It’s graduation season for area high schools

Graduates from Lawrence High School celebrating with their parade. (photo by Tawni Lively.)

by Roland D. Hallee

Hallee Brunette, left, and Colby Quinlan, celebrate following their graduation ceremony at Waterville High School. (contributed photo)

Typically, the first two weeks of June is the graduation season in central Maine. This year was no different, except that due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, things were done a little differently.

In Winslow, their graduation was held on June 10.

The graduates and parents participated in a procession of cars around the high school with fire and police vehicles leading the way. Supporters and well-wishers lined Danielson Street to celebrate the occasion.

Senior class secretary Riley Loftus and class president Jake Huesers both stressed the positives in their graduation addresses.
Both pressed the importance of what has happened over their collective school careers, and not to what the pandemic has taken away from them.

School principal Chad Bell also spoke about lessons graduates could take from this extraordinary experience. Bell emphasized he told seniors they would have a special graduation ceremony for them. The key points in his speech were about “positivity and perserverance.”

Bell was also impressed with the success that was achieved in pulling off this year’s graduation ceremony.

Above left, Winslow High School parade as it winds down Frankwood Drive, in Winslow. (photo by Kelley Bernard)

Following the distribution of diplomas, with students back in their vehicles, graduates were led in the traditional transferring of their respective tassels from one side of their caps to the other, signifying they were now Winslow High School alumni.

On the following evening, June 11, the Waterville High School seniors and their parents took to the streets of Waterville for an impressive parade from the high school to Central Maine Motors Chevrolet-Buick auto dealership, on Kennedy Memorial Drive, many in convertibles or standing through the vehicles’ sunroof, for their graduation festivities. Most of the students video recorded along the parade route. The motorcade left the high school, proceeded west on Western Avenue to the intersection with First Rangeway, where they turned left and headed south toward Kennedy Memorial Drive, horns honking, and the blaring sound of the sirens from Waterville police cars, fire trucks, including the ladder truck, and rescue unit. Supporters and other family members lined the parade route.

Upon arriving at the dealership, cars were lined up in the lot. Speakers included principal Brian Laramee, and the featured speaker, retiring faculty member Scott Rivard. With the formalities completed, seniors approached the stage in groups of 10, to receive their diplomas.

Again, being led by Class of 2020 president Lauren Pinnette, the graduates, in keeping with long time traditions, transferred their respective tassels from right to left, a symbol they were now Waterville High School alumni.

The final act of the night, which lent itself to a touching finish, came when all the faculty members lined both sides of the Airport Road, waving goodbye to their graduates.

The graduation was made possible through the generosity of Central Maine Motors owner Chris Gaunce and his family, and many volunteers.

Local groups observe 76th anniversary of D-Day invasion

From left to right, Pearley Lachance, chaplain at the Waterville American Legion, Michael Switzer, commander of Waterville’s Bourque-Lanigan American Legion Post #5, Craig Baily, commander of Winslow’s VFW Post #8835, and State Rep. Bruce White, who organized the event. (photo by Eric W. Austin)

by Eric W. Austin

They say weather was one of the biggest factors in determining the success of World War II’s D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. After a cantankerous month of May, meteorologists were pessimistic about fair weather for the invasion planned at the beginning of June. Without a break in the weather, planes could not see well enough to bomb German fortifications or drop paratroopers behind enemy lines; in rough seas, boats would have trouble navigating close enough to the beaches to drop off Allied soldiers safely. Many conversations and heated arguments were had between British and American forecasters about whether the invasion should go forward.

Left, State Rep. Bruce White, who organized the event, and his wife Doreen, who read the poem “Normandy.” (photo by Eric W. Austin)

Seventy-six years later, a small crowd gathered in a soggy parking lot at the Forrest J. Pare VFW Post #1285, in Waterville, to remember the bravery of Allied soldiers on that fateful day, and similar questions about the weather were on everyone’s minds. Similar to that June day in 1944, the weather wasn’t perfect, but it was “good enough,” and as they rang the small Liberty bell at the conclusion of the ceremony, the sun broke free from its cover of clouds to shine down on the gathering, as if to bless the assembled crowd and the cause of freedom they were celebrating.

The ceremony was part of the “Freedom Rings Global” event to remember the 76th anniversary of the Allied D-Day invasion, named “Operation Overlord.” It was the largest single-day operation in history and laid the foundations for the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi tyranny.

