Local students on dean’s list at Dean College for Fall 2019

Dean College, in Franklin, Massachusetts, has announced the local students that have earned a place on the dean’s list for the Fall 2019 semester. These students have demonstrated a serious commitment to their studies while at Dean College.

Zoe Derosby, of Waterville;
Cami Dubois, of Winslow;
Joshua Veilleux, of Winslow.

Founded in 1865, Dean College is a private, residential college located in Franklin Massachusetts, 45 minutes from Boston, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island. Dean College offers baccalaureate degrees, associate degree programs, as well as a robust schedule of part-time continuing and professional education credit and certificate programs throughout the calendar year.

McCowan was named to the Fall 2019 dean’s list at Muhlenberg College

Kathleen McCowan, of Winslow, was named to the Dean’s List at Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, for the Fall 2019 semester.

Students with a term GPA of 3.50 or higher were recognized for this academic achievement.

Winslow native patrols the sea aboard Navy warship

Petty Officer Second Class Trevor Lovely (photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Miller)

by Alvin Plexico, Navy Office of Community Outreach

SAN DIEGO — Three years ago, Petty Officer 2nd Class Trevor Lovely joined the Navy because his family has a tradition of military service.

“Most of my family were in the Marines,” said Lovely. “I knew I wanted to join the military, but wanted something a little different, which is why I joined the Navy.”

Today, Lovely is serving aboard USS Boxer, stationed in San Diego.

Lovely is a fire controlman responsible for working on the data systems that provide information to the weapons required to defend the ship.

“Fixing something that is broken feels really nice,” said Lovely. “It’s very satisfying seeing an issue that needs to be resolved and knowing that you’re able to make a difference with the people you work with.”

Lovely is a 2014 Winslow High School graduate and native of Winslow, Maine.

According to Lovely, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Winslow.

“I learned that being in the Navy is one big team,” said Lovely. “Growing up playing sports I learned the importance of working with others as part of a team.”

With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.

Boxer is an amphibious assault ship that has recently returned from a Western Pacific-Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf deployment. It is the sixth ship to carry the name Boxer.

Amphibious assault ships are used to transfer Marines, equipment and supplies and can support helicopters or other aircraft. They also are capable of accessing 75% of the world’s beaches.

According to Admiral Mike Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations, the focus of today’s Navy is squarely on warfighting, warfighters and the capabilities needed for the Navy of the future.

“I am confident we will maximize the Navy we have today while delivering the Navy that our nation will rely upon tomorrow,” said Gilday. “And we will do so with urgency. Our fleet will be a potent, formidable force that competes around the world every day, deterring those who would challenge us while reassuring our allies and partners.”

There are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers. Lovely is most proud of his ship’s completion of a deployment and recent inspection.

“During our deployment, we visited a lot of places, like Thailand, Okinawa and Guam,” said Lovely.

For Lovely, serving in the Navy is a tradition passed down from generations and one Lovely hopes to continue.

“My dad and uncle served in the Marines and my stepbrother is currently in the Navy,” said Lovely. “Carrying on a military tradition is definitely something to be proud of, and in the future, I hope that my children or grandchildren will decide to do the same.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Lovely, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.

“Serving in the Navy is something I’ll remember forever,” said Lovely. “I’ve had a lot of great experiences, and I’m definitely a better individual based on my service.”

Trevor is the son of Randy Lovely, and his wife Robin, and Amy LeClair, and husband Mark, all of Winslow; sister to Bethanie Lovely, of Winslow; and grandson of Trudy Lovely, of Waterville.

St. John School, in Winslow, to close at end of school year

St. John Regional Catholic School, in Winslow. (photo by Roland D. Hallee)

Press release from the Diocese of Portland

Upon reviewing the parish’s consultative process which led to the recommendation by the pastoral council, finance council, and school board of Corpus Christi Parish, Bishop Robert P. Deeley has acknowledged their decision to close St. John Regional Catholic School, located on 15 South Garand Street in Winslow, at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

“Parents and parishioners, as well as the religious and clergy who have served the parish over many years, worked tirelessly to try to find a way to keep the school open. As evidenced by the sustained efforts over a long period of time by the devoted faculty, the generous support of the parish community, and the extensive consultation process by the parish leadership, their decision was not reached easily or quickly,” said Bishop Deeley. “The parish remains dedicated to the mission of Catholic education, and the diocese’s Office of Lifelong Faith Formation will be working with Corpus Christi to ensure that alternative programs and ministries are in place to nurture the children’s spiritual, intellectual and emotional growth.”

