Friday, June 25, 2010

Courtney DeWitt Remembered in Student Photography Exhibit

In December of 2006, Wells High School student Courtney DeWitt, a sophomore, was just 15 years old when she passed away from injuries received in a car accident. The accident happened after school as she, a passenger in a car, was bound for home, a short distance away.
According to her mother Joleen, Courtney displayed a developing love of photography. She enjoyed experimenting in the digital format. In honor of Courtney and her budding passion for taking photos, the library at Wells Junior High School in conjunction with the WJHS Student Council held a photography contest for students in April. On June 9th, a weeklong exhibit of those photos, including an assortment taken by Courtney, opened for public viewing.
Present at the exhibit’s reception and opening were Courtney’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Corey DeWitt, and their daughter Michaela. For the past school year, Michaela has been an eighth grade student at WJHS. In the fall she will enter Wells High School as a freshman.
On the walls of this vast third floor library were 120 photos, most from the contest and a handful of “courtesy” photographs. There were also numerous photos taken by Courtney displayed in a section dedicated to her. Joleen DeWitt said that many of the photos in Courtney’s display came from her bedroom wall and door.
Photos in the exhibit reflected the categories from the contest. Students focused their cameras on animals, nature, pre-teen/teen scenes, school scenes, sports, style and “other” subjects. The categories were suggested by WJHS Library Media Specialist Lynn Mercier and Courtney’s parents.
According to Mercier, a driving force behind the exhibit, there were 58 students who entered the contest. Students were allowed more than one entry and, collectively, they submitted 115 entries. Mercier said that the photos were judged by a panel of 20 student and adult judges who selected winners for first, second and third place recognition. There was also a “Student Choice” contest in which four hundred students voted for their favorite images in the various categories.
“It’s very heartwarming to know she’s still remembered (and) that somebody wants to do something in her memory,” said Joleen DeWitt of the exhibit. “It makes you feel good.”
“It is nice, very nice,” added Corey DeWitt. “The kids are amazing with what they’ve done with the pictures. I didn’t know they could be this creative but they always amaze you.”
Mercier indicated that she got the idea to hold a contest and do an exhibit in Courtney’s honor while reading an article about the DeWitts in the York County Coast Star from March of 2009. In 2006 when the family was picking out a space for Courtney at Ocean View Cemetery, Michaela, indicated that she wanted to be able to see her sister’s place of rest from her school library’s windows, which look out, upon Ocean View Cemetery. Touched by this, Mercier was inspired to bring the contest and exhibit to life.
According to Mercier, The Courtney DeWitt Photography Competition and Library Exhibit is planned to be an annual event. While the photography exhibit in the WJHS Library is now closed because of summer recess, it will reappear at the end of summer at the Wells Public Library and may be displayed elsewhere in the fall. The photo exhibit was organized as a group effort by Joleen, Corey and Michaela DeWitt and members of the WJHS Student Council including Advisors Lynn Mercier and Cindy Mitchell.
Mercier said that any certificates and prizes for winners in the photo contest would be awarded in the fall after the display ends. She says that she plans to include the exhibit’s photos in a booklet and include it in the library’s collection.
Those that received top recognition in the Student Choice portion of the photo contest include Anna Libby (5th and 6th grade in the Nature category), Sophie Lamb (7/8 Nature), Hannah Moody (5/6 Animals), Olivia Welch (7/8 Animals), Dawson Sibley and Isabelle Smith (tied in the 5/6 “Other” category), Elizabeth Thompson (7/8 Other), Madalin Pagliarulo (5 through 8 Teen Scenes) and Tyler Bartlett (5 through 8 Sports).
The DeWitts now award a college scholarship in Courtney’s name to a deserving senior before graduation at Wells High School. Article by Reg Bennett.
Photo caption: In the Wells Junior High School Library on June 9th are (from left to right) WJHS Library Media Specialist Lynn Mercier, Michaela, Corey and Joleen DeWitt. (Reg Bennett photo)

