article.

  • Be LakeSmart
  • Lakes Environmental Association
  • LakeSmart Tip: Spring Cleaning

As you open your camp this spring, consider the following suggestions for protecting your lake.

Cleaning Up Yard Debris

Pine needles, leaves, and other undisturbed vegetative material (small, downed branches and twigs) can help supplement your property’s “duff layer” at the shoreline. This is a layer of decaying leaf and undisturbed vegetative material that creates a buffer-like area to promote your landscape’s ability to infiltrate stormwater. Promoting vegetation at the shoreline’s edge will also protect the riparian zone for wildlife habitat on your shorefront property. It is advisable to retain as much of this natural duff layer as possible while still being able to enjoy your property.

  • Pine needles and leaves should not be raked up except to provide a safety barrier around your fire pit or to maintain your (hopefully minimal) lawn. Regarding lawns generally: Please avoid importing “fancy aesthetics” to your lakeside, such as miniature or dwarf fruit trees. Instead go with more natural shoreline plants that would help stabilize your buffer. It is Maine’s lakeside natural environment that we all love. Go to Shoreline Landscaping for Lake Protection, Maine Department of Environmental Protection for more info.
  • Downed branches and other debris should only be removed in areas where you recreate or walk.
  • Leaving the natural duff layer is a critical part of the forest ecosystem and should be left intact outside of footpaths.
  • Also, try to avoid using commercial fertilizers that contain concentrations of phosphorous (i.e., a nutrient that contributes to algae blooms in our lakes).

Activating Your Septic Tank

Septic tanks activate after the winter naturally. No additives are needed to get your septic tank’s bacterial process started in the spring. Rid-X and similar bacterial enzyme additives interfere with natural tank bacterial action, often causing accelerated breakdown of solid and turning sludge into a slurry which can then enter and plug up your leach field. Do not waste your money on products that don’t work and can harm your septic system!

Maintaining Water Diverters

Existing open top “box” culverts and/or so-called “rubber razors blades” installed along your camp road need periodic inspection and cleaning. Runoff into these diverters carries silt which builds up and can reduce or eliminate the diverter’s capacity to function. In open top culverts, remove the silt which settles. Similarly, clean up the silt which builds along the uphill edge of any rubber razor blades, and dredge the outlet edge of all diverters to remove the silt that has built up there.

At the Water’s Edge

  • Inspect your dock entrance to ensure it is not allowing runoff into the lake.
  • Assess whether there is any undercutting of the lake bank from waves crashing into your shoreline.

If you have any questions about what you can do to ensure the integrity of your valued lake or if you would like a free LakeSmart evaluation you can reach Elaine Philbrook by email at chinalakesmart@gmail.com and follow-up to read the next Townline newspaper.

Live lightly on the land for the sake of the lake (LakeSmart).

China Lake main theme at select board meeting

by Mary Grow

For the May 22 China Select Board meeting, China Lake was a major theme, in three different ways.

Select board members unanimously and appreciatively accepted a proposal from the China Lake Association, represented virtually by board member Bruce Fitzgerald, to have a Colby professor and class do an economic impact study of China Lake.

Fitzgerald said the study would cost the town zero dollars. There would probably be requests for information, some of which might require town office staff time; Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood saw no problem.

The main theme would be the value of lake-based tourism to China. Fitzgerald invited other suggestions for content, and said it might be possible to involve the China Region Lakes Alliance and expand the study to Three Mile and Webber ponds.

Fitzgerald said the same professor did a Belgrade Lakes study. That 12-page document, titled A Case Study of the Economic Impact of Seasonal Visitors to a Lake Watershed Environment, is on line under athensjournals.gr/ tourism/2015-2-2-1-Donihue.pdf. The first author listed is Colby College professor Michael Donihue.

Also speaking virtually, China Lake Association President Stephen Greene said the organization has applied for a grant for work around China Lake that, if approved, would include improvements at the boat landing in South China.

His report sparked a brief discussion of the landing. Greene said the lake association currently favors a carry-in only, unpaved landing; two select board members consider a paved area a longer-lasting option.

Hapgood said if funds for improvements become available, there will be additional discussions, especially with South China Village residents.

The manager presented the third lake issue: she reported that the dock at the head of the lake broke over the weekend. China’s public works crew responded and are working on repairs that Hapgood hoped would be completed in a few days.

In other business May 22:

  • Select board members awarded summer paving work to the low bidder, Maine-ly Paving Services, LLC, of Canaan, at a price of $87.75 per ton of paving mix.
  • They awarded the summer mowing bid to the only bidder, Pierce Works, LLC, of China, for a price of $4,900 for one mowing or $9,800 for two mowings.
  • Two items were postponed: proposed amendments to the Planning Board Ordinance, recommended by the planning board and scheduled tentatively for presentation to voters in November; and local penalty assessment guidelines.

Absentee ballots for China’s June 13 annual town business meeting are now available, as is the new town report.

Overall school budget looks good

At the May 22 China select board meeting, Regional School Unit (RSU) #18 Superintendent Carl Gartley said the overall regional budget is up 2.93 percent, and China’s share is up 2.08 percent, or about $106,000.