Waterville State Representative Bruce White organized the event after learning the story of World War II paratrooper Tom Rice, a member of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division known as the “Screaming Eagles.” Last year, at age 97, Rice re-enacted his paratrooper jump over Carentan, Normandy, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. The video of the jump garnered millions of views on social media and YouTube. Rice had planned to join celebrations in France this year, but was prevented from doing so because of travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Freedom Rings Global” was an event planned for 2020 in Rice’s honor as a way to remember that important day and the men and women who gave their lives in the fight for freedom. At 6:44 p.m. – a reference to the date of the operation: June 6, 1944 – people were encouraged to ring bells throughout the world as a reminder.

Here in Waterville, the event began with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Waterville VFW Commander Michael Switzer. After a prayer by Subdeacon Steve Crate, of Saint Joseph Maronite Catholic Church, Rep. White spoke about his reasons for organizing the event. He said, in part: “We are ringing the bell in honor of Tom [Rice], and many others who sacrificed on this day 76 years ago. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, ‘This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.’ The young Americans of that time made up a generation marked for greatness, a generation that would take its place in American history. The American people understood the tremendous burden of the challenge before them, the need for unified national commitment, and most of all they knew that only one result is acceptable: victory. Our nation turned to its young to carry the heaviest burden – to battle against the enemy in the enemy’s own territory, thereby keeping the homefront safe. These young men and women understood what was required of them and willingly volunteered for duty…[On this day] we remember how many of that generation didn’t make it to their twenties, to their thirties and beyond. How many scientists, how many business leaders, teachers, politicians and spiritual leaders were lost in the greatest war the world has ever seen? Today we take a moment to remember them.”

Craig Baily, the Com­mand­er of the Waterville Bourque-Lanigan American Legion Post #5, speaking at the event.

Craig Baily, the Com­mand­er of the Waterville Bourque-Lanigan American Legion Post #5, also spoke to the gathering. He said, in part, “Thank you all for coming out to remember this 76th anniversary [and] those … men and women that served to help free Europe from the tyranny of fascism from the Germans, to free France, and to free the Netherlands, to free Belgium, and to free all of Europe…It was a Herculean effort…to land [on the beaches of Normandy]…It is a testament to the will and spirit of the Americans who went there, the many who died… [and] the many who survived.”

Pearley Lachance, a chaplain for the Waterville American Legion and member of the Winslow MacCrillis-Rouseau VFW Post #8835, has been compiling information about Maine veterans for several years. He spoke about some of the local residents who served during World War II. “Before the war would come to an end, both in the Atlantic and the Pacific campaigns, over 16 million men and women served in uniform,” he said. “They were supported by those who worked in military industries at home. Over 3,000 residents of Waterville were drafted or volunteered. The sad part is, 60 of them did not return because they made the ultimate sacrifice. Waterville’s first causality was Arthur W. Lanigan, a sailor on the USS Houston, which sank when it was attacked by the Japanese on February 28, 1942 — but it was only after the war that it was determined he had died and was not taken as prisoner of war…In Winslow, over 700 were called, and 30 did not return. Joseph Janquist, a Winslow High School graduate, died in the attack on Pearl Harbor [on] December 7, 1941.”

Commander Michael Switzer then spoke briefly to thank everyone for coming.

Doreen White, wife of Rep. White, stepped forward to read a poem, “Normandy,” by Cyril Crain. By way of introduction, she said, “My dad quit school – Waterville High School – at 17. [He] had to get his parents’ permission. They reluctantly gave their permission for him to volunteer in the Navy. He wasn’t at D-Day, but he was a member of the Greatest Generation and served in the Pacific during World War II. I’m reading this poem with his memory in my heart. This poem is called ‘Normandy,’ and it’s by a young veteran who landed on Juno Beach:

‘Come and stand in memory
Of men who fought and died
They gave their lives in Normandy
Remember them with pride.

Soldiers, Airman, sailors
Airborne and marines
Who in civilian life were tailors
and men who worked machines.

British and Canadian
And men from USA
Forces from the Commonwealth
They all were there that day

To Juno, Sword and Utah
Beaches of renown
Also Gold and Omaha
That’s where the ramps went down.
The battle raged in Normandy
Many lives were lost
The war must end in victory
And this must be the cost
When my life is over
And I reach the other side
I’ll meet my friends from Normandy
And shake their hands with pride.’”

After the reading of the poem by his wife, Rep. White read a recent statement from Archbishop Timothy Broglio, of the Archdiocese for Military Services, USA: “It is good to remember that many nations participated in the D-Day invasion. Particularly, the U.S. forces were composed of men of different races, national origins, religious creeds, and so forth. In this time of tension, we ask Almighty God that their sacrifice not be in vain. We beg Him to transform our most earnest longings into a force for peace and understanding, to teach us to see every person as brother or sister whose Father is our God. We pray for the ability to negotiate, to talk, and to listen. We pray to remain vigilant against the forces of evil in our troubled world, and to pour our energies into building lasting peace and justice among nations.”

