Friday, December 19, 2008

A Perfect Gift for Christmas, Maine Diner Hits Two Major Milestones

By Magen Petit
Staff Columnist

Despite a time of hardship and an economic meltdown, Governor John Baldacci helped the Maine Diner, located on Route 1 in Wells, celebrate its 25th anniversary as well as its five millionth customer on Wednesday morning.
“To have our five millionth customer while we are celebrating 25 years of business is pretty amazing,” said Myles Henry, co-owner of Maine Diner with his brother, Dick. “Dick and I never fathomed it would be this way when we first opened.”
What a wonderful surprise it was for South Berwick residents Dick Dionne and wife of 49 years, Dede, to become the Diner’s five millionth customer. The two were without power since last Friday and finally regained it Tuesday night due to last week’s ice storm.
“It was a complete surprise,” said a very thrilled Dede. “Someone came out to greet us and I thought maybe we parked in the wrong parking spot! This really makes it though, because we had to throw out a lot of food [with the power outage]...”
Upon walking through the doors of the Maine Diner, the Dionne’s were instructed to pick a name from a box for the month-long drawing of a $1,000 travel voucher from AAA of New England. Dave Randall, Jr. of Wells was the lucky winner.
The Dionne’s received a big prize packet from different sponsors of the event. Pepsi donated a snowboard, the Front Porch Restaurant donated a $100 gift certificate, Shield’s Meats and Produce and Video Creations each donated a $50 gift certificate, both New England Coffee and Remember the Maine Gifts donated gift baskets, US Foodservice donated a spiral cut ham, PFG Northcenter donated a turkey breast, Downeast Flowers donated a floral centerpiece, and CafĂ© Lafayette donated a $25 gift certificate.
When Gov. Baldacci arrived for the special event, he expressed his gratitude toward Myles and Dick.
“I think it’s wonderful what you guys are doing and I love your spirit,” said Gov. Baldacci. “It’s good food and reasonable prices. I congratulate you guys, this is terrific!”
Myles is astonished by the Diner’s success and being able to celebrate the five millionth customer.
“I’m amazed we’ve served that many people in a small building,” said Myles. “We are consistent. We have good food, family recipes, and we retain all of our employees. We take care of them and they get benefits. They like working here and they get treated well.”
The family-owned restaurant opened its doors for business in 1983 with the mission of “serving the tastiest home-cooked meals made from family recipes at a good price with the friendliest staff available,” according to a recent press release.
The Diner has bragging rights as it’s been featured on NBC’s Today Show and The Phantom Gourmet.
“Twelve years ago we hit our first millionth customer and just four years later we hit our second millionth,” explained Myles. “We’ve averaged a million customers every three-and-a-half years since then.”
Gov. Baldacci thinks the Maine Diner is a good representation of the spirit of Maine.
“What you’ve done at the Diner, how you treat your employees, help each other out, and are active in the community is the backbone of the state of Maine,” said Gov. Baldacci.
This is the Remember the Maine Gift Shoppe Manager Kristin Johnson’s second millionth celebration at the Diner.
“I think it’s incredible in one year’s time we are celebrating a 25th anniversary and five millionth customer,” said Johnson. “I’m proud to be part of it. It’s a nice thing for Gov. Baldacci to recognize a small business. I’m astounded! I even rearranged for an extra day of daycare so I could be here!”
Congratulations Maine Diner on a successful 25 years and on your five millionth customer!

Photo caption:
Dick (left) and Myles Henry (right) stand with Gov. Baldacci (center) as the Maine Diner celebrates 25 years. (Weekly Sentinel photo)

Despite Bad Weather, Ogunquit Merchants Prepare for Last Big Holiday Weekend Shopping

The Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce announces that Christmas by the Sea will occur on December 19-21, 2008. Originally scheduled for December 12-14, the power outages caused a delay in the celebration. The schedule of events will be virtually the same as was planned for last weekend, but the delay has allowed new events to be added to the weekend.
Newly scheduled, will be a Friday night concert with the Patriot Fife and Drum duo. This duo visited Ogunquit in April for our Patriots Day celebration, and were so popular that they were asked to join us for Christmas by the Sea. The duo will perform a mixture of traditional Christmas and American music, using their fife and drum, as well as other instruments.
A minstrel will also be wandering throughout Perkins Cove and various venues in Ogunquit on Saturday night, caroling with his guitar. Wandering Minstrel Dave Peliquin is very popular in the southern Maine area, although this will be his first performance in Ogunquit.
Our members are sched-uling special events for the weekend to augment Christmas by the Sea, including wine tastings, special entertainment, signings, and open houses, for a full weekend of activities. Many businesses that planned to close after last weekend are staying open through the 21st, offering unprecedented sales. Extended sales include 20 percent off any order at Raspberrie’s Restaurant, 15 percent off gift baskets, Maine products and more at Village Food Market, and 10 percent off purchses of six bottles of wine or more at Perkins & Perkins, and special sales at Amore Breakfast, Oceanside Printers and so many more!
Revised schedule of events:
Friday, December 19

CONCERT. 7pm - 8pm. Patriot Fife and Drum Duo. Ogunquit Baptist Church. Sponsored by Seacastles Resort and Anchorage by the Sea.
Saturday, December 20

HAY RIDES. 9am - 3pm. (Weather permitting.)

