Friday, August 29, 2008

Eliot Residents Bring HOPE to National Convention

By Joe Hessert
Staff Columnist

Local artists Lauren Holmgren and Josh Dow are in Colorado this week to see their giant steel HOPE sculpture unveiled at the Democratic National Convention. Standing six feet high and mounted on a solid base, the sculpture was the result of months of hard work.
“We were asked whether we could do a larger sculpture,” Josh said in Green Foundry in Eliot before leaving for the convention, “and it turned out to be for Robert Indiana.” Indiana, who was born in Maine and lives in Vinalhaven was looking for a local foundry where the HOPE sculpture (similar to his iconic “LOVE” piece in the ‘60s) could be produced in a short period of time for the convention.
“The timeframe was so short,” said Holmgren who started work on the piece with Dow on June 23. They shipped the finished sculpture out to Colorado last week on the twenty-first of July. Lauren and Josh did the bulk of the work themselves, but enlisted the help of friends from the Massachusetts College of Art to help with final assembly.
“It was exciting,” Lauren said of their work on the project, which is both the highest profile piece they’ve done and the physically largest. “You go to art school,” Josh added, “and you know that maybe five percent of the people there will work in the arts. And not only do we get to do that every day, but two years after finishing school this giant art project falls out of the sky and lands in our lap. It’s pretty special.”
“And humbling,” said Lauren. “It made me appreciate the work we do every day.” Josh agreed. “Working with molten metal and being my own boss is the perfect fit for me,” said Josh who enjoys the challenge of his work.
Lauren, trained in sculpture, “loves being able to bring something from clay to bronze, from impermanent to permanent.” Making HOPE permanent at their foundry in Eliot was something that she was happy to be a part of.
The pair offers metalworking classes at the Green Foundry in Eliot through Sanctuary Arts. For more information or to sign up for a class visit
Caption: Lauren Holmgren and Josh Dow from Green Foundry in Eliot fabricated this Stainless Steel HOPE sculpture for the Democratic National Convention. (Courtesy photo)

Gifts from Berwick Academy Students Bring Help to Impoverished Village in Ghana

For nearly a month this summer, Berwick Academy eighth grade English teacher, Janet Miller, visited The Republic of Ghana in Africa on a group service trip. The group brought donations of medical supplies, school equipment and supplies, clothing, footwear, a solar panel, and much more for the impoverished village of Kpenoe (PEN-way). Upon their arrival, the group was given a special audience with the chief and elders of Kpenoe to present the donations and learn more about particular areas of need in the village.
In addition to material donations, Ms. Miller contributed over $3,000.00 in funds raised by Berwick’s eighth grade class. The students raised the money through a Walk-a-thon held in South Berwick this past spring. Part of Berwick Academy’s contribution went towards the first year of tuition for a high school student named Pearl Ayi. Pearl, who is from the village of Kpenoe, hopes to someday become a nurse. The generous donation from the Berwick community has helped make this a genuine possibility for the young woman. Ms. Miller hopes to continue funding the girl’s high school education through fundraising with her Berwick students over the next few years.
Another portion of the funds raised by students at Berwick Academy went towards the construction of a clean water purification facility being built in Kpenoe. The facility will provide, for the first time in the history of the village, fresh water made available free of charge in each of the clan areas of the Kpenoe community.
In addition to donating supplies and funds to the village of Kpenoe, Ms. Miller also donated her time, teaching English as a Second Language at the Mawuko Secondary School for Women, in the town of Ho. Her classroom was filled with an astounding 41 students who had the bare minimum for school books, supplies, and equipment. Knowing this situation, she brought copies of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet, as well as school supplies, all donated by her students back home at Berwick Academy.
Ms. Miller reflected on her time at the school, saying how inspiring it was to see underprivileged children be as eager, appreciative, and dedicated to learning as they were. It became evident to her that an education is their only hope for leaving poverty behind one day.
As a whole, Ms. Miller’s service group, with the help of her students at Berwick Academy, was able to raise thousands of dollars in monetary and material donations for Kpenoe. Many of the donations went directly to the most indigent villagers with specific needs, and in one circumstance, helped save an infant life.
Caption: Ms. Miller taught English as a Second Language to the students at the Mawuko Secondary School for Women in Ghana, Africa this summer and brought the children supplies donated by Berwick Academy Students. (Courtesy photo)

