Friday, August 28, 2009

YCCC Graduates First WorkReady Course for Displaced Workers

York County Community College, with Partners Noble Adult Education and Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc., held the first WorkReady Credential Training Course this month. Eleven students, all recently laid-off from either Prime Tanning or RR Donnelly, are set to graduate from the 90 hour training session that focused on ‘soft skills’- the universal skill set that employers look for in new hires.
For many of the recently displaced workers, many of the soft skills taught were entirely new to them. “I found the basic computer skills to be the most valuable,” said Henry Brown, former Prime Tanning machine mechanic. “Before this course, I didn’t know how to turn a computer on.” Interview skills, appropriate work place attire and updating resumes were also included in the course work.
During the final hours of the training, mock interviews were held. On Tuesday, Aug. 18th, from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., local employers visited the trainees at YCCC’s College Drive campus in Wells. Employers participating included; US Cellular, Wal-Mart, Bonney Staffing Services, LL Bean, Pratt & Whitney, Hussey Seating and Goodwill Industries. These employers conducted mock interviews and provided meaningful feedback to the job seekers that will help them in their quest to secure new employment. “I feel good about this,” said Paulette Millette, Director of Continuing Education and Business Services at YCCC. “We are working with folks who came here unemployed and feeling pretty lost and now they have direction, self-confidence, interview skills and updated resumes.”
Photo caption: Former Prime Tanning machine mechanic Henry Brown practices his newly found computer skills during YCCC’s WorkReady Training for displaced workers. (Courtesy photo)

Kittery is awarded $79,780
Maine DEP Grant

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) through its Nonpoint Source (NPS) Water Pollution Control (Clean Water Act section 319) Grant program has awarded the Town of Kittery a grant of $79,780 to implement Phase 2 of its Spruce Creek Watershed Improvement Project. With the addition of matching funds the grant will total over $180,000.
This grant will support the continuation of the first phase of the project, begun in April 2008 and set to continue until March 2010, in which the Maine DEP awarded the Town almost $70,000 for a total project budget of over $175,000. Phase I Grant Manager, Sue Cobler, stated “We strongly believe that the unprecedented volunteer contributions in Phase I of this project greatly contributed to the decision by MDEP to continue funding the Town of Kittery for Phase II.” Volunteer programs under Phase I have resulted in many activities to improve the water quality in Spruce Creek, including six community social gatherings held to educate homeowners on creek-friendly practices; the participation of 32 homeowners in a pledge program for homeowners who agree to maintain their property in a creek-friendly manner; and the installation, by volunteers, of such creek-friendly features as rain gardens, vegetated buffers, and dry-wells at selected residences and businesses.
While the grant proposal was sponsored by the Town of Kittery in close partnership with the Town of Eliot, the Spruce Creek Association, and the York County Soil and Water Conservation District, additional support was and will continue to be provided by residents, volunteers and local businesses. Beginning in spring of 2010 funds from the 319 grant will support a project coordinator to oversee the development of a range of best management and conservation practices, public outreach and education, as well as repair and mitigation projects that will take place both on Spruce Creek itself and within the watershed.
In response to notification of the award Kittery Town Council Chairman, Jeff Thomson, stated “In these times of decreasing budgets for environmental programs, it is fantastic to have recognition and support by the State and the community to continue this important water quality work in the Spruce Creek watershed area.”
Forrest Bell of FB Environmental Associates provided technical assistance and project oversight for the grant proposal. Mr. Bell added, “This award will help continue the substantial momentum gained by the Town of Kittery and partners through the first project phase. In particular, the citizens and landowners of the Spruce Creek watershed have responded to the call for individual action for improved water quality and will now have the opportunity to participate in further efforts.”
The 319 grant program is intended to support NPS projects which aim to prevent or reduce nonpoint source pollutant loadings entering water resources so that beneficial uses of the water resources are maintained or restored. According to MDEP, NPS projects help local communities recognize water pollution sources in watersheds and take action to restore or protect clean water. A grant-eligible NPS project is implemented in a specific watershed to help restore or protect a lake, stream, or coastal water that is impaired or considered threatened by polluted runoff. Spruce Creek, which has been officially designated by the state of Maine as a nonpoint source priority watershed due to bacterial contamination, low dissolved oxygen, toxic contamination, and compromised ability to support commercial marine resources, meets these qualifications.
To learn more about the Spruce Creek Watershed Improvement Project, please visit:
Photo caption: Using native varieties, volunteers plant a “rain garden” and add deep-rooted shrubs to the buffer along the water in Kittery that will help improve water quality in Spruce Creek while creating a beautiful natural area that will attract birds and butterflies. (Courtesy photo)