SANTA ARRIVES AT PERKINS COVE. 9am. Watch as Santa sails into Ogunquit! Then Santa will be whisked away by fire truck to the Fire Station for a 9:30 appointment with waiting children.

VISIT WITH SANTA. 9:30am - 11am. Upstairs at the Fire Station. Have your picture taken with Santa! Photos courtesy of Ogunquit Camera Shop. Treats courtesy of Harbor Candy. Santa courtesy of Revelations Gift Shop.

BASEMENT BAZAAR. 10am - 3pm. Dunaway Center, downstairs. Craft show with a free raffle.

THE “GIVING TREE” SILENT AUCTION. 10:30am - 2pm. Dunaway Center, downstairs. Theme-decorated artificial trees have been donated by local businesses, groups, and individuals, to be silent auctioned. Come bid on the popular Lottery Tree.

KIDS’ ORNAMENT MAKING. 11am - noon. Ogunquit Baptist Church, downstairs. Sponsored by Raspberri’s Restaurant.

CHOWDER & CHOCOLATEFEST. 11:30am - 1:30pm. 19th Annual Chowder Tasting Competition. Dunaway Center, upstairs. Area restaurants compete - you are the judge! Bring a non-perishable food item for our local food pantry. Admission: $10.
Chowder Contenders: Anchorage by the Sea, Beach House Grill, Bintliff’s Ogunquit, Clay Hill Farm, Five-O Shore Road, Hayloft Restaurant, Old Village Inn, Post Road Tavern. Chocolate Contenders: Anchorage by the Sea, Angelina’s Ristorante, Five-O Shore Road, Sundaes at the Beach, Post Road Tavern.

CALENDAR SIGNING. 11 am - 4pm. Nationally known artist Dana Heacock will sign his artwork on the 2009 Abacus calendar at Abacus.

OPEN HOUSE. 1pm - 5pm. Ogunquit Heritage Museum. 18th century decorations, special Santa and angel exhibit, menorah exhibit and holiday refreshments.

STORYTELLING. 2pm - 3pm. Ogunquit Library. Sponsored by Abacus and Almost Home Inn Ogunquit.

THE OLS OCEAN “PLUNGE” - 2:00pm. to 2:15pm. Main Beach, Watch the Ogunquit Lifeguard Service parade into the chilly Atlantic Ocean in their lifeguard gear and with their lifeguard equipment in order to raise toys for disadvantaged kids. All proceeds to benefit Toys for Tots.

CHRISTMAS PARADE. 3pm. Presented by the Village Spirit Committee. Beginning at the Main Beach and ending at Perkins Cove. Chamber float sponsored by Peoples Insurance and Stoneybrook Landscaping.

WINE TASTING. 3pm-6pm. Perkins & Perkins Wine & Cheese Shop will host a free wine tasting highlighting wines for the holidays.

US MARINES & SANTA. 4pm. Ogunquit Ocean Rescue (lifeguards) will join Santa and the US Marines at Bessie’s to collect donations for Toys for Tots!

WANDERING MINSTREL. 4:30pm - 5:30pm. Wandering in and out of the shops in Perkins Cove, the Wandering Minstrel will delight you with familiar and traditional Christmas songs. Sponsored by Jonathan’s Ogunquit.
TREE LIGHTING & CAROLING. 5:30pm - 6:00pm. Rotary Park, Perkins Cove. Tree decorated by Ogunquit Rotary Club. Cookies provided by Blue Willow Gift Shop. Hot cider provided by Village Food Market & Fancy That.

CANDLELIGHT WALK to the LIVING MANGER. 6:00pm - 6:30pm. Led by the Wandering Minstrel. Perkins Cove to Ogunquit Baptist Church. Sponsored by Perkins & Perkins Fine Wine & Cheese.

LIVING MANGER. 6:30pm-6:45pm. Sponsored and performed by Ogunquit Baptist Church.
CONCERT. 7pm - 8pm. Back by popular demand, “Melodies & Memories” Barbershop Quartet. Ogunquit Baptist Church. Doors open at 6:50pm. Sponsored by Seacastles Resort.

TOWN TREE LIGHTING. 8:15pm. Veteran’s Park. Announcement of the town-wide decorating contest winners. Tree decorated by Keith Shubert of Floral Concepts. Cookies provided by Raspberri’s Restaurant. Hot cider provided by Village Food Market & Fancy That.

SING-A-LONG. 9pm. Clay Hill Farm hosts a holiday sing-a-long with pianist David Hollis. Join in the festivities!
Sunday, December 21

HAY RIDES. 10am - 2pm. (Weather permitting.)