“For over 90 years, students, teachers, and parishioners have generously supported this school.”
– Bishop Robert P. Deeley.

“There was a consensus among our parish councils that continuing to operate the school could risk the financial stability and health of the parish moving forward,” said Fr. Daniel Baillargeon, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish (Notre Dame Church, Waterville; Sacred Heart Church, Waterville; St. John the Baptist Church, Winslow; St. Helena Church, Belgrade Lakes). “We have already started helping current school families to assess their options, including possible enrollment at other Catholic schools for the next academic year.”

“The sad truth is that rising costs, a decline in school-aged children in the Waterville/Winslow area, and an increased demand for financial assistance made it unfeasible to keep the school open,” said Marianne Pelletier, superintendent of Maine Catholic Schools. “As heartbreaking as this is for school families and alumni, we are grateful for the opportunity the diocese had in providing a quality education to generations of students. We also look forward to exploring new and creative ways to help children in the area cultivate their faith.”

St. John opened in 1927 with the Ursuline Sisters and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyons overseeing the school, which was originally operated in the church’s assembly hall and south annex. In 1939, the north annex was attached. The Sisters of St. Joseph arrived in 1960 and the school building in use today was constructed.

“For over 90 years, students, teachers, and parishioners have generously supported this school,” said Bishop Deeley. “The closing of St. John is not a result of a lack of generosity, but simply a demographic and financial reality. Corpus Christi Parish and the diocese will use this sad moment to strengthen our resolve to reach more young people with Jesus’ message of love.”

Three local students on Dean College fall 2019 dean’s list

Dean College, in Franklin, Massachusetts, is pleased to announce the local students that have earned a place on the dean’s list for the fall 2019 semester. These students have demonstrated a serious commitment to their studies while at Dean College.

Zoe Derosby, of Waterville;

Cami Dubois, of Winslow;

Joshua Veilleux, of Winslow.

“Fighting Mental Health Stigma” and “Living with Depression” presentations set for Augusta and Waterville in coming weeks

Free presentations on the topic of improved mental health will be offered by parishes in Augusta and Waterville in the coming weeks. All are welcome to attend either presentation.

As part of its ongoing “Coffee and Conversation” series, the St. Michael Parish Social Justice Commission will sponsor a presentation and discussion on “Fighting Mental Health Stigma.” The session will be held on Thursday, January 23, at 7 p.m., in St. Monica Hall, on 5 Kendall Street, in Augusta.

St. Michael parishioners Emily Dowdell and Andrew Phinney, both professionals in the mental health field, will lead the discussion. For more information, contact the parish at (207) 623-8823 or St.Michael@portlanddiocese.org. You can also visit the parish’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/StMichaelMaine.

Corpus Christi Parish, in Waterville, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon, in Winslow, will co-host “Living with Depression” on Sunday, January 26, from 2 p.m., to 3:30 p.m. in the hall of Notre Dame Church, on 116 Silver Street, in Waterville.

Marc Sirois, a parishioner of Corpus Christi and the manager of outpatient behavioral services for MaineGeneral Medical Center, will discuss the causes and treatments of depression as well as strategies for living with depression and supporting those who do. For more information, call (207) 873-4512 or email csjsoflyon.maine@gmail.com.

For more information about these and other special events occurring in the Diocese of Portland, visit the special events section of the diocesan website at www.portlanddiocese.org.

Vassalboro, Winslow: After-School programs win award

Front row, from left to right:, Jennifer Lizotte, administrative assistant, and Tiffany Carrigan, director of programming. Back row, Jim Fortunato, and Samantha Bernatchez, director of operations. (contributed photo)

Jim Fortunato, Let’s Go! Northern Kennebec County Coordinator, Northern Light Inland Hospital, has awarded the Winslow and Vassalboro Before/After School Programs with a Gold Recognition for the 2018-19 school year. This is the highest level of recognition for sites that have achieved all five priority strategies of the 5210 Let’s Go! Program.