Rep. White then played a recording of General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s speech to the troops on D-Day. Here is that speech:

“Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely. But this is the year 1944. Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory. Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”

Rep. White concluded by saying, “Father Patrick Finn is going to ring the bell at the church of St. Mark’s, in Winslow. Pittsfield’s MCI (Maine Central Institute) is ringing the bell, and…there are a thousand cities around the world that are doing this same ceremony.”

The Liberty bell rung at the event.

At 6:44 p.m., Waterville Fire Captain and veteran, Rodney Alderman, stepped forward to ring the small Liberty bell set up in the parking lot of the VFW to honor the brave soldiers that fought on the field of battle that fateful June day in 1944.

Summer reading program for children & teens coming from Winslow Public Library

Winslow Public Library

Sign-up starts June 1; theme this summer will be “Imagine Your Story”

This summer the Winslow Public Library will again proudly offer the Summer Reading Program for children and teens. The theme this summer is “Imagine Your Story,” which young readers will discover through fantasy, mythology, and imagination- themed activities. Due to the epidemic, most aspects of the program will be offered online, with some other aspects offered using social-distance protocols.

“With this year’s online Summer Reading Program, we hope to inspire continued reading over the summer, along with an ongoing love of learning,” said Kathleen Powers, Youth Services/Technology Librarian. “We do this by offering activities for all ages, along with reading incentives.”

Participants will work towards incentives through a challenge-tracker card that will include reading and activity challenges. In this way, youthful participants will be able to earn fun prizes such as free books and comic books throughout the summer.

Social-distance parts of the Summer Reading Program will include themed to-go craft bags. Each week will feature a special theme such as dragons, fables, magic, and music. The library will also be offering a table of crafts surrounding each theme every week, while supplies last. On alternating Fridays the library will offer “Weavers of the World” craft bags, which will include weaving, knitting, bracelet making, or simple sewing kits for older youth.

The library’s weekly online story times will be held at 10 a.m. each Tuesday via Facebook, Instagram, and the library’s website. This will provide an opportunity for a younger audience to interact with fun videos and songs. Past story videos also are accessible through the virtual programs tab of the Winslow Public Library website.

Starting June 29 and extending for the following six weeks, the library also will be offering a weekly children’s yoga course. This will include simple yoga and fun tie-in activities. Choose Your Own Adventure Interactive Read Aloud live stream will also be offered, each Thursday afternoon during the summer at 3p.m. These will feature titles such as Dungeons and Dragons Endless Quest Choose Your Own Adventure series. The library’s program for junior high and high school students will include online food challenges and virtual gaming events.

Sign-up for Winslow Public Library’s Summer Reading Program starts June 1, through an online survey (link below) to be presented on the library’s website or by calling (207) 872-1978 or emailing winslowlibrarycirculation@winslow-me.gov. Trackers will be emailed to participants who sign up online.

All parents and young readers interested in the Summer Reading Program from Winslow Public Library should check the library’s website, Instagram, and Facebook pages for the most up-to-date information on programs and events.

To register, please visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/J378882

For more information, please contact Kathleen Powers at Winslow Public Library, 207-872-1978.

Stocks seminar to be presented at Winslow Library

Sasha Fitzpatrick (Photo courtesy of Edward Jones® Investments)

“Stocks: The Nuts and Bolts,” a 45-minute WebEx online seminar that can help you better understand stocks and how they can help you achieve your long-term financial goals, will be offered by financial advisor Sasha Fitzpatrick on Wednesday, May 20, starting at 5:30 p.m. Ms. Fitzpatrick’s virtual seminar is sponsored by Winslow Public Library.

“With the stock market going up and down recently, I’ve had lots of people ask me about stock purchases,” Sasha Fitzpatrick said. “This online seminar should offer them timely information and insight.”

The seminar is specifically designed to help anyone serious about achieving important financial goals—both people just starting out and well-seasoned investors. In just 45 minutes, Sasha Fitzpatrick will cover the differences between common and preferred stock … dividends … investment strategy … and different ways to own stock.

Ms. Fitzpatrick’s online presentation will be followed by a Q & A session, in which participants can call-in and receive specific answers to their questions. The event is free and nothing will be sold.

To register, please visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/L36X5GG.

