China Days this weekend, August 4-6

Pie eating starts at 11:30AM for 14 and under! Photos courtesy of China Days facebook

by Eric Austin

Over its 14-year history, China Community Days has grown from a small, local festival to something that pulls in residents and tourists from all over Central Maine. This year looks to up the ante with dozens of activities, vendors, and a new community-driven event dubbed “The Bazaar” – where any resident can bring their own table and display items for sale.

The festivities kick off on Friday, August 4, with a chicken barbecue at the South China American Legion at 4:30 p.m. Then bring your inner artist over to the China Primary school bus circle where there will be a parking lot art contest at 5:30 p.m. At 6 p.m., take your kids to the Youth Wiffle Ball Game up between the elementary and middle schools at the China Recreation Ball Fields.

Nearly 20 Organizations and Vendors will have booths set up on Saturday

Saturday, activities ramp up bright and early at 10 a.m. Start your day off with a little exercise at 10:30 a.m. at the China School Forest table, where Elaine Philbrook, on behalf of the Town Forest at China Schools, will be giving walking tours.

Forget to feed the kids? They’ve got you covered! There’ll be a pie eating contest for ages 14 and under at 11:30 a.m., up at the China Recreation ballfields. The 15 to 18-year olds will get a chance at pie-eating at 1 p.m., while 18 and over adults will go last at 2 p.m. If you plan to participate, you should sign up at the China Community Days booth. Registration is $3 and there is space for up to 10 participants in each of the age groups. While you’re there, buy a raffle ticket to win a hand-carved bear by local artist Ron Carlson!

For those not planning to fill up on pie, food will be available from multiple vendors, including the China Four Seasons Club, MAJEK’s Seafood and Full Fork Farm. While you’re waiting for your food, you might want to browse the booths of nearly 20 community organizations and vendors who will be in attendance.

Kids should find no end of entertainment with nearly a dozen different activities, including an Obstacle Course, Joust competition, Dunk Tank and Bounce House. Make sure they have a little spending money for cotton candy and snow cones ($1 each)! A number of organizations, including our local Rescue & Volunteer Fire departments, will have vehicles there for children to explore. Has your child ever held a fire hose with water shooting out of it at 80 miles an hour? This is their chance!

This unique chainsaw bear carving by local artist, Ron Carlson, will be up for Raffle!

Saturday evening, activities shift to the Causeway at the north end of China Lake, with a street dance in the China Baptist Parking Lot starting at 6 p.m. The band The Resistance will be playing live, so come and boogie-woogie with other residents! That will certainly work up your appetite, so grab a burger at the China Baptist Hamburger booth.

Then at 9 p.m., is the show everybody’s waiting for – FIREWORKS! The team is planning a stellar display to make up for the stumbles encountered last year. Be sure to arrive early to ensure a good spot, or come by boat and enjoy the best seat in the house!

Sunday sees two of our favorite activities return from years past. From 9 a.m. – 11 a.m., is the Youth Fishing Derby for ages 15 and under. Fishing will occur along the Causeway at the north end of the lake.

Then at noon, there will be a competitive Scavenger Hunt. Teams can be made up of children and adults, and should meet in the parking lot of the China Baptist Church at noon sharp. You’ll be given a list of 100 items and a deadline of two hours. Winners will be the team that finds the most items and returns by 2 p.m.

The Economic and Community Development Committee of China has really outdone itself this year, and they hope everyone will come and enjoy the celebrations! Be sure to check out the full Program of Events here. For questions, to volunteer (they still need lots of help!), or to inquire about a vendor booth (it’s not too late!), contact Kelly at the China Town Office at 445-2014 or kelly@chinamaine.org.

Residents should take note that the Causeway at the north end of China Lake will be closed to vehicles Saturday, August 5, from 4 – 11 p.m., for the street dance, and on Sunday, August 6, from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m., for the Youth Fishing Derby.

The Bounce House, a festival favorite, is back this year!

China Lake Association celebrates its 30th anniversary

Fifth and sixth grade students who received awards for their entry in the China Lake Association’s annual poster contest. Photo courtesy of Scott Pierz

Submitted by Scott Pierz

The China Lake Association held its annual meeting on July 22 at the China Primary School, celebrating its 30th anniversary with an excellent program for its membership. The meeting was attended by over 75 people.

