Olivia Bourque makes fall 2023 dean’s list (2023)

Eastern Connecticut State University

Eastern Connecticut State University, in Willimantic, Connecticut,  recently released its dean’s list for the fall 2023 semester, in which more than 1,300 students were recognized for maintaining high GPAs.

Among them is full-time student Olivia Bourque, of Vassalboro, a sophomore who majors in health sciences.

Vassalboro transfer station committee looks for redesign

by Mary Grow

At their Jan. 18 meeting, members of Vassalboro’s transfer station task force finished proposing revisions to the town’s Solid Waste Ordinance, now renamed the Solid Waste and Recycling Ordinance, and planned next steps for the ordinance and for their other task, redesigning the transfer station (see the Jan. 11 issue of The Town Line, p. 3).

Transfer station manager George Hamar and committee member Amy Davidoff had made more ordinance changes, based on suggestions offered at the previous meeting and emailed afterwards. The Jan. 18 discussion topics included recycling; use by commercial haulers and multi-family building owners and occupants; and enforcement. By the end of the meeting, committee members had a rough draft mostly ready for select board review.

Town Manager Aaron Miller had arranged for Jeff Senders, the engineer working with the town on the transfer station redesign, to visit the transfer station and meet with task force members Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 23.

Miller and the two select board members on the task force, chairman Chris French and member Michael Poulin, decided the group should discuss Senders’ visit at 5:45 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 25, before that evening’s select board meeting.

French would like to have the draft ordinance on the Jan. 25 select board agenda. The select board’s version will be reviewed by the town attorney, he said, and a public hearing will be scheduled for residents’ comments and questions, probably in February.

Assuming agreement on a revised ordinance, it will be presented to town voters for approval or rejection at the annual town meeting in June.

The Jan. 25 select board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. with public hearings on five applications to renew commercial marijuana-growing licenses. Four of the growing operations are on Old Meadows Road; one is on Cushnoc Road.

Vassalboro school board takes up several money items

Vassalboro Community School (contributed photo)

by Mary Grow

Although discussion of the 2024-25 budget doesn’t start in earnest until February, Vassalboro school board members had several money items on their Jan. 22 agenda.

Board members approved wage increases for five categories of substitute employees, to keep them slightly ahead of the state minimum wage that went up to $14.15 an hour on Jan. 1. Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer said the increases were coordinated with the Waterville and Winslow school departments and keep Vassalboro competitive with most other area schools.

The current year’s budget will cover the higher pay, Pfeiffer said. Additional pay increases for more employees will be discussed as part of planning next year’s budget.

Board members also accepted Special Education Director Tanya Thibeau’s recommendation to hire a part-time IEP (Individualized Education Program) coordinator for the rest of the current school year, to help oversee these programs at Vassalboro Community School.

The current year’s budget will cover this position, Thibeau said, because one of VCS’s social workers is part-time – she could not find the full-time employee whose compensation was included in the 2023-24 budget.

Thibeau informed board members of proposed legislation that, if approved, would expand special education in public school to three- and four-year-old students. She said Maine is one of only two states without such a program.

Maine Commissioner of Education Pender Makin has promised generous state financial support if the program comes into effect, Thibeau said.

Pfeiffer distributed copies of the lease under which the day care program run by Jenifer Lizotte uses VCS space. He asked board members to consider whether it should be renewed for another year and if so, whether there should be changes, specifically a small increase in the $25 a day rent, due to inflation.

Pfeiffer strongly supports continuing the day care program at the school. He had high praise for Lizotte and her staff; said he has heard of no other local facilities that would take over if the VCS program were discontinued; and called the program “a big win for the community.”

VCS Principal Ira Michaud and Assistant Principal Tabitha Brewer seconded Pfieffer’s commendation. They said Lizotte runs a good program with well-trained staff, goes out of her way to accommodate families’ needs and consistently cooperates with school staff.

The current lease runs to the end of the school year, so immediate action is not expected.

Pfeiffer said when secondary-school tuition rates for calendar year 2024 came out in December 2023, they were about 5.5 percent higher than for 2023. The Vassalboro board had anticipated and budgeted for the increase, he said.

The superintendent reported on on-going work at VCS, like installing the ceiling fans authorized last year, and on use of the building as a warming center during the December power outage. Thanks to cooperation from residents and school staff, the warming center was a success, he said.

Town office staff are collecting names of residents who would like to be trained to work as volunteers at the center in future disasters. Pfeiffer said about 20 people had signed up so far.

