Local children’s book author releases new book

Jeanine Deas

In her new children’s book, Twinkle, Twinkle, Where You Are, Waterville-based children’s book author Jeanine Deas offers a comforting, reassuring message for children everywhere — one especially powerful as we all journey through the pandemic.

“The book is about love and longing,” Jeanine says. “During COVID — and after that — it offers a magical way for children (and adults) to endure times of isolation and separation from family and friends. It encourages us to remain hopeful that we’ll soon be reunited.”

The book began in a most surprising way, as, one morning, Jeanine “spoke” with her deceased mother. “I still feel the energy of our relationship,” Jeanine says. “I begin each day talking to her. One morning, while gazing at her picture, I whispered, ‘Mom, where are you?’ I paused, then said out loud, “I love you so, wherever you are.’ These words were the inspiration for Twinkle, Twinkle, Where You Are.”

Presented in delightful, touching rhymes and illustrated by Meaghan M. Bailey, Twinkle, Twinkle, Where You Are is ultimately a hope-filled picture book with a message that can enrich children throughout their lives.

“My desire,” says Jeanine Deas, “is that readers will come to understand that when distance, time, or even death separate us physically from those we love, we are always connected through the ever-present energy of our relationship. It’s the ‘TWINKLE’ that gives us hope.”

Twinkle, Twinkle, Where You Are is available at Children’s Book Cellar, in Waterville.

Taste of Waterville: The show will go on with modified format and location

Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce’s 29th annual Taste of Waterville is planned for Wednesday, August 4, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Head of Falls, off Front Street, in downtown Waterville.

This year’s format will feature cultural foods and demonstrations focused on the ethnic diversity of the area. Taste of Waterville will be an adult-focused, day-long event with a variety of ethnic food options, entertainment, and informative walks, along with live music, beer/wine gardens and brew samples. Timelines for entertainment and activities are currently under development.

Applications are now being accepted for restaurant, bite booth, food truck and food-related vendor participants. Taste of Waterville encourages participation from both Mid-Maine Chamber members and non-members throughout the region. To reserve a spot for this year’s event, please contact Cindy@midmainechamber.com.

Art society exhibition and scholarship opportunity

The Waterville Area Art Society (WAAS) is celebrating 35 years with an art show that includes 150 pieces of art featuring 24 WAAS members. The majority of the show is exhibited at The Framemakers, in Waterville. Some work is also available to view at Selah Tea. To see the show, at The Framemakers, one can make an appointment (872-8927) or come to the store and be admitted as space allows (regarding quarantine restrictions). All pieces of art are for sale and can be virtually viewed and purchased online: https://the-framemakers.square.site This show runs through May 7.

The Society also offers a $500 scholarship for graduating seniors planning to major or minor in visual arts, performing arts or music. This scholarship is offered to eight local schools. Applications are due May 1. For more information about scholarships or about membership, you can email: waasmaine@gmail.com or call Mary Morrison at (207) 872-5843.

The art society was started in 1986 to promote visual arts in Maine, encourage local artists and to foster public awareness of Maine artists. Although currently not meeting in person, the group generally meets monthly and provides members with educational programs, art demonstrations, exhibit opportunities, and a place to share information with other artists. The newsletter also provides artists with upcoming exhibitions, juried shows and opportunities.

Waterville Creates announces plan to resume in-person programming

In response to Governor Mills’ Moving Maine Forward plan, Waterville Creates is thrilled to announce its plans to resume in-person programming at the Waterville Opera House, Railroad Square Cinema, and various outdoor venues. Waterville Creates’ reopening plan is gradual in its approach and will be guided by strict safety and public health practices and protocols, including social distancing, masking of all staff and patrons, and enhanced cleaning and air filtration systems.

“We are excited to return to our core mission of providing live, in-person arts experiences,” says Waterville Creates President + CEO Shannon Haines. “We also take our responsibility to protect our community very seriously, and we have developed safety standards and expectations for each of our venues that we will explicitly communicate and enforce in order to meet that responsibility.”

Based on the state’s guidelines, Waterville Creates plans to reopen the Waterville Opera House for rentals beginning June 1 to accommodate spring dance recitals. The maximum capacity of the Opera House with social distancing is less than 250, which is about 30% percent of the venue’s full capacity of 810 seats. “We are incredibly excited to open the Opera House doors and welcome performers back to the stage,” says Waterville Opera House Executive Director Tamsen Brooke Warner. “The health and safety of our patrons, staff, and performers is our top priority, so we will be asking everyone to work together to ensure a safe environment as we resume in-person programming.”