For more information, please contact Lisa Auriemma at Winslow Public Library, 207-872-1978.

Now a financial advisor with Edward Jones® Investments, in Waterville, Sasha Fitzpatrick previously was a language arts and math teacher at Winslow Junior High School.

Lucille Caouette turns 99

Lucille Caouette

Lucille Caouette’s birthday is usually celebrated each year with a large family gathering lasting the day with meals and social time.

It should be noted that her family consists of 10 children, 20 grandchildren and 47 great-grandchildren, and two great-great -grandchildren, and is still growing with two new babies expected soon.

This year, her 99th birthday, the festivities were canceled due to the coronavirus stay-at-home order. In place of the usual family party a (DRIVE BY) was planned, with family members only, but soon grew to decorating mémère’s porch with her favorite party theme, Flamingos.

These flamingo’s came to be as a way for her grandchildren to cheer mémère up during one of her hospital stays, and has since taken hold as a part of all the celebrations.

As the date of the drive-by approached, the number of participants grew from just family members to include friends and public service individuals. On Saturday, April 25, the drive-by was led by two Winslow Police cruisers, the Winslow Fire Departments ladder truck and rescue unit, and was bracketed by a fire truck from the China Village Fire Department. After the initial procession was completed, the individuals took the time to drive up to mémère’s porch and wish her a happy birthday.

Lucille enjoyed her lobster meal and gifts with no knowledge of what was about to happen. With sirens and lights the procession approached, mémère was overwhelmed shedding tears of joy and a big smile as they drove by.

Everyone is looking forward to next years 100th celebration with the hope that all can be close together again.

Despite fewer volunteers, longer hours, local food pantries soldier on

Volunteers Captain Gombojav, left, and Lucas Gombojav, right, prepare food boxes before the opening at China Community Food Pantry. (photo by Ann Austin)

by Eric W. Austin

Pervasive in my discussions with local food pantries is a sense of profound gratefulness.

“We have been receiving monetary and food donations from many residents,” says Vassalboro Food Station director Cindy Ferland. “The community support has been tremendous.”

Volunteer Dale Peabody sets up food boxes on the front porch of China Community Food Pantry. (photo by Ann Austin)

Food pantries in China, Winslow, Albion and Palermo expressed similar sentiments.

“There are very generous and thoughtful people in our community,” writes June Foshay, manager of Palermo’s food pantry, in an email response to my inquiry.

“It’s gratifying to receive so much community support,” says Ann Austin, director of China Community Food Pantry.

When Maine declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic, local food pantries were on the front lines.

Winslow’s Community Cupboard was forced to move up their plans to launch because of the crisis. “Our intent was to open a local food pantry in September 2020,” assistant operations manager Anna Quattrucci recalls. “The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic hastened our journey along! We were encouraged by Good Shepherd Food Bank to accelerate our opening…and we did! Talk about hustle. We went from having no ready space, no food, and no organized plan, to being fully set up, stocked and ‘open for business’ in a few short weeks.”

Area food banks have scrambled to adjust to the new conditions created by the pandemic and have worked to help new clients suddenly in need because of the economic shutdown. “We have had families who have previously used food pantries to help with food insecurity,” says Quattrucci, “but have seen many for whom this is a first-ever experience due to job loss or non-essential business closings.”

The greatest challenge for local pantries has been the operational changes forced on them by the new social distancing safety rules.

“We had to change our operating process [from] letting clients come in and select the food they wanted to pre-filling boxes to place in their cars as they drive by,” says Vassalboro’s Cindy Ferland.

Other pantries, like Albion’s Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, have opted for a “minimal contact” approach by severely limiting how many people can enter the pantry. Manager Russ Hamm says it’s added significantly to the time it takes to serve everyone.

“We’re going to have to take a longer time to supply people with their food needs,” he says. “Rather than doing it in two hours, it looks like it may take three or four.”

Volunteers Lucas Gombojav, left, and Donna Loveland, right, demonstrate how food boxes are delivered to clients while maintaining social distancing at China Food Pantry. (photo by Ann Austin)

Like Vassalboro, the China Community Food Pantry has also shifted to a drive-thru format. The new procedures keep volunteers and clients separated and maintains social distancing, but since food boxes must be prepared in advance, it means more work for volunteers.

And that’s been a challenge, as many of the dedicated volunteers food pantries used to count on are now in high risk categories.

Albion’s Russ Hamm says, “I normally have a team of six women, and four or five men to carry the bags and boxes [of food] under normal circumstances.” Now, though, he’s down to just four people – and that includes himself.