FREE GIFT WRAPPING. 11am - 1pm. Gypsy Sweethearts Restaurant. Purchase your holiday gifts at our members’ shops; we’ll wrap for free! Sponsored by Harbor Candy Shop, Gypsy Sweethearts, and Rockmere Lodge.

OPEN HOUSE. 11 am - 2 pm. Julie’s Ristorante & Provisto.

OPEN HOUSE. 1pm - 5pm. Ogunquit Heritage Museum; Anchorage by the Sea;Beachmere Inn; Gazebo Inn Ogunquit; Gorges Grant; Juniper Hill Inn; Meadowmere Resort.

While Remembering Home this Holiday Season, Local Soldiers Save Lives in Iraq

By Magen Petit
Staff Columnist

While most people are wrapping up with holiday shopping, Captain Mark C. Stevens and 1st Lieutenant Platoon Leader Brian F. McClellan both part of Charlie Company 1-126th Medevac (C/1-126 Medevac) is thousands of miles away completing critical missions and fighting for their country.
A 1987 graduate of Kennebunk High School, Capt. Stevens never thought he’d be on his second tour in Iraq just 22 years later.
“It goes to show how many surprises life can throw at you,” wrote Stevens in an e-mail interview with The Weekly Sentinel’s Staff Columnist Devin Beliveau. “It’s been a great 22 years and I’m looking forward to the next 22.”
Stevens has been in Iraq for nine months and his deployment is expected to end in about a month. He is currently stationed in Tallil, Iraq with many responsibilities.
“I am the company’s executive officer and I ensure the overall operation for the unit runs smoothly and efficiently,” wrote Stevens in a recent e-mail. “I am also a medical evacuation pilot-in-command of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.”
Eliot native and Marshwood High School graduate, 1st Lt. McClellan has spent about two-and-a-half years in the military and is stationed to the Tallil Air Base as well. He has spent about 10 months in Iraq and his deployment should end by January 2009. McClellan is the flight operation’s platoon leader and officer in charge (OIC) of one of their MEDEVAC sites.
Capt. Katherine Zyla of unit TF 449 interviewed McClellan and wrote a press release regarding the MEDEVAC Company and what their mission is about. During her interview, McClellan told her how he views MEDEVAC.
‘“One of the greatest things about a MEDEVAC unit, whether you’re transporting patients, maintaining aircraft, facilitating logistics, etc., is we work as a team and put our mission first,” said McClellan. “MEDEVAC is based on speed, and it is critical our sites are fully operational at all times, so we can respond to those on the ground.”’
As the OIC, McClellan receives all daily briefs and MEDEVAC status reports as well as requests, mission planning, and launch authority to the requesting party such as the soldier or medical facility requesting MEDEVAC.
“My most memorable moment was a MEDEVAC operation for a Special Forces team that struck an IED (improvised explosive device),” wrote McClellan in an e-mail to Beliveau. “One soldier was killed and the other two were severely injured. The weather was restricting aircraft from flying, but MEDEVAC crews requested launch authority in order to rescue the soldiers. The crews flew in horrible weather conditions to reach the soldiers and bring them to a Combat Support Hospital (CSH). Their decision to fly in weather conditions that would cause most aircraft to be grounded saved the lives of those two wounded soldiers. For their action, the aircrews received Army Air Medals.”
Stevens backs up McClellan’s memorable moment.
“Being in a MEDEVAC unit is rewarding every day,” wrote Stevens. “Our job is to save people’s lives. Everything else is secondary.”
Stevens ensures timely evacuation of all soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, local nationals, civilians, and other patients to a higher level of medical care.
“We also transport medical clinicians, blood, medical supplies and working dogs,” according to Stevens.
Through everything, McClellan and Stevens believe the people in their unit are “great Americans and we couldn’t be as successful as we are without each and every one of them. Teamwork is key.”
Another thought the Captain and 1st Lieutenant have in common when asked what they miss most about home, they both miss their families very much.
“I miss my family and friends the most,” wrote McClellan.
“I miss my wife and kids more than anything in the world,” added Stevens. “It can be very depressing to see how much the kids have grown and to realize how much I’ve missed.”
After the military, McClellan would like to “take a vacation with my family, return to work, and try to regain a normal lifestyle” while Stevens wants to “be a good husband and dad and stay with C/1-126, a National Guard Aviation Unit, out of Bangor.”
Even though the two men will be missing the holiday season, McClellan and Stevens will be home soon, giving their families the best gift they can receive.
The Weekly Sentinel’s Staff Columnist Devin Beliveau conducted the e-mail interviews between Capt. Stevens and 1st Lt. McClellan.

First photo caption:
First Lt. Brain F. McClellan, a native of Eliot and Marshwood High School graduate, is stationed in Tallil Iraq and expects his deployment should end by January 2009. (1st. Lt. McClellan photo)

Second photo caption: On the right is Capt. Mark C. Stevens, a native of Kennebunk who currently resides in Biddeford. Pictured with him is his father Mark Stevens Sr. of Kennebunk. Capt. Stevens is also presently stationed in Tallil Iraq but his deployment is expected to end in about a month.. (Courtesy photo)