Broadway Veterans Star in Ogunquit Playhouse’s My Fair Lady

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist

One of the “all-time great shows” of American musical theater, Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady is now showing at the Ogunquit Playhouse. Made possible in part by a $20,000 American Masterpiece Grant from the Maine Arts Commission (an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts) to the Playhouse, this Tony Award winning 1956 musical is a timeless story directed in Ogunquit by Shaun Kerrison.
“This beloved musical tells the tale of a stringent linguist, Professor Henry Higgins, who bets a colleague he can turn flower vendor Eliza Doolittle from a guttersnipe into a duchess,” according to Cheryl Farley, Community Relations Manager of the Ogunquit Playhouse.
Following a recent performance, two of the main actors in My Fair Lady sat down for an interview with the Weekly Sentinel.
Conrad John Schuck, a 40-year veteran of stage and screen (and whose first screen kiss was with Elizabeth Taylor), plays Colonel Pickering, friend and colleague of Henry Higgins. Nancy Dussault, recipient of multiple Tony Award nominations for her work on Broadway, plays Mrs. Higgins, mother of the main character Henry Higgins.
Weekly Sentinel: Why did you want to play a part in My Fair Lady?
Schuck: “It was one of the all-time great shows when I grew up. Now it’s part of the American musical theater lexicon and I had simply never done it.”
Dussault: “I’ve played Eliza Doolittle before, Mrs. Higgins is a smaller role but it’s a great one. And for me this just came along at a great time.”
WS: Why do you think a play as old as My Fair Lady remains popular?
Dussault: “It’s a Cinderella story. It’s got a score that rivals almost anything ever written. You feel wonderful when you come out of the theater. It’s a love story, but it’s a different kind of love story, and the characters are great, and the language is extraordinary. The show is long, but it’s so great a story it’s easy to do. It’s a classic.”
WS: How has your experience in Maine been so far?
Schuck: “I arrived from Los Angeles on August 5th and it’s been terrific, but we just can’t find any lakes! (jokingly) We spent our day off in Boothbay Harbor. It’s glorious. Ogunquit is great. The people are very friendly and it’s so charming. I’m thrilled that this playhouse is still here.”
Dussault: “I had to come to Maine! I felt like I was the only actress to not have played here! (OPH) You need to be really proud of this theater.”
My Fair Lady will be at the Ogunquit Playhouse through September 6. For more information visit or call 646-5511.
Caption: Nancy Dussault (right), nominated for multiple Tony Awards for her work on Broadway, plays Mrs. Higgins in Ogunquit Playhouse’s production of My Fair Lady. She is pictured opposite Gail Bennett who plays Eliza Doolittle. (Courtesy photo)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Maine Resolve: Fighting a Long Term