Railroad Square Cinema will open in July with the 24th annual Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) and will remain open with regular first run arthouse film programming after the festival concludes. MIFF, which will be held July 9-18, will also include screenings at the Waterville Opera House and the Skowhegan Drive-In. “While we were thrilled to be able to offer an in-person experience last year at the Drive-In, it was the first time in 23 years that we didn’t host the festival at Railroad Square Cinema,” says Maine Film Center Executive Director Mike Perreault, adding, “We cannot wait to welcome people back to the cinema, and MIFF24 is really the perfect way to do it.”

Plans for reopening Ticonic Gallery + Studios are still in development, in part due to very limited capacity with social distancing, but Waterville Creates anticipates reopening the gallery at the Hathaway Creative Center in the fall.

Waterville Creates will resume outdoor programming with Art in the Park, at the Downtown Waterville Farmers’ Market, from June through September. Art in the Park is a free artmaking programming designed to engage residents of all ages in fun, creative activities in a welcoming environment. Due to popular demand, Waterville Creates, in coordination with its community partners, plans to continue its Art Kits for All distribution program throughout the year. Preliminary plans are also underway to host the popular Waterville Rocks outdoor concert series, but this programming is dependent on the loosening of State restrictions.

Due to the pandemic, the Waterville Opera House rescheduled several concerts over the past year for dates in late summer and early fall 2021, including the Femmes of Rock on August 27, LeAnn Rimes on September 17, and the High Kings on September 30. Plans for these shows are dependent on further relaxation of social distancing requirements and other protocols. The Waterville Opera House will communicate any further event changes to patrons by website, email newsletter, and social media.

All venues will adhere to strict capacity limits based on state guidelines for percentage caps and social distancing requirements. Patrons will be required to wear masks at the venues while not eating or drinking and to participate in outdoor in-person programs. Waterville Creates staff will continue to follow the guidance of government and public health officials and adjust its reopening plans accordingly.

Waterville Rotary club wraps up successful grant program for food insecurity

In keeping with one of its goals, Waterville Rotary Club board voted recently to take $15,000 out of its reserves to offer grants addressing food insecurity in the greater Waterville area.

The Community Services Committee, chaired by KVCAP’s Michele Prince, was charged with developing grant criteria, an application and scoring process for the committee members to fairly evaluate the applications. The maximum possible allotment was $3,000 per application, and the request needed to be submitted by a 501c3.

Due to the demonstrated need in the area, the committee decided to contribute the total of its cups and fines donations for two months to this effort as well, allowing for a total contribution in grants of $15,534.

Eight applications were accepted, with the following list of recipients recommended by the committee, and ratified by the Rotary board:

  • Central Maine Gleaners:  Community Fridge Program with fridge located in Waterville and food available to all. Amount awarded: $1,950.
  • Waterville Area Essentials Closet & Starfish Village/First Congregational Church: Essentials Closet offers essential items to anyone in need in the greater Waterville area. Starfish Village helps homeless families and individuals with needs not met by other services. Amount awarded: $2,850.
  • Palmyra Baptist Worship Food Bank/Soup Kitchen: Purchase of commercial stove to continue food provision to multiple community residents. Amount awarded: $1,000.
  • Oakland Food Pantry: Serves residents of Oakland. No person in need of food turned away. Amount awarded: $1,384.
  • Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter: Offers bed nights and essential items to vulnerable and low-wealth Mainers in need of shelter. Amount awarded: $2,000.
  • Interfaith Resource Fund: Meets emergency needs of residents of Waterville and Winslow for housing, food, and other essentials. Amount awarded: $2,000.
  • Boys & Girls Club of Greater Waterville: Provisions of all day care, meals, snacks and weekend meal backpacks for area youth throughout Kennebec County. Amount awarded: $2,850.
  • Northern Light Health: Provision of food and essential items through Women’s Health. Planning expansion of services. Amount awarded: $1,500.

For more information about Waterville Rotary and its programs, visit the website at http://www.watervillerotary.com.

