Local Town Meetings Schedule 2019

Town meetings 2019

VASSALBORO

Town meeting, Mon., June 3, 6:30 p.m.
Vassalboro Community School
Voting: Tuesday, June 11
Polls open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Vassalboro Town Office

WINDSOR

Voting: Tues., June 11, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Town meeting: Wed., June 12, 6:30 p.m.
Upstairs at Town Hall
If more than 75 attend, it will be moved to the school.

To be included in this list, visit our Contact Us page or send an email to The Town Line at townline@fairpoint.net.

Fishy Photo: Good bass fishing

James Beaudry, of Windsor, displays one of his recent catches on the lake.

According to Frank Richards, president of the Webber Pond Association, fishing on the pond has been good this winter.

2019 Real estate tax schedule

2019 Real estate tax schedule

CHINA

Second half taxes due
Friday, March 29, 2019

VASSALBORO

Third quarter payment due
Monday, February 25, 2019

WINDSOR

Second half payment due
Sunday, March 31, 2019

WINSLOW

Third quarter payment due
Friday, March 8, 2019

Area residents graduate from UNH

The University of Hampshire, in Durham, New Hampshire, has announced the following area students who graduated in May 2018.

Rebecca Grenier, of South China, BS in BiomedSci:Med & VetSci, Cum Laude, and Bayleigh Logan, of Windsor, BS in Health Management & Policy.

Windsor town office to close early on Christmas Eve

The Windsor Town Office will be open at 9 a.m. on Monday, December 24, but will close early, at 12:30 p.m., in observance of the Christmas holiday. The town office will be closed Tuesday, December 25, and Wednesday, December 26, and reopen on Thursday, December 27, at 9 a.m.

The transfer station will be open 3 – 8 p.m., on Wednesday, December 26.

Two gifts from the Hermitage: fruitcake and stillness

Sister Elizabeth Wagner of the Transfiguration Hermitage, in Windsor. (photo by Jeani Marquis)

by Jeani Marquis

Hidden from view on Windsor Neck Road behind a stand of tall pines is a monastic community named the Transfiguration Heritage. As you drive up past those pines, you get an immediate feeling of peace, perhaps it is because of the expansive idyllic view or perhaps it is the atmosphere established by women who have dedicated themselves to the contemplative life of the St. Benedict Order.

Contemplative lives do not mean they are not busy every season of the year, as this is a self-sustaining order. Their busiest season comes during Advent, their fruitcake season. This is when they put the finishing touches and gift box the fruitcakes they have expertly nurtured for most of the previous year.

These are traditional English fruitcakes handmade by centuries’ old methods, laden with fruits and nuts, aged for months while soaking thoroughly in brandy. These are not the fruitcakes you may have remembered that brought on jokes about doorstops or bricks. The brandied fruitcakes from the Transfiguration Hermitage are rich, moist and warmly mellow. A gift of this fruitcake is genuinely welcomed throughout New England by mail order. It is also available locally at the heritage gift shop as are six varieties of cookies, homemade jams, rum cakes, traditional stollen, a hot sauce and a French herb mixture they call Herbes des Landes.

St. Moira’s Retreat House

Guest room at the St. Moira’s Retreat House at the Transfiguration Hermitage. (Photo by Jeani Marquis)

When the sisters are not in the middle of fruitcake season, they are busy in their gardens or attending to visitors at St. Moira’s Retreat House. The inviting house offers four single rooms, a small conference room, a kitchenette for making breakfast and enjoying other meals prepared by the sisters. The weather-tight, passive solar house is fully handicap accessible and offers the seclusion visitors seek. Each room has peaceful views of the natural setting as inspiration for meditation, reflection and meaningful prayer.

Sister Elizabeth explains that people come to the retreat as a way to recharge themselves or perhaps they are in a point in their lives where one is faced with a major decision. The reasons why guests come are almost as varied as the visitors themselves. During their stay, guests have the supportive presence of a praying monastic community and are invited, but not required, to join the sisters in their daily prayer services.