Beliveau named to Maine Community College System Board of Directors

Weekly Sentinel Staff Columnist Devin Beliveau, 30, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Maine Community College system. Nominated by Gov. John Baldacci, Beliveau was approved by the legislature’s Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs and the Maine Senate. Beliveau is a teacher at Thornton Academy in Saco, where he is beginning his fifth year. He is in his second year with the Weekly Sentinel. Beliveau has a BA in Government from Colby and a Masters in Education from Stanford. He lives with his wife, Debbie, in Kittery. (Weekly Sentinel photo)

Thornton Academy Welcomes Boarding Students

One year ago Thornton Academy announced its plans to start a boarding program. This historic decision will allow the nearly 200-year-old independent school to truly make a global impact as international students move to campus.
There are 38 students currently enrolled for the fall who will live in TA’s new dorm, recently named the James E. Nelson Residence Hall after a longtime member and former President of TA’s Board of Trustees.
The two story, 16,500 square-foot residence hall is now complete. It was designed by Barba+Wheelock of Portland, Maine. PM Construction is the construction manager and financing is by Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution.
Four faculty apartments divide up the space set aside for boys and girls in the dorm. It has two single-occupancy rooms and 18 double-occupancy rooms that are 115 square feet and 220 square feet, respectively. Each student will have a bed, a desk, a wardrobe, a dresser, a bookshelf and a desk chair. The building also has two common areas for socializing and studying; three snack rooms each equipped with a refrigerator, microwave and sink; and modern features like radiant heating and colored concrete floors.
Wireless Internet access will be available to students and since the dorm is located right off of Route 1, they can easily walk to shops and restaurants in downtown Saco or go to the new Amtrak train station nearby to get to Portland, Boston and beyond.
Rick Thompson, chair of the foreign language department, says it’s an exciting time at TA as the school welcomes people from other parts of the world. He believes that teachers and students alike will benefit from the added perspectives of international students in the classroom.
To help our visitors feel welcome, Thompson says that faculty, staff and students will need to make an effort to meet and befriend the new people on campus.
“For them a simple ‘Hello’ in the hallway can make the difference between a good day and a hard day thousands of miles from home,” he explains. “Conversely, making friends from other countries can change the life of a young person. I remember getting to know Gonzalo, a Venezuelan exchange student in my high school. Suddenly I had a practical application for my new Spanish skills and I quickly gained confidence as a second-language speaker. This experience helped direct me to the life I live today.”
Kelli Corrigan, Director of Residential Life and Dean of Residential Students, has organized events and activities for this week that will help students feel acclimated to life in the U.S. There are trips planned to Funtown/Splashtown and to Boston, a movie night in Hyde Library, and dinner at an Old Port restaurant. The incoming boarding students will also participate in freshman orientation, which will help them become familiar with TA’s campus, and visit the Maine Mall to buy what they need for their dorm rooms.
“Our goal is to introduce kids to the staff who will be part of the residential program. We want to bond with them that first week. There will also be outreach projects with teachers and clubs once school begins,” she says.
Corrigan is also organizing student ambassador and host family programs, which will also help boarding students feel at home away from home. Kimberly Dao ’10, whose parents emigrated from Vietnam, is among those ready to enthusiastically greet the newcomers.
“I hope that they get to experience everything good about the American lifestyle,” she says. “They may lead sheltered lives compared to kids who grew up here in Maine. We want to get them out to have fun!”