PHOTO: Waiting for the change

Central Maine Youth Hockey player Jamie Laliberty, 9, of Water­ville, waits for the next line change during the last game of the season against the Gladiators on March 20. (photo by Sarah Fredette, Central Maine Photography staff)

Waterville Creates to receive 2021 Excellence in Arts Advocacy award

Waterville Creates (WC) will receive the 2021 Excellence in Arts Advocacy Award from the Maine Art Education Association. A formal, state-wide recognition ceremony will take place virtually on Saturday, March 13, 2021, and will be hosted by the Portland Museum of Art. The Maine Art Education Association is a statewide professional organization whose members are committed to excellence in visual arts education.

“This is a testament to your exemplary contributions to support visual arts education. We applaud your leadership, commitment and service to the support of arts education,” says Lynda Leonas, president of the Maine Art Education Association of Portland.

Waterville Creates develops and delivers a wide array of arts education and outreach programs that serve Waterville area residents and their families. WC works with a host of organizational partners to maximize its reach and ensure access for a broad array of community members. “Waterville Creates envisions a community where everyone has access to – and takes part in – high quality and lifelong learning experiences in the arts. This recognition from the Maine Art Education Association is a tremendous acknowledgment of our programmatic efforts,” says Shannon Haines, President + CEO of Waterville Creates.

Led by Education + Outreach Coordinator, Serena Sanborn, WC reimagined existing programs and developed new initiatives to keep the community connected and engaged in the arts through the pandemic. Sanborn virtually hosted numerous art classes and camps through WC’s Facebook page, spearheaded the collaborative Art Kits for All program, which has distributed over 3,500 art kits to area families, and hosted WC’s video series, On the Road.

Gagne digital branch manager at New Dimensions FCU

Teresa Gagne

New Dimensions Federal Credit Union (NDFCU) has announced its new Digital Branch Manager, Teresa Gagne, who began in the credit union industry, as a teller, over 30 years ago. Since then, she has worked her way up and has landed in the lending department, where her indirect lending expertise has been second to none over the past 25 years.

The directors and staff of NDFCU are excited to have Gagne join their team as her extensive experience will be valuable as she settles into her position. Her focal point will start in executing new processes and procedures that will create efficiencies department-wide. She states, “I am really excited to be part of the New Dimensions family and to join a growing team of wonderful people. I have been in the credit union industry with a lot of focus and attention on dealerships and know I can help our members find the car of their dreams. I am also very excited to be able to assist the current indirect team so they can achieve success within their career paths.” Gagne has lived in Waterville for most of her life and enjoys spending time with her husband Steve. Together they share time with their two children, grandchild, and walking their dog.

Ryan Poulin, CEO, states, “We are excited to have Terri join our team. Her years of indirect loan experience will bring our loan department to new levels not only in house but in the dealerships that work with us every day. Terri has hit the ground running since she started, and I look forward to getting her started with our current indirect lending processes and workflows. We welcome her and look forward to working with her in the years to come.”

Temple Academy Outreach Team doing great things within our community

From left to right, Grace Paradis, Katelyn Rose, Kaylan Haber, Billy Dumond, and Shivon Larsen, serving at the Winslow Community Cupboard. (contributed photo)

by Mark Huard

The Temple Academy Outreach Team is a community serviced-oriented group of 7th through 12th grade students led by junior high and high school science teacher Rachel Baker. Kevin Wood, Superintendent of the pre-K-12, non-denominational Christian school shared his vision with Ms. Baker for a service-based team at the start of the 2020/2021 school year. Within a short period of time the team was formed, organized, and committed. They enthusiastically hit the ground running throughout the community.

From left to right, Isaac Smith, Elena Hassele, Dylan Shortil, Zack Wiles, Chloe Riportella, Gavin MacDonald, Dave Louis, Thomas Fortin, Marko Ajvaz, Hunter Doyle, Evan Lafountain, and Mary Jo Wadsworth serve at the Winslow Community Cupboard. (contributed photo)

They have worked on several different community projects in the area. In the Fall the team performed yard clean up chores for several local residents in different neighborhoods. They participated in the “Crusin’ Country” 93.5’s “Put a Sock in It” Sock Drive in December, collecting 238 pairs of new socks, which the students decided to donate to the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter. The team has developed an ongoing relationship with the Winslow Community Cupboard, whose food pantry is open every other Thursday. The entire student body from seventh through 12th grade gets involved in this program. Ms. Baker takes multiple grade levels once a month, in shifts, to the Cupboard to volunteer.

Adalia Harrington, a 12th grade student at Temple Academy and Outreach Team president shares her feelings about being a member of this team, “After the devastating year our world has faced, I am privileged to be part of a group that restores the hope in our community and spreads the message that we are in this together!”