Other business at the Jan. 22 meeting included approval of three new hires: Gifted and Talented teacher Rod Robilliard and Special Education Technicians Julie Chavez and Isaac Mercier. Board members accepted two resignations, from Speech and Language Pathologist Sharon Peabody and Special Education Technician Heather Bassett.

The next regular Vassalboro school board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, at VCS.

SNHU Announces fall president’s list (2023)

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), in Manchester, New Hampshire, congratulates the following students on being named to the Fall 2023 president’s list. The fall terms run from September to December.

Ivette Hernandez Cortez, of Augusta; Sarah Neumann, and Matthew Bandyk, both of Jefferson; Sierra Winson, Quincy Giustra, and Talon Mosher, all of Winslow; Candice Eaton, and Grace Marshall, both of Waterville; Ashley Parks, of Anson; Stormy Wentworth, of Fairfield; Misty Ray, of Montville; Matthew Clements, of Rome; and Kassandra Grant, of Vassalboro.

Vassalboro board members consider amendments to marijuana ordinance

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro select board members have made progress toward livestreaming and recording their meetings. The Jan. 11 meeting was at least partly covered. Michael Picher donated the camera. David Trask provided technical support. Brian Lajoie helped with installing television screens and running wire. The selectboard was responsible for the directive and helping in coordinating with Picher and Trask.

Board member used three-quarters of an hour at the meeting to consider possible amendments to the town’s marijuana ordinance.

Board chairman Chris French’s goal is an updated ordinance that will provide more information and more income from fees to cover town expenses. He’d like to have it ready for voters’ action at the June town meeting.

As French explained the situation, there are two kinds of legal marijuana-growing operations in Vassalboro. Eight are grandfathered commercial operations, predating the town’s June 2021 Marijuana Business Ordinance. The rest are facilities whose adult plants cover an area of less than 500 square feet.

The 2021 ordinance says: “Marijuana Businesses shall be prohibited in the Town of Vassalboro unless they were in lawful operation or had received site plan or building permit approval for the use prior to the Effective Date of this Ordinance.”

That sentence means Vassalboro voters decided to prohibit any new commercial marijuana growing facilities. Planning board member Douglas Phillips, from the audience, repeatedly reminded select board members not to dispute the voters’ will, and they denied any such intention.

The second type of marijuana business in Vassalboro is limited to less than 500 square feet of adult plants, or fewer than 30 adult plants. These facilities, French said, are allowed by state law; and owners are allowed to sell their products, up to a state-specified limit, to licensed medical marijuana caregivers.

In French’s interpretation, the town cannot deny what the state authorizes. However, he would like town officials to have more information, like where such facilities are located, and recommends requiring a town permit through the planning board.

The topic will be revisited at a future meeting.

Town adopts new policy on remote public participation

At their Jan. 11 meeting, Vassalboro select board members adopted a new town policy titled “Remote Participation in Public Proceedings Policy.”

Referencing the state Freedom of Access law, the policy applies to “public proceedings or meetings” of all town boards and committees. It defines conditions under which a member of a board or committee may be allowed to participate remotely.

Whenever “any member of the body participates via remote methods,” members of the public will have the same opportunity.

If public comment is allowed, it is to be open to remote attendees as well as those present in person.

In an “emergency or urgent situation” a board or committee may hold a meeting entirely by remote means. In such a situation, all votes will be by roll call, visible and audible. Public attendance may also be limited to remote participation.

The policy describes how to give public notice of meetings. It says documents and materials being discussed are to be made available to remote public attendees equally with those present in person, “provided no additional costs are incurred by the body.”

A copy of the policy will be available on the Vassalboro website.

A second major topic Jan. 11 was how to use remaining ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds. Town Manager Aaron Miller said the account has $84,705 left, some of it authorized for projects not yet completed.

Board members considered four proposals.

They returned to the idea of emergency generators to keep town facilities operating during power outages. Miller said the one person who responded to the request for cost estimates for the town office told him an order for several generators would reduce the price of each.

After discussion, board members asked Miller to get a price for generators for the town office, the Riverside fire station and the food pantry building. They plan to review the result at their first February meeting.

Miller recommended security cameras for town facilities. Board members waived the procurement policy and authorized Miller to spend $12,400 for security cameras.