The 5210 Let’s Go!, introduced in 2012, is committed to promoting policy and environmental changes at childcare programs, schools, out-of-school programs, health care practices, and workplaces. The program’s multi-setting approach, daily 5-2-1-0 message (five or more fruits and vegetables, two hours or less of screen time, one hour or more of physical activity and zero sugary drinks) and 10 evidence-based strategies are used to effect change across the state of Maine. Strong leadership from The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center and collaboration across health systems and community health coalitions contribute to the program’s success.

The 5210 Let’s Go! awards bronze, silver and gold awards to programs who support and collaborate with them around healthy eating and increased physical activity. A Bronze award reflects a site’s implementing the program’s five evidence-based priority strategies. Silver acknowledges a site that has communicated these changes to parents and family members. Gold, the highest level of recognition, is reserved for sites that have written all five priority strategies into policy or have school staff participate on the district’s wellness committee.

Vigue promoted to master sergeant

Michael A. Vigue has been promoted to the rank of master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force National Guard. Vigue is currently serving as Cyber Systems Operations Non-Commissioned Officer-in-Charge with 265th Combat Communications Squadron, South Portland,. He has served in the military for 15 years.

He is a 1982 graduate of Winslow High School, in Winslow. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1987 from the University of Maine, Orono.

Maine politics: A conversation with five local legislators

(photo by Eric Austin)

This is the first of a three-part series written by Eric W. Austin.

(The following does not necessarily constitute the opinions of The Town Line staff or its board of directors.)

by Eric W. Austin

Sometimes the noise from Washington is so loud, it drowns out what’s going on right here in Maine. A few months ago, the Maine Legislature wrapped up their first regular session with a final vote on a two-year state budget. So, with legislators on recess until January, I thought it would be a good time to catch up with them to discuss their thoughts on the recent legislative session.

In my research for this series of articles, I sat down with five Maine state legislators, including Senator Matt Pouliot, representing District 15 (Augusta, China, Oakland, Sidney and Vassalboro); and representatives Catherine Nadeau (Winslow and part of Benton), Bruce White (Waterville), Justin Fecteau (Augusta), and Richard Bradstreet (Vassalboro, Windsor, Somerville and part of Augusta). I thank each of these public servants for spending the time to answer my questions, and for their consent to have the interview recorded so I could provide accurate quotations.

This first article will look at some of the accomplishments of the last legislative session, with subsequent articles focusing on other issues that came up in our discussions, such as: the biggest challenges facing Maine over the next few decades, the impact of social media on local politics, and the state of partisanship in Augusta (it’s not as bad as you think!).

Maine’s first regular legislative session generally runs from January to June (in 2019, it ran a bit late as budget talks dragged into July). This first session is where the majority of bills are proposed and voted on and the all-important two-year budget is drawn up, debated and signed. Any bills not voted on during this first year may either go away or – if they have been specially authorized – they may be carried over into the second year, called the second regular session.

The second regular session will begin in January 2020, but only runs until about April. Although the legislature won’t have a full budget to contend with, it may still have supplemental budgetary items on which to vote, and the governor also has authority to submit additional bills for them to consider.

Justin Fecteau

By anyone’s estimation, 2019 was a busy legislative session. It was the kind of session that left an impression on freshman representative Justin Fecteau of Augusta, who sits on the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. “I think we nearly broke the State House capacity,” he told me at Huiskamer Coffee House on Water Street, in Augusta, a business he runs with his wife, Grace, when he’s not teaching German at Maranacook Community High School.

“Twenty-one hundred bills were submitted for a six-month legislative session,” he said. “We were putting a lot on the people that work in the advisors office.” The legislative advisors office is a nonpartisan service in state government which helps legislators turn their ideas into legal text.

Catherine Nadeau

I asked Catherine Nadeau, a representative from Winslow who is serving her fourth and final term before retiring from the House in 2020, what legislative accomplishments she was most proud of from the last year. “We provided $130 million [in] property tax relief,” she responded. “That’s what we accomplished this year. We increased the Homestead Exemption by $5,000, [from $20,000] to $25,000. We expanded eligibility for the Property Tax Fairness Credit.” She also mentioned the inclusion of an additional 800 seniors under Maine’s Drugs for the Elderly program and the recent MaineCare expansion. She finished by saying, “This is what we got done, and we still have a surplus.”