China Lake Association Directors Elaine Philbrook and Marie Michaud presented the awards for this year’s poster contest held for the fifth and sixth graders at the China Middle School. There were some amazing posters this year, created upon the theme of one of China Lake’s most precious resources, the Maine Loon. Susan Gallo, of Maine Audubon, presented information to the students on loons, and she was also the keynote speaker at the annual meeting delivering a power-point presentation called “The State of Maine’s Loons” covering the lifespan of the Maine Loon.

Director Bob O’Connor gave the loon count for China Lake this year, reporting 22 loons and with four new loon chicks observed. A second keynote speaker, Betsy Barber (a PhD candidate at the University of Maine) presented her thesis on “Modeling the Nutrient Budget for Alewife in China Lake.” These were two high quality presentations and the audience was engaging, asking many questions about both topics.

Selectman Irene Belanger spoke to the association, highlighting the Spirit of America Award that was presented to LakeSmart Coordinator Marie Michaud and the LakeSmart volunteers for their achievement on installing buffers on lake-front properties around China Lake. Marie Michaud updated everyone on the progress being made this summer, with over a dozen LakeSmart buffers already installed with the help of the Youth Conservation Corps. More work is to be completed by season’s end. Volunteers are welcome to step forward to be trained and to help with evaluating shorefront properties. Anyone interested can get more info by e-mailing chinalakesmart@gmail.com.

The association recognized the considerable contributions made by the Kennebec Water District that donated funds to be used to purchase materials for the LakeSmart projects. Also, the Kennebec Water District donated a truck to be used by the Youth Conservation Corps and the Courtesy Boat Inspectors (who are responsible for inspecting boats to check for invasive aquatic plant species). The courtesy boat inspectors can be seen at the Head of China Lake on the weekends. The Kennebec Water District’s representative Matt Zetterman stated that the district monitors China Lake’s water quality at three different (deep hole) locations every two weeks. He reported that on July 14 this year the water clarity in the west basin was the best it has been since 1981, showing a Secchi disk reading of 7.55 meters (over 24 feet!).

China Lake Association directors Elaine Philbrook and Marie Michaud presented the awards for this year’s poster costest held by fifth and sixth graders at China Middle School. Photo courtesy of Scott Pierz

Matt Streeter, the Project Manager for Maine Rivers and the Alewife Restoration Initiative (ARI), spoke on the progress being made on the ARI project. He said that engineering designs continue to be developed for several of the locations that will provide access for the alewives, including the design of an engineered fish passage at the Outlet Dam, in East Vassalboro. Most of the ARI’s recent efforts have involved obtaining the state permit to remove the Masse Dam this year, and the ARI expects the permit to be issued very soon. The Youth Conservation Corps contributed by planting buffers on properties above the Masse Dam to stabilize and protect the shoreline adjacent to the Outlet Stream.

Elaine Philbrook talked about the Volunteer Lake Moni­toring Pro­gram she is participating in along with Ken­nebec Water District personnel. The Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program is designed to train and certify people to monitor a wide range of water quality concerns, especially looking for and identifying invasive aquatic plant species. Anyone who would like to participate in this program can reach out through the association’s website or Facebook.

The association’s president, Scott Pierz, asked members to consider approving two items, the first dealing with funding appropriations and other fiscal matters deemed to be in the best interest of the association; the second item involved seeking a recommendation from the China Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee for additional funding to support and operate LakeSmart. The association membership voted to approve both measures.

The association’s Registered Agent Jamie Pitney conducted the business of renewing some of the director’s terms, and also welcomed two new directors, Dale Worster and Jeff Zimmerman. In addition, the slate of officers will remain the same for another year until the next annual meeting in 2018. These include Scott Pierz (President), David Preston (Secretary), Tim Axelson (Treasurer) and James Pitney (Registered Agent).

For additional information about the China Lake Association or for anyone interested in becoming a member go to the China Lake Association’s website at http://chinalakeassociation.org/ or check them out on Facebook.