When we think about natural disasters in the United States, we usually think about hurricanes in the Southern states, wildfires out West, or tornados and flooding in the Midwest. But a winter in the Northeast? Unfortunately, with the energy crisis looming, most of us in Maine and the Northeast are rightly concerned about making it through this upcoming winter season.
As with most natural disasters, it is usually the weather person that alerts citizens about an approaching disaster. This advanced notice provides valuable time for emergency response to prepare and address an event before, and as, it occurs. Here in Maine, we are looking at common sense numbers and economics to provide us with our warning of a pending disaster.
The hard facts are easy to understand.
Essentially 100% of Mainers depend on petroleum products to fuel our vehicles and 80% of us rely on oil to heat our homes. Heating and transportation fuel costs have increased 100% over the last five years. This equates to 10%-20% of most Mainer’s monthly incomes. Hence, our long-term disaster-in-the-making.
Recently Senator Peter Bowman, along with Representatives Dawn Hill and Walter Wheeler, hosted an Energy Conservation Forum in Kittery to listen and discuss what we can do as individuals and a community to prepare for this winter. The Director of Maine Housing and a representative from Efficiency Maine presented programs implemented through their respective agencies and offered recommendations to better prepare for the colder months. The audience consisted of concerned residents, local officials, and also members of the newly-formed Kittery Energy Committee, all of whom also provided valuable insight on what we can do as a community.
It was evident, following the forum, that preparedness for this winter will rely on coordination at all levels – federal and state governments, municipalities and local organizations (e.g., civic, fraternal, religious), families, friends and neighbors, and individuals. Together we can make a difference.
Some ideas that were mentioned that evening are worth considering as options to reduce energy costs:
Explore the option of a home energy audit to identify areas to improve your home’s energy efficiency; Weatherize your home, or at least winterize your home. A properly weatherized home can reduce fuel consumption by 20%; Government should increase the visibility and availability of Keep ME Warm kits and organize volunteers to help winterize homes of our neighbors and elderly that may need assistance; and Communities should consider fundraising options (e.g., conduct spaghetti suppers, donate to local fuel funds, sponsor furnace cleanings of homes, or even school fundraisers that sell energy efficient light bulbs instead of candy).
These are all great ideas and a great start to take action. Specifically, Senator Bowman wants to thank General Assistance Administrator Kathryn Pridham. She understands the situation facing Mainers this winter and offered to serve as a point of contact for volunteers looking to help in the community. She is also organizing efforts to collect money for fuel assistance. Please contact her at 475-1309 for more information.
Additionally, here are a few more ways you can help:
Donate to the Keep ME Warm Fund at www.mainecommunity; Go to for more information about volunteer needs and opportunities; and Stay in touch at for more information about energy-related resources.
Senator Bowman will be hosting another energy conservation forum with local representatives, this time in York, on Tuesday, September 9 from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm at the York Public Library. Just like the forum in Kittery, this will be open to the public. He is also hoping to do a similar event for Eliot/South Berwick in late September.