Vassalboro’s Cindy Ferland relates a similar experience: “The pantry has many elderly volunteers that are much more vulnerable and understandably have decided to stay away from the pantry,” she says. “Fortunately, we have a few VCS teachers that have some time and are willing to step in and help our operation weekly.” She adds, “Our challenge is finding volunteers to go to stores to shop for the pantry, given the restricted access and limited products available in stores.”

Volunteer Cathy Bourque fills food boxes at the China Community Food Pantry. (photo by Ann Austin)

China’s food pantry has been faced with a similar challenge. To comply with the new restrictions, they have focused on grouping volunteers in family units. “We have a husband and wife team that drives the van to pick up food,” says Ann Austin, pantry director, “and two boys from a local family do most of the heavy lifting.”

Once social distancing restrictions are lifted, pantries look forward to beefing up their volunteer base again. “When we eventually return to a ‘normal’ routine,” says Anna Quattrucci, of Winslow’s Com­munity Cupboard, “we will expand our volunteer team, as many have asked to be part of the work.”

Even with longer hours and fewer volunteers, most pantries do not report feeling overwhelmed – yet. However, this could change if the current crisis stretches from weeks into months.

“Overall the pantry is seeing a slight decrease in people coming in,” says Vassalboro Food Station manager Cindy Ferland. “The mix [of people] has changed, with new people that are self-employed and out of work coming in as they are not yet eligible for unemployment relief benefits. There has been a decrease in clients that receive SNAP benefits. The combination of dramatically increased SNAP benefits and the federal economic relief payments apparently has lessened their need for supplemental food.”

Russ Hamm, director of Albion’s Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, agrees. “As far as the amount of people — that has fluctuated remarkably, in the sense that we’re not seeing quite as many people as we normally would, and I have a suspicion that everybody got their stimulus check. I think that has made a little bit of difference.”

All of this is good news, and it’s the result of the amazing generosity shown by local communities in this time of crisis and the dedicated work of pantry volunteers. However, if current economic conditions continue in the downward direction of recent weeks, local food pantries could be facing a rough road ahead, and continued support of these important resources will be essential.

To see a list of local community food pantries, their hours of operation and contact information, please visit this page.

Eric W. Austin writes about local community issues and can be reached at ericaustin@townline.org.

Local restaurateur helps community during crisis

Rita’s Catering staff ready to help feed community. From left to right, Shara Nabarowsky, Joshua Long, Carolyn Elkins, Areti (Rita) Lacroix-Menoudarakos and Zaharias Menoudarakos. (photo by Tawni Lively of Central Maine Photography)

by Mark Huard

It was once said that “you don’t know what you are made of until you are broken.” When you are faced with trying times that take away your ability to live life as you have, what do you do? Well, the Kennebec community certainly knows what Areti “Rita” Lacroix-Menoudarakos, of Rita’s Catering, does in tough times…. she cooks! During this time of crisis when Covid-19 hit, she had a catering event that canceled after all the food had already been ordered. Cathy Bond, from the Winslow Credit Union, knows that Rita takes every opportunity to help the frontline staff at local police and fire stations. So when the event canceled, Cathy gave Rita the green light to do what she does, and help others in time of need. Rita and her staff started off on a smaller scale and made batches of food for the different departments to pick up.

As the State of Emergency continued, Rita adapted and thought of a way to help the broader community on a larger scale. Rita knows that this community has many people that depend on restaurants and takeout services to feed them on a daily basis. Many people do not cook and are now forced into isolation without supplies or knowledge of cooking or baking. This inspired Rita to develop a plan to create low cost meals for the community members during this time of need.

She used her gift of cooking to help others in their time of need.

This plan was extremely well received by so many. In fact, Rita went through all of the food that she had and then had to order two more times after that in order to continue helping the community she loves so much. The meals are being used for multiple different purposes from fueling our first responders to ensuring that our vulnerable elderly population is well fed. There are many seniors that pride themselves on being independent and these meals have helped them stay safe and nourished in this difficult time.

There are some wonderful federally-funded programs out there, but not everyone qualifies for those programs. Rita’s mission was to prevent people from falling through the cracks. She did not want the elderly to have to go out to the stores or go without food. The low cost has allowed others to purchase the meals for others as well, and enable more to continue giving and taking care of each other. Easter was difficult for many being away from family; however, Rita and her team worked hard to give affordable options for people to have a nice dinner over the holiday.

Apple crisps (photos by Tawni Lively)

Tracy O’Clair, of Waterville, says, “As a community we are blessed to have people like Rita.” I think many agree with these sentiments.