A retreat offers the opportunity for a person to get away from their hectic lives and clear their minds of the everyday, anxious thoughts. Quieting one’s mind is not easy, even Sister Elizabeth admits she struggles. “Stillness is a gift,” she says.

In her book Seasons in My Garden, Meditations from a Hermitage, Elizabeth Wagner writes:

“God is greater than all that is, so is found in the stillness that is beyond feelings, beyond words, beyond concepts, or images or thoughts. Stillness is a contemplative posture, a waiting for God’s Word to be quietly received in the stillness of heart and mind and soul.”

Guests are welcome from all faiths to stay at St. Moira’s Retreat House and are only requested to leave a nominal fee of $50 per night. During the holiday season, the gift shop is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 205 Windsor Neck Road, Windsor, Maine.

Traditional English fruitcake soaked in brandy and other items from the Hermitage gift shop. (Photo by Jeani Marquis)

Col. Steve Ball, of Windsor: Military man with a mission of peace

Col. Steve Ball wears a hat with the crossed flags of the United States and Vietnam, a memento of his time as the U.S. Defense Attaché to the country. (Photo by Eric Austin)

by Eric W. Austin

“I went to college with no intention of joining the military,” retired Army Colonel Steve Ball, a 27-year veteran of the armed forces, tells me at the start of our interview.

We’re sitting at the kitchen table of the old farmhouse in Windsor where Ball lives with his wife of 43 years, Allane. Morning light is streaming through the sliding glass doors leading out to the back patio and a blustery but beautiful fall day. The Windsor farmhouse has been in Allane’s family going back four generations.

“I needed money,” Col. Ball admits with a nostalgic chuckle. He is a silver-haired, distinguished gentleman who reminds me of Hannibal from that old television show, The A-Team. “I was working as a bartender,” he says. “I made pizzas at Pat’s. I scooped ice cream at the Student Union. I went to class and I worked. And I was really tired of that.”

So, at the end of his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, Ball joined the school’s ROTC program and spent the summer attending basic training. It would be the start of a nearly three-decade career that took him from Germany to Vietnam and even to a pivotal post at the Pentagon.

As we speak, a common thread becomes clear to me. Although Mr. Ball is a military man through and through, most of his missions – at least those of most importance to him – were missions of healing rather than conflict.

But all that would come later. Now, the year is 1975. The Vietnam War has ended only a few months earlier, and feelings are still raw – both here in the United States and abroad. “Everybody had a bad taste in their mouth about the military,” he recalls. “The Vietnam War was not a popular event by any stretch. It divided the country in many ways.” He pauses, lost in thought for a moment. “It was the first time in my life that we had begun to really question the government,” he says. “The government – and the actions of the government – were no longer just accepted as right. And people began to really wonder.” He gives a wave of his hands, as if to encompass all of it. “So, I was drawn into all that. All that was a part of my formative years. That’s what defined me in many ways.”

America may have been reeling in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, but young Steve Ball was still very busy growing up. The same year he joined the ROTC, he married his high-school sweetheart and switched his college major from Forestry to History.

Two years later, he graduated from the University of Maine at Orono as an ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate.

His first military assignment was to a war-divided West Germany, as a communications officer. “It was a hard time,” he says. “We were at the height of the Cold War. The Soviet Union was amassed across what they called the ‘Fulda Gap,’ across the Iron Curtain, with their string of tanks. And we were on the other side of the Iron Curtain with our tanks. And we were a part of all that. I was very much a Cold War-soldier at that point.”

But by 1980, Ball had paid back his school loans and was ready to retreat from military life. He filed the papers to resign his commission and headed up to meet his brigade commander, Colonel Thurman D. Rogers, for an exit interview. “I took a jeep and I went up from Karlsruhe, Germany,” he says, “and drove up the Autobahn and went to Mannheim with my little packet, all dressed in my uniform, to go interview with [Col. Rogers] about this idea that I was going to get out.”