Ms. Baker states, “The heart of our mission is to promote a culture that regularly engages the student body in meeting needs in our community through acts of service. We want our students to experience the value of serving others. When you humble yourself to do something kind for someone else, it does something inside of you. It can deeply touch both the person serving and the one being served. With Temple Academy being a small school, I was immediately impressed with the level of interest at our very first meeting. The students are a committed and hard-working group and I am truly fortunate to have the privilege of working alongside of them. It is amazing for me to see these students shine during our events; they work so hard! And the best part of it is, I can tell the students are really enjoying themselves because of how happy they are while volunteering. This is truly an enlightening experience for every student that participates.”

She continues: “We were fortunate to make a connection early on with Bruce Bottigliere at the Winslow Community Cupboard. We have been able to plug our student volunteers into the various programs they have there. Together in March, we are working on scheduling a USDA Farmers to Families Food Box distribution site at our school. This will allow us to give every student in our entire school the opportunity to participate and experience the feeling of serving. I am thankful for our students, our parents, and our entire faculty who are so incredibly supportive in the efforts in making our vision a reality. We are Temple!”

(Plans are currently in the works for an opportunity this month at the First Choice Pregnancy Center.) This Spring the team is working on solidifying partnerships with the Alfond Youth & Community Center and with the city of Waterville to create some annual community projects. If you have any ideas on how their team may be able to get involved in your community or in your event, you are encouraged to contact MS. Baker at her contact information stated above.

Waterville Creates celebrates Black History Month by highlighting Maine author

Four-year-old Naomi creating a Beautiful Blackbird collage.(Contributed photo)

In honor of Black History Month, Waterville Creates, together with the Colby College Museum of Art, Kennebec Montessori School, Waterville Public Schools and the Family Violence Project, has created a special Art Kit for All to celebrate the artwork and legacy of Maine artist, Ashley Bryan. The February art kit is inspired by Ashley Bryan’s award-winning book, Beautiful Blackbird, a copy of which will be included in each art kit.

Ashley Bryan is an American artist, writer, and illustrator of children’s books, and the majority of his subjects are derived from the African-American experience. “Beautiful Blackbird is a wonderful representation of Bryan’s spirit,” says Shannon Haines, President and CEO of Waterville Creates. “His captivating storytelling and vivid collage work make this book a treat for all ages, and it is our hope that these art kits will inspire families to not only read and create together but also to learn more about Bryan’s work.” The Beautiful Blackbird art kit will be distributed on February 25 at the Alfond Youth and Community Center, located at 124 North Street, in Waterville, at 4 p.m. as long as supplies last. A number of kits will also be available for the Alfond Weekend Backpack Program and the Waterville Public Library’s “Library To Go” program.

“Ashley Bryan is such a beloved artist, and we are thrilled that young people in Waterville will be able to draw inspiration from his beautiful book to make their own art. It’s exciting for children and families know that an artist and writer of Bryan’s stature lives right here in our state, and we are honored to have his work represented in the Colby Museum collection to share with our community,” said Jacqueline Terrassa, Carolyn Muzzy Director of the Colby College Museum of Art.

To complement these special art kits, Waterville Creates and the Maine Film Center will highlight and promote streaming information for the 2016 award-winning documentary by filmmaker, Richard Kane, entitled I Know a Man…Ashley Bryan, throughout the month of February at www.mainefilmcenter.org. The film was featured as an official selection at the Maine International Film Festival in 2016. A long-time resident of Cranberry Island in Isleford, Maine, Ashley Bryan is deeply committed to using his artwork and writing as a vehicle to create unity and understanding around his African heritage.

For this month’s art kit, Waterville Creates is especially grateful for additional sponsorship provided by the Colby College Museum of Art and the Children’s Book Cellar. Ongoing funding for the Art Kits for All program has been generously provided by Waterville Creates’ annual sponsors MaineGeneral Health, Kennebec Savings Bank, Colby Center for the Arts and Humanities, Bangor Savings Bank, New Dimensions Federal Credit Union, and Back Office Solutions.

In direct response to the COVID-19 public health crisis, Art Kits for All is an innovative, collaborative program designed to keep our community’s families engaged and connected to the arts. By providing free art supplies and instructions, this program offers high-quality, accessible art experiences in a completely re-imagined way. The first art kits were distributed on April 8, 2020, and to date, over 3,000 kits have been distributed as part of this innovative response to the pandemic.