Meals ready for pick up at Rita’s Catering, on Bay Street, in Winslow. (photos by Tawni Lively)

During the time of crisis, Rita didn’t break but rather rose to the occasion. She used her gift of cooking to help others in their time of need. She didn’t think of herself, but thought only of how to help others. This pandemic will certainly go down in history, but for our community so will Rita and her generous acts of kindness.”

Meal pick up is at Rita’s House of Pizza, 51 Bay Street, in Winslow. She has also created a Facebook group called Rita’s covid-19 family meal.

If anyone is in need of help at this difficult time, please feel free to contact Rita at the Winslow House of Pizza at 872-0773.

 

 

New food pantry opens in Winslow

A new food pantry has opened at the Winslow Congregational Church, on Lithgow St. (photo courtesy of Bruce Bottiglierie)

by Dave Carew

A new food pantry, Winslow Community Cupboard, is launching operations at Winslow Congregational Church, 12 Lithgow Street, Winslow, to assist those struggling with food-insecurity during these extremely difficult times, and beyond. The new food pantry is a partnership with Good Shepherd Food Bank.

Food will be available at Winslow Community Cupboard the second and fourth Thursday of each month, from noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Each individual seeking assistance must register with the food pantry. To ensure proper social-distancing during pick-up, food will be distributed car-side.

“We decided to open Winslow Community Cupboard to serve families who have had ongoing food- insecurity issues, as well as those who are new to this, having recently lost a job or having been forced to stop working as a ‘non-essential business’ owner or worker,” said Anna Quattrucci, assistant operations manager of Winslow Community Cupboard.

Scott Taylor, a member of Winslow Congregational Church involved with the launch of the food pantry, said the “Cupboard” is directly linked to the mission of the church. “We serve God by serving our neighbors in Winslow. Just as we believe Jesus is with us in the midst of our struggles and difficulties, we try to be with our neighbors in theirs.”

While Winslow Community Cupboard is now being launched in an official sense, the food pantry has been less formally open at various times during the past week, as formal operations were being ramped up. During that time, the food pantry served over 130 people needing assistance. Predictably, the food pantry has received solid support from businesses and individuals in Winslow.

“We are extremely appreciative of area businesses and residents who have supported us with monetary donations, food donations, and much-needed freezers and refrigerators,” said Ms. Quattrucci.

Organizations or individuals wishing to support the new food pantry may send much-appreciated checks to Winslow Community Cupboard / 12 Lithgow Street, Winslow ME 04901 or donate online at: https://winslowucc.org/winslow-community-cupboard/

For more information, please call Winslow Congregational Church at (207) 872-2544 or send email to WinslowCupboard@gmail.com.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Winslow, Benton, Clinton

A 19th century photo of the Clinton schoolhouse.

by Mary Grow

Winslow is the next town north of Vassalboro along the east shore of the Kennebec River. According to Henry Kingsbury’s History of Kennebec County, its location was determined by the junction of the Kennebec with the smaller Sebasticook River, as a river junction was a convenient meeting place for groups from different areas.

When the first white settlers reached the area is unclear. Kingsbury cites a 1719 survey showing a building on the south side of the Sebasticook and east shore of the Kennebec that is identified as a trading post built in 1653.

By 1675, despite the earlier resumption of fighting between Natives and settlers, there were two trading posts at the rivers’ junction. Kingsbury surmises they did not survive a 1676 Native attack, although he found evidence suggesting at least one building was still standing in 1692.

In 1754, the Massachusetts General Court ordered a fort to be built at the Sebasticook-Kennebec junction for protection against the French and the Natives. Massachusetts Governor William Shirley personally chose the site, which commanded both rivers and could interrupt water traffic between tribes and with Québec.

General John Winslow, described in Wikipedia as a major-general of militia, was sent from Massachusetts with 800 men to build the fort. He superintended such a speedy job that early in September, a 100-man garrison under Captain William Lithgow moved in. Winslow’s plan did not suit Lithgow, Kingsbury says, and was substantially amended.

The main building was supported by two separate two-story blockhouses, each equipped with cannon. One later became a house for a man named Ezekiel Pattee and was moved down the river. In 1791, the list of resident taxpayers in Winslow, per Kingsbury, included four Pattees, Ezekiel, Benjamin, William and Daniel.

(Ezekiel Pattee is probably the man found on line who was born Sept. 3, 1732, in Gloucester, Massachusetts; on May 24, 1760, married Margaret Harwood, born at Fort Halifax in 1740; had a son, also named Ezekiel, born on Feb. 26, 1775; and died Nov. 24, 1813, in Winslow, Maine.)