The meeting went well, but on the drive back to Karlsruhe, young Steve Ball changed his mind. Maybe it was because Colonel Rogers had pulled out a folder of his own resignation letters, written over the years. Maybe it was because Steve knew there was still work to be done. In any case, he tucked his resignation letter away and got ready for his next assignment.

From Germany, Ball was sent to train reserve troops at Fort Douglas in Utah, and then up to Fort Lewis in Washington where he joined the 1st Special Forces Group, a division of the military specializing in the Asia Pacific.

At this point, his career took a purposeful turn when he was selected to be part of the Army’s Foreign Area Officer (FAO) training program. This was a program spearheaded by General Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Powell had also been profoundly affected by his experience in Vietnam, and recognized the need for the U.S. military to better understand the lands and cultures where it was engaged.

“This was learned from Vietnam,” Ball explains. “The military needed to better understand the populations, the governments, the peoples – the areas that we’re in. We can fight wars – tactics, offense, defense – those are pretty well-taught military skillsets. People know how to do that. But what we found in Vietnam is that, when you don’t understand the population, if you don’t know the politics, when you don’t know what’s going on, you’re really hamstrung; you really aren’t as effective.

“We were trying to improve our war-fighting capability by understanding these areas,” he says. “So, I became a Southeast Asia FAO.”

It was the beginning of the second stage of his military career, and Asia would become a passion that stayed with him long after his time in the armed forces had ended.

The Army sent him to the Defense Language Institute (DLI), headquartered in Monterey, California. After a year of intensive proficiency training in the Indonesian language at the DLI, he left for a graduate program in Asian Studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he also studied economic and political history. From there he was sent to be the U.S. student at the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College in Kuala Lumpur, joining more than 16 other countries with representation at the college.

“I enjoyed the international-ness of it,” he says of his time in Malaysia. “Understanding other countries and their perspectives of the world, and really, their perspectives of the United States.

“The [Vietnam] War was over, but there was still a legacy – there was still a history that the U.S. was very much a part of, and it was, for many, a tortured history. It wasn’t a pleasant, fondly remembered [history]. It wasn’t like the Greatest Generation; it wasn’t like World War II. I really enjoyed understanding that from a foreign perspective.”

Ball stayed 18-months at the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College, spending the last six months of that assignment traveling across Southeast Asia, visiting every country but Cambodia, which was still closed to foreigners, and Vietnam, which would not open up diplomatic relations with the United States until 1995.

“So, I came back from that assignment,” Ball says with a nostalgic glint in his eye, “having been wowed – my whole outlook on the world had been opened up.”

Steve Ball, now a major, was then assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group as the unit’s signal officer. After his tour with Special Forces, Ball transferred to the 18th Airborne Corps to serve as the battalion operations officer, and in 1994 he was sent to Haiti as a part of Operation Uphold Democracy, a mission to remove the military dictatorship which had seized control of the country from the elected president.

The assignment to Haiti was a combat mission, but Ball saw very little combat there. Mostly, what he saw was suffering. “I remember,” he tells me, “we were in the aircraft and we all had our flak-vests and we were all ready to go…we were all ‘locked and cocked’, ready for [combat]…and they dropped the tailgate to the plane, and we went out…and it was just a bunch of very poor, and desperate, crying and hungry people. It was a really difficult mission simply because of the amount of suffering going on.”

Following Haiti, now promoted to lieutenant colonel, Ball was selected as the battalion commander for the 78th Signal Battalion, stationed in Camp Zama, Japan. “It was wonderful,” he recalls. “We lived in Asia and we got immersed in the culture and the people – it was a wonderful tour.”

After Japan, in 1999, Ball was assigned to the PIMBS Desk at the Pentagon, where he served as a political-military policy advisor on Southeast Asia. (PIMBS stands for the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore.)