Matt Pouliot

Senator Matt Pouliot, who also supported increasing the Homestead Exemption, recognizes the property tax burden on Mainers, especially for low income or fixed income residents. He actually wanted to raise the Homestead Exemption even higher. “I had a bill in to increase it to $50,000 with full reimbursement from the state,” he said, “because we are all hearing from our constituents: property taxes are a challenge for us – especially folks who are those baby boomers just getting into retirement, living on a fixed income. Even if their home is paid for, that property tax bill keeps going up and up and up, and it makes it more difficult for them to live on a fixed income.”

Bruce White

Bruce White, a freshman representative from Waterville, was particularly proud of the legislature for increasing the percentage of municipal revenue sharing this year. Municipal revenue sharing is a way of reimbursing cities which pay a larger percentage of state taxes.

“Cities like Waterville, where a lot of commuters come in during the day – you have the hospitals and colleges and stuff – [so] we have more strain on our city,” Representative White explained. “We need more fire safety, and police safety, and [the increase in municipal revenue sharing] helps us.

“It got decreased over the years,” he said. “It was down as low as two percent – it was supposed to be five [percent]. Waterville, for instance, in the last ten years, has lost – because it got reduced – about $1.1 to $1.2 million a year on average that we used to generate.”

The level of revenue sharing is always a tug of war between the state and city governments.

White continued, “We increased it from two percent to three percent starting in fiscal year 2020. For Waterville, that was $670,000 they received more than last year. That’s a big deal. That’s almost a mil right in Waterville. That helps our elderly, low income, middle class – everybody. That was a big success. The following year it goes up to 3.75 percent, so we’re on our way up to get it back to where it was originally.”

Despite the additional services delivered to Mainers like the expansion of MaineCare to benefit the state’s seniors and the increase in municipal revenue sharing, which will return more money back to local communities, both representatives White and Nadeau pointed to a surplus at the end of the last fiscal year and a growing Budget Stabilization (or “rainy day”) Fund.

The state’s accounting can be a bit tricky to untangle, especially since this particular subject is partial to a great deal of political spin, but essentially, the last fiscal year, ending June 30, saw a surplus of approximately $168 million, meaning this was the amount by which state revenues exceeded state expenditures. For some comparison, the state’s surplus from the previous two-year budget, in 2017, was $110.9 million. Since Maine is a state that requires a balanced budget by law, some surplus at the end of the year is expected.

The budget surplus is only part of the story, however. Also important is what the government decides to do with that surplus. This year, legislators rolled $139.2 of the $167.8 million back into the new budget, leaving $28.1 million of actual surplus. After a small amount (about $6 million) was set aside for several high priority requirements, including operating capital, the governor’s contingency account, the FAME loan insurance reserve, and state retiree health insurance, the remaining surplus, about $22.1 million, was divided according to an 80/20 split, with the largest portion, $18.1 million, deposited into the Budget Stabilization Fund, also known as the “Rainy Day Fund.” This is the state savings account meant to protect Maine from budget shortfalls in case of an unexpected recession or other statewide emergency. According to Maine’s Department of Administration and Financial Services, the total balance of our Budget Stabilization Fund, including this year’s deposit, is now at $236,904,105.

The other 20 percent of the remaining surplus, or about $4.5 million, was deposited into the Property Tax Relief Fund. This is a new fund created during the most recent legislative session, and replaces an account originally set up by the LePage administration simply called the Tax Relief Fund. In previous years, 20 percent of the state’s surplus was deposited into this fund with the intention that, when the fund reached a certain balance, it would trigger a permanent 0.2 percent reduction in the state income tax for all Maine residents. (The fund has never reached those specified limits, and so no reduction in the income tax rate has ever actually been triggered.)

However, this year the legislature made two changes to that earlier policy. First, the former Tax Relief Fund was combined with several other funds and renamed the Property Tax Relief Fund. It’s still fed through deposits of 20 percent of the state’s budgetary surplus, however the methodology which triggers tax relief for Mainers has been significantly changed. Instead of activating a permanent reduction in Maine’s income tax after reaching a specified balance, it will now trigger a rebate of at least $100 for Maine homeowners who have applied and qualified for the Homestead Exemption, once the fund has a sufficient balance to cover such a rebate. That limit was reached this year, so many of you should be receiving $100 checks in the mail by next March.