Norman Rockwell Weekend Showcases
Maine Artists

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist

Many things bring back memories of a time when America and the world were slower paced, less complicated, more straightforward and identified by small town living.
Certainly a champion and recorder of that era was Norman Rockwell, whose paintings or illustrations were on display regularly on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.
Last weekend Rockwell’s work was honored in a festival at the town hall that featured modern photographic representations of the artist’s work, paintings inspired by his illustrations, and a series of short plays based on those works at the Town Hall.
Norman Rockwell Weekend was the brainchild of Danie Connolly of Kennebunk, an events planner and admirer of Rockwell’s work. The celebration featured the work of photographer Liam Crotty of Kennebunk, eight Maine playwrights including Ms. Connolly, two of whom were from Kennebunk, and 12 artists including Ms. Connolly, all but one of whom was from Maine and six of whom were from Kennebunk and Kennebunkport.
“It was lovely,” Ms. Connolly said early this week. “We had a never ending flow of smiling people,” many of whom were “revisiting memories from the past.”
More than 2,000 people attended the town hall event, many of them coming to the opening reception Friday night and bring back friends, neighbors and relatives for a second look Saturday.
“It was fabulous,” Tina Ambrose, the art director of the weekend said. “The crowd just kept coming. It filled town hall.”
“We never thought we’d get that many people,” Ms. Connolly said.
“I was blown away by the turnout and enthusiasm,” Crotty said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
A representative of the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., talked to the group about recreating its creation at the museum sometime in the future.
The plays were limited to no more than 15 minutes in length and had to either begin or end with a familiar Rockwell illustration selected by the writer. Other than that, and allowing no obscenities, the writers were on their own.
“We had a nice little cast of actors,” Ms. Connolly said, and “the energy was terrific. Everybody went home with a smile on their face.”
Crotty began doing the photographs in March and had a total of 17 on display at the weekend.
“It was a blast,” Crotty, a longtime fan of Rockwell, said of the weekend.
The models in Crotty’s photographs are all from Maine, including members of the Portland Sea Dogs baseball team, the Boston Red Sox Eastern League affiliate, who Crotty said were extremely generous with their time.
His work will be on display at the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge and the Worcester, (Mass.) Museum in the future.
The 17 paintings were not representations of Rockwell illustrations but were inspired by his work.
“They were inspired by Rockwell,” Tina Ambrose of Kennebunk, the weekend’s art director said. While most of the painters were on the realism side, she said, some of the paintings “were very interesting. Some were really totally different.”
The playwrights who contributed to the weekend included Ms. Connolly and Dana M. Pearson of Kennebunk, Clare Melley Smith of Cape Elizabeth, Laura K. Emack of Prospect, Dr. Delvyn C. Case Jr. of Cumberland Foresides, John Rizzo of Harrison, Carolyn Gage and John Linscott of Portland.
Maine artists contributing work included Suzanne Payne and Paul Bonneau of Kennebunkport, Steve Hrehovcik. Ann Livermore, Ms. Ambrose, Ms. Connolly and Heather Hill of Kennebunk, Natalie Skelton of Ocean Park, Josh Dallaire and Nancy Brackett of Portland, Iona Desmond of Old Orchard Beach.
The weekend was modeled after the Pageant of the Masters Ms. Connolly saw in California years ago. That presentation is done outdoors, something that couldn’t be accomplished in Maine’s unpredictable weather.
She said the group is considering doing a Christmas version of the Rockwell Weekend but nothing has been finalized as yet.

Caption: “Bottom of the Sixth” by Liam Crotty. (Liam Crotty photo)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Veritas Academy Students Earn
Annual York County Award

The Child Abuse Prevention Council is a busy organization educating adults and kids of all ages and giving kids the courage to report any abuse happening to them. That’s why when a group of students from Veritas Academy, a newly formed private Christian high school located in Wells, approached the Council and offered to assist them with their activities, the Council was more than happy to take them up on their offer.
Each year the students at Veritas Academy engage in “Project Veritas.” Project Veritas is the school’s community service effort. In December, each student must research and present a compelling essay regarding a local or world cause and make a plea to join an organization in its efforts to help in that cause. “This year students asked fellow students to support efforts to curb human trafficking, child brides in India and poverty in Africa. But it was the essay that told the story of child abuse victims and outlined the work by the Kennebunk-based Child Abuse Prevention Council that carried the day and became the Project Veritas focus for 2008,” said Nancy Parsons, Veritas Academy Director.
Each week the students and the Council met to talk about the basics of running a non-profit. The students assumed roles of CEO, CFO, Manufacturing, Marketing and so forth. They developed a business plan with four goals: First, to raise money for and manufacture flannel baby bags for the 900 new parents in York county hospitals. Each bag contained information regarding child abuse and shaken baby syndrome. Second, to support two Rick Charette concerts I’ve Got Super Powers for public schools who could not afford the concert. Third, to make a baby quilt for the Council’s auction and also work at the auction. Finally, to attend many April events in support of the Council’s efforts to promote Child Abuse Prevention month.
All in all Veritas Academy students cut and sewed all 900 bags and through all of their efforts raised over $1600 for the Council’s programs. “ Not only did the kids learn about running an organization, they experienced the joys and struggles of working in the non-profit world where so much of your effort is dependent on the generosity of others and their belief in what you are doing,” said Nancy Parsons. Debbie Duross, resource development coordinator, commented, “We watched these high school students bear down, work together and follow through on their commitments even when they were busy with other priorities.” Each year the Council gives an award called “Friends of York County’s Children” that is for recognizing longstanding commitment to children and families. This year’s award is going to the students at the Council’s Annual Meeting in September.
The Child Abuse Prevention council can be reached at (207) 985-5975 or at