CHINA: Board approves codes officer’s request for fines

by Mary Grow

China Codes Officer Paul Mitnik recommended and selectmen, at their July 24 meeting, accepted guidelines for monetary penalties for ignoring the state’s Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code (MUBEC) requirements.

Mitnik’s major problem – which he said is infrequent – is that contractors or homeowners fail to call him for the inspections MUBEC requires at different stages of a building, like the foundation, the framing and the insulation.

When Mitnik finds a violation has occurred, the law empowers him to take down enough of the new construction to do the inspections. He prefers not to use this option, he said; he is more likely to ask questions to try to determine if the work was done to code and to ask selectmen to approve a consent decree with a monetary penalty.

The guidelines are intended to make monetary penalties more consistent. The maximum Mitnik recommends is $500 for an uninspected foundation; the minimum, no fine at all if he can do an after-the-fact inspection, for example for a garage with framing still visible.

If Mitnik believes the violation is deliberate he can double the penalties; and some penalties, notably the $100 for ignoring a stop-work order, are imposed every day of the violation, rather than being one-time. Board members unanimously approved the guidelines.

In other business July 24, selectmen unanimously accepted the higher of two bids for the woods truck formerly used by the Weeks Mills volunteer fire department, $3,500 from a Madison resident.

On a 4-1 vote, with Ronald Breton opposed, they pre-approved an additional tract in Thurston Park for selective timber harvesting, conditional on the Thurston Park II Committee recommending the additional work. The committee and the selectboard previously approved cutting in four areas, totaling about 39 acres; the new area, as shown on a map distributed at the meeting, appears to be about five acres.

The map indicates that the work is about half done. Income from the harvest will go into a fund to support park expenses.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee member Tom Michaud told selectmen the committee asked three engineering firms for designs for a replacement bridge on Causeway Road at the head of China Lake. He hopes to have designs before the selectmen’s Aug. 7 meeting.

Selectmen unanimously appointed Dawn Castner a member of the China for a Lifetime Committee.

They signed the annual state road certification form, promising that $54, 200 in state road funds will be used for capital improvements. Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said China annually spends several times that amount on paving and other capital expenditures.

China police log for May 2017

Tues., May 2:

11 a.m., neighborhood dispute, Village Rd.
11:30 a.m., illegal burning complaint, Village Rd.

Sat., May 6:

3:15 p.m., property check, Thurston Park.
3:30 p.m., illegal dumping, Yorktown Rd., referred to state police.
4:10 p.m., traffic stop, Lakeview Dr., speeding warning.
4:45 p.m., radar detail, Windsor Rd.
5 p.m., traffic stop, Windsor Rd., speeding warning.
5:12 p.m., property check, Windsor Rd.
5:20 p.m., property check, Windsor Rd.
5:30 p.m., property check, Windsor Rd.
5:45 p.m., traffic stop, Lakeview Dr., speeding warning.

Sat., May 13:

9 a.m., suspicious vehicle, Alder Park Rd.
9:30 a.m., animal complaint, cow in roadway, assisted with movement into adjacent field.
9:55 a.m., property check, So. China boat landing
10:40 a.m., property check, Thurston Park.
11:25 a.m., traffic stop Rte. 3, speeding warning.
12:25 p.m., traffic stop, Main St., China Village, speeding warning.
1 p.m., traffic stop, Lakeview Dr., speeding warning.
1:15 p.m., traffic stop, Lakeview Dr., speeding warning.
1:40 p.m. community policing, Windsor Rd.
2:25 p.m., traffic stop, Lakeview Dr., speeding warning.
2:45 p.m., assist fire department with grass fire.

Wed., May 17:

9 a.m., speeding vehicle complaint, Parmenter Hill Rd.

Sun., May 21:

9 a.m., speed trailer set up on Lakeview Dr.
10:10 a.m., traffic stop, Weeks Mills Rd., speeding warning.
10:20 a.m., traffic stop, Weeks Mills Rd., speeding warning.
10:30 a.m., property check, So. China boat landing.
11:25 a.m., traffic stop, Lakeview Dr., speeding warning.
6 p.m., speed trailer taken down.

Tues., May 23:

1 p.m., suspicious person, Windsor Rd.