Fort Halifax in 1754.

Kingsbury commends the Town of Winslow for its efforts to preserve the remaining Fort Halifax blockhouse.

Winslow, like Augusta and Vassalboro, was originally laid out on both sides of the Kennebec. Originally called Ticonic (there are various spellings), the Native word for the river junction and the rapids just upstream, and then Kingsfield Plantation, it was incorporated on April 26, 1771, as Winslow, one of the first four towns in Kennebec County (the others were Hallowell, Vassalboro and Winthrop).

The name of the new town honored General John Winslow.

As in other Kennebec River towns, the early survey by John McKechnie (who was also a doctor) laid out some long narrow lots, but the majority are only about three times as long as they are wide.

The east-side (Winslow) plan reproduced in the History of Kennebec County shows lots along the east shores of the Kennebec and Sebasticook and out to the 15-mile east boundary, but none in the northeastern triangle between the two rivers.

The 1771 Winslow included what is now Waterville and Oakland. Kingsbury believes the settlement on the west side of the Kennebec, now Waterville, grew faster than the east side. His evidence includes E. A. Paine’s 1791 population count of 779, of whom Paine believed only about 300 were on the east side of the river.

One of those Winslow-side inhabitants, according to Ernest Marriner’s Kennebec Yesterdays, was the town’s first lawyer, George Warren. In 1791 Warren went to Boston, where he petitioned the Massachusetts General Court, unsuccessfully, for approval to hold a lottery to raise money to build a bridge across the Sebasticook. Because he had business in southern Maine as well, he chose to make the Portland to Boston leg of his trip by land, Marriner says.

Massachusetts law, in the 1700s and as late as 1815, required every town to raise taxes to support religion (meaning the Congregational church, usually). Marriner says many Maine towns could not afford to comply, and lists Winslow as one of the more recalcitrant.

Twice, he says, the town was threatened with legal action if its officials continued to ignore the law. In 1772, they voted to pay for one month’s worth of services; in 1773, they agreed to pay a man named Deliverance Smith for 12 Sundays. That year, too, Rev. John Murray came inland from Boothbay for a service at Fort Halifax, where the children he baptized included three of John McKechnie’s.

In 1774, Rev. Jacob Bailey, of Pownalborough (now Dresden), preached at Fort Halifax. (When the Revolution broke out, Bailey remained loyal to the British monarchy and eventually had to leave the country for Nova Scotia.) The next year, Marriner says, Winslow voted not to pay for any preaching.

In 1794, Marriner says, Winslow hired a clergyman named Joshua Cushing to settle as the town’s minister. Marriner describes Cushing as a Revolutionary War veteran and a Harvard classmate of John Quincy Adams who became a community leader and served in the Massachusetts legislature and in Congress.

Maine towns had trouble complying with another Massachusetts law that required an elementary school for a town with 60 families and a grammar school if there were 200 families. In 1784, 1788 and 1789, Winslow voted no public funding for schools, Marriner says.

By 1795, there was discussion at town meeting of creating two towns divided by the river. A June 23, 1802, legislative act incorporated the Town of Waterville and defined it as the part of Winslow on the west side of the Kennebec.

The Conforth homestead, in Benton, in this 19th century photo.

Benton, Winslow’s northern neighbor along the river, was the southern part of Clinton until 1842. Kingsbury mentions two deeds from the Plymouth Company in the 1760s, but he dates the first settlement inside the present town boundaries to 1775 or thereabouts, when two Irish emigrants named George Fitzgerald and David Gray cleared land about a mile north of the present Benton Station (the cluster of buildings at the end of the bridge across the Kennebec.

Later settlers moved farther north along the Kennebec and took up land on the west side of the Sebasticook.

In 1790 or earlier, Kingsbury said, the area that is now Benton and Clinton became Hancock Plantation. There were then 278 residents, the majority in the southern end that is now Benton. The first town meeting was held on April 20, 1795; Kingsbury lists the town officials then elected.

By the 1797 town meeting, Kingsbury wrote, there were eight school districts, again mostly in the Benton area, and 166 students; the town voted a $300 tax for education.

After four decades of growth, on March 16, 1842, the by-then-Maine, rather than Massachusetts, legislature approved an act dividing Clinton and creating a new town named Sebasticook. Kingsbury provides no information on who wanted the separation or why.

On March 4, 1850, town meeting voters told selectmen to choose a new name – again, Kingsbury offers no reason. The selectmen chose Benton, in honor of Missouri Democratic U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton. In September 1850 the Town of Benton first appeared in town meeting records.