The change in how the tax relief is triggered is important because the old rules rewarded tax relief based on the level of a resident’s income, with higher income residents receiving a larger benefit than those on the lower end of the income scale. In contrast, under the new rules, all eligible homeowners collect the same $100 rebate regardless of income, although Mainers who are renters – or those who do not qualify for the Homestead Exemption – are left out in the cold.

While Maine’s Budget Stabilization Fund continues to grow, it’s current balance might not paint as rosy a picture as one might think. The two-year budget passed this year in the legislature totaled $7.98 billion, so although $237 million in Maine’s “Rainy Day Fund” might seem like a lot, is it really? Some representatives in Augusta don’t think so.

Richard Bradstreet

“Sooner or later we’re going to have a recession,” explained Vassalboro Representative Richard Bradstreet, who voted against the two-year budget. “It’s going to come and we have to be ready for that.”

Senator Matt Pouliot expressed similar reservations about the recent budget. “This is the first budget that I voted against in my seven years of legislative service,” he said, “because the increase in spending was just so drastic in such a short period of time that I couldn’t get behind it.”

The current budget represents an increase of just over 12 percent above the previous budget of $7.1 billion, signed in 2017. This increase is nearly three times more than the rate of inflation over the same period, although state revenues have also risen during that time. Most of the budget increases come from the expansion of Maine’s Medicaid program, MaineCare; the rise in the percentage of municipal revenue sharing; and increases for education and opioid treatment.

For some expert advice on Maine’s fiscal health, let’s turn to Sarah Austin, a policy analyst for the nonpartisan group, the Maine Center for Economic Policy (and of no relation to the author of this article). She testified earlier this year before the Maine House and Senate as a subject matter expert about the recent tax relief changes and the importance of building up cash reserves to help the state weather future economic storms.

Sarah Austin

“According to the most recent analysis from the Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission and Revenue Forecasting Committee,” she stated in her testimony from May, “Maine’s Budget Stabilization Fund contains only 37 percent of the funds necessary to withstand a moderate recession without cutting into baseline spending or raising revenue.”

I asked her via email if she was suggesting Maine still needed to do more to prepare for a possible economic downturn. She replied, “Good fiscal policy isn’t necessarily the rallying cry of the public, but yes, having reserves does impact the speed and adequacy of state responses during recessions. [A Budget Stabilization Fund of] $650 million could get us through a moderate recession without cutting services when they are most critical to supporting the economy.”

So, although the current financial reserves contained in Maine’s Budget Stabilization Fund are at some of their highest levels ever, good fiscal policy suggests they should be significantly higher if Maine is to survive a sudden slump in the economy unscathed.

And that is just one of the challenges Maine is facing as we head toward the middle of the 21st century. Based on my discussions with five local legislators, the next article in this series will take a deeper look at the biggest obstacles to Maine’s continued growth and prosperity: things like an aging workforce and the difficulty of attracting younger families to settle and build their lives here in Maine, the state’s need for skilled tradesmen and how it’s driving up prices for everyone, rising healthcare costs and the increasing strain on Maine’s do-it-all school systems, and much, much more!

Eric W. Austin writes exclusively for The Town Line newspaper about issues important to central Maine. He can be reached at ericwaustin@gmail.com.

Mt. View Chamber Singers to be featured in Winslow

One of Winslow’s most beloved and eagerly-anticipated Christmas concerts is coming soon! Once again the beloved Mt. View Chamber Singers will bring their magnificent, candle-lit Christmas concert-in-the round to Winslow Congregational Church (12 Lithgow Street), on Sunday, December 8, at 4 p.m. The singers also will perform at Vassalboro United Methodist Church on Thursday, December 5, at 7 p.m.

All concerts are FREE, with donations gratefully accepted. CDs will be available for purchase at a “meet and greet” with the students immediately following each performance.

The Mt. View Chamber Singers will perform at numerous locations throughout Maine this Christmas season. For a complete list of upcoming concerts, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/mvchambersingers/

For more information, please call Winslow Congregational Church at 872-2544.