A third proposed ARPA-funded project is replacing the elderly gasoline and diesel fuel pumps at the town garage. Miller said they are used for public works equipment, gasoline-powered school buses, the police vehicle and fire trucks.

The manager said he had one price quote and hoped to get at least two more. Select board members did not object.

Board members approved another $1,150 from the ARPA account to finish updating lights at the Vassalboro Historical Society building, the former East Vassalboro schoolhouse.

Looking at finances more broadly, Miller presented a summary financial report for the first half of the 2023-24 fiscal year. Neither he nor board members saw any problem areas.

Miller announced that Joshua Barnes is Vassalboro’s new animal control officer. Barnes holds the same position in China, he said.

During the Dec. 18 storm and following power outage, Miller said 86 people came to the new town warming center at Vassalboro Community School. He and Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer are satisfied; they would like to train more emergency volunteers. Interested residents are invited to contact the town office.

The next Vassalboro select board meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening, Jan. 25.

VASSALBORO: Transfer station group begins redesign project

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro’s transfer station task force members had two projects on their Jan. 4 meeting agenda.

The first is the beginning of a redesign of the transfer station facility on Lombard Dam Road, involving outside expertise. The second is an update of the town’s Transfer Station Ordinance, an in-house project.

In the fall of 2023, Town Manager Aaron Miller sought requests for proposals for engineering services for the redesign. The request asked engineering firms to provide information on “permitting, design and cost estimates for a 60-foot by 80-foot transfer station building,” either “an open-ended Quonset steel building or a steel-pole barn structure.”

He received one response, from Camden-based Senders science, engineering & construction. At their Nov. 30 meeting, select board members referred the proposal to the transfer station task force.

They also decided to invite company head Jeff Senders to inspect the current facility and meet with the task force or select board, and to pay him for his time. Miller told the Jan. 4 meeting Senders is willing to come without pay.

Task force members agreed they should ask Senders to inspect the transfer station, and to take time to digest his findings before returning to discuss them with the task force. Miller is to propose possible January dates for Sender’s visit and report back.

Miller and the two select board members on the task force, Chris French and Michael Poulin, hope to make progress on the issue before they get involved in 2024-25 budget discussions, scheduled to start in February in preparation for a June town meeting.

Task force member Amy Davidoff said she and transfer station manager George Hamar had worked on revisions to Vassalboro’s 1988 Solid Waste Ordinance, starting by renaming it the Solid Waste and Recycling Ordinance.

The ordinance is complemented by a solid waste manual, which Miller said will be on Vassalboro’s website. Part of the discussion was over what information belonged in which document.

Task force members reviewed the beginning of the ordinance section on definitions, asking questions and offering suggestions.

Whatever ordinance changes the task force recommends, select board members will have Vassalboro’s town attorney review them and will hold a public hearing on them before voters are asked to approve or reject them.

Task force meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18, in the town office meeting room.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Winslow, Hollingsworth & Whitney

Hollingsworth & Whitney paper mill, in Winslow.

by Mary Grow

In addition to the historic mills on Outlet Stream and smaller flowages in Winslow, Kingsbury mentioned two larger mills on the east bank of the Kennebec in the 1890s.

One he described as a new “large steam saw mill…on the historic grounds of Fort Point,” covering most of the “palisade enclosure of old Fort Halifax.”

Fort Halifax in 1754.

Old Fort Halifax was built in 1754 to deter the French and their Indian allies from attacking British settlements along the Kennebec River. After the ouster of the French from the area in 1763, the fort’s buildings were dismantled or allowed to fall down, until only one blockhouse survives, now the centerpiece of Winslow’s Fort Halifax Park. (See the Jan. 28, 2021, issue of The Town Line for more on this historic site.)

A deteriorating blockhouse at Fort Halifax, in Winslow, after the ouster of the French from the area in 1763.

The grounds went through a succession of owners and uses. The Maine Memory Network’s on-line site includes an item donated by the Winslow Historical Preservation Committee with an excerpt from the April 18, 1873, Waterville Mail commending an effort to preserve the remaining blockhouse, after “many years of talk and neglect.”

The Ticonic Water Power Co. then owned the buildings and had leased them to “Dr. Crosby” of Waterville and “J.W. Bassett and A.T. Shurtleff, of Winslow, for the purpose of preservation.”

Another on-line source says the Ticonic Water Power and Manufacturing Company was incorporated in 1868 and “acquired the water rights and property adjacent to the Ticonic Falls.” In 1874, the Ticonic Power Company “became the Lockwood Company.”