The history of Clinton, the northernmost Kennebec County town, overlaps with the history of Benton until the two were separated in 1842.

Settlement along the Kennebec that began in the southern (Benton) area spread north up the river. Kingsbury lists Pishon’s Ferry (or Pishon Ferry, shown on 20th-century maps opposite the Hinckley section of Fairfield) as the east end of the ferry owned by Charles Pishon, who moved there before 1800. At least three other families began farming in the area, the first before 1790.

Clinton developed an early second center along the Sebasticook, an area that became the present downtown. Kingsbury names six families settled in the area before 1800.

Several sources say Clinton was named after DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828), a United States Senator, mayor of New York City and the sixth governor of New York, largely responsible for the building of the Erie Canal. However, the Wikipedia entry on Clinton, Maine, says that information is false: the town was named after DeWitt Clinton’s uncle, George Clinton (1739-1812), the first governor of New York and the fourth vice-president of the United States, serving under both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

MAJOR SOURCES:

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

Marriner, Ernest Kennebec Yesterdays 1954.

Web sites, miscellaneous

NEXT: Moving upstream from Augusta on the west bank of the Kennebec, earliest history of Sidney, Waterville and Fairfield.

[See also: Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Augusta & Vassalboro]

Area roads earmarked for improvements in 2020-21

by Roland D. Hallee

The Maine Department of Transportation has announced plans for road improvements in the China – Vassalboro – Winslow area, in 2020-2021.

For 2020, the work will include Rte. 137, from China to Winslow, with the work to begin at Rte. 202 and extending west 6.14 miles to Rte. 137B, then extend north 1.04 miles to Rte. 201. This will include overlay.

From China to Vassalboro, along the Neck Rd., Webber Pond Rd., Bog Rd., and Stanley Hill Road. That will begin 1.39 miles north of Village Street and extend north 5.65 miles to 1.14 miles north of the Gray Road. And beginning 0.21 of a mile north of Preble Hill Rd. and extending north 2.4 miles to Timber Oaks Dr. This will include highway rehabilitation.

In China, Rte. 202, a large culvert improvement located .17 of a mile north of the south intersection of Pond Rd.

Vassalboro, Rte. 32, beginning 1.14 miles north of Gray Road and extending north .73 of a mile. Includes highway rehabilitation.

In 2021, the Stanley Hill Rd., in China and Vassalboro, beginning .02 of a mile from Rte. 32 and extending east 6.21 miles. This will include a light capital paving.

Oak Grove Rd., Vassalboro, beginning at Rte. 201 and extending northeast 3.12 miles to Rte. 32, light capital paving.

In Vassalboro, Webber Pond and Bog roads, beginning at Rte. 201 and extending northeast 8.03 miles to Rte. 32.

Stanley Hill Road, beginning .02 of a mile from Rte. 32 and extending east 6.21 miles, light capital paving.

The local roads assistance in China for fiscal year 2020 will be $54,896.

The department reported maintenance accomplishments in 2019, specifically recorded to China, that included six drainage structures cleaned; 4.6 miles of shoulder repair; 81.7 miles of shoulder mowing; one bridge washed; 1,449 linear feet of backhoe ditching; 205 miles of striping applied; 92.9 miles of shoulder herbicide applied; 13.8 tons of patch applied; five tons of shim applied.

Also, 13 trees removed; one emergency event response; 154 linear feet of guardrail or fence maintained; 1,722.6 tons of hot mix paving; two drainage structures intalled or replaced; 21.4 miles of litter and debris removed; 12.9 miles of shoulder graded; 452 square feet of pavement legend applied; one underwater inspection performed; 896 linear feet of shoulder rebuilt; 54.3 miles of shoulder sweeping; and six person hours of traffic signal maintenance.

Local road assistance to Vassalboro for fiscal year 2020 is $66,916.

Maintenance accomplishments specific to Vassalboro in 2019 included: 34.8 miles of shoulder litter and debris removal; one emergency event response; 32 linear feet of bridge joints repaired or replaced; 25.1 miles of striping applied; 4,292 linear feet of shoulder rebuilt; 58.5 shoulder miles of sweeping; 205 linear feet of backhoe ditching; seven drainage structures installed or replaced; 57 miles of shoulder mowing; four bridges washed; 22 trees removed.

Also, five tons of shim applied; two drainage structures cleaned; 16 miles of shoulder graded; 265 linear feet of bridge rail repaired or replaced; 13.6 tons of patch applied; and 34.8 shoulder miles of herbicide applied.