“In today’s economy, I thought that was pretty darn good,” Gartley said.

He reported that RSU students are doing well educationally, and the district is financially secure, with reserve funds built up in the last few years.

China Middle School has a new 300-foot well, after months of bottled water use since PFAS was found in the old well. If the new well does not solve the problem, an expensive treatment system will be installed.

China Primary School’s well water tested fine, Gartley said.

Plans for this summer’s work in China include re-siding China Elementary School (a big building, Gartley commented) and adding four pickleball courts for public use. The new courts will be between the softball outfield and the parking lot; they will not be lighted.

The next regular China select board meeting will be Monday evening, June 5.

EVENTS: No parade in China; One in Albion

China to hold moment of prayer

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, there will be a parade in Albion, beginning at 9 a.m., from the Besse Building.
There will be no parade in China, however, there will be a moment of prayer, at 10 a.m., at the China Baptist Church, on Causeway St.

EVENTS: Thurston Park committee to meet

Hikers on Bridge in Thurston Park (Photo courtesy: Town of China)

by Mary Grow

China’s Thurston Park Committee meets at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 18, at the park. The main purpose of the meeting, chairman Jeanette Smith said, is to determine what maintenance is needed in preparation for Erskine Academy’s Day of Caring work day on Friday, May 19, and the annual Spring Work Day in the park on Saturday, May 20.

Residents interested in participating on May 20 or in getting more information about Thurston Park and the committee are invited to email thurstonpark@outlook.com.

China select board to hold second public hearing on board of appeals changes

by Mary Grow

China select board members will hold a second public hearing on the proposed changes in the Board of Appeals section in the Land Use Ordinance (see The Town Line, May 11, p. 2) before their May 22 meeting.

Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood explained in an email after the May 8 board meeting that there were errors in the marked-up version of the ordinance available that evening. The final version of the amendments on which voters will act June 13 was correct, she said; and corrected versions of the explanatory marked-up version are now on the town website in two places, under the Elections tab on the left side of the page and on the select board page under Officials, Boards & Committees.

On May 22, beginning at 6 p.m., in the town office meeting room, select board members will host two public hearings. Residents are invited to comment on the Four Seasons Club request to use part of Bog Brook and Pleasant View Ridge roads as an ATV trail (see The Town Line, April 27, p. 2) and on the proposed ordinance amendment.

The select board meeting will follow the hearings.

China select board agrees to apply to KVCOG Resilience Partnership

by Mary Grow

China select board members unanimously agreed to apply to join the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments Community Resilience Partnership, approving the first step at their May 8 meeting (see The Town Line, April 27, p. 8).

The document they signed included a list of possible projects suggested by residents. Board member Janet Preston said the list is neither mandatory nor final; she described it as containing “ideas to look into.”

Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood asked if select board members want to change the use of income from returnable bottles brought to the transfer station. In 2018, she said, their predecessors voted to have the money added to the recycling budget.

Recently, two local organizations had asked if they could share the money – a total of $5,123.45 as of late April in the current fiscal year, Hapgood reported.

Select board members promptly said no. Without any disrespect to local organizations, they said allocating the money would be too time-consuming; the transfer station budget was a legitimate recipient of the funds; and community groups had other sources of donations.

The May 8 meeting started about 7 p.m., after the public hearing on warrant articles China voters will decide at the polls on June 13. See article in this issue.

The next regular China select board meeting will be Monday evening, May 22. Like the May 8 meeting, its starting time is unknown: it will be preceded by a 6 p.m. public hearing on a request from the China Four Seasons Club to use parts of Bog and Pleasant View Ridge roads as a temporary ATV trail.

Information on the hearing is on the website china.govoffice.com, under a new tab on the left side of the main page called Public Hearings.

China select board holds public hearing on warrant articles before small audience

by Mary Grow

The China select board’s May 8 public hearing on warrant articles for the June 13 town business meeting attracted a small audience – five residents – with an hour’s worth of questions and comments.

The focus was on two issues: the meeting format, and the revised Board of Appeals Ordinance that is the 32nd and final warrant article.

Sheri Wilkens raised the format question, asking why China hasn’t gone back to the pre-pandemic open town meeting, where voters could discuss issues and amend warrant articles. By select board decision, the June 13 meeting will be by written ballot only.

Wayne Chadwick, select board chairman, said he prefers the written-ballot format because more people vote. No one had exact figures, but in the past, it was often difficult to get a quorum, about 125 people (four percent of the registered voters at the beginning of the year), to start an open meeting; and attendance dwindled as the meeting went on.

In November 2022, by written ballot, China voters approved lowering the quorum to 100 voters. According to the Nov. 17, 2022, issue of The Town Line, the vote for the lower requirement was 1,015 in favor and 965 opposed.

Discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of both forms of meeting left select board members considering a November 2023 ballot question asking voters to choose.

Wilkens also asked about increases in the legal budget. Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood said recent cases had generated larger expenses. She could not predict what might happen in future budget cycles, but thinks it prudent to have funds available if needed.

