Friday, February 19, 2010

Wells Reserve Receives Visionary Award

The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve was recognized recently by the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, which presented the Wells Reserve with its 2009 Visionary Award. The Council praised the Wells Reserve “for sustained excellence in science, communication, partnerships, education, and stewardship of the Gulf of Maine ecosystems.”
“The Wells Reserve is honored to receive a Gulf of Maine Council Visionary Award,” said Reserve Director Paul Dest, who accepted the award on behalf of the organization. “It recognizes the great work and many accomplishments of our staff in the areas of science, education, and conservation. And it intensifies our commitment to protecting and restoring ecosystems around the Gulf of Maine.”
The Gulf of Maine Council cited the Wells Reserve for fostering “an environment of coastal understanding and awareness through numerous programs that have been effective in training many stakeholders in the region, and enlightening marine professionals about the scientific dynamics of estuarine and coastal ecosystems.”
The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment was established in 1989 by the governments of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts to foster cooperative actions within the Gulf watershed. Its mission is to maintain and enhance environmental quality in the Gulf of Maine to allow for sustainable resource use by existing and future generations.
Each year, the Gulf of Maine Council gives Visionary Awards to two individuals, businesses, or organizations within each state and province bordering the Gulf. The awards recognize innovation, creativity, and commitment to protecting the marine environment.
The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve expands knowledge about coasts and estuaries, engages people in environmental learning, and involves communities in conserving natural resources. The Wells Reserve is headquartered at historic Laudholm Farm. Its work is supported by Laudholm Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. FMI
Photo caption: Kathleen Leyden, Maine representative to the Gulf of Maine Council, presents the Council’s 2009 Visionary Award to Wells Reserve director Paul Dest. Joining them is Diana Joyner, chair of the Reserve Management Authority and president of Laudholm Trust. (Courtesy photo)

Noah Farrington Wins York County Spelling Bee

A student who is home schooled and from Alfred, Noah Farrington, won first place in the Annual York County Spelling Bee at Wells Junior High School on Feb. 9th. Reed Vanderlinde of Berwick Academy came in second and Macy Morrison from Marshwood Middle School came in third. All three are in the eighth grade.
The contest lasted 29 rounds. After the first couple of rounds no one had been eliminated, but after the mid-point of the competition, Farrington, Vanderlinde and Morrison were left to go back and fourth to the podium to face increasingly harder words. The contest eventually came down to Reed and Farrington and ended much later when Farrington spelled the words “vulnerable” and “colloquial.”
Noah Farrington will now represent York County at the State Spelling Bee in Portland on March 20th.
According to co-Governor of the York County Spelling Bee Vicki Aldridge, this is the twelfth year that the York County Spelling Bee has been held at Wells Junior High School. As in past years, two students were picked to represent each participating school. This year, nine area schools were represented. In addition, there were two home schooled students present.
Judges for the spelling bee were Rachel Kilbride, Marilyn Zotos and Anne Meadows. Wells Junior High School Assistant Principal Johanna Reinke was the event’s Spelling Pronouncer.
Co-Governors of the York County Spelling Bee are Aldridge and Lynn Mercier.
Twenty students qualified to participate in the 2010 York County Spelling Bee. Schools represented included Berwick Academy, Biddeford Middle School, Noble Junior High School, Saco Middle School, Marshwood Middle School, St. James School, Acton Elementary School, Notre Dame School and Wells Junior High School. Those representing WJHS included Tim Finley and Adrienne Perron.
Photo caption: From left to right are Reed Vanderlinde, Macy Morrison and Noah Farrington who placed in the 2010 York County Spelling Bee. Farrington, the winner, is holding the event’s mascot, “Spelling Bee.” (Reg Bennet photo)

Downeaster’s Planned Expansion Highlights Its Popularity

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
Recent news that the federal government is funding an extension of Downeaster train service from Portland to Freeport and Brunswick underscored the popularity of the rail service that connects Maine with Boston. One of the key stops in that system is the Wells Regional Transportation Center.
“The extension to Freeport and Brunswick will boost things here,” said Brent Marriner of Marriner Marketing, the group the town contracts with to coordinate management and staffing of the center. “With all the seasonal campgrounds and condominiums here, people will park here for free and take the train to Bean’s.”
The Downeaster is only one of several transportation modes using the center, albeit an important one. In 2009, for example, the station handled 46,082 total passengers, not surprisingly divided almost equally between boardings and alightings. Among other Downeaster stations in Maine, only Portland surpassed that total. An informal survey of boarding passengers at the Wells station indicated that over 80 percent of the people were traveling for leisure, with nearly 8 percent commuting to work.
“This is a transportation center, not just a train station,” Marriner said. “There’s about 5,000 people a month that go through the building. We have buses that go to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, the WAVE from Sanford, the Trolley, Mermaid Transportation, cabs, and bicycles. Our long term goal is to re-establish the intercity bus service.”
A short-term goal is beefing up the volunteer and revenue supported staff that work at the center. “We’re in the process of recruiting volunteers,” he said. “Since August, volunteer hosts have averaged 120 hours per month. Our goal is to cover 105 hours per week with revenue supported staff. That’s 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, which covers all the trains except for the last one at 1 a.m. The Wells Police department is pretty good about meeting that one.”
In addition to the plans to expand service northward, Marriner, who attends monthly operations meetings with system representatives, said other improvements are under study as well. “The goal is to see double track construction between Portland and Plaistow to allow an increase in trains,” he said. Currently, the first weekday northbound train doesn’t depart Wells until 10:49 a.m. That essentially precludes commuters from southern Maine to Portland using the train to get to work. The double track could address that issue.
“The greatest need is an early morning trip to Portland,” Marriner said.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Marriner at 646-4793 or email