Saturday, October 13, 2012

Third Grader Gets Belated Birthday Surprise at School

US Army CW3 Donald McHugh of Wells and his son Heath

Story and photo by Reg Bennett

Wells Elementary School student Heath McHugh got a very big surprise at the end of gym class on Wednesday, October 10. His father, US Army Chief Warrant Officer (CW3) Donald McHugh of Wells made a surprise visit to see his son at school.
“That’s my Dad,” said a wide-eyed and astonished Heath as he looked towards the stage of the gymnasium to see his father standing there. Young McHugh, who turned eight years old on October 9, was resting on the gym floor with fellow students when the older McHugh was spotted.
As relatives, students, school staff and television news crews watched, McHugh made his way to the floor to pick up his son for a big hug. Both have not seen each other for a year.
McHugh is a Black Hawk helicopter pilot and is stationed in Hawaii.
“It was awesome,” said McHugh about being able to travel to Wells to see his family and son in school. McHugh indicated that he only has until Friday for a home visit before making the long trek to Afgananastan. McHugh said that he has had three tours of duty in Afghanistan and three tours in Iraq. McHugh graduated from Wells High School in 1997.
“Good” said Heath McHugh when asked about seeing his dad. Both father and son were interviewed by the three major television stations from Portland.
Visiting WES with McHugh was Heath’s mother Shawna McHugh, great grandfather Roland Falconer and grandmother Heather Groves.

Former First-Daughter Continues Family Legacy of Service

Jenna Bush Hager speaks at the University of New England in Biddeford

Story and photo by Rhyan Romaine
Staff Columnist

“My parents not only brought us into the world, they brought the world to us,” and for former First Daughter, Jenna (Bush) Hager, those experiences inspired a lifetime of compassion and humanitarianism.
Hager has cradled the infant face of hunger in Guatemala, witnessed the impact of HIV/AIDS throughout Latin America and Africa, and lifted the heavy hearts of children left parentless after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America. Often fighting back tears, Hager shared these powerful and poignant stories with nearly 500 people on Monday, as part of the George and Barbara Bush Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of New England’s Harold Alfond Forum. While explaining the importance of sharing these personal stories she said, “I believe the more we know about the plight of people all over the world, the more likely we are to make a difference.”
Hager talked about Lydia, a young, single mother of five living in the most destitute area of Guatemala. Lydia lives in a cliffside hut, earns a mere $5 per week, and has already lost a child to malnourishment. Seeing the swollen bellies of her other children, Lydia selflessly walks four ho
urs every week to secure packets of nutritional supplements that she sprinkles on her children’s food. Hager also fondly recalls Ana, a 17-year-old mother living in Latin America who contracted HIV after being abused by a neighbor in her village. Never considering herself “sick,” Ana raged against the abject poverty of her world and educated herself about the necessary precautions to ensure her daughter, Beatrice, would not contract the disease (Beatrice is HIV free). Back in the United States, Hager remembers the joy she found in the eyes of children at America’s Camp, a camp in Massachusetts for children who lost parents in the terrorist attacks of the World Trade Center in 2001.
Prior to Hager’s address, the audience of students, faculty, administrators and community members took to its feet in a standing ovation when her grandparents, former President George H. W. Bush and his wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush, entered the gymnasium. Nancy Walker Bush Ellis, the 41st President’s sister, was also in attendance for the event. Hager has visited the family’s home on Walkers Point, Kennebunkport, every summer of her life and thanked the University for the opportunity to see how beautiful Maine is in October. She was especially grateful for the opportunity to spend a quiet evening with her grandparents on the family’s oceanfront compound. The former President was assisted by a wheelchair.
While speaking about the people she’s met around the world who inspire her, Hager took time to honor her family and the legacy of service they’ve instilled in her. Married in 2008, Hager announced that it is her grandparents’ marriage that she strives to emulate with her own. Amid friendly anecdotes of playing “house” in the East Room of the White House or “sardines” on the South Lawn, Hager proclaimed never taking for granted the “amazing privilege of living history.” Joking about her father, George W. Bush’s life away from public office, she mentions he has returned to more domestic policy, “my mom is now commanding the ex-commander in chief to pick up his towels and underwear off the floor.”
Since her family left the White House, Hager has become a contributing correspondent to NBC’s “Today” show, a role her family has humorously considered fraternizing with the enemy. She is active in UNICEF, and is currently the chair of UNICEF’s Next Generation, an initiative dedicated to reducing the number of preventable childhood deaths around the world.