Caption: Front to back - Ashley Lowell, Kate Moore, Rebekah Risteen, Sara Picard, Sara Higgins, Sara Dore-Fairfield from the CAPC and Christopher Picard at the State House for Child Abuse Prevention Month.. (Courtesy photo)

Coastal Clover 4-H Club Fights Hunger


The fight against hunger in our community has a new weapon. The Coastal Clovers 4-H Club, a group of farm and non-farm kids ages 5 to 12, undertook a project called Food for Families. Their goal is to donate one ton (2000 lbs) of fresh produce and fruit to the local food pantries. To date they have harvested over 1000 pounds of vegetables. The harvest is donated weekly to the York Food Pantry, with occasional donations to the Good Shepherd Food Bank, not only benefiting the local community but the entire State of Maine.
Coastal Clovers 4-H Club started their project in April with a donation of over 1000 seedling plugs from Coastal Landscaping. With a grant from the Pine Tree 4-H Foundation they purchased transplanting supplies and tools, and then children planted the seedling plugs into growing trays. The seedlings were raised in a makeshift greenhouse until the temperature regulated. On June 1, Coastal Clovers transplanted the seedlings into a field donated by Zach’s Farm. The one-acre field is lined with two rows of plastic mulch and an irrigation system. The 4-H Club has worked hard at keeping weeds down and tending plants, harvesting nearly 200 pounds of lettuce in July. Since then harvests of cabbage, zucchini, squash, cauliflower, peppers, broccoli and cucumbers, all totaling over 750 pounds, have followed. Coastal Clovers also has tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe and three kinds of winter squash that will soon be ready.
Coastal Clovers 4-H wants to acknowledge the support of local and corporate business and the parents that come to help with the upkeep alongside their children. Without them this wouldn’t have been possible. Generous donations from Coastal Landscaping, Paris Farmers Union, Lebanon Seaboard Corporation – Preen Weed Preventer, Home Depot, Eldredge Lumber & Hardware, and Pine Tree 4-H Foundation have been instrumental in making this project a success. John Zacharias, the owner of Zach’s Farm, has truly been an inspiration to the kids in Coastal Clovers 4-H. He has not only given over an acre of land but has donated his time, equipments and knowledge to help Coastal Clovers 4-H provide local food pantries with fresh, locally raised produce.

Caption: Carly Osgood, Haleigh Osgood and Laura Wilson with their harvest of lettuce, cabbage and zucchini. (Courtesy photo)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Heating Oil Program

State Rep. Dawn Hill (D- York) would like residents to know that applications for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will be accepted early this year, and Maine residents can make an appointment now to apply for heating assistance for this coming winter season.
Community Action Program Agencies across the state, like the York County Community Action Corp.(YCCAC), manage the LIHEAP program locally and schedule appointments for applications and fuel delivery.
“Given heating oil prices, many more residents will be applying to the program this year,” said Hill. “I encourage anyone who believes they may qualify for this program to schedule an appointment and complete an application as soon as possible to avoid processing delays.”
The program is designed to help low-income Mainers earning less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level, which is currently $15,600 for an individual and $31,800 for a family of four, to purchase heating fuels. Households with senior citizens or children age 2 and under will get first priority, and the income limits for those homes are $17,680 for an individual and $36,040 for a family of four.
There are different income limits for households of all sizes, from one person up to eight. YCCAC has information about all of the different income limits. The average benefit is expected to be around $417 per household this year, which at current rates would purchase about a third of a tank of oil.
In recent years Congress has released additional emergency funds for the program during the winter season, and the legislature and Gov. John Baldacci are urging Congress to appropriate more funds for the program this year, as demand and costs have risen so sharply. Washington has appropriated $17 million for LIHEAP to Maine this year; last year, the state got a total of $38 million after a series of emergency funds were released throughout the winter. There are no projections for the potential of additional funds from Washington at this time.
Applicants will not know if they’ve been approved or the total dollar amount that they will receive until fall, but Hill encouraged constituents to apply early in order to beat the rush and have the application process behind them. Thousands of households are expected to apply when the weather gets cold, and applying now will prevent a request from being held up for weeks or months with winter looming.
Maine homeowners and renters in York County can arrange an appointment to apply for assistance by contacting YCCAC at (800) 965-5762. YCCAC will begin to schedule appointments during the week of July 14.
In addition to LIHEAP, there are other state resources available for Mainers of all incomes to save on energy costs. For more information, constituents can contact Rep. Hill at 337-3689 or visit a new state web site:, which con-tains helpful information and resources on energy efficiency.