Only a month before he arrived for his new job at the Pentagon, conflict erupted in the tiny nation of East Timor, an island located just south of Indonesia. East Timor had been colonized by Portugal in the 16th Century, but was invaded by Indonesia in 1975, just days after declaring its independence. Now, with the help of the United States and the United Nations, it was reasserting its independence once again.

Steve Ball became instrumental in the United States’ diplomatic efforts which would ultimately, in 2002, lead to the country becoming the first new sovereign state of the 21st Century. For his part in those efforts, Ball was named the Pentagon Officer of the Year.

Then, later that year, Ball was nominated to be the U.S. Defense Attaché to the newly re-opened Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.

But, before he took up that post, Ball was assigned to the Army’s academic fellowship at Georgetown University. For a year, he immersed himself in academia, teaching a class, writing papers, and living the life of an academic.

Following that, and in preparation for his new post in Vietnam, Ball headed back to the Defense Language Institute, this time DLI-East in Washington, DC, for a crash course in the Vietnamese language.

Finally, in 2002, Ball – now a full colonel – headed to Hanoi and the country that had so defined his childhood. He went there filled with trepidation. “Having been in Southeast Asia and understanding that America was seen through the lens of the Vietnam War for many people,” he remembers, “I went there thinking I would get badgered and beat up as one of the former aggressors of this country.”

But his apprehension was unfounded and the people of Vietnam welcomed Steve and his wife, Allane, with open arms. The couple spent three years in the country, Steve serving as one of the three top advisors to the American ambassador, and Allane putting her degree in International Affairs to work at the American Embassy.

Two events stick out in Ball’s mind from his time at the American Embassy in Vietnam. The first occurred in 2003, when Colonel Ball escorted Vietnam Defense Minister Phạm Văn Trà on a visit to Washington, DC, to meet General Colin Powell, then Secretary of State.

The second occurred on the occasion of the first U.S. Navy ship to visit Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) since the end of the war in 1975. It was a tricky situation. The Vietnamese government wanted to show China that they had a strong ally in the United States, but at the same time were worried about the appearance of a U.S. war ship in the port city after the tortured tensions of the past.

“They were trying to manage the fact that they’re forming a relationship with someone that had caused so much damage in their lives. How do you do this in a way that allows you to maintain your respect as the government, and does not heighten tensions with your nemesis, China? They finally said – reluctantly – ‘yes, you can do it, but we’re going to minimize the fanfare. We’ll just a take a few pictures for China, put it in the newspaper, and then you can go.’”

It didn’t quite go according to plan – but in a good way. “The word had gotten out,” Ball says, grinning at the memory. “When the ship pulled up Saigon River and came into view of the city, from the windows of buildings and shops facing the pier drop American flags, Vietnamese flags – people are cheering and whistling; car horns are honking. The Vietnamese went absolutely bonkers!

“It was a fascinating tribute to the people and the effort at getting past the war. The Vietnamese were desperately ready to move on,” Ball explains, still smiling. “Carrying around the baggage of an old enemy wasn’t useful to them and they had already figured that out.”

Colonel Ball would remain in Vietnam until his retirement from the military in 2005, but his time spent there would leave a permanent impression. “That assignment was the best assignment that I ever had,” he tells me. “I got the chance to really understand and work with a foreign country that had previously been an enemy. This country that had a mythological importance to so many Americans, we had now gotten to the point where we were talking about having a working and solid relationship that was meaningful for both of us, and I was proud to be a part of that.”

In 2006, Steve and Allane returned to Maine where Steve started teaching history at Erskine Academy, but Vietnam wasn’t quite done with him yet. A few years into his retirement, he received a call out-of-the-blue from a nonprofit NGO (non-governmental organization) that was interested in hiring him for a new mission to the Quang Tri province of Vietnam, along the old North/South DMZ, one of the most war-ravaged areas of the country.

“They wanted to build a school for blind and visually impaired children,” Ball says. He spent the next two years on the project. “And it’s still operating today,” he says proudly.