North Berwick Library Plans for Large Renovations

By Betsy Caron
Staff Columnist
The D.A. Hurd Library of North Berwick is building a 3,560 square foot expansion and renovating their current 1928 building in order to become more handicapped accessible and energy efficient, enhance their children’s section and upgrade their technology capabilities.
The project — estimated to be completed over the course of about five years — will cost $1,250,000. The library has already raised $200,000 and hopes to receive donations and support from patrons and businesses throughout the community. The library’s board of trustees held an event at the Hurd Manor on June 17 to officially announce the plan and present the fundraising campaign
“We’re going to try and raise all the money ourselves without having to go to a bond issue,” said library director Beth Sweet. “We needed the expansion. Basically, the library is just bursting at the sides. The entire building is not handicapped accessible, so we need to do something about that.”
Rumors about a library expansion have been whispered throughout North Berwick for years, but Sweet said the committee is officially moving forward.
“There’s been a lot of stops and starts,” she said. “Now we’re going to go ahead and jump right in.”
The renovations will include a technology upgrade and revamped heating and plumbing systems.
“All the systems need to be more energy efficient,” Sweet said. “We need to upgrade the technology in the structure because we have wires everywhere. The dream would be to go wireless.”
Once the expansion is built, the children’s section will be moved from the basement to the first floor main room at the front of the building. The area will still be separate from the rest of the library, leaving the opportunity to continue the already-popular children’s programs.
Corinne Feehan, the children’s librarian for the past 10 years, is looking forward to the expansion and a new place to hold her activities.
“The patrons really like the fact that we are separate from the rest of the library,” Feehan said. “We can have children’s programs that are a little bit louder than you might actually find in your traditional library.”
Hussey Seating, Pratt and Whitney and the Merigold Fund have been the project’s largest donors, and the library will be holding various fundraising events over the course of the summer and coming year: a book sale, live concerts, a raffle and an auction.
A Pay Pal site has been set up on the library’s website to accept donations and even ticket sales, and pledge sheets for monetary contributions are available at the library.
“We are getting support and I think we’ll continue to get support as things move forward,” Feehan said.
The library staff and patrons hope the fundraising process moves quickly, but until then, the community can continue to enjoy its historic building and the 34,000 books that lie within.
Photo caption: The D.A. Hurd Library staff - (from left) assistant director, Pam Smart; library aide, Victoria Cook; children’s librarian, Corinne Feehan; library aide, Kim Parker; library director, Beth Sweet. (Betsy Caron photo)

Sharon Staz, KLPD head, named to Fact Finding Mission to Japan this July

Sharon Staz, General Manager of the Kennebunk Light and Power District (KLPD), has been selected to join the Solar Electric Power Association’s Fact Finding Mission to Japan this July. The mission, for utility decisions makers, will assemble in Tokyo and travel throughout Central Japan, ending in Kyoto.
The purpose of the mission is to provide opportunities to exchange information with Japanese utilities, solar integrators, technology researches and policy makers. The weeklong mission will include peer-to-peer, utility-to-utility meetings, residential and commercial rooftop PV installation visits, tours of research facilities, and meetings with leading solar manufacturers and project developers.
The delegation will visit the Ota City PV Demonstration Project, 2.13 Megawatt roof-mounted systems aggregated on 533 houses along with the Research Center for Photovoltaics and other installations.
KLPD’s general manager since 1998, Staz was named the Northeast Public Power Association’s (NEPPA) Person of the Year in 2008. NEPPA has 76 member utilities throughout the six New England states. Staz was elected to the American Public Power Association Board of Directors in 2004, becoming the first Maine person ever elected to serve on that board.
NEPPA also honored Staz with the prestigious Francis “Skip” Willey Jr. Individual Achievement Award in 1998. Staz currently serves as Secretary and Legislative Liaison for DIRIGO, the consumer-owned utility association of the state of Maine. In 2006 she served on the Governor’s Renewable Energy Task Force and the Governor’s Maine Energy Council.
Before coming to Kennebunk, Staz served 12 years as Manager of the Princeton (Mass.) Municipal Light Department where she received the American Public Power Associations’ Seven Hats Award in 1989 for outstanding service to the community.
Staz is currently Chair of the Northeast Power Association’s legislative committee and is a member of Kennebunk Energy Efficiency Committee.
Photo caption: Sharon Staz (Courtesy photo)