Eliot Inventor Shatters Stereotypes
with ‘The Renegade’

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist

Hunting and fishing are not activities usually associated with wheelchairs, but that may soon change thanks to John Rackley and his new invention: The Renegade Wheelchair. “The Renegade is the mountain bike of wheelchairs,” he explained during an interview at his Eliot home. “It can handle just about any terrain: mud, snow, beach sand, in your yard and in the woods.”
Rackley, an Eliot native, lost the use of his legs in a trampoline accident 6 years ago. “After my injury, I couldn’t get out to where I used to hunt.” Thus, the inspiration for the Renegade. The concept for his invention came from the mountain bike he purchased for his daughter Kayla. He noticed its thick tires and wondered whether that same off-road approach could work for wheelchairs. “I began 6 years ago using bikes from the dump. It worked, so then I bought two new bikes and put those together.” And he was off and running.
Rackley completed the Renegade in early 2006, and has since found other ways to put it to work. “It’s opened up all kinds of things. Now I plow my driveway with it. I can push 8-10 inches of fluffy snow with it. I can also attach a yard trailer. I pulled 300 lbs in the yard cart the other day.” The Renegade is powered entirely by the user, and does not use a motor.
In July, the Renegade made a successful appearance at the Paralyzed Veterans of America Wheelchair Games in Omaha, Nebraska. “Hundreds there were interested, and we are now completing a contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs.” Rackley has partnered with AlphaOne Center for Independent Living in South Portland to promote the Renegade, and has also hired a salesman for what he anticipates will be a large demand.
“There are 1.6 million wheelchair users in the US,” according to Rackley, “and this is for any wheelchair user that wants to get out in the woods, work in the yard or go in the snow. We now have demo chairs for people to go into the woods with me for a couple hours.”
The Renegade will soon make an appearance on the hunting show North American Safari, to be aired both on the Sportsman Channel and the Pursuit Channel. “We are going wild hog hunting in South Carolina, and I can’t wait.”
The Renegade is now being manufactured by Don’s Sheet Metal in Biddeford. The current price is $3,995.
For more information and to see video clips of the Renegade in action, go to

Caption: John Rackley does some ocean fishing in The Renegade. ( photo)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Musical Savant to Thrill Audiences
at Hilton-Winn Farm