The Lockwood Company is primarily associated with the mills in Waterville, just south of Ticonic Bridge. However, an on-line history of these mills says that in 1865, Waterville resident George Alfred “achieved the complex task of assembling water and property rights on both sides of the Kennebec River” in Winslow and Waterville.

Ownership of water rights let Alfred build a dam at Ticonic Falls, finished in 1869, the site says. It goes on to discuss the Waterville mills, built by Amos D. Lockwood, an engineer from Boston and Providence, who was familiar with water power.

On the Winslow side of the river, Kingsbury wrote that Edward Ware leased the land on Fort Point from the Lockwood Company and built a lumber mill in 1890. The building was more than 300 feet long, equipped with “all modern appliances for cutting lumber,” Kingsbury wrote. Logs came down the Kennebec from up-river timber operations and were made into lumber, shingles and lath, mostly shipped to Boston.

Your writer found the beginning (only) of a New York Times article on line, headlined “Lumber Ordered for Gray Gables,” with the dateline Boston, Sept. 30 (no year given). The first sentence reads: “Twenty-five thousand feet of spruce lumber has been ordered to be shipped from the sawmill of Edward Ware, at Winslow, Me.”

Gray Gables, Wikipedia says, was an elaborate house in Bourne, Massachusetts, built in 1880 and in 1890 bought by past and future president Grover Cleveland. He named it Gray Gables and used it as the summer White House during his second term, 1893-1896.

* * * * * *

The second large Winslow mill was under construction as Kingsbury finished his history in 1892. He wrote that Hollingsworth and Whitney was building Kennebec County’s “largest pulp and paper mill…on the east bank of the Kennebec, at a cost of three quarters of a million dollars.”

The University of Maine’s on-line Digital Commons provides a history of Hollingsworth and Whitney, written in October 1954 by company president James Lester Madden as the company merged into Scott Paper Company.

Madden wrote that the first Hollingsworth in the paper business was Mark Hollingsworth, from Delaware, who started in 1798 as a foreman in a Massachusetts mill.

In 1835, Hollingsworth bought a Revere Copper mill in South Braintree, Massachusetts, and converted it to a paper mill that was run until 1852 by his sons, John and Lyman. In 1852, another son, Ellis, came home after three years in California and took over the South Braintree mill.

In 1862, Ellis Hollingsworth formed a partnership with Leonard A. Whitney, Jr., owner of a “paper mill and bag factory” in Watertown. Whitney’s factory, Madden said, “produced the first machine-made paper bags in this country.”

Hollingsworth and Whitney’s first Maine venture was the purchase of a mill in Gardiner in 1876. Ellis’s son Sumner Hollingsworth was in charge.

In 1875 the company hired a “dynamic” sales manager named Charles Dean. After both founders died in 1881, Dean “was instrumental in incorporating the present [1954] company in 1882.” Sumner Hollingsworth was its president until his death in 1899, when Dean succeeded him and headed the company until he retired in 1911.

Hollingsworth and Dean had the Winslow mill built between 1891 and 1893, Madden wrote. He commented, “To move from Massachusetts to the wilds of Maine for a woodpulp and paper mill was a daring move in the 1890s.”

The original estimated cost turned out to be half the actual cost of $800,000, he said (see Kingsbury’s figure above). Because the 1893 financial panic made banks hesitant to lend, even to a company with a good record, Dean financed part of the building himself. The Winslow mill was “a high quality, very low cost producer,” and he was soon repaid from profits.

The mill had two paper machines and a pulp mill; its daily capacity was 30 tons of groundwood pulp and 20 tons of paper. Madden said the initial 150 employees worked 11- and 13-hour days for an average hourly wage of less than 15 cents.

“Under Mr. Dean’s leadership,” Hollingsworth and Whitney was the first paper company to go from two to three shifts, a change that was considered “very radical,” Madden wrote.

To guarantee a supply of wood, the company began buying forest land in 1895. By 1954, Madden said, it owned 550,000 acres in the Kennebec watershed.

He described additions and improvements at the Winslow mill in the first two decades of the 20th century (the last two paper machines were added in 1913 and 1916) and the building of a pulp mill in Madison, and praised the company’s products and reputation.

Madden said nothing about World War I. By World War II, he wrote, the Winslow mill was the only supplier of “Tabulating Cardstock” in the country. Production was quadrupled to meet the military’s need for “cards to operate tabulating machines.”