Sat., May 27:

9:50 a.m., traffic stop, Lakeview Dr., summons for unsafe pass.
11 a.m., property check, Thurston Park.
noon, traffic stop, Windsor Rd., speeding warning.
12:10 p.m., traffic stop, Windsor Rd., speeding warning.
12:25 p.m., property check, So. China boat landing.
1:06 p.m., assist motorist, Lakeview Dr.

Tues., May 30:

6:30 p.m., speeding complaint, Windsor Rd.

CHINA NEWS: China Community Days set to be the best yet

Economic and Community Development Committee, from left to right, Lucas Adams, chairman, Teretia Sikora, Tara Littrell, Kelly Gordon and Jason Grotton.
Contributed photo

by Eric Austin

China Community Days is just a week away, and the Economic and Community Development Committee of China has been hard at work ensuring this year’s event will be one to remember.

The festival is now a 14-year tradition, scheduled this year for next weekend, Friday, August 4 through Sunday, August 6. A number of activities are planned, including a scavenger hunt and fishing derby for kids, and a spectacular fireworks show on Saturday night.

There will also be local Maine vendors showcasing a number of unique wares you won’t find anywhere else. And locals interested in making a quick buck should definitely take note of The Bazaar, where anyone can bring items they’d like to sell.

Committee chairman, Lucas Adams, expressed surprise at how the event has grown over the years. “It used to be just a China thing,” he said, “but now we have folks coming from all over the state, and vendors from as far away as Lewiston.”

Asked if they were doing anything new this year, Adams laughed. “China Days has always been a blast for the kids, but this year we’re trying to include more entertainment for the grown-ups.”

The committee is also still looking for volunteers, so if you can help out please contact the town office at 445-2014.

Check out their Facebook page or the China Town Office website for more information, and be sure to pick up The Town Line in two weeks when we’ll have a complete schedule and breakdown of all the activities planned for the big weekend!

Nice bass

Mia Cobourn, 18, daughter of Chris Cobourn, caught this bass while fishing on China Lake on Saturday, July 1.

CHINA NEWS: Selectmen split on new truck purchases

by Mary Grow

China selectmen approved, barely, Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux’s recommendations on replacing two town trucks with new ones.

At the July 10 selectboard meeting, L’Heureux said he had two bids on a tandem-axle plow truck and three on a one-ton single-axle plow truck. He recommended the following:

  • An International tandem-axle, at a price of $125,000, minus $55,000 for trading in the 2008 tandem-axle, plus $78,995 for plow equipment to be provided by Howard P. Fairfield.
  • An International single-axle for $71,000, minus $25,000 trade-in, plus $55,500 for plow gear, also from H. P. Fairfield.

Selectman Ronald Breton said he talked with the mechanics who maintain China’s truck fleet and on the basis of his conversations wants to trade in a 2015 truck that he said the mechanics said is underpowered and already rusting, not the 2008 that he called “the best truck the town has.”

Breton had invited Bill Bickford or one of his employees to the July 10 meeting, but no one was able to come.

L’Heureux replied that as town manager responsible for spending tax dollars, he considered financial factors over the life of each vehicle in making his recommendation. In general, he said, he tries to trade in a vehicle at about 10 years old to maximize value and avoid major repair costs.

Selectmen met July 10 in the old town house beside the town office. The idea was not a total success; although board members enjoyed looking at historic items before the meeting opened, they found the building too warm and, after dark, too mosquito-infested for comfort.
Contributed photo

The 2008 truck, he said, is at its peak for trading in; in another year, it will lose value, down time will increase and repair bills will mount, especially as outdated equipment becomes more expensive to work on or replace.

The 2015 truck was adjusted after the town bought it and now is “plenty strong enough to do the plowing that we do,” the manager said. It is also more fuel-efficient than an older truck.

Selectmen voted 3-2, with Joann Austin, Irene Belanger and Chairman Neil Farrington in the majority and Jeffrey LaVerdiere joining Breton in opposition, to accept the manager’s recommendations.