By Joe Hessert
Staff Columnist

Tony Deblois weighed less than two pounds when he came into this world. He is autistic and blind, but there is one thing that he is able to see with crystal clarity: music. Tony has Savant Syndrome – meaning that paired with the limitations of autism he has a contrasting brilliance. He is a master musician and enjoys playing the organ, harmonica, guitar, harpsichord, English handbells, violin, banjo, drums, saxophone, clarinet, ukulele, mandolin flute and trumpet. But his favorite instrument is his Baldwin piano.
The Weekly Sentinel recently sat down with Tony and his mother, Janice Deblois, in Tony’s studio in Randolph, Massachusetts. Tony rocked back and forth gently on the bench in front of his piano and talked about what he has been up to lately. Janice looked on and chimed in with details here and there.
His favorite part about being a musician is a thirty day road tour that he does every year with his mother, driving across the country to South Dakota and down to Texas and back. “My mom is my manager and she does all the driving. We do twenty-three concerts on that tour. Mom’s my chauffer,” he said with a smile.
Tony’s favorite type of music is Jazz, but he plays just about everything. At the concert he is giving on August 9 at Hilton-Winn Farm in Cape Neddick he will be taking requests. With over eight thousand songs committed to memory, odds are that if you want to hear it Tony can play it for you. “Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond is probably the request I get the most,” he said.
“Tony can hear a song once and then sit down and play it,” his mother added. “He has been playing piano since he was two years old, took some lessons at five, and by the time he was nine he was performing in nursing homes.”
“My favorite song is Moon River,” Tony added and without any additional introduction, Tony turned to his upright Baldwin and began to play and sing his favorite song. As Tony rocked gently on the Piano bench and light streamed in from the window next to him the world seemed to become sharper as if Tony had stopped clearing his throat in answering questions about himself and had finally started to speak.
Tony talked about his recent trip to Nigeria where he was the guest pianist at a concert with The Four Nigerian Tenors and about his recent gig as the pianist for a fifty-piece symphony orchestra. “It was my thrill and privilege to play with them,” he said. “I got a little nervous but then I got so excited. I tuned the whole orchestra so I had each section turning to me and asking for their note.”
Just back from a week-long summer camp for the blind at Mount Blue State Park in Maine, Tony said he couldn’t wait to come back. “I go to Maine every year and it’s so beautiful there. I have lots of friends in Maine and camp gives me the chance to jam with friends and musicians,” he said.
After his performance at Hilton-Winn Farm next Saturday, Tony and his mother are packing up and heading to Beijing, China. International Performing Arts For All has asked Tony to do a series of concerts there. “It’s so exciting to travel and see more of the world,” Tony said.
And it’s exciting that Southern Maine will have the chance to see Tony perform. His concert will be held on August 9 at the Youth Enrichment Center at Hilton-Winn Farm in Cape Neddick from 7:00pm-9:30pm. “Some Kind of Genius” the book which chronicles Tony’s life (written by his mother) and copies of Tony’s CD will be for sale. Tony’s story was told in a CBS Movie of the Week, Journey to the Heart, in 1997. FMI about his upcoming performance call 361-1385 or visit For more info about Tony visit

Caption: Tony Deblois plays and sings Moon River at his studio in Randolph, MA. (Weekly Sentinel photo)