Local Inventor Lands Deal with Major Motion Picture

Buoy Bat, invented by South Berwick resident and bought in bulk by Adam Sandler (courtesy photo)

Sells bundle of his “Buoy Bats” to Adam Sandler

It’s been just over two years since South Berwick resident and inventor Bill Page decided to turn a wayward lobster trap buoy into a novelty baseball bat. Since then, thousands of people have taken notice of this fun and innovative product including Manchester, New Hampshire native and Hollywood actor Adam Sandler, who recently approved the purchase of 640 custom made Buoy Bats for gifts to the cast and crew of his upcoming movie “Grown Ups 2.” The film was shot on location on the North Shore of Boston over the summer.
“My wife answered a call in June and almost didn’t give me the message. The caller wasn’t forthcoming about what he was looking for and she thought that was odd,” said Page. “I called him (Kevin Grady) and after some due diligence on his part, he filled me in on why he was calling.” It turns out Grady works for Sandler, had seen Buoy Bat in a store in Marblehead, and if properly produced, thought it would make an excellent “Cast & Crew Gift” for the New England-themed movie.
Page traveled to Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, where the Columbia Pictures production was shooting a scene for the movie, due out in July of 2013, to show several samples of the bat. The scene they were working on called for four famous actors to quiver at the edge of a quarry’s cliff, being bullied by frat brothers from the local college.
“Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade, and Chris Rock were all there with dozens of extras and hundreds of crew,” Page said. “And there I was with my Buoy Bat feeling a lot out of place but very excited to be auditioning for a ‘role’ in a major motion picture.”
At the end of the shoot, Page and Grady waited for Sandler to review the footage before calling a wrap. At that point, Grady handed Sandler the sample Buoy Bat painted in a red, white, and blue, stars and stripes theme and branded with the “Grown Ups 2” logo. Sandler held the bat, looked at it for a second and said, “That’s cool… I don’t get it.”
 “It’s a baseball bat made from a lobster buoy,” Grady said. Sandler walked off toward a waiting all-terrain vehicle, and Grady said to Page, “Come on, he likes it. We’ll wait by his trailer and when he comes out, we’ll let him try it.”
While waiting for Sandler to reappear, Page and Grady played Buoy Bat in a corral of campers and studio work trailers. During the wait, many cast and crew members gave Buoy Bat a try including teen heartthrob Taylor Lautner, whom Page did not recognize. Sandler eventually came out of the trailer and took the Buoy Bat from Grady as if on queue to test the proposed crew gift. Page played outfield, and Sandler stood taking swings as Grady wound up. Sandler hit a squibber off the end of the buoy on the first pitch. Page cringed and said to Grady, “Give him a meater.” Grady obliged and Sandler ripped a line drive over some trailers on the next pitch. Sandler replied with, “Yah, that’s cool” and Page breathed a sigh of relief.
Page said the sales pitch was exciting for business prospects, but also a great time seeing life on a Hollywood movie set. Page told his daughters, Katherine, 11, and Sydney, 9, about the impromptu ballgame, and they certainly knew who Lautner was. Page and his wife, Susan, also have a son named Harrison, 7, and the family enjoys take the Buoy Bat on beach outings. Page has also developed a Buoy Bat Go Fetch to use with your pooch.
He recently landed a contract deal with Orvis, which sells the Buoy Bat on its website for $45. Kittery Trading Post sells it for $25. Business has been great, but Page is not ready to quit his main job, ice rink manager at Churchill Rink in Durham, New Hampshire.
The Buoy Bat is made of a typical wooden baseball bat, with a foam buoy stretched over it for the hitting end. The ball that comes with Buoy Bat is made of foam and covered with a polyurethane skin. It’s “face-friendly,” according to Page, “doesn’t break windows and is waterproof.”