Per-hour legal fees have also gone up, Hapgood said. Wilkens suggested bidding out legal services; Hapgood said other towns are paying “significantly more” than China.

Wilkens began the discussion of the revised Board of Appeals ordinance (Chapter 9 of China’s Land Use Ordinance) by referring to its origins with the select board early in 2023. After a recapitulation of discussions among select board and planning board members and other residents, Thomas and Marie Michaud chimed in with questions about the content of the ordinance presented to voters.

The ordinance is on the town website, china.govoffice.com, under the Elections tab on the left side of the page, in two forms: the eight-page version that voters will accept or reject, titled “Proposed Chapter 9 Appeals Ordinance; and a 10-page, multi-colored draft titled “Chapter 9- V3 Combined Mark-ups,” showing changes between the current and proposed versions.

Absentee ballots available May 15

Absentee ballots for China’s municipal voting – the 32-article warrant that includes the 2023-24 municipal budget, authorizations for select board actions, two amended ordinances and other questions – will be available May 15 through the town office.

The 2023-24 Regional School Unit #18 will be approved by voters from the member towns (Belgrade, China, Oakland, Rome and Sidney) at a meeting on Thursday, May 18, at 6 p.m., at the Messalonskee High School Performing Arts Center, in Oakland.

Absentee ballots for the June 13 vote on affirming or rejecting the RSU #18 budget approved at the May 18 meeting will be available May 19 through the China town office.

China’s voting will be Tuesday, June 13, in the portable building behind the town office, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Those present at 6:55 a.m. will elect the meeting moderator.

On Tuesday, June 13, the China town office will be closed. The Lakeview Drive entrance to the town office complex will also be closed; voters should use the Alder Park Road entrance.

KVYSO senior spotlight on Breckon Davidson

Breckon Davidson, left, with his grandfather, John Shields. (contributed photo)

Submitted by Jen Tuminaro

The Kennebec Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra (KVYSO), is proud to feature Breckon Davidson, a senior at Erskine Academy, in South China, in our Senior Spotlight article. He is a talented, diligent musician whose participation in KVYSO has added to the quality and level of ensemble community.

Breckon began his musical journey with piano lessons, from age six until he was nine. At that point, he picked up the cello after seeing Pineland Suzuki School (an organization of strings teachers in central Maine) perform at Granite Hill Estates.

“Working with Pineland in the beginning of my cello playing was amazing, and they had such a refined program for beginners. They had so many group classes, activities, and just made learning cello something that I had a ton of fun to do,” explained Breckon, eventually joining the Allegra Orchestra (Pineland’s beginner ensemble). “My favorite piece that we played with them was the theme to Jurassic Park.”

After auditioning for Kennebec Valley Youth Orchestra (KVYSO’s intermediate orchestra), he was not able to play with them that year in person due to Covid restrictions, but it “only fueled my excitement further. In the fall of 2020, we were able to play in person for the first time in what felt like forever, and it felt exhilarating to be part of an orchestra again.” After a year with KVYO, Breckon began playing with Kennebec Valley Youth Symphony (KVYSO’s advanced orchestra). “That was a huge deal, because that would be the first time in my life that I would be playing a full, unaltered symphony in concert. This was the real deal, and I took it very seriously.”

Around this time, Breckon joined Capital Strings (Pineland’s advanced ensemble) and started taking lessons with Jon Moody. “In Capital Strings, we got to play incredible arrangements of so many kinds of music, whether they be film scores, contemporary classical, folk music, what have you, and it was a joy. Eventually, I started doing the Bach cello suites, and have loved working on them ever since.”

In addition to being a member of KVYSO and Pineland, Breckon is also a part of the Jazz Band at Erskine, where he recently picked up bass. “At first it was like a whole new language, playing bass, but eventually I got the hang of it, and recently played in a concert at Erskine where I played bass in the Jazz Band and a jazz quartet, and played cello for a solo and for my composition class group.”

Music has been part of Breckon’s life for a long time. “I absolutely adore music, and it is an ever-present part of my life. There’s rarely a time that I’m not listening to music, the majority of it being classical. I’ve loved classical music for so long, and I find its rich textures and harmonies to be unlike any other type of music that I know of.”

As for future plans, Breckon plans on going to college as a biology major to become a psychiatrist. “As much as I love music, I also have a great passion for science, and find psychology to be the most fascinating one to me, so I’ll make it my career.” We wish Breckon well as he pursues his goals after his time with us at KVYO is done.

We invite you to support Breckon and the Kennebec Valley Youth Orchestras for the Spring Concert on Friday, May 5, at 6:30 p.m., at the South Parish Congregation Church, in Augusta. Daniel Keller will be conducting our KVYO, with Jinwook Park conducting our KVYSO. The concert will feature the music of Mendelssohn, Debussy, Vivaldi, and more! In addition to joining them on May 5, please consider following them on Facebook and Instagram (Kennebec Valley Youth Symphony Orchestras). If you would like to donate to our program, please visit their website at https://www.kvyso.org/. They truly appreciate your support of our program!