Spotlight: Eric Harrison - Lucky Man

By Joe Hessert
Staff Columnist

As a firefighter, Eric Harrison knows about saving lives. In July of 2006 he learned what it was like to have his saved by a stranger – a young man who he’ll never have the opportunity to thank.
“All I know is that he was a kid who died in a motorcycle accident,” said Harrison of the young man who donated the liver and kidney he received two years ago. “And that I’m lucky to be here.”
Eric wrote a letter to the donor’s family to let them know who he was and to tell them how sorry he was for their loss. “They had to make this unbelievably generous decision on the worst day of their lives,” he said. “My heart goes out to them.”
And Eric understands loss. His older brother Steve suffered a cardiac arrest while hooked to a dialysis machine at the end of 2003 after spending thirty months receiving the treatment.
So when Harrison drove himself to the hospital in 2006 with flu-like symptoms and his doctor diagnosed him with Primary Hyperoxaluria and told him that he was living with only 1% kidney function, he knew exactly what to expect.
“I should be dead,” Eric said on Monday afternoon, sitting in the living room of the Kennebunk house that he grew up in. He recalled how his dialysis treatment increased to eight hours a day while he waited for organs to become available. He shook his head. “Eighteen people die every day because of a shortage of organs,” he said.
But thanks to his donor, his doctors and the support of Kennebunk Fire and Rescue and his local community, Eric is alive and doing well -- so well that he recently participated in the 2008 U.S. Transplant Games in Pittsburgh, PA and received the silver medal in the High-Jump event.
But for Eric the medals he won weren’t as important as the community of donors and donor families that he was a part of in Pittsburgh.
“I participated in the 100 meter down there,” he said. “And I’m no runner. I was running in these,” he said, pointing to his beat-up hiking shoes. “I look to my right and here’s this brother from L.A. who is all wiry and built for speed and is set on the blocks with these racing sunglasses. And to my left is a middle-aged guy who had recently received a heart transplant.” Harrison realized that none of the stuff about age or race or body type mattered. Everyone around him was the same. “They all appreciated life,” he said, “They got it.”
On his way home from the games, stuck on the tarmac at JFK, Eric was thrust back into reality. The passengers were impatient and getting angry because of the delay. Recalling the scene, Eric leaned back into his chair and paused to listen to the hum of his neighbor’s lawnmower. “You just want to tell them how precious life is,” he said. “We’re all in the same boat. Nobody is promised tomorrow.”
Eric was named Firefighter of the Year in Kennebunk this year, an honor he was happy to share with his friend Dave Stead. “The department is like a second family to me,” he said, and when he reflects on all of the difficult circumstances that he has faced on late night calls with Kennebunk Fire and Rescue his mind turns to organ donors and their families. “It’s a lot like being a firefighter,” he said. “You take the worst thing that can happen and you try to salvage what you can.”

Caption: 2008 Transplant Games High Jump Medalists: (left to right) Bronze Medal winner Brian Hinsley from Southern California (liver transplant), Gold Medal winner Dave Meyers from Illinois (heart transplant), Silver Medal winner Eric Harrison from Kennebunk, Maine (liver and kidney transplants). (Courtesy photo)

Local Writer’s Screenplay Filmed in
Kittery Police Station

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist

“It’s not the things we do that define who we are. It’s what happens next.” That is the tag line for the new film being made locally: “27 Down.” 27 Down is the title of a new mystery film by Wild Beagle Films, and some of its scenes are filmed in Kittery. “It’s a mystery thriller,” said Steve Hrehovcik, who co-authored the script with the film’s director, John S. Depew. “The film uses a crossword puzzle as a metaphor for the things that challenge the characters in the movie,” he continued, explaining the film’s title.
The filmmakers needed to shoot three scenes in a police station, and the Kittery Police Department stepped up. “We needed a location for a police chief’s office and Kittery Police Chief Edward Strong said sure, he was very helpful. Lieutenant Russell French was also very cooperative, and actually ended up with a cameo appearance in the movie. There’s a police chief office scene, a jail scene and a squad room scene, and the Kittery Police Department couldn’t have been more cooperative.”
Hrehovcik (pronounced Heh-ro-check) lives in Kennebunk and this is his first screenplay that will be produced into a film. “It’s exciting to see the words that you write come to life, and see things added that you didn’t know were there. A film is a collaborative effort, and it’s humbling and exciting to see the completion of the effort, to actually see the story that you envisioned in your mind.” Hrehovcik runs the Kennebunk Art Studio, has written for the York County Coast Star newspaper and The Tourist News, and is also a playwright.
Filming began in several Massachusetts locations in June, and the filmmakers hope to complete filming in August. 27 Down will be presented to theaters in Massachusetts when it’s finished, in the hopes of finding a distributor. Judy Coleman is the producer, and wife of director Depew.
Wild Beagle Films is based out of North Andover, Massachusetts and can be found online at

Caption: On the movie set of the independent film “27 Down” during production at the Kittery Police Station. Conferring on the script (center) are co-author Steve Hrehovcik and co-author/director John Depew. Holding the slate is Assistant Director of Photography, Jared Starr, holding the boom-microphone is Justin Karoway-Waterhouse. Portraying Police Chief Ben Stone in the film is actor Curt Fennell who stars as the lead character. (Courtesy photo)