And Vietnam was still not done with him. Not long after completion of the school, he received another call, from another nonprofit with a new mission. “They wanted me to be the country director for a group that assists countries in dealing with unexploded bombs,” he says.

This was a major problem in Vietnam, lasting decades after the end of the war. “Twenty percent of the country was contaminated with unexploded bombs. There was more tonnage of bombs dropped in Vietnam than in all of Europe during World War II, and about ten percent of them failed to explode. There were landmines and bombs that remained in the ground,” he explains, “that farmers had to live with and work around, and they were injuring people almost every day.” He pauses, looking thoughtful. “People don’t realize how devastated and how blown apart – metaphorically and actually – Vietnam had been, and still was.”

Although he never fought in the Vietnam War, Steve Ball would be an essential part of the healing process in the years following that dreadful conflict. It taught him a lot about what it means to be American.

“What we do in America matters in the world,” he says. “People listen; people pay attention to what America does and what America says. They aren’t listening like that for every country – but for us, they are. And I think that appreciation was astounding to me. The rest of the world is listening, and watching.”

Peace poster contest winners announced in Whitefield

Winners of the Peace Poster Contest with their respective art teachers, from left to right, Rachel Richmond and Abby St. Cyr, Jefferson; Amanda Martin and Lineo Kelley, Whitefield; Lion Calvin Prescott, Alyvia Colfer and Sandy Dunn, Chelsea; Nathan Hall and Genevieve Keller, Windsor; Lion Barry Tibbetts. (Contributed photo)

Winners of the Peace Poster Contest were honored with their art teachers by the Whitefield Lions Club on October 25.

For over 30 years Lions clubs around the world have sponsored the Lions International Peace Poster Contest.

The theme of the 2018-2019 contest is “Kindness Matters.”

Winners listed by school:

Whitefield: Art teacher Amanda Martin.

1st place – Lineo Kelley; 2nd place – Olivia Brann; 3rd place – Kat Thorton.

Jefferson: Art teacher Rachel Richmond.

1st plac – Abby St Cyr; 2nd place – Eliza Wood-Orff; 3rd place – Lillian Brooks.

Chelsea: Art teacher Sandy Dunn.

1st place – Alyvia Colfer; 2nd place – Jac Crochere; 3rd plac e- Brooke Michaud.

Windsor: Art teacher Genevieve Keller.

1st place – Nathan Hall; 2nd place – Mackenzie Kutniewski; 3rd place – Eva Carlezon.

Windsor Veterans’ Memorial fundraiser

Efforts are underway to raise money for a new Windsor Veterans Memorial to list the names of Windsor residents who have served our nation.

A Veterans Memorial committee is hard at work on the details that are necessary to find out what the costs will be for this project. A rough estimate of approximately $45,000 will be needed to erect the monument and landscaping.

They are in the beginning stages of raising funds for this project. It is anticipated that there will be many fundraising opportunities in the future and the group is looking for anyone interested in volunteering. Interested persons may contact Joyce Perry at 445-2998 or jperry@windsor.maine.gov.

The new monument will be placed at the existing site of the corner of Ridge and Reed roads. The existing monument will be incorporated into the new one.

A benefit spaghetti supper is planned for Saturday, October 27, at the Windsor Elementary School, from 5 – 7 p.m. Donations will be accepted at the door.

Windsor Food Bank Fundraiser

Members of the Windsor Food Bank, a nonprofit sponsored by the North Windsor Baptist Church, are organizing a calendar raffle for the month of December. The drawings will begin on December 3 and run until December 28, during the week only, Monday through Friday.

Many of the prizes are being donated by area restaurants, banks, grocery stores, and hair salons, among with other local businesses. There are over $1,200 worth of prizes.

Tickets are $5 or 5 for $20, and are being sold at the Windsor Town Office, or from any food bank representative. Copies of the calendar may be obtained at the town office or from the food bank. For more information, contact Debbie at 445-4930 or Brenda at 445-2737. Winners will be posted on the town of Windsor website, www.windsor.maine.gov.