In other business, L’Heureux said road repaving is likely to start by mid-August. Work is to be done on Dirigo, Hanson and Bog roads and Parmenter Terrace. The manager said owners of two private roads piggy-backed on the town’s paving bid to get the lower price associated with a larger contract; the road owners will pay for the work done on their roads. Selectmen authorized the manager to sign necessary documents to complete two voter-approved actions: purchase of land adjoining town-owned land around the town office; and transfer of the former portable classroom, now stored on the town’s Alder Park Road property, to the South China Library Association, which will pay the cost of moving it.

L’Heureux said Jack Lord has designed a septic system for the first former portable classroom, set up near the town office as a future emergency shelter, and he has quotes for doing the work. Selectmen also plan a new well to serve the emergency shelter and, they hope, the town office. The current well is contaminated from the salt pile that stood behind the town office for many years; selectmen hope to find better water elsewhere on the enlarged property.

Selectmen appointed Robert Batteese a member of the Revolving Loan Fund Committee. L’Heureux plans to advertise for a secretary for the budget committee and members of the bicentennial committee that Farrington heads.

Farrington said he intends to add internet service and a handicapped ramp at the town-owned former Weeks Mills schoolhouse and use it as bicentennial headquarters.

At Farrington’s suggestion, selectmen met July 10 in the old town house beside the town office. The idea was not a total success; although board members enjoyed looking at historic items before the meeting opened, they found the building too warm and, after dark, too mosquito-infested for comfort.

The next China selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, July 24.

Erskine grad sends message to arrive alive

Alexis Bonenfant

Erskine Academy graduate, Alexis Bonenfant, won first-place in the 13th annual Arrive Alive Creative Contest sponsored by the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein. The contest asks students to come up with a creative message about the dangers of drinking and driving and/or distracted driving.

Ms. Bonenfant was chosen as one of five first-place winners and received a new laptop computer for her “Book of Life” entry depicting how the decisions drivers make can both positively and negatively impact their lives. The Vassalboro native was honored among the top 20 winners statewide at an award ceremony on June 14.

The Arrive Alive Creative Contest is open to graduating high school seniors in Maine who may enter a creative project of their choice. First-place winners receive a new laptop, second and third-place winners receive a new iPad, and every student who enters receives fun prizes from the law firm. Since 2004, over 750 graduating seniors have entered the contest from 115 Maine high schools.

A complete set of rules and all past winning entries can be viewed online at: www.arrivealivecreativecontest.com or on Facebook. In the past 13 years, the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein has given away over $120,000 in prizes to help educate teenagers on the risks of dangerous driving. The firm’s dedication to the Arrive Alive Creative Contest made them a finalist for the American Association for Justice Trial Lawyers Care Award in 2014.

CHINA NEWS: Planners approve heating business expansion

by Mary Grow

The three board members at the China Planning Board’s June 27 meeting unanimously approved the only application on their agenda, allowing Keith Knowles to enlarge his heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment business at 1097 Route 3.

Knowles said the small addition on the back of the building will provide more office space. He plans to increase the office staff from three to four people. Two abutters who attended the meeting expressed no objection to Knowles’ application.

Board members canceled the meeting that would have been Tuesday evening, July 11, because Codes Officer Paul Mitnik will be on vacation the week of July 3 and would not have time to process any applications that come in. The next regular meeting will be Tuesday evening, July 25, unless an urgent application requires an earlier special meeting.

Tom Michaud and Ralph Howe suggested two items for a future agenda: whether an Airbnb, a use not specifically mentioned in town ordinances, should be treated as a commercial operation, and how planning board activities can better be announced and explained to town residents.

Attention Erskine Academy Alumni

Beginning July 12, 2017, Erskine Academy will be destroying school records, including health and special education records, not stipulated as permanent by law, as these are no longer needed to provide educational services. This process will include records beginning with the class of 2009 and all previous graduated classes.

The federal Family Educational Privacy Act (FERPA) stipulates that rights to these records transfer to students upon turning eighteen. As such, records will only be released to students with appropriate identification (license, birth certificate, passport, etc.) or to parents of students who present both signed permissions from their student and appropriate identification.

If you graduated before 2010 and wish to obtain your cumulative records, please call the school (207) 445-2962 before July 12 to make arrangements to pick up your records or with your questions. Please note that the permanent high school transcript (courses, grades, credits, attendance, test scores, etc.) will be maintained in perpetuity, with copies available upon request.