After Scott Paper sold to Kimberly-Clark, the Winslow mill was closed in 1997.

* * * * * *

Kingsbury listed another 10 mills on lesser streams and brooks in Winslow before 1892.

Again, a map of Winslow is helpful. As explained last week, the town is bounded on the west by the Kennebec River. On the south it is bordered by Vassalboro, on the east by China.

There are two ponds in Winslow. The smaller, Mud Pond, is in the southeastern corner of town, with its eastern shore in China (according to China tax maps and most others found on line; one on-line map shows the boundary deviating from a straight line to follow the shoreline, putting the whole pond in Winslow).

A connecting stream runs northwest from Mud Pond to larger Pattee (or Pattees or Pattee’s) Pond, which lies east of the Sebasticook River. The Pattee Pond outlet stream, and streams that join it from the east, drain northwest into the Sebasticook.

In addition to the streams associated with these two water bodies, contemporary maps show one stream, Chaffee Brook, flowing west into the Kennebec. Chaffee Brook passes under Route 201 a short distance south of the Carter Memorial Drive intersection.

The first dam Kingsbury mentioned was on the brook named for John Drummond “near the river road” (Route 201).

Your writer found no Drummond Brook in contemporary Winslow; she guesses Drummond Brook is now Chaffee Brook. Just north of Chaffee Brook, Chaffee Brook Road goes west off Route 201 to the bank of the Kennebec. On the south side of Chaffee Brook Road sits Drummond cemetery.

(Chaffee Brook Road leads to the Kennebec Water District’s Chaffee Brook pumping station, which is being upgraded. Area residents who have seen the crane on the river bank and the platforms in the water are looking at the project.)

Drummond built a grist mill with two runs of stones, Kingsbury said. In 1822 he sold it to Josiah Hayden (probably the younger of the two Josiah Haydens in last week’s article) and built a sawmill (presumably sharing the grist mill’s water power). Kingsbury said as forests were cleared, the flow in this brook diminished until it could not provide adequate power after about 1840.

Of the next mill he described, Kingsbury wrote: “Frederick Paine had a plaster mill on Clover brook that did business from 1820 to 1870.” (On-line sources say plaster mills ground lime and gypsum into powder for building materials, including plaster and cement.)

Your writer suggests Clover Brook might be the 19th-century name for Bellows Stream, which flows north into Pattee Pond roughly parallel to the Kennebec and about midway between Winslow’s east and west boundaries.

The apparently nameless stream between Mud Pond and Pattee Pond, eastward of Bellows Stream, powered two mills, presumably on dams, by the first half of the 1800s. This stream flows north and then northwest from the north end of Mud Pond, under Route 137 (China Road) into the east side of Pattee Pond

The upstream mill was John Getchell’s sawmill, operating by 1795. It later became Isaac Dow’s shingle mill.

Half a mile downstream, a man named Alden had a sawmill that “ran down and was rebuilt by Esquire Brackett, who lost his life in it in 1840, by a blow from the saw frame.” Later, Jacob Brimner ran the sawmill (the 1856 map of Kennebec County shows a sawmill on this stream and a Brimner house not far upstream). Later still, a shingle mill ran until around 1870, Kingsbury said.

The Pattee Pond outlet, Pattee Stream, flows from the north end of the pond into the Sebasticook. For lack of space, your writer postpones a description of mills in this northern and northwestern part of Winslow to next week.

Main sources

Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).

Websites, miscellaneous.

PHOTO: Sunset at Monument Park

Janice Clowes, president of the Vassalboro Historical Society, captured the silhouette of the monument in the park, next to the historical society building.

East Vassalboro Water Co., LLC under new management

The Masse Sawmill site on Rte. 32, in East Vassalboro. (contributed photo)

Ownership of the East Vassalboro Water Company (EVWC) will officially transfer on Thursday, December 28, 2023. EVWC was established in 1914 and for 109 years has been owned and operated by four generations of the Masse – Robbins families. EVWC supplies potable water to approximately 200 persons, keeping the ratepayer in mind with each decision.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission approved the sale of EVWC on November 27, 2023. On December 28, 2023, Justin Ahmann and Marc Liechti will become the new owners of EVWC. They have purchased similar utilities and provided capital investment and strive for operational efficiencies to give the ratepayers the best value.

New payment methods and contact information will be mailed to each existing customer. Should any customer have questions please contact the new owners at: accounting@aputilities.com.

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.